*i haven't neglected all my 'five questions' interviews. read my remaining answers here*. meanwhile...
eloquence. admissions. sadness. joy.
i ask myself "why?" a lot. why was given the life that i was? why am i going through the things i am? why do we take a liking to certain places, people or things? great big, general "why" this and thats... and then the eternal list of why this and thats tailored to my life in particular. why do find myself without a job all the time? why do i feel as though i've never had enough rest? why can't i make great changes in my life? why do i have such difficulty in managing finances? why do i procrastinate? i could go on with this list for hours. you'll be pleased to find i won't, though.
life is not easy. nor is it fair. both are lessons i vividly recall being introduced to in childhood. and i've been lucky--i've not known the kind of hardships or sufferings that many people have had to face. i am the product of two smart, accomplished people who were wise enough to know at one point that their marriage was not successful; there had been no shouting, no cruelty, no violence. and they both soon after found great love again, with people who obviously better suit them. behind my parents are the great stories of struggle and achievement that their own families bring to my personal history. immigration, illness, war, poverty, ambition, love. i don't know nearly enough about my family, and i'm rather shameful of that. but i'm so thankful to them, for allowing me to be here, now.
i think a lot lately about how displeased i am with the times we live in. you can't make a phone call to a company without pressing buttons and hearing an automated voice. few people get up to let the elderly have a seat on the bus--there's just so little courtesy. it's who you know, how much you've got, and what you look like. movies are all special effects and sex; when it comes to television i am in mourning for the death of creativity--have we just simply told all the stories there are to tell, and that's why we have this "reality" crap passing for entertainment? and money... dear god, i wonder why if money doesn't buy happiness, why is it that not having it causes sadness? it's no longer possible for a family to live on a single income--worse yet, it's not really possible for a single person to live on a single income. and the things we want, the things kids see advertised and must have, rather than just run outside and play in their backyards with nothing more than their energy and imagination! and i'm no exception--i have a significant list of material items i'm convinced owning will make my life better! we've all become victims of systems of paperwork and discipline. meaning, you can't escape your credit report, your income taxes, your job references, your bank account, your criminal history, the details of your sexual history. it's hard enough to get ahead--it's even harder to pull yourself up from the depths.
ah, the depths! that's where you've found me. i'm at the strangest sort of crossroads in my life. never have i been so full of ambition and belief in my potential and abilities. i see great, great things for me ahead. but they're ahead right now, and there's such an awful lot i have to get through first. so while i'm in this strange place of focus and joy, i'm also in this strange place of utter chaos and sadness. and here i go, wondering why it is i'm here, and what it's all about.
i get a lot of praise from friends and strangers about this apparent ability i have to weather the storms, so to speak. i'm told i handle things well, and that considering all that's been thrown at me, it's no wonder i have trouble sleeping at night, it's no wonder i get bouts of sadness, it's amazing how strong i am, and so on. and things do keep happening--mundane run-of-the-mill troubles, or great big i-could-just-kick-myself kinds of things. progressively my handling seems to get better; when i discovered my car had been taken away friday morning i got teary eyed, made the necessary phone calls, got a little shaky, and then heard the sound of my own laughter. yes! i can laugh at myself. i think we really have to. and move forward. you see, that's the joy in me. the looking ahead to better things. the fact that this will make such a riveting 'down on my luck' part of my life story, especially when i'm being interviewed by oprah winfrey and my book is one of her club selections. i believe in things like that. i have to.
when i ask the why, why, why's all the time i try to remember that this life is a gift. that for some reason i get to try out this body, this mind, this time and place for size, and make a go of it. that it's not easy--anything worth having or being or doing really shouldn't be easy, i suppose. that i have the strength of two family trees behind me to keep me rooted. that i come home everyday to two fascinating, engaging, warm and loving housemates who do what they can to take care of me, and happily allow me to care for them in return, each of us in the only ways we know how. that i have great friends who love me dearly. that i have people to whom i look up to, who inspire me, whom i model myself after for whatever absurd reasons i might never understand. there's magic to life, and a joy in living it. remembering that gets me through the awful patches.
i'm not so proud of some of my choices of late, and i'm not foolish enough to assert that i'm a victim, and that i'm not partially to blame for the predicaments i find myself in day after damn day. and then there are some things in my life of which i am extremely proud of. great, great things, and also some very small moments.
a couple of weeks ago i found myself teaching an art class to a table full of adults. the topic was picasso, and i'd not known much about the artist before i gathered my research. but i had enough to go on, and a great idea for how to achieve a picasso-esque effect in the medium we were using. the class ran a couple of hours, and during that time i realized that i was helping these people express themselves artistically. i was the person in charge of their confidence for that small part of their lives. they were creating with my guidance, and looking to me for help, support, approval. it was a delicious thrill, and it signalled to me: "you are capable of doing great things." you see, i'd spent my adult life telling myself that it wasn't okay to be a talented artist, writer or performer. i'm just now giving myself permission to be an artist, a writer, and a performer. and of my talents in those arenas--i'm so very proud. and i'll admit, i don't much know how to do anything else as well. me and the average monkey can punch a cash register or file some papers, but, ah, in the creative world--there i have something to offer. now i just have to create the opportunity for me to do so.
i'm sad these days, more frequently than i'd like to be. i toss and turn at night because i'm so very preoccupied with making ends meet. thank god i have no children to care for, and i don't know how those people with children so selflessly provide for them. i wouldn't be surprised if i never had children--i know myself a little too well, and, besides, this world is crowded enough as it is. i mope a lot, i take these long dramatic looks from my balcony and think too hard about all sorts of things. i've made it through to the end of this school quarter by the skin of my teeth. i'm still dreadfully 'last minute' about everything in life, except perhaps in my indulgent behavior. but i'm learning. i'm learning a lot about life, and even more about my character. i'm a work in progress, and i need some improving. some things i've got down pat, and some, well, let's see if time and hard work improve them. but i refuse to give up. and, believe you me, i want to give up, all the time. i just want to quit, to stop trying. and then that little voice in my head tells me to shut up. it says, "don't you dare give up or give in. your life has hardly begun. there is adventure, loss, love, success, achievement to look forward to. yes, forward. look in that direction! you may never know why you're here, why it's two-thousand-and-three and not, perhaps, nineteen-forty-one. these people who remind you how strong you are, how talented you are, how loving you are...listen to them. and, yes, take inspiration from your heroes, and let them color your life, but don't try to be them, and don't look backwards and get lost in the what-ifs! be you! you!"
i wanted to come to the keyboard with something eloquent today. and i had to make some admissions, though they are scant of pure detail they are admissions just the same. to tell you how much sadness sits like a fog around me, but, in turn, how the fog can lift and i can experience so much joy. writing, i've had to allow, is my lifeline. it is what i do, and, time after time it's what saves me.
don't ask me why.