People, Power, and Politics, I Guess

What is it about people in power that makes them think they can get away with skeezy bullshit? I’ve always believed that a person acts on things because they believe they’re in the right, but lately, I’m seeing more and more “powerful” people and groups act out in such underhanded ways that it’s hard to believe a person genuinely believes the wrongdoing they’re committing is justified. It’s getting harder to say that no one sets out to do “evil” when I’m a firsthand witness to a person of power thinking it okay to do something they clearly believed to be wrong for no other reason than they simply could.

I’m pretty evidently referring to the DNC leaks, but it’s in tandem with this thing I’ve been sitting on for a couple months. I’m still hesitant to come out and say what happened because it could potentially put me out of a job, or at least make it that much more difficult to work in this environment as is… It’s left me at a loss for how to handle anything lately, and it continues to exhaust me when coupled with the extended hours I’m working.

But I genuinely want to know why there are people who act unethically under the impression that they’re above the consequences. I simply cannot fathom the arrogance that a person has to have in order to do such a thing. Is it truly the thrill of acting out of line with your own morality? Does the high of rebelling against one’s true nature sustain these people? Is it an addiction not unlike the substances and vices? Or is it honestly the arrogance that it appears to be? The belief that not all are created equal and the maintenance of power through immoral action is what it takes to survive?

These are the thoughts that are weighing me down as I try to continue living my life without judgment… to continue my avoidance of black and white, binary thinking that villifies individuals and groups in an “us vs. them” mentality. It is increasingly difficult to keep those values in check when I’m feeling the way I have been.

There is so much I want to get off my chest and put out there, but I’m torn over whether or not it would help or make my life a waking nightmare until I’m able to get out of this situation. My own morals feel skewed, and I feel as if I’ve abandoned my values… How do people do this?

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No One Wants a Writer

The only reason I’ve been working as a photographer these past two years is that sad fact. Truth is, no one wants a writer. Most, generally speaking, fancy themselves as one. Everyone had to take English Comp in college, and in the age of the Internet, we pretty much compose our lives on social media through written word. Hell, editors and publishing agencies could inevitably become a thing of the past thanks to self-publishing. So when all you have to do is write a coherent enough blurb for this or that, why hire a writer who should be paid? Why pay an editor to check your work when spell-check can be installed practically anywhere? While the same can be said of photography, there is a visual skill involved that at least warrants someone with a measurable ability or experience. But writing… it’s often just “grab a thesaurus and use some fancy quotes.” … Or memes.

If someone were to hold a gun to my head and make me choose the kind of work I want to spend the rest of my life doing, I wouldn’t hesitate to decide on writing. But they’d be better off shooting me anyway because there’s a lot of truth to what I’m saying. No one wants a writer. It’s the art form that people hesitate to call art.

Writers don’t often get called artists. It’s a word reserved for those that can visibly demonstrate their craft. Drawing, painting, photography, acting, directing, cinematography, even music… No one ever pauses to question their merit as “Art,” but place a piece of text before someone and suddenly, the question becomes “What is it?”

I’ve been applying for writing and editing jobs ever since I moved to Austin, but I’ve never even gotten an interview for the most entry level position. I have little “professional” experience as a writer despite a hefty portfolio that comes from over half my lifetime writing, so I can’t get the work. Because no one really wants a writer, and the writers that people do want come less from unique voices and more from the right face or the visual art that accompanies it. Comic artists, vloggers, animators… those are the writers that will still be called artists. But those of us that shy behind text? No. Not as much.

In What I Lacked…

It’s been nearly three years since I graduated college. And it’s only been recently that I’ve come to grips with the fact that I regret it.

I don’t regret all of it, obviously. I learned plenty of things, made a handful of pleasant memories, and had a good few opportunities along the way. But I don’t think I made the right choice.

I, like many people my age, went to college immediately out of high school. I tried one university that didn’t fit for a semester before finishing my degree elsewhere. While my alma mater was absolutely a better fit for me, in the end, it was my choice to stay when I started getting “the feeling” that served as my real mistake.

I studied Theatre, which I almost always proudly announce when asked. I still see it as a bit of a medal because I studied it knowing it wouldn’t get me work. I knew it was a “useless degree” and that I was taking a huge risk not studying something else. But I was proud of that, of going against the mold…of pursuing my passion as opposed to a profession.

But about two years into my college experience, I started to get that “feeling.” That instinct that wells up in your gut when something’s not working anymore. That passion I had decided to pursue left me, and I was lost. I had no idea what to do, where it had gone, or what had caused it… Nothing I could logically see was wrong, so ultimately, I ended up blaming my depression – because when logic can’t be found, it’s usually that irrational part of your brain that changes things…right?

After three years being away from it, I’m able to see that assumption was wrong. The depression only started hitting me when the passion was lost. When I started forcing myself through “the feeling” when it was telling me I didn’t want to. Hindsight is twenty-twenty, and being away from it all has made everything clear for me.

I loved to act. The art of telling a story before an audience was one of the most moving experiences I had ever had both growing up and as a young adult. I honestly, genuinely lived and breathed for the story and the art. And from what I understand, if I’m to take the word of my loved ones and my peers, it was evident. On stage, I was a different person. No longer the meek, dead-eyed little bookworm that sat in the back of class… On stage, I was alive.

And I could feel it. I relish in the memory of it all. Of feeling everything in the moment, of exposing my soul and simply living it all. I was never aware of the set, or the audience, or the lights… As I stood on stage, all that I knew was the story being told, and everything in my body told me to tell it.

But for the first time ever… I could see the stage. For the first time ever, I’d look at my partner or my cast mates, and I’d see it all. The pages of script, the warm-ups backstage, the gears in their heads all turning in an attempt to maintain the techniques we’d been taught. Each new page would be met with some note that they tried to remember from the night before, or the forced conjuring of a memory that elicited the right emotion. I looked into their eyes and stopped seeing our story…

Where there had once been raw experience was now cold practice. The discussions had were clinical. There was no reverence or joy. Classes were bad, but backstage was worse. The conversations from our classes would trickle into our dialogue backstage, and worse than that… we would tire of the story.

I graduated in hopes that I’d find my passion again. I thought a change of scenery, a new group of people, a different environment…any of it would change things for me. But when I got back into the acting scene some year or two later…nothing had changed. In the end, I could still see the stage. I’d been trained to tear things apart to learn from them, but instead, I just broke the thing that I loved.

It’s not that what I learned was wrong or invaluable. No, I’m not saying that. In any way. I just… I need to accept that it didn’t work for me.

The problem is, even after writing this, I’m still having trouble saying it. There’s a shame in admitting it. I feel like I’m letting people down. Perhaps my teachers, who worked so hard and encouraged me so much. Perhaps my parents, who are still paying off my debt. Perhaps my peers, who struggled alongside me but never experienced it the way I did. Or perhaps myself because I invested so much into something that I’m trying to accept now that I didn’t exactly want…

It’s a lot of all of it, I’m sure…but I think more than anything, it’s admitting that I didn’t want what I said I did. It’s like being at the ice cream bar and seeing all the different flavors. I looked at my two favorite flavors of chocolate and decided on one because I thought I really wanted the one with mint chocolate chips… and only after taking a bite did I realize that I never want mint, and I should know better because I like mint in cookies but not ice cream.

I liked my theatre when it was about what I felt as opposed to how I felt it. I liked it raw and inexperienced and clumsy. Not because I didn’t appreciate quality or experience or finesse, but because imperfection made me feel alive.

Because in what I lacked, I gained everything.

Not an Understatement

I don’t think it would be an understatement to say this has been the worst year of my life. Even with having a number of years before defined solely by my want to die, 2015 has been the hardest, most tiresome, most trying uphill battle…

We didn’t begin the year well. Health trouble on one family’s side led us to become very concerned over our finances. Cody decided it best not to go back to school until it settled. We were threatened to be taken to court instead. We were thrown into the ocean with a dead cell phone and a half-inflated inner tube.

I was struggling as it was with a job I hated. My depression was hitting me harder than it had in years, and Cody needed me when I could barely hold on myself. I forced myself to work two jobs, despite promising myself I would never do that again.

I finally quit the job I hated only to realize there was no way I could manage with just the one and picked up another just so we could pay the bills. Cody found a job that paid well with plenty of hours, but he’s worked to the bone. We stopped spending time with one another as partners and started living together as roommates. I miss him. He misses me. It’s miserable.

The depression got better before it got worse again. And then Kyrstin. I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself. Coming here and not seeing her shouldn’t feel normal. But it does because I never did come back for her. I never said goodbye.

The friends I’ve kept in touch with have shrunk. One I know I’ll never get back, another I’ll likely never understand, some I may have a chance to keep… But learning the true colors of someone I once called a best friend at the same time of losing someone who truly was one cuts me far deeper than I care to admit.

Artistically, I accomplished nothing I set out to do this year. I failed to produce any content. P4Abridged, Game Virgins, the secret second project, my YouTube channel, voice over… I even fell behind on my blog, which served early on as my only creative outlet.

We hit a massive roadblock with our pitch that was beyond our control. I’m scared to hope for recovery. I’m scared to hope for anything. Each expectation I set up, each hope I had, was tarnished when I reached for it. I just feel like if I’m going to have hopes and expectations, I should let them high up on the shelf so they remain shiny and pure. I feel like I’d do better staying put than moving from where I stand.

And that’s all I can really say. I’m scared. I can rope together all of this year into one big bag and act as if it’s behind me and done, but it’d be a lie. This year is now a part of me and the history that makes me who I am. Every day of my life is a part of that, no different than one shitty, fucked up year. So moving on into the new year doesn’t change anything. We say it’s a clean slate, but it’s not, really. And I’m scared that I’m just setting myself up for another 2015.

25

I am now a quarter of a century old. I may have also gotten chastised for not bringing up the fact to a few people.

I’ve never really seen my birthday as a reason for my own celebration. It’s always been something for other people. I never really asked to be born… so what’s the point in keeping track of all the years since it happened? Maybe that’s the nihilist in me taking over, I don’t know. After all, I could very well use my birthday as a means to celebrate another year without dying. Then again, that sort of idea is a hard one to pride myself in when this month is always the hardest for me to cope with.

Still, twenty-five years is something I guess I should be impressed by. As someone who was almost certain I wouldn’t make it to twenty at one point, it’s…something.

Man, fuck this. I want to be able to write again, but I literally have eleven drafts stored up here on WordPress because I keep starting up and stopping blogs. I start up because I want to write, but I stop because everything comes out stilted and forced, like I’m trying to break down a barrier that I’ve lifted up in my head. And it’s because I have. I could wax poetic all I want about birthdays and life and hope, but I don’t feel a damn thing about it. Instead, I’m just impressed that by removing my birthday from Facebook, I have, in fact, proven to myself that that piece of shit social media service does nothing but make you feel obligated to a friends’ list of people you intend to keep in touch with but never really feel compelled to.

I don’t give a shit about birthday wishes. It’s why I removed the damn date to begin with. But seeing how such a select few people sought out my page to say something compared to what used to be upwards of 90 people typing out generic messages of happy wishes reminds me of the very important people I have lost over the years. How I moved out to Austin with a limited support system because so many saw me leaving as nothing more than a romantic escape. No regard for the possibility of it relating to my health, no acknowledgement that I intended to make a career out here.

I don’t care that people don’t remember my birthday. It’s just a little hard to be reminded that few want to keep in touch to begin with. Communication and friendships are a two-way street, and I’ve not held up my end of that road perfectly…but those I did put effort into rarely met me halfway. It’s not worth it to overextend myself for people like that, I know…but it’s still tough to look at.

I am grateful for those who still reach out to me. Those who know how hard it is for me to make the effort of saying hi by saying something first are the ones who I will never let go of. I am very thankful for that. I’m just struggling with the rest at the moment… I’ll stop caring again eventually.

I Don’t Know What to Say

Happiness feels wrong. I don’t know if what I’m even feeling can be considered happiness to begin with because I’m not exactly letting myself feel much anymore. Each hour that passes is filled with some distraction. When I start to feel another wave of grief, I anxiously throw myself into something else…even if it’s just a video playing loudly over the other sounds in my head.

I’m functioning. I’m breathing. I’m hunkering down and getting work done, even if it’s half the pace I’ve averaged in the past. But I’m not feeling anything. I’m not letting myself. It’s not healthy. I know it’s not. But I don’t want to let this sink in. I don’t want to believe this is my reality. I’m in denial. I know I am. And it’s wrong. But I don’t know how to do anything else at the moment. I don’t know anything.

Closure

Life isn’t a novel. The chapters you start don’t get neat little endings with all the knots properly tied. The i’s don’t always get dotted, and the t’s are pretty much never crossed. People will walk into your life and make the biggest impact before disappearing on the next page. Sure, you can chase after them, spend several chapters searching for them and trying to get them back into your life, but at a certain point, you have to cut your losses. At a certain point, you’ll have to remember that your story isn’t about them, and you have to move on.

I’m dealing with that fact right now. I spent several years grieving for a relationship that never got the closure I thought I needed. I’m still grieving losses I was too young to process but just old enough that I knew I had to process them. And I can’t keep doing this to myself. I can’t keep trying to grasp at this fragmented, ethereal concept of closure and expect it to make everything better. Because the closure I want for myself doesn’t exist.

There are people who will hurt you and leave none the wiser. Some will think what they’re doing is right, unaware of anything but what their perspective and selfishness provides them to believe. Some won’t even think anything at all. Some can’t help it. Some are any combination of the three. And there is nothing you can do to make it any better for yourself. Having the last word doesn’t provide you with any satisfaction because you’ll never stop thinking of it, self-criticizing and analyzing and adding on to what could have been or should have been. What will feel right in the moment will never last since memories change each time they’re recalled. Wasting years of your life pining and grieving and longing and mourning will make you look back with more remorse over the lost years than it will the closure you never got.

The reality is that closure will never come. Even when your book ends, you fail to give closure to someone else’s chapter, and the cycle goes on and on and on and on…

I Feel Broken

I know it’s just because of a bad day, but I feel like it’s been a long time coming. Projects stave off the feeling, but after a long period of ignoring it, exhausting myself to the point where I slow down enough to feel it, it returns. That broken gear in my head that stops all the parts of me so that everything inside feels broken and worthless. It doesn’t matter where I am, how thing are going, who’s there to help me through it… I just feel like a rusted cog that’s better off being replaced.

I wish I could fix it. I’m tired of a body and a mind that works against me, no matter how much I change in my way of living. No matter how much work I put into having a more positive outlook, I always break under the pressure. Even if it’s okay for me to feel that way. Even if it’s not that big of a deal. I’m just so tired of feeling like this. It won’t ever go away. It’s something I’ll live with for the rest of my life. There are always going to be relapses and rebounds. Breakdowns and celebrations. Small victories and big losses. Leaps forward and steps back. It’s a part of my life, a part of me. And while there’s something to be said for admitting it and accepting it, there’s also a lot to be said about how much it fucking hurts.

I desperately want to stop measuring my value by my abilities. I want to stop measuring my value altogether. It gets me nowhere and makes me feel worse…and yet I do it anyway. “This would be better if you were able to do this… If you were able to do that… If you were this person… If you were that type of person… If you weren’t you… You’re not really worth this. You’re not worth any of this.” The mantra I’d come up with years ago of being a “no good, good for nothing” echoes in these measurements, and I just wish I could go back in time and punch the shit out of that fucking child that I was then so that maybe she wouldn’t be so loud in these moments…

I just want to replace what’s broken…

With One Thing Comes Another

And another, and another, and another, and another…

I thought once we finally got the call about what was going on, things would be difficult but not unmanageable. I knew things would be bad, even to the point of being unbearable, but these past two weeks have been more than trying. I honestly don’t know how I’m sitting up straight enough to even type right now, let alone without crying. To say I’m stressed is a bit of an understatement, and yet, I’m functioning almost normally at the moment, as if nothing has really sunk in. I’m just tired. Really, really tired.

I started a new second job last week, working as a studio photographer in the mall. It’s not too difficult, but there’s a lot to learn and I have hardly any time to rest. In fact, if my schedule manages to stay the way it is, I’ll only ever get one day off of both jobs. But just as soon as I started this job, I got notified by my friends back in WV that one of our friends was admitted to the hospital for what turned out to be a heart attack. Thankfully, her heart is better now, but she’s still hospitalized for her pancreas, so I just keep checking Facebook to see her post updates and little hospital stories, hoping she’ll be able to go home soon since I know how easy it is for her to get cabin fever when this happens.

Then the new hire at my other job fucked up royally in one of our schools and caused the program to get kicked out, so I haven’t heard the end of it from my boss there about how angry and hurt he is over the ordeal. Being the employee he vents to about everything going wrong with the program isn’t anything new, but the failure to acknowledge his own mistakes in the situation have me at my last nerve, among other things.

What’s especially grating about this entire incident is that I had finally worked myself into enough courage to resign from this job. I’ve wanted to quit for months and have written up three separate resignation letters, prepared to officially resign, and just as I have worked it out in my head to do it, something happens to where I end up feeling too bad to leave just because of how important I am in this job.

I took it on in the beginning because it was a small, part-time thing that seemed like a good way for me to get some new kind of theatrical work on my resume, and at that point in time, I had been unemployed for three months and was growing worried that I’d be stuck working retail without any end in sight. I was scared and desperate, and let me tell you, those are not reasons you should ever accept a job, especially when it’s one that you have known you would never be suited at for your whole life. I’ve always known I’d be a terrible teacher. Not because I’m terrible with kids but because I have no patience for them and find no joy in working with them. I detest it, but because I wanted a variety of experience to put on my resume and because the pay seemed like it would be reasonable at the time, I agreed to it.

Then the other girl he hired quit without a two weeks’ notice and I was left to pick up the slack as my employer scrambled to keep things together. I felt so bad for how he’d been abandoned by someone he had promised an almost managerial position to that I stepped up and filled the role myself without really being asked. As I continued working in the role of second-in-command, I realized more and more how much of a mistake signing onto a job I hated was, but leaving someone so desperate for help never sat right with me, so I grit my teeth and kept at it, thinking I could convince myself that it wasn’t a miserable experience.

I prepared a letter of resignation for the first semester, but each new employee quit within weeks of being hired so I kept holding off. Then personal life stuff made it evident that I could not possibly quit for financial reasons, so I held off. As the new year began, I decided to stay until the end of the next semester, prepared to leave when summer rolled around, thinking there would be no program to run during the summer months. When I discovered that was not the case and that we’d still not gotten new hires, I gave up on the idea of quitting and fell into a brief period of depression, collapsing ever deeper when more personal life things made it evident that I would have to keep working. When we finally managed to hire new people, I applied more frequently to any and every job I could and finally managed to find this studio that hired me on the spot. I started to feel like I could quit after the summer finished out, and I began feeling a small sense of relief at the prospect of turning in my resignation and dedicating energy just to one job.

Then this incident with losing our most financially viable school happened, and our only other new hire is already showing signs of not appreciating the amount of time invested into a part-time job with full-time responsibilities… And today of all days, when we’re completing our last day at this school we’ve spurned, the studio manager that hired me in the mall and was training me was fucking fired. HR came in, hovering around and observing my training for about an hour and a half before pulling her in the back and booting her, after having spoken with me and saying that I ought to work towards making my way up in the company to a managerial position. Then the former manager texts me later in the day to say she’s sorry I had to be there for that, and when I asked her if she was okay, she says that it’s a shitty company to work for and it was a long time overdue.

After ALL of this, I am still managing to remain more or less unaffected. Inside, I’m angry and stressed and desperately want to cry and scream, but on the outside, I’m just… tired. I am fucking exhausted, but I have no desire to sleep. So I’m sitting here, deadpanned, just typing whatever fucking shit comes to mind and wondering how on earth I am going to get through this next week…

We Had So Many Plans…

We were so amped for this summer. I was making progress on P4A editing, Cody was making plans for Game Virgins, I was preparing to relaunch my YouTube channel, we were even making solid plans for a new series together, and I was going to help Cody start the writing on Bad Star and Crowded Head… And then the rug was pulled out from under us and we realized we weren’t even standing on solid ground. Just an endless pit with nothing to hold onto but each other…

Lies, manipulation, cruelty, and false promises. It’s the stuff of television dramas and it all sucks. I know we’re going to get through it all, but that doesn’t make it any less hard. Life isn’t fair, and I know more than anyone how true that statement is, but god damn it all, I’m so tired of feeling like I’m already dead…

If you are the kind of person who takes joy out of crushing people and their dreams because you’re miserable, then I hope to god you realize how sick and lowly a person you are. If you cannot think for a second how your actions could potentially really, really hurt someone, then I wish you nothing but the realization that you are a festering heartless soul in desperate need of change. I have nothing but contempt for people like that, especially now. I am so done.