November 11, 2008 @ 9:15 pm by sean
Owen has this brutally (and beautifully) honest song called “Bad News.” It’s bad news he is telling a friend that this friend isn’t who they thought they were: and I hate to be the one to bear such bad news, I know it hurts to hear, but it’s true, you don’t mean anything, to anyone but me.
“whatever it is you think you are
a good friend, unique, well-read
good-looking, or smart
well now you know”
“it’s what you do
not who you were, or what you wear, or where you’ve been
so do something”
“you’re a has-been
that never was
or will be”
At 24, it’s looking like that last part is me, a has-been, one that perhaps never was, and isn’t so sanguine to be anything more than. The transition from idealistic college student where anything is possible to the post-graduate reality of what actually might be has not been what I anticipated. My “ticket to the middle class,” as Halverson called it, doesn’t seem to be worth much. It’s been quite a struggle separating myself from the class distinction that poor is worth-less; because that’s how it seems the world sees things, that’s how I assume the world sees me, so that’s how I see me. What does it matter how I really see me, that doesn’t matter to anyone else. Chesterton said the ones who really believe in themselves are in mental institutions. I know what God thinks of me, but I’m not sure what good that does me this side of heaven. It’s not quite that I thought people who worked jobs like what I work, and are struggling like I am, and so on, are somehow not as good of people. I certainly viewed things in part from the middle class perception that I came from, but even with the minimal interaction I have with the “lower class” through Riverwoods I can see that “lower class” people are only “lower” in terms of financial status. And that is how I generally view others, not based on their accumulation of material wealth and possession of a good job, but who they are (generally/idealistically of course, I’m not perfect, even if I want to be). In The Republic, I gather Plato says that wealth is not a satisfactory indicator of ability. This was in terms of politicians, but he doesn’t think just because someone is wealthy they are therefor a shoe-in to govern people. I can agree with that, but disagree too. The ability to accumulate wealth does stand for something. I certainly do not seem to posses such abilities, and if I can’t make it for myself, how do I expect to be able to lead a people to take responsibility for them.
I seem to have a double standard. Because I’m not making it for myself, because I’m not skilled enough to get a job in my field, because I’m not doing much with my life, I’m a failure. Regardless of how hard I’m trying. I don’t necessarily see other people that way. And it sure is easy to settle in this. Well, this is just the kind of job I’m going to work the rest of my life. Someone has to do these jobs. And then out the door goes the dream/intention of my design firm that designs to help those who are helping others, providing good design for non-profists. There goes the dream/intention that the firm will be in Detroit somewhere so the neighborhood kids can come in and work on projects with the staff and be mentored by them and see that design/the arts/any profession is attainable for them and there is more for them than what they may see in Detroit.
The recent debate of Obama’s supposed intentions to “redistribute” the wealth and the conservative republican friends I have was interesting to listen to. Especially the conservative republics who are making it (or whose parents are at least) and seem to have some bit of scorn in their voice for those who aren’t when lambasting the idea that the people who aren’t making it so easily could get more government assistance. I’m not sure they realize how not making it I am, and I’m too proud to make that too known. Not that I see any real shame in it. But since I see other people seeing shame in it, that translates to shame in me.
Kelsey is the first person I’ve gotten to know in this post-graduate, post-middle class, post-having close friends around, post-being good at what I do, post-being interesting few months. I was able to hold on to most of what I had for a while, but about July when the last-hope friendship ended (still mourning a ghost that broke my heart), and in August when the last of the good friends skipping town skipped town, it was all gone then. She obviously comes from some kind of money. It’s hard to place. They are obviously a Bartlett/Wayne family, yet her mother has to work the midnight shift at country donuts. Anyway, her boyfriend is apparently quite wealthy. Supposing she was telling the truth, he owned a restaurant (with his parents money) from 18-23, and now at 25 spends money like it’s his job. And since he doesn’t have one, that’s all he does. Even if it is his parents’. Anyway, the prospect of meeting him ever doesn’t sit so well. Being relatively friendless, penniless, and successless, doesn’t make me feel like I have much to say to anyone. Once, I had interesting things to say because I was part of something interesting and had interesting people around to maintain it all. But that’s mostly gone now. And without that, what am I? What point is my existance except the maintenance of merely existing?
Anyway, I’m more hopeful than I let on. I may be a Sancho Panza, knowing I’m a peasant but still thinking I can govern an isle that is the life in my college days I intended I would one day live, or maybe I’m or a duke with an isle to give to the Sanchos of the world. Or maybe somewhere in the middle. My notions of how I judge myself and others are changing, though through much conflict of thought, often thinking two opposing ways at once. The change is for the good.
Speaking of good, “Ghosts” by Laura Marling is perhaps one of the most delightful songs that currently exists. I don’t want to stop listening to it. That girl is just incredible. Her clever lyrics, her amusing rhythm she sings with, and her poppy folk but to another level of infatuating beats, are just too much to stop listening to. And Jocasta (just the song, not a real video) and Mary (it’s the second song they play, but the first – Rocks and Daggers – is wonderful too) by Noah and the Whale is a close second.
Sometimes I wish people read this (I know you read this Justin, and apparently you too Jeremy!). But really, I still don’t want people to know this. That’s why it’s not a “note” on facebook. Even though I don’t really make those anyway. Instead I just wish I had someone to tell. Well, not only that. I’ve told some people, just none of them are any closer than 300 miles away. I do want everyone to listen to Noah and the Whale and Laura Marling though.
By writing this I feel like I am telling someone. Like I matter some how now. Look at me, I can say something about my place in life, I’m not oblivious, I can say something intelligent. I listen to good music. Or even that maybe I am spreading joy by other people now enjoying the music that is currently making me so happy to listen to. Those are remnants, those are ‘has-beens’ from when I was surrounded by people who enjoyed the same music as me, and would be just as happy listening to those songs I am, with whom I could have interesting conversation.