Tag Archives: writing

What Is the Click Hole of Darkness?

imageEveryone has dreams. Everyone has a pancake they wish they could turn perfectly, or a pushup they wish they could do while clapping.

It’s human, the ability to project onto a future self and say, “That person will be able to do something that I cannot.” Or the ability to project onto the current self and say, “Me, I am capable of doing this thing that feels really freaking impossible, but I can do it.”

But that’s on a good day, when the sun is shining, when an old friend called, when you went out for a run and pushed yourself harder than usual and it felt good to sweat goddammit. That’s the good day.

But there’s something else everyone has. It’s the darkness, the voice that says, “You cannot,” the voice that says you will never be great.

It says that you are not good enough, that the very idea of striving is ridiculous, that mediocrity and unhappiness is your destiny, and that yes, everyone else is succeeding except for you. This voice is always there, but sometimes it’s overpowered by the beams of positivity radiating from your brain chemicals.

But on the rainy days, the days when no one gets back to you, when you feel alone, tired and sick, when your goals loom ahead of you like a cliff and the idea of getting out of bed to wash a dish feels as impossible as parting the San Francisco Bay, this is the moment of your personal darkness.

The most insidious thing about this darkness is the way it works in the silence and the corners of your mind, never voiced out loud but slowly eating away at your will.

This is why I created clickholeofdarkness.tumblr.com. It is the place my negative thoughts go. Instead of pushing them out of mind, I push them to the forefront and magnify them by orders of 10, 20 and 30 just to see how ridiculous they are and how self-defeating it is to listen to them.

Clickholeofdarkness.tumblr.com is where they go to be made fun of in the full light of God and the internet and the God of the internet, and beneath that spotlight, the thoughts die for the day. Sure, they may resurge on another day in a different form, but I will not fight them lying down. I will fight them sitting up and with a keyboard, for this is my sword, this is my battle, and this is my war to win.

Back to your hole, darkness.

Tagged , , , , , ,

….But You Gotta Have Friends (and Family)

imageSo I’m kind of an “independent woman,” whatever that means. Like I’ll go eat a meal by myself at a restaurant if I want to so I’m told that makes me independent. Whoop dee doo. And I like being like that. I like being able to say – hey, I’m going to hike to the top of that hill tomorrow morning, and then doing it. If someone wants to come with me, that’s awesome. If they don’t, that’s okay too.

Then I took this really long trip, and I was traveling mostly by myself for an extended period of time. Though I visited friends in all the cities that I traveled to, I spent a lot of time alone while my friends were working or while I was in between places.

Sometimes it was awesome, like when I discovered this secret park next to an Episcopalian church in downtown Charlotte on a Sunday afternoon. It was sunny outside and I just sat under a tree, ate an apple, and watched water coming from a fountain with a statue of St. Someone. Or when I was traveling on the night bus to Boston from D.C. and I was looking out the window at the signs all lit up as we were going through some random town, and I thought that I could do this forever, just never get off the bus and go through towns at night when they’re all deserted and that would be my life.

I did a ton of reflecting on the trip, which was great. How often do you get to flip back through the pages of your life and try to get some perspective on your own story and what it sounds like when you play it back? I’ve also had time to do some reflecting post-trip on the trip itself, which has also been good. In fact, I’m about done reflected out. So I realized something, and I think I’ve known it before, but I think I know it more viscerally now than I have.

Without my friends and family, my trip would have been pretty lame. Those relationships made everything worthwhile. Sure travel is awesome, but after a while it’s just you in a different city sitting at a different coffee shop and you’re wondering why you wanted to do this in the first place.

Before this trip I was seriously considering moving to New York or Chicago in a year, kind of to pursue acting and improv, but mostly because I felt like I was “done” with San Francisco and getting  bored here. Or I thought of moving to Portland or Austin or Asheville, anywhere to see something different, to be someone different. Then on my trip I saw a lot of places and recognized those kinds of thoughts for what they were: a chasing after the wind, an external solution to an internal problem, which was my fear of missing out on something “better” and my fear of commitment.

People, community and relationships are what give places depth. And community takes a while to build, and it can be difficult, and there’s a lot of fear. There’s always fear.

That said, I believe that community, relationships, and love are the best and highest pursuits in life. Without this, everything I do or want is empty, a chasing after the wind.

I am extremely grateful for my community and I feel undeserving of their support and love. My friends and family housed, clothed and fed me while I was traveling and I am lucky to have such incredible people in my life. I’m also extremely cognizant that I didn’t get here by myself, and by here I mean in San Francisco setting off to pursue dreams of improv and comedy and God knows what else.

At every piece of my journey, step for step, someone supported me. When I wanted to go out of state for college, my parents said “Right on.” When I went to Egypt, they were like, “You gotta do you.” When I got lonely or sad, my friends were like, “You’re going to make it.” When I moved to San Francisco, I stayed with my friends for almost two months without paying rent because I had no money. When I felt like I was failing because I wasn’t following my dreams, my then boyfriend had more faith in my abilities than I did. When I thought I couldn’t do it, my friends and family said that I could. I owe them more than I’ll ever be able to repay, and the thing is, they don’t expect me to.

This is the kind of love that no one deserves. I don’t know what the rest of my life holds for me, but I do know this: that I have been blessed beyond anything I could imagine, that love has fueled any kind of success I’ve had and that my claim on it is so small as to almost be negligible.

And I am also extremely conscious of the fact that so many other people have different stories than this. In place of love and support, they’ve had abuse and negligence. They’ve been told they couldn’t do it. They’ve been told they were unlovable and unworthy. They’ve been cut off from the kind of resources I’ve always had access to because of situations outside of their control.

So I look at my life and what I’ve been able to do, and I see now that I’ve been set up for success where others have been pushed towards failure. Like I said, I don’t know what my future holds but I want to live to see a different world, one where so much doesn’t depend on whose womb you come out of.

That’s what I want.

Tagged , , , , ,

What Do Bad Coffee, Buicks and Budget Films Have in Common? They’re Awesome.

imageThe first car I drove was my parents’ (formerly my grandmother’s) ’89 Buick LeSabre Limited Edition. It was a beautiful, bronze boat and it was a pretty big deal. No one would ever accuse the Buick of being a fancy car, but it was the car I drove and it was perfect. I loved how it felt rocking over the speed bumps and treated it like it was my chariot. When it was finally totaled, it was probably worth no more than $1,000 but to me it was worth at least $8,000. I didn’t have a good grasp on the worth of the dollar back then, but $8,000 would have seemed like a ton of money.

Since my first car, I’ve ridden and driven many vehicles. I’ve made money and tasted fancy food and spent $14 for a cocktail. In a particularly low moment, I think I paid an extra $6 for one pancake at a restaurant. One mother-flipping pancake, just so I could have a bite of it. How embarrassing.

The city I live in, San Francisco, is fairly shiny in that you’re likely to have a curated experience in whatever shop or restaurant you enter. Things (not everything, but many things) look professional, perfect, and take themselves seriously. And if you’re a young professional like I was, then it kind of makes sense. You have all this money that you’re making and no kids and you’re just kind of living for yourself so why not blow it all on jeans for your dog and artisan caramels after investing.

And I don’t have a problem with that. I really don’t. Artisan caramels should exist because they provide artisans with meaningful employment and dogs deserve to wear comfortable, fashionable clothing made just for them. I just feel like in getting caught up in all this business of seeking out the nicest or the best things, we miss out on other equally interesting experiences.

There was a quote in this book I read once on how formality tends towards uniformity, and I think it’s true. So maybe that’s why I’m drawn to the everyday wonders and the backstage freaks. These places have the stories. They have the stench of humanity all over them and I love it because they’re imperfect just like I am.

Watery coffee from a Jewish Deli. Greasy menus with strange trivia from a Greek restaurant outside of Chicago. The dollar cinema in Cupertino. A giant blue hippo sculpture. Second rate museums. Church bathrooms. Ridiculously cheesy Baptist artwork. The unrefined. The unpolished. The cheap, functional and random. The amateur and homemade. The tacky. The ugly. The gaudy.

These are the things that make up the spectrum of life, and all of it is interesting and fairly wonderful in its own way. So here’s to you, golden chariot. May you forever boat over speed bumps in the sky.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

The Chapel at Ft. Reno

imageDown the road a ways from Oklahoma City, down Rt. 66 West, you’ll find the city of El Reno. If you’re driving that way you’ll pass right smack through the middle of it. At first glance, it looks like modern times haven’t been too kind to El Reno. Most of the buildings downtown are vacant, little more than glorified pidgeon roosts. You want to believe that this isn’t the whole story, but there isn’t much else to go on. Second and third glances confirm your first glance.

If you park your car and get out and cross the street to the Old Opera House, you’ll see a fading mural on a brick wall. If you walk under the awning, you might be startled by pidgeons swooping down and flying across the street. You’ll notice pidgeon droppings on the sidewalk and broken windows in the shop fronts. It’s the middle of the day but something about this place feels spooky.

You might decide to hurry back to your car since it’s kind of hot outside and that man across the street looks a little wierd. You hate yourself for thinking that but it’s just what you think. If you drive around town, you’ll see some of the old houses where the townies live. Some have porches sunken in, paint peeling off the walls. There’s an old Victorian style house all in brown that must have been beautiful at one time, and there’s a stately house, all white with pillars that looks out of place next to its shabby neighbors. You wonder if everyone knows the family that lives there.

imageInstead of turning back, you continue down Rt. 66 for just a ways to see what else there is to see. There’s a sign for Ft. Reno and you figure you don’t have much to lose but time and you got plenty of that, so you go ahead and exit towards the fort and continue one mile down the road. The landscape is flat and green and brown all around you. There are lines of trees here and there and some gentle sloping but no major hills.

You park in front of the museum, which used to be an officer’s house. You learn that from the woman behind the front counter, who says they now charge admission prices as of August first. It’s two dollars for an adult. She tells you about the fort and how it started as a way to keep the Indians in check and then had some other uses throughout the years as a stablery and some other things. Apparently Seabiscuit’s sire was bred here. Now it’s a headquarters for the USDA. You pass on into the next room and  overhear her talking to another group. Her grandfather had a farm not too far from here.

Outside you can hear cicadas in the trees and someone mowing the lawn. You take a look around the old house and then head out to your car again and drive towards the chapel. This is where they have a lot of weddings during the summer. The chapel is small and not much to look at from the outside. It’s white washed like all the other buildings here and faces the big green lawn at the center of everything.

imageThe door is slightly cracked and you walk in. The first thing that hits you is the smell of warm wood. Everything in the chapel is made out of pine, and the windows are colored yellow so the sunlight coming through them looks like honey. The air is cool in here and you are alone among the empty pews and pulpit. You sit down on a pew near the window and just sit there.

Outside you can hear the man riding the lawnmower still. You can imagine him sweating under his hat, making neat sweeps on the grass which looks all faded in the noonday sun. His feet are hot in his boots. There is a cicada rattling in a nearby tree. You can hear the chapel settling and creaking and almost feel the air as it rises and settles in currents around you. It carries dust with it.

You sit in the light, the light that looks like honey and is warm like teddy grahams. Your hands rest on the smooth, cool wood of the pew, palms down. It feels you have stolen a moment away, that any second someone will call for you or ask you to help with something.

But no one calls. You continue to sit in the Ft. Reno chapel, and outside the man continues circling the lawn until every blade of grass is cut.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

My Biggest Accomplishment So Far This Summer: A Tiny Tanline

behold the tiny tan line

behold the tiny tan line

Six weeks ago, I left my job in marketing to follow my dreams of being something entirely different. I flew out from San Francisco three days later to Chicago and then passed through the cities of Nashville, Atlanta, Asheville, Charlotte, Washington D.C., Boston, New York, and now Edmond, OK.

I’ve walked what feels like hundreds of miles, consumed at least thirty protein bars and twelve hundred almonds, ridden the public transit system in four cities and gotten lost in all of them, and spent a cumulative thirty hours on buses. My feet are tired. One of my two shirts is pit-stained beyond repair, and my backpack has a thin layer of peanut butter in the front pocket where some single serving peanut butter packages burst open and I failed to remove them until many days later. That’s also the pocket where I keep my electronic cords.

I left SF because I am a coward and knew I would need physical distance to keep me from reverting to the familiar and pleading to have my paid shackles back. The trip has been challenging and I’ve learned much, perhaps too much. I’ve questioned everything I want and believe in, then reaccepted it, and then questioned it again. I almost moved to Asheville.

But here I am in Edmond, OK, the place of my middle and high school education, first crushes, and AP classes, and I’m proud to say this: that despite everything, the uncertainty of the future, the haziness of the past, and my tendency to make decisions based on how hungry I am, in spite of future failure or success, I am proud to say this, that I have a tiny tan line on my wrist. It might seem unimportant or nonexistent to you, but I know my wrist, and that is a tan line and it is most important.

It comes from being outside in full view of the sun, away from any corporate overlord or indentured servitude. It comes from singing in the open air while walking through public gardens, from waiting for the bus during the middle of the day like a free woman, from sitting and doing nothing at all in the park with my face in the shade under an elm tree in Washington D.C., doing nothing though I have believed that more work will make me happy, doing nothing though I have measured my entire life in terms of productive output, doing nothing though I had swallowed the falsehood that doing something is better than doing nothing. Why should it be like that? Why indeed?

I’ve learned to question everything, to know that nothing exists “as it is supposed to be,” that everything is created, constructed and interpreted according to something that humans made up. We just made it up.

I don’t know what the next step is, and in a few months or less I may be dreaming of a return to the office and eating all of these words, but until then I will nourish this tiny tan line with pride. In a society where one is judged by the threadcount of one’s sheets and the size of one’s paycheck, I will brandish my tiny tan line as a symbol of my search for real freedom.

Also, because you asked, I’d have to say my second biggest accomplishment is learning to love the selfie.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
%d bloggers like this: