Just keep swimming
Hey guys. How’s it going? For me, it’s July and I have to believe there’s a light at the end of this endless vortex of studying, coming up for air, studying, coming up for air. It’s been a heavy month and with the July 4th holiday past and the liberation of Guahan from Japanese occupation during World War II approaching, I’ve had a lot to think about–oh yeah, and the bar exam coming up faster than a Tony Jaa elbow to the head–and it’s all been a bit much for me.
Most days I feel like I’m moving through sludge. Most days I feel like I cuss too much. Most days I feel like I don’t study enough. Most days I feel like no matter what I do will never be good enough. Some days I feel like I am good enough. But still other days I feel like I could be good-er enough, if you know what I mean, although I certainly hope that you don’t.
Because if I’m honest, my darlings, it is my greatest wish that all who read this are well-adjusted, happy, carefree, joyful human beings who know nothing about the anxiety, self-doubt, and sadness that I seem to struggle through on a daily basis. It is a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone, not even my greatest enemies. (I’m totally kidding. I’d wish it on my enemies. Because fuck them.)
I have not been able to journal much lately. I pick up my notebook and pen and once the ink point hits the paper, I suddenly feel like all the thoughts I had disappear–like they hadn’t been queueing up all day like airline passengers who want to be sure they get overhead space for their carry-on baggage on the United Airlines flight that the attendants keep notifying you is overbooked while plying you like a high-class escort–if you give up your seat, we’ll put you up in a nice hotel and give you $300.00 for the night. $400.00 for your trouble. $500.00 for giving up your flight–and did we mention there’s breakfast? Hot breakfast. Like pancakes and sausages.
And as an aside, y’all, if I wasn’t always traveling on a time and finance budget with my shuttle from the airport to the hotel already pre-arranged–I’d take that sweet ass Sugar Daddy offer in a minute. But alas, time always seems to be the thing I don’t have enough of.
Just keep swimming
Most days I feel like I’m drowning or something close to it and not being able to write down my feelings has been hard. I spoke with my therapist and she told me that with the way I am feeling, perhaps writing is not the best thing for me right now. When I write, I tend to let my thoughts go any which way without much structure–and lately, I crave structure. I crave a plan. I long for a clear path and the ability to make my mark. But everything feels like it slips through my fingers and slides out of reach while I scramble after it, hoping to snatch it back in my arms to cradle and soothe it sane.
My therapist loved that I have been painting and experimenting with art. She suggested I try materials and techniques that give me that structure and stability I crave: drawing solid shapes, using sharp-ass colored pencils and markers–things that make definite markings and aren’t too messy. Things that promote containment in those moments where I feel like my insides want to make like the universe and big bang outside myself, scattering the pieces of me like confetti.
Just keep swimming
This is a postcard I made a while ago that I lost track of when I put it between the pages of a book to flatten out and then forgot about it. Part of me feels naughty when I rip pages out of books and chop out the pieces of words so lovingly crafted and meant for the eye to read and the mind to ruminate on its complexity.
The other part of me is like, “I see it, I want it / I stunt yellow bone it / I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it.” Because why the hell not. I paid $1.00 for this book and I’ll collage with it whenever and wherever I want. And you will all watch me do it and call me brave.
Or you know, remind me that I’m a blasphemer who has no business around books and should just go sit in the Kindle corner with the other commuters.
My favorite thing in the whole world is the ocean. If it were possible to meditate by the ocean in the Bay Area without cold wind whipping all around me, snotting my nose, watering my eyes, and burning my ears–I would be meditating on her beauty all the time. But alas. The beach is fucking cold out here. So in lieu of that experience, I just paint or sketch ocean scapes. I’ve gotten more comfortable with less formality when I paint. I used to set it up like a tea ceremony–all my materials laid out and stock card at the ready for the inspiration to take over. Some mad mystical instrumentals playing in the background. Wine. You know. Super luxurious and relaxing. Which is great when I can manage it.
Nowadays I paint more spontaneously and on whatever material is at hand without much thought to what I could possibly use this for. This means I’m painting more for myself. And I hope that if you are on an artistic journey yourself, you recognize that those moments you paint for you are just as valuable as the pieces you paint that others will see. Maybe even more so.
Between my study sessions, to keep sane I saturate my brain with intervals of hard core dance entertainment. My current obsession is alternating Australia’s answer to the dance movie (the TV show Dance Academy) and all clips of Misty Copeland or Michaela DePrince. Because I love dancing almost as much as I love breathing–and if this world was fair and there were no monsters hiding in the dark, and no demons to beat back with a stick–I swear to you, I might be a prima ballerina right now.
There isn’t as much flow and movement as I would like in this painting but I’m still pretty happy with how it came out. Because the headpiece almost looks like it’s just an explosion coming out of someone’s head. Which is a true and accurate depiction of what it feels like for my own head most days.
So. You know. Winning.
Just keep swimming
I talk a lot about darkness in my posts. Mostly because I’m a reformed high school emo kid who always keeps a corner of my house clear in case I need to go cry in it. But mostly because…you know…it’s there. Always there. And most days, I’m okay with that. I mean, I’m not entirely sure I should be okay with it given all society’s talk of shining light on the dark places and always looking forward–moving toward the light at the end of the tunnel.
But…really. The darkness is here now. And for me, before I can shine light on it, I gotta hunker down and dig deep. I’ve searched for ways to shut out the dark. I’ve slept with the light on, I’ve hung two lanterns on my porch for when the darkness comes by sea, I’ve visualized pure light and energy radiating throughout my body–and all it’s gotten me are prickly sensations in my muscles after my feet and legs have fallen asleep.
So I’m working on accepting those dark places inside me in a healthy way. I’ll let you know how that turns out. As of right now, what I think of when I think of embracing my darkness is that it changes my perspective on fear. I’m not afraid of the dark when I embrace it. Instead, I start to realize that maybe other people are afraid of the power that lies in the dark.
And I think of all the ways I’ve been conditioned to fear my own darkness and my own power. All the stories of little girls getting lost in the woods and gobbled up by predators. The princesses of the seasons lured to the underworld by a hell god. The mermaids who gave up their tails for stabbing leg pain and a chance at a boring old human soul. I think of how we are supposed to fear for their safety and their blindness.
But what I think is the most scary about these stories is the chance that the tale is framed wrong. What if these heroines weren’t lured or tricked by the darkness but went into it knowing that it contained something they wanted–something they were searching for?
How terrifying is a Red Riding Hood who knew exactly what she was doing when she invited the wild in. — Nikita Gill
And that’s all I’ve got for right now folks.
Let me know how your month has been going. You’ve heard mine. Please send chocolate.
Until next time, my lovelies!