How Not To Disappear

I feel like I’m fading away.

There’s only one section of my interview with “Generation X” Douglas Coupland that didn’t make the MTV News article or even my complete transcript.

Towards the end of our conversation, he told me (as he did The UK Register a few weeks prior) that “For about four months back in the ’90s I kept what was once called a diary, and I enjoyed doing it. But what happened was — and I think this is a very common response — when you start living your life inside your diary, you become quite mercenary, and it’s all about ‘Will this make a good entry?'”

To that end, Dear Reader, I’ve puzzled for days as to what to write following Saturday’s great reiteration of my anxiety provoked by my imminent irrelevance. Nothing, however, seemed substantive enough.

Truth is, there’s plenty of substantive stuff going on. Tons, in fact. Making a new home with someone is full of twists and turns and surprises and all sorts of unexpected revelations about both of us. That’s the hard part. Someone making your coffee exactly how you like it? Kinda’ cool. Someone to lean on? To share with? Very cool.

The bulk of my burgeoning domestic life, though — not to mention wedding planning, which you know from every E! show ever premiered (not to mention a good 1/5 of my previous five years of posting) is loaded with all sorts of baggage — feels off limits. As it is, the fact that four out of six (inadvertent) respondents Saturday night said of my “Under The Red, White & Blue” post (below), “Yeah I read that” freaked me out more than a little bit. If I blog about everything, what’s left for me? (Not to mention if I blog about Abbi and me, what’s left for us?) Moreover, if some student who wants me to hire them reads in my blog that “I feel old and irrelevant,” where’s the boundary?

So, with that caveat, there are no real headlines. Nothing is happening, at least nothing that makes a pithy, witty, or “deep thought” entry. We’re relaunching MTV News, and I’m relaunching my life. That’s it. That accounts for the eighteen or so hours a day I’m not sleeping, but it doesn’t tell you much.

Last night, a friend of mine mentioned a book she’d just finished, Nicole Krauss’ “The History of Love.” The novel’s protagonist, Leo Gursky, is a retired locksmith who immigrates to New York after escaping SS officers in his native Poland, only to spend the last stage of his life terrified that no one will notice when he dies. “I try to make a point of being seen. Sometimes when I’m out, I’ll buy a juice even though I’m not thirsty.”

It occurred to me then — and I told my friend — that maybe that has something to do with why I write songs and post these blog entries, and why I feel so invisible these days. It’s been a constant refrain in The Daily Journal: how not to disappear. I’ve always worried about being a tree falling in an empty forest. Now I’m worried about being just another tree in a crowded forest.

For years, my life has been centered around making stuff: songs, words, movies, photos, paintings — anything. Somehow, that stuff confirmed my existence. Right now, though, the stuff I’m making is invisible, intangiable, and personal. I don’t have time for the other stuff. Heck, I hardly have any ideas. And so I feel like a ghost.

I know in my mind that this is temporary. The pendulum has swung one way, and will swing back. I will find a new balance. Jason Walsmith makes marriage, fatherhood and rock ‘n roll work. So does Bono. So can I.

Meantime, poke me, prod me, push me. Remind me that I’m here.

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