The Inventor Of A Place Where The Place Is Not

I am an inventor of a place where the place is not.

I am pleased with the results of my invention.

Outside my back door I have simulated Northern California.

Outside my front door is the suburbs of Southern California.

I grew up in Northern Califonia. I currently reside in the suburbs of Southern California and experience a kind of subtle homesickness the moment I walk out my front door. This homesickysickness has forced me to become an inventor of a place. I call it a homesickysickness to reduce the painfulness of the expereince.

Homesickysickness creates a longing in a person to be somewhere they are not. It is a painful experience, especially when the longing is for a radically different place than the place in which one is.

Southern California is not that far from Northern California. An ambitous person could drive a car back and forth between the two, twice, in one day. But still, North and South could not be further apart. They are two totally different universes with absolutly nothing in common. I often state that a person should need a passport to go from one to the other. They are that radically different.

Make no mistake about it, California is a bipolar state.

The Southern California suburbs are even more radically different than Northern California suburbs. Even the birds, driveways, parks and mailboxes look different here.

In Northern California there is green. Green everywhere. And water seems to be more prevalent. And clean air. The light is different. The food tastes fresher. The lifestyle is more laid back. Artists and readers are not in hiding.

In Northern California I would often spend my days reading and felt fine about it. I would see other prolific readers around town. In Southern California I feel like I am doing something wrong when in a book for too long.

In Northern California my attention span and diet seemed to flourish. In Southern California there is too much distraction to care about these things.

In Northern California the culture is much more progressive and the people are slower, more bohemian and, well I hate to say it, but more well read. I lived in Northern California for forty years and never met a white person proud of their guns. In the Southern California suburbs white people are proud of their guns everywhere.

Televisions are everywhere in Southern California suburbs. It is probably the same up North but I like to think more channels are on public televsion networks up North. I could be wrong.

In Southern California there is brown and some green. My eyes spend an entire day searching for a significant patch of green in LA.

People here move too fast. People work too much. Facades masquerade for the real person. Image is king.

Heat and sun are constant. Style counts most. Culture is visual. Education levels are mediocre and general at best. The norm is found everywhere one looks. Those who are radically different are either in hiding or do not exist.

I never, ever, ever, ever see people reading books in Southern California but everyone is on phones. People tend to dislike each other a lot more in Southern California. It is a hostile place. The political zeitgiest is conservative.

I am a stranger in a strange land.

As a result I have become the inventor of a place in my backyard. I have grown trees and plants that are specific to Northern California. I have created an atmosphere that is Northern California. I even have a small redwood tree that refuses to grow.

My backyard is a laid back place with plenty of different areas to read and a teardrop trailer to nap in. I water constantly to maintain the green. I have built fire pits and hung hammocks from trees. I have captured several birds and squirrels from Northern California and set them free in my backyard. Most have gone back up North, despite being well fed.

I have stolen road signs from Northern California and placed them around my yard. I have taken these road signs down because seeing them just makes me too sad. I always end up putting them back up. And then taking them back down. And then putting them back up.

I am continually at work on creating a place where the place is not.

It has become an obsession. It is what I do to keep myself from becoming too depressed.

My wife gets mildly frustrated that I do not go out my front door as much as she would like. I tell her to please go run free in the world out there but she always prefers to stay with me. Okay then, lets get wine and smokes and go into the backyard, I say.

Why would I go out there more than I must? There is little I want to see, smell, taste or hear out there. Everyone is moving too fast. Normalizing Capitalistic Propaganda has been most successful here and everyone is pissed off about it happening to them. No, I prefer to stay in my backyard where sanity can be found.

Visualizing a landscape in Northern California can put me to sleep in under two minutes. I have not had the same result with my various Southern California visualizations.

I do almost everything in my backyard. I love my backyard in the same way a person loves a beloved dog or a penis or an iPhone. I only go out my front door when I must. I try to go for walks but always return home depressed. As a result most of my life is passed in the Northern California of my Southern California backyard. I prefer things this way. I feel home here. My anxiety is diminished and homesickysickness dissipates.

I am able to invent a place which is not the place I am in by creating an environment which allows me to forget the place I am in. This is the most important aspect of being an inventor of a place where a place is not- the invented place must be good enough that it enables forgetfulness and as a result encourages the imagination to become real.

Come visit me sometime in Northern California if you are ever in LA.

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On Loneliness

I wonder if dogs or cats or birds feel loneliness.

I did not realize until this morning that loneliness is the unpleasant feeling that is eating away at me, especially in the mornings. I have always wondered why I am so unhappy and negative in the mornings. Now I know.

Do I feel lonely in the afternoons or evenings? Is the unpleasant feeling still eating away at me but I am now too distracted to notice? In the mornings my wife is still asleep and everything is quiet. In the afternoons and evenings there is work, texting, email, booze, interactions with other people, television, occasional going out and having fun. I keep busy and maybe this is why I do not feel this lonely feeling as much during afternoons and evenings. Maybe. But when I come home in the evenings or get in bed at night, the feeling usually returns. So I pick up my phone, eat more, turn on the television or read a book.

Is it because of my lonliness that I can be such a jerk in the mornings? Is loneliness the feeling behind all that depresses me?

I wonder if my need to always be reading, listening to music, checking my emails and texts, is all just an attempt to flee from the feeling of loneliness inside me.

Is this deep feeling of loneliness what has been bringing me so down over the years?

Up until a few years ago, I do not remember feeling as depressed as I have recently been. I wonder, if my lonelines continues, will my depression get progressivly worse? Even just writing this makes me want to cry.

For the longest time I did not suspect loneliness. Me lonely? No way. I am married to a beautiful and cheery wife (who spends much too much time on her phone). I have four dogs and a library filled with books. I spend my days working as a psychotherapist and have non-superficial interactions with a lot of people. I lead several very full groups each week. I spend time with my sister and my wife’s parents at least once a week. I have dinner with my own wife almost every single night. With all of this going on, how could I feel lonely?

I always feel isolated inside my own inner world. No one understands or grasps what I go through from day to day. Can anyone understand what we all go through internally from day to day? Isn’t this why we all feel so alone? No other person can ever understand what it feels like to be us. The end result is always loneliness.

But to feel alone when in the presence of other people can be the worst kind of feeling. I hate it. I want to run away from it. I drink to make it go away.

To feel like there is no one who understands you. To feel like there is no one who shares similar values as you do. To feel like there is no one whom you have the same interests as. To not feel like you have stimulating and engaging conversation with anyone. To be together but still feel so alone and disinterested. To be with others but feel so unseen. It has driven many people into a self induced early graves. I believe this is the feeling that caused Kurt Cobain and the wonderful writer Edouard Leve to take their own lives.

I feel so isolated from everyone around me. I try hard to connect but there is nothing there that feeds me. I am usually left starving. I don’t find interesting the banal ideas that populate their minds. Maybe it is my fault. Maybe I am no longer open to take anything that they have to offer me in. Maybe I have shut down. Closed the doors. I feel so uninterested in what these people have to say, that I have stopped listening. I have been so bored by people, I have been so disinterested by other people that I have given up. I have become totally disengaged, thus isolating myself even more. (One main hazard of the psychotherapy trade.)

I engage when I must in order to make money, but am always left feeling flat with nothing left to give. This must be similar to what a prostitute feels when having sex for money and being so unfulfilled by these sexual experiences that he or she loses interest in sex with everyone. It is a terrible situation to be in. One that leaves a person starving inside.

I suppose I write to help fill myself up. Writing as a kind of force feeding. I write because I want to connect with someone. I write because I want someone to understand me. I want to share something in common with someone else. But even writing leaves me feeling empty. I get nothing back and this just exacerbates the loneliness even more. This is why I have started to give up on any kind of literary success.

I don’t know what to do. Maybe I should turn more to drugs. This is why people use drugs. A person forms a relationship with drugs because it is the only relationships, often, that makes them feel less alone. You can count on drugs to be there for you every time. They can make you feel less lonely inside. I don’t know if I want to do this to my life.

I will keep trying to assuage my loneliness by reading books where I feel something in common with the writer. There are not many writers I feel something in common with since most writers are just trying to make a buck. I only finish books written by writers who write because they want to feel less alone. These are the only writers I am interested in. When I find a writer who feels like a friend I feel better for a bit. But I get sad when I know that many of these writers killed themselves.

I don’t think that smartphones are helping. Sure, I use the internet as a way to feel less alone. I use text and email also as a way to feel less alone. But these interactions often leave me feeling more empty and alone. I also find myself les able to read as much as I would like because I am always reaching for my phone. I also feel more disconnected from other people because they too are combating their loneliness by going on their phones rather than putting effort into things that will make them more engaging and interesting people to spend time with.

Smartphones turn people into unattractive, distracted, bores. I am surrounded by people (including myself) obsessed with their smartphones. We have sold out for the quick fix of shallow communication and connection.

I don’t know what to do. Most of my time is spent alone. Lost in the meanderings of my own brain. I need to be alone in order to feel “better.” When I am with other people but feel alone, I feel terrible. I feel mad. I feel disengaged. I feel like I am wasting time. I would rather be alone with myself. This never feels like a waste of time. But it always hurts.

The Terrible Reader

The pages are too long. The words spread out. The words slip out. The words move through the brain and back out into the nowhere place from which they came. The brain no longer able to retain the words that live in a book. The brain is slipping away into a kind of digitalized maze. Only tidbits of information and pictures are able to stick. A book filled with words is a marathon, which a person is too out of shape to run. The words are a threat to a person’s limp attention span. No longer capable of the longer sprints and solitudes that a book filled with words requires, The Terrible Reader reaches for her phone.

The Terrible Reader is no longer capable of being alone. He needs to know what is going on on-line. He needs to know what texts have come through. He needs to carry on a conversation that was begun on his phone. He needs to find new emails in his inbox. He needs to check who has checked his frequently checked Instagram and Facebook accounts. There are things to do. Likes to be given and had. Comments to be left. Photos to be seen and loved. The terrible reader has no time for a book. A book keeps him off-line. There is no excitement in these printed words.

The Terrible Reader can no longer sit with herself. It is too uncomfortable. Toes curl and uncurl. Nails are bitten. Fingers are picked. Hair is pulled. It is a continual struggle to keep her attention fixed. She feels restless. Anxious. Just sitting there alone with a book is no longer enough stimulation to keep her attention fixed. She tries to hold on with the book in her hand but it is almost painful. There is an antsiness that won’t go away. And when it does, she feels bored. She feels ready for sleep. The Terrible Reader is in a continual struggle between restlessness and sleep. Her attention span can’t keep up with the attention that words in a book demand. Instead she needs the digitally illuminated screen. She needs the fake light to get off. She needs the high-resolution pictures and live time conversations to feel engaged. When The Terrible Reader is on her phone toes do not curl and uncurl. Nails are not bitten. Fingers are not picked. Hair is not pulled. There is no struggle to keep her attention fixed. There is no battle between restlessness and sleep. Her attention is completely transfixed when on the phone. When on-line, her attention span is dialed in. She is immersed. Like particles of dust sucked into a vacuum machine, she is gone.

The Terrible Reader can read books no more. The Terrible Reader still tries to read books but most of them remain unfinished. Worlds only partially explored. These unfinished worlds pile up like dead leaves in the fall. Discarded and no longer needed, they are left to die under the weight of newer books which will also go unfinished. Unexplored. The Terrible Reader is yet to come to terms with the fact that they have become a terrible reader. They do not want to admit this painful fact to themselves so they continually try and read some more. It hurts too much to make an honest appraisal of what they have become, since humans never like to admit the truth about themselves to themselves. Every time The Terrible Reader sits down with a book their smartphone pulls at them. It won’t leave them in peace. Come to me, come to me, check me, see me, it whispers in The Terrible Reader’s ear. For the fifth time in an hour The Terrible Reader puts the book down and must reach for the smartphone. They no longer have a choice.