Unsent Letters New Year Edition

Dear J--

...I've grown to loathe myself lightheartedly. As an artist and a teacher, I find my learned voice to be ponderous, alienating and obtuse, too often obsessed with things no one else has the time of day for, and too poorly equipped to convince them otherwise. But then, neither am I so inclined to condemn myself over those issues as I otherwise would have only a few days ago. I'm well-suited to be the outlier, speaking from beyond the familiar and pliable confines of the mainstream. true, in this reading of myself, I'm aspiring to an unhealthy, hubristically ambitious oracular status; but that's what I find so amusing, what leads to the lightheartedness.

I like that there's this impulsive, brazen voice inside me that likes to pick fights with conventional wisdoms, pronounce with complete confidence on matters over which I have the flimsiest grasp--and all of this usually in support of those I love; or, if not that, then ranged implacably against the thousand-and-one enemies wrongfully hounding them and theirs. I like that this voice asserts itself most prominently when the rest of me is most uncertain and fearful. I like that this voice can be trusted for such things, by far the most reliable thing about me. I can accept its price; I can accept the consequence that I am less likely to be regularly employed, and that I'm prone to frequent and discouraging changes of fortune.

I mention all of this because I'm convinced a kindred voice operates within you. Given this world and these circumstances of our current incarnations, and the similar modes of pride prevailing within us both, a tempered awareness of the multitudes within is invaluable, and the brazen voice in particular needs to be well-tended to.

I worry that your 'brazen voice,' made brittle by difficult and grindingly consuming work..., lashes out against yourself--raising havoc against your health and your conscience. In this context, while our histories are far from identical, nevertheless I speak from analogous experience... As your friend who loves you deeply, my intention is to do all I can in support of your health and your conscience (the two being inextricably interconnected)...

If you allow your brazen self room and time to speak fully and openly, I believe (paradoxically, it may seem) that it can be your surest compass navigating the storms and the calms of these worlds. Because your brazen voice is none other than your own heart, as it is with me, headstrong and unyielding. Given leave to speak, it will only speak truthfully. Constrained against itself, nothing is safe.

All of this may be entirely self-evident; indeed, perhaps already moot. Believe that these are the meanderings of a loving and trusting, if no less brazen heart of my own.

You asked after the job hunt: quite difficult, though I am strangely euphoric about it. The economy in Portland, like with the rest of the country, continues to stumble around in a gibbering, self-defecating stupor. My reserves are officially exhausted. I've strung together some teaching gigs that are entirely inadequate, and I'm more dependent than ever on the Filipino-Russian mafia, which would be deeply disconcerting for me except that this long operational pause--in which I wander through endless and frequent interviews, applications forms and so forth--has forced me to think even more deeply about my path, really hash out the core assumptions in ways I couldn't well do before. Down-and-dirty processing, as you would put it.

At first, as you might expect, this was a painfully tortuous experience, my health and conscience sizzling like bacon fat in a cast-iron skillet. Clearly, the means and methods by which I've sustained myself for the last several years, culminating in what was supposedly the most propitious of conditions in the last few months, then to drift and decay in the last six weeks, cannot be carried on. It's time for a change.

Once that key premise is established, everything opens up. My chief occupation now is the wholesale re-conception of everything I am. It's daunting; everything's in question, starting with whether performance will continue to be a priority for me. I know you've experienced similarly radical re-evaluations of your own course and ideals: the terror of these days when all things must change, and the dangerous excitement at confronting so many possibilities on such a scale.

It's like I'm shopping for fruit, squeezing and poking the juicy bits of my life. Some things just aren't ripe yet; others are long past their sell-by date...