Worry is the no-good brother of creativity. Worry gives you the strength and clarity of mind to construct elaborate fictions that have the ability to become real. If you are worried about something, examine it in the physical world. Forget your fictions and examine what is actually there. Reality is often less grandiose than worry would have you believe. You will have pulled out all your hair by the time you realize that the mountain you have to climb is only a molehill. Worry is a two-faced contractor. (My editor tells me that I am repeating myself and that the above sentence should read, ‘Worry is a contractor.’)
There once was a man who worried all the time. It didn’t stop him from dying.
There once was a man who didn’t worry about anything at all. He’s dead too.
Worry is unstoppable. The key is to direct it. How much worry are you wasting on things that don’t matter? You could be worrying about things that you actually care about, like whether or not Robert Pattinson enjoyed his birthday.
Did you know that on this day in 1986 Robert Pattinson and Lena Dunham were born?
I didn’t care either.
It is difficult for me to care about our culture of celebrity. I am tempted to write a rant about how this twisted culture perverts our ability to prioritize and distorts our collective self-image. I want to say that the insidious cult of celebrity has irreparably damaged art in all mediums and that anyone who spends even half a second caring about what celebrity is doing what with who is doing a disservice not only to themselves but to humanity as a whole. I want to say all these things but I won’t.
Celebrity is not a new thing. Gossip is not a concept foreign to even the most ancient of peoples. Some people care and some don’t. Simple as that.
Should it matter to anyone that it’s Robert Pattinson’s birthday? Maybe to his friends and family.
Should it bother me that someone other than those people care? No. Lighten up. It’s a party.
Paul should have been home hours ago. He said he was stopping for some drinks with friends after work. That was four hours ago. He hasn’t called. He hasn’t texted. I have.
“How’s it going?” I said.
There was no reply.
I waited an hour.
I could see him flying through a car window.
I texted him again.
I tried not to cry. Worry never gets writer’s block.
He’s kissing a blonde. He’s coming home to a secret family and his children are named Charlie and Susan. He’s being stabbed by a crazed mugger, or beaten by a violent psychopath. He’s been arrested for looking the wrong way. He’s still at work and doesn’t have the good sense to tell his boss to fuck off.
I wanted so bad to text him again. Last time he was furious with me for sending like forty texts because he was driving to my house and he refuses to text and drive at all which is one of the reasons I love the stubborn bastard.
Just one more.
“I’m starting to worry.”
I couldn’t stop the tears but I held back the sobs. I had some wine and took a bath. I tried to listen to music but it all grated. It was drawing attention from where my thoughts wanted to go: Paul.
He’s on a plane to Barbados. He’s leaving me. He’s drained his account and split town. He wasn’t who I thought he was. He’s been kidnapped by Somalian pirates.
I won’t allow it. He’s alive. He’ll be walking through that door at any moment, annoyed by some blunder made by the bartender. You’ll see.
I sat down to write this, to write it all out of my head. As soon as my fingers touched the keys, the door sprang open and in leapt Paul, slightly disheveled but as happy to see me as I was to see him.
I punched him in the arm.
“You can’t answer a text?”
“I’m sorry,” he whined. “My phone died. I didn’t think we’d be out this late, but Brandon kept buying drinks. Why? Did you text me?”
He plugged in his phone and stared at the screen for a moment and then looked up with amber pools of regret.
“I’m sorry, baby,” he pulled me into his arms. “The battery on this thing is shit.”
On the precipice of time
Looking into the shadows of the past
Half-remembered moments that have become as false as dreams
I stare over the edge
The future seems to rise up and I buckle with vertigo
A fractured understanding won’t tell you what it means
The rocks slide under foot
Flailing wildly to maintain balance and composure
In a moment my entire life flashes in front of my eyes
The sliding rocks mark my significance
Time draws me over the edge and into the unknown
In a moment the past is just half-remembered dreams and lies
I sit on my bed and look at the mess I have made. Pushed by the wind, the blinds rise and fall against the window with a constant disharmonious banging.The floor is covered: dirty wrinkled clothes, sheets and blankets claimed by the cat, the soil of a dead orchid smashed under a towel at the edge of a pile of dirty towels. A paper cup in the window sill has begun to decay as the last inch of liquid seeps through leaving a ring in its place. The mattress has been pissed on by the cat. I tried scrubbing it with bleach. There is still a mark. Mugs of molding tea and coffee everywhere. Books are piled on magazines piled on junk mail piled on books. Paper plates and important documents are stacked one on the other. You can never be sure of your footing. Things have to be moved and stepped over. You are never stepping on level ground. This makes it a hassle to get up and do things. It makes it easy to lie down in my dirty bed. When I look up, I can see the walls with my neatly hung posters. If I look just right, it looks like everything under eye level could be clean, neat and organized. With ambitious dreams in my head, sitting alone on my bed, “Tomorrow,” I say.
How does one make time?
What must one sacrifice?
I don’t have any time for that.
Ain’t nobody got time for that.
[Author’s note: I didn’t have any time to write a post this week.]
If you’ve read my blog before, you know that I have long struggled with cynicism, a debilitating condition that saps the color from life, creating a black hole that sucks the joy from everything around you and crushes it in the vacuum inside. Long-term effects include: hardened heart, chronic downerism, apathy, loss of friends, and irreversible loneliness. Knowing that there is no cure for cynicism, I have worked hard to manage my cynicism, through this blog and other mediums including a newfound interest in creating jewelry.
I worked hard. A lot of the time it felt like pretending. Most of the time it felt like pretending. Looking on the bright side is a conscious decision to ignore the dark side, and ignoring things doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It means they go unguarded and unchecked. They have time to grow. I was never quite able to convince myself that it’s a wonderful world full of gossamer wings and cigarette trees. But one must do what one can. If life is to be a show, a play on a stage where one must pretend to be happy to keep the peace then so it must be. Pretending not to suffer from cynicism is almost as good as being happy, except without all the easy satisfied sleep.
And so I have lived: a cynic with an optimist mask. Naturally, being a cynic beneath the mask meant that I would most likely live my life alone, having only a small group of sympathizers, that I will hopefully call friends, as allies. Love as it is depicted in popular culture, movies, TV, books, video games, or online media and even historically, seemed to me to be a myth, an ideal that could not exist in the real world, like an honest politician. Scenes where a handsome couple shares a passionate first kiss under the moonlight while crickets serenade them on a warm summer night always ignored the ashtray taste of his mouth or her overwhelming need to fart.
The cynic never feels like an outsider. The cynic is convinced that everyone else is being insincere, pretending to know what they’re talking about, pretending to fall in love, pretending to be normal, pretending to like kombucha. The cynic is the only one who will tell the truth even if it means creating awkwardness. That smugness is chicken soup for the cynical soul. It makes the loneliness palatable.
I went to party at Matt‘s house. It was just another party full of the awkward one upmanship and stratification that accompanies social interaction: bad jokes, bad ideas and bad decisions. I ended up in a corner, sipping grappa and watching the uneasiness of life unfold. It was quite some time before I noticed that there was someone sitting at the other end of the couch. It was a not unattractive man.¹
“You live around here?” he said when he noticed me studying him.
“I live upstairs,” he volunteered. “Matt and I came to an arrangement that he can have as many parties as he wants as long as I get to come to them.”
“Do you party a lot?”
“No more than the national average for my age and gender.”
“Probably a lot less, I would guess.” I turned to my grappa and watched the room move with people.
“Salomé.” We shook hands.
“I guess you’re parents weren’t huge fans of John the Baptist.”
I couldn’t help but smile. We fell into an easy banter and a half hour had passed before I knew it. Paul was pulled away by another partygoer. I kept him in the corner of my eye for the rest of the night. When Tiffany, who was my ride, was ready to go, he stopped me as I started toward the exit.
“Could I call you sometime?”
I gave him my number. It was weird. I had an immense feeling of elation. He was cute and funny and knowledgable. For a week my phone was glued to my palm. I checked for missed calls and texts more times than I will admit. I was beginning to get angry that this bum had awakened this strange unfathomable hope inside me, just to pull it away and crow, “Psych!” I was sullenly watching TV when the text alert sounded on my phone. It was Paul. Did I want to go for pizza on Sunday? Hope cried out excitedly inside me.
It was an eternity before Sunday came. We met for hipster pizza followed by rude hipster ice cream cones consumed on a walk through the park. The food was delicious. The moon was full. The summer night was warm. The crickets were playing their symphony. The conversation was charged with chemistry. He interrogated me like it was a job interview. I parried with feminine deftness, turning the questions on the questioner. We sat on the bench in the park. He slipped his arm around me with casual masculinity. There were long pauses where we stared into each other’s eyes, each of us trying to figure out what was happening. He walked me to my car. The city seemed to blur around us as we kissed for the first time. The moon was a smiling spotlight on our love. I drove home in a happy daze. The cynic could not be heard above my joyful trains of thought. There was a text waiting for me when I got home. We arranged a second date. By the end of the month, we were spending every waking moment together, desperately, hopelessly, and unbelievably in love.
That was over seven months ago. While I agree that it might be too early to say whether the relationship will last forever or not, I feel confident that it will. The cynic inside me has been largely silenced. My cynic’s main claim to authority was her infallibility. But she was wrong about love, so completely wrong that it makes me question all her other claims. Maybe the world isn’t a horrible place with no hope of redemption. Maybe you can still meet the dark side but you can live in the light. Maybe there is a cure for cynicism.
¹ A cynic’s description.