Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Welcome to LA?

Two posts in three days? Shocking.

Another recent shock:

I returned from Los Angeles last week, and the next time I go it might just be for keeps.

You see, ever since I was in gradeschool LA was a faraway dreamy land of giant donuts, giant apes, giant princess-castles, giant breasts, and egos... I visited family there from time to time, sunbathed and sushi-dined for a weekend of two, but I always returned dutifully and shivering to the NorthEast. To the real America. The place where you suffer through winter to deserve the spring.

Well now that I am no longer bound to the shackles of academia, I realize that I deserve the spring all the goddamn time. Why not? Isn't there enough bullshit in life without the added hassle of wind giving you perpetual icy smacks whenever you walk down the street? Do you think I'll grow jaded without a seasonal reality check? Take for granted the tender crocus blooms, the ever-present, effervescent verdigris of fragile life emerging from the wintery clutches of February frost? Will I lose my soul in sunny California sacrilege?

Perhaps I will...Whilst my soul is contemplating how many layers it will need to survive the icy trek to the mailbox, the rest of me will be at the beach. Suck it. Manifest Destiny baby.

But then again, why should my migration stop in California? I definitely wouldn't have the funds to get back, but hypothetically I have enough pocket change combined with waitressing, crude juggling, haggling, busking, whining, and top-secret ninja capabilities to get me from here to Tuxson, Tunisia or Tasmania by next Thursday.

Still, the smart money is on my being exactly where I am right now by next Thursday. Namely, sitting on my ass, staring into this magical technology box and typing. It will be the day after my first big final-revision meeting with my editor. And it will mark an intense edit binge in which I will attempt to make all 200 some-odd pages of Everything Sucks not suck at all. There, I fixed that word. Only 87,947 to go.

Recently I've noticed that every now and then, my aunt looks at me like I'm some sort of delicious pastry. Thousands of impossibly thin layers of the finest filo filled with the yummiest, juiciest, sweetest-ness there ever was. "You can do anything you want," she muses wistfully whilst balancing a tray of mini pizza bagels as one of her small children shoves a dinosaur-shaped crayon up their nose while another lobs a crayon-shaped dinosaur at the other one's forehead.

She's kinda right. I have no kids, no mortgage, no husband... people like Obama have the entire free world to juggle. And compared to the entire free world, no matter what the fashion magazines may say, I'm a pretty light load.

Which makes the unrealized potential all the more weighty. I could move to Tahiti and be a scuba instructor. I could move to Timbuktu to get a Masters in Mansa Musa's Malian mosques... why am I sitting here talking to you?

Because I don't really know what I want to do. I know plenty things that I like to do, but I'm pretty sure you can't get paid for most of them... or at least not in the way you'd want your grandmother to find out about.

I read an article in the NYT magazine recently about the "facebook generation," and how having a perpetual anchor to our past-selves, past-relationships, past-fashion-disasters, might be some sort of albatross for future re-invention. And maybe she's right. Maybe for all of our touted photo-tele-interwebbing connectivity, we're actually more isolated than before, just by virtue of the fact that we can never truly escape our before.

Not that we every truly could. But at least before you could bundle up your before into subconscious insulation and gallop off into the sunset without everyone you ever knew getting a front row seat. I know that nostalgia is like those icky chalky Valentine's day candy hearts though- always looks better than it tastes. But still, don't you long for the good ol' days when you could completely sever ties with everyone just by hopping in your horse and buggy and heading due West? Rob banks without security cameras and invisible laser beams ruining your fun?

But alas, in these days of social security numbers and Google-earth satelites and reality TV shows, we are nothing if not kept-tabs-on. "Truth" aside, (because what does that mean anyway?) the world appears to be more of a stage now than it has ever been before. Marketing experts want to know all about your buying habits. Medical experts want to know all about your living habits. The government is keen to eye your political leanings. Join a facebook group. A panlist. Cringe in horror when someone from your distant past uploads a photo of you in the peak of your adolescent awkwardness for all the virtual world to see.

I don't really know where I'm going with all this. Waitwait I do, but it's a forked path so let's do one of those Choose Your Own Adventure dealies:

If you want to read something uplifting, scroll to conclusion 1.
If you want to read something cynical, scroll to conclusion 2.
If you want to read something ambiguous, scroll to conclusion 3.

1. Maybe it's not a bad thing that we're moving away from the once-traditional smalltown "community" towards a Big Brother-esque mixture of complete isolation and complete transparency. Sure, increasing the critical strike change of your WoW death coil to help your guild isn't the same as bringing a ham home for family dinner, but you could argue that some people who would never have found any outlet or community before the internet are now surrounded by like niche minds. See: ferret-lovers. beanie-babie-lovers. sneeze-porn lovers. etc. And with the confidence to know that you're not alone in your insanity, maybe you'll find some insane calling in an insane locale and be insane enough to move there and do it. Maybe you'll have the confidence to envision and then enact insane things like happiness , cooperation, and peace. An island made entirely out of marshmallows. A great job with health insurance which revolves around kittens and cartoons and sunshine.

2. Gen Y is fucked. The economy is fucked, the education system is fucked, and this very obvious fucktitude is underscored by the subtle but constant crescendo of a soon-to-be devastating spiritual bankruptcy rooted in our ever-increasing alienation from nature. Political upheaval, famine, war, some sort of dark overlord... all of this only slightly mitigated by the possibility of a Water World-esque post-apocalyptic landscape. Gunna get me some swimmies and goggles and have a splashhappy time. Everyone is watching you and nobody cares because we're all going to die, so move somewhere hilarious to do something that doesn't suck before you get too old to go to the bathroom by yourself.

3. The universe as you experience it is an illusion, is always in flux, and yet it is always connected, as it all originated at the same moment in time, keeping in mind that time is also an illusion, just like integrity, privacy, and this thing:

So it doesn't really matter where you go because you always were where you're going to be......

I'd like to amend my previous post. I think everybody's goal is to do stuff they like in a place they like with people they like. If you've got even one out of the three, that's a damn good start. And if you're tired of chilly darkness nipping at your heels for half the year, and have always dreamed of making stories come to life, you might have to be brave and take a plunge in the form of crammed-full U-haul barreling towards the Pacific. Or at least that's what my gut's been telling me when it's not delirious- drowning in delicious, anxiety-soothing dairy products... ah to be giddy and gassy and on the verge of forging a new trail.

That's all I got folks. Mostly I don't know what the f I'm doing with my life, but I think I'm in good company. Tell me what you think. And think about what you would do, where you would go if you knew that nobody you've ever met, nobody who's ever even a vague acquaintance of your distant facebook friends, would be able to know about it. Also, where's your crazy dream-relocation? I'm thinking tie between Thailand, Burma, and pre-Miraz Narnia. But not the bloody freezing part that's close to the stupid wardrobe please.

Keep me posted.



  1. One of the best blog posts I've read in a while.

    That was humorous and enlightening in the same paragraph: a difficult feat to accomplish, much in the same arena of trying to make someone do a triple-take. You just have to be that good.

    Good luck with all of this.

  2. Now you're just spoiling us Hannah. My first question is: You have secret ninja skills? How come you didn't tell us sooner?....because they were secret you say?.....that makes sense...obvious really when you think about it...

    But seriously though, you're not alone at all. My parents can't go more than five years without moving. It's sort of destroyed my concept of home. I'm living in a town I didn't grow up in and my only ties her are my parents, but the towns I did grow up in aren't home either. In a few years, my dad is going to retire and my parents are probably going to move down to Floria.

    What's keeping me here then? Where do I want to be? I don't honestly know, and it scares the shit out of me. If I wasn't so scared of the impermanence I desire, I would probably end up wondering from town to town, state to state, country to country, looking for where I'm supposed to be.

    When it comes down to it, I guess that it's the people who make any place. I think the only good reason to be anywhere is to be near someone. My only advise then would be to live near the people who matter to you....but that could be bullshit too.

    -Mike Rebello

  3. Ahh, I hate the cold.

    I have thoughts like these on a smaller scale. I'm not old enough to just go out and go wherever I want, obviously, but when it comes to even the tiniest things, I feel like I'm too dependent on the "world" around me that is defined by Facebook, school, and my neighborhood. I know I have a lot of time ahead of me, but at times I still feel useless. I lack the serious motivation to change anything right now, but hopefully that will end up differently. I always keep telling myself, "eh, next week..."

  4. Good Evening Ms. Hannah,

    Originality, flairing imagination, with roots like anchors in the human condition.

    I predictably peruse bits of other blogs, but here I am satiated.

    An adorable starburst smashing the shackles of my otherwise mundane existence.

    Driving me to stop using the words 'I wish' and 'could write' in the same sentence.

    Fearless freedom is measured not in the courage to break false bindings or rationalize uncomplicated escapes, but rather in an attitude of embracing unknown adventures. Facing nose first the rich experiences that are the failures of best laid plans.

    But, the anticipation of your stories, the unlived posts, fresh memories as yet unbloggable, make my mental appetite salivate.

    The butterfly has flapped its wings and those cells between your ears are already colliding in domino fashion towards inevitable yet voluntary action.

    I am stoked, on your behalf, for yourself.

    Besos. ;^)

  5. so glad to find more people that don't know what they want, "Because I don't really know what I want to do. I know plenty things that I like to do, but I'm pretty sure you can't get paid for most of them... or at least not in the way you'd want your grandmother to find out about."

    exactly! greetz, Hannah

  6. You are a gifted writer. I love the pastry description, but I can't figure out a clever way to comment on it without it seeming like a creepy sexual innuendo. Still, it is a great paragraph in a great post.

  7. Hannah,
    Your writing seems to perfectly sum up the feelings I have about the world and the lives of those in our generation. I'm glad for you that you that you have the writing capability to express it so eloquently. (Though- somewhat jealous. Please use your top-secret ninja capabilities to mentally donate some writing skills to me.) Keep up the good work.

    PS- the East will draw you back even if you leave, the seasons are sneaky and won't let you get away forever.

  8. I'm Up for Thailand next Winter!! ;))

  9. Hannah -

    Why are you not writing this shit for NPR or This American Life? It's funny, refreshing, and I absolutely love reading them (when you write them, of course.

    Now we just need to find you a nice Jewish boy so you can kvetch on your blog about how he burns your that's Gen Y entertainment!