24 August 2017

thoughts on identity


W H O
A M
I
\ \ \ ? / / /


I had dinner with my cousin a few months ago, and over fries we talked about how we revert back to this childhood version of ourselves while around family. I'll get defensive at the smallest remark. Or super possessive over clothes. I don't talk much, having grown used to my dad or a sister talking over me. I mulled over this for a night, but did not think about it until a couple of months later.

After a friend's graduation in May, I went to a bar where I ran into an old friend. We chatted about podcasts and identity. He said his family is in town, and it's freaking him out because who he is with his family isn't who he is with his friends. "Who are you alone?" I asked. He grinned and shrugged, I responded the same, while mentally thinking, Shit, who am I alone? 

I have a theory that relationships happen when you're not looking for a relationship. Not on the hunt to impress anyone or match interests with the human sitting next to you, your guard comes down. The moat around the glass castle of your heart dries up, the bow-and-arrow men at the ready go inside for a drink, the gate comes down, and out blasts "All My Friends" while you dance in socks with your eyes closed and arms flailing.

An issue that I face is that I have a responsive type of personality. My mood, actions, and responses mirror that of someone I'm not too familiar with.
Are you a heady human being who talks about identity, recent books you've read, upcoming travels, creative outlets, and enjoys flirting for the sake of a good time? Me too, all the time. 
Oh, you're a twenty something girl who just wants to drink and dance and eat at brunch places you can't afford? WOW, same here!! We're, like, best friends! 
You like to hike, rock climb, meditate, listen to podcasts, discovering bands, and you walk around to clear your head? I do all of that and fit in a yoga sesh by 11 am. 
While I enjoy all of those things, I hone in on a "type" and cater to the person in front of me.

Maybe now is a good time to explore who I am when it's just me and my dog. Here it goes:

I don't feel like my name matches my identity. Sometimes, at coffee shops, I say my name is Amber. I've never done that, but I've thought about it enough. I want to camp more, specifically around big trees. I love my family but sometimes they are too loud and I wish I had a hearing aid that I could turn off. I enjoy going to museums and galleries but often find myself more interested in the people looking at the art, or the artist's intention and mental space while making the art, than the art itself. I talk to strangers often, and somehow get them to tell me their life story. I wish I were more tenacious in my career / love life. I'm a notorious two-monther, whether it's the way I like my eggs, the genre of music I listen to, romantic crushes,  kombucha, or deleting my instagram – I'm trying to get over this trend. Lately I've had an urge to work on a farm in New Zealand, where my hands will get dirty and blistered as sweat runs down into my eyes. I'll be smelly with no makeup and hairy legs, but I'll be happily hard-worked. I take a weird pride in my music taste, sometimes that bugs me. I love dancing, mostly alone but surrounded by people. One of my favorite things to do is search used books that have handwritten inscriptions on the first couple of pages (usually leather bound with a divine smell, a century old, and a "turn to pg 63" type of instruction). I hate how social media sucks me in. I don't really like alcohol. I'm getting over a weird relationship with food. I find an unmeasurable comfort in laying on the floor. I miss an intimacy I never really had, and recently I've had an intense urge to get out my watercolors and paint. It's been four months. 

The takeaway is that I'm on a mission to be authentic with my whole self, not just in parts, to those around me. No more picking and choosing. If I feel like playing Santo & Johnny in the car while a Miguel type of guy sits next to me, you betcha "Sleep Walk" is going to be in my queue.

20 August 2017

the sound of silence

cinestill50d | newport | july
I sit here on this living room couch with a hot mug of tea warming my aching ovaries as my body heat warms the leather seat. These are my 02:12 am observations:
1. The AC, a constant whir, has churned to a stop
2. The air duct in the ceiling creaks 
3. My dad's snores are airy and inconsistent. 
    3a. Shit, is he breathing right now? 
    3b. Oh. Ok it's picked up again. 
4. From my grandmother's room plays melancholy Indian music. Very low, melodic. 
5. Tibby is walking around the house. His collar jingles, his paw pads. 
6. He sniffs like a coke addict. 
7. Tibby licks his lips a lot. 
8. I hear a clock ticking.
    8a. We don't have a clock?? 
9. There's a cricket quickly tapping somewhere beyond. 
10. Indian music and snores compete for an audience. 
11. The fridge joins in with a medium airy, wavy hum.

Freshman year of college, Jenkins began Intro to Fiction with what he called the greatest composition of all time. He pressed play and we heard nothing. Watching on screen, it was clear why: the violinists touched no bow to string, the winds held their breath, the triangle did not ring. Silence. at least, from an orchestral point of view. The people around me shifted with creaky chairs, sneakers padded dirty carpet, a bird chirped outside the window, and the projector hummed. 

All this, I picked up in moments, minutes – my ears slowly getting used to honing in on what's around me. How often do I smother my surrounding sounds with bites of media? What am I missing? Hell, before I buckle, I hit shuffle.


Life is a series of ambience hidden under 2 dialogue tracks and a score. Time to hit the mute button.

15 August 2017

early bird

la aube

toute à l'heure

la pénombre
My best mornings start in the dark – an accidental early wake-up call brought on by a vivid dream or a dog scratching at my door. I wake up before the sun has a chance to stretch. There's an ultimate stillness in the house, broken only by my tip toes across the hard-wood floors as I make my way into the kitchen. Some days, I spend my mornings french-pressing, but today feels different. As I make my way down to the bottom of a big glass of water, I brainstorm how to utilize such an early start to my day. I can go anywhere, there won't be traffic for a couple of hours. I have nothing planned for today...
The glass hits the counter and I've made my decision: I'm going on a hike. A sunrise hike. I pack up a brunch for an after-workout treat, grab the good socks and my worn down shoes, and I hit the road. It's amazing how close Griffith Park is when Google gives the green light of traffic.
I park and follow these two older asian women up a pretty intermediate path. I'm thirty years younger than them and they're absolutely killing this hiking game. On my third water stop break, I'm doubting being here. What am I doing with my life? This shrubbery is ugly, I'm out of shape, I haven't rationed my water, and I definitely wore the wrong underwear. The coconut oil I put in my hair the night before mixes in with my sweat, creating a sweet sheet of salty whatever on the crown of my head. It drips along my eyelashes, clouding my view until I get the chance to wipe it off.
Complaining isn't going to do anything. I'm on this mountain, I can backtrack the shitty way I came or I can find a better viewpoint.
I twist the cap back on my water bottle, unzip my jacket and continue upward.
An hour later, I find myself in an oasis of mist and trees, benches and stumps damp from dew. Amir's Garden. This place felt like a pond in the middle of the Sahara. I picked a bench, took out my phone, and meditated for ten minutes. Deep breaths, mental focus and unfocus. Eyelids closed off to the beauty surrounding me. People passed but I gave them no mind. Thoughts danced in and out of my mental window. The best part about meditation is that I forget where I am. All I know is that my butt sits on a surface, and my belly grows and shrinks with air. I open my eyes to the jungle around. I take out a pen and notepad from my leg pocket. Red against white, I write:

                      I want my ashes to be buried with seeds, so that I may grow into a tree by a stream.                I want Wind to swoosh through my leaves like summer car rides with the windows down. She'll sway with my branches like Saturday nights as the birds perch like pendants for a dash of color on my brown body. This is how life will be until it isn't, and I'm returned to ash climbing the sky in a swirl of smoke.

The sun rises as I put away my things. I finish the hike as the city awakens, beams hitting buildings bringing downtown to life. I walk along the observatory. There's a man power washing the steps. The old women from earlier drink tea at a small table. A couple take and retake photos in front of the hollywood sign. I wonder what they think of me as I walk by. Maybe they don't think of me at all.