On nerds, love, happiness, and keeping your heart open to the sky –

This post is the culmination of a lot of things. I’m not even sure where to start.

How much do you love the things you love?

I think, as a group, we are pretty passionate about…stuff. I, though I don’t know if most of you know me quite well enough to be aware of this, am passionate about everything. I don’t have feelings that are not strong. Or maybe I do, but I don’t call them feelings. I was talking about this a night or two ago, to my poor best friend, who, bless her, is “allergic to feelings.” And I was like, “You know how you feel crazy sometimes, in [romantic] relationships? I feel crazy all the time.” Because I just have a lot of feelings. (And, yes, this can be exhausting.)

For the most part, it works out for me. I lead a pretty charmed life, and no one has ever tried to tell me that I love something – or someone – too much, though sometimes I suppose it could be true. I loved The West Wing so much that I quit the School of Theatre (not to be a politician) (this part is confusing). That may have been a mistake. But it’s okay! Life is short! Do the things you think you want to do! You have no way of knowing if you’re going to change your mind, but waiting and waiting and waiting to find out, that kills you.

I love scripted television, that’s one thing. I love it in a scary, only-dogs-can-hear-you, have-to-pause-to-run-around-and-talk-to-myself way. I love that someone wrote something and people realized it and COLLABORATION HAPPENED that led to me feeling the way I do, and I love the fact that it doesn’t end after two hours. (I love theatre, too, as you know; but the different way I access the theatre I love is another story.) Anyway – I love television in a way that, combined with my relatively good memory, leads to stuff like creepily** accurate quoting, or at least frowning at my paraphrasing friends.

And – or because – I love writing. The other night, I went to see Mindy Kaling speak/read/sign her book at the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge; and I can’t even tell you, how INEXPLICABLY EMOTIONAL that was – so I won’t. But I will say that we came home and I promptly wrote the first half of a looooong co-written personal blog entry about it, and Joel came over partway through, and he said, “Why would you write more? Why would you write when you don’t have to?” Because I do have to. Because it’s what I do. Because words words WORDS and all my periods of depression and insecurity and Not Knowing What I’m Doing With My Life have coincided with not having the time to write. Or choosing not to write, for any reason, and then everything implodes.

…I think Bukowski’s kind of a tool, and I don’t AT ALL agree with all the things he says in his poem so you want to be a writer? but for me there is truth to this:

unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

A couple nights ago, someone asked me what TV character I was most like, and if other people disagreed. And I had no clue, of course, because apparently I’d not recently explored that particular corner of navel-gazing. Shocking. Anyway, I asked my roommate and three of my most immediately reachable friends, and here’s the exact response of one of them – someone who adores me but, as Anne thought of Gilbert’s mother, is “not overburdened with tact”:

“Oh. Hm. I don’t think they write shows about people who sit around writing all the time or flipping out over [redacted].”

Yikes. Forgetting for a minute the original question, which he misinterpreted a little, and discounting the fact that, really, I’ve never wanted to be any television character (why would I give up being the strange, thought-full, growing person I already am?), I promptly had A Lot Of Complicated Feelings. For example… WHAT IS MY LIFE WHAT ARE MY CHOICES?????

But then I thought – I do do that, and it makes me happy. And, if that were actually what I did all the time? That’d be pretty sweet. In a perfect world, I’d parlay it into a career. In our existing imperfect world, I’m at least going to try.

I don’t watch this specific television show, but I love this quote that a friend of mine provided, from a review of its latest episode. I think it fits with the spirit of the holiday season. I think it fits with the mission of schools like ours. I think it fits with the conversations we have in this particular class, about how we didn’t sign up to be investment bankers, so we’re going to scramble when we leave here, but we decided to for a reason – and about, per show or piece or career choice, why we do the things we do. Lastly, I think…I think it fits with where I wrote “creepily” up above and almost changed it but then starred it instead, because I think that word choice is worth examining.

Do you remember serious nerds in high school? I’m not talking about, good at physics, voluntarily took AP chem. I’m talking about, wore a cape to school and taped their ears back to pretend they were an elf. Or, insert your non-Halloween nerd costume of choice. People who cared a lot about things that we were afraid to care that much about (or just didn’t, and whether we were lucky or unlucky is a longer conversation). I was not one of those kids, but I had friends who were, and I made fun of them, too. I still do, sometimes; they make fun of themselves. One of them recently wrote a joke about it into a pilot we’ll never pitch. That’s fine. But think about them for a second, as people and not a punch line, and then, too, the ways we’re portrayed sometimes (“theatre kids”; “actors”; what have you). Then, if you’ve made it this far, consider the following:

“There’s nothing wrong with being happy. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying something so much that it strips away all that irony and cynicism. And there’s nothing wrong with loving anything so much that it feels like it could pull your heart out of your chest and toss it on the floor. We build ourselves up to not do that, and then we build up the armor so thickly that we have trouble finding what’s underneath. We use that as an excuse to lash out at people who do feel stuff, who do like things (and I am, of course, mostly saying this about myself). It’s hard sometimes to remember that the world isn’t a place to glide through, so nothing can touch you. It’s a place to be experienced.”

Todd VanDerWerff for The A.V. Club

I guess I might be preaching to the choir. Oh, well; it never hurts to be reminded. Love things – or people – or causes – or places! Have feelings! Celebrate them.

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