I try to be tasteful about digressing into personal stuff in an essay since I figure the handful of people following the blog are doing so because they wanna read about the movies themselves, and about the cumulative experience of watching them in chronological order. But the Project, rewarding as it is, gets overwhelming at times. It’s doing that now.

What I’m spazzing about is time. My grandmother died last week — which I don’t really wanna get into — but it’s a typical sort of event that gets a person thinking about life and the time that’s left, what you wanna do with that time. I wouldn’t call it a crisis, not by a long shot, but it’s been a strong prompt for reflection.

My cousin and brother and I rode two hours up to Sebastian FL for the funeral. It’s a small town of a few thousand people, a good portion of whom live in trailers, small sub-communities. The handful of conventional houses you see through town appear to be spaced far apart and they’re fairly old. Except for a single drab-gray Ruby Tuesdays, a cube-like structure at the heart of a vast (and otherwise empty) parking lot, it looks like every restaurant is either fast food or it’s family-owned. Seems there’s a Dollar General or Dollar Tree or Family Dollar on every third block. it’s quiet. Lotsa families and retirees. Very white.

Sitting among thirty-odd relatives in the ballroom they’d rented for the occasion, everybody dressed down in light colors for what we were calling a “celebration of life,” it was clear that this was a group for whom family, and the near-constant company of loved ones, is a priority.

Are there pitfalls to that? Totally. Does it have its charms? Tons. Is their allegiance to one another fueled largely by the fact that there’s nothing else to do, no other place to go? Not sure.

But for me, a busybody from the city who routinely goes two or three days without speaking to a blood relation, I started wondering, on the drive back, if I’m doing things right.

I don’t want that life. There’s no question that I’m doing what I want to be doing by drowning myself in an insane amount of self-imposed work that I know seems silly to a lot of the people who know about it. If I’m not being productive, I feel terrible. To spend a day socializing and lounging without, at some point, doing something to advance a project, something to better myself or to at least facilitate the next day’s productivity, isn’t just a stress vector. It actually feels wrong. Unethical. The work feels like part of my identity and I want to do lots of it.

But today I watched two movies from the List, #218, and #219, and I wrote a little fiction in the morning. That’s good. But I’d finished all of that by 3 p.m. Afterward I went and bought the third season of Twin Peaks cuz I plan to do a thing about it. Then I went to storage to get my copy of Casablanca, because I’m screening it at Tea and Poets the day after tomorrow. Once home, I sat down and watched the whole movie again, this time with Roger Ebert’s commentary. Took notes throughout. Right now I’m at a bar near home so I can write this post and do some urgently backlogged reading. Tomorrow I’m riding four hours to Sarasota for a friend’s graduation and I’m staying there overnight. When I get back into town on Tuesday I’ll be heading straight to Tea and Poets for the screening — stressing all the while because it’s gonna feel like lost time. Hours I could have spent getting a little deeper into the Project, whether by watching or writing something, or I could have spent that time reading, or exercising.

In the past ten days I’ve watched Red River, White Heat, Adam’s Rib, The Heiress, The Reckless Moment, Gun Crazy, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Whisky Galore!, Rope, You Were Never Really Here, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, Orpheus, On the Town, The Red Shoes, The Louisiana Story and, for a refresher tonight, Casablanca. I’ve written six or seven essays and about fifteen pages of fiction. But the podcast is languishing. I’m not reading as much as I should. I’m eager to get started on the Twin Peaks project (which’ll appear on this site in probably a couple months). Every time I work on one thing my mind wanders to the next, and laments that I’m not being productive enough.

I’ve been listening to guided meditations and they’er working to cool me down. As the Headspace app says (a great tool for novices like myself): it’s not about making your thoughts disappear, it’s about getting comfortable with them.

I’ve never been this busy — but the busyness is all self-imposed. It’s work that I love, and it’s moving at a thrilling pace.

But I do sometimes start sweating out of nowhere. I’ll be writing something and it won’t be going well and my reaction’ll be way more volatile than usual. I wanna lay down on the pavement.

And since I hate riding in cars at high speeds I’m afraid now of dying on the highway either on the way to or back from Sarasota.

With all this work yet to be done.

One comment

  • Thank you for writing and sharing this blog post. Life seems to consist of a never-ending and ever-changing balancing act. That’s why I like the concept of yin/yang. It reminds me that inside a bunch of one thing is usually a dab/drop/chunk of the opposite thing. I am immersed in the lives of songwriters similarly to the way you are immersed in movies. I am aware that much of the time it is my personal coping strategy for not feeling overwhelmed by larger topics (like climate change, our current political gridlock in DC, the decline and death of older relatives, and much, much more…) Hurrah that you are exploring guided meditations! And hurrah that you have a topic you are passionate about — the study of which will lead you in all sorts of interesting directions such as history, psychology, storytelling, etc.! On top of everything else, I think you are an excellent writer. In particular I love these sentences: “Except for a single drab-gray Ruby Tuesdays, a cube-like structure at the heart of a vast (and otherwise empty) parking lot, it looks like every restaurant is either fast food or it’s family-owned. Seems there’s a Dollar General or Dollar Tree or Family Dollar on every third block. it’s quiet. Lotsa families and retirees. Very white.” I look forward to reading whatever you are moved to write about — both relating to movies AND relating to your experiences of being a human being right now in the USA on planet earth.


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