Wishing With My Hands

“We wish with our hands, that’s what we do as artists.”
― Jandy Nelson, I’ll Give You the Sun

IMG_5773

This is basically a summation of the past two months of my life, when a ton of growth happened and shot me into 2016.

First, there was a job. I spent most of November lazily applying for jobs, feeling a loss of hope that 5 months had passed since I had left K feeling vibrant and intelligent, only to have prospective employers throw me away as if I wasn’t worthy. I decided to try for the mall, hoping some holiday seasonal position would scoop me up and spit me out in January, or even hire me on full time. It was a last attempt before I sent my resume out to temp agencies. And honestly, I was exhausted from just trying anymore. This summer, I was approached to work for an individual (who wanted me to edit his manuscript, only to flake out on me after 4 months of scheduling conflicts, Starbucks brainstorming sessions, a few over-the-phone Google doc edits and one paycheck), was called by 4 retail or food prep positions, sent in over 75 job applications, interviewed for 4 jobs, and was “hired” once (only to not hear anything back ever again).

Finally, I applied to LUSH Cosmetics, a company I have long adored for their commitment to sustainable packaging, organic ingredients, fair trade, and refusal to test on animals. LUSH’s claim to fame is the bath bomb– a typically round ball of baking soda, essential oils, and food dyes that turn baths into fizzing, whirling wonderlands that smell amazing. I could talk about LUSH for days, but I won’t. I’ll leave it at this: I applied, I was hired, I spent approximately one month putting my persuasive skills to use and selling hundreds of soaps, bath bombs, shampoos, etc., all while meeting some really great people. Maybe some day I’ll be willing to talk about the shit storm I ran into with them, because there are always pros and cons, even when it came to just simply getting a paycheck, but hey, it’s all water under the bridge now.

During my month at LUSH, one of my best friends, Kaleigh, came home from school which meant I was visiting her house and talking to her parents more. Kaleigh’s mom recommended me for a temporary position as a graphics proofreader at her company. For me, this was such an honor, especially since my experience at LUSH was nearing its end.  I received a call for a phone interview, and waited. After a week, I got another phone call saying that the position had been filled, but they were so happy with my phone interview that they wanted me to come in to interview in person for a different position in their financial reports department. So I did, and last week, I got an offer!

I know it’s a far cry from my first job goals after graduating college. I always told myself I would never be able to work in an office and do the same thing everyday. But once I interviewed, and after a solid month of wacky hours, grumpy sales associates and customers, and making a little over $9/hr, I decided it was time to try something different. The interview was very relaxed; I barely talked about myself, but was more told what the job would be, and how they understood that no, this job was not what I was looking for with my degree, but that they saw it as a really good opportunity for me to gain new skills, get the company name under my belt, and be a good stepping stone for me to go into editing or whatever I chose later on. To me, that was an amazing concept: I’m not expected to be there forever, and they aren’t trying to squelch my current skills, but explore other areas that I may be good at while I start looking into grad school and pay off some of my student loans.

In the past six months I’ve learned a lot about myself and what I want, and I truly believe that for right now, this is it. I get that some people see it as me wasting my potential, or giving in too soon, but I have been so stressed about money or getting a car and paying my bills, that I want some security. To me, security is a worthy adventure to go on until I find myself wanting something else.

Second, there was alcohol. And maybe it wasn’t a lot, my post-grad drinking has significantly decreased since June, but it still exists, just in more of an adultier way. I accidentally got a little past tipsy on New Year’s Eve from my margarita bar I made for my friends and I. Accidentally. As in I was like “ah I’ll just enjoy one drink or two” and those two drinks made me drunk. Safe to say my alcohol tolerance went wayyy down after not going to Pitcher Night at Waldo’s for a few months. Funny enough, though, my desire to drink has also gone down since I graduated. Maybe it’s the fact that my parents don’t really drink so I would be drinking alone, or that drinking is expensive, but I currently have three limes going bad because I haven’t taken advantage of my friend’s Christmas gift of  Moscow Mule ingredients. That’s besides the point though. Here it is: Going to a bar and having a drink or two with friends I haven’t seen in a while, or even going to get one drink with Kaleigh before going to the movies has drastically altered my drinking experience. It’s more thoughtful, especially since we have to get into a car and drive after we drink so we are more careful. The memories I’ve made are sharper and more fun to me.

IMG_5777
Kaleigh, Sarah, and Chelsea

 

Third, there was a lot of friendship.  The months of December and November consisted of me doing a lot of things to be with others. I worked a lot, made new friends, and got to start the gifting season by thoughtfully making things for people. My friend Chelsea’s birthday and my lack of funds sparked me to wing an embroidery project that she really loved and I loved working on. I started embroidering more things for people, and while I still have some finishing up to do, I’m glad I took the time to make things for people instead of just buying stuff. Ultimately, I have had an amazing support group of friends for many years, but the three pictured above have been so wonderful and I cherish them every single day that I get to spend with them. We were often too busy to see each other in the past months, but when we get together, it’s phenomenal fun.

Finally, there was a book. 

“This is what I want: I want to grab my brother’s hand and run back through time, losing years like coats falling from our shoulders.” — Jandy Nelson,  I’ll Give You the Sun

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson was the first book of 2016 I’ve read. It’s a great YA novel, not just because it focuses on LGBT*QA issues, but because of the language. Nelson’s ability to mesh fiction with poetry made my reading experience so page-gripping and thoughtful, it was refreshing. Because of this novel, I started writing again. I wanted to write this post, I wrote a poem a few days ago. Hell, I stared writing a NOVEL I had an idea for over a year ago. Just having this book come into my life and to relish it made me realize how much I love to write again, especially using my storytelling poetry skills again. I even started looking into grad schools.

I just feel like this turn of the year has been off to a great start, and I am very happy to share these next moments with you.

Until next time,

Hunter

Advertisements

Live Free or Die Staring at My Computer Screen

Today, I spent 7 hours lying on my couch in terrible posture watching a man cut a goat’s head in half and eat the brains on the National Geographic channel. When my dog, Cooper, barked at me to signal that 1. I was watching T.V. for too long, and 2. it was time for his nightly walk, I groaned and dragged him around the block quickly in the 65-degree mid-November air so I could find out if the couple bee-keeping successfully moved the swarm to the new home. Essentially, I avoided nature so I could watch people live “off the land” in some show entitled “Live Free or Die”.

When I last left off on this blog, I was doing the same thing, just getting by. Living? Depends on who’s asking. Sure, wonderful things have happened in the past few months: I’ve found a (seasonal) job at LUSH Cosmetics that I am eager to start, I’ve seen my best college friends roughly 5 times since we graduated, my family and I seem to be on good terms, I’m able-bodied and from what I can tell, healthy. But am I living?

This seems to be the cliché question many people ask during existential crises, but I’m serious. I spent all day today indoor watching the outdoors instead of being outside. Period cramps and headache aside, I should’ve enjoyed the weather a bit, maybe soaked up some Vitamin D.

As of right now, I dread checking my emails, knowing I have passed deadlines on assignments I can’t gain energy to do. I hate logging on here even to write this, because I’m sure afterward I’ll watch some British YouTuber decorate their home with Christmas lights or give me a tour of their closet. My best friend will send me a Vine on Facebook messenger, someone will like a picture on Instagram I posted from a concert I went to a week ago.

Don’t get me wrong, I do love technology. I love being socially connected to people; it helps me remember how loved I am, and how good people can be to each other with all the viral videos of people helping each other my Facebook shares with me 24/7.

In the wake of the tragedies in Paris and Beirut, the earthquake in Japan, and the social injustices at Mizzou, I’ve felt more than ever that I need to just turn off my computer and fold into myself. It’s not that I don’t care; I care too much. I want everyone to be okay and live harmoniously. But being reminded by Facebook, tumblr, twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Google that I’m not doing “enough” by not changing my profile picture to one filtered with the French flag makes me want to scream. Does me not engaging on every internet platform somehow translate to me not giving a shit?

I logged out of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter last week for three days. When I came back I had enough notifications that made me want to delete my social media forever. It was too much. Too much caring and feeling. Too much for me to take in all at once. Now, I’m honestly considering it. The only thing keeping me anchored to these platforms is the fear that no one will be willing to pick up a phone and call me unless they see tagged pictures of me floating right in front of their faces. And I get it, I’d do the same for them.

How does this couple with the program showing me a man eating a goat’s head? It’s what one man, who has been living on the land for over 20 years, said. Colbert built three different homes for himself in the swamps of Georgia. His cabin, the main home he had, was destroyed in a fire. Despite the 20 years of work he put into it, he was able to collect some of his possessions from the literal ashes and say, “It was a sign that I was becoming too materialistic again. Things cycle through; it’s time to rebuild.” Then, he went on to try and rebuild his home using reclaimed wood and tin roofing from his past home.

Colbert had a point. I’ve been too materialistic, especially with technology. Heaven forbid I log out of Facebook for a week, right?

I guess these ideas have been swirling in my head a lot lately. Leading up to getting a job, I was jealous of my friends posting their new jobs, their new clothes, their ideas all over the internet. But I wouldn’t have been if I wasn’t watching it all unfold through my computer screen. I’ll even admit, the jealousy was misplaced given how little I was actually trying to better myself– I was just watching through a screen. What was I gaining from watching others do things I couldn’t get out of bed to even try for?

There have been so many instances of people doing so much for others (and themselves) without access to the internet. My mom mailed some fabric to a 90-something year old woman who sews 3 dresses a day for little girls in Africa and Haiti. “It’s not like I’m doing anything with it,” my mom said. A few weeks later, the woman sent my mom a card thanking her so much for her help. She even asked for my mom’s phone number so she could talk on the phone.

See? Helping! Something Facebook didn’t force anyone to do! Someone not focused on the (literal) material of their lives.

I thought about this yesterday, too. My aunt hosted an estate sale for her mother-in-law. Without boring anyone with details, there was a lawsuit, they didn’t get a lot when she passed, etc., etc. It still led up to an estate sale/garage sale with household items my aunt couldn’t part with, even though she didn’t have enough room in her house. It was better to her to have stuff than to part with anything. And dear god, did the woman have STUFF. I get it…ask me about the library in my closet my mom keeps begging me to get rid of yet I refuse.

Maybe something I should do is detach from materialism a bit. Logging out of social media, or even staying away from my computer, for a start. I could read some of the books I have stacked in my closet, or donate them. Maybe it’s time for me, like Colbert, to rebuild.

Hunter

????

my wormhole ft. my dog
my wormhole ft. my dog

Hunter Parsons

It’s been almost two months since I left Kalamazoo to embark on some new journey into the void, and I’m already jaded. Sure, for many 20-somethings that are fresh out of undergrad, this is old news. You come home to the old rules but a new mindset, you may fall into the couch potato life for a few weeks and go back to the job you had since you were 16. You may roll the dice and take a chance– like so many of my friends have done valiantly and definitely ungracefully (though it seems like they’re skating their way into the future)– and end up in Iowa for grad school or Chicago for a job or Detroit for new opportunities. I’ve learned in the past two months after talking to all of the women I write with on this blog that post grad life is shitty and hard and we have all fucked up already in some way or another. 

The struggle that exists in taking a chance is that some of us are too fucking scared to do it. I am one of these people. I’m 22 and live in Michigan, yet I can’t drive a car or call my doctor for my medication or get a job.

I talked about it before; I can stay or go. But two months later from those original thoughts, seeing people scooping up jobs left and right, seeing my best friends travel to Tibet and New York City and Chicago, and watching Facebook scroll by with the liveliness of summer, I feel the need to voice how hard it is to sit here and not feel like I’m doing anything.

“Well Hunter, why don’t you do something about it?” you may ask, to which I can show you the list of 20+  jobs I have applied to in the past two months in varied locations. I can show you that the only call for an interview I received was from Vera Bradley and I didn’t even do them the decency of calling back to decline an interview. But that’s just the surface of it. 

Truthfully, I’ve been so stuck in a rut that I’m failing out of other opportunities in life. I’m freelance editing a book on the side that promised me a paycheck but I haven’t seen yet because I haven’t gotten past page 8 in edits. I’ve been trying to get myself to work on stuff for my internship for a week and usually sit with an open Google doc and binge watch Friends instead. Hell, this is the first thing I’ve written in about a month. I can tell you about what happened on General Hospital last week, go to an estate sale and pick out a mid-century modern tablecloth that you can sell on Ebay for $15 when you paid $1, I can explain what a satin stitch or french knot are in embroidery, and tell you how well my Sims are on the app on my phone. This has been my life for two months. It’s far from pathetic, I mean I’ve taught myself to embroider things, but I know I’m doing it to avoid the void of not knowing. I am too scared to do anything. 

Yet, I’m in the midst of the void. All I can talk about is how 1) depressed I am 2) scared I am and 3) tired I am. These conversations vary but usually lead back to this main point: I have no idea what I want to do with my life and I feel like everyone else has it figured out (which they don’t, but try telling my brain that at 3 a.m. when I’m on Indeed job hunting because someone on Facebook just shared that they got their dream job…gag).  

The truth is, the world is full of opportunities and chances to take. I took a chance by moving back home, and I’ve fallen into a rut that I cannot seem to dig myself out of. If I’m not talking about my existential crisis, I’m thinking about it, convincing myself I’m a failure for not leaving school with a job in my pocket or not moving out before I got home.

Sure, there are other days when I remember that I’ll get where I need to be eventually. My mom reminds me that some companies take longer to get back to applicants, my friends take me to watch meteor showers or meet up in Kalamazoo or Chicago and remind me that I am smart and worthy.

IMG_4965
Despite being unemployed, I can still enjoy my life.

Maybe I’m saying this to me more than you, but know that there’s a way out eventually. Maybe I haven’t written poems in a while, or some days I can’t get out of bed because I feel pathetic. I hoard empty bags of SunChips and string cheese wrappers on my side table. I’ve eaten ice cream every day for the past, like, two weeks. I watch game shows from the 1970s with my mom for hours straight. I have accumulated a ton of credit card debt because I can’t say no to a Slurpee. I spend hours looking at home goods and fantasizing about the color I will paint my walls in my dream home. I am lost, and sad, and confused most of the time and don’t leave my house when it gets too hot or cold or rainy or windy or cloudy.  But I know this is going to pass one day, and I will write again, and I will figure it out. I can’t enjoy this ride right now, but I’m going to stick with it and probably cry a lot more over it. But when I’m ready, I’ll be jumping into something new. Until then, I’ll be here in my bed with my Netflix and my dog.

Breaking the Bubble

Hunter Parsons

I graduated from my dream college a little over a week ago. When I say “dream college” I mean the one and only college I applied to after visiting during my junior year of high school. I mean the college I wanted to get into so badly that I pushed myself to get the 4.0 GPA, to play varsity tennis, be the leader for five different clubs, to boldly go where no one in my family had ever gone before: college. And yes, to my privilege, I did go there. I spent 4 years learning, loving, and getting to know the four other lovely women I write with on this blog. One week later, after stuffing a queen-sized mattress into a room that barely fit a twin, I’m in my parents’ house, the last place I wanted to end up after graduating.

They’ve attempted to make it more cozy; there’s a large Robert Doisneau portrait hanging on one wall. On another, there’s a mod looking painting of an angel strumming a harp. I painted my room gray, strung up fairy lights, and covered every surface with candles, succulents, air plants, and tubes of lipstick. My dog, despite curling up in a ball on my bed, found a way to hog the exact spot where I sleep at night. This is home, or house, and in my week here I’ve been weighing two different options that seem to be growing heavier each day I avoid them: do I stay or do i go?

When I made the decision not to go to graduate school right away, I listed a dozen or so excuses to justify my decision: mental health hell, my senior thesis project, I didn’t “feel ready”, I wanted to get my driver’s license, I wanted to just see what options home had, I wanted to see my dog, etc. All these things were true, but they were never the real reason for why I didn’t apply. Honestly, I did not want to leave my bubble.

At Kalamazoo College, we have a thing we call the “K bubble”, which means that people have a tendency to get sucked into the small community of our liberal arts college. Weeks go by before you notice that you have only seen the walls of your dorm room or campus. You haven’t left campus aside from running to the Walgreens on the corner of West Michigan and West Main (which was pretty much still campus). You live in the library or the fine arts building or the science building. Sometimes you sneak away to catch some z’s in your actual bed at home, or you sink into one of the chair’s next to the coffee shop between classes. The point is, you don’t leave. For four years you inhabit a tiny world with its own opinions and norms; you learn its language (DOGL, FAB, DOW, FACMAN, D-Watts, Stacks), its culture, and how to be in that space.

The “K bubble” was comforting, even when it got annoying. There was a structure in it that always made me feel like I belonged, like I knew what I was doing. Did I most of the time? Absolutely not. However, it gave me the illusion of that and when it came time to apply to grad school, I decided to let deadlines skate by me as I immersed myself in my final months in undergrad.

The “K bubble” pops the moment you cross the stage. During the fraction of time we cross the stage individually, when suddenly all we are thinking about is what four steps we need to remember (shake hand, smile, tassel, picture) and don’t hear people cheering for us, or see the thousands of faces around us, that’s when it pops.

But the home bubble still remains.

It feels more like living in a one of those vacuum-sealed bags than an actual bubble. It’s cramped, stale, and at this point, I would gladly take my “K bubble” again. There are expectations from my family. Just writing this is nearly impossible without having my mom ask me to drop everything to help her with something around the house. Coming home at any time I want isn’t permissable to my parents. I’m molding into the post-grad life, and I feel myself being compressed more and more the longer I sit idly.

When I look at job openings I sigh. What I want to do is far away from here, in states and cities I’ve never been to. I’d be alone there. I’m afraid.

But the choices are still there. While they might not be to apply to graduate school, my choice to move out keeps nagging at me during every conversation with family and friends who are so happy to see me home. When my mom tells me that I don’t have enough room in the house for my massive library, I cringe, daydreaming about my own apartment in Minneapolis or Chicago. The move is coming soon, I can feel it.

I just need to start living without a bubble.

Hunter