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How To Fail So You’ll Succeed

People often get irritated with me for continually saying that I suck, that I hate my work, that I’ll never be successful or that I don’t wanna do what I do anymore, but what they fail to realize (somehow, even after I tell them this) is that I need to externalize the internal in order to continue going. I need to believe I’m bad so I can continue to prove myself wrong with each new success.

By belittling myself to myself, by telling myself that I’ll never reach my own standards, all it does is make me feel incredible when I do reach those standards, when I do reach even a small piece of success. That drive is what keeps me going. If I don’t say these things, that hatred sits inside of me and festers into a horrid bubble of pure rage, and then I never get anything done. That’s way more unhealthy. I succeed because I believe I can’t.

Now that isn’t to say there aren’t times I really do believe what comes out of my mouth, because believe me, there are, and it’s a lot of the time too. Being touched by failure for the majority of your life, outside of career and inside career, really makes you feel pretty fucking terrible about your chances with success. That being said, more often than not do I use it as a way to continue to push myself towards the goals I wish to achieve with my work, and my life in general. Negativity is a bad copying mechanism? Bitch, please. It’s my only coping mechanism.

My entire life I’ve been told by people that I will never succeed. By my peers, even some people in my family at one time or another, and yes, you eventually start to believe a little bit of that, or all of it, in some peoples cases. But for me, spite thrives my craving for success. You wanna tell me how much I suck? We’ll see how much I suck when I’m happy and successful and you’re bitter that you’re still suck in that loveless marriage or in the same crappy job you claim you hate but can’t leave to chase whatever dreams you might’ve once had. Guess what. Dreams don’t go away with age. You will always have your dreams, so stop saying you can’t go after them after a certain age. THAT’S real negativity.

You hate me for achieving my goals? You hate me for even attempting to? Go try and achieve your own. Be happy. Tell yourself you can’t, and then do it, and prove yourself wrong. Be a successful failure. “Fake it ’til you make it”? No. Fail it, then nail it.

Own your sadness.

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So She Made Planets

She can create planets on a whim.

She’s had this ability for as long as she can remember. She can recall the first time she made a star, while playing outside one soft summer afternoon, at her daycare, waiting for her mother to come and pick her up. Everyone acts like it’s something special, but it isn’t, not once you’ve done a hundred thousand times, it becomes just as mundane as any other talent or skill. She can remember sitting with some other kids during lunchtime in elementary school, wowing them with her abilities to be able to create meteors from thin air. She became a magic trick; something kids asked for at their birthday parties, something adults used when out of town family members dropped in and wanted an experience. But she didn’t mind, she liked the attention, and she liked showing off her abilities.

There’s no life on her planets. They’re barren and cold, desolate, uninhabitable. All of these things are small, no bigger than a softball, but still, they’re hers, and she loves them. She spent a lot of her teenage girls in her bedroom, record player on repeat, laying on her back on the floor, just reaching up into the air above her face and creating entire galaxies. A black hole here, a milky way there, a star system, an asteroid field, you name it and she’d make it. She could entertain herself for hours with this. As with all novelties though, it faded with time. Life overtakes hobbies. The things that make you happiest fall by the wayside, even if they’re magical and not mundane in the slightest. She had to study. She had to date. She had to graduate, get into college and get a job. Not because she wanted any of this, but because everyone told her to.

“Making stars isn’t going to guarantee you a future,” they’d tell her, “People want real work skills.”

Resume after resume, essay after essay, lecture after lecture…spending countless, sleepless nights in the school library, trying to finish that paper due the following morning and instead finding herself blipping whole new worlds into creation in the palm of her hand, with the flip of her wrist. It got to the point where it didn’t bring her happiness, because it wasn’t what was “supposed” to bring her happiness. Marriage. A family. A career. Those were what happiness was to be reserved for. Not making stars. Not making planets. After a while, she’d spend all day long at work, come home and go to sleep. Go out with friends. Go out on dates. Soon she never made stars at all.

And then one day, she found she just didn’t want to, and this upset her even more. How could something so special, something so many people had, at one point in time, fawned over her for and told her was unique, was a gift, become so…so boring and unwanted? Even to the person who controlled said gift? Nothing lasted. People came and went. Jobs began and ended. Now she just sits on her bedside, in the dark, in her pajamas, repeatedly making planets and stars and meteors for the sake of doing something, anything at all, and not feeling totally and completely useless.

And then one night, she made a planet, and it was inhabited. This had never happened before. The people on it, they appreciated their existence, they thanked her graciously, they’d needed her to be. She was useful. Important. They enjoyed what she’d given them. They enjoyed her. She was loved. She created another and another and another, filling her bedroom over the following weeks with tiny, inhabited planets, and finally accepting this was who she was. She wasn’t like all the other people. She could do things they couldn’t do. She could make planets.

So she made planets.

And she was fine with that.

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I Have Nothing Left To Say

I have nothing left to say, and this devastates me.

I have no more original thoughts of anything creative to say. I can’t create. I can’t dream. What does a “creative” person do when they can no longer create? They stop being, honestly, which is what’s happened to me. I just sort of….am, now. I sit and listen to music, I eat, I take care of the house. I just do things to fill the time in my day that used to go to creating art, and this is just….it’s soul crushing. I have nothing left inside of me that scratches to get out. That doesn’t let itself go until I vomit it up into some form of artistic expression. I don’t know how to exist like this, and I don’t want to exist like this.

But creativity isn’t something you can force, either, so a lot of it’s just sitting around and waiting for something to inspire me. For something to come to me, and for me to go, “Yeah, that’s okay, I’ll make that!”. I’m lost. I’m completely empty and cold and don’t know what to do anymore. I think sometimes some people are meant to give up on what they thought they were “meant” to do, a sort of realization that destiny isn’t a real thing and that no, you just sort of lied to yourself for a few good years and now the magic is gone and it’s time to grow up and realize you need to join the ‘real world’. What does one do when that happens? I think often they go mad, or become so depressed that they often kill themselves.

While I’m not in the market to die anytime soon, which is a step in the right direction, I suppose, it’s still not where I want to be. I don’t enjoy anything. I don’t enjoy creation and I don’t enjoy existing without creating. Where does that leave me? It often leaves me laying in my bed or on the couch and just staring at the ceiling or the wall. It leaves me empty. I have no desire to participate with other human beings, and I barely had any energy or willingness to even type this entry, let alone come up with something to type about. And how cliche is this? “Oh, waaah, I can’t create, I’m too depressed to create, guess I’ll talk about my depression!”

Now I’m nothing but a trope.

I started this blog with the intent on figuring out things about myself, but what happens when it turns out you have nothing inside of you worth learning about? When you’re just not that interesting? I don’t know, and I’m afraid to find out. Perhaps there’s nothing inside of me worthy of getting out, of being seen, of being heard. Art. Writing. These are the only things I know how to do. It’s how I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, for the last 15 years to make a living, and now even I’m realizing I have nothing worth listening to or looking at. At least people who read these blog posts are disappointed in short bursts once or twice a month, I’m disappointed in long stretches of time every single day because I’m stuck with me, and stuck with my failure.

Whatever. Who cares. Nobody cares when I have something to say, so why would anyone care when I have nothing to say. Sorry.

I’m really sorry.

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Will Work For Poverty

Sitting in their booth at a high end Mexican Restaurant, Sandy Price & Derek Fisher each had a drink in front of them, both wearing their ‘sunday best’, and both completely pissed off by everything they saw around them. Sandy took a sip of her drink, set it back down on the table and folded her arms, scoffing.

“Money is no object to those who have it,” she said under her breath, “We didn’t even get to pay for this ourselves. Your parents paid for this. That isn’t a dig towards you or your parents, for the record. It’s a dig toward poverty.”

“Well, with your job, we won’t be poverty stricken much longer,” Derek said, opening his menu and rubbing his nose on his jacket sleeve, “Do you want to split a big plate of nachos or something?”

“Look at this woman,” Sandy said, and Derek lowered his menu to see her nodding in the direction of a woman sitting a few tables away in a backless black dress and her hair done up, wearing an emerald necklace around her neck. She was appearing to laugh at the guy she was with.

“What about her?” Derek asked.

“She hates her date,” Sandy said, “She’s poor, but she’s with him because he pays for things. That’s not a dig against her either, it’s again a dig against poverty. It makes you do things you normally wouldn’t. She wants to be able to partake in the things everyone else does, so she sticks it out with this guy, who isn’t necessarily a bad guy, he just isn’t her type, so she doesn’t have to feel that bad about her financial situation. Society has made you feel guilty about your fiscal standing. They’ve turned being poor into something shameful.”

“I mean, sure, but does that mean she doesn’t deserve it? Everyone deserves some niceties, right? Your bank statement shouldn’t dictate your self worth, or whether or not you get to treat yourself every now and then. She’s doing what it takes to get by,” Derek said, “Besides, how can you tell she’s poor?”

“Her heels are tearing, see where the heel is on her shoe, and the fabric of the shoe is coming up? Those aren’t real emeralds, they’re fakes, albeit convincing ones at that, and I saw that exact dress at a discount shop a month ago for about 7 dollars,” Sandy said.

“You’re like Sherlock Holmes,” Derek said, “It’s pretty impressive. Why’s this bother you so much?”

“Why doesn’t it bother you?”

“It does, but I also want to have a nice time. If she’s allowed to, why aren’t we allowed to take one night off and just enjoy ourselves?” Derek asked, and Sandy sighed, scratching the back of her head, pulling her hair up into a ponytail.

“You’re right,” she said, “I’m sorry. Let’s just order.”

Derek ran through the menu items once again when a waitress stopped at the table, asking if they were ready to order, and before Derek could reply, Sandy finished her drink, looked up at the waitress and asked her, “How fucking miserable is your existence?”

“Can I not take you anywhere?!” Derek yelled.

“It’s pretty miserable,” the waitress replied, to both of their surprise, “I have to spend all night waiting on people who often are pieces of entitled shit, giving them food I can’t afford myself, and then go home to an apartment I can barely afford. Yeah. It’s pretty terrible. I’d much rather jump in front of a garbage truck than continue to collect this scam of a paycheck.”

“I like her,” Sandy said, “She’s got personality. So tell me, sit down, please-”

Sandy patted the booth seat and the waitress sat beside them.

“-are you looking for anything else?”

“You mean job wise? Why bother? Everything is taken or unavailable. There’s no middle ground. Being poor is now my full time occupation. Do you know how much work it takes to lie to the unemployment office just so they’ll continue to give you unemployment checks? Literally being unemployed is more work than being employed. You apparently can’t be poor if you’re making too much, even if what you’re making isn’t enough to live on. No, you gotta put on your worst clothes, not shower for a few days and then go lie to these people simply so you can afford to both live somewhere AND eat for another month.”

“Just once, just one night, why is that too much to ask?” Derek mumbled, rubbing his eyes with his palms, “Every single time we go somewhere it’s something. One of us gets a stick up our ass about how things ought to be, that we can’t enjoy how things are at that moment in time. Like when I yelled at that couple who took that parking spot or the other week when you told me you wanted to jump out our window. We can never live in the moment, because apparently the moment is never good enough.”

“Don’t you think that’s a problem?” Sandy asked, “Shouldn’t that realization say enough to warrant you to want to change things?”

“But change isn’t instantaneous, Sandy, it doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t just wake up after years with depression and think ‘gee, I feel great today, guess I’m cured!’. You have good days, you have bad days, and eventually the good days outweigh the bad days and that’s when you start realizing that you might have a handle on this depression thing.  Yes, I want change, just like anyone else, but if change is all I ever focus on, I’ll never have any fun at all.”

A moment of silence passed between the three of them.

“Are you gonna finish that?” the waitress asked, as Derek slid the remainder of his drink over to her. He sighed and looked around at everyone else in the restaurant.

“We sit here, or wherever we decide to go, and we criticize and nitpick and yeah they’re bullshit, these people are assholes, they’re making everyone else miserable, but ya know what, at least they’re enjoying themselves. Don’t we get to enjoy ourselves every now and then? Isn’t that allowed? Sure, this girl might hate her date and she might only be with him so she doesn’t have to be unhappy about her financial situation all the time, but god, at least she’s enjoying what he’s giving her. Have we become so entrenched in what we don’t have, what we can’t attain, that we can no longer appreciate what we do have, what we have attained?”

“Your boyfriend’s right,” the waitress said.

“He’s not my boyfriend,” Sandy said, with Derek echoing her sentiment.

“Well, whatever he is, he’s right. Yeah, I’m mad as hell about my life. I’m a young black woman working at an nice mexican restaurant, and not even real mexican food, but what white people think mexican food should be, and they don’t even fuckin’ tip me. Not just because I’m black, but also because I’m young, and tips are a ‘handout’. I work hard. I bust my fuckin’ black ass every single day just trying to make enough to feed myself, and still I gotta cater to some dumb bitch who thinks racism ended the same year as Hee-Haw. But still, every now and then, I do take stock of what I have and what I’ve done and enjoy that. If I lived my entire life in misery, I’d never get anything done.”

Derek and Sandy exchanged a glance and the waitress finished the drink and then stood up, wiping her apron down.

“Now, can I take your order, or are we gonna continue Sociology 101?” she asked.

“…give us a few minutes,” Sandy said, and the waitress turned and left. Sandy looked into her now empty glass as Derek took his jacket off and put it on the booth top behind them. He exhaled and looked at her.

“I think we should break up,” Sandy said.

“We’re not even dating.”

“That’s what makes it so difficult,” she replied, “I’m not doing anything but dragging you down into my filth. You have the capacity to be uplifting. Be inspirational. Look at what I’m doing to you, look at what we’ve done to eachother. You’re right. I can’t be happy. I can’t make you happy. Nothing is worth it.”

“Don’t give me that college grade Kafka bullshit,” Derek said, “Something is worth it,  but it’s not worth everything. I don’t care about you because it’s the right thing to do, I care about you because you care about me, because somebody has to. You’re unhappy, you’re miserable, you want to kill everything you see, but I accept that because I understand. I’m the same way. I just mask it better than you do. I manage to hide it behind this exterior of pleasantness. Don’t you dare sit there and tell me that the work you do with those kids isn’t worth it. I’ve seen you working. I know how happy it makes you. You’re not broken. You’re just frayed along the edges. You’re not a shattered plate, you’ve just got some cracks.”

“…maybe instead of breaking up, we should become a real couple,” Sandy said, “Maybe the problem isn’t that we’re bad for one another, but that we’re so good for one another that we don’t want to take the initiative and actually make it official. Maybe the uncertainty of what we are is what’s making us angry.”

Derek waited a moment, and then smiled. He took her hand and looked at her eyes.

“There’s a lot of happy people out there, why would I ever want to be just like them? I like being a little bit sad. Uniqueness is underrated. They say everyone is special? No. Everyone is so much alike that it hurts, so the fact that we are unhappy, that we’re not mindlessly just taking everything at face value, that we can see how bad things can be…maybe that’s what makes us real. Why be happy like them? Let’s be sad like us.”

“You’re such a fucking loser,” Sandy said, “You’re seriously the biggest fucking loser I have ever known, with the most hackneyed, cliche pseudo intellectual uplifting faux psychology bullshit spewing from your mouth…but the reality is you don’t believe it. Everyone else who says things like that…they believe it. You don’t. You just say it to make me feel better, and I appreciate that.”

“Of course I don’t believe it, who actually, honestly believes in garbage like that?” Derek asked, laughing, “But it makes you feel better, so I say it, because that’s what caring for someone else is about. Doing whatever you can to make them feel just a little bit better. You wanna be miserable? Fine. Let’s be miserable. But at least recognize that we can be miserable together, and that that’s more than these people have. Being unhappy together is better than faking happiness with someone you detest.”

The waitress reappeared at their table, pen in her hand, waiting for their order. Sandy and Derek looked at her while she waited, then they both stood up, put their jackets back on and Derek reached into his back pocket where he pulled out a twenty dollar bill and gave it to her.

“Fuck your establishment,” he said.

“Amen brother,” she replied, as they left.

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This Is My Jam

When I was a little girl, every year in elementary school at the end of the year, they piled us into the auditorium like cattle, made us sit on the floor and watch a video presentation of photos and video clips and such taken over the course of the year of the kids, and along with the video was the song “Forever Young”. Every single year they did this, every single year we heard “Forever Young”.

Do you really want to live forever?

That’s an actual lyric from this song they played to kids in elementary schools. To be honest, I doubt a lot of kids wouldn’t take any note of that, but being who I am, I did, and it fucked with me. I had family members die when I was still in elementary school, it’s true, but I don’t think it was until having that hammered home in my head every fucking year that I truly became self aware of mortality. Ever since then, I’ve had a problem accepting that I will die, and once I had that realization, the realization that we all die anyway no matter what, I hit an even bigger realization: Why bother living at all. Hello suicidal tendencies, thanks Alphaville.

And with there being so many songs out there about mortality, about life and death and sadness and existence, why the fuck was it the quintessential 80s prom slow dance anthem that made me question life as I knew it? The real issue is that once you hit that peak, there’s no going back either. That’s one oopsie you can’t unwhoopsie. As if a kid doesn’t have enough problems leading into adolescence, I hardly doubt nihilism is something they also should have to deal with. I had a lot on my plate as it was; being autistic, keeping my sexuality a secret and being somewhat ashamed of it, and great now I have to wonder about the meaning of life itself on top of it. Great. Book reports? Fuck book reports. Existentialism is where it was at.

But…there’s shockingly an upside to being that self aware, especially that young. It really puts everything into perspective, makes you realize you need to make the most of the time that you have, if you want it to mean a damn thing once you are gone. For me, that meant writing as much as I could and creating as much art as I could. Something to leave behind. Something that meant something to someone. Something that meant anything to anyone. The way I saw it, the only things that lasted were the things we created to last, so we needed to leave behind as much as we could for others to remember. Or, you know, remember at least until the sun explodes and literally everything dies, but still.

Existence, it’s…a weird thing, honestly.

People literally tell you that life is a gift. That it’s precious. They often tell you this while they’re eating an animal. Life is only precious if it fits their idea of what life is and who deserves it. Not that I’m any sort of animal activist, but still. They tell you that you’re so lucky to be here at this point in time in history. Really? A planet plagued with overpopulation, with war and famine and injustice and hatred and greed? I’m lucky, huh? I guess we are, because it allows us to create art mocking these things. It allows us to write songs that speak out against these things. Songs that enlighten us and change our frame of mind. Songs about being young forever. Yeah, I would like to be forever young, actually. When you’re young everything is fresh and new and exciting, not stale and cold like when you’re older. Maybe that’s the point of the song. To recognize how jaded you can become. To push the truth that to survive, you need to stay forever young, even if only at heart, because otherwise you risk becoming cynical and spiteful and cruel. Being forever young allows you to deal with things with a childlike innocence, a view of the world where everyone isn’t just painted black and white but with every color in the crayon box. People say kids are inherently evil. People say that hatred is taught. I think I’ve stated before that I think love is the one that’s taught, because you have to teach kids not to hit and to share, but that doesn’t mean kids are entirely evil in general.

Kids should get more credit than they’re given for seeing the world a lot more clearly than any adult really does. A national tragedy happens and all the adults look for meaning, search for reasoning, ask “why did this happen” and mourn for years. A tragedy happens and a kid says, “Well…that sucks. Nothing I can do about it. Oh well.” Is it because they simply don’t understand the enormous ramifications? Possibly. But they say ignorance is bliss, so maybe there’s something to that.

People say Bob Dylan is a spokesperson for the world. People say John Lennon was a lover for the world. We’re all allowed to have our opinions, but honestly, Alphaville are the true heroes.

Do I want to be forever young?

Yes. And I will flourish because of it.