So I was telling my friend the other day about how I’ve gone through this long period of time – maybe 5 or 6 years – where all I’ve done is try to keep up with new music. I’m not totally sure why but I think it has something to do with the fact that when I would listen to older songs, I felt as old as the song. If I played a song like ‘Friday I’m in love’ that I listened to like crazy back in 1993, then I felt like I was one of those people who only listened to oldies stations whilst driving in their car and I never wanted to become one of THOSE people. So I figured I better stop listening to old songs and I did.
But now something has changed. When I listen to older songs, I feel my power surge back inside me. I feel like the parts of myself I discarded along the way to keep up with ‘the new’ are coming back and I finally know why those ole fogies listened to their old songs on their car radios. I don’t want to be an old fogie….EVER…. but that doesn’t mean I can’t love the old and the new.
*Disclaimer: I have nothing against people of the older variety. You could be 20 and be old in spirit (i.e. clinging to the past and refusing the present or future).
There are two regular parts of the day that I can write. In the morning after the kids go to school, and late at night when everyone is quiet, doing homework, or in bed. It’s tricky because at both times I really should be doing more responsible things like grading papers or getting ready to teach. And I DO do those things. But at the same time, this overwhelming urge to write creative things, naughty things, silly and philosophical things takes over and I can’t be responsible anymore! No more! No more!
But I have to be…. So my compromise is that I time myself. Right now I’m letting myself spooge all over the page for ten minutes.
I have two favorite places to sit. In the kitchen at the table or on the ground next to the heater in the living room. I like the kitchen because it’s expansive and I don’t have to sit on the floor. Sitting on the floor isn’t SO bad. I sit on pillows and prop the laptop up on a small settee. But it’s kind of cramped down there. So in a way I prefer the open space of the kitchen.
I love the quiet. Just my thoughts tiptoeing around in my brain and my fingers relaying them into words on the screen and then…quiet. Finally, peace. No more interruptions, pleadings, beggings, grievances, disputes to settle, last minute trips to the store, whining cats or dogs, nada. Just me and my thoughts.
I remember things. Like living near Aztec, New Mexico and discovering Natalie Goldberg for the first time and eating New Mexican food that was so hot that it felt like flaming turds were flying outta me in the middle of the night. When I was a kid (I know: I’m always rattling on about ‘being a kid’), I used to do this all the time. I liked to recount things. My day, my week, the year. I was always sifting through, remembering, organizing memories. Now my life is so busy that there barely are moments when I can finally catch my breath and make some kind of meaning out of it all. It’s just “run run run til your daddy takes your t-bird away.’
It’s the quiet. The breathing. Just realizing that time can move very slowly or very fast depending on how awake and aware you are. Sometimes I look at the clock at 6:30pm and think, ‘What the hell are we going to do all evening?’ And then next thing I know it’s 9:42pm and I’m barely squeezing by anticipating another late night where I vow to go to bed by 11pm but end up still puttering around by 12:30am. What have I been doing all this time? God knows.
When you realize that the world is your oyster and it’s up to you whether you sautee it with garlic, white wine, and butter, or eat it raw with a little homemade cocktail sauce, then your mind moves at a different pace. Time is irrelevant. You don’t check your watch very much at all. But it’s when you feel oppressed by the endless To-Do list imposed by yourself ON yourself and which you’ve convinced yourself was foisted on you by outside forces that you begin to feel sucked in by the quicksand of Time.
I’m running out of time. Nope, I’m OUT of time. I have to stop and go be responsible now. Shit.
I’ve known people who have too high of an opinion of themselves. And I’ve known people who don’t have enough. I’m somewhere in between. Probably like a lot of people but today it doesn’t feel right.
If anything, I veer towards not having enough of a high opinion of myself. Not because I don’t like myself but because I really don’t think that what I do is that different from what anybody else does. And it surprises me when people come to me with questions as if I have answers that they could never dream of. Or when they look at me as if I’m something special because it’s not that I don’t feel special. I just think that we are all special. Nobody is not special.
So that’s what I mean by having an opinion of myself that’s somewhere in between too high and too low.
And I’m pretty sure many of the people who go around with a high opinion of themselves are really compensating for a pretty low opinion of themselves and vice versa. In fact, it goes without saying that people with real self-confidence don’t have to announce to the world how special they feel. Yes, I announce it. But I do it as a joke. Some people get it. Some don’t. But whenever I do announce how special I am, I am channeling the spirit of Mr. Jelinek from Strangers with Candy, the art teacher who would begin his class by saying, ‘So how is everyone today? Well… let’s ask the really important question: how am ‘I’ doing?’
In so many ways, I’m just done. I’m done maneuvering the slippery slope of social affability. I’m done aiming for false modesty and done trying to toot my own horn. Sure people toot my horn on occasion and sometimes it feels like a genuine toot, but often the toots come with strings attached. So in the meantime, I’ll just toot my own horn facetiously. And maybe someday someone will get it.