just call me raegen

STUPID, MEANINGLESS LIVES UNITE TO DISCUSS UNPOPULAR OPINIONS

Month: February, 2013

How Do Non-parents Make Friends as Adults?

Last weekend put me on the East Coast, in the middle of one of those artsy-fartsy restaurants New York City specifically is known for. A group of about 30 people had gathered there to celebrate Jesus’ nephew’s coming.

Jesus Christ Lamb Mormon

What’s up, kid? Get it — kid! (Photo credit: More Good Foundation)

Well, baptism, technically, but you get what I mean.

After three hours — yeah, I kid you not, three frickin’ hours (and not in that French way where everybody sits there for eons because it’s the European way to do shiz) — people finally started gathering their things to leave for the evening, because I’m pretty sure I recall things correctly when I say the sun was already starting to set by then, the whole meal took so long. But that is another story.

French-Cafe-Patio

Let us seet ere for ouwers, Jean-Luc, and deescuss zee dumb Americains. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The core party, of which I was a member, was naturally last to leave. We gathered up the gifts and such, piled on the layers (as it was an awesome-in-the-most-sarcastic-sense-possible 30ish degrees out), and were just about to leave when the new baby mommy (that’s Jesus’ sister) noticed a couple nearby who also had a baby. She struck up a conversation with them about parenthood (duh), and eventually, they exchanged contact information.

Wha-wha-what? What is this that I just witnessed?

Black Magic

Baby black magic! (Photo credit: ihave3kids)

Total strangers breaking down the traditional social barriers to potentially become friends — and all because of a baby.

Now, this type of behavior is nothing new. You may have even witnessed it yourself IRL at some point. This just happened to be my first time, but it really got me thinking.

See, I don’t plan to have kids. Nothing against them, I suppose; I just have too much I want to accomplish in my own life, and I know myself well enough to know that, since I’m the type of person who gives pretty much everything I take on my 110 percent, there’s only so much I’m going to be able to take on without sacrificing other things that are really important to me — and that, I’m really not willing to do.

For one. I have a myriad other reasons I don’t want kids, and those of you who know me already know many of them. The above is probably the most important one, though.

But…moving on.

English: Example of a shocker. Personal photo,...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s no shocker that, as people get older, it can become harder to meet people and build genuine friendships. I say “can become” because clearly, some people have little problem with this — as evidenced by Jesus’ sister.

But this is where things get interesting for me, because she would’ve never talked to them — nor them to her — if they both weren’t babied up.

So where does that leave the unbabied in this realm of building relationships in adulthood? Do we just get dogs, go to a dog park, and hope for the best? What if we don’t want dogs, either? Then what?

Seriously, though, who wouldn't want this dog?

Who wouldn’t want this dog, though? For real.

I started thinking about this really seriously, and the only conclusion I could come to is, we’d all need to start wearing badges with our interests printed on them. I mean, they could be cool badges — pieces of flair, if you will — but there still needs to be some sensory-gripping mechanism that grabs the attention of like-minded unbabied people and serves to connect them with each other.

Because we’re not talking the Internet, people. We’re talking about real people, people. Those people in your grocery store, the restaurant down the street, the movie theater, the parking garage, the dark alley…

English: Buick Electra in a dark alley in Istanbul

I’m happy to be your friend, little girl… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Never had I felt at such a disadvantage by being a non-mama. Granted, this one drawback to me does not come close to touching the many benefits of not having children, but it is noticeable and, at least to me, somewhat disturbing.

Mentorship

Awhile back, I met a friend’s coworker; this coworker happened to be a creative writing major like myself. The friend had been, like, super-excited to finally connect us — the idea being that I, writing both creatively and professionally — would somehow be able to impart some wisdom or inspiration upon this person who, younger than me, had gotten a job, but one that was nowhere even remotely close to a writing gig.

 

Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, from The Wond...

We are definitely not at University of Iowa anymore, Dorothy. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, there were a few things wrong with this picture from the get-go:

 

  1. My dear friend, while meaning well, had expectations that were almost guaranteed to implode into a black hole of doom.
  2. Millennial — need I say more?
  3. Did this coworker even want a writing job?

Although you’ve probably already guessed it, allow me to confirm that our meeting each other did not go well. I mean, it wasn’t a knock-down throw-out or anything — other people were present, after all — but it was rather awkward.

English: The Bennett Sisters

Catfight! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For one, I got the sense that this person was rather — well, for lack of a better term, I suppose — shallow. The conversation somehow got onto the topic of workplace gossip — she an advocate, because she thinks it’s “how females in an office bond”; me a stern rejector of this behavior for countless reasons, not to mention the fact that I was appalled on a feminist level by the statement.

 

Perhaps we just got off on the wrong foot with that.

 

But what’s kind of strange is that before this, I was having a conversation with someone among the group who’d studied literature. That was good times — probably two hours’ worth. I noticed, however, that gossipy coworker never once joined in.

Novels in a Polish bookstore

Books. Meh. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now, perhaps she’s the type that doesn’t join into conversations others are having readily…though I have to admit I’d find that difficult to believe, being that she’s predisposed to office-cooler talk.

 

Which brings me to the other conclusion: she just plain didn’t care. About literature or about writing.

 

Afterwards, I got the “So, what’d you think of my coworker?” question from my friend.

 

“Well, I’m not really sure she wants to be a writer. I mean, I know that’s what her degree’s in and all, but not everybody’s serious about it.”

 

“But isn’t it a waste of her degree to be doing XYZ job instead of a writing job like you? I just thought if you could talk to her about it — mentor her or something — she might be more inclined to pursue it.”

 

Hmm.

Description unavailable

This is about to get all Single White Female on me, isn’t it? (Photo credit: muckster)

True or not, I’m never going to have that talk with her. And it’s not even because I’m not particularly fond of her; I’ve known plenty of fellow writers I haven’t adored and who haven’t dug me, either, but there’s usually still been a level of professional respect, and we’ve helped each other out nevertheless.

 

No, the reasons I’m not going to try to mentor this person are actually much simpler than that:

 

  1. It’s kinda not my responsibility, and
  2. I’m fairly certain she’s not interested.

Now, my friend isn’t a meddler, though perhaps an assumer. My friend has nothing but the best intentions here. And I’ve been very blessed and fortunate to have had quite a few mentors in my life who’ve made remarkable differences in it, so I understand how essential mentorship can be to living up to one’s full potential. But mentorship, like any other relationship, is quite simple: both parties have to be interested. And in this case, neither are.

Two girls

Besties? Meh. (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

This question of responsibility to one another, though, somewhat complicates this matter, and that’s why I’m writing this blog. See, when you really think about it, everyone is always looking for something — “interested,” in other words. And I’m of the spiritual belief that everybody’s here to give something to the world as well.

 

It’s good to be aware of when you’re not the right person to give another that thing you know they’re looking for.

 

But I wonder, is there any way that we can be the living example to those who seem blind to it? Should this even be something we strive toward?

 

My Recent Aha Moment

So, at a farewell dinner a couple weeks ago for a former creative writing friend (all the way back from my undergrad days, so he got to read the supremely crappy stuff as opposed to just mildly crappy), the subject of this blog came up.

He said, “I’ve been reading your blog…”

(Someone actually reads this thing? Score!)

“…and it’s hilarious…”

(Someone actually thinks it’s funny? Score!)

“…but…”

(This was too good to be true. I just knew there had to be a “but.”)

Go, go, go, shorty!

Come on, you knew this was coming… (Photo credit: kandyjaxx)

“…I just feel like there’s something more you can do with it or get out of it for yourself career-wise.”

Hmm.

Well…that didn’t go exactly where I thought it was going, but that’s probably for the best.

FIRE!

Because I thought it was going here. (Photo credit: Gregory Jordan)

As it turns out, this was nothing I hadn’t already been thinking of; I’ve been torn between the personal and professional for a while now. In fact, I’ve been asking Jesus for the answers. Unfortunately — or fortunately — Jesus has more balls than me and, were he in my shoes, he would’ve already connected this blog in some way to his resume and/or professional website. Hence, why he is one of my heroes.

But alas, that’s just not me. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve pretty much always been a private person. Maybe it’s the fact that I think there should be some standards to which people (myself included) are held to somewhere nowadays. Or maybe it’s just the fact that, from time to time, I need to be able to vent to my peeps about douchebags who suck — some of whom are part of my professional life.

Anyway, point is, I’ve come to the conclusion that it would likely not serve me well to connect this blog with my professional endeavors.

Yet I still longed for a way to demonstrate my full capacities and versatility as a writer, because there’s just not that much of a place for it in my professional writing. I’m not writing for The New York Times, where they encourage that sort of thing (well, sort of). I’m writing for trade publications that want informational pieces. That’s just the reality.

And I’m not complaining. I’m happy to have the job. But it is what it is, you know?

Tiger

You can’t change a tiger’s spots, moron, because tigers have stripes. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In all honesty, that’s part of why I started this blog in the first place. I needed to feel like I was doing some real writing — beyond what my current position limits me to as well as beyond even poetry (which I obviously can’t publish here if I ever want it picked up by literary journals, as my creative writing cohort is similarly familiar with). I needed to feel like I was doing some writing where I really just got to say what I wanted to in the ways I wanted to say them.

And as with any writing practice, it does improve with time and, er, practice. I’m seeing some interesting stuff develop through my blogging, and the more I like it, the more I think about somehow connecting this type of writing — definitely more me and what I’d like to be doing in the long term — to the other things I’ve got going on professionally (e.g., social media accounts, networking events, etc.).

So when my friend who knew nothing about these thoughts I’d been, er, thinking said what he, er, said to me, I knew it was really time for me to find a solution to this problem.

That doesn't seem right...

That doesn’t seem right…

So I brooded again.

Then I played some computer games. (Because I am seriously addicted to Bubble Mania, Bubble Seasons, and Bubble Blitz Mania — no joke.)

Then I worked on some poetry.

Then I did some cooking and laundry.

Then I went back to work for the week.

Then I brooded some more.

Then I repeated.

About two weeks later, in that magical — and when I say “magical,” I mean frickin’ insanely magical — space between wake and sleep that Larissa used to talk about and from which I’ve gotten so many ideas throughout the years, it came to me.

Light bulb

Bing! (Photo credit: plastAnka)

The answer is a new blog.

But not by me.

(But still by me, technically speaking.)

See, I need to be able to say things on the real, but I also need to have full indemnification.

And so, much like my poetry thesis, I will once again use a persona to accomplish my goals — which, now that I think about it, you’d think I would’ve considered as a promising solution much sooner, since it’s sort of a trick I’ve used before. But hey, I can’t be focused on the obvious when I’m too busy posting turd pics and/or talking smack, now, can I?

Flies on turd

The rankest one yet, kiddies! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Plus, there’s the other goal of blogging that I was taking into consideration: a specific focus. While I need a space where I can literally talk about whatever the eff I want (which would be here), I also wanted to help people — kind of like Dear Abby, but with the Judge Judy attitude like I mentioned in this blog (because I have plenty of that to go around, with extra helpings prepared for the stupid).

Hence, the new blog, which will be “ask the mystery writer anything” (so, advice, opinions, etc.) in nature and will launch as soon as my mom sends me the final rendition of said “writer.”

I will say nothing more about it here — because you have no idea the insanely inordinate amount of time I’ve spent this week learning how to clear Google’s caches, then submitting those requests — though I’ve probably already said too much. Meh. I’ve password-protected certain blogs and done all I could just in case people try to get crafty, so if something’s meant to come back and bite me in the rear at this point, so be it. I knew what I was getting into when I made this blog public, so it’s time to put my big-girl pants on.

Peasant skirt

That’s a little feminist humor for you. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyhoo, I will still be writing on this blog as well, though perhaps not as often. All of my Facebook preciouses will be able to easily find this new venture through links I will post there, and I hope you’ll check it out; you can also request passwords to the protected blogs here through Facebook as well. If you’re not on my Facebook but follow this blog and would like to see what I’m up to, just shoot me an email at justcallmeraegen@gmail.com.

Thanks again to old creative writing pal for forcing me to find an answer to my personal/professional dilemma. I hope I can do your feedback justice.

What Makes a “Real” Writer?

You probably didn’t know this, but Jesus was once a poet.

3rd quarter of 16th century

To eat, or not to eat: that is the ques — Oh, sure, Billy S., I’ll let you have that one. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Not that Jesus, silly! My Jesus.

But when he was really young, thankfully. Or else he probably would’ve ended up turning into one of my douchebag exes, who also happened to be a poet.

I tend not to trust many male poets over 30.

English: Poet Billy Collins at the Union Squar...

Does this look like the face of a man you can trust? Because I don’t; I know a dirty little secret about him. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But that’s just a me thing.

Anyway…

This was a huge revelation to me; I can’t believe he’d never mentioned it before in the 2+ years we’ve been together now. But in all honesty, I wasn’t surprised.

“You do have a writer’s mind,” I said.

“I’m not crazy like you, though, so what do you mean?” he replied.

Actually, that’s not what he said. But that’s probably what he meant.

Crazy Face

This girl cray-cray! (Photo credit: StarMama)

Anyway…

“There’s a quality about a writer’s mind, I think,” said I (because I’ve always wanted to said I). “You may not use it to write stuff, but it’s still there. It’s in the way you see the world.”

Fast-forward to a conversation I had last weekend with one of my best friends from high school. She’s got the writer’s mind as well — in fact, she may not remember this, but she used to share poems she wrote back then with me, along with some drawings that looked like what I imagine the world probably does after a lot of ‘shrooms. And in spite of technological advances like email, she’s insisted that we correspond via written letter over the years instead as well.

Nitrous Oxide on LSD

Trippy, dude… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, she’s writing again — creatively, that is — though she’s accumulated all the fun stuff the rest of us creative and professional writers have as well: fear of failure, a sense of inadequacy, feeling like a fraud, anxiety with respect to the act of writing, etc. What’s worse is that, due to the nature of the political work she does, she’s surrounded in part by some pretty ignorant people who dump their reverse-racist BS on her, as if it was her fault she was born a white person and she should feel guilty about it.

Well, maybe it was, if you consider it from a cosmic, karmic sense. But if that’s true, then it’s also true that those people who are harassing her were born into their current lives due to some karmic reason as well.

But I don’t think anyone wants to go too far down that line of argument, do they?

Path

No, this path doesn’t lead to impending doom. I swear… (Photo credit: Guerito)

Anyway…

So, I’ve read some of her recent work. Not surprisingly, it’s very good. Like, better than most of the stuff I wrote in grad school. Like, better than some of the stuff I read in grad school. Like, better than a lot of what I read in literary journals.

And no, I’m not biased because she’s my friend; as most of the friends who’ve tolerated me up to this point know, if I think what you’re up to sucks, at the very least, I just won’t say anything to you, and at the very most, I’ll give you a verbal smackdown.

Anyway…

It’s not just a matter of having a great command of the language — though that’s certainly essential, and she’s gained it from reading a lot and writing a lot (also both essential).

No, what makes a real writer (at least according to this writer, and you’re certainly free to disagree with me) is something in the mind — something you either have or you don’t, my sales colleagues would say: the “it” factor.

Wow! (Bananarama album)

She’s got it! Yeah, baby, she’s got it! (“Wow!” indeed.) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The “it” factor in salespeople is something I actually don’t have a word for, though I sense it in people like my sister. She has that salesperson “it” factor, and if you know her, you know what I’m referring to, and you know I’m speaking the truth here.

But I do have a word for the “it” factor in writers, and here it is:

Depth.

You’re not just in the world; you’re seeing the world. And sure, you’re seeing it with subjective eyes, perhaps even extremely imaginative eyes, but you’re still seeing things those other people who are just in the world don’t. You’re like what’s-his-name in The Sixth Sense, except less creepy.

English: Mug shot of Haley Joel Osment.

Because come on — this is hard to beat. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, unless you’re my creepy poet ex. Then you’re more creepy (or creepier, as it were).

Anyway…

The good news for some “writers” is that this really is just my observation and opinion. As it turns out, depth is not actually required to gain entry to a graduate creative writing program; nor is it required to get published in a literary journal; nor is it required to get a job teaching writing, in journalism, or in some other writing field.

So perhaps what I’m really saying is, depth is the essential quality that defines a good writer — at least in my book. If I don’t experience some way of seeing the world that I’m familiar with differently, or see a world I’ve never seen or imagined before, I lose interest like

English: Store bought cupcakes.

Hey, these look yummy! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It boggles my mind sometimes when I think about some of the “writers” I’ve known along this unusual journey that’s been my life thus far. And when I think of them, I think mostly of missed opportunities, great stories never told, even youth wasted away not writing — doing everything one can, in fact, to avoid writing. And I’m not talking the general anxiety most of us experience as perhaps temporary “writer’s block.” No, I’m talking the real, full-on shirking of writing tasks — and then the nerve to demand to still be called a writer.

Get a clue. Real writers want to write. Even when they know what’s about to come out will suck. Even when it takes work — and real writing does take work; it’s not just about having your name or byline on a piece of crap just to be able say, “Look at me! Look what I did!” Even when all their buddies are out partying and doing a million other things more entertaining than grueling through the creative process.

Everything else is just a degree you got in college, kid. And no, for the record, I don’t think that makes you a real writer. You’re probably destined for another career path, and the sooner you accept that, the better off we’ll all be.

English: Jonathon Porritt, English environment...

You mean I still have to, like, do stuff after I finish this speech? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the other hand, I know these amazing people who see something strange about the world — and I’ve had the pleasure of working with a great deal of them. Other members of this same group, however, write quietly in the seclusion of their rooms, stuffing their journals into boxes, then hiding them from the world in the back of their closets under lock and key.

And to these people, I say, you’re as real a writer as the people sharing their magnificent creations with the world. To these people, I say, you were given the gift of depth for a reason. To these people, I say, it is your responsibility to the world to overcome your fears, centered in the self, and share your gift with others for the greater good.

Why? Because without your creative vision, there can be no challenge to the status quo — which is why the world is strange and why, in a lot of ways, it sucks. And without the challenge, there can be no change in the world, no hope for anything different, better.

It doesn’t get more politically driven than that.

So embrace your depth. Pick up your WMD — I mean, pen — and do like Kate Winslet did in Titanic.

I'll never let go, Jack. Do you know what they do with these kinds of pictures on the Internet? Oh, wait -- wrong scene.

I’ll never let go, Jack. Do you know what they do with these kinds of pictures on the Internet nowadays? Oh, wait — wrong scene.