The United States of Pyromania.

Last night my brother put on his annual fireworks show, which promises always to be entertaining, and occasionally life-threatening. Between being dive-bombed by a flaming ladybug and nearly scorched by a poorly-aimed spinner, between the clouds of sulfurous smoke and scattered bits of blasted paper packaging, I was able to grasp at the American Spirit of liberty and justice for all. Or maybe, more accurately, I was taking hold of something more general, more human than national, more existential than patriotic. Here is the truth: Being alive can be a lot of fun! It has nothing to do with being American, really (although we did cap off the night with a somewhat obnoxious rendition of the Battle Hymn of the Republic). But it isn’t un-American either. We drew a mark across the sky, and watched it come alive. We’re alive!

The night before this I had a fairly narcissistic dream that went thus: A friend that I knew from college had written his memoir, and when I attained a copy I saw that I was a huge part of his story. It wasn’t exactly a flattering portrayal of myself, and I spent half of the dream preparing to point out to others all of the inaccuracies, but nevertheless it was very much about me and I was proud of that. I’m not actually friends with this person anymore–in real life we grew apart a couple years ago–and I doubt that he would actually include me in his story as more than a brief mention. You have a name but no one knows it, and no one’s going to write a book about you. I’ve begun to write a version of my own story (I think everyone needs to do this) imbued with countless artistic liberties and fantastic, but purposeful, twists of reality. Maybe I’ll finish it before I die; that is my realistic and attainable goal. I’d like to share some of what I’ve learned in this life. I hope that’s not narcissism. At least not any more than this blog is.

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5 Responses

  1. I don’t consider that desire to be narcissistic. So here. ;)

  2. Anyone who has a novelist for a friend, can probably count on being a character in one of the friend’s novels!!

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  4. you patriotic you!

    :)

    so is that song you had written about “no one writing a book about you” related to that person? or is it just a connecting sentence between the dream of this person writing a book and your plan to write one? hope im not intruding too much, it´s just that that line there was pretty cryptic.. i enjoyed your post btw..

  5. Caroline, good point. To my novelist friends, please be kind!

    Alex, you aren’t being intrusive. Probably I planted that line in there hoping someone would ask :) So that line doesn’t have anything to do with the person I dreamt about, I just felt like it fit. In that context it was about me, being relatively unimportant. It’s from that song that’s on our Family Band page (The Dismal Truth) and that song is referencing someone who just proudly finished a Where’s Waldo book and then learned the truth, that his life was still insignificant, or at least it wasn’t worthy of someone writing a book about him. I think it’s aimed more at hubris than at cutting the average person down to size (although maybe that is the dismal truth, for most of us). For the average person, though, I’d rather use optimism and focus on our potential (noting that success is not measured by how many books people write about you!) which was the theme of the other song which I snuck into this post, did you catch it? Oh, to quote one’s own self.

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