Let go my ego

I read this article recently that really stuck with me over the course of the last few days. It said something along the lines of “I really thought we’d had a connection because we talked everyday but then I began to realize that we didn’t because we never got into the deeper subjects that mattered”. I’ve looked at a lot of my relationships lately with that thought in mind lately.

I just got off the phone with my mom and I’ve gotta say, we don’t have that problem. I sometimes feel like I talk too much about my own stuff and because she’s my mom, she’s always willing to listen. I think I will constantly be reminding myself to listen more, talk less. But at the same time, we talk about everything. From trivial to tumultuous, we go there. I appreciate that about our friendship now.

I don’t know what it is about my college but for some reason, I’ve noticed more and more lately that a lot of people don’t engage in anything. Like the taste of blase is so tempting, they’re unwilling to try something new. My mom just said “I never noticed until I got here, how many people in life really just like to skate by, waiting for other people to do their work for them”. She went on to say that in her groups where this is happening, she finds out the real life lesson is usually something entirely unrelated to the group material. Once, it was about a bully in the room and learning how to (metaphorically) disarm her. I find that to be the case for myself more often than not.

I’m taking an art education class this semester and the first two weeks for me were SO frustrating. I feel like I’m sitting in a room of kindergarteners. I mean, I have had years of study in art (before this college, it was at my community college). In total, I’ve studied art — and I mean really studied art — for almost 6 years. I found out during a small group exercise last week that one of the girls in my group had only taken one other art class before and that the words coming out of my mouth sounded like an entirely different language. The thing is, I needed to hear that. I think my lesson this semester is in temperance and humility. Fine, I’ll take it. I have already decided I will make office hours with my teacher to explain to her why I’ll be a lot quieter in the weeks ahead. I hope she’ll agree with me when I level with her. I don’t want to intimidate or come across as a know it all. But I can see it in her eyes when she looks pointedly at me, she’s desperate for engagement and she doesn’t care 9 times out of 10 when I’m monopolizing the discussion. 

My problem is that I fear I will never be challenged intellectually at my current school. I’ve been here a year and so far, I’ve had two classes that I found remotely interesting. It’s really unfortunate and it is pretty soul crushing for something who finds knowledge to be akin to a fountain of ecstasy. When I was at community college, my brain was constantly exploding with new concepts and essays and wow, I never realized I was so spoiled. I fear I will never feel that way again for as long as I’m here.

My vent is this: HOW DID YOU GET SO FAR IN LIFE WITHOUT A BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF ECONOMICS, POLITICS, CULTURE, ETC?! Were we not required to take the same general education classes?! HOW have you NOT absorbed ANYTHING!? I just don’t understand how it’s even possible. My mind does not compute. No wonder facebook has destroyed our minds. These “peers” of mine just regurgitate and all I want to do is fall asleep listening to it. WAKE UP PEOPLE USE YOUR DAMN BRAIN.

Complacency and apathy are my biggest enemies. Ironically, when I use the word enemy, I don’t even feel angry about it. I almost wanted to say “disinterests” or “turn offs”, like my mind couldn’t even muster up the right emotions to feel.

I just don’t understand it and in many ways, I wish I knew how to blend in more. Flowers for Algernon sits heavily in my heart. I wish I understood how to conform and stop caring like everybody else. Is it so wrong to want to actually learn something? I understand that I will forever be looking at my classes from the lens of theoretical “life lessons” to take home at the end of the semester but really… I just want to learn something academic for a change. I want to be challenged. I wish I’d gone to a different school. I want something better.

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What I should’ve done first

It’s hard for me to be specific about this post. But let’s just say, I met someone when I was with my ex. I told him I was unavailable (and it killed me to do it considering he is clearly the better man) once things got more serious between me and my ex boyfriend and for the most part, he respected that. Since I’m recently single, circumstances are different. I am a lot of things but I am NOT a cheater. I think cheaters are fucking cowards who can’t get their shit straight, operating purely on fear and lack of character. 

I think the question I forgot to ask myself lately was “does he deserve me”? You know I’ve been putting so much stock into his merits/feelings and I think I neglected to appreciate my own for a second. Let me just be clear, I am awesome. A lot of people say they’re “rare breeds” but really, I mean it when I say I am a rare person. In addition to that, I have many desirable qualities and abilities and I know that I am like a fire that can’t be put out, I always burn hot. I mean that as a metaphor for success, not one for temper (although sometimes that also burns hot). I am kind, compassionate, creative, patient, loving, forgiving, etc. Seriously, the list of my positive qualities runs long. But there’s more to it than that because everything I do, I do with my entire being. I mean there are definitely exceptions like when it comes to my Children’s Art course I’m in right now where I’m just plain bored. In the area of relationships, I’m a badass partner. I have my faults sure but I am worth it.

I have dreams of a career, I have dreams of a life. I never want to feel like I will look back one day and think “should I have done more?”. I excel. A lot of my friends used to pick on me for staying in California… but seriously how could I leave my sister to do it all alone? I am loyal to a fault. When it comes to blood, I will never ever leave her behind. I say that with gritted teeth and a crap ton of conviction (pun intended).

What I feel right now is a lot of mixed emotions. I talked to my psychic about my feelings and what I’m meant to learn at this point and she said maybe it was about working through my fear. I agree with her. I needed to work past my fear of abandonment so that I could finally focus on my self worth. Who I am now, who I want to be, and how I need to act in order to make those things happen. When I met him, my world opened up. It was like this hallway I’ve never seen before suddenly lit up and there were endless doors I could pick from. Of course, my brain immediately tried to run down the hallway. I really need to stop doing that. My last relationship taught me a lot but mostly, it taught me caution. It was only during the break up that I saw how my ex actually saw me in the world, in relation to himself. After a year of undying patience and commitment, it was just shocking to hear the words out of his mouth. To see his perspective was just… I will never forget it. I mean, I always knew he was clueless but that? That was beyond offense.

But I also forgive myself for it and I know that I really did do everything I could to make it work. I showed him so many interpersonal skills. He took a crash course in dating and I don’t really know who else in the world would have had the patience required to teach him that stuff. I burned out after a year of it when most people would’ve left after the first week. I turned a fuckboy into a relationship person. Where he was once a 4 year old, he is now entering puberty. Lucky for him, he’s a man so he can take his sweet time growing up.

I think it’s not just because I’m a woman that I constantly revert to thinking “everything is my fault”. I think it’s still the stupid guilt and weird childhood stuff from my mom that brings me to that place. So when I took stock of my life recently, and the people in it that brought me to this headspace, it took me much longer than it should have to recognize I am worth more than the treatment I am currently receiving. I don’t know what to do about it either, because there’s really nothing I can do except wait or leave and I really don’t want to give up. 

I’ve played the waiting game for the last 13 years and one thing I have learned over the course of that time is that they always come back. I still get texts years later from people who want to start things up with me because they weren’t ready the first time around. It’s always sort of satisfying to see this happen time and time again.

The annoying part is, I didn’t start this. He was the one jumping in with both feet, unafraid of the dark water. I was direct and honest always. I was fun and flirty and I asked for nothing and he gave me endless time and effort. Finally, I turn around and I think I’m sort of ready to start something and he walks away. Maybe for reasons I will never discover but knowing my luck, I hope that isn’t the case.

Stage 1?

I’m about to break up with my boyfriend. I haven’t been able to for the last week or so because again, that delicacy issue has me stuck. He actually threatened to kill himself when I tried to last week. I have so little patience for his shenanigans and yet I’ve been forced to keep boosting his mood. He got sick all of a sudden and I’m trying to wait it out a few days before I drop the bomb. It’s insane to me that a grown man has to be treated like this. Every time I text him back, I’m biting back the attitude I want to throw: apathy and resentment.

I don’t care how your day is.

I don’t care how you’re doing.

I don’t care if you’re feeling flirty.

I don’t care.

I really don’t care.

I care if you are well and if you take care of your health. Regardless, I want to treat you with kindness and compassion. I will treat you how I would like to be treated. I make jokes to myself about the personal prisons I find myself in. This relationship, while constructive, has been one of those circumstances at least for the last week.

11:35 am 1/1

There is hope in me

I feel the spiderwebs

Finally breaking

I’ve been so asleep

Waking only in my dreams

And now I am not

I do still feel it

There is still hesitation

I like that, it’s right

RIP creative heart

I recently had the most complete draining of my creative energy, my spirit. It was an unfortunate result of my sorority and the demands they place on their members. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that these requirements often make a lot of people more responsible, involved in their respective communities, and overall allow for growth. In my case, I am drained. I’m a senior and my work is suffering. 

I awoke today with a bitterness in my heart.

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It’s my fault because I didn’t read the announcement properly or something but I had it in my heart that I would be able to go alum early and it seems that is no longer the case. Which fucking sucks because I hadn’t realized how much of my mind had been set on the freedom I would soon experience. There is no way that I can continue being involved in this organization and still be able to create without this sort of negativity over my shoulder.

I feel it whenever I listen to anyone talk about their work or when I feel the pressure of deadlines. I need out. I’m suffocating and I need the fuck out.

It’s funny because when I got the email about going alum, the president’s phrasing was such that “I had not served my full four years” which I thought sounded like a contract for enlisted soldiers or a prison sentence. Either way, I’m definitely a prisoner in a voluntary placement.

I can’t drop because I’ve invested way too much time and I need the resume items I’ve accrued. I need the stupid accolades and the embroidery on my sash when I graduate. I don’t have anything else on my grad school application. I’m out of options. Send help please. 

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Gray

So I just found out that my mom is getting out in nine months. She’s being let out on early release. This is going to sound super fucked up, but I thought I had another two years before I had to figure this stuff out.

Nine months. That’s no time at all.

I’ve been pushing off the mental headache of everything since we found out they were taking time off for a bunch of stuff. But I also thought I had two years before I had to think about it. 

I thought I had two more years. 

2:56am 8/23

I am water

I wash away the edges

Wrapping, smoothing

It took time for you to figure out

I was there

I sprouted a stream

Laid my roots

And never left
It only took time for you to see

And yes, it does taste sweeter

Because my doubts don’t exist
I had no idea you’d been warming me up from the inside

I can bathe in it freely

And soon, without fear

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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2:28am

Obligations
Affiliations
Incarceration
Connotation
Bureaucracy and blurred red lines
Sharpness of indecency
I hate this need to fight authority
My stupid desire to break the rules
Has more power over me than I do
This strange contradiction
Fuels my conviction
And I’m faced over and over
The whisper of memories fade
Replaced by rage
I’m not angry

My neck keeps shaking
My Russian teachers always made me cry

I hated bending and twirling
As long as they were there
I knew only good and bad
No compromise

I’m so very clearly there
Pick and choose the parts that make sense
My family says it’s easier to digest
I’m not craving
The Buddha says
But his golden body glows
I’ll swipe green across canvas
And spend hours on circles and spirals and waves
Tiny little pencil marks
One thing out of place
Daylight balance, warm tone, cool
Wipe clean the rules

In a field where the human condition
Is the one and only true theme,
Why did I stick myself in a place
Where identity is destroyed
And smiles quickly employed
And evil ovals stare at me
Across the plastic tables
“Not excused, sorry but that doesn’t count, you’ll still have to pay”
Okay.