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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Pushing the Limits

"How would you describe your writing?" he asked me.

I stared at him, dumbfounded, for what seemed like an inordinate amount of time, too. Which is never good. Americans detest silence, especially when it is shared between two men. We feel the same way about ejaculate-covered cookies. Fortunately, there weren't any of those sitting in between me and my therapist.

That would be, um, unorthodox?

"I... I have no idea. I've never really thought about it before," I said, "probably because nobody's ever asked."

And, of course, they haven't. Tom Stoppard gets asked that question, and that makes sense. I don't, because that wouldn't make sense. There are two types of people in this world: people who get interviewed, and people who don't. Of course, therapy can sometimes feel like an interview, and Tuesday, for me, was one of those times. I felt ridiculous being asked what I thought about my writing, because it's not something I ever think about, because I've never thought it was anything I ought to be thinking about. Because, really, there is no time to think about it and, if there were time to think about it, I would resist the temptation, because, in my judging mind, thinking about one's own writing is like masturbating on yourself while you're masturbating to a video of yourself masturbating.

My judging little mind.

But I tried to think about my therapist's question, because I like the guy and, if he's asking me a question, there's probably a reason he's asking it. I came to the conclusion that I really don't feel any certain way about my writing, other than that most of it is largely inconsequential and silly. As far as having attachments to it, I don't. As far as having feelings about it, I don't-- at least, none that are really, exclusively my own. I've mostly just adopted the feelings of whoever has commented or complimented or... not. If they say they love something I've written, I re-read it with great affection. If I get bashed, I hate whatever it is I've written, even if I liked it before. If it's ignored, I ignore it.

And so on.

"I suppose," I said, reaching, "that most of the writing on my blog is... funny, in a mean, cutting sort of way-- at least, the funny posts are. Not all of them are funny. But the funny posts are very self-conscious-- they are manufactured and engineered to be 'funny,' and they are stylized-- they're not me. That's not my voice. It's... I suppose it's a character I've created. A mean, profane, slightly wild, insecure, mouthy character."

He looked at me, slumped casually in his chair, and he furrowed his brow. He's going to be a good looking elderly man, when his time comes.

"Is there any of you in what you write?"

"Yes," I said, "the serious posts. The sensitive ones-- the introspective ones. The ones that are sincere and plain."

"So, do you think then that 'funny' is a sort of persona you have developed-- that you bring out when you need it-- like in a social situation, or when you have an audience, or when you're at your parents' dining room table and you're expected to bring down the house with a sarcastic or witty comment, or an impersonation of someone your family knows? Is that... you?"

I stared at him. Whoa. There's that silence again-- sitting there in between us, like a jit-frosted cookie. He went further.

"Do you think maybe people don't know who you really are? Or that maybe you don't know either?"

I was seized with the urge to slap the guy which, of course, was the unmistakable indicator that he was right. He totally jatted all over that therapeutic cookie.

And, there I go again.

The thing is, I've always been a performer-- whether I've been on-stage or not. Making merry, before I knew what merry was. Doing voices, saying things to get a reaction or a rise, being controversial, pushing the limits. And maybe I was always a little afraid of who I would be if that part of my personality wasn't there-- that desire to make people laugh, that little edge. Maybe I was afraid that it wouldn't be enough.

Enough for whom? Right. I don't know.

I don't know if my parents don't know who I am, and I don't know if I don't know either. What I do know is that I feel silly when I start to think about my writing, so I don't think I'm going to do very much of that anymore.

Maybe I'll just leave that to you, if you want to.

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