Sometimes I’ll have moments I know I’ll remember for a long time. Years later, they’ll come as flashbacks, these fleeting connections. Before I’d never imagined how much certain people would mean to me. Then it was like something had cracked the casing around my heart like a nut and I was the Grinch with a heart that’d grown three sizes too big.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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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?
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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.
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This is the first thing I wrote. But then I cut it up into pieces and scattered it across the screen.
Things I might be certain of:
We’re swimming in norms no one person decided. Maybe the sky is blue. This may or may not be a dream. I like writing incoherent text posts at one in the morning. I deeply suspect that a part of me secretly enjoys–thrives on–the stress of procrastinating and the last-minute headaches of: oh God, oh God, I have an essay due tomorrow and I’ve no idea what the prompt is; I didn’t pay attention any of the times my professor touched upon the paper so now I have to ask around for the prompt and I really should have done this sooner.
Oh. I did fine on the last paper, the one I wrote the afternoon before. The fictionalized one. I don’t write fiction, I haven’t written fiction, not since it got squashed out of me in HS. But when I was eight I liked writing fiction, fiction about girls with blonde and blue hair (all those Mary Kate and Ashley books getting to my head) I never wrote about aliens or dystopias but I guess I’ve been thinking about that a lot (all this data mining getting to my head) so I wrote a paper about it. My TA said he’d have liked me to elaborate more on the story, which I don’t think was even included… Was there a story? Mostly it was like an excruciatingly drawn-out description. I did this my first semester, too. I came up with some drawn-out fictionalized character reading from a book I hadn’t read and then–then what? I did fine.
This is a cycle. I procrastinate, do fine, grow lax in my ability to churn out last-minute papers, then get headaches the day before. I think it’s part laziness, part perfectionism, part I-just-want-to-do-it-because-I-can. I mean, I don’t know.
I keep wishing it’s Christmas. Yesterday I went downtown. Twice, actually. First to wander around the city, second to celebrate my roommate’s birthday. On the car drive back we passed by bars and clubs and concert-cafes and it was so odd catching glimpses into people’s lives–like the city equivalent of peering into brightly-lit homes in suburbia. To see some of the things/hear some of the sounds/feel some of the vibes these other people are experiencing, it’s like witnessing something that isn’t yours to witness or feeling nostalgic for lives you have not lived. God, it’s so unnerving, so mundane at the same time. I can’t explain it. Something to do with seeing. Living, if just for a moment, vicariously through so many people you might never see again. Maybe it’s like the concept of scopophilia we learned about in my queer politics class, just the sheer pleasure of looking, of seeing. Maybe.
Also, ah. Like the happy drunk who cries oh I love you, you know that, right? Totally. I feel exhausted-quiet-grateful for the people who’ve been in my life for years. Raises glass. No, but really. I think sometimes I have the tendency to drift like driftwood, tumble like tumbleweed, forget incessantly to respond and get back to people. (By sometimes I mean always) People come and go. So do roses, foxes, and Little Princes. But in the past few years, a handful haven’t left. And so Oct 17th 2016 1:14 AM I’m going to be grateful for that. Yes, yes, this is my puddle of gratitude.
In the spring my professor told us to write about something meaningful to us. So I waited until it was two, ’til I was sleepy and sad in rambly honesty, and wrote about how somebody had said hi to me that day. Mumbled it, mostly, but uttered it anyways. And it sounds so lame when I put it into words– there’s a million other things (or maybe just a solid few) that could be Meaningful, capital M–but on that day I chose a half-assed hi. It reminds me of Burroughs in his memoir, Running With Scissors, where he goes–
“I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. And then I realized, you just say, “Hi.” They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word.”
-Running With Scissors, Augusten Burroughs
(So hello to you too.)