New Year

The puppy is on the floor behind me, lying under the light asleep. The first day of 2005 is winding down, and I’m alright with that. I just turned on “Float On” by Modest Mouse (off “Good News for People Who Love Bad News” if you care to know). I turned it up, and I don’t really give a shit if anyone thinks it’s too loud. For some reason, this is absolutely a song that must be played loud. It must. It absolutely is a part of the song, the decibels themselves are an instrument. Another case in point would be The Who’s “Love Reign O’er Me” off Quadrophenia.

What it comes down to is this: sometimes you’ve just got to turn it up until you feel it in your spine, and sing along at the top of your lungs, who gives a fuck who is looking, and fuck you if you laugh.

I have been a strange person for as long as I can remember. I’ve always been the weird kid. And I hated it. I hated being myself, being who I wanted to be and being called weird for it. I always had crushes on girls, and always set myself up to fucking fall, and I hated myself for it. I remember in sixth grade getting sick so many times they made rumblings of keeping me back a year and being absolutely miserable every day. I would wear my jacket even inside, and any time that I didn’t have to be actually paying attention to the teacher, I would crawl inside it, zipping it up and sticking my head and arms inside like a turtle. During recess, I would go sit out in the middle of the tennis courts covered in snow, and stare up at the sky and wish I was anywhere else.

I fucking hated that school. Of the 19.5 days I was sick that year, probably 16.5 were days I was actually sick (a week out for whooping cough, 4 days gone with a fever of 103… it racks up pretty quick). The other three days, I just couldn’t take it any more. If that’s what it would have taken, I would have coughed up a lung, anything but going to that fucking place. I had a very few friends, and I had my family, and that was pretty much what kept me going. My family especially. It was my parents that encouraged me to go take art classes, it was my parents that let me write on the computer in the afternoons after school, it was my parents who let me use their copier and printer and everything to write some of my first stories, and to make my first newsletter. And it was that fucking place that SHUT DOWN my first newsletter, and left me avoiding art, and told me that the stories needed to take a back seat to my school work, and made me do essays and nothing but.

I buried my head in books, and I swear to God, that’s the only thing that saved me. My homeroom before classes was in the Library in both 5th and 6th grade. Hell, I was library aide for two months in seventh grade. I started small, L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time series, and then started with science fiction, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (a book my brother had found on our parent’s shelf, and after he’d finished it recommended it to me), and then Doc Smith’s Lensman series, then started in on Heinlein, and I was safe for a while.

SAFE. Heinlein said in point blank terms, “THIS is what it takes to be human, fuck the rest. Pursue the shit that makes YOU a better person in YOUR eyes.” And I DID. Seventh grade was a good year. I went into it not giving a shit about what anyone else thought, didn’t hide in my jacket, didn’t withdraw in on myself, and (I’m repeating because it’s important) DIDN’T GIVE A SHIT WHAT ANYONE ELSE THOUGHT. I was reading Heinlein and Delany and Asimov and Clarke and all of these authors and wanted to know what the hell they were talking about. I dug out books on astronomy, and read Poe and Kipling and classic poets and authors that they always made allusions to. I went ahead in my math books because I was amused as hell by the phrase, “There’s Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics” and wanted to learn about them. I started bringing my camera to school and just roaming around taking pictures of the hell of it. And damnit, I was happy as a clam.

Didn’t last. I was miserable in 8th grade, got marginally better by sophomore year, and then slipped into a deep full-bore depression for most of my junior and senior years. And I’m still in that cycle. I’m never as happy as I am when I get to just do my thing. The times that I am productive but not CARING so damn much, I am more productive and capable and HAPPY than you’ll ever see otherwise. I had an epiphany last night, and it went like this: 90% of my life, I’ve been pining after some girl or girls, and been unhappy for it. I am a romantic, and it gets me in trouble. The other 10% of the time, I’ve been productive and happy and improving myself. And now that I finally HAVE someone, not only do I end up feeling uneasy from the past 20 years of rejection, but I TRANSFER that neediness into a SENSE OF OBLIGATION. I am so wrapped up in my sense of responsibility that I don’t fucking ENJOY anything anymore. I don’t enjoy playing video games anymore, instead I feel guilty for not working, even if I have been working. I have trouble bringing myself to read unless it’s for school, I have trouble watching anime even if I enjoy it, I don’t draw unless it’s a class, I don’t write unless it’s needed. And the whole time, I’m stuck with the image of Robin Williams as Peter Pan in Hook, desperately trying to remember how to fly and simply falling on his face. I’m so busy desperately trying to get into a position where I can be “responsible” that I forget that the WAY TO FLY IS TO STOP WORRYING AND BE HAPPY.

So, here we are, 2005. I’ll be 24 in April, and I graduate in October. Here is my 2005 Resolution:
1. Become more productive
2. Get Happy.

In case you hadn’t gathered, they’re kind of related.

7 thoughts on “New Year

  1. Well, yeah.

    I think I may have said this before, but FOLLOW YOUR PASSION!!!!

    The stuff that must be done to stay alive physically is really pretty minimal.

    It’s the rest that feeds our soul, makes the moments of drudgery worthwhile. And they arte just moments.

    Borrow my copy of “Flow” and see what insights it brings. Uri has it. :)

    In my not even remotely humble opinion, these resolutions are absolutely do-able. And it’s about time that you got yours anyway.

    As you already know, if at any time you think I can help, just ask. I’ll probably be meddling anyway. :P

    GOFWG #94

  2. Lurking out here in the ether and reading in on you occassionally.

    You’re a good joe. Hang in there and relax. All good coaches (whether they’re batting coaches, executive coaches, acting coaches… PHOTOGRAPHY coaches!) tell their students to relax and let what comes natually to come through.

    A word from the “growing wiser by the year”: When you graduate (REMEMBER THESE WORDS FROM A STRANGER ALWAYS) Pay yourself first. Save something back from every dollar you earn. More than just for taxes. More than just for play. Sock something back into a “do NOT under ANY circumstances touch this money” account (Roth IRA, IRA, CD, Money market account).

    Why the hell do I care? you might be asking. You seem like a swell person, you’re just setting out in life and good advice is good advice whether it’s given to a cousin or to a perfect stranger. Funny thing is… you could be down the street or way over in Hong Kong (I don’t know and may never). Just keep doing what you love, save as much as you can and you’ll retire early and have a much funner life than all the a-holes you met along the way in high school.

    Live well (and Heinlein rocks! good taste)

  3. Ahh, ‘bil. You’re a very good egg, and far more introspective than I usually get, at least in a very life-spanning over-arc-ing review reflection sort of way. I hope you do well this year in acheiving things that make you happier. Let the puppy make you happy, hon. Freya’s got it made, you should take lessons.

    *hugs* My sweetie & I are hoping to get out there & visit you guys this summer. Maybe late Junish?? Give your girl a hug from me! Ever read Star Dancer by John Varley? Give it a read, it always encourages me & picks me up. Happy New Year!

  4. Hey ‘bil.
    I was so the kid in the coat! Mine was one of those horrid, yellow, down filled types. My eight grade math teacher held a breif class discussion about how the coat signified my insecurities. Vile bitch!
    AS for happiness-one of the things that most surely keeps it from us is the belief that some variable other than our own choice determines its presence and scale. Go with you what you know. You can chose to feel happy about anything and there in lies the beauty of your mind. The things you love to do don’t “make” you happy. You simply chose to feel happy about them. Or not. It’s all up to you because it’s all within you. Happy New Year!

  5. Buddy, you’ve got good comments already. And you already have a good idea about what you need to do for you. So rather than muddle the issue trying to provide comparasons with my life, or advice for you to try, I’m just going to say one thing;

    I’m here for ya, no matter what, holler any time you need to, or even just cause you want to.

    Ok, I lied, one more thing… miss you dood.

  6. Nabil,

    I have always thought you were a well grounded, super-intelligent guy. Well, I guess that hasn’t changed, but it never occurred to me you would have feelings like this. I guess we all do at times. You are human, after all. Let me know if I can do anything for you.
    Could you do me a favor? Send me your Mailing address. Thanks!

  7. Hello, Nabil. Funny you should mention Delany in your latest post; Samuel Delany is the reason that I decided out of the blue to google your name and see if I could find you. (If you don’t remember me, I was a friend of Eli’s, too, who I see posted just above me.) I had a sudden desire to read some Delany based on an article I read, remembered you telling me about Dhalgren in high school, and wanted wanted to track you down and say hi.

    (And apropos of the various game design stuff I see on your site, I’ve been doing a lot of interactive fiction writing lately — is that an interest of yours at all?)

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