Experimenting with Hedonism

I think this might be my spring resolution.

Hedonism is defined as the pursuit of pleasure; a hedonist is one who seeks pleasure above all else, who strives to maximize their net pleasure.

“The only way to get rid of temptation is to yield to it. Resist it, and your soul grows sick with longing for the things it has forbidden to itself.”
― Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Too much of my life I spent concerned with what other people want, or need, or think. I even lied, as a way to give them what they want, and to save myself in the process. I could have the best of both worlds, if I did what I wanted but then lied about it to whoever was concerned.

Most children of divorce pit the divorced parents against each other, to get what they want. Instead, I lied to both of them differently. I held back the awful shit they said about each other instead of exaggerating it. But lately I just don’t get involved, and don’t let them talk about each other in front of me.

I let a relationship change me, because I loved them so much. He took the fight right out of me – but I also gave him that power. Since then, I’ve realized it’s possible for me to hold all the power in a relationship, and now I can’t go back.

“…to sleep late, have fun, get wild, drink whisky, and drive fast on empty streets with nothing in mind except falling in love and not getting arrested .”
― Hunter S. Thompson, Generation of Swine: Tales of Shame and Degradation in the ’80’s

So the first day of spring, I’ll start being a hedonist. Not a narcissistic Millennial or an over the top histrionic, but just a pleasure-seeking and maybe slightly selfish hedonist. What’s the harm, right?

(Dirty) Blonde Ambition

Date: How would you describe your hair color?

Me: Dark blonde… dirty blonde?

[…]

D: What would your dream job be?

M: Something more creative than what I’m doing now. I’m not really sure. Something where I could write more, I guess. I honestly don’t know if my dream job actually exists… even if I was getting paid to write, and writing stuff I enjoyed, I’d always want to find something else, something I haven’t been able to accomplish yet.

D: Must be that blonde ambition… so you like to write? What kinds of stuff do you write?

Are you okay? What do you want? Why aren’t you happy?

After months of not knowing, maybe I’ve finally figured it out.

I just want one goddamn thing in my life to make sense. To be a constant. Something reliable, something I’m good at, something that makes me feel good.

I had that, I had a rock (a stone, maybe only a pebble), for four years. As much as I hate that rock for dragging me down during college and then letting go at the worst possible moment, I don’t know if I could have make it through the uncertainty of college without that rock. The longer I had my rock, my pebble, the more I relied upon him. And sometimes, honestly, that rock wasn’t very good at being solid, at being there for me. (Maybe he was really more of a squishy, flaky pebble) But at least the pebble was predictable and made sense. I knew what to expect. I knew where my life with this squishy pebble was going, even if I didn’t know where other parts of my life were going. I had this squishy pebble to hold on to, even if he wasn’t always holding on to me in the same way, or wasn’t capable of being in love with me the same way all the time. At least he was there. So since he left I still haven’t been able to get solid footing, despite being over him. It was the constant he provided that I’m still trying to figure out. Up until now I’ve been trying to figure out my dating life, find a replacement squishy pebble. What I need now, though, is more than that – I need a solid rock this time.

Maybe my rock this time doesn’t have to be a relationship. It probably won’t be my job, not for awhile, but it could be something else. There’s more to life than boys and careers, right? I suppose friends and family are constants – but not in the same way. There’s a sort of obligation for them to stick around; rocks by default aren’t the same as rocks by choice.

In that same vein, I don’t believe in doing things like taking a year to “work on myself”. I don’t believe I should avoid dating just because I need to find a constant that doesn’t involve a boy. I don’t believe in forgoing one thing because I need to focus on something else. Maybe it’s my “I can do it all” mentality or the fact that I wouldn’t know where to start with something like ‘focusing on my career’. But regardless, I don’t believe in exclusion.

The rock doesn’t always have to be a boy, but it could be. It doesn’t have to be a person, really. I just need a constant, a more solid rock this time. No more squishy pebbles.

Maybe this blog is a start. I think before the squishy pebble, writing was the thing for me that made sense. Maybe this time it’ll be my ever-growing love of wine and food, or the ever-more habitual exercise routine. I don’t know. I just know I need something, a rock to orbit my life around. Something, anything – that makes the rest of my uncertain life make sense.

Life Advisor?

What’s the adult, real-life version of an academic advisor? Ya know, the person who tells you that you’re doing awesome, and then tells you exactly what classes to take next semester? They look at your resume, and tell you you’re awesome, but give you small tweaks to make your resume reflect that awesomeness, and make you seem even more awesome? Is there a life advisor somewhere I’m not aware of?

About a year ago, when I was sitting through Alumni Days – listening to successful, graduated alumni talk about life after college – one of them said something that just recently sort of hit me.

There are no semesters, no constant evaluation in life. There’s nothing, and I mean nothing to break up the monotony. In college – while it could be brutal – there were breaks. There were finals (brutal) but then you were done, and then you went to new classes with new people and new professors and new topics. Now, there are intense deadlines (brutal) but no breaks, and on Monday I return to the same tasks, with the same people, working on the same project. Nothing actually changes, nothing moves forward…

In college, once you pass XYZ1000, you move on to XYZ2000. You fail that class? Oh it’s cool, just take it again.

In life, you manage to complete something, and then you have to do that thing again. And again. And again. Maybe some small things are different, maybe after a year (or several…usually several) maybe, maybe, you get promoted and get to make more money to do those things. But fuck something up? You could get fired. You don’t get to try it again.

Essentially, the consequences for fucking up are greater, but the rewards are lesser. And there are no life advisors to tell you you’re awesome, or which projects to take on, or what the hell to do about your resume. Instead, the other adults just… let you flail around out there, watching you squirm. They probably enjoy it, too. Buncha jerks.

23 Is The Worst

23 Reasons Why 23 Is The Worst

I picked this one because it’s the most recent one I’ve seen. On my 23rd birthday, I received a bunch of Facebook posts/messages with links to similar articles…all essentially ‘Why Everyone Hates You When You’re 23’ but there were a few ‘Why 23 Is Awesome’.

This one, however, also pointed out something I was told a long time ago, and have since forgotten:

15. Your brain is nearly done changing

The “use it or lose it” theory is at major play here. Your prefrontal cortex and cerebellum, the regions involved in emotional control and higher-order cognitive function, is fully maturing while other regions have reached their mental peak.

I even remember who told me this. I was 16 or 17, and my high school physics teacher told the class something to this effect. It absolutely blew my mind at the time, that I only had a few more years of my brain getting better before it started getting worse.

As someone who’s strong suit has usually been intellect, this is really terrifying and frustrating. I’m at my mental peak? What kind of sick joke is that? In theory/On average/Most likely I still have a solid 70+ years I have to stick around… and all while mentally declining? Who the fuck’s idea was this?!

Even worse, I spend my time doing nothing that takes advantage of this. If I’m at my mental peak, I should be doing some cool shit with that. Instead I make spreadsheets or fix other people’s mistakes or whatever the hell else I do at work. Then I come home from work to further rot my brain by watching stupid shows or buying shit I don’t need. Then there’s my drinking habits.

I already have this sinking feeling, from time to time, that I’m already losing what I thought was my most valuable asset. I think to myself, when playing Trivia Crack or reading something that’s probably over my head: I used to know this. What the fuck happened? And it’s probably one of the most frustrating things, because it’s out of my control and yet completely my fault. When other people do stupid or annoying things that frustrate me, I can at least blame them. But this is all me, and I don’t know how to stop unlearning all of the shit I’ve already learned. Clearly if I haven’t retained something it probably wasn’t that important to me on a regular basis, but it’s just the principle of the thing.

I should be doing something with this gift while I still have it. But what? As an occasional perfectionist, I can’t do just anything, it has to be the best possible thing to use my peak years for. I should learn a language, or go to law school, or solve some big fucking problem – but what problem? By the time I figure it out, I’ll have grown out of my peak years.

I don’t even know where to begin. Shit, I don’t even know where I want to end up, in order to try and work my way backwards. Geographically, career-ically, none of it; I just don’t know where I want to be.

“Mental peak” my ass.

Feminist In Limbo: Intro

Before I even started this project, I took a very small poll with an unrealistically small sample size. As a market researcher who understands how this works, let me tell you the data gathered from this study wouldn’t stand up to any sort of scrutiny.

However, there were a couple of recurring themes:

  1. People would, in fact, be interested in a more personal blog as opposed to a strictly professional one. There are things only I can do and say and write, and a personal blog is going to be more unique than another one about cooking.
  2. Those that know me suggested, encouraged, and even demanded that I don’t shy away from my trademark sarcasm and/or inherent feminism. Basically, that I should have voice in my writing. In the past was a strong suit of mine. As a ‘recovering writer’ so to speak, this is one of the easier things to get back, but not as easy and I had thought.

To speak to both points (but mostly the second one), I bring you a recurring column: Feminist in Limbo. (Or maybe as Colbert would say: I Am Feminism and So Can You!) This isn’t set in stone, but the idea for the column is to sort of explore why and how I became a feminist…a question I get more often than you would think. This isn’t to say I feel the need to explain or apologize for my feminism; that’s not at all the case. Many people would say ‘everyone should be a feminist’ and while I agree, I truly believe the development of my own personal brand of feminism was created over generations of exceptional woman and equally exceptional men as well as my own personal experiences with being female. So the idea is to talk about my incredible female ancestors, the men who stood with them, and my own personal experiences – both positive and negative – and how they shaped the current viewpoints I have.

Maybe that sounds a bit too prompted or rigid, but I promise there are some really good stories here I can’t wait to share! Come back soon for Feminist in Limbo Part 1….

Dating Limbo

My choice on any given day after work is to keep drinking water and make sure I get my 7-8 glasses a day, or to drink some wine instead. This choice is both literal and metaphorical. Literally, I should drink 7-8 glasses of water a day and literally every day I really want to drink some wine. However, the metaphor can apply to my dating life. (I realized this with the help of a friend, so, thanks friend!)

See, I’ve been seeing this guy. We’ll call him Remy. So, Remy is my first…idk, “thing”, from Tinder. And really, he also happens to be my first “thing” not from my high school… because, as you may recall from a previous post, I dated the same person from my hometown during most of my time in college. I didn’t have any new relationships in college…. and now I’m out here in limbo trying to date and stuff in the adult world. And by the way, what are these adult dating rules? Why has no one written them down?

So Remy. Remy claims he isn’t sleeping with anyone but me. Remy has claimed he isn’t ‘quite single, but ya know, isn’t married or anything’ (well, good, right? But I get what he’s saying. Or do I?). He also calls me ‘bae’ or ‘babe’ or similar things on occasion. Which honestly could mean nothing. The owner of the fucking liquor store calls me ‘honey’, ‘dear’, and ‘baby’ on a regular basis, and I swear I’m not there often enough for that to be warranted. So this could mean nothing. Remy can read me incredibly well, seems to clearly be very very attracted to me and also realizes I’m an intelligent human being. But…. what is this? This “thing”? Am I in a relationship and not know it because I’m a moron when it comes to adult dating? Am I being led on in a way I don’t even realize? I turned down many a suitor after I met Remy (again, I deleted Tinder for this guy). I did this because I just felt like there was some insane connection between us… or is he just really charming? Right now, there are no points against Remy other than he cancels plans on me or just simply won’t return my texts on a semi-regular basis. But he’s busy, and of course I question everything: Why was he on Tinder in the first place – to meet a nice, intelligent girl like myself.. or to get laid? Also, why was I on there in the first place? Was I looking to get laid, or something else? Do any of these questions have real answers? Are all of my questions rhetorical? When will I stop?

Side note, and maybe really important: I kinda like this boy. I’m very attracted to him in more ways than one, he’s one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever met, and we have a lot of similar interests. That last one sounds silly, but it’s more important than you would think.

This leaves me with my literal and metaphorical choice: drink the water, or drink the wine? I could drink more water. I know that’s a safe choice. It’s good for my health, my well-being, and my conscious will likely be clear if I choose water over wine, because I won’t know what I’m missing if I choose not to drink the wine. I could choose to just not think anything of this boy, let this “thing” run it’s course. Maybe even let him go completely, to be certain I won’t fall for the boy. But – the wine could be really good, worth choosing over the water. Drinking some wine and one fewer glass of water couldn’t kill me, right? I could get drunk off this boy. I could see what this wine is all about, what it’s made of and just drink the whole bottle, drink all night. That’s really the only way to try wine anyway, to drink the whole bottle. Drink it all in, to make sure each glass is as good as the next. In the morning I could see if I get a hangover off some cheap, sugary imitation or if it was the good stuff. I could wait and see if he’s the real deal. In a month, I could wake up with a hangover when I fall and he leaves – or I could wake up in a month and be rewarded with something real.

Let’s not over think it, shall we? I’ve always preferred wine over water, bacon over vegetables, and beer over exercise anyway. I’ve gone shot for shot with some of the worst/best alcoholics I know, so bring on the hangover if that’s the case. I’m done asking these rhetorical questions, done with the annoying inner monologue, and done trying to play it safe.

Fuck it. Let there be wine, she said.

Cautionary Tale – With Wine

This is a long read. So I’ve opened a bottle of wine. It’s pretty great – Malbec is my new favorite red. But if you’re someone with a short attention span – start at the quote and just read the few sentences after that.

I promised I would tell you how I got to this place, over 70 miles away from most my friends. “This place” happens to be a suburb of a bankrupt rust belt city. Not someplace I would have chosen ordinarily. It has it’s own kind and charm, but…my wanderlust seeks bigger and better and different things.

Once upon a time... no, that’s too much, let’s try again:

Once, I was in high school. Specifically, I was sorta-kinda-talking-to a boy in the winter of my senior year of high school and simultaneously trying to decide where to go to college at the same time. Being the intelligent, mature high schooler that I was at the time, I waited to officially date the boy and fall for the boy until I had made a decision on where to spend the next four years in college. I didn’t want this boy clouding my judgement.

As it turned out, I chose the school geographically closer to the boy and to our hometown, so I decided to fall for and date the boy. I didn’t think we’d date for very long, but then somehow we were still together when I graduated high school, and when I left for college. Three and a half years later we were still together. Then, we started making plans for after I graduated. I’d find a job and move somewhere near his seemingly permanent location, a suburb of a bankrupt rust belt city. Since I’d be living up there, it would just make financial sense for us to move in together.

Before we made it to the four year mark, he decided that just wasn’t going to work for him. He didn’t want to move in with me right away, he said. Then he decided he didn’t want to move in with anyone, ever, that it wasn’t my fault. Now it’s just a month and a half before I graduate college and I am “…” <— this close to landing a job. Near his bankrupt rust belt city no less. Then, he decides we shouldn’t be together, since he doesn’t think he can truly, fully commit to anyone, ever. It’s not my fault, of course. It’s all him. I’m just too nice or selfless or sweet or something. And he’s the asshole who doesn’t deserve me. Of course, he won’t ever change. Even for cute, sweet, selfless me. So I get this job near his godforsaken city because it’s the only place I looked for jobs. Suddenly, instead of looking for apartments that my boyfriend and our two incomes can afford, I’m grumpily looking for sad studio apartments in less exciting suburbs. The boy I have followed has left me. I’m just alone in this suburb of a city I never wanted to be a part of. I’m in a new state so I have to get a new driver’s license, my insurance goes up, and I can’t afford to get a dog. Which is really the one thing I wanted when I graduated and was living on my own.

Even worse – I’ve always had wanderlust. I grew up in various parts of the Midwest, went to college in the Midwest… I wanted to get out of the fucking Midwest! Don’t get me wrong, the Midwest can be spectacular. But I just wanted a chance to get out, even just for a minute, while I still can.

I used to be unapologetic. I used to be unrelentingly independent and opinionated. There was a time when I wouldn’t even think of allowing another person (especially a boy) telling me what I could and couldn’t do. Where I could live. Yet, I let this one boy do just that. For some reason, I thought the ‘happily ever after’ would justify everything. I thought, sure, I could sacrifice this one small thing for him. Because no, I don’t have a reason to live anywhere else, I just really want to leave the Midwest. He has aging parents and other “reasons” for staying in his home state. I thought…I don’t know, I thought I was done dating forever and I was sort of cool with that. So I tried to quiet my wanderlust.

But, turns out, I’m not done dating. Turns out, he’s just a medium-sized blimp in my long-ish dating history. Maybe he’s a fairly important footnote, but still just a footnote in the overall text. Now I’m in “this place” and I wish I had sacrificed less, whether we ended up together or not. Now that I’m no longer with him, I realize I lost a part of myself in that relationship. Mostly, I lost four years of my life. Was it truly a complete waste? No, probably not. I did learn a lot about myself. Mostly I learned some of what I ultimately want and deserve in my next relationship(s). I also learned and realized I need to return to being unapologetic. Also importantly, I’m starting to figure out what I want out of the person I ultimately decide (if I decide) to marry. Between the failed relationships and all of my Tinder/dating experiences since this relationship, that list is starting to become a weird collection of things. If nothing else, it’s at least one step forward in answering the question ‘what do I want?’ in one small facet of my life.

So – bottom line – ladies and men alike… don’t give all you have to a significant other. Or a friend, or family member for that matter (maybe kids are an exception, I’m the opposite of an expert on that topic). It’s just not going to be good for you in the end. Especially if the other person won’t do the same for you. Compromising to make you both happy is one thing…pretending to be something you just aren’t is another thing entirely. I gave so much time and effort into a relationship and to a person who…who knows, maybe he did care and just sucked at showing it, but either way wasn’t willing to make any sacrifices for me while I was making plenty for him. He didn’t care enough, and not to the extent I expect and deserve. As my grandfather, a wise old man, would say:

You gotta look out for number 1, because number 2 won’t.

Look out for yourself. Do what’s going to be good for you, not for them. Be a little hedonistic from time to time and do what makes you happy. Because, ultimately – who else is going to look out for you, if not yourself?

A Special Kind of Limbo

I’m going to start with this disclaimer: I’ve never been very good at blogging.

I used to love writing and maybe even got good at it for awhile, but I usually can’t keep up with the same topic for long. Similarly, I could never get through the whole month of NaNoWriMo and actually end up with a novel. At best I’d have a very detailed outline, a beginning, and some short stories. But no novel.

So why the hell am I doing this? Well, in a sentence: I have to do something.

I’m 23 and just graduated with a business degree. I’m one of the few lucky unicorns to find a job out of school. This all sounds great, except I live over 70 miles away from most of my friends. (why would I do such a thing? we’ll talk about it in a later post, I promise). What I’m doing for my job is fine, but it’s certainly not my dream job, if there is such a thing. So I go to work where I’m basically a glorified intern with benefits, go back to my 495 sq ft apartment, and watch Netflix until I fall asleep. Sometimes I go to the gym or try to eat a vegetable or two. Sometimes I go on dates. Sometimes I just wander around my new city.

Ultimately, I imagine some of you are in the same weird place I am. Maybe the limbo you’re in is your current dating situation, your career, a general question of “who am I?” or something else entirely. Maybe the limbo is all three.

I’m going to ramble and rant and maybe make you feel less alone. I’ll probably swear a lot and make some grammar mistakes (if I haven’t already. And for the record – not because I don’t know the grammar, but because I believe voice is important in a blog). I have a weird and wide collection of interests from reading and soccer to economics and travel. I’m also a bit of a feminist and incredibly sarcastic so that’s bound to show up. I’ll try to break up the text with pictures of my tiny apartment, cooking experiments, and corgis.

I won’t tell you what you’re thinking, but I know what I’m thinking: “shit, I’m just another millennial kid with a blog, super original.” Who knows. Maybe it doesn’t have to be original, maybe all the original blogs are taken. Maybe as I figure out what makes me original, I can start to figure out what I really want, and even get out of this limbo. Maybe.