Not that I’m in a crisis or anything, life is good and productive and I’m healthy and happy, but it’s becoming clearer and clearer every day that something’s kinda rumbling down in what Rocky calls “the basement.” I’m thinking of House of Leaves, too, where the characters are wandering through an endless labyrinth that’s appeared in their house and they keep hearing a distant growl that’s sometimes near and sometimes far. The Minotaur.
I’ve got some kinda Minotaur thing. A swelling bubble of “oh no oh no oh no.”
I saw a therapist for eleven years until he moved away back in…2012? My mom’d make it clear that this wasn’t exactly cheap and so there was a small bit of relief once it was over, and couldn’t be struck up again, cuzza the money guilt and whatever. Therapy was great though. I liked it a lot. But it was one or two years after my therapist left that I finally finished a novel I’d been working on with so many stops and starts. I wonder if the end of our seeing each other had anything to do with that sudden flurry of productivity. Like did the book get finished by becoming my only emotional outlet?
I’m also thinking about my ex again, outta nowhere, and about how the breakup unfolded. Start wincing about how I behaved. The crying on the last night. I’d drunk dialed her a few nights prior to that and told her I wished we shared more interests and then fell asleep while she was talking.
It’s not like these thoughts are yearning. It’s not like I’m devising a plan for getting back together. It’s more like…searching(?). Ahdunno. We haven’t spoken in almost a year, and I wouldn’t know what to say if we tried (or if she’d have any part of it). But that’s not the point—the point is just that this hot piece of emotional ore (i.e. the memory of the breakup) just kinda surfaced again into the forefront of my consciousness at the same time that the “oh no oh no oh no” is swelling somewhere in my sternum. Like an emotional fart.
And what’s the “oh no oh no oh no”? Something to do with writing. I wanna get back to editing Cubatooth Camgirl but I also have to finish editing (and start submitting) the Thousand Movie Projectbook proposal (which, incidentally, is by far the most difficult independent project I’ve ever undertaken in my life—not Thousand Movie Project, but Thousand Movie Project; italicized; the book proposal). I’ve also gotta keep watching the movies, though, and writing about them. The diary posts too (like this one—which are easypeasy and a total delight). And then the podcast, which I love doing but takes a fuckton of time.
So the “oh no oh no oh no” that hangs over all of this is I think more about how I’m gonna make money. I guess from Philicio Nightly. But that’s just gonna be a few bucks. If that. Always a chance nobody’ll turn up. Happens.
I think there’s also pretty clearly some shit to do with my parents and their divorce that I’ve never really discussed with anybody and I notice myself tensing up and shutting down when one of them (i.e. parental units) brings it up. Same goes for any discussion with anyone about my financial situation, or where I stand in relation to my professional goals. I try to discuss it. There’s surely nothing secretive about it. It just feels to complicated to communicate. Trying to explain any of this shit feels like that old joke describing childbirth as the act of pushing a watermelon-sized thing through a hole the size of a lemon. It can happen, but it takes a lotta time and effort (maybe an epidural).
My old therapist said he had one or two clients with whom he did old school psychotherapy, five days a week: they come in, lay down, face the ceiling while the therapist takes aseat behind tehm, out of sight, and then they freely associate and ramble in some dogged effort to get at a problem’s core.
I think that’s what I’d like to try. Something fast and intense. A deep dive.
It’s weird, though: yesterday I was driving through the Gables at a crawl, traffic was particularly bad, and I started imagining what it would be like to sit through a session of that kinda psychotherapy. Facing the ceiling while somebody asks me how I feel about that, how I feel about that, how I feel about that—and I swear to God I’m about fifteen seconds into this little mental experiment when my right shoulder jumps up in this crazy flinch and the words “FUCK YOU” go zipping outta my mouth.
And I wasn’t even talking to anyone! I was imagining how a made-up person might try to walk me through my feelings and suddenly I’ve got this visceral flail goin’ on…
But also telling.
Howard Stern talked to Terry Gross about his own immersion into therapy, how it changed him. Describes how, during his first session, he was doing schtick. When prompted to talk about his childhood he did impressions of his parents. He did this until his therapist cut him off and said, “I don’t think this is funny. In fact, I think it’s kinda sad.”
Comedy as a shield, etc.
David Foster Wallace touches on this in my all-time favorite short story, “Good Old Neon.”
I happened on part of an old Cheers episode from late in the series’ run where the analyst character, Frasier (who went on to have his own show), and Lilith, his fiancée and also an analyst, are just entering the stage set of the underground tavern, and Frasier is asking her how her workday at her office went, and Lilith says, ‘If I have one more yuppie come in and start whining to me about how he can’t love, I’m going to throw up.’ This line got a huge laugh from the show’s studio audience, which indicated that they — and so by demographic extension the whole national audience at home as well — recognized what a cliché and melodramatic type of complaint the inability-to-love concept was. My thing isn’t about aninability to love, but I’m definitely kinda hindered by the idea of how familiar and cliché my problems sound.“Good Old Neon” by David Foster Wallace
And there’s other stuff too, I guess, but…ahdunno. If I could get it out there efficiently I wouldn’t need the therapy.
*As for the title: first thing I’d buy with a million dollars is a chicken quesadilla.