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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Rock bottom gratitude

My friend Courtney sends out emails with these gratitude lists of hers. Every time, I think, "that's so powerful, I should do that," and then I don't. That's pretty much my attitude toward...everything, lately. So many ideas, some of them halfway decent, and no follow through. That's been the story of my life for far too long, letting life pass me by, going through the motions, doing busy work and caring way more about other people's careers than my own. And by not stopping and being grateful, I forget that amidst the stresses and drama and confusion, there is so much to be grateful for.

And sometimes that bypassing of, well, everything, catches up to you. Sometimes you get what you deserve, and today was one of those days. I don't think you need to be an alcoholic to reach rock bottom, and it's certainly not the first or, dare I say, the last time I will hit rock bottom. Having to leave law school with all those blurs of missed classes and emptiness in my brain in place of knowledge, filing bankruptcy, getting fired from my Voice column, dropping out of this or that project because I was just too big of a slacker to even make an attempt. I've been there, I get it, and, I won't lie, part of me finds comfort in it. I can embrace failure because at least I know there is nowhere farther to fall. It's fuzzy and familiar like my favorite cozy blanket that even in the heat of summer and a faltering air conditioner I often wrap myself in.

But one thing I'm pretty good at, next to reaching for that lowest common denominator, is getting myself out of it. I don't stay there; it's never the final destination. It's more like an old friend, one I think I want to hang out with, think will be so much fun, and then find, well, they're kindof boring. They're like this super sexy devil on your shoulder who looks like, I don't know, Justine Joli, but when you get them alone, they're like Tila Tequila. This supposedly "easy" life is actually a wasteland of nothingness, populated by others with their permanently deferred dreams. They're so blase and numb and checked out that were success to fall from the sky, they'd complain about the noise. I can be that girl too, so don't think I'm being so dismissive because I'm above it all. In Jonathan Ames's forthcoming graphic novel The Alcoholic, he writes, "I knew that there was an urge in me for total oblivion and total destruction." I thought that was so brilliant, because while it may seem counterintuitive, those of us who get it, know that there is a beauty in that world, and you don't need alcohol to get there, certainly. Some of us can self-destruct with our bare hands. It's a natural skill and comes far too easy. It's the default mode, the instinct, the safety when you wonder if things might be going "too well." You don't have to try. You don't have to worry about bad reviews or people talking shit about you because nobody knows who the fuck you are.

I totter between the promise and grandeur of Echobelly's song "Great Things" and, well, the lure of that rock bottom place, or just above it. The reality of daily life is that it's much more mundane. There are little moments that boost me, the whole hour long phone call with one of the most brilliant writers in the world, chatting away to me like we're BFF.



I can't be any more specific about things right now. No one died. No one was hurt. In the end, anything bad that happened was self-induced. And I guess if I can dig myself into a ridiculously huge hole, I can dig myself out, right? That was rhetorical, because I've learned that other people's opinions are, well, pretty meaningless. Sorry, I don't say that to be rude, and some of you, I love you dearly. You know who you are. It's more that I have to learn to trust my opinions, my intuition, my instincts. I am so blessedly good at psyching myself out before I even get started, and the bottom line is, I should shut up and go back to being a secretary, which I'm actually good at, if I can't handle rejection on occasion. And you know what? I'm not ruling anything out. Maybe I'm in the wrong business, maybe I'm not, but I'll find out.

So back to the gratitude...because I truly am grateful. I forget sometimes, or rather, I try to ignore all the people who believe in me so strongly. They scare me because I often doubt I can live up to their beliefs, and it's so often easier to not even try, than try and fail. But I love them for believing in me. Everywhere I look there's really awful things going on--death, breakups, sadness. This is not like that, but it is a learning opportunity, and a reminder to not take anything for granted.

Because like Sonya Aurora Madan, I too want to do great things. I may not know exactly what they are yet, aside from be a mom, but I do. And I will, even if it'll take a little longer than expected.

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