Thursday, April 23, 2015

Use Somebody

As I was driving down the highway at a brisk 85 around 10 o'clock I was composing this blog post in my head...And yet, I've no idea how to start it.

Well, here it goes anyway.

I am not extroverted at all. In spite of my two extremely extroverted parents, I've somehow always managed to squirrel most of me away from interested eyes, merely mimicking the characteristics of an extrovert. Mysterious. Elitist. Enigmatic. I've been called many things, and in spite of how often I tell the truth nobody seems to believe me. The truth is, I'm just afraid, or rather, I've spent most of my life being afraid. But being afraid is ennui; nothing good happens when you live by fear, but nothing bad happens either. At a certain point, you get so tired of staying still you feel you're going to scream; you're waiting for anything, anything to happen.

But sometimes you gotta make it happen for yourself. And that's sort of where I am now.

It's no surprise to y'all I'm lonesome; I tell you all the time. And even when I don't, it's like two locked hands in my throat, keeping me from saying my truth, even if I don't speak it, doesn't make it less real. Speaking it into existence, to me, has always been a show of weakness and self-centered thinking; nobody owes me their company, nobody owes me their time. But what if I could give someone a little of mine? What if I could give a little of the fear, a little of the mess of me to someone else in exchange for some of theirs?

That's where friends come in. I don't have very many. In fact, my parents round out my top five. I know it's not about quantity, but quality, and I've hit the jackpot when it comes to the people I surround myself with. They're loyal, and kind. They let me be myself, whether I'm mournful or jovial, whether I lash out or pull everything in. Lastly, they're a reflection of myself, or rather, the kind of friend I've been to them, which is dope to think about.

So it happens that I work in a place full of people (le gasp!), and hadn't talked to too many people at all about myself. In fact, very few people their even know who I am; I'm a wraith, a passing figure who holds open doors or elevators, who makes a quick joke and disappears. Or I was. Lately, tentatively, I've been reaching out, revealing little tidbits of me here and there.

And see, there's a guy that works with me. And before you go there, I know; for me there seems to always be a guy and isn't that the kind of thing I'm trying to get out of and yada yada. Shut up. Hear me out.

The guy has been there this whole time I've been at this job. Not pushy, or super duper Stepford friendly, but not stand-offish or cold. We traded a few jokes and interests back and forth, offered music and food suggestions and kept it moving. Until recently. The side effect of my new confidence, I think, is giving my shy self a push. Coaxing my damned self to take a risk here or there, to do something different, to try to be somebody different.

I made up my mind to be his friend, or at least to try. He's sort of really cool; he does things that I wish I was doing, like going to concerts and making his mind up on a dime to go out of his comfort zone. He's got kind eyes and a laugh that draws you in. He's got the kind of voice that makes me feel like I could tell him anything and nothing and whatever I say would be cool, that it'd all be safe. And most important, my mind that's usually super quick to "ship" shit and spin every little thing into a "maybe..."is just not doing it; dude is super cute, kind of bordering on hot I'd say, but it's never at the fore of my mind. Thankfully, I am not stressin or obsessin. The short of it is, he's somebody good, the kind of good you can just tell, and the fact I'm not actively trying to sleep with him is great. Is that what maturity is supposed to be?

It's not like he's getting the short end of the deal either. Once you get to know me, I do my damndest to make sure I'm one of the best people you ever met. Secrets stay secrets with me (because who do I have to tell for one, and for two...who tells secrets? Are unspoken promises not even like, "things" anymore?), and I'm there for my people even if it kills me. Plus, atop the myriad of great things about me, I'm funny as shit.

Filling a void, using somebody, isn't the worst thing a person can do. I've learned the worst thing somebody can do is not try to spread the good in themselves around (and no, that's not a euphemism). The worst thing somebody can do is deprive themselves of something they need because of how it makes them look or seem. The worst somebody can do is not attempt.

Is the guy my next best friend? I dunno. That's gonna be the fun of it. And if he is, I'll be grateful. If not, it's not the end of the world; it's like that old adage about seasons and leaves on trees or something - some folks ain't meant to stay. You can hope, you can try to keep em, but if they're not meant for you, they just aren't.

Doesn't mean I won't enjoy wherever the ride goes, though.

Wish me luck.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


On a mild day, four or five years ago, I was hanging out with a friend in another friend's truck bed. We were talking music, as he and I often had, and watching clouds drift across one of the bluest skies I remember seeing. Somehow in the conversation, he'd made the assertion that I was like Adele, and best friend W was like Amy Winehouse; we both came from the same place, both had a certain strength, and were pretty much foreign to the folks where we were at the time.

When bringing it up to W, it's more than obvious to her and I both; she's Adele, I'm Amy.

There's a sweet mournfulness about Amy that resonates deeply with me. She's the tragic romantic, the honest and raw antithesis to what a "lady" should be, while encompassing all of a lady's vulnerability, softness and elegance. She's no role model, but admittedly as far as role models go you could do worse. She's broken and whole, she's happy and sad, she's full and empty; she's me.

Even in my happiness, even in my joy, there is still the sadness. I don't know how to explain it to friends without feeling like a whiner, or like I'll be lectured on "living my best life" and being "a strong, independent woman who don't need no man" and other such bullshit. Because yes, it's true. I AM a strong, independent yada yada, and yes I AM attempting to live my best life today and shit, but at the same time, I'm a lover without someone to love, or without someone who'll love her back the same. Nothing anybody can say can fix that.

And so, I drink down the stress and the loneliness. I line the wine bottles up next to my bedroom door, labels front facing, as a reminder of sorts of my problem, but not as an indicator of when or if I should stop. I write poems and journal entries, I sing her songs and think about my life and where I am, about how fucking happy I am. About how fucking beautiful I feel. And about how God damn lonely I am most days.

If nobody else gets me, Amy gets me. Her songs, be they jazzy and uptempo, or cheeky and sampling hip-hop, are a mirror into what or who I am. Please, no "Rehab" jokes.

I think the quintessence of the parallels I draw come to a head with "Wake Up Alone." Sorrowful and stripped down, she sings about trying to focus on being happy, on being above her drinking, her obsessive thinking, her loneliness. She sings about waiting for her him to come and he does (or they do) and yet she still wakes up alone every day, wishing he (or they) would love her as she wants to love them. Like, shit...if that's not me I couldn't write a better song for myself.

But, and here's the most beautiful, and in my opinion the worst part of it all; above all, she is hopeful. Just because she's waking up alone now, doesn't mean she always will. Just because she doesn't feel loved and completely whole now, doesn't mean she never will. Sure, she may not say so, but the warmth with which she sings, the smile you can hear in her voice, let's you know it's not all over for her, not by a long shot.

Or maybe that's just me.


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Shameful Confession: One Direction

Shameful confession time - I am a rabid Zayn Malik fan which by proxy makes me a rabid One Direction fan. It happened accidentally; after finding out he left the band and seeing all the hysteria surrounding it I wondered what all the fuss was about. All I knew of the band at that point was that they made infectious pop that teen girls everywhere adored and that they were a few dudes led by a dude named Harry.

Needless to say, I get what the fuss was about now. Not only was Zayn, in my humble opinion, the most handsome (like, Oh my God) but he has a great voice suited more for R&B I think that the dizzying pop the group is known for. Hopefully, he continues on solo because a voice like his is interesting enough to want to take heed to; plus, since Craig David, when have we had an ethnic UK crooner hit the US charts? Just sayin...

Fan-girling aside, their music taps into the part of me that is, above all things, optimistic and happy. After a long day, I may drive home from work, windows down playing "Clouds" and dreaming of the day I keep driving past all my troubles, past all my doubts, into a new city, a new life, a new me. I may play "What Makes You Beautiful" while getting ready for a date or when I'm having a quick elevator dance party (what? I'm not the only one who does those, right?).

I don't remember a time in my life where I've felt as confident and as happy as I do now. And it's not anything really specific that's caused it. I'm (finally) off the mood stabilizing meds, which for a time was a hard adjustment to make. I'm at a relatively new job that I do exceedingly well at. But I think what's happened is I decided to be happy.

How odd is that? That you can decide how you'll feel about something? For so long I thought I needed something, an unattainable X factor to make me feel happy. I felt like I needed something outside of myself to motivate and generate warm feelings. Truth is, I have it in me all the time to be jovial and just never tapped into it, thinking that the deeper or sadder feelings were the ones that needed my attention, the ones that needed to be "solved" in a way. But, you feel how you feel for a reason, and sometimes for no reason at all; in the instances where there's no reason at all, why not try to feel differently, think differently? What can you gain, really, by being unhappy all the time?

That's not to say I don't have bad days, sad days, and I-just-wanna-be-mad days. I still do. But I think about why I feel the way I do, and if it's something I can change. If it is, change on. If not, why worry?

Now I know you're wondering "The hell does this have to do with One Direction?" Here's the thing; I hear them, and my inner 16 year-old self jumps up and down and squeals. Their music makes me happy. Raisinettes make me happy. Driving on the highway makes me happy. Trying new things makes me happy. Why deny myself those things? Or why put those things off?

My discovery of their music has just spurned me on, in a way, providing a soundtrack for me to chase down what makes me happy and just immersing myself in it...

Don't judge me, yo.