New Leaves In New Journals

Being accountable to oneself is unrelentingly tedious, humorless, and futile. How many hours have I frittered away with thoughts such as: “I know I should do this…” or “I can’t do [x] because I don’t want to be like [y]”? I have policed myself so often on matters of careerism, romance, sobriety, and general good citizenship that I keep a perpetual warrant for my own arrest tucked away in the right temporo-parietal junction of my brain. I hear my own case, grant my own pardons, and schedule my own executions. Can you imagine a world of blessèd apes skirting each other on the sidewalk, utterly absorbed with the continual appeals process in their own minds? Crime rates would plummet, and the city would benefit from a pervasive judicial hush. Policing oneself through moral preoccupation – if I ever run for office, I’d have the vote of every neurotic in the city!

//Quick aside: Mr David Derbyshire reported for reputable science publication “The Daily Mail” that MIT researchers discovered the the moral compass of the brain in the aforementioned junction of grey matter and further determined that application of a magnetic field to that same region observably disrupts moral judgment. I’d like to interrupt Mr. Derbyshire in his writings of other hallowed articles including “Are Goldfish Sabotaging Your WiFi?” and “How The World Went Nuts For A [Nutella] Spread The Health Police HATE” to point out that he may have stumbled upon the greatest X-men sub-plot of our time. Magneto as a mind-controller? Someone get Michael Fassbender on the phone and tell him I expect my royalties in the mail.

All joking aside, I am making a resolution of accountability, not to myself, but to my peers. 2016 is the year that I idiotically and single-mindedly plot my course to creativity, an ignoble goal without hope of laudation, monetary reward, or desirable romantic partnerships. But so be it – my written word and rudimentary illustration is far more eloquent than any of my customary stuttered quips or ironic observations, and friends who know me well know that I am far more truthful in introspection than extroversion.

Does this blog contribute anything spectacularly useful to my golden circle of empathetic acquaintances? Probably not. I could (read: should) be writing a travel blog, a food blog, a female empowerment blog, or a blog of tattoo mock-ups of terrible medical puns like funny bone, frog in the throat, schmetterling in the stomach, etc. Instead, I am laying down an unfiltered snapshot of how I think and feel when I sit down to write and draw, no matter how elated, depressed, monotonous, or self-absorbed. If there is any shred of purpose in this blog, I suppose it would be the demonstration of finding humor in the darker, depressive periods of life. It is easy to laugh when things are going well, but the value of laughter increases monumentally when things are really going to shit.

On the topic of self-absorption, I was really very into Nietzsche when I was in college and bumping along the bottom of the emotional barrel. I have tattooed on my forearm one of his eminently quotable snippets of nihilism: “When you gaze into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” Imagining myself as the defiant cellist atop an inhospitable precipice (yes, like the Doisneau photograph), I found meaning in facing the ugly, the unglamorous, and disconcerting feelings of isolation that overcome all of us at one time or another. I really did take myself very seriously, as all college students should. However, my reverence of the sublime was dealt a welcome blow by my then-boyfriend, who upon seeing my tattoo, mercilessly parroted his favorite podcast: “When you gaze into the navel, the navel gazes also into you.”

My closest friends might be mildly disturbed by the nature of the first two posts on this blog, but I don’t have the heart to delete them. Contemplations on growing older are invariably strange, and contemplations on grief even stranger. To them, I would reassure them with the words recently given to me by a childhood friend who inherited the best understanding of the human condition from her mother in the psychiatric profession: “People who commit suicide don’t quit their jobs first.” Is this a soothing tenet of modern life? In my experience, it is.

Finally, if any reader has made it this far, I feel compelled to reward them with a snippet of writing from a far better ironist and neurotic than I, Joseph Heller, on the subject of his fictional teenage daughter from his book “Something Happened”:

“She must continue to agitate, like some dark and moody burrowing creature with a drive to undermine and destroy. I (we) do not know what it is she wants that she feels we can give her (she wants to be beautiful, willowy, brilliant, famous, rich and talented–and who can blame her? We would like her to be all that too. Perhaps she knows it. But we don’t insist), and she does not tell us. She does not know. Sometimes she confides in us without belligerence or guile. She confesses. She stands before us listlessly, her head bowed in disgrace, and, in words that force their way out from her soul and flow from her lips in a low, pining, abject monotone, she says: 

‘I have nothing to do.’

It breaks my wife’s heart when my daughter has nothing to do. 

I will not let it break mine.” 

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