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Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Hellish Ghoul"

No, this isn't something about the undead, but rather I was thinking a few minutes ago about writing, why I like to write, what purpose writing serves me, etc., and it reminded me of some of the authors that I have enjoyed reading over the years.

Still no connection to "Hellish Ghoul", but I'm getting there.

One of the authors I have enjoyed reading is named Hollis Gillespie, who has written a number of books (Bleachy-Haired Honkey Bitch is one of them...don't let the title fool's a gas), columns (including one for Creative Loafing in Atlanta) and on occasion has recorded segments for NPR. On one such segment, she was talking about her work as a translator...she speaks fluent German...and mentioning how, in German, Hollis Gillespie sounds remarkably like "Hellish Ghoul". It's a very funny story, but what I enjoyed the most about it (and the other work she has done) is the conversational way she has of communicating. I wish I had some of that ability.

Back to my writing: Therein lies the reason, I think, I enjoy writing every now and then. You see, I'm not especially comfortable talking to people in person. Meet me in person and I will in fact struggle to make any small talk. It's ironic when you think about it: part of my job involves actually talking to people, sometimes about things they don't necessarily want to hear, but yet I've yet to master the "art" of a friendly conversation. In some bizarre way, writing for me is a surrogate for talking.

Now I'm not sure if anyone who "knows" me would be surprised by the above...or care about the above for that matter. Truth-be-told, it doesn't phase me one way or another; this little monologue is more for me than anyone else anyway. Why have it on the Internet then? Well I do have tons of stuff not on the Internet...notebooks full in fact. What I find interesting and challenging about writing a blog though is that actually writing this here forces me into certain standards of clarity and "good conduct" (for lack of a better description), standards that I probably would have to abide by if I were engaged in small talk. Remarkable how circular, is it not? In some small way, this is a quasi-surrogate for interacting with other humans.

I've talked about discomfort in talking to people, but what does that translate to in real terms? Well first, there are instances where I can talk to someone in a casual manner and feel more or less at ease. The list of people I can actually talk to like that is short: discounting family for a moment, there may be 2 or 3 people in the known universe where I don't worry about how I sound, what I say, etc. Pretty much everyone else is on this bizarre sliding scale of doom, manifest by slight discomfort on one end to physically manifesting stress on the other, with lots of stops in between for bad measure.

Sadly, we are not talking about a 22 year old here, but rather someone who can double that age. Is there no hope for me? Well, as Emily Dickinson once observed, "Hope is the thing with feathers", so I'm thinking the entire concept of it is overblown. Idiosyncrasies noted, I'm probably no more dysfunctional in totality than most others, and I'll take my neurosis any day over some of the others I've seen in this world.

Hellish Ghoul indeed.

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