A Welcome Back Interview With Myself

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything, so I say down for an interview with myself to catch up. Here is what we talked about.

 

Q: So Annamarie, it’s good to see you today. Thanks for making time for me.

A: We spend all of our time together so it really isn’t a problem.

 

Q: It’s been two months since you’ve posted on your blog. That is a long time, even for you. What happened there?

A: Well Annamarie, the answer is both simple and complicated. I guess the most honest answer is I’ve been unavailable in every sense of the word. Emotionally, intellectually, literally unavailable because of my schedule—I’ve just generally been not here.

 

Q: Is this your way of saying you’ve been too depressed to write?

A: That’s part of it, sure. I have been pretty impressively depressed, but it’s been deeper than that. I was not sleeping enough and would regularly just check out from reality. I was working on NaNoWriMo (which I won!) and also working on getting everything together for grad school applications this month. I’ve been pretty preoccupied with trying to find meaning in an existence that is inherently meaningless and all of those things haven’t left me with much time for anything else.

 

Q: I see. Thank you for your candor. I know it’s hard having a tenuous grasp on reality. How has your search for meaning been going?

A: Not well, if I’m being honest. It just seems like there is no point to living. But there is also no point in dying. There is just no meaning in existence.

 

Q: That’s pretty heavy. You probably shouldn’t just casually makes comments like that for everyone to see. But at least you’ve got lots of great relationships with people, right?

A: Annamarie I’m going to be upfront with you it certainly does put a strain on your relationships when you haven’t slept in two days and are preoccupied with the meaninglessness of existence. There is also the whole long-standing superstition that we are incapable of maintaining friendships for longer than 12 months and the fact that we are generally not a likeable or interesting person and there you are. It’s no wonder no one wants to talk to us.

 

Q: I noticed we switched to using the collective first person in the middle of that paragraph.

A: It’s easier to talk about sad things if we’re not using the first person.

 

Q: True, lol.

A: lol.

 

Q: So if people don’t like when you talk about sad things, why don’t you just talk about happy things?

A: It isn’t that easy. The longer I go without talking about the sad things the more sad I feel until it feels like I’m going to explode with all the sad things inside of me that need to be let out but have nowhere to go because no one wants to listen to them.

 

Q: That sounds hard.

A: Yeah.

 

Q: So tell the people about some of the fun things you’ve been doing in the last two months.

A: Wow, well I’ve definitely been busy. At the end of October I went to Osaka to return to Universal Studios Japan for their Harry Potter Halloween event. It was a blast. I bought too many Harry Potter things but it was worth it. The next week I went back down that way for a quick trip around Kyoto. It was beautiful with all the fall colors. In November we had out Skills Development Conference which wasn’t all that fun but happened anyway. I was also interviewed by Tofugu on how to celebrate Thanksgiving in Japan. At the beginning of December I went to Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea which was fun! We got to see all of their fun Christmas stuffs and eat too much sugar.

 

Q: Dude that is a lot of travelling.

A: Yeah bro I am so tired I keep falling asleep on my desk.

 

Q: Rough

A: Ye

 

Q: So I have to ask… grad school?

A: Ughhhhh

 

Q: I know I know but the people want to hear that you’re doing something productive with your life.

A: I’m applying to four literature programs: two in Arizona and two abroad. I’m not sure if any of them will accept me, but I’m doing what I can to send out the best applications possible. I had originally intended to have all my applications finished in November but that was a stupid dream when I was working on NaNo. Now my goal is to have everything done by the start of January, which I think I am on track for. I’m working on overhauling my writing sample and trying to write personal statements that don’t make me cringe.

 

Q: What a happens if none of them accept you?

A: That’s a rude question to ask I’m pretty sure I’m qualified for at least one of them.

 

Q: What about creative writing?

A: Right. I still want to write. I still need to write. I need to write and will hopefully be able to think about sending stuff out someday, but right now I just don’t have the confidence in anything that I do to be able to commit to writing on any deeper level. I have to admit I’m just not very good at writing.

 

Q: But you’re not very good at remembering things like literary movements and historical events either so what makes you think studying literature will go any better?

A: I’m just not going to think about that, thanks. Besides, I’m great at making things up as I go along.

 

Q: You know you’re pretty shit at expressing your emotions.

A: Wow that was pretty critical of you out of no where.

 

Q: It’s just that people think you don’t enjoy things because you enjoy them quietly and people also think you don’t take things seriously because you joke about the things you care about.

A: This is a blog post not a therapy session. Let’s reel it in there, Annamarie.

 

Q: What do you feel like saying right now?

A: Send help I’m not qualified for anything and will never be successful and will die alone and with no friends.

 

Q: That seems reasonable.

A: I thought so.

 

Q: Well now you’re panicking about applications and the meaninglessness of existence again, aren’t you?

A: Yup.

 

Q: Alright so let’s bring it back down a bit. Why did you decided on this format for your return to the blog?

A: Well I’ve been trying to find a way to write this post for about a week now, but just writing it out straight never went well. Then I tried just writing about something else entirely but I always ended up back at existence and meaninglessness. Then this morning I thought, hey, it would be a fun and quirky way to talk about these things if I formatted it like an interview with myself.

 

Q: It also makes you feel like you’re talking about this with someone else, right?

A: Definitely, although having a long conversation with myself is maybe not the healthiest thing? I don’t know I’m not a scientist.

 

Q: What are your plans for winter vacation?

A: My number one plan is to spend time alone in my apartment. I’ve been going 6-7 days a week for months now and I really just want to spend some time not having to see people. I also desperately need to clean and finish my applications. Please let me rest during winter vacation. I really just want to sleep.

 

Q: Can we expect more blog posts from you now?

A: Probably. Overall I’m moving in the right direction, so I’ll try to post more again.

 

Q: I think that’s all we have time for. Any parting words?

A: My life has basically been a perpetual garbage fire for the last few months and I’m doing the best that I can. Any time you want to send me motivational things please do. Life is scary. I’m so tired. There is never enough cake.

There you have it, folks. Annamarie is back to blogging after a two month haitus. Let’s wish her luck over the next month as she tries to apply for grad school and hopefully gets to take a nap.

 

Advertisements

Dear L.L. Bean/On the loss of a backpack

October is a month to think about death. The leaves are changing and the wind is finally bringing a chill. Today is the 16th anniversary of the death of my father. This morning I was faced with a different kind of loss, that of my longtime backpack.

I’d like to take this chance to say a few words to L.L. Bean, the makers of the recently deceased bag. Their contact form sadly only allows 2000 characters, and I’m afraid I’m waxing rather verbose about the loss of such a close companion.

Getting ready for a spring break road trip in 2014

Dear L.L. Bean,

My name is Annamarie and I am writing you today because I am equal parts sad and grateful. I’d like to tell you the story of my backpack.

In junior high and the majority of high school I went through one backpack a year. I have always kept a busy schedule and often have to carry many things, and my backpacks simply were never up to the task. By the end of a year my backpacks were always torn, ripped, and falling apart. Finally my mom had had enough, and she asked me to find a backpack that, while it might cost marginally more, would last longer than one academic year. It was then, in early 2009, that I ordered my backpack from L.L. Bean.

On campus late at night making art with a Target cart


I have had that same L.L. Bean backpack by my side for nearly the last 8 years. It was by my side through my last year of high school and all 5 years of undergraduate study. It has been with me in every class and on every road trip across the western part of the country. It has been camping by creeks in Arizona, traveling across England by bus, and on a summer studying abroad in Ireland. It went to marching band rehearsals, bonfires, and meetings. More recently it has come with me as I moved to Japan to be an English teacher and on many of my adventures here including an overnight hike to watch the sunrise from the summit of Mt. Fuji.

Watching the sunrise with my backpack for company


This backpack has been through monsoons and blizzards. It has been my pillow on busses, benches, and trains around the world. It has been soaked through by rain, covered in mud, filled with sand, thrown into trucks and squished under airplane seats. I have lived out of it for weeks at a time and it has never once torn, frayed, or otherwise broken.

At the end of a long marching season


I envisioned my life with this backpack. I fully expected to bring it with me on my trips to Hokkaido and Thailand over the next year and when I leave Japan for graduate school next summer. I have grown up with my backpack. It has always been there with me for whatever I needed.

In Seoul


Alas nothing in life is forever, and today when I went to pack for this weekend (a quick hike with my students on Friday and then taking the bullet train down to Osaka) I discovered that my trusty L.L. Bean backpack had succumbed not to the 7 years of significant wear and tear, but was in the end a victim of the Japanese climate. It is covered, inside and out, with mold.

It is hard to have to say goodbye to something that has been a part of your life for so long. It is indeed harder still to say goodbye to something that was in my life nearly as long as my father was, now 16 years deceased. Unlike a father, however, backpacks can hypothetically be replaced. I am not sure when I will be able to buy a new backpack as I am currently trying to save as much money as possible, but I hope that my next backpack will be just as trustworthy and go with me on even more adventures. Choosing who (or what) will have your back is a big choice, and I’m glad I made the choice I did back in 2009.

All of this is to just to say thank you, L.L. Bean, for the backpack you made me. It was a good product and I will miss it.

Annamarie

Introducing Steeped and Creeped

Many of you may wonder what I write when I am not writing for this blog. Many more of you are my friends on Facebook and probably don’t actually wonder,  but I’m going to talk about my new project anyway.

The start of September was also the beginning of Steeped and Creeped, a fictional blog from the character Juniper Pine that is co-written by Annamarie Carlson (me, if you didn’t know) and good friend. Juniper moves out of her parents house and into her first apartment at Cactus Ridge Envy – East Plaza and Yards. Immediately after moving in, Juniper begins noticing strange goings on in the building, most of which seem to be coming from the cute yet reclusive girl across the hall in apartment 2C.

Steeped and Creeped is a lighthearted story of magic, mystery, and a healthy dollop of strange. It updates weekly with other occasional mini-updates posted sporadically. While things are just starting now, I am excited to share Juniper’s story with you as the adventure unfolds.

On a personal note, I first started working on ideas for Steeped and Creeped back in February, and so it is incredibly exciting to be finally sharing this story with the world. I can’t wait to watch it grow and develop, and I hope that in time we will find our audience.

So if you feel that a quirky fiction blog is what is missing from your life, definitely give the first posts on Steeped and Creeped a read, and give us a like or a follow if you’re feeling generous. I’m sure you can expect to hear more from me about Steeped and Creeped in the future, but for now just remember to stay creepy.

A Poem about Spring and Re-Contracting

IMG_1793

The early cherry blossoms. The real cherry blossoms will be blooming this week. Stay tuned. 

It’s official. Today I received notice that my request to re-contract for a second year in Japan has been approved. I am excited and nervous to continue my adventure here in this fascinating country. There have been so many struggles, but I’ve also been able to experience so many amazing things and create so many wonderful memories. I look forward to what a second year has to offer.

I’ve been struggling with writing recently as I’ve been wrestling with internal conflicts and have been sick (the return of my yearly laryngitis). I am by no means a poet, but here are some lines of verse I wrote today in an attempt to make up for not posting two of the weeks in March.

Spring, Internal. Spring, Eternal.

And with the growing sun I shed my boots

To reach the light above with crumbling roots

For as the flowers bloom and fade so I,

With dreams and futures plenty, grow and die.

In each new passing day I try to see

A new direction for my running feet

My leaves will fall and crumble, yet return

Each time more beautiful and strong in turn

As I will travel through my spring alone

To see, to feel, to learn: my home.

 

What are your plans for the future?

IMG_0377

Me as a cat.

 

It happened again last night.

At this point it’s a reoccurring joke in the sitcom of my life but instead of being accompanied by the laugh track it gets general sounds of displeasure from the studio audience and a close-up of my best distraught face.

I was asked what I’m going to do with my life.

My lack of future plans is something I’ve written about before, but I’ve decided it’s time for me to compile a list of responses that I can call on in any emergency “What are your plans for the future?” situation because my current response of sigh and meaningful stare into the middle distance is not going over well.

So without further melodrama on my part, here is my list of Things I Plan to Do with My Future:

  • Go to graduate school for TEFL and keep teaching English in other countries until I finally admit that I’m not a good teacher and quit to become an angry substitute all the students hate
  • Return to performance art and take my eating cake in my underwear piece on the road
  • Become a fast food critic and travel the world comparing junk food until I have a heart attack and die in my 30s
  • Fashion designer for guinea pigs
  • Fashion designer for humans with matching outfits for guinea pigs
  • Professional cat
  • Admit that I have no real skills or talents and that there is no point in even trying to do anything meaningful with my future
  • Start a blog for black and white pictures of disenfranchised and disillusioned trees
  • Try my hand at actually making the imaginary cooking show I pretend to run as I cook by myself in my apartment called “Healthy…ish”
  • Bird dancing (inspired by my performance art piece in college “I’m Flying Away From Your Bullshit”)
  • Start a Rent-A-Friend business
  • Motivational speaker for other 20somethings with no plans for the future
  • Scarf and hat model
  • Go into politics
  • Just lie on the fucking ground and see what happens
  • Meme museum curator
  • Professor of Fanfiction Studies
  • Be absorbed into the void until I feel nothing, see nothing, literally am nothing other than another faceless mass with unoriginal thoughts and opinions
  • Something with eggplant (This response is based on a rather loose interpretation of the “What are your plans for the future?” question in which I assume they want to know what I’m making for dinner tonight, which is, in fact, a plan for the future.)

I’m going to print out this list and bring it with me so that I am always prepared to discuss what I’m going to do with my life. It’s such a relief to finally make more concrete plans.

What are your plans for the future? What do you think I should do with my future? Do you also struggle with the concept of “future” and the passage of time in general? Let me know in a comment. Thanks.

 

 

 

Urgent News Update: Foreigner Sighting

Spotted: One foreigner, walking to the local supermarket with a shopping bag in hand.

 

One artist’s rendition of the foreigner.

 

The town was shocked when at least 20 locals saw a blonde foreigner walking to the supermarket on Saturday. This sighting is coming after a long string of reports saying the same foreigner has been seen walking along the street in the mornings, and often seen again walking along the same street in the opposite direction in the evenings.

It is unclear at this time what the foreigner’s intentions are, or even where she returns to during the nighttime.

Early reports on Saturday claimed that while she was at the supermarket the foreigner bought a bag of taco flavored Doritos, a bag of apples, and a loaf of bread, but these reports have yet to be confirmed. We may never know exactly what her purpose for going to the supermarket was, but many have been speculating.

“I think she was just trying to do some regular shopping,” said one supermarket employee. “She comes in like twice a week and buys some food.”

Others don’t think her intentions are quite as innocent, however. One supermarket patron told us that the presence of the foreigner caused their shopping experience to be slightly more stressful than usual.

“I saw her walking towards me down the pre-made food aisle and I didn’t know if I should say something to her. It’s not like I ever talk to other people at the supermarket,” they continued, “but something about the look in that foreigner’s eye made me feel really nervous that she was going to try talking to me.”

Whether she was simply trying to buy some apples or something more sinister is at this moment still unclear. Rest assured that we will be following this story closely and will share any updates as they become available.

Oceans

10003364_10152390277505337_1004717747_n

I feel an ocean inside of me. The water swirls and boils with such a passion for life that a thick layer of white froth is all that comes to the top. I reach down into the scalding water and try to hold on to the energy I can feel just beneath the foam. The power that beats the surface of the water into a seething sea of steam is always just out of my grasp. I can feel the heat of the water burning my arms as they slide in deeper and deeper, but no matter how many times I try I can’t find anything to hold on to.

There is so much I want from this life. I want to grab onto the energy I feel inside of me and ride the waves until there is nothing left, but no matter what I do I can still feel it slipping from my fingers. I feel the water dripping away like the passage of time. It’s the days that pass insignificant and unaccomplished.

Continue reading

“I Want to Be a Writer” Isn’t Enough Anymore

IMG_1389

I have wanted to be a writer for much of my life. Even as what I imagined my future career to be has changed, there has always been “—and a writer” tacked onto the end as an ever-present unrealistic dream. But for someone who has always wanted to be a writer, I’ve done shockingly little real writing in my life. As I am now trying to work out what it is I actually hope to accomplish in this life I am living, the time has come for me to decide if I truly want to call myself a writer, or if I just like the idea of calling myself a writer.

Continue reading

Eulogy

IMG_0817

A moth died next to me tonight. He fluttered down to the table next to me and he didn’t get up again. I’d like to say a few words.

I’ve met this moth before. Last night I saw him on the wall, trying to blend in with the chipped beige paint. I considered killing him then. I considered smashing him in a tissue and never looking back. But when I saw him there, barely the size of the first joint on my pinky finger, I was filled with such an overwhelming sense of empathy I simply couldn’t do it.

Here was a moth just trying to hang on, like me. Here was a moth that could easily be blown by the lightest currents of air, like me. Here was a moth without a plan—here was a moth just looking for some sense of control.

So I let him live. I gave him one more day of life. I don’t know if that one more day was a gift or a punishment, but he lived it nonetheless.

Tonight when he didn’t move for two hours I realized what was happening; this moth had chosen me to share in his death. And I did. And now I am grieving for the loss of his life.

Grief is an intoxicating emotion. Once grief enters your system, it demands to me fed more and more grief until all you know is sadness and loss and a hunger for more grief.

I suppose it’s possible this is not about the moth at all. I suppose this is about today being the 15th anniversary of the death of my father. You could draw that connection if you wanted to. You could say that I’m projecting the loss of my father at an early age onto the loss of a moth—that in my search for a connection to a father long gone I want to connect to the death of this moth to have something more tangible than the scattered memories of an 8 year old girl and the 15 years of life since.

But maybe this is really about the moth.

He didn’t die quickly, the moth. Periodically he would lift a wing, or roll onto his side. Over the course of five hours he tried to cling on to life, and I was there with him every step of the way. I listened to what he had to say.

He told me that he had lived a rich and full life. He had a wife that loved him and children that would remember him, and that most importantly he wasn’t dying alone, and it comforted him.

I suppose you could say I’m writing this about me. I suppose you could say this is about my fear of death, about the children I can’t have, or the fear that my life will be lonely, empty, and meaningless. Maybe this is about the fear of dying and being remembered by no one, the fear that haunts my need to write, to travel, and to live.

I’m addicted to grief. I revel in it. I consume it as it consumes me until there is nothing left but memories of loss. Perceived loss. Real loss. The loss of pieces of myself.

But maybe what the moth really told me was that he had hated his life. That he spent every day alone, and that no one would miss him when he was gone. Maybe the moth felt nothing but regret as his wings seized up and his life ended.

But even if that were the case, that’s not what I would say in his eulogy. This moth deserves to be remembered. He chose me to listen to his story and to share it in whatever way I saw fit. This is the responsibility and the gift of the living: we choose how to remember the dead. We give the dead life again in whatever way we want because the dead are gone. The dead no longer have a say in how their stories are told, and maybe that is what is most terrifying about death.

A moth died next to me tonight, and when I sleep I will leave the window open so that if his family comes to pay their respects they can see him, and if they want to take his body home they can. And if in the morning when I wake up his body is still there, untouched and unloved, no one but me will ever know because a moth chose me tonight, to share in his life and in his death, and I will take his secrets to the grave.

New Album “Mosquito Bites and Tatami Mold” OUT SOON

IMG_0842

My creative process is a half opened journal.

It is with great excitement that I announce I will be releasing my first album, entitled Mosquito Bites and Tatami Mold, later this year.

It’s been a whirlwind process of creating my own original work as well as collaborating with artists like The Cicadas, My Neighbor’s Futon Beater, and TVFWTBU (That Voice From When the Trucks Back Up). After months of writing, rehearsal, and wishing there was better Mexican food in Japan, I feel I finally have a product I am proud to attach my name to.

This collection of songs, inspired mostly by my time in Japan, transcend genre as I create music from a space of radical personal truth, rather than the enforced misogynistic, capitalistic truth thrust upon the masses by the more commercial artists today.

Continue reading