Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Let Me Be No Nearer

A while back, I tossed around the idea of writing a piece based on a particular verse from T.S. Eliot's "The Hollow Men".

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

The post never came to fruition, but not for lack of trying. I've found that sometimes the best things to say simply aren't ready to be said, aren't ready to be understood. The poignancy of the verse struck a certain chord at the time, when thoughts of change (and the end of friendships) were dominated by the reality of them merely fading away, but for whatever reason, the post just couldn't be written. I had a difficult time wrapping my brain, and my fingers, around the idea of change coming not with a bang, but a whimper, and I might have found my most recent justification as to why that is. Even now, I'm sitting here trying to remember the breakthrough I had no less than twenty minutes ago, when the ideas stirred fresh in my mind. Perhaps that's the genius of Eliot, and if it were his intention to confuse and muddle the thoughts of a young writer he never had the pleasure of meeting, it's needless to say he's been successful.

Ironically enough, this is probably the last post I'll be making from my American homestead. I had envisioned an eloquent final piece to jerk the tears from your eyes, a nice tribute to the friends I should've treated better, the friends that treated me so well. While there's a chance that I may find time later in the day to hop on and properly send myself off, I figured Eliot's words held more potency this way. I've been waiting months for today to arrive, all the while "preparing" tlinemyself for goodbyes and anxiously anticipating the emotions I'd feel. Here I am. The day is now, and I'm nothing but unprepared. I suppose I couldn't incorporate my thoughts on Eliot sooner because I hadn't the reason. I certainly didn't expect the verses to reign so true, but look at me now: I don't know whether to say goodbye or fool myself into thinking I'll be back in six hours. While moving to Ireland isn't exactly as extreme as relocating to the Congo, I'm rather convinced it's all relative. I'll still be able to chime in from time to time with my infinite wisdom (things of an infinite nature are never ending, obviously), but the Sean that tirelessly revealed to you his inner-most thoughts for the past two years mightn't ever be the same. And there, my friends, is the irony. In a few hours, Detroit Metro Airport will become the cusp of the greatest change I've ever experienced, and I can't tell my ass from my elbow - let alone a bang from a whimper.

Truth be told, I'm rather lost at this point. I'm not sure whether I should keep going with this post lest I've yet to make any semblance of a point. But, there's a fear of saying too much, of ruining a moment with one word too many, that I can't seem to overcome. I have every intention of writing for you again, hopefully in the very near future, but now standing at the foothills of a brand new mountain, and because of this I don't think I'll say much more. Rather, I'm going to sit on my couch and wonder if I'm doing the right thing, hope to convince myself of such, and realize that whether it be with a bang or a whimper, change is swift approaching.

Until we meet again.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Puke and Piss

I sometimes worry about my future in writing. There are those underlying fears that tell me I might just have very little talent - that for all intents and purposes there is no future. I generally tend to ignore those fears, and in five years when I'm either scouring toilets or gracing The New Yorker I'll find out if that was a good idea. But, more realistically, there are the fears that any person with absolutely zero knack for anything other than writing and literature must inevitably face: fruitless passion. I've often thought about teaching literature. I've often thought about writing the next great American novel. I've often thought about going to the moon and slapping hockey pucks towards the north pole. It's not necessarily going to happen. However, the fears that I've developed seem to have very little to do with the choices I've made and everything to do with the fact that one side of my brain freakishly outweighs the other. There's about as much personal choice in me becoming some sort of twisted literary-type as there is fun in neurosurgery.

Fruitless passion is quite possibly the be all end all of any, well, passionate person. I'm generally a fan of books, and more specifically, reading. I'm sure that comes as a major shock, but just try to contain yourselves for the next few minutes. If I were to somehow translate my literary passion into hopes of a teaching career, there's a very distinguishable chance that backfiring may occur. I suppose teaching passion for a particular subject would be easier if we all shared the same passions, but I also suppose that will probably never happen. In terms of writing, I could very easily sit here and write, write, write until someone begs me to stop, but who am I kidding, no one would ever beg me to stop. I'm not very accustomed to structure, to guidelines, to the tastes and demands of a reading public (you're all very fortunate I pay you to read this). Basically, I'm afraid that whatever passion and/or talent I may possess will get me nothing more in life than a blogger account and a library card.

Switching gears a bit, I'd like to make mention of a strange phenomenon I've noticed. Forgive me as I continue to talk about myself. For as long as I've been able to read (which will be six months this January), I've been strangely affected by the authors I've read. I've picked up small habits from the various works I've conquered, one example being the ridiculously long sentences trademarked by Dickens. Yet, more so significant than diction and structure are the profound thoughts which are seemingly unearthed. If I've just read something incredibly poignant and powerful, something to which I can strangely relate, I can't for the life of me discern whether or not that thought pervasively existed within my subconscious or if I'm desperately trying to justify comparing myself to admirable authors. If it should be the case where I've shared identical thoughts with certain literary greats, then the marked difference between us proves their ability to translate, to translate thought into concrete existence. Lord, how I envy them. If anyone should possess the secret to such power please don't refrain from sharing the wealth.

I've concluded that moving to Ireland will be good for at least one thing - supplying my life with relative topics of interest. In case you haven't realized, the significant lack of any significant action is the most significant reason for my blogs of abstraction and pointlessness. God forbid I start penning the memoirs of my nineteen short years upon this earth. O, the peaks and pitfalls of my maturing life! It began with the day I was born, which I remember with remarkable clarity, although the recollection seems to escape me at the time. Then arrived the first day of kindergarten, during which another boy of similar stature somehow managed to not only vomit on my backpack, but in it, as well. Ah, and of course first grade, where as a young man in total control of my bodily functions I missed the toilet, tinkled my pants, was much too embarrassed to face the destined humiliation, pretended to get very sick, and suddenly felt better as Dad drove me home where the comfort of dry drawers awaited me.

I suppose that was a nice hint of the course my early memoir would take, nothing but a lot of puke and piss, all of which I treasure. Hopefully with a bit more life to live I can paste some sense into the whole deal, and apparently it seems that in order to live this life I've got to take it overseas. I've got to take my fingers and my eyes, my tortuously long sentences, and my ability to take notice of my own thoughts to a place that hasn't yet experienced them. While I hope to someday return with tales of adventure and growth, despair and redemption, I'm readily accepting a commitment to follow my words wherever they may lead.

And let it be neither towards puke nor piss.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Let It Snow

For the first time this season, snow carpeted the neighborhood. The night sky glowed with pastel tones of pink and purple. Memories swirled with the sharp winter winds, taking me back to the winters of my past; the snowmen, the sleds, the monstrous hills which hurled us towards the bottom at life-threatening speeds. There were winters with little snow and ugly speckled blotches of green grass, which if appearing around Christmas would nearly spoil it (if not for the redeeming grace of Christmas simply being Christmas). There were winters in which snow banks towered over our wool-laden heads, when the steam that rose off our skin after another day's adventure fascinated and entertained us, when the scalding hot chocolate burned the living daylights out of our tongues, but what did we care, anyway. We've grown, and while some of us cling relentlessly to the joys of winter, there's the undeniably growing cynicism we swore we'd never adopt.

We can't help but occasionally loathe the snow, the clogged traffic, the cosmic slowing of an otherwise active life, yet we hardly recall the message it begs us to retain. While I'm driving two miles an hour down a road I usually go sixty, while sparkles of white spread across the landscape, the last thing I should be doing is cursing. Granted, I'd probably be late (and I was), but on that road going two miles an hour, I remembered what winter used to mean, what it should still mean. I remembered the smells of peppermint and pine that drifted throughout the house as Christmas took its dear sweet time in arriving. I remembered the faint glow of the Christmas lights as they shone through the mountains of snow atop the bushes. True, there's nothing stopping me from remembering such things whenever I want, but I'm willing to believe it's a bit easier - if not more rewarding - doing it in the midst of a blizzard than at the Dairy Queen in mid-July.

There's a reassuring quality about winter, or any season in general. We take comfort in the fact that every year is another to remember, and though times might be tough (which is why we have yellow snow), memories never escape us - especially those lured out by giant floating tufts of crystalline water ice, or, as I like to call it, snow.


Sometimes I wonder if updating frequently is the right thing to be doing. Often times I find myself repressing the urge to write because I don't have a clear cut purpose when I start. You can all testify as to just how successful that repression can be. But, on a serious note, I'm strangely torn between writing as often as I possibly can and holding back in fear of quantity threatening quality. Nights like tonight find me sitting on the couch, laptop on, well, my lap, impatiently watching my elbow twitch, all the while hoping/waiting for inspiration to strike. I wouldn't go so far as to say it struck this evening, but I've come to realize that you sometimes have no choice but to forge your own inspiration. It seems the more I type, the more comfortable I become with the direction in which I'm heading. Although the occasional roadblock leads me straight to backspace, I can feel myself forming some sort of groove. I'm sure you're all thrilled.

I've been debating whether or not to start documenting my pre-move preparations, and I'm fairly sure I won't be doing it. I've yet to be hit by the fact that I'm leaving this behind (America, friends, family), and the simple truth that I am indeed leaving doesn't justify writing about emotions I've yet to experience. Perhaps in a week or so, when each following weekday will be my last in the country, I'll be more apt to write about it. But, until then, I'm forcing you to endure just a few more posts of mindlessness.

The innate desire to write something profound every time I log on is starting to cripple my ability to write anything at all. I find myself writing either about wanting to write, or my inability to write, and all the while I'm struggling to say much of anything at all. In fact, these past three sentences are a prime example of just that. Yet, there's a strange feeling that develops around this time of night, a feeling that I can't quite describe. It's a feeling of ironic importance, ironic probably because I'm sitting in my basement in the wee hours of the morning typing to a world that hasn't the slightest idea I exist, but never forgetting that I've got important things to say (regardless of the fact that I don't know what those things are). I get the impression that If I just keep typing, keep putting forth ideas, that someday the right words will form themselves.

There are indeed fears, however, that talking for the mere sake of talking, through writing ideas in hopes of finding the right ones by process of elimination, that I'll lose the patience to learn, the patience to hear what I haven't heard, and the patience to listen when I do. Believe it or not, I struggle with this godforsaken blog. I struggle with the fact that I might not be very good at what it is I feel destined to be doing. I struggle with the fact that my preconceived notions of the world might be a gun pointed at my foot only to be fired when I come face to face with a reality I could never have predicted. In case I haven't been clear enough, writing is a struggle.

No, the above paragraph was not a written example of a nervous breakdown, so feel free to tuck away your teen-help-line phone numbers for at least another post. Although I appreciate the widespread concern, trust me, if the cheese starts slipping from the patty (or patty from the bun, for that matter) - you'll be the first to know.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Wild and Free

I keep telling myself to keep this short and sweet, and while I have every intention of doing so, something deep down is telling me to stop lying to myself. It's getting fairly late, or early depending on your side of the day, and in lieu of my tired mind, I'll let my fingers do the talking. I don't particularly have any long-winded plans for this post, but if some trace of breeze should catch the sails, it's probably out of my hands.

I had the idea of writing about change, more importantly, our ability to subconsciously adapt to change. At this point in the night, I can't quite recall if I've touched on this in recent posts. If so, just entertain me and keep reading. If not, just entertain me and keep reading. Not to get overly personal and melodramatic, but the past few months have been a time of constant change. Pieces of my family have moved on for a time, I'm left alone with my thoughts much more than any sane man should be, and while I'm sure all you readers couldn't give a fiddler's fart, I'm hoping for a little grace - just this once. It's funny to think what little can be done when change is inevitable. Well, I suppose that would make sense. Inevitability is a rather concrete concept. But, to think that the world changes, we change, without our direct consent can be a rather frightening idea. Even more frightening is the notion that as negative or positive as change may be, we get used to it. It's a startling fact of life that makes about as much sense as Saved by the Bell: The New Class.

Laying in bed the other night, going over the usual pre-sleep thought checklist, I wondered what things might be like hadn't they changed. To be perfectly honest, with 3/5 of your immediate family living in a foreign country, one gets used to the new-found space - which touches back on the above paragraph. When the world failed to end following their departure to Ireland, and the initial shock gradually wore off, routines started to form, trends took shape. Simply put, I got used to not having them around (for better or worse). My lifestyle obviously changed, and those closest to me, as well. But laying there in bed, imagining them coming home and resorting to the life I once considered "normal", I couldn't for the life of me fathom it. I can hardly remember it, let alone bother realistically picturing myself in it. Like I said, it's peculiar what change, and a little bit of time, can do to the psyche.

I'm pretty sure that about sums up everything I had to say. For those who don't know, I'll be joining the 3/5 in Ireland in roughly three weeks - which will probably prove to be a culture shock in more ways than the obvious. I suppose my pre-sleep pondering will come true for a while, and in a completely different environment than I could have predicted, but I'm nevertheless embarking with a different perspective.

Well, it's always encouraging to know that I've got a nice place to come and blab (as short or long-winded as need be) and hopefully a few folks who don't mind the suffering. It's equally encouraging to know that some things may never change.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Lend Me Your Ears,

I'll never understand it. Writer's block is a suffocatingly boring thing. Perhaps my problem is that I really do nothing but talk about the same things over and over again. There are only so many ways to say tomato and potato, and I may have exhausted all of them.

On a side note, I'm thinking about printing out some of the finer posts and poems (or the least painful to read) I've written over the years. I should be able to bind them into a nice collection with a firm back and flexible spine (much like myself). If anyone would like a copy, just jot me a little comment.

Let me know which posts and poems you guys prefer and I'll give those added weight when I choose the ones for the collection. Scour the archives. I insist.

Well, I suppose I've got nothing significant to write about this time around. I'll work on a doozie to post before I depart the country. But, you should all look forward to periodical accounts of my experiences as I take my life to a new land.

Thanks for reading,


Thursday, November 02, 2006

It's Never Over

A while back I heard someone say that the fundamental greatness of art exists in the fact that once the artist creates it, he has absolutely no control over it, watching as it dances from person to person, all the while changing its very essence. The original phrasing was naturally more poetic, and I'm pretty sure that it's a famous quote or principle, but it's late - we all need excuses. Anyway, forgive me for the casual tone tonight. I suppose everyone needs a break from the pretenses and controls of everyday living (not that my usual writing is intentionally pretentious, or controlling of my every move, but you get the idea), and sometimes it's just nice to be able to sit back and chat with myself - in a completely normal way.

I'm never really sure who my readers are, nor was I at any point throughout the history of this site. There was, however, a time when I had a very healthy base of support spread nicely throughout the tri-state area. But negligence and laziness are as much a function of human life as is hunger and thirst. Generally, we aren't a people that burn bridges, more or less a people who just let them crumble over time. That was the case with this site. Here I am now, perhaps a year or more removed from my heyday, lowering myself to shameless plugs across the internet for new readers (all of whom seem to care less than I once did). It's that nice phrase atop this post that keeps me going, the idea that something I write can possibly mean something else to someone who actually took the time to read it. I'm not sure which is more flattering; the fact that my writing is somewhat understandable, or the fact that even one person takes the time to find that out.

Sometimes I fancy listening to the same song repeatedly for hours. No, I'm not dwelling in the dungeon I've created from what used to be my room, but while writing things of this nature, or doing whatever work I've put off for weeks, certain songs just beg to be heard - over and over and over. I guess that ties in with the concept of art that I mentioned above. I'm not sure what the artist had in mind when he wrote the song, or the thoughts that ran through his mind as he sang it, but for whatever reason, I can't seem to shake its clutches. Regardless of intention, there's a certain purity about the music that transcends original intention. The music is great because it's simply music - nothing more and certainly nothing less. It's both comforting and daunting to know that the same might be said for my writing (at least I strive for such paradox) in the sense that I write as purely as I possibly can. I make very little effort to sit here and plot out point-for-point what it is I want to say, I never have, but I certainly don't reveal the thoughts that prance around my mind while I'm in the middle of a piece. Well, in a certain sense I do, but only on the most obvious level. Like the singers of the songs that cut deeply, the only way to understand the essence is to relate to the nuance - the raw emotion (forgive me for ever mentioning raw emotion. I'll try not to let it happen again).

Nobody will ever really know exactly what I'm thinking, certainly not in the midst of my writing, yet that idea isn't nearly as depressing as it might sound. I want nothing more than to view my writing not as something people don't understand, but as something that rises above what it is I have to say and delves into the realm of what you believe it says. Naturally, I'm not short-changing the content of my writing, but I've always felt that content is only half the effect. If it's true that the simplest essence of art is its ability to transform and touch each person in very different ways, then it seems there are two roads I can travel.

I can either hope to say the right things at the right times, or trust myself enough to let the art speak for itself.

Monday, October 23, 2006

One for All

Friendship is a strange thing. Pardon the passive voice. Before I get too far ahead of myself, I just want to make clear a little tendency of mine (in response to all the requests I never get). When writing any of these pieces, I very rarely sit down and say, "Sean, write.”, and the occasions on which I do often prove disastrous mockeries of the English language. It would probably make sense if I were to say, "Sean, sit down and mindlessly hit backspace after every incomplete sentence you try to complete." Therefore, I think it's best if I let you decide which type of post this is; the sort that feels a lot like having stale bagels forced down your throat, or the sort that resembles that strange substance the dentist puts in that weird mouth-guard-type-thing to clean your teeth (and, naturally, the flavor that blurs the line between tasty and disgusting).

Sometimes life feels like nothing more than an epic conflict-resolution session. We're constantly making mistakes, and therefore our lives inherently become our search for the remedy. Some people feel the answer lies in Christ. Other people turn to drugs. Even larger (no pun intended- maybe) numbers of people let twinkies and big macs do the job. But in all seriousness, is friendship not equally as important as Jesus, doobies, and ding-dongs? I've certainly made my share of mistakes, we all have, but if we all had to wait until the end of our lives to find solace, then the average lifespan would hover around 15. Friendship is the ticket to happiness, if not relative peace of mind. Friends don't judge. Friends don't blame. Friends certainly don't turn their backs on one another. The beauty of friendship eases the pains of living.

I often wonder how useful friends would be if I never made mistakes. Well, not that often. I'm usually too busy making some sort of mistake to question my need for friendship - which leads me to my next point(!). Life is a constant series of questions and answers, mistakes and resolutions. More often than not the mistakes we make simply can't be undone, yet the presence of our friends relieves us of that bitter truth. In a certain sense we prove to be our harshest critics, overwhelming ourselves with the mistakes we've made, constantly legitimizing the need for friendship. If I solved all of my own problems, then I'd most likely spend much of my time talking to trees, not human beings. But that's the glory of living (and probably why trees can't talk). We help each other out, we listen, we emote, we care, and we realize that sometimes we just can't do it all alone.

Little epiphanies like this make life that much easier to swallow. I learn every day that I'm not going to find all the answers at once- that trial and error is the name of game. I learn that I've got friends because I've got problems, I make mistakes. But more than that, I've got friends because they do too.