(no subject)

I love Tim Barry.

Man, some things are clearly improving but some things I have to wait to improve and in the meantime I feel like I’m gonna explode.

I want so much to see the world, to see EVERYTHING. I want to be totally happy and healthy, and just create for people and confidently speak my mind, and give and receive love, and have my senses explode with new and unusual beauty I haven’t even imagined yet. I don’t want to be here in New Jersey, all by myself in my bedroom hiding from everyone and everything I’ve known since birth and now can’t stand. But are these things I hate specific to where I’m at, or are they HUMAN struggles I’ll never escape?

No. I think, I can escape them but they are a state of mind. You don’t take a bus and run from it… you transcend it. If you can only be at peace in utopia, then you aren’t really at peace, are you?

I’m struggling with so much. At the heart of it all is a strong dissatisfaction with and uncertainty about who I am. Some of it is feeling ugly all the time and wanting to hide myself away. School really sucks too. Actually I’m lying. It’s really not that bad at all, especially when the light at the end of the tunnel is just ahead.

GAH! I’m just so sick of having any responsibilities at all: school, internship, being pressured into financial independence by my family. I just want for like one second the freedom to declutter my life and just explore who I am. But then, I have that now, do I not?

(no subject)

Oh man it is CRUNCH TIME! I’ve felt so inspired and content lately at the same time as I’m feeling wholly dissatisfied, regretful to an extent of this path I’ve been on, and just utterly bored out of my mind.

I guess they go together and lead to similar conclusions. I’ve been deliberately spending time with deliberate people—people who know who they are and express it with every part of their being—whenever I can, and learning about them when I can’t. It gives me some vicarious pleasure I think, but mostly I feel an intense yearning to be like them and be in their league. Part of me feels like I totally, inevitably belong there but another part of me feels like a weak spirit compared to them. I find mediocrity so disgusting, but it’s been all I’ve known for most of my life and it’s hard to think that’s not my destiny. But it’s important to remember I don’t know any failures at all, only losers who never did what they loved or even took the time to find out what that was. At least I have great skill and experience in the latter. But this "deliberateness" is not based on luck, it is a choice you actively make, and what possible reason do I have not to make it? Fear? That inspires hope because I have made great strides in that respect in the past few years.

I just really need to get through school and be a graduate, then I need to get healthy, then I need to figure out what my heart really wants and feed that. When I put it that way, it sounds conquerable. Why yes, it even sounds inevitable.

(no subject)

Ick. I didn’t get into any PhD programs. I’ve been depressed ever since I found out, not because I really wanted to go to graduate school, but because it would have been a direction in life and now I don’t have one. What should I do?

In the end, psychology was a go-with-the-flow thing, not a follow-your-heart thing. If I were going to follow my heart, I would do something big and sweeping for the world, something crazy and creative. I want to express myself. I don’t know. The world is just so huge and everything is open to me and it’s overwhelming to try to organize in my head everything I want to try out before I’m through.

So, the worst thing is I have to worry about getting through college. I am so close to finishing, because I’ve passed every class up till now and I have no bad grades this semester! The worst thing will be getting my stupid lit paper done and my psychology paper. I wish I had never done this stupid honors project. I didn’t think it would be like this. I thought I would get the opportunity to do something that really meshed with my interests and that I would have some degree of control and say-so in the project, and that I would be analyzing it myself. Well I didn’t get any of that! My professor essentially chose the topic, and it seems that every time I got into the topic he would change it a little to something I didn’t want to do. He tried to make it seem like I had a choice, but I really didn’t. He wouldn’t let me take part in any of the actual bureaucratic stuff that professors do, barely even made it transparent with me, so basically I’ve been slaving away the same way I did when I was a research assistant in someone else’s project, but I'm supposed to "take ownership" of it. And I recently found out that I won’t be working on the analysis at all, the ONE thing I find interesting! He said if I wanted I could read stats books on my own time so that when he does the analysis I can understand what he did. Whatever. I’m so done with the academic world. I just don’t know how I’m going to get through this and write a research paper in a style I hate on a topic I HATE.

My only consolation is that it doesn’t matter anymore. I mean, I can’t totally slack off. Whatever field I go into, they’re not going to like that I undertook a project in my last semester and then completely fudged it. But I don’t have to do this shining job of it and make it of publishable quality and get him to write me a shining recommendation, because who cares? I don’t care about the science. It’s completely and utterly useless! It’s not going to help anyone. Academics mainly just love to hear themselves talk, and they can sometimes sound like stoners who always think they’re major philosophers when they are just mumbling clichés. They think they have an impact on the world, but they only impact their small homogeneous circle of academics. But anyway, I don't have to worry so much about the study anymore except insofar as it will affect my grade. I am so sick of this, I can’t even stand it. I just want to run away and never come back. I would, but I'm wise enough to know that wherever I go, whatever city, there's no reason to think there will be anything for me there significantly better than this. You can’t survive unless you’re someone’s slave, at least with my lack of charisma. Academic slave or corporate slave or retail slave, it doesn’t really matter, so I may as well stay. Someday I know I’ll have the opportunity to do something I’m passionate about, but that day is far away and I have to work towards it, it won’t just fall in my lap.

So now let’s ask the question… what AM I passionate about? Veganism and animal rights, for sure… and I think I am doing pretty well with networking actually. Well I could be doing better but I am doing an internship with a really awesome organization and I am going to events. I should probably go to more in the city where there are more people doing cooler things, and I should probably do more online networking, blogging, and commenting, maybe even tweeting. I don’t know.

And then there is music. Ah, music. My fucking life. My fucking LIFE. I can’t even stand how much I love music sometimes. I just want to like become one with it and never have to think about anything else ever. Is that weird? Is that normal? Does that mean anything? I really don’t know. But judging by recent experiences I may actually be too much of a loner to join a band. I can’t remember why I wanted to join one. Is it because I thought it would make it more likely to get success? I mean, it might, but you have to figure in the likelihood of my finding a group of people I could be around all the time, and that we would also mesh artistically and appreciate each other's styles. Well I guess it could happen, but yeah, I don’t know.

I just... the first thing is, I intrinsically love music, and that is a fact. If I were the last person on earth, making music devoid of its social associations, I would still want a guitar there and I would use it to express myself to no one or, well, to myself. Music is just so beautiful, harmonies, unison, chords, keys. I don’t know, those are just random musical vocabulary words, but whatever it is that comes together, it MAKES MY LIFE. It’s everything. It’s oxygen. Singing is just like breathing but better. Breathing could be likened to drinking Kool-Aid on a nice day, and singing is like a glass of cool water on a scorching day after you spent a couple of days dehydrated. Or something like that. I don’t know. I just love singing. And I like accompanying myself, now that I have built up the basic skill level, more than I like being accompanied by someone else. Today I think I wrote the skeleton of my first song, and for the first time I have been able to do a few acoustic covers and my technique is improving quickly.

But the other thing about music is that it’s so personal, and it’s so emotionally expressive, that it’s a better form of communication than words or anything like that. I do love me some good words, but music is just better. Or maybe it’s the words that I like, and music is the bonus, I’m not sure. But when I listen to people’s songs, especially the lyrics, I get attached to them and I feel like I know them in a way I don’t really feel like I know anyone else. I’m usually pretty easy to get along with, but for some reason I’m not the easiest person to reach any level of intimacy with even though I crave deep human connections. (Ironically, I think it’s my hatred of superficial socializing and relationships that prevent me from having meaningful ones, because the former lead to the latter.) But anyway, I feel like music could do that for me. If I were a musician, and I could be friends with other musicians, I feel like we would automatically reach a meaningful level of interaction, just from hearing each other’s true selves through music, and we could just skip over all the garbage small talk you have to do before you can truly be yourself around someone. Maybe other musicians feel that way too, or maybe I am just crazy or an alien. I feel like that a lot. But anyway, it can’t hurt to make my own music and improve my skills and just bite the bullet and start sharing and see if anyone likes it enough to befriend me or collaborate with me. This is a time to explore and be open-minded. I really am getting to a point in my life where I have very little to lose. And for some reason, this just made me feel like I should really have a Bouncing Souls day tomorrow because it would be just the thing to lift this dark cloud off my head.

Anyway, so music is done with. Um, the only other two things are healthy living (with which I go back and forth), and my HUGEST passion, which is forming a sense of community in the world so that people don’t get left behind and turn to doing bad things to the world. It's a vicious cycle. We all close ourselves up and refuse to talk to strangers mostly because we are afraid of them, or worse, because we are so afraid of losing our own security that we don’t have time for the rest of the world. Well guess what—we wouldn’t have to worry about such insecurity if we had an airtight community! I don't know, I just really hate meaningless things. I like to think that the way I feel is in essence what human beings feel. Unlike other animals, we aren’t concerned primarily with surviving, we are always looking for meaning… although, we are also the only animals that get bored and require constant entertainment. Me, I start to hate myself if I do something for too long that I know can never help anyone in any way. I feel like you’re harming if you’re not helping. So my whole shtick in life is that I want to create more meaning and just force it into everything that goes on in this here planet. I want people to be satisfied with meaning and simplicity and not require external stimulation all the time. But then again, I might be wrong because I do have low requirements for stimulation and some people are physiologically not like that. I just want them to get their stimulation out of meaningful activities, that’s possible.

So I don’t know, I think I should do something big. It's my dream to make a big impact. If I could, I would be so proud and never tire of watching people learn from me or get opportunities because of me and just see what an impact I’ve had. Why wouldn’t I do it? I really don’t know. But there are other things I should try in the meantime, like volunteering, blogging, vlogging.

I’m really tired and I’m going to bed.

(no subject)

I feel so weird and confused about everything lately! Like, I am very satisfied right now with certain things. I LOVE nature, and there are very few pursuits that don’t make me happy, though I have to say that the same constantly recurring theme applies: the things that make me happiest are when I feel I am making a difference, or when I am being creative. Or maybe it is when I feel in touch with nature or the goodness of humanity, so a lot of times those things overlap. I LOVE humanity in general and I have such a positive view of people in general, but I feel like I rarely meet people who display this goodness. Most people have their goodness, as it were, “buried deep under a river of grief, where the muddy waters flow and the stones don’t roll.” That is no lie.

I am no prize myself, I must say, but I try. I try so hard. I am constantly checking myself. If I feel myself being negative or whiny or prejudiced or antagonistic, I think, wow, this is wrong, and I try to stop myself. It doesn’t always work, because that takes effort and some days I am just too tired to put forth that effort. But I feel like most of the people around me just hold me back. The vast majority of people allow themselves to be mediocre or even horrible. The sad thing is, we are all born amazing but life turns us mediocre as we move towards adulthood, and then in adolescence you reach this crossroads, where you are looking out from the top of a building and you can see all the different opportunities that lie before you, and there are easy paths and higher paths. Most people just honestly follow their peers or their parents or someone outside themselves. A lot of times, they don’t even notice that other paths were available to them. But the crazy thing is, you can do whatever you want, move between these paths as much as you want.

Where was I going with this? Right, the people around me are mediocre. Most people have so many disgusting flaws. Well, at least I find them disgusting. I am not nitpicking, these are major flaws, but our society does not condemn them, and in some ways encourages them: shallowness, materialism, bigotry, selfishness, apathy. I just find it abhorrent! See, I have flaws like, not being friendly or polite enough, and it’s only because I find social interaction to be a draining chore, and I don’t always have the energy for it so I come off as curt. But like, I really do my best not to be shallow, materialistic, bigoted, selfish, apathetic, etc. And I think I do a better job of it than most people, if they even try at all.

However, I LOVE people who see true beauty in everyone, people who are happy with the simple things and don’t need all the latest gadgets, people who are always learning about what’s going on in the world and taking action when they can, people who don’t freak out when you show them a photo of a factory farm and say, “I don’t want to know because then I would have to become a vegetarian!”… the people who look at a person and they see a soul, they don’t see the outside. I am writing one giant cliché or string of clichés, but this is anything but. I’m not explaining it properly. Anyway, I look for these people so I can have a role model, but there is no one. They all are imperfect. And like I said, I know I’m imperfect, but I guess I just wish there was some perfection out there somewhere to inspire me to keep trudging along, to give me hope that I could be perfect someday. I know that's a ridiculous thing to want, but I do want it.

And like, I have been going to a lot of events, and getting involved in conversations when I can, concerning things that are really in line with my values. I have actually met plenty of pretty cool people, like happy people who ARE happy with the simple things, DO care about the world at large and try to fix it. They just see a need, whether inside or outside of themselves, and they just do what they can to meet it and they do, and that’s why they are happy. So I try to look at people in a big picture way like that, so I have people to admire and feed off of.

But sometimes I think I could be a leader. I know I’m supposed to fall in line and find my niche and just join it, assimilate myself into that crowd, put on the uniform, take on the dialect, but why? I don’t want to at all! I have joined so many different niches and I hated every one of them in the end! Everyone always ends up acting the same. They gossip and they talk about stupid things that don’t really matter.

I need to start something huge. I also need to express myself. Like, I need to just think, what do I want to send out to the world? And send it. But not like, specific messages and worrying about how they will be received and whether they will be misconstrued. But just like, if my whole life is a platform and the whole world is my audience, what do I want them to see me doing or hear me say?

A therapist would label this as a symptom: delusions of grandeur.

(no subject)

This feels like one of those moments at the beginning of a movie, that's a real turning point and you feel the need to look back on how you got there, and that ends up being far more interesting than the actual moment itself or even the future.

This all started when I was a freshman in college. I was all set to become a double major in English and music. Back then I was on the right track. Music and English were two things that I had always gravitated toward naturally. It was never like, "oh, this person next to me is doing this so I want to do it too." No. I seriously think I would have sung and played with words even if I had never been exposed to those activities. I love them. I always have and always will. And I love everything about them. I love both the science and the art of both music and literature. Everything else being okay and having the complete choice, I could spend all my time reading, or writing, or listening to music, or playing music. Those are the only things I can say that about.

But I was required to take an introductory social science course, and I had taken psychology in high school and found it interesting (due to my introspective nature), so I took it excitedly. I loved a lot about it. Notably, I remember the professor's empirical leanings. Whenever he didn't know the answer, he would say so, and he would add, "Extra credit next week if you research the answer and bring it to me. That goes for anyone." I never did it, but it always stuck with me. And of course, I loved the insight psychology gave me not only into my own mind, but the minds of everyone that I never understood. I found it absolutely stunning that I could reasonably figure out what made my mom depressed and what made a serial killer who and what he is. So it was settled. I would major in psychology. And, I said to myself, it just feels right. But I don't think that it ever really did, and it certainly doesn't feel right now. I thought the only important thing was, what would I most like to read a textbook about? And psychology would be at or near the top of my list. But I just wasn't thinking at all about, what would I most like to do with the rest of my life? And thus I let the two things I truly loved slip through the cracks.

Due to my natural diligence, I just ended up being loved by all of my professors and getting research opportunities and things. People asked me about graduate school, and I figured I can always go for more psychology textbooks, so it was naturally settled that I would go to graduate school. They tell you to think hard about it, but I didn't. I never listen to people who tell me to think, and that is one of my mistakes. Don't let people tell you what to think, but if someone tells you to think, you should always take that opportunity. Anyway, of course I had periods of high stress and low motivation, but they always went away. Mentally, physically, and emotionally, I could do this for another five years, so I figured, I may as well. Keep my options open. Ugh. I definitely couldn't do it for the rest of my life, and I never presumed that to be true.

Anyway, now I am getting pressure from so many sides. I am leading a research project that I absolutely despise. My professor suspected as much and asked if I wanted someone else to do it, so of course I lied and said I was very much interested in it still... but I never was. I don't feel as though I have a real choice.

No, I'm rambling. Who really cares how I got here? I'll just tell you where I am. I'm at the Holiday Inn in downtown Chicago, stealing a few moments to myself while my dad and sister look for a place to go shopping. I hate everything. Well I don't hate music and the things I mentioned before, but I feel like I have lost my opportunity to do that because of this path I let my life take me on! Why did I do it? I always valued my ability to go with the flow and not interfere with where I end up, but look at these places we end up in, what we find ourselves doing, and the responsibilities we find ourselves juggling. I don't like ANY of it. Why couldn't I just do what my heart told me, back when I still had the chance? Well, I still do have the chance.

I've signed up for a vegan-related internship. The organization made it sound like they had a lot of applicants and I stood out as the best one, but I'm not so sure anyone else was seriously interested. It's supposed to be 15-20 hours a week. I don't even know why I signed up. No, actually I do--because I'm bipolar! I go through several weeks to months where I feel like I can literally do everything, and I do--for a while. But then I inevitably have a crash where everything piles up, I start screwing up, I start forgetting things, people are less than impressed, I get stressed out and crabby, people get irritated by me. Then, I isolate myself from everything and slowly get back into things, and because I am under little stress and have no trouble with the few responsibilities I've allowed myself, I begin to feel incredibly effectual and content, everyone starts to like me again, and finally I grow bored because I am not being challenged. So I ask around for something, anything, that will challenge me, I say yes to every opportunity, and before I know it, I'm right back in the same place where I have a breakdown.

I don’t know if this is really a mood disorder; it’s more like extremely poor self-management. I mean, the breakdown always happens at a particularly difficult moment when anyone would go crazy. It’s not that I don’t have time to do everything—it’s that I have so many things to remember, and a million deadlines pressing down on me at the same moment. Even if everything could be done in 12 hours, when pressure comes from so many directions at once, you start to lose the ability to breathe. I hate everything I am doing, too. None of it makes me happy.

But the good news is, I know what makes me happy. Everyone—well, everyone I know personally—tells me that these things that make me happy will literally kill me if I spend all my time on them, since they won’t make me any money and I will starve to death. But who cares? I believe these people a lot less than I used to. It’s not that I don’t believe the part about being poor… that much is obvious, and I find it offensive that some people in my life think my understanding of economics (a field I admittedly despise because I can’t ignore the way it is applied to inflict suffering on innocent people) is so little that I think I can be some kind of hippie playing an acoustic guitar on a street corner in New York City but still live the way I’m living now, safe and warm and fed and equipped with a laptop with word processing and internet capabilities. ANYWAY, I get all that. I get that I won’t have any luxuries for a long time, maybe forever, that I probably will have to go into debt just to pay for food and shelter and basically the “privilege” to stay alive. But what I’m skeptical about is the importance of all of that. Like, okay, I have gone a day with nothing to eat, and it was horrible. And I know that every day I continued that, it would have become more and more insufferable. I have sat outside in the cold for 12 hours. I have slept in a train station. I would be so uncomfortable and my life so insecure if I were stuck doing that every day.

But right now, I am so uncomfortable I can’t take it. Physically, I’m very comfortable and I have no complaints. I enjoy three decent meals a day (eh…) and a bunch of deliciously toxic snacks, and then I get to curl up into a warm bed at night. (Actually, in that case, how do I distinguish between my mom’s condo and a homeless shelter or a prison?) But I HATE MY LIFE. I utterly hate it. At best, I am biding my time because I can’t for the life of me figure out how to reconcile what makes me happy with what everyone else wants me to do—unfortunately, some of these people are giving me material or moral support, and some even have the ability to lock me up if they want to (but supposedly that’s the extreme). I try SO many things, I am so open-minded, and I always see good qualities in all my endeavors, but they never make me feel alive. And people are always ready with attacks to my character that they think can explain my unhappiness, but they don’t know shit. If they feel alive with something, then that’s great for them—really, it is, it warms my heart when I think about it—but I want that for me. And if they don’t feel alive, they need to shove their cynical hearts up their asses… they may be closed off to the possibility of a better life, but not only am I not closed off, I am determined to have it. This is not some low-pressure trip to the grocery where you can just go back tomorrow if you forget something, or maybe you just go without. These are our fucking LIVES. We each only get ONE, and I intend to make the best of mine.

The good thing to remember is, my good friends and family are imagining a worst case scenario, which balances out my idealistic nature. In my head, I’m going to step out into utopia, and I am magically going to accomplish whatever I dream and have the perfect life. Whatever, what does that even mean? Nobody ever thinks, “in my ideal life, first of all there would always be food on the table.” Why not? Is it because they simply take it for granted, or is it because as human beings, that is not our priority? That’s the thing. Of course I wish I could always have food on the table; in fact, I wish that for everyone who has the misfortune of being born into a world where that’s not a guarantee. But I don’t wish it first for me or anyone else. First, I wish that we could be emotionally satisfied and content with our lives. I am not a squirrel trudging along, eating, eating, eating, so I could mate, mate, mate and then my babies will follow in my footsteps. Fuck that. God, I am confusing the shit out of myself and I am so mentally tired I can barely stand it.

I wanted to write because this trip has been so taxing. I was so happy when we left that I could barely stand it. I had such high expectations. We visited Cleveland on the way, which was amazing. I absolutely adored the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and wish I could have spent days there. I also LOVED the cute little vegan eatery there, the Flaming Ice Cube. I wish we could have eaten there again too. Maybe that was the first thing that upset me, the fact that we left Cleveland so soon. And it didn’t help that Chicago turned out to be so unimpressive in comparison. And then in everything we do, my dad pressures us to move onto the next thing because he is always bored. And as I’m enjoying something, I always have half of my attention focused on him, to gauge his emotions so I know if I will be able to stay as long as I want or if we will be forced to leave soon. And he drinks and drives, which makes me really angry. And on top of that, even though Chicago is a mecca for vegan food and the Chicago Diner alone could serve my needs for every meal, since neither Nicole or my dad is vegan, they make me eat at places that have no reasonable vegan options. They say it’s fair because they sometimes go to go to all-vegan places where there are few “omnivore-friendly” options for my dad. However, I find it unfair for them to equate my ethics-based choices to his closed-mindedness about vegetables and fake meats; but they actually seem to think that taste-based preferences are even more valid than ethical choices. He literally hates every restaurant that doesn't serve pizza, veal parmesan, eggs or bacon. He literally has never taken a bite out of any of the vegan foods he says he hates. And even my vegan-phobic mom eats Daiya, so he could eat it too. I sound spoiled because my dad is providing all my transportation and willing to buy me dinner. But if I knew they were going to act this way, I never would have asked to make this into a family trip. I would’ve done the bus thing and stayed with a grad student. I thought it would be fun for all of us.

Oh well. The trip will be over soon, I will be forced to go back to the responsibilities I never wanted, and then I’ll figure out what I want to do. Or I’ll just keep doing what I hate. Ugh I hate myself. :]

(no subject)

Ugh! Life is so hard. Lately I have been thinking about happiness and life satisfaction. I’m totally over going for the things that other people want for me, and improving myself superficially and things like that. But now that I’m opening up to what I really want, I’ve found myself overwhelmed by a sea of noise that I just don’t know how to navigate. Which of these kickboards or surfer dudes or sharks or fucking drops of water or grains of salt is going to make me happy? Will I ever even find it?!? Am I close? How many things will I pick up and toss aside before something sticks? It’s depressing as fuck. I find that my lack of social skills no longer cripples me because I am not letting anxiety control me. Now fears are no obstacle, and I can learn whatever as I go. But what do I want to learn? Where do I want to go?

Luckily, the same things have always come back to the surface over and over throughout my life, ever since I was a toddler. Art, music, words, academia. Art, music, words, academia. Saving people and saving the world. Saving people and saving the world. These are the only things I care about. I really don’t love anyone or anything except as far as they can help me achieve a better world through pure intellect and creativity.

So my wants are simple then, but too broad. What do I do with that? If you think about it, I can pretty much do anything, because so many different lifestyles fit into these categories. And I also know what I want to avoid: EVERYTHING that does not relate to academia, words, art, music, or a better world. That rules out lots and lots of things, though the last one kind of gets me sometimes, because I start to do things that seem like they help the world but do not make me happy, and then I find that I was not doing anything for the world anyway. So perhaps I should only try to help the world in ways that would already otherwise make me happy. I recently heard a quote that seemed written for me: “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Music really is the best thing for me. It never fails to make me happy. I was just thinking the other day, I could be anywhere in the world, in any situation, and music would solve my problems. I could be in some third world country, with a giant tumor and my internal organs popping out of my skin, and if you gave me the right soundtrack, I could be 100% serene and content. How can that fucking be? So I guess music is my calling, and I guess I spoke too soon when I said that fear doesn’t get in my way. It does, fear and uncertainty. Music isn’t a stable life, people tell me over and over and fucking over and over, something you can’t just drown out because it’s just too fucking loud. Well, play louder!

Huh. That voice in my head is getting stronger. I don’t know what I need. I mean, I don’t need much. I love this computer, and the ability to have other people’s vast oceans of words and art entertain me for as many hours as I want in an infinite number of ways. But I don’t need it, I know I don’t. No one believes me, and they wouldn’t unless they saw it. But I don’t care. I’ll give it up when the time comes that I have to. If I can’t have this, I’d like to have some paper and an acoustic guitar. Ugh. Fuck. I can’t tell you how calming it is when I close my eyes and see me, alone in a room with a guitar and a clean white piece of paper, and one pencil, and that’s it. I don’t know what’s outside, a thriving city or a peaceful meadow—who cares? I am not picky about that at all. I would find something to take my breath away, beautiful people, beautiful art, beautiful nature, everything in this world is so fucking beautiful. Why dwell so much on the ugly things? The people I spend time around are out of touch with their beautiful characteristics. I am too. But why is it that I want my beauty to shine through, and other people just don’t care about theirs? They care more about really fucking stupid shit like collecting stupid fucking shit they don’t need as if it were a stockpile of acorns for an impending desperate winter. No, I don’t care about that at all. I am not heading for a desperate winter. All I have is this one deceptively short life that I am supposed to navigate without a guide. There are billions upon billions of ways I could while away my numbered days, but I am left alone to choose which ones make the cut and which ones don’t. Ugh, so fucking scary. The irony is that it’s a kind of freedom that people dream about, fight for, do horrible things to achieve, and cry over. But we have so many freedoms that no one can take away. There are an infinite number of places you can be, people you can associate with, things you can say, creations you can make, and—the very last one that even the most wretchedly oppressed people still own—thoughts you can think. No matter what they are doing to you, you can think whatever the fuck you want, billions and billions of different words and thoughts and ideas, fantasies and dwellings-upon and dreams and daydreams. It’s fucking crazy. And it’s impossible for anyone truly to organize their freedom, because who can even organize that mass of possible thoughts, in order to make the more complex decisions up to, "what do I actually do with my life?" And because we will all always be disorganized, we are really just floating around hoping that serendipity puts us on the correct path. And maybe it does. Maybe there is an intelligent, benign fate that guides us all along. I feel that I have never been given more than I can handle, and I always get what I need somehow, but I find it hard to believe that to be true for some of the seriously unfortunate people I have seen.

I guess that’s why people meditate. They can quiet their thoughts and be free to move onto more important decisions. But I guess thoughts are my favorite; they are where I live and they are what energize me. In fact, the loss of physical freedoms might not bother me as much as it would bother others. However, I would be pretty devastated if I were no longer able to express the many thoughts and ideas I develop, whether through my mouth or my guitar, or a machine as complicated as this computer.

Ugh, I fucking love music. How can it not be my calling? If it's not--if my skills can’t catch up to my passion—then I know there is no real point to this life. Pretty gloomy, but it is true. And the weird thing is, I strongly believe that my skills can catch up, but there are definitely some poor saps on American Idol who truly love music more than anything else but will never be good at it. Do their lives have no meaning? Or did they miss something at some point along the way that would have given them their great life?

But I mean, I keep thinking, I did choir and this band and this and that, and it didn’t make me come alive, so music must not be my calling. But that’s not true at all. If certain musical pursuits make me come alive like a fucking beast of an automaton that’s been out of service for 100 years and gets fixed by some legend of a handyman… then there is something there. And if that feeling was the meaning of life, and I could make that feeling come upon me very often, I would be satisfied with life. I wouldn’t question that this world is a good one and that life has meaning. Yet so far it has been elusive—is it supposed to be? Is it natural that when you go after that feeling, it just disappears? And even when you try to move towards it systematically, separating out the elements of a beautiful moment and recreating them one by one… still, nothing happens? I have nobody to ask. I don’t know anyone who really believes their life is totally fulfilling. Most of the people I know are in fact totally miserable, and that’s humanity for the most part, at least modern humanity.

So I’ve been trying many things lately, being more sociable, trying to play music with others, working hard at improving my musical skills, throwing myself into school work. I fucking hate doing school work, why do I continue to do it? I just love learning. I love empiricism and science and observation. But why can’t we do these things independently? They make it so fucking hard, but it isn’t really that hard. Science doesn’t have to involve thousands of dollars and fancy equipment. Sometimes it’s nothing more than sitting in the grass and watching the ants for hours. What could be better? Ugh, the single WORST thing about modern civilization is how, this world as it is, it’s a parody of a utopia. Like, the stuff of life—the natural world, the relationships we form, the ideas and emotions we have—they will always be perfectly sculpted and ideal. So when you’re living your life, it seems like the world is perfect and you’re living in a utopia, but then you go to enjoy these things, and someone takes it away from you. It’s nothing forceful even, it’s as simple as, “If you waste your time on satisfying garbage like that, we will see to it that you can’t eat.” Satisfying garbage, what an oxymoron. And what a fucking choice they give us. It’s horrible. You’re born into this world and you see all this awesome, awesome stuff as a child that makes you feel so alive and lucky, and then you grow up and “mature” to realize that none of this stuff was ever yours for the taking. Someone owns it, and they bargain that you can have a stake in it if you do all these crazy things for them. But then at the end of your life, you never achieve it and you realize, too late, that whole time you were just a slave, and you wasted your time working a plantation when you could have just walked out and forcefully taken what was rightfully yours. Ugh, I just don’t know anymore. Right? How could something be garbage if it satisfies you? How can music be a waste of time when it can give us ANY FEELING WE WANT in the entire world?

I just don’t get it. I don’t get why we consent to this bullshit. Why do we let people tell us that we can’t live our lives for happiness or love or peace or vivacity? These are our lives. Ours. We have to live them and deal with the consequences, and in a way, it feels like a duty to make them go well. How can you let your life just end on a note where you were a slave and you never got to do those four or five things that your heart always yearned for? It brings me to tears because I am still so young, and I still believe that I’ll get to the point where I free myself and do everything I love. But there are so many people who die EVERY FUCKING DAY never having done ONE of the few things on their bucket list of absolute necessity. Their hearts just die never having been used. It’s like when you go to a graveyard and that sinking feeling you get when you read something like, “December 2, 1999-December 31, 1999.” That baby was born right before the dawn of a new millenium and that’s it, never got to experience any of it. In the end, everyone a month away from death outlived this baby. But in the end, if we all die without following our hearts, we are all just sad month-long lives. We are born and then at some point we die, but nothing has happened in between, nothing at all of significance. We’re all born with this immense potential and this immense opportunity… by that I mean, there is a world of amazing opportunities both within and without us. But then, you just die before you get to see any of it? See? Dead babies.

And me, I’m just an incompetent loser with a guitar on my knee, and I'm all right with that.


(no subject)

So I don’t know, I guess my pendulum is swinging back in the negative direction. I feel happy and faced with many opportunities, but I feel that my true desires will always be just out of my reach. Is that what growing up is? I don’t know. Blah.

I met a guitarist from Craigslist, by the way. Total stoner! When people smoke pot in front of me, I always feel kinda anxious that a) that horrible smell will rub off on me, and b) they will do something wrong and it will be on me. But, I liked him. Very nice and laid back, not a great singer, but pretty good at guitar. I sucked and was too scared to sing.

Um, went to a record swap with two of my friends, kinda disappointing. First, the records were more expensive than I thought and they didn’t have awesome ones. Then, they had no vegan breakfast burritos like they were supposed to, but they did have an awesome BBQ tofu wrap. Then, even though I was in a sociable mood with people I like, I STILL got odd-girl-outed! Boo. They called me spacey, which is true, but still.

None of the other Craigslist people are panning out. I’ve been pretty much accepted into that other band, but I don’t love their music and they aren’t much like me, so I don’t know. But they might help me. They keep pushing me to learn songs quickly and telling me to put in feeling. I really do need to work on that if I want people to actually like my singing.

But yeah I’m back in school. I don’t hate it, but it does feel so very mediocre like just “going through the motions.” Sometimes we read literature that inspires me, and I do get a temporary thrill hearing new facts or skills (i.e. programming), but that’s all easily accomplished in real life too.

Already got interviews for Temple and UIC. My dad is making them into vacations. Part of me thinks I would probably love grad school because I would be working directly to better communities. But the other part of me is like, “…What if it doesn’t?” Because once I commit to it I will be stuck. Or at least I will have ahead of me a long ride home, the promise of a shitty menial period in my life, and the disappointment of a whole bunch of people. It’s not a dream, I can say that much. It’s a path I chose logically based on the only thing I’ve ever proven I’m good at and can stick with.

Well, more on this later. I am TIRED!


(no subject)

Everything is going pretty well and I don’t foresee it slowing down, unless I run out of money. Anyway, I’d like to write about what I’m up to and some of my thoughts on the world.

I’ve been talking to lots of musicians on Craigslist. Most are around my age, but a couple are like 40. I'd like to meet all of them. I know it may be a tad risky, but I’m just a trusting person and I’d love to meet/befriend musicians and have people to jam with. I went to two practices with this teenage band from Paterson. It was a cool experience. The guitarist has recording/editing on his computer, so I got to hear myself on there as well as on the microphone. I sound really good! But I also learned that I’m not great at keeping track of when to come in, nor picking up complex melodies someone tries to teach me. I have no experience though, so I’m sure I’ll improve.

Also, last night I had an adventure with a friend I hadn’t seen in a year (maybe two). She asked me to visit at her sister’s house. Let me tell you, that was a RIDE. It’s in the middle of nowhere. It was okay. They had a roommate and guests, but I didn’t mind. We watched documentaries/movies, talked only a little bit, then went to the A&P for snacks. I bought a lot! I even ate a tofu scramble pocket. The evening put me in a great mood though.

Anyway, I wanted to talk about the state of the world. There is so much that bugs me. I hate all the apathy and selfishness—that is to say I want to see more people thinking creatively about issues and doing something beyond themselves, their family and community.

Mainly I want to see equality. I don’t want to have to worry about rich and poor. I want everyone equal, just doing what they love (which dare I say isn’t manipulating money), secure in their survival and living with minimal luxury. Bah. How to get around all our busy-ness, materialism, waste…

I gotta go to bed. Waking up in 6 hours…


(no subject)

This was going to begin, “I am SO dissatisfied!” But then I went for a walk…

The stars were out, the moon was full… and between that and the street lights, the sky was lit up a brilliant, deep dark blue. I LOVED it.

I was thinking, “What am I afraid of, what am I afraid of…” but really, I’m not afraid of any of the stuff I thought I was. I’m not afraid of bad neighborhoods, I’m not afraid of leaving what I know (I truly know nothing and no one anyway), I’m certainly not afraid of financial insecurity—in fact, the very notion of financial security disgusts me to my core. I WANT noise, excitement, chaos. My ONLY fear is that I won’t fit in. It’s so sad really. In a way I’d fit in automatically with people who share my values and dreams. But will I ever fit in anywhere? I’m just so afraid of being close to people. I always thought I was brave, because I’ll share highly personal facts and my deepest philosophies with anyone who asks. But – I never tell ANYONE my deepest needs, desires, dreams, or anything I think I have to offer, because that alone makes me vulnerable. Something as simple as, What do I want to do with my life? Why do I give the easy answer, even to people who know me well? Well, I’m not sure I know anyone at the moment who won’t judge me. It should be okay—I can find people—but the problem could be me. Am I not trusting people to accept me simply because I don’t accept myself?

Not sure, but the bottom line is, I am not afraid if I can just start believing in my skills. But what is it that I want, beyond this hurdle of self-doubt? I know I like art, music, activism, and community, but that's about it.

I thought about my planning instinct. I want it to get lost, and for the most part my analytical nature too. I don’t want a life and work characterized by analysis, I want one characterized by VIVACITY. I really do. Planning should be about, do I have what I need for the first step, not, do I know the entire path from “You are here” to “You are there”? Who cares? It will NEVER work out that exact way anyway. Plus, I’m an explorer by nature! I LOVE getting lost. Why have I been so enmeshed in mapmaking?! Who knows? All I know is planning never got me anywhere. Even after I revised my planning methods, planned a new way to plan, and then planned some more. I am in the exact place I’d be if I planned nothing and walked in a straight line. Just think of everything I could have done in that time I spent planning. Horrible. But who cares? Done now, and I’m YOUNG. And my heroes 20 years my senior ain’t even old yet. YES.

When I turned around near the end of my walk, I turned around and saw a beautiful white streak disappearing into the sky. Maybe it was just a contrail but I had my creative cap on. And I said, “That’s my path, huh? Or I can stay on this one. [Talking out loud like a schizoid] Cold, rough, surrounded by judgmental people. But the other path is transcendent. [I could picture myself trekking across galaxies with shooting stars for company] The temperature may be low, but you don’t notice because of the beauty and the excitement of possibility."

I don't know what I was saying. But whatever the universe has to offer, you can find anywhere, if you’re looking, so I’m not worried.


(no subject)

Wow! Reading the end of that entry from December 12 seems really odd now. I’m like, who is that girl with no confidence?! I mean, I am not saying I am totally confident now, but that sounds crazy. I think sometimes when I spend so much time alone for a long time, I start to separate from reality. I think, wow, everything must be wrong with me because no one is hanging out with me, and I keep avoiding people because I think that’s what they want, and then it makes me feel even worse.

So, Home for the Holidays was weird, I don’t know. I wrote like over 30 pages of journal entries in this little notebook I’d brought with me. I can’t remember what I was expecting when I got there, but I miss that one day backstage. I think things will never happen like that again and it was very special. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to talk to them and their friends that way again. It’s not natural. But when you go backstage, they all just assume that you belong there and they treat you like a peer. I’m not sure why. I have lots of friends of friends who get to go backstage, but I’m not going to suck up to them or anything just because I might get to the band through them. That’s not who I am. At least not anymore. A few years ago I would have done stuff like that, but now I won’t.

Anyway, overall it was pretty good. I don’t feel like a total loser anymore. The social aspect was no better than I expected, but as good as I could have hoped for. Nothing catastrophic happened. I could have taken more risks (what else is new?) but I am happy with what I accomplished. The band recognizes me as a genuine fan, which feels good because they totally LOVE their fans. Some of the people I was with got old quickly, but I probably won’t see them again for several months now, so it's okay.

I mostly learned a lot about myself. Being immersed in a Bouncing Souls world for four days in Asbury Park is just so meditative for me. I’m not sure if it’s Asbury Park, the Bouncing Souls, or just music in general, but something special happens. I don’t think it happens to everyone. Most of the kids in the hotel just do it because it’s fun, and they watch the shows, go to the after parties, and party in the lobby. But everything about the whole week and the place is so beautiful to me, and I just want to soak it in as much as possible. I only wished I could have had more time, a lot more time.

The first morning was probably the best though. I woke up at 7:30 and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I ate some oatmeal in the lobby and then I stayed outside for hours at a time, taking indoor breaks when I couldn’t take the cold anymore. I wrote in my notebook some of the time, and other times I just watched the ocean or the people. I LOVE the sound of the waves, it’s just so perfect. Ugh. I wish I could be there all the time. I wrote about my experiences at the shows, my new friendships, my interactions with the band, but I also wrote about my subjective experience, my emotions and the things I was learning about myself. And let me tell you, I learned more in those five days than I learned in the past fucking two years. It is such a beautiful, pure, raw, encouraging environment that it gives you this perfect sense of clarity about who you are and what you love. And I’m trying to hold onto it, because it’s one of those sensations that just disappear as soon as you get back into the rat racetrack. It’s as if you got abducted by aliens and you did all these amazing things on Mars, but they erased your memory so you only have these little bits that you’re not even sure if they really happened. And you’re like, man, I wish I could just live on Mars, but I’m only fucking human. Fuck. Maybe something like that, I don’t know. But that’s how I feel. Like, maybe I don’t necessarily belong in such a perfect environment, but I’d give anything to be there all the time. And for what it’s worth, I’m pretty sure I could fake it till I make it.

I thought a lot about why I love punk so much, why does it make me feel like it’s this perfect thing that can solve every problem in me, in society? And why do I feel like it’s not a viable lifestyle for me, when it works for other people and I don’t even appreciate any luxury or fancy entertainment whatsoever? And I’m a total collectivist anarchist. It would appear to me that I’d fit right in if I weren’t so fucking scared. So why am I? And when I spend 20 minutes talking to people who I think are “too cool” for me, they always end up being like, “You’re such an awesome person” and stuff like that. Is that fake? I don’t know, I don’t know what’s going on.

Anyway, music just soothes me and it’s the only thing that does that. I feel like most people are the same, though. The only thing that sets a musician apart from the public is their willingness to put in tons of practice time to get awesome, and maybe I don’t have that. But maybe I do, too. I was just so happy. I was happy by myself, I was happy with the crowds, I was happy all the time. And there, in that easy environment, I am a laid back, caring, interesting, confident person. But I am none of those things at home. It’s not because I don’t want to be, but because I am not strong enough. I feel like, if I could spend more of my time in that place, I could gain confidence and maybe then I could be anywhere and keep those same strengths.

For some reason, I always feel like I relate so much better to the actual musicians than to the fans. I feel like I am creative, intelligent, steadfast, and unique, and I could be the person who inspires people, not just staring in awe and trying to live vicariously through those who inspire. But maybe that’s just an illusion of grandeur and I’m just like everyone else. But I mean, it’s possible I’m right, because someone has to be that awesome person up there, and why not me? I seem to impress and inspire people whenever I put effort into my life. I fuck up a lot too, but I’m good at the things that matter in my opinion. So anyway, I care about the band way more than the fans, and that’s probably where I went wrong, because in the process, the group as a whole (with me excluded) gets to hang out with them while I am off in my corner.

It wasn’t SO bad. I mean, obviously I wasn’t going to drink, and I wanted to go to sleep pretty early. But I kept going for walks or going up to the room when everyone hung out in the lobby because I felt awkward. And I would watch the bands alone at the after party instead of sitting down with everyone else. I probably could have made some new close friends, but I didn’t let myself. Sometimes I’m like, what is the point of having close friends if I’ll never have deep conversations with them, which is the main reason I enjoy having friends, and I have better conversations with myself anyway? (It's true.) But I mean, if I’m going to meet such people anywhere, I’m pretty sure it’d be at a Bouncing Souls show.

Some positives from their “crew,” though. The best part was playing The Game of Things that someone had brought. We wrote a lot of dirty stuff and things about the Bouncing Souls. I was actually pretty good at the game because in most cases I was able to tell by people’s expressions during the readings which one was theirs. I am also pretty funny when I try. I came up with some creative and meaningful ones, and also some pretty dirty and silly ones like, “Things that jiggle: a Jello sculpture of Bryan Kienlen.” Anyway, I think that kind of broke the ice because I didn’t know anyone. I got to learn their names, I learned who was really dirty and who was too clean. And we kind of bonded over the shared laughs. So that was one of my favorite parts of the week, we played the game twice for hours at a time.

The other part is that I did get to have a couple of heart to hearts during all the time I hung out in the hotel room and in the lobby and Souls fans were in and out. Much of the talk was about music, which was cool. But just in general, the environment in the hotel was such that you could just go up to anyone with a band shirt on and strike up a conversation, and you know that they will be nice and the conversation will be awesome. I did it quite a few times and I probably don’t even remember all their names! And for most people, that’s normal, but for me it was quite an accomplishment and I am proud of myself. Or grateful for Asbury Park.

I didn’t get to interact with the band much, really, but I also didn’t have much to say. I just always want more, but they’ll probably be alive for at least a couple more decades, so let’s relax a little bit. The best thing that happened was on the second day. I felt awkward and lonely during another crew conversation, so I started playing Greensleeves (the only song I know how to play) on the lobby piano, but I kept screwing it up and having to start over. Everyone was probably really annoyed, but it was calming me so I kept doing it. Anyway, Greg popped up out of nowhere in his winter coat and said, “Hey, what are you doing?” in his curious, quiet way. I got embarrassed that he’d been listening and said, “Just messing around, I don’t really know how to play…” He said he could teach me something, and it was this arpeggio (1, 3, 5, 6, 5). At first I was playing in the wrong key, so he moved my hands to the right spot, but then he said, "Well, actually you can play it anywhere…” Then he saw that his family was ready to leave, so he kind of walked away as soon as he had come, with a little wave and smile. Ugh. I fucking love that guy. Platonically.

That night, I had a super awkward conversation with Pete about his performance on "Just Like Heaven." I really only said one sentence, but it was awkward because I forgot the name of the song until after he'd already answered me. Then I think we like awkwardly touched or shook hands or something. I don’t know, it was weird. But it made me feel good that I did it.

Then at the meet & greet (just before the last show), I was sick, but I really wanted to talk to them. Pete was offering everyone pretzels, but they were all declining until Kiera. He was like, “Yes! Finally a taker! None of these people want pretzels. It’s like un-American!” So then I took one too, and a few more, but it was okay because everyone kept turning them down and Pete started freaking out because he had no water. haha. Then the line wasn’t moving because Bryan was talking to Kate, and Pete was just standing there patiently, waiting for the next person to be able to approach him. So I was like, may as well ask for a hug then. He was like, “Sure, I love hugs!” and then I squeezed him and he said, “I needed that.” Not quite as good as the “Fuck yeah" I once got from him, but still pretty awesome. Bryan was boasting to everyone that Joan Jett was coming over his house in half an hour to smoke pot. Then Greg signed my poster and then it was awkward, so he was like, “So, how is the Berkeley treating you?” and I was like, “Oh, it’s really fun, lots of people just playing games and stuff.” He nodded, then it was awkward again, so I started rambling like, “Thanks for playing the piano with me the other day, you really made my day.” And he was like, “I’m glad, maybe one day we can have a piano lesson,” which was odd because I don’t think we ever will. It was so awkward.

Oh yeah, I also requested to all four of them individually that they close with "For All the Unheard." They said okay, but they never did it. When I asked Pete about it, he got all confused for a moment, and then he was like, “Oh, I’M sorry! I totally forgot about that!” He looked like he felt super bad, so I was like, “Nah, it’s okay. I had a good time anyway. Great four shows.” And then he patted me on the back, and then I hugged him. Again. Then we said goodbye, and that was the end of my interactions with the band.

Anywho, it is actually 12:49 am now and I am still sick and pretty tired, so I suppose I will go to bed now. Good night!