I scanned my diary. Both literally and figuratively, I took about 12 binders of handwritten notes on canary quadrille and eyeballed passages and pushed them though my automatic document feeder at 600 DPI. I then sent them up to the Evernote Cloud where they will persist in PDF format forever, or perhaps as long as the electricity flows and people care and I pay my bill. I kept the originals, and they will go somewhere cool and dry for my grandchildren to stumble through a generation hence.
I was crazy.
I didn't know how to live, but I knew how to think my way through life. The amount of thinking I did on matters most people seem to improvise their way through is staggering. I hated the very idea of "bumbling my way through, somehow". For me, everything had to have a plan, a reason. I was here to make a difference, not to make friends. I was here to make an impact, not to merely survive. I remember telling my roomate, Spy, "I don't live to eat, I eat to live." That's why anything from the microwave that would settle my stomach's grumbling was fine. That's why I believed a pair cha shu bao for lunch three days in a row was fine, except for the fact that I was still a bit hungry. Learn to cook? Why?
I imagined myself dead and wrote the letter I wanted to be read at my funeral. Reading it today I see echoes of confusion and madness, and something of a total inability to see what I meant to other people and what they meant to me. I was probably the most aggravating person in the world, walking through it without an evolved sense of decorum and yet desperately searching for that very thing. I was full of annoying, piercing rude questions, swinging like Tarzan from clifftop to clifftop on the thinnest of conjectures, defying common sense at every turn.
I read and I listened as if each indulgence from Coletrane to Coleridge would yeild up one more bite of civilization. Yet each shrunk me like Alice deeper into isolation in the rabbit hole that was my world. Literature became an elaborate tangle of bridges to nowhere. And I never found my contingent, except in contingent parts of people all around me.
There was one person I got right. Well, there were two. There was myself and there was Cynthia. Everything I wrote about her was right on target. Everything she made me know then, I still know today. She is the only woman I ever wanted to live with, and she is the only woman I have. Tomorrow I'm taking her out to Donald Trump's country club for a romantic brunch. She reminded me of the date. I hadn't throught much about it last night as I was going through stuff. My standard valentine, by the way, was the 10 pound, $50, 2 foot wide heart shaped box of chocolates. Sorry, as fertile as my imagination was, I'd be three tangents from reality if I didn't do something typical to the extreme.
My mother always told me that I go from one extreme to the other. It is my way of accomodating things that make no sense outside of my universe. What do you want from me!? OK here!. Plop. Subtlety is for the undecided. This should make you happy. It doesn't. But they acknowledge the thought that counts, only after the extreme act.
At some point in my twenties I decided that I didn't want to be a Buppie. I wanted more than just a condo in a nice neighborhood and a job and invitations to beach parties. I wanted to explore culture and understand it all. The mere money and a good life of accumulation wasn't good enough. So I took off four years and moderated my technical cares for the possibilities of cultural production. I was a writer, after all. I had a lot to say. I had a world to make sense of. Ultimately I cannot say that it was a waste of time. I may be fatiqued by it all now in retrospect, which is why I know my crazy was satiated, but it needn't have been that way. If I cared more for my career, or more for domestic bliss, I could have taken all those distratctions more seriously. I would have demanded more from them. I probably wouldn't be writing so much now, rather in force of personality I would live more in the world outside of my head. But I like the world inside of my head and I am tremendously benefitted by the discipline I have mustered to handle the wisdom I now possess. But it did make me crazy.
I wrote to Swerdloff that I was a very very uptight young man, possessed by a set of ideas without which life appeared random and pointless. So I was guided by the implications of those ideas despite it all, it being the reality of the world I now inhabit. It was a safe place to keep my self, but it made the ordinary social intercourse quite difficult. I processed way too many symbols in my 20s and early 30s. I am time travelled to fractions of my past and I recognize myself, before the liberations of my children's smiles and my wife's cooking. I stand now, rescued and with simple purpose. Life is great.