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Coming Up for Air: Eighteen Months of Darkness - The Annals of Young Geoffrey: Hope brings a turtle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Young Geoffrey

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Coming Up for Air: Eighteen Months of Darkness [Jul. 8th, 2007|05:19 pm]
Young Geoffrey
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From the time I was a boy around the age of 10 until at least well into my twenties, I knew I was a genius, my future successes assured in general terms if not yet in their specifics. After all, I was reading at a post-secondary level in grade seven; after all, I enjoyed the company of adults and participated in their talk of politics and art and philosophy; after all, most of my friends and acquaintances were also smart as hell; and after all, my father consistently said so as well.

By the time I was 20 or so I had completed two novels, if not high-school. That they were very bad novels I knew full well but I saw them as necessary growing pains rather than failures; I saw my 6 years and 5 completed high-school credits as freely-chosen experience, not defeat.

But as my twenties became my thirties and now my forties, and my still-unfinished third novel, the various drafts yellowing in folders about my desk never-ending reminders of my thus-far unfulfilled promise, the many spiral notebooks filled with more or less drunken notes and mostly half-finished stories, essays and scribbled ideas, all served to stress the question: What have you done with your life?

* * *

Not long before the Break-Up (dear god, nearly a full year in the past now!), Laura and I were taking a walk up Roncesvalles. I know longer remember the context but I'll never forget her response to whatever it was I'd said.

"I'll respect you if you ever finish that novel you're always talking about."

To say those words cut me to the proverbial quick would be as understated as the suggestion that I do not dislike beer.

The words hurt, not only because they implied that loving and supporting Laura was not enough to satisfy her but because my own identity is at least in part wrapped up in the idea that "being a writer" was (and yes, still is) a significant part of my self-identity. In other words, what about my own respect for my self? One short story written (but - even now - not revised), a letter or two to the editor of the Globe and Mail, a few critiques and a bunch of blog entries here on LJ don't exactly a Writer make.

It would be easy to blame Laura for my lack of productivity.

Besides holding down a full-time job, during the first, happy phase of the relationship I was too busy with the joy of living loving to worry about my words; during the second, unhappy phase, I was too busy drinking to deny there was anything wrong.

It would be easy to blame her, but to do so would be a lie. Whatever blame she carries in terms of our relationship, she had not imprisoned me in a gulag; my life is my responsibility and has been at least since I left home at the age of 17. If there is anyone to blame, it is myself.

But is "blame" an accurate (and therefore useful) concept in this situation anyway?

* * *

Six weeks or so ago, I vowed here tht I would no longer be idle and would "soon" be wowing all of my Gentle (and ever so patient) Readers with much in the way of fiction and fact. (Well, truth be told, there was another post a couple of weeks later, which I quickly took private - yes, sooguy, I was whining for a kick in the ass.)

Objectively, this is what I have done with myself since becoming a Man of Leisure on the 18th of May, 2007.

Good Things

  • exercised regularly up until about two weeks ago;

  • kept my apartment reasonably clean (up until a couple of weeks ago;

  • gone out for drinks and talk with four different people - once each - when asked to do so;

  • accepted an invitation from two of the above to spend the Canada Dominion Day weekend at the cottage, which trip was, first, a lot of fun and, second, helped to provoke the self-analysis which has prompted this essay (as well as my decision to call for an appointment with my doctor tomorrow;

  • discovered the joy that is the revived Doctor Who;

  • read a few novels;

  • er, that's about it.

Bad Things

  • smoked even more than I did when I was working;

  • continued drinking as much as I was before - but without even leaving my apartment, most of the time

  • ignored a couple of other invitations, not even finding the energy to email a reply until a couple of weeks after the fact;

  • obsessed over the joy that is the revived Doctor Who - watching 14 episodes - all of which one has already seen at least two or three times apiece in the space of three weeks - during a single day is - clearly - a sign that Something Is Wrong;

  • read a few novels - all of which I have read before, and which I have still not found the energy to list on my book-log, let alone to comment upon;

  • played endless, mindless rounds of Destructo-Match II;

  • stopped even communicating with people via MSN, let alone making any effort to see people in person;

  • pretty much stopped even wanting to get involved with a woman again (though my physical libido has not diminished, thanks be - I suppose);

  • er, that's about it.

Long story short, there is something very wrong with the way I am living my life. There is something very wrong with me.

Not writing isn't the problem; not living is the problem.

I suspect a psychiatrist would say I am clinically depressed.

Besides my rather remarkable myopia when it comes to the state of my own mind and life, one other factor has made it so hard for me to see the obvious. I don't feel "bad", or sad - the traditional emotions one associates with the word, depression. And, on those rare occasions when someone has managed to drag me out of my apartment, I have enjoyed myself - and have even (I think and hope) been good company.

But the vast majority of the time, I haven't really felt much of anything at all. I have simply been existing, killing time with mindless games and familiar entertainments.

* * *

So who or what is to blame?

Alcohol? Probably at least a contributing factor (treating depression with a depressant can't be helpful).

Losing my job? I doubt it - this has been going on a lot longer than that. If anything, having an extra 9 or 10 hours a day has probably contributed to my being able to see what's going on.

Laura? It's possible that her actions initiated my descent into the abyss, but it's been nearly year since I turfed her - she can't be held responsible for how I'm (not) feeling now.

Well, whatever the cause, Something Must Be Done. What that Something (or some Things?) might be, I'm not sure, but I'm far to fond of living to continue just existing as I have been for the past many months.

This post isn't a cry for help (or even a kick in the ass), Gentle Readers, though if any of you have tangible, experientially-based suggestions, feel free to offer 'em up. Meanwhile, I will hope that the slightly-more-than inchoate belief I have that simply (finally!) recognizing and naming what is wrong will help steer me towards a solution. Given how things have been going lately, simply having been able to complete this post - all 1200 or so words of it - suggests that belief might be justified.

Anyway, if you've read this far, you now know why this journal has been so quiet lately. I make no promises there will be more in the immediate future, but "hope is a good emotion."
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: casualsexcapade
2007-07-09 03:55 am (UTC)
This is odd.

I'm the girl from the mezz who 'never posts'
remember me? heh heh

So I just got home - thought I should say hello - prove I'm not a wackjob.

And here I find a very interesting entry. I'm afraid I a far too tired to gererate on intelectual response. However *this * phrase struck me

"To say those words cut me to the proverbial quick would be as understated as the suggestion that I do not dislike beer"

that hit me with the same shockwave that Bon Jovi hit me with in 1993 "with an iron clad fist, I wake up to french kiss the morning"


yep....all lies.
also - the internet needs a breathalizer.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2007-07-09 06:55 am (UTC)

How Could I Forget?

I do remember indeed.

"To say those words cut me to the proverbial quick would be as understated as the suggestion that I do not dislike beer"

that hit me with the same shockwave that Bon Jovi hit me with in 1993 "with an iron clad fist, I wake up to french kiss the morning"


yep....all lies.
also - the internet needs a breathalizer.


It definitely does - to tell you the truth, I haven't the faintest idea of the significance of your analogy. But then, I was never big on Bon Jovi.

But no matter. You brew a wonderful beer and - next time - I will endeavour not to shake your hand four times in five minutes.

For what it's worth, you didn't seem anything at all like a "wackjob" - more like an interesting person who decided to interrupt whatever it was she was doing in order to persue a surprise. For my part, if I struck you as in any way awkward or stand-off-ish well ... I suppose my post goes quite some length towards explaining why.
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[User Picture]From: casualsexcapade
2007-07-10 04:07 am (UTC)

significance shmignificance

That analogy had no significance other than indulging myself by regurgitating a song lyric that had once warmed my cockles. Honestly I was simply fond of the phrase you used - and fired back with one that I loved. Drunk girls need not revelance.

I did not detect any awkward or stand-offish behaviour. Lest we forget - it was I who tackled you with claims of knowing you. Who's awkward now?

So here we are on a new day - one where I feel better equiped to respond.

I think it is really swell that you are aware enough to realize that something(s) in your life are not working...and then taking the steps to make it right. Or at least looking at the situation from various angles - and perhaps calling in a professional. all good.

I wish you good luck with that.

See ya around?

-long winded liz

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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2007-07-10 05:54 pm (UTC)

Re: significance shmignificance

...Honestly I was simply fond of the phrase you used - and fired back with one that I loved. Drunk girls need not revelance.

Oh. Then, thank you!

I did not detect any awkward or stand-offish behaviour. Lest we forget - it was I who tackled you with claims of knowing you. Who's awkward now?

Then I covered-up my feelings well. I felt tongue-tied, at any rate. Nevertheless, I was most pleased that you introduced yourself.

I think it is really swell that you are aware enough to realize that something(s) in your life are not working...and then taking the steps to make it right. Or at least looking at the situation from various angles - and perhaps calling in a professional. all good.

I don't know about all good, but the trend is looking better; maybe what I need is a weekly, or even daily, checklist to avoid fooling myself about my own state of mind.

But enough about me - Mezzro's one of these afternoons?
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[User Picture]From: tacky_tramp
2007-07-09 04:18 am (UTC)
"I'll respect you if you ever finish that novel you're always talking about."

She was kidding, right?

Right?

Anyway, regarding your period of malaise -- we all go through those from time to time. If you're unhappy, make a change. If you're not unhappy, then why worry?
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2007-07-09 06:54 am (UTC)

Naah ...

She was kidding, right?

No, I think that was one of the few truthful things she said to me during the last six or so months of our relationship. Which doesn't speak highly of my ability to read people, does it?
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[User Picture]From: colinmarshall
2007-07-09 04:51 am (UTC)
It might sound like a clichéd sort of thing to as, but if not toward pursuing your live's goal, where did all of that time go?
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2007-07-09 06:57 am (UTC)

Down the Urinal, Mostly ...

I thought I made that clear. Or were you asking about those years other than the last 18 months?
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[User Picture]From: colinmarshall
2007-07-09 02:51 pm (UTC)

Re: Down the Urinal, Mostly ...

Indeed I was.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2007-07-09 06:06 pm (UTC)

Re: Down the Urinal, Mostly ...

Work, relationships, living in the moment, other long bouts of navel-gazing, occasionally even writing... But that novel - which more than one friend has suggested I just forget about - has grown ever more intimidating as its state of incompletion has last longer and longer.

So, it hasn't all been wasted time.
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[User Picture]From: colinmarshall
2007-07-10 01:53 am (UTC)

Re: Down the Urinal, Mostly ...

I smell the makings of a good hypothetical. Answer me this: how many of those relationships would you erase from history in exchange for, say, your novel complete, published and at least moderately successful?
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2007-07-10 07:59 pm (UTC)

Re: Down the Urinal, Mostly ...

Christ, that's a difficult question to answer.

My knee jerks toward just saying "None - whatever my problems I like who I am and changing the past would also change who I am now. And I don't believe in changing history, only the future."

More accurately, I don't see any profit in regretting what did happen in the past - but in my not-so-secret heart of hearts I do sometimes regret things that didn't.

Still, I don't think I would erase any of them. I can't blame my lack of productivity on my relationships (romantic or otherwise). Even when in the passionate throes of first love I could have found some time work on that novel so I am, again, left with only myself to blame.
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From: spells_disaster
2007-07-09 06:36 am (UTC)

Word

Good to see you back, even though it’s only through the written word. I'd say more, but my words feel slurred. Are they absurd? Should I say more? No. my eyes have blurred,
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2007-07-09 07:00 am (UTC)

Re: Word

Yay! A header.

Thanks - it feels good to be back, even if only to bitch and moan.

Maybe (maybe!) you'll see more and better from me sooner than later.
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From: 10021
2007-07-09 11:29 am (UTC)
Please really do call for that appointment with your doctor as you mentioned. I've struggled with depression my entire life, and yes it seems like you have most of the symptoms.

What has helped me in the past, and may help you, is if you force yourself to get some exercise outside your apartment for a little while every day (or every other day at least). You mentioned that you were exercising regularly up till about two weeks ago. It's time to start that back up again. It should be outside where you can get some sunlight.
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2007-07-09 06:05 pm (UTC)

Done and Done

Please really do call for that appointment with your doctor as you mentioned. I've struggled with depression my entire life, and yes it seems like you have most of the symptoms.

Yeah, when I first listed them out to myself, it sure as hell sounded like it. What kind of baffles me is how I can go on so long without recognizing what's going on. And yes, it's time to -restart my morning constitutionals. (I had been taking long walks to a beautiful nearby park, then doing sprints up a lovely wooden staircase it has in the middle of the "forest" there.
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[User Picture]From: stolen_identity
2007-07-09 11:48 am (UTC)
LMFAO... just out of curiousity... did the "endless rounds of destruct-o-match II" in the "bad things" section, arise out of the alluded-to drink with me in the "good things" section? (cause if so... there's good in the bad, so it's not completely a waste! hahaha)


as for being in a general funk... I can say I've definitely been there, and the way I got out of it felt much like reading this post. Something just kinda snapped within me, and I realized... wtf am I doing wasting my time? And, I think from that point on, I just quit being "bored" and started being active... I'm always making lists of goals (I always feel more productive when I have a list) ... in the beginning, I made a list of "resolutions" and I posted them somewhere where I would see them every day, so that if I started to slip back into a funk, I'd be able to snap myself out of it before I got too far...

But one of the most important things I did was stop blaming other people for my problems. I blamed my ex for SO long... but then I realized that he had to do what he did for himself at the time, and I was the only one to blame for everything that did or didn't happen after that...

This is already long enough, so I'll stop here, but I can keep writing pages upon pages on the subject if you desire ;) LOL... and, I'm pretty busy these days, but I can always squeeze in time for a drink again if you ever want to... :)
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2007-07-09 06:01 pm (UTC)

Yer a Smart Cookie!

LMFAO... just out of curiousity... did the "endless rounds of destruct-o-match II" in the "bad things" section, arise out of the alluded-to drink with me in the "good things" section? (cause if so... there's good in the bad, so it's not completely a waste! hahaha)

Er, yes, there was a relationship there. But since I am ultimately responsible for my own (in)actions, I was going to let it slide. (Damn you!)

in the beginning, I made a list of "resolutions" and I posted them somewhere where I would see them every day, so that if I started to slip back into a funk, I'd be able to snap myself out of it before I got too far...

I've actually done that, via Google's calendar. So far, though, I've just ignored the little pop-ups.

You're dead-on about not blaming others, of course, but I don't think I've been doing that (bitching and resenting isn't quite the same thing as blaming.

Anyway - and maybe this is magical thinking - but I hope that having named my condition I will now be able to do something about it.

And I'd be delighted to hang out again; I am at your command.
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[User Picture]From: sooguy
2007-07-10 01:53 am (UTC)

Houston we have a problem..

That fact that you have recognized there is a problem is a good indication that you have somewhat of a handle on the situation.

It's whether you act on it that makes the difference. Start with the doctor, but don't stop there. Do some more digging to get the problem.

Maybe you are throwing up more barriers to writing by suggesting you have other BIGGER issues to deal with first.

I know my procrastination techniques even surprise me somedays.

As for productive writing as a gauge of your writing talent, I say pshaw. I like to think of the LACK of my own success as an indication that I am laying in wait like a sleeper cell waiting to strike when the moment is right. (Just kidding!)

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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2007-07-10 08:59 pm (UTC)

Re: Houston we have a problem..

Start with the doctor, but don't stop there. Do some more digging to get the problem.

Maybe you are throwing up more barriers to writing by suggesting you have other BIGGER issues to deal with first.


I think I over-emphasized the importance of writing in that post, to tell you the truth. Regardless of that, though, not doing anything at all is definitely problematic.

It's funny (and obviously very early days), but there's been one hell of an improvement to my state of mind since I made this post - the mere fact of typing up 1200 words as well as putting my state of mind on "paper" seems (thus far) to be doing wonders. But I'm not cancelling my doctor's appointment; it can't hurt to describe symptoms and get her opinion at the very least.

And kidding or not, I kind of like your sleeper-cell analogy. Like many fantasies, it has the virtue of being comforting.
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[User Picture]From: sck5000
2007-07-11 01:28 am (UTC)
http://www.nycmidnight.com/2007/SC2007/challenge.htm

Entry deadline is tomorrow. This contest is worth it just for the community and motivation-poking. Not only will you wind up writing something in 1 week, you will participate in a forum with dozens of other people pulling their hair out going through the same process (and by extension a lot of the same life's issues/questions/uncertainties), and afterwards there is always a big, relief-fueled swap meet where everyone shares the labors of their week and you get to see what you are competing against and how others wrestled with the same problem.

-s
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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2007-07-12 07:49 pm (UTC)

Hmmm ...

Thanks for that.

I didn't see your reply (sober) until now, which would be too late for yesterday, but I see see they've extended the deadline until Friday. A screenplay might be an interesting exercise. I take it you're giving it another go?
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[User Picture]From: sck5000
2007-07-13 01:34 am (UTC)

Re: Hmmm ...

I am. This is the same competition that you heard me bitching about last year. But the commisserating and sharing of work afterwards is good.

Yes, they seem to have extended to the entry deadline until tomorrow, and I believe it starts at midnight tomorrow. Anyway, you should read the documentation if you're interested. There is an entry fee. If you decide to enter and need help getting the entry fee in, let me know.

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[User Picture]From: ed_rex
2007-07-13 01:53 am (UTC)

Re: Hmmm ...

You're a strangely sweet man, sometimes, s, and I thank you. Happily, the fee wouldn't be an issue, but since I have just written about 2,000 words of prose, I think that closing that spigot in favour of one cinematic would be a distraction. (And also, unless it's a full-length Doctor Who episode, I don't really want to write screenplays.)

In a couple of days, though, I just might be sending you a first draft for a critique, if you're willing.
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