I just finished reading three books (Tess of the d’Urbervilles, The Ghostwriter by Philip Roth, and Better Than Sex by Hunter Thompson). I may have read The Ghostwriter too fast but I’m not in the mood for picking apart a tiny novel loaded with literary allusions and stylistic nuance. I don’t know why my book guy at work decided now was a good time for Philip Roth. Next on the list in that vein is Portnoy’s Complaint. Then Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon. I’m still a hundred pages out on Anxious Decades, the book about America from the 20s to the 40s. Tess was good but the ending was necessarily depressing.
I don’t remember a time when I was reading as often as I am now, except maybe elementary school. I think reading has gotten me out of my own head and that is always good for my mental well-being, although, like the famous writer character in The Ghostwriter, I’m loathe to do anything that might compromise my writing potential. What I’m learning is that state of boredom and depression doesn’t produce good writing, it just produces hours of time to think about writing something good.
Today I went to the gym and ran a mile in six minutes fifteen seconds. My best time ever was five minutes thirty eight seconds when I was on the track team in high school. I’m ten years older now, so I figure that’s pretty good. My goal is to go to the gym five times a month every month of this year. I am starting to feel more energetic as of a couple of days ago. People always told me that exercising makes you have more energy, but I would exercise and then go to sleep. I did that today, in fact. Yesterday I was thinking to myself, You know what I don’t do anymore? Fall asleep when I am trying to write. Sweet! and then today I came home and tried to finish reading a book and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. That used to happen to me all the time. I used to think I had narcolepsy or some shit. But anyway, yeah I never noticed an increase in energy after working out, but I think what they didn’t tell me or perhaps what I didn’t hear is that it comes on slowly and seems to be unrelated to when you actually work out. Or maybe these past few days I’ve been feeling more energetic because I am reading more. I don’t know. Today I didn’t feel as energetic as I did yesterday.
Still not dreading, which is good but weird and almost weird enough to make me start dreading the day when I will dread things again. It reminds me of this post by The Babe about not trusting a good mood. However, I’m out of the reach of those thoughts right now, somehow, so as I type this I don’t actually have those feelings of paranoia, but I do remember them enough to question why I don’t have them. It’s as if I’m living on a higher plane. Throughout this post I have tried to throw in a fuck or god damn but they haven’t been fitting in. Too emotional for the rarefied air here.
I haven’t been writing any fiction, but I have had some insights into a method that might work for me. I like to type fast and I don’t like to look at what I’ve written unless it’s a completed thing. I like editing, but then I usually don’t like what’s left after I cut up what I wrote. It’s like a tortured building. It was a drawing of a building, but then I built it and realized it wasn’t a good building, so I hammered on parts and added other parts on, and the added parts are all glittering and out of place, and then I gild that shit somehow and then sand the whole thing down. If I liked editing, I would go back and delete that whole weird metaphor. So anyway, I think a lot of my writing is thinking. Not the idle kind of thinking I do constantly, but focused thinking. Like sitting the fuck down and forcing myself to think of the same thing for me than five minutes. There, I got a fuck in at least.
The emotion is coming back now that I’ve had a beer, or half of one, which is as good as a whole one I guess since I haven’t had one since Sunday and even then it was only one. However I refuse to entertain the thought that my increase in energy and my decrease in dread is because I’m drinking less. No, it must be something more complicated.
Anyway, I’m going to Vermont for a week soon, and I intend to bring nothing to do there, save perhaps one good, long ass book, but I’m debating even that. I must have learned nothing if I think that I can go there and just write for the whole week. If I don’t bring a book I’ll just sit drooling on myself in an armchair until I decide to go to a movie. Oh I forgot to mention that my wife will be away at class for almost the whole time, so that’s why I will have plenty of time to drool on myself.
Someday these last few months will coalesce into one memory of a time when I woke up and made coffee and my wife was always worried about her school and I read a hundred books and I bided my time at work until I could ask for the good shifts. I hope I will remember this time fondly, but I hope I won’t remember it like I do the winter of 2013: fondly, but looking with pity at a young man on a course towards his own (temporary) ruin. Just so I’m not being annoyingly cryptic, I’m referencing here that time I quit my job, went back to it, and then drank enough to get fired.
Maybe I’ll look back on these days as the time when I wrestled emotions, doubts, depression, paranoia, narcissism and nihilism to the ground, shackled and chained them to a ramshackle sled made of raw will and rode that bitch to glory.