As Time Goes By

Here’s looking at you, kid–and all the other things we’re nostalgic about that we haven’t witnessed.

It’s 2014. 2007 was seven years ago, what the f—that’s still so weird to me. I can imagine that this might also be the case for a lot of people—especially those who are older.

However, I am also inclined to feel like perhaps this kind of nostalgia-shock is even more prevalent in younger people because it’s still so new to feel this old. Does that make sense? In a few years I’ll get used to looking back at 2009 and being like yeah, that was ages ago but for now, this kind of feeling freaks me out. It’s one thing to be nostalgic about 1995 but 2007 is something else. I was going to save this post for #throwbackthursdays or something but let’s face it: I don’t have the patience.

This is the first year since I was 10 that I haven’t kept a journal. I thought that it would be harder to accomplish (or to not accomplish?) because well, what would I do with my spare time? More pressingly, what would I do with all those photos and cinema tickets?

With the free time, there turns out to be a lot more things to do: like write, read, watch films, go out, work out, work, experiment with make up, think up different recipes for things, spend time with people, hear stories, tell stories, go get some coffee. As for the stuff—I’m definitely not “free” enough to thrown any of that shit away so it’s been living in my drawers. Instax photos, movie tickets, colorful scotchtape. I don’t think it’s bad to keep these things and I guess I’ll eventually get around to putting them in some order: whatever that is.

My conviction not to keep a journal this year stemmed from the desire to live life and look back incidentally as opposed to trying to foresee the process of looking back (which leaves you mentally cross-eyed) and creating an experience for myself via notes and reminders and captioned photos. For now, I’m kind of done leaving my future self tidbits to find. She can go figure that out for herself. All graffiti is some kind of letter, anyway.

A few years ago, in 2011, in an attempt to leave a particular person alone—my goodness, you have no idea how difficult that can be; it’s like being five and being told not to pick a scab ‘cause it’ll scar but it’s there, so you do and it does—I wrote a bunch of letters detailing the things I wanted to say, then. And I thought hey, I’ll give these to him when we’re on better terms.

Well, that didn’t happen. And to a certain extent, I’m okay with that. Life is unpredictable: you think things will go one way or another but the truth is that no matter what kind of analysis we put ourselves through, it’s impossible to have all the cards—there are always things that catch you off-guard, there is always randomness (luck, chance, that tiny margin for surprise): that thing that doesn’t open itself up for your consideration.

I still have those letters, sitting in pink envelopes in a box on one of the shelves in my room along with other notebooks full of things I can’t remember properly anymore. Life takes you away— time flies but that’s fine. That’s how it’s supposed to be, I think. I don’t want to live life documenting it. Or at least, not just documenting it. I want to be there.

I suppose this is an odd subject for a blog entry: after all, isn’t that what we’re doing?

Yes, but only incidentally. In the future, we might look back and see how we dressed, what we did and laugh at it but what matters is that at the time, we were really into it: we weren’t doing these things just so our future selves would have something to laugh at. We wrote because we felt a certain way or we took photos of ourselves because we really liked what we looked like that day. We write to express, to inform, to tell stories. (In retrospect, maybe this becomes even more relevant in the blog setting because like journal-keeping, this also has potential for a kind of pre-emptive nostalgia.)

My dilemma continued up until recently, with regard to those letters: I didn’t know what to do with them. I am extremely averse to throwing these kinds of things out because isn’t growing as a person a matter of integrating the new into the old? Isn’t real growth a kind of alteration of who you were and not “reinventing” yourself into someone else?

I have an ex-boyfriend who I feel went through this “make over” process—in fact, he was quite obsessed with it even when we were together—and every time he and I are put in the same event or party, I feel like I can see the version of him that I dated for two years crouching within his buff, “confident” shell, kind of peeking out through the eyes and pulling a lever so that the outer shell moves an arm to say hi: like that tiny alien in M.I.B. controlling a bigger body. It feels like this “new” self and “old” self are completely disparate.

Although this might be unfair to say (who knows, maybe he has integrated this with himself), I suppose I am just averse to that “hey, look at me now” way of expression; people don’t leave or you don’t hurt people because of the way you portrayed yourself or because of how you looked: these things happen because of you are (or were at the time).

With regard to personal development, the only kind of metaphor or model I can identify with is the onion theory which says that people grow like (you guessed it) onions: with the thickest, toughest layers near the inside—formed when you were younger—and the other layers on the outside. These outermost layers are thinner and surround the innermost layers and multiply over time.

You don’t grow out of yourself, you grow around yourself. Alterations are made over the things which are. You can only change based on what is already there—you can’t inhabit someone new. But also these alterations also change who you are: they change how you look, how you act, and the choices you make.

These outer layers make the difference between young onions and grown ones.

Initially, this is what kept me holding onto these letters: a kind of penance. This is who you were, this is still a part of who you are. And this is true. Those weaknesses are still here: I just know how to deal with them better. So even if I look different, do different things, act different some days I get the feeling that if I were to see this person again, I would still need those letters to be able to say what I had to say: mostly sorry, partly I hope you’re happy. I would still need to deal with the now irrelevant sediments of sentiment, no matter how long a time it will have been, if/when.

But also, do I need the letters to remember how I felt and what I had to say? Do I really need these pieces of paper sitting on a shelf, taking up space and coming around to haunt me every so often? I doubt it. It’s already on the inner fold: the thing so much of me is built around—if you trust something to remain, you can let it go.

Reticulate, Not Ripple

When people say time isn’t linear, they usually mean to say that it isn’t chronological or that our perception of time is different than time itself but these days I can’t help but feel like that saying is more literal that it’s made out to be. I feel like time is in fact, non-linear as in it ain’t a fucking line: it’s squiggly and convoluted and irregular and its movement is so sporadic that the only reason it’s understandable is because it belongs to a single body (or seems to, anyway).

It’s the opposite of a mosaic, where you can look at a big picture despite its elements being unattached: with time you can look at the vague idea of this giant scramble of parts because its elements are strung together, albeit haphazardly.

It’s four in the afternoon. And it’s Friday. And to my left there are Oreos sitting in an emptied-out Selecta doubledutch plastic tin (plastic?), behind that there are two pink jugs that I forget to take home (or maybe intentionally leave here because I just can’t be bothered)—one of them is empty, the other one is filled with rotting bits of coffee from those days before my sister bought me a coffee tumbler and my coffee would keep getting cold in the morning so I’d just throw some of it out because I couldn’t stand how it tasted. To my left is my officemate, who is wearing white: I can see him from the corner of my eye, lateral to the frames of my glasses. To my right, which is somehow more distant to me than my left is my lunchbox and my copy of J.Strange & Mr. N. And the mouse. And under that, as a makeshift mousepad is my approved leave form—I’m on leave Monday because I suppose it’s about time I got my license. That’s three long days from now—from here anyway, perched on top of the curve it seems long but I know (I think) that once I get out of here and slide down that spiral, it’s going to be Monday and then Tuesday and then I’ll be here again, at 4:13 in the afternoon on a Friday, itching to go and cuddle with my laptop. Time is weird. It’s the hair on a clown. It’s steel wool. It’s the wiring in braces.

Last night I had the oddest episode of having difficulty breathing and so I went to the hospital and got checked out—and everything was alright. They checked my heart, it was alright. They checked my blood pressure, it was alright. They checked my lungs—spotless (their words, not mine). The doctor said the funniest thing: we didn’t find anything but don’t worry that doesn’t mean there’s nothing wrong with you.

He said that I probably have this minor affliction which most people my age and my gender who are small have called floppy-heart disease or Mitral Valve Prolapse which basically means that my heart’s valves might be floppy which causes the palpitations and difficulty in breathing—he said that people with this condition usually feel like their hearts are beating irregularly or like they can’t breathe when in fact that’s just the valve “door” slamming around in their chests. The ECG showed no irregularities. He suggested a 2D echo—although he said it wasn’t really necessary because all my vital signs checked out fine and people with floppy hearts who need treatment usually have severe heartburn or actual irregularities in their hearts which show up on the ECG. So there was nothing to do, really. It’s so strange. The ghost of a condition. I also have mild scoliosis, which apparently is common in people with floppy hearts for unknown reasons; the misalignment carries through.

I’m not sure why but all the okay-ness made me really, really anxious. There was this moment of inexplicable panic when they took the ECG wire things off of me that I just can’t get to the bottom of: like if there was something wrong, I could finally pin-point what it was about me that bothers me. But there wasn’t so I can’t. Not to say that I wasn’t relieved—I was, too. The last thing I wanted was to have to spend a lot of money to stay in the hospital and miss work and the EM launch tomorrow but the ghosty shock of having something that is nothing freaked me out. More so having to pay for it—I know that you pay for the knowledge, but do you?

My dad went to the hospital with me. I was sitting on the bed in the ER and he was sitting on the visitor’s chair. It was so weird—like a fucked up freaky-Friday—because I’m usually the one accompanying him to get his heart checked. And there is usually something wrong. But there wasn’t. I said I wanted to get my kidneys checked. When we were walking out of the hospital my dad asked me why I was so afraid that I had a disorder of the vital organs. Because I couldn’t bring myself to be a better child, I told the truth: because I’m your daughter. My father laughed and said his heart arrhythmia (Atrial Fibrillation) had more to do with cigarettes and alcohol and anxiety, so I had nothing to worry about. And anyway what possessed me to think that his kidneys would affect my heart? And I thought when did it not?

Time is convoluted—reticulated, curling, trying to touch itself. I am 23 and my father is 65. In his bag there are Lotto tickets. He wishes he could still smoke. In my bag there are bus tickets. I wish I could still smoke. My father is paying for his alcohol and cigarettes and stress. I am paying, always, for absence.

Coffee & Flowers: Friendship, Time, Memory

Project: Coffee & Flowers is something I did on my old blog which I thought I’d continue here because I think it really helps keep me on my toes. 🙂

1.) Today was a very, very overwhelming day for me. As I write this I’m in bed with the lights turned off–I should be sleeping (my body is exhausted) but my mind is wide awake. I had a very, very good day: most of it was spent with good friends and a good chunk of it was spent reading. I also got in a good amount of exercise and got to write a little.

I went to Taft this morning to hang out with friends and distribute my Christmas gifts as well as claim my graduation assessment. In the process, I ended up making a new friend and also making the people I’ll miss most in Taft happy. It’s super odd not to be busy on the first day of class or not to be running around, checking my schedule–it feels almost uncomfortably weightless. I feel very nostalgic about school but also I know that it’s time to get a move on. I’m also pretty excited about things to come.

Another reason why today was so overwhelming is that I got to re-meet my friend who got amnesia around a year ago as a side effect of surgery for a brain tumor. It was definitely a little strange at first, having to re-introduce yourself to someone who you (supposedly) know but I feel like most friendship encounters are worth sitting out the awkwardness for. And I was right! It ended up being a really fun afternoon of sushi, laughter and weirdness with friends.

My highschool literature teacher, Ms. Ella told us in one of her lectures that “happiness is finding something you thought you’d lost” and even now, 11 years later I still think that’s true. When we’re happy because we get paid or get gifts, it’s usually because we think we deserve these things–like these things aren’t new things being given to us out of the blue but items which we feel should’ve already had. When we’re happy because we make friends or find people who understand us, we’re happy because “it feels like we’ve known these people for a long time”; we feel like we are re-meeting old friends rather than talking to strangers.

Today felt like that. I felt like I regained the ability to laugh and to open up to people.

2.) I recently got very bothered by something someone said to me about not having time. I’d suggested something (in response to a post–I won’t delve into the specifics because it isn’t relevant) and the person responded by saying they didn’t have time to do that.
For all I know, it may be true that this person doesn’t have time to do certain things but the way that it was phrased bothered me because it seemed to imply that a) I made the suggestion thinking this person had nothing to do and b) I myself have nothing to do.

To be honest, most people are busy (I, for one have a meeting at 9 am tomorrow and should be getting to bed) and there are always things that need to get done but that is never an excuse to be inconsiderate or hurtful, especially when people suggest things to you out of enthusiasm for your enthusiasm about something.

For example, if someone says “Oh, you might like Robinson Crusoe!” in a response to a post saying “I loved Cast Away!” you don’t reply with “Ah, can’t read it–I have things to do.”

To be honest I don’t know why this bothers me so much but it’s sort of been sitting in the back of my mind for a couple of days, now. I guess it’s because I’m disappointed: I don’t deal very well with being let down. I’m okay with anger or sadness or anxiety, even but disappointment drives me crazy because I can never tell why my expectations of someone were so high in the first place.

But on the bright side, I guess some people are only interested in things on a surface level kind of way and that’s alright–in the same way that casual conversations can ease you over a period of boredom or awkwardness. I feel like I should learn to tell the difference between people who are really interested in something and people who are just drifting past the idea, sort-of looking.

It’s such a shame because I feel like I could’ve possibly gained new perspectives from this person but that’s life: you win some, you lose some. And at the end of the day we’re all only (somewhat) in control of our own time, no one else’s and we just can’t get too upset over that or it’ll drive us insane.

3.) For as long as I can remember, I’ve kept a journal. I have two shelves full of journals with photos and bits and bobs. But this year I decided to be less anal about it because I’d like to be in the moment as opposed to looking in on the moment. I still keep a notebook but it’s mostly for cataloging thoughts and jotting down drafts. 🙂

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