Every Day Above Ground (mallorys_camera) wrote,
Every Day Above Ground

A Narrative Junkie's Lament

I keep giving myself the Humphrey Bogart "Hill of Beans" speech from Casablanca. You know the one:

I'm no good at being noble, but it doesn't take much to see that the problems of three little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. Someday you'll understand that…

Blah, blah, blah.

And when that doesn’t work, I tell myself it’s simply a matter of recontexturalization. If I could only force myself to see what’s happening now as a kind of gift. Untenanted time! Why, it’s better that an all-expenses paid residency at an expensive writers’ retreat!

Like my dream said, If you can’t do it now, then it was never about time. It was always about discipline.

But that doesn’t work either.

(BB tells me my dream is actually a big Internet meme! Did my dream scriptwriter plagiarize it? Or is this simply another case of mediocre minds thinking alike?)


I feel as though I have no right to acknowledge how unhappy I am because:

(a) my circumstances are so much better than the circumstances of many of the people around me; and

(b) if you say you are unhappy, then you are committed to being unhappy!

And, of course, moods fluctuate. I could have a fabulous day in the garden! I could read some fabulous book that transports me out of myself! Some billionaire could be reading my online journal on the sly, realize what a fabulous outsider artiste I am, and shower me with anonymous six-figure checks!

And if any of those things happened, I could turn irridescent with joy!

But "unhappy" is certainly what I’m feeling now.


I don’t get unhappy as a rule.

I get more what John Barth once described as “without weather:” a kind of loss of anchor, if you will, that sets me adrift, an empty, passive vessel on a windless sea like the one the Ancient Mariner was sailing on just before he elbowed one of his crewmates, “So, how about that albatross, huh?” Kind of the psychological equivalent of anomie.

I’ve been trying to break the unhappiness down as though it’s a compound:

X parts loneliness: So, fuckin’ get off your ass and reach out to people; don’t wait till they reach out to you…

X parts boredom: So, get a hobby! Start watching reality TV hoarding shows or something! Or start collecting spoons.

X parts this sense that I’m in this fucking cage: So, get in your car! Drive to Sharon Springs! Walk around and take Art Photos of the dead hotels. If you feel guilty about it, wear a mask!


The best advice I give myself has always run something like this: When something goes wrong in your life, just yell “Plot Twist!” and move on.

Except what’s going on right now doesn’t really have a plot, does it?

I guess that’s what’s making it so difficult for a narrative junkie like me.


In unrelated news:

(1) My pal Tom and I set up a virtual writing critique group! We’re both extremely good writers who are long past the stage of feeling personally invested in anything we write. In other words, we can take criticism, and we’re mainly interesting in getting our stuff to the point where it works. So, that should be fun.

(2) I discovered that Jake Black died last year! How could I have missed that? Exile on Coldharbour Lane is probably my number one favorite album of all time.

Alabama 3 is best known for the track that The Sopranos ended up using as its theme. The actual Woke Up One Morning is much, much better than the truncated version:

But every song on that album is a masterpiece:

A3 did a version of These Boots Are Made for Walking some years ago that I once owned and somehow misplaced and can’t seem to track down again. It’s kind of like my own personal musical Holy Grail.

(3) My client wants to raise my fee after I sent him the most diplomatically worded email I could pull together informing him that I was having a very hard time generating the SEO-approved amount of verbiage on his remunerative but obscure project.

I wasn’t trying to get my fee raised. I was trying to quit.

But who can ever say, “No” to more money?

(4) It’s supposed to snow this weekend. So, after I put in a couple of excruciating hours grinding away at my client’s mill, I gotta run off to the garden and mulch my baby seedlings. Crossposted from Dreamwidth.
Tags: #i, #in, #the, covid-19, exile on coldharbour lane, garden, psychological depression, scut factory, writing
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