mttbll
Writing is saying to no one and to everyone the things it is not possible to say to someone. Or rather writing is saying to the no one who may eventually be the reader those things one has no someone to whom to say them. Matters that are so subtle, so personal, so obscure that I ordinarily can’t imagine saying them to the people to whom I’m closest. Every once in a while I try to say them aloud and find that what turns to mush in my mouth or falls short of their ears can be written down for total strangers. Said to total strangers in the silence of writing that is recuperated and heard in the solitude of reading. Is it the shared solitude of writing, is it that separately we all reside in a place deeper than society, even the society of two? Is it that the tongue fails where the fingers succeed, in telling truths so lengthy and nuanced that they are almost impossible aloud?
Rebecca Solnit (via mttbll)

Tuesday

It’s 7:17 am. I woke up early this morning, sometime around 4.

I need a stretch of several hours just to ease into the day.

At 6:04 I arrived at the coffee shop. It was still dark out and the woman who sits in the chair by the window was there. I see her almost every morning but I’ve never spoken to her, she seems entrenched. She’s always got a book and a little later, around 7 some other regulars show up and they talk inanities.

I had a psychiatrist’s appointment yesterday and it went better than I expected it to. She upped my meds a bit and although I feel a bit numb now, it’s a good kind of numb. It’s a peaceful numb where I can notice the breeze through the leaves and the birds jumping into the bushes. The paranoia and depression seem to have subsided as well but it’s only the second day I’ve been taking them.

I see people now and I’m not worried anymore, I’m not worried that they have some malicious intent, and instead they are just simple stupid people.

The bearded man arrived at around 6:45, it’s always been striking to me, the juxtaposition between his short stature and how rough he looks, as if the measure of a rugged man is how tall he is. I’ve never talked to him either but I seem to see him quite often.

I joined a dating site a few nights ago but I’m hesitant to message anyone. I’m just not sure if I really want a relationship. It’s a divide in me, part thinks it would be nice to be in love but another part is so disgusted with the catering to other people idea that it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around being with another person. I’m too self dependent and I just don’t want to put in the work to worry about having someone else in my life.

In other news, I’ve been talking to a literary agent and she seems interested. I’m trying to keep myself from getting too far ahead of myself and thinking about what this will mean and maybe it’s a stepping stone on my way to a house in the mountains. Like, how much money would a book actually make? Is there an advance and how much would that be? I also know I should keep a rather firm grip on my expectations because I know it could fall apart at any moment. Is my work really that good? It’s hard for me to believe that someone would want to publish me let alone represent me.

I have another piece for the New York Times coming out in a few days too and I’m both excited and nervous. I’m worried I disclosed too much information in this one, and whether what I said is something I really want to broadcast to the world. I know that they’re just words and nobody is really going to connect an actual living breathing person to the words and nobody will stop me on the street, but my friends will read it, and there are just some times that being too vulnerable is hard for me when it comes to people I know.

Overall, though, I’d say I feel better. The last few months have been weird and that’s putting it lightly. I feel ok now. 

Strange days at the apartment complex

I got up late this morning. Around 7:15 which is a departure from the normal 5:30. I had this anxiousness because I knew they were resurfacing the parking lot and I needed to move my car before 8.

I rushed through my coffee and bagel and cigarette to make sure I left by 8 even though I knew it was more of a loose timeframe and I didn’t really have to worry all that much.

I put on my pants and shoes and closing the apartment door I hear the words, “I can’t believe they’re letting that murderer stay here.” It took me back a little and I saw my neighbor across the landing, the woman who, I was warned by my now deceased neighbor a few months ago, was nosey.

 “What are you talking about?” I said. “Jody, that asshole abused her, she would come to me with bruises, there was even one time she came to me, blood everywhere, she had cut herself, she was trying to get attention, they’re letting that asshole stay here.”

This was the same woman who told me Jody had died a few weeks ago and in this case, as in the earlier news of her death, I didn’t know what words to push out of my mouth, I just stood there stunned. The information that I had been living next to dead body threw me off earlier and I couldn’t help feeling like I wanted to get out of this apartment complex where people are a little too friendly and the management is a little too nonchalant. This idea that I was living next to a potential murderer now would stay with me. I knew it would, even if it was information from an untrustworthy source that spews a little too much speculative word vomit every time I see her.

“I knew there was something wrong with the office, they said this was a no drug, no crime, no smoking community and then later they say, oh they’re allowed to smoke on their balconies,” she said.

I still hadn’t said anything. I was torn between trying to sympathize with this woman, a known notorious gossip queen and my deep misanthropy and desire to leave. Slowly, I started to move down the stairs, saying simply, “I want to move.” “Be careful Michael,” her voice trailed as I walked down the stairs.

When I got to the coffee shop I searched the local newspaper’s website for articles about a death in my complex and couldn’t find anything. Let alone any speculative news about a murder. They were both drunks though, Jody and her husband, I have no idea what happened. I had only met her a couple times, once when she came to my door at 6 am to ask if I had called the cops on her, and the other time, in passing when she had told me to be careful and that my other neighbor was nosey.

I just knew Jody wasn’t around anymore and that I have a neighbor that loves her gossip.

I shouldn’t ignore my gut feeling that this place is off somehow.

Monday things

1. I’ve had a touch of the devil for the last few weeks.

It seemed like it was just a bad case of seasonal affective disorder but then it turned into some pretty serious depression and I was sitting there, staring into blank space thinking about what would happen if I were to take a gun into the woods and decide I’d had enough. I thought about my family. I thought about my friends and how it would be some devastating thing. Then I began to feel guilty that my ego was big enough to think that people I barely knew would give it a second thought. That’s some fucked up shit.

Eventually I realized that the depression is being caused by some of the good ol’ paranoia, the shit that has haunted me from day one. Just this gnawing notion that people are judging me and though I know that it’s true to a degree, I have the tendency of taking it much farther to the point of imagined abuse. It’s like my own mind projecting this shit onto other people. That’s unfair. It’s not something I can control though.

This paranoia though, it just eats at me and my insides are screaming at me to get away from these people, everyone really and go live alone in the woods somewhere and be finally on my own.

That’s the big thing. That’s the motivating factor for pretty much anything I do or try to do these days. Just to make enough money to buy a house in the woods. Because of that I’ve been a slavedriver to myself trying to do something, anything to make enough money to be good. Or at least move out of this suburbia shit. I should be thankful though, I should be glad my neighbors are friendly and nowhere near as bad as my old neighbors. It’s just this overarching theme though, to get out, to get away.

2. I’ve been sending out a bunch of queries and proposals to agents for this new book of essays I’ve put together. I thought I had it nailed yesterday when I sent a proposal to this publisher who specializes in books about mental illness. I wake up today and there’s a rejection in my email.

I’m trying to be more diligent about persistence though so I countered the rejection several times with them, eventually they didn’t respond.

It shouldn’t be this tough. I’m a writer for the New York Times. That should count for something right? I began to equate the process of getting my work published to dating. It’s just something that’s so foreign to me and I have no idea how to go about the process of doing either of those things. It just doesn’t seem to work for me. I keep at it though, simply for the sake of maybe finding a morsel of hope for the in between times.

3. I need to work on my relaxing skills.

4. I’ve found that when I work myself up, if I’m conscious about what’s happening and embrace it as valid then it doesn’t seem to hurt as much. Just saying that I accept that things aren’t the way I want them to be right now makes room in my chest for the deep breath that inevitably follows. Chill music and a cigarette help too.

shortformblog
shortformblog:

A long trip into the wilderness
tl;dr: This is ShortFormBlog’s last post. I’m going to play with another idea, tentatively called DataSlam, over this way.
On January 1, 2009, I started ShortFormBlog with the hope of building it into a pretty cool place for news, numbers, quotes, blurbs, and a few other things. It was a great thing to work on for a good long time, and it even had some success and a few people loved the dang thing.
But after a couple of abortive efforts to rekindle my personal interest in the site, I think now’s a good time to admit that it’s time to put it to rest. I’m getting older, and I have other things in my life that take precedence (you know, being married and stuff like that), and I admit that it would be nicer to experiment on a smaller scale, just to see what happens next and not force myself to do any one thing creatively.
So this is peace out. But I’ll always remember what became of SFB. You can build something yourself and watch it go somewhere. You can put your heart in things and see it grow. But it’s good to admit when the off switch should probably stay off.
Five sites you should read on Tumblr in SFB’s place:
BrooklynMutt: Peter Wade has been a great friend over the years and a man whose work I greatly respect. He’s always super-modest about his considerable skill. He has no reason to be.
Evan Fleischer: One of Tumblr’s most underrated minds.
PopCultureBrain: Why this guy isn’t writing for Entertainment Weekly, I’ll never know.
Mike Hedrick: A writer whose intelligence and clarity can knock you on your ass. He’s gotten a few bylines in the NYT.
Laughterkey: The best reblogger in the game.
Peace out folks. ShortFormBlog may be gone, but I’m not: I’m going to be playing with a new idea over this way. I’m calling it DataSlam (for now). Consider it my difficult, unformed second album. Old-school SFB will remain up in archive form.
It’s been good. — Ernie @ SFB

Thanks man!! It was good having you around as a friend/mentor for this crazy tumblr stuff. I never would’ve been able to do the things I’m doing without your advice. Into the great blue yonder, and on to cooler things. Love ya bro. 

shortformblog:

A long trip into the wilderness

tl;dr: This is ShortFormBlog’s last post. I’m going to play with another idea, tentatively called DataSlam, over this way.

On January 1, 2009, I started ShortFormBlog with the hope of building it into a pretty cool place for news, numbers, quotes, blurbs, and a few other things. It was a great thing to work on for a good long time, and it even had some success and a few people loved the dang thing.

But after a couple of abortive efforts to rekindle my personal interest in the site, I think now’s a good time to admit that it’s time to put it to rest. I’m getting older, and I have other things in my life that take precedence (you know, being married and stuff like that), and I admit that it would be nicer to experiment on a smaller scale, just to see what happens next and not force myself to do any one thing creatively.

So this is peace out. But I’ll always remember what became of SFB. You can build something yourself and watch it go somewhere. You can put your heart in things and see it grow. But it’s good to admit when the off switch should probably stay off.

Five sites you should read on Tumblr in SFB’s place:

BrooklynMutt: Peter Wade has been a great friend over the years and a man whose work I greatly respect. He’s always super-modest about his considerable skill. He has no reason to be.

Evan Fleischer: One of Tumblr’s most underrated minds.

PopCultureBrain: Why this guy isn’t writing for Entertainment Weekly, I’ll never know.

Mike Hedrick: A writer whose intelligence and clarity can knock you on your ass. He’s gotten a few bylines in the NYT.

Laughterkey: The best reblogger in the game.

Peace out folks. ShortFormBlog may be gone, but I’m not: I’m going to be playing with a new idea over this way. I’m calling it DataSlam (for now). Consider it my difficult, unformed second album. Old-school SFB will remain up in archive form.

It’s been good. — Ernie @ SFB

Thanks man!! It was good having you around as a friend/mentor for this crazy tumblr stuff. I never would’ve been able to do the things I’m doing without your advice. Into the great blue yonder, and on to cooler things. Love ya bro. 

Thursday Afternoon

It’s been almost a week since the sads dissipated. It’s like they eat at you when they’re there but when they’re gone it’s like they never even existed. I think part of it is that I took efforts to scale back the amount of work that was eating at me. I’m incredibly fortunate that I can do that being a freelance writer.

It’s weird how this stress of things that have yet to be done weighs on you. It’s perfectly within my capabilities to do all these things but the knowledge that I have to do them slowly starts to take hold and then before I know it I’m thinking about going out to the woods with a gun and one thought.

There’s a balance though, no work drives me nuts but too much work also drives me nuts. I’ve been taking time though. I’ve been mindful with what I’m doing and I’ve allowed myself to sit back a bit.

I want my house in the woods even more when I’m stressed so I think that if I work harder to get more money, it will come sooner but then when I deliberately stop trying so hard that aching need to escape kind of goes away.

Things are ok.

I met with a friend from high school the other day, we’ve kept in touch over the years and it’s easy to talk to her. I don’t feel like I’m being forced with her but at the same time It’s hard to read her reactions to things so I don’t have a good idea of what she’s thinking and feeling.

There are tells you know, like the way someone smiles or the way they raise their eyebrows or when they laugh. It’s a feedback loop that tells me when I’m performing accurately.

It’s a strange thing to think of social interaction as a performance that I have to put on, but I can’t shake that.

I know I’m only truly myself when I’m alone and lately I’ve been trying to be that person in public too but within reason. There are things you think to yourself when you’re alone that you’d catch hell for if you were to say them in public.

It’s not like a war between two sides of yourself though, it’s more like the secrets everyone keeps. Some people are more flippant and some are more reserved. I find myself staying on the reserved side but with plenty of practice I’ve learned to be funny and great in conversations and it’s like this mask that I’m wearing.

It’s what people expect though. 

The Cusp

This is the cusp.

This is that short moment between two huge periods, the warmth and the cold, the light and the dark.

It’s coming soon, the falling of shadows and the spindly skeleton fingers of trees long reaching for a sun that isn’t there.

I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t thrilled, I want to lose these people to the cold, I want to breathe in the icy air and watch as the snow falls silently giving a quiet to the world that it needs like a screaming child needs a stern father.

Some call it depression, this feeling that’s been boiling in my gut and burning my mind at the backs of my eyes. I don’t know if I’d call it that but it’s deeper than ennui, not quite despair.

Maybe one of the reasons I want the winter to come is that I’ll at least have an excuse for feeling like I do. I can say it’s weather and that would be one of the many lies I tell the world because in truth I love that kind of weather, I just don’t like people.

I’ve been playing with the word misanthropy for a while now and it’s so apt that I’m struggling with the fact that I may be using it too much.

You’d think mornings would be better, there’s possibility in the mornings but as I sat on the patio and smoked a cigarette this morning I gave a big fuck you to the world in the soft cool light and it gave me one back. I thought, this is cool though, this is edgy, hating the world like this. All great artists think the world is shit and they’re not afraid to say so, but I lie, I keep saying that I’m good when someone asks and I keep on this fake fuck you kind of smile to old ladies and children and by this point you’d think it would get exhausting. The only thing exhausting about it though is having to interact with my species.

I’ve been thinking I could break my lease and take a tent to the middle of the forest because fuck this shit but even that costs money that I don’t have.

I sold a book yesterday and that made me a smile for a little bit. It means this shit is working, this selling of my insecurities for exposure that I don’t want.

I’ve thought about telling all my followers and my friends on facebook to fuck off and leave me alone but I don’t because then people would ask me what’s wrong and I’d have to fucking explain myself. I’d have to hear well wishes from people that never reach out otherwise.

There are nights when I wish someone would ask me how I’m doing but then there are days when they do and I lie and take it for granted.