It's a feeling that comes on quickly. What do I call it? Self-pity? Empty wastefulness? There's a scream inside building and building but never reaches that cathartic moment of release.
I look around my immediate room. My little information center rules one corner of it. Shelves of books. CD binders full of DVDs. A little brass cat on a shelf that I like. Stacks of index cards I've never gotten around to entering. A box of old cereal boxes. A tote of ancient magazines. My dilapidated recliner. The pleather coating of the cushions and arms has been peeled off. I peeled it off when it started cracking and splitting. It became a bit of an obsession for awhile.
Another corner of the room has a desk that has our old PC on it. My wife uses that now, since I have my laptop and I can't sit up that way for any length of time without my damn knees giving my problems. I only use it to make DVDs, since my laptop's DVD burner isn't all that fast. She had all of her craft stuff there, and in a re-purposed printer cart that I use for a table sometimes.
The rest of the room is filled with junk. Barristers full of knickknacks planned to be put up for sale, comic books I planned to scan, movie posters and lobby cards I never got around to hanging up. My wife's old crystal. A ladder. An ironing board. Several box fans. A sewing machine that always tangles when I try to use it. Six pairs of pants that I haven't hemmed because of that problem. Our old air conditioner which we haven't yet put back in the window. A roll of gray deerskin, or some sort of hide, that my wife plans to use to cover her Native American and New Age craft tables at the flea market. Two bureaus full of clothes we never bother pulling out. I wear the same few pairs of pants and a bunch of sleeveless t-shirts constantly. Since I don't work, I can't see the point to getting dressed up. I do try to switch from the pants I sleep in to another pair. One does have to have some sense of accomplishment now and again.
There's a fold-up futon against a set of shelves that face into the living room. Most damn uncomfortable thing I've ever sat or tried to sleep on in my life. The cats use it as a scratching post. There's an exercise machine on the landing going upstairs. Never been used. The how-to video that came with it was a VHS tape, and I never got around to converting it to a DVD. It seems pretty self-explanatory, but we've just never got it out and tried it. It's been sitting in this room for about four years now. Behind it, several big pieces of white styrofoam that we plan to make a light box out of so Mona can photograph her crafts better when she posts them on-line. And behind that, an old framed movie poster that I tried hanging on the wall. It fell down, but amazingly, glass didn't break, so I've just let it sit there. Bunny Lake is Missing. Good movie, too. You get to watch the Zombies perform a song I don't think is still available anywhere else.
There's a Dali-esque clock on the wall, looking melted and misshapen. I never read the damn thing right through the gooey haze of morning vision. Along with that, an antlered deer skull that Mona adorned with Native American-style regalia. Definitely a piece of art. By the desk, there's still a reproduction of a Gamera poster, hanging next to my last piece of original comic book art. A page from Doom Patrol. Grant Morrison and Richard Case, the master deconstructors.
That's what I see day-in and day-out. By my own choice. There's a sense of ennui that has hit me, particularly since I was forced to go on disability. I've never been much for traveling around. The great outdoors hold no particular allure for me. For all the apparent chaos of the room, this is one of the few places I feel in control.
Until that feeling hits. What the hell have I been doing with my life? I never took anything as seriously as I should. School was a game, and a bloody expensive one that I never bothered to finish. There was always something more important to take care of; another glass to life, another tab to eat, another record to zone out with, another friend to hang out with because it was the cool thing to do.
I try to put my finger on the problem. There is no problem to strike out at, only excuses that my inner self has to listen to maintain balance. When I was a child, I once had to go see a psychiatrist, because there was a possibility that I was going to be put into a foster home. I can't remember the exact circumstances why. I only remember a doctor's office, and later a conference room in the courthouse. The psychiatrist gave me an I.Q. test, and for some reason, he told me what that number was. It was pretty high.
Soon afterwards, I was in the courtroom sitting next to my mother at this table. There was a sheaf of papers in front of her, so I took a gander at them. Reading through the top sheet, I discovered that the whole proceeding was about determining my mother's competency to be a parent. After her name, it gave her age and said she was mildly mentally-retarded. I read that phrase over and over and I asked the woman who was acting as her lawyer how that could have gotten in this report, since it was obviously wrong. My mother couldn't be mentally-retarded. No fucking way. She made sure there was food on the table. She could drive. She could hold down a job. How could she be mentally-retarded?
I don't remember much of the rest of that conference, other than that I went back home with my mother (we lived with my grandparents).
Whenever the feeling comes on me, I look at myself now and what I have and I think back to those two particular moments. I'm so very thankful that my life has turned out the way it has. I have a wife who loves me. I have a cadre of adoring pets (who are adored in return). I have a roof over my head. I have good friends, both in real-life and in cyberspace. But that feeling makes me wonder: Could I have been more? I often justify that question internally with what I learned at the conference: How could I have been more? Was it because I had no inspiration, or because I had no way of recognizing inspiration?
Shouldn't a person be more than the sum of his experiences?