What was, what is, what will be.

I had one of those “deep” conversations with a friend the other day. And I started thinking. And that’s never a good thing.

But still, I started thinking. I looked back over the almighty shoulder and started browsing through some of my most precious memories. She asked me if I miss my family – living with mom and dad, that is. Please do remember that I’m 25, soon going on 26 and that’s downright scary. I’m in my “remembering adolescence” phase; it’s like a werewolf cycle, only it comes around just once a year, right before I change digits.  I never really get to the same conclusion, not for two years in a row. Back when I was 20, I didn’t miss the sweet sixteen, not for a second. I was 20, I considered myself a grown-up and had high expectations from myself and from everyone around me. I didn’t miss being a teenager, being told what to do or depending on my parents’ approval. I didn’t miss the fights, the nights spent with my eyes glued to the computer, headphones shoved in my ears, listening to angry “F*** You” music (i.e. Puddle of Mudd, Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Papa Roach, Rancid etc.), waiting for my dad to just pass out from all the liquor and for my mom to finally stop crying and just go to bed. I didn’t miss the drama nor did I miss being pushed around. I was a young artist, I had a bunch of wild dreams and kept telling myself that I’d make them all come true. It never crossed my mind that I might just be downright stupid and incomplete.

When I turned 23, I missed it all. I would’ve given everything to go back there. As nasty as it got sometimes, it was ten times better than what I was going through. Nothing could beat the comfort of my own home – even though it wasn’t literally my home, we paid rent. But hey, at least someone else took care of the bills. I could easily focus on school, art and writing, though I never got around to giving it my 300%. I didn’t like the heartbreak, the nights I spent tossing and turning and crying over a douchebag who wasn’t even half as awesome as I truly was. But hey, I was 23, a chick and I was in love – and God did it hurt! I missed adolescence, when heartbreak was as common as the common cold itself. You got it on Wednesday and you were over it by the weekend. That’s how I remembered my first crush and all that coming-of-age high school drama crap. I missed staying at home with my parents, worrying only about my grades or about how I’d get away with all the ditching and smoking behind the school building. I missed spending time on the balcony, listening to my angry “F*** You” music, feeling sorry for myself and for my joke of a family – but at least those were productive times; I painted a lot of good stuff back then. Of course, thanks to daddy, I’ve got nothing to show for.

When I turned 25, I didn’t even know for sure if I missed my teenage years or not. That time of my life was a pretty decisive landmark in the shaping of my present self – it’s the same for everybody else, but I took it personally so it meant a whole lot more. Sweet sixteen was like the moment when B.C. turned to A.D., according to the universal calendar.

But I’m turning 26 soon. And I’m still thinking. And it’s still a bad thing, look at what I end up doing when I get to thinking. I blog, for Christ’s sake. And yes, I do miss some of those teenage years – but just moments of it. The most important moments, that is. Those rare nights when dad came home less drunk than usual – or apparently sober (boy he fooled me a couple of times!); we’d sit on the couch, I’d tell him about my crappy day, he’d give me a decent foot rub and I’d go to bed with a smile on my face; I’d spent my afternoons in my room, listening to my angry “F*** You” music, testing new techniques with pastel chalk, water and hairspray; I’d spend hours in front of that easel, until I’d realize that my back hurt too much, so I’d put the easel away and I’d continue painting directly on my lap; my pants would obviously get messed up and my mom would yell at me for that. I’d get angry and try hard to ignore the rants. By the end of the day, she’d fix me dinner and she’d fall asleep while watching one of her cheap soap operas. I remember that she truly enjoyed defending those shows, insisting that what she was watching was of much higher quality than that “daytime” crap. Hah…

Yes, I miss those moments. I miss hanging out with my friends on weekends. I miss ditching school and seeking refuge in the Irish pub, playing darts, munching on pizza and giving poetry a shot. We actually tried to start our own Dead Poets’ Society. My dear friend Cassy must still have a copy of that particular notebook. I’d love to read it again and marvel at our ingenuous and basically virgin brains.

I don’t miss the family part. Not all of it, anyway. I miss some bits of it. The good ones. I’m very picky, I know, but they’re my memories and I choose to do whatever I please with them. I’ve tossed the bad ones away – I got my experience out of them, there’s no use keeping them around anymore.

But I know one thing for sure – the kind of thing that you can disprove with science and I still wouldn’t care. I’m part of a very important generation. I’m part of that moment when humanity decided to take a second look in the mirror and say “Hey, there’s something wrong about this picture. But instead of going out of my way to fix it, I’ll just channel it into something that I’m good at. I’ll write. I’ll paint. I’ll play the guitar. I’ll do something about myself without putting myself down!”. Maybe it sounds complicated to you, but to us… it was an exhilarating moment. The day we decided that we weren’t kids anymore but we didn’t qualify as adults, either. The day we realized that we walked that very fine line between child and adult – that niche which, if handled in a smart way, could open some kickass doors.

Of course, very few of us got that far. Some settled for the boring office job, the moderately priced car and the one week holiday at the seaside every year. Others didn’t make it past 18. And some, but just a few, got to where they are today by constantly adding tiny bricks of experience to the majestic towers that they are, watching down on the rest of the world. I could have the audacity to say that I’m one of them, but I don’t really qualify as a tower, as I move around a lot. But I guess I’m somewhere in between. I’m still walking a fine line between everything that I was, everything that I am and everything that I could be.

And I gotta hand it to myself, it’s not as easy as it might sound.

So yes, I miss being a teenager, but down to a point. Yes, I look forward to reaching other important landmarks in my timeline, such as marriage, kids, the C.E.O. plate on my office door and so on… but down to a point. Yes, I’m enjoying every second of my present existence. But sadly, down to a point. Like I was saying, I’ve been thinking.

I’m a mess by nature. Born in the 80’s, raised through the 90’s, emancipated through the 00’s. 25 years of going back and forth through every single corner of the world and every single corner of my head.

What I do know for sure after 25 years on Earth is that I don’t want the motherlode of happiness. I want drops of it, on a daily basis. Just enough to keep me going. Enough to make it worth while getting out of bed in the morning and enough to put a smile on my face as I go to bed at night. I want my +1, my favorite stuff, my dream job and my reasons to escape to a remote island once in a while. I want the whole pack, the good and the bad. Otherwise it wouldn’t be that much fun.

And what, you didn’t see this picture coming? *sighs*

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The smell of ink and paper.

[the top rated comments are priceless, I can’t stop laughing]

 

THIS PIECE got me started.

So what were the books that changed your entire view of life back when you were a teen? They asked. I answered.

My first “mouth wide open and unable to let it go until I finish it” experience was with Hermann Hesse’s “Steppenwolf”.

It turned me around in a million ways, it delighted me and it scared the living daylight out of me. It consumed me, my fingers were glued to each page and I couldn’t bring myself to put it down. I ditched school and sat for hours in the park, constantly struggling with that book. I didn’t let go of it until I finished it. I remember getting pissed off when my mother called me to supper. Those were ten minutes that I wanted to spend with Hesse. My stomach obeyed and I skipped dinner. I skipped breakfast. Two days and five pounds less later, I had finished it. I took a deep breath and fell in love with this writer. My next adventure was “Siddartha”, but we’ll get to it later.

Boris Vian was the next who troubled me. “L’Ecoume des Jours”… or “Froth on the Daydream”. Or “La Schiuma dei Giorni”. However you want it.

It’s still an incredible read. You haven’t LIVED if you haven’t read this book. The story just hurts too good. Having a lily growing inside your lung and killing you slowly, watching your wealth shrink, literally shrink every day… the guy is either completelly off this earth or he just smoked something really really good. If it’s the latter, I want in, I’m sorry but I’ll have whatever he’s having and whatever triggered him to write this incredible story. It’s beautiful, it’s sad, it’s profound, it’s sweet but there’s also a slight sense of bitterness and cruel reality just lurking under each page that you flip as you continue to read. It’s something that you just HAVE to read, believe me. I was eighteen when I was introduced to this book and it felt like I should’ve done this even earlier. If there are teenagers in your radius, tie them down and glue this book to their fingers. They’ll thank you.

Let me see… what else happened to blow my mind when I was still ridiculously young and thought I had the world at my feet. I won’t say “The Alchemist”, I’m sorry, it just didn’t work for me. I read it in two hours and it didn’t even make me paint anything. No, that wasn’t it. But Paulo Coelho wrote something else that hit me quite deep. “Veronica Decides to Die”. I don’t know about you, but it did touch me. It touched me so deep that when the movie came out I was suddenly stuck in a seventh heaven.

 

Now let’s see. What else hit me really bad, in a really good way? Oh, wait, I remember! You haven’t been a real teenager if you haven’t read at least one Anne Rice book. Seriously! I started out with “The Mummy”, then came the Vampire Chronicles. No Team Edward vs. Team Jacob bullshit, no glitter skin pretty-boys and defective 17 year olds. No way, dudes, just the original vampire stories. “Interview with a Vampire”, “The Vampire Lestat”, “Armand”, “Queen of the Damned” (one of my favorites) and my absolute favorite, the one I’ll read over and over again because it is just so cool and daring on a different level: “Memnoch the Devil “. By then I had already realized that I wanted to be carried away every time I read something. I wanted the story to grab me by the ankles and just pull me into its world. And this one did it. It was the first step to a certain maturity, I have to admit. There are certain steps that you must take before you can dare to read other, greater works. That’s just my humble opinion.

I think that the complete series is worth a read. I dare you to do it. And I urge you to pay a bit more attention to “Memnoch the Devil”. I think you’ll figure it out once you get there.

I’ll finish today’s babble about books with my favorite author and, so far, my favorite book. The fuel to my fire, my deliciously torturing addiction, the literary work of a master and (I think) a genius. A true tale, a consistent painting of what a story should look like. It’s engaging, it thorough, it’s a champion by excellence. I have no words to describe the book that has really (BUT FUCKING REALLY) changed my life and my vision of everything that surrounds me. All I can do is urge you to read it, if you haven’t already. And if you’ve read it before, do it again. It’s still as cool, even if you read it three, four or fifty times.

I’m talking about Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods”. It kicks a lot of ass.

I’m just doing my part in educating what’s left of our society and I’m pointing fingers in the right directions. This is most likely to be a warm up, there’s plenty more where this came from. You’re fucked.

Ze Calendar

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