Wow...ok I'm back.
I guess I never left much warning about where I went. I just spent the past 6 days in Phoenix with my family, I think.
How was it? Ask me in three weeks and I still couldn't tell you. I'll do my best here, but I will warn you, this involves a lot of rambling, complaining, and meandering.
Prior to my trip I was pasty, thin, worn out and ready to jump from this stupid barge in New York. I was in a deep rut with a lot on my mind. Those of you who know me know exactly what was on my mind. I was laid low, and only emerged for some classic gladhanding and light partying. I didn't have the stones to pull off much else, I guess.
My self confidence was straight in the shitter. I found myself questioning my every action, racked with regret and self-loathing in most every situation.
I would say I was in need of a vacation. Phoenix was going to be it man. I was going to get away from all of my problems, get some sun, drink some beers, and hang out with my family. I can't say I was too "pie in the sky" about my trip, but maybe I set myself up for disappointment. Mainly in the "get away from all of my problems" part of that list.
Matthew Dear - Deserter
This song helps explain....
When you are on vacation, they say you "don't have a care in the world"...I now wonder if "the world" includes the goings on inside your own mind. I didn't have a care in the world outside of my head, but inside, damn. I had no aggressors, yet I was under attack...my ex-girlfriend wasn't browbeating me into shame, remorse and sadness, my job wasn't stressing me out, my family wasn't doing anything but smiling, and the sun wasn't doing anything but shining. Yet, floating for hours in the pool, behind the darkest sunglasses ever, I was confronting horrors. And I had all the time in the world to do so.
A lot of meditation types say that in order to rid yourself of negative emotions you must enter them completely, feel them to their fullest extent, and then realize that they are just emotions passing through you, that they don't define you. This might be true, or it might just be an ample justification for the madness I was putting myself through that entire trip. That thing I wrote about being able to put yourself in a euphoric state with nothing but the power of your own mind goes both ways. With nothing but your own thoughts, you can take yourself to hell and back no matter how blue the sky is.
I had no distractions. Maybe that was the problem an all fronts. Distractions, distractions...damn. I ditched my blackberry, mostly ignored my phone, and did as much as I could to cut myself off from this blog, my job, and most of my friends. On one hand, distractions have brought me nothing but trouble...New York City infects a lack of focus into everyone who sets foot into it. There is simply too much to do here, and to give in to all of it becomes terminal. My relationship, now ended, may have died due to this affliction. Or maybe, again, I was justifying.
Regardless, without distractions I was able to sort through most of the terrible things I have done in the past year. You ever have one of those moments right before you fall asleep where you cycle through the events of your day until you get to the particularly embarrassing or stupid ones? Maybe after a night of drinking? Like, "aw man, yeah I probably shouldn't have told that girl she smelled like a stripper"? Or something like that...well it was like that, times about a million.
Why was I focused on these things? Why wasn't I stopping to smell the roses? The answer is simple. I was depressed. Thoroughly. What caused the depression? Breakup. Pure and simple, this was heartbreak, coupled with aftershocks of self doubt, loathing, and wounded pride.
So everything I did in Phoenix was colored with the same low grade depression as my little nature walks inside my own head. I saw Ogre, and that was amazing. He and his girl are f-ing perfect for each other, whether or not they know it, and my favorite part of the trip was my first night and subsequent morning with them. We caught up in the sun, drank beer out of can koozies with humorous phrases on them, laughed and ate brats, only to fall asleep early and get up even earlier.
The morning after, they went to work, while my brother and I drank coffee and hung out with their puppy. I also got the chance to FINALLY see the Playboy with '6' from Battlestar in it (Thanks Ogre, I will dedicate the first one to you). Yes I know I'm a dork, but you need to stop sleeping on that show. The new season starts this Friday and its going to be a burner (burner? really?).
Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh yes, suddenly I was on vacation and no distraction was enough to blind me from the glaring weight in my chest. What's the deal with that? After that first day, when not even a naked Cylon could beat down my depression, I knew I was in for a weird trip.
My family showed up that morning, and while it was great to see them, it was funny how quickly the old family stresses rear their ugly head. It didn't take long for my Mom and Sister to give my Dad shit, for me to start getting aggravated at my Dad just at their suggestion and then deciding I was wrong, for my brother and I to start beating up my sister, for my brother to start beating me up...it was classic and we fell into our roles instantly. We were the family in the rental car, taking a family trip, gritting our teeth and calling it "bonding".
It was great because it was easy, and easy wasn't distracting enough. Easy is great when it comes to family, but it wasn't enough to keep the self-loathing at bay...
So I spent more time face to face with my demons, the more time I spent I realized I needed to escape. I was the only one causing this hell, no one else was doing it to me. My brother always says I have an "overgrown conscience" and that I beat myself up too much for when things go wrong. He's right, I was whooping my own ass up one wall down the other. I needed to get out of this fight, call it off, throw in the towel and start finding my teeth in the crowd.
But I couldn't. I was in some kind of slow-diving auto pilot. Like Marvin from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, the little robot who was programmed to be depressed all of the time. I couldn't help it...
Was this kind of thing necessary? Does a person need to go through this kind of shit to make some kind of realization about themselves? I guess so, because my depression stayed with me.
I carried it into the club in Phoenix. Phoenix is like a miniature LA. All of the girls are unbelievably attractive in that "airbrushed centerfold" way, and all of the guys are all douchebags of the highest order with stupid haircuts, "product", and shiny t-shirts with skulls on them. Me, my brother, Ogre, his girl, and two of her friends all went to a place where the girls dance to songs from 4 years ago on the bar. The only highlights of the night were a regrettable incident in the bathroom (who flushes an air freshener?) and my inadvertently hitting on a bride-to-be (what's the sash for? oh you're getting married? awesome!). Yup, that was it. Its not to say that we didn't have a good time, but for whatever reason (the diluted rambling above maybe?) the whole scene seemed alien to me. These people were all so crazy looking and uniform and false that I found myself longing for a smelly dive bar where everyone hates themselves more than the other patrons.
Misery loves company, right? No one here was miserable.
If you are still reading to this point, damn. Thanks I guess...this kind of rambling is pretty damn obnoxious I know, but hey sometimes it needs to happen. This, like everything else is another distraction...the only difference between this and any other distraction is that it comes with a bit of catharsis. I'm trying to be as honest as possible here, it makes me feel better.
On our last day I was floating in the pool on my daily stroll through the "bad part of town" behind my eyes, and I started thinking about the name of this town...'Phoenix'. Was that the idea? Were you supposed to come to Phoenix, burn up in the desert, and fly home a new person, a new being? Or maybe just all the sunburn, molting and skin-losing gave way to a new person underneath, but only in the physical sense?. Did I peel anything off me? Was I burning up to become something else? Either way I was going to call it a transformation, to give some meaning to the garbage I was feeling. I was going to label it profound and force myself to learn lessons.
Or it least I was going to write about it here...
I'm back now, I'm all tan, and I feel alright. I'm going to quit bitching and start getting my shit together. I have some great friends out here, and I will spend time with them. As far as work, my situation right now affords me a lot of opportunities so I am going to knuckle up and grab some of those opportunities, maybe change my venue a little. I can also write a little bit, so I am going to get some more gigs doing that. Why not? Its just me now. And girls? Sheesh...I mean, I can get a girl, but I don't think having one is going to help me right now. I've got some personal maintenance to do.
My trip to Phoenix was not bad, by any means. It was necessary. I know that now, that when you are feeling something, it is a natural consequence of something you saw or did. The trick is to follow the strings back on the negative feelings, to find the source of them. From there you can start yanking, cutting, and re-tying as you please.
I'm glad I horrified myself in the sun. I'm glad it left me back here all distracted and scared again. That trip to Phoenix was the hardest lesson I ever had to learn...
Maybe more later, but I will spare you for now as I am not far enough away to make some profound conclusion out of all of this.. Again, thanks for reading. I will be back to the usual fare soon.