You never call. You never write. At most you’ll send me an email when you’ve decided to move forward in your relationship with someone else, which, to be perfectly honest, seems a little callous when we haven’t even had the chance to discuss where things were going between us first. I know these things happen, and people just fall out of touch, but it feels like I’m putting in all the effort and you’re just playing hard to get.
Like last week, when you called and asked me what I was looking for. I told you I wanted to experience life: explore new adventures, learn new skills, meet new friends and collaborators. You asked if I thought I could do that with you and I said yes, without a doubt, with conviction and strength and bravery. You said you would call back within 48 hours and now it’s been an entire week! Every telephone ring I look for your number on the screen. Phantom cell phone vibrations haunt me in my sleep. I can’t work, I can’t focus, I can’t stop thinking about you and the way I imagined your suit and tie and your corner office with catered Friday lunches.
All my friends tell me I shouldn’t call you; that it’s a waste of time and you’re not worth it. Or worse, that you might think I’m desperate or clingy when all I want are some answers. When can I come in to meet you? What hours will I work? Is there room in that office for me? But if I call you’ll think I’m a loser, or just incapable of following instructions, but you, you are worse. You’re a liar who never called! And maybe I shouldn’t harass you with a follow up email, but I just want to make sure everything is in order and that you’re still alive and in business. My grandfather responds faster to an email than you do. I mean, are you really qualified to make this sort of administrative decision when you clearly struggle with responding to your own correspondence?
I know a lot of people are interested in you. How could they not be? You’re successful, talented, creative, and rolling in the dough. You’ve got a lot to offer a girl like me, and that doesn’t go unnoticed. So I want you to know that I’m fully aware that you’re getting a lot of other offers to consider, and you should. I’m not going to be the girl to write you a cliche letter telling you that you are the coffee to my early mornings, the champagne to my mimosas, or the Sriracha to my breakfast burrito. I just won’t. Enough is enough. I’ve told you how I feel--in fact, I’ve told you many times within the last few weeks, within the last few years--and now it’s your turn. Good or bad. I can’t not know how you feel about me any longer.
Will you hire me? (Check yes or no)
All the best,
If I say it is, therefore it is. In college I wrote a lot of poetry and creative nonfiction about how much I smoked, how little I valued marriage, how things fall apart, and how artists portrayed isolation in urban environments. Those were my themes. In college I smoked a lot, visited a lot of art openings and music gigs, babysat a couple munchkins on campus, and was always holding a cup of coffee. One of my trusted professors--who once called two of my other favorite professors into her office to brainstorm about my writing, who would whip up a fresh French press at my arrival--called me “a true artist” in the way I lived my life. To another professor that I sometimes had coffee with, not to me, obviously. A compliment to the extreme, I thought, a person that knows me and really gets me. Cogito ergo sum. Only: She think I’m an artist, therefore I am.
I used to believe it was a way of life. Art. Living artfully. Observing closely, pulling away from the mundane the most extravagant of details and backstories. Dabbling in paint, or charcoal, or clay, or the theatre, or guitar, or sewing. She who does is! I could justify my quiet and my solitude by living in this idea that I was built like those who inspired me. But a degree, a job, families, and laziness interrupt dreams. Then again, dreams are cut short by overreaching, insufficient talent, and our goddamn heads. If we don’t do, then we aren’t.
But if an artist posts a new piece to Facebook and gets zero likes, does the art make a sound (or a difference, or a meaning, or whatever)? Picasso, Vonnegut, Oscar Wilde and all sorts of infamous artists are quoted defending the importance and necessity of art to our souls. Quotations once absorbed into my character have become questions of their own. We recognize art for its beauty; we talk about what it portrays. Then we go and call it dark; we say art is emotive, that it must make us feel something to be art. Sometimes we simply make art an idea. It just is, even if it isn’t, we say. We’re entertained by the new and unclear. We’re bored by things of convention, even when done beautifully. Often, it seems, we separate art into two categories: what is controversial and what is appealing to the eye, yet we’d be scorned if we were to classify people into the same two categories: those that are pretty and those that cause trouble. Because, as everyone knows, even pretty things can stir up a storm.
In a world where half of you reading this probably have your own blog, where at least 75% of you have a Facebook or Twitter or Instagram to post your own statuses and computer-filtered photographs, and all of you have the ability of creating a blog or website or social media page to show off the work you could be doing, everyone has the ability to portray themselves as an artist. I’m having a hard time justifying, to myself, that I am a writer just because I post on this blog every so often. In fact, I’m having a hard time justifying that I am anything most days. In an ever expanding digital world we have the ability to consume whatever we want but we keep on wanting to be everything without doing anything.
What do you want to be when you grow up? a four year old asked me. He was mimicking, as that’s something we ask and suggest to them every day. His options are vast: ninja today, astronaut tomorrow. Some of the girls veer towards princess. Most people don’t become princesses, I say. But Grace Kelly did! That’s not what you’re supposed to remember about her.
She was kind! Remember: she was kind.
They ask me back, maybe because I’m small, or because I look young, or maybe because they can see the general realm of confusion that permeates through my skin. Who knows? It’s a question I still get, only as I get older, the question becomes more embarrassing, and even harder to answer.
It’s been a wacky few weeks, full of head bugs and witches and busy schedules and snow and sun and fighting and making up and slipping on spinach and now a blatant disregard for comma use. But there’s been one topic of conversation that has come up over and over. It’s this thing a lot of people like to call the Quarter Life Crisis. I’m renaming it to the Mid-Twenties Slump.
The Mid-Twenties Slump is more about being scared. I’m scared to give up on my dreams: the ones that still seem to change from day to day, the ones that I’m not even sure are real, because the people that I love the most are still struggling to accomplish theirs, and I’m scared of how I will look to them if I agree to a job in an office, filing papers and answering telephones and leaving the idea of publishing a novel or starting a ceramics business in the past. I’m also scared to pursue my dreams: because they keep changing, because they make no money, because what if I fail and I finally realize that I’m not as good at all those things I was told I was good at as a kid.
The Mid-Twenties Slump is when you realize that you’re no longer a recent graduate, and that the line markers that were set up for you as a kid, as a young adult, as a recent graduate, have yet to be achieved. It’s when you realize that other people are passing right by you and you’re treading water in the same place, with the same job, with the same problems that you can’t seem to fix.
The Mid-Twenties Slump is when you start asking yourself how important is it to have a job that you love, and why? When you actually start worrying about health insurance and benefits and realizing that you still don’t completely understand how a 401k works. It’s when you realize that you’re working a job that you will never be able to retire from because you are never able to save more than a hundred dollars a month; that you will always have to live in an apartment or house with multiple roommates in order to make rent; that you haven’t taken a real vacation since you were in college; that you will never make 35k a year. It’s when you start questioning your worth, and then wondering why humans mark their value in the amount of money they bring home each year.
The Mid-Twenties Slump is not strictly relegated to those in their mid-twenties.
The things that I’m passionate about, that many of the people I love are passionate about, are not things that our society tends to place value on. Making art is not as important as being able to sell things to the general public. It’s hard for me to understand how anyone can be passionate about marketing, or you know, passionate about selling a particular brand of floss. Why is it that manipulation is often more valued than creating beautiful things?
Then again, maybe I just don’t understand. Because people are passionate about everything. Some people find punching numbers exhilarating or the font used on an advertisement just right. Others want nothing more than to plate the perfectly cooked steak every single order. And some see the beauty in cleaning and organizing, in meticulously kept files, in bunsen burners and beakers.
I just happen to find the glaze on a ceramic bowl mesmerizing. I like sad songs you can’t dance to and headstands after a long day. And I, no matter how many times I lose sight of it, will always find joy in watching and listening to people, searching for the middle of every story, the meat with the bones still in.
The Mid-Twenties Slump is the frustration of not having the answers. Then again, even grownups don’t have all the answers.
heavy heeled when walking; heavy handed when pouring a drink