Saturday, January 24, 2009

Unsuperficial meme

This isn't strictly a meme (since, after all, no one else is doing it), but a friend emailed me this bunch of questions, so I'm going to answer them, and in the process learn a little bit about myself. And knowing is half the battle.

Warning: over-long and self-indulgent. Even my therapist, if I had one, wouldn't want to hear all this.

1. What is one of your life’s goals?

I never really had life goals, strictly speaking, just far-fetched dreams and fantasies (which is probably why my life ended up in such a shambles). I probably ought to have goals, but I don't. The only thing lacking from my life right now is someone to share it with, and I'm ambivalent even about that. Of course I'd like to have been a father and a family man, like all my friends, but I also kind of like living alone and not answering to anyone for my time or inclinations. Overall, I'm pretty satisfied with where I am about 50% of the time, which is such an astounding step up from my typical outlook it's like I'm overdosing on Prozac or something.

2. What is one of your weaknesses?

A poor self-image is my main weak point. Oh, I'm pretty realistic about my strong points, and while I don't brag, I'm not in the habit of indulging in false modesty for politeness' sake either, so I realize that in some ways I come off as arrogant. I'm funny, and I'm kind, and there's no question that I'm smarter than most people. But what people don't understand is that I'm existential enough to realize that none of that means crap, that I'm unhappier than most people, and I'm less skilled at the basics of living with others than they are too. My intelligence doesn't make me better than anyone else, nor does it surmount in any way my all-too-often crippling self-doubt. In brief, I don't much like myself, so I can't conceive that anyone else would.

3. What would make you truly happy?

Given my genetics and my childhood, probably nothing, unfortunately. But I'd probably be very happy with myself if I had never gotten divorced. Intellectually I know that my most painful breakups were not my fault, but it doesn't stop me from castigating myself as less able than everyone else I know to take part in the human race.

4. What was your childhood like?

Pretty unconventional. My parents divorced when I was three. My brother and I lived with our mother and father in turns. They both moved around a lot, so I went to around eight schools from first to twelfth grade, all told. As the small, shy, bookish new kid, I was mocked and taunted mercilessly until about tenth grade, when I grew a spine, stopped caring, and started lifting weights. My father tried to instill in us a love of a lot of things, such as languages and fine art, that I now enjoy, but I was a contrary child, and the lessons often didn't take. My father swore a lot and drank a lot and took drugs. My mother doesn't really know how to show love for anyone. When the family was together at holidays, there was almost always screaming and insulting. My father would rage and insult us kids as well. With my mother, I was a sniveling, whiny little bastard, looking for the attention she didn't know how to give. But as we kids grew, our parents mellowed out and most of that is a very faded memory. Oh yes, totally healthy psyche, here.

5. What do you want in the future?

Peace between those with differences of opinion, the eradication of violent crime, and 100% employment.

6. What was your biggest failure in life so far?

Getting divorced. Or, to put it another way, marrying a woman who suddenly changed into a lunatic with a totally different personality.

7. What do you like and dislike about your life?

Didn't I just answer this ad nauseam?

8. What was or is your dream job?

When I was a kid and a teen, I wanted to be a writer or cartoonist. In adult life, I made extremely half-assed attempts at both. I was also a moderately successful child actor (not in the least famous, but known to agencies, requested by companies, and paid well). It would have been nice to be a successful adult actor as well, but there's not much hope for a goofy-looking guy like me to break Hollywood, not when I also got the depression. My current dream job is kindergarten teacher at exclusive private school. What luck!

9. What is your favorite book?

After all is said and done, I'm going to say Catcher in the Rye, not because it represents the pinnacle of the craft (I think Lolita does), but because of the impact it had on my outlook when I first read it in eighth grade. More favorites discussed here.

10. What is something out of the ordinary you've always wanted to try?

I don't really have longings for adventure. I'd like to travel more to more exotic places. I'd like to start up a charitable foundation. I'd like to eat the fugu.

11. Who do you admire?

Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King, Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington, Bob Dylan, Siddhartha Gautama, Jane Goodall, Paul Newman, the Little Rock Nine, Jackie Robinson, Michael Moore, Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, Mother Teresa.

12. What is your biggest fear?

Dying an ignoble death. In a plane crash, for example. Or of a heart attack on the toilet. I suppose it's unlikely I'll die throwing myself in front of a bullet, though.

13. Why aren’t you pursuing your dreams?

Gee, you're getting kind of pushy, aren't you? In some ways, I am. In other ways --- see number two, above.

14. Where would you live if you could live anywhere?

Well, I really love Paris, but I'd miss my friends. Maybe Oregon? I kind of like it here where I am, for all its faults. Mostly because my friends are here, and I'm incapable of making new friends.

15. What happened on the worst day of your life?

Oh, let's not bring that up again.


Rebel said...

re: the most valuable thing I got out of therapy was answers to #3. Seriously, the first few times she asked something to the effect of 'what do you want' or 'what would make you happy' I really couldn't answer. But after a year of focusing on what actually did make me happy, and learning that it's okay to do more of the things that make me happy, and fewer of the things that don't...I feel a lot better about my life.

Chance said...

Good call, Rebel. I do feel like I'm dancing around #3 and not really ready to answer it.

daveawayfromhome said...

Good meme. Maybe I'll do it as well. Or at least part of it. Or split it into parts. Or something.

Churlita said...

interesting meme. I don't think I figured out how to be happy (or even that I wasn't) until I was in my late 30's. I finally get it now, and maybe that's why I like being older.