i've an existential crisis in chapter 2 and an ethical crisis in chapter 3.
which isn't so bad as it sounds. i'm surprisingly unpanicked for a person with crises on two fronts.
because what it comes down to is that chapter one set things up really fucking well. which was the hard part. until it was done. and now the real hard part begins. now that readers care about the character i've created (and it is a character and i have created her because it's my jackie. increasingly i think that if we are to think about biography or think about lives, we must consider it/them our versions of a truth rather than the real unvarnished thing... so there's some theory for you... back to business...), now that i've got them through the door, sat them down with a lemonade, now... NOW... it's time to fuck them up.
by which i mean basically that i think i'm maybe pulling a biographical equivalent of alice in wonderland?
(with what conviction i write that!)
part of my various crises is that i'm trying to suss out just how very far my own interrogation of my own narrative can be pushed. trying to determine whether this is just me who wants this, if i'm imposing this nonsense onto the story or if it is endemic to the story i'm here to tell.
given that i've been talking like this, writing like this since 2003, i'mma say it's here to stay.
but how far can it go? as a reader, if i give you a story then give you the stories about that stories then show you how the story i gave you is unstable- in fact, interrogate my own telling of it- are you going to want to kick me in the head?
or are you going to think holy fucking god, that is AMAZE?
i need you to think holy fucking god, that is AMAZE.
it is my great fear that- should this ever be a book, should anyone ever read it- there will be many many kicks to the head.
which i need to get over. because this is how it's meant to be written, how it's coming out. it's an element i'd shunted to the side, only to have it emerge without my even realizing it.
it wants to happen. not entirely against my wishes but not wholly with them.
this is where i miss therapy. because there's a chance that this would've all come out in therapy. (which was, in the end, helpful as an exercise in story-telling, helping me learn how to re-tell my own story, how to distill elements from it, how to put back in the pieces that had fallen out.) a chance that i would've had a session where i talked about the things we believe we know and yet cannot, and then another where i ferreted out the reality that i no longer believe in such a thing as fact.
two sessions. two problems solved. and then i would have no need of putting 'the unknown known and refusal of fact' under my research interests on my academic profile.
there's also a chance these are things that would've come up in my work regardless. but it's that risk that concerns me. the risk that this is self-indulgent, that it's something i'm imposing on the story that is not there.
i did that interview tonight. and, as they always do, it was perfectly fine. it didn't fall apart (despite the fact that i slaughtered the ambassador's last name to his secretary when telling her who i was).
and, just as did the conversation with the nun, it reaffirmed that my jackie isn't entirely wrong. (which is my backhanded way of admitting that there's a high likelihood that my jackie is better the prior jackie's, if not entirely right.)
things that are amazing: after months of mental wrangling with my existential crisis (which regards portrayals of jackie and RFK as lovers) and my ethical crisis (which regards the standard biographical portrayal of onassis as a pirate), i picked up the phone (well, actually, i plugged my enormo microphone into the laptop, logged into some audio hijacking software, and initiated a skype call) and asked someone who knew her what he thought.
which is such an extraordinarily precious gift. that there are still people on the corners of this story, people who remember, people who claim pieces of this story as their own.
because in big moments, it's better to be outside, i went for a walk after the interview and gazed stupidly up at the moon, grinning like an idiot, and wondering: there's no way speaking to people who know tonya harding will ever feel so good as this.