This is not a blog about the sadness of loneliness, or a series of links to unlonely groups. It is also not a space for my suicidal poetry about being a lonely, underwhelmed, underpaid, overly cranky lesbian trying to finish her PhD in Humanities. Promise. No haikus, or really awful song lyrics about cutting and spilling that I’m positive are sharp toothed and deliciously spiky. Instead, this is a blog that talks about the everydayness of loneliness as I see it. And I do not, and never have seen it as something to be ashamed about, something that is abnormal, or something that is paralyzingly bad. In fact, I think loneliness is what can help us finally find our way to ethical democracies (yep, unlike the unethical ones we privileged Westerners hold onto today like blankets).
This lonely blog is also enabling me to laugh at my student-self because I’m forced to engage with the outsides of my narrow lens. “Read Jacques Derrida with your eyes squinted,” a professor told me once, “and his words will seem more clearly important.” That was a lie. I just read him with my eyes closed and dreamed of hot dogs and firefighting school instead. But it was a nice lie told to me by a prof who had to slog through the pretention to get to the end of his thesis too. And here, with eyes wide open, I now get to play with the hilarious roadblocks and conversations I’m having with myself, with colleagues, and with the cultural mecca that surrounds us all as I condition myself like a well-oiled wrestler (one who can’t sit up straight, has lost her eyes from staring at the computer too long, can’t really move quickly, and who eats a lot of chocolate almonds) to finish this last 9-month stretch of my thesis on loneliness.
I am now in the final days of this thesis and find myself writing publicly more than academically. Talking about tough issues like bullying, suicide, homophobia, rape, loneliness, hatred….they certainly seem like horrific topics to swim around in. Yet, the everyday life of our dueling spaces require we keep talking, smiling, and caring for one another. And so, please join me in tense debate, funny sarcasm, and dizzying arguments and let’s speak out rather than staying silent. I promise you will laugh here as much as you will hurl your computers at me or the wall.
While I will out myself as a queer theorist (sorry!) I am also a lesbian woman from the East Coast trying to unpack the often times ridiculous baggage that has staple-gunned loneliness to both my own arse and to other lesbians’ as well. My thesis, “The Lonely Gay”, is helping me crawl along with the stigma causing me wedgies. And what I’ve learned over these early years in graduate school is to lighten the fuck up. So, I’ve decided to lessen my expectations of changing the universe one-word-I-really-don’t-understand-but-continue-to-say-because-I’m-a-PhD-student at a time and just giver’ to get did.
And then I’ll work on the rest.
So here it is friends my thoughts on what it means to want to imagine a politics of loneliness while also striving for bare minimalism, working to not become a total alcoholic, struggling to find money enough to eat something other than bad 7-11 ham making sure to hang out with my fantastic family and my friends, and ensuring I always intermingle my delusions of philosophical grandeur with dashes of salted mediocrity.
Hope anyone who reads this enjoys, and please comment, fight, post, debate, whatever you wish. This is what writing should be all about, I think, creating ongoing dialogues that no one has the right to claim to have started or to have finished.
Change can only happen if we are all aware it needs to, and we are all working on making differences differently than have already been attempted. So, I write myself out here in hopes you’ll see something you can take with you and talk to someone else about.
Mel Carroll, (The Lonely Gay)