Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I bailed out on attending a show tonight in order to stay home and get to bed, for once this week, at a reasonable hour.

Thursdays, I start work at 7AM. Not too bad, I've had jobs that I've started work at 330 or 4AM. It's nice, in its own way, coasting up a freeway that is most bare of traffic, enjoying the morning light, the odd feelings of companionship that spring from seeing the others on the road, not like you get when you hit the road when it's 2 or 3, when everything is dark, no eye contact, no human recognition with your fellow commuters.

Everyone's just a metal shell during those hours, a metal shell and bright lights.

I'm still running sick, the tail end dragging on for far too long. Anything gets in my lungs and I'm shot for weeks.

And, of course, there's work itself, work in this crucial week, the feelings of pressure building as dead air looms... a phrase that would only make sense if you work in the industry I do. Which is not radio, by the by.

The week is ramping up, people are scrambling, trying to make that last call, time delay running us hard leads to working at home, trying to tie up those remaining loose ends.

I'm 26. I look back to ten years ago, ten years ago this time of year. Junior year of high school. Cutting classes, miserable as hell, failing or near-failure most everything I was taking. Prom was coming up, the only school dance I bothered to attend. My date was an idiot, but my high school required us to have a date of the opposite sex, as they wished to discourage people buying solo tickets and showing up with a person as the same sex as their date.

Only in Orange County.

And the Midwest.

Oh, and the South.

My date did not dance, so he sat and moped, then became incredibly angry at me for leaving him to go dance with friends, somehow assuming that since I was his date, I was supposed to not leave his side (and, therefore, the table) the entire night.

I almost did not get to go to prom. That was the time when I first tried cutting myself, and was, of course, doing it for attention and only attention. That wound me up in the ER being evaluated by a pscyh specialist, who confirmed I was only doing it for attention, and it was fine for me to go.

I remember very well the cab ride back home with my mother, 2AM, exhausted and frustrated, frustrated that whatever I had wanted to happen (someone to actually listen to me, acknowledge me, most likely) did not happen.

I remember my father standing over me in the family room, pre-hospital trip, angrily saying something along the lines of, "Oh, you think you're depressed and you're going to cut yourself, huh? You think it's fun to fuck with people, huh? Well now you get too see what happens when you take adult steps. You get to go to the hospital and maybe get locked up because you did such a fucking smart thing. Have fun dealing with your choices."

Hadn't thought about that in a long while. Had almost forgotten.

Prom had been just a few days away from that little event.

My parents bribed me to squeak by in my classes, I think I only failed two of them, one of them being English as the teacher and I had gotten into a tiff and I boycotted his class for the majority of the semester. He never reported my absences because he did not want me coming back.

He ended up marrying one of his students a few years later, after she graduated.

He was a good teacher, though, aside from his attitude problem(s). I learned a lot from him.

Obviously, though, not how to form paragraphs correctly or stop with run-on sentences.

He supported my writing, loved my essays. We just couldn't get along outside of that.

I spent the summer independent studying my way through senior year, started college in the fall, sixteen, angry, trying so hard to be unique, to stand out, to be recognized as special.

Throw a sixteen year old girl, desperately looking for someone to tell her she's special, into a community college setting, surrounded by men varying in age between 18 to 30, and see what happens.

My professor tossed this quote at us a little bit ago:

“The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom...for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough.” ~ William Blake

It reminded me of these things, of the stupidity, of the excess. Christ, the excess. The overexposure. I was 16. I should have been navigating the waters of the opposite sex my own age range. I should have been learning with the rest of them.

Instead I skipped class, sat in way beyond my level.

Sink or swim.

I'm still not quite sure what I did, between those two options.

But you learn, hopefully quickly, how to survive. But, back then, I did not want to survive. I was intent on destruction of self, trying to do so many horrible things to myself and the people around me so I'd finally lose all chance of redemption, become something not worth consuming air.

No matter what I did, though, the loathing was never enough. I never could hate myself, I never could tell myself I was not worth this earth anymore. Even when my mom was sobbing her eyes out in bed over the things I was doing, what little she knew, I could not... I could not.

It took me so many years to get over that time period, stretching from sixteen to eighteen, and the damage I did to myself. I suppose there's a debate in my head over what would be better: to have someone else causing the damage to you, you unable to stop it or doing the damage yourself, being in control of your fall.

The idea of control is so enticing.

But when I look back and mentally facepalm myself, I find myself detached from other people who have also experienced long-lasting trauma because most of them never had a choice. Most of them did not have what I did: family and friends behind me, hoping that I would come out of it, always willing to extend a hand when I asked, even if they knew they were only allowing me to continue my descent.

We do what we do for a reason. No matter the potential for regrets, we make the best decisions we can at the time, based on what we know and how we feel. They might be moronic decisions, but there is no baseline to look at, no control group of an alternative "You" to examine with a little notepad, pen dangling from the corner of your mouth, going, "Yep, shoulda taken that left at Albuquerque."

Do I wonder what I might have been?

I've been told that I'm no longer anything like I was. That I was waiting to grow up and be a librarian with loads of cats and maybe a husband who taught junior high math. Flowered skirts and gold-rimmed glasses. I'd probably have been married by now, probably living near my parents, maybe a kid or two, depending on how early I got started.

When I was thirteen or so, my family took a trip to Georgia to visit some long-time friends. We sat outside on their back porch, air heavy with wet heat, their chocolate labrador running haywire through the miniature forest that was their backyard, the men barbequing and laughing, beers at the ready.

There were five kids: my sister, the three boys of the family we visited, and myself.

I do not know who thought of it, why they decided to do it, but the four of our parents and the boys' grandmother got out a yellow notebook, and made a list of our names, then wrote down what they thought we would do with our lives, what we would be when we got older.

They pegged my sister, I remember. Dance team and cheerleader, blonde, outgoing and popular, Miss Priss, fashionable, work in some sort of public industry like entertainment, catering, hotels.

I was the quiet one, the bookworm. Live at home or always nearby, they said. Maybe write a little, maybe get married. Probably a homebody, maybe sell a book or two, probably end up working at a library in some way or another.

Well, that was just a bit off.

Makes me wish this blog wasn't anonymous, so I could put up a picture of who I was at sixteen to who I am now. When I bust out those pictures, my friends can hardly recognize me most of the time.

Of course, sometimes it's a stretch for me. I remember the clothes, the place, the people I'm with... but do I remember being that person? Did I shrug her off like a coat? Is she still in me, somewhere? Would I have liked who I am now, would I have made the choice to become This instead of That? Would she have given me the reins, with the knowledge I have now, and told me to do what I had to do, be who I could be, do more with this life than hide myself between pages of books?

I feel her, sometimes, when a man wows me, makes me awkward and girlish, crushing from a distance, too overpowered by the concept of him. Doesn't happen often, and even then, it's like light seeping in from under a doorframe, the illuminating the barest accent of furniture inside a near-empty room.

I keep growing and changing in this direction that I never thought to take.

Sitting on the floor of my apartment, still without a desk, on a dark colored carpet dancing with red squares. A now bare plate at my left knee, a salt shaker by my right foot, crumpled papertowel at my side, laptop rest on my legs. Bed to my back, books to my back, left, and right, windows with vertical blinds in front of me, empty boxes stacked high.

Was I supposed to be here, at this moment?

Was everything leading to each Now I experience? Movements stacking up, ripples that don't go away pushing outwards. Each book, each piece of furniture, each item, bought at a particular time, bought by who I have become, to surround me, weave me into this dreamcatcher's web.

To solidify the what-might-have-been into the-what-is.


  1. Thank you for opening this window to your soul. There are no castles, walls, moats or drawbridges in the posting.

    Just vulnerability.

  2. Even though it may not be fate (it very well may be) every last decision you have made has led you to the point you are at right now. You are the sum of all of your experiences.

  3. I once took midnight jobs to learn a lucrative trade in a bleak, industrial town that had nothing to offer but a lucrative job.

    Many times, while driving the opposite way from hurtling traffic, it occurred to me that everything - everything - struck me as alienating about experiencing that time of day from the viewpoint of labor. Even entering bed at 8am offered no succor, instead, it further hammered home the reality of folly.

    I wrote many words about my experience then, some haunting, some vengeful - but even to this day I remember it vividly, when reignited by words such as yours.

    Perhaps one day, if I know you better, I'll share them with you.

  4. Hey, Poetry, I just finished shoveling snow for the third time this week. It's good, honest work. The kind where you can think about things while digging out your pickup.

    I thought about your posting while I was outside. It's so well done that I resolved not to compete with you. (Even if I were a journalist (which I'm not), I'd know better than to compete with Shakespeare.)


    While reading your quote from William Blake, I heard an echo. So, I hit my books until I found it:

    "You watch the line and try to lean [the motorcycle] with it . . . howling through a turn to the right, then to the left and down the long hill to Pacifica . . . letting off now, watching for cops, but only until the next dark stretch and another few seconds on the edge . . . The Edge . . . There is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over. The others -- the living -- are those who pushed their control as far as they felt they could handle it, and then pulled back, or slowed down, or did whatever they had to when it came time to choose between Now and Later."

    It's reported that Hunter Thompson knew something about excess, a whole lot more than Blake. Does that mean that my author tops your author?

    Okay, okay. I can hear your thoughts. You read Blake. I read Thompson. I've blown my last chance to win your heart. Jeez, I knew from the first time I read one of your weblog entries that you were way more intelligent than I. (grins)


    There is a lack of blame and criticism in your posting. None for the teacher. None for your prom date. None for your father. None for the eighteen- to thirty-year-olds you went to the university with. It would have been easy for you to blame them. But you didn't.

    That means you have a beautiful soul.

    In your posting, you make good use of time. You nimbly dance between the past and the present. But where's the future?

    No matter what the evo-psych proponents say, the future's not determined by behavior patterns encoded in genes. Okay, now that I've disposed of the whole of science, let me predict your future.

    Where someone has an incredibly intelligent mind, where someone has a strong and honest will, and where someone has a beautiful soul, there's only one future she can have. A wonderful one.

    And that thirteen-year-old, girl bookworm? She'd be real proud of you, Poetry.

  5. Very nice post. Honest, touching. I still wonder what it was that sent you down that road at 16. I have some ideas, but I need more info. And there are definitely more than traces of that bookworm/writer kid on you. Still not too late for you to end up as a librarian - or married with children.

  6. Savage,

    The focus of Dark City was to answer the question of if we are the sum of our experiences. I've always felt that we are, but I have to wonder if that sum will topple over if it becomes a bit too top-heavy.


    I've so rarely seen you serious and inoffensive, I'm mildly taken aback. And you can write, you can write well.

    I'd love to read your words, and I very much do hope to get to know you better.


    I'm hardly Shakespeare, hehe. I don't even you your snow. I love the rain, I love how it shifts Los Angeles in such a dramatic way.

    But snow? Eesh. I'm going up to June Lake in a month with some friends. They said there's going to be snow. I'm apprehensive. I don't trust this snow stuff.

    I barely read Blake. I haven't read him in years, actually. It's just for this class, and now I get to bury my head in his work for a week or so. Which Thompson book is that from? His writing, which I've never read, is wonderful.

    Intelligence is a weird topic for me. I have a couple entries on this, though they aren't tagged, earlier last year.

    As for blame... I don't blame others for my actions. I took the route I chose, I reacted to stimuli. People can do worlds of harm to you, but you are in control of what you do with the damage, you are in control of what you learn. There's no blame to assign, just responsibility.

    I don't like talking about the future because things change constantly, and to have a set plan, set dreams, seems foolish to me. My own damage, I know.

    I hope my thirteen-year-old self would understand. I can hardly remember her, but I think she'd admire who I am now.


    Thank you. There's multiple factors in my choices, some I'm probably not even aware of. I think I'd go insane in a library, though. I need more stimulation now.

  7. Hey, Poetry, you asked me where the Hunter S. Thompson quotation came from. It came from his book, "Hell's Angels." Please don't try to read it. It's not worth your time. Well, it's not worth your time, except for the full quotation. Here it is, assuming I didn't goof up the cutting and pasting:

    Later I read "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," Thompson's most famous work. I enjoyed the first four pages. Then his writing repeated itself, over and over. So you can imagine how delighted I was when I found something he wrote that was only four pages total: "Song of the Sausage Creature." I loved it. I really did. I hope you do too:

  8. Jeez, even the background is black here. It makes me feel like I'm lost in a long, perfectly dark tunnel.

    It's a good thing some brilliant, charming, and handsome guy interjected a little Hunter Thompson into the weblog. That same guy told me that he rejects the theory that humans have to be dour to be deep. Then he said you needed something to make you smile.

    Here's what he asked me to send you, Poetry:

    I hope you like it.

  9. When I first started reading your blog I thought you were in NY City, lol. Of course it didnt take long before I realisec you were in Southern California. Your life and your stories are intreging and I would venture tosay that most of us out here have gone through some of the things you have gone through it just doesn't land on the page of a blog. I do believe that you create your own destiny and that you are the total sum of your experiences. You wouldn't be the person that you are if you hadn't gone through the things you have gone through. Just be proud of who you are and believe in yourself. Thanks,Susan

  10. Rider,

    Loving that video, dancing around my apartment to it while I cleaned. I've yet to see "Easy Rider", though... probably should.


    I was recently in NYC, so it's not at all surprising with my occasional mention of it that you'd think that.

    I've been told not to be proud of who I am just as many times as I've been told to be modest. It's quite confusing, trying to figure out the balance.

  11. The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom...for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough. ~ William Blake

    Speaks to me.
    It's like playing a game of Chicken with fate.
    How far can you take it?
    How far are you willing to venture out on that limb?
    I've dared too far, too many times, and the point of diminishing returns tells me to stop. Now.

  12. At your service, Beautiful Poetry. The video and song fit you perfectly.

    Now, if only I had been there to see you dance. . . .


    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should consider every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh."
    -- F. Nietzsche