Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Sacrificial Bonfire

“Change must be earnt
Sacrificial bonfire must reign
Reign over good
Banish the bad
Oh,Reign over good
Banish the bad, oh, ohh.”
-“Sacrificial Bonfire,” XTC

Jack Lindon was the first one to arrive at the hill. The late afternoon had not turned to twilight just yet, as the setting sun still lit the horizon orange and gold. This, in turn, created a contrast with the sea which was dark, save for the white caps of waves and the small glittering yellow area directly beneath the sun.

He decided to light a cigarette, cupping his hands against the breeze that was flowing inland, bending the hilltop grasses and heather away from him. He then loosened his black tie, and fought the urge to scratch his neck itching from the heavily starched white collar. His black dress slack was looser than he liked, and let the wind flow around his legs. His black suit jacket did a serviceable job keeping him warm.

Beneath him, the village lights were beginning to turn on. Children and adults alike would be dressed up as fairies and dragons, cowboys and astronauts, winding their way through the streets for candies. By the end of the night, after the children were returned home, the villagers would congregate in the main square for the Hallow’s Eve Carnival, laughing and drinking, exchanging kisses between gaudy masks.

Well, the villagers except for Jack and a few, select others.

Jack walked to the kindling on the top of the hill, a large mass of dried wood, old newspaper and discarded toys. As the newest member of the Hill Gang, he had carried the kindling during the dead of night for the last three months. He was one of the few volunteers in the recent past, saving others from the Lottery for the next three years.

For most of his life, the rhythm of Jack’s fortune had followed a point and counterpoint. The rise of his schooling, and later in life, his career, would be inevitably matched by a nadir in his love life–promotions that would occur with a break up. Likewise, the flowering of each new romance would coincide with setbacks in the office or a disruption in his career. Had this rhythm continued, Jack would probably have not volunteered. Even now he was thinking about the flash of green eyes, the kind smile.

However, the last three months of Jack’s life had inexplicably changed. The fortunes in both his career and his love life suddenly met with obstacles simultaneously. He had realized that he had squandered his career by being complacent, and by resting on the graces of his friends instead of completing his own path. At the same time, he inelegantly stumbled in his tentative conversations with a woman who had just recently moved into the village so that promising meetings quickly turned to silence.

By the time Jack finished half a pack of cigarettes, the sun had set beneath the sea, leaving only a red corona surrounded by a deep blue.

“Those things will kill you.” Jack turned around and saw Dr. Kinderman, his physician, a short, stout man in his fifties with curling, salt and pepper hair. Dr. Kinderman was also dressed in a black suit and white shirt, though his was a little more expensive, and certainly more tailored.

Both Jack and Dr. Kinderman chuckled at the weak joke.

“How long have been here?” Dr. Kinderman asked. “You know, no one would have minded if you decided to get a couple of pints, do some flirting. We understand that you’re still young, you know.”

“That’s OK, Dr. Kinderman. I needed to get some air.”

“My my my, so serious. Well, as I said, youth is often wasted on the young. If you’re not going to be drinking with your friends, you might as well take a swig of this, so long as you hand me one of those cancer sticks.” Dr. Kinderman handed Jack a hip flask full of whiskey.

Eventually, more of the Hill Gang arrived. George Haversham, an affluent, thin man in his late-sixties, instructed Jack to start the bonfire. Jack, being the newest member and the youngest, felt awkward among the established members, who were talking amongst themselves about the latest capital gains tax issues, or the doings of their children and grandchildren. Dr. Kinderman had noticed Jack, standing quietly near the fire. “No need to mingle, Jack. You’ll come into your own after tonight,” he said kindly.

By midnight, the Hill Gang was waiting for two more members. The Carnivale in the village was dying down. Jack saw two figures walking up the hill. He knew that they were David Morrison, the second youngest member of the Hill Gang, a young partner at the international law firm of Hale Dickenson, and Alfred Kensington, the oldest member at seventy-two, the founder of the third largest supermarket chain.

“Looks like your initiation is going to be easy,” Dr. Kinderman said. “We don’t have a runner this year.”

Mr. Haversham called out as soon as David and Mr. Kensington were lighted by the bonfire. “I think now is about as good as time as any to start and finish. Dr. Kinderman, do you have the things of old?”

Jack helped Dr. Kinderman carry a trunk of discarded items collected from all the villagers. Jack’s own contributions were photos and letters from old girlfriends. Jack then tipped the trunk into the bonfire.

“Mr. Morrison, is the sacrificial goat ready?” Mr. Haversham asked.

David held Mr. Kensington by his shoulders. It was only then that Jack noticed the golden crown on Mr. Kensington’s head, and that his arms were held behind his back, no doubt bound. Mr. Kensington was swaying, his eyes barely open.

Mr. Haversham sighed. “There was a time when the sacrificial goat was not drugged, and knew its duty.”

“Times change,” Dr. Kinderman said with a shrug.

“Yes, well, indeed they do. Jack, please truss the sacrificial goat.”

Jack walked toward Mr. Kensington and led him toward the bonfire. He then took his belt and wrapped it around Mr. Kensington’s ankles.

“Let us sear the bonfire with the fat of the sacrificial goat,” Mr. Haversham intoned.

Jack looked back at Dr. Kinderman, who nodded his head. He then kicked Mr. Kensington, planting his right foot on Mr. Kensington’s ass and shoving hard.

The kick propelled Mr. Kensington into the fire. Mr. Kensington, like those outside the fire, remained silent. Except for the crackling of meat, it was no different visually than watching a pile of clothes burn.

As the flames began to hide the body, Mr. Haversham nodded to Mr. Morrison. Mr. Morrison produced a gold crown and placed it upon Jack’s head.

“The king is dead, long live the king,” Mr. Haversham said.

“The king is dead, long live the king,” everyone repeated.

“Constable, you’ll take care of the fire I presume,” Mr. Haversham said to a thin man in his forties. When the constable nodded, Mr. Haversham said, “Good, I’m parched. Let’s get a stiff drink for Mr. Lindon.”

Jack felt no change in his fortune, and instead, felt a little foolish with the crown on his head. However, all the members of the Hill Gang were patting him on the back, asking him to stop by their offices, come by their homes. It was too soon to worry about what would happen to him forty-two years from now. Jack walked down the hill, a little tired, and still thinking about the flash of green eyes and a kind smile.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Days Between Stations

“We are all of us living stories that on some deep level give us satisfaction. If we are unhappy with our stories, that is not enough to free us from them.” –Jane’s tutor, “Iron Dragon’s Daughter” by Michael Swanwick

During his freshman October at Duke, an autumn storm fell heavily upon Durham leaving the East Campus full of black ponds and puddles at night. Jack and his friends were rushing from the parking lot to Pegram. The walkway had disappeared underneath the reflections of the orange lamps on the water that had inundated the back lawns of the dorms. None of them had been wise enough to bring an umbrella in the quick trip to Franklin Street and back.

One of Jack’s friend was a North Carolina native, and warned them that they should watch their step. Copperheads were known to come out during the rain, easily rattled and somewhat poisonous. Jack was from the northeast, and the closest he ever got to a snake were small, three-inch long garter snakes, so he made short thrift of the warning as he ran. Then he heard his friend yell, “Stop!”

A few feet ahead of him, something long, thin and sinuous moved slightly above the water. It was perpendicular to him, and soon vanished into the darkness. Jack and his friends moved more carefully after that.

When Jack saw the snake, he felt two incongruent emotions at the same time, both of which had kept him still. He felt awe, amazed that such a creature could exist. He knew theoretically that copperheads did exist, but to see the actuality of such an animal but a few feet ahead stunned him. The other emotion he felt was terror. Had he kept running, he would have been bitten. Had the copperhead sense him, it could have changed course.

Since then, Jack had felt awe and terror on several occasions, though not simultaneously. He hadn’t thought about the copperhead until today.

Jack had been rereading Steve Erickson’s first novel, “Days Between Stations.” It was the type of novel that didn’t have a summary of plot on the back cover, but instead had glowing quotes from various authors, including Thomas Pynchon. Of course, the reason for this was that it was a novel that was so dense with atmosphere, relationship and entanglements that it would do it a disservice to summarize the novel as “a novel about love,” or “a novel of a quiet apocalypse.”

He began rereading “Days Between Stations” when the Santa Ana winds kicked up, making the October days unseasonably hot, while the nights were cold. The descriptions of Los Angeles slowly covered by sands, of Paris burning in bonfires during a frozen winter, or Venice losing its lagoons, all of which were described languidly and matter-of-factly without any explanation, seemed appropriate for the strange days near the close of October.

Jack had not read the novel in a while, and so had forgot the details of the novel even though he remember specific images. The impulse that drove him from scene to scene was not the relationship between Lauren, her unfaithful husband Jason and Michel, but rather the scenes of moonbridges in the backyards of Los Angeles homes, or the innate blue light of Wyndeaux. The connections between those impulses, though, were the descriptions of the emotional lives of the characters, the yearnings and losses.

When Jack reached page 226, he felt that same mixture of awe and terror as when he saw the copperhead.

Jack had first read “Days Between Stations” eleven years earlier. The scene when Lauren went to Venice after her husband, Jason, who had been carelessly unfaithful, knowing that Lauren would always forgive him, begged for once last chance obviously had not registered with Jack after his first couple of readings. Nor did the passages of Michel’s arrival, confident that Lauren would not forgive Jack, Michel's interminable wait for Lauren’s answer, Michel's incomprehension when Lauren chose Jason.

But nine years after first reading “Days between Station,” the first among many incidents occurred with Jack’s own Lauren, a woman named Lynn, on a certain terrible Friday afternoon. And two years after that afternoon, reading the novel again on the hot October day, Jack realized that pages 226 through 238 described with one hundred percent accuracy the actions and emotions of that certain terrible Friday afternoon.

There were superficial differences. Jack’s own interminable waiting took place in his flat in Westwood instead of a hotel room in Venice, Lynn’s discussion occurred in Century City instead of the Accademia Bridge. But otherwise, the passages described almost perfectly Jack’s slow disintegration, Lynn’s decision to stay with Jon, even Jon’s pleading bitter tone toward Lynn.

Jack’s own story and “Days Between Stations” would diverge significantly after that. However, the awe and the terror remained.

To see his own actions and emotions described in a book written twenty years ago, and first read eleven years ago, awed Jack. If he were more metaphysically inclined, he would say he was awed that a novel could foretell events in his own life so clearly. That life suddenly became a piece of metafiction excited and amazed him.

However, the terror came in more than one form. Jack was rational enough to understand that he’s not the first person to be on the losing end of a love triangle, and perhaps the fact that his life so coincided with a novel was that his life, his emotions were simply a cliche. The terror also came from the thought that, if there were some sort of connection between what he read and what happened to him, then he was more than likely doomed “to find himself so near a precipice, and yet to realize so dispassionately what was happening to him[.]”

There was someone new, though to say “new in his life” was somewhat of an overstatement and perhaps a jinx. Suffice it to say, there was a new character and whether she becomes a major character or briefly mentioned in a passage is still uncertain. However, the closeness of “Days Between Stations” unnerved him. He began thinking of what other novels from which his future might fashion.

He could attempt to tread more carefully with the new character, and hopefully fashion his life to one of the lighter stories. And yet, well, yet has still to be fashioned. In the meantime, Jack will simply have to hope that the new character, in whatever role she plays, will cause a different satisfaction at a deeper level, one to change his story.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Living with the Law

I just had a conversation with a friend and former colleague, we'll call her Special K (not because she's special in a short bus kinda way or special in the other kinda way, but just because it sounds friggin' cool). She and I started at my first BigLaw gig at the same time, and we got along because we both knew from the start that the legal gig should be viewed as a temporary phase to be endured until we saved up enough money to stop being miserable.

What's funny in our conversations is that we always turn to the same topic, even if we hadn't spoken for months, and that topic is this: At our age, aren't we supposed to have figured out what the fuck we want to do with the rest of our lives?

Special K now works only part time for BigLaw--in her calculus, which should be applauded, that additional income of billing 2400 didn't nearly compensate her for the time she would have lost watching her two kids grow up. But the funny aspect is that she's been saying that she'll leave the legal profession entirely for the last three years, and it was kind of a shock to find out she was still at BigLaw today.

Not that I'm fairing any better. There's a part of me almost gagging to get back into the law--mainly because I don't want to use all my reserves up. And unfortunately, the Santa Monica gig is still slow and has decided that's the way it likes it. So I'm stuck in the position of potentially working at Certain Someone's firm, which is apparently hiring though I haven't heard back. This is a shit position, no matter how you look at it. Either I get the gig and get paid a load a cashish while my emotional stability takes a hit, or I don't which means I have to settle for much lesser paying gigs or even worse, no gigs at all.

In any event, back to the what the fuck am I doing with my life issue. Although being a document review drone pays a helluva lot better than being a bag boy at Whole Foods or a book stocker at Borders, the law--with it's inherent adversarial nature, where mostly fucktards rise to the top--is an emotional and intellectual grind. It leaves many of us physically ill thinking about forty years of dealing with asshole opposing counsel, incompetent case management and, well, document review. So obviously, being a lawyer is not what I want to be doing for the rest of my life. I guess I should take comfort in that I am far from the only one out there who feels this way.

On the other hand, what is the alternative? I've begun to realize that, even though I can write damn well, it's the impetus to write damn well about something that is lacking most of the time. And even if I could churn out a short story a day, a novel a month, publishing is still a complete crap shoot. I know, I see the advice about writing everyday, the platitudes that you don't write for money but out of love. And I do love writing. But if it were that easy, then every earnest blogger out there, every plump New Jersey housewife who writes fanfiction for Days of Our Lives, every nebbishly Los Angeles Starbucks barista would be best-selling authors.

What keeps me going is that I don't want to end up twenty years from now and saying, "I gave up on my dreams when I was fifty," which my dad actually said. (If there's a narrative that I'm living, I'd rather it not be Willy Loman's.)

But in the meantime, it looks like I, as well as a multitude of discontent attorneys. will just have to go on doing the whole lives of quiet desperation thing. Shit. Thank God for XBOX 360s, Oban scotch and the furtive glances of green eyes I guess.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

And now for something completely different

For some reason, this skit from Kids in the Hall makes me laugh and laugh and laugh . . .

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Pyramid Song

"I jumped in the river and what did I see?
Black-eyed angels swam with me
A moon full of stars and astral cars
All the things I used to see
All my lovers were there with me
All my past and futures
And we all went to heaven in a little row boat
There was nothing to fear and nothing to doubt"
--"Pyramid Song", Radiohead

Lately, a recent memory began replaying in his mind. At the beginning of the year, he had been invited to celebrate a friend's birthday at a dinner and flamenco show in Los Feliz. He was still taking several blood pressure pills at the highest dosages, making him faintly and pleasantly dizzy on a regular basis.

Evening came quickly and early, so that by six, it was already pitch black save for the orange lights coming from street lamps. He had not eaten much during the day, nor had he drank much alcohol in the prior months. Yet the stress of driving in an area foreign to him increased his craving for a shot of whiskey and a beer. Also, he was using his doctor's advice that a moderate amount of alcohol was good for his heart as an excuse to start drinking again.

Several of his friends were already at the restaurant, which was almost as dark as the outside, its wood interior dimly illuminated in red and orange. They had all decided to order a pitcher of sangria, and he decided to also order a beer. He made short thrift of the beer and finished a glass of sangria rather quickly.

Within the half hour, he began to feel rather warm. His heart was making a hummingbird beat. It felt like he was breathing through smoke. He started seeing flashes of color and stars in the corner of his vision. He excused himself to go outside to grab some fresh air. Every so often, he had felt this claustorphobic response which dissipated after a few minutes in the cool air. He had no reason to expect any differently.

One the friends followed him outside to make sure he was OK. He reassured the friend that he was perfectly fine, and that he just needed to sit down. Then he was on his back, opening his eyes, his friend saying, "It's OK, man. Just rest. You passed out." He actually felt better than he had in months. His mind was clear. He felt refreshed. Eventually, he went inside, watched the flamenco show and had dinner. "Don't pass out" became the running inside joke among his friends.

There was a significance to this memory that he would later tell only to his high school friend a coast away. There was no subjective transition between setting himself down to sit, reassuring his friend he was quite alright and then opening his eyes, his back on the concrete walkway. Apparently, a minute or so had passed. And yet he felt no passage of time while his brain decided to shut down briefly. That minute period was a nothingness--no consciousness, no thoughts, no dreams or hallucinations. There was not even an awareness of a nothingness. This is when he realized that he did not fear his own mortality. If there was no awareness, this nothingness, even with a brief deprivation of oxygen to the brain, then what was there to fear?

He would come back to this memory in the couple of months after that friend's birthday dinner, when he was barely able to cope with a broken relationship that had ended several months previously. It was the closest to the edge that he had ever been. It is the fear of whatever lay in that undiscovered country that kept most in his position alive, that fear outweighing whatever pain was being felt. But without that fear, the emotional calculus changed--to know that the alternative to that paralyzing sadness was a nothingness so complete that you were unaware of it. But for better or for worse, he valued the feelings of this friends and his family more than his own. It would be selfish for him to take that step. He even thought about his cat that had grown attached to him and only him, plaintively yowling for a scritch behind the ear, the rub on the tummy that would never come. This pulled him back.

He got help. Eventually, he learned how to deal. He went through the motions. He had met people who exited as quickly out of his life as quickly as they came, and because this did not bother him (in fact, he had a palpable sense of relief whenever this happened), he was convinced that he had lost the ability to feel that spark of potential, to feel smitten. This, he believed, was not a bad thing. It made life simpler. Soon, other factors in the emotional calculus became greater. The warmth of friends, a late lunch at a Santa Monica pub with the cool ocean air drifting through, good thoughts that kept him tethered.

And then, about a month ago, another friend invited him to happy hour at a cozy Hollywood bar to meet some friends of friends. This was not unusual. He expected to go out, go through the motions of chatting with new people, then go home and watch whatever he had Tivo'd quickly forgetting the names and the faces of those he met. But a small thing happened. Maybe it was a smile, or a sustained glance, or having his jokes being laughed at. Maybe it was none of those. But there was a small feeling which he thought was dead, and suddenly it mattered if he saw her again.

This scared the shit out of him. With the spark comes a good chance that it will become extinguished. Simplicity becomes chaotic. He knew himself very well, and knew that he, in all likelihood, would fuck this up.

And when he didn't fuck up the next few times he saw her again, it gave him a feeling of hope. Maybe he could escape the past. Maybe he could let go and move on.

But unfortunately, this coincided with a very bad anniversary. Maybe it was self-sabatoge given certain admonishments about the age difference, or given that he was not wholly over the other relationship. Maybe it was just pure stupidity. But as he predicted, he fucked it up and fucked it up royally, mentioning that other relationship on the one time they hung out without others. He acted too intense instead of just being.

Like the other women in the past few months, she exited his life as quickly as she came in. Unlike the other women, he regretted this.

His emotional calculus began to change again. That feeling of spark, that feeling of being smitten was now inextricably tied with that feeling of frustration, helplessness and sadness. He didn't know which was worse--that most of his friends thought "Shit, how is he gonna fuck this up?" whenever he met someone, or that he never disabused them of this notion.

He began craving whiskey at 11 in the morning, a pack of Malboro Reds. He had to hide himself from certain get togethers so as not to make her feel awkward. He tried to be proactive, to keep the calculus stable by taking selective serotonin inhibitors. He tried to remind himself of other short-lived situations like this, the memories of which he barely remembered.

This doesn't change the fact that he's not out on the weekends, that he had to stay home yesterday night.

The signifance isn't just this most recent incident, but the likelihood that this incident will be one of a long, inevitable sequence of friendly correspondence filled with potential turning into silence. The significance is the return of that memory of the incident from earlier this year, that nothingness so complete you aren't even aware of it. The significance is that each further sequence will lead to a tipping point in his emotional calculus.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


So I have embarked on yet another pharmacological journey with yet another serotonin reuptake inhibitor--this time it's paxil. I was getting sick of thoughts that repeatedly circled around my mind like particles around an accretion disk, that would not leave me alone until they finally flared as intense behavior, mental paralysis, or blog entries. It should come as no surprise that my mother is on paxil, and that there is no doubt a genetic component to my behavior. It's actually changed her personality for the better--she's calmer, less intense. So I figured what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Now, much of what I'm feeling is no doubt a placebo effect--I've only been taking it for a week, and most SRI's take at least a month to have any noticeable effect. But I do feel a change. And I wouldn't be me if I didn't say I feel rather ambivalent about this.

On the one hand, sure I still have certain thoughts that I hold onto more often than not, but the urgency and the sense of helplessness that I have no control over these events are gone. There is a lack of intensity to my feelings--sure I may be sad that I really dropped the ball recently, but it's a distant, clinical sadness instead of a keening, depressive sadness.

On the other hand, this lack of intensity has hampered my urge to create and my enjoyment of anything creative. Listening to my Ipod on shuffle leads at best to a harmless nostalgia. I'm reading novels out of a sense of inertia instead of a sense of wonder. I can barely be bothered to write the second short story.

I'll give this thing a full month on the chance that this is simply my mind going through changes, and that I'll be in a new equilibrium soon. Maybe grey is how life is supposed to be.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Back Where We Started . . .

And so yet another full year has passed in my life, and I am officially in my "mid-thirties." In any event, I figured now that the first day of my mid-thirties has passed, I'd do a survey made up by yours truly since I'm still wired.

What was the first song you heard on your birthday?
Well, at midnight, my Ipod played "Wave of Mutilation." Not sure I want that to have any portentious meaning there. The first official song of the morning was "Green Eyes" by Coldplay, and I really frakking hope that does mean something.

What was the first thing you watched on television on your birthday?
MSNBC. I can't remember what the tagline was.

What was the first thing you ate/drank on your birthday?
Some limeade with a bunch o' pills.

What was the first think you read on your birthday?
Page 46 of lost boy lost girl by Peter Straub--"On the grounds that the overall roominess more than made up for the added cost, whenever possible Tim Underhill rented Lincoln Town Cars."

What gifts did you receive?
The warm company of good friends--plus I'm sure the 'rents are sending some cashish.

What gifts did you buy yourself?
A whole bunchamunchacruncha books.

What did you do for your birthday?
Met my wonderful friends at the Well in Hollywood, then headed for another Hollywood party as a second act.

What did you wish for?
Yeah, I'm not telling that one, but I'm hoping against hope it will come true.

Best part of your birthday?
Obviously hanging out with friends, especially a buddy who drove all the way from the OC. And there is a small thing that made me giddy for a while.

Worst part?
Awww, why'd you have to go negative. OK, realizing that I may have f'd up on something that I hope my birthday wish will rectify.

Last song you heard on your birthday?
Not sure. Midnight passed by without me knowing. Though the last song I heard when I got out of the car was Fatboy Slim's Song for Shelter.

You sure you won't tell us your birthday wish?
Won't come true if I tell it. Though it does have something to do with the small thing that made me giddy and that something I may have f'd up.

Plans for the year?
I would like a place I could call my own, have a conversation on the telephone, wake up everyday that would be a start, I would not complain about my wounded heart. Oh, plans that aren't a New Order lyric--OK, get something published, maybe, just maybe have a non-dramatic healthy relationship (yeah, yeah, and all the kids in the world want chocolate).

Thursday, October 05, 2006

But Still You Call That Number

"i'm alive, it kinda took me by surprise
but everytime i look away, there's no light
there's no sentry at the gate" -- Twilight Singers, "There's Been An Accident"

There's a controversial theory that posits labile personalities, where moods are affected wildly by the environment--a penny found on the floor inducing mania, a unkind word causing a catatonic depression, a car cutting you off causing rage--are in part due to an overactive sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the flight or fight instinct--it raises the energy level so that an individual can adjust and react to the environment. With an overactive sympathetic nervous system, the flight or fight instinct has a hair trigger.

I write this because I'm trying to be cold and rational about myself. If I can rationalize this, then I can deal with this recent re-emergence of old pattern. Unfortunately, identifying the problem doesn't really help me much. I'm sure a paraplegic knows which spinal discs are severed, but that doesn't help him much to stand.

Just a little spark of interest on my part, an ability I had long thought died, and I'm falling back into the same pattern. That beginning euphoria, potentials filling me hope, and then the nervousness, being too analytical, coming to conclusions, over-interpreting every small thing in hope of some meaning. I'm already thinking of every possible negative outcome (because I have been hit with almost every possible negative outcome--fuck, if you've read this blog, you've seen it all--from the simply just not interested to the intervenor who happens to catch her interest shortly after I've met her to, well, a Certain Someone). I think the random intervenor option is happening here, with a smidge of just not interested.

I wish that with this identification of this very real problem, I could just avert this behavior. I'm trying my damndest. But instead I find myself disgusted that I'm back in this pattern, and only after a couple of weeks from that unilateral little spark. Of course, this feeds into another round of negative realizations. If I'm feeling like this so quickly, obviously that doesn't make me that attractive--honestly, I'm one of the last people who should be in a relationship of any sort.

And of course, it just reinforces my belief that everything is just noise.

My friends keep telling me that I need to look at what has happened as a positive--a part of me that I thought was gone forever is back. There is hope. There is potential. That I am healing. I'm trying. I honestly am trying. But I can't help thinking that every single time I've felt this, I ended up feeling redfaced and disappointed. That everytime I see a secret smile directed my way, there's a part of me that says it's nothing, it's noise and dross. Even if there's some potential, I'll fuck it up because I complicate things.

After a Certain Someone, I wouldn't care that "Yeah, I'll give you a call" is just an empty Angeleno farewell platitude because I really had no other expectation, nor did I care. And now, well, you can probably guess.

My therapist told me the one way to avoid all this is just to become a recluse, like J.D. Salinger--with no risk comes no disappointment. Given my recent reactions (which I concede is fucked up and over the top, duh, that's why I'm making this attempt to exorcise these demons), maybe that's what I should become. Because that ability to feel the spark is back, as well as all the attendent issues.

This no longer makes me feel a righteous anger against myself. I'm just sad. Sad, and very, very tired.

"far away, where you run, when it all became undone
you'll be dust, realize, you were taken for a ride
but still you call that number, til you're crawling under
them stones, assorted jones, and all alone." --Twilight Singers, "There's Been An Accident"

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Let Down

Sometimes, I wish I weren't right.

Transport, motorways and tramlines,
starting and then stopping,
taking off and landing,
the emptiest of feelings,
disappointed people, clinging on to bottles,
and when it comes it's so, so, disappointing.

Let down and hanging around,
crushed like a bug in the ground.
Let down and hanging around.

Shell smashed, juices flowing
wings twitch, legs are going,
don't get sentimental,
it always ends up drivel.
One day, I am gonna grow wings,
a chemical reaction,
hysterical and useless
hysterical and

let down and hanging around,
crushed like a bug in the ground.
Let down and hanging around.

Let down,
Let down,
Let down.

You know, you know where you are with,
you know where you are with,
floor collapsing, falling, bouncing back
and one day, I am gonna grow wings,
a chemical reaction, [You know where you are,]
hysterical and useless [you know where you are,]
hysterical and [you know where you are,]

let down and hanging around,
crushed like a bug in the ground.
Let down and hanging around.

--Radiohead, "Let Down"

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Just Like A Bug On The Ground . . .

Astronomers detect new planets by carefully measuring the miniscule wobbles of a star over a period of time. If the planets are massive enough, their gravitation creates wobbles detectable only by the most careful, high powered telescopes. The planets themselves are not directly detected, at least not with the current technology.

Yup, I'm about to segue into another tortious metaphor. If you're a casual observer, watching me as I go about my life, interacting with people, you're not going to see anything unusual. I'll chat, smile at the right times, be polite, and act pretty regular. But those who know me well realize that I do have a slight wobble, one that's been there for the last year. A couple of friends ask me, "So how's the ladies front?" and I shrug nonchalantly--a sincere apathy as opposed to a superficial reaction to disguise frustration. When I've been out on dates, I'm aware enough to know that I'm just going through the motions of being charming and engaging--my therapist says "You're there but you're not there." Needless to say, those dates haven't led to anything. Three years ago, that would've gotten me down. Now, there's almost a palpable sense of relief.

Obviously, that massive planet orbiting around me unseen except for the influence it exerts upon my life is a Certain Someone, who left me almost a year ago (and a week after my birthday--I guess you can say I'm ambivalent about my birthday). I've already dwelled enough upon how that catastrophically impacted my life, catastrophic enough that I am in therapy. Don't worry, I'm better now. But the one positive--if you can call it that--thing that occurred is that it made my life a helluva lot simpler.

Call it what you will--labile personality, poor impulse control, ridiculously romantic, bipolar--but I used to ride my emotions instead of controlling them. And despite efforts to be positive, I was the type of guy who at the first smile of an attractive woman at the beginning of the night was already thinking about the slap on the face and slammed doors at the end of the night. Not exactly a healthy combination. That first wave of giddiness would always be followed by a depressive low. Soon, I was associating that giddiness with the inevitable lows so even when I was happy, I was sad. Anytime I began feeling interest, I also felt incredibly foolish.

Now, after Certain Someone, I didn't feel any of those highs upon meeting someone. I believed that ability got burned out of me. Sure, I went on dates, but then I'd go home, catch some Tivo and sleep well instead of having a sleepless but excited night thinking about potentials. Life was much simpler this way. I didn't have to think about meeting someone, having a relationship, that possibility of having to support more than myself, being a fulltime lawyer, a white picket fence, two kids, a dog and a cat. I could be content, living life aimlessly, trying to write and maybe get some side gigs as a contract lawyer. And, I certainly didn't feel foolish, redfaced and disappointed about my social life. Foolishness requires unmet and unrealistic expectations, of which I had none.

And now, well, let's say I'm preparing myself to feel foolish, redfaced and disappointed again.

Even though this might sound like the blogger protesteth a bit too much, nothing earth-shattering has happened. I didn't "meet someone," because that connotates a mutual interest. But for the first time in over eleven months, something is flickering. Think of it as a confluence of small things eliciting something larger, the way a cool wind off the beach hits you as you're listening to Jeff Buckley's "Grace" while eating fish and chips in Santa Monica can lead to a moment of perfection. So it's not so much that I "met someone." I didn't. It's the confluence of small things, perhaps a smile, perhaps random conversation, and now I'm feeling that flicker.

And although a part of me is trying to enjoy that flicker for what it is--a hope that what I thought was gone inside me is actually still there, there's also an equal part of me that's telling me to run for the hills, it can only lead to being let down again.

"One day, I am gonna grow wings,
a chemical reaction,
hysterical and useless"
- Radiohead, "Let Down"

Monday, October 02, 2006

Wake Up Everyday That Would Be A Start

Ah YouTube, a boon to lazy bloggers everywhere. So in the spirit of cautious optimism I seem to be having in my life these days:

This is one of my favorite New Order songs--it has surprisingly sweet and direct lyrics, like Bernard is almost tentatively admitting that things are going well. And of course, there's that little bit of doubt near the end. Very on the nose for my state of mind.