It’s an odd feeling, having a closer relationship with words on a page, than most people. Fiction and narrative non-fiction make up the the majority of my mind’s diet. Conversation with other humans lags behind the same way I neglect nutritious vegetables at the dinner table. I ingest other author’s writings and feast sumptuously on the nourishment provided by their labor. I write, to reciprocate these authors contributions, breathing back out what is my version of carbon dioxide for trees, helping to rebalance the environment, and doing my part in the eco-system.
In some authors, I hear a voice and envision him sitting across from me in a rustic cabin, with a fire crackling at our feet on a cold snowy night, me hanging on his every word. In other authors, I find a charismatic motivational speaker or coach, beckoning me to get off my ass and live life in all of its hedonistic and unpredictable delights. In my understanding, these authors are saying to me that we must come to the page to write, the same way we live life, with passion and purpose. The message I intuit from them is that foreign lands must be explored simply because they are there. No other reason. To limit yourself to the input and stimuli of only one place, with all of its homogenous personalities and insular group-think, is to restrain the capacity of your mind to adapt and grow when nourished by an unconventional diet. Bukowski or Thompson can speak to me like they know my weaknesses and repressed desires intricately. They know exactly what to say to stoke the hibernating bear in my heart.
I seek refuge in the cerebral, immersive process of reproducing the characters actions and emotion in my mind while reading fiction. I race to consume the first 30 pages in the hope the author will hook my lip and drag me by the mouth so I have no other choice but to be pulled up into his boat, or release my mouth from the boring bait and swim along in search of my next book. I am fully engaged mentally and safe with my head in a book. The author’s powers of description and telepathy sooth my nerves and allow my attention to be given singularly for this one, if only action in my life. My powers of imagination and cognition are working overtime like a complex, multi-function assembly line, and there is no time for regret and anxiety to creep in.
I’m reading a book called Rebirth by Kamal Ravikant. It is a day-to-day account of the Camino de Santiago and the author’s struggle with reconciling his father’s death after ignoring his father’s existence for the last few years before he died. Ravikant’s prose transported me back to the Camino and the atmosphere of shared vulnerability of each pilgrim I encountered. I want the variety of hyper-stimulation one day and complete solitude of the next day. I want those heartfelt conversations and connections with people that were strangers moments before. I switched off to the book Flash Boys by Michael Lewis and I can’t put it down. Lewis paints vivid characters and a suspenseful storyline, but I find myself doing the gawking thing where I’m salivating at the sight of others wealth and power and I can’t look away.
I want to take this stupid malfunctioning iPhone that Apple has engineered to break down after 2 years and throw it against the wall. I am close to succumbing to the urge to take a hammer and smash it into little pieces, while screaming and cursing it like a crazed voodoo queen. There are millions of galaxies at my finger tips every time I am distracted or lonely. Each of these galaxies whispers to me in my idle moments, like beautiful sirens on the shoreline. I am the sailor, famished from days at sea in dangerous waters, being lured in by the sight of curvaceous women and crashing my boat on the rocks. Every time I open my email, Facebook, the various dating apps, I succumb to the pleasures of the “garden of earthly delights.” Our society has not yet acknowledged the toxic effects of the addiction to smart-phones. There is no remedy for this in our image obsessed society. I’m sick of maintaining this illusion of internet “social connection”, and of keeping up the obsession of observing others: predictable news cycles, tragedies, deaths of famous people. If I don’t view this stuff, I don’t think I will miss the media culture of paranoia.
At the grocery store today, I tried to resist picking up the magazine with Nina Agdal in a sultry pose on the cover. I think, did she have just a tad of undetectable botox? Best to get a closer look. I lose the 2-second battle, pick up the magazine and skim How to keep your man happy in this women’s magazine on my way to her 3 page spread in the back. This small decision and many like it, cede my attention to the gods of commercialism. I feel a twinge of anger, looking at her perfect face, those impeccable Danish genes. I am vain. Many models are addicted to cocaine, they have eating disorders, they make millions for smiling and dieting, but they feel undervalued and want to be known for their brains. We hate to attribute intelligent qualities to beautiful people. If I was a famous actor, people would be suspicious of my writing as garbage.
My social muscles atrophy after a few days holed up, clinging to my fantasy worlds of fiction, TV and writing. My sensitivity level to human interaction calibrates and adjusts like one’s eyes that are blinded by sunshine after a week in captivity. I need desperately to exist in that yin-and-yang of living in the real world and retreating into the fiction and writing world to harness my ability to recreate this real world on the page. Good writing can’t exist in a vacuum, I need to live, to be exposed the unpredictable, the foreign, to the limitless spectrum of personalities. I must drag out myself out to socialize when I am not in the mood, like I am not in the mood to go to the gym after not working out for 3 weeks.
After being in Spain and teaching loud and crazy students, and after publishing as many posts as I have on this blog, I realize that words are just words, they don’t possess the grand power to wound and scar, that I so fear. I have become more resilient, I deflect the disdain of others, real and imagined, more effectively. Disdain and hatred, are as plentiful as clouds in the sky. My deep-rooted disdain for women and the ones that reject me I think is more of a negative belief about myself that I purposely play out to result in rejection. Talk is cheap, as they say. Its just noise most of the time. The essential makes up such a small percentage of the back and forth chatter and conversational minutiae of life.
It helps me sometimes to think that I am in the minority, being simply decent and not shallow, as many people are, but I am also shallow in many ways, narcissistic in many more. This term terminal uniqueness is a popular one in Alcoholics Anonymous. The thought that no one will ever understand my struggle and there is no one like me, wrestles its way into my head every day. I continually resist the counsel of others and fight through the stress and feelings of isolation alone.
I’m not ready to date, I want sex and affection like a hit of a joint or some chemical high. I try to mask my disdain for women and people in general, but its just not working these days. I’m going back to AA meetings now, with my tail between my legs, after a hiatus of 6 months. I tried to let the memory of my 1 year anniversary meeting sustain me for a while as a lone wolf, a tough explorer, scorning anyone who didn’t like me. Resentments are not a luxury we can afford to have, they say in the rooms of AA. I want a fuck them attitude, I want to be the functionally alcoholic writer, compiling stories of adventure and danger in the many cities I visit. I want to stand on the shoulders of my old buddy alcohol and feel the turbo-charge of ego and I don’t give a fuck what you think of me.
I can no longer compartmentalize my chemically induced mania like I did in my drinking days. In the past I confined it to weekends, where the meek, fantasizing child inside me would live vicariously through my liquored up, inebriated self. I want to believe I have the strength to be a person hated for his lifestyle and convictions, but I’m a people pleaser, too obsessed with public opinion. The main challenge of sobriety for me is bridging the gap of you are a fucking worthless piece of shit, and you are the beaming star-center of this universe. The challenge is to live in the middle ground of life: sober reality. I am no longer able to board the rollercoaster of intoxication resulting in temporary bliss, followed by motion sickness and throwing my guts up when the ride is over and hating myself.
How can I poke and burst this bubble? This thin facade we call reality is merely images on a wall, produced by the projector of our imperfect minds. Our perception amounts to brain functions of cognition honed over millions of years of evolution. I don’t believe in what my mammalian organ tells me is reality. The brain is engineered as a survival machine and watchdog. We only perceive a tiny piece of the puzzle of “reality”. This is the reason I have a ravenous hunger for literature on psychedelics and firsthand accounts of them. They seem to extract some of the eternal love and an innate unified consciousness housed in our primate brains, in some old cellar covered in cobwebs in the back of our modern yet misguided brains.
I want to just regurgitate all my thoughts onto the page but I instead have to filter them like sand slowly falls through in an hourglass, my fingers being the instrument through which I translate the jabbering psychotic people in my brain. Each sentence has a domino effect and keeps the wheels turning in my brain. The use of the motor function in my fingers keeps my prefrontal cortex on its toes. My brain is lazy however, all the thoughts are there, but I have to transcribe them into these insufficient symbols of our english language.
What I label as depression (my innate gloom and apathy towards people and life), more aptly may be an inherent doubt and skepticism towards the convoluted collection of symbols we call reality. Reality implies that there is only one, for sane people, and that’s just not true.
My writing might be better served if I stop getting so bogged down in recounting the draining process of writing, these stupid meta-meta analyses of my thoughts and my hyper self-awareness, and just get down to the real work of it. Also, it might help if I stopped weighing it down with all these airy and exaggerated metaphors. This post is a window into the bi-polarity of my mind, the dueling maniacs that reside behind my eyes, a passionate Latina attempting to dance the Samba with a steroid-fueled male stripper trying to hump her like an unneutered dog. I need to somehow make them compliment each other’s choreography and represent them eloquently through words on the page. I need to tame the horny stripper and channel the elegant passion of the woman. That is the torture and bliss of writing.