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Anonymous: I really want to live with no internet. Its just so convenient for school assignments but ironically so extremely distracting if you want to get any work done.

I hear you. The internet is such a juxtaposition of amazingly useful and amazingly useless. I mean, I think all humans with internet access have killed their fair share of hours watching cat videos and what not, cute, but not very productive and it can be hard to moderate yourself. I remember when I was a kid and had a thirty minute a day internet limit enforced by my father. Sometimes, I wish I still had that..

Anonymous: I wish to meet you one day!

I always think it’s very sweet and flattering when people want to meet me, but scary too. Not scary in the way you think, I don’t often suspect people of being serial killers or anything as my parents would (haha), but I’m acutely aware that most people who say this, must know a fair amount about me, and seldom do I know anything about them, and that’s always a bit strange for a first meeting, for one to be a stranger and not the other. Also, I know that people will have expectations of me, I think you can’t not have some degree of expectations, unless you just shut your brain down completely and that’s not easy to do, and so, I think…I don’t know, I think I’d disappoint people, mostly. People only see snippets of my life online, that’s the way it always is, and when fully fleshed out, everything is different. Sometimes I feel like people have put me up on a pedestal, and I can’t live up to the way maybe people imagine I’ll be. 

Anonymous: I love the atmosphere in my local cafe since that's the only place I can really concentrate but oh my lanta, the fair trade stuff is so $! I love being there, around people, it helps me cope with my loneliness, and I love a good coffee, its just hard on my walleetttt. School libraries are so painfully dull, you can feel the air of anxiety soon as you enter. I hate it. On a different note, how is everything with u Susanna? I really do love hearing about your life (I deleted fb). Hope all is well!

Ah, that reminds me of one of my favorite neighborhoods in Baltimore, love the atmosphere, love the people, love all the fair trade and antique and kitschy junk shops, but it’s a monstrosity to my wallet (well, that and my diehard love affair with medjool dates). At the moment, I am a bit heartbroken, as I had to say some painful goodbyes today. I hate myself for making mistakes that hurt other people, and I’m not very good at letting people go. People leave me all the time, but I’m very loyal and stubborn and don’t let go of people so easily, least not forever. I’ve also been obsessively checking eBay listings because my computer is dying (it works in short bursts and then forces me to shut it down about five times in a row) and I know I can’t afford to replace it now and I don’t know that I can fix it either (or at least I’m just tired of wiping my hard drive and starting over, this would be maybe the third of fourth time), so I’ve decided to just get another typewriter (as the Royal is always on the fritz and alas, it’s not like there’s typewriter repair shops just around the corner these days, I’m not very mechanically minded either) and live with no internet, no apps, no distractions, just the feel of the keys and clean white paper…Ideally, for a year or so, which is probably when I could next afford a new computer, but we’ll see, because I always end up missing my friends who live far away. Snail mail is good, but slow. 

Anonymous: Since you're a lover of books, I'm wondering if you've ever read Ayn Rand and her books? If so, what are your thoughts? I keep seeing her books advertised online or in my school library but I've seen people who hold problematic ideas (profiling, racism, ETC) who view her as an inspiration.. and I'm just not sure how much I want to touch her work now...

I haven’t read any of her works, but looking at when she lived, I can’t say I’d be surprised if she had racist views or promoted profiling. This is not to say people don’t still hold those ideas, but I feel in the past, that kind of thinking was even more integrated collectively in cultures, and particularly amongst white and privileged people. I was reading a book about the history of my neighborhood and this was I believe in the 1800s in which people were suggesting all blacks should be enslaved again, as if it was doing them a favor and I think, how absolutely disgusting that is. I’d like to think if I lived then, I would know better and have been more of a progressive thinker, but so much of it is the influence of an individual’s environment, you know? If you grow up surrounded by a lot of people who think a certain way, it’s harder to break out of that and challenge that and come up with a new way of thinking. People are vulnerable and impressionable, especially children. 

I’d recommend you read Ayn Rand though, if you’re really curious, if you think that she’s influenced people you feel hold racist beliefs. There’s really only one way to find out and then you can decide for yourself, what you think of her. I feel it’s important anyway, to read books by people we disagree with, by people who hold very different beliefs and world views, to stretch and grow the mind and either destruct or reaffirm and strengthen your own ideas. It’s good to know where other people are coming from, even if you don’t agree. It’ll help immensely in getting along in life. 

Anonymous: hey Susanna, i'm like you i really don't learn well in a classroom environment and i really don't think university is a good fit for me. i'm really lost on how i will get a job and stuff without a university education. what do you see yourself doing? or will you just have little jobs here and there?

I think what you have to figure out, is if what you want to do (if you know what you want to do) is worth perhaps a less than natural learning environment for a few years, but that you can then move on from, equipped to do something you dream of. It just depends on what you want. To be successful in a field doesn’t necessarily require a degree, the arts for instance, although even then there’s an infinite amount of niches and it really depends on what exactly in the arts someone wants to do. But if you dream of being something such as a doctor, then despite a very alarming statistic I heard a while ago about how many doctors are actually phonies with fake diplomas framed on their office walls, you’re probably going to deal with lectures and desks for a bit longer. University isn’t forever, but it can incur a great deal of debt and stress for that matter, so only you can decide if that sacrifice is worth it for what you want out of life? 

I’ve really been employed from the age of fifteen, with some odd jobs, but mostly working as a nanny. Seldom does a family ask for a degree, and it can pay quite well, especially as experience is gained. I do adore the little girl who I’ve been taking care of almost from the time she was born. It’s strange because she’s really spent more time with me than anyone else, and it’s going to be quite painful to separate, as we will have to when she goes to school soon. And there are days in which I can’t believe I’m getting paid to do what I do, like reading books on blankets bathed in sunlight by the ponds, or that I’ve had summers off and been around Asia because of that, and other days that are hard. I would like to have a job that is perhaps slightly more creative and mentally stimulating some day, but being a nanny has taught me a lot and I don’t regret not going to university. I am a girl who loves entirely too many things to choose just one and stick with it as a career for the rest of my life, but for some people they know exactly what they want and that’s great too. 

Best wishes to you. <3 

6:50 A.M.

Probing clumsily through darkness and emerging into the faint gray-blue veil of mist and horizons emptied of color, sucked dry of blues and blacks, infinite, fallow fields of broken down stalks of corn already harvested; a tree dangling its velvet green leaves at me. I see a hazy shadow morph into a human figure, standing at the end of a lone driveway. He is still there when I drive past again (earlier than early and having decided to drive out to my favorite vantage point for a better view of the countryside still shaking the sleep out of its bones), newspaper tucked under his arm, waiting for someone or something to happen. I wonder if he thought that I was that someone for a second, if the light that swells up from the hill like a brief and fleeting sunrise, every time a car comes to pass, makes him think that. Don’t some people wait for life to happen the same way? Like a man at the end of a driveway with an unread newspaper under his arm? 
Anonymous: Why aren't you vegan or vegetarian? I don't know why but you strike me as the person who would

At the moment, I’m fighting to get my life back from a decade of pain and illness and healing my body through very specific dietary regime (that cuts out all refined sugars and flours, among other things). The diet I’m on (SCD) is a well researched diet that’s been around since the 1980s and on which many people with similar health problems as my own have found success on. However, on this diet, the majority of protein sources and foods vegans and vegetarians rely on, are not allowed (and for good reason, I’m just lousy at summarizing or even remembering the scientific explanations), such as nuts (except as flour), legumes, tofu, non-dairy milk (which I can try, but only tentatively and after 6 months on this diet), lentils, beans, quinoa, and I really have to watch my intake of raw fruits and veggies, and nut butters (I think almond butter is out, I can use peanut butter in recipes, but I find just slapping it onto an apple for instance, does not do my body good). Unfortunately, I actually think a vegan or vegetarian diet would make me much sicker than I already am. But the good thing is the SCD diet is not intended to just mask symptoms but to actually heal and allow the body to recover, so hopefully after a few years, I might be able to have more flexibility in my diet and possibly move to a more vegan or vegetarian diet. For now though, I need to be able to work and before I went on this diet, I was really on the cusp of being to sick to get out and do anything. I do have hope, for the first time in years, that I could get better from problems that are considered incurable with modern medicine. 

Anonymous: why don't you go into interior design? you love it, so why not? i think i remember you mentioning that it was a dream job of yours.

It was a dream job when I was younger, although I also wanted to be an actress, a cinematographer, a vet, a stuntwoman, and all kinds of other things, as well…I was one of those kids who seemed to have a dream of the week, every week, although I did stick with wanting to be an interior designer for much longer than usual. But unless I get lucky knowing the right people and catching the right breaks, I would probably need to go to university for it, and not only is this something I can’t really afford at the moment (and I do so wish higher education in the U.S. was free and didn’t cost and arm and a leg and your first born and half your life in debt, which is typical), nor something I desire enough to fight for it (and I really still don’t think university is the place for me, I don’t learn very well in a classroom environment, having seldom dealt with one). So, that’s why I’m not doing that at the moment, although if anyone was like, “Hey, help me come decorate my place!” I wouldn’t really object to that, although I suspect I wouldn’t love decorating other people’s places as much as my own, but maybe that’s always the case. 

Ultimately, I think there are other things I dream of more than that, and so that is what I’ve been pursuing. 

Anonymous: Susanna, it has made be quite sad hearing that you no longer really follow the beliefs of that piece you had written. I live in a place where everyone is obsessed with going to the best and finest university and have hopes of accumulating all the wealth that they can get. Their lives right now just consist of school work and are heavily loaded with AP's so that they can get into those top schools. continued..

Just because I no longer live a transient life at the moment, doesn’t mean I’m necessarily subscribing to the college-degree-job-marriage-house-kids-retirement plan either. I lived that lifestyle for a while, that rootless, drifting lifestyle and while I do want to travel again and explore more of the world in my lifetime, I simply discovered that just wandering on infinitely wasn’t what I wanted either. It was my life, I lived for that, for years, I begin to base my identity in that, but realized it was ultimately unfulfilling and better to put my faith in something that cannot be taken away (i.e., spirituality, God). I had an awakening that wanted to do more with my life and that may require putting some roots down and making some commitments. 

But this is me, and you’re you. Maybe you’ll find you do love that lifestyle. Only you can know and figure out, so I encourage you to do so, to wrestle with different paths if you’re not happy with the way everyone else is doing things where you live. :) 

Anonymous: ahh yes, i'm such a fan of Kerouac and I think i've romanticised the idea of the beat generation in my head. I'm not sure why part of me longs to live in that era even though Kerouac himself denounced it and how mainstream it had become. There's the generation of hipsters now but they don't quite seem as genuine and passionate. It seems like more of a fashionable trend over a non-confromist trend. Maybe I don't quite understand this. I believe that non-conformism is needed NOW against MNCs etc.

Oh, I know what you mean, I’ve been swept away in all that too, and it’s just not the same now. Really what I want, if I was going to be a beatnik at all, is a time machine, to take me back and let me throw in my knapsack in the backseat with the best of them. 

You’re right though, I think, it is very much in, to be a non-comformist at the moment, which basically makes it a movement of conformism, in a way, it kind of like a dog chasing it’s tale or something. But I think the majority of the generation doing that now, most of them although not all, when eventually get what Kerouac and Cassady eventually understood, that living fast and dying young and living a restless, wandering life is not all what it’s hyped up to be. It’s good to get out and explore, don’t get me wrong. I encourage some wild abandon within everyone’s life, but to do that on and on, endlessly, I think eventually the significance dims. And who is it really significant to? Only the wanderer, perhaps. 

But that’s just my two cents and eventually I realized that I wanted to make my life matter for more than just myself, that is I wanted to give back and make a difference for others, and just drifting around aimlessly was never really going to do that effectively, or at least not as effectively as if I actually put some roots down and lived with some commitment. 

Multinational corporations, I’m assuming? We could definitely do less with Monsanto, yes. And it is alarming how endangered our bee population is! I mean, do people not like produce and flowers as much as I do or…why aren’t more people freaking out?