Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What's in a name?

This is the third time I've changed the name that appears on this blog. Why? It mirrors my struggle to figure out who I am, what I'm all about, what I want to be. Do I need to do it right now? No, but I feel lost without it. There's something unsettling about not knowing who you are, not knowing where you're going. Shouldn't life be about the journey? It is, at least until you realize that so many others have already arrived. I wonder if arrival is scarier than the journey...

I started this post wanting to talk about how I have so few friends where I live. I keep wanting to move, keep wanting to escape from what isn't working and what doesn't make me happy. But for what? To where? It's the questions, the details that paralyze me. Paralysis. That's it. I feel paralyzed. But I'm in my 20s. I can go anywhere, do anything, become anyone. So why do I feel so trapped?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Always Go With What You Know-Even If That's Nothing

So an old friend of mine just brought to my attention that my last blog wasn't all that creative. And, you know what? She was right. I tried to take a broad topic that we could all relate to religion (or, faith, or spirituality-whatever you wanna call your beliefs, or lack thereof) and used that to dovetail into a bunch old, recycled musings from the ghost of blogs' past because I happened to think there was traces of wisdom in them at the time.

But, that's not what this experiment is. It's not the old- it's the right now. So what do I know right now? Truthfully, nothing. You wanna know what it's like to be in your twenties, trying to grow up, trying to make things happen? In my experience you spend a lot of time being lost. Why? Because you don't know shit. And, you probably won't until your at least 30 and more realistically 40 and 60 and 80. That's why I don't understand why people can get married before they're 30. It's not because I don't believe in love. I just don't believe I know what it is yet.

That's what this decade is-we're still figuring it all out. And, if you disagree; if you think you know what you're doing. Boy, I envy you. Because I don't have a clue what I'm doing. I can't even get a cover letter in the mail for lastest book without getting it sent back to me for insufficient postage. Does that sound like somebody who has a lock on his life?

I know where I'm going tomorrow, and that's about it. And, honestly, anything else is pushing it. With my luck I'll finally know everything I'll ever need to know the day I die...but I'll have the flu that day and won't be able to use it. You know what though...that information is still gonna make me smile just like I'm smiling right now.

Maybe some of you can relate?

And, like another old friend of mine used to say-

Peace Out, Cub Scouts!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

My Sins

So I was raised a Catholic. During which, I struggled with the faith until I finally left it behind. As you get older you wonder why your parents would put you through that. I suppose it's due to some underlying desire to instill values that they don't know how to. Still I can't help but feel that while doctrines of faith are overrated, occasionally a value can be found in a tenet or so. Confession, for one. I don't think I've been to confession for nearly half my life at this point. Truthfully, I don't even believe in God. I've just seen too much to disprove it.

Nevertheless, they say confession is good for the soul. As such, these are my sins from the last 12 years:

I have abused drugs and alcohol to numb myself to the pain within me and to insulate myself from the world around me.

I've taken pleasure in the pain of others.

On occasion I've caused the pain of others in the hopes that it would somehow make me feel better about myself.

I have responded to those whom I felt have slighted me in kind rather than turning the other cheek.

I've taken people and things for granted simply because I could.

I've been selfish, inconsiderate, belligerent, and at worse, cold and emotionless.

And, I swear to Whatever that I honestly never did any of these things with malice aforethought. I never had the desire to be a "bad" person. I don't think most people do. Mostly, I just couldn't help myself. I tried to do the right things, but for a long time they were just too hard. Then when my sins brought me to my knees I realized that this wasn't much of a life. Since then I've done my best to change. Perhaps, I have. Perhaps, I haven’t. Only time will tell. Most importantly I say all of this both aloud and written not to ask for forgiveness, but in the hopes of preventing it in the future. Because if we don't grow, evolve, then what's the point?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Top 5 Stupid FAQs About My Crappy Job

So I work for an inventory company. Basically, this company is hired by different retail companies to come into their retail stores and count everything in the store. This is how companies get inventory reports, which help them learn things such as how much money they lose each year from shoplifting and lots of other boring economic crap. Anyway, each day I go to a different store and count stuff. Me and lots of other people. It’s not a hard concept to understand, and yet many people don’t understand it. The following is a list of stupid questions people constantly ask me:

1. “Really, you work in grocery stores, too? What do you count there?”
I count the tiles on the fucking floor. What the hell do you think I count there? It’s a store, it has shit, I count the shit. What’s complicated about that?

2. “Do you work here?” or “Do you know where (insert product) is?” or “How much does this cost?”
This question often comes from old people in stores while I’m actually counting. Here’s why that question pisses me off: everyone who works for my company wears a uniform. Generic black pants and shoes, and the red (or grey for supervisors) shirt the company gives us. The company name is embroidered on the sleeves of this red shirt. So there’s nothing better than being in a Lowes, where all the employees wear blue vests, and having some dumbass ask me a question about where shit is. I guess I forgot that red and blue look the same to morons, and a collared shirt looks just like a fucking vest.

3. “So what else do you do, besides counting?” or “Is that really all you do? Just count?”
I don’t how to make it any simpler. I count all day, then I go home. I work for an inventory company. The name says it all.
Oh wait, I forgot. I count all day, then I go downtown to headquarters where I fight inventory vampires. You know, the kind that like to miscount everything and try to get away with it. Dirty vampires.

4. “Oh, you’re in a different store everyday?”
Nope, I go to one CVS every single day and count. This particular CVS needs to know exactly what is in their store and how much of it every single day. They might actually sell shit, and so obviously everything needs to be recounted daily to reflect these sales.

5. “You must be really good at math, huh?”
Oh I guess I forgot to mention, I went to MIT and have a degree in advanced mathematics. Yeah, and that’s why I work for nine dollars an hour doing remedial counting.
It’s not like they send us in there with a pencil and paper and expect us to use our brains; we point and click on the laser and it sends the information into the mini-computer we use. A trained chimp could do the job.

Slow Down, Science!

In case you haven't noticed, in the last few years a whole lot of stuff's been going on in the scientific community. NASA’s got all kinds of cool stuff planned in outer space; new energy sources are being discussed and discovered as we speak; and lots of other crazy stuff too, I'm sure. But my main concern here is the medical field. Life expectancies are way up, and we have new drugs and treatments for all kinds of diseases and conditions. And that's great. Or is it? Don't get me wrong, treating the sick is a great thing. No one should have to suffer from medical ailments.

But I'm beginning to think science is to blame for my laziness and lack of a real job. You see, I graduated college in '05, and applied to lots of jobs during that summer. In October I briefly went down to Florida for a job, but then returned home with lots of goals and dreams. I then proceeded to lounge around and do absolutely nothing for a year and a half. I didn't work at all. I barely even applied to jobs. And why? Because of stupid science and all its dumbass "breakthroughs." Here's what I'm getting at: one hundred years ago, I couldn't possibly have afforded to sit on my ass for a year and a half at age 23. I would've been dead by age 40. It would've been time to start my life and my family by age 16 or so. But in today's world, I'm gonna live to be over 100, so what's the point in rushing out and getting started now?

I'm only gonna get bored sooner if I start busting my ass now. And granted, I may not have medical insurance, but it's not like I have to worry about getting sick. We can treat practically anything. Because I know I'm gonna live a long time, and I'm probably gonna be healthy, I don't really care about getting on with my life. It'd be nice to move out and live on my own, but not if it means working hard. Science is really screwin me here.

And it's only gonna get worse as I get older. By the time I'm forty there'll probably be all kinds of crazy stem cell medications and stuff. I could probably chop off my arm and just have it grown back. And what's gonna be the point of working hard if I don't have to worry about permanently losing an arm? Science is slowly taking away all the former pressures of life. Stay out of society's norms, science! We're supposed to fear all kinds of stuff and therefore get crappy jobs and lives.

I work a crappy retail job now, and I hate it a lot, so I'm probably gonna quit soon and return to my former ways of sleeping a lot and watching DVDs. I think 30 is the new 16, so I've got like 5 years until I really need to worry about getting going with my life. But by then, I'm sure science will find some way to screw me again. And if not, I've got a long list of other people and things to blame for my lack of motivation. Watch out Steve Jobs, you're next.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Life in the Future

Dippin Dots have been "the ice cream of the future" for most of my life. Most people eat regular ice cream. This is a failure of our parents' generation.

Their parents' generation polished off the Germans and Japanese and came home and built a spaceship and took it to the moon. Our parents won the Cold War by default and a few years later they made ice cream that looks like little styrofoam balls and they sold it at Six Flags. What the hell happened to the moon?

Of course there are other theories. Ok so maybe after the Cold War somebody built a time machine and went to the future and everyone was eating Dippin Dots. And the guy was like "I gotta have these" and the future people said "we have lots of extra, take some, sell it at Six Flags" and the guy came home and scrapped the time machine. Which would explain why we don't have time machines but we still have Dippin Dots. That's probably not it.

Our generation came up with YouTube and E-bay and got the word "twentyfour-seven" into the dictionary. And we demanded martian landers and flying cars and instead we got iPods and stealth bombers. So I can't go live on the moon but I can watch TV on my phone. And I have to drive on roads. Imagination is dead. Or we need to grow up quicker, and get more say.

So if you're say sixty or something and the best you thought of is Dippin Dots and bombing the shit out of other countries, then you should resign and let one of us takeover. And there should be 5 parties or more so there's less deadlock and I don't have to fear for my grandchildren. And then we could have consensus and we could override vetoes when eighty five percent of us agree and three assholes think otherwise.

And we can bring back the stealth bombers and turn them into flying cars, and fly over to Ben and Jerry's and eat regular ice cream and go "screw you, Dippin Dots. You were wrong. This is the future."

Just a thought.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Forged by the Devil

So I’ve decided the hardest part about being young and desperately trying to make something of yourself isn’t the hard work. Granted, constantly swinging for the fences and usually only hitting foul balls can be frustrating. Yet, there is something in this world far more evil. Naturally, I’m talking about the mere existence of My Super Sweet 16.

Now if you haven’t seen it because you’re too busy having a life allow me to explain. You see, My Super Sweet 16 is an evil program existing on MTV that shows us the real problem plaguing America, spoiled rich girls. And, I don’t like spoiled rich girls because, well quite frankly, I envy them too much.

What, it’s not bad enough I only make like 350 dollars a week between two jobs then come home to try and write books and films so I can make something out of myself one day? I have to be aware of the fact that there are girls in this country turning 16, pissed at their fathers because they can only get a SLK Mercedes and not a SL, too? As if my life wasn’t filled with enough metaphorical kicks in the balls, that’s the knowledge I needed to keep me up at night?

The cruelty of the show’s existence into the inner-workings of these families with way too much money, and apparently not a hint of discipline, is matched only by the sheer bitchiness of these girls who seemingly can never (and most likely, will never) be satisfied. My hatred of this show hit its peak one day when I saw a full-length movie on MTV. I didn’t even watch the movie; I didn’t have, too. I’m sure it’s exactly like the show.

Now if you want to make a good movie, let me direct it. I’ll start them out waiting to get their fancy car and have their lavish party, and then BAM!!! There on Fear Factor. And, they only get free by eating parts of the pig they won’t put in hot dogs. What can I say? I’m tough but fair.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Nearly TwentySomething FreakOut

I’m not even twenty, and every day feels like a mid-life crisis.

I think I peaked early. I can reminisce about the good ol’ days, back when I owned the shit outta the spelling bee and kicked ass and took names in algebra; when I was reading at an eleventh grade level in fifth grade and the teachers just didn’t “know what to do with me”. I was bright. I had potential. Hell, yeah, I’ll say it: I was a goddamn prodigy.

Then what? School got harder, and I didn’t get any smarter. I didn’t really need to; I graduated high school with a B average and pretty dang sweet SAT scores and got into every college I applied to. That’s the kicker. I got in everywhere I applied, so what am I doing here, unable to handle basic coursework at community college? Was I so good at bullshitting my way through high school that I fooled everyone, even myself, into thinking that I could handle higher education, when really I’m about as ready for college as Paris Hilton is for a dirty orange jumpsuit and a girlfriend named Bertha? Am I just afraid of failure? Am I just plain lazy?

The answer to all of the above is yes. The scary part is, I don’t know what to do about it. And the down-right terrifying part is, I don’t think I really want to do anything about it.

Finding meaning

Part of the FreakOut for me is the realization that I lack faith. Faith in myself, faith in humanity, faith in the world. NewsWeek had an article a month or so ago about how our generation was raised in spirituality rather than within a traditional denomination. Sometimes I love this, sometimes I lament it. Why? Because with all the uncertainty, I just wish I could turn to some book, some prayer, some thing to restore my faith, give me hope, erase all of the pessimism. Where is it? Where can I look? Where do I go?

Finding meaning in nearly everything seems to be what's just happened to me. It's not what I wanted, not what I would have asked for but it seems like every book I read, fiction or nonfiction, has all these little nuggets of meaning for me. Quotes, ideas, subtle intimations at something more. Is this my faith? Are books the source of my spirituality?

Maybe I should become a librarian.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Stop me if you've heard this one before...

I was born poststructuralist, understanding that context is everything, meaning is relative, and value judgments are set in marshmallow.

This perspective has always been a trade-off. There's a lot of worrying and overthinking and an infinite regress of doubt, to the point that some days only an offseason swim in the ocean can snap me out of my head (making summertime and Middle America all the more worrisome); but always after a while the tenuously poised considerations wind down into an easy acceptance of everything and a general okayness with any possible outcome or conclusion. Relativism sets up the joke, and it always pulls through with a punchline.

About a year ago I graduated from college, and rather than go straight to grad school for my masters and phd (my long-term goal is to be a college professor), I decided I'd do well to take a year or two off and get some life experience. Being a privileged kid and not having had to work during high school and college, I developed a taste for socializing, sofa-lounging, and free time. I didn't really want a job, unless it was one I loved, or at least with an organization I loved. So I made a half-assed attempt to find an entry-level position in the nonprofit sector, and an even more half-assed (quarter-assed?) attempt to find an entry-level position in any office-work type organization. Completely unsuccessful in finding a "real job," I've been working two restaurant jobs and soaking my feet in the very spare meantime. After almost a year of this, I would KILL for a job. I would love a job! I'd be happy to have one!!! I would take any normal type job I could get -- administrative assistant, assistant to the executive assistant -- anything that would cover my superlow monthly expenses, plus like two hundred bucks left over each month. That would be lovely. That would be ideal. I would thank them and heart them for ever and ever. I would bake cookies and bring them in to the office. I would make them without nuts so that everyone could have them. I would go to the supermarket specifically for colored cellophane to wrap them in! I would love it, I would love it, I would love it.

Over this last year, life has beaten me down so persistently, that my standards are so low it's sad, and worrisome, and hysterical. It's a riot, it is. Because I still go through my day giddy, at the thought of a connection I forgot I had, at the thought of the jobs I could possibly have, imagining what my workspace will look like, and the smooth feel of the buttons on their multi-line phone system. My multi-line phone system. :) Yesss.

Taking a step back, I can see that something has probably been lost, or disregarded, and it speaks of ideals and of principles and of potential. It asks me how much of a difference I am making in the world I've aimed for years to improve and make sweet, philanthropic love to. And I come back to the conclusion I always circle round to: that if I'm ever to feel "good enough," I'm gonna have to lower my standards, and up the ante. And getting an office job would be a challenge. And enjoying it would be a godsend. So yes. To all this - to the routine, to the computer screen, to the button-down shirts and sexy pencil skirts I'll wear as I transfer a call and cherish the smooth ergonomic valley of the plastic buttons, I say Yes.

Water Up Your Patoot.

Okay, this is a little off-topic. But, in linking to the salon.com article in the entry below this, I found a weird-ass series of advertisements for something called the Washlet, which is apparently a cross between HAL-9000, a bidet, and a seat-warmer. I deem it relevant because there's a lot of smiling, fresh-faced 20somethings on the washlet website talking about efficient and pleasurable ways to clean their posteriors with this amazing machine.

I am duly freaked out and intrigued.

Click here to be astounded and amused.

Forgive this interlude; carry on.

Joining the Dark Side...

I don't think I've ever told anyone this, but when I was seven, I was a major, major Star Wars geek. Like, crazy bedspread, the t-shirts, the C-3P0 lamp...it was like George Lucas shotgun vomited a commercial wonderland of fantasy into my bedroom. The dirty secret of this was that I secretly, deep in my seven-year-old soul, wanted to work for Darth Vader.

I knew the rebellion folks were the good guys, and that Luke was the charming hero and Han was the dashing rogue and Leia looked primo in a brass bikini...but I really wanted to be Darth's friend. I imagined myself, strolling the hallways of the Death Star in my stormtrooper gear, being his sort of go-to guy. Looking back, I think I used to fantasize I was a Death Star intern...I'd do what Darth told me to do, and we'd be pals.

And I think seven-year-old me felt some sort of reassurance in this fantasy; I worked for the biggest, baddest corporation around--The Empire, complete with what must have been excellent benefits. Sure, Darth probably would have force-choked me for not putting the right amount of splenda in his Macchiatto, but every job has its pitfalls, right? To this day, I think this deep-seated desire to be Darth Vader's yes-man has scarred me; it's also probably why I have such a soft spot in my heart for Dwight K. Schrute from The Office.

I was a weird child--I loved science fiction, but for reasons that never quite jibed with some of my friends. I may share more awkward stories of this later, including my accidental daliance with blackface when, in fourth grade, I went out for Halloween as Star Trek's Giordi LaForge.

The point here--and there IS one--is that even at that young age, I kind of understood the perks of selling out to the big, bad "Man." A little bird (read: a grad school prof and friend of mine) sent me this excellent salon.com review of Daniel Brook's new book The Trap.

This passage made me want to sigh in relief and scream in frustration:
"'The Trap' opens with an anecdote hinting at one possible solution: Sell out. Milling about a wedding party, Brook sheepishly confesses his book's thesis to a young man who works for Goldman Sachs. To Brook's surprise, it turns out the guy's a leftist who went to Wall Street only after years of trying, and failing, to make it as a muckraking journalist. "That's how hegemony works," the reluctant broker tells Brook. "The system can contain all of the dissenters." The other option, to use Brook's terminology, is to be a saint. Let your student loans fall into default, rent a cheap, dingy room, go without healthcare, plan on staying childless; that's the price you pay for following your passion or adhering to your ethics."

I happen to work in an industry--the performing arts--where it's just about impossible to earn a living wage; I'm still trying to figure out if there's a trick to it that I'm missing, or if maybe I'm just unfortunate. I suspect that eventually, I'm going to want kids, and a house, and all the things I was raised to inherently covet. Maybe then I'll become an I-Banker, or a business administrator, or something real and respectable. It's just the way of the world...right?

Somewhere in me, the seven year old kid is laughing, as he gleefully polishes Darth's lightsaber with love.

That sounded so much less naughty inside my head. Anyway, more later.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

This is Why People Get Married!!!

I'm supposed to have a minor surgery in a week. Tonight I sat down and finally filled out the paperwork that I'm supposed to bring with me. I'm trying to be prepared.
My eyes read over the list of instructions that came along with:
  • No Aspirin.
  • Ride home from the hospital.
  • Caregiver for 24 hours post-opp.
My mind comes to a screeching halt. Of course I have someone to bring me home from the hospital but I need someone to stay with me for 24 hours?! I admit, it makes sense. Someone needs to be there in case of any emergencies. I get it. But I wasn't thinking about it. I'm 23, for the most part I think I'm self-sufficient. But then the reality creeps in. What if I do have an emergency? My parents live far away and my friends have lives. My boyfriend just moved about two hours away. I'm doomed. Panic comes over me in waves.
Once you're a certain age you're trained to take care of yourself. You pay your own rent, in your own space, with your own car, bills and job.
In the midst of all my panicking, I begin to realize... this is why people get married! The love part too, but really, they get married so they're not the only one taking care of themselves. We get into relationships for that safety. Someday things like this, surgeries or other emergencies won't be as much of a ordeal. But for now... we all need our relationships for that support. What happens if you never get that support? I guess that's a worry for another day.

Friday, July 6, 2007

internal monologue made external...aaand...go

In theory, the forty-ish thousand dollars I just spent on a graduate education should have prepared me to write for a living. The thing is, as well as pictures and video tell stories, my newly-earned degree requires me to speak in short sentences. They want short, simple, easy-to-process sentences, because the average television viewer doesn't have a lot of room in their consciousness to process a sentence with a conjunction or any adjectives. They've told us again and again that people will more or less pay attention to my writing only in their periphery as they're busy doing several other things. This kind of disheartens me, because the thing is, I think and type (and write by extension) in more than subject-verb-object kinds of thoughts. Sometimes, I even ramble. It's madness, I tell you, madness. I think my inner monologue is actually quite intriguing, which is also probably why I don't feel the need to speak at every occasion. Sometimes, I just like to observe and process things internally before I go running my mouth. Speaking of people running their mouths...

D.C. is a beautiful city. I never thought I would fall in love with a place as much as I loved New York City, but D.C. is something special. It's accessible and grand at the same time. The weather's lovely so far and my apartment is way bigger than anything I could have expected. Tons of inspiration here. I can feel it.

People are still wrapped up in high school bull-shit drama, though, and that makes me a little frustrated. He likes her because she's unavailble. She flirts with him because she likes the attention - but she'll never leave the boyfriend. He pines.

He likes her because she's there. She feels the same way.

Everyone's trying so hard to be included in the popular group. Girls are bitchy and conniving behind each other's back.

Just like high school, I keep my head down and do my fucking work. Ipod in, world out. Many stories to come.


About two weeks ago, my boss offered me a promotion. I know. Tearjerker, right? Such an OUR GENERATION crisis, isn't it? The horror of getting promoted at a job you hate because it's "not really what you want to be doing."

My whole life I've had crappy jobs. And, that's okay. You do what you gotta do. Still the thing that always gave me solace at the end of the day was that I wasn't really rooted in any of them. If things got bad enough, I could always find another crappy job. One's as good as another-no big loss.

But, if I take this promotion then all of a sudden it's like "I'm invested." Time will pass, I'll make more money, I'll grow more comfortable there-next thing you know five years have gone by, and I've completely forgotten that this wasn't supposed to be a career. It was just the thing I was doing on the way to what I really wanted to do.

I don't want to be one of those people who gives up on their dreams because something easy came along the way, and they were too practical to pass it up. I just got finished writing a book. It took six months. And, I don't mind that it took six months (if it works out), but I don't want the next decade of my life to be divided up into six month chunks of projects (that didn't work out,) while I'm cementing myself into some job I can barely stand. Just seems like there should be something more.

But, there in lies the rub. I never wanted anything more. Some people they want a wife, a husband, two kids, and a picket fence. And, that's fine if that's what you want. Truth is none of that stuff ever meant anything to me. I am my work, which, sadly, is the hardest part because as long as I hate the thing I (barely) earn my living at then logically I'd have to hate my life, wouldn't I? One plus one, right? Always ends up being two.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Burning Questions (aka “No, I’m Not Fucking Up My Life.”)

A TwentySomething's 20 Questions From a Parent.
  • Did we do a bad job of raising you? No.
  • Are you acting out of some anger about your father and mine’s divorce? No.
  • Why are you doing this to yourself? I’m not doing anything to myself. If anything, I’m giving myself an opportunity to be genuinely excited about something instead of being completely apathetic, which tends to be the state of mind I’m in more often than not. But you just see it as sarcasm and assume I actually care. In fact, that would be quite inaccurate.
  • Is this because of what happened with *insert name here*? No.
  • How can you survive on 13K a year? Not a fucking clue, but I guess we’ll find out now won’t we?
  • Are you really going to live off of food stamps? That’s the plan.
  • But it’s food stamps! Your point being?
  • Where will you live? Don’t know yet, but that’s part of the fun of it!
  • What are you running away from? Didn’t know I had to be running away from something to want to pick up and leave and try something new. I’m not so good at the stability thing - it's been made abundantly clear to me.
  • When will you leave? August 13th. They pay for me to fly out to Berkeley, then to Utah, then back to Berkeley. Schwee! And all I have to do is get on the plane and look pretty.
  • I’m serious. Why are you doing this? Because I have no commitments, obligations, or reasons to not do it other than being poor. The way I see it, it’s better than playing with monopoly money which really belongs to the federal government that I will have to pay back the day I get a real job, which might never happen if I can avoid it because I hate structure and with this job, I get to make my own structure, which when you think about it, is a bit of a paradox, now don’t you think?
  • What about school? It’s been around since 1831. I don’t think it’s going anywhere any time soon. I’ll finish my brilliant, made-up bullshit master’s when I get back. It’s all on me anyhow, so I’d rather be interested in the subject matter and classes I take and actually make an effort instead of showing up and forgetting about it until the day of. Which is pretty much what I’ve been doing for the last…oh….year.
  • Is this because all your friends have moved around the world and you feel like you’ve been left behind? No. But they’ve been pretty good about making a niche for themselves wherever they go which means I should be okay. Stop worrying.
  • But you’re going to be clear across the country! How can I not worry? It could be worse. I could be going to London or Thailand. Or back to Israel. Then you'd really worry.
  • Won’t you miss us? It’s possible. But I never know what I want until well after the fact. So I’ll let you know after I’m there.
  • When are you going to stop fucking up your life and start taking responsibility for your actions and realize you need to be an adult? Probably never. Isn’t life supposed to be about fucking up anyway? The more fuck ups I have now, maybe the less I’ll have later. Or less severe at any rate.
  • You know San Francisco gets cold, right? That I do.
  • You’re going to kill your grandparents when they hear about this. And after the year they had…do you want to do that to them? Well I certainly don’t want to be responsible for that. But they were young once too and they did things that people didn’t understand. My turn!
  • Will you at least promise me one day you’ll settle down, marry a nice Jewish boy, and give me grandchildren? Haha. Hahahaha. Wait. Fuck. You were serious?
  • I’m disappointed in you. I thought you were smarter than this. Why would you waste your talents on something that won’t even pay you well? Who needs money when we all end up in debt anyway?

Selling out: an Introduction

When I was 15, I listened to punk rock and got drunk in alleyways with kids who dyed their mohawks blue and proclaimed that they would never, ever, sell out. When I was 16, I started to get the impression that it was generally a good idea to take whatever these kids said and do the opposite. By the time I left high school, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

I wanted to sell out.

It took me a few years to come fully to terms with these thoughts. I went to a liberal arts college and studied theater for two years, I planned to get my teaching certificate "as a back-up plan," and within me my dreams of artistic fulfillment battled valiantly against my dreams of working for the man and having dental benefits.

I don't know when my peers lost sight of that modest, suburban, middle-class realization of the American Dream, the dream of comfort and security without excess, but somewhere we did. My friends talk about making their own way in the world, of making $5 million playing poker or being filmmakers or living in a commune in Vermont and growing pot, and they laugh at me when I tell them I want $60k/year and a middle-management position and that I think Barack Obama is all hype.

Maybe I'm selling my dreams short. Maybe I should "follow my bliss" and become a professional puppeteer or the next great American playwright. But when I think about getting that theater management job and raising a family in the suburbs... I don't know. It just feels right. Not everybody gets to be a doctor or an astronaut. Someone's got to work for the man, and I think I'm the man for that job.

I grew up around kids who wanted rock-and-roll stardom, kids who wanted to be famous actors and writers, kids who wanted to be doctors and lawyers and wealthy philanthropists who were their own bosses and played by their own rules. I grew up being taught that I could do anything in the world as long as I dreamed big and reached for the stars. I learned to suppress my desire for a modest lifestyle, 2.4 kids and a picket fence and 401(k). I spent so long thinking that middle-class was a dirty word that I forgot that I don't need to be famous or wealthy or even important to be happy.

I'm making sure that I remember it this time. Every day, I tell myself: I'm working for the man, and I'm OK with that. And when I do, I feel warm and content and entirely mediocre.

It's a wonderful feeling to have.

Too Many Choices.

Christine Hassler has it down pat, kids. Viva La Huffington Post.

For Twenty-Somethings, Life is Like the Cheesecake Factory.

This made me unclench, just a little:

"Everyone is on their own unique path. What is working for someone else, may not work for you. Excuse yourself from the belief that you must know what you are passionate about to be a success. Allow it to evolve. Stop comparing yourself to your peers and measuring your worth by societal expectations. If you do find yourself envious of someone else's job, use them as a source of motivation and information. Ask them specific questions that may spark insight on your own career and rescue you from comparison land. For example: "What is the most significant event or decision in your life that has gotten you to where you are today?" "What qualities do you attribute to your success?" "What did have you had to sacrifice?" "What has surprised you about your job?" "What do you really enjoy?" "What challenges do you face?" As you talk to people who have found their niche, remember it's okay if you have not (yet!). Some people really know what they want during their twenties . . . but others have to sample a few things out before acquiring a taste for something."

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Peak. Part One.

My first bona fide twentysomething freakout hit on June 16, 2004. I was in the kitchen of Murray-Dodge Hall at Princeton University, attempting to defrost three pounds of frozen chicken and make guacamole at the same time. Neither task was going well.

I should probably preface this with the fact that I tend to avoid the pressing issues on my mind by diving into rudimentary tasks--cooking, fidgeting with electronics, breaking small objects by fidgeting with them--it all applies. So, this is what I was doing here. I was on the managing board of a small theater that operated out of the university, and I was having a blast. There were some kinks that needed to be worked out, but by and large, everything was going well. We were 12 kids in our early twenties, putting together five shows that summer. We lived together, we worked together, we slept together (a story for another time...) and we cooked for one another.

This was taco night. We had 15 people coming to dinner in an hour. And, inexplicably, a wave of panic hit me.

I remember throwing the chicken into a wok to defrost it as this thought hit me:This is the best time you've ever had. I loved that summer. We were young, we were working hard, we were having those experiences that make for great stories down the road. I smiled as I attempted to de-ice the chicken.

As I moved on to the woefully underripe guacamole, the aforementioned thought's spunkier little brother wormed his way in:It is never going to get better than this. You have to get a real job in the fall. This is temporary. Your life will never be this good again.

I froze. I stared at the guacamole, bounced back to check on the chicken, and then tore off for the bathroom, located in a secluded corner of the kitchen. It was two parts toilet, one part altar, It had this weird little Alice-In-Wonderland toilet that required you to climb up three steps and mount the toilet on its ridiculous pedestal.

I climbed the steps, got on my knees, and anointed the pedestal-altar-toilet by throwing up into it.

Your life will never be this good again.

I clung to the toilet bowl for a good five minutes, letting my stomach settle as the flopsweat poured down my brow. Then, I got up, cleaned myself up thoroughly, and finished the guacamole. Dinner that night was passable. I think I drank three coronas alongside the tacos. Alcohol is GREAT for the twentysomething freakout. I didn't get much sleep that evening. We ended up watching "Elephant" that night, which had an oddly soothing note of finality to it.

Your life will never be this good again.

It's that very thought that got me into grad school.

But that's a story for another time.

Just Let It Happen.

Hey! All of you out there lurking!

Raise your hand if you ever seriously wonder what would happen if you just spontaneously snapped and did something bizarre, dangerous, spiteful, or ridiculous in the steps of your every day life. It could be something small, like wearing a "say something" tie to your otherwise bland office. Or it could be a spectacular melt-down, a la Michael Douglas in "Falling Down."

Sometimes, we all want to go a little postal--I guess it's our generation's stock in trade to be more creative, fun, and sensible in our choice of methods.

There are so many fabulous ways to totally freak out. "Going Postal" is so 1994. All of you are creative--what's the best way to melt down in the course of your everyday life? Post your ideas in the comments section of this post--I promise there will be a follow up.

When I Grow Up...

Happy Interdependence Day, everybody!

Some of us got together for a barbeque last night. And we learned two things: most of us here at TFD are closer to 30 than 20. And most of us here at TFD are either unsure of what we want to be when we grow up, or are aware that what we're doing now is not quite what we want to be doing when we grow up.

We also learned that one of us--who shall remain nameless, but likes to flaunt his Irish heritage every now and then--is a complete and total two beer queer. But we will try our very best to not hold that against him.

We all have reasons for the way things are; that's how we get through life.


1.I wanted to find a job I could do with my eyes closed, so that I could devote my spare time to _________ 2.I couldn't do _______, so I did _________ in a related field. 3. _________ didn't come with dental. 4.I love ______ and tried it for a while, but the pay is shit. 5.I'm too fat to be a ninja.

We all readily admitted that we're not quite where and what we want to be, and there's some really solid reasons why that is. Now, that's not to say we're always going to feel this way, but hey, none of us are getting younger, right?

We also realized last night that all of us really love the American version of The Office. It's got just the right blend of pathos and pluck; it's like the frustrations of our lives are vented on TV, with a liberal seasoning of hope on top.

One of our favorite episodes is the second season's "Boys and Girls," where Jan comes to Scranton to talk with the women of Dunder-Mifflin about female concerns in the workplace. And, while taking advice from Jan is NEVER normally recommended, she dispenses this little nugget to Pam:

"There are always a million reasons not to do something."

Maybe it's good advice. On this day that our reasonably fair nation broke away from the herd, consider its import in your life.

And blow something up real good with fireworks. For us.

Monday, July 2, 2007

My Resume. by david Spiegel

I have a job. Full time. It's been that way for a month. You might not think that's special, but it took 2 years to get it. So, yeah, it's kinda fuckin special. And I'm hoping it'll last at least 3 months before I decide it's time to have another quarter-life crisis (I hate that term, cause what if I live to 125? then it's a fifth life crisis) and go job hunting again. If I do, this is the resume I wish I had the balls to use. Maybe someday I will.

My resume:

I am, first and foremost, a person (human being is too vague)
That person is male. Is from New Jersey. And is white (you're going to ask me eventually)
I'm Jewish (that part's important to me, less to you cause it doesn't count as diversity hiring)

That person is a writer. A good one, but he overuses parentheses.

My skills:
I can use a computer, but I'm too young to think that that's any kind of accomplishment.
I have a sense of humor.
I can use a Xerox machine.
I can finish the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. Even on Friday.
I can multi-task, whatever that means. But you all want a multitasker, so I'm one of those.

My education:
I graduated Summa Cum Laude. Unfortunately I don't speak Latin.
I do speak Spanish. And a little Hebrew.
And English. I speak English good.

I'm not a moron.
I don't know what I want to be doing 10 years from now, but I want a paycheck next week.
I know how to use the word "fuck" sparingly to maximize its effectiveness.
As in, I know how to use a fucking xerox machine, do you think I'm a moron?

My job experience:
There isn't much. I'm only 24. Deal with it.
I was an intern at HBO one summer.
I worked for my cousin in LA for free.
I teach kids how to misrepresent their intelligence by inflating their SAT scores.
I associate produced a show about New Jersey public schools (stop yawning.)
Now I work full time for a 24 hour cable news network. (the one that isn't inherently evil and used by the Bush administration as a propaganda machine)

If you hire me:
I'll do the job better than anyone who's done it before.
I'll multitask
I'll be self-motivated (don't know what that means either, but you all want that too)
You'll have to show me how to use the fax machine.

Someday, given a situation where it's worth the risk. I might use this. for now, I submit it to the Twentysomething Freakout Diaries as permission to come aboard. Do I get the job?