Diary

Life

  • Being “Bossy”: Figuring Out When Being “Bossy” Is Okay

    As I previously mentioned, I’m trying this thing where I’m honest with myself about my problems, and I have to admit that I just don’t know the answers. Well actually, I do know the answers, the ultimate answers anyway, but I don’t know the answers on how to get to the ultimate answers.

    I am aware that I like to be in control. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be the leader of the group. It’s not always great because it usually means you have to do most of the work and pick up other’s slack, but being in-charge gave me a feeling of comfort that I preferred.

    When you’re a girl, wanting to be in control gets you labeled as bossy. I’ve been called bossy all my life, and it never really bothered me. For the most part, I’m glad it didn’t because I was able to hone my leadership skills without being aware that it was actually a discouraging word for girls.

    But now, at 26, it looks like I’m having some trouble with the word.

    My boyfriend has always called me bossy, and much like when I was growing up, it’s never bothered me. Bossy doesn't have a negative effect on me. Like Amy Poehler, I believe that bossy women are passionate and ambitious and caring, and I am all of those things. But sometimes my bossiness gets the better of me, and it feeds the control freak inside of me, which is a recipe for disaster in a romantic relationship. And that bothers me. 

    The thing is, when you’re in a relationship, being bossy isn’t actually a good thing, for men or women. This is not to say that I want to be bossed around. Absolutely not. But I, and this is super hard for me to admit, have a very hard time letting go of control. And this has always been a problem in my personal relationships, whether it's friends or boyfriends. But I've never totally been aware of the problem, until now.

    Here's what I want, honestly: I don't want to be upset when things don’t go my way. It’s so childish to get angry when people don’t do things your way. But when you’re as stubborn as you are a control freak, it’s really hard to just ungrudgingly accept something else.

    Perspective changes everything. If you look at my issues from a professional perspective, they actually look like strengths. In my job, I want to be someone who takes charge. If there’s an issue that needs to be solved, I need to be stubborn in order to get what I want. But when you look at it from a different perspective, the personal one, these same issues turn into weaknesses. Sure, I want to be with a man who takes charge, but not so much that I get bossed around. And no one wants to be with someone who’s too stubborn to apologize or recognize a mistake when they’ve made one. So, how do you rid yourself of these feelings for one section of your life, but keep them well and healthy in another? How do you know when it’s right to pull out your stubbornness, or put it away? How do you know when it’s okay to be bossy or let go of control?

    Maybe I'll never know.

    But the older I get, the easier it is for me to identify my tendencies, good and bad. And I’m really trying to find a way to use my good and bad tendencies at the right time. Maybe I’m going after the impossible, maybe I should just be bossy and a control freak and stubborn, and hope it doesn't lead me to self-destruction. Or maybe I should think of these tendencies as guns, that should be used when absolutely necessary and kept locked up the rest of the time. Now that's something I could get behind. 

  • Tiny Walls Are Still Walls: Getting Over My Somewhat-Anxiety

    You might have heard this before, probably from one of your writer friends: writing gives me clarity. That’s what writing does for me. It resets me. It gives me a clear head, and that’s why I could never stop writing.

    That’s not to say that my writing is any good. Some days are better than others. But when you go days, weeks, months without writing for yourself, the writing gets bad. It’s like running after not running for a while. You’re going to struggle. You’re stomach is going to cramp. You’re going to want to stop. But the goal is to keep going, even if you’re slower and walking most of the time. Eventually you’ll get back to where you were and maybe even better.

    --

    I, like many women my age, have ‘somewhat-anxiety’. I call it that because I’m not taking any medication. I told my doctor that I get anxious, but she just told me to lower my caffeine intake. Sometimes I listen to her, other times I drink like 3 cups of coffee and a diet Dr. Pepper. But most days I keep it to one cup, just to wake me up. My somewhat-anxiety causes me to worry about everything and I hate it.

    When I was in third grade, my teacher, whose name I forget, told me something about myself that has haunted me since.

    “Laura, there’s a tiny wall in front of you and you tend to focus so much on what it is and where it came from,” she said, “All you need to do is step over it and just keep going.”

    I didn’t really understand her then. For a long time I pictured a tiny wall in front of me, and then a tinier me trying to climb it but being unable to. Later on, when I became self-aware of my self-awareness I realized that she was talking about something that plagues my whole generation: anxiety.

    How did I fall into this anxiety dilemma? I was such a happy kid. I really hate that it happened to me.

    I could trace it back to my childhood and whatnot, but right now, at this point in my life, I just want to get over it. I want to stop worrying about the things that don’t really matter and focus on the things that do. I don’t want to become overwhelmed by solvable problems because in the end, almost always, things work themselves out. But in the moment, I freak out and think of the worst possible outcomes and start to ready myself for them. I’ll admit that this tiny wall has been useful sometimes because it pushes me to plan for disaster, especially when it comes to work, but the times that I have ‘let go’ of the worry and just stepped over the tiny wall, have been magical.

    I recall one time in 2014, when my mother visited me in Fresno (while I was living there). I took her to the Japanese Garden and left the keys inside the car. Now, this is a common problem that happens to a lot of people. It’s happened to me a few times, but not so much that friends attribute it to my character. Anyway, the keys got left inside and I panicked for a couple of minutes. Then I looked over at my mom and best friend (who was also there) and told them that I was going to make a call and that afterwards we were going to go inside the garden and do what we went there to do, because there’s no good reason to ruin the day for something like this. And we did. We walked by the man-made lake, took pictures with the peacocks and talked about my new life. After we were done, my cousin came and helped me open my car. Everything worked itself out, and my day wasn’t ruined.

    I remember my mother being so impressed with how I handled things. And it felt good, and I felt like I had grown up a little.

    I’m getting better at not feeling overwhelmed. It use to be really bad because my confidence and self esteem where so low. Believe it or not, that adds to it. Mind you, I don’t openly freak out when something goes wrong. Maybe I’ll bite my nails, but usually I get really quite and the thoughts start to build rapidly and repeatedly inside my head. And they’re usually all bad outcomes. Some more nail biting. I have gotten better at this, mainly by feeding myself confidence and listening to some rap. But I crave the day when I’m just effortlessly resilient to all of it.

    I was listening to a podcast earlier today and the host said something I very much related to. She said, “Here’s the other thing about anxiety: You have to realize that all of those terrible thoughts you have, those are all false voices in your head. They’re like little liars that sound like the voices you’re familiar with, the ones that you’ve grown accustomed to hearing in your head that sound like the other voices and act like the other voices but are a little bit evil.”

    Basically, she was saying that, “When you doubt your power, you give power to your doubt.”

    And yeah, when you’re so use to freaking out about the little things AND the big things, it begins to feel like normal. And then eventually it just is normal. So how do I combat this anxious behavior that comes crawling in as I’m reacting to a somewhat (sometimes not at all) overwhelming situation? I mean not to sound like some rapper or anything, but the times I do catch on I basically tell myself that I’m going to handle it like a boss and then I do.

    One thing I have noticed about myself is that when it comes to work, I don’t get this anxious. Not anymore anyway. Sure I get stressed about ongoing projects and deadlines and things not working out the way I wanted them to, but I have garnered an amazing level of confidence where I don’t experience my somewhat-anxiety. Perhaps this is due to the constant validation that I get from my boss and colleagues. I mean, I shouldn’t rely on the constant validation of others to make myself feel better, but after hearing, “Good job, well done, awesome work,” constantly before, I was able to build a validation system for myself that counterattacked any doubts I had about the work I was doing. And maybe that’s what I need to do in my personal life as well, but without the validation of others. I need to continue feeding myself confidence, until it feels natural, until it’s just the thing that happens when something goes wrong. 

  • A Woman Thing: Feeling Like A Ball Inside A Pinball Machine

    Photo by Tyler Spangler

    Disclaimer: I haven't done my research, and while I love doing research, right now, I just want to write about the feelings accumulating up inside of me. Here goes:

    I'm starting to think that the idea of telling personal stories through film isn't the way to go (or very smart, maybe that’s a given). They seldom get financial backing and no one seems to want to watch them, especially if they come from a woman. It's like, they know. Also, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg didn't get their start by telling "personal stories" did they? I know the answer to this, but I'm feeling so insecure about myself, about being a woman working in the film industry, that I just can't say for sure. I'm sure they started by telling these cool high-concept stories. That's because men are less attached, less emotional. I'm not speaking specifically: I know many emotional, needy men, but I mean, as a whole. 

    Ugh. 

    I often wonder if things were always like this, but I just wasn’t tuned into the noise. Now, I'm so tuned in. I follow everything like a dog tracing a smell. It's distracting, but also inspiring, when I get lucky. 

    I work for two independent male filmmakers, and they have it hard. I guess getting financial backing to make a film is hard for everyone. But when I look at the broader picture, I know that women just have it harder. I read the blogs on the regular, and whenever there’s some rumor about a woman getting a big Hollywood directing-gig, it’s like a huge deal. So big you read it in the headline: “Marvel Considering Female Director For ‘Black Panther’ Movie”. You’ll never find a headline that says, “Disney’s Next Film Finds Male Director”. That just doesn’t happen.

    Here’s where I insert a clip of James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”

    I get so frustrated with myself about things like this, and then with the industry, which is more like an institution. I have great ideas all the time, but I shoot them down before I even begin the project because I know that all of the odds are against me. I know it sounds like a terrible defeatist attitude, but this is the reality. These attitudes and feelings have been embedded into my female DNA. No, I wasn’t alive during the 19th and most of the 20th century, when women couldn’t vote or go to certain schools or things like that. But it's like the chromosomes that make up my gender just know that these things happened to those that came before them: You’re a women, therefore you are less than. You can keep trying, but it’ll be a long time before you get what you want.

    And this feeling of oppression and defeat often makes me feel like I have all of the anxieties of an artist, but no real talent. I feel like a ball inside a pinball machine, where the flippers are the blocks that continuously keep me from creating something. It’s a joke because I just get bounced from one to the other and then back again. Once in a while, I make it out, without hitting these walls. I get an idea and I start a project and I put it out there, but then I'm back inside the playfield, feeling insecure all over again. 

    I wish there was a place, a community where I could connect with other women like me, who want to be filmmakers, but feel the way I do about the whole thing. I guess, if you're out there, let me know.

  • Salton Sea in the Winter

    The first time I heard of the Salton Sea was in a coming-of-age indie movie called Little Birds. I'm only going off memory here, and what I saw, but apparently this ghost town of a place was once destined to be THE RESORT in the Southern California Valley. A body of water formed here, so developers came in and started building around it, or rather, in front of it, but then the fish started to die due to the increase of salinity in the water, and this brought about a pungent smell of, you guessed it, dead fish.

    My boyfriend went to the Salton Sea during summer 2014 – without me because things were ‘complicated’ – and warned me of the smell and mosquitos, but when I got off the car, there weren't any mosquitos and the smell of dead fish was there, but very mild. I'm lucky. I went to the Salton Sea in mid-February, which is technically winter, but technically not because, c’mon, this is California. And so, without having to worry about the smell or mosquitos, I was able to focus on the true beauty of this place, this place that someone, sometime saw great potential in. They must’ve imagined a great future for this place, not to mention profit. But when things didn't go according to plan, they abandoned the Salton Sea and left it behind, along with all those hopes and dreams. And that's the reason I picked the Salton Sea over Joshua Tree or Salvation Mountain because it's a place that tells a very human story, tragic nonetheless. Still, it's a gorgeous and ghostly place that probably won't be there forever. I give it 20 years, tops.

  • Party Lessons: Part 1

    Parties fascinate me. The beautiful girls. The sour-faced photographers. The funky DJs. The drugs. The sweat and tears. I spend hours on LastNightsParty.com looking through archives of Merlin Bronques' wild days in Miami or nights in NYC. And I want to be there, maybe just as a wallflower, but there in the room experiencing this awesomeness first-hand. But then I remember that in pictures (and carefully edited videos), everything looks appealing. Everyone looks happy to be there. Everyone looks cool and interesting and cultured. And maybe they are. Maybe these parties are filled with the most beautiful, cool, interesting and cultured people – but honestly what are the odds of that?

    I'm a homebody, but I haven't always been. I started partying at an early age, having friends who were years older than me. My life wasn't exactly like that Sky Ferreira song "17" but kinda. (Side note: Just realized that Sky Ferreira looks a lot like Reese Witherspoon… eerie!) And what I learned from all those years of partying is that being there isn't as cool as a picture of you being there. The dance floor is always fun, especially when the DJ starts playing your favorite song, but outside of that, the people truly just look interesting.

    (I meet interesting people all the time nowadays, and most of the time, they're wearing cargo shorts and funky T-shirts. I'm not slamming people who dress well. I'm believe that if you dress well, you live well. But I am slowly learning to ignore a bad outfit and listen to what people have to say.)

    Partying did me a great service. It helped me realize who I am not. I wasn't a drunk. I wasn't lonely or alone. I was a kid who didn't know any better. I didn't know what good movies were or good books. I had never had a glass of red wine. I didn't appreciate Jazz or hard work or family. I just wanted to be included. I didn’t want to miss out on the fun that others might be having. I didn’t want others to tell me about it, because I wanted to be the one telling the stories. I know this isn’t always the case, but for me, it was my insecurities that made me want to go out and party. I felt that if I didn’t go out, I was going to miss out on a bonding experience that would make me less important or valuable as a human being. It’s easy to feel that way, especially when the party pictures look so pretty.

    I am not friends with any of the people I use to party with, except for maybe one or two. And I don’t care about those people anymore. I don’t know if I ever did. I do have stories about those days that I like bringing up every now and then, but they're not the ones that are important... are they?

  • Summer in the Suburbs

    I like the suburbs, especially in the summer. The days are longer, the stars feel closer, and the sun shines brighter here. Before moving to what I like calling “suburbia,” I lived like 15 minutes away from Downtown LA (still in the district), in a stuffy apartment overlooking a busy street where flocks of kids walked by during the day and speeding cars drove by at night, always bumping some sort of gangster rap, which I am a fan of, just not at 3 A.M. This post isn’t about how much I miss Los Angeles, or how hard it was to get use to a small town after living in one of the most exciting cities in the world all of my life, but I will nevertheless admit those things:

    I miss LA, and leaving it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.

    But I didn’t go far, and I do go back all of the time, and I don't know, but I like the missing feeling I get. The "miss" is just right.

    So like I said, I like the suburbs. Here I live in a spacious three-bedroom house, with big front and back yards. I have a tree house and a dog named Chloe. Though my neighbors like to yell obscenities at each other from time to time, it’s nothing compared to the sounds that would keep me up in Los Angeles. (Years ago, while I waited for a friend to pick me up from my apartment, I saw a car come screeching out of the parking lot of my apartment complex, followed by a man who aimed and shot a gun at the car. It was scary, mostly because seconds before that occurred, I contemplated going down by the street and waiting for my friend there. Thank God I didn’t.)

    I love the city, I do, but right now I really dig the silent beauty of the suburbs. It inspires me all the time.

    The other day I was hanging outside my house with my soul sister Arlene, and I took these pictures of her. She’s a silent beauty too, just like the suburbs.


    I've also been listening to a lot of Arcade Fire lately. Their music reminds me of the suburbs. Anyway, I made a playlist, which I never do, but I got in the groove. It's not exclusively Arcade Fire, but that's okay.

     

  • Teen Fiasco

    He reminded you of Shia LaBeouf before he became an asshole–before the Walgreens incident and all those confrontations with the paparazzi–when he was still the sweet kid starring on Even Stevens. As a young girl, all you ever daydreamed about was this boy who looked like the kid with curly hair from that Disney show that made you laugh so much. And now he's talking to you. He asks what you want to do, and you don’t reply. You still can’t believe what's happening, or about to happen. You notice your best friend run by–her beautiful, mermaid blonde hair all over her face and she’s laughing, looking back at the boy she’s been dying to make out with. It’s going to happen because anything Olivia wants, Olivia gets, and you love her for that. In the background, someone’s begun to play 90's rap music and that’s the moment you let the pot take over. You tilt your head back and close your eyes, and that’s when he kisses you on the lips and you just open your mouth. He tastes like cheap beer and cinnamon gum. You open your eyes and he looks different. You can’t really explain what happened but somewhere between “Lyrical Gangbang” and “High Powered,” your enthusiasm for this Shia LaBeaouf lookalike became lukewarm. That’s what happens when you set your expectations too high, but you didn’t know that. You’re only thirteen, and this is the first time you’ve ever kissed a boy. It wasn’t magical like your group of friends said it would be. But somehow he’s still kissing you and now his fingers are beginning to dig under your orange summer skirt. You realize you’re not drunk enough or high enough for this level of fooling around so you push him away and tell him you need some air, something you learned to say from all those romantic comedies your older sister watches. Outside, you lay on the soft green grass and you call your best friend’s ex-boyfriend and he tells you about the new shoes he just bought, and you listen. You listen because you care, and in that moment nothing else matters.

  • But What Would Bukowski Do?

    I haven’t been writing a whole lot lately. I use to write almost every single day, though that was mainly because I was a staff writer at a film site called ScreenCrave. The site is no longer active (since mid-June) so now I only write for Latino-Review, a fantastic film site that breaks a lot of the BIG stories, but my contribution is four stories per week, which isn’t much. Also, I don’t get to choose my stories so most of my posts aren’t oozing with enthusiasm. (I mean, Star Wars again? How many updates do we need on this thing? There’s only so much a girl can take.) But I feel ashamed, because all of my writing should be my best effort, right? That’s what English and Journalism teachers tell you. But what about your writing on the days that you don’t feel like your best self? Those days when your mother calls you just to remind you that all of Martha’s daughters are successful teachers AND wives, and then your car overheats because you forgot to get an oil change, and you can’t find your favorite white crop top that you swore you just put on top of your bed. What about those days? I’ve been having a lot of those days lately and so my writer’s block is now the size of Russia.

    This is not to say that I’ve stopped creating things. I’ve been taking a lot of pictures, which is really my favorite thing in the world. (That and asking people questions.) But I'm a writer, first and foremost, though perhaps not a very good one. And whenever a long time goes by and I haven’t written anything meaningful, my soul begins to crumble into a big ball of sadness and it shows. I’m like one of those sad animated characters with a raining cloud over their heads, or George Michael, everytime after he gets dumped by Ann, in Arrested Development. I am constantly reminded that I haven’t expressed myself with words and that I must do it soon before it’s too late. And by too late I literally mean too late, because what’s that Bukowski quote say? You get it down on paper or you jump off a bridge.

    Writing has always been my main outlet. It’s my way of coping with everything that isn’t okay in my world. It’s my way of solving problems, that and reading. Whenever I have a problem that I just can’t figure out, I go to one of my favorite books and look through it, to see if I highlighted or underlined something that would one-day benefit me. And it’s funny but I usually find an answer. If not in the highlighted and underlined parts, on the sides of the book, where I wrote what I was feeling at the time I was reading whatever. Writing gives me clarity. It helps me see my thoughts or troubles or ideas clearly because it’s hard solving things inside your head, especially when you’re as distracted as me. Squirrel.

    But I haven’t been writing, and I know why. As I am writing this, I am figuring it out actually. I stop (because this happens constantly) writing because I don’t think my writing is good enough. I once read a private e-mail conversation between two of my editors and it crushed me. It was about me, and it wasn’t very nice. They weren’t saying I was a bad writer, but that I was jaded and tired, and that my writing was starting to show it. They did praise me for my eagerness and consistency, which kept me from calling my doctor and begging her to prescribe me some antidepressants. But every time I want to open up a new Word document and start writing, that conversation pops up inside my head and I go look at pictures of Blake Lively instead. It also doesn’t help that I keep getting rejection letters from every single magazine I submitted one of my short stories to. Perhaps editing the story while trying to cope with heartbreak wasn’t the best thing to do. Or maybe I set my standards too high? (TinHouse, really Laura?)

    I’ve always been very big on keeping a journal. I’ve had several throughout my life. I’ve rarely published personal things online. Most of my writing that’s “out there” has been about film, TV, and pop culture. And yeah, I give my opinion every now and then, but my personal feelings and thoughts live in my journals that no one ever reads (unless someone does so illegally, which I sometimes hope they do because I like what goes on inside my head and I really think people could relate or learn something). And so now the hurdle I must overcome is this: what should I put “out there” and what should I keep inside my private journal? I like the idea of being completely honest and transparent, because that’s what makes people stand out, but it scares me to think that some of my writing may hurt someone or reveal something about someone else that they wanted to keep private. Then again, most of my favorite writers and bloggers are known for their honest and blunt style, which is something I truly admire. But I fear being harshly criticized. I just imagine people throwing rotten tomatoes at my face. This might just be my fear of judgment, which goes all the way back to my super strict Evangelical upbringing. I went to a church where everyone criticized you for what you said, what you wore, what you did, who your friends were, where you lived, who your parents were, etc.

    I started this site because I wanted to have all my stuff in a single place. I like making things simple for people and being organized, and this is a way of doing that. But I also want to use the DIARY part of this site to hone my writing. I’m not going to stop writing about film and TV. I love all things pop culture, and I love gabbing about David Fincher and Orange Is The New Black. But I want to get political, religious, philosophical, controversial, and funny. I want to talk about friendship, being in your 20s, religion, immigration, ISIS, Muslims, travel, Jesus Christ, feminism, The Confederacy of Dunces, Tavi Gevinson, California, nature, Yosemite, Radiohead, dreams, Bill Maher, daddy issues, Welcome to the Dollhouse, and anything else that might come to mind. And I want to do it without feeling like I will be poorly judged for it, though I am fully aware that that’s most likely going to happen. The Internet gives everyone a voice, and that’s fine. I have to be okay with that. I have to get over that fear because it's holding me back. I have to remember that I survived crazy amounts of judgment when I was a kid. I’m sure I’m fully equipped to deal with that kind of stuff now.

  • There's No Place Like Home

    I have begun to believe that home is a temporary place. Places that once felt like home, no longer feel like it. Last week I went to Los Angeles, my hometown, to stay with my mother for the week, and though I had a lovely time – for the most part – a feeling began to sink in: this wasn't home anymore. Sure some of my things were still there like my old bed and many of my beloved books. But my room was no longer my room, having been occupied by my aunt and her teenage daughter, who I secretly hoped was reading the books I left behind. The fridge didn't keep my favorite foods and snacks, like Cranberry Juice, Peanut Butter, Feta cheese, Soyrizo, and Dr. Pepper. And my favorite bird, the English Budgie I had named Thom (after my favorite musician Thom Yorke), was now dead.

    This wasn't the first time I went back home after moving out in February of 2013. I had gone back many times before, but every stay was only a few days long. This was the first time I stayed for a whole week, and so things that I didn't realize before became clear. I am a different person from who I was a year ago. True I'm older. I moved out at the end of my 23rd year, and I'm now 25. But that year and so months have carried with it much more than just age, like confidence, experiences, different priorities and goals, and lots and lots of knowledge. I always thought that my mother was my home because I love her and, for a long time, it was just us. But I’ve come to realize that I have to find my own home; a place that belongs to only me.

    The place I live at now feels like home but only because my things are there. My books, camera equipment, clothes, bed, nail polish, Smart TV, laptop, etc. But I've grown very restless because I feel like I've also outgrown that place. I love the people I live with and always will, even after I’m gone. I’ve known most of them my whole life, so it was easy to make them feel like home. These people are basically family so there wasn’t a lot of “getting to know each other” happening. Now, I realize that to find “my home” I have to go out on my own. I have to take the risky and daring trip totally and completely on my own, which is something that I haven't truly done. I've always managed to keep some familiar faces around. And that’s not always a bad thing. Actually, it seems like most people stay surrounded by places and people they know their entire lives, and they still manage to have exciting and interesting lives. But I believe that that’s not the case for me.

    I watched a documentary called The Source Family last night, and I guess I learned a lot (like that a lot of hippies were just people in need of love and guidance that they were willing to accept love and guidance from anyone who offered it to them). It's not really a documentary I would recommend –if you're going to spend a couple of hours on a doc, I suggest The Square, about the ongoing Egyptian revolution of 2011. It's absolutely fantastic and inspiring. But one thing that struck me from The Source Family, which was about this Los Angeles "cult" in the '70s led by Father Yod, was something one of the former members of the family said. He said that eventually the student outgrows the teacher and you have to go out on your own. Someone had told me this before, but I was just a kid back then so I didn’t truly understand it or appreciate it. Now I know that that is true when it comes to searching for home, which is such a broad term because anything, absolutely anything can be home. It doesn't have to be a place or a house; it can be a person or even a book. I believe that you should take everything you learn from people who know more than you and also love you and then go find whatever it is that you're looking for on your own, without anyone trailing behind you because that can lead to some confusion in what it is you want.

    THE SOURCE FAMILY trailer:

    I'm searching for that place right now, and I'm not saying it'll be permanent. I keep growing and changing and learning every day. (One day I’m really into Muslim theology, the next I want to learn all about the Pink Tide and go live in South America.) But I feel that it's important to leave everything and everyone you know behind to figure yourself out and find what truly makes you happy without having the ideas and influences of other people muddle your thinking.

  • People Die All The Time

    My grandmother died on Sunday. Abraham, an only child and also my favorite cousin on my father's side, called me and I almost didn't pick up because I hate talking on the phone, for the most part. (Also, Mexico had just been kicked out of the World Cup by losing 2-1 to the Netherlands, and I was indulging in the pain that comes with being patriotic for the land of my parents.) But I did pick up, and I'm so glad that I did because that's the kind of news you want to know right away, which is funny because it's not like you can do anything about it... except cry, which is what I did. That caught me by surprise. When my uncle Alfred died earlier this year I wasn't able to cry until his burial, and I have my doubts about those tears. I miss my uncle terribly, but sadness might've just gotten the better of me because burials are depressing and everyone around me was crying.

    But I guess I cried because this grandmother was my father's mother, and she had been an active person in my life. She lived with me as a child, though I don't remember those days. And my father once told me that I almost went to live with her (in Mexico!) as a kid because my mother was too much of a party animal to properly care for me. Let me make one thing clear though: my mother is wonderful, and she stopped being a party girl long ago.

    I talked to my father and he said, “She’s in a better place, resting,” which is what all parents say to children. (For the record, let me state that I am not a child. I’m 25.) He told me to stop crying because he was in public and I was going to make him cry, which is the special power I have when it comes to him. I guess he just feels too guilty for leaving me when I was a child. But I'll clear that up too: my father has always been a part of my life, just not always physically. But it made me sad to think that he might be sad, and despite our complicated relationship, I never want to imagine my father feeling blue, even though I know he often does. What can I say, he's a sensitive guy, which might explain why I'm such a sensitive girl.

    But to be totally honest, my sadness and tears and pain and the reason I was listening to Johnny Cash’s "Hurt" on repeat and rolling on the floor inside my room was because I felt regret. I had plans to go to Mexico this year and visit my grandmother. I wanted her to see me and remember me and tell me that I was her favorite and most beautiful grandchild (huh?) and that she was so proud of me for accomplishing what I have thus accomplished, which isn't much but still. I wanted to drink tea with her and ask her stories about her childhood and when she met my grandpa, and learn what kind of guy he was, and learn about her favorite color and food, and how she felt to have a doctor in the family (her daughter Laura), and also share our love of Chiapas, which is where she's originally from. Like, why didn't I do this before? Why didn't I ask these questions and have this conversation with her the last time I went to Mexico, instead of spending my whole visit searching for grumpy Cleo (the cat) and rubbing the dog's belly? And then I remembered that poem by Emily Dickinson called "The Last Night that She Lived."

    THE LAST night that she lived,
    It was a common night,
    Except the dying; this to us
    Made nature different.

    We noticed smallest things,—
    Things overlooked before,
    By this great light upon our minds
    Italicized, as ’t were.

    That others could exist
    While she must finish quite,
    A jealousy for her arose
    So nearly infinite.

    We waited while she passed;
    It was a narrow time,
    Too jostled were our souls to speak,
    At length the notice came.

    She mentioned, and forgot;
    Then lightly as a reed
    Bent to the water, shivered scarce,
    Consented, and was dead.

    And we, we placed the hair,
    And drew the head erect;
    And then an awful leisure was,
    Our faith to regulate.

    I first read that poem when I was 17, when I was looking for poems for an anthology I was making for 12th grade English class. My book was titled The Art of Regret. I tried analyzing the poem back then, but let's be honest, I didn’t really understand it. And now I do. (Experience, ah!)

    I have my grandmother's blood running through my veins, or whatever. Part of the reason I'm here is because of her. So yeah, her death feels different to me than others and I don't think I'll get over it until I see her grave, and even then. It feels awful to know that I could've made more memories with her and that I chose not to. That's the part that breaks my heart.