Red Light Existential Crisis

We are born through no effort of our own, with a mind and body we have neither chosen nor own. And, all of a sudden, this thought begins to morph, slowly, into a worm that wriggles its way through the crevasses of the mind. A magnificent organ, soiled effortlessly.

It may not be an existential crisis worthy of the philosophers I studied but it is an angst that quietly gnaws away at my consciousness. Long, grey nails on a bony hand picking away at the chipped paint on my walls. Tk. Tk. A soothing activity for the hand, I’m sure, but I am experiencing exposure and vulnerability.

I’m waiting. I know exactly what for but I will never tell. I know that some of what I wait for will not come to me and I cannot simply go out and grab it. So I slowly and painfully let it go. A mourning process of sorts ensues. If I were a fisherman, I’d release my line into the ocean to disintegrate where I know the spool will accomplish more in death than it ever would in life for me. I learn, and I let go.

Still, I have not begun to live. Twenty-eight years of life and I recognize that the vast majority was spent waiting. Subtly, but still very actively, waiting. Herein lies the crisis, bringing the basis of my existence into question. I have existed for years, created without permission, plagued by a feeling of needing to earn the right to… well, exist. Something about being given what one did not ask for, whether good or bad, creates a sense of responsibility over what has been given. What do you intend to do with it? How do I laugh with Sisyphus, look Nietzsche in the eye and say, “Yes, I would live this life over”?
The angst this creates is almost unbearable – I am chained yet free. I am nothing and everything all at once. The world I have envisioned is not the one I am in. I can either disregard or honor the difference. I am both an idealist and a realist.

And then, when the feeling finally subsides, I emerge from the depths of a murky lake. Baptized through my own suffering, the feeling of near-suffocation dispels the impurities in my lungs. Breaking through the water’s surface, breathing in deeply and urgently, I realize that I will never be loved by another more than I love myself. The fault may either be mine for loving myself too much or another’s for not being capable of loving me enough. And yet this all may not be entirely true. Either way, I am often at a red light, irritated yet unphased. Curious and anxious. The waters of my own reality splashing around me, taunting me mercilessly with the thoughts that while I may very well be Poseidon, these waters may very well be godless.

© Leila Chammas, January 18, 2017.

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Over A Decade of My Life in Songs

Certain songs remind me of a certain time in my life, whether it be good or bad. These are some of those songs:

High School
2002: Freshman year
Stacie Orrico + More to Life
Avril Lavigne + I’m With You

2003: Sophomore year
The Used + All That I’ve Got
Simple Plan + Perfect
The Killers + Mr. Brightside

2004: Junior year
Blink 182 + Always
Blink 182 + I Miss You
Evanescence + My Immortal
Counting Crows + A Murder of One

2005: Senior year 
Alanis Morissette + Everything
Third Eye Blind + Jumper

Undergrad
2006: Freshman year
Hanson: When You’re Gone
Bill Withers + Ain’t No Sunshine

2007: Sophomore year
Counting Crows + Round Here
Dave Matthews Band + Crash Into Me
David Gray + This Year’s Love

2008: Junior year
Fiona Apple + Never Is A Promise
Björk + Hunter

2009: Senior year
Alice Smith + Dream
Segal + Skins Theme Tune
Crystal Castles + Alice Practice
Kanye West ft. T-Pain + Good Life

2010: Graduation  
Augustana + Boston
Joe Budden + Black Cloud

2011
Antony and the Johnsons / Anohni + Bird Gerhl
2NE1 + It Hurts

2012 
Gotye ft. Kimbra + Somebody That I Used To Know 
Pogo + Wishery
Pogo + Alice

Grad School
2013: First year
Rihanna + Man Down
Nas & Damian Marley + Nah Mean
Cab Calloway + St. James Infirmary Blues
Grimes + Genesis

2014: Second year
Amy Winehouse + Back To Black
Lana Del Rey + Ride
Lana Del Rey + National Anthem

Post-Grad 
2015

Tove Lo + Habits
Disclosure ft. London Grammar + Help Me Lose My Mind

2016
Mabel + Thinking of You
WSTRN + In2
Claude Debussy + La Mer
Rihanna + Love On The Brain

© Leila Chammas, December 16, 2016

Aztec Nightmare

I was driving down a main street and I distinctly remember thinking it was dark out far too early, even for wintertime in New England. The sky was vast and charcoal grey. But it wasn’t just dark, it was empty. There was a contagious feeling of hopelessness permeating the atmosphere, one that was unmistakably signified by a sun that had refused to rise. An Aztec nightmare coming to fruition. The feeling seeped down from the sky, a godless abomination clawing its way into me. Trickling down from my head to my toes, I was filled with angst and the kind of sadness that floods the body and morphs into depression with heavy determination.

I was the sky.

I was driving towards doom, into a dim sky. Everything was stopping. The sun had not risen. It wasn’t temporary; we knew that that was it. The sun didn’t just not rise, it had stopped rising altogether. That was the end and I was somehow existing beyond it.

In my sleep, I felt it all for a mere few minutes but remembered it for days.

© Leila Chammas, December 14, 2016

Suburban Alienation

I hate the suburbs. I don’t know how it happened but, somehow a home with a garage, front and back yard, and the quintessential white picket fence has become synonymous with the American Dream. So I want it. Or I want to want it. But I kind of don’t. Cooped up in a wooden box, isolated from the outside world, festering and bubbling in the reality created inside the house itself. Every house its own entity, its own reality. Each family existing separate of the others. Years and years passing without knowing everyone’s names or seeing the inside of their homes.

The suburbs were designed to breed anxiety. Maybe not intentionally, but still. The front lawns create an ironically welcoming divide between the public street and private home. A small piece of nature, created by the gods and owned by man. I am walking along the street, feeling the warm asphalt against my bare feet. The world is my playground. Skin pounding against synthetic earth, the side of my left foot grazing the grass of someone’s front yard. Private property. Don’t walk on it. It’s not yours. There’s an awkward separation between me and the house, between me and other people.

Inside, every door is shut. This is where nightmares come to play. Where wives in the 60s burnt their Thanksgiving turkeys and fell in love with Valium. Husbands with a suitcase full of anxiety and a pink slip. Affairs. Debt. Dial tone. Suit. Stock market. Crash. Some of the worst family secrets were bred in the suburbs.

Once in, I’m reluctant to come out. Where are you going? When are you coming back? Who are you going with? 

Everything and everyone seems to be a car ride away. Neighbors are strangers, I don’t know how or why. I’d never step on your lawn, fall on my knees in the rain, in the dark, in your front yard, begging you to help me. We moved into the neighborhood and never got a welcoming. We never offered one. But we weren’t offered one either; we moved into an alienated neighborhood. Literally and metaphorically. Walking only gets me to private property, unless I want to brave an unfriendly main road. Walking: Private, private, private, private, private.

Alienated.

© Leila Chammas, October 28, 2016