06 May 2011

Waiting in the Stepford Showroom

Perhaps it proves my point that some part of me is rebelling as I type this, but that part gets weaker the longer I go on. I really think that we've been set up for disappointment by everyone who raised us, regardless of how good their intentions were. My favorite shady advice columnist, coketalk, sums it up quite neatly in her post about special snowflake disease. She might as well be talking about me there.

In high school, I wanted to be a great writer, which to me meant becoming either a newspaper editor or a prolific novelist. I wanted to be the genius wordsmith whose name is published a hundred times before she turns 20, at which point she dies in a blaze of activist glory. She lives with her artist boyfriend, who naturally dies with her, and they don't have kids, and marriage can go suck an egg. This life, I believed, would make me blissfully happy.

Nearly ten years later, I am about to become a newspaper editor, but it's nothing like I thought it would be, and I'm still miles away from being able to call myself a genius wordsmith. I am somewhat acquainted with the girl who actually did become this person, and while she's great, I have no problem with having my life instead of hers. The novels that I have worked on are gathering their metaphorical cobwebs in a dark little corner of my yet-to-be-defragged hard drive. The closest I have come to recognition is my grandmother's scrapbook of my articles on mutual funds and SMEs, plus the proofreading I do for my more-"serious"-about-writing boyfriend--who is often happy to say that he is not an artist. We don't live together. I want a backyard wedding, kids, grandkids, and a long and kind of boring life. I am trying my best not to die in any sort of blaze, and I do this by carefully crossing the street on my way home. I'm in bed by 10. This life, at the moment, makes me happy.

What happened on the way? I guess I recovered--no, am in remission from special snowflake disease. There's always the possibility that it will flare up again, like when I listen to a cheesy song and start bawling about how I haven't done anything useful with my life, but that possibility seems to diminish with every year that I embrace my average-ness. Those novels--and the several short stories that share their space--may never see the light of day again, and that is okay with me. For one thing, the reasons I wrote some of them had come from a part of myself that I'd slowly excised, and to pick them up again where I'd left off would only deny what I've turned into since then. For another, I no longer have a deadline for myself and no longer worry about being left behind by my more dazzling peers. I just think of the man who won the Oscar for Best Screenplay this year, or the woman who won the Nobel for Literature in 2007. I have time.

What about seizing the day, someone might ask. Well, that's just it. I'm so much more interested right now in the everyday that I don't want to divert attention from it just to hole up with my laptop in a hot corner and wring out the endings to the stories I'm still kind of interested in telling. Right now, I'd rather teach myself about economic indicators. Right now, I'd rather mess around with origamic architecture. Right now, I'd rather think about what Martin and I will get to eat this weekend. Right now, I'd rather think about putting some of my savings in a UITF. Right now, I'd rather watch another episode of some ridiculous reality show they've got on loop at ETC. Right now, I'd rather think about my promotion, and how it'll get my life in line for at least a couple more years--I hope in line for more of this contentment with the everyday.

Sorry, special snowflake high school me. I think you did die at 20, at most at 23. You died, and I lived. I guess that's what coketalk meant about a healthy line of succession.

Is there nothing that gets me excited, someone else might ask. Nothing that has me burning with that other key-to-personal-success word, passion? Yes, but it's going to disappoint special snowflake high school me: what gets me excited is the idea that one day, I'll have a permanent address that isn't my parent's house, and it will have screaming kids, messy rooms, dinner to prep, laundry to fold, work brought home, and more files that have been put away for later, because I'm too busy--and happily so--with the everyday.

I'm sure someone out there will think I'm crazy, say that my free spirit too easily became a cog in the great and soulless machine that is the sad half of the human race, and point me out to their children as I go past in my blue-checked business dress and sensible shoes as the person to not become when they grow up--in fact, they shouldn't grow up--but that's okay. Perhaps I will have contributed something after all, by being one of the sheeple to scare some true great of this world on toward their tremendous success.

Or maybe another ten years from now, I'll be that pointing person, putting out groundbreaking work while siring the next Cory Doctorow or Adam David (and his name shall be Julian Renato Alexander Asteroid Kulog Synecdoche Villanueva, whose musical sculptures made of lesportsac knockoffs which you can only view from a certain angle while logged into a secret website with access codes that hop every seven seconds will make you weep opals from sheer joy).

Even if I don't, I know I'll still be happy.

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