elph8

Andy and Elph
2001-10-05 07:54:11 (UTC)

On Insecurity


Author’s Notes, Epigraphs, and Footnotes: A Tour


It does not bother me to say “this isn’t love,” cause if
you don’t wanna talk about it, then it isn’t love; and I
guess I’m gonna have to just live with that.
Adam Duritz, “Anna Begins”

Make no left
turn unstoned.
Ken Kessey

If I was inordinately different from what you see, I’d
lie. I would lie.
Gomez, “Bring It On”

The only ones for me are the mad ones, the ones who are
made to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of
everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say
a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous
roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars…
Jack Kerouac, On The Road

I’m so glad you feel sexy, cause that’s what it’s all
about. Right, guys?
Ricki Lake, “Super-Size Sister Challenge”


Insecurity. A tricky emotion, isn’t it? In fact,
I’m not so sure it’s even an emotion to begin with. It
seems more like a condition, a state-of-being, something
wholly there, all the time, to be consumed by the whole
body, like glucose and lipids. But classical emotions
(anger, contentment, sorrow) seem to be “felt by the heart”
only—the physiological response, the seratonin and dopamine
poured into our gray matter just as quickly as it’s eaten
up by our neural receptors and so and so on. Yet we have
difficulty articulating why we’re angry or jealous or
whatever, and more often than not we don’t bother giving
these matters much of that old-fashioned, honest, human
appraisal. They sit inside of us for a while, we feel
them, don’t question them, and then they fade away with
time, experience, action, etc. But the Insecurity Parasite
doubles up the pleasure:pain ratio by also infecting the
logical functioning of its host—we feel it, we observe it
in ourselves, we tell other people about it, and still,
still we can’t expel it. We’re so hyper-aware of our self-
doubt we filter all we do or say through it, and like the
nagging of a stepmother, it feeds.
This is the case with everyone I’ve gotten even
moderately close to: parents, roommates, friends,
girlfriends, co-workers, classmates—all with reserves of
(nearly) crippling insecurity situated just below their
(sometimes) wide smiles. I know this to be true, because I
see it.
And because I feel it. It’s something very real.
Because if there’s one thing I think is universally
understood by grown ups, it’s this: Nobody’s Not Fucked-
Up. Let me repeat that one: Nobody (No Body) Is Not
Fucked-Up. As essential to our existence as the double-
helix, fucked-up-ness resides in our bones and brains, and
demands attention. Its offspring are self-improvement,
psychoanalysis, neo-Zen meditation, protein/wheat
grass “smoothies,” motivational speakers, prostitution,
chocolate, AA, NA, S-AA, OA, et cetera, ad nauseum.
There’s nothing wrong with these; in fact, they’re what
make life interesting and stimulating. Sure, sweaty-browed
gardeners probably pause mid-afternoon, lean on their
rakes, and look up at the mansion whose lawn they’re
currently caring for, and think that those soft and
autumnal faces on the other side of the Italian brick are
truly carefree, thinking nothing of paychecks, or bills, or
sick infants, or flying to see dying grandmothers; those
rich people can actually cure their ills with a wave of
their platinum plastic wand. But, of course nothing could
be farther from the truth. Children at both ends of the
socio-economic spectrum cry at 3 a.m. and wake parents—it’s
just that some of those parents stumble, weary-eyed to the
crib wearing Mediterranean-suede house shoes.
But what do I mean by Fucked-Up? It’s more
than “having issues,” less than “having delusions.” Being
Fucked-Up is being haunted by things so subtle you don’t
realize they’re haunting you until you either breakdown or
retire. I’m not personally close to one adult who hasn’t,
at some point, crashed out and just let the psychological
shit fly. And like the old grease-on-the-binoculars trick,
other people see the fucked-up-ness on us long before we
do. The shifty black-leather-clad guy perched on a cement
wall on campus, overlooking what he calls “the mindless
globs of human nothingness”—he’s fucked up because he sits
on a cement wall, hating everyone around him, but unable to
pull himself away from the watching because he feels like
he’s forming some sort of bond with the mindless globs.
The perfect tanned and –haired girl in the first row of
every lecture hall is fucked up because she insists her
boyfriend not make a sound while they have sex. The middle-
aged, clean-cut manager of the McDonalds—the one who
cheerfully works the drive-thru window when his fry girl
calls in sick—goes home every night, retreats from his
wife’s clumsy attempts at affection, locks himself in the
back room, and watches television for five hours before
falling asleep in his chair. The thin-lipped, tight-
skinned bank manager hasn’t talked to her two grown sons in
three years because neither of them wept at their father’s
funeral. Fucked-up-ness is everywhere and nowhere, a tacit
understanding between everyone that you “just don’t talk
about those things.” The longer you ignore how unsure you
are about your place in this world, the easier the
forgetting is, and the wider your smile as you sink into
the emotional quicksand that seems so cozy and warm.
And me? How does my personal level of fucked-up-
ness manifest itself? Actually, it’s a bit embarrassing,
but not as embarrassing as considering who first learned
about it. Three months ago…

Author’s Note:
Is this a tease? I think so. But I don’t care all
that much. I think a tease can be a good thing now and
then, because it keeps us on our toes. How many times in
your day do you hope one thing is going to happen, but Fate
dives into the mix and shifts the continuum a bit, just
enough to disappoint you ? So if writing is honest,
reflects what happens—if that is what it’s supposed to do,
anyway—then why not include teases? They happen in the
day, and they happen in life.
OK, maybe that’s ridiculous. Now that I think
about it, yeah, why the hell would anyone waste their time
with my story if it’s full of tiny come-ons and teases?
Maybe that’s why I put mine at the end. At that point,
there’s nothing they can do anyway. So no, I don’t
say “sorry.” I say “read the epigraphs” again—they say
everything better than I do, anyway. Even if they are cop-
outs.
The bottom line is that with each new paper, with
each new reading, I feel myself moving toward a community
with you people. It’s not something I’m used to, and I’m
not there yet, but still, this sharing, this weekly
personal purging is having an effect. If nothing else,
it’s making me see that there are these stories out there.
behind even the most perfect looking ones of you (and I
won’t bother listing names), there are personal tragedies
and triumphs. So thank you. And maybe I’ll share someday,
too. Thanks. And Amen…