On Repeat

This catchy car jam, which I’ve been playing on repeat, reminds me of the R&B female vocalists I listened to as a kid. My music preference cycles. As a toddler, it was pop that I loved, songs by belly button-baring Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.

By age eight, it was Ciara and Usher and Missy Elliot that I danced to with friends. We gyrated across gym floors, much to the dismay of our teachers. “Those dance moves are too sexy,” my teacher said. “What does she know about sexy?” I muttered to my best friend.

At eleven, a love for pop morphed into indie, (The Hush Sound) alternative rock (MakeDamnSure) and rap. My friends wore skinny jeans when skinny jeans weren’t in and styled their hair like anime characters, spiky in the back, layered on top.

Age twelve was both sensitive and taut, a year that bled of R&B Ray J, Ne-Yo, J Holiday, Kanye. This was our song. Together, we cried under trees.

By fourteen, it was rap that imbued my days. I remember the look on my friends’ faces as I rapped obscure lines to Nicki and Trey Songz right before a test. We passed dull days in Spanish by singing J. Cole. In the mornings, I played Kid Cudi to wake myself up.

Sixteen and seventeen hopped onto the indie pop train of Bon Iver, Florence and the Machine, Lana.

For a brief period in between eighteen, I listened to lots of G-Eazy. Then rap. The only thing that my crushes had in common were that they liked rap. Was I interested in them? Or was I interested in their taste in music?

Everything since then has bounced from one of the aforementioned genres to another.

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Tiny Catharsis

after I left, I realized that, well, in this life, we may make money, we may be successful, but who the hell cares if we’re not with the people we love? that’s what matters in this life—the people we love. we’ll die like everyone else, maybe leave behind a scrapbook or a few digital albums, maybe end up on Reddit’s oldschoolcool if we’re lucky, but that’s it: we’ll be dust. but if we’re by the people we love, it makes our time existing a lot more bearable.

7/7/19, 9:56 AM

writing in my journal feels like wringing out some soggy towel of thoughts and airing my brain out in the sun.

Tonight

This is us, scream shouting 2000s hip hop into the 55 mph summer wind. Kanye, POWER. Pop, lock, and drop it. Yeah! Usher. Lose Control. Snoop Dogg. Soulja Boy.

This is me, remembering some obscure Kanye and Missy Elliot lyrics, swooshing my belly around in the passenger seat.

This is you, bewildered but hitting all the notes, reaching the much needed baritone.

This is me, tipsy on life again (and again).

This is you, parking ever so slightly behind the other driver’s open window so they don’t see our flailing arms, our bellowing songs.

This is me, this evening’s hip hop DJ, tasting the first minute of every song until the hype has subsided.

This is us. And this is summer. (Finally.)

Cocoa Butter Kisses

Chance the Rapper’s Acid Rap, new on Spotify, croons over the speakers. Cigarettes on cigarettes, my mama think I stank. And then a cloud of nostalgia envelops us both, summer hues of youth and stupidity. Me–I’m thinking of faces, cocoons, mixing purple, muggy sunsets, and cool friends (you were my cool friend). Him–probably a pop rocks memory type deal of bursting moments, but I don’t ask. It’s comforting to hear him sing to Chance. Their voices fill the car. It’s been a long time since I’ve heard Cocoa Butter Kisses, since it’s felt like anything.

Pause, Rewind

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“I wish I could pause time and moments like this without having to think about what’s next.”

Pause. The sun set. We were quiet. It felt like the moment when my friends and I were in Central Park, New York. We’d found a pond with ducks and turtles facing a castle in in the distance. So we sat on the rocks, quiet and contemplative, swimming in our own thoughts.

A blanket of peace descended upon us; I asked them what they were thinking. My friend said moments like this were rare. And maybe we wanted to achieve material success in life so we could buy intangible moments like this. Maybe we strived to make money, lots of it, so maybe we could buy peace, calm and happiness. But wait–no–that didn’t sound right.

Art Display

My art exhibit is up! And it’s the first public display I’ve ever done.

I remember my first “collection” display. It was a school one. We spent saturday and sunday mornings framing our pieces. At the show, on some school night, students and parents filed in, casual dress. I remember how I had staggered my pieces and how I ended up dissatisfied but how it was too late to change it. My works were okay, but the display didn’t look as good as I had hoped. I think a few people commented, but mostly people oohed and aahed at students on the other side of the room.

I didn’t really like the old ‘contemporary’ stuff I used to do. There were lots of bloody noses and whited out eyes, strange doodles and abstractions. I’d float around in photographic pieces. I embraced mental illnesses in my personal project. I loved psychology so much that I was blind to the stigma that surrounds mental illness. I’d look up various ailments, then attempt to embody them. That was in my larger work, the paintings and photographs.

I think the experimental part of my sketchbooks, angry and loud and messy, was still better than my more recent doodles. My art has gone downhill in the past few years. It’s mostly because I haven’t practiced art as much. Even so, I think I’ve been able to find steady footing in a more traditional, fine art style. I didn’t do landscape paintings much when I was younger; now I do. My portraits weren’t very hyperrealistic then; now, more are.

These works are more mainstream, probably frowned upon by contemporary art purveyors. But I’ll say it now and I’ll say it loud: contemporary art sucks. Yes, artist, you can paint large purple squares. We all can. This child can. This child is! But your artist’s name alone commands millions, so let’s just waste space, literal gallery space, on big yellow triangles. If you can’t tell, I am disgruntled at our current culture’s embracing of bad art. I don’t know how there is such a large disconnect between common-sensical taste and the scribble-loving highbrow gatekeepers of art culture.

I just saw the netflix film velvet buzzsaw. It got bad reviews from critics, probably because it was a huge satire on the critic industry. The laughed-at tropes were spot on. Spoiler alert! I mean, from the tormented emotional mentally unstable artist to the critic’s overly-big-words to the trash-as-art scene, it was too apt. A comedy and horror all rolled into one. Less fear and more suppressed giggles.

But ah, yes, back to the art. The real art, the real exhibit. This morning. A handful of people chatted with me about the art, their own lives and experiences. Do you teach? No. Are you selling? Er, yes. Is this your job? No. And then a woman and I sat down and talked about art and writing, and she showed me her photos.

I kind of miss having conversations with strangers in regards to random art-related things. I miss it a lot, actually. I’ve struck up so many conversations with strangers while holding a sketchbook or camera alone. It’s interesting how those tools of expression will spark up a comment, a friendly smile, a fullblown conversation. I’ve made friends by simply bringing sketchbooks to coffeeshops. There’s so much to learn from other people. I mean, it’s odd, but maybe not, that we don’t normally go around talking to random strangers. I enjoy it–maybe I will start to draw more in real life. Maybe I will meet people, and maybe I will not.

In the past 10 hours, somebody has left a voicemail. Another has left a comment on my wordpress saying the blog ads looked unprofessional. Well, sir, I’m a mere hobbyist who made the site two weeks before the display. My site isn’t really to sell–it’s just an online display. Ah, ads aside–it just makes me happy that my art is no longer sputtering dust in the closet (!!!)

2018

Yesterday I sat quietly, contemplating the year, hard, when boyfriend asked what was wrong. Oh, nothing, just thinking of what I’d done in 2018…

The whole thing flew by, a quick blur of monthly chunks. Early winter was a time of its own; I remember posts I’d written then, sleepovers I’d had and conversations I’d written. The wildly crowded club, the quiet best friend’s home, the football win and celebratory wings. I took lots of pictures and drew a lot for the newspaper, holed up in my warm room.

And then I graduated from my dream school! I’d dreamt of going there since I was 14, this summery bright Ivy League, though I’d visited on a rare bright spring day when everyone had their couches out. Turns out it was much colder there. Despite the weather, graduating in the cold and rain was still a bit of a dreamless dream.

Spring brings summer brings warmth brings life. Fiddling flowers on the walk to starbucks. Switching into pink tank tops and white flip flops. In lecture I felt my heart swell. I had an life epiphany of what I’d like to do for the rest of it–my life, I mean. And the whole turning around to face my deepest passion, psychology, that whole spiel. And now it’s a small engine propelling me forwards.

In 2018 spent a good amount of time with people I love–friends and family. We stayed up talking, on the verge of tears, hearts bursting. Back home, welcome home, like things had never changed. Shared meals, watched shows, skipped through the rain. Roadtrips, Netflix cuddles, six flags rides, sing song bonding. I look back, and am grateful for these relationships.

Blazing mid summer, spinning fall. I taught, which I’ve always loved to do, and watched some students wildly succeed. It makes me happy to be around good people, and to help people do well, and to have all-around healthy relationships. I also did a bit of relationship pruning here and there, but nothing dramatic. I remember learning in psychology that older people are often happier, particularly within their social circles. With age, they learn to simply avoid people who cause them grief.

Weirdly warm winter. Despite my aversion to traveling, I skipped to six cities. California was the most recent, but alas, I am still too lazy to write about it. And today is the New Year, but the day itself was special to me. Last night I partook in their steak dinner tradition and clinked cups at midnight, eyes weary. Today, we went to see beautiful lights and decor and a freezing ice sculpture show. At home, we wrapped dumplings to r&b and sicko mode, my very-abc way of welcoming 2019.

So 2018 was a year of academic finishes, life epiphanies, moments spent with people I love. It was a year I began pursue my deepest passion, a year to do things I’ve always enjoyed (teach!). I look forward to 2019, and hope it has good things in store.