Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Spaniard at Seven

You know that Calvin & Hobbes strip where he's trying his pathetic hand at doing push-ups and after three he starts to count what it feels like and not what it is? That's what seven years on this blog feels like - it feels like a round dozen or perhaps a baker's dozen.

My poor blog. If it had feelings, it would feel like an unwanted child [Richie Havens, 'Freedom’]. I can't even conjure up some fantastical number to describe the number of years it feels like since I began this blog? It has to be a paltry dozen?

Yes, but a Baker’s Dozen! Thirteen! That’s respectable? Life-altering even?

When I was 12, I wanted desperately to turn 13 as if that birthday was a Rubicon I would cross triumphantly into near-adulthood. Unsurprisingly, nothing happened. I am remembering those years because El Cid will be thirteen soon, and unlike me he doesn’t care one way or another. He’s a more evolved human being than I ever was.

Me, I was the kind of kid people write teen books for: poseur wannabe, confused as heck and both snobbish & desperately wanting to be as effortlessly settled in my own skin as my peer group appeared to be. It seemed to me then that when I turned thirteen, I would mysteriously understand everything in my world that seemed so mixed-up and incomprehensible.

Where I am today feels a little like how I felt then – a state of mind in which I think a year or a certain date will somehow transform my life and make clear my muddied molasses mind. Amber and waiting.

I should be reading poetry, philosophy; I should be watching my own mind. Instead I look for something I cannot find, in teen books. If I was really thirteen I know for certain I wouldn’t touch that shit with the hooked end of a twenty-foot crane. But now I read teen books compulsively, so many of them that I can’t remember who wrote them or what they were about. Details remain but mostly they’re poorly written attempts by adults who try to talk like the teens they no longer are and perhaps never were. When they get turned into movies based on the book, they’re, shockingly, even worse. Who would have thought a bad teen book would be better than the movie?

Why am I doing this to myself? It’s a sinkhole out of which I should be clawing myself out inch by inch. I think perhaps I am looking for a way in to my son’s mind which, truth be told, is nothing like the vocabulary-challenged blank slates that some writers think teenagers are.

 – Harsh. That was harsh, Space Bar.

– You think? Wait. Let me produce evidence.


You know what? I was going to produce evidence. I swear. I even took out the book and re-read passages of it but if a quick re-read wasn’t bad enough, the thought of typing up all the rubbish gave me the heebie-jeebies. So you’ll have to take my word for it that the last teen book I read was awful.

[Basically, a girl is made to kiss a boy she kind of likes but she kisses him against her will. Later, when they talk about it, he pretty much says to her that when girls say ‘no’ they mean ‘yes’. And though she tells him she doesn’t know what kind of girls he knows (a pretty lame response, but perhaps she was in shock? I would have been.) by the end of their – what was it? a date? It might have been – she’s swooning all over him again. And that’s just one small incident in a book filled with....gah! I can’t even talk about it.]

This is not to say that all of teen books are bad; they may not be Catcher in the Rye, but they fleetingly catch something real, the good ones. It’s just, I really ought to be doing other things with my time.

Like writing.


Which brings me to this blog.

I don’t know what to do with it any more. I keep it like a name I can’t imagine changing but when I say it out loud, it doesn’t feel like my name.

I guess it’ll be here, I will be here, providing poems and excerpts from books which people will come looking for at a later date. One day – perhaps by next year – it’ll have something to say for itself.

Perhaps this is a pre-adolescent and necessary moodiness.

But as always, however rubbish the contents of this blog and however capricious my responses, thank you for reading.


km said...

No, no, I insist you let this run for another seven years. (Though you pretty much speak for me - and all Defeated Bloggers - when you say "it doesn’t feel like my name").

..they may not be Catcher in the Rye

I take it you haven't read Catcher recently? :)

(So you are reading teen books and I am retrogressing into children's books. I will soon be reading the Alphabet as if it were some surreal experimental fiction. Which it is, if you really think about it.)

Space Bar said...

km: Oh god thank you thank you! I thought this post was going to be completely ignored by everyone and I was feeling very depressed.

(No I haven't read Catcher in decades. You think I should? I personally like Franny & Zooey more.)

What children's books are you reading? If you want to go back to the alphabets, there's always the Gashlycrumb Tinies.

km said...

Gorey is awesome, but right now, I'm all for something gentler and less morbid than Gorey. The soul *demands* Wind in the Willows.

K said...

Hmmm, let's see... born literate, talking poetry and cinema before the age of five... world weary at seven... sounds about right :)

Space Bar said...

K: Well-placed smiley, that.

Subashini said...

happy belated 7th :)

as a selfish reader of this blog i just want to scream NO NEVER STOP NOOOO

i'm thinking how i don't tell enough writers how much i love/need to read them, because i'm too shy (!) or busy to post a comment, even though their blogs are the blogs i read ALL THE TIME. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <-- i am hoping this string of hearts will do the job of accurately describing My Feelings For Your Blog.

(i'm reading e.l. lockhart's real-live boyfriends right now. it has an unfortunate cover but the series is great & lockhart is a smart writer. #yayteenbooks)

Aayushi Mehta said...

This was actually quite a fun post to read, made me laugh out loud with your honest description of your 12 year old self. :)

Congratulations on seven years!

Space Bar said...

Suba: Thank you! And yes! Lockhart is one of my favourites. Also Rachel Vail - have you read her?

Aayushi: Thanks for dropping in. I was an insufferable 12 year old, but these things are good grist, no?