Thursday, April 4, 2013

Life Itself

More and more I apologize for being in a funk. I avoid writing because I don't like to be a downer. But it's not really a funk, and I'm not really down... I've just had a lot of time to myself lately and find that I've been even more introspective than normal. On the rare occasion that I have to be social (and in the last month there have actually been quite a few), I find myself unable to get away from the house to make it happen. There are lots of excuses, things are always coming up, but really it's because family is my first priority right now. My grandparents are getting too old to babysit, and my son is on a strict schedule of school work, music lessons, band practice, daily reading and a fairly early bedtime. It's not that I'm a strict parent, rather that we've found through trial and error the best way to keep him happy, healthy and fulfilled. Just like his mom, it's through learning and busying himself with things that he loves, so that the things he has to do don't get him down. Right now I'm writing this from a Starbucks in what feels like the middle of nowhere. We drive half an hour out of the way (of everything) on Thursday so he can spend four hours playing drums in a punk band. When we get home he has a project he has to finish for school, and will probably go to bed past his bedtime. We'll pay for it tomorrow morning, but there are only so many hours in the day.

I'm writing about this because I've cried a lot in the last week, not because I was sad but out of frustration. I turned down a lot of chances to see friends because of "our schedule" (which makes me feel guilty and flaky) and spent a lot of time dealing inadequately with domestic, around-the-house stuff that I'm not naturally good at. I felt unmotivated to work on professional projects or go to the gym, and I daydreamed (and sleep-dreamed) about a future of stability and well-roundedness that feels so far away. I saw a commercial for the real estate website/app Zillow (which I use and really love btw) that features the Bright Eyes song "First Day of My Life" and describes a couple finding their home, the school their future children would go to, their future favorite pizza place. You better believe I cried. This feeling of inadequacy has followed me around for awhile, and I know damn well that it's a privileged person's problem. Hence the frustration, with my situation but really with myself. There is anxiety, too, about the scary world we live in full of ignorant people, the dying industry that I am trying to work in, and the thousands of other people my age with graduate degrees, huge student loan debt, and no idea how they're going to pay the bills. Every bit of bad news compounds, and you try to ignore it but as time passes by and things don't seem to work out, the knot in your guts grows.

Roger Ebert passed away today and I cried actual tears of sadness, as did so many lovers of film and self expression. There are a lot of people grieving today, and at least one person (hi) examining her own problems, which don't even come close to touching the pain and physical limitations placed on Mr. Ebert in his last several years. I think about his ability to be so joyful and proactive and inspiring through it. I think about my grandma who has taken care of other people her whole life, through much of her own emotional turmoil and two rounds of aggressive cancer. I know deep down that I have a lot more giving and a lot more living to do before I'm allowed to feel as frustrated and helpless as I do. I know there are doors to open that I haven't found yet, and that anything can happen at any time. I am reading Roger Ebert's book, Life Itself, tonight, and found this paragraph from the end of the prologue oddly comforting. It's about when he started his blog, a decision for which his fans will forever be grateful (and through which, I'm positive, he found many new fans):

The blog let loose the flood of memories. Told sometimes that I should write my memoirs, I failed to see how I possibly could. I had memories, I had lived a good life in an interesting time, but I was at a loss to see how I could organize the accumulation of a lifetime. It was the blog that taught me how. It pushed me into first-person confession, it insisted on the personal, it seemed to organize itself in manageable fragments. Some of these words, since rewritten and expanded, first appeared in blog forms. Most are here for the first time. They come pouring forth in a flood of relief. 

Yes. I have said before that I blog as a way to catalogue and archive my personal history. I can't tell you how many times I've needed to remember something, or wanted to show someone a picture, and with a simple blog search could pull up those memories in an instant. I read it sometimes when I need to. Sometimes to remind myself how devastating it was when B left New York, and how much I should appreciate every day I have with him now, even the most frustrating. Sometimes I need to remember the parties and the dancing, or when B and I were happy living in Chelsea, or apt2b, or the very early days when I fancied myself a writer. Sometimes I remember between the edits, what I was really thinking or the person I was really writing about before I was brave enough to name them. There are many posts that I just need to get out -- like this one -- that I may never read again, or maybe I will one day when I compile all of this and migrate it to whatever form it takes years from now. I know this isn't a fitting tribute to Roger Ebert -- not that I am really capable of writing such a thing -- but I was in the middle of some moody introspection when I heard the news, and this is what came of it. I'll try to do better, and I'll post about all the fun things we've had going on soon. Tonight I want to finish this book and have one last good cry.

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