it was one of those days at work where you find yourself staring off into space all too frequently. e-mails went unanswered, phone calls were not returned with the usual urgency. assignments were unceremoniously ignored and i spent the day alternately staring at the clock one minute and then staring at the ceiling the next. the most productive thing i did all day was spend abut 15 minutes thinking about my team's entry into the agency's first annual gingerbread "dream house" competition (who says gingerbread houses need to be all candy?? we are making an oh-so-austin eco-friendly home with broccoli shrubs, matzoh cracker walls, a sesame seed walkway and a blue jello swimming pool with life saver inner tubes floating inside. boo yeah!). by the time 5:00 rolled around, i figured i had wasted enough time staring at my computer and surfing my fave gossip blogs and decided to just end the masquerade already and go home.
i drove home in a fitful and restless mood. as previously mentioned, i've been in a bit of a quarterlife crisis/funk lately, and i honestly felt like the sunny day (temp = mid-70s, for those of you that are keeping track) was mocking me somewhat (but the oh so faithful jammin 105.9 was playing NO DIGGITY by BLACKSTREET. man i love that station). what is with my generation, anyway? on paper, i have more than most other people have at 25. a great job in a "trendy" industry with high-profile clients, a fantastic apt, a loving family, fantastic friends, good health, a good education, etc etc etc. heck, i even have a fish! so what the hell is all the fuss about? wouldn't a majority of twenty-somethings kill to have my situation?
that's the thing, though. i feel like so many 20-somethings are raised to think that they can "have it all" and that they can accomplish anything they set their mind to. furthermore, i've been lucky enough that i have accomplished a lot of things that i've set out to do: i got into a great college and had way too much fun while there, i've built meaningful relationships, i've traveled to other countries, yadda yadda yadda. the funny thing is, though, that when you're taught to think you can do anything and you're lucky enough to be reasonably talented at several things -- it ends up being somewhat paralyzing. it's the paradox of choice that i know all too well. when i wander the incredibly well-stocked aisles of the beautiful monstrosity that is the whole foods corporate headquarters right across from my office @ 6th and lamar, i often end up wasting a good six or seven minutes while i try and make what should a simple decision but ends up boggling the mind instead. do i want OJ from concentrate? not from concentrate? organic oranges or the nectar from regular old pesticide-covered pieces of crap? oranges from FL? everyday organic, which is more reasonably priced? or should i go for the calcium-fortified option, since, come to think of it, i really don't drink all that much milk and OMG what if i have ostoperosis or something horrible? calcium it is.
the number of choices (for both OJ and other such difficult life decisions) is often incredibly overwhelming, and i think way too many well-educated and generally lucky 20-somethings in my position would agree. when you're taught to think you can do anything, it's really hard to decide what the hell to do with your life, anyway. neurosurgeon? writer of the next great american novel? corporate sell-out advertising whore? artiste? perpetual student? saver of the american community? exotic dancer, to rebel against my otherwise comfortable upper middle class upbringing? full-time mommy of two precocious kids? and then the strange and powerful forces of ambition (i'm going to change the world!) and laziness (well... after i take this nap, that is) set in and you end up feeling you haven't made any progress whatsoever.
...all of which were on my mind as i decided to clear my head a bit during a long run. i headed outside and was randomly overcome with the desire to run to the capitol and back. so i proceeded to do exactly that. i ran straight down south congress, over the congress bridge where the city lights were twinkling against the inky colorado river and then further down congress ave until i ran smack into the capitol building, towering symbol of texan bravado and spirit that it is (in case you didn't know, it looks exACTly like our nation's capitol, only bigger and well, pink). i've actually never been that close to it before, and it was incredibly beautiful at night -- a few cop cars here and there but otherwise open to the random jogger and/or happy couple taking a million pics with their digital camera -- and i took a break to walk around the huge front lawn (it's true -- everything IS bigger in texas). it reminded me of the DC monuments and how beautiful they are at night, and i had a flashback to a few warm summer nights that were spent wandering around my favorite FDR memorial, gazing out onto a moonlit tidal basin and wondering what had been accomplished in the city that day. from the steps of the capitol, i had a view of the city that i had never experienced before, and it was truly refreshing. i looked around, breathed in the clean air, appreciated the friendly faces that i saw along the way, relished the fact that i could wear shorts on a december night and pretty much thanked my lucky stars for my good fortune. it's only because i have been so fortunate that i even have time to have a stupid quarterlife crisis, you know?
the big question still looms, though. what the hell should i do next? i like austin and i like my company, but the story doesn't end here for me. i came to check it out, not to stay. and i came, i loved the mild winters, i soaked up the hot sun, i became obsessed with breakfast tacos and the difference btwn "tex-mex" cuisine and "interior mexican" cuisine (learning that they both have pretty fucking delicious margaritas so who really cares anyway), i embraced the joy that is chips and queso, i went to ACL, i listened to live music, i enjoyed the laid-back culture and friendly people. i came, i saw, i conquered, etc etc etc.
but what's next? THAT'S what i want to know.
oh well. i guess that's a decision for another clear, starlit night.
now please excuse me while i go pour myself a glass of orange juice (organic, not from concentrate this time).