|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Apropos of nothing (a phrase I've used multiple times this week, apropos of nothing), the greatest football pass* I've ever seen thrown was by Akili Smith.
*I'm not counting lucky-ass passes, like Eli Manning to David Tyree. I'm talking about throwing a football through the head of a fucking pin, and it was Akili threading one through something like three Michigan State defenders to a shocked receiver on a crossing route in the back of the end zone. That it didn't look like anything more than his wrist and fingers moved discernibly probably helps his case.
My best friend's kid is (I think) five or six years old, and has taken a shine to baseball as of late. I talked to Nate (those of you who were in Vegas in June 2005 might remember his winning the non-blogger tournament at the Plaza) yesterday, and his kid Johnny has found his competitive streak. Reason I bring this up? Nate's going to teach the little lefty to catch. Man, that just warms my heart. I caught in little league, Nate caught in little league, and now his kid is going to catch? Man, that's awesome. Should I ever spawn, my kid's going to don the mask and call him/herself some pitches too. Nothing puts some character into you like catching a bad hop at 65 MPH right in the inner thigh, but holding the runner at first anyway.
I shouldn't short-shrift The Doc (not talking about Doc, although he's pretty cool and pretty important to me too) on the "best friend" front, really. It's amazing what ten plus years of perspective can do for a friendship, and I'm glad to have her back. Mostly, I just wanted to mention how flattered I am to get calls from her once or twice a week at 10AM my time. That's 7AM her time, which means one of the first things she thinks to do on a random Tuesday is to check in with me and say hello.
Is it too late to finish up my New Years' Eve kitchen report? I got lazy, distracted and bored and quit on it. Too late now?
"I stopped my rambling. I don't do too much gambling these days." If it wasn't a disaffected Eurobabe chanteuse from the 60s singing the line, I'd think it possibly had hit a little too close to home.
Had lunch today with a business contact who had a lazy left eye and rogue nose hair out his right nostril. At least he had some balance so as not to be too distracting.
Again, apropos of nothing.
Clearly, I'm stalling. I've had a lot on my mind this week, especially since being elected "He Who Shall Attempt The First Intervention" for someone with a problem. An enviable position, I assure you. I don't even fucking know where to begin, what to do, or even what I can do, but I guess I'm on the short list of people that can be listened to, whatever that means. Not that being listened to carries more weight than listening, but here we are.
No, you can't ask who. And no, it's not you or you or whoever you're thinking of either. Fuck, if you're dreading my phone call this weekend, consider this your intervention. Knock that shit off, posthaste.
There. Done. Quit it.
Wish it was going to be that easy. It's not. I can't be there, I don't think it's going to do any good, and I don't see this ending well. I'm a defeatist by trade, nihilist by nature and philosophically atheistic in my leanings, so it never ends well in my head. It ends slowly, at the point of a needle or neck of a pipe, maybe the bottom of a bottle or something vastly more dramatic than liver failure ends up feeling. Along the way you become that self-fulfilling prophecy of isolation, just shedding layer after layer of perceived aggrievances-aka-reality along the way to the realization that curling up naked and alone is leaving you in a far more facetiously constructed walled-off version of truth than what you chose to confront.
Fucking hell. I've been depressed before, and certainly still retain a significant chunk of that debilitating burden in my head, but haven't been seriously close to poking around the edges of self-destruction for quite awhile now. I'm way too rational for that. So is this person, which makes it oddly surprising that it's come to this point. I get the depression, I understand the reasons why, but I can't grasp the irrational nature of the choices being made right now, other than to find what I think might be the motivation inside.
Hell, I'd be depressed too. I've dealt with (presumably and assumedly) smaller scale versions of a lot of this in previous years, and the self-medication hasn't been as, uh, generously prescribed as what I guess is going on here, but I still get it. I've had the fantasies about things being easier without or that seeing my feet dangling might bring those left behind around to some semblance of understanding, but they've been idle fantasies at best.
I'm far too much of a chickenshit to do anything but die old, drunk and alone. Don't you forget that.
So, I guess I get it and I don't get it, but I can't be a good influence unless I can be a direct influence, and that's not remotely plausible at this point. I'll call, listen, call again, listen, and hope things improve. I fear (in the literal, not metaphorical sense) that it won't, but whatever I have to do to prevent a self-fulfilling prophecy of worthless detachment from manifesting in what is far too rational a mind to have toppled over this edge is all I can do, I suppose.
Apropos of nothing, the rodent body count is up to five in my apartment. I'm hoping like a motherfucker that's as much death as I have to face in 2008.
For April, who should totally see these guys perform at SXSW, and to bump the animated gif down the page...
Monday, February 25, 2008
I'm Posting It Because It Made Me Laugh. Fuck You. It's Funny.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Compliments and Bits and Pieces
I used to have a job (or, rather, a couple of jobs) that allowed me to open up Notepad and just type and type in an effort to appear busier than I was. That's why so many of the 2002-2003ish posts are 3000+ word epics about absolutely nothing in particular. I've been a lazy blogger for awhile now, due to a burst of activity, burnout, then finding it tough to get back on the horse.
Back in July 2005 I landed a freelance gig with Gawker Media on a gambling title they called "Oddjack." I averaged roughly seven unique posts a day with them until they folded the title five months later, and largely ignored my own blog in the process. It was a good run for me financially, but it burned me out. It's HARD to find seven different things that are gambling-related to post about every day. Damned hard. So in the first week of December 2005, I was let go. Four weeks later I was in the hospital with my intestinal problem, and in the middle of February 2006 I had surgery and recuperated in the hospital.
Three weeks after that my company started flying me back and forth on a weekly basis from Michigan to Pennsylvania to save a dying account. The busy part of rebuilding the account and moving to PA took until the end of June, and that's when I really found that I had the time again to resume blogging.
But it wasn't that easy. I had gotten in a rhythm that I've struggled to find ever since. Not only that, but I put a pretty ridiculous burden of expectations on my own shoulders. I have a lot of friends I've met through blogging, many of whom I really respect as talented writers (aside from being amazing people). The compliments I got from them during my most creative times were energizing and fulfilling. The problem is, I've been on vapor lock for awhile because, irrationally and unrealistically, I've wanted every post I put up to be complimentable gold.
I realize this is totally irrational and I should simply get over myself. I mean, if you're digging through my archives, I'm certain there are somewhere between four and ninety posts you're skimming and skipping for every one that you find worth reading. In other words, even when I was "on my game," I still spilled a lot of middling garbage in between things that I'm proud of.
Just last week I got this amazing email from a stranger. She stumbled upon my blog and started reading. Kept going and going too. She told me she was touched by something in particular I had written:
And I'm shaking my head at six in the morning that even in dreams I am left alone again. That what was unique and special and intense didn't seem to matter.
I'm proud of that post, not just for the writing but for the turning point it signaled in my life. And I'm flattered as hell that a complete stranger would reach out to me just to let me know that they were touched by it too. The email, the compliments, they mean something to me. Something different, though, than the validation I got from my friends and the strangers who became friends at the time I was at my most prolific.
I divorced Jean in the middle of 2002, and if you do the math (the quoted post above is from November 2004), you'll note that it took me nearly two-and-a-half years to reconsider memories and meaning in the context of our relationship. It's probably not a coincedence that I spent a great deal of time and energy on this blog trying to find the appropriate words to deal with the depression and anger I couldn't approppriately file away.
It's fair to say that while I'm certainly still harboring some anger over the choices she made and the consequences I was left to handle alone, this anger is only an abstraction tied to a memory, and is something that means very little to the man I choose to be today.
I wonder if my creative peak in this space was a manifestation of having confusion, anger and loss bubbling over in my head. I wonder if my acute self-criticism was as effective as therapy could ever have been, and if the words I wrote - from the banal and meaningless to the most stinging and frustrating assessments of myself - were meant to be something I was meant to walk away from someday.
I don't wonder these things. I fear them.
It's difficult for me to write the way I used to write. I've shut a lot of doors in my head and in my heart, and am not digging through the open nooks and crannies the way I once did. I've done such an efficient and effective job of cleaning up after the biggest disaster of my young life that I've been covering the furniture with plastic and putting the rest under museum glass ever since.
That scares me a little.
Most days, I don't make an effort to feel. I want to get up when my alarm goes off, shower, drink two cups of coffee, leave the house at seven, work, come home, listen to music, go to bed by ten. It's easier that way. Nothing gets dirty.
Do I crave emotion? A few weekends ago I spent a couple hours feeding twenties to a stripper in my lap, and it felt good. Not so good that I'm willing to chase the dragon - I'm far too cheap for that - but good enough that I took something I needed from the transaction. It wasn't about the possibility of sex, it wasn't about seeing boobies, it was just about being touched for a little while (well, okay, the lap dances were pretty good too). It's something I'm not getting, and I found a way to tag the moment with a little added significance.
Of course I crave emotion. But even that's an abstraction to me at the moment. I paid money nearly three months ago to join an online dating site for six months. I haven't touched it since early January. Why? If I really wanted to try and meet people, there's my avenue.
I just can't figure out how to open that door in my head at the moment. Everything is right where it's supposed to be. My career is in a good spot, I like my apartment and I have terrific friends (who aren't geographically close enough to be more than email/IM/blog contacts most of the year, which is probably a symptom or metaphor or something). Why would I want to mess any of that up?
Instead, I have taken bits and pieces from my life over the last couple of years and have used them to patch together the substitute for the real and honest moments I have seemingly tried so hard to avoid. Dating the girl in Indianapolis was easier than finding one here (to be fair, I really really like her too - she was "safe" and when it wasn't complicated it was nice). Having a stripper on my lap is easier than finding a woman willing to do the same without chasing the cash in my pocket. I had a great conversation with Karol in Vegas (you know, the "intelligent and accomplished women bring out the best in me" thing), which you think would make me crave finding that sort of stimulation closer at hand. Hasn't worked out that way. It's easier to enjoy that moment than it is to find another just like it.
Clearly, this is a self-worth issue I'm fighting. When good things happen to me, I rush to put them under museum glass in my mind. It's easier to keep the memory vivid than it is to sully myself with the hard work and probability of rejection it's going to take to create new ones, right?
This is where I've left myself after turning the corner and finding the right headspace for the mess I was left with in 2002. Most days I don't even think about what I'm missing, and on the others I can find the right argument to talk myself around avoiding the failures inherent in actually trying. When I said I can't figure out how to open that door in my head, I mean to say that I'm actually not sure how to pull myself off of holding it shut.
You know, this post started out with completely different intentions, and I'm not that happy with how disjointed it turned out, but I'm going to toss it up anyway. I've had a difficult time with honesty when blogging, which is why I've turned to trading in abstractions (like politics) instead.
Getting a really wonderful and sincere compliment on my blog from a total stranger was (hell, is) energizing and deeply appreciated. It also ends up being a little eye-opening, as it's clear that most of the stuff I'm proud of in this space was created a long, long time ago under different emotional circumstances.
It's more than a little daunting to wonder if I'm capable of finding those levels of emotion, creativity and honesty again.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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