Well. This isn’t going to go well.
Welcome to the blog. Believe it or not (and there’s no reason you should, based on this inauspicious beginning) this project has been a long time coming. As you’d probably imagine I’ve been sitting around for a while trying to think of a really elegant, literary way of kicking it off. Obviously I’ve given up. But I’ll at least try to sketch out, in broad terms, what the hell I’m doing and why. You’re here, after all.
About two years ago I found myself in sufficiently dire straits, personally, emotionally, and financially, that I found myself in a situation of almost comprehensive debasement. Wracked by guilt over a failed marriage, broke, wounded, immersed in doubt and self-recrimination, I did a terrible thing. In my weakness, my moment of greatest vulnerability, I pulled my hat down over my eyes and went, of my own choice, to a place of great shame. I’d never imagined myself there. I’d always feared it, even despised it, knowing that it was a place only for the broken and the weak. But being both of those, at least then, I went anyway. To the Self-Improvement section of Barnes and Noble. And there, like a Lou Reed character, hunched and afraid, I lay my wadded up money on the counter and slunk away with the goods.
Look, I’ve read a few good business books but the self-help section never offered me anything that I wanted. All I ever saw was weirdly-coiffed TED talkers on jacket covers, offering me eighteen minutes worth of canned and superficial wisdom padded out to 250 pages of ghost-written filler and illuminated by the “personal” stories of anonymous characters with ethnically ambiguous first names. In better times, I would rather have died. It’s just that at the point in time we’re talking about, that option wasn’t entirely off the table. So I went. I bought. I read. And something wonderful happened.
I got really angry.
Angry that I’d paid $25 for precisely the kind of dreck that I’d always known was there. Angry at the tired formulations, the absence of any real analysis. Angry at the condescension. Angry at the flaccid, facile pseudo-intellectual attempts at making sense of a universe that, in some much better part of myself, I knew could never make sense. Angry, above all, at the one-half-of-one-ass, carny mysticism lurking behind every invocation to visualize, be positive, manifest, or in any other ridiculous way leverage the “universe” to heal the fallout from what had been, in painfully obvious terms, my own very distinct and personal record of highly individuated fuck ups.
Anyway, to make a long story longer, I did the obvious thing. I drank a bunch of wine and railed against all this, and in the process I sketched out a table of contents for what I originally (and I now admit, very naively) envisioned as a sort of anti-self-help-self-help book of my own. It was, literally, a joke. But someone very important to me glanced at it and said eight very important words. It’s no exaggeration to say that I’ve been running on the strength of those eight words ever since. She said, very simply, “I would read the shit out of this.”
And so I decided to write it. And I have been.
So back to the blog. This is the necessary companion piece. A scratchpad for ideas, place to hash things out, document the ongoing process, vent, practice, and otherwise dump all the things that don’t belong anywhere else, or at least not yet. So welcome, thank you, and we’ll all figure it out from here. More to come.