The Ravages of Forward Temporal Movement

The Ravages of Forward Temporal Movement

Total cliche – after being a twenty-something for a full decade, the millennial panics at the prospect of turning thirty, entering adulthood unequivocally. This is me today. Happy Birthday.

Okay, I’m being a bit dramatic.

Maybe it’s different for other people, maybe it’s the same. I still sometimes see myself as a nineteen-year-old kid discovering myself, my identity, full of angst and rebellion – as a boy of  ten, unsure and beset by the hormonal injections of puberty, learning firsthand the cruelty of my peers and the indifference of the world. Sometimes I am four, full of newness and blissful ignorance, activated by a too-familiar scent, a well-worn image, a sensation burned into my spine.

But now I am thirty, and it does not seem to fit. Four years ago I was living in my mother’s house still, in Chicago, in the city – fours years later finds me in Indiana, smack dab between my hometown and Indianapolis, for all intents and purposes – the country.

Not that I’m knocking it. Though the culture shock at first was jarring, I’ve since grown quite comfortable in my rustic surroundings. Sure, I still live in town, far from the flat-land-wilds of the corn-and-bean-laden countryside. All the same, a far-cry from the roar of the urban jungle, the constant rumble of electrified trains and hybrid public buses. But, I’m losing focus…where was I, oh yeah, thirty.

It’s just weird. I recall an article I read once claiming that domesticated house cats never truly grow up, that they will forever retain their kitten persona under the care of their human-parents. It makes sense, what purpose is there to growing up, to becoming savage, if one’s life necessities – food, water, shelter – are provided free of violence and struggle. I feel that it’s much the same with modern, privileged (first world) humans. We never truly grow up, we never truly become the savage, resourceful survivalists, much less killers, that human beings were meant to be, that we had to be in order to survive in the wild. Thus we remain children masquerading as what we believe adulthood to be – a patchwork collection of behavior learned from observation of our parents and straight copycatting of popular culture…all the more accessible in this digital, streaming, shareable age we live in.

So no, I don’t feel thirty, nor do I know what thirty should feel like. And, just as I felt as a nineteen-year-old throughout most, if not all, of my twenties, I believe that I will spend most of all of my thirties trapped, frozen in time, at this moment as a reluctant twenty-nine-year-old, unready to advance yet thrust into it, trying my best to  conform to a stage of life that I know nothing about, a stage of life that I doubt has any meaning beyond what an individual makes of it.

 

 

 

 

Writing at the Speed of Sloth

Writing at the Speed of Sloth

I’ll admit I’ve been struck more than once by the awful sting of jealousy upon seeing another author post their daily/monthly word count onto social media. So casually do they drop numbers in the thousands, tens of thousands, appearing as literal fountains of raw literature. It is enough to cause one to harbor intense feelings of inadequacy…at least if one is an underachieving, unmotivated (read: lazy) writer.

To be blunt, I am a bit slow. Slow learner, slow reader, slow walker, slow video game completionist, and above all, a slow writer. While most all of the preceding is forgivable, there really is no excuse for being slow at what is supposedly one of my passions in life. What’s worse, speed isn’t even the main concern. I’d be perfectly fine with a slow and steady trickle of words if indeed steady was actually in the equation. In truth, the trickle is really a dried up river bed, only occasionally moistened by sporadic rain showers that provide only enough liquid for a sputtering, let alone babbling, brook – briefly at that.

So the title of this post is misleading, (it was the best I could come up with, being so lazy a writer), and in reality should read something more like: Not Writing Very Much at All But When I Do I Find Myself Crippled By Self-Critique and Overthinking so Hardly Anything Actually Gets Written Down. But that’s not very catchy or clickbait-y for that matter. Getting back to jealousy though, it really does burn me up to see other writers merrily quip about enormous and exhausting amounts of spilt ink (or bits or whatever). And it’s not at all a feeling of hatred for them so much as it is a feeling of loathing for myself. Like, what is their secret, what are they doing that I’m not?

But I know the answer, I’ve known it for a long time.

“Don’t try to polish the turd before it has been fully shat out.” Not a direct quote and I have no idea who said that but it certainly rings true for me. My problem is that I do indeed try to polish every centimeter of that steaming log as its in media res, to put it poetically. To the point where, and I’m sorry to continue with this metaphor but it works, I end up holding more in than I let out, leading to what can only be described as a sort of creative constipation. It’s almost as if I’m afraid of my own excrement, or rather, afraid of what others will think of it, even though everybody does it.

Because everyone does write shit. Everybody. Writing is such an unnatural form of communication, such an unwieldy art form, that no one can expect to get it right in one go for anything more complex than casual conversation. Writing an article, penning an academic essay, crafting a work of fiction – these all take serious considerations that go beyond spelling, grammar, and sentence structure. The writer must take into account the perspective of the potential reader, readability of language used, relevancy to the topic or the overall theme, use of believable dialect and authentic scene setting…

See, there I go. This is the process that runs behind every word written during my first draft. Never mind basic plot points, characterization, or, you know, finishing anything – I’m too worried about whether or not these three words really work together in this line of prose.

I need an intervention.

 

 

Uncaptured

Uncaptured

There was a time when the greatest
joy came about from the stepping of soled-shoe onto
fresh uncharted territory, water squishing out of moist earth.

 

When so unburdened riding at speed down slick-grassed decline
forging paths through untreaded parts as an
afterthought, not a conscious effort to collect experiences as trophy kills.

 

I can recall the view of previously unknown to me
lake causing unexpected convulsions of something resembling great
remorse for fear that I could not grasp onto this moment for all remaining time.

 

Not in soul-steal attempt of light capture, but an actual holdable
tangible envelopment, the ability to, at whim, walk against the rushing cool
wind off the water, watch the ripples of bubble-expelling amphibians.

 

Now I fill the day-to-day with consumption and acquisition of
things and material wealth, feeding into the same revolving cycle of brick and metal
structures that pass on a continually looping playback of innocuous events.

 

Only to relish in the most minor of
deviance, to savor the minuscule hints  of a less encumbered existence.

 

 

 

 

Reemergence

Reemergence

From out a deep and unrestful slumber, the disoriented creature stumbled into the brilliance of a new day, a cold wind pressing at its back, the heat of the fully risen sun warming skin and sinews. 

For the past three years, I have lived as an adult. That is, without leaning financially on my parents or anyone else, working a full-time job, and inhabiting a domicile run independently by myself and my wife (though owned by someone else). And for three years, I have placed my writing career on hold.

Not intentionally, of course. I always maintained to myself that I could casually pick at my work, my other job, on time off. In this bizarre fantasy world, the momentous stress that comes with adult life in this wonderful capitalistic American wasteland of ours did not, indeed, weigh heavily upon my soul, body, and mind to the point that each day free of wage-mining made one want nothing more than to sink and melt before the comforting divine glow of Netflix and Playstation.

Alas, a fantasy it is.

We have survived near homelessness, several financial crises, one terrible landlord, two terrible roommates, and a move. We also got married, went back to school, got promoted, and rescued a tiny ferocious dog along the way.

And so, as it is with most things, given time and experience and plenty of (un)avoidable meltdowns, we have grown slightly wiser and ever-so-slightly better equipped to deal with the day-to-day horrors associated with “adulting”. So here we are, here I am, writing my first blog post in over a year and a half – my last Blogger post is dated July 2014, the post just before that details my efforts to get serious once again about my fiction/blogging…

I am writing. Not as much as I’d like and not nearly as regularly as I should, but it’s more than I’ve done in a while. So for those who remember and care and even for those that don’t, I am back.

-Diego