Saturday, January 01, 2005

Unhappy New Year (please don't read)

(Warning: loads of self-pity contained herein. Do not read on an empty stomach, or on a full stomach for that matter. And no, I'm not drunk.)

So it's 2005, and I still don't have a flying car. But my mode of transport, crappy though it may be, isn't really on my mind right now, since it survived the recent severe dip in temperature and ought to do so again when the time comes. No, with the turning of the years, the time has once again come to assess my life and where I am right now. And what a sad bastard I've become.

Yes, I actually cried just a few minutes ago. I shed tears, the first time since, oh, last New Year's, when I re-watched that masterpiece 25th HOUR. This time, I suppose my tears could potentially be explained by the shattering combo of DOGVILLE and Nico's haunting synth-y version of "My Funny Valentine." But that wouldn't really be accurate. No, I cried for the same reason I did when I was young- because my life has made me sad. This time it wasn't one particular thing, like a painful fall or a sudden loss of a pet, but the combination of every little thing I've been sitting on and wallowing in for years now, and which I haven't really done much to resolve.

My work situation most of you already know, so I'll spare you the gory details. It's a piece of the puzzle that is my life, and though I spend a great deal of time working, my anxieties in life don't really have much to do with the work itself- in fact, fretting over job-related matters is a welcome reprieve from the all-consuming troubles of the world at large. Instead, I think a lot of my problems can be traced back to where I am right now- sitting at home, alone, typing something up on the computer.

This is SO not where I saw myself ten years ago. I know that it's like that for just about everyone, but fuck, this isn't even remotely close. Hell, I didn't even know what I wanted to study in college back then, much less what my plans were in life, but living with a roommate, working long hours, weekends, and holidays to pay the bills weren't on the agenda. The hopeful version of the high-school-me might have imagined the today-me sitting at the computer, yes, but I'd be hard at work writing some great screenplay or novel, not an onanistic blog in which I mostly just feel sorry for myself. Nothing against onanism, you understand. It's just that when you yearn to complete something major and substantial, jotting down your personal feelings feels a little like treading water.

Of course, I've been pretty much blocked for the last month or so, and the few occasions I have been able to eke out a few pages they don't really fit into anything larger. Writer's block is part of the game, of course, but this is getting pretty ridiculous, in my opinion. Part of me wants to just give up. There's a difference between a dream and a goal, after all, a dream being something you hope you might someday find yourself doing, and a goal being something you actually work and strive for. Naturally, the two can coincide, but I'm less and less sure that they actually have in my case. To say nothing of my yearning to actually direct movies. I just have no goddamn idea how I'd get from where I am now to the point where I'd actually make a movie. Sad but true.

It's not that I'm opposed to the idea of "selling out." Back in college this was a big and nauseating idea for me, the idea of trading in one's lofty aspirations to instead find a place in the everyday grind. Right now I can't even find an entry point into this world, much less a comfortable niche in it (hell, I can't even be comfortable in shopping malls, as you already know). I've never been the kind of person who can assimilate easily into his surroundings, and ever since I went to college I've gotten worse and worse at it.

Which brings me to my other problem- I'm really fucking lonely, and I'm scared to do anything to change this. I've always been a solitary person, from the time when I was young, and I've become a bit of a social retard (if you'll pardon the expression) as a result. I've recently discovered that my personality can be alienating or discomforting to those around me, and because of this not a lot of people really want to socialize with me for any extended period of time, not even to tell me in any kind of depth what's wrong with me.


How does one react to finding this out? Well, if you're me, you smile and nod and stroke your chin, saying things like, "hmmm, I see," and "yeah, I'll work on that." But, to extend Brad's question from I HEART HUCKABEES, how can I be not myself? I've always seen myself as being genial and easygoing, and while the perceptions of are only a certain portion of what I really am, these perceptions are all they've got to go on, and if they're put off by what they see, I can't convince them otherwise. They can't walk the proverbial mile in my shoes, so to speak.

Which brings me to a dilemma- I want to be close to others, but I don't really have much experience with it, and others don't seem to want to be close to me. Maybe it's only certain other people who don't want to be close to me, but right now these people are pretty much all I've got. The wedding I'm going to next week casts this into pretty sharp relief. The bride, the daughter of some family friends, is three years younger than I am. Meanwhile, I'm not married, not engaged, and I haven't even had an honest-to-goodness girlfriend in years (I won't say how many). I'm not saying that marriage is something I crave in the near future- far from it- I'm just extremely lonely, with no light at the end of the tunnel.

How do people meet people? This seems like a silly question, but in my case it's actually fairly sincere. I know that people go to parties and clubs and the like, but frankly these places tend to frighten me. The situation at work is weird (it was a group of coworkers who leveled with my about my personality), and I don't really have many other avenues in my life. I don't need a lot of friends around me- I'm not the kind of person- but a few people I can hang out with on a night like tonight isn't an unreasonable expectation for a guy like me. The upcoming wedding also made me think about this- if I was getting married soon, I have no idea who I'd choose to be my best man. I only keep in semi-regular contact with my best friend from high school, and I'm not close enough with any of my friends nowadays to even consider them. I suppose I'd choose my younger brother, not because we're particularly close but because I wouldn't really have anyone else to turn to.

Thankfully, I don't see myself getting married anytime soon. Again, I'm cool with this. But my loneliness has caused me to yearn for women even while my crippling insecurities have kept me from going anywhere with them. If I have a problem meeting friends, it's at least twenty times as bad when it comes to dating. Most of the females I encounter in my life are in my work environment, meaning they're either (A) career-minded women looking for a mature, settled-in man, or (B) college-aged girls out in search of a good time. I generalize, of course, but in my life the women in between these two extremes are few and far between, and usually spoken for. I've reached the point in my life (three years after graduation) where the trappings of my college years- roommate, casual and faded clothes, no real career prospects- are getting harder and harder to justify as anything other than laziness. But at the same time, I'm not a party guy looking for a casual screw (grass being greener, would that my life were that fun or that eventful). So I'm too much of a slacker for the women in category (A) and too much of a drag for category (B). Add to this that I live in Columbus, where most women here love Buckeye football (I can't stand it) and you've got quite a predicament.

I know, I know. It could be worse. It could always be worse. I have a family that loves me, although I'm kind of a deadbeat son who doesn't keep in touch as often as I should. I'm employed, with health insurance to boot, which in today's job market is nothing to sneeze at. And hey, I still have my health. Or do I? I'm beginning to wonder whether my anxieties haven't affected me physically. Despite having given up caffeine a full six months ago, I've lately had trouble getting a full night's sleep, often waking up two or three times a night even after a long and exhausting day. The resultant fatigue has even affected my sight- on more than one occasion in the past few weeks I've had some trouble with reading numbers out of order (for example, at work I read print number "4214" as "4124").

So what am I to do right now? Even if I get friends, get a better-paying job, and maybe even find a girlfriend, my anxieties will most likely remain. I've had them for years, and it's going to take a lot for me to shed them, I think. I wish I had someone to talk to about my personal issues, maybe even a professional- an analyst, I mean, not a hooker. I don't want to self-medicate (at least not with prescription drugs- whereas if the wedding has an open bar, I'm there), but what could possibly help me break out my current funk?

Many people I know have made New Year's resolutions, but I can't bring myself to do that this year. I guess part of me has gotten tired of my history of not following through on them in years past, but then again the problems in life rarely have concrete solutions. After all, if it was so easy to solve these problems, they would've been solved long ago. I know I have problems, and I know I have to work on them. But I also can't lose the essence of myself, even if it something manifests itself in ways that can make others uneasy. So where do I go from here?

(Thanks for reading. Much less self-pity in the future, I promise.)