Technology, Manipulation and Relationships

My head’ll explode if I continue with this escapism.
-Jess C. Scott

“We refuse to turn off our computers, turn off our phone, log off Facebook, and just sit in silence, because in those moments we might actually have to face up to who we really are.” 
-Jefferson Bethke

Ever since the inception of social media I have been an active, if not hyper active, participant. When MySpace was first introduced I spent an incredible amount of time learning very, very basic HTML to make my page stand above others, considering what song would play as my profile song, and cultivating a very carefully drafted persona to present myself to my peers on. I agonized over placement of Top 8 and spent hours of my youth posing for the perfect Myspace photo.
MySpace was the tits! rawr xD ♥. Antiquated internet lingo now, but was how we communicated our personalities in 2004.
Eventually MySpace became a ghostland and Facebook was brought on. It’s inception baffled me. The format was fairly straight forward, personalization lacked, and there was no music. And yet, everyone seemed to be on board with it. Twelve years later and Facebook amongst other social media apps seem to be the very pillar of our social lives.  Seems that Facebook reigns supreme, though. What other social media platform has inspired a movie? I jokingly say that anyone who doesn’t have a social media profile is, questionably, not a real person.
The thought of disconnecting comes to me about once a week. Occasionally, I’ll start to feel like I know people more than I truly do because some algorithm sees I’ve interacted with their updates and continuously feeds me what they are doing. It’s a strange insight into a strangers life. A stranger I feel I know, but at the end of the day truly know nothing about.

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I was listening to a fascinating Podcast today, “We All See Ourselves in Black Mirror” was the title by the show “Notes to Self.” Notes to Self has got to be about one of my current favorite podcasts – it looks at the human side of the tech world.
Many may not know this about me, but I really love technology. I grew up in the dial up AOL world and tried to stay ahead of the curve since the internet made its debut in everyday households at a reasonable speed. I liked having the newest phones and I adored observing how technology affects culture. Culture is endlessly fascinating to me, and this is rather new. I enjoy, as most people who live in the tech world do, anticipating being a part of something. Our revolution may not be as romantic as those of the past, but we are at a precipice here with technology – like it or not. So observing how technology and social media affects the ways in which we communicate and perceive the world around us is both thrilling and terrifying to me. As most new ways of culture are.

If we are embarking in a new way of communicating and living, then it is our responsibility to critically look at these things and create dialogue about it – what will we accept? What can we prepare for? What preventative measures can we take? And what can we do to make things easier?
In this podcast the creators and writers of Black Mirror were on speaking about technology and the world we engage in. One of the more interesting points that they have made is that we are all playing a game. Essentially, whether you’re wearing headset with a controller or not you’re a gamer – and to understand that fundamental aspect is important.
They put it like this: think about how you interact with the people around you. You may find yourself speaking differently to coworkers than you would your local barista. You may be more serious with one friend, and self-deprecating in irony with another. There are many versions of “you” that exist. This is pretty natural of humans – we tend to gravitate to different people that bring out different parts of ourselves. However, with the internet on platforms such as Twitter we are attempting to be everything to everyone, we condense our witticisms, insights, thoughts into 140 characters in an attempt to get likes, followers, and retweets. It’s a social game, and not planted in 100% truth. If we understand we’re playing a game, perhaps there will be more peace to the world around us – rather than the feelings of despair that heavy social media users have been found in studies to get from feelings of inadequacy.

This game also isn’t always apparent to the players and the audiences – so in our attempt to be everything to everyone we lose sight of how to be ourselves to anyone. there is a culture of disconnect, as they put it and not with others but primarily to ourselves.
That was an interesting point that the curator stated in the podcast – that she had to get away from Instagram because everything was just “so much.” Every emotion was so extreme, a flower was symbolic of pure joy, or a photo of shoes was pure agony – there was hardly ever an emotion that just was what it was, it vacillated in such extremes. They reminisced on the “meh” culture that used to exist prior to social media where most people were apathetic, rather than this heightened sense of emotions that everyone is putting out everyday. Every day someone’s life is completely altering, someone is having a deep epiphany, and we’re all to care about these people who might awkwardly wave to us in the grocery store or may pretend they did not see us.

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Black Mirror does terrify me because I hadn’t realized until recently that I do see quite a bit of myself in it. Over the weekend a friend had run into someone in another city that I know from where I live. She texted me and told me this and I responded, “That’s neat tell them I said hello.” She later confided in me that this individual thought I was standoffish and dismissive – to the point of almost calling me a bitch. I was stunned. 1. Because ever since high school, knowing how it feels to be a wallflower, I try my hardest to make everyone feel included and 2. because I really had no idea they had this perception of me. Truly blew my mind.
I ruminated on it for awhile, playing back the few interactions we had. Nothing of note comes to mind. No strange interactions. Nothing. Then I thought about this blog, my social media updates, and how I present myself online and realized how much of a contradiction that must be to who I really am in the public sphere.
I enjoy writing, and find I express myself very well in writing. Verbal communication, though…that leaves something to be desired. Often I can’t speak as fast as I think. Or, one verbal thought leads to another and I’m off on tangents. It’s unorganized, whereas with writing I can go back and edit, clean up where I went off, map it together more coherently. But, speaking to people…..there is a lot to consider. Their facial expressions, if they are making eye contact, their body language. My brain, and I think a lot of people who are rather observant, notice these things and I’m constantly assessing how to make the person feel the least amount of discomfort (to the point that I’m making it uncomfortable.)
In public, I have nothing to rely on. If you’re in a bad mood, it isn’t hidden so well by just logging off. Insights can’t be carefully crafted. If you’re excited, you can’t play it cool by just writing “k” emotions play out in real-time in the real-world. My jokes aren’t as clever, I can’t fact check a statement I make quite so quickly, and I can’t think too much about a pun. I just am there, awkward and normal… like a person.

I felt bad that this person had a negative perception of me for a few hours before realizing that it really isn’t about me. Sure, I contribute to some sort of branding on the internet. I certainly seem more social and apt to talk than I might normally be, as I do tend to think of myself as a social loner, but it isn’t about me. It really isn’t even about this other person. Maybe they have their own shit and insecurities and awkwardness. Maybe I am standoffish. I don’t know. And truthfully, I’m not going to spend more time dwelling on it. But it did give me something to think about, which is why I note this here.
But, I do know for certain there have been times where I feel like because someone is an active user on the internet that when I speak to them in “real life” I’m almost insulted by their humanness. Why are you so social and insightful there online with me, but so uncomfortable when you actually see me?
I just hadn’t realized I never asked myself these own questions.

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What are we looking for when we log on? What are we searching for? And what is the end goal when we share selfies? Is this serving a higher purpose? Do we really need feedback from all 500 of our friends about a spiritual insight? Did you really need to know about the bike I just got this weekend? Who was I sharing this for and whose approval am I seeking?
I think we’re all playing this strange game that doesn’t make much sense to me anymore. Like, adding someone on the internet gives you a fast-track look into their history so when we interact we can bypass the parts of actually building friendships, relationships. We’re able to see who their friends are, if we fit in that world, if they have a family, what they do for a living, the kinds of articles they share and images that they are drawn too and see people less like human beings and more like a profile of content and data to analyze and size-up quickly and determine whether or not they fit into our ideal.
I’m so guilty of this.
The strangest, truly weirdest part about social constructs is when you realized how wrapped up in one you have gotten – even when you like to think of yourself as anti-trends and ‘free spirited’
I am not going to disconnect from social media, even from a professional point of view that’s unrealistic for me, but I am going to attempt to be more genuine online and offline – look at how it affects my life very critically and assess the relationships that I have and how are they planted? With deep roots? Or shallow dirt? Furthermore, attempt to bridge the gap between ideal and reality.
I heard somewhere that there is a master algorithm to life and it is this: reality is negotiable.
Seems more true now in the digital world than ever.
We are so so so much more than our online personas. We’re often a lot messier- and I kinda dig that about people anyway. I like all ya’lls crazy.

What do you think?

 

Ego and Id

There is this really great documentary entitled, “The UP Series” that I first was introduced in my Psychology/Sociology/Philosophy class in Grade 11 (because, Ministry of Education or whatever they call it in Canada, decided these were unimportant enough to be lumped together) which follows the lives of fourteen British children since 1964 when they were 7 years old. So far the documentary has had 8 episodes spanning over 49 years. Each episode airs 7 years apart. (Does this remind you of Boyhood? Because it’s very similar. However, true to European audiences, and true to American culture, one is patient and one is condensed for quicker viewing) The children chosen represent many different socio-economic backgrounds – the creators were attempting to show how socioeconomics affected the upbringing and personalities of each of the children’s. I’m a proponent of the idea that economics pretty much determines the majority of culture and subculture, but this shed some insight into other thoughts that I’m not often too preoccupied with.

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Seven is an interesting number to pick. Neuroscientists and behavioural health specialists say that our basic personality is set by the first grade – about 7. Seven also has biblical connotations, it has moral connotations, and there is a myth (and I want to be explicit in stating that it is a myth in purely biological conditions… but perhaps not emotionally) that the cells in the body replace themselves every 7-years essentially creating a new person. One only needs to do a minor Google search to debunk that assumption, but it still proposes an interesting thought: do we change over time, and how does long and to what extent do our childhood conditions affect our adulthood?
This is a basic “nature versus nurture” thought that I’m proposing here, but interesting all of the time to me, nonetheless.
The nature versus nurture debate has to be about one of the oldest debates in psychology and basically questions which has the biggest impact on an individuals development: is our personality predisposed in our DNA? Or are we the sum of the parts around us in our physical surroundings, social constructs, etc?
Watching this, and it has been quite some time now, about ten years ago since I’ve seen an episode, the children’s lives wildly varied from one another. Some children who were, outwardly to authority, damned to be trouble makers all of their lives grew to lead very simple, quiet lives. And the ones who seemingly had the most promise lived through multiple divorces and failed relationships. My favorite character was speculated to be in prison by the time he was an adult, and by the time he was in his 40’s he had been seriously dating a woman for decades, never did actually marry, had moved and lived a life of working on his house, working with his hands, and truly didn’t speak that much about himself – a quiet man that just was…happy. He was speculated to do much, so he didn’t desire much. He didn’t assume a pressure upon him from others and was left free to choose whatever life he wanted, and it was a good life from someone looking in.

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I think about this show quite often when thinking about the trajectory of life and in observing how the things I do stay congruent with the version of myself at 7 years old – as mentioned previous, seven is about the age where the basic personality is set.
You don’t really need to watch a documentary to know observe this – you just have to know someone most of your life – like a sibling or neighbour if you’re so lucky. The two people I have been fortunate enough to know, Kylie ( a neighbourhood friend I met at 5) and my Brother. When I see them, I see parts of them that will always be the same to me. The way they speak, or movements, or certain reactions. The strangest, absolutely strangest, part of knowing people that long is seeing how they adapt and change behaviours over time. How they learn to cover up strong emotions. If you know them well enough you see the maturity that has grown within. It swells you with both pride and fear. Proud that they have grown emotionally mature enough to be self-aware of their emotions and react well enough in the world to compose themselves, and fear because maybe the truth that was young, raw relationships won’t be like that again. Fear maybe because everything is filtered a bit more through some social norm we’re to abide casually by, without even seemingly being talked to about it. It just happens, people grow up. This is a good thing, but what parts of us die?

 

You watch yourself in situations almost from above yourself and catch the instinctual reaction and the logical response. You separate yourself from mind and brain, from the logic and emotion and appropriately react. It isn’t sad, it’s adapting, but it IS surreal.

 

My ideas about morality, even my interests, have developed and adapted throughout time, but when I think about it there are some things about who I have been that seem like they will always be there. Surely, you learn to cover up certain flaws better than others, or adapt to the world around you, but when tired, stressed, or relaxed the tendency to whistle or sing to myself in public during formal moments will still happen – saying that is a “flaw” is a bit absurd, but it is a personality trait not too revealing that I’m comfortable sharing.
In thinking about how I have lived my life, I know for certain that there are times that I have deviated way,way far away from the natural part of myself in preference to indulging what I’ve been nurtured into, and at times there have been moments I have noticed that I have allowed this natural part of myself to stand in the way of a very promising part of myself that nurture could have spared.

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It’s nothing new that I, and so, so many of us seek balance. I want balance more than anything. I also very much want to understand everything. My interests hardly ever end. Often this has been a bless, but sometimes it’s a curse disguised as a blessing: I am hardly ever truly convinced that I’m living accordingly to how I am “meant” to be. It isn’t that I don’t feel I can’t – I feel it is a waiting game that requires putting time in and patience. (I suck at patience.)
I suspect, in some sense that is the plight of the millennial. I read articles upon articles that speculate what millennials truly want, why we are the worst, the best, the most idealist…….whatever you want to call it. Being a millennial, and a defiant person by nature, I will say this: fuck those articles. I am not some woman-child running around with a lot of debt and a new iphone and mac book and car from this decade. I don’t even know who those kids are! Where are they? The millennials I know have cracked phone screens from older generation androids (like I) drive cars that are from, like 2002, and Toshiba’s that make a weird noise when you move them like screws are loose. It isn’t that I can’t afford these things, like I can’t have the nice things, it’s that there is better use for my money and I am not going to have my parents bail me out of my woes anymore than they have already graciously done. I’m saving that conversation for truly rainy days. *JK*

I’ve rambled awhile now, I just mean to say that I’m late to the game – of balancing the ego and the id. Maybe I’m luck I haven’t felt rushed, in fact that is a hidden blessing of living in the midwest – we’re given time to observe ourselves more than other places. Time to speculate. Or perhaps we aren’t, and I’ve just demanded it. Who knows.

But I think of this as the big take away: don’t place a pressure upon yourself. More pressure to reach something by a certain time will create more opportunities to rush, to chase an idea that you’re unsure if you truly want or think you want. I want to live like the man who had no expectations of himself and was allowed to live as he pleased and seemed truly content with himself and his relationships in life.

In getting older I realize that has to be the most important thing in the world: Are YOU happy with your life on your terms?

I wanna be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Not Going to be Daringly Brave, nor Vulnerable: Thoughts on Human Lonely and Vulnerability

Despite alarmingly candid blog posts on here, I’m not a person who accepts my own vulnerability with ease. Not at least since adulthood when I knew the weight of the consequences that it brings upon itself: vulnerability when it means something, when it is brave –  not unknowingly, naively vulnerable ( that’s the easy crap you do without second thought.)

After life happens you have to react. Some people use their life as a platform to begin dialogues and build relationships. That isn’t exactly what I’ve done. I’ve put up walls and buried parts of myself within other parts. Layers. I’m not sure I have even reached the innermost layer. I’m not sure that I’m alone in that.

While these may seem shockingly bold, they aren’t. They’re ruminated posts. I don’t write on a whim. They’re things I’ve already thought, or am thinking about, and have decided to speak on. I used to write more on a whim, or more openly, but you run the risk of exposing parts of yourself unknowingly and allowing others to come to see you in a way that perhaps that you don’t even see yourself, because you aren’t objective enough, and that’s terrifying.

It doesn’t terrify me as much as it used to. There’s some progress.

I’ll always be who I am.  I have always been who I am. Despite “clever” attempts at trying to deny that with relationships, alcohol, drugs, I was always Logan – intense, a bit clumsy, too earnest.

But I fucking hate being vulnerable. I moved to Fort Wayne thinking it was a pit stop. I was always leaving places and starting over new places, and I think that my first reaction to the city was with that mentality. So when I met people I did not think all that much about it – I was going to be gone. Have fun, share a pint, move along.

A few years later with some fresh new scars, and I’m still here and have no immediate plans to leave yet and I realize that of all the people that I have met I have only let 1 inside that inner core. Unsuspectingly it happened also with very little effort- it just felt kind of easy. Someone I have argued with, screamed with actually, and found the friendship of value enough to apologize. Normally I’d say “fuck it you’re small town and I’m outta here soon anyway” and be on with it.

That’s one person I can be vulnerable with and I’m lucky for it.

Because vulnerability isn’t a blog post like this. It isn’t talking about my feelings to a faceless crowd. This is not brave, it’s the cheapest form of self-expression one could hope for. You write on here to a crowd and lest anyone dare to disagree or challenge you their comments are also up for public speculation thus allowing them the vulnerable position of being subjected to ridicule or interrogation – it is kind of a manipulative and cheap platform to share expression with people in hopes to connect and I see that.  The risk of outright hearing the criticism of your thoughts is pretty minimal despite it being SUCH a public outlet. (interesting, isn’t it?) Yet, I participate.

(Note: I do want to express that for some people these internet relationships are very much real and alive for them and are very intimate and vulnerable, and I respect that this is not a total rejection of this societal phenomenon, just like a 80/20 rejection.)

But it isn’t. Nothing I write is shockingly brave.

Bravery would be calling up one of my mates right now and hanging out and truly talking about this shit with. It would be talking to my mom when I have strange feelings about the trajectory of my life rather than just pretend that everything is fine for her approval. Bravery would saying to someone, “Hey, this makes me feel X when Y happens.” rather than posting some meme about it online in a passive aggressive attempt at gaining validation or solidarity from folks I do not see or interact with in the tangible world.

It is odd to me how often technology only allows us to think that we’re connected, but often allows us more outlets to lie to ourselves, trick ourselves, reward ourselves when real work hasn’t yet been truly done. It also elicits more feelings of disconnections the more we’re connected. I try to stay aware of this before allowing myself. To see things as they are, not as I want to believe they are. I fail often, but it’s an effort.

I think about it like this, I’m always going to be lonely because I am a human being. And because I do have those layers.

I have been surrounded in a room with my whole family – my divorced parents, their spouses and children, their kids spouses and my brother and niece – more love than a person could even imagine. Music and laughter and this profound feeling of pride and gratitude for love and what parents do for love was so enrouted in my heart that I just had to sit back and observe it and yet, surrounded by nearly everyone that means anything to me at all I had this overwhelming feeling to share that feeling with someone else. Who? Who could I have possibly wanted to express that with? And I realized that there was nobody else to share that with. That there are emotions and feelings that we just carry inside and within ourselves. You share a cup of coffee with those emotions, share your vulnerability with it, and with such intense feelings will probably come a feeling of profound loneliness because you’re the only one who can truly experience it, know it, observe it, live it.

I don’t mean to sound dire, but in some instances we are all alone. And I’m okay with that. It is a very popular thought to say ‘you’re not alone’ and as long as empathetic humans exist and we share thoughts you’re not. Someone will listen and offer advice. Hell, I will. But, it’s on you to decide how you feel at the end of the day.

Shalom

Oh when I write “You” I really me “I” but, I dont’ want this to sound too “Dear Diary…” ish

Insanity Laughs Under Pressure

For real though… A picture and title of how I imagined if my inner monologue were a person and quote  looking this week.american_psycho

I have kinda fallen into self-pity mode lately. I don’t know, I just haven’t been vibing with the trajectory of things. My common statement lately is that, “I feel both overwhelmed and underwhelmed simultaneously.”

It’s a crap place to be in.

I look around and everyone else seems to have their shit together so well. Do you guys really live like that? Are you just faking it really well?  Meanwhile, I feel like I’m barely hanging on to maintaining a web-friendly presence without letting the truth slip out and that is: that I have no idea what the actual fuck I am doing.

Somedays, I am searching for plane tickets about to just impulsively book a flight overseas.

Other days I’m looking at rent-to-own houses in town about to plant roots.

(Literally having a roots vs. wings crisis.)

One day I’m a social butterfly capable of talking at ease with anyone, the next day a social moth that deters everyone from me.

Everyone’s instagram is so pretty with cacti, friends, brunch mimosa’s and cats. I couldn’t even fake it properly if I wanted to because my Android phone was $100 and takes low-quality pictures.

I think you know you’re unhappy when other people’s complains just seems more like a shit in your cut. Someone is lonely, unhappy, but I look at them contemplating what they hell they have to feel sorry for themselves for. They are healthy and trendy looking, probably don’t buy clothes from thrift stores because they have to, but because they want to, own their home, they drive a car from this decade, they have beautiful and healthy children, they have a loving partner, they have a stable income with flexible schedules. What could possibly be missing from their life? Their complaints seem more like humblebrags – and I know that’s a telling sign of internal unrest when you can’t empathize. 

I have been playing the comparison game the past few days and it is not settling well with me. This girl has great hair, this girl has a cool job, this girl travels a lot, this girl is more confident, this girl is more ambitious, she’s a bad bitch, this girl is in such a beautiful relationship, this girl, that girl, etc., It had gotten me to the point where I have convinced myself I’m unsuccessful, untalented, ugly, and weird. Just a weird awkward ball of anxiety and shortcomings.

Then I start honing in on just my life. Just the things I want. Just the things that I need. Just me. Not listening, not even focusing, on what others are doing.

It’s great to have goals, but they should inspire you no discourage you. It’s a matter of practicing changing  your thinking. When you feel discouraged take that as a lesson to encourage you to do better, be better. Easier said than done, I’m talking to myself here. (Interesting fact I learned, when people offer advice it’s often lessons they wish they could have absorbed at a younger age/ what they are trying to convince themselves. Don’t let my blogs give you the illusion I’ve reached a confident, solidified understanding of all of this – it’s all a work in progress.)

Rest at times when you need to. I’m incapable of this. I have really convinced myself exhaustion is an indication of work ethic or productivity.

I’ve spent the last year trying to ignore the trends of the things around me and focus on who “Logan” is. I thought I knew, but when stress reared it’s head I realized I’d lost myself in a facade of trying to be who I thought I was supposed to. Logan is a complex individual. There is nothing simple about me, and there is nothing simple about you (likely, I mean you really might be quite the simpleton.)  That is the most interesting part about getting to know yourself more is that you’re more honest with yourself and in turn with others. I haven’t been able to fake my interactions as well as I used to be able to and the result of that has been interesting – some people open up and really share their thoughts as well and I feel this connection and inspiration. Other people keep up the charade and it’s a little discouraging, truthfully. But, I’d personally rather risk rejection from being honest than approval from acting the part well.

I don’t know what you want. But you’re probably okay.

Yes, someone is better than me. But then I consider the standard. Is that my standard? Is it imposed upon me? By whom?  How do you gauge that? It’s pretty subjective and if I am going to try and define your happiness by appeasing some societal or social standard I might as well just call yourself Polly because I’m likely jut parroting everything taught to you. At some point I have to get creative with your standards. I’m good with creativity Okay, so we got something I can work with here.

I won’t life to you I want to be appealing in the eyes of society. I want to be seen as beautiful, smart, successful, capable. But, these standards are so hard to achieve because these standards are of an “ideal person.” Nobody is ideal. Nobodddddddyyyyyyyyy. I always think about beauty products and which came first, the problem or the solution? That’s life. I gotta decide what matters to me, and I think you should do that for yourself too. For me, feeling matters. Feeling like I did good work at the end of the day, like I gave my best effort. Feeling like in the face of hardships I remained kind and compassionate. Feeling like I am “good” by morals and standards I have assigned myself.

I’ve not had a horrible life, but I’ve certainly had my own struggles and hardships that others haven’t had. When I consider that, and the many myriad of ways I could have manifested that angst and contrast it to what I have done I have to say I am pretty proud. I still love people, I still trust people, I still care about the human race.Sure, I have my supreme fear of commitment in any shape or form, and an inner restlessness I am uncertain will ever go away, but I show up to my life. 

Woody Allen said something about that, that like 90% of success in life was just showing up.

So just show up. One foot in front of the other. Figure out what you stand for and fuck the herd of individual thinkers.

Fuck what I’m saying, for that matter.

 

 

 

 

Coffee, Cigarettes, and Cynicism

 

I like my town with a little drop of poison. 

Someone asked me recently why I started smoking cigarettes – the answer is as simple as it is embarrassingly telling – I thought they were cool.

Jim Jarmusch had an entire movie about the two things I love, Coffee and Cigarettes, with some of my idols indulging in the little nicotine inhalers.

When I started smoking cigarettes they were really romantic to me.

It was probably the year I started really listening to Tom Waits and reading Bukowski with a feeling of coming into an age of  “profound” insights. I was a bit obnoxious about my literary and artistic idols at 19/20/21/22/23/24/25/26. To me they provided a road map of how true artists live their life: smoking, drinking, self-hatred and a huge dose of brilliance. I mean I had to choose the miserable artists like Plath and Bukowski to idolize. It couldn’t have been successfully, healthy writers who overcame poverty to write a wildly successful series like J.K. Rowling…

When I discovered poetry it was all over for me. I was way far removed from reality. I’d walk around campus listening to nostalgic music like The Velvet Underground or Bob Dylan, dressed in all black, carrying completely esoteric books, smoking Parliaments (Marlboro’s came later) and generally just judging everyone around me. Reality was a concept to me. I spoke in metaphors, I only drank black coffee. I pretty much thought I was the most brilliant person ever and any lack of confidence I had was because I just understood so much. Insecurity was the plague of the intellectual, I thought. It wasn’t, like, something you could work on.

I do not mean to imply that all cerebral people wear it like a fashion statement. I’m just saying that I did.

Rereading my old journals is cringe-worthy – and truthfully quite sad. And to be honest, I didn’t often get a lot of disapproval or flack for this pretension which might’ve done me some good to come back down to earth. I actually was encouraged more often than not. I did pretty well in a few classes, was very engaged in literary theory and enjoyed deconstructing everything I read, I was always, always writing, and I idolized my professors so I talked to them frequently. Academia is an interesting place and I’ll leave it at that, but I didn’t find myself enjoying the environment so when I abandoned my ideas to get a masters like I was certain I would I had to join the world and realize how actually incapable I was.

I don’t beat myself up about this now. I think it is actually pretty funny. I can just imagine this 20-year-old who, in reality, hasn’t been through shit-all in their life walking around talking to people about existence, sociolinguistics, the meaning of completely under-the-radar poems as they’re doing more practical things and being completely unaware of how unrealistically idealistic I sound.

Always quoting some strange poet, always talking about the true meaning of a meaning. Sucking down a fuckin’ cigarette like I was a goddamn walmart worker on a five min shift break. I had the audacity to compare me working during college to being as stressful as people who don’t have the option to go to college and work multiple jobs just to stay afloat.

My awkward offenses were really easily chalked up to youthful indiscretions, apparent to everyone but myself who thought everything was so apparent.

All of this to say that I have had a problem with romanticizing things. As I got older I realized that being cynical felt wise. It’s not wisdom, actually, it’s laziness. I think I stole that, in fact I sure I did, but it does not make the any less true.

The more people I get to know who AREN’T like this, the more obvious the ones that are suffering from trying to be what they aren’t is apparent. Trying to force the world to see them how they want to be seen, not how they really are.

I started drinking coffee because it seemed romantic and literary.

I started smoking cigarettes because it seemed romantic and French.

I started indulging cynics in company because it seemed romantic and cerebral. and maybe a little “The village-ish.”

I think so freaking often we have this idea that we’re supposed to be something. For me, it projected itself in coffee, cigarettes, and cynicism (and neuroticism as I do kinda love Woody Allen and the likes.) I was supposed to be an intellectual.  

I want to make a point that inherently these things are not bad. They were just outlets I used as a manifestation for an ideal version of myself.

I was supposed to have it together.

Romantic thoughts are so lovely to indulge in daydreams, but to live my life uncertain if I’m keeping up appearances right is really only something southerners can handle I think. I am not a southern belle.

The thing that is interesting to me when I lived in this world of pretend and those who indulged me there is that it’s convoluted with a lot of unhappy people. Coffee, cigarettes and cynicism make for an aesthetically pleasing life, but maybe not the most whole life.

I might have been complimented a lot on my ‘good’ (subjective) taste – but Lou Reed bums you out after awhile, and sometimes Sam Hunt is just more hype to listen to.

I might have been thought of as ‘intelligent’ when I carried around some classic, but that shit gets really depressing and everyone is a sad drunk. Sometimes, reading something like Cheryl Strayed is just more uplifting.

I think it’s taken me a long time to reconcile my ideals with my ideas, to understand I am not actually a cartoon, or fit easily within a box (I’m not a religion, goddamnit.)

I am me and you are me and we are all together. I don’t think that really applies here, but that’s where my mind went for a second and I just wanted to see if anyone could find out how.)

Basically, like Witman says, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am Large. I contain Multitudes.”

I guess I just mean to say, that coffee, cigarettes, and cynicism are things I just enjoy now. I don’t clutch onto them like they’re going to save my life or give it meaning.

That’s about it. I kinda lost my point somewhere in here. OH! btw, coffee, cigarettes and cynicism was one really long drawn out metaphor. but I think you got that if your’e reading this otherwise you would have stopped a long time ago. so, hey mom and dad!

 

 

 

 

Love and heartbreak

Bittersweet is an underrated word.
I try to gear myself up to meet my dad for dinner after time apart like I’m meeting a friend – excited and ready for a good time… because if I stop and think about how much I’ve missed him, how long it’ll be again until I see him I’ll be distracted trying to extract all I can from each meeting.

But as conversation twists and turns into conversation about his life, his upbringing and what he’s doing these days I see my father for who he is.
Not the first time, but the first time it was met with an adult compassion – like a human to another human not from a daughter to a father. It’s a surreal moment.
He talks about his late parents and his blue eyes begin to swell with tears. He talks about how he felt as a child, adolescence, and adult with a sentimental remembrance. Any bitterness he might have once felt, any frustration, any insecure inadequacy  is replaced with longing for more time.
I dread speaking about him the way he talks about his father more than anything in this world. I dread the feeling that he’s feeling, but if I’m learning still from my father it is how to look at the past and the people who you love with kindness, sentimentality, and understanding. How to be graceful in your mourning. How to honor their passing. I’m still learning from my father even now.
My heart breaks. I don’t see my father the way that I remember him as a child – not the image that my memory clings onto, but for where he really is at. Older. I try to ignore and brush off talks about his health like he’s being dramatic, but I can see he isn’t as limber as he might’ve once used to be.
That’s the strange part about living far away from a parent. Each visit hits you more and more that they’re living another life in another city, and you see it on their face when the too far and few between visits present themselves. Time has a new wrinkle, a new ailment, a new concern. Time is a visible thing.
The most heartbreaking thing you can do is love somebody.
I don’t mean that to sound like a hardened Bukowski statement, it’s an endlessly rewarding thing, but to love someone is heartbreaking.
To watch people you want to see happy trip over themselves, stand in their own way, is heartbreaking.
To know someone is heartbreaking. To know their past and present is strange, odd, and beautiful.
I am obviously not a parent, but I can imagine that it is probably one of the truly most terrifying, softening thing.

My dad tells me a few lessons that his father taught him, that it was important to him that you be mindful of how you treat people on the way up the ladder because they’re going to still be there around on your way down. To treat each person you know equally, disregard their status and wealth, treat them all with equal amounts of respect.
I didn’t know my grandfather all that well. Sure, I spent many holidays at their house, but we did not bond all that much. I don’t think he knew what to do with little girls. It wasn’t until after my grandmother passed away he started expressing more of an interest in who I was. And even then, it wasn’t much. But I feel as if I know him more now through my father, learned from him through his son. I think that’s probably how life just is sometimes.

Transient, bittersweet life.

Free Fallin’

Someone mentioned to me the other day that I looked different.

I equated this to the fact that my hair was pulled against my face which is uncommon practice for me – due to laziness and the fact that your face is so exposed.

I’m playing the idea of growing out my bangs again. In some recess of my mind it fills some need for novelty in the familiar of everyday life.I know that in six weeks I will cut them again. This is simply an attempt at trickery with myself.

I was corrected.

“You’re wearing lighter colors than you usually do,” I was told.

This immediately struck me peculiar as I was feeling darker than is common.

I am a gal prone to dark moments of thought. Anyone near and dear to me know this fact. There is never anything necessarily wrong in my life, I just occasionally get gray like the winter days here. Prone to long bouts of rumination and introspection.

I was in this mood when I called a friend and asked to come over.

My only  attempt at understanding these moods these days is trial and error. I would have previously taken this mood as an indication that rest is required. That hasn’t made any more sense to me over the years as forcing myself to do the thing my mind says I shouldn’t.

So, fuck it, maybe my mood will be a burden on someone else, maybe that is what friends do. I’ll figure it out, but I’ll also stop being afraid to find out.

The comment did not strike me as odd because I was surprised I was wearing bright colors for being so sullen, it struck me odd because that’s a premeditated thing that I do. I always fancy up when I’m feelin’ down. That isn’t to say that I do when I’m happy to, it’s just a very common practice when I’m living a little too within myself.  Maybe I think that it will cheer me up, or at least deflect.

I hadn’t realized how obvious parts of me are to others. Parts that I think are so cleverly hidden.

I shouldn’t be so surprised though.

As I asked questions to this individual the tone I was met with was defensive like they’d been asked a million times, when I simply was inquiring. Of course they’ve been asked a million times…. by the own self.

As easily as I see others – others see me. That isn’t something that I think about that often. It is rather uncomfortable to, actually.

In thinking about how the external affects the internalr I thought about other sensory details in my life.

My mother has always found a sort of salvation in rock n’ roll. From as early as I can remember I’ve been a passenger in her car to blaring rock music with the bass cranked so intensely the whole car shakes.

Strangely, in her church I found an intense association with a certain sound of music as a very pure thing.

I’ve been compulsively listening to Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin.” Once I get sick of that, I alternate between various cover versions.

I remember being a child listening to this song and feeling some sense of freedom within it. It sounded like what I had imagined true freedom felt like. This free falling and a carefree approach about it. A wisdom in not fighting the fall, but just letting it happen. Of knowing the truth about yourself, but still enjoying the fall of it because you chose to be it.

The song sounded to me like sunsets, open roads, and a hot arm under the sun’s spotlight in an open window. The most romantic parts of being unbound.

As I grow older I’ve lived on both sides of this song. I have been the bad boy standing in shadows that doesn’t even miss her. I have been the good girl at home with a broken heart, crazy about Elvis. The muse for this entire thought being the two that inspired these vacillating roles.

In either side I am free falling.

As I listen to this song again I feel that similar sense of possible freedom. However, no matter what observations, what I think is absurd of society, what ideals I think should be upheld,  I have to reconcile this with the fact that I do live within that world. Standing on the outside looking in and unwilling to join does not work. Standing on the inside looking out and unwilling to join those on the fringes of society does not work. There are things to accept. And there are things to simply let go.

Balance is no new concept. Everyone knows it’s a goal to achieve, but I guess it’s a goal you spend your lifetime on. Maybe letting go of trying to get it sooner is part of the ‘acceptance’ and ‘let go.’ W

I don’t want to live in the woods and create energy from solar power. Fuck that. I am lazy.

I don’t want to shake hands with rude people and show them respect simply because they make more money than I do. Fuck that. I’m honest.

However, which can I stand?

I can stand wearing lighter colors and having people close enough to me recognize that when I look the lightest I need pressed the hardest.

I can stand listening to ‘Free fallin’ for hours on repeat, a little ‘hazy’ and allowing myself to fall down into the music.

I mean what more does one need than the freedom to choose to grow their bangs out?

If I really, really think about it, freedom for me doesn’t really mean abandoning rules of society. It isn’t escaping to become an outlaw. It isn’t about having so much money I can do whatever I want, whenever I want.

For me it is about being able to live inside with myself and accept the decisions I make and allow myself to freely fall with the consequences of those decisions – for better or for worse – and to accept the consequences – for better or for worse – because I did choose them. To learn. To not need less, to not need more, to want exactly what I have.

That’s what I think. I think that’s my free fallin’, but hell,  who knows. I’m over this hippy dippy shit now.

College didn’t make me a good person

Everyone the past few months has become an expert. I didn’t quite know it, but Donald Trump has done this brilliant thing where he brings out the brilliance in everyone around me.
I have this horrible eye infection, a corneal ulcer and infected membranes in my eyelids, that mostly means if I focus on anything for too long with my eyes they feel strained really bad and I get these bad pressure headaches. It also means if I don’t focus really hard on something everything looks really blurry.
I’ve read a lot about what everyone things the cure to saving this country is – from being a good person, to protesting, to creating art… everyone has some special opinion about how to save the world.
I don’t have a cure to treat the world. I can barely treat my eye, I definitely can’t treat an infected societal consciousness.
Despite spending the past week in a dark room with intervals of work and rest I have noticed something (other than their pontificating which is annoying) they don’t know much.
There once was a time where I would have credited my education for giving me the foundation of the person I am today. Thanked my professors for helping me craft arguments that nobody reads. Thought that my degree was a badge of honor proving I was a good, educated person worthy of being listened to.
But, I do not.
My education did not teach me to see beyond the surface of the humanity – the most infected thing in our society.

Reading did, but college didn’t make me a reader. An academic can tell you what an artists means, but you’ll know what it means when you read it.
It told me to follow directions, but how do you follow directions to a stranger who says, “I’m fine, thank you.” but doesn’t look fine? My parents taught me to discern when to press further and when to let it be.
My education didn’t give me the right statistics or argumentative essay to recite when a friend told me that they were depressed.
My degree didn’t have the right algebraic equation to tell me how to tell the crying homeless man how to increase his profits from petty change.
My education did give me any answers to some questions, but a more complex way of arguing simple matters to impress simple people with complex vocabulary. The more we talk the more we think we’re doing work.
My education did not tell me how to observe. I was always an observer. It taught me how to get credit for it, sure, but it didn’t teach me to see the world outside the way they wanted me to.

My education taught me that from as early as its conception history would be cruel to the weak and poor, but gave me resources to ensure I wasn’t one of those people – not how to help them.
My education didn’t make me a better person, it made me better versed in British Literature from 1800-1910.
My education didn’t make me read more, it just told me what to read.
My education didn’t teach me to say please and thank you, but rather “Furthermore” and “I conclude.”
It didn’t teach me to speak to people instead it taught me to speak at them.
Education didn’t teach me to respect others, it taught me to argue my point of view.
So when people are on these rants, with their statistics, their prolific insights I roll my eyes. You can talk a great talk, but can you walk the walk.
I do not mean to sound ungrateful, for I am eternally grateful for my educators and my time spent in university, but it is not the platform in which I base my political, societal, and artistic leanings. It taught me what is being taught. It didn’t teach me how to react.
I spent a lot of time learning how to pass tests, to recite what I’m supposed to say, to write essays in a formula that will get a pleasing grade – often omitting things becasue of fear that it went outside the guidelines.
I once got a B- with an almost apology from the professor, complimenting me for taking on a challenge, but not happy I didn’t fall in line. (“An ambitious topic that was much more challenging than many other students, but ultimately I couldn’t give an A as it didn’t meet all of the requirements.)
My degree hasn’t made me know any more than the average Joe, not about life, death, taxes – the things you can count on.
My education confused me. If anything I’ve spent years trying to unlearn the formulas, trying to become my own. I will take their foundation and I will decide what to do with it. I am lucky. I am not everyone. I will not speak on behalf of what everyone should do as our experiences are vastly different.
I am a white, middle-class raised, college educated woman. That is all I will know. But in reading I get a glimpse into the life of a poor black woman, or an immigrant farmer, or a geisha woman in Japan, etc.,

Literature made me a good person. Reading gave me the insight into the human condition in ways I’ll never experience firsthand.

Something my education did teach me , “Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
“Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.”
Don’t let your education make you believe you’re somehow more capable than anyone else to do great things. We all are.

Dangerous Ones

The most dangerous people
are the poets.
Those fatally romantic souls that
wander up and down dark streets
casting shadows beneath yellow lights
and dream of word play to make
loneliness beautiful
or, at the very least, romantic.

The most dangerous
are the the poets
who can accurately articulate the
loneliness that only love can know,
and know that rolled pant legs
marks the beginning of vanishing into
those dark streets.
A street lamp; their last spotlight.
Their own thoughts; their last audience.

They hear mermaids.
They do not return calls.

The dangerous ones
look into windows
meandering with a stubborn dog who will not piss,
and think of all the different avenues on avenues
their life could have taken them
and all the lives of all the living.

 

The dangerous ones are
seemingly catatonic with their gin and tonic
wipe wet corners of forgotten smiles on coat sleeves
that haven’t been rolled up for  labor in ages,
knowing that it is for the lesser of the age,

The most dangerous ones
are the ones that know the hunger of
transient moments that only youth provides,
and they give you directions as you pass on the avenue
to the art club, night club, jazz bar, cafe, girls address
with shocking accuracy.

How do you think they know how to get there?

From the Girl That Always Had to Have a Boyfriend

It is a sad sort of realization when you come to see yourself as the girl, turned woman, that’s always found some sort of internal validation from romantic relationships.
I’ve always been an idealist, and I’ve always been a romantic. From as early as I can recall I have memories of imagining my life with my partner, that one soul that finds yours the most compelling, and traveling the world together, having adventures, and finding comfort within each other.
To have those goals for a relationship now are not bad things to want, but this constant thinking that I am not whole until I find my other half is.
I have theories upon theories on how I became “that girl.” And we all know ‘that girl’ if you’re reading this you must know me, and I am that girl.
That girl is the one that flits from relationship to relationship without much time in between to collect themselves and reflect.
It seems I started adulthood in a relationship with my then long-term high school boyfriend (and of 2 years still remains my longest relationship…….) and never stopped.
I’m a socially uncomfortable person. Note: not awkward. I am not awkward, but I feel wildly uncomfortable in most social situations. There are a lot of things going on in my mind, too many factors to contemplate, too many things to take in.

 
So, when I stumble across someone who takes an interest in me it allows me an opportunity to invest my sensibilities in one person and, thus, sort of anchors me I attach myself to them. This. is. so. unhealthy.

 
And these insights make me realize that not only have I settled for equally dysfunctional men, but I was not treating the men that I dated with sincerity in my intent for dating them. I was not truthful. With the exception of a very small few whom I very thankful for, I did not truly care for them and their eccentricities, quirks and insights, but rather what they did for me. Some of them could have been anyone. I didn’t truly see them. I saw comfort.

 
These sort of profound insights only result in feelings of guilt.

 
I do feel guilty – a feeling that seems to have been haunting me from dark shadows for most of my life. In fact, I remember at about the age of 9 having such intense feelings of guilt that I would follow my mother around the house to own up to my perceived wrongdoings. It got absurd after a while. I would start confessing simple things. I would always sit my mother down, furrowed brow, and state, “Mom, I have to confess something.” To which the insidious behavior for not hanging up a sweater, or hugging my cat too tightly he hissed was revealed. My mother still remembers and ruminates on these ‘confessions’.

 
Perhaps that is why I tend to gravitate to writing and art that is very self-reflective and expressive, to confess and to own up to my wrong doings and vindicate myself from perceived wrongdoings. This is just an adult form of this pattern of behavior.
But the interesting thing about most of these relationships is that I have been actively trying to avoid parts of myself for most of my life. This was not the way when I was younger. In fact, I was pretty bold when I was a child. When the other girls in the neighborhood went boy crazy, I preferred to ‘explore’ the treeline behind my house. I used to be proud of this. I had interests, hobbies, and a clear identity. And that girl is still in me in a womanly form, but she is just a little buried deep down within the recesses of my mind, six feet under self-doubt and insecurity.

 

So naturally, I begin to resent whomever I am with because I let a part of myself be overtaken and guided. In turn, they resent a that part of me that is always detached. Then things implode. It’s complicated, and a relationship is something best reserved for a time after a long, long period of honest, gut-wrenching introspection. Then, following that, after a period of self-reflection & commitment to uphold the conclusions that I arrive to.
I think I have been wanting to write about this for years, but I never have had the courage to own up to this particular aspect of my personality because it conflicts with the idea I have of myself– that I am independent, self-assured, and compellingly interesting on my own.

 

Nobody wants to see themselves as someone who needs others to feel complete. Nobody wants to admit that they actively search for parts of themselves in others, but this is something that I see all too often, and it’s so negative, that I want to, I guess, own it, acknowledge it, and start a dialogue about it.

 
And when I reflect on the very brief periods of my adult life when I am not in a relationship I realize that during those periods I do things that are the most rewarding. I tend to seek out my own interests, hobbies, and professional aspirations and achieve them. So, why I set aside that to invest my energy in something that usually drains me is beyond my understanding.

 
The only conclusion that I can seem to arrive to at this point is that it is deeply rooted in some sort of inherent loneliness, a desire to be understood which, for me, has never seemingly come easy. This is not the fault of those that surround me, but rather my own doing. I keep thoughts and ruminations locked away, reserved for one person, in that hopes that the dark will no longer exist.

 
As of late, though it may seem untrue to those in close proximity to me, my efforts have been to allow those that express a healthy interest in being close to me access into my life, to fill a space previously reserved for a fantasy person I’ve created in my imagination. And as I allow these friendships to be deepened with truth, not shying away from the bits of me that I do not like, I find that they are truer, deeper, more meaningful. (I hope you know who you are.. Forgive me if I do not do an adequate job at expressing my gratitude.)
There is a darkness to me. It has been there since I was a child. I am not an unhappy person by nature, but I am prone to bouts of severe introspection and rumination which often render me an intense entity to be around, perhaps even a bit sullen. Small talk, at times, becomes too big for me to handle, it is seemingly a chore that I can not navigate well and during these moments end up revealing parts of myself to strangers that I’d rather keep for either myself or close friends. That’s the strange part about intimacy, that you never really realize how intimate you are or aren’t until you are accountable for only yourself.

 
As I am now a few months removed from my last dating debacle, I find myself anxiously choosing my words to others. Carefully constructing what I say to others, how I handle conflict, how I respond to characters that rub me the wrong way, because when I go home there will be nobody there to validate that I am either right or wrong, that my thinking is on a healthy track or not. And, for the first time, I don’t want it to be guided by anyone else. At least, not dependent on it. I do recognize that humans are pack creatures and confiding in a friend, without romantic inclinations, is important for becoming a whole individual. I am learning to lean on others while maintaining my own air of confidence in my conclusions.

 
I want to sit with myself. I want to sweat out the addiction of having a partner and suffer the withdraws of a relationship. And it will pass, and when it passes I will have a clearer perspective.

 
I envy women who don’t suffer this disposition. The women who have found bodies and minds to settle into comfortably, who can pull up a chair with themselves, share a smoke, and mind and brain shake hands and part ways with one another cordigally. I am not one of those women. I find myself apologizing too often. I find myself shrinking within myself too often to live loud lest I make someone uncomfortable with my presence and my thoughts. I constantly think if I were more X then Y would happen.

 
I don’t resent past partners, though. Despite some of the horrific shit it’s all the becoming, and without it maybe I’d never have this thought.

 
There are girls like me. I see them often. And there are women like me. I see them often, as well. And, interestingly, I judge these girls and women harshly. I see them recoil within themselves, not speak up for themselves, shrink in corners of conflict and allow someone to speak for them. I realize how often that I have been that woman. What do they say– that familiarity breeds contempt? That is a true ass statement.

 
This is the most honest piece of writing I’ve done in years. I think I have always hinted at certain things, pulling from other aspects alluding to this thought, but never wanted to call a spade a spade. There is a certain sort of commitment that comes with accountability – once you recognize something in yourself and proclaim a desire to correct it, the denial of it is no longer acceptable, the avoidance becomes harder and not without crushing consequences (your own disapproval, the worst of all.)

 
What is interesting is that while I used a relationship to feel like a badass person, the most badass thing I could have done for myself would have been to truly take time to reflect on who I am, what I stand for, and without doubt reach for the things that I want, without asking permission. That is my goal as I enter this new reincarnation of Logan. And I urge everyone, together or not, to never diminish yourself for another, to never think you need the approval of anyone else but your own damn self. Because no matter how often I had someone there to tell me that I was okay, that whatever I did was normal, that the thoughts I had weren’t uncommon I knew deep down that it wasn’t the version of me that I wanted to be. It would creep in on me during quiet moments, in the shower, driving to work, washing dishes, reading a poem. It was always there, this quiet sort of nag that the only relationship I needed was the one with myself. The only approval I needed was mine. The only validation I needed was my own. The only comfort I could rely on was a comfortable respect for myself. Then, everything else can be true, honest, sincere. That will (or won’t) come, but for the first time in a long time I am not preoccupied with becoming a great person for anyone else but me. That is sometimes true – I still find myself in moments of wanting to be great so that I’m desirable, but then I just remind myself of all of this.

 
I am humble enough to know that when I write I’m at a half truth, still working on something, and am human with human flaws. But, reminding myself of what I’m about and what I want and keeping that at the forefront of my mind has been endlessly helpful.