Reading isn't wasting time, I said, because reading is such a good-for-you activity. One should never feel guilty about time spent reading because reading time is time so well-spent. It counteracts badness in the universe. It helps you understand the world. It's free. One should NEVER, I said, feel guilty about reading. Never ever.
How do I come up with this stuff? And why, when I verbalize it, do I make it sound so absolute? Like I've really thought it all out. I haven't thought it out! I haven't thought anything out! I make things up as I go along. I'm a ridiculous person. Obviously, it's better to think, decide, then speak. Not speak, then think, then decide. What is WRONG with me? I say stuff, in some ways, experimentally, and I often don't really know if I mean what I'm saying until I hear my own voice. This is not smart. Because when you start verbalizing phrases like "I'm worried about" and "I feel" and "I've been thinking", people BELIEVE you. They BELIEVE you’re worried and thinking and feeling. They believe you really MEAN all the stuff you say. Sigh. I often don’t know what I mean until it’s way too late. It sucks. I give the wrong impression so often as a result. It’s all my fault.
But back to reading. Right now, I have three books on the go. The first is a collection of stories that I specially ordered (it's out of print) because I made a connection with the son of the author and was especially curious about it. The second is Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which I've been intending to read for years and am finally getting around to on a recommendation (though it's making me sadder than I need to be at the moment and I might have to stop.) The third - and most happy - thing I'm reading is a comic by Matt Fraction called Casanova that my friend Neil has been recommending to me for months.
[Sidebar: Neil pointed out some grammatical errors in the blog recently, and I referred him to the P.S. section of this post. Have you any such similar complaints, I refer you there too.]
But back to what I was saying.
Comics are not, traditionally, my thing. I like them to an extent, but there are a lot of things about the genre that I don't really get. And the fans are SO intense. I often feel out of the loop with them. They also tend to remind me of Matt and of a whole high school sensibility that I sometimes don't want to deal with.
It's funny - I was really resistant to reading the Fraction comic, but now that I'm in it, I like it. I really thought I wouldn't. Then again, I suppose I shouldn't be that surprised, especially considering the Matt (not Fraction) connection. When I was a teenager, I stole half my personality from my Matt. I learned to like the things he liked and to think the way he thought, and a lot of that has held on. And he likes Fraction. Last year, in fact, he chose Sensational Spider-Man Annual # 1 as his pick for best single issue of the year. In his explanation he wrote the following: “Matt Fraction did something [the] comics world sorely needed: he did a comic about why being in love with someone so much that you can't imagine your life without them... isn't tragic. After all, it's too easy, isn't it, going for the quick dramatic kill of the doomed love affair. Staying put - staying married, and making it work, and showing what that love means - that's the real challenge. Way to go, Matt Fraction. You're owning this list.”
I don’t check Matt’s site much anymore, but when I do I always find something like this that I like, and in general that makes up for anything I find that I don’t. He’s a strong writer. There were worse people I might have mimicked. Whatever else he is, Matt is brilliant. He always has been. He taught me how to write like myself, in my own voice, and how to love pop culture, and how to talk seriously and to express excitement about things without being overly self-conscious. He taught me to be brave. That was kind.
Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, it does make me uncomfortable at times to be mentioned on the Internet in a capacity I don’t control, but to be fair, that rarely happens any more. Still, every now and again, I show up on his site. He posted a picture of us kissing at Halloween circa 1998 awhile back. See it by clicking here and taking a hint from Shakespeare. It was touching, in a way, except that I suspect he did post it to be kind.
My favourite thing he ever wrote (that I know of) that refers to me is his retrospective review of Titanic. I stumbled across it in early 2006, having just seen the movie again for the first time in something like 8 years, and the piece totally broke my heart. Or rather, it reminded me of my broken heart, which isn’t as bad, I guess. [Links have been removed.]
I just like it. It’s a review that feels true. It reads real. And being referred to as “a whip-smart teenager” with “the face of an angel, the mind of a scholar, and the sneaky aspirations towards mayhem of the finest of Lucifer's minions” actually feels okay. It’s nice to think that someone remembers me that way, so long after the fact. At the same time, I know no one but me cares about this kind of thing. (Besides the obvious parties involved, I mean.)
Or … do you?
The thing is, now that I’m not writing pop-culture-y journalism anymore, thinking about all this stuff begs the question: does jenselk.com have a future? You guys come back, day after day, month after month, and you write me emails about how the things I say hit home, or remind you of something, or make you happy or sad, or about how I’ve inspired you write, and that gets me. It really does. I owe you, Interwebs. You’re always so sweet, and I admit (selfishly) that the positive feedback feels pretty good. But I’m doing a different kind of job now and I’m just not sure about the blah-og anymore. There’s the lack of professionalism to consider. I need to think about this. I’m considering a hiatus at any rate. I might keep posting regularly, but I might not. I’m not sure yet. I don’t want to do the same stuff over and over again, you know?
Going back is nice sometimes, but maybe it’s too much. Maybe it’s better to just go forward. Let the bridges burn and all that.
Onward and upward. That’s what Matt used to say. It was a happy phrase, meant to inspire upbeat action, but I always heard it as vaguely consolatory.