Jason Porath

has a website, i guess

Month: January 2006

Walkabout, pt. 4: Let go

I spent my 24th birthday dying and coming back from the dead.

Let me back up. On Friday, I drove up to Chicago and stayed with my friend Zoe, who is:

– Attending Northwestern med school (via a year-early guaranteed entrance program)
– An avid goth, roleplayer, LARPer, and juggler
– Xenophobic regarding asian people, despite being one herself
– One of the pillars of the NU med school variety show (In Vivo)
– My first girlfriend, from way back in the day.

Zoe and I had a weird relationship in high school. I was petrified of being in any way untoward or disrespectful, and her parents hated (and possibly still hate) me with a frightening passion, largely on account of me being white, and not a doctor. So we went out for the better part of a year and never so much as kissed. Over the years, I’d amassed a huge collection of guilt complexes over the way things went, things I didn’t say or do, feelings I’d hurt, opportunities I’d missed, and even the way things went with her after I left for college. But we’d never really talked to each other about any of that, so, when finally face to face, we did a postmortem on our relationship, 6-7 years later.

And like so much else, it’d mostly been in my head. She was perfectly happy with how things went, by and large. The sketchiest moments, the ones I’d had the most guilt over, she didn’t even remember. All the horrible lingering pain I thought I’d left her with was illusory. In reality, I’d had much less of an effect on her life, all told, than I’d thought. Much less.

This was both liberating and depressing. Liberating because I’m no longer shackled to the past, I don’t have to live with this albatross around my neck. Depressing because I’d always thought and remembered things as being much more involved between us than they were. Had I just been lying to myself, misremembering things?

So, my birthday. I went to Zoe’s variety show, which was entertaining, and met her new boyfriend, who was nice. Afterwards, we went to the afterparty for her show, which was at a bar who had overbooked just a smidge… four parties going consecutively. We had to wait for 15 rainy minutes to get in, and the place was wall-to-wall people. My fear of crowds kicked in and my brain shut down. I stood there watching Zoe float from one person to the next, ably schmoozing with the crowd, drinking and letting herself have fun while I did the exact opposite, and it finally kicked in that we were done. We’d walked different paths, and she’d gone somewhere I could not follow. I will always love and care for her in some fashion, but the past is dead and buried.

At the same time, I’d been waiting most of the day to receive a phone call from Erin for my birthday. I’d even broken down and called her, leaving a message. I waited until midnight California time, at which point it was no longer my birthday anywhere of import, and still received no call. I fumed and fretted about it for a bit, standing in the corner most of the night as Zoe tried to get me to dance, but eventually realized the reason I cared about that call was probably the same reasons I was so affected by the postmortem. The past was still alive, because I was holding onto it, and living under some expectations I perhaps shouldn’t. It turned out that Erin had her own problems that night, and had tried unsuccessfully to call, but I didn’t know that. I just knew that I’d started a new year, and I needed to let go of the old one(s). So I peeled off the wall, made my way to the middle of the floor, and started to dance.

Walkabout pt. 3 : Winning By Forfeiting

One of the most best parts of this excursion so far has been the time spent with my friend Lindsey.

I met Lindsey my Junior year of high school, when she came to audition for one of my plays. With my ass having been kissed by pretty much every theater student in my school throughout the auditions, I didn’t take well to her gushing adoration of my previous year’s work. I told her so, and she backed down immediately in horror, at which point I realized she was serious. Still, I didn’t give her much credit. She’s a buxom, good-looking girl, and I had trouble seeing past that. Then one day, she made a reference in passing to Pazuzu, which showed she knew its Sumerian origins, and had picked it up from a book, as opposed to merely having watched The Exorcist several times. It was at this point that I realized she is far more than I had taken her to be. We became great friends.

One of the most remarkable things about my relationship with Lindsey is that we never dated, and never will. I asked her out once, when I was still getting to know her, but she realized before I did that we’re much more suited to a brother-sister relationship, and turned me down. It’s peculiar. We both readily admit that we find each other very attractive, we can (and do) talk for hours upon hours, have gone to two different proms, and stayed at each others’ places until well past midnight on many occasions, and nothing has come of it. We talked about it today, and both came to the conclusion that we can’t think of each other in any sort of sexual way; there’s just too much else tied to our mental conceptions of each other, that it’d be like dating a sibling.

One of my big problems has been reconciling my desires for physical and emotional relationships. I have an all-or-nothing tendency: either the relationship is intensely physical, and leaves me feeling like a cheap husk of a person, or else it is so precious and emotional that I am loath to damage it in any way by bringing physical desires into it. My first relationship lasted the better part of a year, and we never kissed — I was afraid to do so, because I was unsure of how I felt about her at the time. I didn’t want kiss her without meaning it. It would be like lying to her. My relationship with Erin was similar. I would be unsure of my feelings, and would withdraw, playing an endless game of hot/cold, because I didn’t know how to talk about it, or get past my insecurities. Sometimes the relationship was good, and everything fell into place. Other times, not. This just led to a million problems and contributed the eventual downfall of the relationship. I couldn’t bring myself to fully commit to things, and eventually broke it off, because it was making both of us intensely unhappy.

Lindsey’s looking like she might be in a similar situation with her guy, where she feels like he has only one foot in the waters. We talked about it a long time. We have similar dating histories, at times seemingly swapping places back and forth
as to where we were in our lives. What we decided is that every nasty thing that we’d done or seen someone do, every irrational, angry argument we’d gotten involved to, was all caused by someone being hurt. We both knew people who had been so massively neglected during their childhoods that they just became an emotional vortex, leaving behind a trail of broken hearts and confused partners, until they got it out of their systems. Their insecurities hurt one of Lindsey’s boyfriends, and he hurt her in turn, and she turned around and hurt other people, after their relationship was over.

The only thing to do is to be comfortable with yourself. Try not to fly to anger with anyone; instead, try to understand their situation, and extend them sympathy. Understand the roots of your rage and hurt, and focus on those instead of their symptoms. Learn to forgive yourself, love yourself, and heal yourself. Then forgive, love, and heal the ones close to you.

All easier said than done. Nobody’s perfect for long; achieve nirvana one day and you’ll be knocked out of it the next. The surest way to ruin a marriage is to assume that you’ve worked out all your problems with your partner, having reached a pinnacle state of matrimony, and never address things again because it’s shameful to have problems post-marriage. Life is endless work, and all too often just a cycle of hurt and pain, but you can win. Just refuse to play.

Walkabout, pt. 2: The story I tell myself

Who am I but the me I see? Personality is self-perception. I am a story I tell myself to make it seem like there’s some sort of narrative to life. And lately I’ve been acting out of character. It isn’t a flaw in the plot, it’s a flaw in the telling.

I need to find — no, create — my platonic ideal. The best future of all futures, the template I work off of every day.

I’m wise and calm. Open and understanding. People come to me for advice, and I can open up my heart and accept them in, no matter how flawed and hurtful they are. I’m at peace, come what may.

I’ve negotiated my needs. I am sex and friendship, tragedy and comedy, libido and destrudo.

I do not lie to myself. I do not lie to others.

I live life wantonly, comfortably at times and uncomfortably at others. I do not worry too much. I live life to the extent that it overflows and becomes art. That is how I make money, how I communicate with life, the universe, and everything.

I am twisted round my partner. She pushes me as I push her, and we grow around each other like braided hair, like the snakes of the caduceus, like a double helix, laying down the blueprints for a single life as we go. She is a perpendicular universe turned parallel.

I don’t ache inside, because there’s others there, filling the gap.

I’m happy.


Nobody’s rebutted it yet, so I’m feeling safe enough to say woot on this one…
4 new Futurama straight-to-DVD movies!

Walkabout, pt. 1.5

Today, I

Stood on the grave of a great man.

Witnessed the domicile of the loneliest pagan oil tycoon in Colorado.

Got my first speeding ticket (and nearly got thrown in jail).

Heard Achy Breaky Heart for the first time in ten years.

Came upon Foley Tractor Rentals, off of Reynolds Street; I expect three of you to find this darkly hilarious.

Saw a hundred-year old buffalo.

Nearly bought a table with human legs.

Tried to go to the sole refuge for D&D nerds in the midwest, only to find it closed.

Ran into one of Dick Cheney’s minions.

Learned of Kansas’s version of the Winchester Mansion – the “Garden of Eden.”

Narrowly decided to not go see the biggest ball of twine in the world.

Found the following songs ironic during the circumstances: “Good Ship Lifestyle,” “Sleep,” “Road Trippin,” and “America.”

Passed a Kansas town which purports to have Christmas every day of the year.

Dreaded this trip ever ending.

Rewrote chunks of Ghost Town in my head.

Stayed in a hotel room so small that the bathroom door could not close if the seat to the (explosively pressurized) toilet was down.

Broke my car a little bit more.

The main adventure of the day was the ticket. It was $125.60, as he clocked me doing 98 in a 75 zone. Had I been going 101, he’d have thrown me in jail with a $1000 bail. He talked to me as he would a teenager, with a treble in his voice whenever he mentioned the money, as if it were some fell and terrible financial blow. Maybe I’m cavalier with money, but I don’t mind. I had been going 100 for several hours. The extra 75 miles – the full extra hour of daylight, picture taking, and adventure – I gained by going over the speed limit was worth $125. It probably would have been worth $1000, for the added experience of going to jail. Money will come and go. I don’t care that much about it. I pay for my friends when we go out, I tip well at restaurants, and I buy little presents for my loved ones, because if money does not bring happiness, then it’s useless.

After all this is done, I may not be making as much money as I have been. Life may be a bit harder because of that. But I’ve been working for money, and it’s ruined me. I don’t think a lack of money could do half the damage.

Walkabout, pt. 1

So I tossed everything to the four winds and started to walk back east, head full of storms. I don’t know if I still have a job. I don’t know if I still want my job. I don’t know what I want, or who I am. I don’t know who I want to be. I don’t know who I’m supposed to be. I knew once — I knew my platonic ideal, knew it well, followed its example, and never deviated. Until it blew away on the wind. So now I’m traveling across the desert trying to hunt it down again.

I’ve seen road signs for — Zzyzx Street, Nevada; Needles, Nevada; Ghost Town Road, Nevada; Browse, Utah; Parachute, Colorado; Rifle, Colorado.

I took 200 photos.

I strode through an abandoned silver mine.

I went to a Wal-Mart in search of polygamists.

I broke into a house built in 1896 and took pictures.

I saw a woman pay for her Burger King food with a check.

I looked at portraits of Hell’s Angels in the same Burger King.

I took a picture of a condom machine in the bathroom of the very same Burger King.

I ate 9 Burger King chicken strips to commemorate what is truly the greatest Burger King in existence.

I managed to get internet access at a hotel merely by the fact that I carry around ethernet cable with me.

I met an invisible friend for the first time, and realized she is one of the few keys to who I was 10 years ago.

And for a minute, in the middle of all this, I thought I saw the footprints of an ideal me heading off into the distance.

Slach lanu

A preface, to anyone who reads this: I’m going to be somewhere between sporadic and non-existent in levels of contact over the next fuck-knows-how-long. I may be disappearing from LA for a bit, depending on how work goes. If I get my druthers, then I may just be driving off aimlessly for a month or so.

As I was growing up and still a practicing Jew, there was a curious prayer that was part of services. As you chant “slach lanu, mechal lanu, kaper lanu,” you’re supposed to strike your chest, as a symbol of atonement. My brother Jeremy and I would often go a little overboard, hitting ourselves with increasing force, like apes beating our chests. I remember once or twice I actually left bruises. Big black fist-shaped marks.

All that’s to say, there’s a bit of a precedent for me beating the shit out of myself. You see, I’m sort of mid-meltdown right now. I’ve done a lot of really questionable stuff over the past 4, 5, 6 years, a lot of stuff I am not able to forgive myself for. Pretty much everyone else who’s been involved with my mistakes doesn’t think anything of it. They consider it water under the bridge, just bygones or youthful indiscretions, but I can’t. Or rather, I could. For a long time, I didn’t think anything of my actions, because I didn’t think anything of… well, anything. I just sort of barreled straight ahead, and didn’t let small things faze me. That may be vague, but… at this point, I’m having enough trouble just accepting who I am and what I’ve done, let alone talking about it, so there you go.

I mean, to my credit, I think it’s good that I am sort of breaking down over this. I want and need to be a better person. It’s a bizarre testament to my character, I guess.

So all this is catching up to me. And I just need to let it wash over me, turtle up, and just take off for a bit. I’ve already deleted around half of my AIM contacts, 3/4ths of my phone numbers, and deleted my myspace, friendster, and okcupid profiles. I’m close to deleting facebook, but don’t know if I’m going to carry through with it. I’m sorry for anything I’ve done to hurt any of you all, and sorry for the upcoming streak of incommunicada, but it’s sort of necessary.

See y’all on the other side.

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