My name's Dave. I'm working on it.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

No Name #1

Okay. Time to get back on the wagon.
Last night I was particularly drunk, visiting with old friends, and this morning I found myself in the kitchen forcing a couple glasses of Britta water down my throat. Hours later, I'm glad I did. I had closed the blinds and gave myself permission to sleep in till noon if I so desired. But something about being hungover just made me want to get up.
More than that, it made me want to stop fucking around. Don't ask me why. I woke up half an hour ago and realized that in a few hours I'm going to head off to work again, and that on a normal day this would serve as justification enough for me not to get anything done in the interim. And I just felt sick at the notion. After all (and like Valentine so succinctly pointed out) I've repeated myself quite a lot in this blog, and one of my well-worn-out statements has been that when I'm left to my own devices I won't get much done at all, especially when I have all the time in the world.
I've been on this well-intentioned but perhaps ultimately simplistic drive to organize my room, my projects, all my 'open loops' as the author calls them. Anything and everything that's on my mind, weighing me down. In my typical half-hearted way I've established a little file system divided into projects, calendar tasks, etc. The point is that for all my naïveté, I have learned something from this system: you can't ever 'do' a project. You can only do specific steps in a focused order that will, in time, result in the aforementioned project being 'done.'
Case in point: my shitty first draft of a novel. It looms and only grows more ominous and untouchable as time passes. I need to rewrite it. I need to 'do' it. Naturally, I don't know where to start, and so don't start at all.
So this system is helping me to break it down, at least.
And something about waking up this morning with a decent hangover, finding myself to be in possession of a few valium and a little capsule of MDMA (I do remember acquiring these, but nonetheless it seemed somewhat poignant), and a strong craving for french toast, has just left me ready to start to tackle it piece by piece. On a work day. That's key.
Now Elf Power's Back to the Web plays, and my dual externals sit happily and quietly next to the glow of my screen. I would do well to clean my room. But I have had lots of time to think about what Valentine said, and that's just another distraction in disguise. I know it. So let the rumpled clothes and strewn Oregonians stay where they are.
But I'll need energy. I'm gonna go make that french toast.

Hey kids.
Just wanted to let you know that Dave checks this constantly and always laments that no one comments on it. Every time he looks we all hold our breath and have to endure the subsequent whining. So for my sake, you should leave comments. If not to respond to the blog, at least to say hi. Do it for me.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Don't Dream It's Over

I'm back. Thanks to Valentine for filling in during my absence.
I feel a bit overwhelmed of course. The past few weeks have been pretty devoid of writing, first because of my arm, and after a few talks with Valentine and the rest, due to the realization that writing had become a form of self-sabotage unto itself. A sneaky and seductive one to be sure, but one all the same. I was writing myself into holes, not out of them. Writing missives and pretentious resolutions, rather than just putting my nose to the grindstone and getting on with the fucking story, as they say.
I've been keeping busy with lots of reading, in the meantime. I was sad to see Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell come to an end. How often does a nearly 800-page book seem too short?
But there are many, many more books to read.
In other news... in a weeks' time I shall be done with my cell phone once and for all, returning to the land of home phones and an ever-changing answering machine message. You'll want to call me constantly just to hear it. I swear. I'm excited to be without the phone... my text messaging addiction is out of control, and besides cutting that out of my life, I'll be paying considerably less per month. All around it seems wise.
My music collection is reaching absurd proportions. I always feel I need just a little more, when I am already overflowing with music I will never be able to find time to listen to. During the last few weeks, I've been orbiting around the planet that is Bob Dylan. Beyond his Greatest Hits playing in my household when I was growing up, I never knew him too well; it never really touched me. I went back and listened to his old albums individually, and something just clicked.
I'm a bit obsessed.
I feel like I have a lot more to say, but I'm too tired to go on.
I'm going to go lay down to read One Hundred Years of Solitude and let the donuts I just ate settle.
Mmm, donuts.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

A View From the Gallery

Guest blogger Valentine here. Dave’s going to be out of service for a while, as he fractured the head of his radial bone recently and is sitting around in a sling. Which, naturally, leaves him unable to type or write or any of those other things he likes to do, so it falls to me to keep this old thing going. Apparently he was on his way to the Night Ride, some critical mass type thing, except he was wearing a skirt and wig. And there were donuts in there somewhere. He should be out of commission for a few weeks at least, and in the interim I'll be here keeping you posted on his recovery and talking shop. When I'm not fetching him numerous cups of tea or helping him change in and out of his pants. He's quite needy.
Sooooo… I’ve been reading over these pages and again and again I’m struck by how much repetition goes on around here. Me and the rest of the boys in the office don’t interfere too much. But if you ask me, he should have a sounding board or an editor to work them over before these blogs go to press. The kinds of things people do when no one's looking, I tell you. They get away with the worst sorts of whining and self-indulgence, no one there to give them a good smack in the eye. Unchecked, rampant whining always ensues. Poor poor me, and so on. We see it all the time.
Last week I was trying to talk some sense into him. Listen, I said, you’ve got to try to look at things positively. See, he’s been griping that with his dominant arm out, he’s stuck in doors all day, can’t ride, can’t work, can’t do this or that. But you and I know as well as anything that when you can do anything you want, nothing standing between you and your slightest whim, well, then it just doesn’t seem so interesting. Loan that book or movie out, and bam, that’s the one you wanted for this evening. It never fails.
I tried to explain this to him. But if there’s anything I can say about that boy, it’s that he’s got a resistance to anything that might actually help him like nothing I’ve ever seen. Anything that can feed the inactivity or keep him from getting on with his life, he’s on it like flies on shit.
Take this past blog here, the one about ‘inquisitors.’
Okay, okay, I can appreciate the sentiment. But.
First of all, we’re all human. We’re not perfect. Can’t expect to be saints. But it’s pretty convenient to set these impossible goals and standards for yourself if you’re really determined to keep on sitting around getting a whole lot of nothing done.
It’s one thing to want to change, I don’t begrudge anyone the desire to be a better person or improve things about themselves they’re unhappy with. But, and I feel like I’ve said this a million times, you’ve got to look out for the point where your good intentions twist around into these nefarious agents of distraction and deception. You might think you’re doing the right thing, but really you’re just killing more time, baby. See it for what it is.
It’s a bitch though. The worst is always the kind of thing that disguises itself as a virtue or a useful activity. So I told him: all your ‘inquiry,’ all your ‘need for understanding’: what is the fucking point? I mean really.
He stammered something about getting to the roots and changing the principles, and whimpering about his arm.
I just sat there and listened. It’s a beautiful and true thing that when people are full of shit eventually they’ll just run out of words, or steam, or whatever it may be, and find themselves running into the proverbial wall. Their argument just doesn’t hold up. It looks good on a piece of paper, and maybe flashed across this here internet. But really, when you get down to practical application, it just falls apart.
He got real quiet at that point. God, I live for those moments.
Anyway, like I was saying earlier: here you are in this predicament, right? You’ve got nothing but time. Stop kidding yourself. See your tendencies for what they are. And bottom line:
Something only matters inasmuch as it helps you along. Otherwise, fuck it. You don’t need to scour the meaning out of every little thing, and you don’t need to pace around endlessly to make sure your every deed and thought is pure and genuine. That’s a lot of wanking, if you ask me.
Maybe with him unable to go anywhere he’ll finally get around to facing that.
So, like I said, I’ll be maintaining the blog while his arm heals. It’s good to watch him, having to do everything one-handed, hopping around, generally disheveled and unshaven. I keep telling him to make the best of what could be called a shitty set of circumstances. To keep on looking for the silver lining.
It’s there, you know. It’s always there. We just need a reminder from time to time. And he wouldn’t like to hear it, but you can’t deny: sometimes life gives you just what you need, whether you like it or not.
Boy it’s hot out today. Time for some bubble tea.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Comes the Inquisitor

Another day. And another. I want to understand what I'm so afraid of. I've many large goals, large projects I'm trying to undertake. However, all that happens is the occasional burst, the occasional day of creativity. Those are good days; but I always fear that they will be isolated events, and rightly so. Without practice, without set habits, these days are random and disconnected. The big things never get started.
I have to face the fact that these isolated 'bright' days are, basically, worthless and wasted. One day alone means nothing. It becomes clear that my heart is not in the right place. My desires and sense of purpose are not clear to me. If they were, I could not help but do all the things I so desire: read, write, practice the piano, meditate, and so on. In reality, I have to push myself to make even the smallest effort to emerge from my daily routine of Babylon 5 re-runs, computer games, and general lethargy. It is not my heart that drives me to create, but the feeling that I should, because that's the sort of person I want to be. Why? And if I truly want to be this sort of person, truly want to do these things, why am I so unmotivated to pursue them?
I live with so many distractions and deceptions. That once my life 'settles down,' then I'll be able to get on with things. That I'm stretched too thin with taking care of those around me. That I am tired and need to rest. But there will always be someone who is falling apart, stricken with grief, or losing their sanity. Or I will be. And there will never come a time when everything simply settles into place and I am suddenly transformed, without effort, into a creative machine.
It has to do with fear.
I'm afraid of many things. Chief among them is the fear of questioning myself, my heart, my motives; also fear of leaving the comfort of complacency. I've gotten by all my life without inquiring much into my nature, without truly looking at the whys and hows. Instead, I set up an ideal self, projected to the outside world: admirable, kind and good, but primarily on the surface. I wished people to love me and want to keep me around. It's led to a rather strong feeling of disconnection from myself, and a willingness to carry on in quiet misery and acceptable apathy until that self that's within me, wherever it is, gets so nauseous and disgusted that its scream is all I can hear. Then I am again reminded: this is not the way. Why do you do it this way?
And again I have no answer, and am silent.
For what might seem to be a right action, if done for the wrong reasons, is really the wrong action. If the heart behind it is not pure, the deed is corrupt. It's become painfully clear recently how little I truly resemble the man I present myself as and wish to believe I am. I present myself as open-minded, tolerant, and kind; but almost daily I find myself full of anger and judgment. I feel I am cultured and intelligent and refined, but in my heart I know I am driven by a desire to feel superior to others, and to condemn them. That my desire to give gifts to those close to me is motivated as much by the need for manipulation and control as by generosity and love.
It's a problem.
A friend recently told me a very true thing: that the kindness and compassion we extend to others when they err (as humans do), we must also extend to ourselves. It is much harder to do this than it is to forgive others. But we must do so.
I do not think I'm an evil man. I know that in my heart I am selfish, childish, and manipulative; but they are what they are and there is more to me than that. However, I'm unable to deceive myself any longer about my 'noble nature.' The heart is empty, the show has been everything. I know it; now I must deal with it.
I will assume the role of the inquisitor. Demands the whys of myself. The real reasons must be grasped. Part of me worries that such extreme self-analysis as I have in mind will be detrimental... but it's necessary. Without examining myself, I'll continue to drift along, never sure if the things I am, and do, and desire, are pure. Are true. It must be extreme: without demanding that I account for myself, I would too easily slip back into my old bad habits. It wouldn't really be living anyway.
Which brings me back to the disciplines. The big projects. I feel, or hope, that when I've come to understand my drives a little better, the rest of it might fall into place a little more easily, for better or for worse. I know there's no simple cure. Understanding is just a foundation; hard work will also be required. I'm not afraid to work for it. I've never been lazy, but if there was no meaning in the things I did, I could scarcely lift a finger.
Perhaps this is an attempt to redefine the meaning in my life. Perhaps once it is done all that has seemed so overwhelming might be brought into a manageable perspective. I've already taken a few steps. The nonelectronic day of rest (for lack of a better name) ritual has begun, and already I am healed slightly. There are many things I can do to help myself. Remember the lesson of NaNoWriMo: that the largest, craziest projects can be accomplished if we take them one piece at a time.
Remember to dance:

And remember to laugh at yourself. From laughter, there is wisdom.

The inquisitor comes.