Now that I think about it, I probably should have popped that earpiece out before I took that picture above. The square edges peeking out from behind my face are really distracting.
Anyway, every year I put up my parents’ Christmas lights. They’re nothing fancy – just a few icicle-style lights hanging from first floor overhangs. Unfortunately, getting to some of the higher places requires this monstrosity of a ladder. Well, let me amend that last sentence. It’s not like my parents have some weird architecture that requires a unique ladder. What I meant was that my parents were somehow convinced to get The Little Giant ladder, which is a monstrosity.
Now, I wasn’t there when my parents bought the ladder, mind you, so I don’t know if they picked up a knock-off or what, but the one they got just isn’t as easy to use as the one featured in the commercial. Look at how light the ladder looks and how easy it handles. You’d think the thing was constructed from some light-weight aluminum alloy folded a million times by Masamune for sturdiness. The Little Giant my parents have may very well be made out of an aluminum alloy, but it certainly isn’t light. When it’s fully extended, it’s very easy to lose control of the thing while moving, especially if a stiff breeze hits you while your center of gravity is all off. I’ve almost dropped the ladder on cars parked in the driveway and almost poked the ladder through second storey windows. On the other hand, I’m quite weak for a man my age, so that might have something to do with it, though I suspect what the commercials don’t tell you is that the old man manipulating the ladder is actually a former three-time body building world champion.
In years past, my brother and I would put up the lights together. Back then we had a small, but amazingly light aluminum ladder for the lower overhangs and borrowed a neighbor’s ladder for the higher areas. To get out of this chore, my brother got married, which gave him a convenient excuse – immediate family first and all that – but he also inexplicably took the convenient aluminum ladder with him. I think he hires people to put up his lights. Anyway, my parents bought an even more monstrous ladder that had three hinges, allowing you to make ladder-gami configurations, like a crane that flaps its wings when you pull its tail. This ladder must have been made out of pure lead, because it was heavier than hell to lift, which is probably why I recruited/forced my childhood friend and neighbor to help me every year after.
Sadly, he too got married and decided – or his wife decided – that I wasn’t worth keeping in touch with. I’ve known the guy since I was 11! WHAT THE HELL? So these days I go it alone, up and down The Little Giant. With electric staple gun in hand, I climb to precarious heights and poke my head where only spiders and mud swallows are brave enough to tread. Unfortunately, I am extremely out of shape. So even though I got done faster than normal – no friends or brothers to cramp my style – and planned to get some things done in the evening, I was just too exhausted. I even picked up a quad-shot latte from Starbucks and it didn’t make a dent. So instead I went to sleep, but caffeine works in funny ways – it typically takes some time for it to get through my system. That means hours into my sleep I was jolted back to life, still tired, but unable to go back to sleep. Pure awesomeness.
As a movie reviewer I probably watch more movies than the average person. Although, to be candid, I probably also watch fewer movies than the average movie reviewer. Nevertheless, I watch a lot of movies. Just like everything else in life, most of the movies are terrible. One of my pet peeves as a film critic concerns movies that are inert – that are so character-driven they have no plot. It’s just an hour and a half (if the filmmakers are merciful, that is) of people doing stuff until the credits roll. No progress is being made. There’s no overarching goal to be achieved. We probably aren’t even working towards greater insight into the characters. Movies like these go-nowhere films are pure drudgery to watch. That’s how my life has been feeling lately.
I feel like I’m just doing stuff and time passes by. Let’s put the day job aside for a little bit and concentrate on my career goals in the entertainment industry. Where is it going? I’m nowhere closer to acquiring an agent. Silver Pictures hasn’t covered my screenplay. So what the heck have I really accomplished? Even this whole entertainment journalism thing is starting to wear thin. It was never a goal to simply go to events and/or interview celebrities. While it was and still is fun to do, I want to cross over and be the one being interviewed. As I was telling Tatyana Ali the other night when I walked her to her car – she drives something sensible, by the way – I want to create. I don’t necessarily need to be on The Tonight Show or anything; I just want to see people enjoy my work.
So that brings me to this new venture I’m involved in. It’s another Webzine that needs Web work, but can’t afford a bona fide Web developer. Since I have a modicum of Web development skills and I’m a great writer, the publisher thought I’d be a perfect fit – but the site has to get done first. So on top of my day job, my other freelance writing gig and my site, I’m also slaving away on this new project. I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie Jackie Brown, but in it the title character says that she feels like she’s always “starting over.” I sympathize with her.
My issue is that my dream has a definite shelf life. I can’t be a 45-year-old aspiring screenwriter. Bai Ling told me that it doesn’t matter how old I am, so long as the material is good. Maybe she’s right. Maybe I’m being too cynical, but I don’t think being older helps. Anyway, I’m just worried that I’m exhausting all of my energies on other people’s goals that ultimately won’t help me with mine.
When it comes to rejection, we rely on certain intellectual fallacies to help other people or ourselves cope. When you’ve been rejected, your friends and family will tell you that “[a relationship] will happen when you’re not looking for it.” What they don’t tell you is that you actually still have to keep looking for it. Relationships do not just fall in your lap or come to you in the mail – unless, of course, you order it. From Russia. No, you have to make yourself available. Go to the places where single people are who are also looking for relationships. You wouldn’t tell someone looking for a job the same lame statement, would you?
Friends and family may also ask you, “Why would you want to be with someone who doesn’t want to be with you?” They have a point, but this counter-rejection logic becomes troublesome when you have to reject the entire dating population that falls within your tastes. I know, because I’ve put both of these schools of thought to the test for the past decade.
I’ve been single for a long time. I don’t personally know anyone who’s been single for as long as I have. I feel like a spaceman whose rocket went off course and, despite my best efforts to right myself, I have drifted into the dark edges of space where not even the stars shine. At first, it was terrifying. The prospect of being unwanted and being alone was contrary to everything I knew and saw for myself. I understood that people could be unwanted and therefore left alone in the world, but there was always something socially fundamentally wrong with them. They were physically deformed, mentally handicapped or simply didn’t know how to act in a social setting. I never considered myself as one of those people, but apparently I am.
As I stated earlier, realizing this fact was terrifying, but time passed. I discovered that being alone was not the same as death. When you’re forced to live, you make do until the end. So I made do, surviving in the vast emptiness of human existence. I had made the seemingly impossible possible, like learning to breathe underwater. Over time, it became empowering, especially when I got to witness all of the unhappy, failed or failing relationships around me. I had learned to truly love being alone. I was my own person and compromised for no one. The lifestyle suited me, after all. I definitely need my personal time – much more than is fair to anyone who’d consider being in a relationship with me.
Every so often, however, I still feel a twinge of loneliness that always catches me off guard and knocks me on my ass. A girl I’m sweet on recently got involved with someone and while we’d probably never get together or be any good together if we did, it’s moments like this that remind me of why I am a relationship survivalist. I can subsist off the wastelands of human interaction and thrive on nothing but sheer willpower, but it’s out of necessity – not choice.