the quarter-life crisis: re-learning how to be real.

08/02/2011 § Leave a comment

Pride can do funny things to one’s soul.

I thank my friend for showing me  that whilst we sitting for hours in a parking-lot in the freezing cold. It can make you not recognize your own worth and you end up bending your core to the whims of others in the pursuit of wanting to be anything other than your self. A place in my heart always.

A few years ago, I remember being asked to write a 20-page essay titled, “Who Am I?” I thought the idea was ridiculous, but mostly I was lazy and didn’t feel like I needed to write it into such a finite space. So, instead, I went home and thought about it for days, weeks, months, years…

Don’t we all?

So, this is me getting real for all my friends, old and new.

This is my post-quarter-life crisis catharsis.

I’ve never been driven towards a career, per se, but have absolute admiration for those who are. I knew from a very early age that I didn’t want to live the rest of my life doing one thing and if I did, I would want to be doing something I felt passionate about.

Over the years, I discovered I like to read. Stories, the language and the message. A nice package of thought.

When it comes to books, I am a snob for personal preferences, but I will read everything (or at least try to. Once, I even tried to read a romance novel. Unfortunately, I couldn’t finish it, but I didn’t judge the selection.) I do know what I like and what I don’t like, but I also like knowing what I can recommend to other people based on their likes. That is what I like to do. I like people.

Hm. Getting closer.

What I like most in life are the people in it. I don’t care where you’re from, what you “do”, or where you will be (doing whatever it is you will be doing.) All I care about is whether you are happy or a good person. Funny thing I have learned is that everyone is good, even the ones that come across as bad. They are not bad, they just made poor choices in a bad moment. (Don’t we all?) Even the really bad people are not bad, but merely products of our society (thank you, Tala, for that eloquent observation.)

Nothing is ever as it seems.

So it goes.

I find everything fascinating and curious which is why I find everything beautiful. Even in the dredges of muck, I can find a twinkle of murky mud to be pretty. I also like the feeling of mud between my toes, it reminds me of epic days and nights spent getting dirty at Beer Fest or watching Rage Against The Machine in rainy New York.

To me, experiences with friends and family are what make this life so amazing.

Memories, even through the toughest or most frustrating or disgusting or embarrassing of times, are to be laughed about later.

I absolutely hate being cold and wet, but I have learned that there are always ways to warm oneself. What I found was that even if I don’t have a “home”, a homie will lend a couch. I love that. (Also, as a note, I always will have a couch for you guys, too.) We are pretty lucky, which is why we should appreciate everyday that we live.

I think there is something to the quarter-life crisis (for some.) Though, a friend’s mom told us that these mini-crises “will never stop”. And should they? If we stop questioning, not who we are, but what we are doing in life, we might become robotic and content, seeping into the quicksand of anonymous droning. I don’t think we can stop questioning, our brains won’t let us. The grass will always seem greener, and like I wrote before, it’s not. It just tastes different.

And you try to laugh about it, even if it makes you cry in the moment.

I remember one night (over drinks) unknowingly discussing our subconscious thoughts of our selves, friends and waterfalls. I remember a lot of people chose a dog in some colour of room. I thought of a badger in a green room. That answer was supposed to symbolize how we see ourselves with our friends (a little piece of informal, Freudian psychology!) Green was supposed to mean caring and nurturing.

Hm.

When asked why I chose the badger I said, “it’s cute and soft on the outside, but if you mess with its friends it will rip you a part.”

Whoa.

It’s really difficult to come to terms with being a people lover and a badger. In the past, I have made poor choices based on assuming that I knew what was going on. It was a tough life lesson, I lost a best friend for a couple of years (but are now great homies, again.)

Nothing is as it seems.

And time does heal. If you let it.

I guess life is supposed to teach us things and we only learn through the toughest of lessons. Like Mama Weaver said, “hardships are good for the soul.”

I think why I chose to write and take pictures as a hobby (of which I hope to develop) was a beautiful way of sharing what I learn from others, capturing moments with a camera or words, and giving it back for the world to see.

Life can get tough and that’s ok, because we will pull ourselves back up. That’s what’s so great about it. The darkest times let you appreciate the lighter times.

Still, I definitely need some solitary space and time away from everything (don’t we all?). I just love everyone so much that I find it difficult and almost impossible to say “no, I can’t see you”. Especially when you’ve got such amazing friends.

But, where my heart is will be with my friends and family. Always.

My pencil does not need water, my camera does not need to eat. I will drop them without a thought to be there for you (as much as I can. Can’t be everywhere at once, although, believe you me, I have tried.)

That’s what this year taught me (living selfishly, doing “whatever I needed to do”.) To tell you the truth, it was and is somewhat uncomfortable to live so far away from so many.

Still, just know that me being away is not forever, just for now. Living a little, getting outside, exploring some stuff, working on things that I feel passionate about, hanging out with friends. I am doing what I do here, what I do there. But, I miss you guys so much.

You need to take yourself with you everywhere you go.

Sure, I may not be writing prose right now, but I give myself permission to not have everything perfect.

This year also taught me that perfection comes in the imperfections because it shows window-lettes into our humanity. Robots are perfect and there is a reason why no one has been able to construct one according to Asimov’s laws of robotics. The reality is, you cannot construct perfection and, especially as human beings, living creatures, we cannot be perfect. Sometimes people hurt other people’s feelings, people are not good at obeying, and people will put their own “existence” into jeopardy in order to protect the ones they love. We are animals, social animals, and thank good-ness for that.

So sure, the stuff that I am working on may not be perfect, and it’s not best-seller material (or perhaps it is with some of the stuff out there,) but it doesn’t really matter.

There are almost 7 billion people in the world. Not everyone is going to like the stuff you put out there.

I have my pieces that I am working on, but like most delicious things in life, I believe in taking my time. Everything good and wholesome takes time (even our hearts and souls.)

So, back to getting real.

I like many things and am not a snob about the things that others like. Still, I do know what I like and I will watch, read, listen, wear it over and over and over.

I like Wes Anderson movies because of my undying love for Bill Murray. I fell in love with Bill Murray when the first Ghostbusters movie came out. I thought his dry wit was hilarious and I felt like it was love at first sight. He made me laugh so much. I also love Anderson’s use of the colours blue and orange, both of which make me tender every time (also the reason why I loved “City of God” and “The Constant Gardener”.)

I love Michaelangelo, the TMT. I remember I used to have a figurine of him (no Barbies for me) and I would always take a bubble bath with him, launching him off the sides of the tub or faucet. At night, I would stash him under my pillow and kiss his nose before I went to bed. I loved his character because he made me laugh.

My favourite book was East of Eden because it was the first one I read as an extra-curricular active reading. I thought it a remarkable feat of literature and is, perhaps, the reason why I really fell in love with American authors. I thank my parents for moving to Toronto, choosing to leave the television for my sister’s university-days apartment, being a little tardy on the internet connection. Being away from friends and jobless, I was bored. So, I picked up a book. My parents always told me I would like reading, I just never listened to them. (Do we ever?)

Now, I would say I have a top-ten of books and am slowly adding to the roster. Given my time reading, I think I will have 185 favourites by the time I am 80-years-old. But, so far: Vonnegut, Murakami, Mitchell, McCarthy, and Self (not me, Will Self) have stolen my fiction-list. I am particular to Vonnegut and McCarthy because they use simple language. I think that any time we are lost in the word, we become lost in its meaning. To me, the message is more important than big words.

Didion, Theroux and Chatwin have stolen essay-ish literature as they are able to make simple occurrences seem fantastical (although it probably wasn’t as it seemed. That’s ok, it’s their subjective experience of it. Very interesting from a psychological perspective.)

Marx, Nietzsche and Rousseau have stolen my philosophical heart. Each philosopher allowed me to think about what I believe to be important in humanity: community and helping each other out. Not Communism (communal-ism, love that one,) a bit of nihilism and chaos (harmony does exist in a wee bit of anarchy,) and a semi-social contract (through keeping to one’s word.) Each of the above authors were able to change my stream of thinking, (but adding my own stream-lette to form a bigger river. As always.)

For music, I love everything. It is rare that I am picky, but that’s ok because I understand that some need to be picky to improve their talents. For me, if the song has revolutionary lyrics, I get pumped. If it has a beat, I dance to it. If it has bad ass lyrics, I grind my head to it. If it has strings, I melt. If the voice is powerful, I cry. If there is tenderness in it, I also cry.

Even though I like adding new music to my playlist, I think I like music based on nostalgia more than anything. (Don’t we all?) I do like U2. It reminds me of my dad dancing around like Elaine from Seinfeld (sorry to expose that, pops) oh-so-many years ago. I like 80’s music because it’s what he listened to (as a side note, Bananarama was the first band I ever listened to on vinyl at my friend’s house in Brampton. “Venus”. I think I was 7-years-old at the time.)

I like Elvis because it’s what my mom listened to (and he’s oh-so-good and dreamy.) She would snap her fingers and croon the tune away. I remember there was a t.v. special on him and, at the time, we had a hound dog curled on the purple arm-chair, tilting her head every time he sang, “you ain’t nothing but a hound dog!” Her name was Spot. She was my dog and she had a spot above her left shoulder and ears that flapped like a helicopter when she shook her head.

I like The Beatles because my grandma had the band’s records and I used to put the 7″ Hey Jude/Revolution vinyl on all the time. I loved that record because one side was so hard core whilst the other was soft and sweet.

Nineties grunge and hip-hop and rap and New Rock Alternative, I lived through. Every lunch hour we would hop into someone’s car and “tour” (pronounced “tur”) the backroads blasting the radio on either XFM or Chez106 or a Dr. Dre CD. So, it tugs my heart a little. When tur-ing with friends from good ol’ Carleton Place, we still play the same jams. Just a couple of months ago, A-dude and I drove to Carleton Place singing Fleetwood Mac. Singing. Dancing. Crying. Laughing.

I like music from every era because of the dance and tenderness of each generation. It shows just how tough we all can be.

Soft, but strong.

It’s funny because some people tell me I am a sweet country girl, some say I am “bad ass” (a toughy), some say I am a hipster. Funny because I never really knew how to take all of that in. I felt a little lost. I felt existential. I was exiting university, planning an adventure and I crumbled. I felt like a lost little kid, terrified of the plunge of change. I began to question myself: Oh man, Who am I?

Don’t we all?

The truth is, I have lived in a suburb with theft and assault. Once, I had to call my mom for backup because of neighbourhood bullies. My Mama Badger. There was also someone stealing from our neighbour and my dad, knowing that the neighbours were on vacation, went over with our dog to ask what was going on. My Papa Badger.

Anytime I am wounded, emotionally or physically, my sister always has my back. I remember spreading myself too thin in high school and getting tonsillitis for the tenth time. Feverish and bed-ridden, Sam made me soup all day. Sometimes I would try to push her around, but she always stood her ground. Sister Badger.

I learned from all of them that to be a member of society, one has to be mindful and respectful of other people. I am very lucky to have them.

So it was, I remember having my cousin and sister at Conestoga Public School and they were much quieter than I was. They may not know (and now they will,) but when I got word of any bullying, I would find an appropriate time to confront the jerk. I would quietly and calmly tell them not to mess with my family. I never threatened violence, but I gave a mean glare. Baby Badger.

It was weird to grow up with bullies. I never understood them or people putting other people down or even maliciously teasing other people (because you have to tease a little, just to keep people humble.) I always thought if you didn’t like someone or understand them, you just leave them alone and let them be. But, I realized that life is not like that. It would be nice if it was, but it’s not and that’s ok, because bullies are just insecure about where they fit in life (or too proud to just let others be their own selves,) at the time anyways.

Products of our society telling us we need to fold ourselves into hierarchical boxes.

Still, I felt like I had to get tough.

I learned to be soft with people and tough on institutions or the “big bullies” (like higher-echelon jerks who try to tell people how to live a robotic life in order to ameliorate their status) that pick on the wee guys.

I also learned to let people do their own thing and to love it. I love it when people are happy, but realized that I can’t be around to make others happy. I will always have your back (because once you’re in, you’re in.) That’s just the way it goes with me, Badger b.

I also lived on a farm, running through golden fields (in bare feet or atop horses without saddles.) The smell of mud and dirt and dusty hay-stacks still get me every time. Yeah, it was pretty great. But, having so many animals gave me the opportunity to be sweet and caring for the many. I am very thankful for that.

I lived in a small town and it wasn’t boring at all. We found hidden spots on grassy knolls to party, just like most people our age. High school sucked because the bound schedule sucked. I still did it, but for the most part I liked after-school coffees with friends in the Olympia, a dingy-diner, eating plates of poutine and drinking my 9th cup of coffee that day.

For a few years, I lived in Toronto and felt very wee. I wanted to fit in. I started wearing skinny jeans and sneakers, experimented with different jackets and loud t-shirts. I took what I liked (mostly the jeans) and learned that it was easier to find things that I came to like (low-profile canvas shoes and quiet t-shirts.) Knit-sweaters went with me everywhere.

What I discovered about a city is that it has all these spots that you can do the things you enjoy. It’s got everything. I like that.

I lived in all of these places and took pieces of them with me. They are parts of who I am: different aspects of my “self” that were highlighted through an experience in each place. As someone who craves learning (don’t we all?), moving around also provided me with a tiny bit of knowledge about a lot of different stuff. You need walls painted? You need to build a fence for your cattle? Want to know how to effectively make leather last? Need me to cut the lawn or stack a dishwasher? You want me to mix you a drink? You want to talk about ideas? Cook up some pasta or brine a turkey? Make a delicious coffee? Just drip? I can do that. It’s just who some people are. They may not become masters of anything because not everyone can become a master at just one thing. Society needs its greasers, its jacks of all trades. I think everyone knows a lot about a lot of stuff. We are all jacks.

I think that’s why I like group projects (ahem. A book.) I think most people do have a special talent and I enjoy picking-up the little details along the way (and, being stubborn, I will always ensure that what is started is finished.)

Integrity and commitment to one’s word is important to me. I will not make a promise I cannot keep. If I do, I will find a way to fulfill my word (because there are always options.)

Still, I like to do my own thing, too. And sometimes, all one needs is a little space and time to get some stuff done.

I like magazines, too. I like National Geographic, Adbusters, The New Internationalist, The Economist, Vogue, Broken Pencil (!), Walrus, Monocle, The Expeditioner (!), which is why my favourite magazine is Vanity Fair. It’s got everything and it probes tough issues because it believes in the tenderness of humanity. I like that.

When looking back on the past year, for a moment I thought I wanted children. Maybe. But in all honesty, I also love being Auntie b to all of my friend’s kids. I’m not bad with kids, getting better after working on Roncesvalles, but I think of them as little people. I talk to them like little people:

“Hey, what’s up little man? Did you know that milk has fortified vitamins and minerals? What do you mean you don’t know what fortified means? What about alienation from one’s product or nihilism? No? Hm.”

Yes, right now, I am in a quasi- (hate that word) classroom doing, thinking, living (aren’t we all?) I like traveling because I like learning other people’s stories (and, yes, I am a little wild at heart.) It keeps me soft when a complete stranger will break down in front of me or when a kid runs up to me and grabs my hand or a new friend will feel comfortable enough to let me know what it was like growing up in Louisiana. It reminds me that most people are good and that life is not nasty (I think Hobbes had it wrong.) Sometimes I can get too tough and calloused. Sometimes, we all get a little too tough and calloused. Sometimes, we get into a mental space, burning layers onto our gooey, cheesiness.

Hopefully, when I get back, we will get to share more moments. (Oh, and if anyone needs papers to be edited, I can help. Or, if you would like to learn some Spanish phrases for a trip?) Anyone playing a show this summer or spinning some beats? Let’s hang out and dance. Am I making coffee? You betchya. Let’s hang out and drink some. What you reading?

Right now, I like working on the things I like to work on: reading, writing, photos, making cards, binding book-lettes, hanging out with friends, taking care of Fred (his real name is Erika) & Geraldo (real name Basil,) etc.

So, who am I?

I am looking forward to spending some quality time with friends and family. Like always.

But, for now, I’m doing my own thing. Like always.

Everyone needs to be able to “do” their own thing, get it out of the way, so that they can “be” with the people they love.

Time.

To become whole.

Some and good.

Do I have everything figured out? Nope. I know nothing about “life” in general, but I know a little bit about myself and little bit about you. Sometimes, it’s just nice to get some stuff out.

So much love and hugs.

Like always.

ps. I love Beyoncé.

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