Friday, July 19, 2019

Daring Escape

It started with my friends, just a normal day of hanging out, waiting maybe to roleplay or just shoot the breeze, and then those weren't my friends and I wasn't an adult, and we were just siblings hanging out. Maybe I wasn't even me anymore. I know that I wouldn't have had the guts to do what she did.

It was a stepfather or a friend or something along those lines, who came into the little reunion, pushing his weight, making sure things went HIS way. And I, or she, saw it happened with increasing trepidation. Everyone around moved to accomodate him, the little family suddenly turned upside down. It couldn't exactly have been the father because I remember than when the guy finally scared her, she asked to talk to her father in private, now, URGENTLY. (He might have been the mother's new boyfriend and the father was trying to help him fit into the family.)

He wanted to tell him that this guy frightened her, he made her feel uncomfortable, and more than that, that she was scared of where it could lead to. She wanted to tell her father that if HE was staying, she was leaving. She was near old enough and they had just recently moved into a small town where everything would be cheaper and she could make it on her own.

But then the guy came in, cool as breeze, just want to hang out, whatcha guys talking about, here I saved you some pizza, why are you looking so upset?

I think I would have lost my nerve then and there, that's how I knew she wasn't me. I would have waited for another moment alone with my dad, some other situation that wouldn't be quite SO awkward. But SHE? She was fearless! This was the hand she had been dealt so she would play it. She continued talking, told her father everything she wanted to tell him and when he didn't side with her, she didn't wait to hear the guy complain. How could she SAY these things? How could she think of him so badly? He'd never done ANYTHING to her!

No... not yet...

She left the room and asked her siblings and friends to please help her make a going-away bag, help her get her things, help her get away. She didn't wait and didn't give him a chance to screw her over. She left and waited for a friend (not a sibling now, but one of MY friends, I remember that made sense in pure dream logic) to bring her things. He was able to do that only halfway, and suddenly the guy and her family were looking for him and she was terrified now. She knew in her heart of hearts that there would be retaliation and that it would get UGLY. She didn't even want to have to see the guy, or give him the chance of knowing where she was going or where she was staying.

So she didn't.

She walked around the little town and it was at times Queretaro or Cuernavaca where I have friends living there, and she was at times a stranger or a friend I know and admire very much. At the beginning of her dream story I had thought her young, just barely an adult, but now she was my friend, bound and determined to prove she had previously supported herself before and would do so again now. She didn't need any of them.

In my dream she moved from place to place, waiting for her friends to bring her things. Quite evocatively, some of thise places were churches. She made sure he never found out where exactly she settled down. She escaped him completely.

I recently heard a story very like this one and it might have colored my dream perceptions. I remember waking up energized, with a sense of purpose and hope. I'd gone to sleep late last night, reading, knowing that I would pay for those reading hours the next day at work. I wonder if this was my mind's way of bailing me out?

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Love Me Harder

During my early twenties I thought I would be terminally single my whole life. I listened to love songs, determined not to feel left out, and I felt they were a dialogue between myself and all the other parts of me. I sang and tried to convice me to love me.

It never quite worked out.

I've recently discovered The Weekend and love just leaving him on the background while I go about my life. And quite suddenly, out of nowhere I found myself nearly crying because "Love Me Harder" came on.

I've been obssessed with that song for some time, finding in it more than just a family-friendly susbtitute to saying a cruder "fuck me harder". I've been thinking of all the people I would just like to grab and say that to, "I need you to love me harder", I need you to love me better, because the way you're loving me sucks... I've been thinking about all the people who would probably want to say that to me, the people I've failed, the people I didn't love like they needed me to love them...

Sometimes it's been a combination of my fuckups and theirs, sometimes it's been all me. I've hurt others, and I've meant to sometimes, and haven't cared at others... I guess I'm sorry about those, though it seems a little empty to apologize for things you've done and can't seem to find a way around. It's easier to accept mistakes done in error, unconsciously, by neglect or simple carelessness. I gained nothing from those mistakes, I wouldn't be letting go of anything wonderful if I said I regret them.

It's harder to repent sins that gave you growth or freedom or even just simple pleasure. It's harder to say I'm sorry for biting into sweetness and pleasure, for trying to be happy and unburdened.

I get the feeling that what I need to do most of all, is letting go of my own idea of myself as a good person. But somehow that seems deeply tied to gain as well. Because all my life I've been told I don't deserve love or kindness UNLESS I am good: a good daughter, a good friend, a good student, a good person...

A good girlfriend.

Perhaps these last years have been about that, not being good for someone ELSE, since I can't seem to find someone who is good FOR ME. I've had good times, good friends, good fucks, good loves. But there's been so much caring to do, so much to pour in, that sometimes it feels that it pours out of me directly...

Being alone at the moment, working towards the things I want, knowing who I am when I am patently NOT GOOD to anyone but myself... maybe I AM loving myself harder.

I want to think I do.

Saturday, February 02, 2019


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?

Tuesday, January 08, 2019


I dreamt I was traveling and the place I was staying at (I think it was Santa Cruz?) was organizing a festival. It was a make-believe zombie invasion. We were given the rules in advance, including that our hotel was going to be "closed" and full of zombies, so it was better not to go back for your stuff after a certain time. "Zombie attacks" would be announced.

I had forgotten some of the rules but had arranged to meet a couple of friends away from the crowds (there was a sort of fair). In this fair I found various friends including my roommate P and an ex-boyfriend, let's call him G. We stopped at a stall selling hot punch where you could choose what fruit would be added to your punch. I think an old high school buddy was with us, let's call him S.

I was moving away from the crowds and at some point made the mistake of trying to go back to the hotel for my things. I had to go through some labyrinthic hallways and ended up stumbling upon a locked door that was obviously hiding zombies. Fortunately, it was only a few of them that heard me and they didn't manage to open the door. I ran away from there.

Outside, scared, and without the things I had meant to pick up at the hotel, I found another ex-boyfriend C. I was very relieved. He's big and comforting and knows loads about the supernatural. He looked nicer and handsomer than I remember him looking. I have no idea why I was so anxious considering this was all supposed to be a game. Accompanied by C, I even asked if we could use some sort of "wands" to kill the zombies (they looked like Potter wands). There was a sort of "arms dealer" fair stand that explained wands would be available but only 10 spells per wand. I told C not to bother because I had never bought the wand merchandise.

What was weird was how seriously everyone was taking it. There was looting and people stealing from each other. (No wonder the hotel was closed!) A lady and her daughters tried to steal my "gun" (it looked like a plastic toy) by claiming my bag was theirs when I laid it down.

I left the place with C and my high school friend S. We heard the signal for a zombie attack. Like I said, I had forgotten all about the rules and C reinded me the sound of drums meant zombies. So we left in a hurry. It was crowded at the fair and this made it a bad place to make a stand.

(There was an interlude at some point, I don't know whether before or after the zombie festival, with my mother and her boyfriend, at the hotel. And then just my mother. I think we were at our old house in Santa Cruz and she was cutting some flowers for someone, HUGE flowers.)

We made it to a street that was not so crowed and I tried to get inside a house but when I got in, it seemed like a labyrinth with trick mirros and everythings, so I got out as quickly as I could.

We ended up in an empty street and found a group of people sitting down. It was a church of some sort. They welcomed us and we were able to sit down and rest. Then, we saw them bring in some of the "fake" zombies to keep them somewhere, maybe cure them, maybe get rid of them humanely.

That's when it struck me...

They didn't look fake AT ALL.

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.