Friday, May 06, 2005

Which side belongs in control?

I have never been very good at belonging, but wouldn't you know it, I was bestowed by the evil fates with a great big whopping fat desire TO belong. A torturous combination. What this means is that I will push and shove my way to the center of something--I used to do it with jobs; I always had to be the one "in" with the boss, the indispensible one, the one whom everybody turned to for answers, and then once I was there, I secretly resented it, and began to misbehave and slack off and get lazy. Or in other circumstances, I loved the first year of the LiveWire Literary Salon, being up there as Emcee every Tuesday night, the one who made all the decisions of who got to read and when...until I started to feel put upon, tired, wondering when everybody would just leave me alone. That's when the not giving a hoot about belonging part kicks in.

As I wove through the aisles of my favorite local bookstore--Copperfield's (the same tiny independent 'chain,' incidentally, where my honey and I met) I noticed that this belonging dilemma has already been manifesting in the world of publishing. That is to say I long to be a published author. I want my name on a hardback copy with some big imprint on its spine...and yet I loathe the machine at the same time, the machine that is forced to be driven by the bottom line because publishers front all the money and it's all one big gamble for them. But in order to make use of their tiny kitty of advertising funds, they do not put it all behind Jane-New Author, no. They help promote Paris Hilton's new memoir, or Pam Anderson's "novel." I'm off point here. What I'm trying to say is that everything I seem to long to be a part of, sooner or later, I become dissatisfied with, scornful of. I see only its flaws and then I get full of disdain and holier-than-thou snobbery. I turn up my nose and suddenly crave some radical, underground publishing house to burst out of the earth like a mountain forming. I crave a community of writers suddenly rallying together funds and energy to publish and support the success of each other. I see visions of a new literary movement, one that reminds people of the journey, the process, the joy!

Then I remember this is a capitalist society. That to survive, one has to care about the bottom line, and I find myself frequenting the bookstore less and less, and when I do, paying more attention to the new spiral bound journals, and the quality of the paper therin than to the new books. I stop caring who Zyzzyva and Tin House are publishing. I refuse to even wonder what will make the New York Times Bestseller list.

Now, if you want to speak Enneagram with me (easy to Google if you're not, heaven forbid, in the know), this behavior of mine stems from being a type four personality, with a three wing. As a four, I get my identity from being "special," and "different" from the rest of you. I cultivate a small city of uniqueness into which there is no entry. In the haze of fourness I can be as moody, and entitled to my moods as I want. I can push you away without explanation and then, eventually cry out in despair when you have taken the bait for you to come back.

But my little cheerleader "three" wing is part prosletyizing fundamentalist, part ambitious motivational speaker and part greedy, wall-street hustler. She is the part that has me jabbing my elbows into the crowd and charging forward, determined to get to the center of everything. She is the one that wants FAME and FORTUNE, who says, fuck selling out! I can do whatever I want to get myself where I want to be. Can you imagine? These two parts of me live in the same body, brain, heart. They face off over coffee each morning and arm-wrestle, until the little three wing just throws a pill in my four's java and takes over. But at the end of the day, when the ambition, the desire for fame, the need to be validated has fizzled its way out of the soles of my feet, the real me returns and remembers that it's all just a manifestation game.

What I mean by that is that wherever you focus your attentions, those desperate longings or those powerhouse certainties, results will follow in the same vein. When I am determined to get something, I usually get it. When I am despairing, usually, everything unravels like an old sweater.And every day, it is as much a mystery to me as to anyone else which side will take control of steering me toward its destiny.


At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry to have caused you anxiety in the past. glad to hear you've gotten over it.
best, howard

At 10:26 AM, Blogger Jordan E. Rosenfeld said...

It would be delicious to think it was really you, Howard, posting to my little ole' blog...but since I have a hard time imagining you making the time for such a thing, I'll figure you're an imposter.

and shouldn't it be "onward" rather than best?

If it is really you...well, rest assured you caused me no anxiety, just low self-esteem and abject dread...

But I knew what I was getting into when I signed up to be a writer.



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