The AfterLife: Getting Through Post-Collegiate Chaos Together
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deactivated1484545980DTessStevens
T
The AfterLife: Getting Through Post-Collegiate Chaos Together
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What I Learned From Losing My Phone
After a two week social hiatus I decided it would be a good idea to go out. You know, do young people things and meet some new "friends". Lately I've been holing myself up and trying to avoid alcohol and people. For some reason, the two are inexplicably linked. I decided I was going to go up to the local gay bar and see one of the RuPaul queens who was performing there. Seemed like a good choice. After all was said and done I definitely had a bit too much to drink. We all have those moments where we succumb to our own chaos and end up creating a bit of a mess. I think I left my phone on the bar, or dropped it when I was getting into my Uber. The funny thing is that I remember calling the Uber, and my phone was in my hand and then...like magic, it just wasn't. The next morning I woke up and I felt like I was dying. My limbs were akimbo and it was clear I had slept in my party dress. Of course, the first thing I needed to do was get in the shower and steam out all of the toxins. This was an integral part of my morning routine in college when I would pull this sort of behavior four nights a week, as young people do. It was about noon before I realized I had actually lost my phone, and not dreamed about it. "Ah damn it. God damn it." I said as I reached for the land line that my aunt and uncle thankfully still have, due to a package deal with their TV and Internet provider. "Yeah, dad I lost my phone. I'll probably never see it again, so what should I do. Do I have insurance?" "Uh, yeah we'll call the insurance company and see what we can do." A few hours later I found myself restless. What was I going to do all day if I couldn't check social media and complain via Twitter? Isn't this what I have devolved to: feeling totally disconnected without my little pocket world? I finally got on the computer and checked my e-mail, you know, for possible job offers or important correspondence that usually just buzzes on my phone screen. Nothing. Of course. A few more hours pass and in the afternoon sun I realize that I might just want to stay off the grid for a while. No phone, no problems right? I don't really need one to survive. I can make due with my computer. It's not like I have to answer to a lot of people or anything. Then a thought ran through my head, maybe I should just get a flip phone or a blackberry. Maybe I should just move up to Sonoma county and only use my typewriter for a little while. That sounds good right? Then I thought about the notifications that show up on a home screen, and how they'll pile up. I thought about how people would start to wonder whether I was relevant or not if I disappeared for a little while. Then I thought about people looking at me for social media jobs, and realizing that I couldn't even keep up with my own. I guess the luxury of not having a phone was more impractical than I thought. It's been two days, and I haven't missed it one bit. Sure it's nice to be connected, and it's sad that I lost all of my photos and that from my adventures over the past year, but it's really okay because everything is connected in my brain. At least, I think it is. As much as people bitch about the disconnection that occurs when we plug in to our phones, they are a necessary evil in this day and age. We connect with employers, our friends and our families. But there is a cost to it, we tend to compare ourselves to others more often, we get jealous and bored of where our lives are. It's a connection to the things we want everyone to see, and it's a distraction from the things that actually are. Losing my phone has taught me that what we see online is just an expertly curated bit of bullshit. It takes a lot more courage to face the facts.
Maybe I'm Not Tyler Durden, Maybe I've Been The Narrator All Along
We all have those movies that hit us where it hurts. Maybe your issues surround your family, or relationships. You probably end up watching things like "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Godfather" or "The Notebook" over and over again until your eyes dry up and fall out of your head. When we look backwards and forwards at the things that bother us most, the things that haunt us when were' just nodding off to sleep we can see them in our favorite things. My issue? Never being enough, choosing the wrong profession, never living up to my potential. All of these themes are explored from a distinctly masculine perspective in the 1999 David Fincher film "Fight Club", which follows the renaissance of a hapless corporate drone without a name. I've read countless film criticism about this film, I've studied it for school projects and delivered monologues from it for acting exercises. I know it like the back of my hand, and somehow each time I watch it I get something new and different. That's the mark of a good film. This time I just happened to turn on the TV in my aunt and uncle's beautiful Sacramento home during a boring Sunday afternoon. I had just finished doing some half-baked core exercises on the bedroom rug because I was feeling bloated. I was mildly out of breath, and had no idea what I was going to do with the rest of my day. "If our fathers were models for God and our fathers bailed...what does that tell you about God?" I heard over the noise out the open window of my room. During this viewing of Fight Club I find myself at a crossroads. In the past two weeks I have sent out over 200 job applications in places from Los Angeles to Barcelona and everywhere between. I have no idea where I will be tomorrow, let alone next month. For the past two days I've been watching House Hunters, you know that show where the rich yuppies have a realtor pick out three perfectly good houses for them to nitpick and fight over in the service of moving out of another perfectly good house? Yeah. I've been watching that every minute of the past two days. As if somehow, the act of watching other people settle down and get their lives on track would somehow make me do the same. It's like the Ikea nesting instinct by proximity. Their homes made me feel like I had one of my own. When you move five times in 10 months you can start to feel your skin deteriorate off of your bones. As soon as you start to feel comfortable in a place, you start to hang things on the walls and organize closets...the floor drops out from under you and you're back in your car. Your belongings (growing more and more cumbersome every month) are stacked to the ceiling of your new car. They've been moved all over the country, and the world. Your suitcases keep getting packed up no matter how much you want to unpack them for good. Nothing is permanent, not even where you sleep at night. It can take a toll on you. It can cause you to recede and become completely untrusting of your surroundings and even your friends, because you never know when you're going to lose them both. Anyway, Fight Club became a welcome reprieve of being jealous of all the things I can't seem to hold on to: namely a job and a home. Two things that most people have...or at least are working towards. I listened to all of the bar stool philosophy offered by Tyler Durden, except this time different things stuck out to me. For some reason the Narrator (or Jack) as many film critics refer to him became the identifiable character. Most of the time, when I am at my height I appeal more to the edge-of-life Tyler. But now, feeling low and confused, trapped in a world I couldn't choose...it was the Narrator who embodied me. I found myself completely distanced from the chaos, and toward the end of the film when the Narrator is running through the streets trying to stop himself from blowing up the credit card buildings I was rooting for him. I rooted for him to stop everything that Tyler built. I rooted for him to get his life back, to return to his condo with all of the beautiful, hand styled furniture. I was rooting for him to settle down and return to the race of millions who were trying to get the peace of mind of stability. I guess when you spend enough time in the Tyler Durden state of mind, you start to long for the opposite. I flipped off the TV and sat in my bed after the last notes of "Where Is My Mind" by The Pixies rang out. I started to cry. I'm not sure what hit me, or why it hit me but something hit me. I wasn't hysterical, I wasn't short of breath. It was one of those cries where you understand what has happened to you, and you decide to move on from it. It hit me that yet again, I'm flying without any purpose or direction. I think this will be my last entry in the AfterLife, for now. This might be the closing of a chapter and the realization that no matter how much you put into something...you never know if you'll ever get it back.Not even the chaos of enlightenment could move me. I'm hoping, that in the coming months something stable comes, so I can feel free enough again to disrupt it.
The Value Of Working At Your Craft
Everyone is just lusting over a continuous string of things they can’t have, but in that moment of desire think they can. When you spend too much time alone it can become one of those introspective nightmares where you replay everything in your head. Anxiety reaches its peak and you reach for the vices. Whatever you can get your hands on, if you’re a flawed person. Which most likely you are. I know I am. That’s something though, accepting your flaws. Some people deny that sort of thing and hold up this mirror to reality instead of looking directly at it. They live in the constant reality of thinking they’re on the wrong side of the road. Instead of having that split second when you’re tired and you think you’re on the wrong side and you panic, but only for that split second. That’s a laugh. I think that I haven’t lived long enough to be able to call myself a writer. I think to really be a writer you have to have some miles on you. I’ve seen some things, lived in a lot of places and encountered some insanity in my time but not enough to really call myself something professional. Even though there are some people way younger than me making way more money and more connections than I am at this very moment but what difference does it make? Where do you go when you’re sick of all the viral posts on Facebook? To your own page, that's where. We all enter this world the same way, and we sure as hell leave it the same too. I heard once that writing doesn’t mean shit if its stuck in your head, technically writing consists of your thoughts coming on to a page, making a cohesive thread between the abstract neurons that fire silently when you’re “thinking” and the physical printing of ink to murdered slab of tree. In the nights where your back starts to hurt because you’ve been laying down for too long something pulls you up. For me, It’s the words. Whether they be in the form of a song or a poem, a sentence or a novel they have to come out. It’s like a shorted out wire in my brain that switches on in times of complete desperation, madness, happiness or love. Once you find something that trips that faulty wire, you have to explore it, or at least answer the door when it comes knocking. Some of these scribbles end up in notebooks in night stands never to be seen by another human’s eyes. Others end up on billboards or in magazines, TV Shows or movie scripts for everyone. Sometimes this act is painful, and other times it's full of joy, but right now as I look at these words from over a year ago, I can say that it's worth it. I hope these words reach someone who can connect with them, cause I know I have. Sometimes I read things and think, well, that person, who wrote that thing, is marching to the beat of a drummer I’ll never hear. And that’s the beauty of it. The words are concrete. They’re forever. Unless you erase them of course.
The Beauty of Being In Trouble
When I climbed out of the suburbs with my dreams in one hand and my ruthless ambition in the other I never thought I’d end up here. I thought I’d be famous by now, or have conquered the world or at least have done something nationally recognizable. Anything short of that is failure. Or so I thought. I’ve learned that life has its way with you no matter what you do to prevent it. Trouble follows certain people and I don’t think I’m an exception. I’ve spent so much time fighting fate that I’ve almost ruined it for myself. We do things that we think are right in the moment, but after the fact were just the immature actions of the prototype we were. You know what they say, what doesn’t kill us makes us more annoying. College is a place full of bar stool profits and misplaced intentions. One moment you’ve got it all figured out and then, when no one’s looking you implode. This is a microcosm of life. I haven’t seen much of it yet, but I see it in the faces that pass me. When I walk to school in the morning with my headphones in and a thousand neurons firing in my brain’s highway I look around an awful lot. I look around for something to restore the fact that this is the path I chose, and there’s nothing I can do about it. Instead I am met with the faces of people who are doing the exact same thing: rationalizing their choices. There’s something oddly endearing about false hope experienced in large groups. Some days I wake up and I think I’m Bukowski fighting the good fight against normalcy and indifference trading humanity for the tortured lifestyle of a human detached, trying to chronicle the interactions of humanity. Other days I wake up and realize I’m just a 23 year old girl waiting at windows for something to break them. I realize that I’m not past the desperate summers and the mistakes, and you know what? That’s okay. In fact that is good. In the daylight hours when the hangover is in its prime you somehow forgive yourself for the night and move on. The little moments of clarity give us the strength to continue our miniature fights with the world. When it comes down to it we’re all born into this world as animals, and the people who bring us to the world, the people who teach us, our friends, and our relationships teach us to be human, or shape our humanity. Whether that influence increases our animal instincts or breaks them down depends on the company we keep. Although our relationship with reality may be tenuous at best we can keep it at arm’s length at the price of our sanity. Once we cross the threshold of coping with reality there really isn’t anything stopping us from controlling it. Failure to me anyway is the absence of controlling our reality. Once we get caught off guard by a failed relationship or a bad grade or a shitty situation we often refer to it as failure, but it isn’t. The things that cross our path in an unfavorable way are just that, things. Experiences. We can’t put ourselves in frames and hang on walls to avoid trouble. We have to live in the trouble, because without the trouble we won’t know what comes after it. We won’t know the reward for all the bullshit. We can’t all be rock stars, or dead rockstars even but every day we have a choice to create or destroy, live or die, find the trouble or live in safety. Some people take it too far, but if you don’t take it at all you’re missing out. On what? I can’t say, only you can find your brand of trouble.