When I got home Friday night, the first thing I wanted to do was write.
A friend recently asked me for counsel on whether to seek therapy.
I told her she should if she thought she could use the help.
Why not just get a blog like you, she asked. Isn’t writing your life the same thing?
It was difficult for me to explain to her that it wasn’t.
Case and point though, when I got home Friday night I was in a dangerous state of post-drunk melancholy and just wished ill towards all the people who I felt wronged by that evening.
But that was really only way I felt.
The prevailing sentiment had nothing to do with them, but rather towards my need to externalize experience in order to deal with it effectively.
By all accounts, I had just had a pretty awful evening. I had been slammed with girls pushing me around, dealing with the effects of too much alcohol, within and without.
I wanted it just to go away. I wanted it not even to be in my mind, for it to be somewhere else, for it to exist only virtually.
Thus, I sought to put it on my semi-regularly trafficked blog.
Not a good way to forget something, I suppose.
But that’s my thought process.
I write in order to live and I live in order to write and, currently, this is my safety valve, the conjunction of those two needs, the public ramifications of which I still don’t fully comprehend.
When I woke up the next morning, my first thought was that I was glad I didn’t write the vitiriolic post I had intended. But after pieceing out the rest of that Friday evening I went ahead and wrote something anyway.
What I wrote I didn’t think vitriolic. I aim in all of my writing to rig up complex images of people. Not only is it a more accurate way to describe them, it’s also a more effective way of writing. If one is presented with characters featuring both good and bad, characters motivated for their actions, it’s easier to accept the world of those characters as one’s own. We need ambiguity and complexity because it’s what we recognize in our daily lives.
Still, the effect of my post, which did accomplish (along with a barbeque visit to my friend Frank) a sense of serenity, was that of a public shaming.
When I saw Ashna on Saturday night, she apologized profusely, noting that she was drunk at 11am when I had spoken to her and hadn’t been aware of what she said. Still, we were meeting to go to a mutual friend’s party and as we sat on a stoop in Williamsburg talking out, she seemed to shake and cry in a dismal terror, not just because she had hurt me, but because now she had to face a room of people who, having read my last post, might view her monstrously.
“I deserve it.” Ashna said. “But still.”
Even Diana sent me several text messages that I’d rather not have gotten first apologizing for hurting me, claiming ignorance, then, claiming horror at her own actions, vowing to abstain from interference in my life.
As I look objectively back on both Ashna’s apology and Diana’s, I wonder if this is not better in some ways, judged by me, than what could have happened had I not written about it all.
If I hadn’t written about it, in the only way I knew how, I would have felt worse about the whole situation, Ashna would have forgotten or passed over it in the complex series of events dictating her own life and Diana certainly wouldn’t have given two shits, content in her life of dreamy flirtation. In a way, by writing so publicly about it, I had forced them both to confront their actions and how they’d hurt me, it seemed like justice, in a way that otherwise, justice might have not have been achieved.
But simultaneously, I think about the idea of publicly shaming someone and how I felt having experienced it. Whether it was pooing your pants in second grade or being rejected by a girl who you gave a poem to in eighth or a girl who closed her mouth when you tried to kiss her at the prom, public shame stays with you.
I described to my therapist the other day how the worst moments of my life flash before my eyes, things I’d rather not remember. I told her that I can sometimes deal with it, surpress it further or accept it, by going over the thoughts, the shameful moments in my head and trying to understand them or forigve myself, but sometimes it’s not so easy.
When I have to deal with those things, spectres plaguing my mind, it begs the question: who am I if I inflect such things upon others? Is that justified despite the hurt?
The altruistic thing to do, or the medium, might be just to write in a journal, or to find some way to work through it on one’s own, forgiving or ignoring the people or confronting privately.
Usually I find that not to work, but simultaneously, posting on a forum that no one can delete or moderate but me, seems like a coward’s way out.
I remember when one of my ex-not-girlfriend’s ditched me on Valentine’s Day for John Weeke, I was pissed as hell and I wrote it all down, but I didn’t post it on facebook for all to see–that would have been juvenile–I sent it as an email to her, which still wasn’t a good idea, but at least it was direct.
She sent me an equally scathing email back and I felt bad for a while but then I moved on. And I don’t feel bad about it anymore.
Though for the record, I still think she was pretty much a cunt to me.
Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.
Still, the whole issue raises questions of responsibility in my writing. When art intermingles to closely with life and when writing becomes a safety valve, an escape for one’s emotions, the consequences can be unexpected and weight on their own.
I don’t have an answer for any of it. Shitty things happen and might probably continue to. How I deal with it, I’ll deal with it.
And I’ll try my best to deal with it well.
In unrelated news, I’m down one karaoke buddy.
Rob “Beardo” Malone, of some-to-be very funny sketch comedy that I saw a preview of last night, departed today for Washington state to go act in my friend Zach Weintraub’s super-indie unfortunately-named film Land of the Lost.
It’s a good thing for Rob. He loves acting and is damn good at it to. He’s the sort of out-sized out-bearded type that always gets the parts and the ladies. And the ladies’ parts.
But it means that I’ll be down one guy to go karaokeing with on those epic monday afternoons we’ve been regulars this summer.
The last time we went (a Wednesday make-up session for a missing Monday), Rob and I actually managed to a duet, singing the part of two mobsters from Kiss Me, Kate, the musical adaptation of Taming of the Shrew, singing a song appropriately titled “Brush Up Your Shakespeare”, a paean to the virtues of learning the Bard for his appeal to women.
But beyond duets, whether it’s belting out a James Bond theme (Rob claims he hasn’t done the same one twice, I don’t believe him) or me comically straining my voice to do “Young Americans”, we manage to always seem to have a good time, which is strange given the context of the usual loserdom of Monday-afternoon drinking.
But there’s something cathartic in it all. Something about embracing how losery, unemployed-and-unemployable-y, beard-y (in one of our cases) we are that seems to sink so down in to depths of inadequacy that it comes out the other side.
To put it simply, Karaoke’s a fucking fun time, but it does feel very lonely to sit at a bar and do it by yourself. With another person, you have a built in audience and with a person Rob you have a playful competition, someone who you can match wits and voices with, trading quibs about the Jason Lees of the world as you flip through looking for the next song.
“I wrote on Jason Lee’s wall the other day, asking him who would win in an emotion-off, him or J.D. Amato.” I told Rob as he flipped through the Hall+Oates section of the Karaoke listings book, several columns deep.
“Jason Lee’s in Iceland right now.” Rob said, without looking up.
“I thought it was funny.” I told him.
“I think they’re both going to be offended.” Rob told me, still not looking up.
“Because they have emotions, Nick! Jeez!” Rob said, looking up. “They’re not robots!”
“How do I know? Jason Lee-bot?”
“Would be balanced out by an Armond White-bot.”
“Good point.” I said.
“Rob!” The Karaoke DJ announced.
“Careful of this one.” I told Rob. “I picked it out.”
Rob shook his head, shook his beard.
It was “Kiss from a Rose” by Seal.
“Now that your rose is in bloom. A light hits the gloom in the gray.” Rob said half-bored after a long session belting.
“Kiss from a Rose.” Rob reads at the end of the song. “Top Karaoke Hits Monthly. 1999. Copyright. Oh.”
The writing fades from the screen as the music channel playing Peter Gabriel comes up to replace it.
“Thoughts on Peter Gabriel?” I asked Rob.
“Did the soundtrack to Last Temptation of Christ. That was good.” Rob commented. “That and Solisbury Hill.”
I nodded as we looked through the books for more songs.
Rob got strep throat the next day.