Thursday, September 29, 2005

Thought-provoking Thur. - Curse you, G'ovich!

Tuesday morning, as I was driving back from Miamuh, I was occupying my mind by composing future blog posts. I had settled on the idea of talking a bit about my musical inclinations: my tendency to burst into song at the drop of the hat, why "Mr. Jones" will always remind me of Flunky and "Riders in the Sky" will always make me think of Fellow Book Monkey and Blogger Bubblegum Tate . . . things like that. And then I had an online conversation with one of the Parkerites about the nature and future of my blog, and, well, buh-bye musical inclinations, hello rambling mishmash of ideas!.

One of the suggestions that came up in this conversation was that I go ahead and give a full accounting of the cast of characters in my life, right down to what “one” they are in the group, something which I had been toying with anyway. And while the following isn’t exactly what he was getting at, before we discuss the full content of the conversation, let's take a brief moment to shine a spotlight on the Parkerite in question: the man I insist on calling Dr. G'ovich.

As mentioned before, G’ovich (pronounced JEE-oh-vich) is one of my former college roomies. Back in our early college days he was just about the most random person I knew, in an entertaining way. He challenged me to break out of my shell during those early years more than anyone else (the Doc helped coin the “outsider complex” phrase), with the exception of other former roomie Flunky. The character of Vick in yesterday’s short story is an exaggerated homage to the young Doctor G.

What is he a doctor of, you may ask? The incomparable G'ovich has an honorary Ph.D. in "messing with Todd's mind." To be fair, he has at least a Masters in messing with people in general, but G'ovich has an uncanny knack for sensing the one thing that I'm most self-conscious about at any given moment. It's almost like he's some sort of highly specialized psychic, tuned in to all of the negative voices in my head. I remember one occasion where I had gone over to the G'ovich household for a poker night, and the instant I walked through the door, the first words out of the Doctor's mouth was an echo of the self-conscious inner monologue I had been experiencing on the way over. I have never met anyone as talented at causing me to spiral into a fit of self-doubt and neurotic paralysis.

Now, I don't want to give the impression that this is a willfully malicious activity on his part. The use of the put-down and general insult as the basis of humor were de rigueur in the Parkerite sphere. It's just that this supernatural knack to zero in on my neurosis-of-the-moment (which didn't fully manifest until our junior year) served to give said neurosis weight and credence; it was no longer just a nagging suspicion of a personal defect existing solely in my mind, it was now something so obvious that other people noticed it as well. This would make me obsess over trying to correct whatever-it-was, which would serve to make me even more sensitive to further teasing, which would make me ridiculously defensive, which would then lead to a generally surly and unpleasant mood permeating my being. And, hey, who doesn't want to spend time around a self-conscious, overly defensive grump who takes everything you say personally?

Long story short (too late!), it eventually reached the point where Doc wouldn’t say much of anything to me, because he never knew when he was going to set off one of my emotional landmines, and even told me that if I kept acting like I was, pretty soon I wouldn't have any friends. I, in turn wouldn’t say anything to him because I was scared of making things worse and, well, to be honest, the driving-off-friends thing hurt. The whole situation killed me, because freshman and sophomore years, I had considered him to be one of my best friends, and then there we were a few short years later, unable to carry on a simple conversation. It finally took time (2-3 years), distance (the G’ovich clan moved to TX as part of the Great Parkerite Exodus), and me finally becoming comfortable with who I am (hey, look, the Book Monkeys seem to like me, maybe I should just get over myself and dump all of this emotional baggage, huh?!?), but we’ve gradually reached a point where we can act like normal folk and don’t have to tip-toe around each other . . . or, at least I hope we have, or else posting all of this has been pretty dang foolish of me.

What does all of this have to do with my conversation with G'ovich and the future of the blog? Bear with me, we're almost there.

You see, when I started this blog, one of the primary reasons was to have a place to talk about whatever I was reading/watching/listening to, since so many of my conversations with friends, family, and co-workers seem to boil down to "So, have you read/watched/listened to anything interesting lately?" I figured this would be an easier way to disseminate the information and make sure that everyone got an equal amount of my pop culture wisdom. I did the alliterative structure so that people interested in one aspect more than the others would know when it would be best to check in. And when I came up with the Thinking-out Loud Thursday idea, I figured it would be a good chance for me to, on occasion, exorcise those unceasing thoughts that keep me up some nights, feeling pretty sure that most people would just skim through those posts without much interest. So it was with great surprise that I received the following message about CoIM from the good Doctor on Tuesday afternoon: "the stuff where you talk about yourself is way more interesting than the stuff about movie reviews or whatever. Or the 'here's another show I will watch because it has X from Buffy in it.'"

My reaction to this was, to say the least, mixed. On the one hand, I had the three-fold surprise that (a) the Doc was reading my blog, (b) the Doc was enjoying my blog (or, at least, found some parts less boring than others), and (c) the part that the Doc found less boring was the part I was sure nobody would care about. Which of course led me to the paranoid thought, “What if nobody cares about the movie/TV/book stuff at all?” See, even when the paranoia is barely a glowing ember, the Doc can fan it into a forest fire. The man has a gift, I tell you, a real gift! Okay, so maybe this paranoia wasn’t quite forest fire level, maybe it was cigarette-lighter-in-a-strong-wind level. The hyperbole is strong in me, okay?

The conversation then moved into some of the ideas Dr. G. had about what direction I should go with future postings. Some of the ideas dovetailed nicely with things I had already considered (providing a list of all “characters” and their roles); others were a bit divergent from what I had originally thought (he interpreted “Songs that remind me of people” as a “Hey, this song is about the army so it reminds me of Flunky” theme song sort of thing, as opposed to my “Hey, this song always makes me think of Y because he always hated this band” sort of thing); and still others were brand-spanking new (more on these later). And want to know the worst part? It wasn’t that his comments were making me doubt my blog’s readability, nor was it that kneejerk reaction of feeling defensive and threatened that he was trying to dictate what I should do, nor was it even the cheap shot he took at my running Buffy/Angel actor commentary. No, the worst part was this: the ideas were good ones, which instantly got my mind running in high gear on how I could apply them so that I barely got any sleep, and am now typing this while running on mental fumes. Curse you, G'ovich, and your blasted creativity too!

You might be thinking to yourselves right now “That’s all well and good, but I don’t know why telling us about those suggestions required that you go into all that other (quite frankly really awkward) personal stuff first.” Well, it’s because, outside of the general "you could try this or this" ideas, there's one aspect of our conversation that really made me think about my approach to CoIM. During the discussion of how I should handle my list of “characters” and assigning them specific roles in the group, the Doc posited that the interesting part of all this was how I approached it: do I write what people want to hear about themselves, or what I really think? And do I go ahead and assign myself a role for each group? The line that really got me was this one: “if the theme is 'inside Todd’s head' I don't think you get to hold back much. You have to let yourself be vulnerable, yeah?”

Which, again, was a highly thought-provoking, keep-me-up-all-night comment (have I mentioned how much I curse you yet, G’ovich?), but one which I have yet to fully process. I probably do err on the side of “what people want to hear,” just out of a fear of alienating and ostracizing folks, but I try not to alter my real thoughts too much. I guess my big standard is to avoid being malicious, but as experience has shown, a lack of malicious intent is not equal to a lack of harmful consequences. I think I had started taking baby-steps toward this idea of personal vulnerability with my Thursday and Weekend posts, testing the waters so to speak, but hadn’t made it much past the wading pool just yet. Since it was the Doc’s idea to stir things up, I decided I’d take a test spin on the Wheel of Vulnerability at his expense, before moving on to Phase II.

All of that being said . . . don't be expecting a total overhaul of CoIM just yet. The pop culture stuff may not be everybody's cup o' tea, but I know there are some loyal blog monkeys out there who do enjoy them. So, what I'd like for you to do when you get the chance is to take the little poll over to the side about your CoIM experience. The more I know, the more CoIM can grow. Help me help you.

All right, think that’s enough for now, I desperately need to get some shut-eye. But first, a quick reminder: tomorrow is Firefly Film-going Friday, so I expect all available Browncoated blog monkeys to be heading to the theaters, just like The Lightbulb clan and I will be. Any other near-by Browncoated blog monkeys who’d like to join us, give me a shout. Everyone else can come back for Spoilerific Serenity Saturday, and then if I have enough time, energy, and mental stability, a Special Spotlight Sunday focused on my extended, dysfunctional family, The Parkerites.


CAP'N Disaster said...

What time are you and the Lightbulb clan going to the movie?

Cap'n Neurotic said...

We're going to the 7:00 showing at the Movie Tavern, not sure what time we're meeting there.