Saturday, February 02, 2019

Marlene

About five or six years ago I used to go to and from school while listening to Suzanne Vega a lot. I remember walking in the brisk cold and thinking how beautifully and perfectly the music was written. Once I went online and looked up not just the lyrics but what Vega had to say about her songs. I was surprised that not only had she written about them but she had extensively described the process of how she came up with song ideas. I found it fascinating.

Beautiful music leaves me despondent; especially music that I find evocative, music that reminds me of stuff I’ve been reading or of stuff I’d like to write. I feel a sort of impotent desperation when hearing music I feel a particular affinity with: Suzanne Vega but also Yann Tiersen, Mumford & Sons, sometimes Ed Sheeran, lately Lord Huron…

When I was a teenager, I would write a lot while listening to The Cure. Frantically I’d put on Wish or Disintegration and try to write out all the emotions and images that came with the music. I always used to associate certain songs, certain bands with characters, with stories I was conceiving. I remember very clearly how my discovery of The Smiths coincided with the crystallization of a character in my head who I always imagined as a sort of sociopath. Morrissey’s apathetic melancholy, his cry of “I was only joking when I said, I’d like to smash a gritle in your head” in a sweet, tired voice made me excited. I thought: “There! That’s the character as I’ve always envisioned him! That’s the core of him! Not just the words but the music and tone, the tired, helpless cheerfulness with which he says it. I’ve caught him!”

It feels like I’m getting old. Thirty-two and I haven’t written any books. Thirty-two and still no degree. Thirty-two and there’s so much I want to do and haven’t done.

What used to elate me now fills me with anxious dread, as if I half suspect I’ll never get to write the book or finish the degree or see the world I want to see. I’ve been working so hard and I still feel woefully inadequate. I still long for so many things I haven’t done yet.

Five or six years ago, when I listened to Marlene On The Wall it used to haunt me even when I knew my favorites were World Before Columbus and The Queen And The Soldier… it must have been a sort of prescience, seeing myself in the lyrics, in her song, as she sees herself in her poster of Marlene Dietrich. I feel a little like that now “but the only soldier now is me, I’m fighting things I cannot see, I think it’s called my destiny…” She speaks to a lover as so many songs seem to… I have no lover now except past ones, but sometimes I feel I am in dialogue with the future ones.

During these last couple of years I’ve told most people I have no interest in falling in love or finding a partner and that is and isn’t true. Falling in love… building a relationship, dreaming of a future… it all takes a certain level of effort and work that I’m not willing to put in at the moment. I am unsatisfied with myself… the truth is, I’d like to become the sort of person I would like to date, or else how will someone I fancy, fancy me back?

No degree, no books, no traveling…

I have to fix that. I have to look for the things I want and dream of. I have to be the person I aspire to be… if I wish to demand all this of someone else, how can I not demand it of myself?

Monday, January 07, 2019

New Year's Resolutions


I've never been a person who wrote down her New Year's Resolutions. I've never been a person who's kept an appointment book either, or a journal to write my To Do lists in. My mother used to write hers down in pieces of recycled paper and her pleasure was in crossing them out, not elegantly maybe, but satisfyingly enough.

I've always hated being trite and doing what everyone does just because everyone does it, but I've also always mistrusted people who snobbishly dismiss popular things just because they're popular. It's a bit of a catch-22.

Last year and this year, I've decided to start bullet journaling and to start my Bucket List. These are some pretty trite ideas and I've decided to crown them with even more stereotypical glee by writing down, for the very first time in this blog, my New Year's Resolutions.

This year, I want to be aware of what I'm doing and of why I'm doing it, because during the last few years, maybe since 2011 (meaning almost a decade now), I've just come to the realization of how little time I have left in my hands. In these last eight years I've had more existential moments than ever before. By existential moments I mean those flashes where you realize that one day you will die and are not quite certain you'll become anything other than stardust (courtesy of two very atheistic parents who never bothered to instill in me some sort of religious protection against Schopenhaurian dread). In short, I've come to realize how brief life is and how much we have to make each moment count...

But also, I've come to realize that I CAN make those moments count.

During my early twenties I had a very long and very stable relationship (for a twenty-something) with a man who gave me every sort of companionship and comfort I could then wish for. I was going through some tough realizations about myself and his presence in my life was the one fixed blessing I could count on. I felt that this relationship could define me. I had always felt I wanted to transcend (having, once more, no religious insulation from the harsh reality of my insignificance) and, in that relationship, I felt I could transcend through love. The mess my life was in, at school, at home, in my head, the sheer intellectual MUDDLE I was going through didn't matter because I had him. We made meaning together, he and I, we made sense, we made STORIES and in those stories we made a whole that somehow, kept the darkness at bay…

I used to dream of lots of things before that relationship, before that point in my life. I can remember some of them and looking back, very few included that all-encompassing, transcendental love I thought I had.

I dreamt I would travel, that I would see and experience all the places I wanted to write about. I dreamt I would be a polyglot, able to read all my favorite authors in their own language. I dreamt I would be a writer, an artist, that I would leave my mark in the world through my thoughts and MY stories. I dreamt of such an ADVENTURE.

I did not dream of the wonderful, homey relief I would have with this man, the first real love of my life. Before him, I thought I’d fall in love in my travels, while living abroad. I thought (and still half think) that like so many of my friends, the grandest prize I could aspire to would be a foreigner, possibly an American, quite certainly a European. Like Eva Khatchadourian says in We Need To Talk About Kevin: “How lucky we are, when we’re spared what we think we want!”

I cannot for the life of me regret loving this man, with him I learned how it felt to be complete, in his arms, I was, at long last, enough. But I do regret all the dreams I left behind because I thought all I needed was him.

It wasn’t his fault. Like I said, my life was a mess at that particular moment. I had come to realize that I could not be the particular student, writer or daughter that my mother and I had imagined and wanted me to be and it stung, I stung PAINFULLY. So for a moment, I don’t even truly remember how long… maybe half of those six years we were together, maybe more, I just gave up on everything I wanted. I couldn’t write, I couldn’t pass my classes, I couldn’t make my mother happy, I couldn’t fathom how I was ever going to support myself without my parents and I resented them for making me feel, increasingly, like an imposition in their lives. I wasn’t the brilliant intellectual I thought I was when I started college (amazed at how easily I could get wonderful grades in subjects I loved, as opposed to my dismal struggle through high school), I went into the literary criticism classes and I drew a blank. It was all nonsense to me, smart-sounding nonsense that never failed to make me feel inferior but nonsense nevertheless. I wasn’t able to handle anything then, all I thought I wanted was slipping through my fingers.

So I let it all go. I stopped going to college, I stopped trying to write… I stopped trying to dream… And the worst part was how ashamed I was of myself and how often I pretended that none of it was happening. I was only able to tell my parents all I had stopped doing during those years, long after the fact. If it hadn’t been for my friends and my boyfriend I would have died of despair back then. I remember obsessively thinking of these lines from a P.J. Harvey song:

Please don't reproach me 
For, for how empty 
My life has become

That was me, circa 2009, 2010. I was 24 and I was TERRIFIED.

I left home, moved in with this man I loved and broke up with him. And in that process, away from the constant criticism and source of dissatisfaction that my relationship with my mother had become then… I found out I didn’t have to give up at all.

I took up my studies again and stepping away from literary criticism I focused on translation and found out I EXCELLED at it, as I always had ever since I started this degree. I even lost some weight, took up swimming… But most importantly, I started writing again… I started writing AND getting published… Before then, never mind published, I’d never actually managed to FINISH anything I wrote. Suddenly I was confronted with the truth that I COULD do and become all the things I’d always dreamed I could be. I didn’t have to transcend through love, I could transcend through myself, I could accomplish the things that could give me meaning, completeness, and a sense of purpose all on my own. I could make stories that were just mine.

Since then, I’ve managed to finish all my classes and I’ve managed to get professionally published (got paid!). I have accomplished two things I never thought I would: strangers have read me and I neck-to-neck with most of my peers, educationwise.

But all of last year, which I took as an almost complete rest from writing and studying, I felt a small discontent begin to grow again. I’ve left my lands lay fallow too long. I’m ready for the next step. I’m itching for it. Not diving straight into it, has in fact, made me feel like somehow of a fraud. I want to graduate and I want to write a novel. I want to live abroad like I always dreamed and I want to learn new languages. I want to be a published artist like I am a published writer. I want… meaning, completeness and a sense of purpose.

And somehow, up until now, I’ve managed to get these (when I’ve gotten them) by sheer, fumbling luck. I’ve never set down to write what I wanted out of a year. I’ve had grand life plans but never a schedule. Like I said, no new year’s resolutions, no appointment books. I always just thought the grand design of my life plan would carry me through…

One of my best friends turned forty on 2018 and she told me something I had never considered. She told me she needed to sit down and write what she wanted out of the next decade, that she had done it when she turned thirty and needed to do it again now. Since she is one of the most accomplished and happiest people I know, I think I’ll take her up on this one.

(A propos of nothing. More in my style and less organizationally, I’ve been recently remembering Neil Gaiman’s Keynote Address of 2012. Other than being a huge fan of his and considering him one of my role models in what I want as a writer and as a person, I’ve always found what he has said about writing to be extremely useful and relatable. In the Keynote Address he described never having any sort of life plan, but rather, having a list of everything he wanted to write and an idea of the sort of writer he wanted to be. I’ll make that list soon, but today I want to remember this idea of himself as a writer. He called it his mountain. The mountain of being a professional writer of mainly fiction. He said: “And I knew that as long as I kept walking towards the mountain I would be all right. And when I truly was not sure what to do, I could stop, and think about whether it was taking me towards or away from the mountain. I said no to editorial jobs on magazines, proper jobs that would have paid proper money because I knew that, attractive though they were, for me they would have been walking away from the mountain. And if those job offers had come along earlier I might have taken them, because they still would have been closer to the mountain than I was at the time.”)

2019 New Year’s Resolutions 

The three most important ones, which will supersede all others are:

1. I will finish my thesis.
(My thesis is the only thing keeping me from graduating now. Graduating would mean being able to apply for scholarships in Master’s Degrees, it would mean not having to write any more school related things and having the time and freedom to write a novel, it would mean the time and money to invest in learning a new language, in finding a job that will let me travel… it will mean being able to change my life and not living “on hold” anymore, until I finish my degree)

2. I will eliminate debt and save an emergency fund.
(I know I can do this. I did it last year before I took half the year off to rest from the never-ending stress that my life had been since 2011. Doing both of these things will mean financial freedom, I will never again have to stay in an ugly situation because I don’t have the cash to escape it. And I will be able to start saving up for language classes and living abroad as I’ve always wanted)

3. Live the mountain philosophy and say no to stuff that’s not taking me close to my mountain.
(I want to be a professional writer, a university graduate who speaks other languages and has seen the world. I want to be a creator and an artist. Anything that takes me away from this, is not worth my time.)

And in no particular order, these are the more specific ones (those marked with an asterisk will be needing scheduling and planning soon, if it doesn’t have a deadline it’s not a goal!):

*Finish my pending craft projects: Rhino amigurumi and bracelet for C.
*Crochet something for my friend Millie and her impending baby.
-Go to a science museum (Planetarium).
-Have an artist’s picnic.
-Draw at an art museum.
-Go to free culture stuff more frequently (every 2 months).
-Clean out my closet and donate stuff.
-Donate money to a women-focused organization.
-Have everything in my apartment working (dryer, plumbing, toilet seats, etc.)
-Exercise 5 days a week by midyear (June).
-Start an amigurumi business
*Get really cool presents for my parents, saving up for them and planning them with time.
-Keep up with my bullet journal to the end of the year.
-Keep a dream journal in my blog.
-No buying more notebooks until I finish at least ONE.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Conspiracy to Murder

I had the weirdest most stressful nightmare... I dreamt that some of my male friends murdered a girl and hid her body.

What a horrible thing to see a person you love doing! But not so much, as in most dreams, what you "know" is not quite what is real in the waking world. I was at a party, and parts of the setting looked simply like any garden, parts like the old garden at my grandparent's house which always features prominently in my dreams. I knew the guys at the party were "my friends" but I could honestly not recognize many of them. I recognized my exboyfriend whose nickname prompts me to dub him C. and one of my friends from high school, an artist who I very much admire, let's call him S. Both of them are among the nicest people I've met and neither murdered anyone... even in my dream. They were just at this fateful party.

I remember walking around and seeing a group of these guys talking and chopping something up with an axe. Next day I was to hear them discussing the incident and was able to put two and two together and figure out that what they were chopping up was the body of a young woman. She had died as a result of a stupid party accident, was the vague idea I had in my dream.

I remember being furious at them, absolutely FURIOUS. I remember a bunch of "adults" were discussing the event and had the typical justification of "let's not ruin the lives of these young men" and I was LIVID. My father was among these parents and miscellaneous adults and that made me particularly hateful of the whole reaction.

I got into a fight with one of my friends. I think I got the stressful feeling from this bit, but also a bit of exhilaration, because I knew that what I was doing was the RIGHT thing. I told this friend that what he and the others had done was an EVIL thing and that I wanted no part in it. I took my stuff and left.

I was very afraid in the dream but also so angry I managed to avoid the fear. It turned into one of those dreams where you are running from someone. I knew my friends knew I knew... They knew I disapproved and would go to the police even if what I had seen was not very clear and even when I really didn't know quite what happened. So I was running because I was logically afraid of someone trying to do something to get me to shut up.

I remember how determined I was and I remember, strangely enough, thinking that they couldn't scare me! I lived alone! They had no leverage over me! (I have no idea why this had any sort of relevance to my dream predicament)

I woke up just after sitting down someplace and meeting someone who was to play the role of good Samaritan. They would help me out. It would be okay.

Another friend of mine appeared in the dream as well, a girl we'll call Y. She appeared when I was very angrily throwing rocks at the house where the party had taken place. She came out the backdoor, which also looked very much like the back door of my grandparents' old house. She wanted to tell me she very much supported me leaving and calling the police and I told her very emphatically that she should come with me! She couldn't stay here! It was dangerous!

For one reason or another she wouldn't come with me, but she told me what the stupid party accident had been about. The guys had made this girl climb into an air vent.... because she was small and thin? For a bet? As a dare? I don't know, but she had died there and they had panic and somehow they were very much responsible.

I think Y had decided to stay at the house because the young girl had a baby and neither of us had any idea where the baby was or who had kept it.

At the moment it was a maddening and stressful and outrageous... but I woke up half-relieved, that I had done the right thing and not let my friends get away with murder... even my oniric friends...

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Dream Libraries

(Transcribed from my iPhone voice notes)

I dreamt of a huge library. I think in my dream it was the Library of Alexandria or something like that. It was hidden underground and we were going there through an expedition... It looked a little like the Disney movie Atlantis.

There were lots of boxes and chests, colorful containers of great secrets. Eventually I had to fight... Well, no, it wasn't me. The main character of my dream had to fight some sort of Satan-like figure. There were lots of motifs in the dream that looked kabbalistic. The main character character of the dream was like an angel of wisdom, who started out as a human being, incarnate... she had to wake up to this identity of hers.

There were tarot motifs and it reminded me a little of the movie the Ninth Gate.

In the end, she had to take all the objects that had survived the fight, the disaster. They were huge chests full of things. The chests opened like puzzles (in real life I have a wooden box that opens like this). And it was not just that these huge chests were full of books and scrolls, or even full of magical things... they were like doors, providing access to other dimensions. They were magical themselves.

And one of the chests... someone was going to have to become the guardian of this chest. Little by little they were going to have to release the information in this chest. The way it opened, this chest... this puzzle... it could take you to different places, if you opened it correctly or in different ways.

When we opened it, people who weren't the guardians of this chest, it took us to see a place that looked like the fields of Elysium... and there was an enemy of ours there (must be all the Saint Seiya I've been watching lately).

The guardian of this chest was Polly, my cat, and she had to learn how to use it and teach me how to use it myself. And it seemed like I wasn't the first person who had to... well, once more, not me, but rather the main character of the dream... The main character was not the first person who would have this role, as guardian of all this information, all this knowledge, but rather, it was something to be inherited, something to be remembered.

There was a sort of battle in the dream, and we lost a lot of this informaton, of the chests and treasures carried by the expedition. And it was a tragedy, because so much knowledge was lost. We had lost these things because of that devil-like figure, this dream-Satan who kept trying to trip us up.

It seemed like a sort of illumination, like reaching an awareness of one-self. The protagonist of the dream had to realize that she was the guardian of all this knowledge, all these magical things, these talismans, little by little. She had to wake up, little by little, to her role as the person chosen to take care of all of this.

(Told you I had a cat puzzle box)

Sunday, September 02, 2018

The Garden and the Riddle

As always I've abandoned this blog for the last four years. Half of it is because I had a horrible anxiety crisis that left me BARELY hanging on for a couple of years, with just enough energy to work and finally finish my studies (all I need to do now is finish my damn thesis!)... but also because said anxiety made it supremely DISTRESSING to attempt the introspection required by journaling. I HATED having to think of my life and avoided it when at all possible.

I got very into audiobooks because they let me exist without having to face the silence. Even music wasn't cutting it anymore...

I'm feeling better now. I feel like this last month of August I took the first REAL break from working I've taken since 2011 when I decided to work on my degree again. Last year I managed to finish the last bit I needed to graduate other than thesis writing. But I was in a financial hellhole since my job wasn't really paying me anymore. There was a huge earthquake in Mexico City and I felt very much adrift and uncertain...

For the first time in years I have savings and was able to take a LONG vacation where I didn't have to work at all and where I could just read whatever I pleased and draw whenever it stuck my fancy.

I hadn't realized how much I needed it. I needed it so badly that I'm finally ready to start journalling again. I needed something to jumpstart the journaling so I decided to start writing down my dreams again, as long as they seem at all interestin. I might eventually just decide to do a physical dream journal, the bullet journal was fun.

This is what I dreamed last night:

I dreamt of a girl who was very beautiful. She seemed wealthy too, a real catch. The sort of girl who is always being pursued by someone in a shakespearean play. She lives in a garden she was building herself. She seems to have servants, handmaidens... friends, certainly someone who could serve as a confidant. She is hiding but doesn't know why? There is a pond and flowers and trees in her garden but she shares it with others. There are animals in her garden: tame iguanas (probably because I just saw a couple of them during my holiday), her pond has fish in it and of course there are kittens frolicking around, though I am not sure of these last.

She is speaking with someone, gossiping, beneath a canopy of trees when she sees a man come inside her gate, over the cobblestone path.

She knows this man.

He is tall and very handsome and he is looking for her. She greets him warmly... too warmly. They have been intimate before and she wishes to be intimate again, but he stops her kindly. He hasn't come to see her for this but on behalf of someone else. Is it his lord? Yes and no. Certainly the person he speaks for is important but I sense they are more equals than not and that this man is doing the lord a favor, because he knows her. He comes with a marriage proposal for her.


She has never seen this lord, she much prefers the man instea. But the man says: Marry him and he can make you a garden just as beautiful as this one and you won't have to share it. Somehow this is important to her; after all the work she has put in here she is loath to leave her home, but a garden she won't have to share sounds lovely. She is intrigued. The lord lives far away though... in the moon? It gives me a sort of Sailor Moon vibe, with a beautiful, powerful home where none should be possible. Her new garden would always be among the dark and the stars, no beautiful blue sky, though a night garden has its own peculiar charm...

The man brings her another token from her suitor: a riddle! And this truly catches her attention with an element of vanity. This lord has sought her out not for her beauty or her wealth but for her intelligence. Somehow this riddle is as much a gift as a cry for help. The implication is that if she marries him and solves this riddle for him, she will set him free. From a curse? From a promise? It's not terribly clear.

There is a sense that her suitor cannot appear to her until she has solved the riddle. I have been reading about Eros and Psyche and might have gotten the idea from them. They are also a love triangle like Tristan, Iseult and King Mark, in that the girl much prefers the envoy to the suitor, but also like Cesario, Olivia and Orsino. Yet this suitor is smarter than the other two, for he offers her gifts that will interest her as well as flatter her and that show her he sees her clearly for what and who she is.

I don't remember the riddle, but it was long and very beautiful. It had sumbols, letters, and numbers. The symbols turned into letters, turned into numbers. They were both at once. It seemed to be an animated riddle rather than a spoken one, appearing on a screen... but also like a shadow play. I remember the last two digits of my year of birth appeared, 8 and 6.

The girl was very much intrigued and would consider the suit.

Though kind to her friends, her confidants and the envoy, she reminded me in her intelligence and beauty and vivacity of the more insolent and headstrong version of a character I am working on right now.

I woke up as she considered the marriage proposal.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Freedom

Today I stepped out of the office and felt like garbage. I've been feeling steadily like garbage for the rest of the afternoon except for a couple of lulls when I was thinking of something else.

I felt like everything I have ever touched has turned to shit. I went today to repay a kindness and found myself confronted with my own image in my mother's face. I don't want to feel angry or resentful or small anymore. I don't want to look at my future and find discontent and unsatisfied hopes.

This year has been so hard that I can't recall another period of my life when I was this tired. During the last year I've woken up tired almost every day. I'm so exhausted I've officially given up, at least temporarily. No wonder it's been getting so hard to write anything lately.

Today, I heard tears in the night and remembered my chains.

At times they feel very unreal, distorted like trick mirrors. And then I am left to wonder if things are as I've come to understand them. I get to wonder if maybe I haven't been horribly unfair to my mother, if maybe it really is all me. I have avoided her so conscientously since I left that I never stopped to think of what that would do to her now, given the circumstances. I feel like I should have known this time it was different. This time it was for real.

I cry. I feel the need to atone, feel the overwhelming impossibility of it and feel defeated in a way that is so familiar...

I remember Rosetti's poem, I have been here before, and instead of delicious anticipation all I feel is the dread of guilt, of crushing responsibility. I never thought to feel this way again. My head hurts and I am trying to cry very, very quietly. Is it a vestigial reaction to a completely new situation? Has my ability to empathize with my mother been forever tainted by survival mechanisms? Am I truly that monstrous?

I am tired and wretched and empty. And all I can think is, write, just keep writing, just get down to work, forget where you came from and fix your eyes on the future.