Sunday, October 23, 2016

i can't do this but i'm doing it anyway!

You're allowed to watch anime.

You're allowed to take long showers and shave up to the knee. You're allowed to take months and months to re-read Infinite Jest. You're allowed to eat trash and junk and carbs and sugar. You're allowed to stop eating meat and be stubborn and sanctimonious about it. You're allowed to hate salad. You're allowed to read and read and read and read and read, read voraciously and chaotically, read urban gothic and haptic poetry and cyberpunk and New Weird and cosmic horror and occult detective and American realism and magical realism and hysterical realism. You're allowed to tweet selfies. You're allowed to go to Slab Pizza alone. You're allowed to put Joni Mitchell and Ariana Grande and The Kinks and XTC on the same playlist. You're allowed to be unreasonable. You're allowed to be difficult. You're allowed to be ambitious. You're allowed to be demanding. You're allowed to be hard to impress.

You're allowed to be bored of people who are boring. You're allowed to be picky. You're allowed to have high standards and be a little bit ruthless. You're allowed to develop a gang of artists and thinkers and beauties and prodigies and you're allowed to be hysterical with them. You're allowed to be friends with people who are hugely, massively, terribly intelligent and talented and interesting and funny and kind and weird and good. Smarter than you. More talented and more interesting than you. Funnier and kinder and weirder and better than you. You're allowed to be friends with truly terrifying wonders; geniuses; freaks; anyone who is wonderful and no one is who isn't. You're allowed to choose people who feel like they're maybe a little bit magic, like they are capable of everything, like they're practically not human, like they are so so so good that you almost can't possibly stand it.

You're allowed to be friends with girls who are shy and freckled, who are reading Atwood and listening to Beck, who have been bright and loyal and levelheaded for as long as you can remember. Girls who are campy and cuddly and uproarious and unfailing, who have BAD TASTE IN MUSIC (*cabaret) and a weird kink for building furniture. Girls who, inexplicably, love the Mets and are taking over print journalism and politics and yoga and the rest of the world. Girls who are tall and red-haired and stylin' and silly, girls who wear blue lipstick and read palms, girls who are generous and watch the same trashy tv shows that you watch, girls who gaff, girls you've been friends with since junior high, girls who mom you, marathon-running girls, Twitter girls, girls you didn't speak to for two years because you were proud and bitter and venomous, party-throwing girls with boundless energy and 1,000,000 vintage coats and platform shoes. You're allowed to be friends with pretentious Japanese film snobs who've got a big ol' boner for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You're allowed to be friends with boys with slow, gravelly laughs and long rock-climbing arms who are brave and sincere and devoted and unflinchingly, terrifyingly honest. Boys who want to talk about zombie theory. Boys who are easy laughers, boys who rattle off film trivia like it's the weather, boys with sprawling D&D campaigns, boys who want to talk to you about Vonnegut, boys who majored in economics and got rich, boys who loved you and then realized you were too feckless and unruly, boys you work with, vegan boys, boys in bands.

You're allowed to be whip-smart and hilarious, a holy terror, precious, charming, a tiny bit mean in a playful way. You're allowed to enter rooms like a hand grenade detonating, all sparkle and body and growly laughter. You're allowed to be the center of attention sometimes because when you're on you're really on; you're allowed to tell long stories and gesture with your hands and be hammy and gracious and ungodly.

You're allowed to snarl.

You're allowed to write essays about The Terminator and Kick-Ass and Moon. You're allowed to take two more upper-division poetry classes even though you honestly just need to graduate. You're allowed to argue with boys in class about Evan McMullin.

You're not allowed to become a scholastic mess: abandoning your homework, rolling into class an hour late, refusing help. You're not allowed to read Geek Love during Film Theory or Consider the Lobster during History of the Moving Image or Perdido Street Station during Doctrine & Covenants. You're not allowed to fail. You're not allowed to lie about failing.

You're allowed to be no fun at parties. You're allowed to say "no" to dates. You're allowed to say "no" to hangouts and dinners and opening socials and watching Tron: Legacy at your friend's brother's apartment. You're allowed to stay in on Friday nights with your bad skin and ratty leggings, and you're allowed to watch Grey's Anatomy in the dark.

You're allowed to be mean and ugly and sullen during your period, crying weirdly and miserably and for the hell of it into the night. You're allowed to wear Hunter's big flannel shirt to school three days in a row. You're allowed to bleed through your jeans. You're allowed to wallow. You're allowed to bitch.

You're allowed to wear fishnet tights and steel-toed Dr. Martens to church and everybody else is allowed to deal with it. You're allowed to skip Relief Society a lot of the time; trust me, it's fine. You're allowed to say long, strange prayers and neurotically read the Book of Job. You're certainly, completely, 100% allowed to watch rated R movies despite what your mother thinks. You're allowed to be full of doubt and angst and moral vinegar. You're allowed to believe whatever you want.

You're allowed to prowl up to those you love and put your body on their body. You're allowed to wear tight jeans and push-up bras and let your hair fall loose and yellow all the way down your back. You're allowed to undress a little. You're allowed to move your hips. You're allowed to flirt. You're allowed to let people feel exactly how soft your skin is -- practically excruciatingly soft -- and you're allowed to be devastating.

You're not allowed to date someone from Joke Twitter. I'm not kidding. You're not allowed to date someone who makes puns. You're not allowed to date someone who does that sulky smolder face in Instagram photos. You're not allowed to date someone who posts memes. You're not allowed to date someone who won't hang out with your friends or watch The Last 5 Years or go to Sodalicious even though they hate it. You're not allowed to date someone braggy. You're not allowed to date someone controlling or angry or who tells you what to wear. You're not allowed to date someone who doesn't know where your clitoris is, in theory or in practice. You're not allowed to date someone who throws tantrums online and has to disable Twitter for a little while. You're not allowed to date someone who flirts with other people right in front of you. You're not allowed to date a business major or an accountant or someone working in sales. You'rea not allowed to date someone who doesn't pick you up from school when it's rainy. You're not allowed to date someone who isn't, like, psychotic about you: crazy, insane, bonkers, batshit. 

You're only allowed to date someone brilliant. Someone who reads. Someone who watches the news, who knows every president of the United States by name, who is voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton, who understands foreign policy. You're allowed to date a former student body president, former debate star, former editor of the paper, former Captain von Trapp, former whatever. You're allowed to date someone who is almost supernaturally likable, who is funny and fey and winning. You're allowed to date someone who is nervy and heroic, everybody's Favorite Guy Ever, someone who believes in beauty and Sasquatch and America. Someone lanky and big-footed with dainty little bird wrists and the longest legs in the entire world. You're allowed to date someone who is damaged and messy and frustrating and overwhelmingly, bafflingly, gigantically good. Someone sharp and gifted and capable. Someone who wakes up before the sun. Someone who works hard, who likes working hard, who works too hard. Someone who sneezes quietly. Someone who hates Harambe memes and Comic Con. Someone who listens to Carly Rae Jepsen. Someone who tells good ghost stories. Someone who writes on his bedroom wall in Sharpie. A Spielberg-lover. An Idahoan. 

You're literally not allowed to marry someone you met six months ago. It's 100% forbidden. It's gross and dumb and regressive and boring. This is the 21st century and you can wait for a year or two like a real couple instead of some tedious Mormon stereotype.

You're allowed to wait. You're allowed to become a power couple. You're allowed to become expected, old news, unsurprising, nobody in your college program asking you out anymore because they all know who you're dating and how long it's been and how you sort of dress the same: hoodies, neutrals, plaid. You're allowed to hold hands in the car. You're allowed to get to know the scary, maggoty parts of each other's coyote-ish bad sides: I'm obsessive, stubborn, self-conscious, jealous, arrogant, irresponsible, selfish; he's unpredictable, hard-headed, unapologetic, self-deprecating, has high standards and a God complex. You're allowed to fight and fight and fight, you're allowed to fight about everybody's exes, you're allowed to fight about Pokemon Go!, you're allowed to get yelled at in the car coming home from Salt Lake City after seeing Don't Think Twice and eventually cry. You're allowed to get over it. You're allowed to be pushy and pigheaded about the kind of car they want; you're allowed to gloat when the Toyota Highlander is too big and too ugly, just like you said. You're allowed to start speaking a made-up language to one another, all "goo" and "hebbo" and "yee," none of it really making sense. You're allowed to take a very long time loving someone.

You're allowed to give people space. Even if it's excruciating for you. Even if it might just kill you. You're not allowed to hold grudges. You're not allowed to be petulant. You're not allowed to be jealous and suspicious, but honestly you're allowed to stalk people. A little bit. Judiciously. You're allowed to keep yourself sane. But you're not allowed to get stuck in holes of obsession, in vortexes of impulse and compulsion. You're not allowed to read too far into various Twitter feeds and Pinterest accounts and Spotify playlists and Venmo histories of boys and friends of boys and ex-girlfriends of boys. You're allowed to calm down.

You're allowed to be with the person you love. You're not allowed to settle. Even if it takes a year of seething and stalking and combatting Other Women. Even if you have to play a little dirty. You're allowed to play a little dirty. 

You're allowed to get what you want. You're NOT allowed to be cruel, to be self-serving, to be merciless, to be greedy, to be nasty. But you're allowed to take what is yours. You have to take what is yours. You're allowed to sleep soundly at night with no bad dreams. 

You're allowed to be happy. You get to be happy.

-Avery Jalaine

Thursday, May 28, 2015

feelin' myself

Here's the thing: I don't like the nose that's on my face.

Here's the other thing: I don't even care.

Lately I've been feeling so completely and overwhelmingly in love with my body. Not even like "Ooooh, my own personal body is beautiful and sexy," but more like I've been really noticing the miracle of owning a human body -- especially a high-functioning, mostly healthy human body that's still young and intact -- and noticing how things like legs and ears and fingers are inherently and totally wonderful in the simplest and least complicated way ever. 

The machine of my body is good. Even beyond that, I have dimply knees and hard knuckles and soft pink hands and a long stripe of yellow hair, and these things are also good. The various hardnesses and softnesses of bodies are good. It is good to put glittery, coconut-smelling lotion on this body. It is good to put makeup on this body, and it's good to not put makeup on this body. It's good to dress this body in soft sweaters and soft leggings and soft socks. It's good to stretch this body and walk it around campus. All the small, dumb things that I can do with this body are good; it's like owning a warship or a Clydesdale or a machine gun. This body is an obedient dog.

So I've been loving my human body. Breathing is wonderful. Sleeping is wonderful. Going through tiny daily chores like combing the knots out of my hair or brushing my teeth or putting on mascara is kind of magic. I don't even know how to express this to you: my body is full of kinesis and softness and warmth. I can't say anything truer to make this make sense to you. 

Beyond my own body, I've been appreciating the miracle of all bodies. Little bodies and big bodies, dark bodies and light bodies, gendered and ungendered bodies: they're all so good! There have been really, really cool things happening in re: bodies, all around the internet and across various campuses and in many different scenes and venues. Finally, diversity of bodies is starting to be something that we can celebrate instead of something that we spurn. Off the top of my head, I'm thinking of #BlackoutDay on the internet, which celebrated people who have black bodies. Or the Fat Acceptance Movement, which is aimed toward accepting large bodies without a sense of shame or stigma. There's a notion in the world that while not all bodies are created equally, all bodies deserve to be respected equally.

For the better part of my jr. high and high school years, my body was my #1 enemy. It felt like my body was a traitor to me, and I spent so much time wishing it away, hating the soft parts of it like bruises in fruit. Food became this evil monster that was constantly on my mind: what kinds I could have, how much I could have, whether or not I'd feel guilty about it later. I was endlessly trying to disguise the fact that I had a body, trying to hide it under billowy tops and bulky sweaters. Everything about my body seemed wrong according to the modern standards of beauty and femininity. So I sort of held my body hostage, placed the blame on the body-ness of it rather than on the weird, crooked standards that society was selling to my normal, 15-year-old body. I felt unlovable.

Now, I still have the furthest thing from a perfect relationship with my body. I hate my nose, like I said, and I have a million other complaints about the way I look and the way my body works. Leg hair plagues me. I have wimpy noodle arms. I look stupid in ponytails. It is impossible for me to wear lowrise jeans. My thighs do, in fact, touch. Like most female people that have uteri in their bodies: every month I'm floored by the unfairness of blood and body aches and zits and and strange sadness and fury.

But I guess I've finally figured out how to appreciate my body as what it actually is: a normal body. I wrote about my difficulty with niceness for an assignment last semester, and one of things I said was, "I've always felt uncomfortable inhabiting my own body, like I'm this brain that has to kind of muddle my way through maneuvering these arms and legs around." I've struggled with the ownership of this body I have. I've spent my life feeling cerebral, disconnected from this body like maybe I've been hoping for an upgrade. But the truth of owning a body is that it is literally the only body that you can possibly have, plastic surgery and long distance running and hair dye aside. It seems so dumb, but I don't think I really understood this until fairly recently; this body of mine isn't going anywhere, no matter how hard I've tried to disassociate myself from it.

Something I'm still working very hard to accommodate is my difficulty relating to my own body in terms of anything physical, and moreover relating my body to any other person's body. Being close to anyone -- whether it's holding hands with a boy or hugging my freshman roommate when I run into her on campus or even shaking hands with the bishop -- freezes me up. I remember when Addy and Kaitlyn and I used to write this silly Boy Book full of tips and speculation concerning the fairer sex: men. One of my biggest crusades was just trying to figure out how to hug people without letting myself feel uncomfortable about it. I've always had a really hard time with proximity.

Let's talk about that really quick: proximity. I don't fully understand why it's so important to put your body near another human's body, but it is. The hug is such an important ritual, and so forth. A while ago, Kait and I were talking about how sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the smallest physical contacts with certain people. We talked about sitting next to someone you like and how even letting your arms barely graze each other is excruciating. 

I guess now is a reasonable opportunity to say that I, like many young modern girls, am very interested in boy bodies. They're foreign objects. I like boy shoulders. I like boy faces. I like the way boy bodies look in shirts or whatever. I'm interested in softness. That said, my girl body is a skittish animal around boy bodies. It's very easy to overcharge and exhaust me with even the prospect of proximity, much less actual physical contact. I turn into one hot blush, I pull back. Sariah and I have agonized over "sexiness:" what it is and how to have it. Results are not in. So I'm more content to let my body be a little island of itself, even though bodies aren't meant to be islands. But that's what I'm comfortable with right now.

Okay. I almost want to do a little pep-talk at the end of this post to somehow communicate how positively I feel about whatever body you have, as a general rule for whoever may be reading this. I hope you feel like your body is maybe a little bit magic. This isn't me saying it's easy to love the body that you have, because it's not. This isn't me saying that you need to take up Crossfit and a carb-free diet, because you don't. Owning a body is an ongoing process. I'm still trying to treat my body the way a body deserves to be treated: with more green vegetables and more yoga and less peanut butter M&M's. I'm still trying to keep my body separate from every other body, trying not to compare the size and shape and color of this body to other body sizes and shapes and colors. This body is good and ordinary and cute and overwhelming and very much not perfect; I like this body. And I'll see you guys around. 

I'm a fountain of blood in the shape of a girl. (Bjรถrk)
-Avery Jalaine

p.s. the song that this post was named after is VERY GOOD and the music video is VERY GOOD, whatever, bye.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

end of an era, part ii: birthdays


Lately on Go Ask, I've been talking about the mechanics of how Ends of Eras affect us. This is the second installment in my little series, you can find the introduction post here and my post about teenagehood here.


"Go shawty, it's your birthday. We gonna party like it's your birthday."
-50 Cent, "In Da Club"

i. My Birthday

In re: my recent-ish 20th birthday, I will straight-up confess that I loathe all birthdays, mine especially. It's partly because I feel the same way about birthdays that I feel about Valentine's Day: it's an unremarkable day of the year where people are coerced into treating you better just for the sake of the date. But another part of my birthday complex is about how birthdays make the passage and permanence of time really noticeable. I mean, every day is a day that you're never going to be able to live again, but it's a lot more conspicuous every year on your birthday when you transition from one age to the next. I will simply never be 19-years-old ever again. Birthdays are a forceful and indestructible End of an Era; there's no option to linger in 19, there's no way to postpone growing up. I don't want to be 20, I don't want to leave the blinding, gorgeous, rainbow-hurricane blood bath of teenagehood and move smoothly into the slow, pale death of adulthood. I want beauty and youth forever, I want laziness and irresponsibility and havoc, I want hormones and heartache and brilliance, I want immortality. That's not an option.

Every year I inevitably do these big ~birthday~ journal entries in which I sort of review the past year of my life and figure out what has changed and what I accomplished and what went wrong and right. It's always hard not to end up dwelling on failures and losses because they seem like such big gaping holes of regret and disappointment and sadness. But maybe that's a good thing about Ends of Eras: you can kind of look at them as a way to seal off past badness and move on cleanly. The past year---especially the recent months leading up to right now---has officially been the hardest one of my life. I've had to let go of so much, say goodbye to so many people I loved, I got my heart all twisted and chewed up, I lost important friends, and I've been very, very, very, very, very, very sad.

I've been thinking a lot about what validates this past year. Did the successes count more or the failures? The heartache or the happy times? What happened that made the last year of my life matter?

Most of my time is spent on things that aren't Big Milestones; most days blend together in a kind of faceless sprawl of "work" and "naps" and "church" and "re-reading High Fidelity on the quad" and "eating cold pizza." Honestly, I can't even really remember what happened last Monday (or Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday), only that nothing remarkable happened. It sometimes feels like all the motions I'm going through are pointless, and that's why I'm trying to figure out what makes my life meaningful.

But maybe life doesn't have to be Nonstop Action for it to still carry weight. I think going to work and reading High Fidelity and eating pizza actually are part of what gives my life significance, in their own small and peculiar ways. Nothing subtracts meaning from the experience of living a unique and individual life, despite sometimes feeling like you're just operating on autopilot. I mean, even this blog post is a way of expressing and tracking meaning.

Whoever you are, reader, you are in some way validating my experience as a Living Human Person just by reading this and interacting with me facelessly and silently from wherever you are in the world, and I am validating and interacting right back at you. THIS is some kind of life-touch between two people, and it is its own tiny Era in and of itself. An Era of me writing, and you reading, and us sort of feeling each other; and each of those Eras will end very soon, unceremoniously, and we'll just keep living normally and we'll forget about the time we spent here on this blog, me: 20-years-old, long-haired, tired from a sleepless night and bored in a cold office at BYU, and you: whoever/wherever you are, reading. The moment is already gone, you know?

It's been about a year and one hundred twenty nine days since I was 18. In one more year, I'll be 21 and the Era of 20 will be over, and who knows what will have happened. Hopefully all the gross heartbreak and depression stuff will be long gone, hopefully this day and yesterday and all the bad days that came before it in ~this Era~ will be long-forgotten and even laughable. One year---the space between two birthdays---is a paradoxically long and short Era, but one that will inevitably end.

ii. Your Birthday

Birthdays are funny: they're one random day out of the entire year, and they wreck you. Between 11:59 PM on March 23rd and 12:00 AM on March 24th, my teenage era was brought to an abrupt and jarring end. Why do birthdays matter so much? Why do people (including me) always end up getting sentimental and crying? Is it because they emphasize the passage of time so acutely? Is it because they make us remember things we've lost?

If you're reading this and I love you enough, I've probably spent at least one of your birthdays attempting badly to explain how I love you and why, but it never comes out right.

iii. Milestone Birthdays

The "BIG" birthdays, you know? 16, 18, 20, 30, 50, etc? The birthdays where things are supposed to happened and you're supposed to act differently and feel differently. They're Era-Ending birthdays. But do they really matter? What makes 30 so different from 29? Why is there a big surprise party on 50 but 51 passes quietly with a homemade cake and a few candles? I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that some Ends of Eras are kind of fabricated and a little bit silly. It's like, something (society?) tells us: "THIS IS THE END OF AN IMPORTANT ERA SO FREAK OUT" so we end up making waaaaay too big of a deal over something like turning 30. Remember the episode of Friends about everyone's 30th birthdays, and Rachel has a big meltdown about her life not being on track and Joey is in denial and cries a lot and it's all a big fiasco? 

I guess this sort of proves that even the biggest, most devastating Ends of Eras are sometimes purely psychological. Maybe our sentimentality is a little bit unwarranted. But thinking about it like that sort of makes me panicky, too. If these big, emotional, life-altering Ends of Eras are generally meaningless: does anything mean anything? Do Ends of Eras create meaning? Is the process of change the only thing that produces significance in life? I guess if there weren't Ends of Eras in life, we'd all be stuck in some kind of Twilight Zone limbo, and that's even worse. Maybe my problem here is that I wish I could decide which Eras have to end and which ones don't. 

 As above, so below. As within, so without.
-Avery Jalaine

Monday, July 14, 2014

end of an era, part i: teenagehood


Last week I introduced my End of an Era series: here. Mostly what I'll be talking about is how everything ends and it's sort of the worst and sort of the best, and Part I is all about teenagehood.


"I'm seventeen and I'm crazy. My uncle says the two always go together. When people ask your age, he said, always say seventeen and insane."
-Clarisse, Fahrenheit 451

i. Transience

My birthday was about 4 months ago, and suddenly I'm 20-years-old which means that after seven years of idealism and romanticism and recklessness and danger, I've finally run out of teenagerism.

The world is super obsessed with teenagers and I think it's because we recognize that teenagers are sort of half-fey magical creatures of evil and beauty, and that their wonder and alien-ness and lightning-fast metabolisms are all bound to wilt and fade with age until they become ~regular adult humans~, which is boring and highly non-magical.

Part of the beauty of teenagehood is that it's so ugly. It's all zitty and noisy and sticky and painful, everything is unmanageable and hormonal and overwhelming. It's so full of everything. And it's impossible to replicate or to preserve. That's important. Teenagehood exists for a few glorious, too-bright years, but then it's gone. Transience is a really seductive thing. 

Another part of teenagerism that's really infatuating is the in-between-ness of it all. You're old enough to do grown up things like get a part-time job or read Proust or borrow the Honda on the weekend, but you're still young enough that nobody really holds you accountable for anything. You're allowed to be both a child and an adult at once; t
he teenage years are so paradoxical and I love it. That said, I certainly don't believe that my years as a teenager were the "best years of my life" by any means---it terrifies me when people say things like that---but being a teenager was really important to me. Teenagers can get away with anything---violence, stupidity, lust, depression, laziness, love, cruelty---because they're young and hormonal and passionate. Nobody expects teenagers to be level-headed and diplomatic and smart. Mostly teenagers are expected to be slobby and pervy and bitchy, and everyone is kind of fine with it.

Furthermore, teenagers are given everything. Teens are supposed to be "finding themselves," so they kind of have free rein of the world: the arts are at their disposal and they're encouraged to create, they're encouraged to experiment and find what they love to do, they go to school to learn about whatever they want, there are clubs and committees and organizations filled with empowered youth, they're taking dance classes and guitar lessons and playing tennis, they're arguing about politics and religion and fair-trade coffee, they're blogging about fashion and poetry, they're in boy bands, they're Tweeting, they're Instagramming, they're going to the mall and reading both Sarah Dessen and William Faulkner and they're learning about meiosis and drinking Mountain Dew and putting on lipgloss and staying up all night, they have strong, limber, velvet-skinned bodies to run and dance and have sex with. IT'S SO BEAUTIFUL. YOU GUYS, IT IS SO BEAUTIFUL.

I'm so afraid to "grow up" because adults really aren't allowed to be reckless and dangerous and romantic. You grow up, and suddenly creativity is childish, it's a waste of time, it's a hindrance. Growing up in 2014 America is all about Success! and Power! and Money! and Starting a Family! and Taxes! and Dieting! and Wearing Sensible Shoes! Even though I don't feel like I'm getting any older, numbers matter in the world and the distance between 19 and 20 is a chasm.

ii. High School

I was never really the quintessential teenager from Disney Channel movies and YA novels: I didn't go to many football games or school dances, I wasn't on student council or debate team or the cheerleading squad, I didn't have a high school boyfriend or an eating disorder, I didn't really rebel against my parents or get a bellybutton ring or a tattoo. Instead, I chain-read Wasteland comics and Tom Robbins novels on the stairs during lunch, I went to Postmodernist feminist colloquiums and argued with my health teacher about contraceptives in high school, I walked around the forest at night looking for ghosts and werewolves with Katie and Zack, I wrote little cartoons about cyborg ninja grrrrls and viking biker gangs, I told the girls next door that I was a mermaid looking for a boyfriend to take back to Atlantis with me, I wore silver lipstick, I Googled fire ants endlessly, I went to the library on the weekend and checked out guides on lucid dreaming, I avoided everybody. 

On the other hand, I was 100% pure Teen Grrrl: I painted my fingernails with purple glitter, I went out for burritos and crinkle-cut fries at 2 AM with my friends, I watched Gossip Girl and argued with my mom and had crushes on boys and went to concerts in the park and got A's on essays and took Tylenol for cramps. 

I was owlish and standoffish and cynical, obsessed with teenage culture but uninterested in actively participating in it. I could never really figure out how to identify with average teens, I had such a hard time talking to people my own age because I was so nauseated by small talk, but we never wanted to really talk about any of the same things. I could never figure out what everyone else cared about (it sure wasn't Sailor Moon or Alphonse Mucha or the hibernation habits of bears), so I was a talented observer but never really an insider. Still, high school was where I met some of my best friends and did some of my best work and formed important opinions that I still have. High school graduation freaked me out because it wasn't just high school itself that was ending, it was the person I'd gotten used to being in high school, it was all my habits and rituals and routines---putting on makeup in the girl's bathroom because I always woke up late, doing Creative Writing assignments on Sunday nights, passing out newspapers to the art hall with Kaitlyn, trying to distract Mr. Vawdrey with Portal or Zelda in AP Stats, going late to French class and being lectured about taking off my earphones, drawing comics about the Periodic Table in Chemistry, writing in the Boy Book on the bleachers with Kait, walking home from the bus stop with the elementary school kids and getting their advice about boys---it was familiarity and comfort that I was losing. That was hard.

On the last day of high school, Kaitlyn and I walked around touching the lockers and sitting on the steps in front of the auditorium and saying embarrassing things like, "This is the last time I'll ever sit on these steps as a high schooler" or "this is the last time I'll ever drink boxed chocolate milk as a high schooler." We could feel the End of our high school Era happening, and even though we certainly didn't want to stay at Lone Peak High School for another second, it had been this big factor in determining our lives for three years and suddenly it was about to be taken from us and the high school Era would be over. It was sad. Ends of Eras, even when they're good, are sometimes sad.

iii. Peter Pan Syndrome

I'm a little bit worried that I'll be stunted as a teenager forever because my whole entire personality is based on the hallmark teenage characteristics: I'm hyperemotional and vaguely misanthropic, I'm irresponsible, lazy, obsessive and self-obsessed, sarcastic, gossipy, pouty, antagonistic, self-righteous. As a teenager, my big, messy personality was sort of permitted by the laws of hormones and the movie Clueless. So I'm worried for what will happen when I'm still naive and starry-eyed as a 20-year-old, or as a 30-year-old, or as a 65-year-old. Will I actually grow out of my PMS-iness and somehow become level-headed and docile and calm and easygoing? That seems unrealistic, and moreover, depressing. I may be furious and devastated and morose 90% of the time, but the brief rays of psycho-joyfulness and euphoria seem worth it. I'm not interested in apathy. I'm not interested in composure. I want GLITTER and I want FASCINATION and I want LOVE and I want DEVASTATION and I want GORE and I want MAGIC. 

"Something's bubblin' up inside your holy head."
-Avery Jalaine

Monday, July 7, 2014

end of an era: intro


Lately I've been thinking a lot about Ends of Eras in my life and in the world, about how human lives are sort of divided and subdivided by milestones and tragedies and the aftermaths of both of these things. When something BIG happens in life---whether it be a good thing or a bad thing---it throws a wrench into the way life currently exists and creates a new reality in its place. A new era. 

Ends of Eras are both necessary and unavoidable: they happen with the passage of time, when somebody dies, when you fall in love, when you move from one place to another, when you get your heart broken, when you lose a job or get a new one, when babies are born, when you graduate, when you lose old friends or get new ones, when the seasons change, etc. etc. Technically, every day is kind of the End of an Era because it's another day that has passed that we'll never experience again, but we only notice big changes.

When I started brainstorming this post (like 4 months ago), I made a cluster diagram to try to figure out where I wanted to go with it, but it ended up getting a little bit out of control wild style:

The problem is: I have too much to say! EVERYTHING ENDS, GUYS. That's kind of the point of this post, it's just an introduction to the next 4 or 5 posts in which I'm going to try to organize the bloodbath of everything that I've been thinking about in a way that's hopefully a little bit more eloquent than bubbles on a chart. I want to talk categorically about all the stuff that's been bothering me about feeling nostalgic and leaving teenagehood behind forever and how birthdays are weird and sad and generally pointless even though *time* isn't.

Everything in my little End of Eras series circles back to the theme of the passage of time, because that's the nature and cause of Eras in general, and certainly of the Ends of them. 

In the amazing The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe articulates something important: 

"You can’t go any faster than that. You can’t through sheer speed overcome the lag. We are all of us doomed to spend our lives watching a movie of our lives — we are always acting on what has just finished happening. It happened at least 1/30th of a second ago. We think we’re in the present, but we aren’t. The present we know is only a movie of the past, and we will never be able to control the present through ordinary means."
This is something that used to haunt me late at night: you can never live in the present. Everything we do is "past," everything is already over, our very lives. It's deceptively depressing when you think about it at first, but it's actually sort of the most empowering thing in the world. It took me the better part of twenty years to realize that things that are past are actually PAST because I've always spent so much time dwelling on stuff that has already happened when I could've embraced the past as a comfort: knowing that it was done and over, I could move on and literally do/be whatever I wanted. So that's what I'm trying to do now: not dwell so much.

Stay tuned for End of an Era: Part 1, sometime later this week. And thanks for reading, as always.

Si vis pacem, para bellum.

-Avery Jalain


Friday, June 13, 2014

gods of summer they were at twenty


Hi, it's me. 

I know, I know, I know: I've been super AWOL the past few months due to ~FEELINGS~ and ~RESPONSIBILITIES~ and ~PERSONAL REASONS~ but I'm back and ready to rumble and I've written officially ten billion half-drafts of posts so I have sooOoOOooOooooOOoOoooOooOOOOooOoooOOOOOooOOOOOoOooOooOoOoooooOoo much dope stuff to tell you about that I'm super close to posting on this dumb blog. There's a lot about why I've been gone and why things have been totally Suck Fest 2014 around her for so long and why I'm theoretically ready to try to fix some of the Suck Fest things and make my life a little bit shinier and better again, plus also some stuff about becoming a vegetarian and getting a Real Job and also books I've been reading and also some stuff about Japanese eels and Attack on Titan and medical marijuana and about love handles + short-shorts this summer and how I LOVE it and also about Tamanduas and bush babies and Spotted Genets and Fenec foxes. THRILLING. (*confetti canons* *barfs*)

This is just a little junk-post about #1: that I'm back and I'm here and I'm ready to write again! and #2: my new summer credo, and finally #3: a call for book recommendations. I already covered #1, and #2 makes me So! So! So! So! So! So! So! Excited!!! So I'm really happy to tell you about it.

Okay, have you guys read any Albert Camus? Like, I always knew that his work was kind of ~out there~ in the world, and that he was French and a demi-existentialist and made everybody feel kind of angsty. That's all I really knew. But then I found out that's he is most famously an absurdist---which is my 100% #1 All-Star Champion favorite genre of literature ever ever ever ever---so I sort of threw myself into his body of work, starting with his essays, and found myself full of rapture and magic and itchiness and I was all overwhelmed and euphoric. So now Camus is one of my dreamiest and most trusted heroes.

His essay "Summer in Algiers" makes me feel especially stir-crazy and hopeless and awesome because it's all about summer, so I've read it like 4000 times in the past two weeks. I'm one of those people that treats summers like they need theme songs and catchphrases and long to-do lists, and I'm also one of those people that looks for "signs" everywhere and inevitably finds them in hyperdescriptive defeatist essays written by dead French philosophers.

I found the official theme or canon or whatever that I've adopted for summer 2014 in "Summers in Algiers," in a passage near the end:

"There are words I have never really understood, such as ‘sin’. Yet I believe these men have never sinned against life. For if there is a sin against life, it consists perhaps not so much in despairing of life as in hoping for another life and in eluding the implacable grandeur of this life. These men have not cheated. Gods of summer they were at twenty by their enthusiasm for life and they still are, deprived of all hope. I have seen two of them die. They were full of horror, but silent. It is better thus. From Pandora’s box, where all the ills of humanity swarmed, the Greeks drew out hope after all the others, as the most dreadful of all. I know no more stirring symbol; for, contrary to the general belief, hope equals resignation. And to live is not to resign oneself." (Albert Camus, "Summers in Algiers")

I guess I freaked out when I read the part that says, "Gods of summer they were at twenty by their enthusiasm for life and they still are, deprived of all hope." I was like HI I'M AVERY AND I HAVE JUST READ WORDS THAT DESCRIBE MY CURRENT LIFE AND ALSO MY SOUL OKAY. It was just one of those weird things where the phrasing and the timing and the placement of the words was the exact way I had wanted to describe myself, but hadn't yet thought of the words. So it was scarily accurate and beautiful and heaven-sent from Camus, and it immediately became my summer credo: "Gods of Summer They Were At Twenty." It's full of power and hard sunlight and invincibility and junk food. I use it as kind of mental steroids because when you think about being young and Olympian forever in an eternal summer, it makes you feel like you can punch through walls and shoot lasers out of your eyeballs and do whatever you want. But it also reminds you about transience and impermanence and the fleetingness of the idyllic and symbolic "summer" and also the brevity of being twenty-years-old, strong and fearless and able. So it's a good summer credo, because it's empowering but it also reminds you to be realistic. I might even need a hashtag for it. #GOSTWA20 #stopkoni

You can read the rest of the essay here.

Okay, okay, good. Remember how I said there were three things I was going to talk about in this post? #3 is really easy but important: I just wanted to ask you guys if you had any good book recommendations for me? I've been chain-reading like a book or two a day (my mom's voice: "NERD!"), and I've sort of hit a dry spell because it feels like I've read All Literature Ever Written On Earth. My only request is that you do NOT even think about telling me to read anything written by John Green. I honestly don't have time for the wrath and rage I will feel if somebody suggests The Fault in Our Stars. I am not joking. I will burn Utah to the ground. Stay away from me.

That's all I've got for this post. Thanks for sticking around.

Chin up and guns out.
-Avery Jalaine