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What I Don’t Understand

Why is it happiness that we crave?

If there is a God, this is the cruelest joke.

We qualify a good life by how well it is lived. And, most of the time, how well it is lived comes down to how happy it made you. Happiness is the end goal.

Advertisers promise us that their products will make us happy. While that is a gross, callous lie, it’s not nearly as heartless as what world promises us.

You are told that following your dreams will make you happy; marrying a loved one and having children will make you happy.

It exists in the mind of people that happiness is an enduring achievement. It exists at the end of the road. It is the grand pursuit of life. “If I just do these things in my life, I will be happy.”

In my eyes, happiness is just the same as sadness — fleeting. What is so powerful, though, is the sensation they each carry with them that they are forever lasting. No one is forever happy just as no one is forever sad. As humans, we vacillate between these two potent emotions and along the way fall everywhere in between. The point is that no matter where we are, we don’t stay there.

When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, John Lennon proclaimed, “Happy”. Firstly, I must say sorry John, try again in the next life? But more importantly, his wish to grow up happy is just as illogical as someone saying they wish to grow up to be sad.

I often think of how intelligent human beings are; I marvel at all that our species has accomplished. And then I think of how susceptible we are to our own emotions. An absolutely capricious people we are, existing in one state of mind and unwittingly succumbing to another as a result of something as trivial as a change in the lighting.

But I still find myself happy, until the sun falls back behind the dark and wispy clouds, blanketing the world. Blanketing my world, as I recede into myself and think of all the terrible things that would consume me if it were not for the sun peeking out its fortuitous rays just minutes after their retreat. Then I’m okay again.

Fickleness seems like a truly poor evolutionary trait.

What I’m Reading:

Aldous Huxley’s: Propaganda in A Democratic Society

(it’s for class)

What I’m Listening To:

Unspooled: Episode 1 – Citizen Kane

(a new and refreshing podcast, film critique sans pretension)

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As I Crash Again

To be honest, I shouldn’t be writing this right now.

What I should be writing is my two remaining essays for school. Both are due this coming Thursday and I have much left to do.

This is my process, though. At the beginning of each semester, I am nothing less than an academic wrecking ball; I decimate everything in my path. Unfortunately, at some point the wrecking ball loses momentum and sways back, continuously floating back and forth between its release point and target, losing power with each swing. From what I can see, I’m approaching my last swing.

I don’t know why I wait until the last minute. This is reflected throughout my life.

That’s all I have to say about that.

I went to a Buddhist temple the other day. I didn’t know that Buddha was not considered a God. I liked that. The Buddhists (Nichiren Soshu, to be exact) believe that anyone can be as good as the Buddha. Everyone is capable of enlightenment. They teach you that you, yourself, are capable of good. You don’t need anyone else to tell you that you are good, for you have it within you. You can be as good as what you worship.

I witnessed myself act for the first time in years a couple weeks ago. The short film that I did a few months ago finally released. I didn’t do very well. That made me really, really sad. Genuinely sad. After watching, I had one of those truly existential moments where you undoubtedly believe that you aren’t good enough to succeed at what you want to do. Then you start thinking about how you won’t make your parents proud. Your parents will die knowing you weren’t good enough (of course you were in their eyes, but that won’t satisfy you). You won’t be able to provide for your family. You should just quit.

Fuck it, though.

 

What I’m Reading:

Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman

What I’m Listening To:

The Saturation Trilogy by Brockhampton (“Star” is my fav, I think)

 

P.S. There is no good reason for Bearface to be in Brockhampton.

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What a Surprise

Sorry, had to run to the bathroom.

Well, it only took nine months! Here’s where everything stands for me as of right now:

I finished my first semester of school with straight A’s.

I currently have one month left in my second semester and I so badly want to drop out. By the end of May, I have five essays to submit, two of them coming in at fifteen pages a pop. I only wanted to go to college to learn, but I feel myself getting caught up in the politics of it all; not letting myself receive a ‘B’ because I “have” to get straight A’s so UCLA will accept me as a transfer. I feel like I’m wasting my time.

I am in acting class and doing quite alright, I’d say.

I’ve performed in three short films. The first just released and the other two are finishing up post.

I deleted all of my social media. I want to throw out my phone. It’s poison. It’s ravaged my focus, and it truly is an addiction.

I’m not sure where to go from here. See you in another nine, I reckon.

What I’m Reading:

Regrettably, nothing.

What I’m Listening To:

Geodaddi by Boards of Canada

What I’m Watching:

Just saw Lynne Ramsay’s new flick, You Were Never Really Here. Joaquin Phoenix is a god among men.

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The Most Practical Advice on Accomplishing Anything

The most pertinent piece of advice if you want to accomplish anything.

I’ve always had immense trouble with following through. I get these wondrous ideas that ricochet in my head for days, but they never make it down to paper. Or they do, and they just never develop from there. This is because I talk about them.

Instant gratification, my friends, the bane to all of my work thus far. Now, bear with me, as I read this on the internet last week on some website I can’t recall and I’m about to quite loosely paraphrase it for you. It essentially says:

“When you get an idea, a new idea for a project, a business, etc., STOP TELLING EVERYBODY ABOUT IT. The science behind it is says that when you come up with an idea and haven’t begun to flesh it out, yet you still talk about it as if you’re actually working on it, your brain somehow thinks it has put some legitimate work into the project. So you go to a dinner party, tell everyone about this screenplay idea that you came up with and are working on, now everybody thinks you’re this genius screenwriter (and you revel in it), so you go home and sleep like a baby because you feel as if you accomplished something. You didn’t. It has to do with the power of suggestion, “speaking it into being” etc.”

This is what I’ve always done. After high school and before I moved to Los Angeles, I was working full-time and saving up money for that move. I wasn’t in school; so whenever I went to college parties with my old friends and I’d talk about my plans they’d say, “Oh my god that’s SO cool that you’re gonna be an actor and like living on your own in L.A. and like I’m just an Economics major like ugh.” That shit made me feel so good. Even though I hadn’t moved yet, I hadn’t booked a single role, I still felt as if I had already accomplished all of that; because they already envisioned me as that person. The work was done.

But therein lies the problem, because you haven’t done any work.

This is why when I began to read for pleasure (something I had never experienced before), I didn’t tell anyone about it. I knew that if I told people I started reading all the time, they would tell me that I’m smart. Thus, I would think I was smart. And I’d stop reading. So I didn’t tell anyone; and now I can’t stop reading. I’m doing the same thing with this blog. Not a single person in my life, except for my girlfriend who I couldn’t hide it from because she sees me type the posts :), knows about this. And I intend to keep it that way until I’ve built something worthwhile of this burgeoning domain.

What I’m Reading:

Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham, up to Chapter 9 (hey, at least I wrote today!)

What I’m Listening To:

Emergency & I by The Dismemberment Plan

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Exactly!

Yeahhhhhhhhh buddy! Two posts in two days! To be honest, I didn’t think I would be posting a second contribution to this blog for at least three months. All it would say is, “Hey guys! Sorry for not posting in three months. Gonna get right back at it!” And that would be the last post on Exactly Ethan. But no, not today my friends! Today, I thought I would take the time to try to explain why I named the blog Exactly Ethan.

It all has to do with the nascent self-awareness of a young adult. In middle school, I never understood why my classmates ostracized me. I knew I was cool. And I was a pretty funny child, so I didn’t understand why everyone acted like I was so standoffish. It wasn’t until I reached the age of fifteen that I realized it’s because I had dyed my hair jet black, wore super skinny white jeans, listened to screamo, and had a Buzz Lightyear backpack (with spring action wings I might add!) This was when my brain had developed enough to the point where I could begin to perceive what others thought about me in an accurate way. I now sought to not have to resort to retrospect in order to discern the person that I was, so in the latter years of my high school career I endeavored to analyze how I represented myself every minute of every day. My strategy was simple: Do what I always do, but look at myself as if I was someone else, and respond accordingly. This has ended up being extremely detrimental to my mental health (more on that later), but boy did it work.

That’s why I chose to start this blog. It exists as a record of the person that I am every day. Because that changes — not in signficant amounts over days, but months and years? This post is a direct reflection of the person I am today, and in five years when I look back at it, it will no doubt be foreign to my eyes, as if an entirely different person had written it. So what you’re getting from my blog is this: Exactly Ethan. You will receive me, in my purest form, every single time. My beliefs, faith, political affiliation, morals, and dreams may all change, I will change. Therefore, anything I write on this blog remains the same; because it is Exactly Ethan at that point in time, every time.

What I’m Reading:

Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham – Up to Chapter 9.

What I’m Listening to:

Lo-Fi Hip Hop, mostly.

 

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The Beginning of a Beginning

I turned 20 four days ago.

And just about a week ago I finished reading James Joyce’s collection Dubliners. That was huge. Not in length, but in scope. It was huge for me. I read it because Ernest Hemingway told me to. You see, I come from a family of writers, and though I never cared much for the craft, I had some talent. I thought I was an actor, but I don’t know anymore. During my time on this earth a various assortment of potential occupations have piqued my interest and action, though I have yet to come upon something that truly fascinates me and holds my folly.

At age 10, I got my first gig as an actor playing the role of “Jock” in High School Musical at the local community theater. Some people claim they remember exactly when they got the “acting bug”, but I cannot recall such a moment. I was and remain an expert recluse. I never raise my hand in class even if I know the correct answer. I seek to blend into the background wherever I am. I don’t really talk to people. One, because I am afraid people won’t like me. Two, because I really don’t like most people. I never take the opportunity to show people who I am because it scares me. I believe the reason I was drawn to acting is because it provided me with a medium that allowed me to express, even if it was as a character. I kept this hobby all the way through high school and, in my sincere opinion, I was decent. I held an officer position in the Thespian club, I was booking lead roles left and right, I was even making a name for myself in the local film community. But I never really cared. I never loved it. It was never something that I yearned to do for any other reason than that it was what I did. 

And what I did led me to the decision to forgo a higher education and instead move straight to Los Angeles immediately following my nineteenth birthday in hopes of a big break in Hollywood. Under the impression that I would get the jump on all the actors that decided to enroll in four-year BFA programs, I packed up my 2002 Saturn fit for a very petite king and made the arduous journey from Phoenix, AZ to L.A. How has it worked out for me? Quite well, in fact. I’ve booked two jobs working as an extra. That’s it. I’ll explain why that’s good.

All of my life I have never been able to stick to any one thing. I become gravely invested in a single activity and after about two weeks, at the moment when you have to start honing in on the details to continue progressing, I give up. This has never occurred to me in regards to acting, and what I surmise from that is that I have never found it difficult. So, as a logical man, I must assume that I have been doing it wrong. Something I have learned through my first twenty years on this planet but have yet to experience myself is that anything worth doing will at some point pose a challenge; If I truly care about what I am doing, I will take on that challenge. I need to find out if writing is my true calling. That is why I started this blog. This is my challenge.

In December of 2014, I was applying to be a BFA Acting major at USC.

In February of 2016, I was going to apply to the Los Angeles College of Music to major in Music Production

In October of 2016, I watched Mad Men from start to finish in a week and a half and decided that I wanted be an actor again.

In July of 2017, I read an article about Ernest Hemingway and his young apprentice Arnold Samuelson. Hemingway gave Samuelson a piece of paper with sixteen works and their respective authors. Along with this, Hemingway allegedly said to the boy, “Here’s a list of books any writer should have read as a part of his education… If you haven’t read these, you just aren’t educated. They represent different types of writing. Some may bore you, others might inspire you and others are so beautifully written they’ll make you feel it’s hopeless for you to try to write.” So, I’m beginning my education. The first book I was able to find at the library was Dubliners and I completed it three days ago. My thoughts on the book soon to come.

So, as of right now, July 26th, 2017, I am deciding to enroll in the local community college as an English major. My dream, as it stands now, is to write a screenplay, sell it, and star in it. As implausible as that sounds, it’s all I got. And I’ll be damned if I don’t try.

Until that time comes, you can find me here. And what you’ll find here is this:

  • The anecdotes of a twenty year old kid living on his own in Los Angeles (I feel as if that should be enticing enough on its own).
  • What I’m reading.
  • My thoughts on what I’m reading.
  • What I’m listening to.
  • My thoughts on what I’m listening to.
  • My general reflections on the world, the world around me, and myself.

For those of you who are reading, I implore you, hold me to this. Because I don’t know if I can.