“It’s basically a double homicide,” I told Doc as we left the theater, “with four hitchhikers.” I was talking about The Wizard of Oz, in case you hadn’t guessed already. Now, it may be because I have yet to attain the level of culture needed to appreciate the narrative’s deeper, more succulent subtext, but I had to retreat to my happy place repeatedly during the performance. We’re talking about, like, mentally drafting quarterly self-assessments for work while the Munchkin Mayor went fucking crazy on stage.
But you didn’t come here for amateur Broadway critiques, and if you did, then something went horribly wrong with your Googles. I suppose when a website shambles back from the dead, with no assurances that it will sustain its newfound life for any appreciable amount of time, griping about Oz is as good a way to start as any other.
Prior to the griping, of course, was a brief moment of exultation when I typed the correct username into WordPress. Then, there was that old, familiar mix of thrill and despair upon seeing the blank page. Now that page is filled, and here we are.
I am here because I must write. For whom is clearly a moot point, because I have a fairly accurate guess of how many visitors still frequent this site, after more than a year of silence. I am here because of the toll this silence exacts: average proofreading speed, shrinking word choice, the same goddamned boring sentence structures, and above all, a keen sense of all of this deterioration happening. Well, I need to reverse course, so welcome! Welcome back to the house of cobweb and words.
I bought jackets tonight. Odd phrasing, to be sure, but when you’re opposed to the very idea of jackets, how the tyranny of thread oppresses mobility, then procuring even a single coat is a seismic shift. So, I bought two. You’d think this change of heart was driven by the frigid weather yesterday, when I slid across the parking lot on foot to Firehouse Subs for lunch, in a sequence of words no man should ever suffer to form.
I’ve stubbornly braved the elements before without outerwear, though, so why change now? I think there’s something special about the cold in Dallas. Practically speaking, the entire city grinds to a halt, with empty schools and sepulchral storefronts, and it’s no wonder people sequester themselves. With the exception of freeways, everything–everything, from streets to sidewalks to parking lots–is free of salt. It’s like a healthy snack nut’s dream, really, with 100% less sodium–and 200% more peril in every step, and it isn’t until much later in the day when sunlight and some begrudging handfuls of salt make safe the paths of man.
But the brief spell of cold also brings with it a kind of reboot, and that’s how my jacket binge materialized, frankly. I have this space in my mind that’s a huge, white expanse, not unlike the loading program in The Matrix. Here, in this space, I write turns of phrase, agonize over the angles for a given situation, and project conversations to different ends. Here, I pictured myself in a specific coat yesterday, and then set about finding this coat today, perusing different online stores until I found JPGs that matched what I saw in my mind.
Out of the ice, too, came a harebrained idea from the Professor to write and then attempt to sell a screenplay, if only for the experience itself. I’ll be content if we even make it to the selling part, but we shall see. I’ve also started reading in earnest again, something that hasn’t happened in the better half of a decade, and it’s wholly because of her. Don’t want to jinx it, but what does it mean if you’re the only two fools in the botanical gardens on a cold Sunday afternoon, single ratty umbrella poised defiantly at the freezing rain, and you’re still happy? It means you just have to try that much harder to not have expectations.
During a set break one evening, as we convened at a courtside bench to take some water, I explained to King Calm why Pacific Rim was more memorable than it had any right to be. It wasn’t the script, nor the ho-hum characters, that outlasted the credits. It was this idea of piloting an unwieldy husk into harrowing places. I frankly think of my body in kindred terms, especially when I steer this craft of meat into awkward situations.
These aren’t necessarily bad-awkward situations, either. More often than not, they’re the kind of awkward that leads to self-improvement, and I’ve realized online dating affords far more than a marketplace of flesh. Indeed, its crucible creates unique circumstances you couldn’t possibly manufacture on your own. My goal, at this juncture, is to dive headfirst into such circumstances–at a frequency that will allow for noticeable improvement.
If I were to trace the trajectory of how I like to approach situations, I’d peg my mid-20s as being oddly enamored with skill acquisition, where experiences were simply delivery mechanisms for learning stuff: firing guns, cooking spaghetti at scale, golfing, Krav Maga (to protect myself from the dangers of suburban living), quitting Krav Maga, etc. The people, the experiences themselves–inconsequential. Then, I realized this framework was, at best, turning me into an idiot savant. Or, more to the point, a Renaissance idiot savant.
In a kind of penance, I swung to the opposite end of the spectrum in my late-20s, savoring each experience and seeking sociability. But this, too, wouldn’t last. I’m introverted, and I’ve made my peace with this. Today, I sit somewhere between these two limits. I appreciate experiences for what they are, but I also take stock of the skills I’m honing. On the Good Ship Dating, this translates into how to read body language. How to work a room. How to talk about yourself. How to react to advice given, even when it’s unbidden. How to recover. Just the other day, I had a conversation wend, improbably, to power drilling, and it took every ounce of willpower to avoid a horrifically inappropriate joke. How to exert some self-restraint–if you’re keeping score.