Life

30

I’m not an anxious person, and I’ve always had an OK self-esteem, but in the slow, quiet moments of my 20s I spent absurd amounts of time concerned about my identity. About not knowing who I was. About not knowing enough. About not getting enough done. About wasting time. About being a fraud.

Now that I’m 30 years old, all I worry about is my back. 

The small of it. See, it hurts more than it used to, mostly in the mornings.

But back to the tepid taming of my flaming identity crisis. The trick I’ve learned — and they don’t tell you this until you turn 30 — is to realize that everybody is having an identity crisis. All the time. We’re all faking. We’re all frauds. We’re all failures.

Fake it till you make it, then, isn’t just a saying, but a proverb. 

I see it printed on every bumper sticker, every t-shirt, every smile, every handshake, every campaign hat, every resume, every Facebook post, every blog. Fake it till you make it.

Give yourself a break

(more…)

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29

At 29 years old, I’ve discovered the truth.

Everyone is lying to me.

It’s not so much a realization, but a confirmation. The truth is that getting old isn’t all that bad.

Sure, there’s the aches and pains. That much is true. The other night I got off the couch and proceeded to the bed and upon lying, realized that, somewhere along the way, I tweaked a back muscle. Lift, turn, walk, lie and… my back is destroyed? Guess I’m not as spry as I used to be.

And sure. The mind starts to go. I’m more forgetful than I’ve ever been. Words are becoming harder to recall, and I’ve never been a worse speller. This became all too apparent at work the other day when I created a flyer for a football-themed event, misspelling Cincinnati in big, beautiful bold letters.

And okay. I’m taking medication. Dermatology stuff, but still — medication. At the onset I experienced side-effects. Nothing drastic, just irregular doses of dizziness accompanied by brilliant flashes of drowsiness, like some ill-fated celebrity duo tromping down a red carpet determined to prove the world wrong only to wake up six months later in rehab. I lowered the dosage.

And yes. I can no longer fit inside my own clothes. My pants have shrunk like raisins, my shirts like voodoo heads. But it’s not the clothes! It’s me! You see, I didn’t know I could gain weight. But then 29 happened. That magical time in my life when everyone said, “You’ll fill out one day.”

That day is today. (more…)

Borrowed trouble: My 30 days inside a payday loan office

The cursor blinks and a man hovers over my computer. American flag t-shirt, sleeves off — he coughs into his hands and rubs them together. He’s nervous. On my desk lies his bank statement, three pay stubs and a driver’s license. They are the only items he has in the world.

“You can do $200?” he asks. “All I need is $200.”

“I can do $200,” I say, but I’m falsely distracted: I’m typing — clicks and clacks without regard to timing or rhythm. The store is stuffy today. I’m thinking about going home. Or crawling under my desk, holding my knees and rocking. I’m feeling loansome: i.e., the mental weight from a month’s work of digging irresponsible borrowers under insurmountable debt.

“Yeah,” he says, “that all?”

Sam, who sits next to me, swivels over. She reaches to tap my computer screen, making the monitor shake, her chubby finger with a fat force. Where she taps it reads,

TOTAL LOAN AMOUNT APPROVED: ………………. $750.00

Sam turns her head, smiling at me, nodding, as if to say, “Go ahead, Kevin, you got this. I believe in you.” So I swallow. I have to find my voice again, like a shy 12 year old being forced to sing the National Anthem in front of his friends; it’s in there, but it doesn’t want to come out.

Below my computer screen is a motivational sign:

GOAL: 100% of TLA

Next to the letters is a picture of a steaming coffee cup with a pastry.

The man, waiting, now growing impatient to my silence, stretches. He looks to his right, at the signage hanging on the wall. Big, beautiful green letters,

BE A RESPONSIBLE BORROWER, TAKE ONLY WHAT YOU NEED.

“You’re approved for $750,” I say.

He pretends to think about it: “Yeah,” he says. “I’ll take it. All of it.” (more…)

Beowulf and the Ever Growing Resume Hoard

I’ve been reading Beowulf. Correction: I am taking a class on Beowulf. That’s right. One whole semester on an English story written about a Swede who goes to Denmark to fight a monster.

We’ve bounced in and out of various translations: Liuzza, Heaney, Tolkien.

There’s this part where, when Beowulf is first introduced, he goes to speak for the first time, and the author says that Beowulf opens his “word-hoard.”

The eldest one answered him,

leader of the troop, unlocked his word-hoard (Liuzza, 258-59).

Old English is a fascinating study. It forces the reader to consider where words come from and what exactly they mean, and how these words have evolved through translation overtime.

Apparently, word-hoard is the forerunner to “vocabulary.”

Tolkien, in his Beowulf translation, says “store of words.” The idea is the same.

Old English was very object-oriented. People didn’t just have a vocabulary, because to them that wouldn’t make sense. They would need a physical place, or structure, to store the words. It’s interesting because, now, we don’t even consider what we mean when we say “vocabulary.” We just know that somewhere in our brains we’ve hidden all the words we know.

Personally, I’m going to say “word-hoard” from now on.

Segue Hoard

This is probably the worst segue of all time, but I checked my resume folder in Google Drive the other day, and I found about twenty resumes, all made within the last three months.

“Resume-hoard,” I said in an Old English accent.

The accent was more Scottish, but I do a terrible Scottish accent, so let’s just call it Hackney.

The point is this: I’m graduating in May. Since the start of the year, I’ve already applied to over thirty jobs. I feel like I should have some serious leads but I don’t. My wife and I are hoping for either Seattle or San Francisco. Only God knows. It could be Lithuania, really. (more…)

I broke my Facebook argument virginity and all I got was this lousy blog post

I have a hate/hate relationship with Facebook. Sure, I didn’t have to rejoin the social media giant three times. But I did. The reality is that Facebook is a necessary evil. For me? It’s a networking tool for freelancing. Also, after moving across the country, it aided me in remembering new faces and new acquaintances.

Facebook, really, isn’t evil. I try not to be an either/or type of person. I believe it’s best to live somewhere in the middle. Between the mean of two extremes, as Aristotle would tweet.

Facebook arguments, however, are evil and dumb and silly and fun to watch.

They have never settled well with me. Mean spirited. All-too-easy. Festering and sprouting at every opportunity, usually ending in a dog pile of earnest, hurt emotions.

As a veteran online-conscious being, I have abjured all temptations to join any form of online argument. Even as a political Independent. The stuff I see on Facebook (racist, ignorant, stereotype perpetuating, heavy bias journalism) makes me want to scream my fingers off. And the way people pounce on one another. Ugh.

Facebook is a daily lesson in self-restraint, certainly.

That is, until I broke my Facebook argument virginity. I caved in. I can’t even find my promise ring.

The Facebook Argument

There are many kinds of online arguments. Let’s break this down. (more…)

28, or, How Keva Got His Groove Back

Today is my 28th birthday. I’ll spare you the whiny existential, ontological, and anthropocentric rants that have haunted my previous birthday blog posts. Like yearbook haircuts, they are hard to look back on. Speaking of yearbooks…

I saw The Ataris the other night, here in Rochester. They are this pop-punk band from the late 90’s and early 2000s that I once obsessed over. I was in and out of a lot of relationships in high school, and it’s safe to say that The Ataris were unofficial therapists for me.

They had some MTV success back around 2005 with “In This Diary” and their cover of “Boys of Summer,” but of course, their best stuff came before that on Kung Fu Records.

Anyway, I talked to The Ataris singer, Kris, at the show. I was struck by how identical he remains, at least, to the fifteen year ago version of himself that I saw many times, singing on stage in California. He looks like a 40 year old trapped in a 20 year old body. He was very nice, I don’t mean to slight him or offend him. I just mean, when he sings, “Being grown up, isn’t half as fun as growing up, these are the best days of our lives,” I get sad because I worry he believes that, that he is holding on to something that no longer exists, and that I am helping fund this sort of delusion, by paying money at the door of some sketchy club so that he can go on pretending.

WOW. Whiny existential. Sorry. Let me get back on track.

How Keva Got His Groove Back

I have this joke with my wife that I am still in my early 20s. The joke goes, 20-27 is “early twenties” and 28 and beyond is “normal twenties.” This means, as of today, that I am officially in my twenties. (more…)