Please Stop Sending Me Obsessions

I don’t understand why this is, but people have begun recommending new obsessions.    As if I could simply decide to become fascinated with something and dedicate the next 10 years of my life to it.  Some marriages don’t even last that long; an obsession is a commitment.  The only other person I know for a stone cold fact who gets this is my friend Sheila, who also has obsessions. I don’t think she’d be interested in acquiring obsessions that you think she should have either, but you’re welcome to try, I guess.

Obsessions are deeply personal.  You do not get to choose them.  Not even I get to choose them; they somehow choose me.   I have only three, and I devote a great deal of time to them: Enron, Sylvia Plath, and sharks.  Those, plus a normal life of boyfriend/exercise/working on my book is all I have time for.  So thanks for suggesting  Conrad Black, Shell Oil, the Death Penalty and drug war as possible obsessions, but I have to pass.  I am either obsessed or I’m not, and I’m positive that if I were obsessed with these subjects or any others,  I would have realized it by now.

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  1. You know, I get the same thing. It is very weird. Here’s my theory: These people who suggest obsessions (I have a guy who emails me TWO LINKS A DAY … sometimes more … with stuff he’d like me to write on, look into, whatever) are hesitant to really go into their OWN obsessions … and they expect you to do it for them, so they can live vicariously and escape the judgement of people who will say, “Wow, you are really OBSESSED, aren’t you?”

    I want to say, “Dude, methinks you need to start your OWN blog because I have got my hands full juggling my competing obsessions of James Joyce, Dean Stockwell, and the Rocky movies. I don’t have time for one more obsession …”

    Also, like you said: obsessions are BORN, they are not MADE. I didn’t wake up morning and go, “You know what? I think a full-blown obsession with the movie career of Dean Stockwell would be a great way to spend my time.” No. It came over me. Like a fever on the brain!

    Speaking of sharks: did we miss shark week? When is that again? It should be a national holiday.

    I love your old shark posts.

  2. caraellison says:

    THANK YOU for completely validating this for me. And I sort of came to the same conclusion – they’re sending me their own latent interests in the hopes that I’ll do all the legwork involved in a full-blown obsession so they can reap the benefits while staying far away from actually having to be judged, as you said, for having that intense interest in something.

    As you know, I had never read Plath before I came across one of your posts about her (I think it was a birthday post?) I went out and bought the Ariel poems and I’ve never looked back. Certainly I’ve read OTHER poems. Even your forbidden lovah, James Joyce, but they never “caught” for me. It’s just a weird, random thing and it has to come from inside.

    Enron? Are you serious? Who the hell cares about a company that is now 7 years dead? Well, I do. And I’ve made a career out of it, and I’m not about to shift my Enron energy to Shell Oil. I mean, seriously, what does Shell have that could even come CLOSE to what Enron has? It’s laughable.

    And Shark Week is in July. I’m soooo looking forward to it! Last year there were no shark stories. They were all well behaved, hanging out in the depths, far away from tourists.

  3. I mean, seriously, what does Shell have that could even come CLOSE to what Enron has?

    That is the question.

    I am strangely proud that you read that Plath post and went absolutely apeshit, far surpassing me in ANY obsession for her – and I love Plath and have for years! But you took it to that next level. It was awesome to watch.

    By the way – I am SURE you know this -but a massive book of Ted Hughes’ letters is now out … it’s over 1000 pages long I believe – I’m dying to get it but I’m waiting for it to come out in paperback..

    I read an excerpt on a literary blog and this comment, in particular, really struck me, and broke my heart – this is from a letter he wrote in 1984:

    “I wonder sometimes if things might have gone differently without the events of 63 & 69. I have an idea of those two episodes as steel doors shutting down over great parts of myself, leaving me that much less, just what was left, to live on. No doubt a more resolute artist would have penetrated the steel doors – but I believe big physical changes happen at these times, big self-anaesthesias. Maybe life isn’t long enough to wake up from them.”

  4. caraellison says:

    Oh God. My heart just broke over that quote. I have conflicted feelings for Hughes, and not for the stupid reason that he had an affair. I get that. People have affairs. It sucks, but it’s part of life. But what shocked me about him is that he said (I forget when) that Assia was his “true wife”, even though they never married. I thought that was absurd – Sylvia was his “true wife”, they were perfect for each other. Once I got over the feeling that the story SHOULD HAVE gone one way (ie, he loved Sylvia, she didn’t kill herself and they lived happily ever after) I was a little more able to step back and understand that maybe Assia really was a better match for him. Maybe. But I think – and this quote makes clear (as well as Birthday Letters) he never stopped loving Sylvia. In later years, I would bet that he looked back on his younger self and wanted to take a strap to that young man. To set him straight. But it was too late by then and all he could do was ponder what was behind the two steel doors.

    And yes, I did go totally apeshit. For introducing me to Sylvia Plath, I owe you more than I can ever repay you. I have found something so solid in Plath, so enduring, that I think I don’t even need the books, I don’t even need to have the poems memorized (though, of course, I do). As long as I know that she wrote them, I feel that life has some deep and important meaning. In dark days, I think of the Ariel poems and my life seems meaningful, even when I can produce nothing. It seems that her poems say to me: There is something even in nothing. There exists possibility.

    I am completely, head over heels in love with her and I will remain so for the rest of my life.

    One reason I like the boy so much is that he too loves her. He once randomly quoted her and I thought, Okay that’s it. He’s mine. We joke that we’re the Addams family because after sex, he reads me Plath. And I LOOOOOVE it.

  5. caraellison says:

    I should mention that after sex, we also talk about Enron. We talk about Talon and Grayhawk and how stupid Andy Fastow was with the New Power warrants. And we make jokes about Honest Services and Pinkerton and Stoneridge.

    It’s the sexiest thing I have ever been a part of in my entire life.

    Plath and Enron. And a guy who knows what the hell he’s doing. Who could ask for anything more?

  6. Ms. Aloha says:

    I, for one, am thankful for your obsessions. I appreciate the dedication and thoroughness of the presentation of those obsessions. The shark one is really interesting. Mythbusters had a great episode recently about shark myths. It was very cool. But while I was watching it.. I thought Cara Ellison would love this. I hope she is watching this one. So your obsessions are in my day to day life. How strange. I have my own list of obsessions which keep me busy full time. But I appreciate the public display and intelligent insite into your daily views. keep obsessing!

  7. caraellison says:

    Ha! Thank you, Ms. A!

    You really should start your own blog; you have such an interesting life, and I like the way you write. : )

  8. Ms. Aloha says:

    Oh, come on now, you just want to see what my REAL obessions are don’t you?

  9. caraellison says:

    Of course! I spill all mine, therefore everyone else should have to spill theirs! : )

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