I’ve been playing the stock market for about four months now. On days like most of the ones this past week, they say that the market is searching for direction. As though the market, each day, were a living entity that was trying to feel out whether things would be up or down for that day. And that the inability to choose one, to be definitively up or down, would be somehow consternating to the market itself. That there would be mild frustration, even disgruntle at the middle ground, at (heaven forbid!) finishing the day unchanged.
No matter how weird this may be for a characterization of a collective group of gambling agencies called a “stock market”, I think I know how this anthropomorphized market feels. I am searching for direction.
Much of this is the direct result of the post-completion hangover that usually accompanies any major project, especially one that has dominated the horizon for a good bit of time. The project in question at this stage is, of course, the just-released Women World Leaders Quiz. There is always a mad rush of euphoria upon completing a major web project and especially a quiz. Such euphoria usually quickly is dashed upon the rocks of reality as I realize that the first few weeks rarely bring the bulk of the visitors, and that it will take months and sometimes years to build up the kind of visitor base and feedback loop that I’ve been dreaming of for any given quiz. This isn’t always the case, but I’m able to block it out in the mad rush of motivation that rolls toward quiz-completion as I grind out the last few answers. And then the rocky reality crash is replaced by a calm that slowly fades into malaise. As though to inquire so now whatchya gonna do?
Indeed. Now what?
Lord knows there are plenty of projects pending at the BP. A Facebook app that really got me going in late June, if you can believe it. A just pre-announced eleventh quiz that I’m already promising sooner than is probably reasonable. And no shortage of projects in various states of neglect and disrepair, summarily abandoned along the trail like only the web (or a very large closet) allows one to do. Unlike the closet, though, one leaves all the laundry piled about unless one actively tries to go back and retrieve, hide, and clean everything up. And that’s never really been my style. In part because I like history, the layers of sediment, and the snapshots of abandoned pages at their last moment of maintenance. Unlike the closet, or ruins of a civilization, there’s no innate decay in bytes. No real cobwebs on the interwebs. The ‘net preserves better than mummification.
So I have almost too many things I could be working on, but so much leftover void of having the one big bogeyman (shouldn’t there be two o’s in “bo(o)geyman”?… it’s not fear of being one over par, after all) project finally completed. Projects for others (the quiz is for my friends at Camp Kupugani) always carry more weight and onus than projects for oneself. Even if the projects for oneself involve countless others (e.g. the currently suspended-animation OMBFP). This is why having a day job manages to debilitate and undermine all the countless projects (including 3 books, a novella, and unending short stories) that I really should be working on. My Dad always said that half the trick in life was to be able to work as hard for oneself as one did for others. My Dad is smart.
And yet today is a lousy day to start a project, really. I mean, sure, they all feel like that sometimes, but really today. September is going to mark a highly volatile month. And not just for the world – I’ve got trips to Colorado (Will’s wedding) and Nuevo (10-year HS reunion) in the next two weekends after this. There’s a Counting Crows show in there somewhere, to match the Jakob Dylan show we just saw on Wednesday. (First concerts since last October, and it was probably 6 months before that to the last one.) I’m taking serious time off work for the above trips for the first time since coming back from India (oh, there’s a dormant project for you – remember when I was going to put all my India/Nepal trip pics online? Yeah. You’ll note I haven’t even managed to change the theme of this blog from last winter.). And then it’s Em’s birthday and baseball season ends and holy goodness it’s October. And we all know about October. (Hey, at least I’ll have to change the theme then.)
This is the point in our program where I try to draw my own personal failings, struggles, and queries into a larger point about where we all are heading at this moment in history. The obvious segue available is the election – what better way to capture a gigantic search for direction than a bi-polar election season with two divisive candidates vying for the allegedly most influential job in the world for the next four years?
And yet it seems off. It doesn’t quite draw the right note, does it? Oh, trust me, I see enough of your Facebook updates to know that a whole lot of you really believe in this stuff, have been swept away by another series of fanfare and speeches. (Who says the conventions don’t matter anymore?) It’s a culture war, a clash of civilizations, a knock-down drag-out for the hearts and minds. What could be more relevant? Right? But it doesn’t feel relevant, does it? It doesn’t really feel like it’s going to make a difference, does it? I dunno. Maybe it does to you. But I’m not seeing it.
Of course part of this must be because I see it as a foregone conclusion. Don’t listen to me too closely – I put money on Hillary being in the White House, too (though I still wouldn’t rule that out quite yet). But unless they cancel all the debates and/or there’s a major “terrorist attack” on US soil between now and 4 November, it’s Obama big-time. He may just win half the South while he’s at it. If you really think that the Southern Baptist Republican base is going to turn out to vote for two self-described independents from the far West, I think you’re in for quite a surprise. And if Obama keeps compromising, talking about how badly Afghanistan is going to get bombed under his watch, and keeps picking old Washington insiders to help him “change”, the base isn’t exactly going to go gangbusters for him either. 2 votes to 1 is a landslide by percentage, but it says something larger about what’s going on in the country generally.
This wasn’t intended to be a political post and now I’ve got myself all fired up. The point is simpler, perhaps larger. There is an undercurrent, some other sort of direction being sought, decided, flipped on a coin at present. It’s irksome and irritating, it makes me feel all discombobulated. Mood swings that are a way of life go from bobbing waves to richter-scale disruptions. (Though I can’t feel the actual richter-scale disruptions alleged in the region.) They say that April flowers bring May showers, but I might posit that September decisions bring October consequences. And while we won’t watch the ripples run away just yet, the pebble is going in the brook as we speak. You can just feel it.
It feels, well, much like getting pegged with a rock.