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Monday, March 08, 2004

So Spalding Gray is dead. He went missing on the tenth of January, and this weekend they pulled him from the East River. He’d been suicidal since a car accident in Ireland, and actually had attempted suicide twice in the last two (?) years.
I had read that he was missing, but stories about someone being “missing” always imply conspiracy theories: Gray emptied a secret savings account, paid cash at the airport using expensive, flawlessly crafted fake ID, and will live out the rest of his days on a beach in Thailand/The Philippines/St. Thomas/El Salvador; Gray started walking North to one of those semi-mythical chunks of Canada the size of Ireland which have never been mapped; Gray grew a beard and will finish his days as a car mechanic named Stevens in Kentucky; Gray is living with the Apes in the heart of the African jungle primeval. Or maybe he just walked out on a New York City bridge one night in January, and no one saw him jump. Articles said he was ID’d via x-rays and dental records, so he was probably pretty far decomposed. What a terrible thing to do to your wife.
I don’t know why I even care. I thought Gray was terrific in True Stories, but I never saw him live, never saw him in any other films (I’m pretty sure), and I got maybe fifteen pages into that copy of Swimming To Cambodia that Anne Foye gave me before I put it aside for years and finally gave it to charity. Or maybe I sold it to Frugal Muse… At any rate, he’s not an idol, or a hero, or a contemporary, just an interesting guy who disappeared fifty-eight days ago.

I signed up for Unemployment today. Free money for getting fired. It feels win-win right now: I get weekly money as long as I look for work, and if I find work, I find work. Actually, it feels win-win-win: the money comes out of TDS’s coffers (at least indirectly, I think). Am I bitter that they fired me? Yes. I worked hard for the company, and I tried to fit in. Were they right to fire me? Yes. I didn’t even consider arguing with Sam and Tom, because I knew they were dead right: I wasn’t working out.

In some ways, the jobs I have had since college are like a road map of cowardice. I have felt like a failure for years because I didn’t even try to succeed. I set my sights at just getting by. What have I written since college? A handful of bunk history papers for an MATC evening class. Have I made any drawings? Hardly. Music? So half-heartedly it doesn’t bear thinking about. Of course, how much of that stuff did I do in college? A little more, but not much more.
I’ve been afraid to take any steps toward what would be my success because I don’t want to fail, to be criticized, to look foolish. Like Rob says in High Fidelity, “that’s suicide…by tiny, tiny increments.” My mission is to tread water until June, and then go on a trip with Sarah. And you know what? I don’t give a fuck if we’re not the first people that ever went on a bike trip. And I don’t give a fuck if we’re not the first people that ever wrote about their lives on the road. And I don’t give a fuck if we’re not the first people that ever ran a self-infatuated web-site about their own lives. Gotta start somewhere. And starting anywhere is an improvement over starting nowhere.

Sometimes Sarah asks me what I’ve been reading on the Web. I read the web a lot—DailyKos, TalkingPointsMemo, Atrios, DailyHowler, plus the Times online and whatever else I link to (and sometimes boobies)—but I’m at a loss to summarize. Condensed, all the information I’ve just consumed seems to parse down to a few sentences or ideas. Maybe it’s more a big picture issue—the sites I read are minutiae, arcana, tiny little motes that squish together to say, “the blood’s in the water today,” or “I can’t believe that Cheney,” or “Rush Limbaugh, what a lying drug addict.” But it’s not like any of those web sites are terribly nuanced. They’re all big-picture type sites, not fine-tooth-comb parsings of economic theory or anything. Maybe information on the internet just exists unto itself, like gold that turns to dust when you take it from the enchanted cavern.

I read today that Ethan Hawke’s next movie is a sequel to Before Sunrise. Before Sunset, starring himself and Julie Delpy. That’s exciting and terrible news. Before Sunrise ended so suddenly and ambiguously, and I had such a perfect picture in my brain of their planned-upon rendezvous: Vienna train station, a few snow drifts, the wind blows a few strays curls of snow, and it is perfectly, breakingly desolate. Of course, I was a sophomore in high school when I saw the movie, so perfect, breaking desolation had more appeal than it does today. Still, I can appreciate it. I listen to the blues! I’m hip! I’m down!
I’m glad to be writing. I may have to do more of this. I may have to make myself do more than this, coz at heart, I’m afraid I’m kind of a lazy fuck. But I could be worse.


Sunday, March 21, 2004

I’m struggling through my Vermont College application essay, and having a really hard time saying that I want to be a history teacher because a good history teacher makes the world a better place, and can inspire kids to be smarter, more motivated, and more interested in their world. Too bad that sounds so square. And cliched. Don’t fear the cliché, Andy. Make it work for you.

We watched Before Sunrise last night, and I was relieved that it was as good as I remembered. Or at least, that I still like it as much as I did. Sequel? Hmmm… I see three possibilities: reunion in Vienna six months after the first movie ended, reunion ten years later (sticking to the real-time idea), or another chance encounter. Maybe the second and third are pretty much the same.

I am relieved to have been approved to collect unemployment. I feel like less of a failure, both professionally and in my ability to support me and Sarah. Also, it frees me up to volunteer for Feingold, and makes the bike trip seem more likely. I’m going to need to do something to keep from feeling like I’m spinning my wheels.

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