On Being Different

I’m starting to understand why I like Elementary so much. Essentially, it’s about learning that no matter where you are in life, there are still adventures to be had. If that sounds corny, consider this: Lucy Liu and Jonny Lee Miller are both in their 40s (and looking amazing, by the way). I’ve never been a big fan of Lucy Liu before now. I’m not sure why; it just seemed that even when she was in something I enjoyed, her presence in it was more incidental than an integral part of what made it good. The only thing I had seen Jonny Lee Miller in before this was Trainspotting, and while I’ve since come around on it, I wasn’t terribly impressed with that film when I first saw it. I’m not sure whether I’ve changed or whether it’s just taken us this long to find each other, but either way, I am pretty squarely in both of their corners at this point. Dr. Watson was, well, a doctor before meeting Holmes. Sherlock was a detective before he met Watson, but he was aimless and troubled. Together, they form a partnership that is more than the sum of its parts. And that is rather inspiring.

deathI don’t really buy that the years go by faster the older you get. I’ve heard older people say that, but that just sounds like a lazy rationalization for the fact that your best years are all behind you. I try to face forward no matter what. I absolutely refuse to accept that what I am experiencing right now is a “quarter-life crisis”. A crisis means feeling bored and dissatisfied with one’s life so far. In a typical mid-life crisis, you get a tattoo and buy a sports car and start indulging all of the fantasies you had when you were a teenager that you have since given up on. I don’t feel bored; I feel frustrated, and that’s not the same thing. I want to travel the world, marry Jon Hamm, and take up archery. I just haven’t figured out where to begin. So I hope you’ll excuse me if I try not to wallow in angst over how fast the years flew by. If Death wants me, she will have to take me. I will not go willingly.

Harvey Milk did almost nothing of interest until he was 40. He also said that he “just knew” that he wouldn’t reach 50. He was right about that. It’s funny. I read his biography some years back, and the first forty years of his life fill barely 50 pages. The remaining 250 or so pages are devoted to the remaining eight. There is a man who took a while to figure out what he was really trying to do. I don’t think it’s going to take me that long. I just don’t think that being an adult means that I have to accept any sort of preordained future. No, I do not have to move to the suburbs and buy a house with a white picket fence while raising 2.5 kids and working in an office from 9 to 5 until I die. That’s not for me. Some people say that we all turn out like our parents, and that’s fucking bullshit. If you believe that, piss off. There’s no place for you here.

And of course, there are still people who don’t seem to get it. Well, no matter. I’m a supervillain. I’ll show them all. Stephen King once compared writing to unearthing a fossil, as if the piece already exists, and all you have to do is discover it. I don’t quite see it that way. I prefer to see it as constructing something rather than digging it up. The problem is that sometimes you already know how it’s going to end. Sometimes you get to the end and discover that it’s not the one that you originally had in mind. But sometimes you “just know” something and turn out to be right, which can feel confining in its own way. My mind does not move in a very linear fashion. I have a hard time going from A to B to C to D. I’m much more likely to start on A, jump ahead to G, do D, E, and F, then start at N and work backwards before figuring that actually, now I know what to do for B and C. It’s dizzying, but somehow, I more or less manage to keep track of it all. There are books that I’ve started reading, then put aside for months or years before resuming. Strangely enough, I don’t have that hard of a time picking up where I left off. I just wish I didn’t do it so often.

I don’t write every day. I’m not one of those people who needs to. Instead, I work in fits and starts, sometimes writing for hours at a time, other times letting days go by without a single word. It’s important not to compare yourself to others, but sometimes, you just can’t help it. I still feel sometimes like I’m just getting over the hump. Perhaps I should spend more time figuring out what the hell I’m going to do once I do. When it comes to navigating those directionless passages of your life, I find it helpful to look back and see if there is anything in my past that is relatable to what I’m experiencing right now. It is difficult, once you get going, to just tear it all up and start over. But it is surprising how much of an impact a few subtle changes can have.

Sooner or later, we all grow old. Even the Doctor, as it happens. So try not to spend all of your time thinking about what you would do differently if you could go back and do it all over again. What’s done is done. I’ve done a lot, if I do say so myself. More than you might think to look at me.


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