june 2003

click here for permalink June 25, 2003

Ahh... what could be more fun than spending the day job-hunting and trolling the Internet for new career boards and placement agencies that you might have missed when you did the same routine three days ago?

Of course, you have to keep trolling for new ones because there are always new ones to be found that you've somehow managed to avoid — or half a dozen search engines have failed to reveal. You know, it seems like there are more job boards for writers, editors and copywriters than there are jobs.

Job-hunting is almost fun in the sense that you can look back and see real progress over the course of a day — for people who love crossing items off lists, it's great — of course, we also tend to be the kind of people who like to see immediate results and are fueled by small successes to work harder/faster/better. In that respect, a day of sending out resumes is a little like working at SETI.

Anyway, it's progress. Those long "resume builder" forms can give you brain-freeze, though — luckily, my copy-paste muscles are in awesome shape... better shape than all my other muscles, probably. My editing urges also get out of control when I have to chop up information and paste it into little text boxes. I always proofread them and end up making a bunch of neurotic, unnecessary changes.

All things considered, though, it was a nice, quiet day, free of psychological trauma and panic attacks, which made it a nice change of pace after yesterday. Heh. Ugh... well, it was really only the first half of yesterday that made me want to flee the planet.

I had made plans to go for a walk but, after my morning (words like "crisis" and "meltdown" are evocative enough to do it justice), I wasn't sure if I wanted distraction or a nice spot on the couch to assume the fetal position. I opted for distraction (I always do) and let a friend drag me through some of the more mountainous trails in Stanley Park, which I've never done.

I had warned her that hiking wasn't exactly my thing so I think she was a little surprised by the fact that I was fully capable of keeping up the pace, even when the trail occassionally pitched a brief but breath-taking 60 degree climb at us. Also, it seems that exertion only increases my need to talk incessantly.

Of course, the constant chatter, punctuated with gasps for air and frequent exclamations of pain, exhaustion and general distress notwithstanding, I knew I'd made the right choice. The pain and exertion not only distracted me, they ensured that by the end of the day, I was every bit as tired physically as psychologically.

Mr. Pink and my hiking buddy made an absolutely amazing salmon dinner later and two of our friends had arrived with wine so, after I showered, changed and generally regained my human form, I spent the whole evening relaxing. I don't know why that's easier when the place is full of people but I think it's got something to do with my childhood. I can remember being completely content to fall asleep on the couch while my mother and her friends talked and laughed around me. Maybe it makes me feel like that again, all safe and protected. Or something.

click here for permalink June 24, 2003

...so, what was I saying..? Oh, that's right... I wasn't! Lo siento.

One of my oldest friends, with whom I share a very similar sort of manic intellectual curiosity, sent me to MoveOn.org over the weekend to get my opinion on the nine Democratic candidates now vying for the party's top spot (and, ultimately, the chance to run against GW in 2004).

Having lived up here in Canada during the last two Presidential elections (blissfully free of both the nagging urge to get involved and the queasy powerlessness of knowing your involvement is all but irrelevant), I leapt at the opportunity — American politics, what fun! Besides, I had spent the previous week offline — my head was probably about as clear and unbiased as it was ever going to get.

Well, I tore through the first two or three the way you tear into a fresh bag of Cool Ranch Doritos, savoring the zesty burn of mental exertion. Unfortunately, as with Cool Ranch Doritos, it was only a matter of time before that zest turned bitter and vaguely nauseating.

Towards the end of the list, there was one candidate who reminded me, suddenly and powerfully (in my vulnerable and "unbiased" state, too powerfully) why I'd felt such relief at being absolved of my illusions of personal responsibility in the ugly, illusory business of politics.

I had been unwittingly caught up in this candidate's words, imagining how different things would be — could be — if we lived in a reality like the one he envisioned. It seemed so profoundly, vividly real and, for a moment, so tangible that our reality suddenly seemed like a mere reflection, hideous and distorted, in the cosmic fun house mirror.

I feel like I should offer up some excuses for my inexcusable absence over the last two months but I hesitate to plunge into what could become a lengthy, self-indulgent exercise in psychoanalysis — to a large degree, I'm sure that's what I've been trying to avoid since April. It was actually back in March when I realized I was incapable of writing anything — or thinking anything, for that matter — that didn't seem pointless and circuitous, even to me. Why should I subject you (y'all?) to my random, cynical, depressing, flailing bitterness when I couldn't even stomach it myself?

I want to say that it wasn't because of the war. After all, it was over so long ago it almost seems weird to mention it. Even so, after a month went by, I still couldn't find even one excuse to update. I couldn't snap out of it or, as I've always done in the past, simply force myself to sit and write, draw, do something. Anything.

I don't feel like it would absolve me of anything to blame the world. I don't think of external realities — heh, like reality — as being part of the creative process. In the same way that skipping work because your favorite team lost a big game the night before, it would be absurd to blame "the state of the world" for my state of mind, right?

Okay... I guess I blame the state of the world a little bit. It's everywhere. I know I'm not alone in this because I see and hear it all around me; this numbness, this psychic field of deafening static that's blanketing the planet, generated by the constant roar of rage, pain, fear and disillusionment. I read it between the lines of every article that manages to get written — and I hear it in the music that's somehow still being created — but created in spite of it.

So, thanks in no small part to my friend in Seattle (snap. ouch.), I'm back and I'm going to try very, very hard to keep writing...

For now, though, I'll let someone else have the last word. In order of when they found me:

The late Dr. Seuss, when asked near the end of his life if there was anything left unsaid, replied, "The best slogan I can think of to leave with the USA would be, 'We can... and we've got to... do better than this.'"

And from Joyce Carol Oates, "Writer's block is the temporary paralysis caused by the conviction, on an unconscious level, that what the writer is attempting is in some way fraudulent, or mistaken, or self-destructive."