Catch the Pearl and Ride the Dragon's Wings: This Bullshit Job Sucks Shit, Part MMMCMX!
I've been staring at my belly button the last two hours, so you might want to skip this one, folks. This isn't a parody or satire, this is simply me living down to every horrible, embarrassing stereotype of the "blogger". Please permit this one indulgence.
I've spent over half my life making myself miserable over the fact that I can never be as young as I once was. It started when I was thirteen. When I should have been growing into adulthood, starting to figure out what sort of person I wanted to be, discovering how to relate to the world around me, I instead shut myself up and bemoaned the fact that I wasn't still six years old. Nothing in the world was scarier than becoming a teenager, because I realized that once that started there was no end. The future was nothing but encroaching responsibility and the subsequent annihilation of all fun. By the time I was sixteen or seventeen I was enjoying myself enough to mostly forget about all this, and college was pretty much a straight-up return to childhood, so my fear and sadness disappeared for a few years. Lately it's been catching up with me again.
I read Persepolis
last week. It's excellent. I almost started crying at the end, right there on the train, and not because of the horrors of war or the repression of the Islamic revolution, or anything like that. No, I almost cried because that cute little girl had to grow up. Which reminded me of the fact that I'm basically grown up, which made me all sad-faced and dejected. Serious geopolitical catastrophe effected me less than a kid going off to boarding school. It's not as odd as it sounds, as that moment is obviously the big emotional climax at the end of the book, but still, perspective forces us to realize the former is far more tragic than the latter. Yet those genuine tragedies don't resonate nearly as well, and I guess it's because I've never personally had to deal with anything remotely like that.
And then, just now, I was listening to Asia
's brilliantly-worded "Heat of the Moment", a true classic of my generation's childhood. It's as perfect an encapsulation of personal failure and dissatisfaction as the Replacements
' "Unsatisfied". The last line, before the chorus-to-fade-out, is "teenage ambitions you remember well". I was ambitious as a teenager. I still am, to a degree, but my laziness and lack of focus both overtook my ambition over a decade ago. I've always been kind of lazy, at least since the 7th or 8th grade. It was tactical laziness, though, and only impacted stuff I wasn't interested in. I did really well in the school subjects I liked, in part because both came easily to me, but also because I cared about them enough to do the necessary work. Science, math, any other subject? I didn't give a shit, and did just enough to get by. This carried over into my non-school life. Sometime in the 8th grade, while watching Get a Life
and old Letterman reruns on A&E, I decided I wanted to be a television comedy writer. That was my teenage ambition, and I worked on that to the extent that I knew how. I got in the video productions class at high school, I wrote a few sketch-style shorts, I'd kill time with friends in various classes coming up with bad ideas that seemed funny at the time. It wasn't work, at all, but I was devoting some time, thought, and energy to it. Still, though, the laziness would creep in; I didn't really do much of anything in three-and-a-half years of video productions except for the two or three things I was genuinely interested in. I pursued that ambition, though, and eventually I went to college to study writing for film and television. I didn't want to write a play, or even a screenplay; I just wanted to write some comedy sketches, or maybe a sitcom script. My disinterest in other forms of writing brought forth my laziness, and so I basically tanked almost every assignment. I didn't get bad grades, I just wouldn't do the work until the last possible moment, and then not really put much thought or effort into it. It was math and science all over again, but this time it was completely inexcusable. After that one year I left, and I've partially regretted that ever since. My overall experiences at UGA were amazing enough to strongly dampen that regret, but occasionally it still pops up. And although I made a few stabs at that old ambition in Athens, and later in Atlanta, it's mostly been dormant for a decade now, obscured by other interests that never last long nor grasp me tightly enough to fully replace it. Fuckin' ASIA brought this all up in my head earlier today, but twice over. Not only did the lyrics make me think about my teenage goals, the memory of being a kid and hearing this song in my mom's old mini-van and seeing the video while my brothers watched Mtv brought up a small amount of the same sadness awakened last week by Persepolis. Nostalgia cripples me time and again.