Saturday, December 7, 2013

Your inner, lonely fangirl

Cards on the table. I've lately had the wishing-you-were-someone-else-that-was-somewhere-else-syndrome. It's new and strange, because I've never wanted to be anyone else before. I've often been quite happy with the way God made me. Not until I entered my 20s, lived in and left Chicago, started living alone, started getting sucked into social media, started watching 20-somethings take over the world, did I want to be something/someone else.

The Internet isn't the source of our problems. Our choice to let the Internet absorb us is the source of this particular problem. And loneliness has always existed. Like the following (beautifully designed) video suggests, the Western world sanctions individuality... measured by personal achievements and SELF IMAGE. You and I know this already, but it's good to be reminded of its sting once in a while.

The Innovation of Loneliness from Shimi Cohen on Vimeo.

Facebook profile pictures, tweets, restaurant we attend, followers we have. The video talks about a self-actualization ideal that, once it hits, "more and more people define themselves as lonely, and thus loneliness has become the most common ailment of the modern world."

"BUT WHY HAVE WE LET THIS HAAAAAPEN?" I groan. Why do we have to "effectively" manage our social lives, wherein conversation becomes greater than connection, instead of genuinely caring for our friends and friendships in real time. We get to edit, and we get to delete parts of ourselves. I've always been an editor that edits not only writing but conversations and comments and even thoughts, relationships, other people...this blog. We edit ourselves everyday. We edit ourselves out, letting our edited selves become ourselves. Hey, maybe I do more than you and maybe you're not so worried about it. But you have other ways, I know you do, you stinker, you.

Maybe we've completely warped the brilliance of what technology can do. Advances in technology certainly have positives. Look at people turning their efforts and hearts outward via social media, launching efforts to help others via Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Youtube (I will not and will never include online dating here). And, yes, I finally admit that creativity can come in the form of Instagram "photography." I've denied that for so long...just like I've denied this all-too-common syndrome. And I probably will deny it again tomorrow.

We have a choice to use our tech-suaveness for really great things that have nothing to do with the stigma the above video presents.

In principle, being an individual is imperative to a colorful, continuously interesting, amazingly beautiful world full of creative and unique individuals, which is why the world -- of art and film and people -- is so lovely. But, individuality can be skewed depending on that choice I mentioned earlier, about the Internet...that choice we have to either absorb into ourselves--in this case, via technology--or to open ourselves up.

When I lived in Chicago, I faced decisions every day in which I could either help someone or pass them by. With a higher saturation of people, there are more obvious opportunities to help someone in need. In the recent rural areas I've been briefly, I haven't come face to face in the same way with these kinds of decisions. I suppose, in a way, the idea that these opportunities have to be obvious for us to seize them is complete dog shit. There are always ways to be there for others. I don't think social media is the best one of them. It makes us think we know people. I mean look at these poor girls:

I don't like acronyms, but, you know, WTF. But, I suppose there's also this from the WSJ:

...scientists now have a better understanding of why teens--girls in particular--become so passionate about some musicians, and the recording industry is far more adept at exploiting the phenomenon. Parents of star-struck "Bieliebers"--as fans are sometimes known--can be assured, experts say, that what looks like mass hysteria is a harmless stage in adolescent development. Long before the Beatles, Elvis and Frank Sinatra, frenzied female fans threw their clothing at 19th century pianist and composer Franz Liszt and fought over locks of his hair...

I would add that social media has joined the recording industry in its exploitations. But so, we've always been lonely. And we've always been fangirls/boys.

And, I suppose before I urge you to do something, I have to do something myself--that whole deciding against two hours of Internet. This means I have to stop being a social media fangirl and wishing that I could meet/salivate over Jack and Finn Harries, because I think I know them. (background: I showed up to subscribe to their Youtube channel, support their philanthropist efforts, wanting to get their attention, to know them, for my name to be on the list of their 3 million followers, because maybe somehow if I'm cool enough Finn will want to invite me to London to date him, then talk about beautiful design, then have deep conversations about existential issues. (How embarrassing my life can be right now, at 25, delusional, single, a disingenuous poser.)

I can do the latter two with you! Maybe the first depending on your gender. This is one of many examples that is evidence of our narcissistic millennial generation (just going to put it out there), absorbed by the Internet's corrupt tendencies to give us our inner fangirl...while we're the ones corrupting it. I also didn't come across this video about loneliness until I visited JacksGap.

In conclusion, don't be so hard on yourself, but do make the right decisions to meet old friends and make new ones in REAL LIFE. Because it's even more dog shit still thinking the opportunities aren't there in our tech-savvy world.

Just a reminder to 180 the lens, see the world differently, outwardly. What makes technology cool is how much we can use it to show others the world outside ourselves, to project some kind of difference or education to other human beings about the human condition, how to help others, how to support important causes, or how to explore perspectives. But, even greater than all of that is YOU and the things that happen before or after the lens clicks or before or after the browser window closes. So, don't wish you were someone else, somewhere else with Finn Harries (sorry, Finn). Be present where you are, even while you're "alone," with others. "If we are not able to be alone, we're only going to know how to be lonely."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Who You Are, and you are not the fox.

I just found out today what the fox says.
What is HAPPENING with that?

I've not always been super big on Youtube videos like the following, kind of really emotional and charismatic, in a way, but I'm beginning to understand what they're saying, in principle. I'm posting them because I love you. And you are worth it. We're funny in different ways, strong in different facets, talented in different arenas.

You are so worth it that Christ would die for you. God loves you that much, so far beyond Twitter wars and objects and name brands and location and hair color and relationship status and resumes and your body and the amount of throw pillows on your bed and Facebook likes and Twitter followers and musical taste and acne and drugs and alcohol and your apartment and your failures and that unrequited love you have sitting in the pit of your gut, weighing you down, and whatever the fox says.

How can we not be filled with joy upon this news? HOW CAN WE NOT WANT TO SHARE IT? It's not about telling yourself how awesome you are. It's about recognizing you and others were knit together some years ago, in the name of love. You guys, that's really cool. Not even the fox is that cool.

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
you works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
- Psalm 139:13-14

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Welcome back, signature

I've had three blog posts in the works for two months now, but, for some reason, I haven't found them worthy of any reading. Also, I haven't written anything of substance (with the exception of a few genuine tweets) for a month. WUT. Writing, while it sucks, makes me happy, makes me smarter, gives me a channel for thinking and solving my trivial life problems. If you want to write and haven't done so for two months, DO IT NOW. If you've been coming back to me here for a while to find nothing, I apologize. Though I doubt any of you have. Plus, I'm not sure there's been anything big or loud or life-changing that I've been saying for anyone else but myself. Either way, welcome back.

Upon your return, and thanks for returning, here is a combination of thoughts that have been with me for some time. We can classify them as three short, selfish stories. "The Signature," "There is One Direction, and "Take me home," the story of that 2-hour walk when I let go of that one direction my life has recently taken and return to the fundamentals.

The Signature
Let me start with a dream I had a few nights ago. In this dream, I had created or written and submitted something to a panel, a room full of critics -- some of them artists and writers, I think -- and they were reviewing my work. Somewhere on the work, I had signed my name, my signature. At some moment after I stepped into the room, I realized that they all hated my work, but not because of the work. It was because my signature was so awful. As if my name was so boring and inartistic and unworthy of being put on a piece of art. I don't recall them saying anything specific. I only recall the profanities I said to them in return. It was clear they hated the signature that spelled out sloppily, "Lindsey Auten," I boiled over with rage rapidly and said, "What the f***? (loudly, too, then a long pause) What the f***?" I paused for another second, looked them over with disgust and said with such conviction, "You are all F***ING INSANE!" If you know me at all, I don't ever shout profanities to anyone, even when I'm full of rage. I have never felt so confident in a dream, aside from the ones where I run marathon races and that one lucid dream I had about dissolving windows and flying out of them. I have also never felt so confident upon waking up. When I think about the progression of this confidence, I liken it the following.

It's interesting that my subconscious reverted to using those words so loudly and boldly, but it reveals to me that the critics in the room were not other people I knew nor were they even other people that I didn't know. They were me.

There is One Direction
For six weeks I was unemployed and I loathed myself and I didn't know what to do with my time and all I could think to do was watch One Direction music and Youtube videos because their porcelain faces and candy pop music make me smile. Maybe you've been in a dark place such as this before. Surely, it was very dark. I still listen to them to remind me that I don't want to go back there. And you know I'm bluffing...because, seriously. All the people at Buzzfeed are in a similar boat. Now that I've dug myself an even deeper hole, all of this is evidence that I'm hyper-critical of my 25-year-old self and even deeper, of my 25-year-old self-loathing (i.e. a few attempted posts ago: "Like, is it okay to make a lunch out of ham, cheese, crackers, juice, and a Reese's peanut butter cup, because Lord knows there's no way I'm walking into the store and buying a Lunchable at 25 years old. Or, since I have a little free time right now, I'm going to sort my old, old CD collection that includes Backstreet Boys and Christina Aguilera, then listen to them and cry over the fact that I shouldn't be listening to them anymore and/or I shouldn't be listening to any One Direction anymore.")

Either way, when I listen to One Direction in the car, I first say aloud, "One Direction, you are all f***ing insane." Not in a rage, because it's a simple fact. Then I audibly tell myself, "You are f***ing insane. Embrace it. Get it, girl. Then listen to some jazz or Explosions in the Sky. By the way, the earth is not a cold dead place."

Take me home
Just a few days ago, post-signature dream breakdown, amidst pop culture obsessions (I'm talking about the Internet, okay), I dropped everything except my Bible and walked. I stopped at a place, "the stargazing deck," and stared at if for a while. I walked a few hundred feet more and planted myself on a hill, in nature, at camp, with myself. Just me and my critics. As the sun was setting, I sat, I stared. The book of Isaiah provided such clarity. So much that all the rest of this blog post can rest assured that it doesn't matter in the end. No matter how strange I am or how weird this post becomes to you (or me, really), I know I'll be able to run marathon dreams, tell self-criticism and even my written signature that they're insane and don't even matter, and kick teeny bopper music in the face (not literally and not directed at the teeny bopper musicians themselves - I still like them, sorry I'm not sorry.) We're tired of it all, but hey cronies! Don't you know?! In your weakest moments, your hopeless dreams, God is with you.

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. - Isaiah 40:28-31

Cheers to being the child of God -- with a special signature -- that you were created to be.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Leafing the grass

I just had to share it with you. I believe, not just think, that you should read more Walt Whitman than you already do. I am currently leafing (ha) through the 1855 version of Leaves of Grass, and I cannot help but sound out a voice about it....because I don't really want to subject myself to voicing it on the bus ride home, because that would make lots of people uncomfortable, and since I love people, making them uncomfortable on a bus as opposed to a fairer place, isn't what I want to do.

Dearest you,

I still don’t quite understand….Walt Whitman’s use of….ellipses and the word soul, though I do understand why the word (I almost typed world, which is cool) soul is central to the poet. Though it’s much more than that, more timeless, more than I can write at this moment with the time and space I have. The wor(l)d deserves more.

The other night, I read “Song of Myself” out loud. The whole thing. I usually don’t read things out loud. I don’t talk a whole lot (at least in terms of understood, articulate speech). I have been mapping my conversation patterns (in my head, of course) lately. I listen and look….a lot. I just listen and move my body so as to say that I care. My close friends, though, always teach me how to talk, which is why they’re my close friends, and I love them. I love others, too, because Walt introduced me to equanimity.

Reading for hours was exhausting for my voice but entirely liberating for my soul. It’s ironic that this poem about “self” was read by my “self,” and that in reading it to my “self” I, maybe for the first time, actually gave my(self) a chance for a long conversation with inner boiling feelings and love for people. This conversation made me realize how much I want to say but also how much my voice doesn’t let me, or rather, what my accoucheur “potentialized” in me at birth – that I would articulate life, which now I realize is articulated in many ways.

But what an advocate for the POET! I don’t always consider my self one, but I think the salty liquid flowing out of my face when I read this collection of poems thinks otherwise, turns inward on its self.

So, anyway, I’m reading “Song of Myself” all the while thinking of what the song of my own self would sound like. Then I came to “It is you talking just as much as myself….I act as the tongue of you,/It was tied in your mouth….in mine it begins to be loosened.” Maybe you can imagine the swelling within me, but just then I read it over and over and listened to the sound of my own voice, and therefore understood the explosion….for a better word in me, the poet and his/her (seemingly) worthless miniscule leaves of grass that can become a collection of sorts, a book, or a conversation, or, my favorite, “the roughs and beards (!) and space and ruggedness and nonchalance that the soul loves.”

Thanks for listening, my friend, whenever I keep talking about my self.

Forever your poet-hypocrite lover-of-our-souls,

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Ooo, lookey here

It's been a very long while since I've written here. This is because so many, ahem, distractions have entered my life in different ways. Besides incorporating Nutella into my diet, and all the cookies Mom sent, the coolest not-so-much distraction, but improvement is that I've been fitness-ing in order to conquer said Nutella and cookies, and Seasonal Affective Disorder. I know, I don't want this to turn into a workout post or an "I feel so great post," but I do want to emphasize how beautiful God has made our bodies and how we should take care of them.

For those of you who care, or read this blog because you want to know about my life, which is not really what it's all about, I'll tell you: that I am starting a new internship at TimeOut Chicago, a magazine (!) here really soon, pointing my creative wandering in a new direction; that I'm letting the sun shine through a partially if not more raw broken heart,

and I am currently putting my focus into a poetry series entitled "White Girl Awesome Sauce: A Series of Poetic Events" and my thesis that will examine criticism through the eyes of Wes Anderson, Bill Murray, and some of Wes' movie characters. I'm real excited about both of these things.

In other news, I saw a guy the other day that looked just like Aziz Ansari, and I wanted so badly to shout, "Hey, Aziz!" really loud. I'm not a shout-hey-to-someone-that-looks-like-someone kind of person, so that's a new development of impulses. I also have been looking out my kitchen window more frequently, and I've noticed that some people waiting at the light in their cars or walking by will look back for a just a moment, and this makes me joyful for the moments after, because it's always good to know someone wants to look back (not in a creepy way)...that there's still other people with new and curious impulses. Last night at the bar, my table of friends and an adjacent table of friends we didn't know erupted in laughter at the same time, and, for about a minute, we all laughed together, unaware for a while. I caught the eye of someone at the other table, and we just locked, looked, and laughed together. I don't quite know the reason I'm writing all of this down for you, but maybe look at it as a way of "looking back." Because I always want to give you some of my time to look.

Instead of free-writing, I've been free-designing lately. Triangles are everywhere I look, and everywhere in my head, making me think about things in the power of three. Like tote bags and doodles and origami and buttons and feelings.

And bigger things, like "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." And, "the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." And "hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."

Cheers to God filling in the voids of the world's broken hearts! Huzzah! But, also for the ability to really look and really see the shapes and creations that point and lift us upward.

photo(s) above by my friend Leah

Today's BONUS: a way to look at the supposed confines of life differently. This video has changed my view of the city and its potential claustrophobia forever.