John "The Gneech" Robey (the_gneech) wrote,
John "The Gneech" Robey

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Be Smarter, or Just Feel That Way

My parents are a strange variety of blue-collar intellectuals; both raised very poor, but both college educated (my dad on his own ticket later in life, but he has a degree nonetheless). My mom used to write software for the C.I.A., while my dad never quite managed to make it to a desk job for very long. He was a milkman when I was born; he was then the manager of a paper company's warehouse until a fall from a loading dock pushed him into semi-retirement. He dabbled as a real estate agent for a little while, which is probably as upscale a job as he ever had.

They were both avid readers when they were younger; my dad has sorta fallen out of the habit, but my mom still spends the wee hours of every night with her nose deep in a book. She used to be all about mysteries, with occasional forays into quackery a la Chariots of the Gods. These days, as near as I can tell, the mysteries have fallen by the wayside and the quackery is all that's left. She's currently all agog about The Da Vinci Code and related books. [1]

I inherited my bibliophiliac nature from them. Most kids don't think of the library as a fun place to go, but it was always right up there on my list. I had a particular tendency to check out books of ghost stories and then not be able to go to sleep, but that didn't keep me from haunting the rest of the place too.

I also inherited from them a peculiar yearning to be smarter, more intellectual, more sophisticated than the rabble of everyday life. It's not exactly a class envy thing, although it's certainly easier to be well-read, well-groomed, and well-dressed if you're well-heeled. Unfortunately, I'm not sure exactly what it is, then. I touched on it the other day when I mentioned occasionally wishing I'd gone to Oxford or Cambridge. It manifests itself in my English degree and my gravitation towards Stephen Fry. My mental image of the perfect world is all brick walls, wrought-iron gates, autumn leaves, turtleneck sweaters, and black-and-white photography. Mind you, I don't claim to actually be smarter -- and for that matter, a lot of intellectuals I know are the most fatuous idiots you could ever hope to avoid meeting. But there is an insatiable desire to at least feel smarter.

I think this perennial streak of highbrow-wannabe is one of the things that's been bothering me lately. My everyday life has precious little mental stimulation ("web programmer" is not as brainy a job as you might think), and Suburban Jungle is all about emotions and relationships. My brain craves some cerebral activity, and to that end I've been reading a lot of Rex Stout (an odd mix of blue-collar intellectualism if ever there was one), but only a paragraph or maybe a page at a time as I get the chance; pondering on Michael Macbeth (every five hours spent on it dusts more cobwebs from my brain); and wishing I could have some nice, long, uninterrupted time to indulge in these things.

The fact that my life doesn't currently have room for nice, long, uninterrupted time to indulge in much of anything is causing me to lock up. When I sit to write, all I seem to be able to think about is the fact that I only have twenty minutes to write, no make that fifteen, no make that ten, hell why am I still sitting here I'll never get anything done. I need to make that annoying little gnome in my mind shut UP about how much time I have, or what I SHOULD be doing right now, etc., and it seems to be a lot harder than it used to be.

I'm not sure when this started; once upon a time I was a lot more cavalier in my attitude about what to do with myself and my free time. I would assume that the problem was that nothing much was actually getting accomplished, even though a lot was being done. I noodled around with cartoons for a decade before actually committing myself to producing SJ on a regular basis, and I wrote reams of half-stories, character sketches, and bits of dialog that never amounted to anything worth showing to people. I honed my skills with prose by writing introductory pieces for RPG sessions, which were fun but something of a "fire and forget" piece. (Once the game session was done, the writing was never needed again.)

I dunno, maybe I should just pop in a Mozart CD, grab a shot of Bailey's, and read Wodehouse until my eyes fall out.

Anyway, now that all that junk's out of the way, I feel it's very appropriate to link to THIS!

Snagged from </a></b></a>sk_1: Stop Global Whining!

Activism starts at home, so I hereby pledge to stop whining for the rest of this post. Thank you.

-The Gneech

[1] For the record, I enjoy forays into quackery myself ... but I also take it with big helpings of salt.
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