Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Zombiefest

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.