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It is what you wanted to do and it can still be what you want to do.

Gathering the ancient Christmas decorations from their crushed boxes, giving them all their yearly dusting, freeing something else too.

Some people are parts of you. Some people struggle to be until they stop struggling and try somewhere else.

She is beautiful. She is strong. She is confident. She is smart.

It is only finished when there is no room for anything else; the universe is expanding.

It is over now, I wrote our story down, and wept when it was necessary for me, and the tissues gathered up the love I still had. It is all for everyone else now, and they accept it, and they love. Everything is new and you are rotting somewhere old.

We will be happy again, and still, and people watching will think we carry laughing gas in our pockets but it is only in our hearts.

The snow is falling in a way it never has and never will again. Watch.

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What the hell is his middle name? I thought, suddenly panic-stricken, elbow-deep in a filing cabinet at work. I stared blankly at the air in front of my face but couldn’t remember a thing. What does that mean? Shit! I don’t forget middle names. Middle names are my thing. That can’t be a good sign. He hates me already and now I’ve forgotten his middle name, this is not going to end well.

But later, at home, I remembered. The J name that he was embarrassed to tell me because it’s from the bible and his mom was really religious and it shouldn’t be anyone’s middle name but it is his.

Driving home I thought about brains and how it’s ridiculous for me to be upset at him because people are just lumps with electricity and heartbeats and it’s amazing we can get along at all any of the time, really.

I think about how I sent another person a song earlier this week, and he replied back that the piano player was lovely, and I think about how that made me want to be an epic piano player. I wanted to go learn the damn song by heart so I could play it just as good. And I didn’t want to learn it to make this person like me more, but because if he thinks something is wonderful then it must be. And if I want to be a wonderful person, I should try to be better. He makes me want to be a better person; whether or not he knows about it doesn’t matter. Which is a strange feeling and thought to have, and it may have made me cry in the middle of an LA traffic jam one night because it was beautiful, and I always cry, and sometimes I cry because things are beautiful.

There is a boy. He is seventeen. He is young. He sits in his mother’s house. Don’t we all? His world is small. He is looking out the window at it. He is slowly driving onto the expressway of it. He calls it a freeway, I tell him it’s not called that where I’m from, he still calls it a freeway. He is a little bit afraid. He is excited. He is brave. He is me when I was seventeen. We are sitting in my mother’s house. We are all here together, talking. At night, when no one else is with us, he tell me stories of him. His cat is laying on the rug in his room. His cat looks like my cat. He likes pizza. Of course he does. He likes pizza with meat, like most Americans, I tell him he’s got it all wrong, that he needs more veggies. When the pizza is gone, he tells me more. He lives with his mother in a small city in a small apartment. His world is small. He goes to school online, somehow, isn’t it amazing how children use to go to school in tiny rooms holding chalkboards, that’s what the books all say, but he goes to school online. In my almost old age I can almost understand it. His parents are divorced, and that seems to matter. My parents never divorced, but that doesn’t mean they were together. He sits with his cat and his dog and he tells me. Some clock goes off again and again at the start of every hour. It sounds like the grandfather clock that lived in my grandmother’s house, but his runs on batteries, not the swing of the pendulum. The story isn’t straightforward. He is his own narrator. There are questions I have that are not asked or answered. Listening, it is a mystery that never plans to reveal the answer, that never knows where it is trying to go. He might be getting a job soon. He’s so excited, he tells everyone. He is kind. He is silly. I notice we all start to sound the same, make the same jokes, our accents merge into one, we all say freeway when we mean expressway, we all turn a little southern though we were born elsewhere. His mother is not kind to him. We only hear the story that he tells. He might not be kind to his mother. She might be ruining his life. She might be saving it. There might not be anything to save. What damage will we do to other people? We are all laughing together at midnight. My jaw is sore from grinning. It was not like this before. There was no happiness in sitting alone, not this much. We sit together. We tell our story so far. There are questions we do not answer, things we don’t include. There is a expressway that runs from me to you. It might become a freeway before it gets there, or something else. The police came to his mother’s house one night, weeks ago. They put handcuffs on him, or so I imagine, it was one of those unasked questions. When he sat there in his mother’s house, he was still the boy who loved pizza, who was afraid of driving on the freeway, who took silly pictures of his cat that looks like mine. I imagine the clock chiming in the background, the cat winding around the officers’ legs, his mother sitting sternly, trying to teach her son some lesson of life. It is some story I don’t know. I am looking through the window at it, wondering. We might hear about it, someday, but the story is not straightforward. There are many blank pages that will never be written, that might be left alone, that might be filled in later. Imagine an empty pizza box. There is a circle of grease on the bottom of it, where some restaurant worker put the steaming, cheesy, meaty thing. They closed the lid, pressing down on the cardboard. He might be that person someday. His mother might have been. The policeman might have been. You might never know.

kityy

Would you rather live a year in complete darkness or a year with only sunshine? Could anything grow in the dark? How long could we survive?

My friend messages me from the other side of the world and asks for my address. There’s a letter for me there. It flew from America to Asia, and now it’s coming back again. Who is it from? Who do I even know in that state? There’s only one person I’ve written a letter to that lives there. Could it be? The sun shines in me.

Letters are like memories. Even though they’re written down, recorded, we forget them. I have no idea what I wrote in that letter. I don’t remember how long it was. I don’t remember what my handwriting looked like on the outside of the envelope.

Possibility. It’s a seed of unknown origin. Limitless. It could grow forever, into anything. Memories that haven’t been made yet. Words that have been written down but not read.

Balance is important. Half day, half night. Darkness is quiet, terrifying, calm. The sun is blinding but it lets us live, grows us, moves our skin. Balance. Humility and pride. Sadness and joy. Sorrow. Love.

My friend doodles tiny colorful monsters on paper. He paints them, creates them, shares them. Sells them for the big evil dollar. Nails them to trees. Talks about sunshine. Paints happiness on his feet. Looks like joy. The definition of.

I don’t know anyone purposefully living in darkness. But there are a lot of people who don’t have rainbows on their shoes. I’m getting older waiting for this letter to come. Another week or two. When I’m waiting, sitting under the mailbox, I watch my friends go by. They walk  past me. Some don’t turn their heads. Some are too far away to see anymore. I wonder why my parents don’t have friends. I wonder why people stop loving each other. It’s not that hard. It’s worse to be alone. It’s harder in the darkness. It’s better to try to keep growing as a person.

I wonder where that slip of paper is. Anticipation. Focus. Mathematics and a brain-powered global positioning system. When? Who? What answers will it have? Did I ask questions? Will anything change? Will there be blinding sunlight in it? Sunglasses shaped like flowers? A thoughtless reply?

I’m thinking about that particular smear of pencil lead on the palm of my writing hand. How I can never paint anything very well at all because I don’t pick up my hand enough. That particular triangle shape of accidental art. But I think I wrote the letter in pen.

Wheels spinning on ground. Planes flying in air, high above us, that we still claim as our own. Not outer space. Travel. Thoughts. Responses. Emotions. Relationships. The final delivery, someone lightly stepping on the brake to insert the letter into my mailbox, months after it was first deposited into one and sent my way. Sent to where I was. Sending to where I am.

It will probably be light out when it arrives. Sun. Shine. Wind. The smell of winter. Cold. Ice on the ground. The feel of it. The corners of such a small, flat thing. Who knows?

“I don’t care if you’re happy,” he says, wringing his hands in the air. “You shouldn’t be.”

He’s standing in the middle of the busy sidewalk preaching to his date and anyone else who’s listening. I’ve known he exists for less than three minutes and already I’m mesmerized by this weird boy with weird hair who’s wearing a purple polka dot shirt and leather pants.

Fucking art kids, I think, and he continues.

“You’re sitting there on your couch, fat and happy, watching television. You’re with another human who you tolerate enough to spend the rest of your life with. You both have well-paying middle-class jobs that pay your rent bill and your cable. You’re a great, contributing member of society. A well-oiled cog in the machine. You have your purpose. You have your paycheck. You have most of your life mapped out.”

He stops talking and later I find myself in a large room filled completely with fog. There are bright lights in the corners of the room, and everything is white and thick and the room doesn’t feel like a room, and I don’t feel like a person — only a floating, dizzy set of eyes in a world of white and black and flashes of color. And there is no purpose in that room, no ultimate goal; no deep thoughts, and no shallow ones. There is the smell of the fake fog, and the sensation of floating, and two dozen people watching the lights strobe on and off and on. It is simple and beautiful and more compelling than anything I’ve ever seen on T.V. It is strange and wonderful and someone dreamt it up and made it real.

The art kid appears beside me in the white fog in my mind, later. He’s several years older and still stacking things on top of each other, hanging weird things from ceilings, banging things onto and into walls, building robots and talking machines that fly when you whistle “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” in their direction. He struggles to find jobs for himself and doesn’t own a couch or a cat but he’s happy in his own way. People look at him and wonder how he’s done it, wish they could too, whatever it is. They snap pictures with their new iphones and wander back out of the fog to make babies and nest eggs.

“I want you to be happy,” he says, waving the fog out of his face. “You should be.”

It’s different now, a year later, at least for him. He’s taken up watercolor painting and poetry, mixed them together like two paint colors and formed some type of art that’s popular with all people. He’s selling his work online and making enough money to buy extra pairs of weird shoes. He’s thinking about going back to school but he doesn’t know what for yet, doesn’t feel the time has come yet, not yet, not yet. He’s still wearing that same old polka dot shirt, hasn’t found another like it or better. He doesn’t consider himself to be like those people he talked about. He thinks he’s different, he tries to be, although he’s still fighting the pull of “normality” everyday like gravity. It’s hard. But the more he builds and paints and rhymes, the more times he shaves his own hair, the more people who call him “interesting”, the further away from that life he gets. The more foggy it all is. He can’t see those other people anymore, they don’t really exist to him. He lives in another place, another world. No more sidewalk preaching, only painting in cement with colored chalk to make people smile. He wants them to be happy, he says. You should be.

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1. I hope you are happy.

2. People are still living their lives even when you can’t see them.

3. You are beautiful, you know that. Tell me why you need to keep posting poorly-lit pictures of yourself to prove it.

4. Our planet is both the largest and smallest thing that exists; the largest hunk of rock you’ll ever live on, a tiny speck in the universe. You can be thousands of miles (kilometers?) away from someone, and yet they’re just at your fingertips, on your computer screen, in your pocket. Big and small, near and far, finite and infinite.

5. Yes, Frozen is amazing. But think of all the other great Disney songs young kids are missing out on! Someone dig out the Lion King/Aladdin/Little Mermaid VHS!!

6. If you appear to other people to be what you dream of yet becoming, what are you? Who are we all trying to be, anyway? Are we even trying to be anything?

7. For the love of all that exists, please can we stop saying “literally“?!! Even if you actually truly really mean literally. Just don’t. Get a thesaurus. Stop. Stop. Stop.

8. Someone save me from my apparently über-Canadian fate. Irish? Italians? French? Is anyone out there?! It’s me, Margaret. Wait, what?

9. It makes me sad that when someone asks a child, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”, the only socially acceptable examples are, “A doctor? A lawyer? Scientist?” No one says artist, philosopher, barkeeper — whatever. It’s 2014 and we still can’t speak the truth.

10. You’re not alone. Even when it feels like it. Even when you physically are. You’re just not.