You sit at your desk, and you try to think, but you also try not to because it’s all you can do—all you’ve ever really known how to do. And you think about not thinking, considering the possibility of letting your mind roam in a blank space with no real windows or doors, but even thinking about a place like that involves thinking, and your mind invariably wanders to a place with very many windows and doors—a place you aren’t used to being but remember well; a place you didn’t know you’d ever get back to; a place you didn’t think you’d ever really miss.
But the reality of the situation catches up with you and soon your pen starts skipping letters as you think about a word that you forgot how to spell. You think of the rules: “i before e” etc. but none of the rules that exist in your world really apply to the spelling of this word—none of the rules that exist in your world really apply to anything about this word. You think about rules for a minute, but not for very long because you catch yourself thinking and you tell yourself no, and maybe you smack the side of your head with a clenched fist a few times, or maybe you gnash your teeth till the muscles in the side of your face start to bulge through your cheek a little bit—the sinews eventually begin to feel as though they’re pulling apart but you’re not sure you care, it feels better than the binding in your chest when you think too much.
Yet you continue to think, and know that even when you aren’t thinking, you’re thinking—and knowing this makes your chest feel heavy and your head spin a little bit faster and you consider holding onto the grass just incase your body starts to float up toward the sky, because why not, really: Why shouldn’t your body—a body you’ve known for 22 years, and thought you knew inside and out, and thought you had learned to control after a minor bought with a minor mental illness—float up to the sky, like one of those translucent bubbles children blow from brightly colored wands?
Part of you wants your body to float up and away. Part of you would be okay with it—things might be easier. But you’ve never been about easier. You’ve never looked for easier. Easier is a word you can spell, but one you’d rather not—one whose rules don’t exist in your reality and you wouldn’t want them to if they could. So you sit and do nothing, and it feels good for a little while, kind of like the way sea water tastes sweet to a thirsty person, but you know that soon you’ll start thinking again.
And maybe soon you’ll be able to invite the thoughts in (perhaps ask them to have a glass of water—you don’t drink coffee so you won’t even consider asking). And maybe soon they can be more pleasant. They won’t be so daunting and pernicious. And maybe you think for a moment about how great of a word pernicious is, and you want to use it in a sentence, but not a sentence about you, and certainly not a sentence about your thoughts…
Maybe one day the thinking won’t be so bad. Maybe you’re tired of being afraid, and of not trying, and of giving up. Maybe you’re more tired of these things than you are of just being tired.
Maybe one day you’ll be able to eat fresh blueberries, or drive home from the sea—hair stiff from the salt and the sand and the air—and the good feeling inside will last longer than the time it takes to split a milkshake with someone you really fucking care about.
Woke up at 10 even though I had nothing to do today. Graduation hasn’t hit me yet; it just feels like the beginning of summer. It probably won’t hit me until I wake up next September, scratch my face, stare blankly at the wall, and realize I’m not going back to school.
I hate the word bitter sweet
I spent the morning and afternoon cleaning/organizing my bookshelf because that’s the only thing that matters to me anymore.
It felt nice, but now what?
I guess I’ll take a shower, eat lunch and then go read.
I’ve got to grow up soon: figure out my future; buy a grown-up phone; stop drinking so much; find some responsibility.
Where’s the responsibility store?
The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It’s getting them wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That’s how we know we’re alive: we’re wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that—well, lucky you.
-Philip Roth, American Pastoral
I’m not done with academia by a long shot, but I need to start figuring a few things out. I’m going to take a year—or at least a semester off—before going off to grad school.
Some things I need to do in that time:
-travel (Starting with Belgium this summer)
-write a lot more
-try new food
-get a tattoo
-wake up in (a) strange place(s)
Yesterday, I took my last ever final exam as an undergraduate student. I stood up from my desk, handed my blue book to my professor, and walked out of the English Department building. The sky was gray and the rain was coming down and if felt an appropriate gesture by the sky above my college campus. As I walked down the hill to my car I started to notice an absence of feeling; I couldn’t feel anything.
I realized though, it would be all too easy to drive home, go to my favorite bar, call a few buddies, and drink for the next few days. But that’s exactly what I started to do. I woke up this morning and thought to myself, it’s too easy to start feeling sorry for myself. Yeah, I’ve been thrown out of the doors by my University and now I’m sitting on my ass on the hard cobblestones of the real world, but I have to do something about it.
People say this part of your life is all about open doors and opportunities. I’m going to tell you, that that’s a load of trash. There are no doors, there are no windows, there aren’t even any neon signs saying “THIS WAY!” You have to start building it all on your own from the ground up, and only then, once that building stands erect, can you tack on the door and turn the knob.
It’s too easy to get lost looking for a door. It’s also too easy to stagnate while waiting for something to happen. It sounds a cliche, but you really do have to make things happen. That’s why this next year is so important for me. I can’t just waste it thinking that everything will fall into place. My whole life I’ve given up on things when the going got tough. Well, now the going is getting tough on the most important thing—my life—and it would be too easy to give up. Not sure why I’m writing this; I guess I needed to get my thoughts written out.
The day will come
when you won’t need me anymore.
You’ll stop calling,
and not long after,
you’ll realize: clouds
and the sand still
bubbles when the tide
drags itself out. Perhaps
the wind will
smell just a little bit
sweeter, and the moon
might look just a little bit
closer; but the night will
come when you’ll look
up at the violet glitter,
and wonder if, somewhere,
far from you,
I’m staring up at that same,
immense ocean-spray of light.
Your heart will beat,
your lungs expand,
and when your eyes open
wide, you’ll hope
that was just a star
you just saw,
falling from the sky.
Blog post containing two paintings by René Magritte: 16 notes in 15 minutes.
Blog post containing one original piece of poetry: 6 notes in 2 years.
Personal creativity and ingenuity:
priceless totally irrelevant
Imagine, if you will, that all of the art museums of the world—The Louvre, The Met, The MoMA, The Guggenheim—suddenly began installing pieces of contemporary dribble: your son’s 2nd grade finger painting piece; a series of trash cans piled on top of one another; a particularly daring macaroni noodle experiment. Next imagine that all of the people in the world began flocking to these exhibits, and lauding them for their unmatched extravagance and artistic ability. This would be a pretty devastating affair, wouldn’t it? Well this, in essence, is exactly what is happening in the literary world.
Writing truly isn’t what it once was. I mean you look at the individuals—“writers”—who are working today, and you just wonder, what happened to the real writers of the past: the thinkers/philosophers working under the guise of novelists; the storytellers who weaved intricate tales with rich, complex plot and character development; the literary masters who were not only read but imitated and idolized by m(b)illions? By todays standards you don’t have those types of writers. And before all of you jump down my throat with, “Hey, Travis! What about Harry Potter, jerk?” allow me to qualify that: as I said previously, you don’t have people worshiping individual writers; you have people worshiping individual works—and I think that says a lot about the current nature of the literary world. The days of the 20th Century are well and truly over, and they have left behind the ailing shell of an art form.
The problem is inherent in the nature of the story. Writers don’t care to think anymore. The art of writing has become debased over the past 20 years by the carelessness of contemporary “writers”. Literature has truly fallen to the notion of “writing for writing’s sake” and those who are prevalent in the literary world are doing little to breathe new life back into one of the oldest forms of art. By writing for writing’s sake I simply mean that contemporary writers are creating stories just to write; they aren’t trying to say anything profound or make the reader think. Literature has truly dissolved to a source of entertainment; an idle form of enjoyment. This upsets me greatly. Todays reader is no longer asked to think or to engage in what they are reading. They are simply asked to go along for the ride.
It’s a truly saddening thing for an aspiring “writer” to have to witness. It’s also frightening for someone who has designs on working in academia one day. Eventually, these contemporary works will fall into the category of “literature” and will be a required vein of study in Universities. I for one, don’t see how this is going to be a possibility. There isn’t an intelligent thought in the whole of the literary world right now. And forget about trying to “study” writers like J.K. Rowling. I look at my professors: brilliant individuals who have studied the masters, and who have published volumes discussing the meaning of literature. I can’t help but think, well, who the hell am I going to study? What the hell am I going to publish volumes on? After a while, studying and writing about the authors of the 20th Century becomes stagnant. At a certain point, almost everything that can be written about the great writers, will have been written; and then what?
These are the concerns I am faced with most days when I think about my future. How safe is the field I’m going into? And I’m not talking about financial security. I could give a fuck less about financial security. I’m talking about work as actual material. Yes, we will always be able to teach the works of the 19th and 20th Centuries (plus all that came before: Shakespeare, Chaucer, Swift, etc.) but what does that do for the next wave of scholars? Whose texts are we to idolize, and spend hours picking apart with fine-toothed comb?
The literary world is in a bad way, and I’ll tell you the truth, it isn’t just because people aren’t reading. It’s because people aren’t writing well enough. Intellect has long been divorced from literature. The two concepts couldn’t be more foreign to each other.
Forget all I’ve said about the literary world, and academia, and what not. This is a tendency that is affecting mankind. It is a pandemic, and something needs to be done.
I’ve hit something of a lull in my blogging life. Perhaps it’s time to give the jig up. I’ve been at it for a lot longer than I ever thought I would be. But I look at my blog from the time that I began, and it just seems as though it has degenerated a substantial amount. While I have no one to blame but myself, the content of my once serious blog has just become arbitrary and meaningless; in all honesty it hurts me to look at.
I started this as a project to write more, and to explore the blogosphere. I’ve done both of those things—and amassed a modest following of people whom I’ve come to know as friends—but I seem to have plateaued somewhere. I hit a certain point and everything just stagnated. It honestly doesn’t even give me joy anymore. I was never doing this for anyone else, I was always doing this for me, but somewhere along the line I realized I wasn’t blogging for myself anymore. That isn’t so much of a problem, i mean, of course a blog is going to be influenced by the public and the viewers.
And don’t think this is some cheap, self-pitying ploy for an enormous outcry from those of you who do follow me; I’m not looking for an influx of “no please don’t stop!” I feel I’ve just overstayed my welcome in the blogosphere.
I feel that, perhaps, I’ve overstayed my welcome on the internet in general. Facebook, Youtube, Google…Man wasn’t meant for such a clusterfuck of inanities. These websites are really just meaningless. I mean, sure, they have cultural value, and what is that but the only meaningful thing in society anymore, but they just don’t have meaning to me. If anything they take away from my essence. This blog, this venue that was once an attempt to enhance my essence, my “me-ness” has essentially deteriorated it.
That’s what modern society is all about, robbing the individual of their individuality. If there is a soul in connection with the human condition, I feel as though the internet is slowly chipping away at it. Yes, the internet is the future: of business, of entertainment, of human communication, and I know that it is foolish to fight against it—it’s almost absurd—but it’s something that is becoming more and more evident to me as something I have to do.
I wonder how it all got started, this business
about seeing your life flash before your eyes
while you drown, as if panic, or the act of submergence,
could startle time into such compression, crushing
decades in the vice of your desperate, final seconds.
After falling off a steamship or being swept away
in a rush of floodwaters, wouldn’t you hope
for a more leisurely review, an invisible hand
turning the pages of an album of photographs-
you up on a pony or blowing out candles in a conic hat.
How about a short animated film, a slide presentation?
Your life expressed in an essay, or in one model photograph?
Wouldn’t any form be better than this sudden flash?
Your whole existence going off in your face
in an eyebrow-singeing explosion of biography-
nothing like the three large volumes you envisioned.
Survivors would have us believe in a brilliance
here, some bolt of truth forking across the water,
an ultimate Light before all the lights go out,
dawning on you with all its megalithic tonnage.
But if something does flash before your eyes
as you go under, it will probably be a fish,
a quick blur of curved silver darting away,
having nothing to do with your life or your death.
The tide will take you, or the lake will accept it all
as you sink toward the weedy disarray of the bottom,
leaving behind what you have already forgotten,
the surface, now overrun with the high travel of clouds.
Love is such a strange concept. I mean, there is no basic human need for the affection of another human being. It simply evolved into such, over a lengthy period of time. There is no existential necessity in giving your passion wholeheartedly to another individual. It’s really absurd, when you think about it.
Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m sure the notion of love has been around for eons and eons. (I hesitate to use the term love, because it’s been perverted by years of misuse by the behemoth that is human language). The notion of deep, and impassioned connection to, or affection for, another human being, has most likely been around since the dawn of man. But like I said, there was never any inherent need for such a thing. Human life didn’t depend on the capacity to instill all of your emotion into one other individual. I wonder how it evolved into such.
I’ve never given much credit to the idea of love. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, it’s inherently meaningless. It’s a blip on the radar of human existence. It’s a nice bonus: like morning sex, or having two bottles of water roll out of a vending machine when you only paid for one. Am I opposed to falling in love? No. It’s happened to me. Yes, I’m a bitter cynic. But who’s to say I won’t be swept off my feet one day? There’s no way of knowing it (and unlike most people, I’m okay with that). I’m just not the type of person who focuses their life’s quest on finding “the one.” I don’t think there is a “one.” I think there are lots of ones, and we’re so busy looking for the best one of them, that we miss all of the others.
In my favorite poem, by Bukowski, Alone With Everyone, he writes: “nobody ever finds / the one. / the city dumps fill / the junkyards fill / the madhouses fill / the hospitals fill / the graveyards fill /nothing else / fills.” And I think this is a great representation of what I’m talking about. We spend our entire lives searching for this “possibly unattainable” thing: love.
Valentines Day is a day adored by many, yet hated by more. It’s a day that’s come to be equated with deep-seated sadness and misery at being alone. You know what today felt like for me? Like a Tuesday. Valentines Day is just another day, with a fancy name. Another day to be happy, another day to do something you want to do, another day to appreciate something.
Contrary to popular belief, love isn’t everything. I’m not sure there is an “everything.” There are just lots of little somethings. Lots of little glass shards of experience that make up the mosaic of your existence.
The plane shakes.
You grab your seat
but realize it’s not
attached to anything;
you’re suspended in
mid-air, like a freak
trapeze act, where the
flyer shot up to a chorus
of gasps, and forgot
to come back down.
heart starts to
beat, and you
remember, one year
in a high school
science class, your
teacher taught you
how fear and excitement
register the same to the
human brain. Unsure
whether you should
hold on for dear life,
or throw your hands up
and shout, you simply
That’s when you
see him, out
of the corner
Cleaned my desk.
Paid some bills.
Bought post it notes (to help with organization).
Need to learn better: a) time management b) prioritization c) money management
Things to do: a) make a stellar resume b) find an internship c) look into grad school/GRE processes
So I’ve planned everything and I’m staring at my computer screen like a mad man, hoping it will tell me what my next move should be. Do I start working on my a) Modern European Novel-final paper b) Scriptwriting I-final script c) Biology of Human Life-final report?
Or should I just try and write something. The brain says conquer one of my assignments, but the heart (which is also the brain if we want to look at it from a scientifically realist perspective) says write something. I’ve got plenty to do, just not enough will power to do it.
I can’t go on, I’ll go on.