I got back into playing my guitar last night, after having picked up the thing only a handful of times over the past two years.
A lot of reasons for this. Part of it was because I fell into a directionless rut for a lot of 2012 and 2013 that had me staying away from most of the things I love to do, choosing instead to party and otherwise occupy my mind with things that didn’t take too much energy or mental effort. But that’s a really boring sob story so we’re going to go ahead and piss all over that and move on.
The real reason I didn’t play my guitar for so long was because of my living situation during that time. Prior to moving into the place I live now, I lived with my parents for a year. Prior to that, I lived in a two bedroom apartment in Harlem with a roommate who was an engineering student and spent 99% of her time studying, and prior to that I had another two month stint at my parents’ house after finishing up grad school. None of those situations were very conducive to the idea of playing an electric guitar hooked up to a distortion pedal and Marshall amp turned to full volume at 2 am (which is typically when I get the urge to do such things).
Living alone now though, I find myself getting back to the things that not only make me happy, but make me realize what type of person I actually am. It helps that my neighbors can’t hear shit either.
On a related note: I sold my Playstation 3 and all the games this past week (believe me, it hurt as much to do it as it did to write those words; we’re talking Madden, NBA 2K, Battlefield 4, WHAT HAVE I DONE?!). I also canceled my cable ($130 a month for something I use maybe twice a week? No.). And in the process–and as a result–I’ve regained a certain mentality that I didn’t even realize I’d been missing.
It’s the mentality that’s driven me to write novels and memoirs and short story after short story. The mentality that put me in front of a stack of books each week with the goal of finishing them all so I could tackle the next stack. The mentality that forced me to put together the admissions packets for the various colleges I applied to before attending grad school, constructing portfolios that gave me the highest chance of getting into a decent program. Which I did.
It’s the same mentality that had me sitting down night after night with a guitar pick and my acoustic and/or electric, learning any and every song I could. It’s the mentality that’s gotten me this far in life, with the potential to achieve so much more.
That said, I’ve also realized a few other things about myself now that I’m living alone again.
And the main thing I’ve rediscovered? I’m weird.
How, you might ask? Well…shit…where do I begin?
- I keep my AC on 68 degrees and walk around my house in pajamas and a hooded sweatshirt–with the hood up–and I’ve found myself frequently acting like I’m in a fighting movie with it, pulling the hood down so my eyes are barely visible and pacing the living room with my shoulders up, throwing jabs at the air for no reason whatsoever.
- I talk to myself. Out loud. Frequently and animatedly, beating my chest like a cave man and doing a lot of hand clapping. They’re pep talks, typically fueled by some piece of writing I just completed and am proud of, which usually prompts a string of expletive-laced adjectives that pretty much add up to “I’m awesome.” It’s a confidence boosting thing, really. Still, I’m pretty sure I look like a psychopath whenever it’s going on.
- I drink an unusual amount of bottled water. I mean…I go through a 24 pack every like two-and-a-half days. The bottles cover my house from my bedroom to my office to my living room, so I have to stop every once in a while, grab a plastic bag, and spend ten minutes going around picking them up before dumping them in the recycling bin and going out to get another pack.
- I don’t know why I own a stove/oven. I haven’t touched it. Not even once. Been here six months, haven’t so much as opened the thing or turned a knob. Add to that the fact that my fridge is filled with nothing but soda, condiments, alcohol, and the aforementioned bottled water, and I wonder how I survive. Then I remember I eat out three times a day, every day, and then I just wonder how I’m not bankrupt.
- I wash my hands a lot. Most of the time for no reason whatsoever. And I shower like three to four times a day. Just because. This isn’t including my post-workout showers at the gym; I’m talking about private, 20 minute long showers where half the time I’m just standing there (no, I’m not talking about those types of showers). And I do it more if I worked at the restaurant that day. My water bills are ridiculous.
- I frequently find myself on my couch, staring at the blank screen of my television and zoning out, daydreaming about…whatever, until I snap out of it and look at the clock and realize that I’ve been sitting there staring aimlessly at nothing for half an hour. This happens more often than I’d like to admit.
There’s a lot more, but I’m going to stop.
The point is, I thought I knew myself, but I’m still discovering things about Patrick on an almost daily basis. And I love it. Having this time to myself, having the space to myself–to explore my personality on my own terms without any outside influences–helps me in every other aspect of my life.
Basically, getting all this weirdness out of my system in the confines of my own home, with nobody around but myself to judge myself, makes me more relaxed when I’m out in public, and therefore more able to deal with the rigors of daily life living within a society that isn’t very empathetic to inherently antisocial individuals such as myself.
I know a lot of people don’t have that luxury. They have roommates, they’re married, they have children, they still live with their parents (believe me, I get it). But no matter your situation, you have to find that spot, that private place, where you can just be yourself and get all that being-your-own-weird-self out of your system.
Otherwise, all that blatantly insane behavior will grow into something a lot more clinical, which you will more than likely thrust onto society in a very unhealthy manner.
And aside from the obvious detriment to your social life, mental help is also crazy expensive.
So…you know…fix it. Be alone sometimes. And do stupid shit when you are, like this:
It helps. I promise.