The Shoe Parade and the World of Confusingness

shoes

As a grandparent-proclaimed “growing boy” during my younger years, I had a tough time staying in the same pair of sneakers. In addition to constant half-size elongation, I absolutely destroyed respective heels and balls and other parts I don’t know the name of on every make and model of footwear. I used to go through like three or four pairs a year. I have decided to call this collective glory period the “Shoe Parade.” I need to be careful because that might be the name of a shoe store.

During the Shoe Parade, I gained a glimpse into the world of confusingness. My shoes decayed (yes, I was very scientific back then) at a much quicker rate kids who seemed to live similar lives and who were going through similar, if not greater, bodily growth spurts (I was always short but my feet grew quickly; admittedly, while they grew taller, I did not measure their feet on a regular basis).

My best friends and I ran amongst golden cornfields, rambled through countless neighborhoods (actually just two or three), circled the bases of makeshift Wiffle ball fields, and protected the streets that held Abraham Lincoln’s legacy while pedaling away on our BMX bikes. And yet in spite of the fact that these friends were roughly one foot (12 inches, not shoe-related) away from me at all times doing the exact same things with their feet, they kept the same shoes for a year or two, and I didn’t.

I couldn’t wrap my ahead around this phenomenon. It made me question reality. I was “spoiled” with shoes, they would say. Then I displayed my soles, and after seeing more white sock than rubber, friends would politely hint that I was a “stomper.” I then walked really softly (to the point of tiptoeing), but nothing changed. Why was this only occurring on my feet? Was there something else going on?

I had no idea how crazy that world of confusingness would get, beyond the shoes I tied every morning. Young adulthood has been really weird. There’s been so many situations where things haven’t gone like I thought they should go, whereas for other people events always seems to unfold in a perfect logical order. I don’t have a name for this period, but it’s a few steps past (a footwear pun) the Shoe Parade.

Sometimes, I get kind of tired of it and want to find a simple place for my feet in the normal-person world. It can be tough living in a land where I expect outliers on a daily basis.

So a while back, I transitioned to the “regular” sort of life, or at least I tried, with occasional success. I told myself it was the right thing to do.

But then I looked down at my shoes, and I realized that they’re like a size too small and they’ll be a size and a half too small by next year. I might as well just shut up and get some new sneakers.

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Reflections from Lands End

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*I wrote this while sitting on a rock next to the crashing waves at Lands End in San Francisco last week. Lands End is a shoreline park accessible by hiking trails on the very outskirts of the city, overlooking the bay / ocean, the hills, and the surrounding headlands. Its coastal cliffs truly loom over the edge of the country. It is my favorite part of the city.

I am in San Francisco to get away from everything for the time being and to visit what I considered home for a year and a half. It has been remarkable at times and sad at others, for various reasons. There is so much I miss about this lovely city. I’ve walked about ten miles alone, capturing the crisp, light, clean air while traversing up and down steep hills lined with rows of colorful houses and trees fresh with life. I have been refreshingly drenched by the cool, drifting rain without the protection of a hood or umbrella. I have traveled the same peaceful routes as I did while trying to decipher my thoughts and the world surrounding me here before. I have spent quality time (which sometimes means doing idiotic things) with my best guy friends, met up with a few old friends / past crushes, and made some new acquaintances.

I am seated on the rocks next to the ocean, gazing at the beautiful scenery. But how can I be part of nature in its finest form? How can I be more integrally involved? I sit here and walk through the heart of magnificence but feel so distant from it; I see beauty but am unable to capture it. I am making a better effort than before to try to accept this nature around me. Not trying to overanalyze it, not letting its otherworldliness overwhelm me, not getting depressed because I feel like I am wasting an awe-inspiring environment. I accept it more for the inexplicable part of the world it is and feel less undeserving of the warmth it has provided to my soul. Still, I can’t help but feel a little confused and frustrated.

It reminds me too much of my isolation while I was here before; the same confusion was prevalent in many facets of my life in this city. I was distant and lost, with no way to discern my jumbled thoughts and suppressed emotions.

It reminds me of a lack of progress. By no means do I consider the SF experiment a failure; I made a tremendous amount of personal growth here. I started to figure out who I was, I made lasting friendships, I had joyful times and hilarious moments, and I enjoyed the city and its surroundings. It’s just, I moved away on the premise of temporary failure, on not being able to live and thrive in this city for the time being, on needing something different and familiar, on quitting grad school, on letting down my colleagues and family, on leaving my friends, on giving up so many things I was just beginning. So in my mind, there are loose ends that I can’t quite grasp or that I don’t want to think about.

On top of these reminders, I feel like I have to do certain things while I am visiting other places just to say I did them. This doesn’t always mean touristy things, but it can be seeing pretty sights, eating at nice restaurants, attending fun events, and doing other city-specific things. Because of this, it’s hard for me to go on my own path while visiting other places. In a perfect world, I would avoid most of the usual destinations and go on my own adventures, finding my own sights and roaming through the most serene parts of the city. This is possible for anyone, but at what cost? I can walk on sidewalks and through parks anywhere. I can sit and read next to a body of water in countless places. I can play games and sports and attend entertainment events with friends in plenty of cities. I can eat at nice restaurants and visit unique museums in thousands of locations. Once I spend a legitimate amount of money to go somewhere, I don’t feel like I can just aimlessly wander. The tranquil, undisturbed scenery is the only thing that is distinguishably different to me, but because of the apprehension I get from 1) being unable to explain and capture a city’s beauty and 2) constantly thinking I need to be doing more productive things in my short time there, it is hard for me to enjoy the moment. It’s too distracting. If I do something trivial and quiet to get lost in my thoughts, I incessantly feel as if I’m missing out on necessary things while I visit, but if I do something touristy, I do it halfheartedly and wish I were somewhere calmer. A similar feeling lingered in me while I lived here; I knew there was so much splendor to the city and surrounding area and rarely enjoyed doing simple things as much as I could have because there were always better sights to see. I feel like this beauty is not for me right now, that it limits my ability to think clearly. Maybe that is why I am in Chicago for the moment, because I would rather be in a place with no distractions.

I need to stop overanalyzing my surroundings. This world has a lot of beauty to offer, much of which I’ve been lucky enough to see, but I’ve gotten away from the frame of mind needed to enjoy it. In the future I need to open my eyes and, without thinking, without worrying, calmly let nature speak to me.

Am I happy that I visited San Francisco? Definitely. I needed time with my friends and those moments of getting away to something spectacular. I just came back confused, my thoughts muddled, my path unknown. I’m eager to see what happens from here.

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.

“Me”

Hello there.  Here is some necessary information about myself.

I seem to be a mix of things:  Extremely lucky yet horribly unlucky. Moralistic and sometimes too nice yet borderline evil. Clever yet dumb. Gifted at everything yet not very good at anything. Careless yet safe. Mature yet a six-year old. I am more distant from the world around me than anyone has ever been able to put into words. I am not part of the world. I am an onlooker of myself and care about next to nothing, and the things I care about are forced. I have a much different awareness than the rest of you. I see things as someone sees a character in a movie and, for some reason, I do not have much control over the outcome even though I am me.  Basically, I do not know myself at all. I know myself through whatever I have heard from friends who have tried to get to know me. My family does not know me at all. I am past the point of being indecisive. I do not make decisions. I try to “make a list of the positives and negatives” like you normal people do, but the degree of positive and negative changes in a matter of minutes, or the positives become negatives, so I just   make “decisions” to force myself into feeling conviction about something later, but it never works. An example of that on a large scale is the college I “chose” to attend. I have yet to “decide on” a career, or any path whatsoever at this point.

That’s me in a nutshell. It would be an interesting nutshell to crack open, you might think. This is what I hope to do.

I have a passion for many different things but I cannot find one, at all, in the world, to start pursuing.

I read a lot. I tend to gravitate toward existential works, mainly in the form of fiction; I understand better indirectly (as opposed to philosophical existential texts) and in a story format with real-life scenarios and thoughts and musings and dialogues of characters I relate to. I love Dostoevsky. He thinks rationally and logically. Our minds are extremely similar, but he has a better way of expressing himself.

I’ve traveled a lot. Driving is the way to go, and I like getting away from the big cities and touristy things, but sometimes finding a niche in the big city is just as fulfilling as finding myself alone watching the sun hit the waves and the trees beautifully along the Pacific Coast. I often am more anxious than happy to see nature at its finest because I do not know what to do with it. How do I capture it? Sometimes fulfillment only comes from looking at pictures after the fact, but in the moment, I cannot seem to find it.

Sometimes I have insomnia, and sometimes I sleep like a baby. It is 4 am, so you can probably guess what I am not doing. My posts will lack much organization at all, much like my mind, so I don’t really care. It might even get annoying at times. The mind of someone with ADHD, obsessive anxiety, social anxiety, and God knows what other neuroses (my new doctor is testing me next week for manic depression / bipolar disorder) is not exactly the easiest to follow.

I am writing this blog in order to find out a little about myself and to get a little practice writing. When I was a child, I had many stories published, won awards, etc. I always wanted to be an author and a paleontologist. I hope writing this on a somewhat regular basis will help reignite the passion I used to have for writing and the ease with which I let my imagination flow, because I do not plan on digging for dinosaur bones anytime soon.

I’ll pass on putting thought into making this post flow, so the next paragraph, I have decided, will be a quick note before I go.

I care about the people who care about me a lot more than they think, deep down.  I hope anyone who reads that knows it. I hope to write again soon. Maybe when I am really low, or really high, or absurdly tired, or procrastinating. Or just when I am normal. I have little clue what the non-extremes are like, though, so don’t expect the neutral side of me. On that note, goodnight.