Derek & Cam's Post-College Blog of Confusion, Joy, Geekery, and Man Stuff
"I mean, fifty-percent of the fun of hooking up is talking about it with your friends," My neighbor said dryly, trying to keep the mood light. The four of us were in my kitchen, a few drinks in, and only removed from a pretty heated discussion about politics by about 30 minutes.
"Hmm," my roommate said, getting ready to argue the point, but deciding to concede "I mean, I guess the best part of going in on Mondays is asking Amy how her weekend went, particularly all the explicit, dirty details."
I chimed in my two-cents. “Erm, I mean, I don’t know. I’ve never been really one to enjoy talking about my intimacies, you know?” I paused, “I mean, maybe I just don’t have a very good sample size, but I guess I’ve always been more comfortable talking about all my awkward hookups… all the times where I felt like an idiot.”
My roommate laughed, “Ha! All I can think about is that nurse you met on Allen.”
They all turned to me. For a second, I kind of wished we’d continued discussing politics, heated or not. But I laughed, because there was no turning back now. “Well, I haven’t always been the best at reading signals…”
Looking back at the last four years, I hardly recognize myself.
I remember a lot of confusion, a lot of emotions, a lot of feelings, and very few constructive ways to deal with them. This blog, and the blogs before it, were probably the only outlets that did not belong in the “destructive” category. And, considering all the self-deprecation, they just barely missed being lumped in as well.
I’ve always had trouble talking with people about my emotions. They’re often self-absorbed, and overly anxious, driven by a narrative where I am both the protagonist and antagonist, messing up and fixing my life in a cycle that repeats itself ad nauseum. My emotions tend to fluctuate wildly between stagnation and volatility, and they often only come out when I’m alone. Or, as was the case for several years, when I was drunk.
"One of the things Jordan said, was that sometimes, when you drink," Lizzy seemed to be piecing her sentence together like a puzzle, slowly sliding them across an invisible table, "you get really angry."
The image of my foot going through a wall briefly flashed across my brain.
Images of laying in a park while tears flowed down my face, of standing out on the golf-course screaming into the darkness, of walking home from the bar, alone, again, always.
"Only sometimes though."
Being in a relationship has forced me to address some pretty critical flaws on my part. When you’re single, you can often fix problems by thinking about them, and writing a little to help guide your brain in a kathartic blast, allowing your fingers to pull the thoughts from deep in your consciousness, to assemble that puzzle word-by-word even while your brain is overwhelmed trying to figure out how all these jagged pieces of cardboard could ever go together.
I used to write about my problems in order to figure them out. It often resulted in jumbled neurologic ramblings, but it helped.
In a relationship, you can’t exactly say, “Give me a day, I need to write for a while,” when something makes you unhappy.
I definitely still have some kinks to work out: I still prefer talking about things that are important to me in emotionally neutral areas. Parking lots. Driving in the car. Sitting on a park bench. Places that reduce physical contact, that lean as far away from romantic as they do from painful, but often have the adverse effect of making situations exponentially more awkward than they need to be.
Beds and couches aren’t meant for emotionally charged fights; they’re made for cuddling, and kissing, and doing stupid things like staring into someone’s eyes and thinking, “If I went blind in two seconds, I would be happy knowing the last two seconds I could see were spent looking at you.”
That’s the nice thing about relationships; you can write shit like that.
Over the last few years, I haven’t had as much occasion to write about things that make me happy. I mean, I had plenty of occasion to; things made me very happy, but I didn’t know why I should write about them. When things make you happy, what’s to think about? What’s the point of writing, processing, digitizing feelings that are good and refreshing? Why write what is better felt and experienced?
I guess I am still writing a lot. Writing about how good each day feels, how each night seems a little warmer, and the stars a little brighter, and the air a little sweeter. Writing about how my arms tingle with the memory of holding someone, how my brain burns with images of discarded clothing, about how my lips curl upwards involuntarily throughout the day.
I’m just writing them to someone, not everyone.
I remember that feeling that VanDerWerff describes. That feeling that you’re wasting your time writing on a blog. That you are putting words that feel saturated with emotions and meaning into a black hole that swallows and obliterates and reassembles your thoughts into something unintelligible, or worse, pointless. That you’re performing a play to an empty theatre.
“It sometimes feels as if I had shouted a deeply cherished message out into an empty chasm and nobody heard me.”- Douglas Hofstadter.
Being in a relationship is the opposite of that feeling. It’s feeling like you have an entire stage and an audience of one, and sometimes that pressure is exhilarating, prompting embarrassingly passionate soliloquies about love and happiness, and sometimes it’s haunting, knowing that you have to make your message perfect, because there’s no subjectivity in a performance to one person; there’s one line, and there’s one interpretation. It’s terrifying in ways that writing could never match, but it’s more rewarding than written thought-vomit could ever be.
I’m happy, and I’ve been happy for a while now. Even before Lizzy.
“Wow.” My roommate said after I finished my story about the nurse. “It’s been a while since you’ve had a night like that. “
“Yeah, it’s been about a year.” I thought for a moment, “Yup. That was last Mardi Gras actually.”
Since then I’ve taken over a company, moved into a beautiful new apartment, established myself as an “historian,” and begun dating someone who may not enjoy all of my rambling soliloquies, but at least tolerates them. It’s turned my life from an uncertain rollercoaster into an ambling drive along a country road; it’s smooth, and comfortable, but there are still opportunities to speed along empty stretches and make unplanned, and exciting, detours along the way.
Sometimes I miss that energy that only comes from the violent shift from good-to-bad, or from average-to-awkward, that electricity that forced my fingers to fire across keys, channeling memories and experiences from my brain onto a computer screen.
Mostly though, I’m happy knowing that when I have something that bothers me, or makes me happy, or sad, or ecstatic, or depressed, I don’t have to wonder if there will be someone in the auditorium waiting for me to begin speaking.
Overall, I’m happy knowing that I’m finally pulling off the bumpy dirt road and beginning to drive along the highway. I’m happy that 50% of the joy of hooking up isn’t about getting a story out of it.
Instead of uncertain ventures out to bars, and rocky (at best) results, I’m happy to have some stability.
I’m happy looking over at the passenger seat, knowing there will be someone there, even it’s only for a day, a month, a year, or just an hour, to create a story with, even if we don’t share those stories with anyone but ourselves.
"You can’t worry about, as you put it, ‘Having wasted ten years of your life." I mean, most humans don’t get to do work that’s going to last. They sell shower curtain rings, like the John Candy character in that movie. (I mean, the rings might last. But they’re probably not what people talk about after you’ve gone.) So it’s not about what you do. It can’t be, can it? It has to be about how you are, how you love, how you treat yourself and those around you." - Nick Hornby, from Juliet, Naked
well, 17/20 in predictions at the end of the night. Screenplay categories messed me up. Things I thought should win generally won, things I liked won sometimes, and Ellen is the perfect host for an award show. It’s nice that the orchestra didn’t play anyone off this year. Where the heck was Jack Nicholson? I like that Harrison Ford is now making fun of his perpetual growl-y grouchiness. Bill Murray seems to really enjoy his life. Alfonso Cuaron is my favorite. Having these things from 8:30-midnight is an odd decision. I still really really want to see Her. Sometimes I wonder if a movie as purely good and perfect and you know, magical, as E.T. can happen in as cynical an era as our current one.
First - read fairly stupid article a friend posted to Facebook
Second - compose an amiable but firm comment to address some of the issues within the article
Third - realize you’re breaching your own rules of internet etiquette and being generally insufferable, and delete the comment
Fourth - still irritated by the damn article being misguided and factually deficient, write a three-paragraph Tumblr rant about how said article could have benefited from some fact-checking
Fifth - sigh, realize that you’re still being pretty damn insufferable, and delete the Tumblr post
I’m so incredibly bad at shutting up. A goal for 2014 is anytime I’m tempted to respond to someone being wrong with “Well, actually…” to instead stop and think about if it’s really necessary to go down that road.