is that me?

I go back sometimes and read things I've written. Old essays from high school, emails, rambling blog posts. Even just casual one-liners, things I wouldn't give a second thought to. Usually I remember writing them, but it's through a haze. I don't think like this anymore. I don't talk like this. I don't believe this. I remember holding these beliefs.

I often say things like "I am not what I was" and then I start to wonder, who was I back then? Is that part of the story not real anymore? How much of me, the core of who I was, is still there? It's entirely foreign to me, but has anyone else even noticed the difference? How much of that influences today?

I've been feeling increasingly fragmented lately. Like there are several aspects to me and they don't mesh, they don't fit. I have more self-awareness than some people and the cost of that is being self-aware. All of these glaring inconsistencies in my character--I want to go vigorously assert that I am myself but I'm not even sure how. And even if I could I'm not convinced it would be sincere.


upkeep, reprise

I had big aspirations for our house. Do you remember? It was run down, but I saw such potential in it. I told you we'd fix it up, make it beautiful, make it the best house we could possibly have. You told me it was too big, there was too much to do. I said that with the two of us, we could make it work, and you smiled.

I began our great work and you helped at first--cleaning up dust, getting rid of old furniture that was beyond repair. I thought we were making a lot of progress, and said we'd be done in no time. You said we'd never make it past the entry chambers, the dusting and the furniture. I said to just be patient, it would take time, but we could do it together. You and I. You smiled.

You took ill--from the dust and mold, maybe--and I did some of the cleaning on my own. I promised I'd do what I could but I needed you to get better. I needed you to help. This was too much for me to do on my own. You said you didn't think you'd get better and I said I was sure you would--and then you smiled.

You started telling me it was no use, the project was too ambitious, you preferred the house in its old, dilapidated state. Your health was still faltering--headache, fever, coughing--and I told you it was better for you if we fixed it up. You smiled and said it had more character the way it was, and the project was still too big. I kept working but never seemed to get anything done.

I tried to fix our room, at least, so maybe your health would clear up, but you were angry--so I was angry, and we shouted at each other and said things we both ended up regretting, and I fled the house, found somewhere else, swore never to come back. And I thought of your smile, and worried I never quite understood.


exhausted, finally

A few days ago I was filled with this inexplicable energy, where I was enthusiastic about everything and went about my daily tasks with an unmatched gusto. Whether it was eating breakfast or brushing my teeth, I did so with a singular joy for the activity I'd never known before. Everything seemed new and exciting. I didn't get that feeling of deja vu I always get when I do anything--like this is just the same day as yesterday but I'm wearing a different shirt. Life was fun again. I went for a walk in the morning and talked to my neighbors. I was vibrant and energetic and interesting.

It was only in the evening that I started feeling like this energy must have been some sort of curse. As I was winding down for the day I found that this new-found joie de vivre was keeping me from sleep--there was so much to be done tomorrow. It was quite literally like being a child at Christmas time.

This went on for a few days. I started increasing my daily activities, adding on some energy-intensive workloads, but nothing seemed to happen, and soon my newfound energy was troubling me for the whole day. Where did it come from? Why was I so ecstatic? I devoted myself more wholly to my tasks. I was more cheerful than ever, more talkative, more lively--even while I was tormented with the fear that this energy was bringing me to ruin.

The exhaustion hit me all at once a few hours ago. In the middle of a conversation with a dear friend of mine I found that the energy I had been relying on--even as I despised it--was gone, replaced only with that drained feeling and a hunger for sleep like I'd never known. I told my friend I had to go and made my way into my bedroom, collapsing onto the bed and shutting my eyes and finally found contentment.


a plausible narrative

I was writing a poem the other day, in the corner of a softly lit bar, waiting for a band to go on stage. I was struck with a sentiment that I immediately sought to put into words, and as I put pen to paper decided that I couldn't directly express it--couldn't acknowledge it, even in private--so I used an extended metaphor.

I'm still unwilling to mention it, talk about it, but now it's haunting my mind. I don't want to accept these thoughts, I still don't really believe they're there. And it seems like everyone around me notices that something's bothering me. They keep asking questions about it. I dismiss it with a shrug, say it's nothing, or provide a plausible narrative to explain my behavior. "I'm tired," I'll say. "I haven't eaten yet." "I have a headache." Sometimes it's even true--partly. Those little half-lies where you aren't actually telling any lies but you're only telling truths which make people believe something which is false, right?

It helps being given to mood swings so I don't have to tell anyone about it. But I don't actually care if they find out--I'm only really keeping it secret from myself.



A few weeks ago people started giving me disapproving emails. "Do you have a job yet?" "Are you seeing anybody?" "What are you doing these days?" "Anything new going on there?" It's started to make me paranoid. People ask me innocent questions when I meet them, ask what I do, just small talk and I answer in a defensive, dismissive way--I make little jokes, end up drawing attention to it. Or maybe they don't notice at all? I can never tell if they're smiling with disapproval in their eyes or if that's just me, just my paranoia. I keep smiling, keep joking, and meanwhile my interactions come unraveled around me.



In about two and a half hours, as of the writing of this post, an entry my friend Chris and I made for Scary-Go-Round's Feats of Strength will be running on the SGR website. I'll edit up a link when it goes live. I thought you'd be interested.

So, welcome to any new visitors from SGR. I hope you stick around.

To my regular viewers, stay tuned for a link to the live comic...

UPDATE: It's up and available here.