Thursday, April 26, 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I read a fantastic satirical article the other day about writing. Except at first I didn't realize it was satire. Or maybe I just wasn't paying attention to the title "How Not to Write". So as I'm reading along about waiting until you're inspired, sipping your coffee slowly, staring out the window, looking pensive and worldly as other patrons bustle about in your favorite local cafe, and I'm thinking uh yeah, I GOT THIS- I get the joke.

The article goes on to quote Jack London referring to finishing Call of the Wild "with a club", rather than inspiration. I'm realizing that writing, like most other trades, is work. Not that I ever thought writing was simply having a time share in Alaska, sleeping in till noon, and waiting until you've conjured up every detail of a magical land seven books long, but maybe I wasn't aware of how much writing writing requires. Good writing, at least.

Writing isn't about left brain or right brain, innate talent, or divine inspiration (okay, maybe sometimes it's about those things) but it's about pursuing this thing that you want to pursue. And a really risky thing if you hope to make any money at it. And like carpentry, or acting, or any other finely tuned skill, some days you have no desire to clock in but the more you do the better you get. Likely not all of your work will be praise-worthy, criticism will feel personal, and you'll need to get over it and muscle your way through the tough spots. Because life doesn't wait for you to feel like it.

So here I am. Writing about trivial things to be minimally read. Not entirely void of inspiration, but forcing myself to be inspired with what I already have. And what I have is a desire to write, hopefully well some day. My life doesn't need ethereal sunsets and charming bird songs in four part harmonies in order to be inspirational, nor does it require that I ban all distractive media in order to pursue creative integrity. It just requires some self awareness.

We've allowed ourselves to become jaded with life, with it's magnitude, with it's possibility, and we've settled for affirmation by posting pictures of what we ate for lunch online and letting all of our friends tell us how good it must taste. Though we likely spend little time actually tasting it. If we could but step back and taste life, I think we might be surprised at how much inspiration really is available. And if we wanted to tell a story we might have something to say.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

College is dumb

I'm twenty five and I don't have a college degree.

This is something I've been struggling with for years. And the older I get, the worse that struggle seems to be. It's not that I haven't wanted to go to college, quite the contrary- I love learning and I'm a respectable student. Originally, it was that I didn't want to enroll until I was sure what I wanted schooling for. Then, it was a question of whether or not it was mature and/or responsible to accrue that kind of debt. And now, the more and more graduates I know with Bachelor's and/or Master's degrees, who themselves aren't sure what college taught them other than how to own a really expensive piece of paper, the more I question what college will do for me. Clearly, it isn't securing a spectacular career. In fact, I'm not sure I know of anyone who even has a job in the field of their major.

And now that I'm trying to navigate the realm of volunteering overseas, you know, the realm where I buy a really expensive plane ticket and then pay an organization to allow me to work for free, I'm coming up against the desire these organizations have for their volunteers to possess a four year degree. In anything.

Have a degree in interior design? Want to cultivate a farm?
Have a degree in marketing? Cool, want to teach English to small children?

Which leads me to wonder what it is exactly that people think a college degree does. Obviously employers aren't looking for a specific skill set (lest your major actually matter) but I'm beginning to think that the mass public believes either:
A) going through four years of college teaches you some skill you cannot acquire any other way (perhaps that skill is work ethic??).
B) someone who hasn't gone to college is just blatantly unintelligent.
or C) our system is flawed and higher education has received a reputation it hasn't actually earned.

I continue to want to go to college, but that desire is consistently being challenged with the high probability that at graduation I might look back on the last four years of my education and not be able to identify what valuable skill college equipped me with that I didn't obtain before hand or couldn't obtain any other way. And if that skill was something I could have obtained otherwise (or doesn't have a monetary value of tens of thousands of dollars), me and my student loan are going to HAVE WORDS.

I have good work ethic. I have intense life and job experience. I like, and understand how to use(!), big words. Unfortunately "do you have a four year degree OR equivalent life experience" isn't usually an option on an application. Reminding myself of the many very successful (and often famous) entrepreneurs before me who have managed to pursue their dreams without being stopped by their lack of college education is helpful, but then also leaves me insecure by comparison. Am I that driven? Am I that talented? And then I begin to wonder if my desire to obtain a college degree isn't born from a lack of belief in myself. I want to write, but am I the Zuckerberg or the Rachel Ray of writing? I know we are never our own best critic, but I'm going to go with no, I'm not on the cusp of inventing the latest writing phenomenon or teaching people how to write anything in 30 minutes or less.

I want to serve, I want to travel, and I want to write. Preferably in that order. I'm not asking anyone to pay me to hold orphaned African babies all day, but I am asking why I would need a college degree for that.

-the Monster Queen

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I like curse words and cats

Every time I get on here lately I feel like my post turns into some hodge podge pseudo inspirational self-help lecture, the words leaving the bitter taste of bile soaking into my soft pallet. Which, wouldn't be so bad if I wasn't constantly tasting bile any way. Oh I never told you I have chronic heartburn? Yeah well now I expect you to bring flowers to my hospital room when I get a perforated ulcer NOT TOO MANY MOONS FROM NOW.

Every post starts with "feelings", moves on to "sad", then "really sad", then somewhere in there I usually include "fuck everything" and "I hate men".
The last two were jokes.
Everyone knows I don't use the f word OR hate men.

But really, I've been sad lately. First I admitted it, which was tough, then I started to allow the idea that it's okay to be sad permeate the part of my brain that continues the daily emotional assault of screaming WHY CAN'T I JUST BE OKAY?! And since then, I've been trying to blog about being sad and being okay with it until I realized that blogging about it is just an attempt to BE okay with it, when really I'm not.

I feel pointless. Like. . .why am alive and do I have enough narcotics to casually not wake up in the morning pointless.

And then someone said it.
Maybe you are pointless.

And then that pointlessness I've been wielding like a 2x4 and relentlessly beating myself up with transformed into something else. It became less of a weapon and more of a swift kick in the pants. Or a hand-up if that sounds more motivating. Because that's what my feeling pointless is now- motivating me to find a point. Motivating me to find what makes me happy.

I've realized that I can't expect happiness to just curl up in my lap like a cat I'll never have because all my friends are "allergic" or filled with hatred and evil and WHY CAN'T PEOPLE JUST LIKE SOFT CUDDLY THINGS?! Yeah, I get that some cats are crazy but SO ARE SOME KIDS. You don't hear me talking about how much I hate children just because some of them need to be kenneled.

I'm not getting all power-positive-thinking. That sounds stressful and overwhelming and in case I haven't already mentioned my pending ulcer, I'm gonna go ahead and pass on being more stressed. What I am saying though, is that I'm a believer of dreams. Of dreaming. I am free to pursue happiness. To give all of myself in order to fulfill a purpose. If feeling useful makes me happy, I am free to be of use.

In the same way that YES, it's okay to be sad, it's also okay to be happy.

So that was it. My motivational speech. If you're sad, BE SAD. (Probably best if there isn't too much wine around). And if you want to be happy, FUCKING PURSUE YOUR DREAMS.

Yet I cannot tarry longer.
The sea that calls all things unto her calls me, and I must embark.
For, to stay, though the hours burn in the night, is to freeze and crystallize and be
bound in a mould.
Fain would I take with me all that is here. But how shall I?
A voice cannot carry the tongue and the lips that give it wings. Alone must it seek the
And alone and without his nest shall the eagle fly across the sun.

-The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran