My intention for “Ginger Musings” is to strip away all of my own insecurities and personal filters in order to achieve a desired level of sincerity, honesty and be as genuine as possible. That’s what writing is for me; it’s equal parts cathartic and expressive. Writing is my palette and to obscure the truth or otherwise not be forthcoming would be tantamount to showing someone only half of a painting, half of a ballad, or half of filet mignon – better yet, let’s go ahead and share the filet mignon.
To that endeavor, I distinctly recall a conversation with my brother. We were sitting in the basement of the house, he in the recliner, me on the sofa, and I was burning on the inside because a few days prior he had revealed to my dad that I had dropped out of my spring semester of college (a further elaboration for another blog post). I made an off-hand and snide comment like “thanks, asshole” or something. He went on this rambling monologue about how he’s tired of everyone in the family putting up a veneer (my word) that everything was fine when it wasn’t – this monologue stretched beyond my grievance and me in particular – and not being honest with each other. He said he was done with that and was being more direct for now on.
Fast-forward not long after to a discussion on the patio of his house that included my father and mother, wherein we were discussing that very subject of honesty over Skyline chili dip. Well, it didn’t exactly start that way. I had just started this blog not long before and wanted him, my dad and mother to read it. So I said to him, “You should read my blog.” From memory, I forget what his response was, but I already felt slightly annoyed that I had to “pimp my blog” to my family. My thought process has always been that they should take an active interest in what I write and what I’m passionate about. And I don’t feel they do or at least, they don’t express as such. Maybe that’s selfish and maybe I’m too hard on them, but then I think about the authors I know that dedicate books to their mother, their father, their wife, their family in general for “always believing in them” and I think to myself, if I ever write a book, could I do such a dedication? I’m not sure I could answer in the affirmative and not feel like I’m lying to not hurt anyone’s feelings. But I digress.
As usual, as is the case with him, since he takes after my father in many ways, he took to lecturing me on subjects of money, life, potential and wasting it away. He even derided what I’m doing right here – blogging – as well as Facebooking and the like. “Why do you do it? It’s a waste of time. Write a book; make money.”
In light of our previous conversation, I saw this as an opportune moment to be uncharacteristically forthcoming about my emotions, my thoughts and my attitude with my parents present as well. So, I tried to explain to him, I write because I enjoy writing. And even if only one person takes something insightful, interesting or otherwise from something I have written, then it makes it all worth it. Writing in and of itself is its own reward because it lends to feeling creative, innovative and productive, but if you can make someone else care or pay attention to what you’ve written? That’s the highest reward I can imagine, as a would-be writer.
I went on to say, I am not motivated by money. I do not see writing a book as a get-rich quick scheme, as he does. I do not view money the same as him or my father. Money is a necessity to be alive and continue to be alive, but it’s not the ingredient I need to feel fulfilled or to live. It does not and will not define me. I seek intellectual pursuits and nourishment as an end to itself.
Moreover, again, in light of our conversation, I got even more direct. I plainly told him he doesn’t get me. Maybe that’s the refrain of a desperate man or even an angst-filled individual, but I sincerely believe it to be true. And to be fair, maybe I don’t get him, even if I like to think I do. He does not understand what motivates me, what drives me, why I am passionate about what I am passionate about and how I direct those energies. We are not cut from the same cloth despite coming from the same loins and for some reason; he appears to take that personally.
And yes, as irony would have it, my directness, my honesty and my desire to engage with him on a level we never had before, went over his head and he relegated himself to the usual self-deprecating and snide humor that’s been a Milam hallmark since I can remember.
This issue I have beyond the incessant and hypocritical lecturing, beyond the self-righteousness is that he does not understand me and it continues to manifest in ways irksome to me. Consider, the other day, as usually happens, he dropped by to visit, have dinner and the like. After devouring some rather hardened pancakes, zesty sausage links and eggs dripping in honey mustard (try it) and engaging for a little while, I retreated back to my room. Within moments I hear a holler from him saying, “Come downstairs; why are you hiding?”
I’m not hiding in my room; I’m choosing not to engage in the inevitably inane conversations that are a customary feature of these family gatherings. Is that too harsh? Maybe, because it’s not always true, but bear in mind, I did try the other way with directness, honesty, thoughtful conversation and it didn’t work. Maybe, in some sense, I am hiding to avoid the usual lecture – lectures, which have never worked with me. I do not enjoy being talked at. I am open to suggestion and other perspectives, but I am not a child. In other words, I feel it is more important to allocate my time, energies and thought to more productive activities than nonsensical small talk or derivative lectures that ultimately serve no purpose.
Sometimes a bout of inspiration will hit me, a momentary infusion of creativity or the like, and I just need to return to my laptop to jot it down; intellectually masticate it, maybe just merely marinate it for a while; that’s the process and the process he doesn’t understand. After spending hours on a piece once and going downstairs to eat, I once joked that “my baby was crying, I needed to get back upstairs.” That’s how I view it sometimes: I’ve given birth to something and there’s nothing like seeing a filled canvas and knowing now you only have tinker. So, when I leave it alone, I’m anguish to return and tinker and tailor it. And when I’m doing so, there’s nothing I find more invasive and intrusive than when someone interrupts my alone time with my baby. I liken it to listening to a good song, as immersed through the headphones and having to take them off because you notice someone trying to talk to you.
Other times, it’s the opposite. I’m reading someone else’s work whether an article or a book, so I’m like a babysitter to their baby, I can’t leave it alone for too long or she too will cry – stay with the analogy here. Immersion inside the creative world of someone else can be just as fulfilling and intellectually stimulating as creating a world of your own. In fact, that’s how one learns and grows as a would-be writer by reading from others, particularly the “greats.”
And still, other times, it’s far simpler. After a work shift, I enjoy winding down, especially if I’ve been around a barrage of people. I view the time between clocking out to clocking in the next day as precious. Therefore, I like to maximize that time. Sometimes I’m unsuccessful and merely procrastinate or otherwise derail that efficiency via the great bastion of bombardment that is the Internet.
Dammit, what’s my point here? Is it just that I perceive him as not getting me? Nah, that’s too easy. I fear that our not getting each other will never allow us to reach our potential as brothers. And that sucks. I know he cares and loves, that’s not at issue. I remember when I broke my arm in the summer before 7th grade; he was bawling his eyes out like I was just diagnosed with terminal cancer. So he cares. And that’s why I’m, nevertheless, optimistic that maybe one day, he’ll get it – and by it, I mean me.