Free to Be

The other day I sat in a hot car for too long, maybe five hours, and by the end of those five hours felt a sort of exhausted bitterness wash over me- like my body was drained and my arms were heavy and I was irritated, irritated, irritated. I wondered for a moment why it felt so familiar. And then I remembered that that was how HS had felt like. Every day, by 3:45 PM, when I was bored out of my mind, sedentary as a sequestered squirrel, I’d feel that same five-hour-long-trapped-in-a-car heaviness. But now I can let my hair down and sprint across fields and speed across highways and go to the bathroom without raising my goddamn hand. I feel free in the simplest of ways.

Good Ol’ Days Are Now

There is a moment in Bojack Horseman, an adult cartoon I recently finished, where one of the characters goes: I wish we knew when the good ol’ times were when they were happening so we could enjoy them then.

I have an odd little feeling that this might be one of the happier times in my life, and that I’ll miss it. I can’t say for certain–I can’t go into the future and look back to nostalgically decide how happy I was, but I am. Happy, I mean. Happy with the people in my life, happy with what I’m doing, happy to be where I am. I was pretty happy in… December, and then from February to April. Dipped into some weird existential haze come summer 2016, which would have been a sublime time to have watched Bojack Horseman. Instead I meandered aimlessly, sinking in sweaty bony skinniness and devouring Marukami, who made everything feel dreamlike.

Bojack would have been ideal to watch in the summertime. I’ve just finished all three seasons, rationing out episodes to one per night (generally around 2 in the morning). In terms of content, it’s deep, but doesn’t seem it at first glance. It’s little like treading into a pool that steepens from 3 ft to 6 ft: before you know it, the water’s up to your chin. The show is, to put lightly, dark, which is unsurprising given that Bojack’s depressed, mired in self-loathing, and manages to fuck up all his relationships. Yet it isn’t just a sad show: it’s funny, it’s clever, it’s deep and it’s strange. It’s whimsical. It’s meaningful. And it’s beautiful, in a weird funny way.

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Ironic to be watching such a sad show when I feel, in general, pretty upbeat. I guess it temper things, evens them out. At any rate, I’m grateful for the up’s in life, and if this does happen to be the ‘good ol’ times’, I’ll try my very best to savor the here and now. (This is my cheesy spiel)

Day One

My best friend and I, we’re both really sentimental and revisit our friendship stories every time we’re feeling giggly (or, in this case, sad).

Like the time I approached her while she was eating a bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwich outside of our first math class. Or the time she sat me down over frappes and demanded a committed friendship, firmly stating that we would not be “Monday-Wednesday-Friday lunch friends.” Or how I was initially terrified of the eight-missed-phone-calls and attempted to flee but ultimately failed. And how, on March 2nd, she said we were best friends. I choked up a little bit, tried to wave it off, was a bit flabbergasted. She was flabbergasted at my being flabbergasted–“what? Did you think we were acquaintances? We hang out all the time, eat together, go to class together, have sleepovers–how are we not best friends?”

I’ll admit I’m always alarmed to realize how much I and others care for each other. That was convoluted. But basically it takes an explicit verbal statement, “you mean a lot to me” (and vice versa) for me to realize that ah! yes! indeed, we mean a lot to each other.

“You’re Beautiful Just The Way You Are”

Doesn’t the notion of “you’re beautiful just the way you are” only reinforce the importance of beauty for girls? Even when the purpose of the phrase is to undermine society’s concept of beauty? i.e you may not look the way photoshopped magazine models do, but never fear, you’re still beautiful–

On the surface, it’s a positive concept. You’re beautiful, and beauty’s a good thing. Forget what society deems beautiful–you, alone, in all your imperfections, are beautiful.

But then I wonder what the male equivalent of this sentiment is–you’re strong just the way you are? You’re buff just the way you are? You’re loud just the way you are? That’s not true–might be a pervasive gender trope, but being a man doesn’t mean you’re strong or buff or loud just the way you are. And in the face of that reality, of falling short of social expectations, what are men told? They’re beautiful just the way they are? Not quite. There just isn’t–not that I can think of ATM–a male equivalent.

Although “you’re beautiful” and spreading this message of “listen here, girls, we are all beautiful!” Is uplifting in a sense, it just ends up reinforcing the importance of beauty. That, as a female, you can’t sidestep the significance of beauty. That whether it’s constructed by some amorphous blob called “society” or by your friends or yourself, beauty is still paramount, still inextricably tied to worth, and that you must be beautiful because–because beauty is something we all have and must have. It’s cyclical.

At the same time, I’m not necessarily saying that appearance doesn’t matter. Or that beauty doesn’t wield a certain sort of overt and covert social power. I’m more critical of how “you’re beautiful just the way you are” only seems to ground the importance of beauty in a way that skews female far more than it does male…when the entire purpose is to step away from social constructions of beauty. By repeating the message, you’re only inadvertently overemphasizing the significance of beauty for girls and women.

Young Folks

My memories keep me warm until I remember they’re just memories.

I wrote that in the summer. First I was defiant, then tired, then reminiscent, but mostly I was sad. Fall came. November passed. It’s winter now.

And so it goes.

Sometimes I wonder what the sheer durability of emotion says about humanity. And whether this durability is useful at all. I wonder whether it’s a reflection of openness or brokenness or maybe just some inability to fit into social narratives. It all just seems so–so strange sometimes, I guess.

I don’t really get it. I don’t get a lot of things, but then, on the other hand, sometimes I do. I guess I don’t get things like this the way I did when I was nine and wrote about it in all my diaries. Talked about it like I was an expert, god, I was drowning in it all. I didn’t believe there were people like adult-me who couldn’t comprehend this, and I eyed those people skeptically. Now I know there are rah-rah identity politic groups that champion these experiences, and while it’s relieving, I can’t tell if it’s just another label to cozy up to. Is it identity, brokenness, problematic or necessary?

It’s hard to imagine that I used to stay up late for the sake of it. I’d stay up late to talk to people, stay up late to listen to them. Stay up late to scour the Internet for articles I’d reread not once or twice but maybe eight dozen times. At night I’ll want explanations, revelations, soul-baring-heart-revealing confessions. When I revisit certain late-night memories in my mind, there’s an odd buttery hazy glow that envelops them, and maybe that’s what I would get lost in during the summertime.

Obligatory Appreciation Post

I like blogging on WordPress because–

of you. And you, and you, and you. Imagine I’m Tyra Banks and I’ve handed out little diamond-studded containers of Vaseline and I’m screaming “you get Vaseline and you get Vaseline and you get Vaseline!”

Except instead of Vaseline it’s appreciation. And I appreciate you. And your eyeballs. For reading this.

WordPress is fun because of the community. Because I get to hear your ‘thoughts’ and word-vomit some ‘thoughts’ back. When we blog and comment it’s like we’re all sitting in a little circle and standing up to do our own tiny monologues and then offering nice feedback. Right. This is like a really encouraging theatre class.

So there’s my nugget of gratitude for you and for my favorite bloggers and, well, yeah. You know who you are. I’m really happy I joined WP this summer.