Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year, New Possibilities

Last night's New Year's Eve party was successful by new standards. There were no strobe lights, go-go girls or boys, people squeezed into too-tight clothes, or fabulous people with a clipboard playing God at the entrance of a bar or club.

I'm mellowing out. Thumping bass, piercing treble beats, and leather-clad women dancing in suspended cages above a dancefloor no longer captivate me.

We spent a quiet evening in Washington Heights. I made the aforementioned gumbo (not too spicy), and hot spiced apple cider (just enough whiskey), and snacked on an assortment of finger foods.
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I am looking forward to this year. I am feeling more confident about my writing and editing projects, improving with each passing day. I think back to my years working on helpdesks or teaching software, not the happiest time in my life. I had lots of money, but felt dead on the inside. I was reprimanded a few times for creative writing on the computer between helpdesk phone calls, or when a supervisor thought I'd be better off mingling with co-workers, and playing my designated role in the game of office politics. I didn't fit into a corporate culture. I was usually the oddball in the office, talking about rollerblading, or dancing, not mortages, marriage, and children.

There were times I thought about being normal, but the images and ideas soon disappeared. I realized that I didn't want to be burdened with pleasing someone else just to pay the rent or travel yearly to a theme park for a family vacation.

The life of an artist is anything but normal. Oftentimes we suffer because of our art or craft, and only other artists can understand the depths we travel. I tried envisioning myself in a safe and comfortable life, with a wife, kids, and picnics in the country, but then I'd wake in a cold sweat or have dreams of my flying high atop skyscrapers as a winged avenger. I can see that dream as I type these words. It's set in an urban city, New York or Chicago. It's at night, and a scene plays out with other winged creatures, some on flying scooters, vying for dominance

Paging Dr. Jung. Paging Dr. Freud.

Somedays, Dr. Phil or Oprah makes sense when I'm receptive. I'm no longer embarrassed to admit I watch either show. One thing I've learned from both shows is that it's up to me to live the type of life that I desire. No one will write, or edit for me when I'm sleepy or distracted, deadline reminders sounding on the Palm Pilot.

(A challenge with writing blogs: self-editing. How much is too much? Who will read what I've written and perhaps take it out of context? Another challenge is the rush of images and thoughts as I type. Which ones will reign supreme? And which of those will I disclose?)

At the end of each year, if not at the beginning of a new year, I take an inventory of friendships and relationships in my life. A few years ago, I started telling people how I really felt about how they had treated me when a brick wall came crashing down on my head. During those moments, whether on the phone, e-mail, or in person, I remember one of Dr. Phil's rules: We teach people how to treat us.

It is with that rule in mind that I look ahead to 2006. I will start my spiritual and emotional house cleaning this week, broom and dustpan on hand. I've been warned not to be harsh or too impetuous in deleting names from my Outlook Contacts Folder. The cautionary note was that I shouldn't burn my bridges, but rather find an alternate way across the water. I've tried that, and it hasn't worked. A lot of people have the attention span of a fruit fly, and others still are hardcore opportunists. And I need to stop thinking as if I'm still in a polite and gracious southern town where chivalry lives, and people say Thank you.

Why not sweep away those people I've not seen or heard from in a year or two? Why should I keep those freeloaders' names in sight who only call when they need a new résumé, cover letter, or other business correspondence? I shouldn't. And I won't.

"Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for the love of it, then you do it for a few friends, and finally you do it for the money." - Moli

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