I Guess I Must Be Having Fun

It is the evening of January 17, 2011, and I am now 24 years old.

As I typed that second clause, I imagined a camera zooming in, à la Sex and the City, capturing the words as they appeared, one at a time, to emphasize their gargantuan importance. Well, the words “I am now 24 years old” may not be as substantial as anything Carrie Bradshaw ever wrote (“Are we sluts?”), but I’m feeling rather, I don’t know. No, I do; I feel vulnerable. I feel vulnerable. I’m in control of very little, and that scares me a little. Happy birthday to me.

Having a birthday at the very beginning of a new year is strange. New Year’s resolutions aren’t just about how Next Year I Will Be Better At Such and Such — they’re about growing up. “This year, I’m going to lose 20 pounds.” Well, that’s cool, but for me that resolution sounds more like, “This year I’m going to lose 20 pounds because it looks like I still have my fucking baby fat and I’m an adult now and I’m another year older and for as long as I have a chubby little face I’m gonna look like a fucking teenager as opposed to a mysterious, grown woman and FOR FUCK’S SAKE, YOU KNOW WHAT ICE CREAM TASTES LIKE!”

Did I frighten anyone, just then? Good.

I had a fantastic time this weekend. See?

So, what’s my damage, right?

Well, I decided in December that 2011 is going to be all about working towards The Next Step. For as much as I’m enjoying living with my parents and working at an office part time, I realize that life cannot, and should not, go on like this forever. I do not wish for that to be the case, either. I have no doubt that some substantial changes are going to occur. Eventually. Meanwhile, I need to help get things moving. At least a bit. Right?

Just who am I talking to, and just what do I expect him or her to say to me?

Last week, I attempted to “get moving.” I thought to myself, “What kind of job would I be willing to settle for that somehow involves doing things that I like to do, and may possibly lead me down a rewarding, somewhat [if not extremely] lucrative path?” I narrowed it down to a few choices, and then got to Googling. I came up with nothing. I found no information on how to break in to any of the fields for which I searched. Feeling downhearted, I decided I had three options: go to bed, cry, or watch a Peter O’Toole movie. After choosing the third option, I realized I had three new options: The Ruling Class, What’s New, Pussycat? or something I haven’t already seen five times. I went on Netflix, and found a movie called The Creator, a comedy from 1985, where Mr. O’Toole plays a wacky scientist. Having very little expectations and wanting nothing more than an escape from the very real reality that I was feeling very, very sad, I hit “Play.”

The sub-plot just had to be a love story, and it just had to be a sweet one that really got to me. My mood suddenly went from, “I feel rather bummed that I’m going to live in Agoura for the rest of my twenties,” to, “I feel rather bummed that I’m going to live in Agoura for the rest of my twenties and be single for the rest of my Goddamn life.” I cried. I did. The sight of young Virginia Madsen naked in the shower with a dude didn’t arouse me — it made me insanely jealous and sad. I’ll say it again — I cried.

Hey, at least I was alone. I wasn’t bringing anyone else down with my wackness.

I continued watching the movie, because even though it wasn’t exactly serving as the greatest sanctuary, it was better than nothing. Plus, I find that crying while watching a movie is so much better than crying yourself to sleep. (How SAD is that sentence? FUCK!) A scene ended, and suddenly I was looking at Mr. O’Toole sitting at a table on the patio of the fucking Stevenson Coffee Shop at UC Santa Cruz. Not only did I go to UCSC, I lived at Stevenson College for two damn years. The patio at the Stevenson Coffee Shop was my favorite place on campus, and remains one of my favorite places in all of California. The patio is incredible — it’s elevated, and all the tables are surrounded by majestic trees that are several hundred feet tall. If you sit at the table in the middle of the most elevated part and look up, it’s like you’re looking through a tunnel to the heavens. I spent many days of my life sitting at that table socializing, studying, and daydreaming, always accompanied by a cup of dark roast coffee and a feeling of immeasurable tranquility — a feeling that I was very much not experiencing whilst watching The Creator… until I saw Peter fucking O’Toole, the current object of my idolatry, sitting at my table. I’m not entirely superstitious, I don’t completely believe in fate, and I’m pretty much Agnostic, but dammit, I know that I get markedly nervous when I see people open umbrellas indoors, I know that my “random” decision to borrow Blonde on Blonde from my dad when I was 14 was meant to be, and I know that the Stevenson Coffee Shop scene in The Creator was a message from the universe.

A few hours ago, I treated myself to yet another viewing of What’s New, Pussycat?, and a homemade banana split, consisting of non-fat frozen yogurt from Golden Spoon, an organic banana, and fat-free Reddi-Whip. When the movie ended, my dad decided it was time for the two of us to watch YouTube. We watched The Rolling Thunder Review version of “Tangled Up In Blue.” We watched Tom Waits sing “Pasties and a G-String” live in Germany. We watched Patti Smith being interviewed by Tom Snyder. We watching Jason Mraz sing “Blitzkreig Bop,” and when he said, “I first heard this song when I watched National Lampoon’s Vacation,” my dad exclaimed, “That shows just what a total DORK you are.” Then my dad put on “This Must Be The Place (Naive Medley),” by Talking Heads. It brought tears to my eyes.

After a few more videos and a few technical difficulties, dad gave up on YouTube and realized it was time to watch the Lakers, anyway. I went upstairs, thinking I’d finish the evening with some reading. Before cracking open my book, I went on facebook to read all my birthday wishes. Then I decided I needed to hear “This Must Be The Place” one more time. I guess I could say it brought tears to my eyes again, but that would be an understatement. The flood gates opened, and sweet Jack Guerney, they did not close for a good long while. I finally had to stop crying and run to the bathroom to wash the melted mascara out of my stinging eyes.

It is the evening of January 17, 2011, and I am now 24 years old. Old enough to know better, and young enough to still make a few stupid mistakes. Old enough to look for a grown-up job, and young enough to work part time. Old enough to set goals for the future, and young enough to escape with the help of a Peter O’Toole movie. Old enough to have a place of my own, but young enough to live with good ol’ mom and dad for a bit longer…

Home is where I want to be
Pick me up and turn me round

I can’t help it when I feel uncertain. I think that goes hand in hand with being in your twenties, not to mention being in your twenties after eight years of George W. Bush’s master plan. If there’s one thing most liberals and conservatives can agree on, it’s that things suck right now. My paycheck isn’t huge, I need to save money, and yet my fear of pesticides and Dollar Menus compels me to spring for organic lettuce and other luxuries.

When ya think about it, though, isn’t it really kind of exciting? Struggling through uncertainty, I mean?

I feel numb – born with a weak heart
I guess I must be having fun

It’s true, Google failed me the night I watched The Creator, but Google also fails me when I try to find copies of rare Marlon Brando movies. I can’t let an internet search engine dictate whether or not my life has any direction. Direction! How could my life possibly have NO direction?

God, I’ve been told over and over, for so many years by so many assholes, that it’s all about The Future, The Future, and The Future in that order, but what about right now? No, that question is not cliché, it’s legit. Is it not better to enjoy today with your eyes and ears open than to miss today entirely for the sake of a day that hasn’t even happened?

The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along…

Fuck all that. I’m only going to be 24 once. I’m only going to be 29 once. I’m only going to be 35, 48, and 64 once. Yes, I’m sticking to the idea that 2011/24 will be about moving towards The Next Step. Yes, I know that I can only do so much to control what happens to me in The Future. Yes, I know that there will be many more moments of crying on my couch, thinking If Only I Had A More Stimulating Job, or If Only I Had A Boyfriend, or If Only I Had Been A Dancer All These Years, but I know that moments like these are par for the course.

So what if there’s a bummer of an evening in my future? Peter O’Toole enjoyed a beautiful afternoon at the Stevenson Coffee Shop, sitting at the table where nothing can hurt you. And so did I. Many times.

Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It’s ok I know nothing’s wrong…nothing…

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One thought on “I Guess I Must Be Having Fun

  1. Danielle says:

    >Dear Steffi,I am questioning myself on many of the points you brought up in your post- should I figure out what the hell is happening in the future? Or try to enjoy right now? My current situation, while an experience, is not something I can or want to do forever. And google has been the source of frustration in my searches for what I REALLY want to do too! Anyhow, reading your post was comforting, enlightening and of course, brought a smile to my face! Thank you. Love, DaniPS You do have great taste. 😉

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