Who I Am (Not)

This is why it is so important for me to write. I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone else, but I don’t think well without writing my thoughts down to see how if feels to say them and to check them with their logical implications. I need this to disavow myself of all of my wrong thinking whether it be that I hate myself, my parents, my friends, the Yankees or whoever. There’s enough hate to go around. But I don’t really hate anyone (except the Yankees). I just have to write it down, so that after I die, if I were to die while any of these people are still alive, they could read it and think that I really hated them, when in fact, I just wrote it down so that I can test the thesis, and likely prove it wrong. Start with who I am, and then become someone different. Start with what I think and then change my mind. Start with bias and gain perspective. It’s a process. So don’t believe anything I write, including this.

I write to learn about myself, cause I don’t know that much about me.

My favorite scene in Seinfeld (right at this moment, tomorrow it will be something different) is when George is trying to figure out how to break up with his girlfriend. They are pitching “Seinfeld” to NBC. He finally has a job he can brag about to get girls, except that if he breaks up with his girlfriend, who works for NBC and has influence over the show, he loses the job. So he comes up with this idea.  She loves David Letterman.  Letterman works for NBC, he works for NBC. Maybe he can meet Letterman, introduce him to his girlfriend, she’ll dump him for Letterman, and everyone gets what they want.

“I’m just thinking,” he says.

“I don’t think you are,” Jerry replies.

So, I’m just thinking.

I can’t believe that I ever, like when I was 18 for example, felt intimidated by fellow 18 year olds who thought of themselves as good writers. How could they have been? They were 18. Where are they now? I have no idea. I don’t even remember their names. Statistically they are not famous writers. So no one be discouraged that you are not, at some young age, great. Imagine if I sat here today and was only 20 and had 50 years to perfect my craft.  If I pushed on with persistence, I imagine I would be excelling in the first 10 years, which, if true, suggests that I’ve still got enough time because I have no reason to think that I don’t have 10 years left. I could easily have 20. That’s a lot of time. I could have 30. I could be writing with clarity at 90, or without clarity; which could be just as good if not better. More of a poem than prose, like something that came from a spirit in the sky. It could sound like the bible, or like Jesus actually wrote it and maybe he will have.

Because once your mind is gone, it isn’t you talking, right? Or maybe it never is. If you don’t know yourself, then nothing you say can actually be you. Just let it flow and say whatever flows and then ask yourself, does that sound like me? Yes no maybe so?

I think we need to forget who we think we are, unless we’re really happy with ourselves. I’m not happy with myself. I never particularly wanted to be me. So speak as if it’s someone else. Until it isn’t.

5AM

Her mom didn’t love her, what’s my excuse? I read this and it made me think about the recurring anger I have  towards my parents, yet they aren’t so bad I can actually blame them for anything. And then someone else posted about senior projects at my old school, Bard college, and I actually commented that I wish I had stayed to do a senior project, got a few likes for my failure to achieve that, and thought about how it could have been my first novel, if I had stuck it out in lit, and still I haven’t written that first novel. But at the time I thought it would have to be good. The portent of a senior project, especially with the problems I was having late in my career there choosing a major, probably contributed to my flight. Although mostly it was because the Math department only had two professors and they both left just as I was declaring my major. Was it me? And so again, I feel like a failure, and here I am, so old already, and such a failure and whose fault is it? I guess it doesn’t matter whose fault it is because the consequences are mine and that would have made it my responsibility to do something about it.

I have spent my whole life saying I want to do things and failing at them. I got to go out to LA to  pitch ideas to star trek and then i didn’t keep trying. I may have achieved some other things, I can be proud of myself, but the things I SAY I want to do, the things I have always said are important to me, what I’ve called “dreams,” I’ve failed at them all.  At 52, what am I supposed to do with that?  I’m supposed to get up at 5AM every morning and write and not stop doing that until I am dead, that’s what.  There’s only one way to prove that it’s not too late, and that’s to do it, whether I believe that’s possible or not. Achieve something or die trying. Go out fighting.   

One of the things that bothers me about finally achieving some of these things so late is that the people who saw potential in me as a child might all be dead. These are the people I want to make proud. But I suppose the people who knew me as a child aren’t the only ones I could make proud of me. My kids could be proud of me. My friends. I need to let go of that little child, that young adult, that thirty something kid, like I still want to be that person I never was. I need to stop trying to write like that, hoping people who read me can’t tell that I’m older than that. I need to own my age and write like that’s my stage in life, honestly and authentically. I have to stop being scared that people will be turned off if I admit to them that I’ve gotten this far already and have so little to show for it.

I have lost a little confidence in my ability to write a better story by spending more time on it.  Last week I put more effort into my friday blog, worked on it every day, I even goofed off at work to spend more time on rewrites and edits because I wasn’t getting up at 5AM as consistently as I wanted to. But it got worse and worse, until finally I had to fulfill my commitment to myself to post it regardless, and it was a confusing contradictory rambling mess that I have since edited down, just to make it a bit shorter, so now the food’s no good AND the portion is small. Sometimes that happens. But the truth is that it gets worse before it gets better. Because what happened is that I had started with a conclusion and a point and the more I worked on it the more I realized things about myself that contradicted my original point upending what I thought. I was in the middle of a process in which I was on a path of self-revelation that might have landed me at a conclusion opposite the one I started with, but I was in the middle when Friday came.

Colombia

DrummingI’m so spoiled.  When I was a child my family used to drag me from New York City to Old Lyme Connecticut where Lyme Disease was just emerging, though I wouldn’t contract it for another 40 years or so, to the beach where my father liked to soak up the sun every single day. I got bored with that pretty fast and had to try to find other things to do. It wasn’t very commercial at the Old Lyme town beach, but that’s another reason I don’t like beaches these days: too commercial.

I never wanted to go to Connecticut, I was a city boy and all of my friends were in the city, and there were things to do in the city when you didn’t have to go to school anymore, it’s like one big playground, and I still feel like I missed out, not being there those hot muggy summers, but I made friends in Connecticut too, and I learned how to climb trees and explore windy roads on our bikes and to swim, sort of. And it would cool off at night, sometimes.

And they had the best ice cream I ever had, Hallmark’s.  But nothing lasts forever.

Everyone wants to go to Cartegena, Colombia (not Columbia) these days now that it’s safer there than it used to be. But its a beach and its commercial, and that’s just not my thing having become “founded” on it in my youth. The beaches are not the most beautiful in the world either, but they’re certainly as nice as Connecticut beaches (even if the water is a bit too warm to actually cool you off), and the constant harassment from people trying to sell you hats or bracelets or water would detract from the experience, even if I did like beaches.

But it has a lot going for it.  Ceviche for instance.  And the cabs are not expensive. And the people are nice. And if you don’t make eye contact, if you can get right with feeling rude, the salespeople give up on you pretty quickly so you don’t have to waste your time or theirs.  I was there this past weekend with my wife. We said no to so many hat salesmen, until on our last day, at the top of the hill upon which sits La Popa – a cathedral from which you get an expansive view of the city – a sole hat salesman came over and put a hat on my wife’s head, and it looked good on her.

So, we bought two.  Just in time to leave. I also bought some Oakey sunglasses.  They look like Oakley’s  but they’re Oakeys. I needed them, after I lost my others, because it was bright outside.

I got to practice my Spanish, eat some good seafood, drink good coffee and meet a volunteer tour guide who for about $70 US ($200,000 in Peso) spent 4 or 5 hours showing us around, driving us to places, in his own beat up Mazda.  He even showed us his neighborhood and introduced us to his family.  If we wanted to he would have taken us to a cockfight, or secured us weed (he suggested it) or hookers (I’m guessing). But my wife and I didn’t want any of that, not this trip. He was a nice guy, and we trusted him. When he left us at the fort and waited for us outside, we could have ditched him, and he hadn’t collected any money yet, nor would he have known how to find us. He trusted us as we trusted him. Spending the day with our “rent-a-friend” was probably the best day of the trip.

But there was also some good African drumming.

Miles

And that mural of Miles Davis too.

But man, they are proud of their chocolate.  $10 a bar? creo que no.