This is Gospel

The hall smells like sweat and alcohol and cigarette smoke and Axe body spray. After standing in the cold rain for nearly two and a half hours, Maggie embraces the smell, breathing it in so deeply that it makes her cough. She’s shoulder-to-shoulder with stinky strangers and she couldn’t be happier about it. Her ripped fishnet stockings sat tightly between Doc Martens and a mini skirt, topped off with a leather corset and her favorite yin yang choker. She had even taken the time to straighten her jet-black hair and put her favorite purple extensions in. She could take her eyeliner wings and fly away at any minute. Maggie looked like a scene goddess straight from the depths of tumblr in 2009 and she knew it. This night had a lot riding on it—a few paychecks from her part-time job blown on three or so hours of blinding lights and deafening sound, followed by a day or two of exhaustion and the infamous post-concert depression she knew so well.

Now that the doors were open, people were everywhere, yelling to their friends, buying drinks and merch, trying to find their seats and filling up the pit instantly. Maggie and her friend Krista, who had returned from the bathroom, linked pinkies to avoid losing each other in the swarm of bodies as they made their way to the pit. The pit is undoubtedly a rough place to spend a concert, but it’s a totally different experience—especially at a rock show. The buddy system is absolutely necessary.

There’s something breathtaking about a room at full capacity with teenagers who are all eagerly awaiting the same thing, and Maggie is feeling it. Everyone is too excited to be concerned with looking “cool” and the lack of self-consciousness in the room is palpable. All focus is on the dark stage and the suspense is almost too much to bear. It doesn’t even matter if no one knows who the opener is—the energy is so high that everyone dances even if they’re just a mediocre cover band.

Then, the magic happens. The music stops and every last light goes out and you could hear a pin drop for a split second before the crowd realizes what’s happening and the screaming commences. Maggie has a death grip on Krista’s arm and her eyes locked on the sides of the stage, where she knows they’ll be showing up any second. The boys let the roar die down momentarily before sprinting out onto the stage, guitars and drumsticks in hand, yelling and laughing and making weird faces because they can, and the crowd soaks up every second. The lead singer takes hold of the microphone and yells something he probably says to every city, and the kids don’t care because it feels like every word is being said directly to them as individuals. This is the moment they’ve been waiting on for months—ever since the tour was announced. This is what they live for.

The first chord from the lead electric guitar echoes out across the music hall and an overwhelming majority of the crowd already knows what song is coming. Maggie can barely hear her own thoughts and it’s incredible and painful and she screams the lyrics at the top of her lungs along with the man whose face is plastered all over the walls of her bedroom. In that moment, they have a connection. It doesn’t matter how many hundreds of people are around—she and him are in the same room, singing the same words to the song she’s been singing since the day it was released. The bass is so strong that she can feel it in her bones and she’d live in this moment forever if she could.

The song comes to an end and Maggie looks at the people around her, realizing that though they all may have a different favorite band member or favorite song, each and every person is here for the same reason. This is where the broken ones go to feel whole again. This is where those who walk around every day truly believing that they are alone can feel, even if just for these few hours, like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. This music is gospel to the outcast and the forgotten. So Maggie will stand and scream until it feels like her lungs will give out—then, the show will end. The lights will go out and the doors will close and all of the broken souls, temporarily glued back together, will return to the streets until their next gathering.

An Infinity of Stevens: A terribleminds Flash Fiction

“You don’t even know me.  No one does.  Everyone thinks they know who I am and what’s best for me, but they’re all wrong. Even you.”

I still remember every word you said the night our friendship ended.  They echo through the canyons in the back of my mind as I lie in bed, desperately trying to get some sleep.  I hear them when I’m driving, and when my Timehop wants to tell me about all the things we did a year ago, two years ago today.  Sometimes I wonder if you even remember that night or the words you finally let out.

I’ve known a lot of Stevens over the years, but never one who talked like that.  There was the Steven When Your Mom Wasn’t Around and a much more unpleasant Steven When Your Mom Was Around.  And there was Steven When Dinner was Ready.  There was Sore Loser Steven, Lying Steven, Drunk Steven, Hung-Over Steven, and, one of my personal favorites, Immediate-Post-Breakup Steven, who specialized in junk food, Coors Light, and “It’s just allergies, you asshole.”

The really amazing thing, though, was how seamlessly you were able to transition from Steven to Steven.  Whenever you came close to any sort of vulnerability, you switched everything around in a last-minute attempt to change the subject.  I remember one day in particular that it really caught me off guard.  We were driving home from B-Dub’s and I asked if you were still talking to that Cody guy you’d introduced me to a few days before.  All you did was turn the music up a bit louder (The 1975, I think–a band I hate, but in avoidance of argument, never voiced my distaste for) and, a few moments later, ask if we had bread at the apartment or if we needed to stop by Wal-Mart before going home.  I admitted that I had no idea what the status of our bread supply was, and I assured you that if things didn’t work out with Cody, you’d find someone else soon enough.  I was immediately introduced to Extremely Defensive Steven, who told me to mind my own fucking business for once and then drove like an escaped felon for the remainder of the way home.  After miraculously making it back to the apartment in one piece, it was discovered that the only source of bread we had left consisted of a heel and a normal piece, which must have been unacceptable, because I got to spend the rest of the evening with Silent Treatment Steven.

That was one of many bad days, but I guess the demise of our friendship really started when I asked you if you thought about going back to therapy.  You’d been through a lot.  Coming out is tough; not everyone can be Ellen Degeneres.  I knew that you had dealt with things a little better and just been a bit more positive in general when you were still seeing your therapist back home, and maybe it would be helpful to talk to someone during school, too.

Wrong.

“I know this is, like, the last thing you want to talk about, and I know I probably sound like an overprotective mother, but what do you think about just talking to somebody up here, too?  You know.  College is stressful.  Lots of kids do it.  I’ve heard that Student Health does a great job.”  I was treading lightly, but apparently not lightly enough.  Netflix Steven actually looked up from the anime for once.  That was the real deal.

“What, do you think I still need help? Do I seem like I’m not okay to you?” Hurt Steven asked.

Well… Kind of, I thought to myself.  I wouldn’t dare actually voice that opinion.

“I just mean that you’ve made a lot of progress and you don’t want it to get reversed by the added stress of school and everything..” I suggested.

“You know, you really don’t have to hover all the fucking time.  I can deal with things by myself and there’s no need for you to play Mom.  I have one of those.  She doesn’t nag at me nearly as much as you do.”  Hurt Steven was not holding back. “You think you can just wander around fixing everyone and you can’t.  I never asked for your help.  You don’t even know me.  No one does.  Everyone thinks they know who I am and what’s best for me, but they’re all wrong.  Even you.  If I needed help, I would ask for it.” You shut off the Wii and disappeared into your room for the night.

Since that night, our friendship hasn’t really been the same.  We still go to Taco Bell for dinner when neither of us feel like cooking, and we still carpool when both of us are going home, but we certainly don’t talk like we used to.  We live in the same apartment, but we’re not friends.  The only Steven I’ve seen for months is Isolated Steven– a Steven who has no desire to let anyone in.  Maybe someday all of the defense mechanism Stevens can just finally melt away, and all that will be left is the real Steven, the one you were always too unsure of to let live.  I think he deserves that.

The Major Switch

Hello again!

The last few weeks of my life have revolved around making huge decisions that will determine my life trajectory (typical for an 18-year-old, really), so I figured this would be an easy topic to focus on today.  Something that’s been keeping me particularly awake at night is my lack of a clear decision on a major.

All my life, I’ve had a ton of interests and hobbies.  I like to refer to myself as an “amateur everything” in that I’ve achieved mediocrity at a large number of tasks.  I can bake a little.  I can draw some things.  I can play a few songs.  I can sing in tune for a while.  I like to think I can write. Really, the only thing I absolutely dislike doing is math.

Things got complicated in high school when I was finally diagnosed with Vocal Cord Dysfunction, which had gone wrongly diagnosed as asthma since I was a child.  It’s essentially a strange condition in which the vocal cords become irritated and actually paralyze.  It decreases my oxygen levels a bit, and I end up with a pretty sore throat.  It ruined my oboe-playing career and my dreams of a future in music ed.  That was one possibility crossed off the list of things I could do with my life.

When it comes to academic interests, I’ve always been fascinated by other people; how they work, why they do the things they do.  Psychology was an obvious choice, right?  It made sense that psychology and I would go hand in hand.

Wrong.

What if I can’t help people? I’m an internalizer.  I’m afraid that if I do pursue a career in psychology, I’ll spend eight years in school and build up a ton of debt, and then not be able to help people and be completely miserable for the rest of my life.  I’m just scared.  Horrified, actually.  And really, really bad at neuroscience.

That being said, I’ve had a meeting recently with my honors advisor, and she totally understands, thank goodness.  I’m currently undeclared (the scariest word ever), and I’m thinking I might be working my way toward a communications major and maybe even a creative writing minor.  We’ll see where it goes.

This has been a gigantic, awkward rant about how I have no idea what the future holds, and if you actually read it, kudos to you.  I’m just trying to get used to this.

Forever uncertain,

me

wow. much first post. such new.

This is kind of weird.

I’ve been running a tumblr (acamtoremember.tumblr.com) and a twitter (@camilleotto) for quite a while now, and I figured something new would be fun.  So this is the fun new thing!  I hope this isn’t totally awkward and a failure.

This is where I’ll post about my life and the daily awkward things that happen to me.  Maybe I’ll throw in a few artsy pictures.  The possibilities are endless.  Let’s see where this goes, shall we?