What Eternal Sunshine Taught 15 Year Old Me About Love

Movies and Books

A crestfallen, middle-aged man stumbles toward the exit of the bookstore at which his girlfriend works, crushing in one fist a necklace he’d bought her for Valentine’s. As he crosses the threshold, the lights fizzle out and the walls converge, morphing into the cramped living room of a grimy apartment in which his friends regretfully inform him that his now ex had erased him from her memory. It’s probably the most beautiful and heartbreaking scene transition I have ever seen—maybe ever will.

Out of all the poignant sequences Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind offers, this is the one that resonated with me most upon my first of four viewings. It stuck with me because it terrified me. At 15, I knew nothing about love and the control it has over the landscape of our thoughts. At 15, I had no desire to experience such a destructive and (in my naïve little head) overrated force, until I saw Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) stagger into that living room, shoulders hunched and eyes hollow, exuding shock waves of grief and vengeance. It was my first glimpse at just how suddenly and completely love can crumble, and how powerless we are to its crumbling. I was intrigued—no, addicted.

Oblivion terrifies me. To be eradicated from the consciousness of a planet to which I’ve literally devoted my entire existence is the saddest yet most inevitable thing I can imagine. To be eradicated from the consciousness of a person to whom you’ve devoted your heart—and invested an unwarranted belief in everything transcendent and beautifulis too cruel for words. Yet, there’s also a paradoxical sense of wonder to all this bleak bullshit, because the convergence of two souls is in fact the most transcendent and beautiful thing imaginable. Joel loved Clementine so much that he couldn’t remember a self without her; they were so connected that he had to eradicate her from his own consciousness to fill the void within it.

15 year old me was terrified of how much I craved that connection for myself. I still haven’t fallen for anyone the way Joel and Clementine fell for each other. I still want to as much as I did six years earlier because, really, how else do you defy oblivion other than by leaving an indelible imprint on somebody else’s mind? The perpetual nightmare of reality doesn’t grant you memory-erasing machines. If you get fucked, you carry those scars forever, but at least you know that someone, somewhere will always bear some remnant of your soul–no matter how small, no matter how bitter. And that’s pretty fucking neat.

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Uninspired, but at peace

My Awesome Life, Uncategorized, Writing

I’m on the cusp of a profound transition, arguably the most significant one in modern life: crossing the threshold from 20 to 21.

My grand initiation into the 21 Club is scheduled on Pi Day, which may be more than 50 days away, but I thought I might as well reflect on and immortalize in writing the bizarre and uninspiring person I’ve grown into over the last two decades.

The first 20 years of my life have been a collage of confused decisions, abandoned resolutions, disillusioned attempts down various career paths, and random epiphanies about both myself and the world around me.

My teenage years revolved around an emotional pendulum rooted at equilibrium, refusing to even flirt with either extreme. I’ve been frustrated and lost, hovering in a purgatory of mediocrity and indifference for the better part of the last four years. I’ve been sad but never heartbroken, I’ve been happy but never ecstatic, and I’ve dated but never in love. At times I feel like I’m incapable of feeling anything to the fullest extent, like anything I experience will only be a dimmer version of what others have already felt. I love writing–always will–but I’ve never felt that scorching thirst to sew my dreams into narratives, never been inspired enough to write for hours on end until the sun bled into the horizon and hours bled into days. Can I ever feel as passionate about anything as professional athletes do about winning a damn trophy, or as actors do about, well, acting? Can I ever commit to anything?

My state of mind is the Jamie xx album, “In Color”—not any particular track but snippets of the entire album. In electronic music, we anticipate drops. We dig bangers that take us on pulsating mind trips and emotional roller coaster rides. The spectacular is what expect from life, too, and if we don’t get it, we lash out: “I didn’t deserve this. I just thought there’d be more.” When the going gets tough, we tell ourselves to hang in there, push through the pain and wait for eminent arrival of better days. I think that’s been my attitude for the majority of my adolescent years: You haven’t seen shit. Just wait for the bass to drop.

The bass never drops in “In Color.” It’s just an impressionistic painting of intelligent beat-making and ethereal atmospherics, delicate but brimming with wonder. Some tracks (“Far Nearer,” “Loud Places”) bottle a fountain of youthful emotions–optimism, desire, dread, yearning–into a quiet and exquisite world of gentle, fluttering synth sequences and stirring vocals. “Gosh” builds up to a two-minute climax of lush keyboard soundscapes that douse you with euphoria and hope. On the other side of the spectrum, “Stranger In a Room” envelops you in spellbinding warmth using minimal percussion beats against deep baselines, hinting that life can be okay without staggering achievements or life-changing revelations.

Electronic music is an enormous and expanding world of countless sub-genres that defy categorization. Bangers comprise a recognizable but very small part of that world; extraordinary milestones comprise but a small part of ours. I’ve been so lost and frustrated that my youth–the most exciting years of my life–has so far been defined by a maddening indifference, and that I couldn’t find the motivation to reach my full potential to make my parents proud.

But maybe I’ve been asking too much. The way we package our emotions determines the way we experience them. I’ve never been euphoric about anything, but I’ve been happy about plenty: getting into college, road-tripping with mom, feeding my dog, hanging out with friends. I just need to believe that happiness can give me the same satisfaction as euphoria. I’ve never been obsessed with writing, but I want to write and I’ll continue doing so, inspired or not. What if you don’t need to live life to the fullest to be at peace with it? I’m not in love with life, but I feel lucky to be alive and to live this life.

I doubt much will change about my appearance or attitude 12 months from now. Maybe I’ll be single and jobless at 25; maybe I’ll be profiling Leonardo DiCaprio for Vanity Fair. I can’t see either happening, but I have always been dreadful at predicting the trajectory of my life. And I’m still young. I want to believe that one day I will fall in love with life.

 

Dream as if you’ll live forever, Live as if you’ll die today

My Awesome Life

We’re responsive creatures, always yearning for some kind of carnal or spiritual fulfillment. So many of our conversations are dedicated to that one question: What makes us feel alive? For me it’s neither people nor adventures. It’s the shapes and colors that make up a city I love.

When I took a semester off in Cali, all I could think about was how much I missed NYC and how exciting it would be to blog about college life there. But four months after I returned to NYU I’ve only written four posts on my adventures here in the Big Apple. Ostensibly it’s because I just haven’t had the time. In reality it’s because I’ve kind of lost confidence in my writing. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good a writer as I would like to be, and I certainly don’t think I’m good enough to capture the sense of wonder I feel every time I step out onto the streets.

I’ve experienced no shortage of epiphanies walking on the same blocks, seeing the same things in different ways. Paradoxes run riot: tattoo parlors next to corporate banks, museums sandwiched by takeouts, apartments stacked atop liquor stores, and chains of buildings in alternating colors – black, tan, maroon – adorned by staircases twisting like rusty vines. It’s homogeneous yet dynamic, indifferent yet inviting. None of it makes any sense yet it all feels so right.

It’s a convoluted maze with a constellation of neon lights and no exit. Horizontal and vertical lines converge to make intersections that look exactly the same whether you’re in FiDi or Dumbo. You’re lost every time you’re out, but you never feel more at home. Last night I was strolling through Washington Square Park in the nicest weather in a long, long time, and I see the arch–silver silhouette inked against the black sky–illuminating the fountain and everyone around it. It was just so liberating. In that moment I actually felt so blessed to be alive. And I just couldn’t help wondering: Why then? I’ve seen that sight countless times in the past year and a half, and I’ve walked through the park in every weather, every hour. But that moment last night was the only time I’ve felt that kind of relief, the only time that those random bursts of sadness and rage I experience everyday felt so far away.

Despite the incurable bleakness of life and the shittiness of human nature, the world itself is still as sublime a vision as you will ever imagine. That vision alone is worth the effort of waking up every morning with a smile. It’s far more beautiful than life is ugly. It’s far more sincere than people are fake. Loving a place is far more satisfying than hating everything else.

Live with hope and live with love, if only for your surroundings. Find somewhere you love. See as much as you can before it’s too late.

Disillusionment, Love Potions, and that Obsession with the Unattainable

Musings/Rants, Relationships and Shit

So I just read this from a NY Times article:

“A few months ago, I read several articles touting the health benefits of writing in a deeply personal way. Studies had shown that writing introspectively on a regular basis can lead to lowered blood pressure, improved liver function and even the accelerated healing of postoperative wounds. The study’s subjects had been told to write for short periods each day about turbulent emotional experiences.”

Interesting. I know from experience that writing in a personal, introspective way can exorcise the darkest of demons, but I didn’t know it has been confirmed by science. That’s encouraging, I guess, because part of me thinks it’s kind of toxic to ponder so deeply and frequently on all the bizarre and bleak truths of life. ANYWAY. That was a passage from the Times’ Modern Love section, which features some of the best essays I have ever read. 1500 words, packed with the optimism of finding love, the relief of losing it, the joys and misery of fighting through it. And those stories – bitter, furious, grateful, and so, so raw – just made me realize that I’d never been in love and never felt anything nearly as beautiful or devastating as they have.

Is that a terrible thing to say? I sure feel a bit guilty writing it down, considering that I’ve had memories and experiences that warranted those feelings. Deserved them. Demanded them, even. But everything is relative, and compared to people who wrote those stories, I really don’t know anything. I thought I did. I thought I knew what love is, how it feels like, and what it could do, but the problem is just you don’t see shit when you’re in the middle of it. It’s hard to know that you’re letting staccato bursts of joy overtake your ability to see how glaringly toxic your relationship really is. And maybe that’s a good thing, because I know that the best is still ahead of me.

Assuming that everyone has some epic love story written into their palm lines ofc. I’m not sure we all do. We speculate on the future with a dizzying mix of dread and excitement. They’re so closely interwoven that it’s hard to define one without mentioning the other. And with them there’s always uncertainty. Am I going to get into Yale? Am I going to make it into the music industry? Am I going to get knocked over by a scooter

Yet when it comes to love, questions don’t start with “am I going to.” Instead you get the 5Ws. What do you look for in a guy/girl? Where do you want to get married at? What kind of person do you see yourself with? Who can make you happy? 

They’re not bad questions, but what right do we have to feel so sure that love is meant for everyone? It’s not even about finding the Harry to your Sally. What if some of us never meet anyone, never fall in love, never know what it feels like to hate someone so fucking much that you’d shove a champagne bottle up your ass and fake your own murder just to ruin his life (yeah, my inner Amy Dunne’s back)? What if we really do die alone?

If that’s the case, do we only have ourselves to blame? Is it because we’re too shallow or too idealistic or too indifferent? It’d be easier if that’s the case because at least we have control over our flaws. I don’t believe it’s all about us. It takes a lot to foster connection and turn spark into fire. Circumstances have to work with you, chance has to work with you, people have to work with you. Not everyone can get all three on his/her side. I certainly can’t. Maybe that’s because I’m awkward as fuck and freak out every time I have to socialize with people.

I’m not saying I’ve given up on pursuing that intoxicating whirlwind romance that everyone should experience at least once per lifetime. I’m going to chase it, and I’m going to believe that it’s still in the cards for me because that’s pretty much all we have. Chasing is living. That briefest moment just before yearning becomes fulfillment is pure euphoria.

But I don’t expect it to happen. I just hope it does.

Profound Bitchings Part 3: Fear of Commitment vs. Fear of Abandonment

Relationships and Shit

They’re the same thing, if you think it through. It’s a cause and effect relationship centered around this obnoxious, unnecessary, nonexistent phenomenon called love. Fear of Commitment (FoC) is just a fancy term for Fear of Abandonment (FoA). We may think FoC is caused by FoA, but they’re really more intertwined than sequential.

Okay, I’ll drop the big words and confusing syntax and give you an example:

Boy A is ratchet af. Frat parties are his nights, and hangovers are his mornings. He doesn’t do relationships cuz he thinks he’s some hot shit too busy to deal with drama. He doesn’t do love cuz he thinks he’s some tough shit too damaged to ever feel emotionally alive again.

Enter Girl A. (There is no Boy B or Girl B so I honestly don’t know why I’m labeling them that way). Christian. Prude. 40-year-old virgin. Everything he’s not, which obviously makes them soul mates. They meet on Okcupid and fall in love instantly cuz she’s a creepy ass cougar and he’s into creepy ass cougars.

The catch: He lives in Scotland and she lives in Ohio. At first they skype and send nudes to each other constantly, then FoC creeps in. Questions attacked them from every angle: Where is this going? How are we ever going to meet? Is there even a chance of me getting laid?

Skepticism piles in. Skype convo taper off into uncomfortable silences. Message threads condensed to one word responses with deminishing interest. But the feelings never faded. They just never got a chance to show their worth.

Keep in mind that I’m using the word “abandonment” in a very broad sense. It could be rejection, heartbreak, failure, not working out. Although long-distance and a lack of physical interaction is a legitimate reason to shun commitment, most of the time FoC comes from a pretty selfish place. It’s more an excuse to be a promiscuous asshole than a defensive mechanism. I’m pretty sure being kicked in the balls feels a bit more like death than some bitch calling out someone else’s name while you were giving it to her. Game of Thrones hurt me more times and more deeply than any man ever has (which, admittedly, is not many because no one can stand my awkward, self-pitying ass).

We can handle it. We’ll walk out of it  battered and bruised and really fucking pissed off, but we’ll recover just fine because we in our hearts we know that failed relationships were meant to fail for the right one to find us. We’re not really afraid to be hurt, but we are afraid to be too invested. Investment means work, and work’s not cool.

Nonchalance is. And that’s what FoC is all about – the fear of losing that nonchalance to love.

K gotta board my plane now. After a 3 hour delay. I’ll may come back and elaborate that ending, but probably not because I don’t even know what I’m talking about.

The Girl

Bedtime Stories/Fiction

There once lived a girl
With a head full of curls,
Once nice, naive, and neat,
Turned out to be a compulsive cheat.
In love she bravely fell,
But never cured was her curse from hell.
Five marriages ended in divorce,
Still she felt no remorse.
Proudly she marched on,
With her whiskey and her bong.
On the eve of her 40th year,
Singlehood she could no longer bear.
A ring and dress she bought,
Along with flowers and silicone breasts,
To commence a marriage with herself.
Men and women she still screwed,
But all the same her marriage thrived.

Hence the moral of this glorious tale is that the one and only soul mate a woman will ever find is herself because, let’s be honest, no previously discovered living organism on planet earth can tame any member of the magnificent female species.

~~~~~~~~~~

This is why you don’t write poems at 5.59 am in the morning.

If Your Wife Wants to Kill You…

Relationships and Shit

You know, the longer I think of it the more convinced I am that I’m going to turn into Amy Dunne when I’m 35. Either that or I’m going to marry an Amy Dunne and get Amy Dunne’d. These are Gone Girl references to illustrate the bleakness of my future. If you’ve seen the movie or read the book, you’ll know that I’m likening myself to a slightly insane, marvelously brilliant, textbook psychopath who faked her own death just to frame her slimy husband because he cheated on her with a much hotter bimbo with big fucking tits (tbh I think Rosamund Pike is a lot more attractive than that other chick, but eh I don’t think with ma dick). If you haven’t read the book…well, get your act together, dude.

Anyway, I don’t think I’m intelligent or diabolical enough to actually pull off a fake murder and then pull off a real murder to get out of the fake murder. I can probably just burn the house down but I don’t really want to sleep in the park. I guess that’s why I worship her so much, because she actually has the talent and the craziness to pull off something many women in crumbling relationships probably dream of doing. And while I don’t have any homicidal tendencies yet, it is fascinating to think about all the different ways marriage can fuck two people up. Sometimes I’d like to be fucked up by marriage just to see how it will transform this demure little maiden into a vindictive, manipulative, psychotic goddess. We need more women in literature like Amy Dunne.

I’m not anti-marriage. I mean, sometimes I do see it as a part of my life…after 40 or 50. Alright, maybe 35, just as long as it stays the fuck away from the best years of my life. It just seems so bloody boring to me. It’s like, you’re both work from 9-6, then you get home for dinner and you talk about what happened at work. Then you probably watch TV for an hour or something. Then you go do your adult thing and then go to sleep and boom the day’s over. For the longest time, I thought that’s just what happens on TV. But then I saw my parents doing it. And then my mom with my stepdad. Of course that doesn’t apply to everyone, and I’m glad there are a lot of happily married chaps out there (whoop congrats), but eh I just don’t care for that shit. And that’s probably because I’m just gonna marry myself at 40.

ValenFUCKINGDIEtines

Relationships and Shit

Hey, it’s Friday the 13th!! I don’t know, I always get so excited on Friday the 13th. It’s always Valentine’s Eve, which I’m less excited about. I don’t want to say anything more about that stupid fucking day because I just don’t. So in celebration of this dreadful holiday, I’ll repost something I wrote on it back in senior year of high school. It’s actually the first post and last post I wrote on my first blog. Ha. I’ve come a pretty long way.

Oh but before that I just wanna say that last night I fell off the stairs. Completely sober, btw. I was just really cold and really pissed off because I had to get my laundry in the basement, and my apartment had no elevator, so i had to walk down the freaking stairs and I kinda hate moving cuz I’m a lazy piece of shit. Anyway, so I was kinda walking weird and then boom, next thing I know I was spread-eagled at the bottom of the stairs. At least I didn’t have to walk. Too bad it’s not possible to fall back up the stairs. Idk what’s the point of sharing that.

K, here it is:

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Valentine’s Eve

So after years of brooding over the idea, almost two years after my former best friend Emma started her blog, and over four months after my girl Victoria encouraged me to start my own blog, I finally got down to it. Here it is: my first ever post. To be frank, this whole blogging business is a lot more complicated than I had expected; it had taken me an entire 20 minutes to figure out the difference between the “blog title” and the “post title.” As 1/2600th of the population of a competitive American high school, I normally would have sulked over all those wasted minutes used on something other than studying (not really), but then I remembered this one amazing fact: I’m now a second semester senior (SSS). Apart from goddamn AP Calc, I have no homework. I guess blogging without feeling guilty of wasting time is another of the many perks of being a SSS.

Anyhow, I suppose I should start with a short intro about my life, family, friends, favorites, fetishes etc., but right now I just want to bitch about how much I despise Valentine’s Day. As I sit crossed-legged typing on my hp desktop, I can already imagine all the balloons and roses and chocolates and pink and red and lips and wasted money that will surely bombard University High School tomorrow. Maybe I’m just spiteful because the last time I, sober and under the designation of “girlfriend,” held a boy’s hand was over two years ago. And that boy whom I so charmingly called “my boyfriend” haven’t talked to me once since I supposedly broke his heart a couple weeks after he summoned the courage to hold my hand. Now he’s at UCSD apparently hooking up with some Asian chick. How he managed to become the subject of female attraction is beyond me, but then again I was the giver of that attraction only a couple years ago. Anyway, enough about that asshole. As I was saying, I may be spiteful and slightly jealous, but even if I had a date I doubt I’d be head over heels in love with Valentine’s Day. It’s just so wasteful and fundamentally useless. If you love someone so much, everyday should be filled with romance and bliss; you don’t need to waste a million dollars to create a romantic paradise for ONE FREAKING DAY just to make all your single friends FEEL LIKE SHIT (In case you haven’t noticed, I employ a very hyperbolic writing style so please don’t take anything too seriously). Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in real but ephemeral love and I sure as hell think that we all deserve love. And as much as I hate to admit it, there have been moments in the last four years when I’ve caught myself wishing that some guy would buy me a bouquet of red roses and a gigantic teddy bear. But why does love have to be manifested into this absurd public display of man-made objects? Commercialization of anything makes it much less valuable. As Elissa quoted from this Spanish audiotape we listened to in class, “Valentine’s has become way too commercialized.” And girl, if you’re reading this, know that you’re one of the few people who have reaffirmed rather than undermined my belief in true love.
Well, that concludes my tirade on Valentine’s, but my brain is still reeling from the recent flood of almost-relationship dramas around me. School dances are usually a golden opportunity for the birth of young love, and Winter Formal was no different. Except this time, the guys turned out to be enigmatic little cowards who sorta hooked up with my friends but didn’t ask them out. So now I am currently shipping three couples and consoling some very distraught girls. And here’s a intriguing scenario: you’re getting ready to slow dance with a guy who has his hands on your waist; he looks at you very intently and then bites his lips, averts his eyes, looks back at you again, bites his lips, but DOES NOT KISS YOU. What does that mean? And what the hell is the girl supposed to think? If I were the girl, I’d do a lot more than just vent in silent frustration and cuss to my friends.
Alright, that’s all for now. I’ll write again soon because this is actually very fun and a whole lot less pointless than playing minesweeper.
~~~~~~~~~~~
That was pretty painful to reread. And that last sentence…Oh, the irony.

Swan Song

Bedtime Stories/Fiction

It looks like a thousand dirty ravens all got shot at the exact same time, their limp bodies swaying and falling in the windy blue sky until they crash onto the grass.

Our last vision of high school. That’s what it looks like. How bloody anticlimactic.

The next few moments are a blur. Shoes stomping on fallen caps. Navy blue gowns colliding as everyone searched for familiar faces. A dozen arms encircling my shoulders. Hair tickling my neck, lips brushing my cheeks, screams piercing my ear drums. And tears. God, so many fucking tears I could almost taste the salt.

Graduation is a bit like a pompous eulogy celebrating the death of a monumental experience that you know was nothing monumental what so fucking ever. If you hadn’t just heard those phony, tear-jerking speeches that sound at once mopey and sanguine, you wouldn’t have felt half as devastated thinking that you can no longer call yourself a senior or that you will never see your best friends every week day or that maybe, just maybe, the best days of your life have ended as soon as you threw your cap into the sky.

I throw my cap into the trash can and look around for my friends. The only four, five people in a school of three thousand who tolerated my pessimism and nastiness for four years. They’re lost in a storm of blue, taking selfies or crying or laughing. I can’t see them, and I can’t see us walking out of this experience together.

I want to imagine us getting lost in the Louvre, touching the Berlin Wall, looking at up the pyramids – doing all the cliched shit tourists are supposed to do. I want to imagine us being together at Christmas sometime in the 2050s, surrounded by annoying toddlers and angsty teens.

Sometimes I just want to imagine us grabbing coffee together every five years and gossiping about all the obnoxious new people who have just stepped into our lives. But even that’s a bit too ambitious. We can say we’d keep in touch and be around but most likely we’d just move on, because that’s what we do when things get inconvenient. It’s easier to buy a new dog than train one that can’t hold its shit.

Maybe it’s more important to treasure what’s passed than worry about what’s ahead. Whatever happens over the next four or forty years, at least we’ve had the last four.