The Smallest of Things

This has been a momentous week for me.

What has happened, you might ask? Did I get a job? No. (Well, actually sort of, but it doesn’t really count as a real job.) Did I get my degree conferred? Perhaps, my successful completion of college might have been confirmed by UCLA, but I still don’t get a diploma, and I won’t until the end of June – which is not, by the way, when I walk the stage. Despite finishing a couple of months before everyone else and having my degree conferred a month before I walk the stage, I still won’t be handed a diploma, and it won’t even be ready at that point. I don’t know how UCLA can expect to teach us time management when they’re clearly not very good at it. Also management of finances seems to be difficult for them, so I’ll just blame the school for my frivolous spending ways. At any rate, I think I can still use the privileges of a UCLA student for a while longer, so I’m still sort of stuck in limbo. Also, there was never really any reason to doubt that my degree would be conferred, so the email informing as such isn’t really all that surprising.

So what could have happened that’s gotten me so excited?

The best movies ever made, the full versions of which were never shown in theaters, are going to be playing on big screens for one night each this June.

If you’ve heard from me recently, you probably already know what I’m talking about, and even if you haven’t, if you know me well enough, you can probably guess. Lord of the Rings has been a longtime obsession for me, and not only the longest, but probably the … what would the adjective be? Strongest? Deepest? Most alarming? 
Suffice it to say, I quite enjoy these movies and books. In fact, I think that people who know me now probably don’t understand the level at which I’m obsessed with these movies. As crazy as I might be about it now, it is substantially muted compared to what it used to be.

Lord of the Rings hit me right at that special age where kids become just generally obsessive, right around middle school. Think about it, think about what you were obsessed with between maybe 9 and 14, and think about just how crazy you were about it (are you still obsessed with it? At the very least, you probably still hold it in a special place in your heart). It’s the despised “teeny-bopper” phase, the period of life that screaming teenagers are borne from. It’s this period that we can blame for the Twilight phenomenon. Fortunately, in my generation, there was a much better movie to get hooked on…

There are plenty of stories about me and my 12-year-old obsession, and if you didn’t experience it, you can hunt down one of the people I went to middle school with and root out the truth. But here’s the important bit. After seeing these movies, I decided what I was going to do when I grew up. The idea that things like this could be made, and that there was a slight chance that I could be a part of it – that was one of the most incredible realizations I had ever had.

Getting a degree, getting work, moving onwards and upwards – those are big deals, to be sure. But not so big as suddenly knowing what you want to do for the rest of your life. That sounds terribly cheesy, but I think it’s true. It’s something to anchor to. Sometimes I wonder, all the huge decisions we make once we’re older – what school to go to, what major to study, which jobs to pursue – how they compare with the decisions we make when we’re  little kids who still think that Hogwarts really could exist.

It had such a profound effect on me as a 9-year-old that it made me want to make films. The next day I got my parents’ Super 8 movie camera and started to do stop-motion animation with a clay dinosaur.

-Peter Jackson, about a Harryhausen film

The potential effects of the formative years has some worrying repercussions. I worry about the Twilight generation. Not only will they have extremely lowered expectations for literature and film, but they may be inextricably doomed to a life of waiting, even subconsciously, for a pale, sparkly mind-reader. My twelve-year-old decision to be a part of the next monumental  epic in filmmaking seems much more practicable in comparison. And that may be an encouraging thought. 

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Pretty Colors

I know, I know, I’ve failed in the “semi-regularly” department, and haven’t posted for several days, but I have been writing in the meanwhile, just not here. Doesn’t absence make the heart grow fonder? It’s all a ruse to build up suspense. And any other passingly adequate excuses you might think of…

But here’s what’s really on my mind right now. Someone tried to rip me off. For a kind of a lot of money. Really not cool.

Earlier today, my roomie managed to drag me out of my cave of wonderment (ie my warm bed) and forced me to accompany her on a trip to the fashion district to find some fabric. I have no aspirations to become a seamstress, tailoress, dressmaker, clothier, or any other type of needle-wielding artisan, but I truly love fabric, and I especially love it when there’s hundreds of different bolts and swaths draped everywhere.

how i feel in fabric stores

It probably has something to do with my magpie-like love for all things pretty, and especially all things shiny. Fabric stores are veritable cornucopias for colors, sparkles, shines, and flashes, not to mention textures aplenty. Also I think I’m inspired by the blanket fort potential of fabric stores. At any rate, I enjoy fabric stores, and I enjoy fabric stores in the fashion district because outside them, there are often hot dog stands just waiting for me to indulge. Last time I ate from a hot dog stand, it was Halloween, in WeHo, and I was vomiting all the next day, thanks to some lovely food poisoning. I still have absolutely no compunction about buying hot dogs from stands, and in fact, am eager to do so. We went to Pinks instead, which was delicious, though this whole hot dog tangent is really a bit irrelevant to the story and only a product of my true and deep love for hot dogs bought from stands. Suffice it to say, I had a very satisfying day.

I did however, spend a pretty penny in the fashion district. So later, after I had returned to my cave of wonderment, and was taking a nice nap, I got a call from Bank of America and was unsurprised to find out that they had flagged my account on suspicion of fraudulent charges. This actually happens surprisingly often, I suppose I often make strange and questionable purchases (?) and BofA likes to call me on it. But when they called, I was taking a nap, and the holy sleep comes before all else, so I ignored the call. Finally, around 1AM, I decided I should probably deal with it, just have to navigate and irritatingly well-enunciated touchtone menu. After such a relaxing day, I could deal with a minor nuisance – until I realized that the attempt to withdraw $500.00 in cash from an ATM was not actually something I had tried to do. Cue panic.

how i feel now.... stupid rainbows

Apparently, somehow, someone had gotten a hold of my debit card number and created a counterfeit card which they then tried to use at an ATM. Luckily they failed and BofA caught the transaction, so I’m all good, except I now am terrified someone is going to steal my identity. I talked to two different fraud analysts and forced them to reassure me that I hadn’t anything to worry about, that only my card was being accessed. I’m still not reassured.

So I’m now scared of identity theft. [The demon cat strikes again!] I mean I’m concerned about the practical things – my funds, my credit score, etc. But since I’m the type of person who walks into a fabric stores and sees rainbows asking to be danced in and potential blanket forts, I also am concerned about literal identity theft, as in someone trying to become me. And let’s be honest, maybe not so irrational, because I’m awesome. Everyone likes the thought of being able to step into another life, become someone else, just for a little while. It’s why we love superheroes and their alter egos, and why Hollywood refuses to stop making switching-bodies flicks.

Honestly, I don’t know that someone would actually enjoy taking over my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, and am perfectly confident in my own awesomeness, but objectively, I’m poor and unemployed. I’m generally a happy person because of an inexplicable optimism and infantile delight in the simplest of things – blanket forts, hot dog stands, taco trucks, the newest Thor video, my Ninja Turtle hat, Doctor Who’s new season, Cadbury Creme eggs, saltwater taffy or just a variety of pretty colors and interesting textiles. I might get distracted from the practical fairly easily, but at least my bank has got my back. I’ve absolutely no idea how this identity-stealing troll got my card number, and I’m still alarmed by the possibility that my information may be at risk. But I don’t think there’s really much I can do at the moment, and I’d rather be thinking about my whimsies. My lack of practicality might bite me in the ass from time to time, and occasionally be slightly bafflingly alarming, but if it’s between the fetal position and rainbows, I’m definitely taking the rainbows.

Wibbly-Wobbly

It’s been a few days since I’ve blogged anything. As a principle, I wouldn’t ever want to thank people who pester me, just to avoid encouraging potentially irritating behavior, but being a very irritating person myself, I know pestering often comes from a loving place. At the very least it comes from loving to irritate, and that, I absolutely understand and cannot fault. So, to the people who’ve heckled, you are pests after my own heart, and I love you for it.

In the last few days, I’ve been thinking generally about what I want. I know what career I want to pursue and what I should be doing to start that process, but I guess having plenty of unstructured, if not free, time and a complete lack of definite direction inspires self-reflection. I tend to be, I think, a tad capricious – I’ve been known to be hopelessly subject to fads and obsessions. Sometimes my obsessions last – like Lord of the Rings (if you’re wondering, yes, at 12 I tried to learn Elvish, and I had an Elven name) – but usually they fade away in a couple of weeks. Right now my obsessiveness has latched onto Jane Eyre/Michael Fassbender/nineteenth century courtship novels, (thanks to my oh-so-useful English degree, I can tell you, this story, like many nineteenth century courtship novels, is a bildungsroman). Having spent so much time now watching movies and listening to the Jane Eyre audiobook, I’m worried that I’m starting to adapt the speech patterns of a nineteenth-century novelist. Which illustrates the point I’m trying to make – my mind changes so often and so significantly that sometimes it’s difficult if what I want is concrete and worth pursuing or just a fleeting whim borne out of a short obsession.

When you apply to Things, in school, They often ask you something along the lines of “who the hell are you anyways” but instead of phrasing it this way, they ask you to “Submit a personal statement.” Even cover letters or letters of intent are asking about who you are, even if they don’t ask outright, but everything you submit for consideration is supposed to allow Them to get a sense of who you are. My problem is that I always had difficulty figuring that out. That’s not to say that I’m suffering from an identity crisis; I know perfectly well who I am in a wishy-washy, wibbly-wobbly sort of way. But to put it into concrete words and weigh down that sense, and tell other people this is how you may define me – that I’ve always had difficulty with. And besides that, isn’t that why I went to college in the first place, isn’t that where I’m supposed to figure it out?

That definition, and the urging to self-categorize, it’s all part of the imposing and implacable STRUCTURE of the first 22 years of any college-bound person’s life. The progression of pre-school, elementary school, middle school, high school, college is such a driving force that once you drop out of it, it’s difficult to not just float in the void and reflect. It’s probably the reason I want to work in dead-end jobs for awhile, and the reason I want to go onto Route 66. Nothing says reflection like sitting in a small, enclosed space for 2 weeks with miles of open road, and staggering landscapes all around you.

Maybe what I want is just something life-changing. Something momentous and undeniable – but then again maybe I just want that because something that huge would point the way, add some structure back into my life, and make the wibbly-wobbly stable. I like to think I can deal with the wibbly-wobbly, and even thrive in it, considering how wibbly-wobbly my own inclinations are. At any rate, thinking about how wibbly or wobbly I may or may not be is starting make my head wibble with confusion, and I’m starting to be vaguely irritated by the words wibbly and wobbly, so I think I’ll just leave off consideration for now.

I know where I want to end up, I’ve figured out what I want my future to be – it’s just the present I’m having some trouble with. This week, I want a Rochester or a Darcy, next week I’ll probably want telekinesis or a penchant for flying.

Mind-Killer/Total Obliteration or VOICES AIRY

My life at present moment, has seem to have taken on a general ambiance of frightfulness. With little indication as to what comes next or what I should do, making decisions on a daily basis is a little scary. Even the most solid of plans I’ve formed, which are still fairly uncertain, are intimidating, to put it at its most mild. As if the ambiance of fear has manifested into corporeal form, I’ve found this stationed outside my apartment:

what is a cat that is clearly of the Fall season doing hanging around my domicile in SPRING?

It’s supposed to be cute, which makes it even scarier. The fact that it’s clearly out of its element, sitting on a garbage can on a bright and sunny Spring day, makes it seem like it’s on the attack, it’s invading. And it’s been there for a couple of days… why hasn’t it been taken away and destroyed by the huge scary garbage truck?!

It’s easy to see fear as a mind-killer when staring into those wide open, unfocused, strangely hypnotic synthetic eyes. It’s like a gatekeeper, only I have no idea what gate it’s keeping – it’s maybe just generally paralyzingly scary-looking. It’s scarier because I can’t figure it out.

If fear is borne from a distinct lack of knowing, then logically speaking, the post-college, pre-career period must be, by definition, the most terrifying expanse of a lifetime. Unless you’re one of those people who has it all figured out right from the beginning, the minute you graduate is the moment all structure and direction in your life seems to fall away completely. Sure, you may have the general outline of “get a job, make some money, pay the bills,” but direction does not get much more VAGUE and UNHELPFUL than that. And so, in entering into the world of responsibility and self-sufficiency, it seems all too apparent to me, that I am entering a world of terror.

Quite fittingly, everything I do is generally terrifying. Searching for jobs – terrifying: hours spent crafting the best possible image of yourself, only to inevitably be rejected by the majority of non-hiring employers. Getting a new job – terrifying: knowing nothing about the protocols and peoples of an entirely new place and yet throwing yourself headlong into the fray. NOT getting a new job – TERRIFYING: I am hemorrhaging money. Thus, everything else I do becomes terrifying – buying lunch, gasing up my car, paying bills, sitting at home doing nothing, using electricity that will be billed in the future – nothing is safe!

But if I allow the terror of EVERYTHING to dictate my actions, the Scary Demonic Witch Cat wins. I think we can all agree, that’s not something any of us want. I refuse to fall into the depths of those dead eyes and wallow in indeterminacy. And so, I shall continue to sally forth!

What are fears but voices airy?                                                                  Whispering harm where harm is not.

-Wordsworth

Also, I shall avoid doing laundry until after garbage day, so I don’t have to walk by Demon Cat.

The Whooshing Sound

For my birthday, my good friend gave me this t-shirt:

startlingly appropriate

As a frequenter of the same website, I remember seeing this shirt while I was supposedly studying for the last finals I’ll supposedly ever take. At the time, I almost descended on the “Add to Cart” button in a frenzy because it was obviously speaking to me and MEANT specifically for me – how else would it just so happen to pronounce exactly what I was doing as I was doing it (my brand of procrastination manifested in taco-truck runs and Jackass marathons). Luckily, my dwindling bank account numbers convinced me to restrain my twitching fingers on the track pad. When I received the shirt, I thought, DAMNIT this would have been so much more APPROPRIATE three weeks ago, when I WAS procrastinating. Then I had the sad realization that, out of the many things I planned to do directly after getting out of school, two weeks later, I had done exactly none.

The first and perhaps most pressing concern is a means of income.This has been the most confusing issue in my life, really for the last five years, but much more centrally in the last 14 days. Having decided to eschew graduate school, and get straight to the work, I hadn’t really decided whether I wanted to start climbing the ladder or just get a job to pay the bills. Being stuck between these two very different paths, I was (am?) rather paralyzed with indecision. My plans to GET A JOB included a long list of self-pronounced deadlines, including update resume, apply at this-and-that, create a profile on so-and-so job site, but without knowing what I want to do, ALL of these things become troublesome. I’ve applied to a few places, looked into temp agencies, and talked to the people I intern with about what I could do, but I haven’t really settled on one thing. I suppose now it’s a matter of what happens first.

The other major thing I intended to do was start writing everyday. You’d think, with the many, many hours of free time I now have, that this would have been a relatively easy thing to accomplish. It seems this is not the case. It may have been a mistake to buy a used copy of Force Unleashed for my Wii, and then decide to check out what all the hubbub about Community, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men was. Luckily, I’ve only managed to look into Community so far, and as a relatively new show with a short format, I was able to break away from the obsessive marathoning fairly quickly. (In my defense, how in the HELL am I supposed to not get addicted to this???)

Even when writing about writing regularly, I get distracted. By Community – it really is an awesome show, if you haven’t seen it yet, you should definitely check it out…

But writing! Everyday.  A little bit. This is my goal, and this is my first day of making that happen, absolutely. Hopefully, the potential eyes that will be reading will shame me into keeping to it.

The last major thing I wanted to do in the last few weeks was a major clean on my room. Since I’m done with school, I had a lot to throw out. That, I definitely did do. Here’s how I succeeded:

 

the surface of this desk has not seen the light of day for weeks, months - even years

 

Here’s how I didn’t:

 

squalor - I KNOW WHERE EVERYTHING IS IN THIS SEEMING CHAOS

Small successes.

I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

-Douglas Adams