final book notes: village / / crossroads

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Being unheard is the ground floor of giving up, and giving up is the ground floor of doing yourself in. It’s not so much what’s the point? It’s more like what’s the difference?
-Mitch Albom, For One More Day

There’s a place where you are going
You ain’t never been before
No one left to watch your back now
No one standing at your door
That’s what you thought love was for
Baby you’re a lost cause
I’m tired of fighting
Fighting for a lost cause…
-Beck, Lost Cause

My life is a giant load of dog crap. And now I feel like I’ve come to a fork in the load.

This past Friday, June 10th, marked one year since I published my first book. I think it’s a safe bet to say it flopped. It’s not so much it’s gotten bad reviews. It’s just hardly gotten any reviews. I can’t help but to wonder what’s worse: people not liking my book or people not caring about it at all?

I shouldn’t be surprised. I couldn’t even get friends and family to read it for free before I published it. Why should I think strangers would pay for it? I just had this small hope in the back of my mind that maybe life would give me a break and maybe, just maybe, something good could happen to me. As I’ve said before, I never expected to become a millionaire from this book. But I did think I would at least get some recognition and maybe enough support and encouragement that I could continue my writing career, which could eventually lead to a bit of success.

Instead, this book has been one of my biggest disappointments. I guess I just don’t understand what it takes to grab and keep someone’s attention. I’ve blogged for about a decade now and have gained little-to-no audience. And despite how people say I’m a good writer, I must not be because no one is reading, no one is sharing, no one is commenting. I am consistently publishing my pain to cyberspace where it’s thrust beneath pop culture clutter before eventually vanishing.

But it is what it is. I can’t make people care. And thus, I barely care now myself.

I wanted to make a difference. I wanted readers to get something good from the book. And I wanted to show my parents that I could support myself with my art. I hoped the book would some how make up for my crappy college experience. I thought, “What if I could turn this jolting journey into something meaningful?” But I’m seeing now there’s no meaning to be had.

I really had faith in the book and my ability as a writer, or at least an amateur writer. I know I’m not amazing but I thought I had some good ideas and a good style that could translate into something entertaining, educating, and ultimately, valuable. And now that faith I had is gone. And more than the disappointment that my book didn’t do well, I am ultimately disappointed that so many people in my life did not care. I’ve had several people tell me they bought my book and when I followed up with them weeks later, they told me they never actually read it. Or they got started and then never finished. Thanks for the support, you guys.

They say it takes a village to raise a writer. And when you look into the creation of a book, through the author’s telling of their experience to their acknowledgements page, you see that they didn’t just sit down, write a book, and then get it published. They had friends and family and connections. People who gave ideas and feedback. People who helped with plot points and continuity. People who provided support. People who provided encouragement. And I didn’t get much of that. Out of the dozens of people I asked to help me, about two actually did (and you know who you are and thank you).

It’s not just a failure of my art. It’s a failure of me as a person, as someone that someone else cares about.

Which brings me back to the fork in the load. Should I press on despite the lack of support? Should I believe in myself anyway or should I take this as a sign that it just won’t ever happen for me? Maybe I’m just meant to stay where I am, miserable and on the lower end of mediocre.

I failed as an artist. I created a short animated film that no one watched. I failed as a writer. I wrote a book that no one read. And now I have failed as a friend. I’m not worth people’s time, apparently. So, what’s left for me?

Nothing much.

So, I think I’m done.

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when a fire fizzles

Lately I can’t be happy for no one
They think I need some time to myself
I try to smile but I can’t remember
And I know tomorrow there’ll be nothing else…

-Michelle Branch, Hotel Paper

I browse Facebook to catch up on all my old college classmates’ lives. While they’ve all moved on after graduation, getting jobs and making families, I could not keep going. I was frozen, fractured and too frightened to move forward. I was depressed and too insecure to pursue a job in art. While I hadn’t planned on giving it up entirely, I wanted to take a simpler office job to get my life sorted out. I wanted to have a clear path with no distractions so I could re-focus my attention on art. But the office jobs did not happen the way I had planned and I had to go back to my old high school retail job. I’ve been there ever since. I never flourished in my job or my friendships. I never married. I only gained weight and lost a lot of hair.

Some of my peers went in similar directions, taking jobs they didn’t particularly like so they could pay the bills. But others have been successful. Some have worked on Pixar films and popular television shows. Some have become professors. They still work on their craft and upload their work to share their continual growth.

One day, a college classmate of mine posted that they had woken up a bit early that morning and wanted to take that time to drink some coffee and get in a few extra minutes of drawing time. I respected that. If I ever have a few extra minutes in the morning, I’m going back to sleep so I can wait until the absolute last minute before getting my day going.

Some people are so passionate about their craft that they will squeeze it in whenever they can. I really admire that. But I’m also quite envious. I wish I was that passionate. I used to be that passionate about drawing. If I was awake, I was drawing, crafting, coloring, and constructing. It was all I ever did and all I ever wanted to do. And then I used to be that passionate about writing. I wrote in my journal when I got home from school. I wrote several blogs for several years. I wrote down my feelings while taking notes in class and during breaks. If there was a pen or pencil in my hand, I was writing. I always had material, always had an overflowing stream of stress and hope that I needed to put down on paper.

Now it all feels like work.

The problem always starts with me wanting to impress other people. I used to draw for myself. When other people noticed I was good at it, they put high expectations on me to always be great, to be able to draw anything. And I couldn’t live up to that. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone so I just stopped doing it all together. If I didn’t draw anything, then I couldn’t disappoint. That backfired, however, when I had to turn down people’s requests for drawings. I still ended up disappointing them.

Same with writing. I wrote for myself but others thought I was decent at it. I felt like every blog, every journal entry, every essay had to be a masterpiece, otherwise I was letting other people down. But if I stop advertising my writing, if I keep it all to myself or stop writing all together, then I won’t have to worry about letting anyone down. But I only ended up letting myself down because I enjoy(ed) writing. But now I don’t know what I like anymore.

I have to wonder if any of my successful peers ever had doubts about their talents. Did they ever want to give it up? What kept them on the right track? Was it a blind love for their art or did it take some training to keep on track?

I think some people just have it in their bones. Once you find your true passion, you just can’t go back. Maybe I thought drawing and writing was my true passion and it wasn’t, which is why I can’t be consistent with it. Or maybe they are and I’ve just been bogged down by life’s obstacles. Who hasn’t, right? But normal people know how to push through. I only know how to be pushed down.

Or maybe, just maybe, I still have a passion out there I have yet to discover, some peculiar gift, some niche talent, some obscure joy that I have yet to stumble upon. I can’t imagine what it could be and I can’t imagine what would propel me in that direction, given every day of my life is the same.

There’s also the possibility that passions can fade as well. Nothing is forever. Kisses break. Love ends. Fires fizzle. Your favorite face wash gets discontinued. And sometimes, the heart just gives out. And it’s no one’s fault. It’s not a weakness. It’s the natural course of things. Everything has a shelf life. Everything peaks. And maybe I’ve already reached that point. And maybe my college classmate sketching by the morning light hasn’t gotten there yet. And that’s great.

I hope he doesn’t for a long while.

exposure therapy

Sometimes I think I’d rather lick a trash can than interact with people.

I work with the public. This month marks six years with my current retail job. And each day is hell. It’s not even the work that sucks. It’s the fact that when someone comes into my department, I have no idea what’s going to come at me. Will they be nice or rude? Will it be one or two people or a large group? Will they be clueless or prepared? Are they going to ask me a question I don’t know the answer to, which will make me look stupid?

I feel like people are constantly judging me. That’s because I constantly judge other people. I just assume they are doing the same. Since I’m so insecure, I just know they are thinking how dumb or ugly I am and how I am in no way suitable to offer advice in regard to style or fit because I have no style and my clothes don’t fit.

I’m just not good at speaking with people. But since that is one of the duties of our job, I have to greet every customer I see. It’s not always easy because I can’t just be that person that easily walks up to anyone and confidently offer my services. And as much as being a former artist has helped me develop an eye for good style, I still don’t think I’m excellent at putting an outfit together. I’ve tried to learn about fashion but you go to one resource and it contradicts another one. It seems like there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to fashion. But you try telling that to some people who refuse to put blue and black together or who still swears by pleated jeans.

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animation in hd with a.d.d.

I’ve been gone for a while. My computer messed up a few months ago and I prolonged getting it fixed out of the fear of the cost. I had just started to do well with saving my money and using any extra I had to pay down my student loans. And naturally when I’ve got a little extra in the bank, something breaks. But I knew I eventually had to get it fixed and I did and it actually wasn’t as expensive as I had anticipated.

Now that everything is up and running again, I want to get back into drawing and animating.

I bought this computer a little while after I graduated from college back in 2009. I wanted to continue learning about art and animation and so I had this machine custom built and bought an Adobe package and a Wacom Cintiq and spent a load of money on software and hardware to continue creating cartoons. Thousands of dollars spent and that desire to continue learning lasted approximately a month (and that’s being generous).

Animation is much harder than you’d think. It’s time consuming and requires a ton of concentration. And that’s just for traditional pencil on paper 2D animation. When you throw in computer animation, you have a whole host of new problems, including technical glitches, RAM and memory and other computer terms I know nothing about.

After an initial excitement period of having shiny new software, I got bogged down in the aspect ratios and compression details and also realized I had no one to help me be a better animator. In college, I had my professors and classmates to tell me when something wasn’t quite right. Even when I thought I’d done my best, someone would come along and point out a bad ease in or wonky arc. But, sitting here by myself, I could be creating crappy cartoons and not even realize it because I think it’s good. How would I grow? How could I get better when I was on my own?

Aside from my lame excuses, I was burned out on art and I didn’t think I was talented and I wasn’t even sure I wanted to pursue art anymore. By the time I’d graduated, my focus had shifted to writing and I wanted to explore that. I was confused. I was disillusioned. I was bummed. I was dead.

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blood, sweat, and beers

After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.
-Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I keep trying to remember that when I die, none of this is going to matter.

I watch a lot of television and listen to a lot of music. But it’s all mostly fluff, nothing of real substance or educational value. It’s comprised of gossip and gore. It’s white noise. It’s filler to filter out the the continuing thoughts of sadness. Because when I’m alone with nothing to distract me, like right before I go to sleep, in that stillness, the depression comes marching, filling up my mind with footsteps of failure, reminders of bad decisions and lack of relationships. And it makes it hard to rest easy when my head is on the pillow.

My mind is hardly awake except for when I try to go to sleep. That’s when it lights up and pops with memories of decade’s past mix-ups and melancholy. It piles on top of me like a blanket of bricks. I sweat. I suffocate.

It’s only when I lie down for the last nap will my mind finally ease. I take some comfort in that, knowing that this will all end one day, the thoughts that clog my head, the ever-reaching terror, the clinging need to tear myself down. It will all cease to be. I just have to cease to be. Sometimes the trade off seems more than acceptable.

But even the release of death is diminished in its comfort when I think about my new destination. What if I go to hell? I might be a lapsed Christian but that Christian guilt is still as prevalent as ever, even stronger than my faith in God ever was. Isn’t it funny how we can retain only the worst aspects of a religion, relationship, or experience? We forget the jokes and only remember the jeers. We look past the accolades and focus on the fumbles. I’ve shed God’s good graces long ago but I still bear the weight of his condemnation.

One of the things that terrifies me the most is that I might not ever see peace, not in this life or the other. I might be tortured forever and it’s a fate I can’t even comprehend. I can die to get out of this. But I can’t die to get out of that. I can’t squeeze my way through, can’t bargain or bleed out to escape.

I can only comfort myself by thinking that hell is only a possibility while this current damnation is a definite reality. What if I could slip out of this? What if something better is waiting? I am now in my own hell. And then there is either another hell or a possible heaven. I’ll never win in this life but at least I have a 50/50 in the other. Is that a chance I’m willing to take? Sometimes, I think yes.

When I turned 27, I made a few plans. I told myself when I turned 28, I would start drinking in hopes of finding happiness. What if booze loosened me up a bit, made me less nervous and more fun to be around? I thought about trying it, thought that maybe a nice glass of wine or a few beers after a stressful day would help me cope. And if that didn’t work, when I turned 29, I would start having sex. The physical release in addition to the intimate meshing would help graft me to the ground, would help me feel less alone. I thought that a connection, no matter how casual or carnal, would be better than the severed state I was in. There’s nothing like a deep orgasm to open your eyes to how nice things can be. If that didn’t work, when I turned 30, I was just going to kill myself. Well, I never started drinking and I never started having sex. My 30th birthday was in December. I’m still here.

I’m not sure how serious I was about the suicide. I think when I made those plans for blood, sweat, and beers, I was far enough removed from them to actually follow through. There was the smallest part of me that hoped it wouldn’t come to that, that in the intervening years, something would change. Something would get better and I wouldn’t feel the need to die. But nothing has changed. Those years were wasted away with more dieting and more craving, lost acquaintances and more shirt folding.

It’s just fucked up to even think something like that, no matter how serious or frivolous those thoughts may have been. But I keep hearing the call of death. Every few months, the call gets louder and my thoughts go grim. And it doesn’t feel right to keep having these thoughts, to keep thinking about dying so much. Sure, most people have thought about it before but the thoughts are like answering machine messages that play on a loop. And I worry that this will always stay with me for as long as I’m alive, that one day I might answer that call.

I just need some relief. I wake up every day miserable and I go to sleep either wired or weary. I’m manic and irritating and easily angered. I want to run away from everyone and give everyone a hug. I need support, friendship, validation, and possibly some medication. I am not okay.

But I’m not going to do anything any time soon. I’m not actively seeking death at the moment and maybe if death came to me suddenly, I might even try to reject it, but I also feel at this moment, death doesn’t feel scary but saving. But I won’t be the one to pick up the phone. I couldn’t even crack open a beer, much less bite the bullet.

chakra khan

I studied the menu carefully. My eyes darted all over the brochure to take in all the options. My pupils dilated. My mouth salivated. Half-chubbed, I began to narrow down my options. Orange chicken or General Tso’s? Spring or egg roll? Wonton soup or egg drop soup? Heck, let’s have it all!

I sat in the break room at work with a fellow employee. She was an older lady with pancake makeup and helmet hair. She perused the local newspaper and munched on dollar store potato chips.

I asked her if she had been and she said she hadn’t but that her son had and he enjoyed it. I told her I wasn’t sure what to get and she told me to get a little of everything. While that was the plan, I jokingly told her I didn’t need all that food.

“Yeah, it does look like you’ve gained some weight.” While I knew she wasn’t being rude, it did hurt a bit. But she wasn’t wrong. I have gained a good bit of weight back since losing 50lbs last year.

“Well, I have food problems,” I told her.

“We all do,” she said as she sat there with her eyeliner weighing more than she did. I was worried to look directly at her out of fear that the breath from my words might blow her over. The lady is skinny is what I’m trying to say. Of course, that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have food issues. But hers certainly aren’t as apparent as mine.

Despite her innocent yet paper cut-like comment, I did end up getting a sample of several things. And as I took the bags (plural!!) of food out of the restaurant, I was both giddy and a little sad that I had been looking forward to this moment all week. I wasn’t excited over seeing an old friend or catching up with a new acquaintance. I didn’t even ask anyone to eat the food with me. I wanted to go home and eat it all by myself.

And so I did.

The food was pretty good. There was a lot so I had enough to last me two meals. And it also gave me an upset stomach both times.

I don’t have this problem when I’m dieting. I eat greasy fried foods and always end up with angry bowels and a broken heart. And yet I keep falling into this cycle of pleasing and punishing myself. Pizza today and involuntary purging tomorrow! You’d think the threat of wicked hot sting ring would be enough to keep me away from the waffle fries. It’s not.

I don’t understand how I can do so well and suddenly completely lose all focus and drive. I wonder if it’s because I try too hard to do well. I count every calorie, record every exercise and then push myself to do better each time. Eat a little less, move a little more, and completely obsess over it. That leads to burnout which leads to burritos. My weight loss program has not been designed for longevity.

It’s really about balance. I know that. Eat well most of the time. Have a cheat day every once in a while. Go hard with the workouts and maybe have an occasional easy day. It’s not about deprivation but diversity. It’s about changing it up, having a slice of pizza when I really want it and then walking an extra mile or two the next time I hit my walking trail. It’s about skipping a workout but then having to skip dessert. It’s about checks and balances. It’s about enjoying good (bad) food responsibly.

But how do I find that balance? When I’m in my hardcore diet mode, it’s hard for me to have a cheat day because I think I’m ruining all my progress. Logically, I know I’m not. But I suppose my body/food issues are not logical. Maybe the answers cannot be found in logic. Or maybe logic is the answer to my lunacy.

What’s it gonna take to simmer down and lay off the Lays? Do I need to meditate, get my chakras aligned, or practice some positivity? How can I get in the right frame of mind to reward myself without reprimanding myself? How can I take the tension out of calisthenics? It seems I know what I need to do. And it’s really easy to sit down and write out a plan that is healthy in a physical and emotional sense. But it all falls apart when I try to put it into practice. Its when the irrational fears take over. It’s when I become this unforgiving tyrant. I can’t make any mistakes. I can’t flub up. I can’t work out hard enough. And even if I’m losing weight, it’s not a healthy attitude.

I know what I need to do. And I know how I need to think and treat myself. I just can’t seem to bring myself to do it. In my history of histrionics and shrinking hemlines, mental health has never looked good on my menu. But with my constant stop-and-start shrinking, it might be worth taking a second glance.

cleaning house

For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out how to remove people from following my blog. I looked up blocking but was told you can’t block anyone. You can only make your blog private. I certainly didn’t want to do that.

One day, as I was going through some of my followers, I noticed you can remove people from getting notifications. So I did that. Not exactly blocking but at least they won’t be notified of when I update. I suppose if they go through the trouble of seeing if I’ve updated, I can’t help that. But it makes me feel better knowing they won’t have a direct line to my life.

Toward the end of the year, I removed a few people from my social media sites (and thus my life) because I realized they weren’t good for me. And for a while, I struggled with whether or not my reasons for this removal were valid. Once I realized I didn’t have to justify my actions to anyone, I felt good having taken away some of the negative energy. But a few people still had access to me through this blog. And I even tried to start an alternate blog but somehow they found me and started following that one as well.

And I wondered why.

This person did not care about me as a person or friend. Did not support my writing endeavors. If anything, they probably only kept me around to make themselves feel better and more talented. As much as I gave myself as friend and as much as I supported their various projects, I never felt that support reciprocated. And I told that person this much. And their response was underwhelming. No apologies. No validation of my feelings. And that’s when I realized that I had made the right decision to distance myself from them.

I give a lot of myself on this blog. It’s not that anything I write is so profound or that it’s only for a few privileged people to read but I have opened up my life and put it out there for others to hopefully relate to and understand. Something in which they can find a connection. And for that person to continue to take parts of me, to still get glimpses into my life when they did not choose to do the same for me, just felt kind of unfair. It was just more taking on their part.

And I hope by being able to remove them, I have taken a little bit of myself back. I want to help people. I want to support their artistic goals. But I don’t want it to be because they tear me down to make themselves feel better. I’ve had enough people do that to me and I just can’t allow that to happen anymore. I don’t think much of myself but I know I deserve better than that.

food fight

I don’t have to tell you that losing weight was a part of my new year’s resolutions. Not because it’s always everyone’s but because of my own life-long struggle with stretched skin and a bulbous belly.

I did well last year. Lost 50lbs. And then Halloween hit. And I’d done so well that I told myself I could have some Halloween candy. Well, that some turned into a ton. And I never stopped eating. Halloween turned into Thanksgiving turned into Christmas turned into the new year turned into an relapse of need and self-medication.

I love routine. But when my routine gets rerouted, it gives me anxiety and I always turn to food when I’m anxious. My mom has been taking my grandmother to one doctor’s appointment to another, from one surgery to another, losing another section of her face each time. Mom’s had to take off work, which has messed up her schedule, which has messed up mine. And then my cat passed away and everything felt very wrong and out of whack.

I don’t mean to say that I’m angry about any of these events, that it’s my grandmother’s fault for getting cancer or my cat’s fault for dying and they all made me move toward the meringue. I don’t mean to sound selfish about it, like how dare these people and these circumstances throw me off my diet. That’s not what I’m saying at all. I’m just saying that all these disturbances to my routine have left me feeling off the rails. But that’s life. It’ll always find a way to throw you off course. The problem is when you try to get back on but get distracted by your own addictions.

Although my balanced eating took a nosedive near the end of the year, I will say I mostly kept up with my exercising. I continued with my fitness DVDs and even found pleasure from walking outside. And when Daylight Saving Time happened, it was dark by the time I made it home from work so that cut out the walking. I still had my fitness DVDs but they had started to grow stale. And I started to grow lazy.

It’s hard to work up the motivation, to keep going despite the sore bones and bruised resolve. But it’s easy to give up, to stop, to grow complacent in lethargy. And this happens to me every single time. I push toward progress and almost sprint across the finish line but I intentionally break my knee cap instead, fall into the dirt and make no effort to get back up.

I self-sabotage but I don’t know why. All I know is that eating feels better than anything in the world. It’s easy to say that because I haven’t experienced many good things. Eating blocks out those interruptions to my rut, mutes the pain in my head, and dulls the ache in my heart. Food replaces the missing friendships, the accomplishments that haven’t been achieved, the love I should feel for myself.

It’s hard to take the cure for any disease and throw it right into the trash. But that’s what I feel like I’m doing when I refuse food. I know that by denying calories, I’m actually curtailing the cancer but it feels as if I’m letting go of the only thing that can save me. And this isn’t dramatics. This is genuinely how I feel. Food just makes everything better. But that’s only in my perceptions. Food actually doesn’t make anything better for me. Nothing gets resolved. I only feel bloated on top of the bad feeling of having failed once again.

I’ve already written that, for me, weight loss always feels like a light switch. I know how to lose weight. More calories burned than consumed. Diets are easy. Exercise is fine. But it’s the mental hurdles that trip me up every time. It’s these simple concepts that sit in the dark, waiting for that light to turn on so they can jump up and be ready for action. The problem is I just have no control over that light switch. My hands are tied.

I wake up and it’s turned on and I’m motivated and I lose the weight easily. It’s certainly no fun. It’s hard to say no to snacks but I do it and it works. And it does get easier. But then some days I wake up and the light switch has been turned off and I can’t be bothered to move a muscle much less make it through a half hour of aerobics.

I’ve gained about 20 pounds of the 50 that I’d lost. My fat pants are still too big for me but my thin pants are starting to tighten again. You’d think that would be a sign for me to cut back on the biscuits. But not so much. I still eat them. I ignore the consequences. I don’t care because the biscuit is better than anything else I can imagine, even fitting into my thing pants. It’s instant gratification, a shot of Novocaine to my nerves. Ah, it feels so good to chew and swallow and sink into the soft place in my head that produces pleasure once I’ve reached maximum sugar consumption.

I’ll lose the weight again. It’s a fight that will never end. And I’m partly in control. Once that switch turns on once again, I can take it from there. I just don’t know when that’s going to happen. Maybe when I find a sense of routine again, when I can feel stable. Unfortunately, life doesn’t hand out stability. I guess it’s up to us to make our own, to absorb life’s inconsistencies instead of pushing against them and to think of them as opportunities instead of obstacles.

I’m starting to understand that, at least for me, life isn’t going to be easy. It’s not necessarily because of the outside world but because of my internal malfunctions. And no one seems to understand that and that’s okay. Everyone has their own boxed up battles. I’ve just gotta sack up and learn to fight through my own, to punch through the hunger pangs, to kick down the cravings that only cut instead of comfort, to find some kind of balance that will open a path to me taking care of myself. And a part of finding that balance is just forging it myself. I’m going to have to put in the work. And I will. I’ve done it numerous times before. I’ve still got another round left in me.

words and meanings

“Let’s rehearse the song and verse
the graceful dance of dying
when my friends mouth their validation
I can tell they’re lying…”
-Showbread, I am Horrible at Processing Rejection

Somehow, one of my coworkers got on the topic of my book and I shrugged it off, told her I was over it.

“I want to buy a copy.” Yeah, sure. That’s what they all say.

“Don’t worry about it,” I said. “It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Yes, it is,” she said. Yeah, sure. They all say that, too.

I shrugged again. She told me not to give up, to believe in myself, even when no one else did. I smiled and thanked her just to drop the topic.

The thing is it’s not so much about me not believing in myself. Despite a lack of confidence, I believed in myself enough to write a book. And I believe it was a good book. What bums me out is that no one else believes in me. I already feel so alone and insignificant having not contributed anything to anyone or anything, never having changed someone’s life or fixed a huge problem or created a piece of art that enlightened. I’ve just existed, taking up space and eating Doritos by the ton. It’s not a good existence. It’s no quality of life.

This book has helped me suss out all the insincere people in my life, the false cheerleaders, the fake friends, the ones who said they cared and showed they didn’t. Unfortunately, I’ve realized it’s just about all of them. And I didn’t have many people in the first place. So, chop chop, they’re out of my life. But I don’t feel any better, don’t feel like I’ve solved anything.

A few days later, that same coworker who was all about buying my book (she never did, I’ve been checking my sales. I told you) posted and inspirational quote on my Facebook wall. But that inspirational quote didn’t mean anything to me. Anything meant to be inspirational doesn’t mean anything to me anymore, holds no weight, does not move me. In fact, I read these inspirational memes that many people post on their walls and I just chuckle. God bless if it gives them comfort but to me, it’s just words shaped into a sentence intended for a smile. But I suppose those quotes are meant for those who still have a shred of hope left. I just bypass them and move on to the next post, a cat video or political cartoon.

Words mean nothing to me anymore.

Don’t tell me you believe in me. Don’t tell me I’m talented or funny or good-looking. I will not believe you. If anything, it will steer me toward not trusting you. Because I know the truth and I don’t need your charity lies.

But, if I’m supposed to be a writer, shouldn’t words mean everything? I tried to incite change through my words. I tried to drum up understanding and conveyed my heartfelt desires and losses through my words. I wanted a reaction. I wanted a response. But if my words continue to be rejected while their words are shoved down my ears, eventually eroding into empty symbols, how can I reconcile that?

I suppose it’s because I’ve never tried to cheer anyone up with my writing. I’ve never tried to write fluff to form a happy face. That’s not to say it’s all been negative or hopeless. When I first started writing in my teens, I was depressed even back then. But I still had some hope. And my writing showed that, exploring my feelings while holding out for a better future. Unfortunately, my future was blotted out with bad decisions and bad jobs. But with my book, even though it was filled with despondency, in the end, I tried to realistically write an outcome that was hopeful without being cheesy. There was hesitation. There was hellfire. But through it, there was human spirit. It didn’t go down smoothly but it was still palatable.

I just like realism. And for me, false positivity is not realistic. Let’s all just be honest about how things suck. But that doesn’t mean we should wallow in it (I know I’m totally guilty of doing this and I’m a huge hypocrite). Naturally, no one wants a downer. But I feel like people who are too happy or too positive are not to be trusted. It’s not about suffocating your sadness with another fake smile. And it’s not about spreading your sadness around like you’ve just peed in the pool. Ideally, we’d all find a balance, allow ourselves to go deep into the depression while also pointing out and appreciating the good moments. I feel like I succeeded in doing that in my book. In this blog? Not so much. But I’m better at it in my daily life.

The meaning of all things is slipping away. It’s hard to be inspiring. It’s hard to maintain connections. It’s hard to be a person when you’ve been voided out of humanity. Sometimes it takes something so little as validation, as a simple follow-through to turn a person from a floating glob to suddenly gathered together, allowed to finally find footing and move forward.

My relationships have no meaning. My life has no meaning. Food and taste has no meaning and now the last thing I had in my life, words, no longer have meaning to them. These are words you are reading but they are not reaching you. I will never reach you because as I’m writing this down, you’re writing me off as someone who is too negative, who is too sensitive. But I’m trying to tell you that while those things are true, I haven’t been given the kind of support most have. You try to be all smiles when your classmates and colleagues say they care and then crap all over you at the first chance they get.

There was a bird in my chest once, a heart made of feathers and profuse love. It sang with hope, with teenage newness and the shimmering hope of a better tomorrow. It took flight around those I admired, those I wanted to love me back. But those very people reached in and stuffed its mouth. My bad luck plucked it bare, then Life itself stepped in and stripped the flesh of writing and relationships until that bird was a just a skeleton, hollow enough to be blown away by the first gust of wind, then dropped back down to earth, shattered.

But I guess that doesn’t matter, now does it? It’s just words. Words I’ve said to people in the past to convey how I feel, to tell them they hurt me, that I’ve been disappointed, that I’ve felt abandoned. And I’ve been killed by their quiet, their apathetic rigidness. Their excuses. Their lack of sympathy or apology. I can only guess their callousness means their birds don’t sing anymore, either.

of tissue and glass

I’ve been crying a lot lately.

It’s mostly been over inconsequential things, like dog videos. And they’re cute videos about dogs tucking in babies or hugging other dogs. Just generally being sweet and adorable. It sounds lame on the surface to cry over this kind of thing (What the heck, am I a pregnant woman?) but I just love animals and dogs are just so amazing and beautiful and have pure souls. I’ve never met a bad dog. And they’re just so cute and it warms the coldness I have inside. And when I see those damn ASPCA commercials or the inevitable screen grab of abused animals that are advertised on the web, it breaks my heart. I don’t just see the images of freezing puppies chained to a fence or a cat with one eye sitting in the corner of a cage. My mind goes beyond the images. What happened to them to get them in that situation? What cruel person took this innocent creature and tortured it and neglected it? I step into their fur and see the world the way they do. I wonder how long they suffered. I hate that they never got to know love. I worry for them. I wish for them to be okay. And it just makes me so sad that there’s so much suffering in the world, especially suffering animals because no one cares about animals. We hear, “Save the Children, Save the Refugees” and I totally agree with that. But you don’t hear “Save the animals!” as much.

And then on Facebook I saw this video of this kid who had a mental and physical impairment but this guy at Starbucks gave him a chance and made him a barista and the kid said he felt like his life had a purpose now. That made me cry, too. And I thought that was just really nice of that guy to help out the kid and I thought it was great that the kid felt like he had a purpose. And his purpose was making coffee. And that seems so simple and inconsequential and maybe it is, but to him it wasn’t. Maybe it was just the fact that he had something to do, something to contribute to the world. He could help people. It was something so small but he was so grateful for it.

I turn that on myself and I feel like a jerk. I feel like my life has no meaning. I go to work every day and I fold shirts and tell customers their coupons don’t work on Levis and they get pissed at me and give me a hard time and then I go home. What am I contributing to these people, to the world, to life? I have dressed a lot of people for funerals, both attendees and the deceased. I suppose you could say by helping these people dress for a difficult situation, I am easing some of the burden. And maybe I am. And maybe they don’t think twice about my small contribution. I don’t know. All I know is that it’s not enough. But should I not be grateful for the little bit I do? Whether I’m pushing coffee or khakis, if I’m assisting someone make their day easier, isn’t that enough? Shouldn’t we all be helping each other, whether in small or large ways?

I constantly go back and forth between feeling useless and realizing that I am not. Or if I am, I could always do something about it. I could be an activist. I could spread good news. I could give to charity. I could hand out compliments and positive vibes to others. It just never feels like enough because I don’t see the effects of my actions. At work, I send people off with their clothes and never see how good they feel wearing their new outfit. I compliment someone’s haircut and don’t get to know how that might cheer them up if their in a bad mood. I donate blood and never know if it might have saved a life.

I guess this kind of sounds selfish, right? I do all these great things and get nothing out of it! It’s not that I’m looking for recognition or accolades. I just want to know that the admittedly little bit of good that I do is making a difference to someone. In the grand scheme of things, we are all useless. None of what we do or say is really going to matter. But some of us can make the littlest blip on the cosmic radar. Your great leaders. Your great artists. Your presidents and advocates. Those who created a lasting change. Those who started a revolution in thinking, working, loving, living. Even all that might not matter once the world explodes. But at least it might ease the burden on others for as long as everything is still standing.

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