Life as a Mindless Zombie

Last week, I wrote 5 Minutes In Hell. It somehow became a popular post on Medium. I wrote this next story 6 months ago and left it privatized and unpublished until now.

It’s Part 1 of my answer to someone asking, “What are you up to?”

Hi. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Elissa. I am a tall, skinny Indian person. I’m originally from the Silicon Valley, and tech is the only thing I’ve ever known.

Growing up, I never lived more than 10 minutes away from Apple HQ. My dad worked in the semiconductor industry. Our family friends were all part of the first internet boom. The dream was to do marketing at a startup, and one day start a tech company of my own.

So I did everything I thought was necessary to get there. I took a business degree. I became a marketing intern, a market researcher, a database manager, a marketing consultant, an account executive, and a community manager. I dabbled in strategy, in product, and in metrics.

Life, in general, went something like this — M to F:

Wake up. Grab phone. Refresh email. Open Instagram. Open Facebook.
Walk to work. Open Email. 
Get to work. Work at computer. 
Go to gym. Stare at Elliptical screen. Count Calories. 
Go home. Watch Netflix. Open Twitter. 
Place phone next to me. Sleep

I was living in Orwell’s 1984. I couldn’t escape the screens. I couldn’t escape other people staring at their screens.

I told myself it was all a bad habit. Eventually, this would stop. But the truth is, this was my life. I had become a mindless zombie, staring into a light source.

In February 2014, I moved to a new apartment in San Francisco. The walls of the space were empty (and San Francisco is f-cking expensive), so I thought let me DIY my own paintings. The task turned into a day project — I bought paint and canvases.

For someone so deeply rooted in the digital world, painting felt odd. It was weird to hold something that I created. I mean holy shit, I could use my energy to make a REAL something that you could touch and smell, and it wasn’t going to be uploaded to a fictitious digital world.

This sounds terribly cheesy, but when I found painting, it’s like I found the real world again. I was an 8 year old in art class.

The painting hobby continued. I knew I couldn’t be an actual artist, but it was fun. I was like Alice in wonderland and painting was my white rabbit. And for 16 months, I followed him.

He lead me all the way on a trip to Paris to a building filled with artist studios. I found myself watching a man paint. He was maybe 10 years older than me. I asked him about himself. Two thirds of the way through the conversation something began to bother me —

will post more later.

The next post has been published. Here it is: Hey you, shut up.