Day 28: Build On Your Popular Content

Today’s assignment: Find the post that has received the most views, likes, or comments, and write a related follow-up post.”

On March 29th, I wrote a post as a follow-up to a writing prompt I did about battling the blues. After reading what many other writers had to say about it, I chose one post that resonated most with me and expanded on it. Though I’m not sure if it was my most popular post, I did receive some genuine comments after posting and I got a few “likes” out of it. “Likes” are great but any time I can get a authentic, heartfelt comment out of somebody, that counts as big points in my book.

So today, here is a follow-up to my follow-up. 😉


Similar to how C.G. Jung discovered his own personal myth by recalling what he most enjoyed doing as a child, I myself carry out the same thought process. It’s not so much as to discover the myth I am living by, (I’m still not sure of that yet) but sometimes I do it just to make sure I’m on the right track. It’s source of validation for me, you know? And so far with what I remember, everything is as it should be. I can say for certain that I am on the right path. Though I haven’t reached my destination yet, there have been many signs along the way that have verified my journey and that it is indeed, headed in the right direction.

Here’s a handful of things I tend to think about:

From my youngest age, I always remember being really into music, reading the liner notes of CDs, getting an incredible joy of learning a song on piano, making up melodies, singing in choir, being enraptured by musicals like AnnieMary Poppins, and The Sound of Music. (I’m still enraptured by these musicals, by the way). I mean, come on! I taught myself guitar at age 14 and no one had to even persuade me to practice. (It’s something my dad still talks about). I cried to my parents junior year telling them how important it was for me to take a Music Theory course for my last year of high school, and as many of you know I now have a BA in Music with concentrations in Music Industry and Music Production.

It may be difficult for others to understand the significance of all these little things I recall. But to me they’re more than significant because ultimately, they amount to who and what I am today. All those memories, all those things I did and songs I sang, tears cried, callouses formed, blisters burst – they’re a part of me. The road I chose was never guaranteed to be an easy ride, but honestly the best roads never are nor should they be. All great myths and stories have the same theme of taking the less traveled path. That is where true adventure lies. That is where we discover the true hero in all of us. Because that’s what we are – We are all the protagonist in our own storylines. Fate is the writer (Or Destiny, God, Jesus, Allah, Universe, Unknown Higher Power, etc – whichever you prefer).

Lately, I’ve been getting down about not being able to find a job. It wasn’t even something I was remotely concerned with when I chose my major. I just wanted to learn all I could about what I loved. But now as about a year’s passed since I’ve started Roe Knows Best, I’ve matured a little and realized facing facts is OKAY. I strive to be an independent and personally responsible individual and getting a job is going to be something I have to do in order to attain that. So I’m looking, searching, seeking guidance. And I’ve had some wonderful helpers along the way thus far.

It’s easy to get upset because the unknown can be so daunting; I accept that. But now that we’re in May, I’ve been noticing a common theme in my 2014 horoscope which has been this: Realize the power you have to turn a situation around. Realize the power you have to change your mindset; If you’re feeling negative, think positive. If you’re feeling worthless, remind yourself how much you are worth. If you’re feeling like a nobody, think back to all the things you’ve accomplished and what you mean to others!

And it’s hard. It’s really hard. And this conscious flipping of emotions works better some days than others. But what’s most important is, I have to remind myself that it can’t be done overnight. It takes practice. Even if you’re able to fool yourself for five minutes that things aren’t that bad before you turn back around to seek shelter in your negative wallow, that’s okay. It’s like lifting weights. If you’ve never lifted before, you can’t possibly expect to lift 50 lbs with ease. You have to work up to it: Start with freeweights, than 5 lbs, 10 lbs. Then one day, it won’t be so hard to lift the 50.

And when it comes down to it, you’ll be all the more stronger because of it. Even if it takes a little time.

Today I feel stronger than I did a year ago. And because of that, I think I’ll lift my head a little higher.

The sky is so blue today, the breeze so inviting. Why not take part?

 

The 9/11 Syndrome

I live about 20 minutes from Newark, so give or take I’m about 30 minutes from Newark Airport. Everyday I hear planes fly over my neighborhood.  Everyday.  One’s flying over as I’m writing this now.  One flew over as I made the decision to write this, about less than 5 minutes ago.

I try not to watch much TV.  Most of it’s garbage anyway, I know.  But sometimes I get into these weird documentary obsessions. The retelling of history, a person, an era; It really gets to me, it really touches my soul, gets me to think about myself and the world around me.  I don’t know.  I love that stuff.  I think I always have.  Even in school I didn’t mind it.  I really enjoyed it when the teacher would put on a documentary.  But it’s when 9/11 documentaries come on, I get sucked into this black hole.

I got into a passionate discussion with my 14-year-old brother a few hours ago.  I had just started watching a documentary on the 9/11 Commission Report and was trying to explain to him how our government failed us that day; How the loss of innocent life is unacceptable in any situation and how it breaks my heart.  He asked me why I watch these documentaries, why I put myself through it.  I watched another one last night before I went to bed and my mom walked in and said, “Oh, I can’t watch those things.  I’ll always remember, I’ll never forget what happened.  It was a tragedy.  But I can’t put myself to sit down and watch those things.  It’s depressing.”  “Well, maybe we should get depressed about it,” I said.  Maybe we should feel something other than complacency.

I tried to explain to my brother the analysis that goes on in my head.  I was 10 years old when 9/11 happened and out of all the stories I’ve heard, my perspective still remains the clearer than anything. And that’s probably true with everyone because in times of crisis or mental trauma, that’s when our memory receptors kick in – That’s when the film starts rolling and everything your eyes touch and any stray emotion you feel become permanently ingrained in your memory banks.  But at 10 years old, you can’t process or even begin to fathom the actuality of the situation and what it means.  At that age, you’re still immature.  Hell, you haven’t even gone through puberty yet.  You’re a kid.  A kid who can’t see past recess, foursquare, and the 3:30 bell to go home.

Now I’m older, more matured, educated, analytical.  I watch these things and try to come to terms with where our country went wrong – The mythological idea of a country a typical 10 year old grows up believing is perfect and right and just and true and free.  I try to put myself into the shoes of an Al Qaeda soldier.  But the truth is, when I do that I can’t feel my feet.  Because I can’t fully invest myself in that temporary fantasy.  I do not understand the hatred and rage or the “death to America” sentimentality they feel towards us.  Maybe it’s because I’m still too young to understand and/or because my knowledge of American History starts to fade after the Kennedy years and I draw blanks about what comes after, what our country did, how the international community currently views us and why.  Maybe it’s because I know little to nothing about Al Qaeda, their cause, or their struggle.  In any case, it’s when watching these documentaries I am desperately trying to understand the viewpoints from all sides in order to come up with some logical explanation to what happened that day.  And it’s a struggle every time because I can’t do it; Logic fails.  Logic seems not to apply to tragedy and we are told to accept it as the transcendent horror that it is. Am I what Billie Joe Armstrong would brazenly call an “American Idiot“?  Maybe.  But maybe not as I am truly trying to understand.  Sometimes I feel my whole life is a Coming-of-Age story and it’s just one lesson after another.

See, I’m no stranger to trauma.  I was the first child born in my family – First daughter, first niece, first grandchild. I was showered with constant love and affection and got to know my entire family in a way that neither my four cousins nor my brother got to experience.  My grandfather emigrated to the US from Sicily in 1968.  He had bore three children with my grandmother – all girls. He had always wanted a boy, but as fate would have it – girls were in the cards.  I think he may have been hoping for a boy when my mom was pregnant with me but as fate would have it – another girl.  I have watercolor memories of spending time with him, laughing and playing with him.  Because both of my parents worked full time, I spent an majority of my childhood with my grandparents before I was able to be enrolled in school.  I especially used to love it when Poppy pushed me around in one of those red Little Tikes cars with the yellow roof.  Remember those? I think there’s pictures somewhere…

In the winter of 1993 my family was over Nonna’s house.  We were watching TV, talking intermittently.  I was sitting next to Poppy. And all of a sudden someone said something to him, and he didn’t respond.  It was at that time everyone looked at him and realized he was having a stroke.  At the early stages of my toddlerhood I still remember his wide open eyes as he sat next to me unable to speak, the panic that ensued immediately afterwards as the paramedics were called.  And right before my memory starts blurring, right before – I remember struggling with the little Italian I knew to ask him if he wanted a glass of water.  I didn’t understand what was happening, but at three years old, I could feel the tension and sense of panic in the room and was so desperately trying to communicate to ease his discomfort in the only way I knew how.  And it haunts me.  To this day it haunts me.  And everyday I think about it and every night before I go to sleep I try to erase it from my mind so I can sleep easy. And then I wake up again and it will cross my mind and I will it away before it enters again.  And sometimes I cry about it.  And sometimes I try not to cry about it.  I get tired blubbering to my mom, unable to speak because I’m so grief stricken over this toddler trauma I’m not sure anyone truly understands – I don’t even know if I understand it.  And I dream of him sometimes and I wake up crying; In the latest one about a month ago we actually spoke.  But the funny thing is, when we spoke it was just like that night – me trying to scrape together the little Italian to knew to ask him questions – stupid questions like, “How are you?”, “What’s your favorite color?” and “Do you like music?”.  He died soon after his stroke on a cold December day that year and I don’t think I’ll ever let it go because in my juvenile, naive state of mind  I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand why it happened or ever got the closure I needed – whatever the proper “closure” would’ve been to a three year old anyway.

In my heart, I connect this monumental, national trauma to my personal one.  There are parallels of paralysis – wanting to help but can’t, shattering of innocence, loss of innocent life; Vivid memories, crystal-clear emotions, each individual trauma a scar on my childhood, a mark on my youth that cannot be erased.  And maybe I’m obsessed with understanding.  In my entire 22 years of life that has been so dedicated to learning, maybe it is a habit I cannot break out of and every time I replay the events, I’m determined to find the answer; I’m determined to find out why it happened.  It’s the 9/11 Syndrome.  It happens every year, like the opposite of a holiday: We revisit the past in waking daydream states and unconscious dreams to try and fix the unfixable. 9 times out of 10 we believe with all our hearts that logic will lead to unbiased truth and when that truth comes, everything will be okay; It’s a flaw in the human mind.  It’s a cycle I feel I will never break out of.  My grandfather has been gone 20 years this December.  Windows on The World, where my dad proposed to my mom, is now only existent in memories.  And I will revisit these events in my head, listen to every heartbreaking story, and watch every heart-wrenching documentary because I am in a Catch 22.  For all the lives lost, I must remember; And if I can’t remember everything or everyone, I should at least try at my very best to see that I do.

In The Power of Myth with Bill Moyers, Joseph Campbell says throughout human history, you can tell what’s most important within a society by looking at the tallest buildings.  Obviously, churches and other religious structures were the tallest buildings at one point in time and that emphasized the importance of religion. But then there was the rise of modern architecture and skyscrapers and colossal business buildings.  Those are the tallest buildings in our society today – The buildings dedicated to the ebb and flow of corporate capitalism and commerce.

Joseph Campbell also believed in religion as metaphor.  I take his belief and apply that to reality as well – I believe that our realities speak to us metaphorically (indiviudally and as a people) and that it is up to us to understand them, so that we may navigate this life to find our appropriate path. (For more on my personal experience reality as metaphor, please see my Dragonfly post).  When the Towers fell 12 years ago, I believe that was a universal metaphor for the demise of the corporate world as almost exactly seven years later, Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy, which began the avalanche of the most recent American recession which we have not fully recovered from.  As a nation, our trust in government and business was shattered.  And it is nowhere near being regained.  Once trust is broken, it is very hard to gain it back.  When you let someone down or a community down or a nation down, it takes a long time before they can look you in the eye again and take what you say at face value.   That goes for everyone, no matter their party designation, financial well-being, or societal stature.

On 9/11, I was very lucky.  I was not physically harmed and at the end of the day, my friends and entire family were unscathed, alive, and breathing. But as a human being where compassion is in my nature, is in all of our natures, I cannot help but relive the tragedy at least once a year.  It is a ritual I feel I must undergo in an attempt to comprehend what happened those people (and their families) who gave their lives that day less than 20 miles away from my elementary school, where at 10 years old, my world was suddenly changed forever. Emotions are a potent thing.  Sometimes they help more than harm and sometimes it’s the other way around.  But emotions can inspire us and lift us and propel us to make a better future for tomorrow.  We can aim our electrically charged dissatisfactions to accomplish something positive and great; There’s no need to be angry or hateful or complacent. We just need a positive attitude and clear head and the willingness to try.  Even if hurts, I will undergo the ritual annually. Eternity is always, future is everything.  It will all go on whether or not mankind is here to witness it.  And I prefer to stay until it is my time to go.

Thoughts On Graduate School

The concept of graduate school always makes me heated.  Anytime somebody brings it up in conversation I almost always find myself immersed in a passionate debate.  Despite my own insecure feelings about my own future at times, I think it just ticks me off because so I see so many people wasting their time with it.  Graduate school seems to have become a plan B for those who find themselves on a dead end street; It’s become a failsafe for a twenty-something who finds him/herself stuck in a directionless life.  But why has it become a failsafe? It didn’t always used to be that way.  Welcome to the 21st century, where graduate school has transformed from a place of high, scholarly pursuits to a cop out; A place to waste more time, borrow more loans with high interest rates while falling further into debt, spend three paychecks on books you’ll sell back for 25 cents each, and to sit in a classroom like you’ve been doing your whole goddamn life so you can get another overpriced, shiny piece of paper with a stamp, a seal, and some signatures.  What bullshit.

Now if you are going to grad school for something you love, something you believe in and are passionate about, my little blog post does not not apply to you.  …And if you fully believe in your quest for knowledge for whatever field you’re in, you should know that and know that my words are not speaking to you in the least.  Grad school can be GREAT when you know you’re on your path.  In fact I encourage you to pursue your bliss and reach for the stars!  Enjoy, soak up that knowledge like a sponge, and come out of there as a PRO.

The thing is higher education in general has gone to the dogs.  Probably because it has become the societal norm to attend college.  There are too many people enrolled in colleges and universities who frankly don’t belong there and classroom environments suffer because of it.  Aside from the fact that no one can live on minimum wage, it’s extremely difficult to accomplish anything in life without a college degree…or so we’re told.  The drop out geniuses do show themselves and the fruits of labor every once in awhile (i.e. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, etc).  College can prove to be a great experience but in all honesty, not all minds are wired to march to the beat of the intellectual drum.  Many do not do well within an academic context.  And that’s OKAY.  Or at least it should be.  Yet why does society say otherwise?  Don’t have enough money?  “Here, take out $30,000+ loan per year with 7%+ interest for 4 years.  Don’t worry.  That job you’ll get or that thing you’ll invent while you’re smoking hash in your garage will get you so filthy rich, they’ll be wheelbarrowing your money to your front door.  You’ll pay that off in no time.  You’re a smart kid.”  Don’t have a computer or books?  “Use your loan to pay for it.  Yeah, don’t worry about it.  By the time you have to make payments you’ll be working at some corporate office counting your stacks like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.”  Scholarships?  “What’s that?  Didn’t hear you.” THIS IS THE SYSTEM WE NOW LIVE IN. WHY?  We all know how ridiculous this sounds and I know many have experienced this first hand.  These are things I’ve witnessed are within an undergraduate context; Why on Earth would anyone subject themselves to this again?  We all know that for the most part the jobs aren’t there (unless you’re willing to sell your soul to some ungodly field in pursuit of a dollar), loan debt is a problem and then falls into a catch 22 in the “funemployment” world where you have $0 income, and scholarships (for the most part) are wasted on the dropouts and the ones who don’t care and drink their weight in tequila every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of their 4 year (or 5 year if their a supersenior) college career and end up looking like Mrs. Puff by the time they graduate.

The more I read, the more it appears that in the past college used to be a big deal; It was a way to heighten your intellect, learn, and go back into the world with your knowledge and put it to good use; And maybe if you’re really good, help make the world a better place.  I am ashamed of my generation because college is now an excuse to get away from Mommy and Daddy to obsess over Facebook and your iPhone, excessively drink, and sleep around with anyone who has a pair of legs. It makes me laugh though because all these Mrs. Puff lookalikes passed and got their diplomas just like I did.  At first that bothered me because I worked hard in school.  I always have and I don’t care how nerdy that makes me sound, but it’s true.  But then I reinforced the thought I’ve always had since high school that grades really don’t matter.  GPAs really don’t matter.  It’s what you get out of the experience what counts and that alone shapes who you become as a individual.  It’s what you can take with what you’ve learned and how you’ve learned it and apply it to your future, whether you’re employed or not.  I live in a materialist generation where everyone cares about the wrong things.  I wish I could persuade everyone to disconnect from their devices and put down their credit cards and persuade them to read again, things they’ve always wanted to read, philosophize and think and dream, to talk about art and music that’s not on the radio.  Maybe that’s my utopia or something.  But life’s too short to keep partying like you’re 18.  Life’s too short to keep playing Candy Crush and post Facebook statuses for attention.  Do something, make something, create something, teach yourself something.  Engage in conversation that’s not gossip.  What about Life?  You’re living in right now and you don’t even know it.  Put down the phone and marvel in the world before you have back problems and become bedridden.  Take care of yourself and stop destroying your body so you don’t die later on down the road when you finally decide that life means something to you.  By numbing yourself with technology and bullshit you are committing an act of the slowest suicide.

Graduate school will not fill your void but will only delay the inevitable.  Once you’ve achieved all you possibly can within an academic spectrum, you will realize the worst thing of all – That you have missed Life.  And you will realize all the things you made time for and thought were important only caused you anxiety, frustration, debt, and grey hair.  Then you will slowly fall into yourself and realize you don’t know who you are, who your friends are, what you’re doing here, and the job (if you end up finding one) you swore would provide everything for you and be the answer to all your problems, you will realize that that job is not enough.  And you will be older and feel the weight of time tightening its grip around your throat.

Now more than ever is the time to self-discover, read, and be alone for awhile.  To hell with the system we live in. Let us meditate on ourselves, learn as much as we can (without the burden of papers and tests), and shape the future to display positivity, togetherness, and love.  Those three things unite like no other.  Enough of chasing the broken American Dream that died with Gatsby, enough with ignoring our loved ones, enough with staying inside when the sky is so blue.  Let’s breathe and ask ourselves what our soul is really yearning for.  Let’s not suppress it with empty promises and the hollow shell of graduate school.