The Unbearable Everythingness of Being

Sometimes, I feel like I’m being dishonest when I write in this blog. It’s my “public” blog, my “writer’s” blog, so I feel this pressure to be positive and interesting.

In reality, I am most interesting when I am being honest. And when I’m being honest, I’m not usually all that positive.

I think the most difficult thing about growing up, is you have to come face-to-face with everything everyone has ever told you about living and being a person. You have to start figuring out who you are and what you believe… and if you’re who you are and believe what you believe because it’s true for you, or because someone gave you these ideas.

Since leaving my full-time job last summer and spending most of my days at home, I have a lot more time to think about these super-meta things. I’ve gotten to know myself better. It’s really uncomfortable sometimes. It’s easy to build up a version of yourself that is for public and social consumption. On Twitter and Facebook, I am so witty and entertaining. With my friends and colleagues, I am funny and full of energy. 

But when you’re given an indefinite amount of concentrated time to just be alone… all of that stuff becomes what it is: cosmetic. It melts away and then you’re another you. Maybe not a more “true” you, but definitely a less enhanced and deliberate you. This past year, I got to be me, boiled down. It has been a gift. But some days, it is overwhelming. 

Recently, I have been grappling with this sense of “supposed to” vs. this sense of “want to”. They’re not matching up. I spent a very long time making a plan for my life that was somewhat responsible and somewhat indulgent at the same time. I was intent on becoming a “creative professional,” whether that meant writing or acting or directing. But still, I did well in college and made sure I had meaningful experiences like studying abroad and transferring to a school that better suited my needs. I realized I was passionate about social justice—I’m just as passionate about it as I am about writing and TV and poetry and theatre. I found a good job after graduation that let me be both responsible and creative. 

But within the last year, all of my plans and my attempts at being responsible and put-together have come undone. As much as I enjoyed working with youth in the non-profit/community-based sector, that work is draining. I burnt out. As much as I enjoyed performing, I don’t feel as confident in my body or myself. And standing in front of hundreds of strangers, telling them my stories and being vulnerable doesn’t sound as appealing. As much as I love writing, I too often hear the voices of my mother and other family members telling me, “This is not a practical career.” Or I think about how much better other writers are than me, and I feel silly and unworthy. 

More than anything, I’ve felt bared. At times, this is good. So many people often tell me what an honest person I am. I take great pride in this. I believe a lot of the problems we have in the world are made worse by the fact that people are not willing to be open and honest with themselves, with each other. So yes, I move through the world on a principle of honesty. But it can be difficult when this honesty is not valued or appreciated… or when others simply don’t know what to do with it. 

This year, I’ve come to realize some things about myself: I like staying home by myself more often than I like going out with friends. I like spending quality time with small amount of friends. I have serious issues with food and overeating. I have an aversion to working out and doing other things that are good for me, but require more than bare minimum effort. I have been able to get by in life mainly because I’m smart, kind, lucky, and somewhat talented… but not so much on hard work. And the older you get, the more hard work matters. I don’t really enjoy working full-time or within office spaces, but I do enjoy the financial security that having a “regular” full-time job provided. I love my family, but I’ve always felt different from them… and thus, I can’t spend too much time with any of them without feeling awkward and/or annoyed. I have faith in God and I have system of personal spiritual principles… but my relationship with The Big Universal Spirit is fractured and I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t like asking for help, but I do like complaining. I let fear guide a large part of my actions and decisions. I would love to start dating, but I am unwilling to make myself truly vulnerable for any person. Even though I love writing and the arts/culture… I really have no firm clue about what I want to do career-wise.

I know all of these things about myself. And they are good things to know. But they are not easy things to know. And knowing them does not directly translate to action or resolution. And it’s so very frustrating.

All of this to say: It’s a Monday afternoon in late July. I’m still in my pajamas. Whenever I think of applying for a specific job, I stop myself for whatever stupid reason. I spend a lot of time thinking about how much I just want to be back in New York City, but I always make up an excuse why this is not a good time to move. 

All of this to say: I am wandering now. And I may wander forever. But eventually, I’ll find a little path to stay on for a bit. I hope…

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Being 25: Week #1

Last Monday, I had a birthday.

I am now one quarter-century old. In the grand cosmic scheme of things, I’m still a baby. But in my eyes, being 25 is a pretty big and schnazzy deal. I am officially old enough to rent a car. Yay, me!

All in all, my first week as a 25-year-old has been pretty uneventful. I didn’t have a fancy birthday party. I didn’t go on a weekend trip to Vegas, or a trip anywhere. I didn’t treat myself to an expensive, indulgent purchase like a Michael Kors bag. (Maybe next year.) 

But there have been some developments…

1. I applied for unemployment. I am scared shitless of being destitute until I find full-time employment. Thus, I applied for unemployment benefits to help ease my stress. Also, the California EDD makes you register on a state-wide job search site, so it’ll really kick my job-hunting into gear.

2. I paid the registration renewal on my car. This is not interesting, I know. But in April, I bought my very first car. I paid for it in cash, like a boss. I own a vehicle. It is mine, all mine. And somedays, I still can’t believe. Getting my pink slip in the mail and renewing the registration made it so real. Yes, I will also have to maintain and take care of a machine for the foreseeable future… But man, it’s my car! I smiled through the whole process on the DMV website.

3. I let a bunch of people give me wine and buy me food. I love wine. I love food. There’s nothing better than getting both of those things for free. Over the past week, my lovely friends and family gave me four bottles of wine, made me BBQ (thanks, Dad!), and let me eat such delicacies as portobello mushroom fries and lobster. Mmm… Do you think they will do the same if I decide to celebrate my half-birthday this year?

4. I have agreed to go on a two week road trip with my homegirl. Three months ago, I was seriously considering moving back to New York City. And then I decided to buy a car and was like, “Welp! Guess I’m staying in California for a little bit longer.” But one of my dearest friends has decided to take a leap and continue her journey for artistic world domination in the “Big Apple.” She’s also decided to drive there, and asked me to come along for the ride. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. We leave in two weeks. First, we’re going to the Bay Area for the National Poetry Slam. (Poems on poems on poems!) Then we leave for the tri-state area! It’ll be good, good fun. Well, when we’re not tired and miserable from long hours of driving, swamp ass, and bubble guts from fast food.)

5. I have figured out (kinda) what I want to do with my life. I’ve been so all over the place this past year about what I want to study in grad school and what trajectory I want to be on. For a while, I was really into screenwriting. And then I realized, I have no business being in anybody’s film industry. I mean, I definitely still love TV and film. And I will probably write a screenplay or two in my life. But right now, with this semi-social personality, I don’t think it’s the best plan. But I do know that I love writing. I really, really love writing. I love reading. I love stories. I love critical conversations about what’s going on in the world. I love the Internet. And interning with For Harriet has made me realize that I enjoy doing editorial. So, I’m thinking about graduate programs in journalism and/or media and communications. Most journalism programs are only a year long, so I think that’s what I want to focus on first. I kind of fell into editorial on accident. And I’m still “honing my skills,” but I think being in a graduate program would be really beneficial. I need to re-learn how to research. And I need a better understanding on how media, journalism, and advertising feed into one another. I may pursue an MFA in Creative Writing later. But I’m really trying to be someone’s staff writer and/or features editor.

And lastly, I have managed to maintain a press-n-curl for 11 days. OK, this isn’t really news. But in the past five years, I’ve had my hair straightened four times. These edges give zero cares about how much money it took to flatten them out. I’ve been really impressed by my ability to rock straight hair, but I miss my ‘fro.

But in all seriousness, the other day I just had an overwhelming sense of excitement. I wasn’t doing anything worthy of being excited. But something told me, “You’re on the right track. This is going to be a good year.” 

Irked Up to Here

Growing up, my mom never used the words “annoyed” or “irritated”. 

Instead, my brother and I were either “irking the shit out of her” or “getting on her last damn nerve” (of which, she only had one). She has always had a colorful way with language. For this, I am grateful. I can bootleg a lot of her most common sayings and idioms, and sound way more witty than I actually am. And also, some of her sayings are just way more spot-on than any of the ones general English has given me.

Today, I am definitely feeling irked.

It is a combination of lots of things. I have less money in my account than I wanted, so I am feeling super stressed out about making all of my dollars and cents count. In the absence of having a job, I have to find other means to keep myself productive. Thus, I have resolved to finish all of the housework that I’ve been putting off. This week, I’m focusing on laundry and cleaning out my closet. I hate doing laundry. And both my father and my brother are on my last damn nerve. But I am also *thisclose* to getting my period, so my inability to put with menfolk this week could also be due to that.

In general, I’m not having it this week. Any of it, whatever “it” is. And yet, the Universe gives no fucks about my #BlackGirlWithAttitude feelings. How do I know this? People keep bugging the shit out of me.

As much as I love my friends and doing nice things for them, I have had a lot of people asking me for shit in the last 72 hours. Usually, this wouldn’t be a problem. If I have the resources, the means, or the time to contribute to others—I do so. This is partially because I genuinely enjoy being a kind person… and partially because I believe in stacking up as many good karma points in my favor as I can. (You never know when you’re going to do something really shitty. Thus, you always need to Universe balanced out in your favor.) But as I have limited resources right now, I am not feeling as giving. Plus, I have given a lot of energy and money and time over the last seven months, because I’m part of a friend’s bridal party. Her wedding is this weekend, and I am so very happy for her. I am also feeling so very tapped out. Whenever someone asks me for something, I just want to chew them a new asshole. Like, really, don’t ask me for anything. Don’t even ask me how my day is going. Yes, I’m on that level of irk-dom right now. But then I realize, it’s not their fault that I’m unemployed. It’s not their fault that I agreed to be a bridesmaid. And it’s also not their fault that I have a hard time setting boundaries with my friends. So then I feel guilty and say yes to whatever request was made of me… and then the whole cycle of being too through starts over again.

It doesn’t help that Los Angeles is hot and muggy as hell these days. Like, I don’t know where all this humidity came from, but I would appreciate it if it went back to whatever Midwestern state it’s supposed to be in. In general, I hate summer weather. All year, everyone is always whining about how cold it is, despite that winter in Los Angeles means we stay around 60 degrees. But alas, all I hear is, “Wahhh, it’s so cold! Why can’t summer be here?!” And in my head, I’m like, “Shut the hell up! This is glorious weather.” People who complain about winter have never been fat in summer heat. Summer is the worst if you are adiposely-endowed. In summer, I devolve into a walking waterfall of face and under-boob sweat. To remedy the extreme heat that my body is absorbing, all I want to do is to wear dresses. But wearing dresses does not mean the same thing to fat girls as it does to thin girls. If I choose to wear a dress, I am inevitably making the decision to have my inner thighs chafe from chub-rub. I don’t always feel like dealing with this,  so then I wear pants. But if I wear pants, I am making the inevitable decision to suffer from swamp-ass (and also, swamp-crotch). So, by mid-July, I have acne from my face sweating so bad, a perpetual creek of sweat running under my breasts, thighs chaffed so bad I can’t walk, and swamp ass.

Moral of the story? Summer is the worst.

 

Dat Writer Life (AKA Writing For Free and Looking for a J-O-B)

I’ve been trying to write this post for like, two weeks. 

How am I over here trying to be a legitimate writer, but I can’t even regularly update my blog? I know, it’s #FailFriday and I apologize. 

BUT… I’m here now and I’m writing. And as I’m no longer properly employed (an unpaid internship doesn’t count, right?), I have no excuse not to blog regularly. This summer, I will make it my goal. Along with, ya know, getting a full-time job.

Anyways… June was one hell of a month. I ended my job, which was bittersweet. I really loved working from home. I really loved that I pretty much got to build a sexual health youth development program on my own. I really loved the kids I worked with, even though their energy was a built overwhelming at times. But towards the end, I realized that I really did need a change from the sexual health realm. I mean, I’m so happy with the opportunities I found post-undergrad. For three years, I got to do meaningful community-based work. I realized I had a passion for something. I realized I was really good at something I never expected to be good at. It was a good time.

But I feel like I have to give this “I’m a serious writer who gets paid to write” thing a shot. Maybe I’ll end up broke. Maybe I’ll regret it. Or maybe I’ll really enjoy it, find my way, and be successful at it. I’ll only know if I try. 

Thus far, being an editorial intern with For Harriet has been such a great opportunity. I’m writing weekly. I’m writing essays, which I thought would be much more challenging than it is. I mean, I definitely experience writer’s block. But after three years of basically writing poems and Facebook statuses and nothing else, I was worried that writing longer pieces would be really difficult. It’s challenging, but it’s an enjoyable challenge. I love the excitement when a new piece of mine is uploaded to the site. I love reading comments and seeing how readers relate to and interpret what I’ve written. I love that people are finally engaging with what I have to say.

For the past two weeks, I think six of my pieces went up on the site. It was cool… until one of them made a lot of people angry. It was hard not to take folks’ negative responses personally. But I’ve realized something about the Internet: (a) people don’t usually read the entire piece; and (b) people love to troll the shit out of things. Even though the piece received hundreds of negative comments, it also received thousands of hits and hundreds of shares. So, even though people were calling it “bullshit”, they were also sharing it. (And thankfully, no one was calling my writing bullshit… just my opinions. I have no problem with people not vibing with my opinions as long as they think the writing is strong.)

Now that I’m writing regularly and have time to breathe, I’m feeling more optimistic about my job prospects. I recently applied for an editorial fellowship at BuzzFeed. Everyone knows I love me some BuzzFeed and this is the second time I’m applying. So hopefully, the second time is the charm! For a while, I was stressing myself out because I thought that people would think I was a failure if I were unemployed. And plus, there’s the whole money issue. But then I realized, no one really cares that much. And I was smart enough to save up money to last me for a good while, so I’ll be OK. Can I afford to eat out as often as I do now? Not in the least. But I won’t go hungry and I won’t have to live on Top Ramen, so that’s what matters.