Some days I feel more punk rock than others. I’m aware to use the term “punk rock” to describe feeling punk rock is awkward but then, I suppose that’s the essence of punk. It’s apt since most punks are and were socially awkward. I am certainly one of the many aging punk fans still dealing with that social and practical life awkwardness. So today, this afternoon, as I sit in my pajama bottoms, tee-shirt and cardigan sweater, I feel punk rock.
It’s a gray, cloudy, rainy Wednesday in early November and I am filled with resistance; resistance to the responsibilities that a man, an adult, my age should deal with. Somewhere inside me I still just want to throw myself around like a teenager, thrashing my head back and forth, stomping around, filled with the angst of being misunderstood. I want to rage against the shackles of the conformity of daily life. I don’t want to be told what to do. I have to do things. And the very fact that I have to do them makes me not want to do them.
That’s all irrational though. I’m not a teenager. I’m a grown man. (Albeit an unemployed grown man pretending I’m a writer.) It’s just hard to give up the fight. The fight to be something other than what everyone else is trying to be. I don’t want to fit into the mold. I don’t want to be part of the machine. I don’t want to be sucked into the everydayness of what we have to do to survive. I resist it, yet can’t really remember why I am compelled to resist in the first place.
Maybe I was spoiled. I often think the poor, the worse off, don’t have time to be punk because they just do the things they have to do and shut-up about all the rest. Perhaps I was never really all that punk. Maybe I just liked to say fuck off and drink while listening to crazy music and smoke too many cigarettes in some hard worked for home of a friend’s parents.
Life is short. Life is hard. Life is often not the star on top of a beautiful Christmas tree. Life is dirty, mean, unfair, illogical, irrational, and at times, boring. Maybe I resist the idea that as experiences get longer, my life is getting shorter. I’m not simply satisfied with a cubicle job with a 401K and health insurance. The idea of spending the remainder of my life there deserves derision. And yet, I’m no better than the millions that have gone before me, scratching out an existence they hate so those whom come after are better off. But I am the after, and I’m supposed to be better off and yet I don’t feel it.
My brain then kicks in and tells me that I just have to do the things. I just have to do them. I just have to. My brain just repeats to me, “Don’t you want a wife, a house, children? Then you have to do the things you hate.” Then my mind says, “Nuh-uh, you can be anything you want and still have those things. Then you wouldn’t be resentful when you’re in your 70’s.”
The punk in me resents the things I have to do because I worry they’ll ultimately make me feel unhappy, unsettled and discontent. The conservative in me, the neck tie one, knows that I have to put my nose to the grindstone to achieve anything at all. Be it a life of punk rock resentment or cubicle resentment. I still have to work at it.
Instead, I’m sitting here at my computer, still wearing my pajamas, thinking about lunch, smoking a cigarette, wondering what the hell do I do with this punk rock life I made for myself. Am I too old to start painting, would I be a good painter, what is good; am I a 19th century philosopher trapped in an existential modern hell?
My pizza is ready. I’ll go eat it. Then go back on the internet and continue to look for a job. Then I’ll write some more. I’ll feel pleased for a short while. Then I’ll smoke more cigarettes and wish I had the money to go out for a beer. Maybe I’ll shower. Maybe I’ll shave. Maybe I’ll remember my old ripped up punk cardigan and get too nostalgic for the old days, I’ll say screw it, and stifle myself to the point of immobility.
That makes me feel punk today.