Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm a true Capricorn. (A statement that would mean so much more if I believed in astrology.)

Possibly surprising facts that may not be entirely obvious nor entirely congruent about me. I don’t promise this will be cohesive or satisfying. You’ve been warned.

Am I getting more impatient or are people getting dumber?
I hate when people make you stop giving out a phone number because they have to interrupt you to repeat the number after you. You know what I mean. You start with 101 (the area code, since we all now have nineteen phones with 14 different areas codes), and then they jump right in and say, “101”, then you say “202,” (“202” they exclaim, with great concentration), then you try to finish with 33 (“okay, 33”), and you finally conclude this complex algorithm with 44. (“44. So: 101-pause-202-pause-33-pause-44.”) Hate it. It makes me clench my teeth. How is it possible that you can hold no more than three numbers in your head at one time? How?

I’ve found that I can fool people into skipping this moronic routine by giving out phone number like this: 101 (pause) 202 (pause) 3 (pause) 344. That way, I have to endure only two pauses, because very few people will actually take a moment to repeat just one number back to you.

I prefer to think of it as dedication.
I play ENTIRELY too much solitaire online.

I used to play in the early evening, during the years I wrote the weekly newspaper column. As I did this very, very mindless exercise, I would compose the column in my head. I would organize it, think about the pace of it, the structure, the phrases I wanted to use, the parallels, the analogies and how it should begin and end.

All of this was quite unconscious to a large extent – not all of it – but much of it was. It was kind of in the back of my mind, simmering and fermenting and coming to a rolling boil, all while I did something else in the front of my mind. And then when I was ready to let it out, it went from the back of my mind to the keyboard, usually in one continuous session, almost as if I were taking dictation from my head.

It wasn’t done by any means. But it was there. And I could read it and fix it and cut entire paragraphs out of it before I turned it in, usually the first one. I would rarely love the column when it appeared, but it usually didn't make me insane to read it. Once in a while it did, though. When that happened, I would call them "the columns that got away."

But these days, I find myself playing solitaire and composing very little in my head. I seem to be in some kind of “this writing is crap,” “this reads like garbage,” and “this is so uninspiring it’s awesome” mode, which may well be all too true.

Music transcends life.
I LOVE gospel music. I must have been a Baptist in another life, who sung in the choir every week. It’s just so heartfelt and so passionate. It’s so full of hope and honest emotion. The singers seem to put it all out there, which is something I doubt I’ve ever felt comfortable enough to do even once in my life. And there’s a small part of me that regrets it.

You say obsessive; I say scarily, enthusiastically focused.

I can be just a little, just a smidge, just a tad…obsessive. I tend to immerse myself in something that fascinates me at any given moment. When I love a movie, I LOVE it. Same with a TV show. I have been known to watch hours (literally) of Law & Order or In Treatment or Lost.

If I read a non-fiction book I like, I’ll read everything I can about that topic for a while. I’ll discuss it like crazy with people I more or less force to read it just so we can talk about it. Or if I like a novel, I’ll re-read it a bunch of times – I’ll leave it at that (“a bunch”) – and try to find something new that fascinates me. I usually do, too. Somewhere along the line, my re-reads become explorations, mostly about the language or the choices the writer made. I wonder why and I wish I could have him or her over to dinner to chat about it. Until dawn, maybe.

I'm outing myself. Give me credit for that, at least.
I really don’t “get” NPR. I tried for a long time. I really did. But when I stopped listening, it was because I finally realized this: the best way to make a bleak day even bleaker was to listen to NPR. And the last thing I need is to find a way to add more bleakness into my life.

Maybe that makes me a moron. Or at least not nearly as smart as everyone who simply adores NPR. There’s that whole “I’m smarter than you are” aspect of NPR that makes me insane. (This feeling is connected by a dotted line to the contrary streak I have that makes me want o dislike things that almost everyone likes.)


Hmmmm. Does any of this resonate with anyone? Am I simply too mean to live sometimes? I’ll try to think of some more pleasant aspects of my personality to share. That should be interesting.


Anonymous said...

Geez, Renee, I could have written this blog, myself.

renee said...

Thank God!

Thank you, Joe. There are more of us than I thought.

Richard said...

NPR and gospel music pushed my buttons. I waited a long time to get a public radio station in the Lehigh Valley, but every time I listen to WDIY it IS so bleak as you said. I think they might play some music once in a while. Never heard gospel, though.

Which brings me to music. Even though I call myself agnostic, I like gospel music. I think folk and gospel are very much the same. One of my favorite artists is David Bromberg, and he said his favorite place when he's lonely is an African-American church. Sing it out loud, Renee. Sing like no one else is listening!

renee said...

Richard, you are too funny.

I never heard the Bromberg story but I totally relate. I think it must be nearly impossible to feel lonely or abandoned or unloved if you're surrounded by gospel music.

I can't help you with the NPR thing. As a colleague of mine likes to say, "Christ on a bike!" I mean, not everything is a horror show, right??

Meredith O. said...

I love the 'enthusiastically focused' segment! I always wondered what my diagnosis would be on that front...I was so amused as I completely follow your pattern when I get emersed in a new read.

renee said...

Thanks for the honesty. What I'm learning here -incrementally, but still - is that we all have a little bit of Thoreau in us.

Quiet desperation and all.

The only difference is, I think Thoreau was quietly desperate about stuff that mattered a whole lot more than this.

Crap! I should work on that.