Sunday, December 05, 2004

Inside Out

It is a bleak day in Clear Mountain... My head aches sorely from last night's few drinks, I must be in a fragile state these days... I haven't been enduring alchohol very well in any amounts recently; a few beers gives me a ripping hangover the following day, these last few weeks... Or perhaps it is the changing weather, drying me out or shrinking my ability to stand up to toxins... The house I live in has no heating, and I shiver at night... Here in this town, not fifteen minutes away but on the other side of the planet as far as culture, I am surrounded by people who cause me to think: i'd forgotten that people look like that. I fear that i have grown mousey and prudish-looking by being stranded in Limetown where I'm on trial as a prostitute at every minute of the day, for having been born at all as the fem-monster i am... I was with two people from Lantern Cove on Halloween, we got to know each other by guessing each others' ages. We were both far off; but I was suprised when she guessed my age at 30, even though I was in costume and very closely jacketed because of the cold, because very rarely do people guess me at older than i am; especially by as many years as that. It made me think my appearance must have changed; that I have grown so inward-aiming, so concealed and so closely guarded about my combined youth and femaleness, from having been in Limetown so long. Gone are those days when I would go out on Friday and Saturday nights wearing leather and carrying only a key and a water bottle full of vodka, just in case I didn't find free alchohol of the kind or amount i wanted, when i wanted it, and just drink the bottle through the night, looking around the college campuses for amusement and loose fools. I described that time to Nightengale and he replied, "I wish I'd known you then!" He doesn't realize that he killed that person, caused her to go into a secret place. My psychiatrist said that she thinks I've really been beating myself up about staying over a year in Limetown; this confused me: I didn't know whether to ask, do you really think I'm wrong not to want to be there? Or, what reaction do you think I should have, from being there? She repeated that quote, that part of enlightenment is not changing our surroundings but learning to see with new eyes... I'm really not sure what her impression is of my dislike of this town I'm in... I've never yet lived in a place I didn't hate except of course for during college, but a college is different from a town, and the town it was in was right here in Cloud Mountain, to which I have retreated this morning in this half-broken state... I think she does understand that Limetown is like poison or tar that I've become stuck in; somewhere between the physical landscape and the tar of my own psyche; my inability to see my way out. Really when I think of "leaving" Lime the only means my mind seems to know, is to get in the car and simply drive away... But there is no image of what happens next; no clear idea of where I'm supposed to go afterwards, but "away." I've had a huge burning compulsion to simply go "away" for a long time, but it has always come across as that: as just this imagined departure towards nowhere in particular; whether out towards the desert or to candyland or Saudi Arabia or wherever else lies at the end of all these tangled freeways... I can see from here that my psychologist wants me to reconsider just exactly what this longing to "leave" is all about; since it's the exact feeling I always had while living in foxtown... Today I actually have a longing to drive back to foxtown; to where there's heating at night and a shower with hot water and where, even though I cannot be either of the people I've discovered myself to be out here in the shadow of Champaigne Coast, I don't have to hide one using the other, I am simply and finally that third person I've been ever since I graduated; the loose-end, the missing sibling, the random lost child that's stubborn not to be found... Where there's meals and internet access and none of my crazy piles of mad-headed searching lie around me; screaming at me the need to find a job, to apply for this and that; actually what appealed to me most about foxtown, last time i was there, was this abscence; the abscence of panic. I live in constant panic, here in Lime. The lists of things to do are made entirely of urgent screaming needs, that if left unfullfilled will keep me longer in the dust, in the pit of tar, in the dirt of my own life, my own dishevelled and misused mind. In foxtown, instantly all these things are forgotten. Far away as though on the other side of a dream, as though they never were real. I always find it funny how all the things that torment and obsess me, and claim my every waking thinking moment here in Lime, can so quickly evaporate and entirely become as unreal as any nightmare, simply by going physically far away from the place. I must have made a real pit of the room I rent, I cannot focus there, I cannot read or think there, it is hard to sleep there, and I can hardly even dream there; though my dreams continue to be vibrantly strange. The one improvement I have made, to this unlivable living space I still rent, is to follow a friend of mine's example and put everything in binders. As though excorcizing past ideas from my mind, it was relief to see a huge stack of binders on my floor, instead of simply being aware of the clattering random scatter lost deep inside my computer, or creeping darkly in folders tossed in dresser drawers. The one relief is finding a way to keep these things in order: while my mind continues to pump out new thoughts and new *things* of which to keep track every day, while my hands continue almost automatically to put things together, while seemingly my very *existance* seems to produce an insurmountable, astounding amount of clutter in the form of collected objects, created objects, written notes, accumulated reading material, and other objects of random interest, gathered from every corner of my increasingly complicated life, building in piles and making me afraid to look at them; I loose track of how to make sense of it all; of what really is the point, of what I'm supposed to be getting out of all of this, or *doing* with all of this... All of this stuff, all of this time... Of what all of it, or any of it, is *for*... Of what the hell *I'm* for... Or about... Of what could possibly be the connecting principle running between all of this, connecting it in any way... I suddenly walked into my room the other day and thought; it feels so much cleaner in here! And the only thing I could notice that was different was that there was a pile of binders now on the floor; my assembled portfolio, every image I'd done since high school, or at least all the ones I can find remnants of, all reproduced and put into plastic slipcovers; safely contained and tamed and framed and under control; locked in binders where they can no longer haunt me, where they can no longer creep in and out of forgetfulness, lingering in the light of recollection for a while and then being replaced by another of them; so many past creations tossed into the void of disuse... What the hell do I create images for, I often wonder these days. Because the artist is supposed to keep building; to be always in the state of production of the next show, the next opening, always building and building the repertoire, the portfolio... Where, though, is the actual point in the thing; image by image, object by new lonesome object, forced into existance by the need to fill the walls in a longed-for space... I have said before and I will repeat to you again, although no comment by me has given me more criticism from others: I never wanted to have anything to do with galleries; something about the very principle of the thing, the very concept of that particular institution, discusted and unnerved me to the core from the very first moment I ever heard of them. And now when I try to explain this feeling of mine, this first and lasting impression my mind had on these places, I always recieve a great deal of unrelenting objections from everyone around me, which do not cease until the objecting party has satisfied themselves that they have changed my mind, that I have been converted to right-thinking and to gallery-worship, as we all are required to do, if we are born with a creative cell in us. But no matter what amount of time or experience expires, this feeling of mine does not change. It is a burden even to think of galleries; to gather info about them, to consider their walls as the end-all purpose of all my creation... And so many orphan artworks, of which I am only superficially fond and which fall cleanly and entirely out of my mind and memory as soon as they are out of my sight, are created singularly in the effort to participate in that world, in that circle, which revolves around the gallery, or the many galleries, or the far-distant galleries, the international galleries, the endless ongoing road of galleries, like a list of chores going off painfully into the distance. Why do I feel that if a special bomb hit which shattered all the galleries on the planet to the ground, I would feel my art utterly unaffected? My family has interpreted my distaste for galleries as a sign that I could be a lawyer after all. It seems to them that it's less important what I "am" than *that* I could possibly *become* something else. Like a lawyer i something that is made, out of a raw individual, rather than born. My dad is a born lawyer. my brother-in-law is not. My dad is still practicing law in his late 60's and will stay healthy into his 80's i have no doubt. My brother-in-law is getting sick and bent in his mid 30's, admitting he has no love for his work; but he believes it is work he has to do... financially speaking. He really believes that the sharks are out to get him if he does not make as much money as possible. I think Dad has come to believe that too, even though I know he didn't when he was my age. Admittedly grad school does start to look an appealing alternative to the life I'm leading now, not so much in the activities I know would be a part of it; the series of academic tasks I know so well and from which I was only recently released; but more for the kinds of people who inhabit that world. Here in this Cloud-town place, the college people surround me; they look different, even down to the looks on their faces. They are happy, involved with their existence, in a way that Limetown folks aren't. It makes a person sad, to be involved only with their own poverty, their own fluctuating bank account or civil status. I know now what Professor "H" meant, that most mysterious professor of mine, when he said that he hoped I would take "a year or two" away from academics before proceeding with grad school; I can see now, that academic study takes on a different meaning, after one has been "outside" of it. I don't mean in the financial sense... I mean in the cognitive sense. People don't *think* "out here," people don't talk about thoughts, about ideas. People have conversations about things like corn dogs, "out here," and their cars. Discussions end in nothing. People don't follow you into complicated imaginings or concepts; people fall by the wayside far, far before you get to where you're going, and the only impulse they have is to pull you back to the place at which they fell. No one wants to change; they are only satisfied to change you, to match them. To go for seeming months and months without contact with what *I* know as the real world; the world where people at least try to think about their lives, hearing what I know of as "real speech" sounds like a breath of fresh air; like someone suddenly turning on a fan inside my head and letting my braincells breathe... I can almost feel my brain gasping for air, to hear someone talk, actually *talk*, about goings-on in, say, another country; on another continent... Not just regurgitating the news, or sharing in the idle joking talk or racist banter which so easilly comes to the tounges of those to whom the news speaks... But to hear someone say something that actually *says* something; which tells me something else, something *real*, about the place... These people amongst whom I live in Lime, look down their noses at me for having only so recently come to live in the "real world;" they don't seem to accept or believe that I had no choice other than college for the last four years of my life-- they can't seem to accept my actual age or that I actually am 10 to 15 years younger than all of them... They have visceral reactions when they ask me what I "do" or what I "want to do" and I can't answer... Or when they ask me what I've been doing so far and all I have to tell them is school... This was worse a year ago when I was new here... People almost went insane, demanding why I wasn't moving faster; like I was some kind of rift in their universe that they had to fix as quickly as possible, or else torment until it fixed itself. Now I'm like a person who suddenly came into existance one year ago for them, and yet who paradoxically is in my 20's, and I disobey the laws of the universe for not being at the same level of progress that they were in at this age... That is, that I haven't been out of high school for five years and working the whole time on my career; dealing with what's "real" instead of with what's going on with people in countries far away whom none of us will ever see... Thus even though I'm just as much of an alien to this world of current-college people, here in Cloud, I can feel more at home amongst them... Amongst faces that look far into the distance to see what's going on "right now..." That strange professor "H", he held more sway on this town than I think even he realized. From such a far-distant place himself, and having experienced a war-torn life first hand, he had many things to say about our war, our president, our communities and ways of life. There was always an edge to him that was just outside of my understanding; something in what he said that I just couldn't grasp. Perhaps it was my lack of experience, in such things as he was familiar with. Perhaps it also had to do with my very illegal lust for him... But there was a brief time when I knew that I had stumbled, entirely by accident; completelly by way of my own prodding and exploration of my own questions, my own consciousness, when I found that I had reached him, and really communicated. It was his assistant who told me of this; coming to sit next to me as I sat in that college square. She eagerly told me that "H" had read my essay; she was in herself a mysterious figure and somehow hard to read, but she told me very directly that he had mentioned the essay to her, and told her that it was one of the best by an undergrad he'd ever read. There was a legend around the school that Professor "H" was a genius, and everyone who heard him speak or took a class from him was bound to see why; he was so incomprehensibly brilliant in the way he spoke, in what he had to say. His grasp of things was certainly beyond normal; something had gone astoundingly, bizarrly right in the devellopment of this person. The assistant finished off by saying, "and you know that when *he* says something is good..." and she finished by nodding, her eyes wide with implication. For a time afterward, I detected Professor "H" looking upon me with different eyes; seeing in me something not usually detected: the part of me that communicated to him, on his level, in his own language... My acquaintances in Limetown have no idea of this person, this identity of mine. My friends in Champainge Coast have no better idea. My family may have at one point been vaguely aware of it but it has been almost entirely forgotten. They point at the financial benefits of grad school, when they point towards it. They have no idea of this other connection, of this other language of mine that exists only there. I wonder at this time whether "H" would still remember me... Or that person he recognized... He has since transferred himself to a university which pays him better... I think he witnessed my deterioration, during the last and most horrible semester of my college years. I had become so mentally frail that I clung to the hopes of some kind of twisted relationship with him, and other illegal persons... I had little real to hope for or to point my desire towards, at that last, fleeting, panic-strained time; and I went half nuts craving those who I bent myself into believing I wanted... Who knows if I even learned anything from him that semester... or from anyone... Perhaps, just perhaps he detected part of that, and perhaps that also was what he was talking about, when he said he hoped I would take "a year or two" before continuing with my education again... At this rate it will be three or four, but surely I needed space between myself and that madness; that flailing, desperate plea in the dark for comfort, for an anchor; for a shelter from above or some idol to respond to my offerings... I was living in some twighlight of consciousness, when the life I had been born and designed and contrived to fullfill was nearly over, and day and night I spent dreaming in desire for some missing individual, and believed that I wanted nothing, nothing more than this person I was guaranteed not to have... I made myself sick over it, and appeared in his office half a person, when I had to for academic reasons... In every aspect of my life I was failing, not failing to pass but failing to live up to my own standards and expectations... I had just become introduced with those people I'm still friends with in Champaigne Coast, and I remember the first and last time they came out to visit me; to see me perform in that play, that half of my life... They expressed such suprise to see me do so well; they hadn't expected at all that I was talented. It's hard to say who exactly they think I am: they seem so shocked whenever they actually find out anything about me. I regress; I am hard on them because I expected everything of them... Needed everything of them; they were so different from the people who knew me in Cloud, who, while they may have understood nothing of my character and nature, at least recognized and responded to my talents, and knew to include that characteristic of mine, when speaking of me and to me. Do I seem snootish, speaking this way? It is hard to be instantly and permanently transferred to a world where i seem to have no hope of getting that back; that recognition. No matter what I do, I can't seem to be recognized as any kind of talent. Just as a long list of absences and lackings and errors. A long list of not's and hasn't's. I am lonley in a different way now than I was before, and all tired of trying with all my might to prove anyone anything. Especially when the success is so small a difference, in this huge open void where only the TV tells us who are the winners and who are the losers; that is, everyone on the *other* side of the screen is the winner; and everyone on *our* side, is lost.


Blogger neil said...

ive found sometimes its good too get away too rejuvinate the soul and find people who are new and freash and give you a different perspective on life like you im an lonly person not far oof your age a bit older one thing i do find that helps stave off the lonlyness is finding the thing that dont cost you anything too enjoy them they create memorys too remember the ocean for me also has that effect not knowing what lies beyond the blue yonder yet i think the most important thing to me is a simple saying i live buy every waking moment of my life that is
i have only one thing too say its better too burn out than too fade away least that way when i look back on it all i can stand tall and proudly say i did miss out on anything and if i did well at least i was on my way too getting it
my advice too you would be too follow your heard and go just the hell anywhere you want to go its your life do with it what you want too do and not what people think or tell you too do otherwise youll never find out and youll regret you never tryed
kind regards lazzeyman
looking forward too a reply

June 17, 2006 at 3:31 PM  

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