Thursday, May 22, 2008

Confessions of a Churl

The title for this post would be a reasonable title for the whole blog, truth be told. But then there'd be pressure to be a churl all the time, and deep down, I like being a nice guy.

Don't laugh. I'm serious.

Mind you, I'm aware I fail at being a nice guy more frequently than I care to admit. In person, I frequently monopolize conversations, nattering on about music or cinema or, worse, bloviating endlessly on matters of my personal philosophy or artistic ambitions. Worse yet, I can also fall into long, silent funks (sort of like the last, oh, six or seven months, for those of you who only ever see me or speak with me here), that should be a relief from my exhausting loquaciousness, only it too often leads to an uncomfortable air of stewing, of self absorption, or, worse yet, a sort of mute, animal stupidity brought on by too much weed, too much booze, or lingering brain damage wrought by the many, many tantrums over the years in which I beat myself on the face until my vision went fuzzy and my cheeks swelled like I was storing nuts in 'em. I am, frequently enough, sullen, cantankerous, and elitist.

The frustrating thing about falling short of what you desire to be--not what you desire to have (though I've fallen significantly short on that measure) or what you wish to (or think you should) do (another mark I'm not reaching), but what/who it is you would like to look back and say you have been, or look forward and say you will be, or settle into and say, "I AM . . . "--is that it seems like something that should be entirely within your control. Something that extends naturally from your value system, your worldview, your perception and understanding of reality and your place in it. Not being an asshole should be as simple as deciding that you're not going to be an asshole and sticking with it.

I'm not blind to the fact that this dilemma could emerge from my apparently contradictory interests: my disdain for populism in tandem with my radical egalitarianism; my talky and pedantic anti-intellectualism; my burning desire for authenticity coupled with my desperate need to be loved by everyone I happen to encounter (or at least everyone I encounter who, for whatever reason, inspires some loyalty, admiration, or other connection in me).

Thing is, none of this explains how I manage to take an argument from a place like this to a place like this, or how I manage to mangle friendships with fumbled words and misread intentions, or how I become a nearly impossible spouse every time we hid the financial skids (which happens so often that I should start thinking of it as the status quo, and the rare peeks above the surface as the anomalous events). It doesn't really explain why I am, or when I became, the sort of person who becomes so agitated when listening to phone messages that I snap my fingers and pound on my desk when listening to them, hoping against hope that they will speak faster and let me get on with my very, very important task of appearing to be busy while fostering my ever more tenuous social connections on the web, frantically trying to convince myself that I am loved, that I even can be loved, enough to fill this hungry nothing at the heart of my being.

Sometimes I think it's just my Gemini, Jekyll-Hyde thing that makes mere being so bloody complicated. Jekyll is accountable, but congenitally unhappy; Hyde is quite a bit more fun, but those around him must work harder to avoid getting bitten in the ass (sometimes quite literally). Trouble is, as I mature, Jekyll gets stronger, which makes Hyde angrier, which seems only to increase the level of conflict . . . except during those (rare) periods of time during which I am wholly one or wholly the other. Which is not how I wish to live; the uncollapsed paradox, composed of both entities, comprises the central tenet of my being, my raison d'etre.

I have no satisfying conclusion to which to bring this. This post is bourne less of a literary impulse, and more of a desire to post after such a long absence, and to make heard my cry in the dark without the obligation to give it form or beauty. I've been mired in all manner of generative projects for the last year or two, and frankly, I'm tired of form and beauty. Or tired of serving form and beauty; I imagine I'd still be more than happy to let them serve me . . . which makes me wonder if Hyde isn't rising, after all.



Blogger Cindy said...

I'm just reading through your blog and I find this post particularly interesting.

This year I turned 50. So in my usual way, I immediately began to worry about who is going to take care of me when I can no longer care for myself which, if the speed it took me to attain this milestone is any indication, is just around the corner!

I found myself mired in an imaginative view of some cadre of family doing their best to care for me - the aged, Alzheimer's patient who tried so hard to be nice all her life, and in the end, couldn't do it. That I"ll be mean a snake and totally oblivious.

It's a heart-wrenching tableau for someone (like me) who has spent no small amount of her life working desperately to get people to like her. I sincerely hope that down deep there is something truly nice, that if left to its own devices would bubble to the top.

I'm not convinced.

Anyway - your blog really spoke to me. So, thanks!

9:27 AM  

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