A Conscious Stream of Unconsciousness

Completely sober, I drunkenly stumble up the stairs to my San Francisco apartment. I dizzily open the door to my Tampa room, where she is patiently waiting for me on that comfortable Chicago bed. I haven’t seen her in a year, but I’m not surprised at all. It feels completely natural to fall into her arms and express my feelings as if no time has elapsed. I see her with another guy, and we’re in a diner in the desert, and I’m with a different girl. We’re having a conversation about destiny and randomness and the afterlife, and we disagree, and we hate each other. We kiss. I’m on the Chicago Blue Line in the middle of the Peoria night. I get off at the airport. I’m flying east, I’m flying west, I’m flying everywhere and nowhere all at once. I doze off for a nap on a boat in the Bahamas and wake up on a hammock in the Midwest summer with my best friends and a staticky baseball game can be heard playing on a radio and the Cardinals are losing, and I have twenty mosquito bites. We are drinking around a campfire. A single bird flies south for the winter. I throw my drink into the fire and after the explosion I’m in Paris, where I’m with her again. We’re walking along the Seine taking as many pictures of each other in the afternoon sun as possible. It’s gorgeous, and we’re in love, and we’d like to have more pictures of ourselves to show others we’re living. We’re crossing the Pont de l’Archevêché and I see her slowly drift by under the bridge on a boat with her new husband.

I open a sliding door to Springfield, Illinois, to my grandparents’ backyard, one of my favorite places on earth, the earth that is so much bigger than I had imagined, and what is my place in it? I’m eight, and I’m hunting down Easter eggs with my sister. I’m driving back from St. Louis, and I’m questioning love. I’m at Turkey Run with my dad, and I board an empty train in the middle of the Swiss Alps. Cheerful church hymns play in the background. Now in the foreground. Am I capable of loving another human being? If so, why am I skeptical about these feelings? I’m sitting at early service with my mom. I don’t believe in any of this, and that makes me a terrible person. Maybe if I get baptized, things will be different. I’m heading west and the sun is too bright. My youth minister proceeds with the ritualistic dunk under water, and I’m middle-aged, and I’m still pretending something changed. I’m sitting with 200 students in a lecture hall. All their homes have been destroyed by the tornado, but I don’t feel a thing. I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know I tiptoe down the hallway, but it creaks, and the monsters turn around. “Colder.” I’m blinded by their eyes of lightning. “Ice cold.” I’m suddenly confused about what I had and what I lost. Now the voices are way up there, and I’m stuck down here. I’m no longer breathing. A large mirror appears in front of my dead body, and the person I see in it is alive.

I’m an actor. I’m handed my lines, but this movie is really just the playing out of my subconscious. I try to act out what’s on the script, but I keep screwing it up. My manager threatens to fire me if I keep making mistakes. I try harder, but I’m a terrible actor. It doesn’t help that the script is blank.

I’m floating through the air, or maybe I’m sinking in the water – I can’t tell anymore. The current carries me to a playground on the beach. My dad waits for me at the bottom of the slide, and I run over to the swing and jump off in the middle of the air but I don’t land, and I catch a kite, and I look down to see myself at the other end of the string running through a field. “Warmer.” A balloon pops and my soul crashes toward the ground. A violinist plays a dissonant melody. I’m weary from the journey. I’m going southwest, but the compass says I’m going northeast. The violin fades as I begin to black out, and I regain consciousness to the sound of a grand piano playing a slow and extremely familiar descant. It’s the middle of the night, and the northern lights can be seen in the zenith. It’s completely silent, so silent that you can hear the earth hum. “You’re getting warmer…Warmer…” I lift up my arms and try to meditate, and I’m on a Muni bus and I just pulled the cord to get off at the next stop. “Colder.” How is that possible? I can’t be that disoriented. This game is unfair. I’ve arrived downtown, but when I get out, I’m in the middle of a forest, and I head toward the sun. A mountain range looms in the near distance. I walk the treacherous path to the top of the highest peak, but as I approach the summit after a number of grueling days, I look down and see all the people I know and they’re collectively playing a beautiful harmony on a guitar, a song I’ve never heard, and I would really like to learn to play the guitar as well as other instruments because I think I’d be great at it just like I’ll be great at anything if I actually set my mind to it, and I miss everyone even though I don’t really know them, and the rocks I’m standing on suddenly turn to ice, which now melts, and I violently stumble down into the valley where the sound of the guitar is nothing more than a recording, and the images of my friends are actually cardboard cutouts of their faces. As I approach these cutouts, I realize they’re gravestones, and I’m standing in a cemetery. A door opens, and I walk out of the elevator into my office, and it’s snowing.

If I’m not drunk, high, daydreaming, or nightdreaming, where am I, and what the hell is intoxicating me?


Think Before You Write?

Over the last few months, I’ve given you a glimpse of my perceptions in an organized fashion. What you haven’t seen is the way my mind actually operates. The following is a potpourri of my thoughts, unfiltered and unfettered:

**I’m sorry if you can’t follow this, but this is how I think, like it or not. After all, I’m writing this for myself. And this is the essence of me.

Is not the pursuit the point at which we find the most joy? What is there to gain when you no longer lack what you desire? One can see things more clearly with a sense of privation than with a sense of superfluity. Does this mean I want to be rejected? Not necessarily. If I “win over” a girl, I only want it to be partial; I want to still feel the need for pursuing.

My spare time: Sudoku, 4-suit Spider Solitaire, French lessons (Je ne suis pas encore couramment), Kierkegaard, Faster than Light, and the entire Portfolio Management “group” project myself.

I won two tickets to see Born Ruffians, a band I highly enjoy – I keep winning legitimate things on this Chicago website that apparently no one else uses. You literally just click the “Enter to Win” button. Easy.

I got a gift from Sis in the mail. I remember how weird it felt to stop calling her “Sissy” and start calling her “Sharon.” It felt like I was dishonoring a sacred custom of siblinghood.

After driving an hour and sitting another two hours in the waiting room (for the second time) only to talk to a rude, heartless, disrespectful psychiatrist for five minutes just to get my prescription refilled, I spoke my mind to the receptionist. That’s inconsiderate. I’m done with this office. My insurance makes it quite difficult to just see a freaking doctor or therapist and requires monthly refill visits, but I’ll manage without that idiot.

Why am I such a bad listener? Partly because I could care less about much of what others have to say. Partly because, with so many past and current extroverted friends, I never really had to learn. They do a lot of the talking. They ask me questions. They listen to me and care about what I say. Over time, I learn things about them without actually asking the questions. Am I friends with them only insofar as they like listening to me while I don’t have to do much work in return? I don’t think that is the case. I just don’t know how to get to know people very well.

I realized I turned my first date with the girl (in the next paragraph) into a psychiatry session because I’ve gotten used to talking about myself in that way to capture a lot of key personal things in a timed period. It went away after the first hour or so, but I’ve got to take a deep breath and not worry about sharing all of myself at once.

Two weeks ago, I skeptically created an OkCupid account to start something new. Within days, I had already gone on two dates with an awesome girl (who messaged me first). She was a female version of Curtis – I instantly felt a connection with her. We had good talks and lengthy dates that spanned multiple locations and carried over to fun texts and phone (or Skype) calls. We did have two hurried goodbyes due to some interesting logistical timing (bus-related situations that didn’t allow for any intimacy), but it was pretty obvious she wanted more than the hug or the wave I gave her. Yes, I was also trying to take things slowly, but I’m not going to lie by acting like I was worried about how it would affect my “ex” (a term I hate because it just sounds like we are divorced and scarred. She is really just my old girlfriend). I really just wanted to make sure something this great was actually happening. If she was this much of a match, there was no point in rushing things. I wanted to kiss her even on the first date and fully planned on it happening in a more romantic setting during the next date. Everything happened so quickly. Deep down, I didn’t want it to work out this soon; this was supposed to be a work in progress. I was supposed to take the year to be single or casually date but find myself before finding someone else. I wanted to work hard to find the right person for me, but I did no work at all. Well I didn’t fall in love, but I did really like what we had going. It was 100% obvious that she liked me a lot, and I am much better at reading girls than you think. Yet, as I was asking her ideas for our third date, she told me she “wasn’t really feeling a connection, so it’s probably better if we didn’t see each other anymore.” I laughed at first. Seriously?? Haha. Okay. Apparently on planet Earth, a “good connection” is not what I thought it was. I was upset / shocked for a day and even called her to get better closure, but I honestly wasn’t that devastated. At least I had a glimpse of normalcy, a glimpse of someone out there just like me, a glimpse of a good connection. Maybe we felt too much like we were supposed to like each other and assumed we were a perfect match. I was hesitant to do anything but casually date and have fun, and maybe that showed. I was definitely not ready for anything serious, so it’s probably a good thing that I’m not around someone I could see myself being very serious with in the near future.

I’m able to think about it this soon without getting upset. The only part bothering me is the abrupt end to something that was, in my mind, a mutually enjoyable positive thing. Even though I like things to be unpredictable, I would rather have them unpredictable according to reality. I want the parts that are supposedly given to remain given. That being said, it’s been a long time since I had a reason or desire to put gel in my hair.

Most people need little reminders that others care, or that their work and effort is appreciated. I need big reminders that I am still alive. That I am a real person.

I hate all of you out there who expect others to pick up for your slack in group projects. Grow up. How inconsiderate can you be? Do your part.

She was exactly what I was looking for, if I actually had an idea what I was looking for.

This year will lack that feeling of “ennui,” the term existential philosophers love. Although it has been a little unusual so far, I am taking it with an actual grain of salt, as opposed to no salt. I’m surprised at how cool I am about getting rejected. Maybe I’m so used to things not going as planned, but I have not let this affect my optimism or confidence in the least. I’m not about to turn into the Curtis of 2012 or 2011. See ya, over-reactions and depression and self-pity and self-loathing.

I’m finally selling a bunch of my old souped-up Civic engine parts from high school on eBay. I forgot how much this stuff was worth.

You just can’t beat a peanut butter and banana sandwich on toasted gluten-free bread. Why is the hyphen so often excluded in gluten-free? Gluten free (noun)? No.

Jónsi. I have no clue what he is saying, and I don’t think he does either. At least it is a real language, unlike when they sing as Sigur Ros. Yet it still gets me going.

Life in 2013 is so new and different. For the first time since college, I don’t have an ex or bad habit or guilty pleasure or past fake crush to turn to. I like it much better this way. Bring it on, new friends and lovers! My decisions will be much better with regards to girls from here on out.

I want to go to New Zealand and Australia soon. If only I could just hop in the car and drive there, I would. I guess Loyola Water Tower Campus will have to suffice for now.

Since when has there been a need for Winter Storm nomenclature? Why don’t we name thunderstorms then? Showers? Sprinklings / drizzlings / dew? High waves? Winds over 10 mph? Cold fronts? If my namesake were to be used for anything weather related (observe the correct non-usage of a hyphen), it would have to be a derecho or a sandstorm.

There is a jar of peanut butter, an ‘ordinateur,’ a book, and a quacking duck stuffed animal accompanying me in bed tonight.

I expect to excel at everything, so if something isn’t my strength, I feel like it is a huge weakness. It consumes me, overwhelms me; it makes me feel horribly guilty and look negatively upon myself. In reality, I might not be the best at something, but that doesn’t mean I am bad at it. It’s also okay to suck at some things; there’s no reason to beat myself up over things I cannot control. Sometimes even my self-criticism is not constructive.

Yes, K, I want to feel good about myself with someone else. I get a little lonely. It’s more about the companionship than anything, but it’s also fun to like someone new. Now exit from my thoughts again please.

Yes, J, you’re a bad friend and a worse person. Now go back to being absent from my mind.

It is 5:15 AM. I haven’t slept yet.

I no longer have any taste at all for “redeeming qualities.” If you treat me or my friends like crap, I don’t care how flattering or attractive or charming you are because you’re not going to be a serious part of my life. I’ve been used by others, especially girls, way too much. It’s sickening. How dare you abuse the random abilities you were born with at the expense of innocent people who put in ten times the work to be there for you. Maybe that’s just the nature of the business, but I refuse to face it.

It is absurd how loud the person is above me. She is the loudest, quickest, most piercing, most frequent pacer. It seems like she always has high heels, or a pogo stick. She has a large dog that sounds like a dinosaur. Apparently there is anti-insulation, because the sounds from above are deafening. She uses some weird vacuum or cleaning device that must resemble a Zamboni. Almost every freaking day. She opens and closes drawers and closets and doors louder than an angry engaged couple. I barely make a peep, yet when I quietly talk on the phone late at night, I think she sends passive aggressive messages to me via the hit of a broom handle or an extra loud movement. It literally sounds like a boom. I’ve got to talk to the landlord about that. I’m extremely non-confrontational yet also passive aggressive in my own way. I know that if I do have a confrontation, there’s no way I can be nice and calm about it. So instead of saying something stupid because I can’t control my emotions, I choose the path of least resistance. Now if it did get to the point of insanity, I would talk to the person. But right now, it’s more of an observation. I am sometimes curious as to what kind of machines she is using up there, and what in the world she is doing with that dog. I try to imagine what she is making for dinner based on what I hear. I have tried to figure out her dog’s sleep schedule. I have tried to determine how many dressers she has and how they are arranged so as to maximize drawer opening and closing noise from any given point in the apartment and what the necessity for that says about her personality. This has turned into a character study more than anything.


Ready, Set, Ready

I want to move forward with my life. I’m lingering. I’m stuck in one spot.

It seems that 6 months is the limit I keep approaching living in one place. I want to move, to start something new. It is annoying that I never want to be where I am in the moment, but always somewhere else. I am a wanderer, a journeyman, a factotum.

If moving was not so difficult, I would honestly do it a lot more. I live in a small two-bedroom place now, by myself. There is so much I have brought here from home or purchased while in Chicago, that it would be twice as hard to move out as it was to move in, and so expensive to move into another place.

When will I learn? When will I settle in a location, both physically and mentally?

I have a final today, but the last thing in the world I care about is the profession I am supposed to be going into. I start another set of classes in two weeks. Don’t care. It’s not for me. Will I finish this stupid Master’s in Financial Analysis? I should because I’m about 80% done and someone else is graciously paying for every penny of it.

But naturally, if you start something out of boredom or confusion, it was not a good decision to begin with. It won’t usually end well. I am not a quitter; I just never wanted to do the things I started in the first place.

What is it in life I am seeking? What makes me different from everyone else? Why do others get it but I don’t? I’m not sure exactly how many years my mind has been in this state, but at least since junior year of college, I have completely been somewhere else. Is it the ADD? Is it my personality? Is it depression? It certainly isn’t a lack of hope or effort. I want things to change and have for years. I have been trying to help myself as much as possible. The doctors and psychiatrists and my friends tell me that’s the first step, the awareness of a problem and willingness to do something about it. But what is freaking being done? Countless medicines, doctors, diets, exercises, apartments, girls, vacations, interests, schools, jobs, cities later, where have I found myself? What did I expect to find when I moved? What is lacking in me that others take for granted? It’s easy to talk to Curtis from your perspective, but try being me and seeing how hard it actually is.

It’s like I have tried everything in my power, everything I can possibly think of, to change things for the better, but my fruitless efforts have left me waiting for something to happen. Nothing is happening. I’ve tried harder than everyone else yet have less than everyone else to show for it. If you don’t think I am trying, you are an idiot. You don’t know the daily struggle that is my mind.

I’ve had enough of people being easy on me.

I’ve had enough of people being hard on me. And being so hard on myself.

I’m starting to get to the point where I see having a normal life as being more and more unrealistic, that having at least some clarity is something I will never achieve.

I keep listening to “Glory” and “Mountains” by Radical Face, “Nuvole Bianche” by Ludovico Einaudi, “Down in the Valley” by The Head and the Heart, and “All There Is” by Gregory Alan Isakov, songs that I listened to in my flux phase in San Francisco before I packed up and left. I am so moved by them, by the emotions that I had when I listened to them in that weird new turn in my life. I expect something to happen when I get these emotions. I feel like a better person, a more focused and positive me, yet I can’t seem to find the exact outlet. It’s like something is waiting to burst inside me, but there is nothing to start the explosion. I’ve had this same feeling SO MANY TIMES. It clearly isn’t bad and feels like a step in the right direction. But why can’t it get past this feeling?? Why can’t I do something past this point, other than just saying, “I am tired of this and want to do something very positive about it right now”? Please, someone in the world, help me. I am at that turning point, waiting to be nudged in a certain direction, with limitless possibilities. I’m ready for that change. I’m ready to know, to be confused no more. I’m 24, and I literally cannot stand another day of this lifestyle. I have already let years slip by. I am not being the person I want to be.

Valet job, or another random vocation? Finance? Moving? Passions and interests? This stuff should be obvious. No, I don’t have to know everything at this point in my life, but it would nice to know something.

So starting now, it’s the year of Curtis. I’m sick of this.

Please try to hold me accountable. Figuring things out is long overdue.