Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Super Bowl is coming to New York and other cool stuff.

Hey, weirdos, it's me: Coming at you live from my bed, having just cleaned the bathroom and managing not to do laundry for the millionth day in a row. I am clearly handling adulthood brilliantly. I am the envy of the modern world.

I've officially been in school for four days (go me!) and I've learned loads. Allow me to enlighten you.

Some Stuff I've Learned Since I've Been Back At School:
1.) lots of French curse words
2.) the "pigeon hole" concept in maths
3.) how to pull a hamstring
4.) how to nurse a pulled hamstring
5.) that not having any classes before 12:30 pm is the best thing in the whole world
6.) the fact that everything I thought I knew about writing essays is apparently wrong
7.) that Ernest Hemminway was a brat
8.) how to apologize to a girl who hates you

It's been an eventful few days, basically.

I also discovered another thing, and I've been thinking about it a lot lately, and it's this: I think perhaps the defining trait of writers is an understanding that writing is truly the only thing they can do with their lives, even if they are capable of other things. Writers seem to understand the sense that having to write, for some reason, is inevitable. I've felt it since the fifth grade.

I went to my new creative writing class (it's three hours and fifteen minutes long (!!) and I'm so jazzed about that) and my new instructor was surprised when I told him it was both my second workshop class and my second semester in school, and he asked how long I'd been so "seduced by the thought of being a writer." The truth is I've been seduced by the idea of it my whole life and when I told him that he laughed and said, "Aren't we all?" And it's true. There's this sense that like, I could go to law school or I could be an actress or I could study architecture, but also that I can't. This is the only thing I can do or I'll just burst or something. And I don't know, maybe that's a very normal thing that everyone in the whole world feels about their specific career or life path and that writers just talk the most. That sounds like a very plausible thing.

There's this brilliant essay by Joan Didion called "Why I Write," and she ends it saying this: "...This 'I' was the voice of no author in my house. This 'I' was someone who not only knew why Charlotte went to the airport but also knew someone called “Victor.” Who was Victor? Who was this narrator? Why was this narrator telling me this story? Let me tell you one thing about why writers write: had I known the answer to any of these questions I would never have needed to write a novel." So I'm pretty obsessed with that.

In other news, I miss my BFF soul twin sister baby Kaitlyn Lindley a lot this week. She was the queen of bloggers and we wouldn't be friends if it weren't for some weird pre-teen blogs we both kept. She's out slayin' it on an LDS mission in Philly and I miss her and her letters make me laugh always. The last one she sent me has a very long paragraph in all caps about how we used to eat frosting out of the container "even though that is so bad for our arteries."

I guess what I'm saying it that I'm still learning to deal with change. I still think a lot about what life was like when me and Kaitlyn and Avery ran the world and high school happened and how my entire universe was encapsulated inside of a little valley in Utah. I've never been great at change, and that's something I'll freely admit, so sometimes I think about how I packed up my entire life (almost 6 months ago now!) and moved to the other end of the country, and how that was just such a wild thing to do, but also it was something (sort of like writing) that I've known for my entire life that I was going to do. I can't help but be struck almost every single day by the fact that everything happens for a reason and I wouldn't go back or change it or do anything differently even if I could. There's an old Arabic proverb that is just "What is coming is better than what is gone," and I think about that a lot, because it's true. Life is about loving where you are, or you'll turn into a pillar of salt, probably.

Anyway, I guess that's about it for today. Have a happy weekend. And also enjoy this super cool song by my favorite rapper, Stromae, who's this Belgium dude who everyone's gone (understandably) nuts about lately. French rap forever.

Okay, wait you need a couple more from Stromae because he's my number one jam.

That's all. Bye, guys.

Oh, wait, happy Super Bowl weekend. Go... team. Yay sports. I have to care about this because the Super Bowl is coming to New York City (or, really, New Jersey (ugh)) and everyone here is 1000000% crazed about that and I love New York the most, so I'm also being thrilled about the world series of football because it's like my duty as a New Yorker or something -- and yes, I am a New Yorker; don't pull the whole Sex and the City, "You have to have lived in New York for 10 years to call yourself a New Yorker," because that's lame.

Okay, now we're actually done. Over and out.

"Art is what you can get away with." -Andy Warhol

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Math of Things: An Indulgent Blog Post

If you went back through my blog(s), I'd say that probably 90% of my posts say one of two things in the first paragraph: 1.) "I'm sorry that this isn't beautiful or calculated or lovely like I have lead you to believe my blog posts will be." This is, of course, always followed by something arguably beautiful/lovely and mostly certainly calculated, because despite how cluttery and ADD I am, I am also calculative to the point of being occasionally manipulative, and I'm pretty sure we all knew (and I think even I knew that you knew) what I was doing when I would apologize for "not writing pretty things." 2.) "I'm sorry for posting more poetry/something so long/something so ugly, but it's my blog." I wasn't really sorry. It is my blog.

About a year ago, my friend Avery wrote a very long, very sad, very inspiring, very enlightening post over on her blog where she basically did what I'm about to do, but, as always, Avery said it better: "...while I probably am a narcissist, I'm not such a delusional one that I actually expect you to read all [any] of this morbidly long, disaster post. It was more of a long overdue journal entry, a post for myself really. It's all the things I've been withholding from this neglected blog for the past...forever, all in one monstrous, rage-y, pointless post that I 100% forgive you not for paying attention to. However, I want you guys to know that I really love you, especially a few of you that I actually really really love, and that I'm okay, and also thanks for being whatever you are to me. Great. I just made the post another month longer. Whatever." That's pretty much the introduction this post needs. It's not for you. It's for me, like all the things I post with the new year. 

Some part of me thought I was going to get away with some simple, condensed, nice-looking New Year's post, but who was I kidding? I am a narcissist, and for that reason, there is some part of me that wants to publish this and say, "My readers and fans, read it and weep!" But mostly, I just want to write this blog post because for some reason, my mind works differently when I'm blogging than when I'm journaling because it sort of edits out the stuff that is 1,000,000% pointless (but still sort of leaves the stuff that is anything less than 1,000,000% pointless), because I guess I still think people are going to read it or something, and it just needs to be written. For me.

What I'm getting at is two things: 1.) I am not sorry, because I am going to force even this to be something semi-beautiful/lovely and, despite the fact that it is certainly, in many ways, less calculated than basically anything else I've ever posted, I am not sorry that even this post is something I have carefully calculated in my little brain. 2.) I'm not sorry for posting it, and I won't even pretend I am.

One last premise to all this is that if you only want to read one little part, read the last part that's called "On social media/final thoughts," because it's really what I'm getting at and something that I really do want people to know. Okay.

On having two homes/feminist theory/my family:

Ever since I came home for Thanksgiving, I have wanted to write a blog post that was "Thoughts on having two homes." I thought about it a lot and even sat down and tried to write it once, but it didn't work for some reason. This was because my thoughts on having two homes were extremely unclear and hazy and hard to polish up into a bloggity-blog-blog post. Mostly, they come down to a few different things:

1.) A thought I have had more than once while being home is, "I am so happy here that it scares me."

2.) A text I sent to one of my friends from NYC last week was, "You know that part in Orange is the New Black where she says, 'I'm scared that I'm not myself in here, and I'm scared that I am'? That's how I feel about being home."

I should confess before I move forward that the blog post I wanted to write didn't look like either of those things. It was going to be polished and slickery clean and something I could read over the pulpit.

Since I've been home for Christmas, I've had a lot of feelings. There's some part of me that wants to run around like the little wild child baby I was and hang out with all my supercool, ultrabeautiful friends and climb mountains and go to Velour and watch movies and wear cool clothes and perform slam poetry and be the best. On the other hand, there is some part of me that wants to do yoga when I wake up and not put on any makeup and only wear things that are comfortable and only leave the house to do yoga or to do things with my family. Because I have always been the type of person who tries to do absolutely everything, I have tried, with little success, to fulfill both parts of myself, and then the part of me that wanted to run Utah like I used to [think I did], got murdered by the part of me that didn't even really want to leave the house.

I got to talking to two of my very best friends in the history of the whole world, Avery Taylor and Emily Henson, and, as they often are when I talk to them, the mysteries of the universe were suddenly glaringly obvious to me, because, as we talked, though the nature of our relationship as Grrrrl Squad Queen Bee Wonder Baby Princesses has not changed at all, everything else has. Kaitlyn is gone. Avery and Emily have glamorous wonderful new friends who live in a house that they've named and they know people who play in bands and understand a whole new set of rules. I am not a part of those new glamorous wonderful new friends who live in a house that they've named and I do not know the people in the bands and I do not fully understand their whole new set of rules. As Avery and Emily and all of you and everyone else should know, this is not in any way Avery and Emily's fault. It just is.

Part of the shocking realization I had listening to them talk was that those people could be my friends. They could be my people and my rules, and above all, I could be happy with those people and friends and rules. There was a part of me that said, "I will leave Utah, and I will be happy." But I was happy here before, and I did leave Utah, and I am very happy in New York, but also, I could be happy with this world. It could be my world. And that could be more than okay.

But, of course, Avery and Emily's new friends are not my new friends. They have new people. They have new music. They have new secrets. They have things to discuss that I do not understand. On top of all that, nearly all of my friends that kept this place together have taken off, most of them on LDS missions, and then the spaces they filled have a way of shining so bright it might blind you (especially the space Kaitlyn Lindley occupied). But, of course, Avery and Emily's old friends are my old friends. We have so many of the same people. We have the same music and the same secrets and so many things to discuss. I have half of a life here.

The thing that cannot, by any means, be counted out is that I have SO MANY GLAMOROUS, WONDERFUL NEW FRIENDS. They live in apartments we have named. I live in an apartment/dorm I have named. I can see the Empire State Building out the window of said apartment/dorm. I have friends who run the fashion world and friends who will someday fund the theatre world and friends who take beautiful pictures and friends who talk me into sleeping on the sidewalk outside of the Rockefeller Center to see SNL and friends who take the train to church with me and friends who watch American Horror Story with me every Wednesday and feed me and let me take over their space.

I have a whole new set of rules. Elevator etiquette is a big thing in my life. Trains and parks and taxis and tip money and organic food and libraries and quiet hours and politics and snow days and avenue blocks dictate my life. I understand these things. It is my world. In many ways, I have a very lovely, very complete life in New York, but it is not 100% complete because there are still pieces of my soul in the corners of Kaitlyn Lindley's kitchen and Matt Colemere's couch and Katie Thueson's backyard and on Avery Taylor's dog and in the upstairs bedroom of Emily Henson's old house and Morgan Nelson's basement and the list goes on and on. In a devastating way, I only have a half-life in New York, too.

The worst part is that, especially when I am here, in Utah, that sense of having only a half-life feels glaringly evident, and, late at night, when I can't sleep, it leaves me feeling like a little bit of a half-person.

While we're here, I should say also that my family is very separate from this half-life phenomena. They have been the most beautiful thing and remain mostly unchanged, or at least unchanged enough between my twice-daily phone calls that I feel complete and full and whole with them. In fact, I have had many moments since I have been home and with my family when I have sort of taken a step back and looked at them and thought, "Here, I am content."

Point is, I was a little bit of a mess with the whole, "I am a half-person living two totally separate if equally beautiful lives and it's very much to handle, I am only a child." But, alas, I am no longer a child. As with most things, I started to freak out to Avery so much, and she reminded me of something interesting that I have been thinking about a lot lately, which is this:

There is this sort of feminist theory that says that, in a marriage, it isn't two halves equalling a whole, but rather two wholes coming together. It basically says that you aren't completed by another person, but instead you are already a complete being, as is your partner. When I discussed this idea with my parents, they even took it further to say that it's not 1/2 + 1/2 = 1, but it's also not 1 + 1 = 2, but rather 1 + 1 = 3. A good marriage, they told me, isn't about completion of one another or compromising, but rather about creating something new and better and beautiful. Marriage, instead of being two half things completing each other, should be two whole things creating something beautiful and making each other better.

In reference to my life, Avery basically told me that my problem was that I was looking at my life, and then to a greater extent my whole being, as a half-thing, when in fact, I am a whole thing. I am complete being, and the marriage of the pieces of my life is a little difficult sometimes because I was forcing them to complete each other instead of saying, "You are 100% of me and my life, and you are also 100% of me and my life." Because they are. Because Utah, in all its glory, is 100% of me, and New York, in all its wonder, is also 100% of me.

And those are my honest thoughts on having two homes.

On love/more on being a complete being all by yourself:

After this blog post (the one with the set of poems), I started fielding a lot of questions. Let me answer all of them here: Yes, the centerpiece love poem is definitely, to an extent, about a real, specific person. Yes, some of you probably know him. Yes, he has probably read the poem, and if he has, he definitely knows it is about him. Yes, this is okay with me. No, I will not tell you who it is. No, it is not completely true. No, he is not my boyfriend. No, he did not propose to me.

The poetry series was more of a way of exploring my ideas about myself and my future, and to use a love poem (which was, in many ways, a work of fiction) as a centerpiece for that seemed like a good way to hew together the ideas I was working with.

And although no one actually asked, let me tell you that, yes, I got 100.8% as a final grade in the creative writing class for which that poetry set was written.

But enough about that. What I really want to get at is this: No matter where you are in your life, like, mentally or geographically or whatever, love is hard.

There have been four times in my life when I have said that I was in love and truly believed it. Considering the fact that I am only 18 years old, this feels like a lot of times. The reason I tell you that, though, is to admit that, looking back, I can only stand by 1.5/4 of those times, and even then, objectively, I can't really even stand by 1/4 of them, so I think maybe the more appropriate ratio might just be .5/3. I am not a numbers person by any means, but this is an interesting thing to consider.

On a less sentimental note, I had a conversation with one of my favorite friends (her name is Hayley Walker) about soul mates the other day. To some degree, what she and I talked about is very similar to the idea that, in a good marriage, 1 + 1 = 3, but we also sort of talked about fate and if soul mates exist and here's what we came down to:

As idealistic and wonderful as it sounds, fate and soul mates do not exist. A fundamental belief of Mormonism, which both of us hold true, is that in this life, we have complete agency of choice. The idea that you have a soul mate not only takes away from the fact that you are complete soul all on your own (and you most definitely are) but it also takes away from your agency to choose. While there is for each of us "the one" in the sense that somewhere out there, the person you or I or Hayley or anybody will marry -- "the one" -- exists, but not as some predetermined, fate-driven being. Soul mates -- even beyond marriage, in friendships and families and business relationships -- basically come down to the fact that there people you will come across in this life who you kind of turn into your soul mate. This means that you could marry any number of people and be happy. This means you could do any number of things with your life and be happy. This means you are already a complete being, and this is great news.

While on the topic of love and as a bit of a side note, I would like to make a sort of bold move and say this: I am 100% for marriage equality. This is something I am sure many of you know about me and have known for a very long time, but I have never come out and said it on the interwebs. I wanted to bring this up because this blog post is long and honest and might even be long enough that anyone who would be mad at me for saying this isn't even reading this part, but also because it is something that is important to me. Quite frankly, most of my dearest friends are homosexual. To deny them the right to obtain one of the most basic of human desires, a marriage with someone they love, seems wrong. While I understand that there is a religious basis of this argument for many people I know here in Utah, and I can certainly (to an extent) respect that opinion, especially because includes to an extent my own beliefs and upbringing, I would just like to politely point out that this is a country founded on equality, and the separation of church and state also stands as an important pillar of the freedoms which make America great.

Because this section of this very long and messy blog post that you probably aren't actually reading has started to sound a little too metaphysical and poetic (with the 1 + 1 = 3 thing), let me rope us back down to earth to admit that this is all easier said than done. I know because my heart gets walked all over pretty often. Yeah, a lot of that is my fault. I fall for boys easily. I trust easily. My love language is physical touch. I tell you this because if nothing else, I know that love ["love"] (remember my .5/3 ratio?) is blind and usually ends badly. There is nothing you can do about it, so don't try to fight it. This knowledge will not, as it has not with me, save you from any pain. I am learning to be okay with this.

I will say this: Though I do not believe in love at first sight or soul mates or fate or any of that, as much as I so terribly want to, I do believe that God or the universe or whatever it is you believe controls all of this puts certain important people in your life. And I believe you can know from the moment you first see them that they will be important to you. In fact, one day, about a year ago, a certain red-headed boy walked into a library I was in. I saw him walk in and I said to the girl next to me (a girl, by the way, who is now studying at Harvard), "Who is that boy? I love him." And then I did not see him or even remember him for another 8 months, and now, a year later, he's one of my best friends in the entire world. And I still love him, so I guess I can't explain everything.

On social media/final thoughts/if you want to skim this blog post, this is the part you should really read:

I said to my mom just the other night, and I've even said it before on this blog back on a post where I reminisced about life a lot, that the whole point of social media is to make people think your life is awesome. "But everyone on twitter talks about how much their life sucks!" you cry. Yes, a lot of people on twitter talk about how their life sucks. I see 50 tweets a day that say something like, "You walked into my life and then walked out without telling me and left me to whither away without you." (For those of you not familiar with twitter, I am not exaggerating even a little bit.) Even tweets like these are some cry for attention and love and acceptance. You start to think that their life is more interesting than yours. We are the millennial generation. Welcome. What I'm getting at is that social media, including, if not especially my own use of social media, is to make people think your life is great and interesting and worthy of some prize and then because of that insane little facade we've all built, we all get very sad and worked up about how our lives are not as interesting or wonderful or worthy as everyone else's. I am acutely aware of this fact, and I start to feel upset about how my life is less awesome or interesting or noteworthy or pretty as anyone else's all the time.

I say this because while this has been a very, very, very selfish blog post (for which I am still not sorry) and it has been almost entirely for me, this is a part for you, because I love you.

I want you to know that my life is wonderful and full of cute boys and adventures and nice clothes and a truly incredible family and New York City and travel and wonder and fun, and while those things are certainly real things to me, those are the only parts of my life that you see on social media. Those are the only parts of my life that I put out there for the masses to view. I want you to know that the person on social media is the same person who cries because her life (and by her life I mean my life) feels stretched out and imbalanced sometimes and has a hard time going out sometimes and misses high school some days and misses coming home to her mom always and aches for the city when she's away from it and worries about grad school all the time and wonders if anyone will ever want to marry her sometimes. I want you to know this because I know I am not the only one who doesn't let you see those things. I want you to know this not because I want us to start using social media as a place to post videos of ourselves crying in bed at night, because that's just disgusting and no one wants to see that, but simply because I'm trying to rethink the way I view social media, because it's definitely not always proactive to my happiness and maybe you need to rethink the way you start to feel when you're stalking some girl on instagram. "Comparison is the thief of joy." 

I just want you to know that we're all the same at the end of the day. We are have good days and bad days. Your life is just as interesting and noteworthy and pretty and special and unique and prize-winning as mine or anyone else's in the whole world (except BeyoncĂ© -- hers is better and that's just a fact).

So. Let me sum this whole thing up in a few final thoughts:
1.) Thank you for letting me have this blog post. It was good for me. If you read the whole thing, I am simultaneously pleased and flattered and saddened and shocked.
2.) Happiness is not climate-controlled, and it is not lessened by finding joy in many, many places.
3.) You are a complete being. You do not need anyone else to make you such.
4.) Fate isn't real.
5.) You aren't the only thing running this life, and not everything can be explained.
6.) Equality makes America great.
7.) Comparison is the thief of joy.
8.) I love you.

I guess that's sort of it. I guess now's the time when I push "publish" and feel a little more grounded because I have been honest with all of you and, even more importantly, honest with myself.

This has been a very long blog post.

I'm still not sorry for it. I still love all of you.

"Ask her if she still keeps all her kings in the back row." -Catcher in the Rye