There are some changes on the horizon

It’s been a while. Then again, that cycle of summer processing seems to be upon me. In my defense, I’ve also been trying to put off processing through a few recent developments. Prop 57 has impacted my mother’s sentence, as well as a few programs she’s involved herself in over the last decade. It looks like she’s out on early release. Nine months from now actually, give or take. I thought we had another couple years.

I don’t really know how to feel about it yet. I’m not as freaked out as I thought I would be but that’s also because it feels like I’m sitting in the road watching a truck come straight for me. Obviously, that’s mildly dramatic. That truck could be a figment of my imagination.

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I think the most profound aspect of this news that has me boggled is how this will affect my art. For most of my life, my writing, art, and other coping mechanisms were populated with prison themes: time, loss, abandonment. I never had to dip my pen in different ink.

I’ll be honest, I’m pretty sick of dealing with prison themes. I never wanted to let her life choices define my own but I also couldn’t deny myself the experience of them. What a weird, tangled web I found myself in.

The good news is she’s more freaked out than I am. I’m trying my best not to have sympathy for her but I can’t help it. It’s going to be really weird for her. When she went in, dial-up was common place and people still used AOL.

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The transition process is going to be shocking to her system. She claims to be all hardened and whatnot (and I’m sure she is), but I know there are going to be a LOT of midnight phone calls where she’s crying and frustrated because something in her house keeps making a noise or she can’t figure out how to listen to a voicemail or something. I expect this.

I will also not be her metaphorical crying shoulder. I will be a helpful daughter on my own terms, with lots and lots of boundaries. I might finally be able to start throwing away some of her mail.

My sister just told me she’s been throwing her letters away. I’ve kept every single one, including envelopes, for this whole damned sentence. I sort of just want to burn them but I feel like there’s a really good art project in store for them. Hopefully with a different theme.

Does this mean that I can give myself permission to stop fixing all the broken pieces? I’ve long known I’m awesome and been grateful for the challenges she’s thrown my way but I’m still a product of my circumstances. I’m actually sort of concerned for my own children. They won’t have nearly the amount of depth I do, which both worries and delights me.

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She’s going to make it to my college graduation.

It’ll be the first graduation she’s ever made it to (besides elementary school which doesn’t really count). I’m actually really happy about it.

God, I hate writing about this stuff. It’s all so damned heavy and while necessary, I can feel myself sounding like a broken record. I’m just ready for it to be over. Maybe I’ll actually go back into my darkroom again. Maybe I’ll shoot some film again.

I swear, if she tries to bake me cookies and do my fucking laundry though I’m going to lose it.

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2:17am

As I struggle with my own identity over the last few months, I realize that I was so frustrated by being marginalized with my community. People kept seeing me as a person I didn’t associate with directly. I thought sure, maybe there is some overlap but that’s not representative of me completely; there’s more than meets the eye. I realize now that being marginalized is actually way better because it allows me to remain somewhat out of reach. I can pick and choose which part of my community I associate with and which part I don’t. It’s nice because it’s safer there. I have more freedom to flow freely between circles. There is no group with one claim on me. That’s a double edged sword sometimes because it means I hear about things late sometimes but I make an in impression on people so there’s always someone who remembers. In many ways, it’s that same alienation that allows me to stand out. I think it’s silly that this all occurs to me as I’m browsing on amazon for a laptop cover. As a student, it’s those choices that will define how my friends and peers see me. Do I choose to blend in, or stand out? Or is it more so a question of accepting who I’m already perceived to be?

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Please Explain

It has come to my attention that I am afraid of the female form. In my figure drawing class, it was the first time I’d ever drawn somebody naked. It was this uncharacteristically nonsexual sexual situation. It released from me a sense of childlike joy and as quickly as it arrived, it left me stunted and confused.

The first model was male, an older guy maybe in his mid forties. Suffice to say, it was a mesmerizing experience. I could feel my left and right brain flowing together and working to create all the angles and different bumps along each contour of the form. It was like dancing. I had my left arm raised in the air while my right arm glided across the page. From afar, I probably looked like I was going to tip over and I was using my left arm to balance.

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I came home and I traced my own body with love and care. In the mirror, I saw how the curvatures contrasted so well with the male form. I appreciated my wonderful figurative temple and I felt blessed to be so young and pretty. I knew a day would come where I would have drooping areas and skin that wasn’t quite as elastic but I didn’t care. In that moment, I felt gorgeous.

Fast forward, back in drawing class. This time, beautiful female model. Her breasts were perfectly full and round. Her nipples stood erect the entire time. Her shape was flawless (at least in my mind). I hadn’t realized what effect a landing strip of pubic hair actually did for a female. I’ve always been with guys who left a little bit of hair themselves but expressed how little they liked hair on me. I’d become accustomed to shaving entirely. I have never thought I would appreciate that particular triangle of dark hair. I noticed her soft curves and how soft every contour was and how flat her belly laid across her smooth abdominal wall. It was like watching a movie in real life.

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When it came to my drawings, my left and right brain were in constant conflict. They did not want to flow together to create a song, they warred it out in my head. My breathing changed and my anxiety rose. I pretty much hyperventilated from the pressure of having to recreate this beautiful shape across my paper. I had to take a break, step outside, and reevaluate what I was doing and I couldn’t figure it out. Then came a part where we focused on the torso and my drawing of her torso was exquisite. I mean, as good as it can get for a first time at anything at least.

But for some reason, her nakedness intimidated me.

Next class, another female model. This time she was svelter and lean. She wasn’t frail, but she was far from muscular. She had some sort of french/european accent and she wore a pink, silk robe. I had an easier time but it still didn’t work. I couldn’t look at her objectively like I could with that first session. I had trouble foreshortening, I had trouble measuring. There came a point where I was watching her there, frozen on the platform, and everything in my mind was evident. I could see the different spheres and shadows I could see it all and I knew in my mind I could draw her. As soon as I set my pencil down on the page, it was all wrong. It was like the life went out of my fingers. I stuck with it and left feeling disappointed. My proportions were wrong and everything was just wrong. It was heartbreaking.

Today we had a male model again and I danced across the page. There came a point where he started falling asleep as he stood and I had to start over several times. In those short periods of time I had left, it was like my brain could see all of the lines before I even began with my charcoal. In ten minutes, I had recreated the man in front of me. It was bewitching.

I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how I can go from complete abandon to complete focus and stifling control. My brain won’t listen to itself and I end up with this stiff, small cartoonish outline or it flows together in perfection and I have this awesome sketch in half the time it took my peers to get their’s together.

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Dear Universe,

Explain to me what I could possibly be afraid of.

Sincerely,
Your student

 

Questions of confidence

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I went through a long period of bitterness when I turned sixteen. It was probably around the same time I began to realize that it would be another ten years before I got to go get ice cream or go shopping or eat a meal with my mother. I think that’s about the time I stopped doing drugs and getting into trouble. There were phases after that where I still did a little e and went to raves or got too drunk at a party; I tried shrooms and dropped acid in the desert, dancing in the light of campfires.

But I stopped needing to feed that empty feeling in my stomach, that part of me that felt like it could never be made whole. That piece that made me angry all the time and made me want to cry or fight or pretty much anything to get the space filled. I know people talk about the emptiness, I know it’s there.

And then a couple years ago, I got over it. I really got over it in the past year or so but I don’t think I blame myself for taking that long. I used to feel guilty when I processed my emotions and I still do sometimes but it gets easier as I grow older, laying down new foundations, brick by brick.

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There have been a lot of shitty guys and friends and even family that have helped pave my existence. Those lessons are very important to me. But even now, I worry that I’ve gotten so obsessed with trying to find good people in the world that I’ve almost chosen to ignore the questionable qualities that crop up just to support my theory. It’s like I’ve collected evidence to support it and I’ve unwittingly botched the results.

Because I can’t figure out why I keep getting involved with the same kinds of people that leave me with the same conclusions in the end. My friends aren’t very compassionate people. They enjoy conflict and harsh words said behind closed doors. They come to me when they need things, never to share. There’s an exclusivity amongst our group that many people outside of it recognize and address. I detest selfish, needy, exclusive people. That’s why I was so grateful to move from Hollywood to Santa Monica, people weren’t as vapid and skin deep.

Am I so wrong to believe that there might be people out there without a constant hidden agenda? Am I so naïve?

I’ve been seeing someone for around two months and I really do enjoy his company. We’ve moved slowly and for that I am grateful. Because today, I see this clearer picture of what the future would look like if we actually dated. And in my gut I know it wouldn’t work out. We are fundamentally different people. I like work, he likes play. I like quiet, he likes to go out. I like sleep, he could care less. And although I can agree that opposites attract, I know that he’d get bored at some point. My gut usually doesn’t lie to me when it finally kicks back hard enough for me to feel it.

To be fair, the last four guys I spent time to get to know were not worthy of my affections. The first attacked my sister and used me for all I was worth and the later three all left me for girls they had been seeing longer than me. So my track record kind of sucks.

And this guy is great, he’s sweet and smart and funny and I genuinely like him but I know he wouldn’t be happy in the end. I can see him wishing I was somebody different, someone who had more friends and enjoyed being out all the time but really I couldn’t think of a better end to an evening than a good book or a favorite tv series marathon. I may be a free spirit but I’m not the wild kind that he craves. And the crazy part is, I fear we’re both stupid enough to see this through, as I watch all the walls I’ve built be burned down and ravaged by tears and disagreements, simple miscommunications that escalate into pointless fighting. And I see resentment and bitterness and hurt words and maybe this is fear talking but I really think it’s just simple common sense.

Do I stay and ride it out, or do I leave before all of these things come into fruition? Because I know they will.

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Slow

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So I’ve been working on taking things slowly with this new guy. Which is pretty much completely new to me and to be honest I feel like a giddy middle schooler who’s dealing with her first crush. We’ve been hanging out for about a month and a half now and last night was the first kiss showdown.

I can’t even believe how fast my heart was beating just because he was holding me on the couch. Normally, I’m the one who isn’t nervous and the guy is the one with the hammering chest. I can always tell because I roll my eyes when I feel it pounding and now It was strangely my turn.

It didn’t feel awkward and I didn’t want to push it because I thought he would do it when he felt like he should and I’m not in a rush because I’m enjoying this exploration regardless of the outcome. I asked him if he’d get weird after this and he kind of laughed it off and we’re still talking regularly and I’ve never had a guy act this genuine. He’s already told his friends about me and I’m even tagged in a photo on his instagram. He’s met my friends which made me oddly nervous and they all really like him too.

And today this guy in the gynecologist’s office asked me for my number which I thought was really odd and all I could say was that was that I was already getting kind of serious with someone and didn’t really think I’d end up out on a date with him. Which is really remarkable to me considering I haven’t done more than get a little frisky with this new guy.

I might’ve been flattered or even kind of inclined to go on this random date (forgetting the strangeness of the circumstances) but really I’m beginning to see all the little steps I used to miss out on unfolding and even if I just get a taste of a real relationship with someone, that’s more important to me than some random guy’s validation. That was really cool for me and I’m thinking about making a mix tape and giving it to him which would be kind of a big deal.

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Impersonalities

        It’s taken me quite some time to understand that I have no personal relationships. Which is really sad considering. The ones I have with family are different. I have about a dozen of my cousins living in my neighborhood, two of which have been sleeping on my couch for the past three weeks. We all played in each other’s yards and houses since birth.

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         I live in my grandma’s old house. It used to be the family hub, all holiday dinners and special events went down in my dining room. When she died there was a lull and quite a bit of drama over family central. The only times we ever saw each other was at funerals which we had a lot of for a while. You could find us gathered around the graves picnicking and taking photos.

         When it comes to relationships and romantic partners, I’m a frigid bitch. And I really didn’t want to think that but honestly if I deny it, I’m a big fat liar too. I sleep with people when I don’t even really know them and it always turns into this awkward and unexplainable kind of relationship. I never know where I stand, what’s acceptable in public, or how they feel about me. I never wait to find out who they are because we either part ways long before that or we spend our time together as strangers. I heard about a couple who’ve been together for twelve years, got married, had kids and yet they still don’t know each other. And that kind of scares the crap out of me.

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         The last guy I was with for an extended period of time, I thought I knew him. Until about a year after things ended my younger sister broke down and told me he touched her. Right under my nose. In my house. On the pullout couch we shared.

         That fucked me up a little bit. She’s pressing charges but only because I kind of coerced her into doing so, which is really messed up considering the circumstances. But there’s no way she’s going to let this hide in the closet like all the other women in my family who never spoke up for themselves. It’s happened to me, my sister, my mother, my aunt, etc. For whatever reason, it doesn’t skip a generation like one would really hope it might.        

         With these new dating apps and websites, social media, texting, all that jazz, come new rules for communication. These strange regulations for expressing yourself, emojis and emoticons that are supposed to do part of the work for you. But there’s just so much deception and miscommunication that I honestly don’t understand. I follow the code but it still has no meaning to me. It’s empty, a lot like the relationships I find myself in.

         Where do you find love in a world where everyone just wants to keep on walking, straight through to the next person? I was in love with my best friend for a long time and I had no idea. I was that girl, so oblivious. And it’s so bittersweet to think about. We talk every now and again but we don’t get to know each other anymore. We’d been friends for a couple years before this but it took me overhearing he and his girlfriend talking about me from the other room that I actually understood what all the late night talks and sleepovers were about. It was my eighteenth birthday.

         Thinking about it now, I’m really stupid. I’m just so stupid. But to be honest I’m really grateful too that I understand this lesson. It’s saved me from making a couple more mistakes in the meantime. He’s got a new girlfriend now and I think he’s pretty much the same.

         So now, I flit from one sexual partner to the next, searching for a guy who sees me how I see myself. And part of me knows that most guys in their early twenties are douche bags and not worth a damn but there’s a part of me that still has hope in the male population. Even after all the burns and bumps.

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