My friend keeps asking whether I'm depressed. It's funny, because he's depressed, has been for years. He lives with his grandparents and dreams about women he has no chance of ever obtaining and makes no effort to obtain, while eschewing life and labor for a dull existence of doughnut holes and broken dreams. I don't think I am. I'm frustrated and stifled at this point in my life, but I'm not depressed. I used to be depressed. I remember depressed. I remember days of yearning for death, a black misery layered on so thick that all I could do was huddle beneath the blankets and cry. I can remember boxes of cakes and pies disappearing like Steve Buscemi into the woodchipper at the end of Fargo and a complete inability to interact with other people to the point of being afraid and unwilling to take the train down to my therapist's office.
That's not me today. Today I take long walks in the park and think about the future. I make an effort to improve my situation, have dreams and aspirations, and consider an evening in a park crowded with people to be a pleasant time as long as there are good friends and a bad movie to mock with them. I am not depressed, not anymore.
That doesn't mean I'm happy though. I'm not. This is a tough time and I'm having to weather it. It's a time for re-adjusted expectations and new strategies. It's the stuff of a troubled adolescence manifesting itself late due to arrested development.
"It's money that I love"
I was offered $10-14 an hour without benefits doing shitty temp work for a company that's giving my friend $18.50. I didn't want to say that I was insulted by the offer, but I was. I know that college degrees don't mean much in the modern economy, but I'd like for it to mean something. I went to a top school, got good grades (honestly, which is rare), and worked the summers. I would really like to be considered for a job that makes use of some my skills and talents, will help me establish the credentials I need to do what I really want to, or will pay enough to live on. I'm not demanding a dream job, I don't think I'm being all that unreasonable, but apparently I am. Apparently a college degree means dick all and what really counts is how much 'office experience' you have. Because we all know that filing takes years to master. "Does E come before or after J? Oh how I wish I didn't have all these Camus references in my head clogging up the works."
I feel like I'm walking a tighrope with a really big net, and that's a problem. My mom's reasonably well off and extremely indulgent. I have significant funds of my own. There's very little incentive for me to take a shitty job under these circumstances. I realize that working would be good for me, that in some ways it would be like dieting, something that would be annoying while it was occuring but have unfathomable benefits in the near and distant future. It's tough, though. Tough to sacrifice freedom and self-respect for a paycheck I don't really need, and tough to find a gig worth doing. In the end I'll probably let my mother find me a position somewhere. She has contacts who can get me in someplace that's either high-paying or interesting. It seems like the best way to go.
"Call me pathetic call me what you will"
Then there's the ego issue. There are two primary effects of consistently being told how brilliant you are from an early age. The first is crushing expectations and self-enforced demands. The second is an inflated ego. I have both, to an extreme perhaps. The thing is I need my ego. It helps balance out all the low self-esteem feelings and keep me going. It's been fed my whole life, including up to and through my last semester of college, and I don't know how to be confident without it. That makes it difficult for me to prostrate myself in a shit job where no matter what you do you can't get noticed. I don't mind starting at the bottom, but only in a position where it is possible to work your way up to the top. This may not be possible in the current economic climate, but damn it if I'm not going to make the effort to find something that fits that description. I am confident that the same things that have made teachers and peers think I'm brilliant throughout my academic career will serve me reasonably well in the work place, if given the chance. Data entry and reception don't give that chance. There's no brilliant way to put numbers into a spreadsheet or say "please hold." It would be a massive deflation of a very big balloon.
"It makes me lonely, it makes me very lonely."
I need that balloon. I'm being redundant in order to be crystal clear. This is a difficult point in my life. I'm stagnating in a lot of ways, most painfully in the creative arena, and I've also been lonely lately. I take a lot of walks, this is something I've reiterated so many times in this journal that if you're not sick of it you haven't been paying attention, and one of the things you see often when you take a lot of walks is couples. Oh sure you have your joggers and bikers surging on alone, but they are far outnumbered by groups and lovers, especially late at night. I walk alone. That's okay, most of the time I like being alone. But I was walking through the ramble in Central Park after nightfall and it was breathtakingly beautiful with the lights of the city reflecting off the water of the various ponds I passed and there was nobody else around to share it with and it sucked. Those are the moments when the city can be a lonely place. You're there in the shadows of the high-rises, with squirrels and raccoons rustling in the bushes, and there's nobody in sight. I was walking over one of the rocks out of which stairways have been carved and I started to think about all those songs meant to bludgeon single people into depression and submission. Frank Sinatra marries 4 gorgeous women and then tells the rest of us schlubs "You're nobody 'till somebody loves you." Thanks for the tip, Frankie boy. Maybe there'd be somebody to love us if you weren't taking half the gorgeous women in the tri-state area out of commission. Then there's Tom Jones and his "It's not unusual" line. Yeah, thanks for that Tom. The song SHOULD go "It's not unusual to be loved by anyone, and if you're not then you're clearly a freak." Just to rub it in a little more. It may not be unusual for you Tom with your stage covered in panties and your bedroom full of beauties but it's also not quite as common as you make it out, at least from what I've seen.
It's not just pop songs of course. It's a general sense in our society that you're not complete without another person. I've never had another person, not really, not in that way. There've been a few close calls, even some opportunities, an internet thing or two, nothing tangible. Part of it is that I refuse to compromise. Not on looks or anything, I'm not looking for a statuesque Anna Kournikova clone, only with bigger breasts. In fact such a woman would be incredibly intimidating to me, and undoubtably impossible to maintain a relationship with. What I do want, and will not compromise on, is someone of reasonably high intelligence and strong moral fiber. A peculiar sense of humor and a toleration of bad singing are also musts. I'm also extremely non-agressive. I used to be stand-offish, but no longer am. All these are good excuses as to why I'm alone, but they aren't the full explanation. I accepted long ago that I'm not attractive, and that seems to be some sort of deadly sin in our society. It's not just a matter of the physical, it's also other things. Social status, 'coolness,' the ability to play games and do the mating dance (this is abrieviated to 'confidence' by many.) It's not the things that most cliches and terrible articles always claim it is. I recently read one that stated that women wanted height, education, and money. It irritated me, even though I realized it was bullshit while I was reading it (why I was reading it is a different story, one that involves fumoffu and attempts to help him dislodge his head from his ass) Being unattractive makes you question things though, when you're bludgeoned with claims that women want someone who's smart and funny (or tall and well-educated) and they're not attracted to you you start to question those aspects of yourself. You're nobody 'till somebody loves you. Fortunately my psychologist is a great help in this matter. He tells me that a blowjob will help solve my problems and that men aren't complete as people until they are forged in the crucible of romantic relationships. I pay him $125 for 25 minutes of this stuff and 20 minutes of reminiscence about feats of basketball that took place on Long Island about 35 years ago. I think it'd cost $150 to move the basketball anecdotes into the last couple decades.
And it's not merely women. It's the things that society says you're supposed to strive for. Who do we idolize? Men like Donald Trump. Men who take and take and take, who lie and manipulate and cheat and play games, men with morals that make their bad hair look wonderful in comparison. I could never be that, and I don't want to be (not because of the hair thing either.) Donald Trump may contribute to charity, but it's just an ego game for him. He fleeces money from the poor in his Atlantic City casinos and then doles back to them to satiate his ego. There's nothing redeeming about him beyond his charisma and ability to wrap people around his finger in order to take things from them, yet in America someone can write that he's the ideal and that a day in his shoes would be the best day of any other man's life and not be laughed out of the country. It bothers me, because not only am I not valued but neither are the things I care about or want to be.
Then there's the writing, or rather the lack thereof. It's ephemeral and frustrating and I'm sick of it. Look at this entry. In my head in the park the prose flowed well and made sense. I knew what I wanted to say. Alone in my room with the music playing and the computer screen glowing it just doesn't want to come like that. Instead it spills out in awkward phrasings and self-pitying run on sentences. I worry that it won't get better. That I'll never transcend the current mediocrity and achieve the visions that sit there in my head tormenting me, crying to be realized in a way that my current capacities don't allow. I can see them all so clearly in my mind's eye, vibrant and alive like a flip-book oil painting, moving and flowing and beautiful. Then they come out my fingers and their drab and awkward. The sentences are flat, or too convoluted, or a thousand other things that makes writing not just pedestrian but painful to read. Oh sure, there are good spots, little diamonds within the vein of coal, sparkling taunts about what it is I can't (yet?) achieve. They are rare though, and what I'm left with is mostly a lot of stuff that's only good for burning. This must be what being autistic is like, but inside out. I can't quite reach and manipulate the inner world that I know is there. I worry that I might actually be brain damaged in some way, frequently I find myself writing down the wrong word, or even ommitting pronouns and the like. I know it's unlikely and paranoid, but stranger things have happened.
This is the stuff frustration's made of. A few sparkling diamonds that can't be reached through all the rough.
"Outshined, outshined, outshined."
So how does this tie together? I'm unhappy becuase I have nothing to hang my hat on at the moment. I'm not employed. I'm not in school turning heads with my brilliant analysis. I don't have somebody to love me. I'm not a great, or even pasable, writer. I'm not special, and everyone wants to be special, at least to one other person. Of course I'm unhappy at the moment, but I'm not letting it depress me because I've been depressed and depression is a waste of time. Sometimes it's unavoidable but it doesn't help you accomplish much and it's defeatist. I'm still enjoying the simple things in life, still keeping going and trying to improve, still searching for a place in the world. That's why I'm not depressed, because I'm not giving up. This may be a dark hour, day, week, month, or year, but the thing about midnight is that eventually it turns to dawn. The winter of your discontent gives birth to spring. Not taking a job I hate for no money is part of this not giving up. I'm saying that I'm worth more and able to wait for more. I'm not becoming a cog in the machine. I'm refusing insulting offers and flipping off "the man." I'm telling myself that I'm special, and, even if I'm not to anybody else, that's something. I can be special to myself.
I'm going to go out for a walk now. I'll probably think about a bunch of different things. Some of them will be nice fantasies or ideas for future projects, perhaps elaborations on current ones. Some of them will be sad thoughts of loneliness and despair. Some of them will be "Wow, look at her legs, she has a really pretty back-of-the-knee area." Some of them will be "ouch." None of them will be surrender.