Let’s Rediscover: A Sense of Wonder and Novelty.

There are many things that frighten me: The California Drought, the impending series finale of Scandal, and how my nephew knows how my iPhone works before knowing the alphabet. It’s a small thing considering his generation was born into this world, already filled with advanced technology ready for the taking. But it still has me concerned.

When I look back on my childhood (which wasn’t that long ago), I remember being outside and going on adventures every Sunday to random area in Los Angeles; we’d explore the lavish houses of the rich and greedy, followed by the innards of Los Angeles, herself.  Then I fast forward to today and find myself on my computer most days, confined within the walls of my apartment.

A few months ago, in Seattle, my mom took a picture of the highway. We were surrounded by towering evergreens along this tiny two-way speedway and she decides to take a picture of the rolling fog. In her picture there was a bird. A bird! Her excitement was akin to a child who has never seen a bird before and when she showed me, my reaction treated the moment as such.

“Oh, how cute! It’s a bird. In the air. Flying. How original.” Suffice to say, I didn’t care that much. It was just a bird! Then I began to think: Where did the sense excitement go? When did we lead the mundane and leave the eccentric and wondrous? When did seeing an animal that can FLY become so boring? Can you fly? Didn’t think so. Between my recent apartment confinement and this quick dismissal of avian wonder, I realized that I needed to get out more. This wasn’t in realizing that I lacked a life, rather that I lacked that sense of wonder and novelty.

Life has been so consumed by social media, like Tumblr and Twitter and Facebook, that I fear all of my time is set aside for that consumption. I was and am blindly content with living that life. It’s warm, safe, and doesn’t give me splinters or hurt my ankles. But in being so enveloped in this kind of life, I feel like everything beyond me has become dull, out of reach, or boring.

I refuse to accept that.

Life is so much more than the four walls of our rooms and the screens of our computers. There’s a whole world out there that is so beautiful and vast. Here comes the call to action: I feel we should turn off the screens, silence our phones, and step outside.

Let’s hit the trails or dip our toes in the ocean, and realize that there is a whole world out there to be discovered. Step outside and realize that there are so many things that are just as novel and just as wonderful.

Let’s Decide: Leader or Follower.

For eighteen years, I was a follower.

I’m not sure if it was the way I looked, the way I acted, or the way I talked; as far back as I can remember, the people around me have made my decisions. Not in some executive assistant type of manner, rather in one of condescension, as if they know me better than me. I wasn’t awarded the stereotypical, coming-of-age story arc every “twenty-five year old actor playing a sixteen year old” character got. I was told what I should wear, what classes I should be taking, and even what girl to date.

Oh yes, I cannot give myself the much coveted title of “Gold Star Gay,” because I have dated women in the past (two of them, in fact). Even so, the latter of the two relationships almost ended in utter disaster, due to the fact that it was built upon the fact that my friends told me to date her. They wouldn’t shut up about it; day in and day out, they would say: “You two are always hanging out together and you’re both so cute. You’d make a cute couple. Go for it. Ask her out!” Lo and behold, young, impressionable Jason said “Okay!” and asked out his poor girl and wasted a few months of her life. Months where she could’ve dated someone that actively and independently thought about dating her and wasn’t egged on by his friends to date her.

Oh, and someone who wasn’t gay. Granted,  I didn’t really know at the time, so I think I should let that one go.

Even in the vein of my career (yes, I am going to touch on this top as frequently as possible until I am actually employed), family members and friends and ex-supervisors have told me what I should be doing with my life, just because I’m good at it. By such a logic, I should begin my career in the ever-affluent path of Netflix bingeing. Lord knows I’ve been doing a lot of that lately.

Here are several, aggregated commands I’ve received in the past months:

Relative: “You should teach English in another country! It has good pay and is what you should be doing.”

Immediate Family Member: “You were an RA, right? Here’s this student life coordinator position. You need your M.A. and ten years of experience, but it can’t hurt to apply!”

Ex-Supervisor: “You were a great RA. YOU SHOULD BE IN STUDENT AFFAIRS. IT WAS MEANT FOR YOU. GO TO GRAD SCHOOL AND JOIN STUDENT AFFAIRS. #RAFORLYFE #STUDENTAFFAIRS #jointhecult.”

It gets tiring every now and then, but you learn to put up with it and tune out the unsavory ones. Like most posts, there really isn’t an answer or reason for this being here. Mostly because I don’t know who I am.

I’m twenty-two for fucks sake. I shouldn’t know a lot of things. Above all else, I still have a lot more to discover before I ever have to ask myself that question. As for being a follower; well, I guess you can say that I’ve learned to take the lead.

Let’s Listen: Music & Lyrics.

It never ceases to amaze me how much wroth and meaning we can pull out of music. The depths it can take us, the scenery it can create, and the emotion it can provoke; it’s wondrous and frightening and insane. As a routine, to keep my sanity in check and my emotions in balance, I listen to music every night before I drift off into reverie. I lie there, headphones in, lights off and I stare at the ceiling. Not because I have glow in the dark stars plastered across it (although, I should), but because it’s the closest thing I have to a blank canvas.

I stare at the same spot in the ceiling, only visible through my depleting vision (I would have taken my glasses off already) and the street lamps casting what little orange light they can through the slits of my blinds, and I paint a picture of my life that is tune to the song.

One moment, it’s like ballet, precise and gentle. A memory of me people watching at the mall; the chaos of people, the cacophony of children screaming, and the mundanity of such a trivial chore go quiet and all I focus on is me and how I implant stories and lives to these temporary people walking by. People I’ll never see again. People I’ll never bother to wish “Happy Birthday” or want to grab coffee with. Then the song changes and the canvas is blank once more.

The rhythm is upbeat, but the lyrics hold something deeper. A daydream of me and him finally meeting at the airport. A heavy heart, a piercing look, a hopeful smile. Beyond the canvas, I can feel my left arm tingling, I’m about to cry. Tonight, I don’t want to cry so I hit skip before I could give it the chance to bring up any unwanted tears.

The bass bangs my eardrums and I’m almost instantly on my feet and still in my underwear. Blinded by the lack of corrective lenses and shrouded by the dark of night, I start dancing in the small area around my bed. My phone that is in my hand is no longer a phone, but my guitar pick. I rock along as hard as I can and without care because no one can see me. The canvas takes a break because for once, I feel like I’m living in the moment. What matters is me, the music, and my killer guitar solo.

Music can do so much and yet we so often mindlessly bob to the rhythm in the driver’s seat without giving any regard to the lyrics themselves; the messages embedded so deep within the music sheets are almost always looked over. Let’s stop that.

Homework assignment: Look up the lyrics to the last five songs you listened to and see if they resonate with you. I have a feeling they do.

With music, what draws you in is the melody, but what should keep you there are the lyrics.

Let’s Have A Candid Conversation: Anxiety & Me.

It’s worse in the morning.

I’m not entirely sure why, all I know is that there’s this feeling in the pit of my stomach, almost like you’ve disappointed someone without having done anything. I get up, almost reluctantly, and head downstairs for coffee in hopes that caffeine is the solution to whatever is digging itself deeper into the pit. A temporary relief flows over me, like a morning affirmation saying that everything is going to be okay and that I shouldn’t have to worry.

“This is all temporary.”

“You’ve survived 100% of your worst days.”

“Something good is going to happen”

The same three statements are  repeated one right after the next until the words sound so distant and irrelevant that they’re almost foreign to my tongue. I go through the day mostly okay, attempting not to think about anything. In turn, I think about everything.

  • Jobs
  • Friends
  • Relationships
  • Jobs
  • Loans
  • Jobs
  • My lack of a social life compared to those around me who have the means to perpetuate the type of life I wish to lead one day but cannot seem to manage at the present time
  • Jobs

All of these things take the shape of a hanging, nagging finger of obligation that follows me around from day to day. I’d probably be insane if they hadn’t taken the weekends off.

Eventually, I feel the days become shorter and the amount of tasks that I had completed match in length.

Sometimes I never truly know what’s wrong; all I could pinpoint was that I felt like crying. It was like I was writing a book and decided to stop because I was at a loss for words and kept staring at a half empty page.

I’m never sure what clicks in me but, in spite of the emptiness of the page and the hollowness of my gut, I always continue writing.

-X-

As far back as I could remember, anxiety has always been my nemesis. Imagine that, being twenty-two years old with a nemesis. Especially one that isn’t corporeal or technically alive. You see, anxiety isn’t something that’s fun to deal with nor is it something that’s interesting to have. I feel like popular culture tends to portray characters with anxiety as “fidgety” and “dorky,” when in reality it’s something that’s crippling and debilitating. Some shows tends to get it right (and I thank the skies that they’re doing it justice) but there’s still so much left unsaid and unheard from the realities of it. I get it, it’s not exactly marketable, but when you’re in the business of telling the truth, not everything is going to be able to be presented in a nice little bow.

What helps me make it through is the thought that my anxiety is actually a piece of me. It’s a part of me that is controlling and annoying, but it doesn’t define me. It can hold me back, but I know I can make it through. I know I can because there’s still so much out there to see and I want to be able to seek it out.

I still want to grow.

Let’s Count: The Days When No One Else Mattered.

Day 1: You were annoying and creepy. My mother advised me against talking to strangers and that night I had wondered if I was right to defy such a directive.

Day 3: Rebellion reaps rewards. The texts good night and good morning had begun and there wasn’t a part of me that wanted them to stop.

Day 6: I fear that something new and scary may be happening. I’m unaware of where it’ll take me but for once in my life: I don’t give a fuck.

Day 7: One week later and I still don’t believe it. The conversations, the jokes, the flirting. Is this what ‘dating’ is supposed to feel like?

Day 7.5: Does it count as dating if the distance between the two is roughly 2,500 miles? Society says no, but I couldn’t care less.

Day 10: The texts become less frequent and I fear the repercussions of such a short-lived “romance.” I feel the quotes are necessary because even I am unsure of its validity at this point.

Day 15: I’m in over my head. This was stupid. I should stop texting. I should stop checking my phone. Why did I just check my phone? Stop it, Jason, put your phone in a drawer.

Day 15.2: Phone has been put in a different drawer, in a different room, on a different level of the house. The psychosis continues.

Day 17: Move on. This was never, ever meant to work out.

Day 20: Admit feelings in a long, essay length text. Hit send. Regret immediately follows.

Day 21: I never thought I’d get to the point where you were the only one I saw, the only one I thought I would care for, the only one that mattered. I can’t stop smiling, nor do I ever want to stop.

Day 50: I hate you.

Day 80: A month of abstinence. I feel good; Clean…free.

Day 80.5: Why you chose today to text me, I’ll never know…but I can feel myself falling back in. Hands reach out to help me but I refuse. I blindly and gladly accept this fate and am awash in my decision.

Day 95: I’m drowning.

Day 110: I reach the surface for air and breathe in nothingness. It’s lonely in the middle of the ocean; it’s even worse when you can see your ship sailing away without you.

Day ‘Who Gives a Fuck?’: It’s Christmas, I shouldn’t even think about you. I shouldn’t be wondering what your family wrapped for you under the tree, or if your dog is taking sips of eggnog, or how I should be running to your door with a mistletoe in hand. I shouldn’t be thinking that…I shouldn’t be thinking.

The Day A New Years Kiss Should Happen: It never happens.

Day 1v.2: Hello again.

Day 14v.2: Happy Valentine’s Day.

Day 20v.2: A pointless pep talk that leads up to a large, three-worded bomb is the last thing I expected today. But I love it.

Day 25v.2: You called me tonight and I wish I had never hung up. I wished it lasted hours longer. I wished we would fall asleep on the line and act like there isn’t some rift separating us. You said you called because “[you] thought it’d make me happy.” You were right. I was. I am. Very happy.

Day 30v.2: I can feel myself becoming that much closer to saying something so big and life changing that I can’t even begin to fathom the “right” way to start.

Day 45v.2: College is over. RIP Undergrad.

Day 50v.2: I don’t think I’ve cried so hard, yelled so loud, or hurt so deeply. It amazes me how one person can lift you up so high and let you fall so easily and with so much grace. Sadly, I was finally able to say the words I had longed to profess. If only it were under better circumstances.

A New Day: Today, I vow that I will not let something encompass me so deeply. I won’t let someone cloud my judgement. I won’t let someone control me. Yet as I type this, I feel that today is also the day that I vow to break that vow, because I seldom keep the promises I make to myself. In the moment nothing is constant, nothing is set. You were the person with whom I thought I had IT. The person who wouldn’t fail or falter or fuck me over. The use of past tense has never been more appropriate. I want to say that I, in no way, regret anything. This was the best experience, the worst experience, the most fulfilling experience I could have ever hoped to have. But, I felt the need to write this because I can’t even begin to move on without acknowledging where I’ve been. I want to be able to close this chapter of my life and start on a new one. A chapter where you don’t matter as much to me as you once did. I sat here and counted the days where you made an impact on me and those days were plentiful, but they are not inclusive. There will come a day where no one else will matter and I have come to admit that you won’t be the last man standing; I will.

Let’s Experience: Closure.

You’ve locked the door, you’ve thrown away the key, and now you sit alone in your living room finally free. Now what? Like everything else in this world, everybody experiences it differently. They go through different processes, explore their feelings in different ways, but ultimately and deservedly achieve closure.

While I won’t claim it to be the best feeling in the world, it does feel pretty damn good. But what does it look like? What does it feel like? Should you be cheering at the top of your lungs or crying your heart out? Should it feel like you’re actually closing a door or like you’re opening a new one? Should you still care about who is on the other side of it? These are questions to consider and questions that I cannot and will not answer for you, simply because I am not you. If your road leads to unabashedly singing Taylor Swift at a karaoke bar or mindlessly writing about your ex in a way that shows them as they truly are, then so be it. I’m not here to judge you. I don’t know you, so that’s not really fair. Regardless of how you answer those questions, there is one thing that is nearly certain to occur: waiting.

If anything, closure isn’t immediate nor is it a panacea for the broken heart. I’m sorry if I’m the first one to tell you this, but I highly doubt that I am. There really isn’t anything worse than having a stranger tell you something that is “truth” and also something you don’t want to hear. Yet here I am, dropping some honest-tea on you (you can than the internet for that horrible pun). Like any death, you will grieve. The stages are similar, but in the end the last thing you must do is relent in moving on. You relationship ended for a reason. From experience, I’ve opened my heart out one too many times for the same person. In hindsight, it was for the same reason every time. And every time I got hurt. And every time it was for the wrong reasons. I never trusted my gut. I never truly moved on. I kept hoping that something different would happen and that there would finally be a happily ever after. That’s what I told myself; I was bargaining for something that wasn’t truly there anymore or ever truly was.

Everyone saw it but me.

I always say that no situation is universally applicable and there isn’t one in existence. But I will say to trust your gut because it’s almost never wrong, but it’s always annoying. Closure is sought after and expected, but it comes with time and patience and doubt. When it does, I urge you to be prepared for tears, for shock, and for relief. It will come in waves with small moments of relief between the crashes. Just know that it will come soon enough and bring with it a much needed and well deserved relief.

Let’s Explore: Thoughts While Buzzing My Head.

It starts with a whim.

I suppose it just stems from an inability to care and a want to do something so relatively nuts that you, yourself, isn’t sure what the next step is. A piece of you realizes you have the tools and the means to do it, but you sense something is holding you back, a latent fear or the idea that it can all turn out so terribly wrong.

“It’s just hair” was something that went through my mind and to most, cutting your own hair isn’t that big of a deal. It’s a chore and nothing more. But, I typically care about my looks to a certain extent, definitely more than the person sitting next to me in a movie theater, so this was a plunge. The idea that was stopping me, was sight. I saw myself hesitating and saw myself thinking about how bad it’ll turn out.

I say it starts with a whim because it did. A piece of me wanted to do something drastic by myself, in a space that was all my own while I still had it. I guess this was the act that won above all else. So I did what anyone else would do in the event that sight got in the way.

I closed my eyes and pushed.

I opened my eyes and realized how easy it was and that, well, I can’t stop now lest I want to look like someone who should belong in prison. It’s funny though, you never realize how much hair you actually had on top of your head until it’s at your feet on the floor (there was a lot). But as I kept going, the more fun it got. It became a game for the obsessive compulsive, making sure that every bit is neat and every strand is cut. Granted, I’m not the best barber and will have to get fixed tomorrow morning, so I can’t do it all alone.

But, in some awkward attempt to pull out some life lesson from this impulsive, yet mundane act, I will say this: you never really know the outcome of something until you go for it. It all begins with a whim and you just have to let it overtake you and run with it.

Never in the subsequent twenty-two years of living did I ever think I would do this (let alone do this of my own volition and means) and yet I did. While I’m not the biggest fan of this particular result, I do think it’s becoming of me. As a matter of fact, I look pretty damn good. I’ve had worst cuts and hey, it’s just hair. And I’m not regretting one tiny bit of it. Why would I? It’s only temporary.

It’ll grow back.

the face that doesn't regret his decision.

the face that doesn’t regret his decision.

Let’s Endure: The Job Hunt

The Job Hunt: It’s as inevitable as growing old, as necessary as breathing, and as annoying as the kid who always raised his hand in class with the right answer. In my experience (which has so far been three months in “the hunt”), I typically receive the same three responses from relatives:

1) Where have you been applying?

2) I’m sure something will come up.

3) You know, it took me ‘X’ months and ‘X’ job applications to get my first job. It’ll work out.

My responses, all held dry underneath the umbrella of politeness are as follows:

1) Literally everywhere, but I’m sure something will happen in time.

2) Oh, most definitely! It’s just a matter of patience.

3) Well, I’m only on month three. I suppose I have a long way to go.

In my family, politeness is probably of the utmost importance, perched up in the ranks next to cleanliness and dental hygiene. It’s sufficient to say that “talking back” won’t only result in complete, familial shame, but also an immediate removal from the family newsletter that exists only through tacit consent and word of mouth.

What they don’t know and will soon find out, is that i’m screaming in my head for everybody to stay quiet and let me do what four years and $65,000 taught me to do: work under the stress of society. As of right now, I am seventy-two applications deep, have accrued eight rejections, and sixty-four non replies.

And they wonder why the job hunt is stressful?

I am finding myself in the most peculiar and perhaps most common situation in regards to this hunt; I am stuck in the phase where I have begun asking myself even more unanswerable questions: What if the first job I’m offered is that one I pounce at, thus shutting out all other possibilities out there? What if there are better ones? How do you know? Will someone please tell me, because I am scared. The answers are out there, but they’re hiding. Hiding beneat the doubt and uncertainty and the unknown. A part of me understands; I understand why it’s selective and why it is the way it is, but at the same time I want to dismantle it bit by bit just so I can get an inch through the door. Yes, my cover letter is a template and no, that doesn’t mean I care any less about the job.

Between the onslaught of questions from family burrowing into the dura over my temporal lobe and my imposed narcissism on behalf of these unknown employers, I’m at my wits end. I can say that it’ll get better and that something will work itself out in due time, and it will, i’m sure of it; but those same responses get tired, tired to the point of ineffectiveness and redundancy. It’s so overdone that I can play backwards and forwards the exact mannerisms associated with the responses:

A tilt of the head, a gentle touch on the hand, *cue subtle sigh*:

Friend/Family Member

“It’ll work out. I know it will. You just have to give it time. Life will out, my friend. Life will out.”

I understand this initial response to it, I do. But despite all of the reassurances, let’s not pretend that you didn’t just steal that phrase from Grey’s Anatomy. From someone who is a fellow hunter, I will start my stating the obvious: the hunt is hard.

It’s harder than a Rubix Cube and rarely yields the same “satisfying” results. But, there’s a reason why the cliches are cliches and the phrases are redundant; it’s because they’re true.

So, I’ll say this with a tilt of my head, a gentle touch on the hand, and I’ll *commence the subtle sigh*:

It’s a tough world out there. But I’m tougher. You’re tougher.

And it’s hunting season, so gear up.

Let’s Redefine: The Villain. 

Once upon a time, a small child grew up thinking that life was simple. Life was merely saving the damsel, slaying the dragon, and living happily ever after. It was black and white, right and wrong, heroes and villains.

Of course, we all know that life is anything but an odd mixture of varying dualities. We realize that a middle ground does exist; some may say that there are an even number of shades of gray. There is always room for reason. That being said, we can’t judge the small child for being disillusioned or misled. Mostly because it’s only a child and very much fictitious. But it really does get you thinking: Who really are the heroes and villains in our lives? Are heroes always draped with capes and are villains always distinguished by the horns protruding from their foreheads?

Short answer? There are no clear, tell-tale signs for either.

Real-life answer? You never truly know until you get to know someone. That’s where life deviates from the fairytales. Figuring out the villains isn’t as easy as The Brothers Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen made it out to be. As much as we hate it, it is only through becoming vulnerable that we realize who will hurt us. The only thing “right” with the idea of the villain is that they’re someone who hurts others regardless of reason.

This is where I feel that the entire concept of fairytales, albeit traditional and clean-cut, shouldn’t be the monolith for all relationships. We all see villains as something or someone different. Just because someone is complicated and vindictive doesn’t mean they deserve the title of villain. A person plagued by circumstance and poor life decisions shouldn’t be held down by that.

Maybe we do so because we find it so much easier to hate someone, as opposed to understanding their situation? It certainly makes logical sense. To hate someone, all you have to do is delete their number and walk away; but to understand is to become vulnerable again, this time in a situation in which that vulnerability can be exploited.

I feel that’s a risk worth taking.

Vulnerability, in this sense, can be a good and powerful force. It can almost act as a sixth sense, being able to let you know who is going to hurt you. It’s scary, sure, almost like being naked in public. But that also makes it liberating, in that you don’t have to hide beneath anything.

Think it over and realize that there are other possibilities. Close the storybook and open your mind; welcome to reality, we’ve been waiting for you.

Let’s Write: An Open Letter to A Love.

Hi.

I know it’s been a while and I haven’t said much…or anything really, because, well, it would have hurt too much. Whether you’ll find this or not is beyond me, but I feel comfortable enough sharing this with the faceless masses of those that have the ability to access the internet.

Hello, faceless masses. How are you? Good? Good.

You know, at first it came in flashes; quick bursts of memories, one right after the next. All the happy times, as well as the sad. All of which hurt. For about a week, I wasn’t sure if I could make it a day without bawling my eyes out. I did make it, but that doesn’t make it feel like any more of a success. There are moments when I reminisce on the late night talks on the phone and how often we talked at the very start of it all a year ago. Then I find the moments where I began to think that this was something real and indelible. Those are the moments that make you lose yourself and that make you realize how good it all was.

Then it begins to shift.

The bad moments begin to bubble up. The ill-communication that shook our foundation and the way the tremors shook up my mind and my heart. Those are the moments that make your fists clench and make you realize why it had to stop. This isn’t what it was supposed to be, this wasn’t our life. Life Love shouldn’t transpire like this. We’re told it’s supposed to be easy and like a puzzle. Then you realize that it’s bullshit and life has different obstacles in store for everybody and how they’re dealt with personally affects everyone around you.

Then they say hindsight is twenty/twenty. You’re supposed to see everything clearer, but right now it’s all blurry. I sit here, typing and squinting, because I need a new prescription to be able to see how everything was suppose to work out this way. Everyone says that things happen for a reason and, well, I don’t know what that reason is because I still think about us. About you.

I can’t stop thinking about what could have been, nor do I feel I should ever think of stopping.

There’s a place in my heart especially reserved and there’s no one else that can or will sweep in and take it. I won’t allow it. Where does this leave me? Am I hung up on the slim chance of something happening again? Am I holding on to an empty chance? Will this matter in the future? Where will we be in five years? Is this moving on or am I dwelling?

Sometimes I think if I feel these things for someone else that what I had once felt will start to disappear. A thought came across my mind one night, and it was telling me that our capacity for this kind of love is limited. You can shift and change the dosage, but it would affect how I would always feel. Would I ever love someone as intensely? Was that all of it? Will it be different? Will it be worse? Then I woke up the next day and realized that it doesn’t work like that. At least, it shouldn’t work like that.

Honestly, I don’t care what it is, because I don’t think the love will go away. I don’t think it should. It’s out there, roaming the world, with bright eyes and a hope as relentless and stubborn as I am. And I’m going to let it roam because, who knows, it may lead me back to you. It may lead me astray. All I know is that wherever it leads me, I’m sure it’ll be somewhere great.