30 Days of Forced Writing

An Experiment in writing

Allow me, if you can, a moment to be a bit…. dramatic. I have been profoundly sad for roughly 2 weeks. I want to cry all the time and I feel like I’m pretending to be someone else when I’m not crying. I want to avoid being alone at all costs and drink alcohol. Then I go out, however, and am annoyed by everyone and have 1 glass of wine and just want to go to sleep.

It’s weird going from having a very intimate perspective of a person to effectively  pretending like they’re a stranger while you try to forget the electricity you felt and still do, feel for them. It’s hard just being friends with them because what do you do with all the other stuff and how do you just ignore the elephant that’s standing in the room? I feel stupid because I didn’t know them for very long but they invited me into their lives, introduced me to some of their family, shared personal things with me, made me feel special and how do you forget that? How do they? How do you not feel a certain sense of inadequacy about yourself?

I suppose that’s what’s got me most upset, this feeling of not enough that’s sort of always screaming in the back of my head but only really gets loud when you show someone yourself and they reject it. For me, I spiral into thoughts of what’s wrong with me? How come the people I want to date, never want to date me? Why do terrible people get to have a bae and I don’t? Why don’t I know how to make good decisions? Why do I keep repeating the same patterns? How can I trust my judgment?

It isn’t exactly dating that’s got me so upset or the fact that yet another guy, doesn’t want to date me but rather it’s what it represents at this point for me. I’m going to be 30 in a week and I have nothing to show for myself. I don’t have a real career (I’m a bartender at a grocery store). I don’t own a home (I rent with 2 random women I met on the internet). I don’t have children (I don’t want them). I am single with not even a potential prospect. I have failed on all points of society’s perception of a successful life and I think oh that’s why: I have nothing to show for myself.

I don’t exactly mind that I haven’t followed the “American Dream” footpath because I think back to when my mom turned 30. I was 7 and I remember we had a house party and it was “over the hill” themed. Being 7, I didn’t know what hill she had gotten over or what that even meant and even now, I don’t really feel 30. I think about how at 44 she was a divorcé living with her parents and not eating.

I think about this customer that comes into my work, who in his late 40’s and is seeing a 27-year-old woman who told his now ex-wife about the affair causing him to get divorced. The same woman broke his foot with a flower pot when she was upset with him.

I think about this other middle-aged woman who told me how one day she came home early with her children to find her husband in bed with another man. She was unaware he was unhappy in their relationship or that he was battling with his sexual identity.

It occurs to me, fundamentally speaking, humans are messy. Life is messy and that’s okay. It is very hard to go against the grain of what the world expects of you. You do regularly have to answers questions about what is wrong with you? Why aren’t you doing this or that? To a point, you can say fuck society but when it’s all around you, at times your perseverance will be worn thin, at least that’s the case for me. Right now.

It helps me to consider the ways other people’s lives fall apart because it helps me put into perspective my pity party with a realization, life isn’t that bad for me. That’s not to say I don’t still battle with my insecurities of failure and inadequacy. I don’t know how to overcome these feelings despite the fact I know I have a lot of good qualities about myself but so often, I’m reminded that these things aren’t that important.

I went on a date with someone weeks ago who told me it was OK that I like to write, am into theatre, and do art but that I should also get into “cool” things like sports and partying. He didn’t care that these are things I’m proud of and things that I value more than sports and partying but that is so often the mentality I am met with.

I feel like I’m always being put into a box of “this how you should be” and there is no regard to whether or not that’s what I want to be or whether or not I want to accept that. I perpetually feel like I’m compromising my feelings and opinions about a situation for the comfort of everyone else involved. I don’t always know where my voice is and I’m sometimes afraid of using it.

I’ve worked jobs I hated because I wanted to not be seen as an unmotivated loser. I’ve put an unnecessary financial strain on myself living alone, because I wanted to prove I have my shit together, so to speak. I’ve gone along with things I hated because I didn’t want the confrontation despite those people wouldn’t do the same for me. I’ve remained friends with people who have hurt me deeply because I don’t want them to be sad too even though it can feel like my insides are falling out every time I see them. It’s still this box I’m shoved into or maybe I go willing into and the best part is, no one cares that you feel this way because it’s easier for them.

So I’m met with this sort of identity crisis at 30. I don’t know how to trust my judgment because it seems like I am wrong at every opportunity. Even though this episode was spawned by someone not wanting to date me, it’s more so about the perceived ways in which I am failing in life. I don’t know how to make peace with these things or how to overcome them. I think things will eventually turn around for me because at best, I am a stubborn sort of woman and perpetually curious about most things. I do know that I have people who love and care for me. I know that I do have many great qualities about myself and I know I’m not as much of a mess as it feels sometimes. Eventually, I will find the path I’m supposed to be on (or maybe I’m already on it) but in the season of life, in this current moment, I have lost the sunshine.

And just like that,
the room melts away.
It wasn’t a museum that ate time,
but rather a black hole
that ate time and the light
that bounced from your hair
and down your cotton shirt.

I want to tell you,
that I hate you
and mean it but,
that would be a lie.

And I’m mad at you,
but I’m mad at me too.
I hate the way I can be
and became the person
I feared I would
in spite of my best efforts
and intentions.

I want to hold you
accountable for it all
but that’s not fair.

Suppose for a moment,
I wasn’t ready either –
Suppose for a moment
I just liked being wanted,
Seen and appreciated.

I liked the person you saw,
and I
so much,
wanted to be her.

I think about that stupid song,
that played in the record store
and I think about
all the fun we had
and those tiny moments
when your eyes would crinkle
at my absurdity.

When we sat on the patio
smoking cloves
with my feet on your legs
sitting in silly boxers
and me in a robe
when I thought
we could just stay there.

I hate the stories
I wrote in my head
about things that
never happened.

Because even now,
I miss you,
and all the dumb things
you would do and say
that made me laugh.

I miss your friendship most,
and talking about music
And other general bullshit.

I consider daily,
the random things
I want to tell you,
ask you,
invite you to
but I think perhaps,
you don’t want
my company at this moment
and
If I’m honest,
I couldn’t be a good friend yet.

And even though,
you acted selfishly
you, didn’t act alone
because I was selfish too,
and didn’t hear you either.

As much as I regret
taking a trip with you
in the record store
and the black hole,
it was necessary
for us both
to taste our own flavors
of personal bullshit
we each carry

And I want to call you
and tell you all this
but for now,
I’ll just leave it here
and maybe our paths
will cross again
and I can watch your eyes
crinkle at the stupid shit
I say when pretending
I’m a human.

I’m aching in the anticipation
of your lingering kisses
that I want to save the feeling of.

And I hate,
that I can’t remove you
from all the space
that’s used to keep records
of all the lines on your face.

I keep writing about you
because I’m trying to find the right
words that are the accurate summation
of the things you are.

And I hate,
how haircuts will make you stop
in the midst of euphoria and,
you allow it power in this moment
even though they,
don’t give a fuck.

That is to say,
I’m not holding it against you,
and maybe it’s a store front
that makes you stop this time,
but I wish I could just
hold that beautiful face
and remind you
that hair cuts are only a phase.

Because I like when
the rooms melting
inside of a museum that ate time
seeing you,
standing there,
in that casual sort of way you do,
when you’re lost in your own thoughts
and I think about
how the light bounces
off your tossed aside hair
and down the folds of your cotton shirt
and how,
this is where you’ve always been
and how,
this is exactly where you fit
because you were the only thing
that wasn’t melting.

I don’t know how to tell you,
how completely naked I feel
and how,
I never buy cheetah dresses
except,
when I think about you
looking at me.

I don’t know how to tell you,
that you terrify me
because I don’t feel out of place
standing next to you
but I don’t want to be
in shadows of memories of someone else.

And I’m sorry,
I’m kind of a snob
and sometimes a bitch
about people I don’t know
and how,
I don’t know what a short box is
but if you’ll allow me to,
I’d like to spend hours
watching the skin around your eyes crinkle
because,
you’re probably laughing at me
or at least you’re smiling at me
and either way
I can take another picture in my mind
of the lines I missed last time.

Maybe I won’t see you tomorrow,
or even the next day,
or maybe ever again
but if you can keep the room
from melting completely away
maybe there’s something to say
about all that sort of thing.

 

I live in dichotomies
and reflect on the mile stone
of reaching another decade
around the sun.

I feel old
and then I don’t
feel old enough.
I listen to jazz
like a good intellectual
and say things like
Miles is so existential
and I want
to punch myself
in the face
when those words vomit
from my mouth.

I think about
the first 10 years of adulthood
and how I don’t remember
the first half
because maybe nothing happened
but rather, I was dead.

And the last half
has been a zombie
trying to be human again
melting the ice
that had gripped
a tired heart.
A heart thats still tired
but still beating.

I’m still chasing pipe dreams
and I hit that pipe every day
because while everyone else
was alive at 22,
I was drowning
in seas of gray,
further and further
until the bedrock
of the sea welcomed me
to my new home
where I stayed
shackled in muck
and blinded by darkness.

Only now,
did I find the surface
and gasped for air
and
only now,
do I feel like I’m actually
in control of myself.

Only now,
have I accepted
the role of ruler
of my life.
and I think about
how I’m not where
I considered I would be
at 3 decades deep
into this journey
through space,
but I think it’s okay
because even though
like Andre says,
everyone around me playin marriage
or paying child support
or buying houses
I can’t cope –

My tinder profile
is a sea of mirror selfies
and camo
with dead carcasses
and advertisements of hard working, homeowners
who’s only hobby is sports,
not playing, just watching
and its like –
is this really enough for people?

And if it is enough,
why isn’t it enough for me?
because I’m constantly hounded
with questions likes
Whats wrong with you?
When are you are going to get married?
When are you going to have a baby?
like there’s nothing better to do.

Sometimes I feel like
I’m being childish though,
with my pipe in hand
and day dreams of adventures
of a life
that doesn’t included houses, camo
or apple pie –
Because I’m chasing something bigger,
and sometimes I think
it’s a waste of time
and, perhaps I should acquiesce
to the kool aid before me.
Give into my consumeristic tendencies
and buy a big box
to put my camo shit in
and close the blinds
and the rest of the world away from me.
But I’m not ready
to nail myself
inside a coffin just yet.

And it feels like
everyone else wants me
inside these boxes
so they don’t have to worry,
and so they can tell their friends
she’s OK because,
she’s has the correct mile stones
accomplished in order
while looking at me to say
well there’s still time…

I hear people say
you don’t act 30
and I don’t know
what that even means
because what does it mean
to act 30 when I don’t even feel it?
like should I be honored or offended?
but mostly I don’t give a fuck
and maybe that’s what being 30 is.

A clock ticks
in relentless rhythms
but the hands
never seem to move.

My face feels
like it’s melting
into my chest
out of sheer boredom
of everyday life.

My mind wonders
in day dreams of
loft apartments
in big cities
and vacations
to spectacular places
but the hands
I swear,
are not moving.

I create spreadsheets
and playlists
and research
and practice my skills
to make my day dreams
my reality
but somedays
it feels
like
life doesn’t move at all.

Somedays,
those days
turn into months
and years
of maddening stagnation.

My motivation
is drowned out
by that constant ticking
of that god awful clock
and I fear
I might be wasting
my life away
waiting for my plans
to pay off.

And then,
suddenly,
and often without warning,
life seems to burst alive
and the clock shatters
as it all happens at once.
and its overwhelming
but its these moments
that make you to feel
alive.

I joined a dating site (again) because I’m bored and a masochist, apparently. This morning I had the pleasure of speaking with Drew. Drew asked me a couple questions about the software engineering degree I’m pursuing, whether or not I was at work and who this man is in one of the Instagram pictures on my profile. I had initiated the conversation because he mentioned he was plant based in his profile and vegetarians and vegans love meeting other vegetarians and vegans and talking about it. By the time he asked about the mysterious man in the picture (my brother, btw), he expressed I wasn’t giving him much to work off of when I said it was a weird question to ask who the man is. He said he was grasping at thin air, trying to find something to talk about.

The way I understand how conversations work, one person asks a question or makes a statement, the other responds to you and the conversation builds; dialogue 101. Drew, however, asked me random questions that didn’t relate to each other and thus the conversation did not flow and it was difficult to build any deeper conversation. It was more like a job interview than an actual conversation. Still, I thought it was going fine until he really lost his cool with the brother question. At that point he called me a “minimum wage loser” for working at Whole Foods (WF) and staying in bed till 10:30 AM on my day off.

It goes without saying that Drew is in fact, an ass hole. I do not understand this idea that your value as a person is wrapped up entirely by what you do for money. I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately as I continue to go deeper into the software engineering program and work more at WF.

I have had a lot of jobs since I started working when I was 16. Since I graduated from college 8 years ago, I have had 6 different jobs. I have been an account manager, a paralegal assistant, an office assistant, customer service representative, a dishwasher and a cook (to be fair the last 2 have been at the same company). I have hated all of those office jobs for various reasons. I hated dealing with the 9 – 5 traffic, I hated sitting at a desk, I hated staring at a screen all day,  I hated that I was completely and totally bored by these jobs and what I hated most was that I felt like I was wasting my life away and wasting my intellect on things I felt completely disconnected from. Everything about these jobs was designed to increase profit and that is what I chased at every one of them and I hated it.

Of course, I understand that a business needs to make a profit to function. However, my job at WF is to make food. It needs to taste good and look good so people will buy it but the goal of the profit is more or less removed from the actual practice of my day to day life. I can talk to cool people all day, or listen to music and get lost in my own thoughts. My best ideas for poems and stories and art come when I’m at work and can let my mind wander.

Drew made a lot of assumptions about me, based on his insecurities about himself. He thinks I’m a loser and unmotivated to better myself because I work in the service industry. To Drew, people who work service jobs aren’t smart enough or work hard enough to “make it” in more glamours fields. It didn’t occur to him, that I chose to work at a grocery store and it wasn’t because it was the only job I could get. It didn’t matter to him, that I had tried his lifestyle for many years and every time it made me completely miserable. I gained weight at these jobs and had anxiety dreams almost every night about being late to work. Some weekends I couldn’t even relax because I was too anxious about Monday. I would take a vacation and still be expected to be available if someone needed something in the office. I was never in charge of my time, at these jobs.

I’ve been struggling with whether or not I want to continue with software engineering because I know it’s going to put me back at a desk, surrounded by more Drew’s.  I know I’m going to be so mentally exhausted, that I won’t paint or write. Since I started at WF, I created this blog and made active efforts to maintain it, I’m doing more art, I’m more social and engaged with the world, I’ve lost 20 lbs and have started working on other bigger projects. I’m networking with more people who inspire me with my projects and set my mind ablaze. These are huge positive changes.

I’m scared, however. I’m scared of people like Drew who think I don’t have any value because I work at a grocery store. I’m scared of disappointing my inner circle that thinks I’m destined for great things and my grandma who wants me to be an executive because, in her time, women didn’t do that. Drew is scared too because Drew is unhappy and insecure about his own life. If he wasn’t, he wouldn’t have felt the need to degrade a stranger on a dating app for no reason. He wouldn’t need to judge people’s income if he truly felt secure in his own. I’m sure Drew’s life seems excellent on the outside but he’s deeply unfulfilled and that’s what happens when you work a job that doesn’t have any value to you. The difference between me and Drew, however, is that I am finding the courage to jump over that fear and be in a place that allows me to pursue the things that make me excited about the world.

I don’t know what I’ll do with my education. It’s interesting to me and I can certainly become a freelance programmer as a side hustle if I felt so inclined to do so. What I do know, is that I haven’t felt this free in a very long time. Is my job perfect? no. Are there days I do kind of hate it? Of course. Does the good outweigh those days though? Absolutely. Drew will always be unhappy because Drew is living a life he doesn’t actually want, even if he can’t admit it to himself. I may never have the executive career my grandma wants for me and it’s very possible I will disappoint my entire family by building a career at a grocery store but what they don’t understand is that maybe then, I’ll be able to fly.

 – Neptune

I think a lot
about this sign,
I saw in a coffee shop.

And I think
about that coffee shop
and how everyone inside
looked like a social media influencer
but seemed to lack
anything genuine

and I know,
I’m being judgmental
about people I don’t know
and a place I went to once
but even inside the shop
that played my beloved jazz
and had dark wood
paneled walls
and checked all the boxes
of what I like
in a coffee shop
it felt like a facade.
like shopping at Urban Outfitters.

The sign on the door
was a list
of all the different ways
you can be human.
the sign said,
all humans are welcome,
including humans with disabilities.

But, as soon as you came in,
there were 5 steps
one has to climb
in order to get to the counter
and buy a coffee.
So even though,
the sign said everyone’s welcome,
nothing was actually done
to ensure everyone is able.

So you can be welcome,
but you may not be able
to get in
based on your physical abilities.

and I think about
how thats how our world works
we say but never do.
we create “movements” online
but lack systematic change
for movements to matter.

And then when you question it all,
someone with fake glasses
points to the sign
and says everyone’s welcome,
and pretends
the stairs
can be willed away
with positive vibes.