I've been writing a lot lately, but you wouldn't know it. I think it stems from two things: a ridiculous desire for perfection, and of course ADHD. The first one's bullshit because perfect writing shrivels up and dies when it grows any longer than 10 or 12 words. The second is essentially a shrieking fire alarm in an open field: a call to action with no direction.
But fuck it. Here's what's going on in my life.
I'm sitting in a hostel in Mitte--the sleepy, orderly center of Berlin. It's art galleries, not street art. Go in any direction from here and the graffiti grows thick. Here, you can stand in the middle of the street and get a good shot of the TV Tower without being run down by one of the mustard-and-mayonnaise colored taxis.
It's hot. The sun's been out for three days. One of the hostel employees has excellent taste, so we're listening to the blues. It's not that electric Chicago sound, but delta blues--sour guitar, no particular rush, and the feeling that it was recorded in an empty bar in the middle of the day.
I mindlessly check Facebook. A video celebrates my 12th anniversary of joining. I want to talk about how brutally quickly Facebook went from novelty to fixture to postmodern colossus capable of redefinining reality, but then J.B. Lenoir's "Alabama Blues" plays. He died in 1967, but 51 years later he's still singing about how the police shot his brother and it just seems so fucking cheap to complain about anything until we fix that first.
And then I remember that somebody hurt me in London. I think I'm over it now, but I wrote about it in the moment. For no particular reason (and without any editing), I've included it below.
Down and Out in London
There are some truths out there that you wish you’d never heard. They are dangerous. They are ancient, expedient evils and they were buried in the desert for a fucking reason. I’m not talking about some grand mathematical equation that distills our messy lives into a nice, round number. No, I’m talking about those maxims that cut us down at the knees, the ones that cleave humanity into conquerors and everyone else.
“The person who holds the power in a relationship is the one who cares less.” That’s one--not one that I've acted on so much as one that I've seen validated again and again. I’ve just always been on the Right Side.
In every relationship that I can recall, I’ve held the power. I’ve been the disinterested party--the one who can’t be hurt because he doesn’t have any skin in the game. I’m sorry to all the women who have been on the wrong end. It’s tempting to say that they’ve been weighed down by emotion, but the fact is that they really just gave a fuck and I didn’t.
That changed today. I was sitting on a bed with someone and things were complicated until the second that they became very, very simple. I threw my things in a bag and walked out the door, It took no more than 90 seconds.
There was the overwhelming sensation of wood in the back of my throat. You know the feeling, that involuntary reaction as the universe and her infinite plot twists strike a nerve and you desperately want to give in to the urge to just start bawling on the spot, but you want to preserve the illusion of control and that thin veneer of dignity--that fantastic claim that you’re not hurt, that you’re not treading water in a fucking typhoon of She Doesn’t Want Me.
So your words come slowly, haltingly. You become laconic for the first time in a long time. It’s a mixture of the fear that one more syllable will take down the entire house of cards that you’re trying to bolster from the inside--and the knowledge that what you say doesn’t matter anymore. It takes everything you’ve got not to ask if anything you said ever mattered in the first place.
You turn and leave. You watch as purpose and The Chance to Save It All go rushing by. With each step away from Her, you indulge in the pain. It’s almost cinematic. You wonder how many of the people you saw today were dying right there in front of you. All of them, technically.
But it hurts. It hurts like hell. You’re 4,000 miles from your front door and you’re face-to-face with all the things you’ve been running from for your entire life. Sadness and pain and irrelevance and the Royal Bitch of Wasted Time. You do not console yourself with the truth that all time is wasted. No, you hear Ezra Furman wailing “time’s gone on too long” in the dusty drive-in theater that was your head four minutes ago.
You don’t take the bus to the subway. You walk. It’s an extra mile but since your life has just been stripped of the elusive, illusive impression of purpose, you don’t have anywhere to be.
You wait for crosswalks and wonder if that girl can see the defeat in your eyes. It’s a different girl, not the one who snapped into past tense 5 blocks ago. Potentially, it’s the next girl. This comforts you. But you’re not ready to come up for air just yet. You want to stay down in the cellar with Dostoyevsky and plumb the depths of sadness and all the gorgeous art that lines the walls. It’s fucked up and counterproductive, but it gives off an eerie glow and you just want to reach out and touch it for a second to see if the magic will rub off onto your fingers so you can rub it onto the page.
But the hurt comes back again and again and you know it will wear down into a dull background pain after a few days or weeks. But you like it right now. It’s specific. It’s sharp. It’s a tool, if you wield it right.