Monday, August 19, 2013

The Summer of My Discontent








My four-month hiatus from this blog has resulted in exactly eighteen drafts of posts that were essentially eighteen times I sat down at the computer and looked at a blank screen and cracked my knuckles and said, "Okay, time to write something beautiful" and then spewed a bunch of garbage that sounded exactly the way you'd expect some 19-year-old blogger-dweeb sitting down at a computer and saying "Okay, time to write something beautiful" to sound. It sounded bad, guys. Those eighteen post drafts aren't coming out of the vault, except for maybe in the distant future for comic relief purposes.

But I feel pressure to have something good to say after all this time without saying anything at all. I can't just come crawling out of hibernation to say, "check out this sweet music video bye" in good faith. In between writing posts that were (a) unbelievably sappy (think "Be the best you that can be!" and then try not to hate me) and terribly, terribly trite, (b) gimmicky, (c) hyper-political and Riot Grrrl-y and preachy about a myriad of things that you probably don't want to be lectured about, or (d) poetry, I have finally given up on Writing Something Worthwhile and instead am going to write about why this summer has been weird, and why I'm afraid for it to end.

This is the inexplicable, blazing hot, holy grail Summer of My Discontent, which I filled with whatever I could think of: midnight viking feasts of ice cream sandwiches and peanut butter and milk, degrading crushes on warrior boys, reruns of Friends, a kind of self-inflicted monklike exile from the modern world of friends and communication and bathing at regular intervals, all kinds of debauchery involving young adult literature/film marathons. 

I know a lot about being discontent: being vaguely unhappy and vaguely upset and vaguely horrified at the wet, mermaid-slip of time passing quickly and nastily, and I know all about using cable TV and the New York Times Bestsellers list as itchy insulation to the whole institution of my discontentedness, of wanting everything to fit in one hot fist. 

I am an idealist prone to pessimism, prone to exaggeration, prone to devastating and delusional crushes, prone fits of idiocy and brilliance, prone to laziness, prone to megalomania, impatience, calamity, tantrums, obsessiveness, egomania, lethargy, self-defeat, naivete, and pettiness. This summer---the Summer of My Discontent---has been a portrait of wanting things that I don't have, can't have, and won't have, but nevertheless, selfishly torturing myself with all these things that are not mine simply because I have illogically arrived at the conclusion that if they exist in the world, they must be mine. I have foolishly assumed that I deserve grandeur, deserve praise, deserve beauty and riches, deserve quality and quantity, deserve art and spirituality, deserve everyone, even you. I am just a girl, but I'm a violent one, and I have mistakenly taken pride in the bruises and ugliness that I beat out of my life this summer.

Although if you examine it carefully, I'm sure you'll notice that almost everything in my life is surprisingly beautiful, but hidden by a dull, strange veneer. Watching cartoons as a 19-year-old girl/woman, for instance, is something sort of glorious. Waking up at 1:30 in the afternoon, greasy-haired and zitty and full of motivation to do nothing and go nowhere: this is all part of a lazy opera, it is all gorgeous because I am young and everything is possible and the world is bright and sexy.

O Holy, O Sacred: my cup runneth over with body glitter and s'mores-flavored Pop-Tarts! O Rapture! O Fascination! O Weight Gain and Insomnia and Petty Arguments! Hear me, O Vulgar One, for this is a prayer of devotion and vanity, this is the ungodly extent of my banal and bored worship! O Boy Bands! O Daytime Television! O Blessed, Blessed Summer Thunderstorms! I have been ravished with thine lukewarm Shangri La and thine slutty, junkie, rainbow'd skylines! O Horror of Horrors! O Exquisite Perfection! Amen, and one thousand amens.


This summer has been neither productive nor proactive in any way. I accomplished almost nothing despite my better intentions to finish the novel, use oil paint, take up guitar, get a job (ha!), finish my short-film for the media arts application, learn Danish, all of these things among other noble, ambitious pursuits. The fact is: I am lazy, I am childish, I am stubborn, and I am unmotivated. I may be discontent, but I am usually content enough to just spend ten hours a day reading a book about a boys' school in East Anglia in the 1960's, maybe, or outlining a list of the virtues of John Cusack's performance in Say Anything. Though I want more---I want everything, in fact---I have so much that it's hard to fight my way out of the headiness of pirated movies and microwave pizzas and paperback novels and the quiet siren of my loneliness to do something about it. 

Let's take a look at this summer objectively:

1. Did anything terrible happen?

I mean, no. Bust also, yes, if we're going to be selfish and petty but mostly honest. Kaitlyn left on The Mission and while the Pennsylvanian masses/God/whoever else might be celebrating her exodus to the East, I was certainly disheartened by her departure. In fact, I was (am) thoroughly depressed about the whole situation. We can talk about starving children in Africa and deforestation in the Amazon jungle and the AIDS epidemic, but we can also talk about being 19-years-old and having no friends at college. Though it's technically yet to happen, the impending tragedy of of my Final and Ultimate Friendlessness looms like an executioner on the horizon of this coming week. Addy, to New York. Emily and everyone else I like, to Salt Lake City. There's The Secret Thing That Only Emily Knows About That Really Sucks that we're still trying to figure out how to fix in our blind, inexperienced way. There were---are---whole nights of vicious insomnia. Other mild devastations that are too trivial to really mention that have nothing to do with death or loss or plague, yet were inconveniences regardless.

2. Did anything wonderful happen?

I mean, no. But also, yes. There were moments of strange magic: brief, accidental pixie-nights in the last dregs of the sun, minutes of immortality and God, good food, art and air conditioning, so much music and confetti and glitter in Salt Lake City, hot evaporating rainstorms, days of endless hunger and thirst, yelling fights and silent cruel fights but they all ended, fireworks, animals, rogue beauties on the streets and in the grocery stores, showers, a glorious lack of make-up and hair conditioner, heartache, toothpaste, clearance sales, lotion that smelled like honey, whole discussions about politics and men and entertainment that only Addy and I will ever fully understand. These are all very small triumphs, very basic moments of victory. 

In the Grand Scheme of Everything, I live a very weird, unglamorous life of mundane pleasures and milk-and-water languor. Very few things are as interesting to me as what's on TV or a Damien Hirst exhibit or an article on the internet about axolotls, maybe, or fruit bats. I am constantly awed. The things that I lust for are very simple, but somehow unattainable: to have my hair petted, to discuss comic books, to eat a lot, to write books and poetry and then not hate them afterwards, to hear new music that is good, to stop worrying, to sleep when I want to, to keep the people I love, to have more time.

The things that I'm sad about are really just things that I was happy about and don't want to lose. I've heard that God works in mysterious ways, but I totally saw this coming. I went outside in the middle of this post to stand heavily in the rain, which was cold but the cement was still warm and the air smelled like grass and rocks, and I thought: It will never be like this again. You'll have to forgive me for being nostalgic and sentimental and afraid, but everything is just so good.




"Ah, the resilience, the blind, dumb persistence of youth." (Meg Rosoff)
-Avery Jalaine