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Scrap-booking For Lazy People: The Smash Book
Scrap-booking is usually viewed as a passtime for idle moms and old ladies, but in the digital age more and more young people are gravitating toward tangible memories. I keep a planner, and use it as a personal scrap book. But this is different...it's easier. Scrap books are supposed to be a chronicle of a year or so...wrapped up in a pretty bow with matching trim and perfect edges. This scrap book is much more punk rock. It's literally a mashed up book of memories without a timeline. It's a place to keep your secrets and laughs, concert tickets and vacation pics. When Instagram is not enough and you're longing for some tangible evidence...grab one of these. It'll give you some permanence, and as far as the internet goes, there's an existential problem with it: It doesn't technically exist. Deep right? Use a smash book to keep your memories safe. It'll lead to less stress and can serve as a creative outlet. Don't end up like poor Gandalf here...forgetting shit ya know? You can use these books to track your progress, like a planner or a calendar. You can make your own travel log. You can write yourself notes for the future. Or remind yourself of the past. Whatever your reason for chronicling your life...just do it. The therapy and happiness gained from tangible reminders of life has helped me move forward. And you can too! Use a "Smash" brand book or just utilize a planner or journal. Get some glue, and put somet things on the page. Get creative. You'll be happier!
How To Use Writing As Therapy
I woke up this morning with every intention of crawling back into bed and forgetting what consciousness ever felt like. Car lights from outside crawled across my frosted glass window and I thought, how can it still be so dark outside? It was 5:30 A.M. and I didn't have to be up until 7. I cursed my mind for causing the stir, and couldn't fathom going back to sleep, so I sat up in bed, feeling the weight of every obligation that has fallen on my shoulders in the past few months. These days, the words aren't coming as easily, and each thought, every burst of energy is going toward auxiliary functions, like breathing and walking. This is what the first humans must have felt like when they first hit earth: firing on all cylinders in order to do such simple things. Exhaustion is the number one enemy of productivity, and still I press forward, feeling as if nothing I do is ever enough. I can't seem to figure out if I'm in the right place at the right time or not. Some days I feel stellar, and others I feel like I'm being stepped on by God's mighty boot, being jettisoned deeper and deeper into the ground by my own mused melancholy. I guess, being an artist, you can't help but be tortured right? It's been studied, people who "think too much" end up being the most depressed, because their thoughts encompass almost everything. It's hard to move and live day to day when your head is so far in the future that your body has already given out, and you're on your death bed. I feel like I've been living 20 years ahead of myself. I am never able to enjoy the moment. I am never able to give myself any credit. I am already in the ground as far as my brain is concerned. These thoughts, this person I have become is racing against time each moment they are conscious. This is why I love sleep, because the lights turn off and the party is over. I can rest. Getting there, is another story. I tried to sit down and write a song last night, but just the thought of that entire process made me so anxious that I had to walk away from it. That has never happened before. It scared me a bit. Like something was holding me back. I have to figure this out. I used to think writing a song, or writing things down could solve all of my problems, like magically once the words hit the page, I would be a new person. Sometimes it works, sometimes it makes me feel worse, but I guess it's all a form of therapy. I'm not sure what the point of this rabble is, or if it will be productive to likes, views or whatever, but for some reason I feel a bit better. Owning up to this emptiness will enable me to move forward right? This is what we have to believe in order to move on. In order to self-improve. It's like a cleansing of the thoughts. Now that they are on the page, they don't have to own my consciousness. Using writing as a means of personal excavation can be exhausting, dangerous and completely insane, but I swear by it. There is some truth to creating a reality in your head that doesn't necessarily match up with what's really going on. I have to admit there is something fearless about all of this. All the eyes and what not. There is a freak show element, though, and where the eyes and people gawk and stare, there can be real truth. I guess it's not self improvement, it's self defense.
Feeling lost, stressed, out of control? Start a Journal.
I've kept a journal for nearly 10 years. It's therapeutic. Completely confidential, and helps you keep track of your life. If you're stressed, having a tough time or trying to keep your head above water, it's time to start a journal. There is nothing like putting pen to paper. Computers are convenient and fast, but seeing your thoughts in your own handwriting can be profound. It makes you think more deliberately and carefully when you're writing with ink. It's more permanent, unlike the backspace button. Things can't be erased in a journal...you should just cross them out. It gives you more of a map to your thought process that way. Here's how to use one to help you out: Okay, so the first thing you need is a journal. This should be thin enough to be able to fill, but have enough paper to last a few months, or so. It's important to not get one of those giant lithographic things that you'll never write in. Something small, something that you like looking at, and something personalized will serve you the most. This journal is about 2 years old, and has writing in it from my Sophomore year of college to now. It's got a lot of miles on it, and a lot has changed since I first got it. I think that's important. Personalization is everything. This is FOR YOU ONLY. You don't have to make it pretty or polished. Personal and vulnerable documents like this should be candid and open. Don't sugar coat your writing, and don't write for an expectation either. Now you have your journal, it's time to write: Whenever you're feeling frustrated or stressed just put the pen to the paper. Things you never thought were inside of you will come pouring out. Trust me. There's just something about the act of writing that gets people in gear. Above is a journal entry from Pete Doherty,. It's a process where the foreign becomes local, and your thoughts truly become your own because you can see them on the page. Start with a simple prompt, like " This is what I did today" or "This is how I feel today" and the rest will come out. No matter what, you can't stop writing. Keep up with it every day and you'll see an increased sense of wholeness. You'll find yourself more at ease. I promise. So now you're writing, and you're keeping up with it...how should you feel? Well first of all, there is no should...with anything. There is only how you use the tool of journaling, and how you feel. Journaling can be cathartic, scary and eye-opening. You will learn things about yourself, and you will definitely gain some perspective. Sometimes the world is dark only for you, and you shouldn't feel ashamed or worried by that. Everyone's process is different. Things like fixing yourself, or making yourself happy aren't always simple, and by creating a safe space for yourself (your journal), you will ultimately bring yourself closer to achieving the ever illusive thing that most refer to as "happiness".
An Open Letter To My Former Self
If you could tell your former self a few things...what would they be? Tess, There you are, walking down 5th Avenue in New York City with less than 300 dollars to your name. You're clutching Pete Doherty's collected writings in one hand and hanging on to your broken backpack strap with the other. On a good day, people may mistake you for a rock star, on a day like today they might think you're a junkie, or someone who may be just tired enough to fall down the subway stairs. This is where you ended up after college. After all the work and sacrifice. You took a one way flight to New York City without knowing where you'd be in a month. And for you, that was just fine. You must remember that in dreamscapes, nearly everything is possible. Even making it without money all alone in New York City. Reality is another thing all together, but it hasn't stopped you yet. You're not going to have an easy time. And in moments of absolute chaos you will find your balance, as strange as that may sound. It's just where you live, shambolic and natural. At times it will appear that your life is being held up by safety pins, just don't get scared when they snap. All you'll have is your job, and the hope that something will happen. You'll always think about being plucked from obscurity, as you believe it will save your on-the-verge-of-being-a-total-catastrophe self. That might be true. Even I don't know what will save you yet. You'll like the same bands. And you'll still think your only friends are rock stars you've never met. Despite all of the people who love and support you, you'll still feel alone. And you won't be able to help it, but just know, on a logical level, that they will always care and love you. And when you get into real trouble, they will come running. Above all else, you'll still have the compulsion to create. Never lose sight of the funny things that make you different. Some days you'll sit in the subway car and spin out of control in your head. You won't even open Doherty's poetry book because just holding on to it gives you comfort. The sleeping thing will never get better, and you'll learn to live with it rather than substituting substances for a better night. You'll start drinking more water and less booze, and you'll try and create a life for yourself. It may be in shambles, but at least you're trying. The ruts you dig for yourself will not last forever. It seems like you're coping with something...a disconnect maybe, but that is natural and above all else is OK. Your body won't make you happy for a while, but part of that is induced by your fear of failure. You don't have to live up to anything physically, and those thoughts are silly and irrelevant. But if you want to change, do it. Do it for yourself though, not for the scene and not for some dude. Don't give up and just stay conscious of what makes you happy. Things will get better once you're out doing things you like to do. Never let go of the music. It is who you are. But balance it with the practical, the fucked up, the destructive and the hopeful. Everything will get stronger with time and one passion, writing, acting, music...will lead to the others. Make sure that you try to live steadily. It doesn't mean you must live like a bore. Steady implies that you're not shaking and groveling. You must remain upright, keep moving forward and never succumb to the snooze button. No amount of words can ever describe the millennial disconnect you feel, and it's alright. Because in the end, all you need to do is make a difference, and to some you already have. I'd also advise you to start being proud of yourself, and stop turning to the destructive forces that you think will help. They almost never do. Thinking and feeling and music and art will always be there, but the words? Sometimes they won't come, and that's okay too. Never let go of the wisdom your mother and father gave to you, and don't stop calling them either. They will serve you in times of great sadness and joy. The latter of which, will not come to you often, but that's not the most important thing. You come from a long line of horrorshows and renegades, people who in times of trouble, move inward and forget, but you...you're different...you could be something great. Although this fact terrifies you on a daily basis, you have nothing to fear, because if you make an effort every day, you'll live up to it.That's what you need to tell yourself. Don't be afraid to challenge your reputation, and what others think of you. They do not and will not matter. All that matters is the moment you're in. And you'll never get that fully, it's just not how you're wired. But if you can put forth an effort to make the best of things, and not retreat into darkness, it'll make the free fall worth it. Trust me. Signed, With a great amount of admiration and disgust, Your Future Self I'd like to tag a few of my Vingle friends to write one too: And anyone else for that matter! @jordanhamilton @danidee @alywoah @allischaaff @esha @hiakym @painttowrite @anna2682 @VinMcCarthy @paulisaverage @lizarnone @TerricaRiley @buddyesd @marshalledgar @skee292 @LauraFisher Feel free to tag someone else if you decide to post your "Open letter". XX
Throwback: My Grumpy Dad Parties With Guns N Roses
The title may have thrown you, but this is an entirely true story. Before the grump, dad did some pretty cool things (and still does). I'll let the story speak for itself. If you are unfamiliar with the Grumpy Old Man column written by my father @MattStevens here on Vingle, then you've been missing out. Check out the previous three columns in his very own collection: here. As always, my notes are distinguished by a "Tess' Note" precursor, and remember that everything you read here is absolutely true. Happy #ThrowBackThursday and remember that the Grumpy Old Man column runs here every Monday! Tess' Note: If you're really into 80's pop culture, this post will blow your mind...if you're not, it'll still blow your mind. I'm going to hyperlink every name you see if you want to put the time period into context. Happy reading everyone! Tess' Note: Before we begin, if you've ever seen the movie "Money Talks", Charlie Sheen's character is pretty much inspired by my dad. The "jeans on bottom, formal on top" look was started by my dad because well, "They only shoot you on TV from the waist up." The second picture is of dad reporting around 1988, the third is one of him covering a wildfire in Oakland in 1991, a year before my ass was born. Here we go. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It was 1988. I’d been working as a reporter at KNBC in Los Angeles for nearly three years, so the star-struck kid who’d arrived from Tucson in 1985 was long gone, replaced by a grizzled veteran of the Hollywood media wars. By this time, I could eat a burger at Hampton’s in Burbank and barely notice that Anthony Perkins (famous for playing serial killer Norman Bates in Psycho eek!) was dining in the adjacent booth. Heck, our anchor woman (Kelly Lange) was married to film director John Landis (director of Michael Jackson's Thriller music video); a fellow reporter, John Marshall, was married to Knott’s Landing star Joan Van Ark; and anchor man John Beard was dating Charlie’s Angels star Kate Jackson. I had interviewed the likes of James Stewart, Bob Hope, Raquel Welch and Bo Derek for various stories. I even sat next to Vanna White (from Wheel of Fortune) in the makeup room a few times. Truthfully, I was never a celebrity worshipper. I was a “hard” news guy. I preferred to tell stories about common people whose lives had been devastated by earthquakes, floods, fires and gang shootings. I had won my first L.A. Emmy two years earlier for coverage of a jetliner crash in Cerritos that killed 84 people. [Tess' Note: Any Breaking Bad fans will know this event, as it was the basis for the plane crash over Albuquerque that ends Season 2] I’d won others for covering wild fires, major earthquakes and high-profile murder trials, like those of the Menendez Brothers and Marlon Brando’s son, Christian. So, it was with limited enthusiasm that I listened to the urgent request of our managing editor, Pete Noyes, that I leave Burbank at 3:00 p.m. in search of Axl Rose, who was said to be living in an apartment in West Hollywood. [Tess' Note: As an avid rock and roll fan and musician, this assignment would have sent me through the roof with enthusiasm, but alas, I am not a grumpy old man, but we continue.] “Apparently, he’s being accused of all kinds of things,” said the man who was the real-life model for TV’s Lou Grant. “The assignment desk has the details. We need something on the air by six, so you’d better hit the street.” “I’m more of a Neil Diamond guy,” I admitted. [Tess' Note: COME ON DAD] “Do they have a picture of the Rose character?” “I think they might. Bring it by here when you get it so I know what he looks like, too,” said Noyes. Tess' Note: This is before the internet, smart phones and even cell phones for most peeps, so don't keep asking questions like "why didn't he just look it up?" Throwback Thursday people. The assignment desk had acquired from a friend of a friend of the agent of Guns N Roses’ guitarist Slash [Tess' Note: one of my favorite blues guitarists of all time] the address of a building in West Hollywood where Rose might be living. It wasn’t one of those basic assignments where you could call ahead and set up an interview. It was more like a hostile wild goose chase—one of those complex assignments that reporters and photographers dread because even if by some miracle they find the subject, he won’t want to be interviewed. On top of that, KNBC’s newscast producers were the kind who assume that every story assigned will come off without a hitch and will be reported exactly as expected—no matter the degree of difficulty. (This one’s degree of difficulty was an 11 on a scale of one to 10.) At about 3:30 p.m., my photographer (who shall remain nameless for reasons that will become obvious) and I arrived at the Sunset Boulevard address the assignment desk had provided. We did not expect to find anyone there, least of all Axl Rose, who had been criticized for writing what could easily be construed as racist and homophobic lyrics for the new Guns N’ Roses hit One In a Million. We were there to get his response to the allegations, as well as to inquire as to his involvement in some sort of vague (to us) drug-inspired assault case. I knocked on the apartment door with my camera man rolling just in case someone actually answered. A few seconds later, someone did. A rock-star-looking guy with a marijuana joint in his right hand and a can of beer in his left asked, “Who are you?” “Matt Stevens with KNBC,” I said. “We’re looking for Axl Rose.” “Let ‘em in,” yelled another rocker type from inside the smallish apartment. It was Slash. We walked inside and saw half a dozen people, all males, sitting on a couch and three chairs. The one in the middle on the couch looked like Axl Rose. “What can we do for you?” Rose asked. I explained our assignment, fully expecting to hear “no comment” or something foul. Instead, I heard this: “Sit down and have a beer with us and I’ll give you an interview.” “I can’t really drink on the job,” I said. “It’s pretty much frowned upon.” “Come on! Have one!” said another fellow, handing cans of beer to my photographer and me. So I asked myself, “If you were in the newsroom and took a poll of those who mattered, would they tell you to drink the beer and get the interview? Or would they tell you to maintain your professionalism and leave without it? Tess' Note: THAT A BOY DAD! I guzzled the beer and said, “We’ve got a pretty tight deadline, so…” “So have one more,” said Slash with a straight smile. “No. I couldn’t,” I said. “One more and you get the interview,” said Axl. “All right,” I said. “What the hell. But then we really have to go.” After we’d guzzled five beers each, Axl finally said, “Okay, Let’s talk.” By this time, I was totally buzzed, but managed to pull myself together and ask the right questions. His answers were straightforward and articulate. We thanked them all and staggered from the apartment. I suggested that we call one of the NBC couriers and have him pick us up. “We don’t have time for that,” said the camera man. “I’m fine.” He managed to negotiate the drive down Sunset and over the hill on Barham Boulevard to Alameda Avenue. I ran the tape into the edit room before anyone could stop me for a conversation. I called Noyes from the edit bay and told him to come and look at the tape. He brought the executive producer. “You got him?” Noyes asked. “Yup,” I said. “But here’s the deal: They made us drink beer with them before they’d do the interview. I’m pretty drunk right now.” Noyes never raised an eyebrow. He watched the video and consulted with the E.P. They had the editor put some sound bites together. They wrote an introduction for the anchor to read. “Our exclusive interview with Axl Rose” aired at five, six and eleven. They had to mention that I had done the interview because I appeared in the shot a few times and could be heard asking questions. They never explained why I wasn’t fronting the story. [Tess' Note: Dad couldn't appear on camera because he was wasted. Let's face it.] Until now, only a few people ever knew the truth about my encounter with Axl Rose. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Now, Dad spends a lot of his time with my cat, Miss. Tuffsey and calls me to ask questions about his iPad. He also wins the occasional poker tournament. Here he is at Binions Casino in Vegas. Join us again for #GrumpyMonday next week! So how's that for a throwback? We never know how amazing our parents' lives were before we came along, that is until they tell us, and the whole internet. Any cool stories in your parents' back catalog?
Student Debt: The Death of The American Dream
When you wake up with a college degree and no savings, people might say you're on your way to a future or that you don't have one. I am a proud graduate of Ohio University, conferred this Spring. BFA in Theater Performance, Minor in Journalism. I loved my college, my friends and the teachers who guided me through. What I did not love, what I in fact loathed was the bureaucracy. In today's America twenty-somethings fresh out of college are offered two things: 1. Crippling debt and 2. The existential woe of not knowing if their degree was worth that debt. Thoughts like this tow the line of the young adults today. Instead of having the positive effect of feeling like the world is in your hands, we get calls from our Universities asking for donations not even a month after we finish our degrees. Seriously, you're asking me for money now? It just seems like poor taste to ask someone who graduated not even two months ago for a donation. We all want to wake up with a degree in our hand, a future and the notion that all the hard work we put in, will pay off. College is a fundamental part of the American Dream, and that dream is being killed by student debt and rising tuition costs. People whine about this all the time, but to really understand what it's like, take it from a 22 year old buried under more than 50, 000 dollars of it. We must put a face to our debt. We're not just numbers on a screen. We're people, and we're dragging our loans behind us. They're getting heavier and heavier every day. At this time, in this country, few things are more horrifying than student debt. The government made over 50 Billion dollars off of student debt in 2013. Yet... College is necessary. But is it necessary to enter into indentured servitude to pay for it? College is an amazing time filled with necessary experiences and learning opportunities. It's an enriching experience that everyone should get to have. Money should not dictate who gets a "future" and who is left behind. Employers across the country will require a college degree, so why is it so hard to pay for one? Student debt turns scholars into victims, doomed to spend the best days of their lives paying back the institutions and the country that "wanted to give them an education". People will argue that we knew what we were in for. When we got our acceptance letters, we accepted the debt and all that goes with it. When we filled out our FAFSA forms and decided to go to college, we sold our souls: to the government, to the school itself, and to the people who make decisions for us, that don't know us or care about what we had to do to get to college. Over 40 Million Americans currently hold student debt. And this isn't just 20 somethings, it's 30 somethings, 40 somethings, 50 somethings. Everyone. Seven million of those 40 have defaulted on their loans, leaving them with trashed credit and no hope of getting housing or car loans for their future, or their families. Corporations can file for bankruptcy after failure to pay back their debts...student borrowers can't. The moral question is: is that fair? Just because we know the terms and conditions of our fate does not mean our fate is right or just. In today's America morality and righteousness, what's fair and good, bows down to money and profit. College isn't a public service anymore, it's a God damn business. And just like those sleazy car salesmen people make fun of on TV, your loan officer or FAFSA representative will look you in the eye and say, "You need college, you need these loans. There's no other way! Drive your future off the lot today." Some say that college is priceless, the best years of your life. Now I know that people put a price on everything. Your books, your dorm, your food, your classes, they all cost something. And when you're living off the refunds from your student loans, your life starts to cost you more and more money. Just buying groceries makes your student debt skyrocket. Everything. These thoughts find me when I'm sitting on the subway into work. I think about my student loans and my "number" all the time. How much was my education worth? It was priceless, as far as knowledge and value, happiness, experience. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I would trade the phone calls for alumni donations, and the emails giving me a countdown before my six-month grace period is up. I'd trade the burden it has on my parents and parents everywhere who have to send their kids to college. We have no choice it seems, but to accept these terms and conditions. Nothing is free, but that doesn't mean it should cost you everything. As I sit in my sub-letted living room in Brooklyn, New York, fresh out of college, my phone rings. It's Ohio U, asking for a donation. I let it go to voicemail, and keep on typing. I stand up, and think: "Does all of this prove that the American Dream is really dead? Or is this the necessary cycle of debt that we signed up for when we were told we had to go to college?" Do you have student debt? What's your number?
Why I Started a Love Journal
I'm single. I've had boyfriends before; I've been on dates recently. By no means do I feel that I'm in a relationship slump, but I decided to start what I have dubbed my love journal anyways. Why? Because I want to be better at relationships. I've come to realize recently that a big part of why some of my past relationships didn't work out had nothing to do with whether or not we were right for each other. It was more about whether or not we were ready to treat each other right. The distinction might be a little weird, but whatever, it's how I feel. I dumped a guy that was sweet (and is now engaged...to someone else!) because he didn't understand that I didn't want to be treated nicely all the time simply because I had been through a bad relationship before. I was dumped once because I wasn't into the romantic gestures that my boyfriend would spend time putting together. I'd only be able to give a simple smile back, and it was clear that our romance styles just didn't match each other. So what does this have to do with me starting a love journal? Basically, when I find something that annoys me in relationships, or that I find hard to deal with in relationships, or when someone tells me they find annoying about how I act in relationships, I want to write it down. I want to write and down and then write about it: I want to find what makes me tick and what I do that ticks others off. I want to figure out why. Is it really that I don't like big romantic gestures, or is it that I don't like what's-his-name that put one on for me before, and they remind me of him? Discovering more about your romance and relationship style is really important. You have to know yourself in and out to be able to fully share yourself with another person, and I think that love journaling (as funny as it may sound) may help me get to that point. Whether you're in a relationship or not, you can learn something about love and about what it means to you. So go ahead. Start your love journal. See if it helps you see anything more about love!
4 Modern Gonzo Journalists To Follow
Although it's largely contested, Gonzo Journalism is still alive and well today. The birth of Gonzo came when Hunter S. Thompson attended the Kentucky Derby in 1970 and described the experience of being there, rather than a simple recap of the race itself. Since then, Gonzo or "Immersive" journalism has become one of the most highly duplicated and revered styles of writing. More and more people have taken to writing blogs about their experiences, and even have forayed into video. I subscribe to the Gonzo journalism ethos, and have tried to create my own style of writing as well. I have a long way to go as a writer, but it's nice to know I'm in good company. Here are 5 modern Gonzo journalists you should follow today. 1. Matt Taibbi This Rolling Stone contributor followed in Hunter's footsteps taking on politics and other newsworthy subjects. He's probably the most "traditional" contributor on this list. One of my favorite lines of his describes Goldman Sachs as, "a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money." Twitter: @mtaibbi 2. Vice This isn't really one journalist, but an outlet. As much controversy they conjure up, Vice has become an integral part of millennial media, and has given us a unique look into the realities of different societies and people around the world and at home. They even have their own TV network now. Twitter: @Vice 3. Shane Smith The CEO of Vice Media is an interesting character, who uses his journalistic prowess to engage in a greater dialogue about society and digital media in general. His video contributions to Vice's HBO show have taken him all over the world, even to places like North Korea. Twitter: @ShaneSmith30 4. I'm going to cop out and just link myself. Most of my work on here is immersive, but my favorite stuff is in my "Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 2016" collection. I've been trying to work a bit harder on the fundamentals of writing, as like most Gonzo journalists, I value style and wit over a lot of the traditional aspects. When I was in school, a journalism professor turned me on to the work of Hunter S. Thompson, and likened me to him. I guess that's what led me here. Anyway, you can check out my writing here, or by viewing my personal blog here. In addition to my contributions on Vingle, @Patmanmeow is also doing his part to further the traditions of Gonzo. Check out his work as well. I actually was featured on GonzoToday, which is run by a lot of Hunter S. Thompson's friends and colleagues. You can read that piece here. Twitter: @TessStevens