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  • Writer's picturetatum van dam

a message to my lovely readers

It has come to my realization that I have been writing and posting these articles every week, once a week, for the last large amount of weeks and I have yet to give an official introduction of myself to all of you kind souls who choose to read my writings. Yes, I have a bio. But 140 characters just isn't enough to tell you about who I really am. With that being said, hello. Bonjour. Ciao.

Hellooo, to whoever may (or may not be) reading this. My name is Tatum. Yes, you can call me "Channing", and no, I am not related to Jean-Claude Van Damme (one time, my dad told a security guard he was Jean's cousin and was able to sit VIP for a boxing match. Jean Claude showed up and went along with the bit). My body runs solely off of the coconut milk mochas and all beverages alike from Peet's Coffee and Tea, I'm a student studying film and music, I reminisce too often for my own good, and I'm very particular when it comes to two things: socks and whipped cream. I am supposed to wear my glasses 24/7, and since I often forget to, most of my days are lived in 720p rather than 1080HD. I enjoy singing in the shower and driving for the all intensive purpose of taking the aux cord and jamming to music, and as much as I try to, I do not cope well with silence. When I tell a story, I tend to go on tangents, often to the point where I forget the story I was telling, but I'm convinced that somehow my tangents enhance the story and make it more lively. I'm a little bit above average at freestyle rapping, one day I would love to adopt a baby goat and dress it in knit sweaters, and I listen to music a little too much and a little too loudly. I am a frequent goer of concerts, taker of photos, referencer of vines, eater of foods, traveler of the world, dreamer of dreams, author of journals, and most importantly, thinker of thinking. And that is what this introductory article about myself has been a result of: thinking. Not any sort of thinking, my thinking.

Yeah, I think… a lot. Sometimes, a little too much. My thinking and my thoughts have brought me to the point where I write about them, edit them, and publish them to share them with the world wide web with the slightest bit of hope that these thoughts might make sense in the minds of other people. I wonder about a lot of things, like, who invented the first street sign, what person decided to drop a cucumber in some salted water and call it a pickle, and how dreams work the way they do.

And I guess my many wonders are what brings me here. And by here, I mean on this blog, talking to you -- yes, you. Whether "you" be a stranger from the midwest who must tend to their crops, a friend who was lovingly forced into reading this article, a person from high school whom I only ever had an interaction with that one time they needed a piece of paper, a celebrity, a relative, a new robot with a name like "Jenna" being developed in the boroughs of Silicon Valley, a barista that has made my (many) coconut milk mochas -- whoever "you" may be -- thank you for reading my writings and hearing what I have to say (and in the case you are my local Peet's barista, thank you for the coffee that will forever be superior to the lesser superior coffee franchises of the country).

I come from a big family. At least in my own terms, it's pretty big. There are six of us total, not including our three dogs, and our poor cat Misty who is absolutely terrified of everything except for myself. Take one, soft-spoken girl (me), two older brothers (Jaymi and Sid), one younger brother (Tanner) who appears to look older even though it is I who possesses more years, one father (Ot), one mother (Prue), and three dogs (Sparky, Achilles, and Nala) who's energies feed off of one another, and you get exactly what you'd expect - a whole lotta loud. A whole lotta voices and a whole lotta sounds, whether it be dishes hitting the counter, dogs barking at strangers, the engines of the cars outside, or a voice screaming "I'm hoooome!". With six very different people living six very different lives, it's hard to organize a time when all of us can be completely present. And when we are, it is when we are sat at a table filled with delicious food and three dogs, begging for a bite. When all six of us Van Dam's are placed at the dinner table together, it's like being on an episode of Project Runway -- except, instead of competing to win a fashion spread in Marie Claire magazine, you are competing to get the rest of the family to hear what you have to say (or at least, I am).

Unfortunately, these type of dinner-table settings require all or nothing; "survival of the fittest" -- 'fittest' being the strongest voice and strongest opinion, and 'fittest' most definitely not being my vine-referencing, mocha-loving self. As I stated before, I am a soft-spoken girl. Always have been, and probably always will be. Though I have since grown from my adolescent days where I was a literal mime who lacked the capability and nerve to speak at all, really, my voice still remains buried deep beneath the rest of the members of the Van Dam Clan (and when the attention is finally on me, every story I tell seemingly ends up being one of those "you had to be there" moments). And even when the attention is on me, it still isn't. Whatever I say gets "heard", but not heard. Kind of like that small talk cashiers make when they ask you how your day has been going but don't actually intend on actually knowing how it is going (I say this because I used to work as a cashier and I am sorry if any former customers are reading this). To conclude, dinner table conversations have made me realize that the only possible way I can get anyone and everyone to hear my voice is when I'm not even saying anything at all (possibly one of the most ironic statements to ever occur). Dinner table conversations are what built my thoughts, and are what has caused me to make my best attempt to put them onto paper. The coincidental side effect of being soft-spoken and outspoken.

We all have different emotional outlets -- whatever they may be. Consider this statement to be a scientific hypothesis: people handle their emotions differently. In an effort to test it out, take ten people, do something to make each and every one of them angry out of their minds, and see how they react. One person might punch a wall. One person might scream. One person might be so quiet that they outwardly appear to be more dangerous than the loudest person in the room. One person might play a sport, and another person might play an instrument. One might act as if nothing was angering them, while another puts on their running shoes and heads out the door. Place an angry Tatum (a foreign concept within itself) into this scenario, and she would whip out an imaginary table, armed with a journal and pen, and begin to write so fast and so hard that her own handwriting is barely recognizable to herself. In true "Tatum" nature, she would also probably cry.

Although I do have my weird ways of letting off steam (or perhaps letting out the various other emotions a human can feel) such as freestyle rapping, long walks, and laying on my floor listening to a record as if I am a young Dr. Dre during the title sequences of Straight Outta Compton. My main method of dealing with whatever life chooses to throw at me is my pen and my paper (or my blank document and my keyboard). Sometimes, most times, I'm just dealing with my own thoughts. And sometimes, I'm not dealing with anything at all - which I've found, makes for the hardest and most bland entries to write.

There are times when I feel uninspired, and those are the times when my journal entries and articles are absolute rubbish. Those are the times where I have this internal debate with myself on whether or not I want to break my rule of not making a listicle because they require no knowledge of writing or composition, and those are the times where I feel like Frank Ocean's "Super Rich Kids" on loop. Staring blankly into a wall, with nothing but loose ends and fake friends. And in those times, I have this internal pep talk where I am reminded that we don't have enough time on this beautiful planet for life to be boring and for thoughts to be bland. In those times, I get up and at least try to make my day worth getting out of bed for. I want my daily journal entries and articles to be filled with experiences -- first times and last times. Embarrassing moments and amazing moments. Moments that you can only try so hard to put into words, and moments that will soon become a distant memory. I want to read back on my journals and feel the exact emotions I felt when writing them. I want to hear the music from that one concert, hear the voice from that one person, and hear the sounds from that one time. And maybe, for some entries, I don't want to hear anything at all.

Think of each day as a journal entry to your personal autobiography. Would you rather read a book about a person who did nothing at all who lived a mediocre lifestyle of blank pages and periods, or read about a person who experienced each and every emotion life has to offer filled with exclamation points and italicized words and question marks? It's up to you to decide on the grammatical decisions you would like to leave with your readers.

And on that note, I thank you for reading this. If you asked me to explain the point of this article, I advise that you don't -- because I genuinely do not know what it is. What I do know is I am typing this with my fingers, and you are reading this with your eyes. And for that, I thank you. You remind me that I have a voice, and most of all, a voice that is being heard. My voice may not always be heard at the dinner table, but it is being heard by you -- and that is all that really matters to me.

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