PUBLISHED July 9, 2013

A Writer, Wallace, My Mother, and Me

On Saturday evening I met a writer I admire. It’s been over a full year since I was first assigned his incredibly relevant opinion piece on Watch the Throne, which cornered the album at an intersection of Capitalism and Civil Rights. It was after reading that piece that I was compelled to make this blog public–to share my (often bias) opinions and (somewhat limited) life experiences. This blog, at the peak of its momentum, brought so much joy into my life. Everyday I ignore its nagging. I want to come back, but so much has changed. Now when I write I have the endless scrolling of inbox messages in the back of my head–responses, both positive and negative, peering onto newly written words and judging them before they even learn to walk.

I split people into two categories: Those who are aware, and those who are unaware. Something started happening to me at a very young age. The furthest back I can trace the memory is to the attic of 122 Sycamore Street. I made habit of staring myself in the mirror until I wasn’t sure what exactly I was looking at. Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? went unanswered, silently, in my head as I felt something re-enter my body from what felt like another dimension. I would feel for the essence of my being–plummet to the center of my existence for the simplest nugget of “me.” I must have been eight or nine years old.

This still happens to me. Hyper-awareness. The feeling of feeling that I am living. Of feeling that there is a distinct separation between the parts of me that are molecular and the parts of me that have yet to reveal their origins. It was impossible to describe at eight. It terrified me. I would feel–as I looked at my own face as if I had never seen it before–that I was waking up from something. And as I type out this experience, for the first time ever, I want to cry. It’s a feeling like something inside of you contains the same energy that sparked the explosion of the universe. That I am so small but filled with the cosmos. That I am eternal and insignificant.

Reading is the most important thing in life. If I did not read the various strings of semantics that I have read over my lifetime I would think I were special. I would, like eight year old me, feel alien in my own skin. During spring semester of my senior year of college I realized I could power on this feeling. I could “wake up” when I chose.

Kenny told me when I first started at KDKA-TV that summer of ‘09 to get out of my own way. How did he see that? How did he see that I consciously turned off? That I felt so much more aware than those around me that I dulled my existence to blend in?

That is why I love the stage.

When Eckart Tolle had his moment of awakening, he said that everything around him looked different. Brighter. Realer. Significant. This happened to me in the attic of 122 Sycamore Street and followed me into my twenties. It is happening to me right now.

David Foster Wallace spoke these words:

“As I’m sure you guys know by now, it is extremely difficult to stay alert and attentive, instead of getting hypnotized by the constant monologue inside your own head. Twenty years after my own graduation, I have come gradually to understand that the liberal arts cliche about teaching you how to think is actually shorthand for a much deeper, more serious idea: learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed. Think of the old cliche about, quote, the mind being an excellent servant but a terrible master.

This, like many cliches, so lame and unexciting on the surface, actually expresses a great and terrible truth. It is not the least bit coincidental that adults who commit suicide with firearms almost always shoot themselves in: the head. They shoot the terrible master. And the truth is that most of these suicides are actually dead long before they pull the trigger.

And I submit that this is what the real, no bullshit value of your liberal arts education is supposed to be about: how to keep from going through your comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely, imperially alone day in and day out.”

I think instantly of my mother who decays at a ripe age of 50-something as the victim of her own unwillingness to live. Her loss of purpose once I gained independence, moved to college, and no longer needed her. Her enslavement to her depression, as if her neural synapses are barbed binds around her ankles.

And this makes me think instantly at my own lack of energy. I am tired, always so tired. And, if only, if only, if only, I weren’t so tired. Am I depressed? A part of me hopes so. Like Wallace and Poe and Woolf I can make beauty of a tortured mind, suffer an untimely death, and recycle my soul.

I hear everyone’s praise. You are such and impressive young lady. I am. I see generations to come getting my quotes tattooed in hidden places. I want to be more than great. I want to be eternal. I want to stay awake.

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