Shit. Too much. Such bluffs. Stuff of tough love.
Nudging lugging ideas. Wheeling itinerary.
So this MFA business. It’s kind of suffocating me. I feel inauthentic. I’m writing better than I have in the past. I am more precise, and am becoming more astute on reading and commenting on others’ work. But I don’t feel like a person. I feel academic as crap. It’s like being ill, let’s say I have lupus. So I seek medical help, and there’s a hundred different medications and treatments that a doctor presents to me that I can choose from in hopes of straightening out the mess. That’s precisely how classes feel structured. I want to write and express myself and learn from others’ formats, but teachers and students present hundreds of different options of styles and craft techniques, and reading recommendations, and etc etc etc to look into. Even though it’s overwhelming and disorienting, it’s better than being back in St. Louis at a 9-5er that had zero academic/creative networking structure which is now generating so many possibilities of honing the purpose and style of written work. This is the biggest difference for me- there were no deadlines to turn work in. That’s my ultimate goal is to keep churning. To keep pumping, even if it’s shit work, I’m still getting a work out, sweating and heart beat revving more than if I were doing nothing.
At the end of the day, all of these writing exercises are options. They are not going to “cure” an illness. Even though my writing is not where I want it to be, it’s not like it’s chronically damaging anything. My imperfections are not a matter of not being perfect, perfect doesn’t exist. Unless you’re Tina Turner. I fucking love Tina Turner. She might be God, not Morgan Freeman. But it’s a matter of accepting that imperfections and perfections should be rephrased as merely “details”- redefine the dichotomy as simply qualities and events that happen, and then the majority perception, or rather the perception you care about most, that has a negative or positive critical lens on these qualities/events you’re involved with are just part of the very large pie chart of the possibilities of how to look at something. When you slip and fall on stage in front of an audience and it mortifies you, realize that it just as easily could’ve happened on the street in front of no one. This exact stumble taking place off stage, maybe with close friends if not alone, is not good or bad, it just is, and you might even consider it humorous. Your environment seems to influence how you look at the way you’re identified. The audience has a dramatic affect on how good or bad you are in “being.” When others are around, you become more aware of your existence, and you can develop an anxiety attached to an expectation of these other existences being aware that you have responsibilities. This awareness can feel like a form of “breathing down your neck”, when other eyes and sets of lungs and heart beats are present. If not directly at you, you still feel the anxiety of life surging through others’ energies and expressions. It’s a portal that radiates a sense of wanting to accomplish something, and like a dog licking its wound, picking at a scab instead of leaving it to heal, you have a yearning, a reminder of goals, triggering a sense of regret that you have yet to accomplish certain goals, and perhaps you should already have a more concrete presentation of self that directly conveys fulfillment of these goals’ steps that vividly relate to meaning/purpose which can be translated, comprehended and validated by others.
When I used the bathroom this morning, I realized that I don’t shut the door all the way. Do you shut the door all the way? Leave it cracked, half open, or wide open? Your relationship in how you handle the bathroom door might say a lot about your living situation.
I’m in a purgatory between misanthropy and gripping loneliness. I haven’t had a “social” outing since a Tinder date a few weeks ago. I visit with people at school almost everyday, but that feels more like an obligation. They’re there because they’re paying tens of thousands of dollars to be there. God I miss my friends. But then again I don’t. I remember I would get acutely irritated with them because they didn’t fill a certain void. I would totally dig hanging out with them, drinking, laughing, watching Netflix, until a screaming halting guilty anxiety hit me that told me I should direct my consciousness somewhere else. I knew it was disciplining a more consistent habit of writing, reading, creating and interacting with artistic fartistic sorts of things more seriously. Why I couldn’t find an outlet for that in St. Louis in conjunction with my family of friends, I don’t know. I just had this panting, momentum building desire to get the fuck out of dodge.
So the loneliness has kicked in. But then again, I get highly agitated with people. Like hearing a stranger chewing at a coffee shop or in class makes me cringe with perplexing fury as to why a creature could do such a thing.
I have a friend back home who found her boyfriend dead in bed last August. When I visited with her a month ago during my holiday break, there was a moment that hit me when we were making dinner in her kitchen. The kitchen in the apartment of the bedroom where her boyfriend had passed away. Since the tragedy, she continues to astound me in how grounded she is in a simultaneous demeanor of heartbreak with a mindset of deep empathy, perhaps the deepest of anyone I’ve ever met, fused with a philosophically objectively shrewd, witty, mindset that manifests itself in light-hearted, yet complex conversations about humans and their meanings in relation to each other and the world on an infinite spectrum of subjects. I think that she is Vonnegut in a past life. Speaking of heartbreak, she and I had a writing exchange a year and a half ago. One of my lines read “You can’t break your own heart”, which she hand wrote beside it “bullshit.” I still wonder if she’s right. Have I broken my own heart? Has she? I suppose it’s a question of attaining the opposite of validation. Which I think validation is only possible from others. Validating yourself is like an oxymoron, because aren’t you already yourself and to validate yourself would require you to not be yourself to verify that you are indeed a certain person? Validation stems from a notion of an unbiased person confirming the legitimacy of another person. So the opposite of validation, would be self-acceptance? Self-love? I suppose you are actively breaking your heart if you constantly seek validation and find it hard to love yourself if you believe others don’t love you.
Back to my friend, we were in her kitchen, talking. She was making a dinner consisting of polenta and chili beans. I just stuck to boiled eggs and grapes as I was fasting from holiday eating and lack of movement since the temperatures were in the negatives during my time in the Midwest, disallowing me from my normal habit of taking long walks outdoors. We’ve never dove right into the subject of the specifics relating to her grief. As close as we are, I think we already know there’s nothing to add. I can feel both of us feeling like we want to say more on the subject, but there’s only an obligation to saying cliche things instead of anything that actually matters about it. It’s like a suspended energy that we know is just going to exist, and there’s nothing new to say about it. But she had a way of saying something about it in the kitchen on this particular evening in her kitchen. She said that she feels bizarrely more depressed, almost hopeless, than usual. Like she gets flashes of disoriented distrust in herself and struggles longer to find a meaning to live. We all have suicidal thoughts, we all wonder why the fuck we’re breathing right now. Are we wasting our time right now? Is our pain leading somewhere purposeful, or at least will it ever have another break that allows us to enjoy those blessed moments, that cheesey yet relieving “live, love, laugh” kind of joy and peace that occur so far and few between these sentences and pages of the days we walk around? It is such a conscious spiritual workout to open our eyes and attempt to engage in the presence of others’ eyes and their words, despite the reluctance to get out of bed and stay out of bed due to the raging disparate ideas and views presented everywhere of how to fix not only “me” but also “us”, whether in person or within the shizophrenic, ever present language shouting at us through the screens of social media and the President’s visceral hatred enlivening the hatred through more veins throughout the United States. It’s a tough time to be conscious to. But she emphasized the “me” issue, pondering aloud that she’s not sure if it’s normal, like an ebb and flow sort of process she’s experiencing. But the rut-like ebb she’s experiencing of hating the pain of life and wanting it to not be hers anymore has sort of plateaued, the flow is taking too much time to come back around. And she’s not sure if that’s a red flag to go to a psychiatrist or some sort of counseling to address her negative thoughts more seriously and perhaps get medication. The thought hurdle of whether it’s the right decision or not to get professional help was one major tier of her concern, the other was money. As a friend, I didn’t want to react too maternally, in fear of coming off condescending, but rather in a way that was analytical since this was the way she presented it. She is highly confused about what to do, the pain, the ill self is at odds with her intellectual self of what is durable or normal for the ill self to have to experience in order to get better. She’s wondering if rock bottom is necessary for her to find a road of recovery. And I told her, my red flag for myself was when I simply didn’t feel in control. And this was after I had a couple of rock bottoms. One put me in the hospital, the other in jail. I was sorely wrong when I thought I had learned my lessons from both unfortunate spiraling events, where I journeyed through an active recovery process involving a daily practice of the healthiest physical activities, and adopting the most normal behaviors of a person I could imitate, rather than indulging in my past compulsive self-destructive tendencies. After the “transformation”, on the inside I still didn’t trust myself to be strong enough to make the right decisions, and that I could impulsively make an irrational decision that could potentially harm myself or others. That’s when I knew something had to give. No matter what it cost, I knew I had to set up an appointment with a psychiatrist, write down everything about your day, and especially feelings that seem or are alarming, even if they don’t seem so bad afterwards. This includes details of sleep, drinking, drug use, social interactions, diet. In the meantime, I told her there is a free week of counseling online called BetterHelp.com. And of course I also offered my support if she ever needed to talk at any time of day. We only have a two hour time difference, and even if it were a twelve hour time difference, my friend’s wellbeing is more important than what time of day it is.
I still desperately hope I came off the right way for her needs. I hope she didn’t feel stuck and lonely after opening up to me about her problem. I hope I was neither too objective nor too sentimental. On the same day of the kitchen talk, we went out later that evening with a group of friends and the conversation was more boisterous and light-hearted, folks were laughing over margaritas and tacos. In the middle of the rendezvous, she took the conversation to her cat. She went into detail about her cat being sick. How the cat has a cold and won’t eat and keeps acting weird, standoffish, not coming out into the open like she used to. At first, she thought the kitty was just going through a phase, but then like a parent, she worried if maybe she should take these as signs that she should take the cat to the vet. Was she being negligent in not doing so? But also, too, maybe it’s just a phase and the cat will grow out of it. Another friend, my old roommate, made a comment about cats liking to have high surfaces to feel like they’re in control. She asked if there were options for the cat in her apartment to have places to jump to, like tables or inn tables or cat stands that would allow her this sense of freedom through more options of clear landscape for movement. The friend with the cat said that she had recently been working vigorously on a zine and had scratches of paper and office supplies scattered profusely about all over the dining room floor and the tables where the cat would usually roam about. So she concluded that perhaps this was the source of the problem with the cat’s visible listlessness and shyness.
After the dinner, I went home with the former roommate, who was letting me crash on her futon in the apartment we had lived in together for three years. On the car ride home, I realized that my friend was the cat.
You project an idea of yourself onto yourself, and it really sucks because you can’t get a break from you. It haunts you, and this haunting convinces you that you don’t measure up for others. But the thing is, you are immeasurable. Whoever that is, there is no fixed statue of an identity that you’re required to constantly chisel and pose for. You’re a creature who has voluntary muscles and words and a will to act in whatever way you please. Definitions, preconceptions, labels, and various modes that explain people are ephemeral, we make observations when they are happening or when they’ve happened in the past.
You are authentic, never underestimate the power of being whoever you want or need to be in this moment. Trust that you don’t have to be a certain way, and that you can share this with someone. Even if the way you chew frustrates me, thank you for being alive and providing a source of stimulation/motivation for me to observe the miraculous and unpredictably interesting, beautiful, confusing, and inspiring ways of other humans. Please keep chewing, my friend.