Close to Time Travel

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“There is air in my lungs for a reason. Something always stops me from jumping off the edge. I just wish I knew what,”-Me on Twitter circa 2016.

Every morning, before I enter my place of employment for another work day, I try to clear out all of the notifications from the various applications I’ve deemed important to have on my phone. I check my email as if I ever get anything interesting there. I check out my virtual Springfield on Springfield: Tapped Out and make sure all of my virtual Springfield citizens have tasks to do while I work. I check Facebook to see what my actual friends are up to and Twitter to see what my favorite celebrities are up to in their own lives, but there is one application in particular that I will almost immediately check as soon as my brain decides to turn on in the morning.

TimeHop.

If you’ve never used this application before, it basically is a program that searches through your social media sites and extracts the posts you created that day for however many years back you had the profile. Old tweets, Facebook posts, and Instagram pictures of the past find their way to the present of your phone to remind you of technological days of old. You can see your technological progression with the swipe of your finger. It’s a way to see how much you have changed over the years in terms of your presence on the world wide web.

I just wish my TimeHop growth chart showed me a more positive growth for me.

Most of my more recent TimeHop time travels, ones from only a year or two ago, have to do with searching, and I have come to realize one thing about my life.

The older I get, the less I know.

Finishing up the first quarter of my life, I seem to be becoming more lost than found. Each experience and lesson I learn in life just keep giving me more questions and quests to go on. I always thought wisdom game with age, but I only seem to become more ignorant and innocent with the workings of the world. I earned my Master’s degree last year and am now facing down more possibilities and options, but I don’t know where to go with any of it. I’m more lost as an adult than as a teenager.

Even funnier, almost a decade prior, I seemed to have a much more solid grasp on the way life works. I knew what I wanted to do with my life. When it’s able to, the TimeHop can even search all the way back to the last days of my high school life. It seems like it can be cool to see what I was thinking almost a decade ago. All of my old posts seem to be  about being ready for a new chapter. I knew where I was going and what I wanted.

How am I less stable as an adult than I was as a child?

…When You’re Fast Asleep

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“A dream is a wish your heart makes…when you’re fast asleep,” Disney’s Cinderella.

I usually wake up in the morning during the work week before any of my six alarms. Relishing in the quiet peace, I let the warmth of the blankets and the cool breeze of my air conditioning unit lull me back closer to the bliss of sleep. Unfortunately, I must reluctantly resist the urge to slip back into slumber for fear of oversleeping past the work day.I do not want to get out of the warm embrace of my blankets and venture into the coldness of the real world…

…but I do because I have to be an unfortunately responsible adult. Dammit.

The rest of the day, when the battle between my bed and my need to go to my job so I can  pay my bills ends in my defeat, is a sleepy, foggy delay until I can fall back in between the sheets of my loving bed. Pouring coffee and caffeinated tea down my throat in an attempt to fight my sleeplessness does little to shift my allegiance to the waking world, and I remain in a haze.

Funny thing is that I complain about being exhausted all day, but I do this to myself. This is my own fault.  My normal bedtime during the week is about one in the morning, give or take a few minutes, and I wake up around six in the morning. That only guarantees me five hours of sleep, at least, if I fall asleep instantly, which I rarely do.

It’s sad that I get so little sleep because I love sleep.

Sleep is where we can press pause on the chaos going on internally and externally in ourselves and recharge for the next day. Underneath the protection of blankets and sheets while your head rests comfortably on pillows, the rest of the world does not exist. The only world that exists is the one on the bed.

Of course, there is also the world of dreams.

Shakespeare, in his play Hamlet said it best, “To sleep, perchance to dream…” While I do not always have the luxury of remembering the little movies that flicker on the screen of my mind, I know I dream. Sometimes, these little mental films allow me to escape from the pains of the documentary that is life. Other times, dreams are where those pains catch up to me when I am unable to avoid them.  Still, I love to escape to the dream world so much that I sometimes find myself trying to have short moments of sleep as soon as I get home from work.

Naps.

Oh, naps. I have a love/hate relationship with the concept of a nap. When I was a small child, I refused to nap when placed in my room at nap time.  My mom would shut the door, and I would play with my toys. I would do anything but shut my eyes to rest my head.

Now, I relish at the opportunity to take a nap or two when I can. I just wish I was any good at it. If I nap for an hour or less, it is not anywhere close enough to heal me from my exhaustion. Napping any more than that, and I lose all sense of reality.

Anyway, I bid you all sweet dreams and good night.

Time to go to sleep (in an hour).

Still, It Plays.

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Shattered in a million pieces.

No. I’m not talking about my heart, my life or my dreams. I’m talking about something that is the most valuable thing in my possession that I cannot bare to be apart from for more than five minutes, something I will not ever leave the house without.

My project (RED) iPod touch.

I always have my iPod with me in case of musical emergency when I have to escape from reality. Long car rides, a walk during my lunch break, or trying to compose a writing piece are made by putting those standard white Apple headphones in my ears and pushing out the world around me. I can leave the real world behind and escape into my own place of lyrical bliss.

Now, my musical escape is being shattered, both physically and metaphorically.

Honestly, when I say shattered, I mean the screen surrounding the device met its friend Mr Pavement and now looks like it has a nifty spider tattoo. Knowing that the slightest drop or bump could cause it to shatter in my hand and that the device itself is in its twilight years at over two years old, I’ve begun the process of preparing to purchase an updated, but still identical looking model of the same music player I’ve been buying for about ten years. Still, even though I’m getting ready to finish the song with this music device, there’s one interesting thing about this broken piece of technology.

It still plays like it did when I first opened the box it came in.

While the picture of the album cover of whatever song I’m listening to is distorted underneath the web of cracks, the melody is clear and pure as a ringing bell. Music doesn’t skip at the press of a button. Though the screen looks incredibly fragile, the battery lasts as long as it ever has. It reminds me of my first laptop computer in college. The screen part of the device was breaking apart from the keyboard and was only held together by the wires, but those wires were completely undamaged. If I propped up the monitor against something, I could still use the computer as I had been all along. It still worked.

These pieces of technology are/were falling apart, but they just will not die.

Lovely little positive metaphor for life, isn’t it?

It can be so easy to want to let go and give up when everything on the surface seems to be falling apart at the seams.  Believe me, I am the first person to initially follow this line of thinking. When I see the seams of something I am a part of coming undone, I want to throw it all away before its defeat crushes me. It’s easy to quit if it seems too broken to fix. Maybe, I’m being too pessimistic and need to see that life still move forward even if it doesn’t seem like anything is working.

Fractured crayons still can color. Shattered music players can still play.

Broken people can still live.

Just Know You Don’t and Won’t

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What do you want to do with your life?

From the time we’re small, we are constantly bombarded with the question of our future even though there is no guarantee that any answer we ever attempt to give will ever come true. The wording may vary from question to question, but the message will always remain the same.  When we’re young, the question usually asks us what we want to be when we grow up. When we’re starting our first career or on the hunt for our first job, we’re usually asked what we want to do for a living. Of course, there is my favorite variation on this question should you decide to pursue a level of higher education.

You’re going to college? What’s your major?

I truly didn’t have a clear vision of my true desire for higher education; I just knew I wanted to physically be anywhere but where I was at that given time. Going to college, I didn’t declare a major, but I thought I knew what I wanted to major in: music therapy. I never really looked into what courses the major would entail or what job prospects would prevail from my years of college, but it had something to do with music, so I assumed it was something I would do anything to do.

Turns out, it did just the opposite; it showed me exactly what I would hate to do.

I ended up, in the name of the music therapy major, taking multiple science and math courses. Math was a course I did not hate, but it caused me so much anxiety as the skills didn’t not quickly and made me so easily frustrated. Science wasn’t hard for me; I just possessed no interest in anything they tried to teach me. If the major brought with it a lifetime of science and math, why was I trying to pursue a career in it? This taught me a valuable lesson I will hold with me throughout my life.

Maybe, instead of asking people what they want to do with their lives when they grow up, we should just ask them what they don’t want to do.

Some people may take more time than others, but we all eventually realize definitely what we will not do and do not like in our lives. The future may be unclear, but we realize in the present what isn’t working in our lives. We make more choices in the hopes that we will purge the negative of our lives and lean towards embracing the positive.  We cannot predict what will happen next with our present hopes. We can affect our present fears.

So right now re-evaluate your life.

If you can’t think of a clear path, maybe you are in between jobs or trying to declare your college major, ask yourself what you would absolutely want to avoid in your life. Think of the jobs that you wouldn’t be proud to perform on a day to day basis. Think of the places you aren’t happy to be in. Look at the person you are not.

Be proud of what you would not be proud to do.

To Inspire is the Ultimate Good.

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You inspire me. This is inspiring. It was inspired.

We need inspiration in our lives.

Right now, the seventy-first annual Tony Awards, basically the Academy Awards for plays and musicals of the stage, are going on. It’s a night to celebrate the creativity and efforts of those who took words to paper so they can tell a story and the people who helped them express this story to audiences. After every other commercial break, there is a lively musical number from whatever the top few musicals of the year were. In between the planned musical outbursts, awards are given to those writers and production members who helped bring the stories to life. It’s a night to celebrate the world of the stage and all who love and work within the theaters of New York City and across the globe.

If you’re a fan of musical theater, it’s a night to get incredibly excited and inspired.

Last year, while I was watching the award show, I was on the edge of my seat as I rooted for the show of the year Hamilton: An American Musical. A few weeks prior, I had the pleasure of seeing the show myself. With tickets for the show sold out at the height of its popularity through February of next year, I somehow managed to win the right to buy tickets through the show’s ticket lottery. Sitting in the front row of the theater, I received the greatest gift of inspiration I could have ever asked for in my life. After seeing the show, I became one of it’s biggest champions.

Hamilton inspired me, and I wanted nothing more than to see it rewarded for the inspiration that it gave to me.

What inspired me about the musical Hamilton wasn’t just the music or the story and the way the true story that it was based on was told, it was that it was told by the person who saw it fit to bring it to stage. I had the pleasure of seeing the man who created the musical perform the lead role on stage in front of my eyes. The storyteller himself told me the story, a tale that itself was inspired by another’s work that drew its inspiration from a real life American story.

Hamilton is inspiration in any and all senses of the word.

Composer, lyricist, and musical genius Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspired to compose this musical masterpiece when he picked up a copy of a biography about American founding father Alexander Hamilton. Becoming inspired himself, he set out to create a show that became a source of creativity and inspiration for so many people.  Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspired by Chernow and thus inspired others. He was inspired and turned around and inspired others. This taught me a major lesson.

Inspiration gives hope.

There’s an immeasurable power in becoming inspired. Inspiration fuels us with hope because it creates possibility without limitation. When we believe in unlimited potential, we strive for more.

I’m inspired to write in the hopes that my words and writing will eventually inspired someone else who will then inspire other people.

Girl Power

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Girl Power.

When I was a little child of the nineties, one of my all time musical groups was the Spice Girls. While Scary Spice is now a person whom the modern audiences just know as Mel B of America’s Got Talent, she was once one of five female vocalists during the era of nineties pop music who promoted one major anthem to a generation of young girls heading into the new millennium.

Girl Power.

As a child, I always assumed strong women and strong female protagonists were the norm of our society and not the exception. I assumed that no one would try to ever stop me from doing whatever I wanted to because I am a girl/women. I thought equality with men was real because I wasn’t given a reason to doubt my concept of what real life was like.

Wow, was I wrong.

Up until the past few years of my life, I never once questioned the way the world works because I must have been living in some sort of feminist bubble. My earliest memories of  strong women come from the awesome television program Xena: Warrior Princess. She was strong and incredibly badass. She was always the strongest person in the room, and everyone just accepted it or was subjected to her strength if they doubted her. A few years later, I was introduced to the television show Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, where the titular Buffy was always the strongest character in the room, and the other men and women just accepted her as the strong leader. Other books and television shows I consumed in my childhood repeated this same idea.

Then, after a few years, my safe world of feminist strength was shattered.

We still experience moments when we’re supposed to be less or seem less than our male counterparts. I’m not sure exactly when I started to see my fixed role in society. Maybe, it was when my favorite show Charmed was cancelled and left me without any sort of female role models as I finished my adolescence, and I struggled to find any major show that put a female in the lead role in a position of true power. I found shows, movies, and books that showcased strong women, but they were always partnered with a male figure that overshadowed the female lead. This trend continued into my adulthood, women could be strong, but the man in the story had to be equally strong or stronger.

…until Wonder Woman, that is.

I’d been so incredibly frustrated with the underrepresentation of strong, independent women in pop culture that I had all but given up on hope that little girls of the modern generations would ever realize how strong the could be. Then, the movie Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice premiered. While the movie was uneven, Wonder Woman was univerisly cheered for in her silver screen debut. Since then, DC Comics has thrown every inch of their marketing efforts to paving the way for her solo film debut, and it paid of and then some. The movie premiered to rave review and become the highest grossing movie for a female director of all time. She has arrived, and the world will not be the same.

She is strong, but more importantly, she is hope.

She gives me hope that we want more for our wives, daughters, and sisters. Not that little boys can’t gain acceptance and knowledge from the Wonder Woman character. Of course, they can. She is a character that embodies strength and courage despite a cruel world of man. Little girls finally have someone to represent them, and she is more than worthy.

With a lasso, shield, and sword, I am able to take up the battle cry of girl power once more.

Tell Me A Story

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Once upon a time…

That’s how most stories start. They tell you that during a period set in a real or fictional time something happened. During this situation in time, characters interact with one another, have dialogue, and deal with the situation going on. The specifics may vary from tale to tale, but stories need to tell their audience just that: a story.

Sometimes, the problem is that people forget to actually tell a story when trying to tell a story.

Right now, I’m watching the season five opener of the Netflix show Orange is the New Black, and I’m bored out of my mind. Every single plot for every single character just feels overdone and yet underwhelming. The characters have become paper thin versions of the way they were when the story I barely watched the fourth season of the show based, loosely I want to add, on a memoir of the same name. It started out with a clear protagonist, a fictionalized version of the original author, as she gets put into prison on a ten year old drug trafficking charge. Once incarcerated, the main character meets a host of other women who have well-rounded personalities and heart wrenching backgrounds that were compelling and helped me as an audience member want to binge watch as much as possible.

This is called narrative.

A story is not a story without some sort of a narrative structure. Without at least the skeletal bones of a plot, the story is just a random assortment of cognitive mental thoughts. While the timeline can vary, there should be some sort of structure to differentiate It’s as simple as asking a story to tell who, what, where, when, and why, but not all stories remember to do that.

The problem with the later seasons of Orange is the New Black is that, even before the (SPOILER ALERT) prison riot, the show has just turned into blind chaos. It doesn’t even seem like they’re trying to tell a story. The show has just literally and figuratively lost any sort of structure.

Still, it’s not even enough to just have a narrative structure to tell a story, at least not if you want to tell a good one.

Stories, like anything else in life, can range in quality. Turn on your television and scroll through the channels or thumb through the pages of a random book in a bookstore, there are no shortages of stories, but most of them are either bland, subpar structures or recycled old stories. We either compose the same story over and over again or repeat what we already have written.

We have to learn to become better story tellers. It is not hard to a story. It’s just extremely hard to compose one worthy an audience.

So, how do we tell a good story then?

Different writers will argue different things that are essential to good writing, but there isn’t a clear answer. All I can offer anyone, as an amateur and beginner storyteller myself, is to be honest. Tell a clear narrative. Make well-rounded characters. Have your stories go somewhere.

We need to be better storytellers.