Friday, August 14, 2015

Luchini

There's a popular theory going around about love languages. You can feel loved by physical touch, gifts, words of affirmation, acts of devotion or quality time, or, as for most people, a combination of all five. But me? Of course, I have a weirdly specific and cumbersome love language all my own.

In any picture of me as a kid, you'll see me either looking disdainfully down the camera into your soul, or with headphones on, earbuds in, and a smile in my eyes. It's not so much about drowning out the world around me, but more about cultivating taste and living my life with my own soundtrack shadowing my steps. I would carry around two books of CDs (what are those? o.O) and batteries for my Walkman. I would search for days and days, only knowing a few choice lyrics or chord progressions in thrift and CD stores with my parents, asking the cashier with no shame to play me a few tracks from an album that I thought had what I was looking for, and then beg my parents to buy it regardless. I was a collector of sound.

I'm not sure how or why music grabbed me the way it did. With my parents, there was a good chance I would love reading, writing, cooking, video games, or cars with equal ferocious intensity as I do music, but as it stands, music was my first love. My first memory ever, is of Toddler Tess sitting in front of a subwoofer swaying and clapping her hands while the grown ups played grown up games in the background.

As I grew, so did the technology and the hunger for more. I went from a Walkman to an iPod, from the knowledge of the cashier, to the knowledge of the world wide web. And even still, my sound collecting grows. My appreciation for all types of music has grown. My understanding of layering and complexity within these things I love has grown.

It stands to reason then, that music is my love language.

I fell in love with Tarzan over a thousand miles away; his personality and character were major pluses, but if I'm honest, his music knowledge was the first thing that made my heart flutter. It's enticing, exciting, after walking around for decades speaking a language and finally finding someone who speaks the same. Plus, he makes music, creating new things that never existed before he put them together. If that's not a panty dropper I don't know what is....Just to reinterate, because I feel like  I'm going in weird ex-girlfriend territory here, he and I ain't together anymore - this is just a crazy tangent...uh...

I digress.

Camp Lo's "Luchini" is my zenith. From the first time I heard it as a kid, I felt this incredible feeling like I could do anything, I could be anything. It's not about the lyrics (which took me years to even sort of understand) but the feel. "Luchini" is the feeling of falling in love and speeding down a highway towards a sunset with wind in your hair. "Luchini" is the feeling of finding a perfect pair of jeans for that perfect shirt you found a few weeks ago. "Luchini" is a raise at work, or better yet, getting to leave early. It's golden and pristine, it's giddy and chill. It is what it is.

I haven't been feeling real Luchini lately. That's not to say I've been super depressed or anxious, but I just feel like I'm existing and not really living. I've been feeling like who I am isn't enough for my damn self and that something was inherently wrong with my overall hopeful outlook on the world. I've been feeling like my history, as noted in the previous blog, made me some sort of damaged goods. And then I went on iTunes and found Teedra Moses put out a new album (listen to it) with a song that samples what?

You guessed it.

Hearing "Luchini" with a new twist makes me happy. It reminds me that, just as music can grow and become new, so can I. Just as my music knowledge expands, so does my musical love language and understanding of myself. What it takes to make me happy now, is the same thing it took to make me happy then, and instead of being so hard on myself for that perceived inability to mature, I can instead be happy with my simplicity. I'm still the girl with the headphones. I'm still the girl with the open heart. As hard as it is to remain, I am still me.

Proof, I suppose, that some things, no matter how much time passes, remain cool. :)

-Tess

Monday, August 3, 2015

Wu-Tang Forever

This one could go a couple of ways.

On the one hand, I can talk about how I was fucking a divorcing man for a few months, mostly out of loneliness and spite. And how, over time, I convinced myself that me not wanting more was some sort of flaw within myself, even though in all honesty, he wasn't a good enough friend to consider upgrading him to something more...

On the other I can talk about these nostalgic and rueful feelings I've been having lately that make me wonder about the whole "it's yours" thing...As always, let's go with the more complex, yeah?

I have a longing to belong with someone, or rather to somebody that I can't explain. I noticed it after Tarzan and I broke up, that I felt this sort of empty, aching thing that seemed to follow behind me like a Charlie Brown cloud. Nobody else noticed it. I was fine; still funny, still smiling, still functioning. And I suppose I was, but, as I'm sure I've said a few times now, I was just edging the inevitable break down.

As of late, I feel the chokehold of that empty, aching thing, coming in waves; some days I breathe fine and enjoy every moment, and others I feel lost, like I'm missing something or something is missing me. The empty, aching thing is also a nagging, persistent thing, as sometimes, even when it's the furthest thing from my mind, it sneaks me and tries to tackle me down. And all the time, I manage to pull myself away from it, get some perspective and keep it moving.

The last few weeks though have been a bit harder to climb out of. You see, I found a box of old journals and poems written by yours truly. I was always charming and crass, and sweet and funny. I read my life as if it were someone else's story, someone's else's life playing out and it made me painfully aware of one consistent pattern.

I was always in love.

Or at the very least, trying my damndest to be.

At first it was only an itch, something that rubbed me a little awkwardly that I could brush off. But as my scratchy, large print looped into elegant mature cursive, as my vocabulary started containing less OMGs and more Bismillahs, that one thing never changed. There was always some boy. Always some girl. And the insane thing is, I don't remember them, but I remember always wanting them.

At the time, this person was the love of my life! I couldn't breathe without them! This was my true love, for real for real this time! And yet, when one ended, another began just as quickly, just as shallowly. So many names, and misadventures lost to time and memory. So many people I neglected to think of as complex and whole people, just as ideas or items to possess...

But the thing is, I'm still that same girl in a way. I'm still searching for someone to love who'll love me back. Most days I'm ambivalent about that basic truth of myself, but others I feel so beaten by it.
I feel like, if it's my nature to love and to be loved and I'm without that basic (or at least in my mind, basic) need, then...what now? Moreover, isn't it sort of pathetic that that's all I really want out of life, to be able to look at someone sincerely and tell them "It's yours?"

I had that once. Of the scores of times, I only meant it once. And though it was a painful thing when it ended, it was a period where my growth as a person seemed to skyrocket. I was blooming. I was animated. I had plans and dedication to them. I had purpose in a way that I hadn't had before. And that makes me feel sad; why does someone else coming into my life give it purpose? Why can't I do that for myself, or why even when I do it for myself does it seem so hollow?

Do I still want the things I want? With my whole heart, I do. But at the same time, a pattern is a pattern because we don't change it. Is it a pattern I change, or a pattern that changes me? I don't want to be hardened and sad, or callous and jaded, I always want to be the crass, charming, funny and sweet girl I've always been, but as time goes on, and I keep getting beat about the face with this one major (in my eyes, anyway) flaw in my character, I can feel myself sort of slipping away.

I don't know what to do you guys.

So I'll just leave it where it is for now.

Monday, June 22, 2015

I'm So Dope

I've had a shitty couple of weeks. Job stress is messing with my self-perception; if I'm in the top 1%, why the fuck they still sweating me? My best friend recently got engaged, and her and I being so close, like siblings, of course I feel like the sexless, spinster sister while simultaneously feeling so much joy and excitement for her I could burst; its complicated. My tutoring duties had people clamoring for more attention, more red squiggles, and discussions and study guides for me to create...

Today I put on a black, A-line swing dress, flats, big silver hoops and a red Atlantic City hoodie to go to the movies. My hair in a huge, soft cloud of curls, coils, kinks and varying "straight" pieces, made an eccentric looking afro. My glasses fogged up as soon as I stepped into the cool theater and flashed my ticket. 

As an aside, movie theaters have lost their damn minds with these concession stand prices. Why is it $10 for a ticket, and $15 for a small popcorn and a bottled water? Like...why?

Didn't matter. The theater was half filled with teenagers and the other half old-heads. Even though I wasn't alone, I sure felt like it. And then the movie started.

The thing I love most about movies in theaters is that, no matter what, when the movie starts, you're on this ride with everybody else. You are not just "you" any more; you're part of the conglomerate, the "audience." You laugh when something's funny, and so do like 35 other people. You suck your teeth at the same time 19 other people do. You fit in.

Dope is like "The Breakfast Club," or "Sixteen Candles," for my generation of kids, who grew up on Mortal Kombat, vinyls and Walkmans, and gold chains and can't let the golden age go. Admittedly, I was a literal kid through most of it, but all my greatest memories growing up were in the 90s. Once about...2003 hit? It was like getting break checked. I digress. The movie was the best one I've seen in at at least 5 years. If you can see it, see it. If you can't see it...see it.

But as I was leaving the theater, my old, worn bag slung over my shoulder, dress swishing around my hips, I felt like something was missing. Like someone was missing. And that's the thing with me, someone is always missing. There's this ghost of possibility walking next to me out into the humid Texas night; I could've seen the movie with W, Tarzan or best friend Andre and had a blast, or with a potential homie/lover/friend and walked out holding hands and ordering pizza. But I wasn't; as always, I was walking out alone. 

I related to Dope's protagonists, because like them, I didn't and sort of don't fit in anywhere. They were remarkable in an anomalous sort of way and thus, didn't really make names for themselves; they were just those "weird" kids. I was, and always feel like one of those "weird" kids. But unlike them, I don't have a tribe to call up and do "weird" shit with. I don't have my ride-or-dies nearby. I'm just one weird girl, walking to the beat of her own weird drum.

And that's... dope. Scary and lonely as shit, but it's amazing. I can do the things I love by myself and, for the most part, not feel alienated. I go to the comic store, I pick up mice for my pet snake, I get lost down town and find a taco stand to eat at, and I do all of it alone. And I feel fine. But sometimes...I just want to share what I love with people I like. Sometimes I want a hand in mine, or a shoulder to lean on. Sometimes, I'm not enough for my damn self.

I feel like this has gone in so many directions...Takeaways are as follows: 1) See Dope. I loved it. B) Confidence in one's self is awesome and allows one to feel complete even when they're alone. III) Some times that's not enough, and weirdly enough, that's okay.

Later days, Tribe.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Use Somebody

As I was driving down the highway at a brisk 85 around 10 o'clock I was composing this blog post in my head...And yet, I've no idea how to start it.

Well, here it goes anyway.

I am not extroverted at all. In spite of my two extremely extroverted parents, I've somehow always managed to squirrel most of me away from interested eyes, merely mimicking the characteristics of an extrovert. Mysterious. Elitist. Enigmatic. I've been called many things, and in spite of how often I tell the truth nobody seems to believe me. The truth is, I'm just afraid, or rather, I've spent most of my life being afraid. But being afraid is ennui; nothing good happens when you live by fear, but nothing bad happens either. At a certain point, you get so tired of staying still you feel you're going to scream; you're waiting for anything, anything to happen.

But sometimes you gotta make it happen for yourself. And that's sort of where I am now.

It's no surprise to y'all I'm lonesome; I tell you all the time. And even when I don't, it's like two locked hands in my throat, keeping me from saying my truth, even if I don't speak it, doesn't make it less real. Speaking it into existence, to me, has always been a show of weakness and self-centered thinking; nobody owes me their company, nobody owes me their time. But what if I could give someone a little of mine? What if I could give a little of the fear, a little of the mess of me to someone else in exchange for some of theirs?

That's where friends come in. I don't have very many. In fact, my parents round out my top five. I know it's not about quantity, but quality, and I've hit the jackpot when it comes to the people I surround myself with. They're loyal, and kind. They let me be myself, whether I'm mournful or jovial, whether I lash out or pull everything in. Lastly, they're a reflection of myself, or rather, the kind of friend I've been to them, which is dope to think about.

So it happens that I work in a place full of people (le gasp!), and hadn't talked to too many people at all about myself. In fact, very few people their even know who I am; I'm a wraith, a passing figure who holds open doors or elevators, who makes a quick joke and disappears. Or I was. Lately, tentatively, I've been reaching out, revealing little tidbits of me here and there.

And see, there's a guy that works with me. And before you go there, I know; for me there seems to always be a guy and isn't that the kind of thing I'm trying to get out of and yada yada. Shut up. Hear me out.

The guy has been there this whole time I've been at this job. Not pushy, or super duper Stepford friendly, but not stand-offish or cold. We traded a few jokes and interests back and forth, offered music and food suggestions and kept it moving. Until recently. The side effect of my new confidence, I think, is giving my shy self a push. Coaxing my damned self to take a risk here or there, to do something different, to try to be somebody different.

I made up my mind to be his friend, or at least to try. He's sort of really cool; he does things that I wish I was doing, like going to concerts and making his mind up on a dime to go out of his comfort zone. He's got kind eyes and a laugh that draws you in. He's got the kind of voice that makes me feel like I could tell him anything and nothing and whatever I say would be cool, that it'd all be safe. And most important, my mind that's usually super quick to "ship" shit and spin every little thing into a "maybe..."is just not doing it; dude is super cute, kind of bordering on hot I'd say, but it's never at the fore of my mind. Thankfully, I am not stressin or obsessin. The short of it is, he's somebody good, the kind of good you can just tell, and the fact I'm not actively trying to sleep with him is great. Is that what maturity is supposed to be?

It's not like he's getting the short end of the deal either. Once you get to know me, I do my damndest to make sure I'm one of the best people you ever met. Secrets stay secrets with me (because who do I have to tell for one, and for two...who tells secrets? Are unspoken promises not even like, "things" anymore?), and I'm there for my people even if it kills me. Plus, atop the myriad of great things about me, I'm funny as shit.

Filling a void, using somebody, isn't the worst thing a person can do. I've learned the worst thing somebody can do is not try to spread the good in themselves around (and no, that's not a euphemism). The worst thing somebody can do is deprive themselves of something they need because of how it makes them look or seem. The worst somebody can do is not attempt.

Is the guy my next best friend? I dunno. That's gonna be the fun of it. And if he is, I'll be grateful. If not, it's not the end of the world; it's like that old adage about seasons and leaves on trees or something - some folks ain't meant to stay. You can hope, you can try to keep em, but if they're not meant for you, they just aren't.

Doesn't mean I won't enjoy wherever the ride goes, though.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Amy

On a mild day, four or five years ago, I was hanging out with a friend in another friend's truck bed. We were talking music, as he and I often had, and watching clouds drift across one of the bluest skies I remember seeing. Somehow in the conversation, he'd made the assertion that I was like Adele, and best friend W was like Amy Winehouse; we both came from the same place, both had a certain strength, and were pretty much foreign to the folks where we were at the time.

When bringing it up to W, it's more than obvious to her and I both; she's Adele, I'm Amy.

There's a sweet mournfulness about Amy that resonates deeply with me. She's the tragic romantic, the honest and raw antithesis to what a "lady" should be, while encompassing all of a lady's vulnerability, softness and elegance. She's no role model, but admittedly as far as role models go you could do worse. She's broken and whole, she's happy and sad, she's full and empty; she's me.

Even in my happiness, even in my joy, there is still the sadness. I don't know how to explain it to friends without feeling like a whiner, or like I'll be lectured on "living my best life" and being "a strong, independent woman who don't need no man" and other such bullshit. Because yes, it's true. I AM a strong, independent yada yada, and yes I AM attempting to live my best life today and shit, but at the same time, I'm a lover without someone to love, or without someone who'll love her back the same. Nothing anybody can say can fix that.

And so, I drink down the stress and the loneliness. I line the wine bottles up next to my bedroom door, labels front facing, as a reminder of sorts of my problem, but not as an indicator of when or if I should stop. I write poems and journal entries, I sing her songs and think about my life and where I am, about how fucking happy I am. About how fucking beautiful I feel. And about how God damn lonely I am most days.

If nobody else gets me, Amy gets me. Her songs, be they jazzy and uptempo, or cheeky and sampling hip-hop, are a mirror into what or who I am. Please, no "Rehab" jokes.

I think the quintessence of the parallels I draw come to a head with "Wake Up Alone." Sorrowful and stripped down, she sings about trying to focus on being happy, on being above her drinking, her obsessive thinking, her loneliness. She sings about waiting for her him to come and he does (or they do) and yet she still wakes up alone every day, wishing he (or they) would love her as she wants to love them. Like, shit...if that's not me I couldn't write a better song for myself.

But, and here's the most beautiful, and in my opinion the worst part of it all; above all, she is hopeful. Just because she's waking up alone now, doesn't mean she always will. Just because she doesn't feel loved and completely whole now, doesn't mean she never will. Sure, she may not say so, but the warmth with which she sings, the smile you can hear in her voice, let's you know it's not all over for her, not by a long shot.

Or maybe that's just me.

Xo

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Shameful Confession: One Direction

Shameful confession time - I am a rabid Zayn Malik fan which by proxy makes me a rabid One Direction fan. It happened accidentally; after finding out he left the band and seeing all the hysteria surrounding it I wondered what all the fuss was about. All I knew of the band at that point was that they made infectious pop that teen girls everywhere adored and that they were a few dudes led by a dude named Harry.

Needless to say, I get what the fuss was about now. Not only was Zayn, in my humble opinion, the most handsome (like, Oh my God) but he has a great voice suited more for R&B I think that the dizzying pop the group is known for. Hopefully, he continues on solo because a voice like his is interesting enough to want to take heed to; plus, since Craig David, when have we had an ethnic UK crooner hit the US charts? Just sayin...

Fan-girling aside, their music taps into the part of me that is, above all things, optimistic and happy. After a long day, I may drive home from work, windows down playing "Clouds" and dreaming of the day I keep driving past all my troubles, past all my doubts, into a new city, a new life, a new me. I may play "What Makes You Beautiful" while getting ready for a date or when I'm having a quick elevator dance party (what? I'm not the only one who does those, right?).

I don't remember a time in my life where I've felt as confident and as happy as I do now. And it's not anything really specific that's caused it. I'm (finally) off the mood stabilizing meds, which for a time was a hard adjustment to make. I'm at a relatively new job that I do exceedingly well at. But I think what's happened is I decided to be happy.

How odd is that? That you can decide how you'll feel about something? For so long I thought I needed something, an unattainable X factor to make me feel happy. I felt like I needed something outside of myself to motivate and generate warm feelings. Truth is, I have it in me all the time to be jovial and just never tapped into it, thinking that the deeper or sadder feelings were the ones that needed my attention, the ones that needed to be "solved" in a way. But, you feel how you feel for a reason, and sometimes for no reason at all; in the instances where there's no reason at all, why not try to feel differently, think differently? What can you gain, really, by being unhappy all the time?

That's not to say I don't have bad days, sad days, and I-just-wanna-be-mad days. I still do. But I think about why I feel the way I do, and if it's something I can change. If it is, change on. If not, why worry?

Now I know you're wondering "The hell does this have to do with One Direction?" Here's the thing; I hear them, and my inner 16 year-old self jumps up and down and squeals. Their music makes me happy. Raisinettes make me happy. Driving on the highway makes me happy. Trying new things makes me happy. Why deny myself those things? Or why put those things off?

My discovery of their music has just spurned me on, in a way, providing a soundtrack for me to chase down what makes me happy and just immersing myself in it...

Don't judge me, yo.

Xo

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Be Selfish

Yesterday I did the dumbest, bravest, most painful and wisest thing I've had to do: I said no to something I really wanted, but couldn't keep...and then proceeded to get drunk off my ass. Seriously; there was Epsom salt on my spice rack when I woke up this morning. But, the drunken blog is next - I digress.

So the story goes, a big-hearted girl with stars in her eyes finds comfort in a sweet, kind friend after admittedly the hardest year of her life. And he stays around for it all; her stress and worry, her doubts and fears, as well as her triumphs and joys and little victories. He makes her laugh when she wants to cry, he encourages her to do the best she can. He tells her she's beautiful so much, she actually starts to believe it.

Attraction builds, and is mutual, but homie doesn't want a relationship - just a little friendly fuckin. Our sweet, naive heroine believes she can do non-committed sex even though she knows (and he knows, and everybody nose) that that isn't what she needs or deserves.

Y'all know how the story ends. Hell, some of you are or have been the heroine in the same story; she succumbs to the moment and ends up hurting more than she thought possible, with nobody to blame but herself. She settles, because deep down she doesn't think she deserves more. She thinks that she asks for too much; surely if she were worth it, if she were everything the men of her past said she was, they would stay - they would want all of her, not just pieces. If she were worth anything, they'd be with her, they'd love her the way she needs them to.

Besides, she's done it before, quite a few times. She gives all of herself, everything, to people who wouldn't and couldn't give her what she needed with the same intensity. She's naturally selfless, this heroine, and always pays the price for it, bruising and cutting up her heart with her feelings of inadequacy and self-loathing. But this guy cares about her; maybe he'd change his mind and want more. Maybe if she went through with it she would change and become the type of strong, confident brassy broad who can have sex with no expectations happily.

But she...I am not that kind of girl. I may not always feel worth it, and I may still cry my heart out some days wondering why nobody wants me. But I can't do that to myself again. I can't set myself up for that kind of fuck over. I have to look out for me, and know and respect myself enough to say what I want, and when enough is enough. I'm a chick who needs commitment. Opened and closed case.

So as shitty as I feel for backing out, and not getting what I want, I told my friend, whom I adore, that sex couldn't happen without commitment. He knows me, better than most people in fact, so he knows why, but I know he's disappointed, and I understand that. What I hope he understands is that it was hard as hell to stand up for myself in this way. I hope he knows that he's still one of my best friends on Earth. More than anything, I hope he knows that this change, this tentative assertion of my worth and confidence, wouldn't have been possible without him. And if he ever changes his mind...

Being selfish and changing the narrative is hard, but needed. If you won't and don't care for yourself enough to not willingly go into something that'll hurt you, how can you expect anyone else to care enough not to hurt you?

Am I disappointed? Have you ever returned a box of unused, pristine, damn-near-no-finger-prints-on-the-box condoms? That kinda frustration is enough to make a woman cry. But..I'm still proud. A little bruised up about it, but not as much as I would've been had I laid down some A+ Circle Swirl for so little in return. I'm not only proud, I'm glad I was able to change my story.