KingMidget's Ramblings

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A Peek Inside


Last night, I spent a couple of hours on a series of work-related calls revolving around whether a number should be included in a document.  One number.  In a document that stretches to 170 pages or more.  One number that basically was a guess.  Without any real foundation for its existence as that number.  As usual with these things, there was the one side and the other and they were talking past each other.  The supporters of including the number weren’t hearing that the number was, in fact, well, not a fact.  But, dammit, they had a number.

A little after 9:00, I thought we were done for the night and would pick it up this morning.  I turned my blackberry off and went to bed.  When I got up at 6:00 and checked my email, there were several more “call me” emails from the night before.  I talked with one of the individuals at 6:30 this morning.

It’s times like this when I feel like …

Woke up, fell out of bed
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up, I noticed I was late
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in seconds flat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
And somebody spoke and I went into a dream

The person who spoke was Jackson Browne with his song, The Pretender, which came on the radio on my drive in to work.  The lyrics above, by the way, are from A Day In The Life by the Beatles – one of my favorites of theirs.  But Jackson, well Jackson has something to say on the subject as well …

I’m going to rent myself a house
In the shade of the freeway
I’m going to pack my lunch in the morning
And go to work each day
And when the evening rolls around
I’ll go on home and lay my body down
And when the morning light comes streaming in
I’ll get up and do it again
Amen
Say it again
Amen

It’s interesting how these two songs speak to the same thing.  At least to me.  The humdrum.  The routine.  Getting up, having a cup, going to work, going home, going to sleep.  And getting up and doing it all over again.

Do you ever feel like your entire life is pretend?  That it’s not real.  Or maybe it’s just not about anything that is real.

Or maybe that your entire life doesn’t matter?  That you are just a speck on the butt of humanity.  One of billions and it doesn’t really matter what you do.  If it doesn’t matter, why do you do it?

I do.  I am pretend.  I am not real.  I am but a figment of my imagination and yours.  There can’t possibly be any meaning, any reality, to the things I do each day.  Arguing and discussing for two hours whether a number should be included in a document.  Where’s the reality in that?  Where’s the meaning?

More than eight years ago I acquired my current position of responsibility at work.  My first day, my new boss, who had also been promoted essentially at the same time, came into my office to congratulate me.  I returned the sentiment and then told him how I felt like a kid wearing his dad’s suit.  I still feel that way.  I still feel like I spend my hours at work pretending.  Don’t these people realize I’m just making it up as I go, winging it.  I’m no better, no smarter, no more capable than they are?  I am a pretender.

I’m not a writer.  I pretend to be one.  There is no original story left to be told.  When I write, therefore, I’m just regurgitating the stories that have filled my head from the hundreds if not thousands of stories I’ve read over the last 40+ years.  All I’m doing is rearranging the characters and lines of those many stories into something that seems new, when in fact it is nothing more than a melding of everything else that has already existed and been done.

This morning, a co-worker sent me this link (http://iwl.me).  It’s the one where you insert some of your writing and the site analyzes it and tells you what famous author you write like.  I plugged in a few paragraphs from Northville Five & Dime and it claimed that I write like Dan Brown.  I tried some different paragraphs from Northville.  It spit out Dan Brown again.  So, the good news is that the writing style of the story is consistent.  The bad news is … I FUCKIN’ WRITE LIKE DAN BROWN!!!  I am not a writer.  I am a pretend writer.

Writing is this thing that I love to do.  But I hate it as well.  Carrie Rubin tweeted about having her manuscript out to agents and now playing the waiting game and that she was enjoying the break from writing.  I responded back, “I wish I knew how to stop writing.”  It’s a love-hate thing.  I love to write.  I love when I finish something and read it and feel good about what I’ve done.  I love the accolades I get when a story goes well and people like it.

I hate to write.  It adds to my frustration level because …There are so many stories in my head.  So many.  And I have so little time to devote to my writing that it just leads to more and more frustration.  And besides, like I said, there’s nothing original about what I do.  Is there anything original about anything any of us do anymore?  Maybe I’m just wasting my time at this thing.

But then…

Earlier this week, Aussa Lorens and I exchanged a few comments about difficult people who existed in our life at various points.  For me, it was my psycho ex-girlfriend.  It was a co-worker who has made my life miserable for the last couple of years.  It could just as easily be the family member that makes every family gathering a chore.  Or a teacher who makes life difficult for my child.  Or … well, yes, there are lots of difficult people in our lives.  Lane splitting motorcyclists, for instance.  (Here’s a question … when did lane splitting become something that was not just legal but apparently required for all motorcyclists?  A few years ago, lane splitting was an extremely rare occurrence in my experience.  These days, it seems every single motorcycle rider lane splits no matter the circumstances.  Wall-to-wall, stop and go traffic — lane split.  Traffic flowing freely and at legal speed — lane split.  I am so sick of it and am convinced I’m one day going to have a damaging close encounter with a motorcycle.)

I was discussing one of those difficult individuals with another friend right about the same time Aussa (by the way, Aussa has this incredible manuscript she’s sitting on and she better publish it because her story is incredible) and I were “talking.”  This friend’s outlook was that she owed the difficult person a thank you because having to deal with that person’s crap toughened her up for the other difficult people she would no doubt come across in her life.  Because the reality is that the world is not full of good, decent, loving people.  There are actually assholes out there who are manipulative and evil, and who will rub your nose in it if given the chance.

So, yes, we need a psycho girlfriend, a manipulative co-worker, a whacko relative every now and then to remind us that life aint just a bed of roses.  It’s not just champagne and caviar dreams.  Sometimes it may just actually be a bed of nails.

Which is why I may need to re-think my whole approach to the many frustrations that exist in my life.  They are character-building, right?  Experiencing frustrations and difficulties is supposed to make us enjoy the highs of life all the more, right?  If I’m frustrated at my writing pace, when I finish a story the reward should feel that much sweeter.  If we didn’t have any of the lows, how would we appreciate the richness of life.  So, let me see if I’ve got this right.  I should stop getting frustrated at my frustrations.  But, if I stop getting frustrated, how will I recognize that there is both bad and good?  How will I know what to appreciate?  It’s a circular kind of hell.

For instance, if it no longer frustrates me that I am living in a city I no longer want to live in, how can I appreciate those times when I visit the ocean, or a little town, or a mountain lake?  If my life is perfect, what is the point to seeking out the new?  You see, frustration and difficulty plays a role in our happiness.  I’d just like more of the latter and less of the former.  Or am I just full of it?  You know, like fuck character building.  I want wall-to-wall happiness.

There’s this weird thing that happens when I go on my solo jaunts.  I love it.  Absolutely love it.  But, you know, strange things can happen when you spend time by yourself.  I told a friend about how much I enjoyed watching the waves.  Just sitting and watching the waves.  Watching the … watching the waves.  And she said this thing that was so incredibly true.  The problem with sitting and watching the waves, though, is that you end up burrowing deep down into your head.  You start building a nest and taking up residence in there and when you do that, you can pretty much crack up if you’re not careful.  There’s this odd connection between waves and self-reflection.  At least for me and my friend.  What about you?  Are there experiences that draw you inside?  Is it safe there?  Or dangerous?

So, these jaunts that I love because I go to these places that are beautiful and peaceful and I relax and spend a few hours or days being the me that I think I’m supposed to be almost always leave me feeling melancholy.  Maybe it’s that burrowing that causes it, maybe it’s just a curse of being a reflective person.  Maybe it’s just that as much as I enjoy those moments, what I really want to be able to do is share them with somebody else, somebody who wants to sit and watch the waves and reflect and think.  Ponder and consider.  To weigh the vastness of the ocean versus the miniscule impact we have.

Last Friday, I had an interesting conversation with Poetmaster Geoff.  Or at least I think he’s the one who brought this up.  It may have been the same friend who talked about the dangers of watching waves.  Anyway, it went like this.  Introverts thrive on internal energy, while extroverts thrive on external energy.  And I thought that I once again had a way of comparing the differences between me and the people around me.  There’s nothing wrong with either kind of person, but the reality is that they are just different.  I’m not sure somebody who thrives off of external energy is going to get the simple pleasure of just sitting and saying little, but within that little saying everything.

The key then is to find that person to share these experiences with who gets it and wants it and thrives on it.  And that’s where the melancholy sets in.  Where is that person?  Who is that person?  Is it possible that I’m a fool for thinking there could be somebody else like that, with whom I could almost form a mind meld with and speak while remaining silent.  Revel while maintaining peace.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m wrong about all of this and none of it.  That there never will be an answer to any of these questions because they aren’t actually questions at all.  They are mysteries never meant to be solved.  There are no answers.  There is only putting one foot in front of the other.  There is only waking up each morning and doing it all over again.

I went to the corner store to get my Pepsi at lunch time.  While there, I was moving a little slow.  A woman wasn’t sure if I was ahead of or behind her in line.  I said, “Go ahead, I’m moving slow today.”  She made an appropriate reply.  And I went on, “Life is to be savored, you know.  Too bad I don’t live my life that way.”

Why did I say that?  I have this horrible habit of saying things like that to other people when I’m incapable of following my own advice.  Do as I say, but not as I do.  Follow my lead … right into a snake pit.

And then I read this … http://www.kob.com/article/stories/s3209305.shtml#.UnkQgPnUBNs

I don’t know.  If the police can forcefully have a man’s anus manually probed two or three times, then force three enemas, and finally force a colonscopy all because he was holding his butt cheeks when he got out of a car than I shouldn’t complain.  You know what I mean?

Am I actually complaining though?  Or just pondering the lint in my navel?

Just so you know, this post is Trent Lewin’s fault.

Time for me to go to bed so I can get up and do it all over again.

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27 responses to “A Peek Inside

  1. Aussa Lorens November 7, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    I have several things to say about this (and oh my gosh– thank you) but my internet just died after my last post!! I’m in agony over here, can you feel the angst just radiating out from the center of America????? Phone typing doesn’t do my thoughts justice so I have to suspend them (mostly) until I get to work tomorrow and can spend 8 hours doing non-work-related things on the Internet.

    • kingmidget November 7, 2013 at 8:07 pm

      I, of course, condone those eight hours. Particularly if they involve the sharing of your thoughts my post prompted.

  2. Vince Dickinson November 7, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    I checked out the I Write Like website, and every sample I put in there brought back a different result (from my work in progress).

  3. Vince Dickinson November 7, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    I think most people feel stuck. It seems to me that the thing to do is to discover what is the root cause of one’s stuckness, and imagine a life where that thing, or those things are not making you feel stuck. Then see where you’d go if you weren’t feeling stuck.

  4. Carrie Rubin November 8, 2013 at 8:17 am

    Don’t read too much into the Dan Brown thing. I’ve tried that site that tells you who you write like, and using the same writing passage in a row, three different names were spit out. I decided at that point it wasn’t the most valid of measures. 😉

    Thanks for the mention. My break is really only for a week or so while I tend to long-neglected tasks. But I’m itching to start a new story. I’ll probably start sketching it out next week.

    • kingmidget November 8, 2013 at 8:21 am

      I’m thinking that if I can finish Notthville in the next few days, I may take the rest of 2013 off. From all of it — social media, blogging, writing.

      • Carrie Rubin November 8, 2013 at 8:27 am

        A creative recharge can only be a good thing. So can silencing social media for a time. If it just weren’t for that dang marketing expectation… (which admittedly, I’ve done little of as late.)

      • kingmidget November 8, 2013 at 8:28 am

        I have this fear that if I stop I won’t re-start. Maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

      • Carrie Rubin November 8, 2013 at 8:33 am

        “I have this fear that if I stop I won’t re-start.”—I hope you’re referring to the social media and not the writing. You’re such a great writer. If I had to guess who within my social media circle will land a best-seller, you would be at the top. Oops, sorry, too much pressure? 😉

      • kingmidget November 8, 2013 at 8:35 am

        I am talking about the writing. And thanks for the compliment. Just wish it would come true. 😉
        You have that potential too.

      • Carrie Rubin November 8, 2013 at 8:37 am

        Well, thank you, but I’m not holding my breath…

      • kingmidget November 8, 2013 at 8:43 am

        Neither am I.

  5. elainecanham November 8, 2013 at 9:55 am

    How about another Beatle line: Life is what happens when you’re busy doing something else. I get that feeling all the time.

  6. ioniamartin November 8, 2013 at 10:10 am

    Indeed. I feel like that right now…life is pretend. And I do as you say not as I do too.

  7. sknicholls November 8, 2013 at 11:17 am

    I am trying to examine my own personal strengths and weaknesses right now, so I am probably not the best person to tell someone else what to do. I do hope you keep writing though, even if you have to take a break from it to gain a new perspective. Your talent is not easily obtainable, or shared by many.

    • kingmidget November 9, 2013 at 6:59 am

      Thank you. I’m sure I’ll keep writing, it’s too much a part of me these days. But, I do think I’m going to take a break after Northville is done.

  8. Theryn November 8, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    You’re not going to quit your job, so I think you need to reframe your feelings toward it. There are obviously things you value about it (the money it provides you, the fact you can retire early, etc.) and those outweigh the negatives for you.

    Re: pretending. This is “impostor syndrome.” It’s very common. Almost everyone (who doesn’t have an overblown ego) feels like that with respect to their work.

    Re: writing. Why do you write? You say you love finishing and you love the accolades, but what else? Those are external/product sorts of things. What about internal motivations? Imagine you’re working on an epic novel, one it’s going to take you years and years to finish, one you might never finish at all (like Grady in Wonder Boys). No one but you has read it. What’s your motivation to keep writing? What are you getting from the process?

    Happiness is more about your outlook, i.e. how you frame your life, than your situation or surroundings. The way you’ve framed things, you’re stuck in the Unhappiest Place on Earth ™ and circumstances beyond your control are conspiring to keep you stuck there. This makes you feel frustrated and powerless. But is this really true? The life changes you want to make are common. Other people in similar situations make them, all the time. You’re conflicted about taking the risk. Ask yourself why. Is it just because you’re naturally risk-averse? Are you worried you’ll do it and you won’t end up happier? etc.

    • kingmidget November 9, 2013 at 7:07 am

      I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know. 😉
      This Peek Inside was an attempt to put some order to all of the random thoughts that fill my head some days. On a day when I was wallowing in it.

      You’re right about the writing. There is something internal that I get from writing. I think. There must be, otherwise why would I be doing it. Is it possible that it’s nothing more than I enjoy it? After I wrote this post, I wondered if why I enjoy writing is that it allows me to escape from the rest of my life.

      Which isn’t that bad and I know that. There are just moments when I get swallowed up by the frustrating bits and can’t see the good bits. Who am I kidding? It’s a lot more than mere moments these days.

      I know I’m fortunate with plenty to be happy about. Just need to re-adjust my, as you say, outlook. Eliminate those frustrations I can, be more accepting of those I can’t. Find things to enjoy. Stop being such an Eeyore. 😉

  9. Trent Lewin November 9, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    Your post, Midget, deserves a lot of time and some re-reading. I think you are a real writer, as much as any writer is, because you engage in the practice of it. There are original stories to tell still, I think, they may just sound like other ones. The pretending thing is interesting though. My entire blog is one big story told around zero substance. I often feel like a liar, and appear to have rationalized that by adopting a persona. I don’t fully understand where I am with this. I love stories. I have created a story around a writer who pretends all the time. Such is life I guess.

    Good post, my friend. Makes me somewhat glad that others have similar thoughts.

    • kingmidget November 9, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      I think that “feel like a liar” is another way to describe how I feel about a lot of the things I covered in my post. Whether it is “pretend” or a “lie” there just seems to be something artificial about a lot of this. It’s like I’m playing a role rather than being me.

  10. Pingback: Reframe | The Remainder Table

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