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a supplement to the second question

October 7, 2018

yall get caps today because i'd started typing this in an email then decided to post it here and am too lazy to tweak it.

A friend asked me the other day what excites me. My father had posed a variation of this question many, many years ago for a creative nonfiction project I call the Griffin Inquisition—the second question. I don't know how much of that answer applies anymore, but I did like what I wrote then.

I can’t remember the last time I was excited, to be honest. It doesn’t take much to make me happy or sad, empathetic or angry. But rousing me to an excited state—and I mean to use the term to describe giddiness—is a challenge. The only things that have managed to stir up some semblance of that emotion in me in the past couple of months are the films Life Itself and What They Had—and yes, they are dramas, and yes, they will most assuredly make me cry (I’ve seen the former three times now and have wept at each viewing). 

I’m excited when I fall in love with a story, whether it’s told in the pages of a book or the lyrics and music (because yes, the music tells a story, too) of a song or on the screen, but that doesn’t happen often. I spent my years in college listening to professors run their mouths about works of literature I felt weren’t worthy of the praise. I got an English degree but did not love classic literature. It wasn’t until I took some undergraduate English courses at UTSA that a man got me to appreciate it. He assigned us Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens; it was the first of three novels we were to read for his class, and we began reading it on the first day, and I fell in love with it before I’d finished the first page. That doesn’t happen often, by the way. I was taught to be critical of text, of stories. When I’m shopping for books with other friends, they might gush over a dozen books. I’m hard pressed to find one that I think might be halfway decent. I’m TOO critical. I know this. The only books that have managed to enrapture me in this way are the Harry Potter novels, Eleanor and Park and Landline by Rainbow Rowell, The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, The Time Travelers Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Right Before Your Eyes by Ellen Shanman, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Wonder by R.J. Palacio.

There are songs that can do this, but it’s rarer. The only one that comes to mind is Sometime Around Midnight by The Airborne Toxic Event.

Films can do it, but that’s rarer still. Life Itself is the most recent example I can give you for that.

I’m excited by the idea of love, but I’m also terrified of it. TERRIFIED. Same with sex—and the terror there is exponentially greater.

The past two years, I've spent a day cheering on IronMen near the finish line. I get pretty excited about doing that.

Several years ago, I had season tickets to the Aggies’ football games. In 2010 I watched them defeat Texas Tech, then Oklahoma, then Nebraska, all teams that were MUCH better—or so it seemed—than they. I was damned excited about that.

In 2004, when the Americans 4X100 Men’s Freestyle team defeated the Australians, which wasn’t supposed to happen, I was jumping up and down on my coffee table. 

I like to think I save excitement for things that are REALLY special. 

Those last moments are the ones that are the biggest in my mind. 

Once a man bought me a long-stem rose—because I was late, he’d said… I was late because I couldn’t fit into any of my good clothes anymore, so he’d gone to the florist next to his apartment complex and bought me one red rose. It was the first time I’d ever been given flowers by a man outside my family. That excited me, but in different ways than these other examples. Years later, another man I’d just begun dating and with whom I’d not shared any address information found out where I worked and sent me a bouquet of long-stem roses. Dozens of them. I was embarrassed, not excited. He sent me another bouquet the following week, different flowers, just as beautiful. I was as embarrassed by them as the first. Maybe it depends on the man, but I like the one rose SO much better than the bunch. But roses are easy. Obvious. It's hard for me to get too excited about them.

I suppose the best example, though, the one that makes me happiest, is the day where I'm not physically or mentally in pain. Those days are so, SO incredibly rare. They are beautiful things. BEAUTIFUL things. I can't remember the last time I had one of those.

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