9:04 am - Tue 2/11/03
(It's the first day of my week-long vacation, and I'm going to try not to make too much of the fact that it's...raining.)
I've written a lot down in my "pocket journal" over the past couple days, so here it is, in no particular order...
Here are a couple good quotes on reading:
The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them.
I find the second quote particularly meaningful, since I've always wondered how people who don't read make do with just their own limited thoughts and life experiences. I think I'm smarter than the average bear, with at least some interesting and unusual experiences in my life, but still, if that's all I had, I'd find that pretty...boring.
I got those quotes from a book I was leafing through in the self-help section at work yesterday.
And speaking of leafing through self-help books, I was shelving in that section the other day, and I started looking at a book that's been much in demand lately, by Po Bronson, called What Should I Do With My Life?.
I was looking at the book, and suddenly it hit me, "I do this a lot..."; Since I already know what I "should" be doing with my life, and am essentially doing it (Or trying to, anyway), reading this particular book--even just glancing through it--is a waste of time and energy; Instead of asking myself a question I already know the answer to, I should be moving on to other questions.
And this also connects, in my mind, to Diaryland.
I've been thinking about a couple of my recent entries--the one about work, and the "Why I Write" one--and I'm not very happy with them.
I'm feeling like those entries, and a lot of other things I've written, constitute "asking questions I already know the answers to", or else "Asking questions for which the answers don't really matter".
At first, I was uncomfortable with the "work" entry because I was afraid I had offended people (And it turns out I did, at least in one or two cases). But when I thought about it later, a bigger issue than "offending" people was the issue of "wasting time and energy going over and over the same ground".
I already know I've never found anything meaningful to do in "the real world". Nothing has ever fit. And life satisfaction aside, I've never even found a way to make decent money (That last part is why my "choice" to do this doesn't seem like that much of a choice; It's not like I threw away big paychecks and future security to do this. For me, there isn't much risk involved here, at least not in the financial sense; It's basically "Be poor, with no dream and nothing to look forward to", or "Be poor, while following your heart and hoping things will ultimately work out").
Which is, in a nutshell, why I want to act. I like to do it--I love doing it, actually--and people seem, by and large, to enjoy watching me do it. Where nothing else has fit, acting fits. In that arena, I have skills. I know what to do, and when I don't, I'm motivated to learn.
And while the prospect of making money at it is truly daunting, there's at least some logic in finally focusing on what I've demonstrated a lot of talent and interest in, even if the path is particularly thorny.
And anything about how other people regard work ( Whether it's first and foremost in their lives or a means to an end, whether it's a necessary evil or a divine calling, etc and so forth), any comparing and contrasting myself with other people regarding the career/life choices we've made, is basically immaterial at this point.
Actually, it's worse than "immaterial"; It's destructive. To see myself as being "beneath" people who have homes and families and careers and whatnot is just going to sabotage what I am trying to do, and make me feel like a loser. And by the same token, seeing myself as being above people who aren't out there "living their dream" or "realizing their potential", or whatever it is, will just end up making me feel isolated and alone, the Poor Misunderstood Artist.
It's a whole lot of time and energy spent in a way that does me no earthly good (And it doesn't do anyone who knows me any big favors either!).
I don't have to explain or justify or apologize for what I want to do. And it doesn't have to be about me being better or worse than anyone else.
That kind of thinking is a wrong turn, a dead end.
It's not going to satisfy me creatively, it's not going to make me any money, and maybe most importantly, it's not going to make me a better person.
I'm just trying to do my best. Just trying to do things that feel good, that feel right. And I think that's a good assumption to make about everyone else as well.
The "Why I Write" thing, after the fact, just struck me as kind of lame. Facile, obvious, and simplistic. A journal entry with no reason to exist (I'm leaving it online though, instead of deleting like I've been tempted to to do, because after I've become a more accomplished writer, it'll be fun to go back and see just how badly I used to write).
Lauren's warned me on occasion against being too aware of my "audience", both in terms of self-censoring--Cause God-forbid you should get to know "the real me"--and being disappointed when I don't get many "hits", or when an entry I'm particularly proud of doesn't get any response (I haven't gotten much response to anything I've written in awhile, except from Jane. I'm guessing because a lot of my "work" lately has veered between "angry" and "stupid", and what's the appropriate response to that?).
The fact is, I don't know why anyone reads this. I think the only real "truth" of that entry was that some "connection" is made--and that great "truth" rates a big "DUH!" on the "obvious scale", cause after all, who sticks with something, be it a book or a movie or a journal or whatever, that doesn't "speak to them" to them in some way?--but as to what that "connection" is, I have no idea (With a few people I feel like I do, but mostly not).
Maybe you know me and like me, for some reason, and you're just interested in keeping track of what I'm doing. Maybe you think I'm smart, or funny, or a good writer. Maybe I share some of your interests. Maybe you can't believe someone would reveal themselves like this in public, and you're basically gawkers at a traffic accident. Maybe you think my life is really interesting. Maybe maybe maybe a hundred different things, things that might never have occurred to me.
Who knows? And more importantly, who cares? For whatever reason, you have taken an interest. I am being "heard", and that's meaningful to me in and of itself. There's no single answer to the question "why are you reading this?"--I said I thought it was more about our "similarities" than our "differences", but who knows if that's really the case?--and when I think about it, I don't know how it would matter if there were.
Again, too much thought about things that don't matter. Too many trips down dead ends and blind alleys. Too much asking questions that have been asked and answered, or questions that don't really need to be asked in the first place.
It's impossible not to be aware of the "audience" when I write in diaryland (Lately, my "issue" has been being afraid of overlong entries, because I'm afraid I'm being boring). But that said, I think I always have to watch that I'm not just "Playing to the crowd".
But whoever you are, and whatever reason you've tuned in to "Radio Free Jimlandia"...thanks. I like feeling that someone out there is listening.
I'm not sure I've written about this in Diaryland, but one of the things that continues to interest me about Kyle, and my feelings for her, is that she's physically so unlike what I typically find attractive; She's a pale, freckled redhead, stick-thin, and in no way what I tend to think I like (Though she does have a nice butt, for being a skinny girl like she is).
But she is so...sexy. There's something, on the purely sexual level, that's very appealing about her. She's far and away the person at the store I've been most attracted to in that way. I can't look at her without wanting to tear her clothes off and do unspeakably lewd things with her.
And why am I going on about this? Because it's interesting to me; Kyle turns me on, not so much because of her looks, but because of a certain something. I don't know what it is, or why it is, but for me, she just radiates "sex appeal".
And what "seals the deal" is that I like her. And I didn't initially; When she first started at the store, I thought she was going to be a real bitch--Ms "By The Rules"--but she lightened up over time, and as I got to know her, I just got a real kick out of her sense of humor and her energy.
But as I've thought about it, I do think there would be an "age thing" between us, and I don't mean "I'm old and ugly and she's not attracted to me", though of course, there is that; What I mean is that I've come to realize that while we seem to be compatible at the bookstore, I think in a personal situation, over time, she would start to strike me as...well, a kid.
And however childish I might act from time to time, I'm not a kid anymore...
Some things to be grateful for:
1. Without my arranging it this way, the Missing Breath shooting date is falling on my week off. That's really nice, because otherwise I'd be getting home around 2 am on Saturday night, only to have to get up at 6 am or so Sunday morning to get to the shoot, which is supposed to be from 7-11.
2. Angel, one of my "stories", recently moved from Sundays to Wednesdays (It was originally on Mondays at 9:00, which posed no problem to me, since Ally McBeal had already started to suck by then). On Sundays, where it was on opposite Alias, Cary was helping me out by taping it, but when it moved to Wednesdays, opposite West Wing, I didn't have anyone to tape West Wing for me (I'd already decided that if I had to choose, Angel was going to be the winner, but I wasn't happy about having to choose. They're good shows, and I wanted to watch both of them).
But again, without my arranging it, my schedule was recently changed; Now I have Wednesdays and Fridays off, so I watch Angel and tape West Wing (Which I watch immediately afterwards).
(I really like when things just "fall into place".)
3. They were training a new person up in the cafe yesterday, so I got a free caramel mocha out of the deal.
4. I got out of an evening register shift yesterday, because they already had two people scheduled on the register (Register's not terrible, usually, but given the choice, I'd rather be at the info counter).
I think a lot of my unhappiness, at least the unhappiness I feel towards other people, would go away if I just kept one thought in mind--It's nothing personal.
I thought that the other day when I walked into the kids section, and it was so trashed that it actually looked hostile to me, like someone had vandalized the place.
I had to pull back for a moment and say to myself "Jim, I really don't think the people who have been in the kids section tonite made this mess specifically to piss you off or hurt your feelings".
And I think that's almost always the case; You might wish people were more thoughtful or sensitive to the effects of their actions, but the intent isn't to cause you grief, so to take it personally really isn't helpful or appropriate.
Here's another quote I like:
And it feels good to finally dive into the water: Maybe you splash around and flail for awhile, but at least you're in. Then you start doing whatever stroke you remember how to do, and you get this scared feeling inside of you--of how hard it is and how far there is to go--but you're still in, and you're afloat, and you're moving.
On Sunday, there was a snafu about my schedule (In short, they'd left me off the schedule. I'd had a personal day on Sunday the week before, and they basically copied the same schedule for the following week. Ooops!).
I thought it had been taken care of--I wrote the appropriate notes, and even talked to Marie (The GM) when it seemed like nothing was happening--so I just came in and worked my shift.
In the latter part of my day, Kyle approached me asking why I wasn't on the schedule. I explained what the deal was, but I wasn't very happy with what I felt was her accusatory tone (Like I'd came in knowing I wasn't on the schedule and had now screwed things up), and when she said, "Well, I'm going to have to email Marie about this...", instead of just saying "Fine, I'm sure that'll clear things up"--because I'd done everything I was supposed to do on my end and then some--I followed her into the back, and got very angry about the situation.
I know--You're probably thinking "Oh, this was just his way of venting about the other thing..."--but I don't think that was really the case.
I think a pretty primal "panic button" had been pushed, because I was all about how "I want it made clear: I did everything I was supposed to do here, and if management fell down on the job, that's not my @$%!! fault".
I was madder than I should have been, madder than there was any real reason to be, madder than it was safe for me to be (Kyle is Kyle, but she's also a manager at the bookstore) and after the fact, I realized that it was that "fear of doing something wrong" rising up again.
It's the child hiding out in the middle aged man, the one that thinks "They sent me away because I was bad...".
If I act pleasant, if I behave, if I entertain people, maybe I'll get to stay.
And that "button" is so powerful that I started to flip out, even though I knew I was in the right.
I don't like my buttons. That's why I keep a tighter lid on some things than anyone understands.
But more on this and other semi-interesting subjects later (I haven't even gotten to Michael Jackson and Pete Townsend yet...)
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