THE STORY OF MODERN MATERIAL
WHEN THE STARS ALIGN WE WILL ALL BE FINE, AT LEAST FOR AWHILE
ANNIE S. WEIHRAUCH
Founder + Creator of Modern Material
These are the Stories and Characters that defined My Life but if you live in America you'll probably know most of them. I can see faces and remember places but I don't remember what was said or how we felt. From the Jr. Olympics, divorces, romances, breakups, betrayals, marriages, families, suicides, sex changes, and Grammy winning rock stars, these are the stories and people who have written the chapters in my book. I've blocked out most of the bad memories and stored away a few memorable experiences with each person. The rest of the files I deleted unless someone else has a different file stored away of the same experience. I hope you can relate to my friends and family and help me remember who I am and what I wanted to use my life for.
I have one box of yearbooks, journals and printed emails from a college account that made the journey from a small town in Ohio to a 1 Bedroom apartment in Los Angeles, California which gives me enough solid evidence to map out my journey. You can either start reading the story at the first half of my life or the second half of my life because my identity changed the day I found police in my bedroom searching for my roommate's suicide letter. I kept her secrets for almost 20 years until Chris Cornell's suicide left me with the reality that there were 8 people in my life who were directly or indirectly affected by my mistakes and ignorance. I believe I found the cure for depression and suicide and that's by giving everyone a destination to find their true friends or maybe a soulmate who can relate.
Which version of me was better? The one BEFORE 20 when I was a shy, depressed, emotional teenager with low self esteem who always cared about what people thought of me or AFTER 20 when I became an independent, competitive, and self-absorbed married woman hell bent on defying society's expectations of me? I would like you to Judge My Characters and tell us which years were the most impactful and impressionable years as I get ready to turn 40 this year. I was supposed to be a multi-millionaire business woman by now. What happened to take my dreams away? Or did I just need to give the universe some time to align the stars for me to see the writing? Whether you believe in God or just the Lucky Stars, something powerful has been at work and I call it The Story of Modern Material. The future format of friendships.
- ANNIE AKA AIMEE
AIMEE SKYLER WHITMAN
Narrator of Modern Material
ALL WE NEED IS ONE TRUE FRIEND
The details of my life before 20 are sketchy unless I have them recorded in my journal, yearbooks or a folder full of emails I was smart enough to print. Back in the 90's my life wasn't public but my best friend Molly McHollister always threatened to send our VHS tapes to the media if I ever became famous. "This Ain't No Sippin' Tea" was always that embarrassing video I wanted to destroy, but it sat safely on the shelf at her family residence in Bluestone, Ohio in 1994. I had no plans on becoming famous enough for anyone to care about putting it in the news.
But something changed and that's where the story of Modern Material begins. In 2005 I needed a website to share some videos of musical performances I had recorded on VHS tapes. I had been dubbing them and mailing packages to Europe any time a fan on singer / songwriter, Howie Day's message board wanted a copy of it. I fell in love with Howie's music at the Jingle Ball in Cleveland, Ohio in December 2004. I wanted the entire world to know about Howie Day so I started a website and began passing out CDs of his music at other concerts. Watching his song Collide rise on the charts was an exciting feeling. It was like I was coaching an athlete to win a race. I have no music talent because my mind and body was hijacked to become an Olympian when I was just six years old to carry out the family legacy in athletic performance. 214 awards now sit in a box in Ohio while I search for my creative soul in Los Angeles.
The internet changed our world and I knew there was something powerful about the connections I was making with people who could relate to my life through lyrics.
I never really found friends who truly knew me after I turned 20. I had already married the man who was meant for me, but things happened in my life that changed me. When you become your friend's Reason Why she wants to die, you bare a burden and a responsibility regardless if you wanted the job. You might want to be educated for if and when you get that phone call.
They taught us in school how to take the keys away from a drunk driver. Why aren't they teaching us how to take the incentive away from someone suffering from painful feelings? Maybe calling it a mental illness isn't the answer. Maybe learning how to be a better friend is the key. And if you have the wrong keys to the car, find a better driver.
The universe has a mysterious way of aligning the stars if you look for the path you want to follow. Allow yourself enough time to connect the dots and see the big picture before you give up on life. Find the right friends to align yourself with so you don't feel so alone in the universe. Molly wasn't always that friend to me but maybe it was her way of putting me in uncomfortable situations that allowed me to learn how to defend myself. Back then we didn't have social media, just a piece of tape and a photograph displayed on a locker. That moment when you walk into the hallway and want to know what everyone is laughing at and you realize they are surrounding your locker.
Molly was the kind of friend who teased me, challenged me, embarrassed me but was always there for me. We made a pact in 4th grade that we would have the same job so we work together when we got older. We wanted to be Marine Biologists so we could train dolphins and read Ranger Rick magazines. She pushed me off a haystack and said I wasn't Hangin' Tough and told me I was a follower not a leader. There were days I'd go home crying because she was making fun of me in front of our other friends. She pushed me off her sleeping bag when I started having an asthma attack because she didn't want me hacking on it.
But Molly and I also got into trouble together everywhere we went. We'd get detention in Math class for talking, played pranks on teachers at CCAD, and turned the corporate Bath & Body Works Office into a regular episode of Dwight and Jim shenanigans. Somehow we managed to keep that promise we made in 4th grade and now hold down the fort on opposite ends of the country with her in New York and me in LA. We haven't seen each other in years but it's the kind of friendship where you get together after 5 years lost and you know you're going to be up all night reminiscing about that one time at band camp....which by the way she was at while I was off running.
However, becoming a fashion designer wasn't my dream job. I'd planned on majoring in Psychology until that moment when I needed to start a new life at 19 because I realized I didn't even know how to help my friend find one reason to live. I was selfish because she was a burden whenever I made plans. My boyfriend Scott and I were finally free to live our lives together without my stepfather's rules, my ex-boyfriend, his ex-fiancé or the entire town of Bluestone, Ohio judging us for Our Character. We made mistakes that hurt a lot of people to fill our own selfish needs but I have since realized that I'm just not fit to be everybody's best friend who can fill all their voids.
Why do we wait until after someone commits suicide to start caring about how they impacted our lives? Why can't we just learn how to be less burdened by their presence? The reverse is much more damaging because you can't take back your mistakes.
In my honest opinion, the only person who is selfish is the person who isn't willing to answer the Distress Calls. If you feel burdened by their friendship then you aren't the right friend for them. Help them find someone who doesn't mind talking on the phone with them for 11 hours. We don't say it's selfish when someone is in so much physical pain that their body just shuts down so why can't we understand that some people are in so much emotional pain that the only way to ease it is with drugs, alcohol or suicide?
We can all put on a bandaid when our bodies are wounded but when our hearts and minds are wounded we just need a little distraction. We need a reason to go to sleep knowing tomorrow we have something to look forward to waking up for.
GIVE ME SOMETHING TO LOVE
Maybe it isn't who we love, but what we love that we need to place more value on in society. There is too much pressure to get an education, start a career, find a spouse, start a family, buy a house and live happily ever after. Maybe there isn't such a thing written in the stars for everyone. Some of you have your perfect Norman Rockwell lives all mapped out for you while others have chaotic Jackson Pollacks splashing around anxious for a new canvas to start each days. Stop thinking that just because a Pollack Painting isn't going to go with the decor in your house that you're the one who is write and they are all wrong. Get out of your shell and live a little. If you're too afraid to change the book you're reading, stop judging the rest of us by our covers.
If you're fortunate to have the perfect loving, happy family, good for you. More than likely you're wearing a different book jacket to disguise what you're really feeling. Unless you're friends have read all of the chapters in your book, they aren't going to know what kind of ending you want for your story. Stop counting on the same person you met when you were 17 to be the same person who can relate to the last 22 years of your life. That shouldn't mean you give up on the first person who you truly connected with. If you erase them from the picture your entire past goes away. Maybe you just need someone new to give you something else to love.
Your soulmate doesn't have to be a romantic partner or best friend you share everything with. They just need to be people who share a passion for something you love or can relate to the pain or confusion you are feeling.
Have you ever stopped to wonder why sports fans have a camaraderie every Saturday, decked out in their game gear, while music fans just get one concert a year for their favorite bands. There are no season tickets, tailgating or cheerleaders before a concert to bring everyone together. I started wondering about this one night in September 2011 when Twenty One Pilots opened a Charity Event at the A&R Music Bar. Tyler and Josh were getting their equipment set up while our team set up for our Campus Couture fashion line pop-up shop and everyone came dressed in our latest designs. I stood there watching a small crowd of about 50 people surrounding Josh Dun wailing away on the drums while Tyler Joseph stood above on the top of the speakers wearing his skeleton hoodie. My mind started getting lost in a moment. The kind I'll never forget. Something just felt very misaligned with picture. Angry, depressed and suicidal lyrics pierced through the speakers while the crowd was wearing t-shirts that screamed the Team Spirt of Go Team! Go! It's like the moment was screaming for some Nirvana cheerleaders in Anarchist tank tops and I was beginning to smell an experience that Smelled Like Teen Spirit. How great would it have been to be standing in a crowd full of people wearing lyrical statements from the music that defined out lives?
Here we are now, entertain us.
Team Spirit is what is missing when we lose or get left out of the Teen Spirit. I believe if I could have found those friends to lift me up in the 90's when I was trapped in a life I didn't belong in, I would have felt so much less alone. But I was born to win and lose and win and lose and win and win and win until I lose it all and have to start over. All I needed was to make sure that I had enough energy to qualify for he next round. We just need to believe that tomorrow can be better and if it's not tomorrow, maybe i's next week.
Do you live for a future that is unknown or do you look back at everything you wish you could have done better if your life had gone in a different direction?