Cold Feet

You guys are going to hate me so much when I tell you that after all my whining and complaining, I’ve decided to postpone my move. Here’s why.

I think I’ve been really emotionally unstable the last few days. I’m getting really nervous about leaving and really stressed about making sure everything goes well, that I can’t even focus on anything for the life of me. I’ve been making myself physically ill because I think too much about things I should not be thinking about. I was afraid that had I moved down this weekend in this state of mind, I wouldn’t have given anything a fair chance. I would’ve been upset and mad and immediately want to leave and I don’t think I want that. I really want to give Texas a chance to show me all the things I’m missing–to prove that everything I’ve been dreaming about can be a thing, whether it’s in Texas or somewhere else that isn’t New Jersey.

So my plan now is to visit my roommate and check out my apartment and remind myself that there are more things to life than the occasional bonfire with friends that make me feel good; the occasional compliment from a cute boy that catches my attention. I’m going to see old friends and look at jobs and get my bearings straight because I want to make this work out. And then I’ll come home and just prepare myself for the life I’m going to have and accept the fact that I need this. I need this change. And I need to give this change a fair shot at working at, because I’ll never know unless I try. And I’ll never try if I don’t stop being a crybaby.

Life: A Lose/Lose Situation

So for a few weeks, I had totally embraced the entire idea of moving out. Or maybe not even “embraced” it, but I was totally accepting of it because it is now a thing I have to do. And then I wasn’t even fully aware that it was a thing I had to do. I was convinced somehow that I had more time. That maybe I wasn’t even leaving. That this was all a dream??? I don’t know what I thought or how I convinced myself of it, but I was so so positive I was not about to pick up everything and leave. 

But I am. And I was reminded of this Saturday night after my best friend and I had a summer gathering of sorts. I was reminded when my best friends said goodbye, potentially for the last time. I was reminded when I met a new friend who I immediately connected with and then had to explain to him that we’re basically never going to see each other again. I was reminded when I had to pack up all my stuff the next day. It sucks, guys. If you’ve never dealt with this in life, trust me when I say it sucks, because it does. 

This is my problem: I feel like no matter what decision I made, I would’ve felt like it was a mistake. No matter what happens in this situation in my life, I feel like somehow I lose. And here’s why:

1. In the case that I move to Texas (which I am moving to Texas because I have an apartment and I quit my job???), I am in Texas wondering what would’ve happened had I stayed in New Jersey. I am in Texas, constantly reminded of everything I left behind. And if Texas doesn’t shape up to be everything I’ve imagined it to be, what then? Then I’m really stuck thinking about everything I gave up to move to Texas for. I am literally uprooting my entire life to take this chance. And if it ends up being an awful time, I’ll feel like an awful time for it. I know change is good, but what if it’s not always?
2. In the case that I stay in New Jersey (which is not happening because of the aforementioned things), I am stuck wondering what would’ve happened had I left. What relationships did I miss out on? What experiences am I not experiencing? What changes am I not undergoing? Do I resent myself for staying? Do I resent my friends for making me feel like I have to stay? Are my friends as friendly as they are right now if they know I’m not leaving?

Life is tough.

I’m constantly hearing that stupid phrase in my head: “You don’t know what you have till it’s gone.” And I hate things like that but it’s absolutely, 100% true. You absolutely do not know what you have until the week before you leave it forever. I’ve had a solid group of friends for the last few months and I totally took each one of them for granted because I could. Because I didn’t have to talk to them every day because we’d hang out once and it would be fine. Except I can’t do that now. I can’t pretend that it’s okay to be distant, because I’ll actually be distant and I can’t make that up one night by tagging along to a bonfire. I am always complaining that I was alone and that I didn’t have anyone, but I have everyone I could possibly need. I have everyone anyone could possibly need. And I am literally leaving them for people I like spending time with for two weeks once every year. And the worst part is that I know that I don’t really have anything besides them and my family that are holding me here and I know that none of them would want to be the reason I stay. And I wish they all liked me less so it would be easy to leave and not look back. 

I also keep thinking about that concept of missing out on certain things. Like, if I didn’t move, all there’s probably so many things I’d be missing out on. That concept kind of sucks, too. Maybe just for me. Maybe I’m thinking too much about it all. It’s just hard because I think when I move, I’ll have a pretty good idea what I’m missing and what I’m missing out on. And if I don’t move, I’ll have no idea what I’m missing out on. And I can’t decide if it’s better to know what you’re missing or to be completely oblivious to it all. 

Mall Employees I Will Miss When I Move

You don’t know hell until you walk through Garden State Plaza in New Jersey on a Saturday night. However, through all the bad times I’ve had in the space, I can honestly say there are a select few people employees that I will miss seeing on a regular basis.

1. The really short Hispanic woman that works at the Wetzel’s Pretzel stand down the hall. She never gives me the mall discount and she can’t see over the counter without standing on an abnormally large box. No, thank you, I do not need the sauce with my cinnamon pretzel bits.
2. The man that works at the body piercing kiosk around the corner. With no interaction at all, it seems weird that I’d miss the guy, but he stares at me almost all the time and he looks like a really foreign BJ Novak, so no real complaints there. I wish I would’ve said hello to you that time I walked past you and you stared at me longingly. And that other time. And that other time. Your kiosk is always poppin’ so you must be doing something right. Don’t let that blonde lady steal your thunder.
3. The ladies at Great Wraps who always give me a mall discount and never judge me for consistently ordering chicken fingers and curly fries. Thanks for making me waiting fifteen minutes to get food.
4. Some guy that works at a lotion kiosk outside of the store. I think I saw you once, but thanks for saying goodbye to me while I tried to close the gates to the store that night. You seemed really sad about it, but I’m sure we’ll meet again.
5. The kid at Nordstrom’s e-bar and also his trusty sidekick. I appreciate the fact that you always know the perfect amount of toasting for my bagel. You guys are the breakfast bomb.
6. The creepy men at Sbarro’s. You guys are real creepy, but I will never turn down free food.
7. The mall security guy that made this crazy woman standing in a parking spot move so my mom and I could get the first spot in the first row. Thanks. (**Not to be confused with the mall security guy that came up to my car one morning, asked if I worked in the mall, and then made me move across the street by the bank so I had to walk a thousand miles to get to work. No thanks to you, jerk.)
8. The little Asian man that rips tickets at the movie theater. You all know who I’m talking about. (You might not all know who I’m talking about but someone should and so, cue the awes.) You are very good at what you do. So good that you’ve gotten a facebook page dedicated to you. Keep on rippin’ on, my man.
9. The bald man that works at the kiosk that sells hair straighteners to unsuspecting moms and daughters. We’ve had a good run. You asked where I worked and then winked at me. You winked at me again. You made a joke about me texting you while you were at work. You winked at me again. You came into the store and became outraged when you found out that the entire sale wall was not $4.99. You angrily yelled “bro” and stormed off. But then you came back another day and upon being asked how you were, you replied, “same shit different day.” You always got me, man. Always.
10. Robert Piano. My main squeeze. Probably the only coworker I’ll cry about leaving. Probably my most favorite coworker of all my four years of retail. Fist pump, jump jump. Always and forever.

The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson

Book number two on the summer reading list is completed. (You’ll notice I didn’t tell you guys I started a second book because I didn’t want any judgment past if I took a thousand weeks like I did with Gatsby.)

(HarperCollins edition, 2011)

In his debut novel, The Family Fang, Kevin Wilson follows a family of performance artists as the parents try to consistently push art on all those around them and their children try to consistently push themselves away from said art. The book is separated into chapters detailing the lives of the Fang children, A and B to their parents, Annie and Buster to everyone else; and small sections of the performances that their parents have created. Mr. and Mrs. Fang were accustomed to reeking havoc on unsuspecting bystanders from a young age and the birth of their children did not change this. The four Fangs joined forces to cause chaos wherever they planned. It’s an interesting thing really to think about. Planned chaos. Clearly, children grow up and decide that living their own life is an important thing and so they move on, leaving their parents to fend for themselves, only this time, not so successfully. It is through this progression of life that the Fang parents plan their biggest performance of all, sending Annie and Buster on a trip to really understand it all.

I’m not going to get too too into it because I don’t think I’m too good at reviewing books and what not, but can we for a minute form a Kevin Wilson Fan Club because I think he is the cat’s pajamas. First introduced to him and his writing courtesy my writing advisor and Wilson’s collection of short stories, Tunneling to the Center of the Earth. Wilson’s got a way to write about something so out there–so quirky, almost–and make it sound completely normal and I think that’s what I like best about him. I read his work and think to myself that this is a real thing that could happen at any time. He creates characters that, while for the most part of The Family Fang, seem emotionally detached, are not actually emotionally detached at all. They all function within the relationships they have with each other. They grow into themselves through each other and I think it’s great. I was almost concerned for the novel, as short stories tend to read differently than larger pieces of writing, but this has quickly jumped to one of my favorite books. It reads so smooth. His tone is so great. His characters are wonderful (especially Buster). The storyline isn’t the ordinary. And the ending is nothing I had expected, no matter how many different alternatives I came up with in my head. In short, I’d probably read it again tomorrow.

Also, on a personal note, Kevin Wilson’s short stories totally inspired me to get back to the core of what my writing is all about. This quirky, unexpected type character going through the same type of situation. I think if I were to ever get published, it would probably make my life if I ever got any sort of recognition for the guy. So, wherever you are Kevin Wilson, thanks. You’re a gem.

Lists (part two)

I think one of the things that changes most when the summer comes around is the music that I listen to. While I don’t think it changes too drastically, I think it can be said that we all have our go-to albums that we put on when we drive down the shore on a sunny day. (Jersey shore, fist pump. Sugar Ray’s 2001 self titled album is my top choice.) I normally listen to a variety of alternative/indie rock, sometimes a little folk thrown in. But I am not a stranger to other genres of music. If you’re looking for something similar to your own taste or something a little different, check out my picks for top ten summer albums. (Bear with me because I’m not entirely sure how I can possibly talk about music without sounding like I don’t know what I’m talking about. I can only hope I do a semi-mediocre job.)

1. An Awesome Wave, Alt-J
Ok, honestly, I was totally way late on the Alt-J train. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of them before because I think my sister and I really liked that when you press the ‘alt’ key and then the ‘j’ key on a Mac computer it makes a triangle. So I’m almost positive that I’ve heard of them way earlier than I actually know. My first listen through of this album was at their live show at the Granada Theater in Dallas, TX. And, though I’m not an expert on shows in general, this one was the coolest thing I’ve ever seen/heard. The English indie group is also commonly described as belonging to the genre of “psychedelic rock” and with good reason. I can’t even begin to tell you how awesome this album is. All I know is that whenever it’s on in my car, I can’t help but tap my thumbs on my steering wheel like I know what drumming is. Personal favorite tracks: Breezeblocks, Fitzpleasure, Taro.
576856_10151614189512652_814075909_n**Photographed by me at their live show at the Granada Theater in Dallas, TX. 3/16/13

2. The Mountain, Heartless Bastards
I really, REALLY, like Friday Night Lights if that wasn’t a reoccurring theme already. So I guess it’s also cool to note that the Heartless Bastards actually made an appearance in the episode where Matt Saracen and Julie Taylor go to Austin and then Julie Taylor gets in trouble because she didn’t actually tell her parents she was going. But, regardless, this album is the greatest time. Like Band Of Skulls, they literally sound like they come out of their parents’ garage. The only difference here is that Heartless Bastards seem to embrace more of a blues sound than anything else. Also, the band is leaded by Erika Wennerstrom who not only sings, but also plays the piano and the guitar for the band. And she has the coolest voice I’ve heard in a long time. And girl power. Personal favorite tracks: Sway, Hold Your Head High, Had To Go.

3. Mind Chaos, Hockey
I cannot tell you how long it took me to finally find the entirety of Mind Chaos on the internet. When I finally did, I was not disappointed. While Hockey is a indie rock band, it is also described as fitting the genres of dance punk(?????) and post-punk revival. And, while I question the credibility of a genre called “dance punk,” I guess I can’t disagree here. I cannot help but bob around (I can’t dance, I bob and sway and stuff) whenever Hockey comes on my playlist. Personal favorite tracks: Too Fake, Learn to Lose, Song Away.

4. American Hearts, A. A. Bondy
Only introduced to him in the past year or so, I’ve become totally obsessed with this folk sound. Everything from the sound of his voice to the soft strumming of his guitar to his harmonica (yes, that’s what I said) is perfection. While some of the songs have a slower tempo, it’s near impossible to skip over any of them. Personal favorite tracks: Killed Myself When I Was Young (featured on the television show Friday Night Lights), Lovers’ Waltz, American Hearts. **If you happen to really like this album, definitely check out his other album When The Devil’s Loose which is equally wonderful times. 

5. For Blood and Empire, Anti-Flag
This rebellious rock group doesn’t necessarily have as smooth a sound as most of the candidates on this list, but they’ve got a true American punk feel to them. It doesn’t get much more summer than anarchy and war, amirite? Personal favorite tracks: One Trillion Dollars, The Press Corpse, Cities Burn.

6. Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, Band Of Skulls
Is it just me or does this band sound like they’ve come straight out of the garage at their mom’s house? Also, they have a female vocalist and bass player. How badass is Emma Richardson actually?band-of-skullsReally badass apparently. Personal favorite tracks: Fires, Patterns, Impossible. **Also featured on Friday Night Lights is the track titled “I Know What I Am.”

7. Breakfast, Chiddy Bang
Chiddy and Xaphoon Jones are a great duo. (Not to mention that Xaphoon Jones is a total babe.) They’re not necessarily a “hip-hop” duo, but are more so categorized under the genre of pop-rap. While they have the lyrical “swag” (haha) like many other artists of this nature, their sound is totally different. It’s more electronic than anything else, which makes it a perfect choice for blasting in your car or at a BBQ or at a club if that’s your thing???? Personal favorite tracks: Mind Your Manners, Handclaps & Guitars, Whatever We Want. **If you like both Chiddy Bang and Hockey, then you will love Chiddy Bang’s version of Too Fake, entitled Too Much Soul on their album Peanut Butter and Swelly.

8. New Again, Taking Back Sunday
Taking Back Sunday is a go-to really anytime of the year, I think. They’re one of the few bands that have been able to put out more than three albums that I don’t hate.Where You Want To Be and Tell All Your Friends might trump all other TBS albums, but New Again is right up there. It seems a little more upbeat than the other things put out by the band making it slightly nicer to listen to when driving around on a nice day. Also, Adam Lazzara. So, I mean, who can complain?
tbs_08phillyadamPersonal favorite tracks: Sink Into Me, Summer, Man

9. K.I.D.S, Mac Miller
Kickin’ Incredibly Dope Shit is the moment I fell deeply in love with Malcolm McCormick. It’s weird, really, but for a real long time, I was totally obsessed with the guy. My friend sent me Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza on youtube one night and the rest is history. Not only are his beats totally awesome, but the kid can form a sentence. He can also correctly use the term “nor” so, kudos to you Mac. Personal favorite tracks: Senior Skip Day, The Spins, Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza. **Just as a side note, Mac Miller does a feature on Chiddy Bang’s song Heatwave from their album Peanut Butter and Swelly and it is a great time.

10. Third Eye Blind, Third Eye Blind
I don’t care how old this album gets, you all have to listen to it at least once every summer. Third Eye Blind is the epitome of all things life for 20 somethings with almost zero direction. I’m telling you. Forcefully. Make this a permanent part of your summer playlist. Do it. Now. 90s alternative rock will never be better than this. Personal favorite tracks: Semi-Charmed Life, How’s It Going To Be?, I Want You.

On a Personal Note

As I scroll down my tumblr homepage, I often times find myself coming across one specific individual posting things about her future and her greatest fear. It appears that she, like most other girls in this generation, have a gigantic fear of ending up alone. Now, don’t get me wrong. I can understand why being alone for the rest of your life can seem terrifying. No one wants to end up alone. I don’t think anyone necessarily chooses that life. They just end up accepting it and finding ways to be okay with it. However, I think, especially with younger girls today, it’s difficult for them to imagine ever being okay with a life like that. They all seemingly need a companion on their side to make them feel wanted–to validate them. It appears, to me, at least, that most girls don’t know how to be happy with themselves. They all convince themselves and one another that the only true way to be happy is with someone else. This makes me sad. While I’m sure some of these girls are independent youths that are just looking for the comfort of a relationship, I also believe that most of them are not. It makes me sad because a lot of women fought for girls to have the chance to be independent and to carry on with their lives the way they want. I’m not trying to knock the idea of women being any sort of domesticated, but I am trying to figure out why girls at such young ages won’t even consider the idea of being something else. They are all so focused on the idea of true love and being with someone forever and never not being with someone that I think they all lose the true idea of who they are as an individual living an individual life in this space and time. 

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it makes me sad when I think that there are several younger girls out in this society that truly believe they need a boyfriend at all times in order to be happy. It makes me sad to think that there are several younger girls out in this society that believe the worst thing that could happen to them is that they are alone at the end of their life. I think there are worse things in life, no? I think a lot of the time we forget the other people around us, like our families and our friends, because we’re so focused on having something more. Something like the movies show or the books describe. I think it’s okay to want that. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. But I don’t think it’s okay to spend your entire youth worrying about if things don’t go that way. Nothing in life goes according to plan. Sometimes it surprises you. And I think we all need to be ready when it does.

There is nothing wrong with ending up in a stable relationship for the entirety of your life. 
There is nothing with ending up in a stable place with yourself for the entirety of your life.

The Great Gatsby, concluded

Good news: I have finished reading The Great Gatsby. I imagine you all standing around slow clapping while exchanging looks of boredom and mouthing the word “finally.”

I was first introduced to the alluring Jay Gatsby my sophomore year. (Shout outs to Ms. Papamichael for being the coolest lady around.) I’m sure that’s when a lot of people read this particular text. And I know mostly everyone was rereading it for the sake of the movie, but that is not what I was doing. I think The Great Gatsby is a great book to open summer reading with. It’s got a nice flow, so it’s (usually for most people) a relatively quick read. And I don’t say that because it’s fast paced in any way, I just think that Fitzgerald writes in such a way that keeps the audience engaged. I think this is my favorite part of the entire book. I know that most people find this such a great piece of literature because of themes, which I am definitely not taking away from. It’s very romantic to think that one can revisit the past. Or, even, can revisit the past and have everything be unchanged. I think most people will take it at face value for some love story between Gatsby and Daisy, but I don’t necessarily see it that way.

I think throughout the piece, everyone is just trying to be someone else. Well, I guess, not necessarily someone else, but them-self in another time. I think Tom wishes he wasn’t married so he can continue to galavant around having meaningless affairs with various women (although, I guess it is tricky to call his affair with Myrtle “meaningless” because sometimes I read her death scene and half think he’s actually broken up about it). I think Daisy just wants to be loved uncontrollably–by whoever or by everyone. When she was younger, she had various soldiers at her house all the time giving her the attention she desires. Gatsby did that for her before he went away. Tom did that for her when Gatsby left. So, aside from her desire for wealth, her desire to be the center of almost everyone’s universe is something she strives for. Sometimes it even feels like Nick Carraway wants to be himself in another time. He never fully seems satisfied with his life in this moment and, we see that further, when at the end of it all, he leaves again.

On the subject of Nick Carraway, though, I think the choice of having him as the narrator is an interesting and great choice. While Nick seems almost insignificant to the story happening around him, there is no story without him. He is an observer to the lives of others. And I love that this is the way Fitzgerald tells the story. So many times we are mere observers to life and I think that makes Nick such a relatable character, although arguably less interesting than the cast around him.

It’s also been made clear to me that most young girls find great satisfaction and relevance and pride in one of the statements Daisy Buchanan makes at the beginning of the novel. She discusses the birth of her child with Nick and says, “She told me it was a girl, ad so I turned my head away and wept. ‘All right,’ I said, ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool–that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.'” I HATE this and I hate that almost every girl I’ve ever known to have read this book applies that to every aspect of their life. I’ve read several comments that Daisy is being witty here? That she’s commenting on the inferior social status of women during this time, but in all honesty, I don’t think Daisy, as a character, is intelligent enough to comment on such a huge issue. While I’m sure she could do away with the affair that Tom is having, I think she likes being able to do almost absolutely nothing and still have the wealth and attention and life that she’s always desired. Had she been an intelligent, opinionated, independent woman, even despite the time period, she wouldn’t have put up with Tom and his dirty ways. I don’t think Daisy knows what in the world she wants. And I think she wants to make sure that her daughter will be equally attractive and equally stupid so that she grows up living a life of luxury and leisure like Daisy did. Trust me, guys, there are FAR better things for a girl to be than a “beautiful little fool.”

On the subject of quotes, though, I think some of The Great Gatsby’s moments come in Chapter 3 when Nick first attends one of Gatsby’s parties. I think you get a sense of not only the party itself, but also the stark contrast between the party and it’s host. Readers see everything happening around Nick and Jordan and ultimately themselves. One of the first aspects of Gatsby described is his smile: “He smiled understandingly–much more than understandingly. It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced–or seemed to face–the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understand you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.” How great is this? Fitzgerald could write a 150 page run on sentence and I’d read it every day and quote it here for all of you to read every day. I just think this is a great thing to focus on. We don’t need to know everything about Gatsby’s character or his physical appearance. I think the comment made about his smiles tell you everything you need to know about the relationships he has with people and, even almost, with himself.

“I stared at him and then at Tom, who had made a parallel discovery less than an hour before–and it occurred to me that there was no difference between men, in intelligence or race, so profound as the difference between the sick and the well.” I think this is an awesome statement to make especially during the time period in which is being discussed. I also don’t think anyone else could’ve made this statement except for Nick, who seems to be the only one who can make most statements. (I mostly love Nick Carraway.) Anyway, the entire book focuses on these class divisions and gender divisions and what not, and here, at a car garage, men are put on the same level in terms of intelligence and race. There are no superior men. They can each face the same problems no matter their level of wealth. They can all lose everything they have regardless of social standing. I think it’s a matter of how individuals deal with their situations and shortcomings.

And I can’t possibly discuss The Great Gatsby without making some nod to the last line of the book, “so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”