TEXT ON A SCREEN, TEXT ON A SCREEN, LOOK AT ALL THIS TEXT ON THE SCREEN!
I'm not sure how else to start a blog entry after I haven't written one in so long. I'm not sure how to proceed with it once it's started, either.
Whatever follows will have to do for now.
Yesterday I was lying on the floor of my room, studying my ceiling fan and trying to think of what to do next with my long, free day, when a pinprick of an idea came to me. Soon after, I found myself wandering the scrapbooking aisles of Michaels. I stared unblinkingly at a vast array of cardstock in a variety of exciting colors and patterns. I ogled the X-acto knives, while weighing the odds of my accidentally severing a finger with one of them. At some point I found myself in front of a display of Hello Kitty stationery, quite unsure of how I had gotten there and why this cat was watching me so intently.
When I made my way to the cash register I was hugging a hundred-pack of multi-colored cardstock to my chest while also clinging to a knife, cutting mat, spray adhesive and a single black marker (because there's no way I could have found one of those at home). Anyone who saw me could have easily assumed I had a plan, perhaps even a legitimate project with some greater impact on the world. They wouldn't suspect I was only half an impulse purchase away from the woman picking up two As Seen On TV Perfect Tortilla Pan sets in the checkout line.
I have no one to blame but myself and my susceptibility to the creative itch, even though I had only the vaguest idea of what I would do with these materials after I bought them.
That doesn't explain the following two pictures, but it does provide some semblance of context for them:
My etsy shop should be opening any day now. Naturally.
Raise your hand if you've been up for the better part of thirty hours! Anyone? Anyone? Just me? Oh.
Yes, this has been the longest day I've experienced in a while, but the hangover-esque exhaustion I'm feeling at the moment is for a good cause. I got back from Anaheim and VidCon this morning, and as skeptical I was about my ability and desire to attend this year, ultimately I'm glad I went. It was easily the most fun I've had all year (though, to be frank, that wasn't a hard distinction to earn). Perhaps more than anything else, what I enjoyed about this year was the people I got to spend time with. As isolated as I usually am, it's easy to forget how life-affirming and energizing it can be to spend time with people I genuinely respect and enjoy. I got to reunite with friends from Chicago and meet others I had previously only known as pixels on a screen. I got to spend time with like-minded folks who are excited about seemingly silly things like YouTube and who sing the Double Rainbow song en masse like they're at a particularly bizarre youth worship service.
The convention was strange and informative and entertaining and encouraging, and all in all it was a perfect break from the monotony of "normal," "adult" life. Going back to work tomorrow will be a mighty struggle. But that's probably a good thing. The more anxious I get about my eight-to-five, the more likely I will be to do what I have to do to change course.
But for now, sleep is a thing I should probably look into. I will peer deep into its soul and report back*.
* - Probably not.
My dad keeps talking about how we need more space in the condo. When he says things to that effect, my knee-jerk reaction is to roll my eyes and groan. For him, it has been a major adjustment to move from a two-story house with an attic, basement, and three-car garage to about a thousand square feet of space. All the knick-knacks he has accumulated over the years (including about twenty ceramic hummingbirds, compliments of Publisher's Clearing House) are crammed together on shelves in our modest living room, giving the room the appearance of one of those eclectic antique shops full of old steamer trunks and faded Coca-Cola wall ads.
But while my dad fantasizes about a thousand more feet of space for his stuff, somehow I feel more comfortable within the confines of this small apartment than I did in the cavernous rooms of our old house. In fact, I find myself fantasizing about moving into a place even smaller, with just enough room for me and the bare essentials. I fantasize about being wrapped up snugly in a place that is trim, well-kept, under control, and most importantly, all my own.
I'm not sure why it's so comforting to me to be alone in the midst of activity, surrounded by neighbors and strangers, but it is. Just knowing there is so much humanity right outside my door makes me feel like I'm part of the world, even if I never actually step out into it.
There's a great walking trail here that goes all around the complex. It snakes through the woods, past a rushing creek and several sketchy-looking exercise stations slowly being taken over by weeds. It's a nice change of pace to be able to walk out your front door and be immersed in nature within minutes. When we were at the house, I would have to drive to a park for that kind of experience, or else settle for walking down a neighboring street, past enormous houses with signs for real estate agents and landscaping companies in the front yards. I much prefer the feeling of stalking through the trees alone, imagining myself to be temporarily removed from civilization, not worrying about being run over by a Ford Explorer or yapped at by someone's Yorkshire terrier bouncing around at their front door.
I guess the message here is that I kind of like where I've ended up. I think I'm closer to living in the type of place that suits me. I've never entirely felt like I belong anywhere, and that hasn't changed, but in the back of my mind I have some hope that there is a place for me--a real, physical place--in this world. And I think I'm that much closer to finding it.
But, so help me God, if Dad doesn't get rid of some of those hummingbirds, I will do it for him.
I realized the other day that if one of my nightmare scenarios came true and I were magically transported back to college (or worse yet, high school), I would probably struggle mightily to complete an academic paper. There are some things you don't forget how to do, like riding a bike (theoretically), or opening a Capri-Sun (assuming you could ever do it to begin with). But there are other skills that are more susceptible to atrophy, and I suspect being a student is one of them. I imagine if I were given a list of essay topics and a two-week deadline today, I'd spend the first week trying to uncross my eyes and the second week slowly chewing up the piece of paper with the assignment on it. Like a goat. But with less beard.
In an effort to wriggle out of the rut I've been in since graduating from college, I recently started seeking out professionals in the writing/editing/communications field to pick their brains. (Actually, in an effort to get out of that rut, I've been going to therapy, but that's another story.) In so doing, the thought has occurred to me that I am probably not as prepared for a writing career as I was a few years ago. I've let myself get too lazy, and let the watchful specter of academic expectation vanish from my peripheral vision. Also, I've taken to using very strained metaphors, although now that I think of it, I've always done that, so never mind. One of the people I spoke to, a copywriter for a marketing company, sent me a sample of a test his company gives to potential freelance writers. The test consists of about ten pages of background material on a real IT company and a one-page directive to write...something. A no-risk offer, and white papers, and...copy. I'm not entirely certain, because I kind of blacked out while reading the instructions. That's when the feeling of unpreparedness really hit me.
But something else also hit me on Friday, when I was manning the phones at work for most of the day. I'm not sure if it was a full moon, but everyone I talked to seemed to be bat-shit crazy. Excuse the language, but I don't have a better way to describe it. I had one man with a thick Italian accent lament to me for ten minutes about how he was all alone, had no family, and had just bought a burial plot for himself because he wanted to die so he didn't have to deal with his bills. At one point I asked him if he had an email address, and he responded as if I'd asked him if he wore women's underwear or strangled cats in his spare time. Another old man yelled at me to SPEAK UP as soon as I answered the phone, even though I had hardly gotten a word out of my mouth. A woman called to ask for a field employee who wasn't ever in the office, then refused to tell me who she was or what she wanted. All she would say about the nature of her business with this person was, "It's about the phonecall..."
When I left work on Friday, I felt like I had just left a boxing ring. Talking to people all day is a challenge for me; it's tiring. And as I thought about the nature of that challenge this weekend, I said to myself, 'You know, it's not all that worth it.' It's not the kind of endurance test that makes me feel virtuous at the end. There's slightly more of a forced labor camp feel to it, though I admit that's an extreme analogy. The point is, it's not one of those jobs where at the end of the day I say, "Boy, I'm tired. But I sure feel good about everything I accomplished!"
On the other hand, let's say I sat down again, put on my horse blinders, and slowly tried to make my way through that copywriting exercise, just to test myself. Let's say I slogged through the assignment, dragged myself to the bitter end, and forced myself to learn something new about the business of copywriting in the process. If challenge is going to be an inevitable part of my working life, shouldn't I at least make sure that challenge is ultimately worth it to me?
It's hard to admit it, and it makes me want to roll around on the floor and whine to think about it, but when it comes to writing, and getting things done in general, I am out of practice, and exercise is the only way I'm going to get fit again.
I got an email today reminding me that my domain name was going to expire in two months. For a minute, I thought, 'Do I really want to renew it? Am I really using my website for anything?' I'm not entirely sure, but I'm not willing to give up on it just yet. And I certainly don't want anyone taking advantage of my fame and glory to poach my name and start masquerading as me on the internet. Because...that would happen.
The domain name is just one of many things I don't know what to do about. I have no idea how to proceed in any area of my life at the moment, so I'm spending a lot of time on YouTube and Netflix when I'm not trying to keep myself occupied at work. I am well aware that this level of escapism is not healthy, but sometimes the number of options for things to do is so overwhelming to me, I'd just as soon choose to do nothing.
I did pick up my guitar and my flute for the first time in quite a while today. I feel almost guilty for having a guitar, because in all the years I've owned it, I've never learned more than a few simple chords. I've never had the patience to teach myself much more than that. And yet those foggy dreams of mastering the barre chord and writing my own songs persist, so every so often I go back to that poor, neglected instrument to see if I can make it any further than I did last time I tried to educate myself. The tips of my fingers are thrumming with calluses just beginning to come out of hibernation. Somehow I doubt those calluses, once they've returned, will be around long.
If I wanted to make actual music, I figured, at least I always had my almost-as-neglected flute. I played it for a little while, rustily, with cramping hands, but it was a somewhat satisfying experience all the same. Today I realized with some horror that I may have a limited amount of time to play my instruments, or sing loudly to myself, or generally make any sort of ruckus at all, with impunity. My parents have finally gotten buyers on their house, and they're scheduled to close on April 27th. This means I have less than a month and a half until I have to move out, most likely to live with my dad in some currently nonexistent townhouse somewhere. Shortly after that, God willing, I'll probably get an apartment, where high A's on the flute are likely to be discouraged by sensitive neighbors, or at least given dirty looks. That being the case, I need to make as much noise as I can while it's still possible.
It's strange, but I don't have many feelings one way or the other about moving out of the house where I've spent the last sixteen years of my life. This is due in large part to the fact that I've had a burning desire to get out of this house for several years now. Despite all the good memories attached to this place, recently I've come to associate it with the overwhelming frustration of being a college graduate stuck at home like a teenager, working menial office jobs while my friends have left home, gotten married, and gotten jobs more or less relevant to their fields or interests. The fact that moving out of this house just means moving in with a parent somewhere else is not incredibly encouraging, either. I'm absolutely flummoxed about how anyone manages to get out and live an independent, adult life. Is there a secret formula I'm missing? A cheat code? A manual? It's embarrassing that I'm almost twenty-six and it all still seems like an impossible challenge.
But it's truly a blessing that the house has finally sold, after all the aggravation of countless showings, home improvements, and, you know, having to clean and stuff. It's a bit of good news for a family who, let's face it, has not been having a spectacular time of it in the past few months...or years. Oh, the stories I could tell! Two totaled cars, lost and/or demoralizing jobs, dead family members/pets/coworkers, drawn-out military drama culminating in a stint in Afghanistan, home disasters (flooded basement, crashing through the ceiling, etc.), divorce and general divorce-related issues... We have not been experiencing much in the way of happy fun times. So the sale of the house is definitely a victory.
But for me, it also raises more questions: What's next? Where do I go? What do I do? When do I grow up? How do I spend my time from day to day? Where am I going to put all those boxes of high school journals?
If I figure out the answers to any of these questions, I'll let you know. In the meantime, I'll be watching Eddie Izzard on Netflix.