The Llama Scribe

May 17, 2008


Filed under: Uncategorized — antoinette jeanine @ 1:55 am

I’ve started summer reading 2008 with Dave Eggers’ A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.  I’m a little more than halfway through, but it’s not a project; a little something light for those desperate, frightening spells when the internet fails to amuse me and I’m caught at work with no television (god, I am a pathetic product of my generation, aren’t I?).  Presently, I’m embroiled in a long, rambling transitional section, and I’m struck with and marginally inspired by the apparent honesty of Eggers’ confessions regarding his childhood imagination and his adult paranoia.  I’ve possessed some very weird traits in my day, the revelation of which, I’ve always imagined, will force my expulsion from polite society, my dismissal from employment and, naturally, the dissolution of present romantic relationships.  However, I can, for the most part, contextualize them in my past- my childhood, if you can consider my present state “adulthood”, however absurd that notion might be- therefore neutralizing them somewhat, or so I hope.  So here you are: Confessions of a Preteen-Teenage One-Woman Freakshow.

When I was between the ages of seven and thirteen years old, I fell into a hopeless mire of melodrama.  In 1996, a blizzard haplessly dumped a few feet of snow on Long Island, and I wrote in my journal of starvation and isolation (“There is no more milk”).  Everything was epic.  Fights with my parents concluded with bizarre, threatening signs taped to my window (“I am a caged tiger!”).  I am somewhat ashamed of this.  I was a strange kid.  (But I’m not so strange anymore- see how I did that?  No need to ostracize me, thanks- I’m normal now!).

Around the time that my affinity for melodrama began to subside, my paranoiac neurosis began, sprouted from boredom and true isolation.  We had moved from a suburb of moderate population density within a few hours from one of the world’s largest cities to a vast island in the swamplands of the Southeast, where even what passed for civilization took half an hour’s drive to reach and didn’t even have a Dunkin’ Donuts.  I knew none of the neighborhood children, and had no real interest in gaining their acquaintance.  When I wasn’t in school, I usually wandered fecklessly around the house, pining for cable TV.  To keep my brain occupied, I invented a scenario, which could then be repeated indefinitely and with nearly limitless variation.  It went something like this (and I warn you, it is sincerely weird):

I’d find myself thinking about a friend, acquaintance, love interest, family member or fictional character.  The only requirement was that they were at present separated from me by some physical distance, and the inclusion of close family members seen on a daily basis was pointless (unless they were my parents who, by my imagination, were made young- preferably my own age).  

This person, or character, or invention of my devious mind, would be asleep, or walking down the street, or eating breakfast- and maybe they’d get conked on the head, or maybe they have just opened their eyes in a different way.  At just the right moment in my daily life, typically the closing or opening of a door, or of my own eyes, they are suddenly and inexplicably transplanted into my head.  They are suddenly able to see what I see; they have gained my perspective.  They have no idea how this happened, and their discovery of my identity can take up to half an hour and can be as creative as I am bored.  Early on in these inventive spells of lunacy, I would permit them access to my thoughts, but I found it bothersome to keep track of my own conscious thought patterns and often forgot to do so.  

Now I’d have a new narrative to follow- not merely my own dull narrative on my thoroughly uninteresting daily tasks, but also the imagined perception of said actions by a whole new person.  Specifically, I could make people pass judgement on me without requiring their physical presence.  Neat trick!

Imagine how weird it was to watch Being John Malkovich for the first time- several years after its release, in 2003 or 2004, after I had been occupying myself in this way for a good chunk of my early teens.  Certainly the function of remote access is fundamentally different between the film and my weird conceit- and I never went so far as to give my fictional inhabiters power over my actions- but the similarity in form was nearly unbearable.  I could feel the tunnel in my mind begin to crumble.  It hasn’t been the same since.

You see!  I even recovered from that one.  And without a therapist!  Hooray for the triumph of the individual psychotic.  


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