the circular runner

edging towards something spiritual in the wee hours…

In life, observations, writing on June 20, 2012 at 6:15 am

It’s late and yet I blog.  I have to.

If you’ve been following me at all, you know I’ve been filling my head with nonsense about branding and career stuff.  I call this my Obsession #1.  According to the nonsense that I am reading, which makes me even more nonsensical for actually quoting it, I should try to blog every day–some books say every few hours.  I don’t know how anyone could do that, in all honesty.  I mean, I guess if I got paid to do so, which leads me back to the whole obsession with career.  Jesus.  I need to stop.

Before starting this post, I was reading some other blogs–as advised by the nonsense books even though I don’t think reading blogs is nonsense at all–and I came across a couple things that are sticking with me right now. The first, a blog called Diary of a Quirky Girl, was featured on the WP mainpage and I guess the blogger got tons of readers and was taken aback by the attention.  I am linking to her reaction not to the post that was featured because there was something genuine about her joy.  She writes at one point (I am paraphrasing) that her father asked her why she started the blog in the first place, and she said it was to connect.

I can relate, and hence, I blog though I’d like to sleep.

I used to live in Boston. I went to grad school there, and it was one of the sadder periods of my life.  I didn’t fit and I was angry and all assholey all the time.  But I would listen to a show on WBUR, and the intro would start with a little hip hop song and the host would do this little rap-like thing, which always ended with the phrase, “Only Connect,” an epigraph from an EM Forster novel.  In its own way, that phrase was a life line and a reminder that I was doing quite the opposite.  My motto in grad school was more like, only repel.

It’s odd how things work out, but tonight after discovering the Quirky Girl, I then came a cross a photo blog in which the blogger went out to explore his hometown at 4 am.  I love that idea and I love that time of night.  I am a night owl by nature, and in grad school, I took that tendency so far that I would’ve made any vampire proud.  Sometimes I wrote my boring (and truly nonsensical) term papers at night, but mostly, I would walk.  I didn’t go to hot spots.  I usually went to supermarkets or to a 7-11-type convenience stores called the White Hen Pantry, or to a donut shop near my apartment.  And like this photographer on the blog I just discovered, I found that 4 am was the perfect time to explore.  The party crowd was long asleep, and the hard-core business/office types were still in bed for another hour before they started their power-smoothie powered power-walks.

One thing I noticed was that the people who worked at 4 am were often disfigured.  This was especially true at the Star Market I walked around.  There were more cleft palates and people with glass eyes or mangled hands in that store than one would ever see at a more regular hour. I don’t know why I hung around.  I guess I was trying to connect with other people who felt unattractive.  Looking back, I think the impulse was condescending.  I have no idea if those people worked the third shift because they were ashamed or because their bosses were or because it was just the only job they could get and they needed the money.  Who the hell was I to create a story for them?  But at the same time, I felt like a freak and I wanted to be around people who, at least by mainstream definitions of normalcy, were a little freakish, too.   (I will admit that lurking about at 4 am is not the best way to connect with others, but I was young and Romantic and…dumb.

All these years later, I’m less young, but….It’s late and I’m tired. I don’t quite pull the same hours I used to, but I’m writing tonight for the same reason that I walked the streets of Boston ten years ago.  That need for connection is, I think, a spiritual need, and it’s a need I still feel.  I’m too tired to parse that connection between writing and spirit and connection.  I need to get there, but not tonight.

Instead, I’m thinking about the Star Market and The White Hen Pantry in Cambridge, Mass., and the donut store with the baker whose face was scarred worse than I’ve ever seen.  And I wish the people in those stores a very good night and I wish all of you the same.

Only connect.

  1. Running in Circles…thank you so much for the BEAUTIFUL shout out! You struck a chord with me about connecting. 🙂 Like your time in Boston, I unfortunately spent last year in St. Louis feeling like a freak, down in the dumps trying to rediscover something, anything, a friendship, a spiritual connection, ANYTHING. The only thing that seemed to help, was one other lonely soul, who too felt like a freak, alone and secretly wanting to feel something; anything other than numb. Luckily we worked together and struck up a friendship over feeling like an outsider. It’s strange what beauty can come out of misery, and you have captured that here in this post.

    You know, the scenes you describe at the local markets are much like what DaVinci looked forward to. Often times, the people you described were the ones he wanted to draw the most because he saw a beauty in what most would call imperfections. Like you, I crave something real, and totally identify with you in the quest to connect with those who refuse to be fake. Honestly, it doesn’t seem like your impulse was condescending at all; in fact (this is just an outsider point of view looking in) it appears to be quite the opposite. Often times, these people are the ones who have the best stories, have lived amazing lives and love to share and retell it with you.

    LOVE LOVE LOVE your post and again thank you…for connecting. 😉

  2. Sounds like you have some great stories to tell about those Boston days. Have you ever written them as fiction?
    And I was curious about the photo–must be something in the air. My friend Stephanie Hammer posted something similar today:

    • You know I did try and write some of this stuff down in fiction–I have 3 versions of 2/3 of a novel about this stuff. But I think I don’t write fiction well when it’s autobiographical. I mean, on an emotional level, I can only write emotions that are somehow connected to who I am. Even if I were to write about a murderer, I may not know that experience, but I can identify with rage or hate, etc. But content-wise, I have a hard time finding the right voice for an event that did happen to me. I know that perception of a “true” event, by which I mean, “personally witnessed” event always has a bit of fiction to it because it’s subjective. But still, there is this part of me that feels shackled by events when I know I experienced them. It’s a limitation. I know if I could ever find a way to infuse the events I have seen and feel most strongly about with the magic/fantastic elements of life that I strive for in my fables, the work wold be powerful. But…but…but.

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