I don’t have good ones. Or at least they aren’t solid or thick. I’m permeable. Subject to osmosis.
Ask me about movies I’ve seen. The answer is likely to be no. Let’s start with the famous movies…
12 Years a Slave? Nope.
Shall we move on to TV?
Game of Thrones? Stopped watching it.
How about books? Oh, never mind. Let’s not.
My problem is that I get involved. Deeply involved. Obsessed. When I was watching Veronica Mars, I’d get caught in these circular obsessions about who it was that showed up at her door after the season one cliff-hanger. I’d dream about it. Literally. And wake up and I couldn’t stop obsessing. GOT was headed the same way. Frankly, I didn’t want to watch Ned die. At all. Even a little bit. I need to know what’s going to happen next so I can manage my anxiety. I need to be prepared.
This isn’t something I’m proud of, mind you. I’m a straight up weirdo. Normal people can watch shows on TV and not get subsumed. Normal people can go to the movies and not participate emotionally in every single crisis. Instead, I watch the Harry Potter cannon repeatedly. Or Pride and Prejudice. Or Persuasion.
There’s enough to be afraid of in my own life. Enough tension, enough uncertainty. I know how thin the line is between me and break down. Once you’ve been at rock bottom, you never forget how small the distance is between you and it. I don’t need people’s upheaval on TV. I don’t need anyone else’s misery. It isn’t fun. Sad, stressed out, hurt people are not entertaining. At least not for me.
And so I’m turning into my mother.
Which is weird, because I also write stories in which bad things happen and people get their hearts broken and characters die. Hell, I even made myself cry writing about someone else crying. There’s no explanation. It sounds better when I say that I don’t participate much by way of entertainment because I’ve only got enough time and energy to consume or produce, and if I’ve got to pick between the two, I’m producing. It’s plausible that way. Another good explanation is that I don’t want anyone else’s stories in my head – there’s only enough room for my stories in there.
But the truth is that I don’t have good boundaries. I get all sympathetic for the wrong guy. Even the news has this effect on me. There was a terrible accident not too long ago in which a mother got killed by a dump truck. Everyone is worried about the kids, which seems like a reasonable response to events. I’m feeling bad for the driver, who is probably a good person and his lack of attention for fifteen seconds is going to haunt him for the rest of his life.
Wait. That sounds like a story… Guy accidentally kills a woman and instead of moving on or haunting her house she crawls into the dump truck with him and now he’s got this relationship with the ghost of a woman he killed.
See? It’s best if I limit the input. All sorts of crazy things are likely to come out.