sullen girl.

I’m taking a break from my regularly scheduled novel writing session to post here. I’m working on sharing more of my thoughts and experiences as the mood strikes so I’m not always sitting on ideas and feelings. (Turns out that repression is not so healthy.)

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about bravery. I wish I could be as brave as I was when I was in my twenties. I used to be comfortable sharing my opinions, telling my stories. Something changed. I let myself be silenced, but I am learning how to be open on my terms. I do not want to be silenced by anxiety. By fear. By depression.

If I’m constantly tamping down my ideas and second-guessing myself, if I’m always afraid to speak up, then my writing is never going to truly flourish. (Maybe that’s why I needed to write this now. Sitting with my writing is hard. Being emotional and raw and vulnerable is hard, in writing and in life. Like I said, I’m learning.)

After taking a walk in this morning’s oppressive heat to pick up coffee and get some work done, I came home feeling…strange. I needed to feel centered. I needed to feel like someone understood.

I needed to listen to Fiona Apple’s Tidal.

This is an album that has been a comfort to me for nearly twenty years now. I remember finally getting the CD and listening to it on my Discman. Curling up on the couch in my darkened living room, playing the entire album from start to finish over and over and over again. I hated crying when I was younger. I hate it now, but I’m more emotionally available now than I was as a scared, frustrated teen who wanted nothing more than to just have some peace and happiness. I hated feeling weak. With Tidal, I could cry. I could feel sad without having to explain why. I could feel angry without having to hold back to make others comfortable. Listening to Fiona Apple was a radical act that gave me permission to feel. To be.

When Fiona Apple declared, “This world is bullshit!” at the 1997 MTV VMA’s, she said the very thing I had been feeling for a long time, something I still feel often.

“Days like this I don’t know what to do with myself/all day and all night/I wander the halls along the walls/and under my breath I say to myself/I need fuel to take flight/And there’s too much going on/But it’s calm under the waves in the blue of my oblivion”

–Fiona Apple, Sullen Girl

Before I listened to “Sullen Girl”, I didn’t really know how to express the sadness and anxiety I felt, but this song came along and I felt a little less alone. A little less frightened. Sometimes, this world is bullshit, but there’s always art to at least help you process the pain and the crap you’re going through.

“Never Is A Promise” is another one of my favorites. It’s one of the bravest, most beautiful songs I have ever heard. To be that vulnerable, that honest…I’d like to get there again. Someday.

Go on. Be brave.

[sic]

 

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moving forward….

After my last post, I’ve kept on with my writing, even performing this past weekend in a show that was the culmination of my participation in a workshop that explored the Latino immigrant experience through the lens of Shakespeare. It was pretty fucking amazing. It’s been a while since I’ve been on stage, and for some crazy reason I went really raw and emotional with the piece. It just all poured out of me one day, and the disparate elements came together thanks to a long walk, coffee and Frida.

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Every time I rehearsed it, I would feel physically ill. But I did it. I made my nerves work for me. And I actually had fun.

What a concept!

And now…

I’m learning to treat myself with loving kindness and grabbing moments of beauty and joy whenever I can.

Lover Man and I actually went out on a date. An honest-to-god, old-fashioned dinner-and-a-movie date. A matinee of Captain America: Civil War (because we’re old), including snacks because pretzels and nacho cheese make every movie better. It’s just a fact. Then, we went to a local restaurant and chowed down on burgers and craft beer. It. Was. Glorious.

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A Sunday jaunt to a local cafe for brunch ended up with a walk and random drugstore purchases, including the most adorable pens I have ever seen. They’re colorful! And tiny! In a pouch! HOW COULD I RESIST?! (I’m currently obsessed with color-coding my Bullet Journal, which is the super colorful paisley print book below.)

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I went for a run today and wore my fancy floral running capris. Naturally, I had to take a quick detour to the roses.

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Running is pretty much the only time I ever really feel like a badass. I push ahead, challenge my body and don’t let obstacles get in my way. I’m a good running citizen, letting people know I’m approaching with a clear, “On your left/right!” and thanking people for moving over when I’m coming through. But the thing is, people actually move. They don’t mock or ignore me. They just move. They acknowledge me. They make space. I’m not used to people making space, allowing me to move ahead, strong and confident.

 

Afterwards, I treated myself to an iced almond milk latte.

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Drink it all in.

[sic]

finding the light

Some weeks are a whole lot of this:

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Wasted words, wasted time being angry at myself for not being good enough. Frustration. Self-doubt. Headaches. Tears.

I feel drained, defeated. I wonder why the hell I write. Why bother? I feel like a nobody, sick of fighting anxiety, sick of the panic plague that has overtaken me.

But then I venture out into the world and find little bits of happiness. Lover Man and I see an old friend and breathe in fresh, cool air on a perfect night. Smelling the richness of fried street food, roasted meats, sweet treats. And then, something almost unbearably adorable.

Behold: Panda bubble tea.

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I mean, how could this NOT make me happy?

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Oh, and did I mention arepas?

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We share food, digging into each other’s plates for a taste of this and a bite of that, a meal of comfort. Afterwards, drinks. A vivid orange sangria like truth serum, and I’m finally talking about it. Venting my frustrations. Not sitting in a dark room, afraid to say what I’m feeling or anxious about not being taken seriously.

And then, when I am home, an inner light ignites, and I’m not just writing words. I’m thinking and feeling and expressing and fighting the fears. Fancy Christian Lacroix stationery and coffee soda help.

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Also helpful: the new James Blake album. Remember when I posted “Modern Soul”? Well, the album that song is from, The Colour in Anything, has finally been released, and it’s astounding. The opening track, “Radio Silence”, is arresting and mournful and haunting. The rest of the album lives up to the promise set forth by that track. I listen to it and am reminded that even the biggest pain can become something beautiful.

Writing my way to the light,

[sic]