Sundance 2017

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I’m at Sundance again this year. The annual tradition that is as close to a college reunion as I’ve ever had in my life. I could write pages on the effect that the gathering has on my psyche: the calming, medicative jealousy of a life not lived.

The problem is that the movies I’ve chosen this time have brought me a costly type of introspection. Whether fictional or biopic, I’ve found myself resonating with the most depressing characters. So many drunk reclusive writers! It’s like a genre unto itself. Seeing everyone’s mental turmoil makes mine seem much more manageable, maybe even normal. But does everyone have to be so defective? So unable to deal with the world as it is?

In reality, I have very little in common with J.D. Salinger. I’m no Holden Caulfield. Our frustrations with the world come from dramatically different places. But the slow degradation is real, everyone cracks-up in their our own ways. The commonality being that the world, regardless of the age, becomes harder and harder to reconcile. And then there’s the longer-term fear that the wish of being alone, that you said you wanted for so long, will actually come true.

The trick seems to be to not let the world become alien. When you get past the tech, things don’t really change. You change. And so I look on the bright side: I have a pen full of ink, a notebook with clean paper, and I’ve learned what will make me feel “ok”.

New Old Memories

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I’ve started digging out my old ALA posts from years ago. I had started to republish them earlier, and then became distracted in completing line edits for a novel. The years through 2010 should be easy, they were already on the old site.

What surprised me in reading this small stretch of time between leaving Prague and getting settled in Chicago (approx June 2008 through August 2008) is how restrained the posts are. I was clearly going through a quarter life crisis and frantically grabbing at anything that could keep me afloat, and yet in the writing I come off as (somewhat) under control. Specifically, the part about the cruise through the Baltic is almost coy. Yes, I did threaten to give someone who worked on the ship rabies, but that was a fragment of those weeks.

It was a rich geriatric cruise and I did my best to relieve the boredom by terrorizing the ship: falling asleep wasted in various beautiful rooms filled with expensive books and artifacts, saying insane scripted shit for a reality tv show the Travel Channel was filming while the director screamed “The camera loves you!”, disappearing with people into secluded bathrooms, and finally on the last night bribing Polish workers for champagne at 4 am in the morning and drinking on the deck with the only young girl that didn’t hate me by that point. These are the actions of someone on the verge. It was a dire to establish some sort of adult life after Prague, and having no idea how to go about it. That feeling continued for a year.

If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home By Now


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I think only time, and begrudging acceptance (and hopefully eventual appreciation) will be the way that I can accept my relationship with memory. Even now, the anxiety I felt over my lack of control of my own memory has started to subside. It’s obvious to me now that you can’t call on it when you need it. It will return to me of a volition that is out of my control, and the context that it returns under will be fragmented, at best: scattered memories, without a before or after, just moments existing outside of time.

In some ways that’s beautiful. It is still maddeningly frustrating. But I’m beginning to understand why it has to be this way. Forgetfulness was a cost and a gift that needed to be accepted. You can’t live the way I’ve lived, running so hard from your past that you think your lungs are going to collapse, and still expect to remember things. Not looking back was one of the most necessary decisions I never actually made. I knew appreciation for forgetfulness, before I knew nostalgia, what’s to say that appreciation isn’t a cycle?