Every online journal writer worth his or her weight in little packets of soy sauce must, at some point, write about not having anything to write about. I believe I have done it, throughout my lengthy, pathetic and I think entirely pointless online writing “career” three or four times by now. So I figure it probably happens about once every other year, if I average that out, so it’s time for another one here at this site.
You could say that writing about the nonsense songs I sing to my cat (the ones attributed to the boyfriend–he doesn’t actually sing those. They are more like litanies he repeats in a kind of sing-song voice, but a tune he does not find therein) could be taken as the I Have Nothing To Write About (hereon known as IHNTWA) article, but it’s actually about something, more or less, and is not so much a rambling, incoherent treatise as it is a boring, uninteresting comment on the state of one’s life.
Paris is Naked
I have neglected to mention that my cat is nude.
Some weeks ago, I came home and found that she had managed to unbuckle her collar (a purple suede affair with little metal dead fish adorned about it) and left it on her cat house where I would no doubt find it and wonder to myself, now, how (rather than why) did she do that?
Being me, I assumed it was a fashion statement. She had worn that same collar for a year! Everyone she knew had already seen her in it and she was not about to wear it for another moment! So I sauntered (as is my wont) over to Babies in my neighborhood to procure for her a brand new collar that would reflect her older cat sensibilities. She was not the kitten of yore, oh no! She was now all grown up! Two years old! A cat of her own! And a new collar was called for, so I picked her out a pistachio green collar with little hippie flowers on it (pastel and metallic) and placed it ’round her dainty little throat.
Three weeks later, I came home to find that she had removed it. It was again unbuckled and sitting atop her cat house, just as before, as if announcing that she was now a liberated cat and such human contrivances as that were no longer necessary. She was her own cat, and would wear her fur and not else.
So she has remained, a naked feline in her own apartment. Paris is nude, and likes it that way. I have decided not to press the issue, since the neighborhood where I live is somewhat bohemian by almost any standards and includes several artist-types with large Woody Woodpecker heads and other assorted toys parts and pieces arranged fetchingly in windows and doorways. I have been told that as a gay man, it is assumed that at some point I will parade naked through my abode and provide a “free show,” as the locals call it, so I hope that my cat’s nudist tendencies will take up that mantle of responsibility.
I’m not sure if she’s gay or not, but nude is nude. So we’ve come to an understanding, she and I, and for me it’s just another lesson in the art of getting along with someone else on their terms.
Relationships, of any sort, are hard work. I am learning this, or perhaps relearning this, on an almost daily basis. Expectation is unfair and assumption is just wrong. Plan on nothing. That way, you are almost constantly surprised and suffer very few disappointments.
Perfection is not something to be desired, either. Perfection is boring and predictable and ultimately dooms any relationship. Perfection means a lack of growth and a constant state of understanding. No one wants to be understood all the time, sometimes you want to be pitied, sometimes you need your ass kicked, sometimes you need to be left alone. You will never communicate any of those things and you must never expect anyone else to understand you. When they start to understand you, you’re doing something wrong.
Communication, however, is key–and you will fuck that up. If you’re like me, you’ll have good intentions but you will fuck it up. Once fucked up, unfucking it is nearly impossible. You can use the usual excuses and hope that your fallible nature is well known, hence the idea of you fucking up is not only unsurprising but expected. Still, fucking up is fucking up, and it’s the extent that matters most.
I try not to fuck up, but golly that’s a lot of pressure. I wonder if trying so hard not to fuck up–means I fuck up more often.
Man, now there’s a concept that’ll haunt me until my next therapy session.
Speaking of, therapy is an interesting process. I’ve discovered a few things about it which I will share with you now:
- Your therapist knows what your problems are pretty early, but they have to allow you to discover them for yourself or you won’t believe them, and/or you’ll be so quick to believe them that the discover itself has no meaning to you and you think you’re cured simply because you now understand what’s wrong, but that’s only the first step in a long, laborious process.
- Knowing what’s wrong isn’t really helpful. It’s a step along the way, and it has a certain satisfaction, but it isn’t the resolution. It’s like cooking. You set out the ingredients and there they all are, sitting there, the sugar and butter and flour and salt and baking soda and semi-sweet chocolate chips and brown sugar… but that’s not cookies, is it? It’s what makes up the cookies, but you have a lot to do before it’s cookie time.
- Saying things out loud changes them. You’re constantly telling yourself things internally, things about how you feel, or “woe is me” things, or ideas about how you’re feeling and why. It’s only when you say it out loud that, suddenly, and for whatever reason, it turns real. It hasn’t changed… but it has.
- However you feel about yourself, you’re right. There is no wrong. You can be wrong about the reasons, and you can be wrong about the person you are (characteristics and behaviors and so on, the things that physically manifest based on the way you think you out to be) but you’re never wrong about how you feel. Feelings are just that, and trying to control them is an exercise in futility.
- You can’t force anyone to do anything they aren’t ready to do, including yourself. You can’t force yourself to be happy. You can’t logic your way out of it or into it. There are always reasons, but you may not be able to see them or verbalize them or understand them.
- Words can fail you, but they’re only words. Don’t think that because you can’t describe the way you feel or why that it isn’t real. Words may come later, so don’t let that frustrate you.
- It’s sometimes more important to understand something than to believe it.
I have too many books on my night stand. One was given to me by my boyfriend, who believes I am lacking spirituality in my life (to which I would have to say yes, that’s definitely true, but I’m not sure whether that’s a detriment or a boon, so he gave me a book about God and Christ and told me to “bleep over the Christ parts”), two were given to me by the old C.E.O. of my company (because I had mentioned that I don’t really enjoy participating in the process of marketing but find the process itself interesting, so he gave me two books about marketing processes from an intra-company perspective) one I bought as a pool-side primer when I was up at Russian River (a book about the link between cognitive logic and emotion and what happens when the emotions are suppressed) and the last is the ninth book in a series that seems to be never-ending and which annoys me now to a great extent but that I feel obliged to continue reading, like continuing to go to the Star Wars movies even though they get progressively worse with each installment.
I am making a lot of progress with the spiritual book, “Beyond Our Selves” by Catherine Marshall, which I find at turns interesting and annoying. The author continually refers to her husband as “Peter Marshall” so that, I suppose, I don’t confuse her Peter with the Apostle Peter or something, only I end up flashing on the game show host of Hollywood Squares and wonder why he was such a spiritual leader. Also, there’s a lot of Christ in the book, though within the context of Him as God and God being the major player and I can sort of make a sideways detour and place God in a wider, universal, “something bigger than ourselves” context rather than the old guy with the beard sitting on a throne. The book does offer a lot to me and my ‘God Problems,’ most especially concerning the whole “if God’s so great and perfect, why does life suck so much?” question.
The logic and emotions book, “Descartes’ Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain” by Antonio R. Damasio, has a lot of rather heavy and detailed cranial anatomy to digest in addition to the rather more interesting case histories and studies of how emotions work, what they do, and the link between the way we feel and the way we think. In short, our emotions are linked to our memories, and our emotional memories (rather than so-called ‘picture memories’ of things and people and so on) instruct us how to act in social situations and, therefore, how to make logical decisions concerning “how to live.” If we lose our emotions, we ‘forget’ how we felt when, for example, our fathers died or we were betrayed or we were hurt, and without that sympathetic or empathic thread linking us to how we felt, we have a lot less need to be sociable and tactful. If we can’t remember how we felt about something, then doing it takes on an entirely different pose.
The two marketing books are, thus far, not worth getting into. Marketing isn’t very exciting for me, except regarding the ways in which marketers influence buying habits by making us all hate ourselves and try to force us to think we smell bad, are ugly, have bad teeth and all our friends actually think we’re only as good as the car we drive. I also like to watch cable channels and, from teh advertising, devise what demographic of the population is assumed to be watching the channel at any given moment. For example, we can assume that people watching The Science Channel, aka Discovery, have bad air in their houses, fall down a lot, worry about the amount of energy they have to do their daily chores and can’t hear what’s on the telly. They are old, worn-out sick people about to die, basically.
Finally, “Crossroads of Twilight (Wheel of Time, Book 10)” by Robert Jordan continues his interminably long, confusing, overwrought fantasy tale about women and men running around on a world battling each other and some ill-defined evil as they whisper and connive and think to themselves about every goddamned thing that occurs to them at every given moment of their lives. The problem with this series is that it shows no sign of ending any time soon. Here we are on the tenth volume of the story which is, at this point, probably three times the length of the Bible, and we’re nowhere close to resolving any one of the two dozen stories all occuring simultaneously.
Those of you stuck in this series with me now that Robert Jordan has no idea what he’s doing at this point. He sits at the typewriter and starts going and just never stops, allowing each of his characters, great and small, as many words and pages as necessary to list out every thought that occurs to them about everything and everybody else in the room. I swear, last night I struggled through 20 pages of internal dialog about hair. It’s torture.
And yet I subject myself to it because, ten books in, I’m practically married to it now. Can I really just abandon this story without knowing how it comes out in the end — even though I know damn well that good will triumph over evil, just like always, and some characters will die and others will live but at this point, all of them are so obnoxious and self-righteous and egotistic that I’d like it best if suddenly the entire world would just explode and put us all out our collective misery.
Here’s the thing about Las Vegas: I can’t take it for too long. It’s an overwhelming mass of nearly everything all at once, everywhere, forever. The unending incoming tide of light and sound and people swarms over you as you’re lying there on the hot sand of its sidewalks, or standing motionless on its ugly casino carpets, or even when you’re back in your suite, “the biggest suite on the strip,” looking out the wide, clean windows at this oasis of gleaming metal and curved neon and thinking you should probably be somewhere else doing something else than this (nothing) but you’re too overwhelmed to make a decision.
I’m not a gambler in any sense. I don’t enjoy the feeling of the unknown, or the idea of chance because I know that chance is playing against me, and not with me. The idea of winning is certainly appealing, but the reality occurs so infrequently that I am left feeling duped and foolish.
That said, I enjoy video poker. I also enjoy watching other people losing their money. I like the looks on thier faces, the determination and concentration as they watch the cards play out, or the wheels turn, or the ball clacking along the roulette. They have hope, and it’s dark and evil and mean, it’s not the hope of fulfilling love or the hope that someone on their death bed won’t actually die, it’s the hope that they’ll beat the fucking odds and show this fucking town who’s boss. The hope of vengeance and shoving a finger in someone’s face and laughing, ha ha, I showed you, motherfucker!
The people watching is unsurpassed in Las Vegas, if you’re into freaks. And I am. Sure, you can go to Barcelona or Istanbul or Paris if all you want to see is beautiful people dressed in beautiful clothes doing beautiful things. But come to Vegas if what you hunger for is outlandish, huge, balloon people dressed like Rosa Parade floats downing giant, grotesque portions of food and drink while being loud, loutish and incredibly, amazingly rude. It is, in some ways, the most American of American cities.
Lately, life (mine) seems to be coming unconstructed. Not demolished or directionless, but it feels as if, like so many buildings here in San Francisco, my façade is being propped up but everything behind it is being torn away, waiting to be replaced by something else.
I think I’m doing this, but I also think that it cannot be helped or stopped. It’s a slow, laborious, sometimes painful process involving the questioning of all assumptions, the re-examination of expectations and questioning all the basic stuff on which I’ve based, well, everything. The foundations are starting to crumble, too, and sometimes I feel unfocused and lost and don’t have the words to reassemble things.
Words, more and more, are failing me. What does that leave me?
When I wrote about my boyfriend before, I screwed up because I didn’t talk to him about those things before broadcasting them here. I may be doing that again, but I don’t think so. However I can’t be sure, because my life is untangling and I sometimes forget what I have told anyone or asked or discussed and I do hate repeating myself.
Anyway, my point is that I couldn’t tell him why I did that, why I had posted words here rather than talked to him about them. So I asked my therapist why, and her explanation astounded and scared me more than a little bit. To paraphrase: “Everyone needs to ask the universe a few questions now and again. Some people call that prayer, some people call that meditation, there are different words and different methods but the goal is the same. We come to places we can’t figure out on our own, and even our friends and family can’t really help. So we ask the universe–the larger power, God, what have you. And I think your Web page, that act, that place, that’s you’re larger power. You launch the questions out there and sometimes you get a response, sometimes not. It’s the act that’s important. You’ve just chosen a unique and very public God to question.”
So, reader, how’s it feel to be my Personal Jesus?
August 25, 2004