The Quarter-Life Crisis of Normality

BEATING HEART

Normality (n).

The condition of being normal, the state of being usual, typical, or expected.

Isn’t that the universal dream? Our lives becoming existentially predictable that we almost expect things to be a certain way? I mean, I don’t know about you, but I wish I could sometimes expect when I’ll get a flat tire, speeding ticket, jury duty, that last phone call at work one minute before closing time, unexpected traffic jams on my way to work, or the like. The list is endless, really. But if everything had this overwhelming sense of normality, what would it mean for our sanity? I don’t know about you, but I’ve always favored the “I prefer a workplace to be spontaneous” rather than the “I prefer to know what’s going to happen at all times” answer during one of those application quizzes when applying for a job.

Normality is something of the American Dream. Actually, I’ll correct myself on that; I think all humanity wants pieces of normality in our lives. It’s exhausting to the soul having a steady bombardment of inconsistencies over and over again. Why do you think we buy homes? Start families? Get a job in the hopes we stay there for a couple years or more and move up? Our knowledge that life, by nature, is horrifically unpredictable makes us all minor (or major) control freaks.

I will admit openly that in my wildly unpredictable life, I scramble at times to find some piece of normalcy.

More and more, though, I find myself looking for a new normalcy; a fresh start, new “home base”, new experiences that differ from the past ones because they feel all too painful. I resent going to certain parts of Pittsburgh, my home for the past twenty-three years, because they remind me of people or times where happiness was free-flowing and careless. It’s a struggle, especially after hardships, to readjust and reform to a rapidly changing normal. Sometimes it feels like one massive responsibility that I never wanted.

I go to places a past love and I went to and find myself looking at the same spot we sat in/talked at/enjoyed while in the company of friends and others, feeling the gravity of that moment in time where I felt nothing but explicit happiness and love. I find myself stuck in the present moment where I’m struggling to juggle three knives: mourning, expectation, and happiness. While I mourn the memories and past happiness, I hold heavy expectation on myself to not always be caught in the riptide of sadness around people that bring me current happiness.

At the same time, if I didn’t have those memories and experiences, I wouldn’t be here writing this out into the great void of the Internet for all to have access to—to let you into my mind and release-share these pressuring feels.

Sometimes the reminder of abnormality hits me in unexpected places, as it did last night while I enjoyed fireworks with three friends of mine in downtown Pittsburgh.

We were close enough that I felt every explosion in my chest and reverberate throughout my rib cage. With each explosion, I was reminded of the past where things felt ‘normal’ and reminded me of this ‘new normal’ that I seek presently. That’s where my responsibility of reminding myself to be present in the happiness and company of others is so important. It’s something I’m working on, but it’s a slow process for me. Some of you might have this down a little sturdier than myself and I appreciate that. Others might not have this down at all, and I want to let you know I’m here for you every step of the way because the road is hard with a lot of speed bumps and road blocks—each unique to the next with their own set of rules to get past them.

There’s so much good music out right now and even though I’m looking to stay present in the small, scintillate pieces of happiness I come across, I’m listening to music that reminds me of past happiness. It’s not the sad-rip-your-heart-out-and-shut-the-world-out kind, but the kind where I’d travel alone to different cities, write adventurous stories, and think about the life-changing future I want for myself and the ones I love/know.

So, I’ll quote a song that is all about being wildly unsure of the future; whether it’s normal or abnormal, predictable or unpredictable, filled with happiness or struck with hardships. No matter what the future holds, stay in your present normality and feel the change around or accept the staleness of the present.

I don’t know where I’m going, but I know it’s going to be a long time. Cause I’ll be leaving in the morning with the white wine, bitter sunlight. I want to hear your Beating Heart, tonight. Before the bleeding sun comes to life. I want to make the best of what is left, hold tight. And hear my Beating Heart one last time. 

Song: Beating Heart by Ellie Goulding.

The Quarter-Life Crisis of Change: Part II

REPRISE

Sometimes I regret the things that I write.

But only because when I do, it feels damning.

Three weeks ago I wrote something that I penned “The most important blog post I’ve ever written.” The Quarter-Life Crisis of Change. It was the most important blog post, but the change that I swore I saw with incredible conviction was thwarted from my line of view. I have changed in a different way in the past three weeks, for the better I hope but could definitely be for the worst.

The change that I spoke of in that blog post was big change. I think, though, there were important parts that I vastly missed in writing and exploring when speaking of change. With a greater openness to these three aspects of change and my tail in between my legs, I want to humbly explore the part I naively missed.

Openness.

I mentioned this a little above, about my greater openness to these three aspects. It was something that I didn’t expect that I could do, assuming I was open to just about everything and receptive to it. Sadly and personally embarrassingly, my heart and soul was nowhere near as open three weeks ago as it is now.

This realization is incredibly hard to swallow like grape or cherry flavored cold medicine. Put it into terms you can understand; What is one thing you would be absolutely and undoubtedly terrified to learn about yourself? Something that everyone else can recognize about you that you are numbed to self-realizing. Would it be unknown selfishness? Oblivious judgement?

At my Monday-Friday 9-5 that barely pays the bills, we do call reviews since we talk to the outside world when they decide to call in. It’s work that I’m not used to, but I really don’t mind it at all. Maybe I would mind it if it was my forever job but Change tells me that this is only temporary. Anyways, during this call review one of my supervisors that carries out the reviews cracked a joke about how I have a slight Pittsburghese accent. For obvious reasons to me, my retort was quick and strong denial about this ‘incredible’ accusation. Why did I deny this? I don’t really know. Maybe it’s because I really don’t like the accent all that much—it’s crass and lazy. Not that I feel Pittsburghers that have the accent are crass and lazy, simply that it’s unique to our small existence here in and around the city and I just don’t favor the accent itself. But there you go, something I found out I’m oblivious to yet posses, and something others can see about myself (even if it’s just one person).

The biggest challenge in Openness to Change is doing so when you are hurting or struggling. At least for myself, I find this the hardest thing to obtain as I discover more about myself and look for the bigger picture. It’s human to want to guard yourself from others and the world around you. It’s comfortable that way because it feels as if we have some control over something, if anything, in our vastly shifting lives. But it’s also isolating and decomposes our soul from the willingness to help and reach out to others. Isolating yourself is okay to an extent. I prefer to become isolated but as long as I promise myself to keep major checks and balances to not lose grasp of the world and people around me. Which segues into the next major necessity of Change…

Responsibility.

If it didn’t feel like I had enough responsibility already in my rapidly unraveling life. Sometimes I find myself scrolling through Facebook and becoming envious of old high school classmates who finish college and are getting married, who really don’t seem to have anywhere near the amount of hardship as I had/have. Granted, I make sure to talk myself down off that exclamatory pedestal because I don’t know everything about anyone’s life just as no one knows everything about mine.

It plays into kindness, I think. How nobody knows every single aspect that goes on in anyone’s life. We all fight loud battles that others can hear all the while waging silent war with the pressures of our truths.

It’s our responsibility to remind ourselves of the importance of kindness to others, of making sure we help those who are visibly and invisibly in need. Keeping ourselves in one constant check and balance but not become consumed by the weight of that responsibility.

How can we do both?

Look around you. Look at what makes you happy. Look how you make someone else happy. Hike in the woods or in the city. Listen to your favorite music. Better yet, share your favorite music with someone that is important to you in your life. It’s principal to remind ourselves of the things that make us happy. Even more than that, though, it’s the best kind of responsibility of happiness when you focus a little of your energy every day in making someone else happy—stranger, friend, enemy, family, or love.

One last thing to talk about with Change which is the shortest section I’ll speak about.

Acceptance.

This is my greatest enemy out of the three. I can handle the pain of being open when I don’t want to be, I can add on layer after layer of heavy responsibility until I can’t breathe. I’ve done all those things before and I’ve survived. The biggest threat and greatest challenge with change is the Acceptance.

If there is anything that I admire/loathe about myself is my stubbornness.

I admire it because when I am stubborn in the things that I’m passionate about, the energy is clear, strong, and unprecedented. When everything else is so unsure in my life, I relish in the fact that my heart, soul, and mind create one direct line of light. This is how I pursue the things I love. Maybe to a fault, maybe to my advantage, I don’t really know.

I loathe this about myself because I can be overbearing and strong, but only because I’m overwhelmingly passionate about that one moment in my haphazard life. I’m overbearing in views of hope and promise—of love and greater purpose—of showing both ugly and beautiful sides of my soul to what or whom I’m passionate for.

I think this is why this blog is so liberating. I can be completely honest about the ugliest parts of me but also celebrate the beautiful scintillate pieces.

I’m still battling these two intense existences in my life: my stubbornness and the acceptance needed for change. The good thing, I guess, is that I’ve seen how allowing both Openness and Responsibility of Change into my life has demolished false shells and moved mountains for me. All that’s missing to become exactly what I feel I was made to be is the one thing I’m resenting most. Accept the things I cannot change.

Still, I have changed even without fully allowing acceptance in.

The permanent absence of two very important people in my life. One, my dad, I have began to accept a life without, and the other, Trey, who helped me get through that acceptance of a life without my dad and who also taught me to let love in again.

I think permanence is acceptance in disguise. If we can’t accept the idea of permanency then we will never fully change into the people who we’re supposed to be. So I guess I need to sit down in front of a mirror and really ask myself—

Do you want change or not? 

Song: Hell to the Liars by London Grammar

An Open Letter: Loss & Memories

 

TREY

I’m going to tell you a story this week.

My biggest struggle with this blog post was thinking about how I’d actually write it. Granted, I didn’t expect to be writing about you. 

Ten days ago, I lost someone who brought incredible light at my darkest. He inspired me to start this blog, to scream my feelings into this great open void where he said two things could happen and two things only:

  1. No one else, other than myself, would read it.
  2. It could touch an umpteen number of people and change their lives in some small/big aspect.

Let me start at the beginning and go back into our flash-in-a-pan moment of life.

Trey and I became Facebook friends, somehow, about a year or so ago. We didn’t speak much, but I lazily followed his posts and journeys, genuinely laughing at a few of his sarcastic, incredibly bright or straight up goofy posts. Our relationship really picked up pace after my dad passed this past December.

It was a softly written message…

“I know you’re going through a lot right now, and you don’t know me, but I wanted to say I saw about your Dad’s passing and I’m here if you need anything.”

The most surprising comfort in the entire world is when you are absolutely destroyed, at your lowest of lows, and the most random people reach out to you with their thoughts of kindness and warmth. Trey was that surprising comfort. He was the comfort I never knew I needed until he was sitting right in front of me, eyes flashing up from his phone and big smile on his face on the night we finally met up in person.

It was at a gay dive-bar called P-Town. Smokey, played obnoxiously loud show tunes (which I’m all for, but it was really just the volume that got to me) and the beer was cheap. He asked if I liked Yeungling and I said yes, even though I ate a big dinner before we met up on this extremely frigid February night. Although our attempts were strong at best, we failed to pull away from our pensively-driven conversation topics about coping, love, life, and loss. With a few beers in our system, full hearts from laughter, and heavy-to-light conversation, we parted ways. We parked near each other so he walked me to my car first, and turned towards me just as we reached it. He smiled with a sweet look of “Well?” on his face, arms wide open and pulled me into him. It was safe to say my heart felt like it was beating a million miles a minute and all I could do was awkwardly cackle when we both let go. We parted ways for the night and planned on him coming over the following week.

So Trey accidentally met my mom the first and only time he visited my house.

And although I preached for the entire day that it was totally accidental he still teased with a raised eyebrow and some soulful “mhmmmm”s. I mean, truth be told, it was totally accidental but I was nowhere near mad about it. The hard part was silencing my phone from how much my mom blew it up,gushing about him to me once she left. After I shared photos of my dad I had on a poster board I made for Dad’s Celebration of Life, we ended up trucking through half of Netflix’s “The OA” and passing out for at least four hours too long. Since the nap was unexpected, he woke up in a panic wondering what time it was and what was happening. It made me jump awake too, just as dazed, but once we realized how long we fell asleep for we both laughed it off and re-admitted that we were both literal trash cans. LOL/not LOL.

Afterwards, we met up with two of his friends at the Shady Grove in Shadyside, shared a pizza with I don’t even remember what was on it, and had a genuinely great time together. Without hesitation, his hand crept over to mine and we interlocked fingers. My fondness for him that I so desperately tried to stifle broke through the haphazardly-built emotional dam and flooded into my body that forced the muscles around my face to curl into the most honest smile. And that was where I admitted to myself that I liked him more than I wanted to admit, and although I was nowhere near looking to be with someone, this felt normal and mutual.

Our relationship grew stronger as the weeks passed, sprouting from winks to texts of “Do you want me to pick up anything before I come over?” And he’d reply “No, I just want you home :)”. I let myself get sucked into the riptide of him, completely engrossed in this airy feeling when everything felt heavy and dark over my dad’s unexpected passing. The brightest moment I can recall, since Dad passed, was the both of us in his kitchen cooking dinner. He played me some Spanish instrumental music with occasional vocals settling in the background.

“What do you usually listen to when you cook?” He asked me.

“Old-timey French music.” I said struggling to cut the vegetables he assigned me to chop for the roast.

“Put something on.”

So I put on J’ai Deux Amours by Madeleine Peyroux and continued to cut the vegetables completely the wrong way. He didn’t care, though. Trey’s hand met my back, pulling me away from prepping and we stood there in the middle of his kitchen, music playing in the background, and he pulled me closer into him. My head rested on his chest, because he was significantly taller than I, and we swayed gently back in forth to the music. His heart beat pulsated in my ear, warming my chest and it emanated what felt like way beyond the walls of his home.

Honestly? That’s all I want to share of our time together. I hope that’s okay…

I always wanted to get a photo of us together… but both of us were so engrossed in our time together, we didn’t care much about the outside world. To me, he was this incredible light. To him, I don’t really know… If anything at all, he made me feel that I was enough for him. Reading stories friends of his post on his wall, now that he’s passed, it warms my heart how much of an influence he was to others. He made so many other people, in country, out of country, right next door, three cities over, simply wherever his light touched—he made them feel enough. 

The last time that I saw him, we met for dinner before my birthday get-together down at Diamond Market in Market Square. We sat and caught up; it was a couple weeks since we saw each other but neither of us missed a beat of our energy and presence together. It was like no time had passed at all. I still remembered the sound of his heartbeat in his kitchen, and he still reached for my hand from across the table while he shared his adventures from the past couple days. We walked around the city, simply talking about everything and anything. About each other, while letting ourselves be fully engrossed in our togetherness. Before we parted ways, since he had a certification test the following morning, he gave me one thing; the rock pictured above.

“I remembered it was your birthday this week while I was on my hike the past weekend, I saw this rock and thought of you.”

Trey handed me the only tangible thing I have left of him, to ground me when the feelings become overwhelming and all I want to do is run away from everything and everyone. He taught me how to find peace when all I feel is chaos. He taught me to, even though it hurts and everything is always so unsure, let your light out so you can let people in.

Hell, I even remember lying next to him and tracing the bones on his hand one night after we watched a movie from the Criterion Collection, saying how he made me want to be a better person. He made everyone strive to be a better person, to be open, and love effortlessly and incredibly.

Trey selflessly made us all feel the vast importance of our existence.

And that is something all of us can only hope to forward to others around us. We are all hurting in different concentrations and levels—it reaches beyond the footprint of Trey’s light. It’s the world; we all are hurting. If there is one thing I will promise, for the rest of my life, I will follow in Trey’s extraordinary life and lead in selfless love to everyone. To reach beyond your own pain and touch the others around you.

Part of me doesn’t want this blog post to end. The other part needs it to end to begin the continuation of whatever my life will hold—to continue grieving the loss of such an incredible human being. So, as always, I will leave you with a song (one of Trey’s favorites, of course). But this time, I have a poem I made in the first hard night of many to come without him.

“TREY”

Tread water still—

Regard not the water that fills your lungs.

Even when you want to submerge yourself—

You will one day, some day, be mended.

Your “Terrible-Movie Partner” will miss you. Till we see each other again.

And most importantly, more than anything…

Thank you.

Song: Heartbeats by José González

The Quarter-Life Crisis of Change

STORM

I keep having this reoccurring dream—

Where I’m running across this incredibly large cement slab, away from light gray clouds and into dark, stormy ones. The wind’s so strong that it almost lifts me off the ground—it pushes back, trying to keep me in the light gray where it’s stagnant and suffocating. But even though it tries, I make it to the farthest utmost corner of this cement square and stop dead in my tracks. Now that I’m at the corner, on the edge of everything, I hear the storm asking me: What are you going to do, now? 

Am I going to stand there and walk back into suffocating light grays from where I ran from?

Or am I going to lean forward and fall off the edge of this everything, into the storm.

I never make it past this part of the dream. Somehow, I always end up waking up and never deciding to step off. Not that I have any control over my dreams in any sense of the word, I’m not that subconsciously gifted. The last thing I remember, always, is staring at the storm, watching the lightning crackle across the sky in thick veins that cut through the black-blueish clouds. I feel the wind hit against my body and watch the light gray diminish behind me into dark. It brings back a very odd, but not uncommon, fear I had when I was a child; wind (specifically at night time).

I remember my dad was very aware of this fear when he’d scream “Dorothy!” if we were outside at night and the wind was especially strong. I’d “yell” back at him but he’d just laugh. He even did it when I was a grown ass man and it made me laugh more than yell in fear, even if the weird fear was still there, watered down and muted.

This dream had me thinking a lot after it ended. Why would this be reoccurring? It’s such a rare thing, I think, for dreams to keep coming back. Only if it’s deeply routed in your subconscious, with some otherworldly meaning that only your subconscious knows and keeps hidden from you for whatever reason: to protect yourself, probably. Still, I don’t really know.

But then I saw the spiders.

If you know me, if there is any sort of bug anywhere, flying/crawling/big/small, I scream like a little girl and make sure I go nowhere near  it. I create this six-foot personal bubble for the insect and walk A R O U N D it. Unless it’s in my home. Then I put two of my shoes on my hands and hit every part of the wall other than the bug. Ugh. Why am I like this. But the spiders..

Over the course of one, yes I said one, day I saw six spiders in various places in my home. This is incredibly uncommon, truthfully. Extremely uncommon. There’s more of a chance to see stinkbugs in my home rather than spiders. The first was in my laundry room which wasn’t so weird because the door to the outside is right there. I killed it because it was holding my laundry hostage. The second was by my shoe, just as surprised to see me choose those shoes to wear that day because I hadn’t in a while. It met a very quick demise considering I already had my weapon of choice in my hand. Third spider was in the bathroom on the wall. Nope, nope, and nope. Sorry, bud. Fourth was actually outside of my home, but on the bricks of my home so it was too close to my face, and it met its creator ruhl quick. Fifth was when I walked upstairs to my bedroom to veg out of Netflix and danced along the wall when I got too close which made me see the damned thing. My boot met its face. And last, but not least, and luckily the smallest of the six, I laid on my bed thoroughly perturbed from the spider slaughter, one little guy decided to descend from the ceiling like a badass but, yet, in front of my face, so I threw my body off my bed and crawled over to my boots, put both on my hands, and went hunting.

It was firstly terrifying, but after the sixth spider (I am sorry, spiders, but you can’t just turn up out the blue, uninvited) it felt too much of a coincidence. Naturally, I am a spiritual person, and I like to think that things have a greater meaning—so this whole spider ordeal had to mean something. Right? I looked up the meaning of seeing frequent spiders.

To connect both stories, the dream and the spiders, I’m going to tell them in order of what I think it means presently. One word:

CHANGE.jpg

The dream isn’t all that hard to figure out a meaning. Don’t get me wrong, it took a lot of days eating salad alone at Point State Park, walking alone around the city, driving aimlessly until I realized wasting gas was probably not the best thing to do until the most sound meaning crept its way into my awakened, self-reflective conscious.

Whether it be spiritual change or physical, worldly change, it’s going to happen. I’m nearly staring it in the face—like I stand at the edge of that cement slab and watch the storm heading directly for me in my dream. The wind is my fear, my troubles, my grief trying to stop me from feeling the raw power of change and letting it smack into me like a wall of water releasing from the clouds and slamming into the city cement on a humid summer day. Inside, desperately and viciously, I want that wall to hit me and I want to embrace the change that is so close to see that I can literally feel the humidity dropping inside my strung up, heavy, emotional-troubled, and deprived subconscious.

When I looked up the meaning of seeing frequent spiders, literally in the span of one day, I found something that was scarier than I’d like to admit. Not that it’s dangerous, but just that it’s scary to consider that both elements are very present in my fragile world right now.

Just as the spider weaves a web, so too must we weave our own lives. The spider symbol meaning here serves as a reminder that our choices construct our lives. When the spider appears to us, it is a message to be mindful of the choices we are making.

AVIA VENEFICA

Well isn’t that the scariest fucking thing I’ve ever come to realized. My change is on the brink of closure, and it will be strong and fierce like the storm in my dream—but at the same time, I must be mindful in the choices I make, as the spiders show me.

I can sense how important this change will be for my life, how it will define me in one of the biggest life-changing moments since my dad had passed six months ago today. I see the choices I must make and how it could potentially deconstruct a lot of the safe webs I’ve created for myself. But in creating those safe webs, I’ve entangled myself in a stagnant humidity that leaves me begging for a storm to come and destroy them so I can start again.

Some of these decisions that I am presently facing will make a lot of the people that I love angry. I already know it. And I hesitate in telling the most important people the potential for the changes I feel that I must make, even if it directly affects them. It makes me feel like a child again, scared outside in the wind.

I am ready for change. I am ready for the storm to hit. Hell, I’m even running toward the storm. I’m hungry for it.

The best part? You will be experiencing it here, firsthand, on this blog. Stock up on your bread, milk, eggs, and lunch meats at your closest Kuhns because a storm’s coming and it’s going to shake you.

Are you ready?

Song: Don’t Kill My Vibe, by Sigrid.

The Quarter-Life Crisis of Deep Days

PLATFORMS

It’s a rainy Wednesday, and I will admit I have that chemical imbalance where weather mildly affects my mood. But it’s a lot more than just the weather…

When I say mildly, I genuinely mean mildly. Also, I don’t mean that if it’s sunny in the morning I’m happy, and if it starts to rain an hour later I’m sad. It’s not that sensitive. More so, I’m struggling today in particular in regards to a lot of things.

So, I dubbed today as one of my “Deep Days”, or, in other words, my sad/pensive/self-reflective/quiet days. Not all of those at the same time, more of a pick one and you’ll probably be right in describing my day.

I woke with an anxiousness and an extreme tiredness. Many parts of me have been tired, both physical and non-physical, but a lot are hopeful. Those little scintillating pieces of light are what keep me going. Think of it like an antique mirror, where the reflective parts underneath the glass are chipping away over time. I’m feeling that a lot, lately.

It kind of brings me back to my first post about being the truest INFP; As a “Mediator” we form to our surroundings, instead of projecting our own surrounding for others.

Personally, I kind of like forming to the projection of others. And it’s one of my best qualities, I think, where as others might see it as something that is negative. I don’t really get that, I see it as a personality and friendship building skill. Granted, as a Mediator, my friend circle is small, it’s the acquaintances that I excel in becoming accustomed with.

Example: one of my best friends, she gives me peace, joy, togetherness, happiness, and laughter. She gives me Hygge when most of my life is dangerously out of Hygge. So when I’m near her, I form to her weather she projects from herself and it makes me stronger. This is only one of the many reasons why I genuinely love her as a person. Even if she doesn’t know it, she lets me know that I’m absolutely never alone.

This doesn’t mean that I’m wildly never myself around anyone ever. I’m most definitely 100% myself at all times around anyone. It’s most effective to be that way, instead of projecting yourself falsely to others because a show can only last so long before the game is up and you’re left with someone who doesn’t know you, and more dangerously, you come to realize you don’t even know yourself. 

In most dire times of crisis, what do you have once everything is taken away?

Who you gonna call when everything is falling to pieces, you’re alone, and you absolutely have to adult. Definitely not Ghostbusters. What about family? What if you don’t want to go to family? Friends? What if you don’t want to continue burdening them with your issues? What storm are you going to form to, if you only have your own?

There are many ways to alleviate this seclusion crisis that come with Deep Days. Mostly, it ends with me going through a mental list of things I appreciate about myself or that I have accomplished. I’ve lost so much, and furthermore experienced so much more than I’ve lost. I am thankful for both, because it will strengthen me as a person when I’m left in the calm after the storm. For the time being, I need to take the waves as they crash which can wear a person down to the wire. Sometimes, at some point, you will snap. I’ve snapped already, more than once. And I feel another one coming on, but the good thing is that I’ve learned how to control the process of snapping, come to realize the warning signs of the snap, and know how to effectively mute the force exerted from the initial snap. So, here I am, writing this post to alleviate the pressure so my wire doesn’t snap.

Best thing to do if you’re having a Deep Day is to evaluate how you can self-soothe your sores.

It’s almost like crisis planning, where you know what to do in the event of a fire or power outage. It’s the same thing, only that you do it for your own mental sanity. When you’re tired of forming to other people’s storm, or tired of projecting your own storm, you whip out your Deep Day Crisis Plan and follow the steps, as you would any emergency guide. Eat a cookie/brownie or twelve. Eat a scoop, or two, of ice cream. Why stop at two? Go for the whole tub! Write your heart out, sing your heart out to some pensive music or bubbly-pop-summer-hit that you just can’t help but to smirk to. Act stupid in your car as you sing, too, because every song needs choreography and you don’t have time to snatch back-up dancers for your self-soothe extravaganza.

Another important piece is reminding yourself that this is just a day and it will end. Even if it’s a string of Deep Days, or a Deep Week, or even a Deep Month; when the time comes, it will absolutely subside.

Everyone’s plan is different, but they are all so incredibly important. If you end up being a part of someone’s plan. it might be beneficial to both parties to never deny this role. Come to understand it, and listen listen listen. This could save someone’s wire from snapping and causing emotional damage for both parties involved. But be cautious of your own capacity to handle crisis. Not everyone, myself included, is equipped to take on someone else’s crisis. Even if you’re related, almost like you’re related, not related at all but close, or simple acquaintances.

This is only step one of my Deep Day Crisis Plan…

But, like my coworker told me:

Turn that frown upside down! Could be worse… you could be ugly!

It isn’t the most reassuring, but the laugh helped..

Till the next crisis, guys and gals.

Song: Full Circle by HÆLOS.

The Quarter-Life Crisis of the Future

FUTURE

You know what would be super helpful? If I could pull a Raven and see the fucking future. That would be swell.

*Sigh*.

Today has been a day. It’s Saturday evening. How about that? I traded my early morning writing session Saturdays for evening time writing session Saturdays because my sister showed up to my home this morning and kindly knocked on my door to wake me from my ugly-sweaty slumber. No AC is rough. But I was incredibly thankful to see her this morning and spend some quality sister-time with her.

Instead of my usual Saturday morning vanilla latte, I traded it for a cold Riesling and I regret no parts of it. Other than I genuinely cannot afford the luxury of a glass of wine really, right now, so I’m just going to say fuck it and TREAT MYSELF. Because today has been a fucking day. Why? Let’s do a quickie quickie recap.

So, I waited patiently all morning for my paycheck to come in the mail and as the mailman trekked up the incredibly steep hill that my house is planted on, he walked up to me with a smile as I sat there, on a metal bench my dad solo-hauled up said hill by himself, with a smile on my face that only the knowing of money coming your way, and also you’re poor, could produce. He handed me two pieces of mail; A light bill, and coupons for fucking Marlboro. So, side note, I don’t smoke so I just kindly hand them off to my brother or sister, but I signed up for the coupons because of my two-exes ago. It’s hard to keep track, I apologize… Woof.

Anyways, so super bummed my paycheck didn’t come in the mail. Like super fucking bummed. And as I dazedly got into my car and started to drive to meet my sister at my brother’s work in the city. I accidentally and absentmindedly made a left on a busy South Hills highway going the opposite direction. It ended me at my bank in a plaza down the road from my house, right next to the Starbucks I used to slave away at, and walked in to a kind lady, we’ll call her Patricia because I completely forgot her name because fuck today, that walked up to me and asked if I needed assistance. Maybe it was the desperate deer-in-the-headlights stare I had on my face at the overwhelming line forming at the teller section of the tiny bank, or maybe it was destiny. I doubt the latter, but boy did she probably regret picking me out of the line of people like she did once she got me into her office and the glass door closed behind.

I’ll truncate some of this fluff because it’s a lot of info yinz don’t need to know about estate accounts…

But basically it ended with me crying in Patricia’s office as she uncomfortably sat at her computer, clacking away trying to scrounge for these documents I submitted to them back in February. So I broke down. In a bank. In one of those fancy-looking offices. And I had to eat my shame and try to talk clearly because I just was snapping internally. It wasn’t cute, and I have sooooo many regerts* about it but hey. Patricia was a solid sport about it, and started talking about her daughter who moved here and graduated from Pitt and said how 26 is a great year because you’re figuring shit out and can go to the bars and such. Patricia, my Pocono Mountain Queen, you spoke to the low-key alcoholic inside me and gave me life to pick up my overwhelming shame tears and “perk the fuck back up, buttercup”.

So why did I cry in a bank? Truthfully, I thought about the past and it kind of weakened me in the knees a little. Not in the way that you would think that’s good; like looking at a man you are head-over heels for (that really doesn’t know you because you’re creepy and have been stalking him via Facebook/at the bar/his IG account because you are trash and can’t help yourself). I promise that the example I gave in parenthesis never happened at any point in time. Scouts honor. What the fuck am I talking about, I never was a boy scout? LOL/not LOL.

But what made the waterworks hesitantly start trickling out was my desperate need for the future, and my slight remembrance of the past.

Lately, I’ve been listening to “Kids” by OneRepublic and it takes me back to the plane ride to the Dominican Republic where I slipped in my headphones for my first international flight, ever, and I felt so happy. Things were different less than a year ago, and I wasn’t happier at that moment. It’s just what it was. I felt incredibly free, and privileged to be able to do some incredible things; travel, experience new foods, places, people, and things. It was amazing.

Then what made everything so much worse was I thought of the common 23 year old and thought about what they would be doing right now. Then, obviously to make things worse because I’m terrible (LOL but really…) I compared myself to the image I made in my head.

Truly? What I want more than anything? I want to be able to feel free again. I want the promise of the future to drown out my incredibly heavy emotional and financial and life responsibility. But Isn’t that adulthood? Maintaining responsibility and keep on keeping on? Ignoring the stark problem like a frozen fish snatched right out the ice box at Wholey’s in The Strip District and smacked across your rosy, beautiful, and ageless face.

Yes. Yes it is. But also, no. No it’s not.

I think we, as young adults, are scrutinized quite frequently for thinking we need to leave our toys at the door and proceed with a dark, black-white-and-gray view of the world. I’m a slight hypocrite and carry myself like I burned my toys in a fire pit in the wilds of Pittsburgh-Suburbia and fled to the city to be merrily gay and super professional.

The sad part? I actually believed it, kind of; my show; the face I wore for a while and that I’m simply tired of wearing. I understand the necessity of responsibility and acting like an adult when it is necessary, but I think I need to learn, as many other young adults and full-grown adults alike, to know when to be a kid again.

One of my favorite lines in “Kids” by OneRepublic is…

I refuse to look back thinking days were better just because they’re younger days.

You know what? I couldn’t fucking agree more. I should refuse to think that, because its a common misconception between us grown-folk. 

I need to teach myself that responsibility is responsibility. Just like a big project you have to do for school or proposal for work, it will eventually end and life will grade you regardless if you want it to or not. One of the best parts is that, usually, the grading scale is curved and if you fucked up real bad and are about a D or dangerously close to an F, it can be bumped up to a C, B, and if your super optimistic, an A depending on your state of mind and psyche.

Remember that there are a lot of people in your shoes. You are not alone, ever, no matter how dark your present is. You future will be much brighter, even if the storm doesn’t feel like it’s going to end any time soon. As much as a good time will end, a bad time will end, too. Just have to take the waves as they come and ride it out.

You’ll get that feeling again, back when we all were kids.

Till next week, kids. The “Future”. For now, though, I’m going to finish my Riesling and search the web for a meme or two. Maybe I’ll take another walk or something. Who knows? Is the future I cannot see.

See what I did there?

Song: Kids, by OneRepublic.

The Quarter-Life Crisis of Happiness

HAPPINESS

Happiness.

Yeah, I want to talk about this today.

The euphoric high you get that forces your face muscles to contract and curl into the most beautiful smile (and yes, whoever you are reading this, your smile is beautiful); The electric shock to your heart that makes it beat a million times faster than normal, and beat a trillion times stronger against your chest.

Is your happiness a person? Is it a place? Something you can buy or physically grab with your hands? It could be all of those things, yet none of them at the same time.

Who hasn’t been happy before? There is not one person on this Earth that has never felt happiness, whether it is scarce now or more frequent than before in your life. Mine comes and goes, and it’s all things people, places, ideas, tangible things, shit you can buy, and shit that doesn’t cost a damn thing.

Nowadays, in my most important crises that I face, I find it hard to find happiness. Even in things I enjoy, like writing, because my skies have been dark for so long and the happiness that comes is gone just as fast, and that is a hard life-pill to choke down. I know, it sounds pessimistic. I promise I’m not being overtly dramatic but, it is something I’m finding to be my constant more and more. But then life surprises me. Hell, I even surprise myself.

Even in the darkest moments, happiness can unexpectedly hit you like a blow to the chest.

I went to 5801 by myself the other night. For all you not well versed in the Pittsburgh Gayniverse, 5801 is a gay bar in the East part of the city. Not a bad place! It has this decent outdoor seating area and everything. Pretty rad.

But, as I sat there sipping my vodka sprite (yes, I’m one of those people) and was eyed up by a multitude of people, I assumed this would be it for me for the night. Let me just say that this makes me completely uncomfortable because my social skills are at about a -12, and my compliment-accepting skills are even sadder, but a lovely person came up to me and sat down with a friendly wave. He was tall, and head to toe dragged up, and one of the most prominent queens of Pittsburgh; I assumed I was totally out of my league because of how awkward I am as an individual.

Things didn’t progress as to how I assumed. I don’t think it was really fair to him that I thought I was out of my league. As much as I hate when people assume things about me, I guess I did the same thing with him and already counted myself out because of the incredible confidence he emanated from his very being. It was breathtaking and unforgettable. It was refreshing. We talked for hours, drank for more, and shared mac n’ cheese and I regret no parts of the Britney Spears grilled chicken tenders we, also, ordered from the restaurant down the road. Most importantly, it was happiness.

I went out to be lonely and alone; self-soothe my sadness with some alcohol and to be surrounded by pretty people that would only glance from afar; where you can’t really tell the difference between checking you out or forming their own judgments silently from afar. And then he showed up and switched that whole pity-party around. He may not have known it at the time, or may not even know it now, but he made me feel like I belonged. He showed me, in the short hours we had to hang out and share pieces of each other, that happiness is unexpected; the best kind and most unforgettable type of happiness. He seemed genuine, and I think that’s what I appreciated most, even more than the unexpected happiness.

So, You. Yes, You, the one who surprised me most of all, thank you. And I still owe you dinner.

Happiness is the cup of coffee you get with your best friend to escape a very uncomfortable, unplanned non-dinner-dinner party.

I’ll keep this very low-key, because I’m almost positive some of them might read this one day, or already do read it, B U T! Happiness is the simple fact that you cannot fake smarts over politics and science and math, and you get to have an absolutely beautiful human being sitting next to you that is right there with you. Everyone needs a happiness that is on their level. We deserve to have that someone, and I am thankful for the fact that I can honestly and confidently say I had that person next to me while her and I briefly escaped for a coffee break away from a very intense dinner conversation/atmosphere.

Thank you for giving me happiness. You know who you are, and I absolutely adore you. And I am definitely still your #1 fan always, truly, madly, deeply.

Happiness is ripping out your hair (LOL because I’m already bald) over the thing you love most.

You know exactly what this is. It’s not even a person, actually, and I type this with a slight bitterness to it because my hands and feels and brain aren’t working in tandem as of recent. Writing has been super difficult. I feel ready to write, but then when I’m sitting at my laptop, I get distracted or the words flow for about three words then everything stops like I hit a wall. But even though I want to rip my hair out most days/nights while I write my feelings and life crises to the world, the happiness of finally finishing a post or chapter brings the greatest happiness. All of the frustration makes it worth it, even if I think it’s not my best writing. Sometimes, it’s just what it is. And that’s okay. This cloud never stays long.

There’s a dark side to this whole “Happiness” thing.

Anyone who has ever experienced happiness has experienced great sadness, too. It’s just a fact we need to accept. We don’t have to be happy about it, but we do have to accept it because no happiness lasts forever. Unlike Tove Lo, you can’t stay high all the time. It’s normal and natural to fluctuate, and you should either be content with fluctuating by yourself, or either find someone who understands your fluctuations. They’re out there, I promise.

Everything that is good must come crashing down. I think, even though it sucks balls, it’ll be easier to deal once we accept that. I’m still trying to accept that. I’m also working on trying to understand when to let happiness inside because that can be dangerous too, for me at least.

As I preach over and over again, be open and kind and accepting. Of everything and everyone. If you’re exceptionally low, get high however gets you high: coffee, vodka sprites, talking, loving, laughing, joking, or simply anything your lil’ heart desires. Because you deserve it! T R E A T Y O’ S E L F!

Till next time, loves.

Song: Downtown by Majical Cloudz.