For the last couple weeks I've been feeling low-key sorry for myself, which is not my best look. There's a sadness that is a consistent undercurrent; I keep from drowning by keeping my chin up, by staying in motion. Generally that works. Sometimes it's the cold undercurrent itself that helps me feel every bit of the warm air around me; sometimes I'm so happy I can barely feel the sadness. Sometimes the tides are strong and if I'm not careful it can get pretty scary. I wasn't that kind of sad last week, more just ugh what a bother it is to constantly have to keep my balance, to have to think about not being sad, if that makes sense.
I was also, not coincidentally, thinking about Tracey Ullman. The Tracey Ullman Show was a reasonably funny sketch comedy show, as I recall. It was cancelled after a couple years, and maybe it had a good enough run. The Simpsons got its start on the Tracey Ullman Show, which is what most people know about it, if they know anything. I remember some moment when she was talking about having launched The Simpsons ("I breast-fed those little bastards"), and I was thinking on that, how it feels to launch something and have it surpass you. I think I'd be okay in most ways. Like children or proteges, I think we (or I, certainly) want them to do better, to move the conversation forward. But she didn't get money from it, despite the contract. She had to be a little genuinely bitter -- I think I'd be bitter. It's not about someone doing better or succeeding beyond, exactly, but the lack of acknowledgement for the shoulders they stood on. Maybe Matt Groening thanked her; he must have, they collaborated afterwards. But I thought that to a certain extent what I was brooding on so hard was being under-appreciated. Look at me, keeping upright in the rising tide; look at me, helping other people navigate the currents. Shouldn't work be its own reward? Sure. But also thanks, verbal and financial, are nice. Being acknowledged.
Yesterday I was looking for a video and stumbled across Broken Social Scene performing Anthem for a Seventeen Year Old Girl, which is an excellent song, and Tracey Ullman came out and sang with them, and then Meryl Streep also joined in. Ullman has a mane of glorious silver hair, and they're singing together, their voices rising and the audience coming in, everyone singing. Finally I cried, just sat there clutching a pillow and rocking, watching people sing and sobbing along, as I do, and the catharsis helped. And the next day someone wrote me a thank you note for something I'd done, which also helped. And maybe now I'm back to wading along the river, watching the light reflect off the water, careful not to stumble on the rocks. Throwing the water into the air to make rainbows. Sleep on the floor, dream about me.