Heart Crazy on You
It just had to be this next as this turn of phrase crops up habitually in my work and is a personal favorite of mine. This idiom actually originated as far back as the early seventeenth century and is based on a line from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. It suggests that there is often a plan behind a person’s apparently inexplicable behavior and, considering it has been suggested recently that I may be lacking in a few crucial marbles, it just seemed the poetic choice. I’m not crazy and have laughed off any such suggestion maniacally and with a faint facial twitch. Indeed, I have felt compos mentis all along. Granted, I may have acted a little out of character on occasion but that wasn’t on account of some malignant brain disorder eating away at my neurons like they were cheesy fries. I was simply arriving at the crossroads in my life and weighing up some fairly prodigious life changes.
Many people at the time were already fitting me up for my straitjacket and hell-bent on seeing me removed from the streets before I did some major damage. Me? Doing damage? 39 years of mortality and barely even a raised voice. I may have percolated wildly at times but I always look to provide the calm voice of reason and there aren’t many cooler cats in a crisis. Never have I exhibited any behavior which would suggest me being a threat to society. My main problem has been misinterpretation as none of my nearest and dearest have had the vaguest clue as to the origins of my madness when the truth was pretty much staring them in their faces.
Through prose I am at my most explanatory and find it easier to express myself this way as I can do it far more succinctly. I’ve given more of myself away on these pages than to anyone in my life before this point. My reason for this habitual enlightenment probably comes from taking comfort in strangers. When my father passed away I didn’t mourn with my family and instead I confided in someone I’d known for barely two weeks. Since my marriage imploded in September, I’ve been with the one set of people I would not have chosen to be around through lack of viable alternatives. I love my family dearly but they have been woefully off the mark with their prognosis.
I’ve sussed my process out to a point. Once I become close enough to another I tend to tell them less of my sorrow. Once emotionally invested I have found it excruciating to open up about my anguish as your opposite number’s personal feelings tend to obstruct in such circumstances. It’s so much less arduous when relaying information back to a neutral party as I find the support is less hamstrung by condescending nagging and is generally far more advantageous.
I love consistency and have forever been a creature of habit. I hang out in Happyville and know all its short cuts and cul de sacs, so place me in a secluded environment with my own thoughts and I’m never destined to start listening to Radiohead. Melancholy is a drab affair and doesn’t interest me one iota. The love and support I have received from people who don’t necessarily know me per se has helped me navigate the cortex of thorns littering my route to redemption and is the reason I still climb/slither out of bed each morning. It is also the reason why I have felt like somebody again rather than an incessant stream of identical passport photos.
No longer banished from the ball, Cinderella now has a sparkly new pair of heels and is no longer co-pilot on her own jet. If there were a method to my madness then I would say it has worked out pretty darn tooting well. Around the time I commenced as a scribe, Roger Ebert died, and I remember being significantly saddened by the news. I’d grown up on Siskel & Ebert and respected their open approach to giving critique even though I regularly disagreed with their judgements. Ebert reached in a little deeper than most critics on the circuit (earning him a Pulitzer Prize in 1975) and, while I often wished to throttle him for getting things so spectacularly wrong, his charm eventually won me over.
At the time I was working on film appraisals and the odd semi-autobiographical piece. I thought it was high time the world got itself a real balls-to-the-wall critic with the courage of his convictions and decided that this was my one shot at being who I really am. I shed my skin and wriggled towards something which would invariably either make or break me as it appeared my only option at the time. It hasn’t broke me yet, in fact, since opening the Rivers of Grue up to the public for the first time, I have felt fully functional. The method to my madness has been constant right through this process. I am aware that I possess a natural aptitude for prose but I don’t desire being another one of these guys who takes the correct steps and any relevant training.
Fuck training exercises, fuck them twice, and then fist them with sandpaper mittens. I’ve attended enough of these wasteful sessions over the years for three lifetimes. I’m not suggesting for a split second that education hasn’t got relevance but I’m in the twilight of my thirties and haven’t got time for that laborious drivel. Five years working for local government and the only thing I retained was how to perform the Heimlich Maneuver. Other than that, the amount of information I retained is far less than 10%. It is a known fact that our retention in such situations is limited and there’s a reason for that as it’s just so fucking dry. Health and safety, process and procedure, tick box exercise, what a load of baloney. I’d much rather learn from the great school of life thank you very much. At least then I have something to pick cherries from.
Rough edges are fine and dandy with me and I don’t wish for any pointers on how to stifle my creativity. I remain unprocessed all the way, no bells or whistles, airs and graces, or scribing in another’s shadow. My cock rests on the block, balls too, while a brace of house bricks teeter either side in the eventuality that it all goes a bit Shelley Long. What use is a bout of madness if distilled? By all accounts, Stanley Kubrick was as mad as a hatful of hatters and nobody questions his art. The apparently unhinged scribe with their soul’s essence as opposed to logic and that is what makes them such fascinating subjects to observe. Prod away and cover me in diodes, but you’ll never diminish my desire to scribe.
As a child with surplus neurons floating around my cerebrum all nomadic, my brain wired itself rather peculiarly to say the least. But my soul had life breathed into it by my parents’ teachings and no amount of electroshock treatment could ever erase that. While there is a method to my madness, my cranium ordinarily knows last. It’s akin to that doddery 90-year-old granny who nobody tells anything distressing as “the poor old dear probably couldn’t take it at her age”. It’s been through a lot, my brain, and many cells have been frittered away on hallucinogens and the like during my tenure. However, accessing my soul has opened me up to fresh opportunities which I have grasped willingly and has afforded me self-assurance as opposed to self-doubt for the first time since pre-adolescence.
Things are beginning to take shape here. Opportunity is starting to come a knocking so that method in my madness has appeared to be well-placed. Right now, there is one photo in particular which speaks volumes of my unerring belief in my supposed psychosis. It comes in the form of body art and more than just the one, which denotes lifelong allegiance to the Grueheads. Our very own Gillian Gibson now possesses a sizable tattoo on her neck which proudly states her allegiance to our cause. When I saw it I wept a solitary tear, such was the pride I felt. I actually rather enjoyed the inimitable feeling of having my neck inked but this truly looked as though it swung the pleasure/pain ratio pretty heftily towards the latter. There are few words which adequately convey the immense swelling of contentment I felt seeing that for the first time.
That’s my method, for folk to believe that we have something a little unique here. You all bypassed my cerebral cortex when our paths inexplicably crossed months ago. Straight to the soul with the force of a Kimbo Slice hay-maker and since then you have acted like you own the place. I’m so glad you did…as you do. I’m not a selfish man, if I believe my self-given talent as a scribe can help us all live a little more comfortably, then that’s all the validation I require. Money never interested me, not because I don’t desire to be frivolous on occasion but because I hold no great respect for currency. When the chance presents itself to buy a little condo, I won’t be weighing up whether Paul Allen’s place has a better view than me. I’ll have the white emulsion out faster than you can say “No Luis, it’s not me…you’re mistaken”. But as priorities go, there are bigger fish to fry.
If I were to croak tomorrow then I want to feel like the Prince of Darkness has reason to adjourn for lunch before dunking me in a blazing cauldron. I don’t give a gnat’s bollock how much I adore the macabre; gimme a harp and halo over charred flesh and an infinity of contorted screams any day. I’m twisted but not that fucking twisted! All I wish for is to leave a legacy for my son and, moreover, for wonderful people to carry forward in their lifetime pursuits. Seems like a grand nirvana to focus on should the hellfire beckon. It’d mean I’ve done something truly exclusive with my strengths, realized my ability like a trappist monk although instead of learning the ability to balance my entire body mass on three fingers, I get to change folks lives for the better, spreading encouragement and unconditional affection. That truly is the method to my madness.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
First Knight of TOK
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Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2013 (Revised Edition 2015)