That’s a Gore Vidal quote that takes away my breath with its horrible truth-telling.
I wish it were just funny. I wish I didn’t get it.
But I get it. Not just for myself. At work, I’ve seen ad guys eaten up—eaten right to their jealous bones—by advertising award shows. People who deserve recognition, which never or seldom arrives, must rise from their chairs and emerge from their office refuges to congratulate those who get bronze One Show pencils. Eventually these perennial unfortunates are over three-quarters dead inside (the rest is anger).
You begin to smell the decay.
Blotches of misery appear on their souls, eventually, and they work the pattern into forearm tattoos.
It’s a sad spectacle. Lucky me, I got, like, a vaccination through some early moderate success in the awards books. Note: the vaccine of early success does eventually wear off.
Same thing happens, of course, in songwriting.
Part of it is simple jealousy and rage (impotent) at life’s extravagant unfairness. Another factor is the distress of feeling left behind, of knowing that those who began as your equals are pulling ahead. Even if they’re nice to you when they’re well-paid/loved successes, you’ll never be equals again.
You have to go find new equals. You never quite feel right about it.
To be honest, I’m in a bad mood right now. (Budgetary fumbling. I hate it.) So I feel mixed emotions when I log onto Facebook and see how well my compatriots are doing.
They’re selling songs and making new co-write connections (a co-write, besides being jolly, doubles the number of people who are trying to pitch the song written together). Some of them are sending their kids to big-name colleges and enjoying expensive-looking vacations.
That’s right, friend. Upload those shots where the slant and golden color of the sun on your grinning, bulbous cheeks somehow makes it clear you’re in the tropics, somewhere only money and a chartered marlin fishing expedition can take you.
How does Facebook decide who you want on your “feed,” anyway? I wonder this sometimes.
I am certainly not seeing all 330 of my so-called friends, some of whom I can count on to be, if not losers, at least sort of middle-of-the-pack getting-through-life-best-they-canners. Must be some method to it but those whose Facebook posts I’m alerted to are a random sampling of People Who Seem To Be Swinging The World By The Tail.
One is a guy named Jon whom I met at a seminar awhile back. And again recently.
He’s a successful New Jersey lawyer. He bought a condo in Nashville in which he can spend time comfortably when he comes down for extended visits. Apparently he has other homes in other parts of the country, according to a chum of his he brought along to a songwriter party recently.
He co-writes with “famous” songwriters whose names I don’t even have to Google. He wins contests. He has songs “on hold.” He has his picture taken with famous and almost-famous people all the time.
All this shows up on his Facebook feed. The successes. The photos. The love of his children.
His bank balance (inferred).
What emotion am I supposed to feel?
I’m happy for him. I actually don’t subscribe to that other Gore Vidal quote that goes something like, “It’s not enough to succeed; others must fail.”
Everybody, be happy together! I want us all to be happy.
Especially since he’s a nice guy, at least when you’re not in a courtroom with him on the other side of the aisle.
I sat with him awhile in his condo to try a little co-writing. He let me be in charge of his really nice guitar, while he jotted notes. He’s full steam ahead, he is. I see how that personality translates to money. Decisive, analytical, friendly, driven.
Not low-key, suggestible, inoffensive, silly. Or whatever describer words people might give me.
A born chuckler!
That’s who you hitched your wagon to, dear. (She reads these. Hi, honey; sorry about that whole “style to which you were accustomed” thing.)
Anyway, lawyer friend pitched me a song idea that would be very clever when finished. He saw me as a possible co-writer, a potential chuckle-maker, a reasonable choice to help him with his silly, clever hook. I appreciate that.
I’ve been working at it on dog walks and during commutes. It’s coming along, although I think as time passes I would be expected to have gotten more accomplished. So I procrastinate sharing where I am with him, assuming that if I think a little longer I’ll have it closer to a final form. It’s a sliding scale of desperation: the longer I wait, the more I need to have done before contacting him.
Days speed by. Weeks fly, while at the same time, paradoxically, payday after payday slowly shuffles up like a Tim Conway character. I can see it approach from a long distance away.
Meanwhile I upload photos of funny signs I see, and my cousin’s wedding, and a dribble of coffee in my cup (which was all they had one day at a Starbucks in Columbus, Ohio—a Starbucks that actually ran out of coffee! LOL).
The as-yet-untaken photos of me shaking Rivers Rutherford’s hand (you can google him; he’s a famous songwriter) or my dream of tweeting a #humblebrag about an as-yet-nonexistent single-song contract will have to come later.