Outside Looking In

Mike came over this afternoon and, before even congratulating me on the Rangers making the Stanley Cup Playoffs yesterday, he asked "So what's going on with you?"

A momentary flash of What The Fuck? went across my face, and I shrugged my shoulders.

"The stuff you're writing lately... It seems like something's up," he said.

Mike is one of the very very very few people who actually witnessed what was going on with me back in 2009, during the Dark TimesTM and can be sensitive to my shifts in mood. And what's funny, at least to me (most definitely not to him), is that he's been watching my moods shift his entire life. It's the 1 and 10 thing. And he's gotten so used to it. He never worries about me when it's just I HATE THIS or I LOVE THAT.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

He brought up the 18-year-old glimpse post from Friday, and a few that dig into some of the more reflective pieces I've been putting up (God... "pieces." Shoot me. It's a fucking journal). "Seems like you're digging kinda deep lately," he said with his finger up his nose.

"You too," I immediately replied. He didn't get it.

Because I'm the one writing this stuff and then hitting "Publish" and then never going back and reading it (unless someone wonderful spots a typo or grammatical error -- and thank you for pointing those out, seriously), I rarely think about the trends of my writing, or how it presents to everyone else. Once it's out of my head, it's gone. And if something more meta lingers, it might reveal itself in individual posts or stories across some time.

I'm oblivious to this. To me, each and every thing I write is it's own thing. I put it down, I push it out, and I don't revisit it for a long, long time unless I must. And I'm hoping very much that I don't sound like a prick when I say this: this is my life here. This is me living. When you read something I write about, it's almost always something that just crossed my mind or happened to me. It's very reactive. So to me, it's half catharsis, half trying-to-make-you-laugh-at-my-stupidity.

So when he asked me if things are okay, I was a bit taken aback. And when he explained how the current string of posts appeared to him, things started to click. Reading back through some of the posts the past few weeks, I can see why he'd be curious. Not that he has to be on watch or anything, but he's my friend. He's lived through almost everything I write about. And for me to bring up Michele, after all these years and having avoided writing about the back history on her, it probably tripped him up a little.

"There's nothing to worry about," I replied. "I'm working on a new book, so I'm going through and looking at the stuff I've written that I'm proud of, and researching some of the stuff that I wanted to write about from my journals."

He nodded. He totally got it. It's really hard to talk about in abstract, but basically, different types of projects put me in different "head spaces." When it's a graphically intensive project or very design-centric, I dive into websites and portfolios and look at what's current versus what I've done in the past, both to get inspiration and to avoid copying or looking trendy. When it's a website, I sit at my dining room table -- a room devoid of any books, computers or anything else, and draw what I see in my head in terms of layout, then list out what the site needs to do and how best to do it.

When I go to write a book, I dig through everything I've ever written, trying to find the stuff I actually like, and analyzing the stuff everyone else seems to like. I try to understand what makes a story entertaining, but also how I can write it so I can feel proud of it. And with this one, the past few weeks, I've been digging into all the old Mentally Incontinent stuff and reading it to find out which stories I think would make for a good collection. Naturally, I pondered over the Total Prosers one and got stuck there for a while.

"So I dug up the journals and read them, and realized that I've written about Michele -- or, around her actually -- a few times, but never told that story."

"Makes sense," he said. "But what about the other stuff?"

I shrugged. "I'm just moody, I guess."

"Ah," he replied. He burped, and then congratulated me on the Rangers making the Playoffs.