“Some people are easier to love when you don’t have to be around them.” -Irvine Welsh
My mom is one of those people. She is fifty, a doctor, and has cheated on my dad at least twice. They’re getting redivorced now. The first time it happened, she told us that “it was God’s plan,” went to Hawaii and lived on a boat with a guy named Bob. This time she just went, “meh,” went for a run and bought some produce at the farmer’s market. Other things: She didn’t realize reindeer were real animals until this past summer, and recently expressed a bigoted distrust against “East Coast Jews” over pie. When my dog was a puppy, mom tried to strangle her for peeing in the kitchen. She has, on multiple occasions, made grown men cry and punched moving cars. We went camping once. That weekend three women were beheaded. Her first time at Great America was the day that mentally challenged boy fell out of the Drop Zone. At a Chinese banquet, the man sitting behind her suffered a heart attack, and I don’t even remember her breast milk being all that…
As some of you know, I do stand-up. I’m not very good. Mostly short shock laughs from absurd dark two-line jokes with no hope of connecting with an audience in a meaningful way. I don’t like connecting. I don’t like sharing who I am. That is scary. You have to be way more vulnerable than I am currently willing to be. But I really want to try crowd work, and I think the ability to reach out with goodwill and honesty is a good way to start.
So here goes…
I recently finished a long form writing project. It is a 25,000 word epic poem. More on that later… Upon finishing my first round of edits, I was exhausted. I sent it to my good friend Alex, http://thebewildered20somethingwriter.wordpress.com (check it), for a secondary round of clean-up and tried to rest.
Resting is stupid.
I hate it.
But I could feel the sort of “brain tenderness” you get from overuse, and knew that throwing myself into another huge undertaking would be pushing it. Countless others have said it before, but for there to be good writing, there has to be lots and lots of not-so-good writing.
Don’t say bad. Especially when it comes to your own work. Why kick yourself in the brain like that?
Yesterday I was feeling not-so-great and got in that mood where you just want to spend money you don’t have. Or money you’ve been saving. It’s an anxiety thing. Buying useless junk is a pacifier. It’s childish. AND IT WORKS EVERY GODDAMN TIME.
So I make my girlfriend drive out to Target at 9PM, and all along the way she is trying to convince me, “Eric, you’re freaking out a little. Why don’t you buy yourself something that will help with your situation, like a spatula (adults need those…)instead of a distraction?”
Yeah, but Smash Bros…
“Okay, but pancakes…”
“I know, but… Smash Bros… You can be Mega Man in this one.”
“You would be the most mega of men if you could make bacon without squealing when the oil burns you. Spatula.”
This went on for a while.
Target is sold out. Gamestop is closed. My girlfriend asks me if there is an EB Games around. I haven’t seen an EB Games since 1999. I thought they went with Suncoast, Hollywood Video & Meg Ryan…
The anxiety starts creeping up on me. I don’t like how it feels, so I convert it into frustration and righteous indignation. That shit feels great. You’re in control. You’re smarter than everyone. People leave you alone.
Now I’m wandering the aisles of a Daly City Target alone. I go to look at pens. That’s what I do now when my girlfriend takes me shopping. I look for cool pens or notepads and think, “which one has a good joke or poem in it?” At this point it’s a bit of a reflex. After sifting through the cheap ones (because I am a little tightfisted) and having nothing grab me, I look at the top shelf journals. The artsy covers, tassels and skins from tiny moles, presumably sewn together…
Then I see those half-journals, where one side is just a massive quote, and the other side is a general reaction to it with a specific angle. They have ones on parenting, lists, insomnia and hating people (imagine giving one of those to a unapologetic racist). I chose the one about hating people, and immediately began filling it with unapologetically racist comments about… I didn’t do that.
I wrote the thing at the top, and realized why I was so upset that day.