Miss being an animal

Posted: September 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

Dinner was made and eaten and now I’m ignoring the dishes. I tucked in the kiddns and stare blank-blank-blank at the screen in my palm, at the screen on my desk, at the stacks of books filling up my living room wall space, I ignore my record collection, the measley remains of my cassettes, the gigantic booklet of burned cds, the four hundred plus podcasts downloaded on my iTunes. Stack of junk mail—I don’t even flinch in its direction. Instead I am writing to you, dear reader, but it sorta feels like yelling into a cave.

There are literally thousands of voices, written, spoken and seen that I could dip into. I could lose myself in thinkers long dead or the freshest most sharp witted minds, the toughest rappers or sleekest actors. I really could stay up all night listening to radio podcasts (I have before I tell you what).  I could phone, text, email, facebook message or video chat with anyone I know that is anywhere in the world and even some folk I don’t know. I could send photos (x-rated if I felt like) (but I actually never have, I swear), make my own podcast, post videos and if I think hard enough about it I could figure a way to send my DNA to you or maybe Yemen.

This access to the universe explodes me into a somebody and a nobody. I have more access than I know what to do with. I tell you everything in my reach but I feel untouched and entirely disengaged, I feel downright stupid. Yep, big long on-going fights with stupid.

My family contains some of the most intelligent, cultured and worldly people I’ve ever met. Engineers, master chess players, classical musicians, and whip smart arguers. Ruckus, impassioned arguers. A typical meal could easily cover politics, philosophy, Russian literature, ethics, classical ballet, and easily end with a poop joke, or fuming nostrils and vicious accusations and adult temper tantrums. As a kid I had to come down from my room in the middle of the night and beg my family to yell quieter please. My family is lively (to totally understate it). And for anyone that knows me, I tell you, I am the quiet one.

But whether you know me or not is irrelevant. This post isn’t about what you, reader, know but what I don’t know. This tussle I’ve long faced against feeling stupid is rooted in my experience of coming up. No, no, I’m not even slightly about to launch into blaming my upbringing for my shortcomings or weaknesses; hallelujah I’ve made it past my poor-me twenties (no offense to folk still bucking the decade, whatever your tagline for it may be) and into my fuck-all-of-it-and-everyone-too thirties (meant as the double entendre you may be thinking of).

I struggle with feeling stupid cuz I actually don’t speak the same language as my family, literally. They volley in Russian and I’m stuck as a four year old picking up maybe half of what they’re saying. Or I slow it all down for an explanation of a turn of phrase or technical term. If things get heated though never mind they are off and I am just a spectator. I tell you I am a terrible spectator and if language acquisition and maturity are tied together than I quietly throw my own adult tantrum by leaving it. Checking right the fuck out of my fam. And shoving myself with, stupid.

I took a year of Russian in college and I have a slew of Russian books I don’t read enough of, I’ve got Russian keyboarding capabilities on my desktop and my hand computer not to mention a slew of Russian language apps. None of this is enough to outrun my creeping you’re stupid demon. I just can’t say what I think and feel with as much depth in Russian as I can in English. And my siblings speak English and my mom mostly too but not my dad so much and I really really want to know him and want him to know me but fuck can language be a fucking labyrinth. A rabbit hole, a time-out, a sick bed. Ask for a glass of water you may get lead to the shoreline. Try and talk of your soul and end up describing a pillow. This can be fun and games for a poet, when I’m up for that role, but sometimes I just want to discuss career choices or parenting ethics without sounding like John Ashbery. Sometimes I want to get from point a to b by the shortest route possible.

Yeah, I know I’m not actually stupid. I’ve worked so hard at not feeling stupid, read things (even shit I didn’t like but thought I had to in order to not feel stupid), I think and think and think (maybe too much) and mostly I’ve worked at just letting myself be right where I’m at and calling it good.

The thing is, I am always chasing after information. As a kid I was scooting around behind my brilliant siblings and parents (uh, literally since I am nine, thirteen and seventeen years younger than my siblings and forty and forty-four years younger than my ma and pa). And now I am sprinting my aching arches off after gazillions of must-read books, blogs, websites, must-see movies, plays, posters, must-hear podcasts, new bands, and poets (ok fine, the poets aren’t as pressing but I really fucking wish they were). No matter what, there is no such thing as catching up. The culture’s output has far surpassed my ability to input, to absorb. Oversaturation has never been such an exact state of being.

Is anyone else tired from chasing information? This pursuit isn’t the hot kind anymore. It was at first, when I first learned about the internet in what, 1999 or something, when at first I seriously could not wrap my brain around the fact that I could type in whatever I wanted into the computer and a bunch of websites would pop-up, wait, “what the fuck is a website, how the fuck does it exist?” (Seriously, my little pool of you’re stupid venom shot me a quadruple dose that day and for several awkward computer dates after.) But back then it was sorta fun to get to know outer space. It actually filled me with a sense of wonder (and power of the totally harmless variety), like cutting up worms and watching both sides live or catching fireflies in a jar and watching them light up in seizure like fits of panic (power of the harmful variety that I’m now over, mostly).

Shit man, the buzz is dead. I killed it myself. Killed it with good ole pressure. Pressure to keep up with the fuckin’ Joneses. (Did I use that idiom right? Don’t always nail American idioms, being raised by a bunch of Russians and all—but I sure like to try.)

I’ve been known to flip out on information where I am non-stop looking shit up, websites, hot tv-shows, you-tube videos, while simultaneously listening to podcasts or new bands, occasionally stopping to flip through a stack of books and speed read or I’ll binge and download like twenty dissertations or critical papers on Shakespeare and feminism and queer theory and then—boom—I just quit. I stop reading, writing, listening, all of it. I just quit and lay on the ground in the sun fully dressed until I am sweating and overheating—only this way do I know I am functioning again as an animal, reflexively cooling myself off without even thinking about it.

Sometimes I miss being an animal. Miss feeling totally turned on by lichen or the taste of water or the thrill of finding a chanterelle. Really what I miss most are live action people. I miss seriously stimulating conversations that revolve entirely around nothing and everything at once, conversations that are just a journey into humanness, you know the kinds, where you get excited over a theory of black holes, or an urban legend and then weave into and out a personal story that ties into somebody’s grandma’s old way of saying this ole phrase until everyone erupts into deep belly laughing because the best pun ever just happened and someone overheard the out-of-context moment and asks, “did you just say penis?”

I am glazed over from access to everything but you. I want to notice the shape of your knuckles and the funky mix of colors you’re dressed in. I am starved for a whispered confession at a crosswalk or wild impulse of tearing clothing off to jump screaming into a glacial river. Oh, I miss you simple and sturdy friendships to enjoy tea with and discuss in all seriousness a future made real by those shared revelations. Un-replicable revelations. Not an algorithm in the galaxy that could make it ours again.

I know, this post has gotten awful sentimental. But partially cuz what I’m nostalgic over feels for real over. My charmed era of wild abandon just isn’t my daily anymore. Maybe I’ve aged ungracefully in this respect, or maybe I’m just out of touch from everyone else’s good time, or I’m too busy getting by, or too plugged in, too electrified with all the crossing of wires in thin air.

I’m sorry, I’m really just working out how the hell to move forward, as in how is it I want to live day to day and what sort of person do I really want to be and what does that person actually do with their time? Truth is, my values are up for grabs. I had a professor once tell me, back when I was holding on to luddite-esq ideas, that if I wanted to make it in the world as a writer I had to get over my fear of the internet, of progress and growth; he told me to get myself out there by any means necessary. Don’t get me wrong, I am thoroughly gripped/amazed by the endless possibilities of the world fucking wide web. But growing up I only had to figure how to live and be happy in the town I’d traveled far and wide to discover and stick to. Now it’s a universe I’ve got in the palm of my hand (quite literally) but I just feel like that four-year old kid scootin around on mispronounced words and misunderstood idioms.

Sigh, the internet is a way into private spaces I’d not usually be invited into. It’s the safest “disease” to spread. Seems the only way to get ahead these days, is to go viral. Am I really kissing those old bliss-out-on-land-with-community dreams good-bye? Maybe I’m totally wrong for thinking that this is an either/or situation, maybe I just haven’t found the perfect balance yet, or maybe I’m an all or nothing kinda guy, a new school or old school dude. Am I serious enough to commit; to choose this maniacal clawing for a piece of ungraspable space? Well, I’ve got this blog anyways and another rainy season to get soaked in. (Maybe I’ll try sending dirty pictures out, get up on this new kind of wild abandon. Tehee.)

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Comments
  1. youknowwho says:

    once i sat up late with my grandfather and cried about the state of the world. and he said: facebook is ruining my life. and i said: i think i know what you mean. it’s definitely ruining the kind of life he had and the only one he could possibly imagine being worth living. a life where friends smoke and drink martini’s into the night, crying into cocktails and laughing into dawn, and that’s how you update. and then we found this article from the nytimes in 1876 (oh yes, i did turn to the internet to support our growing concern with technology), wherein it was proclaimed: “the telephone, by bringing music and ministers into every home, will empty the concert halls and the churches.” and i felt calmer.

    so, maybe yes, the world would be godless and dull if we all stayed on these screens forever. but if it weren’t for the music and ministry of internet scribes like yourself, what would we pine for? who would we want to call in the dark hours on our archaic telephones just to hear russian anythings in real time?

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