Thursday, February 18, 2010

Freakin' Out

"Everyone looks retarded once you set your mind to it." — David Sedaris

FREAKS. They're everywhere. All you have to do is log onto facebook or hop on a bus and you're likely to encounter at least one. But what exactly is a freak? It's not merely someone with an unusual fashion or crooked nose; it's more than that. And there are a lot of different types of freaks. There are the "eccentric", "fun" and "bitchy" guys (read: closeted but obvious homosexuals) who can be fun in small doses but ultimately leave you wanting less. Then there are the girls who look like "unusual, exciting hippies" from a distance, but the closer you get the more you realize that the most unusual thing about them is their scent, and when I say "unusual", I mean disgusting. And of course, there are the kids who believe that human interaction is secondary to making sure they never get a grade as low as an A-. You can usually recognize this particular brand of freak by their facebook status poking fun at their roommates for not knowing the Pythagorean Theorem.

So yes, this world is full of freaks. There are even some people in the world who are of the mind that everyone is a freak. Although it's true that all individuals have their own little quirks, I don't think that constitutes freakdom. The universal trait that all freaks posses, as far as I can tell, is that they're all incredibly under-aware of themselves. A true freak would never designate themselves as such, because that would break the pure, innocent, enthusiastic freakish magic.

This, I tell myself, is what keeps me from being a freak-- I'm hyper-aware of myself. Yes, I'll wear long striped socks with shorts, I try not to give a shit about what people think (and am somewhat successful), I can completely loose myself in my iPod and not talk to anyone for hours, and my hair- well, that's another blog post completely. But what separates me The Freaks is that I'm aware of my quirks, and I'm definetely aware of others' quirks, and I like to think about and analyze and laugh at them. Freaks don't do that-- analysis, along with bathing, are simply beyond their grasp.

As fun as I think it might be to truly not know about society's expectations and the way in which I and others break them, I've realized that the one of the things I love most in life is thinking about why people do the things they do, and observing people act and react. Eavesdropping is as good as TV for me, and irony is my best friend. So go, freaks, and wear your skirt/leggings/Sketchers combinations free of worry. I cannot be one of you, but know that I will always love you. Never change, and never wear deodarant. Unless, maybe, you're on a crowded bus with no open windows. Seriously.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Goddamn Blog Post, for Chrissake

I just found out that JD Salinger, author of Catcher in the Rye, Franny and Zooey, Nine Stories, and Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters, and Seymour: An Introduction passed away on January 27th at the age of 91. I can say with absolute certainty that he was my favorite author of all time, Catcher in the Rye being my favorite book, and I geuss the strongest emotion I have about the whole thing is regret that now I'll never get to tell him what an effect his writing has and continues to have on me. That sounds silly because he was an extremely famous author, and hundreds of thousands of people read him every year, so why would my personal opinion matter to him? It probably wouldn't, especially considering how much he loathed attention and ego, but that's still how I feel. So I geuss I'll do the next best thing and let other people know how important Salinger's books are to me, and maybe it will inspire whoever reads this to give them a try.

I first read Catcher in the Rye in the sixth grade, after randomly finding it on my parents' bookshelf (it was my father's copy). By all reasonable standards, I was too young to read a book that involved prositutes, heavy drinking, serious depression, and a shitload of swearing, and I really only understood about half of it, but I loved it because it was so violently different than what I was used to reading (Beverly Cleary and the Harry Potter series). Holden Caulfield was highly cyncial and saw right through social norms, and I immediately connected to this realism that I definetely wasn't getting from my friends at Catholic elementary school. I had always felt a little different from everyone else I knew, a little isolated, as I'm sure a lot of kids do, and this book became my savior, because it showed me for the first time that others experience this. I now reread Catcher at least once a year, and every time I get more out of it.

Salinger's other books all touched on other favorite topics of mine: the problem of being spiritual or artistic without ego getting in the way, society's preoccupation with appearances, relationships among siblings, etc. They're all great, but if I had to reccomend any one of them after Catcher in the Rye, it would be Franny and Zooey, which I ironically just reread last week, before I knew that the author had died.

For lack of a more creative way to end this post, I'll give one of my favorite Salinger quotes: ""An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's."