Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dear Future Me

This blog, back in the days of its inception at least, was supposed to be like a journal. Not a diary, or a confession but a journal. In it I, in my wisdom, had planned to write down a lot of things that happened to me, and how I dealt with them. In the (now vain) hope that going back a re-reading my entries would provide the 'present' me, i.e. the one actually sitting here typing this post at this moment, some guidance for how I should act.  It was a long shot to hope that 'past' me would be able to write down something useful that would allow 'present' me to be a better person.

That was one of the ideas back in the beginning, and it was a noble idea, but like most noble ideas it all starts to go potty when humans are involved. In particular when I am the human being involved. I look back at the past 5 plus years of this blogs 'life' and I realize I am not one iota better as a person than I was when I started it. In fact, and I pretty sure I would get universal agreement on this, I am almost certainly a worse person than I was back then. Early on I listed a list of 'flaws' that I possess, and when I go back and revisit that list I come to the horrible conclusion that instead of getting shorter the list has gotten lengthier. Which is, in many, many way, quite depressing. One of the main things a journal can be is a way for the past you to give advice to the present you. Sadly, if the present you isn't just not the type to listen, or just doesn't care to heed advice, the journal just becomes a source of angst.

 It allows you to go back and re-read all the mistakes you were making back then, and then when you realize you are making those same mistakes plus a few extra, it all ends in tears.  You had the hope that you were on the upswing of the 'being a better person' scale, only to come to the horrid realization that you are really on the downswing. It is a real kick in the teeth. After all, now what do you do? You can't trust 'past' you, you can't trust 'present' you, and you aren't 'future' you yet. And as you stand there in the pissing rain, because you don't have enough sense to come in out of it, you begin to realize that maybe you've topped out. Maybe the type of person you are now is the type of person you always were, and are always going to be. Maybe self-improvement, like home ownership, is just a big fat rip off, or some fucking myth created by the self help industry to be able to sell more books.

All the thinking you can do, (and you can do a lot of thinking if you try) doesn't seem to either help, or change things. All the vows to 'do right' and to 'start making some changes' are lies as soon as they leave your lips. Lies you tell yourself to make 'present' you feel better, and to give 'present' you the (vain) hope that 'future' you will be a better person. If only 'present' you puts forth a little bit of extra effort, and tries to start acting 'right.' It was a dream, and as you know from your years of experience with dreams, very few of them come true. Nightmares, now they come true with all too frequent regularity, but dreams, those remain as slippery as goose shit on glass. And it is the dream of being a better future you that was part of the impetus for this blog in the first place. Now, that the clear realization has hit you like a ton of bricks, where do I find motivation now? I would say I am open to suggestions, but I realize I won't get any, and even if I do, I am such a lousy person I probably won't listen to them anyway. A tout a l'heure.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Something Vague

In the last six months (give or take) I have been told the following things by my 'friends'.

That 'you are really easy to hate.'

That I am 'more emotionally damaging than a brain tumor.'

That I 'am trouble.'

That 'you shouldn't go home with him, he comes with a house.'

That 'no amount of therapy will help you.'

That "I'm going to fuck your girlfriend.'

That 'every woman should get to experience you.'

That I 'am an idiot.'

That 'you don't have feelings.' (this was said twice by two different people)

 Now all of these comments are, more likely than not, true. But, that isn't really the point of this post. The point is, if there is a point, that each of them were said by people that I count amongst my friends. If you know anything about me at all, you will know that I am not over burdened with too many friends. By a generous count I have about six friends, and that is being generous and catching both me and them in a good mood. All of the statements above were said both to and about be my members of my 'inner circle.' There is a theory that you should keep your enemies close and your friends closer, but I am sure that is what I am actively doing. It sometimes seems that way when one of my 'friends' starts to remind me (and anyone within a half mile radius) of my multitude of flaws, and my deplorable character traits. 

The beauty of it is that none of these comments ended any friendships, and they only caused a small amount of angst.  They are, as I said before, mostly true, and probably something that I needed to hear. But, hearing and even agreeing with them only removes so much of the sting. They, if I had feelings, would have possibly hurt my feelings (now you know why I don't bother having feelings).  It is closer to the truth is that I do have feelings, and that these comments did not really hurt them over much, but they are beginning to have a cumulative effect. They were said over a period of time, by a diverse group of people (of both genders), and by fairly intelligent people. The law of averages dictates that they probably aren't all wrong in their assessment. They might be harsh, but there is a element of jocularity about a couple of those comments that at least allow me to continue to believe that the speaker(s) can still be counted as my friends. However, given the nature and the amount of these comments is it any wonder that two nights ago I woke up face down on my bathroom floor after a hard night of drinking?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Chair

Sorry for the long break in posting but it takes a lot of effort to come up with, and then remember a topic when you are living the Neil Diamond life style. However, luckily for me, I just managed to keep it together long enough to remember the fascinating tale I am about to relate. This tale begins with me reading a book, not that exciting I know, and it is something that I do a lot of, but this book (which is wonderful so far) is written by an absolutely wonderful author by the name of Stefan Zweig. If you have not read him (and few of the people I know have) you should rush out and buy anything by him you can lay your hands on.  He is fantastic, he writes sentences that are perfection incarnate. Sentences so wonderfully constructed that it makes you want to weep, or to re-read them over and over again aloud so you get their full effect. 

The book's is called 'The Post Office Girl' and it is quite wonderful so far (I have only managed a couple of chapters), but as I was drinking in Herr Zweig's words like fine wine, I noticed a small blip. It is the kind of blip that usually goes unnoticed, and in fact did go unnoticed (or at least I assume it did for it makes no sense otherwise).  It is a simple blip, and one that we all make, but one that shocked me nonetheless. It was an easy error, Zweig was describing the room that his main character and her aged mother live in, and was describing the furniture, and how the family had fallen on hard times and as a result most of the furniture had been sold off to a junk dealer. Easy enough, and very well written, and descriptive, good tone setting literature.  However, it was during this little passage that I noticed the blip. He describes a chair, an old family 'heir loom' that after being in the family for generations, also had to go the way of the junk dealer. Sold off to help pay the food bills, after all, a girl's got to eat you know.  Then suddenly about a page later, the aged mother, upon receiving some shocking news, falls into a faint. And here lies the rub, where does she land BUT INTO THE CHAIR. The same chair that a page or so ago had been consigned to the junk dealer's second hand shop. There was no mention of it being retrieved from hock, and it was just a simple error on Zweig's part. After all, he was writing wonderful story arcs, what did he care about the mis-mention of a chair from one page to the next? 

Zweig was also writing to pay HIS bills, and I am pretty sure that is a full time occupation, and he probably had several books 'going' at once. I find it hard to READ more than one book at a time, I can't fathom what it must be like to write more than one at a time. I am sure that he didn't notice the slip, and his editor should have caught it, and I doubt I am the first reader to see it as well, but there it is for all the world to see. This is not a criticism of him in anyway, in fact, it is a celebration of his art. It made me very happy to find that mistake, because it made me realize (as an very untalented 'writer') that even fucking geniuses make mistakes. Zweig took his place on my hero podium on his assigned day, and this little blip only makes him more heroic.  As a 'writer' who has been told a couple of times lately that he has talent, but who is full of self-doubt to the point of disbelieve, finding this blip was a godsend. It showed me that sometimes even the best of the best make mistakes, and even with all the editing in the world the mistake is still there.

I have a tendency to put my hero's on higher pedestals that they 'deserve', and I tend to measure myself against them, and being hard on myself, I find that in that measuring I come up very, very, short by comparison. It is a flaw (amongst many) in my character, and I realize it, but have difficulty in repairing it. However, this little 'magic moment' has restored (if that is the right word) a small modicum of self-believe. And self-believe is important it is one of the few things that (in theory at least) the world can't take (or give for that matter) away from you. It is the believe in your 'self' that should fuel your battle against the world. The 'war' we wage each and every day against the world that sometimes seem bent upon our destruction. It is one of the few weapons we possess that allows us to fight off the hordes of people who wish to annihilate us. It is something that is precious beyond price, and something that you should never, ever give up to another living soul. Keep that self-believe, wrap it around you like a cloak of invincibility, and hold on to it like grim death. 

Of course, Zweig is (and will always remain) streets ahead of me in the writing 'race', but I can take some comfort in the fact that he was, in spite of his massive talent, not perfect. Not that he claimed to be, his perfection is just me projecting onto him my wide eyed amazement at his ability to turn a phrase. That amazement remain undiminished despite this little blip in his writing. I am certainly not going to stop reading him, and will probably read even more of his writings, because now that I know he isn't perfect it makes him even more readable, and in many, many ways more human.