May 5, 2014

Blank Walls

The walls of my apartment are bare so I want to decorate them with some sort of nice art. Unfortunately, the conversation I have in my head when considering what should accent the walls goes something like, "What would be good to hang here? What would I like to see in this spot every day? What would represent me? Who am I? What I stand for?" Then I over-analyze each possibility, eventually dismissing it for one reason or another. My walls continue to remain bare year after year.

I want something people can see when they come over to visit that shows what the kind of people who live here are like, but instead all they get to view is blank, white walls. Perhaps that is a good representation, then? Paralyzed by the inability to decide, I go with the most plain, unassuming wall color as well.

It's silly that I hang so much (Get it? Hang. Because it's wall decor!...) on art that's just going to sit there on the wall, something I can even take down if I don't like it anymore. But I do. I absolutely do. And every time I look up at these blank walls I am reminded at how incapable I am of making even the simplest decisions. I think the only way I will get any decorations on our walls are if we get a gift from someone or if, god forbid, I make an impulse purchase one day.

So it occurred to me that that same solution can be applied to any other situation. Stagnation is best defeated with immediate action without regard to consequences and is always easier with a friend. I'm going to get something to decorate my walls this weekend. It may suck, but it'll be a good start.

May 3, 2014

Let's just call it "Apartness."

For some reason I am still surprised at how much my mood improves with social interaction. Since I've been working at home, I don't get much face-to-face time with anyone other than Tom who is not really much of a talker. Today, I had breakfast with a friend and lunch + coffee with my parents. I actually had to turn down a last-minute invite from someone else for lunch (side note: when did I become so popular?) and felt a little bad.

It's tough for me to be in a bad mood when I hang out with people. There's just something about the human interaction energizes me -- hell, even sitting outside people-watching can be fun as well. The latter can easily become depressing, however, if viewed with a perception of... apartness? Is that a word? Let's go with that. I mean just feeling separated and not a part of the world you are watching.

This "apartness," which I'm guessing isn't a real word since Chrome is underlining it with a red squiggly line, is something that tends to creep up on me often. It's so easy for people to get wrapped up in their own lives and not keep in touch with others'. Privacy is nice though, isn't it? Nobody knows the silly things I do in my little room.

But god, it's so deadly.

Apartness keeps me from enjoying my life. It keeps me pressing my nose against the glass, smudging the window with my dirty fingerprints while I watch the world pass me by. It makes me feel alone and unloved and unwanted and undeserving of happiness. Apartness robs you of the right of every human to feel deserving.

Don't give in. Make efforts to connect to another human being even in the smallest way. Kick Apartness's ass. I sure as hell will be fighting it.

May 2, 2014

"I Hate Poetry"

I took a Teaching & Tutoring Writing course in college, and one day our professor brought in a bunch of sample writing projects students had turned in. All the names had been blacked out, but the students had given permission for the use of their work. I picked one up and the cover was simply the hand-written word "Poetry" in a wobbly circle and a line through it. Intrigued, I read the article detailing "Why I Hate Poetry."

Since any good college student knows an academic paper must include legitimate references. So this charming student decided, most likely due to the lack of academic literature detailing hate for an entire art form, to quote a poem. It was TS Elliot's "The Wasteland" which, I admit, I don't care for either.

What really stood out to me was the student's second quote -- lyrics from a U2 song. He or she praised the lyrics, rhetorically asking why poetry couldn't be more straightforward like that. I literally laughed out loud.

If you like music with lyrics, you like poetry. When you hate a particular song or a band or even a genre of music, you don't say "I hate music."

If you give store-bought greeting cards, reading each to find one that accurately depicts the sentiment you feel towards a person, you like poetry. The cards you dismiss don't make you say "I hate greeting cards."

If you're fond of quotes that capture a complex idea or universal truth in but a few words, you like poetry. Disagreeing or simply not appreciating a specific quote, the person who is quoted, or even the person who is quoting doesn't make you say "I hate quotes."

The logic behind the essay title "Why I Hate Poetry," applied to anything else, seems ridiculous. "Why I Hate Food" might detail "I hate vegetables, but I like meat. Why can't vegetables be more like meat?"

Fuck all haters.

May 1, 2014

I do not wish to add any more.

Let me start by stealing the intro to a piece by Kenneth Goldsmith in The Chronicle.
In 1969 the conceptual artist Douglas Huebler wrote, "The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more." I've come to embrace Huebler's idea, though it might be retooled as: "The world is full of texts, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more."
I came across this in a writing course I took in college and it really hit home for me. I often think, "what makes you so special? Why would anyone want to hear what you have to say? You don't matter. Nobody cares. Don't bother." So I obey these thoughts of inadequacy in my head and sit in a miserable silence. And of course there's a double standard -- I convince myself that the negative thoughts are what other people think, and the positive ones are just me trying to make myself feel better so couldn't possibly hold any truth.

I suppose part of it is the trend of "sharing" media on the internet. There's a part of me that doesn't care for even this "reuse" of media. My Twitter, Pinterest walls, Facebook page, Tumblr -- I'm probably missing some more of these, but you get the picture -- are sparse.

But even with the abundance of pins and tweets and memes, there are hundreds if not thousands of opinion articles published every day. Plenty of people think their opinions are worth hearing (or reading) and plenty of people even read those opinions. Hell, I read them too. And I think to myself how clever, witty or insightful the author is. This inevitably leads to "why can't I be so clever, witty or insightful?" And because I just love extrapolation and hyperbole, I end up at "why am I such a piece of shit?"

This individual blog post has been "in progress" for literally months. If not for the ease of saving drafts, I'd have scrapped it long ago and never returned to it. But here I am. Time to be clever, witty or insightful. Come on, Chel. Come on. Hey. What's wrong with you? Everyone else and their mothers can blog. What's wrong with you?

The truth, which causes a hurt I feel deep in my gut, is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. Just like there's absolutely nothing wrong with you, dear reader. Why does this hurt? Because it's counter to everything I've told myself my entire life. It goes against my deepest beliefs and the way I have always seen the world. It makes me uncomfortable to face the truth, and I'm sure it's uncomfortable for you as well. If you've been swimming in a well of self-confidence and conceit, well you can just go fuck yourself. The rest of us need help facing this truth.

So let me say it again. This is as much for you as it is for me:

There is nothing wrong with you. Millions of people feel the way you do. I promise you that. You are not alone.