I sit in one of the dives on North Avenue, uncertain and afraid, as the clever hopes expire of yet another project... The most important one of all yet... Waves of anger and fear circulate the ever darkened lands of my brain, obsessing over private lives, the unmentionable odour of death offends the September Night.
Not my death, don't worry. But a death nonetheless, and the possible death of a future me, because I know that I can't abide many more deep depressions before I'm too exhausted to keep fighting against it. Who of the future mes will live and who will die? Who among me will live to his predestined time and who before his time? Who will rest and who will wander? Who will live in harmony and who will be harried? Who will enjoy tranquility and who will suffer? Who will be impoverished and who will be enriched? Who will be degraded and who will be exalted?
At this time tomorrow, it would appear that Schmuck may be playing its last show. Another supposedly well-meaning good friend, once having given me the confidence to start the project by telling me that he could abide by my chronic lack of ability for organization, has now done an about face and told me he can't and is leaving the band. In the last two months, I've now lost a girlfriend, two bands (or three), and no doubt a few friends as well, meanwhile being in love with with women in my life whom if they knew what was good for them would not come even as near me as they do with a ten foot pole, because nobody can apparently abide this misfiring brain of mine for too long, and as ever, I seem to lose everything in my life that was ever worth preserving. A couple days of peace, and inevitably it's only one or two or three (very rarely three), inevitably come crashing down in a rain of emotional fire I have to fight for months with a hose that itself is burning.
I've spent the majority of the last two weeks utterly panicked about the extreme drama accompanying the weddings, and because of that panic I couldn't focus on this concert, and now, because I was panicked about the weddings, I now have to panic as I realize that by putting the planning of this concert on hold and not communicating correctly, I'm losing my band. And even if the band is ultimately salvageable this time (and it probably is), it can't possibly be worth salvaging. I've gone through the long stretch of trying to keep a sinking project afloat, and I know how this goes - gradually, just as when I was a choral conductor, I'm going to lose everybody, and my mental health can't survive another year like the year I tried to form a chorus, and failed, due to an overwhelming lack of organizing acumen.
I wouldn't even know how to describe what went wrong. I can render everything in the world into words, but there is no rational way in which I can describe where a calendar goes wrong or when it was that I simply forgot to convey the single important piece of information that would have kept everything afloat. Week after week for decades, I watch utter mediocrities able to get everything done in their lives and keep worthless, destructive projects afloat. I may not be more than a mediocrity myself (though when I'm being honest with myself, in at least my opinion I'm much better at whatever I do than mediocre, except at organization), but even if I were a total mediocrity, even if I'm worse than mediocre, why is it fair that so many other people can get all the things I can't? Day after day for thousands upon thousands at a time, I've watch organized people, sometimes mediocre people, sometimes better than mediocre, sometimes villainous and abusive people, get angry at me for the wicked crime of being whatever I am. The world is run by organized people, and inevitably, there is something about disorganization that they loathe. Organization is built around solving problems, the minds of linear thinkers are built around organization, so to such people, an unsolvable problem is virtually synonymous with evil, and they treat all those without organization with reprobate disgust as though a disorganized person can help being anything but what he is. In my more charitable moments, I can explain that to them a million times; I have, and I know that I have very well, because I know that in most ways I'm smarter than the lot of them, but it doesn't matter, because on the one thing, the only thing, on which they seem to me to have any competence at all compared to me, I'm an utter incompetent. In my less charitable moments, I think such people are the gas feeding the flames that have taken the world out of an idyllic paradise and put us on a Sisyphean treadmill in Hell. Their achievements can evolve us as far above of the rest of the animal kingdom as they can, but the further they distance us from animals, the more like animals they act. Their reptilian cunning is the most savage, animal-like quality, to ever be present in the human race.
Four days ago I was, as everybody around me seemingly was, on air. Getting there, given the majority of the summer I had (yet again), was hell on earth, but for one brief weekend (and a hellish Saturday within it), everything went right. This is not the doings of an indifferent God or a universe without God, these are the actions of a God who punishes all happiness with double shares of misery.
From an early age, an all too early age, I knew that happiness in the manner other people experience it would not be in the cards for me. The idea of 'happy enough' for most other people, or at least most well-adjusted upper-middle-class Americans, only exists as a destructive siren song that beckons them to feel ennui, as though happiness is attainable over the next hump. But for me, ennui is my indicator of relative happiness. When you live every day knowing that at any moment, a small event can be a trigger for cataclysmic inner horror, how can even life's good moments be savored? Every day is spent on an exhausting run from a beast that inevitably catches up with you and can eat whole weeks, months, decades, alive. Everything becomes a race against it: music, the internet, biking, TV, movies, work, reading, writing, friendship, dating, keeping up with the news, even anger itself can become a race against the beast, because the moment you rest is the moment it can celebrate its victory by swallowing you whole.
And within that realization was immediately lit within me the overwhelming ambition, the dream, the omnipresent engine that knows no rest, that one day, somehow, some way, some day, some place, some time, I would do something that would justify subjecting myself to all this suffering. Because if you can't, what is a guy like me still alive for?
It is entirely possible, perhaps even entirely likely, that I am not as smart as I often convince myself I am. We all have our coping mechanisms. Perhaps mine is narcissism and grandiosity. I don't think I'm a narcissist by nature (everyone I've asked seem to agree, but maybe they're just being nice...); the grandiosity of narcissism is there, so obviously is the ability to endlessly write about myself, but I think I'm a pretty darn empathetic person and memories of times I might have exploited others for my own personal gain (and to be sure, there are moments when I certainly have) is something that keeps me awake virtually every night of my adult life. If there's a narcissist in me, he incubated in my brain over a long period.
One day, maybe, I can do something important that I know will make the world a slightly better place for lots of people. One day, maybe, I can justify being alive in this frankly agonizing state. But therein lies the paradox of Importantitis (and surely such a condition must always be capitalized). The more importance you attach to what you do, the less you can do it because the more intimidated and the more critical you become of your small efforts to capture just an infinitesimal sliver of what you're burning to achieve. And even if you can do it, the less it rises out of anything anybody needs but yourself. Prazevica and Schmuck were perhaps the best (but still quite mediocre) things I've ever done because for once in my life, I was able to let go of the Importantitis and just did it. Neither was great, but both were most certainly 'good enough' and 100x better than a lot of crap you can see on stages every night in Baltimore. But people who can 'just do' can never abide me for long, and all I'm left with is the dreams of what might one day justify me.
Perhaps it is this ability to record what depression is like at its worst moments that ultimately justifies my staying around. But what a horrible justification that is.