25 November 2009

The Okay Looking and Darned

When I heat my milk to "very hot," if I put my nose very close to the milk and inhale, I can smell the smell I remember from when my father used to buy us powdered milk while my parents were separated. Before he mixed in the water, the granules out of the packet smelled the same way. I suppose in the heating process the milkness separates from the water, so I am smelling the beginning of the powdering process, perhaps.

You will notice that I am back to making my own hot drinks.

I'm currently reading F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night. I remember when I first started going out with Irishboyfriend I read The Beautiful and Damned, and I became deeply depressed. In fact, I think The Beautiful and Damned may be the most depressing book I've ever read. Uch, I wandered around gloomy for at least a week. Fitzgerald is interesting: clearly, he was able to see the desperation and hollowness at the root of the privileged Jazz Age lifestyle, yet he wasn't able to stop living that lifestyle until circumstances forced him to. This ability to see clearly in others the very foolishnesses that you yourself are enacting seems to be a more common life paradox than I supposed, though.

In any case, Tender is the Night is also depressing. Thanks, F! I don't remember The Great Gatsby as a laugh riot, but I also don't remember it as all that lowering: nonetheless, it would seem that I ought to stay away from Fitzgerald novels, because I am now depressed. Although obviously we can't blame TitN for this with certainty (also, the short stories are not at all depressing).

Certainly, circumstances round my way are a bit gloomifying lately. For one thing, talk about tango seems to be taking a larger and larger role. Not tango itself: just talk about it. This is sad, because I like talking about tango to some degree, but now things have got to the stage where anytime it's mentioned I feel myself tensing up and all the joy leaking from my heart. It reminds me of that scene in Remington Steele where Laura and Mr. Steele go to Mexico, and every band that comes by at dinner plays "Guantanamera." "Guantanamera" is an enjoyable song, but you don't want to listen to it at dinner every night, especially repeatedly: to make the simile a bit more apt, Carlos Gardel is a fine singer and his tango songs are moving, but if he simply burst into song every time I sat across from him at dinner (which would admittedly be pretty extraordinary, because he's dead), I would soon choose not to sit with him, and I would grow to dislike his songs greatly.

Secondly, one of my friends is engaged in behaviour I dislike. Even worse, one of my friends is engaged in behaviour I deeply dislike. Usually I try to balance behaviours I dislike against my overall liking for the person, and I can often make space for the disliked behaviour in the larger whole. In this first case, that's becoming increasingly difficult, and in the second case, it's not possible: that behaviour is not just morally unpleasant to me personally but is also being performed in the face of plain evidence that my friend would not like it if someone were doing the same in return. That is, it is not just morally unpleasant (a debatable label, since the only morals that count here are those of the participants) but also illogical and, well, stupid. Stupid in that it reveals my friend to be considerably less reflective and even just sensible than I had thought. So people are being hurt (I know), people are behaving badly (I think), people are not being respected (I believe), and people are behaving ass-ishly (I must admit). Yet I love my friend, and to cease to hang out would cause my friend puzzled pain. Yet I don't feel right making some grand pronouncement, because the disliked behaviour has already been going on for some time.

That one causes me to heave a heavy sigh.

Then, I had a saddening therapy session today. I dislike therapy sessions in which I want to cry, because I consider it shaming to cry in therapy: I don't like to cry in front of other people in the first place, plus I'm there to do rational work on myself, plus my problems are essentially inconsequential in the grand scheme of things, and I'm not going to compound the self-indulgence of going to therapy by self-indulgently crying. So the session was upsetting because I nearly cried. But also, of course, it was sufficiently upsetting that I nearly cried: it's hardly heartening to say to someone aloud that all the evidence suggests that you'll never find a partner, then enumerate the evidence (can you enumerate evidence? or is it evidences?) that suggests that, then admit that you're depressed because no one cares for you specially, then admit in the end (even if you've known it before, and the therapist has, too) that you have no self-confidence and many reasons to believe you're unpartnerable (although I think the stuff after "and" should come under the above enumerated evidence[s]).

I think I'm just going to have to accept that when I look back on my life I will see here a long period in which I was deeply unhappy, with that unhappiness very occasionally interspersed with happiness. And I think I'm also just going to have to accept now that I am now deeply unhappy, and have been deeply unhappy for two or three years. I can't fix this or alleviate it, so I think I'm just going to have to think of it as something I'll endure and then get past. The therapist today suggested that we take a moment "to respect that unhappiness," which if you don't pay attention sounds like one of those crawly New Age things certain therapists say, but if you do pay attention perhaps does something important: it seems to me that it might suggest that that unhappiness is a temporary condition, & hence one that has to be acknowledged rather than accepted.

I also think, as I have had occasion to think before, that perhaps I should just stop being friends with many of my friends. It would certainly make my life easier. I think (as I have had occasion to think before) that I should try to locate some people of my own age and be friends with them. But the difficulty there is that everyone sometimes acts irritatingly, so how am I to say that my new, more age-appropriate friends would not eventually act as upsettingly as my current friends?

1 comment:

Rosasharn said...

Oh my dear. I am beginning to wonder if these friends are really worthy of you. Perhaps there is something important to be said for maturity? I don't think of us as "old," but I do think of us as adults; perhaps that is worth something. Perhaps it's worth re-evaluating your stance on youth. Certainly you must re-evaluate your stance on crying, for heaven's sake. Crying is not weak or self-indulgent or a privilege (it's available, after all, to everyone except the badly dehydrated). It is, however, a built-in tool for alleviating hard feelings. Just think of all those wonderful 18th C. novels in which people RELIEVE their feelings, privately, by sobbing. In fact, I think that's the point of crying: it allows you to feel the unhappiness (as your therapist suggested) and to notice, when you feel somewhat differently post-cry, that indeed, this feeling, like every other, is temporary and mutable.

In any event, I know very well that you are not a prude. Not wishing to witness or tolerate plainly bad behavior (and by bad I mean discourteous at the least and immoral at the worst) does not make you a prude. You are a wonderful friend and a generous, witty, charming, and delightful woman. It pisses me off, frankly, that no one around you seems fully clued in to that. I can't do anything about it from here, but I wish I could.

Finally, I think that Fitzgerald is a bit overrated, but then I don't care much for his period, so perhaps it's not personal.