Let Go

You’ll never need people who bring you down. Who relentlessly judge, pry or criticize you. People who are unkind, then kind, then unkind. People who don’t respect you. People who are unsupportive. People who are jealous. People who superimpose their world beliefs onto you and judge you accordingly. People who are untrustworthy, people with big mouths, people who are manipulative, people who just want something from you.

There are a handful of people who, granted, may care for you, love you, might even be good to you, but are not good for you.

And there will be–are, present-tense–those who’ll bring you up. Who support you, are there for you, are genuinely understanding. They’re reliable. You’re there for each other when times are shitty; you’re there for each other when times are good. There’s mutual trust. Mutual respect. No drama, no petty shit-shows, just honest-to-God communication and understanding. There are people who give and take–no, not take, but accept. Each other. They meet you halfway. Initiative splits 50/50. Every conversation or hangout ends in happiness because that’s what good people are supposed bring to your life: happiness and support and positivity. I know, this is cheesy as fuck. But let me be cheesy here.

There’s no need to go on some sort of giant relationship purge. But it doesn’t hurt to take stock of the relationships in life to get a general idea of whether they bring you up or drag you down. Sometimes it’s both; it’s not always one way or another. Make wiggle room for growth and forgiveness–we’re all shitty hurting people at some point in time. But negative trends and toxicity are no-go’s. So…let go.

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String of Thoughts

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A string of thoughts, in no particular order:

  • The mind is the strangest thing. One of my favorite books reminds me that we’re all stuck in our heads, projecting our own distorted notions of reality onto the screen of our minds. It’s all constructed, pieced together by attention, a weird believable 3D fabrication that we call reality. Like Rorshach blots. We see what we choose to see. And the things I see make me panicky. But then I’ll become aware of this, that we’re all making this shit up, and feel calmer at the thought.
  • Thoughts are what brought me here: October, February, July–have you ever felt so listless you wanted to die? Moments like that. Sprawled on some surface by a window pouring sunlight and periodic existential crises. Then I’ll just want to watch comedy shows at hotel lobbies in Florida, where I can moan about how much I hate traveling, god, just take me home.
  • Even so, I miss New York so much. I couldn’t tell you why. Everyone gets so excited when they visit New York, inundate their social media feeds in it–look, the Empire State of motherfucking dreams. For a moment I thought New York became less sparkly–it’d lost its glitz and glam, become drizzly and cold (stuffed in a cab full of chatty ambitious strangers). Evidently it hasn’t. I miss the wide streets, the energy, the movement, the noise. It’s overwhelming, but remove the source for a while and I start to miss it.
  • A stranger in the city with a giant bouquet flowers once told me that we’re all looking for somebody to listen, that strangers just want to be listened to. I believe her. Half a year later I emailed her saying hello, and she said that she sometimes looked for me in the city. Isn’t that odd? To be looked for, even if only briefly? I became so accustomed to searching in the sea of moving faces that it never occurred to me that somebody would ever look for mine.

“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.

2:09 PM

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PINK

Lately I’ve been obsessed with the Wacom drawing tablets at the library and darting into the media room any chance I get. I’m just about to go draw on one, actually, once my meeting’s over and I’ve returned my camera.

Yesterday I hauled my camera around everywhere I went, from my interview with a cafe owner to a protest and a downtown party. At midnight I felt strange and dizzied having occupied so many different spaces within the same physical space.

All because of a camera. I started off using cameras to just document my life, from the most mundane to most hilarious. Now it serves as my segway into certain sociocultural spaces. The camera’s my bridge, my excuse to be present and empathize; it’s my invitation to momentarily inhabit areas I normally wouldn’t. It gives me a glimpse into lives and lifestyles I ordinarily wouldn’t peer into because I just don’t live or feel or experience life the way many others do. But the camera gives me a second to listen, to maybe understand. 1’s and 0’s of digital data, but I see binaries, social constructions, a tizzy of bodies. And as I looked at my photos last night I thought: here’s privilege and oppression embodied. How peculiar it is to visually document both abstractions-realities in a day.

Thursday was a long day. It’s been a long week. I’ve only felt okay enough to peer at recent photos, but otherwise they’ve been left untouched. There’s a lot of emotion, I think, in them, in the people whose anger and blitheness and fear I’ll photograph. I want to do something ‘artistic’ with them, display them in some particular way so it’s cohesive. But that’s something that’s been lacking recently, a sense of real cohesion. I mean, I don’t know. I might just post them on here because this is, like, my little bubble of art-meets-text-meets-photographs. Here, I’d like to capture a snapshot of personal expression while erasing my external identity. Nameless, faceless, just a digital body of expression. Sometimes I wonder if I can operate, to some degree, as anonymous here. That’s something else, though, something unrelated. But perhaps not.

For the most part, I’m just hoping to get lost in art today. Art as solace, art as escapism, art as a way to get very lost in my head. With art, I’m so focused I lose track of time, forget where I am. Flow.

Pieces

These girls, they drift in and out bleating some language I don’t understand. Eight year old me understood. Twelve year old me understood. Years later, I still don’t understand.

— — — —

Time’s weird.

It feels like the weekend although the weekend hasn’t started. It’s because I feel slow, slow and relaxed and languid, like maybe a sloth or maybe a koala. I see flashes of Tampa, Florida in my mind as I consider my slothiness. I see flashes of blue and sea as we’re on the highway. I’m trying to get the sun positioned right behind my hair. No, not like this. Like that. From that angle. I see a tiger sweatshirt and wild cats that’ll never be free. In the pictures my hair’s even more untamed than the felines prowling the space.

— — — —

being-is-strange

I have an art crush. This is my art crush, @elesq. I wormhole through art blogs on tumblr every so often and stumble upon styles/artists I really like and this is one. Simple poignant stuff. I’d emulate it, but I feel like my style is kind of heavy–I go and try to fill in every space possible. When I attempt minimalism I’m inclined to fill in the spaces. But you’re supposed to let the space speak for itself. Like silences used for effect in plays. In conversations. In speeches where you think people have dropped off from listening so when you’re quiet they’re jarred back to attention: why aren’t you droning on anymore?

— — — —

A few days ago I wrote for the student newspaper about Sara Bareilles performing in the dorm lounge on campus. And two weeks ago I saw Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine speak. Apparently the Clintons and Obamas will be here next week. Exciting, exciting. Since coming to college I’ve seen and photographed so many famous people–famous singers, authors, journalists, editors, celebrities, political figures. It’s really cool. For a moment while I listened to Sara Bareilles belt out Love Song I felt goosebumps on my arms. I paused from recording and really looked at her, focused on the piano, let myself bathe in the moment. Remembered the glee of being ten or eleven and going to my best friend’s house, all the while listening to Sara Bareilles. It might have been September. We crimped out hair and Photo-boothed it after. I’d gone from listening to Sara Bareilles in my room with the heart-painted-on bookcase to watching her perform in our dorm lounge.

— — — —

This is the first thing I wrote. But then I cut it up into pieces and scattered it across the screen.

Mellifluous

Class got cancelled unexpectedly; on the walk back, I wandered into the piano lobby. There’s a song I’ve been listening to, Vanilla Twilight, that has a really beautiful melody. It’s by Owl City, an outdated band I haven’t really listened to since I was twelve and meditating on fields and spouting things about sunsets. But the song’s stuck with me for years because it’s sad and pretty and meaningful.

So I played that by ear, and it was surprisingly easier than I thought it’d be. The song sounds rife with minor notes and I’m rustier with minor black keys (couldn’t tell you if it were sharp or flat, just that it’s some sort of minor). It was mostly major notes. Simple melody. And the chord progression was predictable, too. In retrospect, maybe that’s why I find the song beautiful over a period of time, because it adheres to the magical unsaid rules of predictable melody.

A boy named Bryan stood behind me for a few minutes while I was talking with my friend at the piano. I turned to him, figured he wanted to play. He said that he just wanted to tell me that the piano-playing was beautiful. I thanked him, and then he swiped back into the building. It was kind of him to say and made me really happy.