The Scarcity Of Human Connection

I couldn’t wait to read Cheryl Strayed’s “Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life From Dear Sugar.” Until 2012 when she revealed her identity, Cheryl Strayed always wrote under the pseudonym of “Sugar”, expelling advice that was universal, candid and profane. I read a few columns from Dear Sugar after a friend introduced me to it during college, my favorite one being Sugar’s advice to graduating English majors entitled, “The Future Has An Ancient Heart.” So, getting to read an entire book of her columns should have been amazing.

I devoured a good fraction of the book during one weekend, but I had only gotten through seven pages before I cried for the first time. The book has been a bit of a gut-wrenching read, with people writing in to Sugar about many of life’s heavyweights including the death of family members, sexual assault and broken marriages. It’s absolutely no secret that Cheryl Strayed’s writing is both phenomenal and palpable which is a skill few writers ever master. But, there is something both beautiful and tragic about strangers writing to a total stranger about some of their life’s most ill-lighted moments. It begs the question of where are these people’s families? Where are their friends? Where are the people who are supposed to love these people and huddle around them at times like these? But, that question often times elicits the answer that many people do not always have that cushion of human connection.

Recently, I cried during one of my coworker’s last days at work. It was not a happy day; she was getting laid off. And, I do not care if you amass all of the quotes about “new opportunities” and and “starting fresh” because I still believe that getting laid off fucking blows. It’s a safety net being yanked from underneath someone’s feet without their consent. I cried saying bye to her because in the year and a half that we’ve worked together, I got to know her as a person. She was one of the few people who asked about my apartment when I first moved back to the East coast. She was always worried about my safety and well-being. So, yes, I cried saying bye to her and yes, I made it supremely awkward for everyone else in the office. But, I can’t apologize for that. If crying in the office is unprofessional, then I’ve been unprofessional several times throughout my career. Because, people are people. We bring our full selves to work, even if we try endlessly to dilute those selves for the sake of professionalism. When you get to know people, you connect with them. End of story.

The world has become incredibly intolerant of emotion. We’re so fucking busy and so apathetic and we just can’t seem to be bothered with how we feel, let alone with how others feel. It frightens me that in a world where we are hyper connected, we are forgetting how to genuinely connect. We do not allow ourselves to tuck our phones away when we’re talking to another person. We have opted for surface-level chit chat over substantial conversation. To admit how deeply or strongly we feel about things means the labels “crazy” or “too emotional” could be hurled our way. Everything we say is predicated on jest or sarcasm; if we say anything serious, we feel the need to preface it or provide a disclaimer.

I do not know if I’m built for that kind of world. I’ve been called various forms of “too emotional” in my life, but I’m learning not to immediately deem that an insult. I’m vocal. I’m connected to people. I have thoughts and opinions. I cry a lot, whenever the fuck I feel like it. I shout. I write a lot of shit that other people think but won’t say. I write even more shit that I think but won’t say. But, I’ve learned that these things don’t make me “too emotional”. Instead, they mean my heart is still beating and my body is still breathing. Human connection is scarce. I’m fighting every day to make sure it doesn’t become extinct.



2014: No Resolutions, Few Expectations And A Lot Of Faith

More. A word that plagues my vocabulary. I should make more money. Save more money. Write more. Go to church more. Call my friends more. Date more. Travel more. Read more. More, more, more. The word that zeroes in on life’s voids without actually addressing them.

Less. Another word that infiltrates my vocabulary. Spend less money. Worry less. Care less about what other people think. Spend less time on social media. Less. The word that magnifies your hedonism, your self-indulgence, your insecurities.

April 2013
April 2013

More and less, two words in constant competition when it comes to how we spend our time and carry out our lives. They are probably two words embedded in the New Year’s resolutions of those who are opting to create them. But, I stopped believing in New Year’s resolutions awhile ago, instead converting to the school of thought that any day is a chance to change how you do things. I sometimes think New Year’s resolutions are a quick detour to disappointment as you proudly proclaim “New Year, New Me” on December 31, only to revert to your old ways by January 31. I don’t think there’s anything inherently more transformative about January 1 than say April 30 or June 16 or September 22.They are all days where you can choose to commit, to let go, to change.

Even so, I’m still in reflection mode like most of the world today, looking back on my year, what happened and the people who crossed my path. I could say the year was amazing or I could say it sucked and it’s all relative. I feel more inclined to say it was an amazing year, but the truth is, it was probably both great and not-so-great. There were days so good they deserved more than 24 hours and days so terrible I couldn’t see straight through my tears. Because, that is what a year is. Maybe some years, the good outweighs the bad and other years, the demons overrule the angels. But, no year is really complete without both.

August 2013
August 2013

I’m heading into 2014 without any resolutions and with few expectations for the year. That is how I came into 2013 and this year continued to surprise me in that holy-shit-is-this-really-my-life (good) kind of way. All I really have is a lot of faith because of what I’ve learned, seen and experienced this past year. I have faith in whatever bits of wisdom I’ve gained along the way to help me steer my life’s tiny sailboat without becoming completely shipwrecked.

I’ve learned that if you want much of anything in this life, if you want to interview someone for your blog or you want to get a chance to spotlight at your favorite poetry spot or whatever it is, you have to fight. You have to email people once, twice and maybe even three times. You have to be somewhat of a relentless pain in the ass when it comes to your goals because nothing comes easy and the world owes you nothing. People do not care, emails go to the junk folder and your dreams only possess that antsy level of urgency to you.

I’ve learned that you can find friends in the most unlikely places and under unforeseen circumstances. Every year, I learn more and more who are my life’s allies, associates and assholes. And, every year I weed out the latter two and focus on the first group, the people who have my back in this life 24/7, no questions asked.

I’ve learned how good it feels to stop letting my night-time schedule revolve around

October 2013
October 2013

what’s on TV. It seems absurd that I used to spend Sunday through Thursday basing my evening activities on whatever was coming on Bravo. It doesn’t mean I don’t have my must-watch shows or that I don’t tweet incessantly through some of them. But, I’ve learned the beauty of on-demand and re-runs in exchange for spending more nights with a glass of wine, Lenny Kravitz or Norah Jones or Joss Stone and just my thoughts.

I’ve tasted the sour sweet bite of cutting someone out of your life. I’ve seen unrequited feelings from both ends, earlier this year being the person far more invested and later this year being the person whose feelings did not quite match the other’s. I’ve learned the pang of admitting to yourself when the feelings aren’t congruent and the sting of knowing your only option in those situations is to walk away. Because no one deserves to be another person’s bookmark. No one deserves to be the crease in the page, abandoned there until the other person decides to return and continue the story.

I’ve learned a lot this year and I will pocket those lessons for next year and the many other years when I know I will need them more than ever.

Happy 2014, Twenties Unscripted kinfolk. Thanks for all you have done to support me, this blog and all of my antics.







Do Not Surrender Your Twenties Part 2

"Do Not Surrender Your Twenties Part 1"
“Do Not Surrender Your Twenties Part 1”

Everyone says you can screw up your twenties. I’m awaiting the day when people stop giving this shitty advice.

Because, no one is immune to time. And, unless you have figured out some voodoo magic that halts the minutes and seconds, then you are working with the one finite resource we all have been given. The time you have now is the same time you have when you’re thirty and the same time you have when you’re nearing the end of your earthly existence. It is all time. It doesn’t stop and it won’t wait. Best not to screw it up. Sure, you’re entitled to a healthy amount of disasters and a cornucopia of mistakes. Calamities are a byproduct of growing up.

But, do not surrender your twenties. Do not hand them over to the many time-suckers that seem to plague people every waking moment, even more so when they are floundering in a twenty-something sea of newfound bills and relationship insecurities.

You’re in an unsettling purgatory and in the words of Coldplay, “No one ever said it would be this hard.” No one prepped you for the drain a flat tire can put on your bank account or the faint scar a breakup can put on your heart. While you were in college wasting away at the local bar yelling “Shots! Shots! Shots!”, no one explained that your twenties are an amorphous path not necessarily carved out in your favor. No one told you that there is a required fall from collegiate grace. You go from superstar quarterback or president of your sorority or overachieving intern to being another human being trying to make ends meet. You grow up. And it stings you more than anyone could have ever explained.

But, on the way, don’t surrender your twenties. Because when you start to find your way and you begin to plant your feet on the forever-shaking ground, you learn that it’s not that bad. Ok, it’s bad. But, not that bad. So, do not surrender your twenties to mediocre relationships or non-relationships. Settling or feigning happiness requires ten times more effort than a healthy and happy relationship, only with 5% of the reward. Do not surrender your twenties to people who won’t respond to your texts or remember your birthday or apologize when they fuck up. Do not surrender them to being ignored or begging to be heard.

Do not surrender your twenties to a job you hate or amassing all the energy you have to hate your job. You have a roof over your head. That makes you more fortunate than a bulk of the population. Show some appreciation and smile once in awhile. And, if you truly hate your gig, the Exit sign is usually that thing lit up in green above the doors. Head toward it. But, stop bitching and start working.

Do not surrender your twenties to drooling over everyone’s lives on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and everywhere else. Just don’t. Get a hobby that fulfills you more than staring at someone else’s selfies.

Do not surrender your twenties to bad food or bad sex. Both are important in life and thus should be satisfying.

Do not surrender your twenties to trying to re-create your college life. College was college for a reason. This is real life. You need to be a fully-functioning adult, at least most of the time. Drink less and sleep more. Your body is begging you.

Do not surrender your twenties to dying friendships. Some things die. Some things should be buried. Some things should just be relinquished. Recognize all of the above and do not cry over the casket of a lifeless friendship. Let people in and let people go. That is called protecting your own sanity.

Do not surrender your twenties to sinking in a pool of self-pity. Stop hating your butt or your nose or the sound of your own voice. You are stuck with all of these things unless you get rich one day and can afford a plastic surgeon. Chances are you won’t get that rich, and if you do, you won’t spend the money on self-alteration. Plus, the world likes people who like themselves.

Do not surrender your twenties to being a fraud. Stop faking friendships, stop faking relationships, stop faking happiness, stop faking your interests, stop faking orgasms. Just quit. And, learn how to get yourself on a path to the real thing. Learn how to chop down the weeds, cut through the bullshit and find the authentic thing. It’s there.

Mess up. Make mistakes. Regret. Try. Fail. Try again. Just don’t surrender your twenties. You’re never getting them back.