The Flea

I could just be making excuses here, but I think part of the reason I’m having trouble getting any fiction published is that my stuff is not easy to categorize. Most of it has at least one fantastical or science fiction-y element to it, but it’s still not exactly fantasy/sci-fi. I like genre-bending stuff, but whereas “literary” fiction generally just features people in the real world dealing with issues and shit and genre fiction deals with robot wizard aliens fighting time-traveling vampires or whatever, my stuff is kind of a hybrid. It will be set in the real world (more or less) and two people will be having some sort of relationship problem, except one of them has a portal to Hell in their closet. In a way, that’s a metaphor for my life. I keep trying to deal with my issues, but then demons come out of my closet and breathe fire at me. It’s not fun, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

I’ve been having what could be called a week-long mood swing lately. Essentially, I’m in a rut because I can’t figure out what I’ve actually accomplished in the last eight months or so. It’s hard for me to focus on much of anything or see anything through to completion. Little things make me want to break windows and key cars, such as driving down to a place to get a thing and finding out that they closed 20 minutes ago. Nothing can change quickly enough for me. A bit off-topic, but I read the Book of Ecclesiastes on a lark and found it to be really good. It has one famous quote that I already knew (“Men come and go, but Earth abides”) and is surprisingly humanistic for a text from the Old Testament. Essentially, the son of David spends five pages saying that you can’t know what will happen after you die and you can’t predict how you’ll be remembered, so you might as well try to enjoy yourself now. I was expecting some fire and brimstone-type stuff, but what I got instead was more or less telling people to let go and enjoy the ride because we’re all pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

I’m not overly fixated on happiness. I think most artists can sympathize with me here. You write something really grim and depressing and suddenly, all of your friends are calling you up to know if you’re alright. They’re missing the point, really: they think you’re blogging for attention, but you’re not; you’re just working through your issues. Who has never wanted to just kick somebody in the face when they’re in front of them in line and taking too long to decide what they want? Most of us can resist that urge, but if we then write a post saying, “God, that stupid woman! Why couldn’t she just order her sandwich and stop asking stupid questions?”, people then that we were actually going to hit her. And that’s bullshit. A blog is a blog. It’s not anything except a blog. Please don’t base what you say to me in person (if indeed you do know me in person) on what you read on my blog this morning. At the same time, don’t assume that the person you read about here isn’t the “real” me. It very much is, but it’s being filtered through a different lens than the one that friends, family, casual acquaintances, and professional or academic contacts see me through.

It’s perfectly understandable to read a book or see a movie or watch somebody play sports on TV and have the desire to meet them in person. Sometimes, they really are pretty boring (or just shitty and mean) in real life, and sometimes, they’re interesting (I would have given so much to have met Christopher Hitchens before he died). What you have to understand (and I really should say “we”, because I make this mistake, too) is that liking somebody’s professional or artistic accomplishments is not a firm basis for friendship. Please do not assume that you should be friends with Weird Al just because you liked his song parodies as a kid. Then again, I hear he’s a pretty nice guy.

Most people want stability in their lives. I think that’s fine, but I also think that most people don’t understand what stability really means. It doesn’t mean knowing that everything will go on just as it is until you die, because that has never happened to anyone, ever, and if you’re more concerned with maintaining the status quo than rolling with the punches, there’s a word for you, and that’s bigot. To me, stability means being able to walk away from anything in your life if it’s not working. If people know that they can’t push you too far before you just tell them to go fuck themselves, they’ll treat you with respect. (Some might not, but it’s surprisingly easy to eliminate them from your life once you know who they are.) But you can’t base your sense of self on who will mourn your death. If you’re doing it right, there are probably more people who care than you realize. It’s the people who go out of their way to make friends with everyone that you have to watch out for.

I’ve watched this movie a million times and the kid’s expression at the end of this scene slays me. Every. Single. Time.


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