Aerial View was WFMU’s first regularly-scheduled phone-in talk show. Hosted by Chris T. and on the air since 1989, the show features topical conversation, interviews and many trips down the rabbit hole. Until further notice, Aerial View is only available as a podcast, available every Tuesday morning. Subscribe to the newsletter “See You Next Tuesday!” and find tons of archives at aerialview.me.
"Most people live a life checkered with sadness and sorrow. They do not avoid the actions which lead to suffering and do not follow the ways which lead to happiness. Some people are over-sensitive to sorrow and happiness when they come. They can be crushed by sorrow or overwhelmed by joy, and thus lose their mental balance. There are very few people who, after burning their fingers in the fire of ignorance, lean to avoid misery making acts." - Paramhansa Yogananda
Today's Aerial View Pod(iatry)cast features the second installment from the Microcassette Project (I explained what microcassettes are last week in this newsletter). Anyone paying attention may be confused by the whole "Part 2" thing because I dubbed last week's show "Pts. 1 & 2". That was based on what I wrote on those tiny microcassette boxes and let's just say I wasn't being entirely accurate back then. There are three microcassette boxes labeled Hate Your Job & Life but the whole "Part" thing got messed up. So bear with me.
This part, whichever part it is (let's go with "2") was recorded between October 1991 and early 1992 and follows on the heels of the last installment. There's more black thoughts and talk of job and love-life dissatisfaction, chronic underemployment, hemorrhoids and so much more, including more talk of suicide. Let's face it, I was a fucking mess.
At one point, I start sobbing, wondering if I'm having a breakdown. It was bad. I was having an actual "To be or not be..." moment. The only thing that kept me from oblivion was I was the shrink who suggested I try Prozac, explaining it might get me past the worst of my depression. I eventually did get to a doctor, where I again broke down and began sobbing. He wrote me a prescription within seconds
Last week'sAerial View Pod(iatry)cast featured the first installment of the Microcassette Project, vintage angst I recorded back in September of 1991. Here's some comments via the Facebook Group See You Next Tuesday! in response:
Man this one really hit home for me..I've actually been doing something similar, during my day at work I record myself ranting and raving about hatinf my.job and place in life..hearing this made me glad to think that my recordings will one day find a destination. Everything about this was relatable to what I'm going through at 26 years of age. The loneliness, the feeling of being stuck, hating others more than you hate yourself. It also helped me see things more positively..which is some I've been working on, but hearing these recordings with hindsight gave me the confidence to know I will ge through this. Fantastic listen and hope you post more of these in the future.
I think I possessed the same headspace in the 90s. Thank god for therapy.
The written piece in the newsletter hit home eerily for me. I just left a job in September for reasons almost identical to what you described. I had been there for 4 years and went from loving it, to liking it, to tolerating it (after management had changed), then ultimately feeling so insulted by the new regime that I resigned. There was a mini exodus after I left and several others employees are drafting an anonymous declaration of frustration to management, which will probably be ignored. The "efficiency experts" will simply see it as weeding out bad apples.
I’m writing this journal entry as an open letter to you. You mentioned (during our drive back from Brushwood) that you hadn’t read much of my writing. So I thought I’d send you this, along with some other pieces I’ve written. As always, I welcome - and respect - your honest opinion.
The journal from which you are now reading was started back in March of 1996. I’ve been keeping it pretty diligently. Sometimes I’ll skip a few days but I usually get something written every night. The journal is about me and the life I lead, what I’ve experienced during the day, the terrors that come at night, the things of which I am afraid and the people who have affected me for good or bad.
I try to come home and just write, without censoring myself, without stopping to think how I should say this or that. I try to connect to what is in my mind and get it down on paper. For this reason, the journal is of little use while I am writing it. Only months or years later, when I go back and read what I was thinking or feeling at a particular time, does it become a resource. It’s powerful to see the past and compare it to the present. Strange results occur.
This is not my first attempt at keeping a journal. I’ve done it since I was sixteen or so. One of the few ways I could deal with what was happening at home, what was going on in the Tsakis household, was to write about it. After I got the truth down I could create a new version, change it and make anything happen. It must be the same for you in Underworld: you get to create your own characters and manipulate them in a landscape of your invention. Writing is the same for me. But I need a basis from which to begin. And I want to be accurate. So I keep a journal. It allows me to write and make it real.
It also allows me to quote unquote “find my voice." I think I have but I always wonder if anyone else will be interested in the fiction that grows from the journal. I always want to know that someone, somewhere can connect to it. I don’t like writing in a void.
Sometimes when I come in at night I head immediately for the computer. Whatever is in me must come out, NOW. Other times - like tonight - I’ll putter around the house and try to discover what it is I want to say. Tonight I did a little cleaning (the place is a wreck), washed my face and brushed my teeth, folded and put away some clothes, and tried to tackle the pile of papers on my desk. I find as I get older there is more goddamn paper in my life. Every day brings more crap to my mailbox. It seems everyone wants money from me. Like the songs says, “Another day older and deeper in debt."
Money has and may always be a problem for me, as I’m sure it is for most people. Money was a contributing factor in my parent’s divorce. I am convinced it is money that mostly came between me and my current ex-girlfriend (CEG). You spoke very eloquently about money in the car on the way back. I only hope it’s not too late for me to get on top of the monster I’ve created through my own inattention. I only hope I can get out from underneath the financial burden I carry.
Money is the reason my phone is currently off. I ran up nearly $500 in calls to my CEG. I feel very much isolated without my phone. It used to be that I would come home at night to two, three sometimes four calls. I’d return them and make a few more of my own. I’d be on the phone for nearly two hours every night. I had contact without the outside world, with my friends. It was good and it was bad.
I love my friends and need their support. But sometimes I would call them rather than sit down and work. I’m great at procrastinating. Especially when it comes to examining my life or doing something fruiful to make it better. I’ve discovered - after all these years - that I have an unfortunate tendency to want to suffer. I punish myself by being bad to myself. By not being healthy or by spending money when I shouldn’t or by getting into bad relationships or (worse yet) bailing out of good ones. I’ve talked to my shrink about this and she had an interesting theory. She thinks I’m being faithful to my parents. To their vision of me. She thinks I am afraid to rise above their level of success in life, that it would be an act of defiance.
She thinks I am being a good son.
Needless to say, my parents have a terrible opinion of me. That is, I THINK they have a terrible opinion of me. I can only go by the things they’ve said over the years, the way they’ve treated me. My mother has gotten better lately. She is actually nice to me now. But my father - I think he still despises me. He is a very old-fashioned man, a control freak, and he has a streak of self-righteousness you wouldn’t believe. We hardly speak anymore but the last few times we did he really went off on me, telling me I deserved the treatment I got from my brothers and sisters because, “You acted like a little prince - you thought you were better than everyone else. It’s no wonder they beat you up."
My dad just doesn’t get it and probably never will. He’ll go to his grave an obstinate, cold man. I wish it didn’t matter to me but it still does. I still long for some kind of sign from him that I am - at the very least - acceptable. Or that he understands me. I think it’s all anyone wants: some kind of acceptance and understanding. It would be nice to get it at the start, from our families. But some of us never do. We have to go outside. We become artists and ask our audience to understand and accept us. We seek out companions and ask them for the same.
I’m glad for my friends and for the people who listen to and like Aerial View. They make me feel good about myself, make me feel accepted, understood, worthwhile. But I still long for that connection on a more intimate level, with a woman. It’s what the majority of this journal is about. I wrote a whole series of pieces on the women I’ve dated. I’m glad I did because - between the pieces and my journal - I’ve noticed a definite pattern (what the shrink would call “a repetition compulsion): I am forever seeking acceptance from women who reject me and rejecting women who accept me. It’s almost too tragic to be funny.
I am looking right now at a business card from a mortgage company in upstate New York. I got it when the CEG and I went to a real-estate agent one time. She was very serious about buying a place where the both of us could live. We even went and looked at a few of the cheaper houses she found. Those trips were exhilirating to me. The CEG and I were getting along so damn well and the thought of being domestic with her, of sitting on our porch in my rocking chair and having a great converstion - it was heady stuff. I suppose I’ve always wanted my own household, wanted to learn from the mistakes I saw while growing up. I wanted to show myself that I could love and be loved, as corny as that sounds. And I came very close this last time, closer than ever.
But things went bust again. And - in this journal - I have written reams about the experience. I’ve also written long, maudlin letters to her that never get mailed. I’ve tried - from every angle - to figure out what went wrong. Why I said this instead of that or did this instead of that. Very often the problem will not reveal itself to me. But every once in awhile I stumble upon something about myself, something I didn’t know before. And I can question my behavior, question my beliefs, try to take a lesson. I would like to think I can get wiser as I get older. But I am still very, very stupid.
For instance, I still tend to take too much of the blame for everything that went wrong with the CEG. Sure, I say bad things about her in this journal: that she doesn’t know how to be involved with someone; that she’s too self-absorbed: that it was the abortion that finally made her jettison me. But on some level I still wrestle with whether or not it was all me. Whether I alone scuttled the relationship. Deep down, I nearly believe every awful thing she told me about myself. It’s what I learned, what I know. It’s easier that way.
The most awful thing the CEG said is that she can’t be with me because I am sad and self-destructive. I’m sure she’s right. I struggle against it but in the end must agree. It’s hard for me to feel I deserve anything good. I want to learn otherwise, figure out that I am just as worthy of good things as anyone else. But if you’ve ever tried to escape the voice of your family you’ll know how hard it is.
I said I was still stupid about many things. But I also try to learn, to be better to myself. And what I’ve learned from this last relationship is that I need a partner who will have patience with me. The CEG wasn’t willing. I am a difficult person sometimes and am sad and self-destructive sometimes. Any woman that might be with me has to understand how I struggle. She has to know that I am trying to change. She has to want to stick around.
Even through all my self-flagellation I can see that the CEG is too preoccupied protecting her own self-image to have anything left over for me. Which is the realization that’s kept me from putting one of those letters in the mail.
It’s true, I am horribly in love with her. There is a wonderful person beneath her meanness. But a small part of me fights the repetition compulsion by no longer accepting her brand of abuse. She disguises it as caring but I know abuse when I hear it. And the only way I can break my repetition compulsion is to not put myself in line for more.
It’s how I know I am getting wiser, getting better. I have a great tenacity, if you haven’t noticed. I can live through just about anything. My family may have been a disaster but those years also toughened me up. My situation now is of my own making. And - lacking an adequate support system (friends are great but they can only do so much) - I have to pull myself out of this hole. It’s a painfully slow process. And my biggest regret is that the years go by and I have to face it all alone.
You’ve been lucky in that you’ve known decent, meaningful relationships. You’ve been able to attain a level of intimacy I’ve only touched upon. I firmly believe we are social creatures and aren’t meant to go through life alone. Most of my writing is about what it means to come together with another, how I try and miss time and time again. I’m sure I wouldn’t be so fascinated by the topic if I’d been married all these years. But what happens between me and women is still an endless source of fascination. Like I said earlier, I hope it’s not entirely self-indulgent of me, that others can relate.
My hope for the future is that I can continue working and earning money. I also want to pursue my dream of being paid to be on the radio. And I’d like to earn some money with my writing. I don’t think it’s too far-fetched. It’s taken me a long time to believe anything I do is good. But I like my radio show. And my writing.
In closing, let me say thanks to you for being a really great friend all these years. You’re someone I always have a good time with, someone who doesn’t stand in judgement and has patience with me. I really appreciate that because I know I can be exasperating.
Circa 1992, with Cathead and Pee Wee in North Carolina.
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