Originally written in March 2011
I’m sitting here, trying to think of something to write, and I can’t. Or, I can think of lots of things to write, but whenever I start typing, I get stuck after a sentence or two. I freeze up, stare at the screen and erase whatever it is I just wrote. Writing is hard. Don’t let anyone ever tell you different.
I used to think I had things to say, stories to tell, but now … now I’m not so sure. Now, all I have in my head is a jumbled mass of half-baked ideas cribbed from whatever popular culture I’ve been engrossed in most recently. I think about crime stories, lone wolf hitmen or thieves, stuck in an endless cycle of crime that’s destroying their souls one job at a time.
I think of familial dramas, families torn asunder by drugs or alcohol, or just because they’re only human, with human foibles and frailties. No one is perfect, after all. But when I start to type, all I can think of is trying to make it perfect the first time out. I hate re-writing. I hate editing. When it comes to my own work, anyway. I think I’m a half-decent editor of other peoples’ work. Like when I read one of Kevin’s scripts. I try to envision what I’m reading up on the big screen, as if I were in the movie theater watching it in the dark with an audience. I like to think I know what works in movies and what doesn’t. I’ve started to think I’d make a better editor or producer than a writer.
Of course, to be a writer one has to actually write something. Tons of people sit in coffee shops and call themselves writers, and some of them are, I’m sure, but the rest are probably like me. Calling themselves a writer, pretending they’re hammering away at some great novel or screenplay, but really they’re checking their email and chatting on Facebook. I cannot tell you how difficult it is to be sitting here, typing this on a computer connected to the Internet and to not check my email, to not lose myself in the morass of the World Wide Web. Seems that’s all I do anymore, lose myself online in meaningless, trivial things. Wasting time.
Feels like my whole life has been a waste of time, really. I’m sure that’s just the depression talking, but sometimes I can’t help but feel that way. I look at my brother and sister, their lives and families. I look at my friends who are my age, with their families. I have married friends, divorced friends, friends with kids. Not that I necessarily want kids right now. God knows I’m not in a good place mentally or physically to deal with something like that. I wish I was. But I don’t know how to get to there from here anymore.
I don’t know what I’m doing with my life, besides going through the motions. I don’t care about anything right now, which, again, is probably just the depression talking, but knowing that doesn’t make anything any easier. I’m sitting here worried more about my parents’ plans to come to graduation than I am about actually graduating. I don’t care about graduating right now. I don’t care about the work. I don’t see a future for myself in anything I’ve done so far in my life. What skills have I cultivated that will give me any sort of job prosperity? Or job security, for that matter. The way the job market is right now for writers, it seems to be freelance or bust. And the way I’m cracking up now, I’m pretty sure life as a freelancer would kill me or send me into psychiatric care. Whichever might be worse.
I’ve been speaking with a counselor, Liz, over at the school’s Health & Wellness center since, say, early December. She’s nice. She listens. I don’t know what, if anything, is going to come of all this. Anything productive, anyway. It was her idea to start writing again. Writing like this, no real rhyme or reason, but just to sit here and type whatever comes. It’s not like I haven’t thought about writing like this before. It’s what my blog used to be, after all, lo those many years ago. But that’s all I’ve really done lately, aside from schoolwork - thought about writing. Which is decidedly different from actually writing something. And maybe it’s working? I haven’t written this much solely for myself for a long time. I guess I had that dopey blog post about Charlie Brown kicking the football a few months ago. And before that, I had written that post about Alexa, before I went off to New York for the summer.
Oh, Alexa. There is nothing more I would rather do than to be able to stop thinking about her. Except, of course, for spending time with her. And those two diametrically opposed thoughts have been playing tug-o-war with my head for four or five months now. I feel nothing but jubilation and excitement every time I spend time with her. Real time, not just small talk in the office. That I’ve been able to handle just fine. But out of the office, when it’s just the two of us, nothing in the world could possibly make me happier. And at the same time, nothing has been able to hurt me this much for a long time.
I fell in love with a girl, which is the story of my life, and I can’t think of any more song lyrics right now. I fall in love, she doesn’t feel the same way, we either remain friends or I explode the relationship like I did with Charlene. Like I tried to do with Alexa, back in October/November. I suppose it took me a while to able to be friends with Alissa, back in the day, after all that ridiculous high school melodrama. And Charlene was a different situation, too, wasn’t she? She liked me. Maybe even loved me. We were good together, except I was always looking over my shoulder or out the corner of my eye for other girls. I don’t know why. Here I had this great girl who liked being with me and I treated her like crap. Not all the time, of course. But in the end, for sure.
Her birthday was just a couple days ago.
So it begs the question, why do I sabotage the good relationships and chase after the bad? And if I had an answer for that … then what? I’d still have this fucked up head of mine. Even if I figured out my relationship issues, that’s not the reason for my depression. Not the only reason, not the real reason. And the real reason might be nothing more than the ubiquitous chemical imbalance that affects millions of people. But if that’s the case, and more and more I’m beginning to think it is, that means I should probably be on meds, right? And the thought of that scares me more than staring at the blank screen of a word processor.
I’ve never liked the thought of mind-altering drugs, legal or otherwise. Most of my friends smoked weed in high school; some still do. Which is fine. I’ve tried never to judge anyone for that. When Alissa was getting into harder drugs, sure, that was a problem, but weed? Eh. It’s like alcohol. It can be abused like anything else, but if you don’t overdo it, I couldn’t care less what you do. But for myself, I’ve never wanted to not be in control of my faculties. I’ve never wanted my mind altered like that, however temporary the effects.
Or have I just been scared of what it’d feel like? Scared of getting in trouble when I was younger, sure, but that never stopped me from doing other stuff. Staying out late, sneaking out of the house, silly stuff like that. But I never smoked pot or tried anything harder. Maybe I’m drawn to alcohol more because it’s a downer, and since I’m already down anyway … oh, fuck if I know.
But prescribed drugs, happy pills, Prozac or whatever … my father has been on so many different prescriptions over the years, different combinations of pills, different doses. And sometimes it’s difficult to tell if it’s making a difference. And he knows it, too. There are days when his temper gets the better of him, or his depression, and everyone knows it’s just best to leave him alone for a few hours or a couple days. He and I have gotten into ridiculous arguments where we haven’t spoken for weeks, probably because our depressions were butting up against each other.
For the most part, I’m OK with who I am. I like my interests, I like my friends. But I have no ambition, no drive. And I don’t know if that’s something meds would help with. And I’m probably afraid of who I’d become on meds. I’m worried I’d be a different person, which, honestly, wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. So why am I so scared of them? The pills?
Maybe I’m more afraid that they won’t do anything, that this is just who I’m always gonna be, and if I never take the pills, I’ll still have that hope out there that maybe I can be different, instead of taking them and finding out that this is it. And isn’t that a depressing thought.
I don’t know if typing any of this has been helpful. I spend so long trying to get out of my head, distracting myself with video games and comics and books. Actually spending time thinking about this stuff, not coming up with any answers … and it’s not like I haven’t thought of all this before. Seems like whenever I’m alone with my thoughts I’m thinking about this stuff. Which is why I try to distract myself with the video games, comics, etc. I can’t shut it off, all this constant second-guessing, all this awful introspection. I wish I could. I wish I could turn it off, put it to the side and just focus on what matters right now, namely, school. But I can’t.
As the saying goes, no matter where you go, there you are. Running away to California and Boston didn’t help me. Running off to Portland won’t either. All this stupid baggage is going to be with me no matter where I am. So why be anywhere.