People tend to leave

My dad left last Saturday, refusing to tell anyone where he was going. Before he had left, and before I knew about it I texted him telling him to stop trying to contact me. I blocked his number and deleted him from Facebook. Today was my first normal feeling day since, although that underlying uneasiness won’t ever go away. I’ve recently realized that I’ve had many people die in my lifetime, all 24 years of it. I know, I’m old. I first took notice of it almost a year ago when one of my best friend Michelle’s grandpa died. She had such a difficult time with it, and although I empathized with her, it felt so normal to see someone in a casket. I knew him, too. He was a phenomenal man with an awesome track record and national recognition. So I could imagine that constantly being reminded by newspaper articles and her grandpa’s fans wasn’t easy. But one night she just broke down, which led me to ask her if she had ever lost anyone. She said it was the first time and she didn’t see how I could have handled it. All I could say to her was that it gets easier.
And now I think, is that morbid? That death just gets easier? That something so life changing could become just another event that you learn to get over quicker and quicker. And I understand that it could be a defense mechanism. Maybe our bodies can’t handle anymore stress so they just don’t react.

A few years ago I was head over heals for this guy who turned out to be a robotic fucking asshole. He avoided me for two weeks at the end of it all, then when he decided to suck it up and talk to me, he told me he had never loved me and all those times he had said he did were lies. You know that feeling that your heart is being torn into tiny little pieces then spread all in between your ribcage? Yeah, it was one of those. It so happened I had a scheduled visit with the shrink that week, and what started as an attempt to get over daddy issues, turned into nonstop tears over a robot. Miss Margaret told me that losing someone in that way was like having someone in your life die. And yeah, I realized I had to morn just the same.
I’ve seen more caskets than I would have imagine I’d see at my age, and I’ve had many close people die or just leave voluntarily. And although I know death is a part of life, deep down I can’t help be fear that heart wrenching feeling again.
I’ve been hanging out with someone lately, let’s call her Erin. During one of our late night, couch laying talks we asked each other our biggest irrational and rational fear. My biggest rational fear used to be people leaving my world without knowing that I loved them, like really loved them. When she asked, my rational fear switched to being my irrational, and a new rational fear moved in its place. It turned irrational because no matter what I did for my dad, he always tried to guilt trip us, acting like he wasn’t loved. And the reality is that if it weren’t for us in his life, if it weren’t for my mother, he’d be a single mess probably living in a dumpy apartment in East LA. My rational fear turned into people leaving me. Death, change of heart, friendships. And because of this newfound fear I’m starting to realize this constant push and pull between letting myself be vulnerable with people, and hiding it all.
I can’t seem to find a balance, and I’m starting to wonder if I ever will.

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Friday Date Night

My friend was in town from the West Coast and asked me to go to the Museum and dinner Friday night. I wasn’t sure to accept it as just friends hanging out and getting to know each other better, or more. So I went into Friday night with a clear mind, ready to make the best of whatever was to follow.
I’m pretty sure it was a date. We never had an awkward moment, like the waiter didn’t ask if we were together or separate. I always hate when that happens. It’s happened a few times where neither of us want to say. Oh, and he paid for everything, wouldn’t let me pay a cent. One thing I always enjoyed about our friendship is that we dive into deep philosophical questions without trying. Or we aren’t afraid to ask each other personal questions. Though, keep in mind, we aren’t even that close. Like he’s a good friends friend and was only around here for a hot minute before skipping town again. Like one time, it was his last night before moving out west, and he posted on Facebook that he’d be at the coffee shop if anyone wanted to hang. I don’t know if anyone showed up. But I did without letting him know. And the first minute was silent, just sipping our coffee. Then I asked if he was scared. We talked it out, and the one thing that stuck out was, “you have to be ready to leave. No matter where you are, even if you hate the place. You have to be ready to go. I wasn’t ready the first time around.” That has always stuck with me since then. I always ask myself if I’m ready, really ready.
But yeah I got sidetracked. In other words, we can either say a lot, or very little. And no matter how much comes out of our mouths I always feel fulfilled by our time together. It’s always warm, and calm.
Usually. Until we went to the third stop to get a second round of drinks. He kept mentioning how hot he was. Granted, he’s pretty fine. But it was like 30 degrees out and sweater/coat weather. I was toasty and feeling great. After a while, the bartender asked, “Is it hot in here?” So of course we wrote off his hotflash as normal. Ten minutes later, he wanted to go home.
He woke up that night at 4am, vomiting. I felt like crap! We went to eat dinner at the place I suggested! And he got sick! Not just that, he only had a few days left in town and was supposed to see his extended family the next day. But guess what? He didn’t because he got sick from the restaurant I suggested! Did I mention he got sick from the place I said we should eat at? I still feel so bad.
So I went over the next day with coconut water and veggie broth.
Yup. Made him sick on the first date. I must be a keeper…

I couldn’t move

And it was so weird not being able to control it. I kept telling my arm to move my wrist to move my hand. Nothing happened. I stayed frozen with Barbie-like hands, trembling. What triggered the panic attack, who knows. All I know is that my thoughts and worries have been building up for quiet some time. I’m just glad my boss was there to calm me down. “My wife gets them all the time, and I’ve also seen people go into shock.” Shock was what I wanted to avoid. I hate hospitals, so when he asked me if I would feel better going, I said, “I don’t know right now.” Instead, he lifted me from the chair to the couch and I stayed there for a good 2 hours before I could sit up. I don’t know how people deal with these attacks on the daily. My friend who was talking me through things said she gets anxiety. So insane, and so tiring! But we had a good laugh about it after. “We need to figure out how to avoid that next time, so I don’t have to carry your ass again.” A reminder why I love my job.

Bitter feminist.

First, lets start off with the correct definition of feminism. It’s simply wanting equality between men and women. That is all.
Any argument that feminism equals misandry is void. I will not hear it because it is not the same.
And onward.
Lately, I’ve internalized chauvinistic acts and have come to a realization. No, these acts aren’t a new thing for me. I’ve been hooted and hollered at since before my cycle, by grown men (or should I say boys?) A child, yup a kid, getting cat calls every time I walked down the street. Growing up with it I had to learn to push my emotional hurt aside. Like many women, I grew numb to it and would shrug it off like it was expected. It got to the point that when conversing on a walk I wouldn’t even skip a step, in my stride and my speech.
I used to be a feminist that like to view myself as balanced when faced with these encounters. But I can honestly say that I’ve grown extremely bitter. I absolutely hate that I’m bitter. Please ignore the redundancy in that.
An incident last night has left me dumbfounded and enlightened at the same time. My friend (formerly known in a past post as Cigarette Lips, now lets call him Jason Segel) someone I always speak highly of and whom I can say I was in love with at one point in my life, felt it okay to feel me up–in front of people, during conversation. Granted, it was a party setting and drinking was definitely involved. However, never did I think he’d do that, especially because of his awareness of my feminist views.
Long story short, it blew up. We argued through text and probably used attitude and sarcasm we shouldn’t have. In the end, there were a couple things he said that stuck with me.
1. I won’t quote him to spare sharing people’s names, but he compared my reaction to the way a mutual friend of ours might handle a situation. This mutual friend is quite misunderstood, I think. When people ask, “why are you offended by that?” he throws back, “well why aren’t you?” And sure I may have thrown that same question back at Jason in a different way, but this mutual friend also struggles with chronic depression. Him and I do not handle situations the same way, nor are our minds and chemical balances or imbalances the same. Not to mention our personalities. However, what irked me about this remark the most was that this mutual friend of ours is always referred to as too feminine in his emotions, as if that’s a bad thing. Also, why must having and showing them be a strictly male or female characteristic? Because thus far, society has instilled in boys that crying should be left to girls? Because its a sign of weakness and boys should not be weak? I mean this is a common topic nowadays as these norms are constantly being questioned and redefined. I guess I just wanted to point out the underlying reason why his remark bugged the crap out of me. The entire analysis behind his reasoning and the rest of society’s view on it could easily be left for its own post. Onward.
2. I told him it upset me that he “joked” at my expense. He retorted with, “at what expense was it to you? I acted like a fool in front of our friends.” Okay. Deep breath. Okay.
Yeah, no.
At what expense is it to me? Really? How about the fact that my body is just that, my own body. Not some fucking plush toy sitting on a shelf with a sticker on it that says TRY ME. I’m sorry I’m not sorry that you acted a fool and got embarrassed more so by my reaction than the fact that you acted a fool in the first place, in front of our friends. Let me just go ahead and stick something up your ass in front of everyone and see if you think I did it at no expense to you. You know, I bet you’ll be super comfortable with it and feel not at all violated. No, not at all. Then let me turn the attention to myself and play the victim, because I was so hurt by how I, myself, chose to act a fool in the first place.
And this is the underlying mentality in most men that irks me to my core.
What is it that is instilled in young boys that makes them grow up thinking that crossing into our personal space, moreover touching our private areas, shouldn’t make us feel like it was done at our expense? Is it the usual story of little Johnny chasing little Sally around the playground no matter how loud or how many times Sally says to stop? When this story arises in conversation, what do people usually call it? Usually not what it is, which is harassment. “Oh little Johnny is just being a boy, you know how boys are.” Of course I know “how boys are.” I grew up being sexually harassed and cat called, and I was told to ignore it instead of addressing this deep-rooted issue. This misconception that it is pure instinct to fondle a girl at a young age needs to be corrected. No, it is not instinct. What if little Johnny doesn’t “grow out of it?” Treating sexual harassment as a phase in a little boys life is like cutting weeds from the garden instead of tearing them out from the roots. It’s going to come back, and we better hope not with a vengeance. So why not a new tactic? Seems like the one used in society now and in the past hasn’t curbed sexual harassment. How about treating sexual harassment for all ages as a bad thing? Hm. What a concept. And I wish it was that simple. We’re up against the rest of history, one that made it the norm to objectify women, and one that is obviously still in effect today.
I told my friend last night, not Jason, that I thank Mother Nature for bringing me into this world in the decade I was born. That I would have hated the housewife lifestyle of the 50’s and the corsets at the turn of the century. However, the idea behind those mentalities still exists, which makes me wish I was born in year 3013.
Can I please just have my personal space and my private parts respected? Nope, I guess that’s asking too much.

Cologne

So I was scared to ask him. I didn’t know what his reaction would be. I had dinner with The Thinker and it occurred to me that it wasn’t the first time I’ve sat there wondering if this dinner was a date of some sort. I don’t know, maybe closer to a date as more than friends? So throughout the hour it popped in my head, and I would ignore the question. Then of course, the waiter asks how we want to do the check. The Thinker looks down at the table, as if waiting for me to decide. So automatically, after a second of uncertainty, I just say “separate.”
This encounter has happened to me before, and I’m sure to others, with friends that want to be more and friends you wish were more. Sometimes awkwardness stays thick in the air.
With him it wasn’t awkward. I said to myself, “he did just talk about having $40 to his name, so that could be why.” Then I felt like a fucking idiot and wanted to call the waiter back to just pay for both checks. Some friend I am.
In the end, I was sad to see him go. I burrowed myself into his chest when we hugged. I’m not sure of it was a conscience decision, or I sub- consciencly knew that later on i’d still smell his cologne.
His cologne is rather soothing. And so is he. This week I cut my dad out of my life, a childhood friend passed away in a motorcycle accident (not the first of my friends), and a past best friend is rocky in the standings. I also left work early twice. I never leave work early. The stress is probably causing me to get sick. Yet, here I am, as relaxed as that time laying in the hammock.
I’m in the best mood I’ve been in a while.

My list. What the hell is going on?

So Evangelista made me realize the other day that I now have a list of interested people. Why? I do not know.

One time, an old friend told me that personalities like us need to be careful. We are charismatic and open minded, so people automatically feel a connection with us because we don’t judge them.

That statement was confirmed when two of my close friends, The Beatle and The Mixer, both told me that they have never felt so comfortable around one of their friends. “You make us feel loved and accepted.”

Ok. So that must be it, right? My lack of judgement on people creates this idea in peoples heads that I want them for more as friends.

At this point, I’m not really sure what I want. But the list is growing….

(In the order according to my fiery red-headed friend)

0. The Pharaoh

1. Aries

2. Smitten Kitten

3. Handyman

4. The Thinker

5. The Beatle

6. The Cozy Jew

7. The Historian

What the hell just happened? Foreal.

What’s my price?

He got my attention and motioned me closer to him to hear what he had to say.

“What’s your price?”

“Excuse me?” I asked, sure that I heard what I had heard, hoping that I hadn’t.

“What’s your price?” He repeated.

His two friends said nothing, but they grew uncomfortable looking at how my face changed to anger.

“Don’t you fucking look at me, touch me, or talk to me again if you don’t want to get fucking punched in the face, you fucking asshole. Go suck your own dick.”

I turned around to the faces of my friends, confused about what just occurred. I can feel him behind me still looking.

“Do you want to go?” My friend Evangelista asked.

I tried to play it cool, like I cared only to tell him off, then when I did it was all okay.

“Whatever you guys want to do.” But I could see their eyes looking passed me at that sorry excuse of a human.

“Let’s just go,” She said, taking hold of my arm. I knew she could feel me trembling.

The second we got out into the filthy street, they all asked what happened.

They couldn’t believe it, just like I couldn’t the first time I heard it. Then a slew of comments:

“You don’t even look like that, what the fuck were they thinking?”

“He was drunk and just an asshole, don’t even listen to him.”

“Yeah, don’t let him get to you.”

My heart was racing.

And not even a minute into our walk, I saw Evangelista react to someone touching her ass as we walked by. She gave him the dirtiest look, then continued walking.

My insides were turning.

“Look at that place! It’s playing latino music! Maybe we should go there,” She suggested.

“Well, it can go one of two ways,” I told her. “It can either be amazing, and no one will talk to us or try to touch us, or it can be the complete opposite and the most sleazy place in town.”

So we took our chances. I bought myself a huge Corona with lime and salt to shake off the tension, then we danced the night away until our heals asked us to give our feet a break. By the time 2am rolled around, we were ready to head back. Evangelista’s idea to take our chanced at that cantina was the first great idea of the night.

We parted ways with some friends. Evangelista, Green Eyes and I all walked back down the street the way we came, trying to stay friendly to our feet as we continually sped up.

Two minutes later…

“Hey Mami! Get me some of that!” This huge black truck drives by slowly, so they could get a good look at the human beings they consider pieces of meat.

“Fuck off,” I said, along with the universal signal. But they weren’t giving up.

The other two girls sped up, not saying a word.

I realized they weren’t going to say anything, so something ridiculous and quiet hilarious took over me.

“You’re fucking ugly!” I shouted at them. They sped off embarrassed, while people around us laughed.

“My sister always did that to gross guys growing up. I was always embarrassed by it, but now I get it.” I spoke fast and confidently, trying to mask my nerves. “It’s empowering to embarrass them instead, especially when you have no other way to gain that power. My sister was right, it feels great!”

I had a false sense of hope that I could have some sort of control over such an uncomfortable situation.

Not even 5 minutes later, I witnessed this hideous gross excuse of a man smack Green Eyes’s ass. She turned and glared at him. I realized she wasn’t going to say a word to him, so I turned around and started walking towards him.

“Don’t! Just stop! It won’t do anything!” She yelled at me.

So I stopped. But my brains were screaming at me, and at him. My insides were still walking with all their might towards him, and my heart was so tense I swore it would tear itself into shreds. But my knees were completely weak.

“I can’t. I can’t do this anymore.”

I completely broke down.

All the feelings that I had been pushing deeper inside me were just spilling out onto the disgusting, grey concrete. My tears were non-stop.

“I’m strong, I know. But I’m not strong enough for this. Not anymore.”

Green Eyes took hold of my left arm, lifting it up in case my knees would give.

“Let’s just get a cab,” Evangelista said, “None of this is worth it at this point. You’ve completely broken down.”

Her second great idea of the night.

We all squeezed in the back seat of a small taxi, not wanting to be more than a few inches from each other. It was too uncomfortable to be apart.

My eyes were puffing, I could feel their weight. My nose began to run. My mouth ran too, repeating itself over and over, “I’m so angry. I mean look at us. How pathetic is this world that we have to catch a taxi to avoid being touched by disgusting men?”

The second the cab driver heard me crying he turned down the music. It was like he wanted to respect whatever mood we were in. After what I said, I could tell he was listening. It didn’t stop me.

“I hate men right now. I really do.”

“Something needs to change, something big,” Said Green Eyes.

“Yeah, and the fact that you’re so upset by it makes me rethink how I reacted,” said Evangelista. “You being upset tells me that it’s not okay. I’m just so numb to it.”

“But that isn’t okay! You can’t be numb to it. Half the problem is that fact that we let men do it.”

I didn’t mean to scold them. But I couldn’t stand my best friends being violated, then watching them brush it off because they feel helpless to the situation. We have more power than we think.

“But what were you going to do?” Asked Green Eyes, “You had no clue if he was dangerous. He could have hurt you if I had let you go up to him.”

I bit my tongue. I knew she was right but my boiling blood didn’t want her to be.

“So we’re fucked. No matter what we do we’re fucked. I feel so fucking trapped it hurts.”

We arrived to the apartment, handed the guy the fare and got out as quickly as possible. The second we entered the room we completely unwound.

“How funny it is that a place that isn’t yours suddenly feels like home in times like these,” Evangelista said, wiping up some smeared eyeliner from under her eyes.

That night I had the weirdest dream. I was in my kitchen cooking up some food, when I noticed the ugliest cockroach I had ever seen. It was huge, absolutely enormous. I wasn’t scared of it, but I set down newspaper over it to step on it so many times that my kitchen was covered in newsprint. And it still got away. I turned to the roach spray, but I missed every time.

Then I woke up to the sound of my Evangelista’s voice.

“I just had a dream about a cockroach,” I whined.

“Awww, you’re so cute,” Green Eyes said to me, making me feel like I was 10 just waking up from a nightmare.

But then I sat their as they got ready, and I began to pick at my own brain.

Men, or should I say boys, like that are vermin to me. They are the scum of the earth and I only hope that one day they will learn at any cost to them what it feels like to be looked at as inferior. But as vermin that creep around an infested kitchen, these sad excuses for men creep around our lives never to leave. Until we make them. Until other men help correct them.

“I’ve got a solution,” I told them.

“Wait what? For what?” They asked.

“For these sad excuses of men that continually demean women.” I said, softly and somewhat lost in thought. “I’m going to get one of those blow dart things. The solution on the end of the dart? I’m not sure, yet. But what I’m sure of is that it’s small enough to conceal it anywhere. The next time some fucking asshole grabs my ass I’m going to turn around and shoot him in his ass. Maybe he’ll pass out from it, I don’t know. I haven’t decided.”

“What the fuck? That’s hilarious!” The girls congratulated me on my plan.

It’s been two days ever since that night, and I’m still nauseous with anger.

We moved sand with our hands

“Okay, now let’s think about this. Come here, sit with me,” The Bullfighter said to me, motioning me to the floor.
We both sat on our knees, staring at eachother, waiting for the other to say something.
“Face the other way, put your hand together,” he said, “and ohhhhmmmmmmm.”
I tried not to laugh but did what he said. I put my hands together as if to pray to some non-existent being.
“Ohhhhmmmmmm,” I repeated, halfheartedly. He knew.
“No no no, like feel it in your being. Ohhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmm.”
“Ohhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmm.”
Then we changed hand positions.
“Ohhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmm,” we said in unison.
“Now come back here, and sit like a frog.”
“Um, yeah, I don’t think I’ve done that since I was five,” I said, struggling to switch positions.
“Yeah, um ok me, too. Scratch that. Ohhhhmmmmmmmm.”
I tried not to laugh, but my smile was way too obvious.

“Okay, now lets search in the sand.” The Bullfighter moved on to grabbing at the beige carpet, acting like it had more weight and volume than it actually did. He grabbed a handful of sand and tossed it at me. And for some reason I almost felt it.

So I followed. I reached out my hand and took hold of some sand, then held it up and watched it pour slowly down in a straight line. The wind picked up some sand dust and spun it around us. I spread my fingers and ran them through the sand, “I’m searching for an answer. I see something dark, and bold. Dark and bold. And I see something real.”

“Will I be ugly?” asked The Bullfighter.

“Sure, if you want to be.”

“I want to be just real, myself. Just flat out ragged.” He explained.

“Well yeah, you. Whatever is you. As real as you can be.”

Just barely before I finished talking, another band member brought over a magnetic board with word magnets. So randomly necessary.

“Oh god, I’m glad there aren’t any kids around,” The Bullfighter said.

“What? Why?”

“Because I’m about to write the most inappropriate sentence ever.”

We dove into the word magnets, pulling them off, sticking them back on. Arranging, rearranging, borrowing from one another. I got so into my word play that I didn’t even notice what he was trying to spell out.

“Do you have the contracted word ‘don’t’?”

“I don’t see one,” I answered, not really trying to find one. “I’m picking out words to describe the shoot.”

“How does it make you feel? How do you want others to feel?” He asked.

We fought over words and stole from each other. It felt like a race against our own minds and creativity. I stopped only because I ran out of words to describe what I wanted.

“Bold, black, dark, inspired, raw, photo, emotion, true, creative, tattered, anger,” The Bullfighter read my words aloud. “Yeah, I see you.” We then stopped, and looked at each other, into our inner workings. “Hey everyone,” He said to the group, “Listen up! She’s got something to say.”

Everyone quieted down without a fight. 

“Everyone is going to take this plain white paper, and a marker. Go into that room alone, and just write. Whatever. Just write. About the music, about your day, about your life or philosophy on life. On anything that moves you.”

The Trombonist got up first, grabbed his necessities and left the room. Music blared through the hallway and we turned down the lighting. Somewhere in the midst of silly banter, The Bullfighter took my camera and told me it was my turn. This is rare, but when it happens I try to set the example of a good model–not that it always works, but why not?

We went into the kitchen, and my clothes happend to match the scenery so perfectly. He swung open cabinets and centered me in the room. 

“That look you did earlier, do it. Now clench your fists, like you blew open the cabinets.”

I did what he said at first, with a half an ounce of doubt. So this is what it feels like. Shit, this is hard. 

“Yes that! Right there! keep that.” The Bullfighter said, stepping back between the refrigerator and the table to get a better angle. “Yes! Right there!”

I occasionally turned the camera to fix the settings, resulting in occasional photos of me reaching out. In the end, bright, tungsten-tinted portraits in a wrath of kitchen supplies and alcohol bottles. Teal, orange, yellow, brown. Young, alive. 

Brilliant.

And all in a matter of minutes. 

I sat there looking at him, and he looked at me. For a split second, our artistic minds seemed to switch. Music was on my mind and photography was on his. 

One of the best part of being an artist? Collaborating with other artists, to the point that brainwaves sync up into a harmony of sounds and colors. Ultimately high from the experience, it reminded me why I do what I do. 

 

Hammock eyes

We laid in the hammock, The Thinker and I, underneath the ceiling of a welcoming home to friends and those we didn’t really know. Just minutes before we walked down the street around 1AM, planning to call it a night, when we heard yells from a porch across the street. “Hey you guys! Come hang out with us!” We had no clue who it could be, but for some reason couldn’t resist. A huge hug from a cuddly friend, and an embrace from a new one. More followed as we entered the house. Hula-hooping, hammock swinging, singing and dancing and kissing and laughing. New people to get to know and a few friends who probably knew my middle name. Such a random, yet meant-to-be encounter. After we talked a bit, then danced and sang a bit, we laid a bit in that hammock. As we swung slightly from side to side, your arm under my neck, we talked about absurd things I can’t even remember now–and probably some serious things. All I knew, and know, is that it felt so right at that moment. The swinging and laughing in the background, and the fact that it didn’t phase anyone if we hula-hooped, danced, chugged 50 beers, or just laid together apart from everyone else enjoying only each others words. All of it was surreal, with a hint of truth. The mixture of it all, and your eyes, kept me consumed.