I have no desire to be enigmatic.
But it is a scary place, my mind. Crowded with jumbled imagery and intricate stories and trivial pop culture references, with nowhere to go. All of the craziness shuffles and scuffles to be forefront in my mind, to be most important. To be first. "Let me out!" it all screams, because it has got to go somewhere, right?
Sometimes, when I read a book or I see a movie, I catch the mood of the piece, and I cannot shake it. I am there, and woe unto any who try to break in, to find me. I am in it, and only I can find my way back out. I am not even sure if that makes sense, but it is most definitely the case.
I mean, I know other people can read a book and put it down. Me? I read the fifth Harry Potter book in one night. ONE NIGHT! That freaking book is over 800 pages long! Honestly. It can take me literally hours to stop worrying about the characters in which I have invested my time. I feel their pain, their joy, their despair, their triumphs. If the book is particularly well-done, if the characters are alive, if the mood is fully realized, then it can take me hours to stop feeling the book. To let go of it.
Other people can watch a particularly riveting television show or movie and walk away thinking, "Huh. Good show! What's for dinner?" Me? I become emotionally invested in the characters. I will obsess about their lives and the "what if's" for days on end. Weeks, even. Now do not misunderstand. This is not to say I cannot separate the fictional characters from reality. No worries. I absolutely can. What I cannot do, not right away, anyway, is to stop thinking about their stories. Taking them in new directions. I will spend hours weaving new stories for them. Sometimes I even dream new stories. But Leonardo da Vinci said, The eye sees a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination awake. Dude was a wise Renaissance man, yo?
Which leads me to this: when I write stories? Oh BOY. I am SO living them. And it is so exciting! I get to be someone else! Well, for a little while, anyway. I become Goddess of the Story Universe! Bow to me! Then, inevitably, my characters begin growing and acting out in ways I had not intended, and I just get to go with it, and it is GOOD. Of course, I think this is why I enjoy happy ending so much, formulaic cliche be damned. I need them, or I am lost. Then again, my endings are not always happy. And I absolutely hate that, because I ache for my characters. But I love it, too.
For a long time I thought this craziness had a name. I HAD to give it a name. I was surely bipolar. Manically depressed. Obviously. It was the only explanation for the mood swings, the black days, the deep-rooted dark despair that settled into my mind and would not let go. Right? And what sane, happy person loses herself in television and books? Huh? Normal people with three beautiful kids and TGIM don't act this way, right? Am I RIGHT?! I hated my career choice, my living situation, my life, and I could not shake the feeling that something was terribly, terribly WRONG with me, because everyone I knew insisted I should be happy, that I should be thankful, that I should just STOP wallowing and get on with living. And I wanted to. I WANTED TO. But I was stuck. So I turned to the happy pills. But the drugs? They did not help. Dispassionateness, for me, was not a cure. It was a bandage.
"You are just like my ex-husband," my sister said to me. "You can be anything you want to be. Anything but happy."
Oh, no she DIDN'T.
So I ripped it off that bandage. And I made CHANGES.
I found a job writing and quit my teaching job. I packed up and moved all the way across the United States, not sure when and if TGIM would follow, but sure it was the right thing to do. I began expressing the jumbled imagery, intricate ideas, and trivial pop culture references swirling about in my mind through the magical world of blogging. I made new friends. I discovered the words "job satisfaction" were not mutually exclusive. I pulled myself out of the rut of complacency and fear in which I was trapped and made some personally earth-shattering decisions regarding what I wanted out of life. And, yes, I hurt TGIM and others close to me in the process and, yes, almost lost everything. I know that. I OWN that. But these days? I'm starting to feel as if despite the excruciating pain I caused myself and others, I have gained everything.
TGIM thinks this is The Crazy in me. Sometimes he loves me for it, sometimes... not so much. Me? I am starting to believe The Crazy is simply the artistic temperament in me. And, slowly, oh so slowly, I am learning to embrace it. I am learning how to USE it, to hone it, to bend it to my infinite megalomaniacal will, mwah ha ha ha!...
The other day I stumbled across a quote by Edvard Munch, the artist formerly known as the man who painted The Scream. Okay, he is still known as that, I just like the allusion to Prince. Because Prince ROCKS. Anywhos, Munch wrote of the experience he had which triggered the creation of this masterpiece:
I was out walking with two friends - the sun began to set - suddenly the sky turned blood red - I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence - there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city - my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety - and I sensed an endless scream passing through nature.
As I read this I realized, hey, sometimes I sense that Endless Scream, too. I hear it! I KNOW it. And, slowly, I am learning to embrace it. I am learning how to USE it. I know, I know. Inscrutable, much? Talk to my family. But, then again, if I did not see the world this way, if I did not feel the world this way, how could I write? And writing? Makes me feel complete. Utterly, dizzyingly complete.
Well, writing, and a big ol' donut. Yummmmmm.
Take that, big sister. I CAN be happy.
I stand corrected little sis... though you still can't get too Philosophical on me cause my mind starts to tune out... Much like my daughter Katie when I start to reprimand her for refusing to follow recipe directions... But I love you, and I'm glad you're figuring out how to be happy!
- » 5/16/2005 10:00 AM
- kalki commented:
They say that with extreme creative talent comes madness.
Can I just say I totally GET all of this? After I read a great book or watch a good movie, I BECOME the main character. For at least a few days. I walk like her and say things like she would and I think about her life all the time. I am in the mood of the piece and strange as it is, I can't shake it. Likewise, when I am writing fiction, the story consumes me.
Anyway, good for you for taking your life by the balls.
- » 5/16/2005 11:31 AM
I don't remember saying that my ex could do anything but be happy though... Sure he was never happy, but he couldn't be anything he wanted to be... he wasn't that good... probably why he did not like ya... or me for that matter!
- » 5/16/2005 4:06 PM
- Cat commented:
Oh, ho, ho... BUUUUUUURN! Take THAT, Warren!!!
- » 5/16/2005 4:36 PM
- Cat commented:
Seriously, I have never believed he hated you. But he sure didn't like himself, now did he?
- » 5/16/2005 4:38 PM
- Random and Odd commented:
good for you cat!
You know we all love you to death right?
and I CAN NOT WAIT FOR TOMORROWS BLOG!
- » 5/16/2005 8:18 PM
- mrtl commented:
Oh my gawdy gawdiness I love you so much right now. This is awesome! Said as only the Cat can say it, and I totally relate... although I am a few steps behind you. Having just started on the meds (though I can't call them happy pills - more like numby pills), having tried changing my job, my life, my outlook before. I do hope to someday (real soon) find balance without them.
- » 5/16/2005 8:24 PM
- Mamaramma commented:
Cat - you've certainly found your calling. You're an excellent writer and can make us feel the energy and excitement that you're feeling through your words. If we could all be so talented!
BY the by, I didn't get into Harry Potter til a couple of years ago, and read the whole series in 3 weeks. Nothing, compared to your evening of book 5, but I know how you feel!
- » 5/17/2005 8:02 AM
- Nessa commented:
just wanted to say - i feel ya!
- » 5/17/2005 8:22 AM
- Circus Kelli commented:
Wow, Cat. Just. Wow.
I'm so glad you have found a way to make some positive changes in your life, and things are looking brighter for you.
Many continuous good days surely lie ahead of you.
- » 5/17/2005 8:23 AM
Oh Cat...you make me cry! (And that is the sign of a good writer!) I know what you mean. Where our crazy intersects..I know what you mean. I'm so happy for you. That you have found your way to happiness. Pray for the rest of us as we try to find our way out of the obscurity that is life.
- » 5/17/2005 8:59 AM
- Cat commented:
Aw shucks, guys... And here I was feeling so alone. I still get scared, uncertain, ya know? But seriously, what a tremendous outlet this blog is. Truly! Feels GOOOOOOD.
Of course, TGIM cannot believe I would put something so personal "out there," but it is exactly the "out there" aspect of the blog that makes it so cathartic... So real.
Too. Much. Seriousness.
Um... Oh. GO Bo and Carrie! and Vonzell! Tonight's the night! Woo-hoo!
- » 5/17/2005 10:07 AM
- dashababy commented:
oh cat, looks like you have realized your calling. that was a great read. you didnt lose me at any point and you totally make sense.
i get depressed when i get close to the end of a book because i know its going to end. reading is a luxury i dont indulge in because, unfortunately i am a slow reader and will get so engrossed that my house and hygiene will be neglected until i am finished. of course then there is work to contend with. not a good excuse for not showing up to work. but this reading thing is something i look forward to when i retire. the grim reaper will come a knockin and ill say "wait, one more page".
- » 5/17/2005 1:02 PM