I wrote this last night

I wrote this last night in a fit of insomnia. I wasn’t sure about posting it. I’ve been writing a lot of things in fits of insomnia and not posting them. For fear of being stupid, cliche, self-involved. I was sitting at my computer, and realized i haven’t actually opened my mouth and *talked* to anyone really. Mostly it’s been e-mails or AIMs or posts or very stilted silent conversations with parisians who don’t know what to say, and me not knowing what to say. Sometimes i feel like my presence just bums everyone out here.

One thing that’s been helping me is listening to plenty of hippie music. A lot of Richie Havens. Maybe i am a peacenik after all. Not only does it make me think, the country has gotten through times like these before, but it also reminds me of my own more innocent days, sitting in potsmoke filled dorm rooms, thinking the world was a deep and special place, and thinking we were all deep and special people.

well here is some of it:

So yeah, kind of a break down and lose it night. I flaked on plans with some coworker friends because i was hungover from last nights sillyness, and tired from today’s errands. Errands aren’t so bad unless they’re in french. Try asking for a mag-light in a language you haven’t really mastered. Comes out something like this:

“This small thing, it lights, sometimes with keys. It is strong. For special times.”

And then you get embarrassed and try to disappear into the floor. But i found it, hallelujah. The three quarter inch screws will have to wait for next weekend.

So i was reading news and more news, and i guess, well shit, there’s going to be this fucking war now. Involving bombs, fear, blood, umemployment, scarcity… And i must have been crazy or stupid or naive or just fucking American because i realized that it never really occurred to me that this could happen in my lifetime. There was the cold war but it was far away and involved shady people doing just plain bizarre things. I have a vivid memory of sitting in my pajamas on the white carpet of my mother’s bedroom in West LA, having just paused my game of Tetris, and watching about 15 minutes of Oliver North stumbling through his testimony during the Iran-Contra hearings. I remember not really getting much of it.

And now 15 years later i’m sitting at my flea market desk in front of my powerbook in the center of a hardly furnished Paris apartment and no french to show for it, with tears running down my face, scared out of my skin about the world to come. A world that everyone else on the planet has been living in every damn day of their lives. I got this rather lengthy e-mail disagreeing with my views on the correlation between the USA’s foreign policy and the WTC attack. The writer left a lonely apostrophe where a return e-mail address ought to have been. She did manage to come up with all sorts of curious theories about how our uninvolvement actually forced the attacks. I offhandedly wrote to fellow blogger Susan,

“It didn’t bum me out much except that the writer was so heinously misinformed about her own government that it made me embarrassed for her.”

Tonight it strikes me that even though i ended up “getting” the Iran-Contra scandal, and i’ve known about our disgusting performance in Afghanistan among others (think at least half the countries in Latin America) for a nice long while now, i have been heinously sleepwalking through what history and life and every damn professor i ever had should have been teaching me.

And other people, lots of other people live like this every day. Their streets are also washed with blood and dust and sadness. And i’ve thought about it before. At least i thought i thought about it. But no, i really didn’t. I really didn’t do anything.

There’s more, there’s always more. Mostly very intense feelings of guilt. Eric aim-ed me wondering what the hell i was doing up and online at 4 in the morning. And then we had a nice chat. He analyzed me pretty well. I suppose i’m just coping by blaming myself for the things i didn’t do, for an easy and sheltered life, where bad things happened but did they *really* happen? And like a little kid, i make sense of it my putting myself at the center of the world, and when it’s a bad world, of course it’s my fault.

After reading the book review section in the New Yorker, a coupla issues back, i wanted to get the book How to Be Good by Nick Hornby. I had reservations because i guess i wanted something more serious and instructive, but anything to think about it now… I always thought my philosophy degree was a sham because so many systems of morality and ethics just seek to justify what’s already normal and accepted somehow. It was always working backwards. Even when it swore it wasn’t.

One thing that always stuck with me was by Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays. It’s been a nice long while now so i can’t quote verbatim, but something along the lines that the only real philosophical question was the question of suicide. Why live? His answer is a forceful affirmation of life, and it is quite powerful. And another thing that sticks in my mind, i can’t remember if it was Camus or Kierkegaard who said that no one ever kills himself on account of a philosophy.

Because we learn how to live, before we learn how to think.

I think also on my next New York trip i will pick up my copy of The Plague and reread it. Hmm, maybe i should actually give it a go in the original french. For a girl who can’t express “mag-light”, that’d be quite a task. Anyway, I can’t recommend that book enough, for anyone, at anytime. But especially now.

Things are better tonight after an actual talk (speaking, hearing, voices, “hmm”s) with a friend. Washed clothes, visited the dutch bar Ups and downs. Sometimes anywhere’s better than here. But then one thinks about it, and realizes that mostly “anywhere” is not nearly as different from here than we might think. And i must remind myself, i think this, but do i really know it?

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