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Archive for the category “Gen-X Philosophy”

43) My Past Is a Dystopian Future

I recently began watching the Netflix series, Black Mirror. The first season, episode three, The Entire History of You struck me on many levels. As part of the last generation to experience a full childhood before the Internet, I could not help but think of movies throughout my life that hit on similar themes. Often, these movies coupled with my reading of dystopian novels and intersected real life, affirming my darkest suspicions and creating a mantra: That’s not going anywhere good.

…buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy because Kansas is going bye bye. ~ The Matrix

We’ll start with The Matrix. It’s a big one. It threaded together a cohesive realization that the world was transitioning into the unknown territory of virtual reality, surgical cognitive manipulation, and the impending death throws of a fading private life. Released in 1999, through the main character, Neo we experience an awakening that the world is not what it appears. The people glom onto consumerism and creature comforts absorbed in daily routine, oblivious or willfully ignorant to the proverbial man behind the curtain. Food, sex, and entertainment are the default control mechanism for those in power. Our human compulsion evokes another dystopian nightmare in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

Throughout my own life, I recall particular moments of existential hyperventilation. That is to say, certain shifts in society that I balk in horror—an Orwellian realization of humanity cannibalizing itself, dumb and blind walking through minefields of conformity. The masses deprived of critical thinking. A world where facts are turned upside down by those in power. Sound familiar? We’ve been here before.

Viagra For Everyone

I saw the first pharmaceutical advertisement sometime in the last few years of the 20th Century and the Y2K panicThat’s not a good idea. That’s not ethical. Someone is really going to screw that up, I thought. The fact that one of the first drugs advertised was Viagra just made it even more sinister. No lifesaving medication? Nothing that would help depression or help someone with diabetes? No. Just the welfare of post-retirement dicks.

Today, like Huxley’s novel, we take pills for everything. The pharmaceutical companies market to the populous with endless commercials presenting idealized scenes of perfect life moments rattling off a long list of disclaimers and threatening side-effects as pretty people take their golden retriever out for a walk on their pristine, richly landscaped backyard patio holding hands, as if everyone who takes the pill will never suffer alone, without a dog, without a patio and nothing peripheral to worry about other than taking those pills and avoid vomiting blood or experience hallucinations while shopping for turquoise jewelry.

There are more drug advertisements than any other product. In March 2017, spending on advertising grew by 62% since 2012. You get caught up in them—always the same perfect people, careful to include diverse ethnic backgrounds. You want to have their experiences. Their life looks so much better than yours even though they have fibromyalgia or cancer. If you watch too many at once, you can feel the manipulation on your brain. Constant advertising and promotion, samples from your doctor you can ask for. Drugs for the masses to keep us at a comfortable notch below revolt levels. Who wants to revolt when you can have opioids?

The world forgetting, by the world forgot. ~ Alexander Pope

Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, another movie that hit me while watching Black Mirror—the idea that we could erase our memories and become blissfully happy, which in the bigger picture would destroy any democracy. The sober, resisting sort of humanity declares, Oh, HELL NO!

Joel (Jim Carrey) erasing his memory of Clementine (Kate Winslet).                    source: screenprism.com

 

In the movie, James Carrey and Kate Winslet star as a distraught couple who choose to erase the other from memory and subsequently fall in love again. The harrowing nightmare that unfolds takes you through a psychological landscape that would make Salvador Dalí a nervous wreck.

Given the choice, I’d rather stay grounded in layers of collective knowledge gleaned over years of experience, world events, bad choices, and yes, even my most painful moments. I refuse to let that go for in so doing, I will invalidate my own existence. Those of us who care to leave behind a roadmap for others battle against the ease of consumerism and fight to stay relevant, stay authentic, resist against apathy of the citizen to hold the government in check. That leads me to another dystopian futuremy past.

Windows 95

I remember using the Internet for the first time in the mid-1990s. Newspapers had few articles online. Most people read printed newspapers and checked the Classifieds for jobs. The O.J. Simpson trial was on every television in every break room in America and the housing market was experiencing a meltdown.

A few years later just before the President Clinton/Monica Lewinsky controversy, we searched for college paper topics on Yahoo search engine using NetScape Navigator, listened to the “Bing-Ding-Bong” of the connection, hypnotized by Flying Toasters and Bad Dog screen savers, learned how to create rudimentary webpages in HTML, scanned through websites with simple layouts and Comic Sans typeface, emailed jokes, played solitaire, and sent college applications through fax machines.

Windows 98

I began college in 1997 and tutored in the computer lab with apple crate sized monitors the color of bleached sandstone, 3-inch 1.44MB floppies or zip disks that stored a whopping 250MB. HP printers were the best on the market and checking your email between classes was the thing on every student’s mind. I would email back and forth to my boyfriend. We sent a lot of jokes and chain letters through email. It was fun and something you looked forward to: You’ve got mail. This was pre-9/11. Most people read the same news and nothing felt menacing in the world except for Comic Sans. We left the computer lab with our printed emails stuffed in spiral bound notebooks, called home on pay phones, hung out at Blockbuster Video, used Thomas Guides to find street addresses, and had coffee in places with people having face-to-face conversations. There were no cell phones except for yuppies with Nokias in slick, leather-seated Infiniti J30s, invested in Enron and dot-com stocks.

iPhone Killed the BlackBerry Star

After college, I worked for several years at a bookstore during the most volatile technological shifts of my time. One day I saw this book in the bargain section entitled, Is It Just Me or Is Everything Shit? written by two notably annoyed GenXers. I stared down at the book cover. A man pointing his index finger at me while holding an ear to his cell phone.

Is it just me or is everything shit? book cover (source: amazon.com)

We were in that pre-zombie phase when everyone was just beginning to expose their private phone conversations in public spaces, eyes were still making eye-contact (which later, whole faces would never be seen again upon arrival of the iPhone in 2007) but the non-verbal and oh, so courteous index finger ‘hang-on-I’ve-gotta-take-this-call’ gesture began to happen. I had noticed it in the bookstore and in other public spaces.

Just for the record, I took the plunge in 2006 and purchased my first cell phone, a Motorola flip phone for $12. Still in use, it is the first and only cell phone I’ve purchased to date. I witnessed people dangling their elbow out the window, one hand holding the phone yapping one-dimensionally audible conversation at stoplights, everyone within range now privy to where they go for family vacation or an epic business deal with a reluctant client or their worried the stock market might take a dump, all the while waiting for traffic to move and when the light turns green, they forget they are engaged in this driving thing and someone behind honks a “dude, get off your BLEEPing phone” sense of urgency. Soon, texting while driving would render the freeway as lethal as the scenes in The Matrix Reloaded.

Opt In/Opt Out—Reality is the Same

The consequences of this age, though intriguing and useful in the way of information, one cannot help but see the darker realities of life inside the matrix of our own making, the endless newsfeed of Facebook, impending cyber warfare, dwindling privacy, and future generations growing up dependent on technology. Mind control and submission of critical thinking is a pioneering feature in the coming years. Of course, this is nothing new, just better tools for future dictators. By the way, I’ve added some flowery language to my original mantra.

SUPPLEMENTALS:
17 Ancient Abandoned Websites That Still Work
13 Things You Were Doing on the Computer in 1997
Comic Sans: The Man Behind the World’s Most Contentious Font
Renting VHS Tapes in a Minnesota Video Store in 1991
The Untold Story of TV’s First Prescription Drug Ad


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Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer
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38) Why I Choose To Be Childless

 

why-i-choose-to-be-childless

Woman Reading (c.1900). Paul Barthel (German, 1862-1933)

In 2017, there are far more reasons for having fewer children than at any other time in history. The battles I see parents go through today are disturbing. I can’t imagine the world being better off in 10-20 years by the time their kids are old enough to reach college age.

I have never wanted to have kids, something I am not ashamed of. My parents fought over ridiculous things, things that didn’t matter, things that only pushed buttons and hurt one another. My brother had multiple marriages, four children, spending an exhaustive amount of his life fighting in family courts over visitations rights, dental appointments, and alimony. I never wanted that for myself.

As a member of Generation X, I don’t have the means to purchase a home. I live with a family member; hold $40,000 in student loan debt, just over a third of that in retirement savings. I rarely date. I have other things I’d rather do with my life. I find it refreshing to know that many women today are voluntarily not having kids. Many of my friends that do have kids (with a few exceptions) have gone through bitter divorce, navigate unstable family circumstances, and have children who are depressed and fighting an uphill battle just to exist.

I’ve had countless conversations, where someone will ask if I want kids and when I tell them I am single and childless by choice – I might as well have told them I just flew in from the Butterfly Nebula. Some responses range from “Isn’t that selfish?” or “That’s what women do,” or “the people who should have kids, don’t.”

First, it is not selfish to choose a childless life. It is a well-thought out and sound decision in an unstable environment. I would rather completely provide for a child’s needs and if things are not to my liking, then I’d rather not. It’s that simple. If that is selfish, well, I could introduce you to a lot of people who would prefer they were never born. So what is selfish? – Parents who thoughtlessly have children and do little to raise them to be good people for the planet.

Second, not all women are interested in having kids. It’s not that we don’t like kids; it’s a bigger issue. Many of us care deeply for humanity. The prospect of raising a child in broken families, fleeting relationships and financial burdens makes my ovaries want to shrivel up and dissolve.

Third, “people who should have kids don’t,” is the worst statement of all. It suggests that you are withholding a human being that should be in the world, that it is your duty to leave this special heir. It may sound flattering, but people fail to realize that there are no guarantees you will have a healthy, well-adjusted kid or the sustained resources to adequately prepare them for the future. This is especially true for those without sufficient family and financial support. These are not excuses. These are sound, well thought out assessments and in an overpopulated planet, a responsible choice.

Society needs to support women and men who choose a childless lifestyle. I take ownership to the choices I’ve made. I care about the planet. I care about all innocent children born after me and desperately hope they will have a better world to live in. Society needs to back off and support the idea that less is more and better for everyone and be OKAY with this trend.

I’ve read many articles about women who choose a childless life. I am greatly disappointed that the reasons they give are only based on micro-societal pressures. It is a much bigger picture. My pressures come from within. My pressures are a result of seeing a world unfit for child raising, a world that is hot, flat, and crowded, a world whose principles are so completely unaligned with my own that I feel raising a child to be futile.

We don’t talk about population as a key factor that impacts our planet or how it correlates to the dwindling natural resources, the lack of jobs, the struggle of governments to manage the numbers, the plight of families to deal with the competition to ensure the welfare of their children when classrooms are overcrowded and the cost of everything is rising beyond a live able wage.

In my time, I had my own problems trying to survive without being a burden on my parents or anyone. My own experience while fascinating and good storytelling is not gratifying and mostly depressing. Imagining the world my child would inhabit with 7 billion + other souls all competing, all fighting, all struggling to make ends meet is too much a burden for them to bear and I don’t have the resources, the support, the time or the drive to ensure their future and prepare them.

The thing about men and women like me is that we fill a void that represents the lives of so many discarded people. We are complete as an individual, a singular cell, an agent for change, a mentor, a caregiver, an artist, a poet, a writer, a philosopher, a scientist, an activist, an inspiration, a trailblazer, an adventurer, a storyteller, an advocate, a peer counselor, an aunt, a muse, an enigma. And, now more than ever… necessary.


Copyright © 2017 Solo GenX Warriors
Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

35) 2016 What Will It Mean?

syrian-refugees-standing-in-a-queue-waiting-to-board-a-train-to-the-border-with-serbia-near-the-town-of-gevgelija-on-the-greek-border-cnw-group-unicef-canada

Tears streaming down
Need substance now

A world most saturated
Political hemorrhage

Ideas dead
Consumed by dread

No room for growth
No time for love

Illusions and fog
Statistics and smog

Temperatures push up
Earth is running amok

Leaders are losing their heads
People consumed by hatred

Refugees flee from Syrian bombs
Leaving on vessels starved for new homes

Countries packed together
Explosive and prepped to fire

I am in my bubble.
Secure with no real trouble.

Yet, I fear our world will crumble
If all that we are is not stable

The glue of the past may unravel
And blood will splatter in ritual

And all that progressed our humanity
Will be lost in moments of infamy

Libraries will die
Humanity cries
Progress is dead
Off with our heads

Same as before
Hunger and more
Lost again
To fake and to fend

No learning from the past
No future that will last

Once again…
Our world to plunge into the abyss
Our inability to find bliss

No.
Not.

I refuse to accept that
All of this world is inept

So, if I exist then I must try
To do what I can before I die…


Copyright © 2016 Solo GenX Warriors 
Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

 

 

33) I AM…

I am the disease that penetrates the cell.
I am the creature that screams its hell.

I am the anger that floods the darkness.
I am the flame that flirts with the abyss.

I am haunted because I am dead.
I am alive and suffer instead.

I am the one who watches the world.
I am the one who wakes the absurd —

THE TRUTH.
I am a disease

I am enlightened by tragedy.
I am deprived of ecstasy.

I am brilliant in my spell.
I am in anguish and appeal —

TO REALITY.

I am the ghost of generations’ past,
I am alive in nothing that lasts.

I am changed and I am change.
I am like others just as they claim —

BUT DIFFERENT.

I am unique because I am dark.
I am kicking and spitting at sparks.

I am Gen-X.
I am reflex.


Copyright © 2016 Solo GenX Warriors 
Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

31) Waiting For Rain…

GARLAND, TX - DECEMBER 28: A tattered U.S. flag that had been attatched to a tree waves over the debris at the Landmark at Lake Village North Apartments as the recovery process begins following tornadoes which hit the area late Saturday night December 28, 2015 in Garland, Texas. A meteorolocical assault of tornadoes, blizzards and heavy rain have left dozens dead and a large path of property damage in the Central, U.S. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)

GARLAND, TX – DECEMBER 28: A tattered U.S. flag that had been attached to a tree waves over the debris at the Landmark at Lake Village North Apartments as the recovery process begins following tornadoes which hit the area late Saturday night December 28, 2015 in Garland, Texas. A meteorological assault of tornadoes, blizzards and heavy rain have left dozens dead and a large path of property damage in the Central, U.S. (Photo by Stewart F. House/Getty Images)


Eyes open wide,
Waiting for rain…

Waiting for death?
Waiting for pain?


Promise of destruction,
climate of change,

Why do we yearn for terrible things?
Are we wicked? Are we strange?

Yes.

And why? Because all that is, is not enough.
Comfort is boring and absent of stuff.
Stuff that motivates and expands our brains
And manufactures synthetics to nature’s things.

Eyes open wide,
Ready for change…
To get the human race to focus again
Eyes open wide for an end to this end.
My hope, I reveal, is not to pretend:

To be as one as one can be
To love the purity of the sea

To love all that crawls and flies

To love all that terrifies and delights
To love and protect all. That is right.

By right, I mean all that is in sight…
Beyond my terrible wicked mind.
To love all of nature and its kind.

In life, I am a coward.
On land, I must be a steward,
To govern all with deep respect.
My life is short, but I must confess…

That I, in my soul do feel:
that our lives are all too real,

We must fight for all with zeal,
that there is no God in heaven.
We must be the ones to reveal,
that WE must stop oblivion.


Copyright © 2016 Solo GenX Warriors 
Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

30) Comfort In Fearful Things

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.  – H. P. Lovecraft

I was born in 1974, the same year that Stephen King’s first book, Carrie was published and less than a year after the The Exorcist was released. It scared the crap out of my 11-year-old brother and perhaps incidentally propelled his spiritual life, transforming him into a God-fearing conservative Christian. The film broke box office records with millions of people standing in long lines. Many audience members passed out, up-chucked, and left the theater because the subject matter and raw graphics was too horrific to watch. I discovered the film on The Movie Channel, long after my brother left for college when I was 10-years-old. My parents never thought to dismantle the cable outlet…

I became my own parental control and watched anything that was dark, scary, or controversial. By the age of 10, I sampled a glut of R-rated horror films before I set eyes on The Exorcist. My earliest recollection was Blood Beach (an exquisitely dumb B film), then A Nightmare on Elm Street, Cujo, Halloween, Jaws, and Friday The Thirteenth (just in time for the coming of age of the 13th generation, AKA Gen-X). Rather than becoming desensitized from watching movies that most parents would never let their children watch today, it opened up my mind and hunger for knowledge.

Blood Beach Movie Poster

Although, I could not articulate it as a child, I was fascinated by anything that was physically unfamiliar, strange, unexplainable, and ultimately, anything that would horrify my mother or enrage my father. It wasn’t that I was rebelling from their attitudes. I was curious of why certain ideas provoked intense emotions within adults. I wanted to understand their reactions. At a very young age, I had a sense that the world was full of hidden truths behind closed doors, the back of dusty closets, underneath crawl spaces, the bottom of my mother’s purse and amongst the coins in my father’s pocket.

At night, I was afraid to run to my parents’ bedroom; it was too far away on the opposite side of the house. My dad built it that way. To get there, I had to run past a long hallway of tall closets, and my old bedroom where Mom reScary Treead her Bible every morning and night, and the bathroom, turn the corner past the fireplace, the entry way, the living room and kitchen, and finally, the dark ominous opening of my parents’ bedroom.

I learned how to be still, and breath, and conquer my fear of being alone. I grew to love the stillness of night, the rhythm of the moon, and things that moved in the darkness. My imagination was more colorful than reality and I learned to keep my eyes and ears open without fear of the vampire underneath my bed with his red glowing cape, or the Bogeyman outside my window that might pop his grizzly head up, or the wind quivering the finger-like branches of the tall twin pine trees against the full moon’s light.

I watched everything that was on television, if it peaked my interest. I grew to understand that basic fear was a human impulse resulting from a lack of knowledge in that, which is feared. Real fear was primal, the kind that connected to your gut. I learned the differences and the middle ground in between.

As a young adult, my experiences were haphazard, sometimes pushing the edge of what was good for me, but knowing when to lay low or get the hell-out-of-dodge. Most of my real fear in these situations was in direct response to mortal human encounters: relationships gone bad, deceptive adults, and unpredictable human behavior. I learned how to trust myself: my senses, my impulses, and my intuition. In this way, I have always felt unique in my experiences, generationally and spiritually.

I am less afraid of Bigfoot, Extraterrestrials, Chupacabra, UFOs, and Demon Possession, and more afraid of men with guns, blatant sexual urges, deranged agendas, entitled egos, reinforced by political alliances.

I am less afraid of ghosts, haunted places, werewolves, and vampires, and more afraid of political instability, nuclear weapons, social chaos, and natural disasters.

Born and raised in San Bernardino, California, cult capital of the nation and one of the most geologically dynamic places on earth, I was less afraid of the devil and creeping things and more afraid of large rickety building structures and mass gatherings of people. My Atheist/Agnostic father and Seventh-Day-Adventist mother provided a rich contrast of dispassionate mechanical thought vs. constrained fundamental belief for my inquisitive young mind to ponder; a perfect environment for analyzing contrasting viewpoints playing out in a post-Nixon world. It is difficult to imagine the 1970s without the horrors of the time as it metastasized into classic American Horror films on cable TV.

When I first saw The Exorcist, I had absorbed large amounts of data through television, reading National Geographic magazines and my mother’s SDA literature and the KJV Bible (I think I was halfway through reading the begets of Chronicles, because my mother insisted we read the Word of God from cover to cover – enough to make one want to barf up green soup). Even though the movie was scary, I couldn’t help but feel a hidden hand moving over the whole thing to increase Church membership and tithe. I began to doubt my mother’s religious ideas early, before I was a teenager. I wanted to believe what she did because I dearly loved her and saw that she desperately wanted to transcend all that was bad, but she couldn’t provide answers that were concrete enough for me to accept them.

The Exorcist proved how powerful religion is over the minds of those too afraid to question things they do not understand. I have no doubt that there are evil ‘things’ in this world. But those ‘things’ tend to be human generated through calculated motivations. True knowledge saturates perceived fear. It provides a clear path for humanity to evolve beyond its own planned obsolescence. I take comfort in fearful things and seeking knowledge to understand them.

SUPPLEMENTS:

The American Nightmare: A Documentary
Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown Documentary
Fascinating Facts About The Exorcist
The Movie Channel Commercials – 1980s

 


Copyright © 2015 Solo GenX Warriors 
Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

29) I Am Sick To Death But I Still Fight

Angry girlEvery day, I fight for my soul. I try to feed it oxygen, but the air is stale and smells of gasoline and cheeseburgers and rotting garbage.

Every day, I fight advertising and marketing and spreadsheets.

Every day, I fight to find the good in humanity…

I fight to find courage to live.
I fight the sadness of a world falling apart.
I fight to find peace of mind.

With a shifting and restless planet, I take solace in knowing the earth is fighting through earthquakes and pyroclastic blasts, venting the pressures that hold it all together. I let the words pour out, like lava. Words burn holes through the brain, force out the impurities of conforming conventional wisdom.

I am sick to death of conforming to institutions and social norms that are corrupt.
I am sick to death of convention that lacks conviction that should be self-evident.
I am sick to death of the wisdom of tired old men talking business and trading greenbacks and depleting the last hope for democracy, something I believed in once upon a time…

The Constitution and its promise is an illusion, a false store front, high fructose syrup that sounds pretty on parchment, yet everything we do undercuts the foundation of those carefully crafted words. My vote means nothing, but I still vote.

I am sick to death of a world whose religious beliefs, politics, and monetary interests overrides social progress, education, science and the welfare of the planet and all its life forms.

I am sick to death that writers, historians, philosophers, teachers, and artists must fight for their very existence while football players, politicians, lawyers, stockbrokers, and those born into wealth are more influential, privileged, and praised in society.

I am sick to death of oil drills and greasy machines and backyards full of junk.
I am sick to death of plastic and Styrofoam and concrete.
I am sick to death of consumerism and money and GDP.
I am sick to death of buying things that have to be thrown away.
I am sick to death of driving and getting nowhere.

I am sick to death of women giving birth to children without thought or consideration to the massive responsibility involved in spawning a life form into a world lacking everything to sustain that child.

I am sick to death of suburban mansions piled in neat, manicured rows in the desert and SUVs full of burping, farting, wasting human beings that drive 30 miles to soccer practice and idle their engines in long fast food lines.

I am sick to death of college degrees and career aspirations and MBA’s that focus on making money as the ultimate goal.

I am sick to death of cardboard and packing tape and useless pretty things made in China multiplied by billions of air-polluting vehicles delivering the same useless pretty things to retail establishments that throw out large portions of what they bring in; all to sell at discount prices that are palatable for Americans that need cheap stuff to comfort themselves from the stresses of their daily lives who end up storing their cheap acquisitions in their garage.

I am sick to death of the blinding speed of daily life, police sirens more numerous than the chirping of birds, and the drone of air conditioners in a September heat wave.

I am sick to death of the thought that I could be armed with 500 guns and never safe from a nuclear bomb.

I fight to stay engaged, to have a voice.
I fight to love and not to hate.
I fight my thoughts that words are futile.


Copyright © 2015 Solo GenX Warriors 
Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

28) Last Will And Testament of Generation X

Last Will
Tigers, narwhals, Bodhi trees, horses, snow leopards, the smell of the desert after a storm, Super moons, tribal tattoos, banged up skateboards, the origins of everything, old bras with the elastic showing, autumn, the color of crimson, orange blossoms in October, Chernobyl after people, Victorian buildings still standing, storm drains that run clear, pristine snow, dew on grass, black birds, white bones, trees in winter, old books, trails that lead to the edge of somewhere, old wine, sunken tombstones, and the rush of the wind.

100 years from my death, I hope:

It will rain in the desert,
Water will be plentiful enough to drain to the ocean,
Compassion will override commerce,
All little girls will feel safe in the world,
The beat of native drums will be heard once again,
Punk Rock will no longer be necessary,
Coyotes will howl in packs,
Old books will be loved,
Sunken tombstones will be remembered,
Solar will render nuclear obsolete,
Children will know tigers, narwhals, horses, and snow leopards,
And the fire within the earth will remain burning…

Copyright © 2015 Solo GenX Warriors 
Solo GenX Warriors ™ | Disclaimer

26) The American Dream is a Prison Cell

Growing up, I was under the illusion that my father was good with money and was conscientious about his investments and what he chose to buy. I learned later on that my father’s motivation was entirely based on my mother’s hormones. He would do anything to assure that she stayed with him, even moving our family when we were better off, financially speaking, to stay and pay off the home we lived in. All of this was hidden from my view; yet, I continued to think that he was making sound choices all along.

As I began attending college, I had to take out student loans, like the majority of other middle class students who were lucky enough to attend college. My primary motivation was that I had to pick something that would land me a job. Survival and independence was the ultimate goal. I often wondered why society calls it education, when the reality is to get a job and serve a life prison of work for pay to consume.

I first majored in Business. Like many young people, I was swayed by the idea that knowing business will be a guarantee to get a job and thus achieve success. As I spent the first year of college in business courses, a great anxiety slithered along the edges of my perception like worms in moist earth.

I didn’t like what I was doing or learning. The language was empty, calculating, devoid of the natural world. Dressing up, making appearances, walking the walk, talking the talk, my soul plunged into the void. Oxygen escaped through my pores every time I opened the doors of the creaking building.

The light disappeared into the polished floors of the hall; every classroom was filled with the templates of PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, and cut and paste Word memos with cheesy clipart I had seen on thousands of student flyers stapled onto billboards. Being ‘creative’ was equated with changing the color scheme and typography on your spreadsheet.

Everyone dressed in smart suits and shiny, black shoes clicking as they walked, like the sound of register tape pounding out numbers and dollar signs. Some days, I would stroll down those halls, feeling sick, observing my fellow students regurgitate business principles and economic trends mimicking their pale faced heroes on the trading floor of Wall Street, going blind staring at an endless stream of financial tickers.

scantron

About this time, I saw the film, The Matrix. There was no color to this world, no life in it. After taking a marketing class, I realized that my DNA was fundamentally opposed to everything I was being taught. A storm passed over me, a kind of existential crisis. I tried desperately to study for tests. I was a poor test-taker to begin with. Give me an essay question and I can explain everything. Our tests consisted of multiple choice and true or false questions, just like all of the CTBS tests I took in grade school with many rows of dots on Scantrons.

I was never any good at them. I overthought my answers and had difficulty with the process of elimination. Elimination is waste and in my world, everything must be considered before being discarded. My Business Law professor told me I think too much. I was completely depressed. What can I do in this world that has meaning and real satisfaction? I can’t buck up to make this work without going absolutely mad or becoming a sociopathic asshole.

My roommate, Tracy, was also a Business major. I came home to our apartment in tears. After several cigarettes and a few beers, she pulled out the course catalog and showed me a major I had never heard of.

“I was thinking… you are really creative. Why don’t you see about getting into the Graphic Design program?” she said. “It’s still business oriented because you work in marketing and advertising, but you design logos and other stuff.”

I took one look at the catalog and knew that’s what I wanted to learn. I needed creativity. I needed more than black numbers on white paper. I needed color and hues and tints; I yearned for new ideas, research, strange juxtapositions and conceptual exploration.

Three years later, I was in my junior year in Graphic Arts taking a class on Ethics in Design. Once again, I found myself in a panic, questioning how I would make a living in this field and I began to worry. Even though I reclaimed my soul in the creative element, would I be chained to the whims of business interests, would the color of my world dissolve into oblivion with the incessant needs of my clients to sell things I didn’t believe in?

After all, I would have to engage clients whose bottom lines were engrained in their business plans and the bottom line is all anyone can focus on. Was I willing to sacrifice my creative energy to see it produce another useless consumer product, more waste, more of the same? Was I willing to use my design skills to manipulate the public in ways that inherently were wrong and completely unsustainable?

The answer was – No.

After graduation, I took a retail job as a temporary solution with the hope of planning my next career step. After a year, I signed up for a 401(k) and contributed more than was recommended, having educated myself on money and trying to save more than I spend, once again knowing the future was uncertain and I had to pay my student loans. I subscribed to Money magazine and drew up a spreadsheet, keeping track of my expenses and re-balancing my portfolio every year. I did this for five years, careful to plan everything out, how much I would save and keeping my interest income figures low, just in case. That all changed…

I was clearly the wrong demographic for Money magazine, so I let the subscription lapse. Money magazine was for people who had $5,000 to invest, a mortgage, a kid or two in college, and a nest egg of at least $100,000. Nothing in the articles represented anything I was going through.

Four years later and an economic upheaval in 2008, I began to focus less on money, and yet, I saved it because I needed to sustain myself even though I knew the system was absolutely screwed. I began to downsize my living to the bare essentials. I stopped servicing my car and driving only when I absolutely needed to. I became more reliant on my computer for communication than my phone.

Now, my lifestyle is still at bare minimum. I have enough money for my creature comforts; coffee, cheap wine and $1 books at the library bookstore. I pay for a phone I hardly use and pay off my credit card each month. Debt is my enemy; a prison cell and I’d rather just go without, not see my friends, not drive anywhere. I write every day, I read every day and I hope every day for a revolution of consciousness.


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