September 05, 2008
The right questions
I've spent much of this summer zigzagging between anxiety and depression; graduation hit me like a brick wall that, having stopped me in my tracks, now seemed to prevent me from ever moving forward. The greatest joys in my life have always come from partaking in a community of ideas, even if that community is found between the covers of a book. Over the years, I have tried at various junctures to assume a pose -- to craft an image of myself as I'd like to be seen. To my detriment or my credit, I was never really good at it; the falseness, I think, shown through to anyone paying attention. Whether from growing up an only child or from spending as much time alone as I always have, I had a strong sense of own identity -- the kind of person I wanted to be and kind of decisions I wanted to make.
That identity has collided with a world that demands faceless uniformity, efficient cogs that perpetuate the capitalist ideal. Those ideals, to be rich and successful at the top of a given industry, have never resonated with me. But in the absense of those ideals, what is left in a very shallow and consumercentric American culture?
My problem is that I have asked the wrong question, approached the quandary from the wrong perspective. "What do I want to do with my life?" is less important a question than "What kind of person do I want to be?" Because that person can work any job and lead any life, as long as he holds himself to the right standards. What I take out of the world is far less important than what I put into it; laughter, joy, understanding, perspective, and love.
  posted by Adam at 00:07 | 0 comments

May 21, 2008
After graduating...
It's a strange feeling to be where I am. I just finished a book by Nick Hornby, Slam, that I bought at the Dublin Airport. As the protagonist deals with the implications of having a baby at 16, he finds himself relying on the hospitality of his parents and the baby's mother's parents to make the situation work. Suddenly what was natural and taken for granted, being a kid and the allowances made for being a kid, are no longer natural and can no longer be taken for granted. The feeling's sort of like that, except I'm not a teenage father. I'm a college graduate at precisely the age of a college graduate. And increasing number of college graduates move back in and live from home. But it's like, even though nobody has said anything, I feel like an interloper. Like, I have all the tools I'm supposed to need to be my own man, as it were, but I don't know where I go from here. Well, it's more like I just got back from another year at college just like every other summer after a year at college. But there's not going to be another year at college, and I need to get a job. But I don't see how I get from here to being steadily employed with my own place. No one's telling me I have to go into work tomorrow, but at some point, it's not going to be acceptable to passing my days like it's summer vacation. How will I know when that day arrives? And how can I prepare so that when it's no longer acceptable to be living at home, I'm not living at home? When I was getting out of the tub with my book, I had a sudden flash to move-in day. That is, move-in day for the first apartment I'm going to be paying for out of my own pocket. And it's a lonely thought, the thought that when I wake up in sick in the middle of the night some night it's really just going to be alone sick in the middle of the night. So right now, my parents are still my parents and I'm still their kid. But the rules of this society state that that's not to be the case. How do I make that transition? I'm not even really depressed at this point, just... uneasy?
  posted by Adam at 00:25 | 0 comments

January 22, 2008
"I feel alone"
I just typed that phrase into Google, with quotations, and got 536,000 results. I clicked on the first link, and about halfway down I came across an extraordinary quote: "I don't have anyone I can really talk to. Most people are just waiting for their chance to talk."

It made me immediately flashback to a line that struck me in Waitress, the movie I'd just finished watching with my roommate: "I was addicted to saying things and having them matter to someone." That is, I think, love. Or at least that is love to me. Not just having someone in my life who cares what I say, but having someone in my life who I truly want to listen to. I'm certainly as guilty as anyone of just waiting for my chance to talk. That said, it's usually the case that whatever the other person is saying is for their benefit, not mine. Maybe that's alright, I mean it's good to be passionate, right? But I guess I just don't feel obligated to feel enthused when the person speaking has no reason to believe I'd have the slightest interest.

I'd like to believe that any person I might fall in love with would be courteous enough to only pontificate on topics of mutual interest. But, as this blog demonstates, that would be waiting for someone several measures more courteous than I myself have proven to be.

Stopping one step short of that, then, I do believe that my love for any of these potential somebodies will make whatever they have to say worth listening to. I can only hope their love for me would sponsor the same commitment.

I think the lack of that interaction, that back and forth, is why I myself feel alone today. I can think of nobody in my life that I can unconditionally say I'm never just waiting for my turn to talk. Either I'm waiting for my turn to talk because I can barely get a word in edgewise or I'm arrogant enough to think whatever I have to say will be smarter or somehow more important. Every now and again, I meet someone surprising or someone familar says something surprising. These little sparks are enough to keep me invested in life consistently over the short-term.

But as I move forward it's hard to deny that my existence, as it is now, feels pretty devoid of substance. I've been happy enough the last year and a half now that I'm back to making the safe choices. I need to break up the monotony.
  posted by Adam at 00:40 | 0 comments

September 12, 2007
There are moments of absolute joy in this life.

And it takes all the moments in between

to appreciate them.
  posted by Adam at 02:40 | 0 comments

September 07, 2007
Just now, my roommate was in the bathroom and I really had to go. I was on the verge of stepping outside to piss off the back stair, when I realized there was no back stair, that I was living in the middle of a city and would very likely be arrested if I did so. It was the first time since I was dropped off this year that I felt really, truly homesick. Last year it came in flashes. The two years before, it completely wrecked me right out of the gate. This year the homesickness has been nudged aside by another feeling: the feeling that, as I sit around living a comfortable existence treading water, the best parts of life were already almost past and continuously slipping through my grasp with each day that passes. It's not that I don't miss my parents: I do. It's that I'm finally realizing that only loving your parents isn't quite enough going into the future. Like home — childhood — is this little jewelry box of wonderful things, but there's a whole room around that jewelry box waiting to be explored. If you keep focused on how you're not inside the jewelery box any more, you completely miss the rest of the room that you have to explore. And once you realize that the room is there, you feel like you were distracted when they handed out the flashlights to guide your way forward. My bladder might very possibly explode if that shit doesn't clear out pretty soon. Friday Sept. 07 2:19 am
  posted by Adam at 02:19 | 0 comments

June 23, 2007
Who I am
Looking back at my life so far, I think it can be best pinned down to two points in my life -- and the way they dragged everything that followed back towards them. The first was when I was five behind the bushes at a dinner party my parents had brought me along to. It wasn't even so much the event itself, which I blocked out for years and which was (all things considered) rather tamer than it could have been. It was the mark it left on me. The people who knew what happened looked at me differently. And that in turn made me look differently at myself. I spent, in one way or another, the following decade and change apart from the world around me. Part of it, and yet somehow removed; like it was a murder mystery over dinner and I was there to play my role, but mostly just sit and watch. The way I remember it -- the way I managed to internalize it --
People should do things more in the light. I need to, anyway. I write so much in the dark, on the final cusp of comprehesibility. I just tried to turn the lights off in here, but I turned them back on. If I'm going to look at myself, it needs to be a good look; I can't allow myself the comfort of hiding from everything.
Anyway, the way I managed to internalize my alone-ness, if that's a word (for growing up I was only sporatically lonely; well, I guess I was lonely all of the time, but I only sporatically had the chance to sit around and think about it. The way I managed to internalize it was that I went for a walk in the woods behind the house. I got really lost in those woods - but for only like ten minutes or so - but when I managed to find my way back to the house it wasn't the same house. All the details were the same, down to the last crack in the paint, but everything was different. It's like, when I got lost in the woods, I was never able to find my way back again. The place I came back to was completely different, because I was completely different. And the only thing I wanted was to go back to being the person that fit.
And so I went right through to high school feeling consumed by this alone-ness, or at the least haunted by it. I met to friends in middle school who are with me to this day. The extent to which those friendships are successful, however, has and always will depend on how alone I feel and how alone they each feel. To the extent that the two quantities don't match the friendship fails to work. And I know the brunt of that falls on my own self-centeredness. When they're not giving me what I need, I've never been one to work hard to give them what they need.
Either way, in high school, I started to branch out in infinitesemal ways. I started to weave roots out into the world again. Take the risk of opening myself up to new people and new ways of being me. The gravity of what had happened when I was five, or rather how I came out of what had happened, was starting to lose its pull.
And then I went off to college. And the roots shriveled up and died. What new ones manage to squeeze their way out through what felt like concrete served the purpose of sheer dire necessity. I had those roots not forced themselves out, I would never have been able to pull myself back from the brink. And like the last time I so forcibly felt alone-ness, I worked really hard to arrange myself into an approximation of the person who went over the brink to begin with. The problem is, that person no longer fits in the place I find myself arrived at. And having dedicated so much effort to reviving withered old roots, I find myself quite unconfortably rusty at the prospect of growing new ones.
  posted by Adam at 02:42 | 0 comments

May 30, 2007
Who am I?
As I sit here typing, my guts are writhing with anxiety. Having just looked at my previous posts, I realize I haven't written a single thing about myself — really about myself — since at least last September. I gave up keeping a diary, if that's what this is, not out of laziness but out of fear that the deep, all encompassing depression (seemingly always lurking just around the corner) would return. In order to get on with my life, I felt I had to run away from my life.

That isn't all bad. I've probably done more genuine internal self-reflection over the past year than I have in most of the other years combined. In retreating, finally, to a sort of safety zone after two years of turmoil and upheaval, I have instinctually regained both some of my self-confidence and some of my arrogance. I think a certain measure of both is necessary to get anywhere in this world. At the same time, that arrogance — that awkward assumption that everything around me is humorous because I am above it — is not only inherently isolating but a dangerously convenient cover. By convincing myself that I am above everything around me, by quietly undermining everything I see around me and searching out the contradictions, I'm telling myself, "It's okay that you're alone."

The real reason, when I force myself to face it, is that I am terrified that I don't measure up to anyone or anything. It is that terror — and my own seeming inability to face it squarely — that leads me to be so awkward in the company of those whose continued confidence (or at least patience) is already guaranteed.

I have allowed myself to be neither a leader nor a follower, because both in some form or another require participation in a greater community than my person. I suspect that my ambivalence towards sex comes from the same self-imposed restriction.

Which isn't to say that I can't be social, clever, funny or intelligent. It is to say that I instinctually aim my cleverness, humor and intellect at pushing people away. Asking someone out to lunch (or accepting an invitation to a party) is thus a proposition many times more daunting than addressing an entire stadium of people. Crowds are impersonal; meals and parties are inherently deeply personal.

If I did the math, I could probably count on one hand the number of people who would really stick themselves out there for me. It is not a happy thought, but it is a just one; I could probably count on one hand the number of people I would really stick myself out there for. I am a deeply passionate person, but not really towards any external end. The passion, ultimately, goes nowhere.

These are things that I needed to say to myself. I had conceived of my many blogs as a mechanism from which to connect to others. Before I can connect with others, I have to connect with myself. There is no conversation if one side has nothing to say.
  posted by Adam at 02:47 | 0 comments

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