Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Engine Driver

I year or two ago I was rummaging through the things left in my old room when I found my sixth grade journal.

Sixth grade was a lot like the rest of my elementary school experience. I was pretty much an outcast, with a group of friends that treated me terribly and a substantial number of socially inhibiting habits that I'm embarassed about to this day. There's only one person I'm still friends with from before my epic summer before ninth grade shift - where I took a summer, sat down, and made a literal list of every negative aspect of myself that I could find and tried to systematically rid them from my system, improving and reinventing myself into someone likable. I got rid of a social circle that did nothing but drag me down and became friends with a group of incredible people that I still consider some of my closest family. I went from being the unabashed loser so one of the most social people I know, a lynchpin of several circles.

But if you ever wonder why despite all that, I'm still constantly trying to prove myself to each and every one of you it's because i'm terrified that you'll see or remember the terribly lonely little boy who had a teacher put tape over his mouth in the third grade because he chewed his shirt, and had his desk moved from facing Rebecca Fox because it disgusted her so.

So it's impressive that I've stayed such good friends with Elan, who I met in sixth grade, sitting next to each other in Ms. Fechter's english class. I had a HUGE crush on her, and thinking about it now she's probably the genesis of my steadfast attraction to girls with red hair. In that class Elan, Jessie Fox, and I would sit next to each other - and on the days she decided to eat with the girls, and he ate with the other guys, I would have lunch with Ms. Fechter.

And every day we would write a journal entry, and kind of amusingly since I'm writing all this in a blog, I hated writing journal entries. We either had to write about the topic of the day, or have a fictional story. I don't know what I wanted to write about, but it wasn't either of those. So I found a way around it - I wrote a fictional journal of a different kid, every day from his perspective. Technically it was a fiction story, but serialised in the form of a diary. It was my first time writing character.

I read the journal again when I found it, and this is what I wrote about - a kid with two friends, his best friend and the girl he has a huge crush on. Over the course of the story his friend gets into trouble with drugs, and "Harry" helps his friend with his addiction while the girl he likes falls for his friend. In the end he steps out of the way, bittersweetly happy that they can be together, but sad she doesn't like him instead, helping to engineer them living happy ever after.

I wrote that in 6th grade. How screwed up is that?

Cause I've spent years of my life living some variation of that story over and over. I wrote the story of my life years before I lived it. And reading it, years later, after high school - after tina, after laura, after the ranch, all of that - it hit me hard.
In acting class last year our teacher said "everyone thinks they're the star of their own story." Before I could think about it I said "what if you think you're the supporting character?"
Someone whispered that was the most depressing thing they'd ever heard. But it turns out I'd been thinking that for years. Maybe I see something honorable in sacrifice. Or maybe I've never felt like I deserve it.

So I believe in the power of writing - it's power to change the lives of the people who read it, and it's power to guide the life of the person writing.

There's a line in Woody Allen's Annie Hall - a film Elan reccomended to me of course, where Woody writes his play within a film with a happy ending, the ending he wanted. He says - "What do you want? It was my first play. You know how you're always trying to get things to come out perfect in art, because it's real difficult in life?"
Amen.

I've started writing a new story - it's not perfect, and there's still a lot of selflessness and sacrifice because they ARE honorable, and it won't ever be easy, but this time the guy gets the girl.

Cause fuck y'all, I'm a star.

4 comments:

Ozkirbas said...

Addressing your sense of martyrdom is admirable. I think I can connect with this very well because I've had similar experiences and thoughts. Which, with our friendship, is the most interesting since I feel we've come from a similar place in a lot of different aspects and have taken off in distinctly different directions.

Daniel said...

Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, son! Be the hero! Get the girl! FUCK THE PROM QUEEN!

Unless she says no. Then you have to respect that.

But seriously, you're a stud. You have the power to make shit happen. I've seen it. So make shit happen!

Damo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Damo said...

Jason, known for your gallantry and purity, there is no doubt in my mind that in this roundtable of ours you are Sir Galahad.

Congratulations, my friend, you are destined to reach teh Grail.