This Nothing Is Something

Something2By Monday, Jan. 8, 1979, the new year had finally settled in.

“I’ll probably be summing up 1978 for as long as I can,” I wrote in my Mead Composition journal, “How quickly time flies when you don’t record it!”

So, for nearly every day in January, I worked like the devil to get it all on paper: quoting songs I’d been listening to and jotting down snatches of dialogue I’d hoped to use for The Crowded Room, my high school story, quickly blossoming into a novella.

And university life was shaping up, too: party plans with fellow Mound graduate Geoff Morrison, and a new face in the crowd named Steph Pinsky. Taking the same liberal arts symposium with me, held Thursdays in the Architecture Building, Room 35, Steph—a “cute, black-haired, pretty-eyed freshman” who liked photography and writing, theater and dance—had turned my head. “I plan to find out more about her next session.”

By mid-January, I’d begun assessing old high school friends, camp friends, girlfriends—anyone, I wrote, “who knows me well with their experience, of course, someone who I have known for over two years.” Topping the list was Lisa Tepley, “the closest girl who could ever be ‘my wife’—I would say I love her for everything she is but, to be a realist, that does not matter to her at this time; she is extremely happy with her boyfriend Pat, at Cooper High, and we have little to say outside our own selfish experiences.” Odd that I went from first to third person in 60 seconds flat—an emotional-distancing habit, I suspect, to preserve my 19-year-old ego.

Then, on Friday, Jan. 12, this entry, in its entirety:

You wouldn’t believe the conversation I’m tuned into, such bold characterization, such touching realism! A couple and another cynically expressed girl are holding a vocal conversation. It’s interesting due to the fact that there is conflict involved, contrast. The couple seems mild-mannered, gentle, quiet. Our solitary speaker of cynicism holds center stage. Each witticism is direct, cutting, but it is, from my standpoint, moreso revealing. She gave a tremendous monologue about being ‘an old maid’ and she could have won an Academy Award for it. The conversation is dramatically perfect. It started out all of them talking about Accounting and ended with a re-cap of that topic. Perfect. After our lady of cynicism left to get a candy bar, the couple started in talking about her faults and problems: ‘I understand,’ he said. ‘I understand.’ Beautiful. I’ve got an idea for a play about it, expand. Life can be melodrama or farce. The tragedy is the unspoken life.

Between schoolwork and writing, I’d found a groove getting it all down in the journal. I knew where I wanted to be, but had to keep playing the role of college freshman, commuting to campus with Dad, and hoping to date young women like Steph. However, cracks were beginning to show in the façade of the devoted young scholar.Something1

For example, on Jan. 25: “I wish I could buy a van—save up a lot of money—buy needed supplies, and take a few good books, i.e., Steinbeck, Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, D.H. Lawrence, a little Conrad, Camus—and a dictionary, thesaurus, and a Bible, and head off to the Mountains and read and write, and read and write, and get the kind of education I should.”

The Family Project was pressuring me to get a new job to pay tuition after I’d gotten laid off at Tonka Toys. So I applied as a janitor at Augsburg Fortress Publishing House, and interviewed there the same day as that previous Thoreauesque entry.

By the end of January, I was working 3:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., staying downtown after classes and taking the late bus home after I’d swept Augsburg Fortress floors and mopped bathrooms with some guy named Mark.

On Jan. 30, I gave over one whole journal page to a single sentence.

“this Nothing is Something.”

~ by completelyinthedark on September 13, 2013.

One Response to “This Nothing Is Something”

  1. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    Still working on next new post. Have to find my mojo. Has anyone seen it?


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