Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Rare Personal Entry... Some Sort of Catharsis?

I rarely post purely personal essays here.... (this will be my first entry in a while that doesn't feature the "promo-whoring" tag...) but I've had a lot on my mind lately that makes me think that it might be time (and since I assume that a good chunk of my readers are at least acquainted with me personally, this doesn't seem all that out of line.) For some reason I just have a gut feeling that, as a writer, I need to explore and explain my last year a bit. This may be more for my benefit than yours. I don't think that it matter, I just feel that a few words on the matter need to be said.

This blog is, at its most basic level, about exploring my quasi-academic/ artistic interest in identity-construction, post-post-structural-reconstronstruction, whatever you want to call it (I am well aware that only a small handful of my readership has any idea what I mean by this... the rest of you, thanks for bearing with me...) and therefore a quasi-critical examination and sharing of my own projects must, by necessity, factor into what I do here, in some sort of meta-identity-crit way (hence all the "promo-whoring" tags... tangentially, for my academic friends and readers, I should probably make a long-overdue point here that what I mean by "identity-crit" has nothing to do with the contested, controversial critical camp that we problematically call "identity-politics.") Therefore, returning for a moment every now and then to where I'm coming from as it relates more directly to my personal-life doesn't seem to be a terribly large departure.

I've been, off and on, for the last couple weeks, in an odd, spacey, twitchy sort of mood, and I initially couldn't figure out why. There didn't initially seem to be any tangible triggers. Then it dawned on me. Last year around this time, I was in the process of making a series of conscious decisions to step back a bit and try to change the way that I look at things, think about things, deal with things.

Easter weekend of last year, I was presenting a paper at a literary-conference in New Orleans. Academically, the semester had been quite rocky prior to that; I had been having lots of internal arguments with myself, of the "what is our job exactly?" and "to what end?" sort. Personally, it had been a long time prior to that since I had gotten an opportunity to take any time off from my paying-gig waiting tables. Perhaps more importantly, it had been even longer since I had had any sort of "me-time," particularly in a place where I don't really know anyone (a situation that I tend to thrive off of, to clear my head and reassess.) It was a wonderful weekend. More pointedly, though, in all three ways, that weekend became a sort of a turning-point for me. Stepping back from my usual routines, stepping onto the plane, and then onto the streets of the French Quarter, I began to realize that I felt like I was running on a treadmill, physically, mentally, emotionally. Academically, the experiences of the conference certainly didn't answer any of my questions about our scholarly pursuits and goals, but gave me a far more nuanced way of asking myself them, and gave me a glimpse of the giant academic-dragon we were all trying to ride and wrangle like a rodeo-bull. Personally, I realized that my sanity and stability required a more regular exposure again to the invigorating "myself alone in a crowd" stimulus I had thrived on at certain points in the past, but had tried to ignore or forget for a block of years prior, out of various sorts of apparent "necessity." In short, I realized that weekend that quite a few things that I had come to assume to be "necessities" and "priorities" needed to be reassessed.

A few really messy and hectic weeks later, I chose to end a long-term relationship with a live-in-girlfriend the night of my 28th birthday. (Note to self/ word of advice- Do not make life-trajectory-altering decisions on major memorable dates like birthdays. Bad idea. Again, this has been a year of learning-experiences.)

This week, I turned 29, marking off a full year since these events. I'm not going to pull any punches, my 28th year was far from my best. It's been a roller-coaster year, in so many regards... experiments (which didn't all work, by any means) with various new ways of thinking about things led to so many moments of varying kinds of instability, for sure. (Massive props to the people in my life who were there for me and supportive through these times. You know who you are. I can only imagine that I've been pretty difficult at times.)

But, hey, looking back, some good things are coming from volatile times... and that was certainly part of the goal. I completed my Master's Degree in December, with marks that I'm certainly not ashamed of (in fact, oddly, my final semester clocked in my only grad-level 4.0 finish, despite personally feeling a bit of a shit-show and a nut-bag at the time.) In need of a distraction over the last summer, I joined my first functional full-line-up band in quite a few years (Pull Trouble From the Fire), giving up in certain regards on my long-running (mis-guided) attempt to quit making (non-oddball/ experimental) music cold-turkey.... which has provided a great return to something that legitimately makes me happy. One recent weekend, oddly situated within that strange span between Easter and my birthday, I went down to Galaxy Park Studios in Allston, Mass. with that band to work on our forthcoming record, marking my first time recording in a pro-caliber studio since I was... 23? Of course, doing so at the beginning of my 29th year inevitably brought to mind the old cliche about "make it by 30 or hang it up"... which becomes an even more quirky and tongue-in-cheek thought considering that, for the first time I can recall, I'm actually the youngest member of this act and (not to throw anyone under any busses here) the only one who has yet to reach that age. A thoroughly wonderful, stimulating, and revitalizing weekend, for sure. My second record with LeVautourEnsemble, the apocalypse-themed quasi-ironic-hip-hop-ish thing that I intended to bust out really quickly as some sort of post-semester catharsis keeps, appropriately, running into various hang-ups and stalls. That's probably a good thing, in the long-run. On a personal note, I realized yesterday that, after a long string of back-to-back LTR's, this is the first year that I've spent completely (intentionally) single since I was 19? And as much as I can't claim that I was always great over the course of the year at figuring out how to DO that again after an entire decade, a full third of my life, it was totally something that I needed. I feel like I'm on a far better track to figure a lot of things out than I was at this point last year, as much as I can't say I'm necessarily any closer to answers. When are we ever? What are "answers"?

In other words, a full year later, I'm getting my motivation back, and feeling like I'm actually starting to live again. The official end of this very messy year feels like a net-positive change. I'm ready to be functional again, in so many regards.

(ok, ok, my quasi-narcisistic verbal-diarhea ends here. I commend anyone who made it this far into this self-centered mouth-explosion. Thank you. For everything.)