“Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
First things first, although I would love to be the most honest person in the world, I’m not. But I chose this quote because I believe all great novels have an element of human honesty that we all want to achieve but can’t. Even if you hate Holden Caulfield, you have to admit the guy was true to himself. How interesting would Catcher in the Rye be if Caulfield just put on a smile and waltzed through life, anyway? I dare say not very.
Take me for example. From the outside, you’d expect roses to start blooming from my nose at any given second because my demeanor is cheerful. I remember saying to a coworker once, “I love sunny days!” He just grumbled, “I know. You have a sunny disposition.” The thing is, with all the time I spend with myself and my thoughts, I’m not sure sunny is the right world. I’ve always been mostly cheerful, mostly happy, mostly put together. My hair is messy, but just a little bit. My make-up is smeared, but just a little bit. These are not signs of mental chaos, just sloppiness. I’m a girl who cares enough to put make-up on, but doesn’t care enough to make sure not to smear it. Well, hey, I have more important things to do!
Alright, I’ll back up out of fear I’m not making sense. I mean, I will if I can. It’s just a tad bit difficult for me to “back up” because how would I know how far to go? It’s not like there was ever a beginning or an end. Life is just a stream of intertwined stories and tales and it’s not neat. It’s not whiskey on the rocks. It’s more like a long island iced tea – a whole laundry list of strong liquors that come together to make an amazing tasting drink or a shitty tasting drink, depending on who makes it. Isn’t that a lot like life? You have all these thoughts and feelings, and depending on who you are, you can make them taste good or make them taste awful. Ah, the power of optimism.
There are no rules; one story doesn’t have to end before another one starts. A person doesn’t become depressed and then get over it and start a new story. No, rather, you get depressed and while that’s happening, while you are working on not falling apart, picking yourself back up, etc., you still have to attend weddings and try to figure out if you want to fall in love with the guy you’re dating and make sure you can pay your bills. So, while you’re busy telling your sad sob story to anyone that will listen, twenty other stories begin and you don’t really have time to sit down and write it all out.
Okay, hold on, let me start here…
Am I happy?
If you are anything like me and 99.9% of the people I know in this world, that is the million dollar question. That is the help-me-figure-this-out-before-I-self-destruct question. I would argue that a single question like that can lead you to so many places – the hospital, rehab, imaginary places fueled by chemical substances, the debt collection agency, and the casino.
And you’ll never get your answer, trust me.
Am I happy?
Okay, I’ll answer in the best way I know how. Yes and no. I was happy last night when I ate wings. I was unhappy a half hour ago when my stomach protested my choice (TMI? Sorry.) I was happy when I met the last person I really, truly liked. I was unhappy when I found out he didn’t feel the same. I will be happy in two weeks when my sister gets married. I will be unhappy in a month when I realize I’m still not even close to figuring my life out.
Hey, remember a few paragraphs ago when I said people think roses are going to grow out of my nose or some dumb shit like that? I say that because I’m really fucking good at smiling. And laughing. And making fun of myself and making fun of everyone else. I’m not saying I’m acting, because I’m not. I really enjoy all of those things and I enjoy the company of people and even my worst days turn happy when I hang out with my friends.
I hate being alone, though, and that’s where the trouble starts. Because I am 25 and single and I’m alone a lot. On average, I spend an hour and a half in my car each day. If songs are about three minutes long, that’s 30 songs. Or, that’s an episode and a half of Ira Glass’s voice if you are a podcast nerd like I am. All the time I spend with myself, driving to work and then to class and then home again, there’s always a nagging question in the back of my mind – what am I doing all of this for?
Don’t get me wrong, those songs help, especially with the thinking. And even Ira Glass’s interpretation of what makes the American society tick helps divert my thoughts. I understand why people say characters from books become their best friends. One of my favorite authors, John Green, made this observation when he said, “Books are the ultimate Dumpees: put them down and they’ll wait for you forever; pay attention to them and they always love you back.”
I have to beg you not to take this as I’m in trouble or anything. I haven’t been lonely for a long time and I don’t think I will be forever. Plus, like I said, I’m happy some of the time; I would even argue most of the time. I can’t possibly believe that no one else feels this way, either. Otherwise, why would we have movies and songs and books that give us all the feelings?
Still, how do I outwardly say this is how I feel when I know it makes me look too sensitive and too needy and too emotional? Because, yes – I am sensitive and emotional, and even needy, too, I guess. However, I’m also great at listening and I like to laugh and I’m spontaneous and adventurous and fun. I’m strong as shit. Oh, and I can make a great fucking playlist.
I guess I should also say that I hate when people think they need to save me. It’s annoying. I mean, I know there are fucked up parts of me and I’m actually okay with it. If I didn’t have those parts of myself, I wouldn’t be so interested in people like J.D. Salinger and Kurt Cobain and Alexander Supertramp. My favorite books wouldn’t be The Catcher in the Rye and The Bell Jar and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Without those things, who would I be? I’m not sure. So, I guess what I’m trying to say is, if I’d have to sacrifice the feelings I get from reading those books and relating to those fellow fucked up humans just to be happy all the time, I wouldn’t do it. I’d keep my unhappiness and my deviant thoughts and enjoy understanding the minds of the crazy people. The crazy people are my friends. They understand.
I can’t really give you a synopsis of what this blog will be about. I write poetry and I write essays. I have good days and bad just like the rest of the universe. I am scared shitless. I am very much Sandra Bullock’s character at the end of The Proposal when she whispers to Ryan Reynolds, “I’m scared.” I’m scared of the things I feel and the way I interpret the world and most of all, I’m scared if you are reading this you won’t understand.
Still, I’ve had several people ask me when I’m going to start this blog – I got rid of my previous one because it felt like a chapter of my life I needed to close. But if my words are even slightly in demand, maybe I’m doing something right. Maybe you don’t all understand and that’s okay, too. But one of the best things I have in this life is words. So good, bad, ugly – I guess I’ll work on sharing them with you.