From bemused one-time-not-so-lovers to angry, p.o.ed Jews, I’ll admit I’ve left my share of people upset over this blog, finding themselves on the internet cross-referenced under something they might not care to be cross-reference-able, but I’ll admit, this was a first.
A “friend” of a Latin teacher found me.
From: friend of gini
mr. gini knows about this entry nick.
while he is apparently less inclined to contact you about it, i seriously question your judgment in displaying your thoughts on his wife on a public blog. i would also suggest also that this whole tweed suit everyday thing is in your imagination. i think it would benefit everyone if you were a little bit more careful with the opinions you choose to spread publicly.
This was the response that appeared unbidden on my phone over dinner with my mother, beeping along with five other emails, mostly people commenting on how I looked like a hipster in some photo on Facebook or Jason Lee telling me I needed to be more “fascistic” in my approach to group politics.
And my first response was: fuck you.
No, that’s not right. My first response was that I was hurt. I felt bad. I felt like I’d done something wrong but couldn’t find the center of it, aproblem so endemic that it was hidden from me, unlike the guilty young’un holding the melting ice-cream bar behind his back, his hands stained with evidence.
The beginning of that post, which, functions part of a sort-of-symposium on post-graduational malaise, is a reflection on my teacher Mr. Gini, his Latin class and how disappointed I was in myself that I had never lived up to it, while I felt him an admirable person, an intellectual–someone possesed of wit, passion and, yes, tweed suits.
To find that my post might not only have been disquieting, but that it might have been seen as offensive makes me question myself and the efficacy of any tribute I might do in writing here.
That said, that was dinner, that was in front of my mom and here I am in the clarity (and various typos/grammatical errors) of my blog.
So here’s what I have to say.
“friend of gini”- I feel strongly it is not your place to intercede in this. If the man spoken of chooses not to contact me, you must realize that to speak for him or on his behalf is similar to me speaking of him in my memory. We can only construct people and their intentions from the memories we have of them, we cannot inhabit them, nor act for them. That said, I respect the spirit of defending your friend.
But as someone who is very young, but has nonetheless taught high school students as well on multiple occasions, I might say that one does not get into the business of teaching to not be remembered. It is a danger inherent in the shaping of young minds. Students will go out to the world and become who they become, say what they say, do what they do. As a writer, your experiences shape your writing and my style of writing belongs not necessarily to the truth, but to honesty as I percieve it, my remembrance and the story I am trying to tell.
So I’ll say to you, Mr. Gini, if you are indeed out there, that you have my fullest apologies for any slight I might have done you in writing such things, unwitting. I believe the Mr. Gini I knew, or I remember, would see such things and perhaps see the folly in them, but also see the attempt to make a paean to someone–to pay them the compliment that they are worthy to be a part of your life.
But I will accept if you want no part of that here and remove you, if you wish.
As I mentioned before, it’s a danger in living: the danger of being remembered. King Leopold might not have wished to be remembered a tyrant, nor Clinton a womanizer, nor Nixon a crook. But that is the danger we face in stepping into life, into the world, especially in this electronic age: We no longer, nor really have we ever, controlled the way that we are represented.
But most choose to keep living, regardless.
After that aforementioned beeping dinner with my mother (followed by dessert), we headed to the theater to see the musical Next to Normal.
It was something I had been wanting to see for a while. Also, this was the usual time of the year (summer and winter breaks) that I would go wait in line, stalking, to see the plays on Broadway, milking my student discount for what it’s worth and getting up early to face 45th street.
In a way, having graduated (somewhat) and not facing any more college, a part of me felt only more imperative to cling to the known, to go see the shows.
Though to be fair, a part of me just thought this show looked pretty cool.
I’m always interested in expanding genres and Next to Normal, advertised as a particularly frank and “downer” musical, seemed to be just that.
I remembered fondly, from the previous season, going to go see Passing Strange, a musical I felt among the finest works of theater I’d ever seen, since it took a form of escapism and used it as a catharsis that could only be generated by the particular artist creating it: the sublime Stew.
With memories of this in mind–and having been bailed on by a too-drunk Jason Lee to go see God of Carnage–I ended up in line at 8am for what I thought was a 10am box office opening but ended up being 12.
It wasn’t all bad.
I had a water bottle.
I could use the bathroom safely.
I watched the last Futurama movie on my phone.
The people in line with me were amusingly insane, having seen the show I was going to multiple times and antagonizing other line goers as if they were sub-human species for toting “denim bags”.
The 4 hours actually went by pretty quickly, surprisingly; the last 20 minutes of it felt longer than the entirety of the rest of it did.
But I got my tickets, two of them, first-row center and when my mom and I found ourselves at the theater, I gave them in with some small amount of amateurish pride.
As for the musical itself, well, it’s one of those things like Karaoke that show the limits of words to describe them.
I liked it, because it was a musical about acceptance, a musical that recognized that their were no clear answers, no pat responses, no clear plans.
To have a regimen was death and the only thing that worked, frightening and fucked-up as it is, is to take life minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, living and making the best decisions you can.
It was hard not to be emotional. The play is about mental illness, a term itself problematic and one too familiar to me and my family.
When I stood in line in the intermission thinking about how damn long the line for the men’s room was (“Time to grow a pair of breasts”), I thought about my own therapy and dismissed it with a shrug.
“I’m a Jewish writer.” I thought. “At this point, it’d be fucking weirder if I weren’t in therapy.”
I then thought about the root of the yiddish “Fococta” and whether it meant “fucked-up” or “crazy” more accurately and figured laughingly that it meant both.
But I walked out with my mom from the play fairly happy, analytical and reflective.
After all, I could write about it later.