A List, If You Will

I’ve been thinking a lot about money lately. What I have, what I don’t have, what I’d like to have. Why I choose to spend money on certain things when I don’t know that I really want them. How to prioritize better. How I want to make money. Why I can’t just have money. I can’t quite figure it out- all I really want out of life are food, travel, and books. This shouldn’t really be that hard do and yet I have all these cravings I can’t satisfy. Maybe when I say that I’ve been thinking about money, what I really mean is that I’ve been thinking about food, and books, and travel. I do that a lot.

………………………………

Eventually in Supernatural, Sam and Dean will reach the nexus of good and evil, when the best thing they can do for the world is hang up their bloody demon-killing knives and their holy oil, and live that apple pie life that they keep trying and failing at. They just play at too high a level. When Death is on your speed dial, when both Heaven and Hell have turned you out, when Lucifer seems a paltry villain compared to your current adversaries, your fight is probably going to do more harm than good.

When all that’s true, and you’re still willing to bring the world to its knees to save your brother, when his beating heart and breathing lungs are still your top priority, well then you know your battles are going to do more harm than good.

…………………………..

“The sea!” the note said. “The sea!”

It was not signed, and said nothing of where he was going or when he would be back or why he must leave. Still, Ned’s father knew all the same.

IMG_1191The sea
meant I love you.

The sea
meant I will one day return.

The sea meant I must find the world and hold the world and live in the world. And I must love the world. And love it and love it and love it. As much as I love you.

In his mind’s eye he could see his son – the boy, the youth, the man – standing in the midst of limitless space. Water, wind, sky. The core of the earth. The slice of the mountains. The roof of the stars. The pulse and rhythm of the ocean’s ceaseless waves.

Ned’s father pressed the note to his heart. He closed his eyes. Tasted his own saltwater tears.

The sea!

                              –The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill

…………………………

Music was the offering you gave to the empty places you created. I wonder if it still is. I wonder if the price is still too high.

…………………………….

We play a lot of Disney music in the store I work in. And I always find myself feeling weirdly guilty when “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” or “For the First Time in Forever” from Frozen come on. I over identify with Elsa, closed off and too cautious and too protective. Kelly is Anna, my red headed, messy, determined sister. The parallels aren’t perfect, for reasons both subtle and obvious, but still when Anna starts singing about missing Elsa, who is hiding from her, or about her loneliness, I get a little secondhand twitch.

When I told Kelly that she said, “Well that’s cause you’re Dean.”

…………….

There will be peace when we are done, but we aren’t done yet.

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One Small Step for Kelly, One Giant Leap for her Confidence!

A waist is a terrible thing to mind...or is it the other way..???

A waist is a terrible thing to mind…or is it the other way..???

For those of you who aren’t friends with me on Facebook (if you aren’t tell me how you found this piece!) I got a job! I will be working as a Literary Assistant at WME, a talent agency. My searching has been the topic of a few of these blog posts – mainly how hard it was that nobody got back to me and the crippling fear that comes with having no purpose in life. But now that I got one of those job things, everything is peachy right!

Wrong.

That was dramatic. Let’s back up. So today was literally my first day. I mainly filled out paper work and shadowed the person who’s position I will be taking over. Nothing about the job is particularly difficult given my prior experience. It’s all things that I will be able to get done in the 10 hour day I am obligated to work.

And we’ve reached the crux of the problem. That’s right, 10 hours. Now this isn’t really all that crazy, most assistants these days work 10 hours even if they aren’t required too. And I luckily get time and a half for anything that is over 40 hours a week, so really my deal is pretty sweet. But the 10 hour work day got me thinking about how I would schedule the other 14 hours of my day. And that thought spiraled pretty quickly.

The thing about being poor and not having a job is that your social activities are pretty much dictated for you. Movies or the occasional night out are allowed intermittently. Most hang sessions happen at somebody’s house with netflix and really cheap food. I didn’t sign up for any classes or invest my money in any new purchases. I also spent long hours away from everyone and got to decide when and where I would go outside if I wanted to. I was basically a hermit that reached out to civilization when I could or wanted. And after doing that for a year, I have to admit it’s kind of a habit and one that I like. I am not a huge extrovert nor am I an expensive person. But now I am suddenly in the possession of a lot more money and a lot less free time.

So what do I do with this new money? Do I spread it out over a bunch of small purchases? Do I save all of my hard earned cash. And what about my seriously diminished free time? Should I be up in the gym working on my fitness? Or should I finally take that improv class I have been wanting to take for years? OR should I just go home each evening and sit with my friends and shoot the shit?

I know there has to be a balance and I should give myself time to work everything out. “It was just her first day!” you think to yourself, “this girl needs some serious help and also free alcohol for a year!” Reader, I completely agree with you (especially about the wine). One has give yourself time to adapt, to get your bearings. I guess my trigger happy attitude comes from the part of me that thought this, me getting a job, was never going to happen. I feel like I have already wasted a year and I don’t want to waste anymore. Now I must do ALL THE THINGS.

But of course that’s the wrong way to look at this experience. I didn’t waste a year. I tried something new and now it’s paying off. And hopefully this job will pay off in the same way. As my mother always said, take it one step at a time.

The West Wing and a (Crisis) of Decisions

tumblr_nq16tga3lh1u1hog5o1_540Over the past few months I’ve been doing a rewatch of my all time favorite show IN THE WORLD. The West Wing (about the personal and political lives of a group of White House elite) first aired in 1999, and a few years later I began watching it on Wednesday nights with my dad. Bravo also used to play reruns of it for about 75% of the week, including late at night when I was supposed to be asleep. Even after I stopped sneaking out of bed to watch it, I would still hear Kelly leaving her room about half an hour after we were supposedly asleep, checking to make sure I hadn’t gotten up without her.

(Sorry, Kelly!)

Suffice to say, The West Wing was pretty formative for me. It’s how I passed the AP Government exam. I drop West Wing quotes the way Kelly drops song lyrics – casually and abundantly. And for a long time, it was where I found my career goals. This was not uncommon in my age group. Vanity Fair did a whole story on it.

When I was little, I went through all the regular aspirations kids go through – teacher, marine biologist, astronaut. But from about seventh grade on, I wanted my life to look like The West Wing. I studied international relations. I wanted to advise the president. I wanted 18-hour days, and heavy conversations. I wanted to fight the good fight.

tumblr_nrz1101FbV1qc6ukro6_500This doesn’t exactly explain how I ended up with a Masters degree in English Lit, living in Boston and working in a children’s book/toy store, but fourth year of college, I loaded a bunch of lit classes into my schedule. After I graduated, I started temping and ended up with an office job. Bored and infinitely restless, I applied to PhD programs and instead ended up in a partially funded Masters program at Boston College.

I had a lot of reasons for changing direction. Some were good, some were really stupid, some of them even still stand. Much of it was fear. But I don’t necessarily regret it. I’ve met some phenomenal people in Boston, read some incredible books. Become a much better writer.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this shift as the right choice, but really, it wasn’t good or bad, right or wrong. It was a choice I made, and through it I lost some things and gained some others. I like what I’ve gained, and I miss what I lost.

The West Wing keeps me up for all the usual reasons. Right now it’s keeping me up because I haven’t actually watched season 5 since it aired. But The West Wing also reminds me how powerful stories are. It’s a vicious contradiction, because all at once it validates and makes me question my life choices. And now, as I once again float around in the post-graduation haze of no fucking clue what I want out of my life, may not be the best time to do a rewatch. But maybe it is. Maybe it reminds me that there is more than one way to get what you want out of your life. Or that its possible to make changes in the world from wherever you stand. Or that you have to keep going, even when the show gets bad – uhhh, I mean when the going gets tough.

Or maybe it’ll just remind me to read the newspaper. I’ll let you know tonight, when I’m still thinking about it at three in the morning.

(Choosing the image from this post, source here and here, I just liked everything in the west wing tag on tumblr. This is my life)

Objects at Rest Remain at Rest

IMG_1817I had a really great blog post planned for today, but due to circumstances beyond my control I will be posting it next week instead (I hope). It will make less sense then, but it will it won’t get anyone in trouble.

Today, I’m going to be talking about stuff. Things. The accumulation of tangible objects. What we always say we have too much of. I waffle on things. Sometimes I think that I could live a really minimalist lifestyle. I could get all my books from the library. I could just wear the same week’s worth of outfits all the time. I don’t actually wear half the shoes I own. I don’t have a lot of makeup anyway. What does any one person really need in the world, anyway?

But this weekend I was at home clearing out a bunch of my stuff. I’ve almost entirely moved out of my parents house, but there was still a little left to do. As part of this project, I was trying to get rid of a lot. I don’t have a ton of space in Boston and I have all kinds of that stuff I hadn’t thought of in years, let alone seen or missed. And yet still, the whole project left me feeling a little like an exposed nerve. You can see from the picture just the sheer amount of books alone I got rid of this weekend.

Books, as we’ve discussed previously, are super important to me. Being the girl with all the books has been how I recognize myself since I was in grade school. Buying books, and all the potential unread books represent, is how I always made myself feel better on bad days. There’s a lot of potential sitting on that bed, and a lot of old favorites. A lot of potential for other people, as my mom kept reminding me. But it used to be mine.

It wasn’t just books though. It was class photos, old projects, Legos. It was the bookshelf I painted myself, now meeting its end in a dumpster; a leather jacket I bought abroad that no longer fit; things my parents had bought for themselves and never used. Things I had bought for them that they had never used.

I was taught the value of money in my youth. I didn’t just buy any of these things haphazardly, and neither did my parents. And yet, years later, we had accumulated so many things that we never used, never touched. Things that just took up space, that we surrounded ourselves with, that mattered a lot in each individual moment, but mattered hardly at all this weekend.

The cause of my anxiety about all this will become clearer in the coming weeks. Many of you may be able to put together the clues based on what I’ve told you. Times, they are a’ changin, and the things I’ve surrounded myself with my whole life aren’t going to be around anymore.

The question then becomes… If I’m my stuff, then who am I now? And if I’m not my stuff, then who the hell have I been all these years?

The Trouble with Stories

book

Alright, so this is the whole other blog post.

I get overly fixated on narrative. I have no idea how long that has been the case. I stayed up really late finishing books as a kid. When other kids got in trouble for not putting their laundry away, not emptying the dishwasher, ignoring their parents, I got in trouble for those things too but it was usually because I hadn’t heard the instructions. When I read, I stop seeing words and start seeing images. My brain makes a picture and suddenly, that’s where I live.

When the third Harry Potter book came out, I came home, locked my door for three hours, and when I came out I became the only kid I knew to get in trouble for reading. In my youth, I thirsted for adventure, for high stakes, for revolution. I couldn’t find it in the world. I’ve been too lucky and too complacent. But I’ve always found what I needed in stories – trust, honor, sacrifice, romance with both sized Rs.

That said, stories, narrative didn’t always keep me awake. But my first year of college, I fell in love with Veronica Mars, a show about a high school private detective trying to solve the mystery of her best friend’s murder. I was lonely and uncertain. I felt a little like I had failed for the first time in my life, which, for those of you who know where I went to college, is silly. But that’s how I felt.

I watched all of Veronica Mars in a week and a half over winter break. That’s approximately 66 episodes of television in about 10 days. The show had been canceled rather abruptly less than a year before, and it ends on a cliffhanger. For weeks after I saw the last episode, I lay awake in bed trying to write an ending that would satisfy me, that would fill in the holes that I thought the show itself was going to fill.

A day of reading Avengers fanfic gave me fever dreams the like the ones I described in my last post. I chose my major based on the West Wing. The best thing on my resume right now (besides my Masters degree – shout out to a major in reading) is the Harry Potter Alliance, an organization dedicated to engaging fans in activism using parallels from the series. Madeleine L’Engle made me feel less alone. Give me ten minutes with a sports game and a friend who is invested and the battle parallels become even clearer.

I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing. It’s probably neither. We all have flaws. I’m sure many future blog posts will be dedicated to mine. Some people think my investment in narrative keeps me from engaging in my actual life. That may be true. For so many others, it’s a familiar experience to find what you need in fiction. Real life, or whatever you call it, doesn’t have an arc. If it has a purpose, that purpose is not made clear to us. But I find so much of what matters to me in the sharing and telling and creating of stories. I find meaning and power and glory in narrative. And I find comfort there too.

Perhaps it’s a little sadistic. But I hope one day a story I’ve told keeps someone else awake all night too.

image source: http://eileenwilks.com/free-short-stories/#!/