With respect to Socrates, my unexamined life is not worth living. The front room is the face we show everyone but we hide our true self in the back room.
Let this weekend be one of rebirth. Many things came to an end this week. Finished one of my goals for the year, finished the final season of Burn Notice, finished discussing my writing the dream (for now), read another book I’ve been putting off for years: The Virgin Suicides and my wife and I completed something and embark on something new next week. What it will be is a happy unknown.
Reading all those books has been dizzying, conjuring up so many thoughts in me, mostly about my own writing and some about my life in general. Mostly novels but as I said, I’ll get to that in December. Right now I am focused on feeling motivated I can still complete things when it matters. It gives me some juice to take another healthy stab at writing. But more on that in a few paragraphs.
Burn Notice was a big part in my life from 2007 until 2011. When I left my job, girlfriend and family security to go live in NYC this show was just starting. So fresh, vibrant, funny and acceptingly tense it very quickly won me over. I turned others onto the show. And when I returned to the family security and first tried to edit my book and then look for work, unsuccessfully, sinking into a hopeless, self-defeating depression, the show was there. And being on USA network there were constant marathons being run and I rarely missed them, consuming multiple episodes at a time, seeing the first three seasons at least three times, with the regularity of my faithful Sorkin shows. I liked the friendship developed over time, the many layers of true fidelity in action. It’s no wonder that I would gravitate towards this ensemble show, as I had Sorkin’s shows which also contained a trust you with my life bond. The Miami locale was a huge bonus, always sunny and colorful.
Sometime in the 5th season, my life was once again changing. I was returning to the social work fold and courting a girl I’d met on Facebook. Having felt married since kindergarten, I knew this girl was special and devoted everything I had to her. Weeks passed by without catching the new episodes. My father, who I’d turned onto the show, informed me the show was going into some interesting directions.
Three years later, my social work career brighter than ever and the girl becoming my bride, I returned to the world of Michael Westen, Sam Axe and Fiona Glenanne (and character actor Coby Bell really stepping up his game as burned spy Jesse Porter). With my bride we walked the fine line of dangerous rapid heartbeats, active dreams, and sweaty palms and feet binge watching the last 2 ½ seasons over three weeks. (We did the same thing for the first season of Orphan Black. We are just gluttons for punishment.) The Burn Notice episodes went to darker places than even I had expected but we agreed the finale was satisfying. So many shows, like books, just don’t how to end. Burn Notice in my opinion rewarded its viewers. So much so that my wife wants to go back to the beginning, for the first 5 seasons she missed. She either really likes me (as family and friends said when I told them she loved watching Oz with me) or she digs the same things as me and I’m just as lucky as Lou Gehrig.
Earlier in the day, I had read The Virgin Suicides after several unsuccessful starts over the years. I don’t know what head space I occupied in those previous starts because this book was intensely readable, well-written and effectively haunting. What I liked about it most was how it stayed small, telling a simple story, however with enough background noise people could dig further seeing the horrors of being a teenager or suburban decay coming to life. I choose to appreciate it for its originality and promise fulfilled what Eugenides later produced (Middlesex, The Marriage Plot, and short story Baster).
As such as I like my white male writers Eugenides, Shteyngert, Eggers, Chabon, I cannot forget what Sarah Schulman experienced at a writer’s colony in the mid 90’s. There was so much critical love for these men, most only one or two books deep into their repertoire, while Schulman was five books strong and virtually unknown. She spoke about the boys club of the literary world and the NO GIRLS ALLOWED policy she has felt since. Maybe it was more about her novels, with positive gay characters living loving dying, separate but universal in scope. She is a writer of the purest order and deserves a bigger audience.
Finally, with regards to my writing, I sense the past obsession of the diary and the missing girl and the new one who takes her place, including the accidental death, sister identity switch and entirely contrived Swedish singer subplot while the detective struggles with his own issues of infidelity and demons-
Ugh. I have to write what I’m comfortable with. What I know. And just because I had a disturbing dream fifteen years ago doesn’t mean I should just pursue blindly. Reading more has actually led me to want to take time to write sentences, not stories. I so enjoy reading aloud and I would like my books to be read aloud. I like words too much to accept anything less. A new writer’s door opens and out steps something familiar yet undeniably individual. Putting to words the things I observe, as delicately as Italo Calvino.
A breeze comes through our apartment. On the stereo My Morning Jacket gracefully transitions to Meshell Ndegeocello. My delightful bride serves up a homemade puff pastry pizza filled with egg, asparagus and prosciutto. Love inside me and inspiration mere steps away.
I am in awe how great my life is right now.