Thursday, May 20, 2004

I have just made myself a pot of coffee because 1.) I am tired and I know I will be up late into the evening and want to be alert and happy for this period of time, and 2.) Because I wanted to write something here; I wanted, want to, spend some time reflecting about my life. Despite whatever criticisms I sometimes lash at online diaries, they are the perfect forum for this time of self-examination, which sadly, I have not been able to engage in as of late. Whenever I have had the urge to write about my life (My life! For god sake's, look at how easily that mind blowing phrase is tossed about in casual banter), but yes, because it is usually in the late night hours when I am struck my this desire, usually when Dara is asleep or getting ready to go to sleep in her bedroom, which the computer is set up right outside of, and not that I would be tap dancing or something, but you would be surprised how loud typing on a keyboard sounds in an otherwise quiet apartment, and the awareness of how much noise I am, or would be making, prevents me from writing without a heavy sense of guilt. So, I normally say to myself that I will do it in the morning, but you know how mornings are, they are not the time to do anything of the reflective sort. Mornings are for doing actions, which you will later reflect on when the day is nearing its end.

But there are other reasons I have not been writing in my diary, and to suggest otherwise would be an outright deception, and this project is all about honesty, or if it is to succeed, that is what it is all about. And I want this to succeed, I do. So quit stalling you are probably saying, quit giving setup, and get to what these reasons are. And yes, I would like to, but the problem is in verbalizing them, in even admitting to myself what they are, because honestly I am not sure what this reason is. I can try to set up some parameters, give you and my own self some idea of what's going on, so that that way, we can draw the logical conclusions from the presented evidence.

The reason I have not been actively writing in my diary as of late is also probably the same reason why I am "burnt out" (as a friend described my noticeable change in behavior), why any old remnants of a gregarious, hyper self only show themselves in the occasional over-caffeinated or over-intoxicated situation. I don't want to call it depression because I am not sad, but there are definitely some of the same outward symptoms that might be associated with depression of some sort: a decreased level of energy, a lack of interest in other people, never really having anything to say to other people, lots of time spent by myself, declining offers to participate in social activities, etc.

For instance, I cannot recall the last time I have been dancing, surely many weeks ago, and the occasion before that, also surely weeks beforehand. If Friendster testimonials are any indication of how others perceive you (as Bonnie has led me to think about), so many of mine make some reference to my dancing, and I rarely dance now, rarely have a strong desire to. The past couple of weeks, I have also lost all interest in drinking. This may just be the temporary response to overdrinking for so long, but I am not even that excited about tonight's ten dollar all-you-can-drink madness at the Hole that I told a couple people I would go to, and so must go to. This is what the coffee was for, to get my blood coursing so that I would be happy and excited there. I am sure I will be, but my lack of desire to go there, my indifference to boozing and dancing, once such a constant source of excitement for me, is what I am trying to get at, these changes that are occurring in me, that have occurred, and which are being noticed by other people, which I have been slowly starting to notice, but which after a talk with Peter today, am really curious about.

Most people that knew me from New College, or more accurately, most people that didn't really know me at New College, but knew of me because I screamed like a drunken floozy all the time and danced forever, have a certain image of me, that I may or may not have actually once occupied, but which, regardless of accuracy, I am so distinct from now. Not that I am still not a boy-crazy boy who drinks and dances, but I am a different sort of one. When Brian Claeys was here, he commented a few times to me about how I was not the same Charlie, how sedate I was. And it's true, maybe. When people make comments like that to me, I cannot help but feel like the parents in Beetlejuice who morph into disgusting things before their daughter's eyes with sad faces. Only, I don't have that sad face - I am changing, yes, everyone does, or the living ones do, and I am happy doing so. I sometimes pause and mentally feel the fur growing on my body and say, "Wait, what's happening to me?" I reach around and look at the donkey tail that is sprouting and wonder what's going on.

I have been listening to Bjork's Verspertine a lot this past week, and there are these lyrics: "If you leave it alone, it just might happen. It's not up to you. Oh, it never really was." And also something about living in someone else’s rules, once can still be be. Be is uttered twice, and that is what I am talking about, or what I haven't been talking about and want to talk about - how I have submitted to what is going on, letting the tide take me where it may, and am happy doing so. The fact that I am listening to Vespertine is perhaps the clearest example that can actually be pointed to, saying Look, look there, you never liked that album. When it first came out, I hated it, and really could not even bear to listen to it - it caused me physical pain in much the same way as all of Tori Amos' body of work or as much as Beck's last album. But a few years down the road, and I cannot get enough of the album - I am in fact in love with it and its message. Albums are mysterious like that, how sometimes years down the road, you will finally be in the right mood to hear them, that they will resonate with you later. And before, that thing wasn't in there, in my body, and so there was no harmony between the CD and I, but something has placed it there, and now this music plucks like nothing else is capable of at those sensitive, still developing spots. And that is what I am curious about and I don't think as of yet I have come any closer to figuring out why this music, these sounds and words resonate with me now at this point in my life; why I am less interested in social interactions; what exactly is occurring; why do I just want to read, eat, and sleep; why am I happy with this; and why shouldn't I be?

I am happy with all of this right now. Listening to those lines, I said yes, yes, yes, and those last lines in the last song about, "I never thought I would compromise," about being content with your life and doing things that in earlier years you would have thought of as compromising, but which now, you realize that even doing these things, you can still be be. Yesterday at work, Lee, a new employee, making that getting to know you conversation, asked me if I was an artist after some talk about art. I said nope. And then he asked me what I did outside the Strand, the question underneath being: Do you write; What do you produce? And this is perhaps the most distinctive thing about New York, you cannot just be be. Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, is an artist, a writer, or a musician. That is what is meant by the question, “What do you do?” What it really translates to is: Which one of the three are you?

Sometimes when you say that you don’t do anything, people look at you like you are that guy in those old fruit preserve commercials who in a hick drawl at a black tie event would say, "Can you pass the jelly?"* No other place where I have lived has it just been an assumption that you are an artist of some sort, and I want to believe, or I used to believe (Do you notice all the switching of tenses here, an unsure of itself future tense that then wavers to a past tense? These are the changes I am talking about, that I want to talk about (and there I go again with switching tenses)) – but yes, I used to believe that this peculiarity about New York made it cool, where everyone was producing something of some kind, but I have also seen lots of people unhappy because of this, people unsure of themselves, unable to just be be because they think that they should be creating something of some kind, writing, or drawing – instead, they just talk about how they want to do more of it, to actually do it, forget the more of it part, but to quit talking about the action and to participate in it, to be one of those bohemian artists that we all used to envision New York consisting of, to finally get around to fulfilling those teenage fantasies, making ourselves one of the actors in an old dream we still remember.

And there I go with the finger pointing, the referring to of other people, ignoring my own stated concern with honesty because while that is true, that I have seen this cause people mental duress of subtle and explicit varieties, I have also been subject to this same feeling of inadequacy when asked this question about what I do. I used to answer it self-deprecatingly. Irony, that always reliable shield, wielded: “Uh, I get drunk, dance a lot, and try to make out with boys.” It was a very similar answer that I said to Lee when he asked me this question, but now that knee-jerk response must also change if these changes continue for just a little longer and give the form of permanence, lose their temporary status, no longer are the easily uttered, hard to explain beyond the one word signifier that we try to brush off thinking about them with: changes.

I am thinking of how the sassy Kara that I worked with at Best Western in Florida would have responded if I asked her what she did, and I imagine her being confused about the obviousness of the question, maybe saying something like, “What do you mean what do I do? I work here, idiot. I am, I exist.” I think this frequency of this question is something that could only occur here. How does one say they are learning how to be be? These days, the question strikes me as slightly presumptuous and sometimes irks me, the need to have to explain yourself, the why are you here if you aren’t a self-identified artist of some sort. There is something keenly superficial about not being content with someone’s thoughts, someone’s words, but to want to know what they are. Are being a stand in for title, some faux-bohemian ranking of coolness, a regressive concern with image, with appearance, the sheen of those you are talking to even. And again, honesty being the goal, honestly, a major reason this question is an irritant is because it strikes at the very heart of these changes, forces me to verbalize what it is I do, and yes I am insecure about that right now because I am not sure what the correct answer to that question is not only right now, but even how I would like to one day be able to answer that question, but for now, there is not much to do except to refer to them as just that, changes, and to just be be. Peter referred to it as my dormant period on the telephone today, and I thought that was a beautifully choice phrase, that not only grizzly bears and caterpillars could have dormant phases, but that yes, I can too, damn it, that this is what this is. And when he uttered that phrase, dormant period, I envisioned a cocoon and a gorgeous butterfly emerging, just like in all those videos we watched in science classes. It’s not up to me. No, it never really was.

* “Can you pass the jelly?” or was it “Can you pass the jam?” - Does anyone remember which it was, and what the brand of the fruit preserve was? You remember the commercial, right? I have googled it for about ten minutes and cannot find out this information anywhere. I think it was a spoof of those Grey Poupon commercials. Both are so humorous and exhibit such a distinctly eighties concern with class and the appearance of wealth.

Also, in countdown six days, I will be making the Florida to Vegas roadtrip and if any of you want a silly postcard you should either reply with your address or email it to me at:

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