Monday, June 15, 2009

Testing, always testing

Last weekend I went to a party and was handed a guitar and asked to play a song. I did. Everyone was informed that I wrote the song. Which I did.

I was then confronted by two people in the room who I have interacted with and socialized with in the past in a friendly way. They both insisted vigorously that they had heard the song before, they challenged the idea that I had written it. Which made me pretty much not ever want to sing or play another song for that group of people again. They can listen to the radio.

Later, at the same party someone asked me what I had been doing with myself. "Not much," I said, "a little cooking." He asked what I had been cooking and when I replied he said, "That's not cooking, that's just feeding yourself." Baking a chicken, making some cabbage, making polenta apparently is not cooking.

This is another person who I have interacted with and socialized with in the past in a friendly way.

My impression of these people was that they were pretty nice and reasonable to interact with socially. I'm sure that I will do so in the future. But the day after the party, I pretty much wanted to travel back in time and punch each of them in the face. This is probably why I haven't made a lot of friends since moving here.

This city is full of people doing and designing and creating. They run around and brag endlessly about themselves and how amazing they are. Everyone has a 1-5 minute spiel that is designed to impress and amaze.

It can get overwhelming, even numbing after a while. Reminding me of two quotes from movies set in New York:

Marie in When Harry Met Sally - "Everyone thinks they have good taste and a sense of humor but they couldn't possibly all have good taste and a sense of humor."

And Holly Golightly - "Do you think she's talented? Deeply and importantly talented?"

You keep having to check your gut. Is this person's elevator dog and pony show an accurate reflection of who they are and what they can do? Or are they just really good at the sell. Are they actively lying? Are you or they delusional? Or is it worse, they are sincere but deluding themselves? Or are they the real deal?

People keep asking for your credentials.

A blogger? For who? Does someone pay you to blog?
A writer? What have you published? Who is your agent?
A singer? What label are you on? Where do you gig?
College educated or higher? Where did you get your degree? Who did you study with? What did you study? Do you know so and so?
And so on.

On the flip side of that, it's a city-wide pastime to buy tickets, sit in the audience and to make judgements, form opinions. The best of this, the finest of that, the cheapest this, the most original that, the newest this, the most amazing that. Having opinions, becoming a critic, an expert, an aficionado, can become a full time hobby and in this city in many cases, even a paying job. Professional listener, professional audience member, professional observer. Everyone lives an examined life in that they pass judgments when they go out and pursue urban experiences. The self examination extends to the questions of : Do I like it, do I enjoy it? Why or why not?

I am no different in this.

It's a terrifying place to create. When I am trying to tell the truth or reveal myself, to offer up something precious about myself, there will be someone who is judging my offer as a commodity, a purchased experience to be compared with all of the others that they have encountered. It's a terrifying place to blog. People who I don't know very well, have this url and will judge me based on what I write here. My every pore, neurotic thought, typo and grammatical error.

Many here are brave. They reveal what is precious to them. They show you everything in the process. Every line, every stroke, confident that you will be won over, or get invested in the outcome.

For me creating is a delicate process. It is more like that wine commercial from the 80's, "We will sell no wine before its time."

Inspiration is shy and timid, she needs nurturing and shelter, a feeling of safety. She is a nervous thing to be tamed. Things revealed before they are ready, wilt and die. Things revealed before they are strong enough crumple into a bits.

And some days it's all that I can do to keep from smashing them to dust myself before they are ready. To see them crushed by another hands is unbearable.

I am too thin skinned for life. I am going to die alone and obscure. The glitterati can go F*** themselves.


MomVee said...

WTF? I would love to punch them all for you. If you'd like, you can come live here, where most people think it's odd to want to create anything.

ergo said...

Ah MomVee, you're the best.


Anonymous said...

Hey, sorry. I didn't know how rude my guests were. But in any case I have two comments:

1. Most people really speak to themselves when they pass judgment or dispense advice. What they really said regarding your cooking was "I'm not happy with my own cooking skills, so I will try to belittle everybody else as much as possible to make my self feel better in comparison".

2. Never forget that you have all the power to decide whose judgment you give any weight at all. Why do you give those people the privilege to pass judgment on you? If you decide they don't deserve to judge you what they say will become just "noise" - there is plenty of noise in NY.

Please play and sing again, you know I truly enjoy it.

The PG

C-Belle said...

I'm a fan of the "punching in the face" approach.