Parklife

I just came back from a walk with my dog. It’s something I don’t do often with him. I either let him out in the backyard and supervise him, or walk him in the front yard when it gets late. These walking duties are split with mom 80/20 (that is, probably 80% her, 20% me), who is more likely to take him up the hill and to the park nearby our house, where he quite frankly has the time of his life running and prancing around, smelling new smells, encountering different people and dogs. But I’m usually not down to walk him because I’m afraid people will stop me and ask about him, wanting to strike up a dialogue about his undeniable cuteness, “what breed is he?”, etc. It’s small talk, pleasantries, and overall socialization I want to avoid at all costs, mainly because when I go for my walk I have headphones in; I’m studying production / meditating on music, I’m grappling with any personal issues I may be having with myself and/or others, I stick to a pace so I can get some steady physical activity in my life. It’s this whole total introspection exercise for me (with a physical benefit). And by bringing the dog (who is also a puppy and runs all over the place), I can’t accomplish this tried and true exercise of mine. Because it works! I always feel better when I go for a walk; I feel better because I got some exercise and broke a sweat, and maybe got some clarity on an issue I was having, or least of all, I listened to some good music and really got in the zone. All of this has a role in alleviating the anxiety I find myself plagued with from time to time. And boy, has it been bad lately.

I feel like I’ve been struggling with a slow and painful crescendo of anxiety for the past three weeks or so. And when I say “struggling” I completely mean it. It creeps up when I wake, is present when I drift off to sleep and is at varying levels throughout the day. It hasn’t been feeling like it’s been getting better, but continuously building to unbearable levels. And anxiety is something I’m no stranger to. I’ve struggled with it since I child, though never medically diagnosed, and it has continued to plague my adult life as well. However, within the past 5-6 years or so I’ve worked on ways to keep it at bay; “change my relationship to it”. And this has been accomplished through writing (songs or otherwise), meditation, most recently yoga, also reading and devouring the ideas of Carl Jung, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Campbell, as well as watching The Power of Myth, etc. And honestly, just being open and honest with my feelings with my parents and friends. Crying also helps sometimes. I’m still struggling to attend yoga classes at the frequency I was a few months ago, so this morning I made myself go to a restorative class my friend was teaching, and within the first 5 minutes I felt a tear start streaming down my right cheek simply because I started to feel an alleviation of anxiety, mixed with the promise of peace.

The thing too about my anxiety is that sometimes its not clear why I’m experiencing it. It seems to just appear? And it’s not until I really start to deconstruct what’s been going on in my life, am I then able to follow the thread down to this root of anxiety. I have a bunch of ideas why I’m currently experiencing it (work, my EP, making plans I’m also starting to realize makes me incredibly anxious, there’s also a small voice about future just underneath the din; There so much more probably). I also think I set expectations for myself that I’m just not able to meet and then I get upset and hard on myself about it. Not that they’re unrealistic, but I just think I have to structure my time differently and not be so mean to myself. I think I’ve blogged about this before, but I was reiterating this idea to my mom this morning about how this self-governing principle I have, that grew and grew while transitioning from child to adult, to the point where I now have no sympathy for myself, and how I tend to treat my actions, inactions, and mistakes in this very cut and dry militant way and how that’s really not good for my mental health. In this conversation I also touched on this need to please others that has also migrated over from my childhood (constantly trying to please my dad in academics and extracurriculars) and into adulthood with these self-governing principles making me feel like shit when I can’t accomplish that completely unrealistic mission of pleasing everyone; Like a fucked up, perverse muscle memory that harms myself and helps no one.

But to get back to the beginning of this post, what I wanted to touch on was that halfway through this short little walk my dog I took, I realized how nice it was; There were quite frankly not that many people at the track. There was a woman and her granddaughter whom I said “Hi” to. And it was good chunk of time where I could focus on the playfulness and excitability of my dog, the nice day outside, my own breathing and sense of gratitude. I was a period of time spent away from screens, spent away from my phone. My ears open to the sounds of the park. And it was calming.  There was a part of me that did want to stay and walk longer, but not wanting to push my pup too hard, I opted to come home, where I am now writing this, getting all these ideas out, telling this story that is giving me peace of mind and clarity somehow (that I hope perhaps gives you the same). And I will now continue to enjoy this day off, make some cold brew, take a shower, and enjoy the house with my dog. Another thing I was saying to my mom this morning was the older I get, the more I realize that I am 100% introverted, I just tend to act extroverted in social spaces to better get along with people. And while I don’t believe this is necessarily a bad thing, I just think I need to be more cognizant of that and what that means for my overall mental health and how I choose to spend my energy.

Yoga (and the dog walk) was so necessary this morning and I was so glad I made the time. It’s complete transformative magic I need to prioritize more. I also need to start eating better and going on more walks. Last time my anxiety got like this was when I was in a “physical activity” slump. But once I got on the elliptical machine, I could feel it all start to melt away. One of my frustrations is that it’s been difficult lately to make the time for this due to my sometimes early mornings and then late nights, requiring me to sleep in to get the rest I need. But I’m all about finding balance because when I can balance, everything becomes Zen. If I can find balance, I can see clearly and accomplish anything. And because of this, it is something I must continually strive for.

believe it or not

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not – I’m still my PJs, it’s 7 PM on my day off drinking my first White Claw ever. So much for my whole introspection schtick about drinking. Speaking of that by the way, I ended up having a beer after I wrote that last post. Whoops. It’s a struggle I guess. I started to get stressed and anxious about the dog and whether or not my mom was really keeping an eye on him and I caved. It’s was an Ommegang Abbey Ale. Wasn’t bad, but too dark for summer. I got a lot of non-summery beers last time I went to Stew Leonard’s. The White Claw is interesting. Black Cherry flavor; Tastes a little too much like medicine, but it is refreshing. My aunt and cousin brought them over yesterday around lunch time. We had ordered food and they had come over to see the dog. I wanted to try one, but was leaving for work soon so I asked if I could take one to have it later. And now later is now.

I’m waiting for this big rainstorm/thunderstorm to hit. I’ve been getting weather alerts about it on my phone all day. Sky’s finally getting dark. Outside feels like soup.

It felt right to stay home today. I had preliminary plans to get my brows done and go to yoga, but I got really really tired after 3 and ended up taking a nap for like, an hour. I think it’s the heat. It felt good to sleep thought. Really good. These past two days have felt like a week. Work has been busyish and exhausting.

I’ve been thinking about why I feel like compulsion to blog. I think there is some sense of relief in unloading and “putting it all on the page”, yes. Definitely. But in my mind I also see these posts as little time capsules; Things I can look back on and reflect on in the future when my life is completely different. And I can read this post and be like, “Wow, I remember that summer night I was drinking a White Claw before that storm hit, the day before another studio session to put the finishing touches on my EP”. I don’t know why the sense of remembering and reminiscing feels nice, but it does. Maybe it’s this getting older thing. After a point, you can’t help but look back and remember.

A/C got fixed by the way. There’s a leak, but it’s working and my parents will probably have to replace the unit soon for a ton of money. But they’ve had the system for 14 years and they say that’s about how long they last.

It’s way too hot to walk tonight. And I think this rain is supposed to last, so that’s out. I’ll probably get my brows done tomorrow (either before or after I go to the studio) and go to beginner’s yoga on Saturday again. I meant to go to Restorative yesterday and today, but I slept too late (since I worked so late). Also, my mom had the car this morning and my dad and brother had already gone to work with their cars.

Today was a strange self-care day filled with carbs and TV and naps, and I refuse to feel guilty about it. It was medicine, it was needed, and I will go to bed tonight sleeping well and wake up refreshed tomorrow, ready to sink my teeth into another recording session.

New Jersey July

The A/C broke in our house. Well, I don’t know if “broke” is the right word; It’s not cooling properly. It’s working, operational, turns on when it’s supposed to; It’s just not cooling. PSE&G can’t get out here ’til tomorrow so for about 24 hours the house has had no A/C in what’d I’d consider average New Jersey July heat. It’s been lightly maddening. Thankfully I have plenty of ice water and books to keep me cool and still. Also, the windows are open and the house fan’s been on all day. But I fidget. My hands sweat. The heat makes me agitated. I try to reign it in, but right now, in these conditions, it can go from 0 to runaway-train real quick.

I’m still wearing the clothes I went to bed in – FILA shorts, a old (now sleeveless) Black Flag t-shirt, I’ve had for years and years – maybe since junior or senior year of high school – A shirt I cut the sleeves from a few years ago; One side I cut pretty uniformly. The other is horrendous and choppy. I decided this morning that this is the last time I’ll be wearing it. I’ll throw it through the wash one more time and then either give it to my mom to use as a rag, or just give it away – or hell, maybe just throw it out. It is very worn out.

My body is a little sore from a beginner yoga class I took yesterday, which incenses me. It’s something I’m still trying to make peace with. The last hot class I took was in the beginning of April. Then May got busy, or I just didn’t make the time, and then before I knew it was June. And it’s not smart, especially for a non-athletically built person like me, to just jump back into hot yoga when you’ve been absent for more than a moment. So last month, I vowed to get back into the groove with beginner and restorative classes until I no longer felt sore the morning after. This to me, signifies that I am ready to try a hot class again. But as quickly as I climbed back on, I then fell off the wagon for an additional two weeks, and in pure Sisyphean fashion I’ve had to start from square one all over again. And it’s been frustrating. Especially because I haven’t quite been working out, except for my daily commute speedwalks that carry me to and from subway platforms and bus terminals. It’s doubly frustrating to me because it’s hard to do yoga, get stronger, get “good”, impress yourself only to then let it fall by the wayside and when you get back on the mat, it’s like you’re a newborn infant all over again, especially when you’ve experienced the peace, the empowerment, the inner strength of consistent practice. But now, like anything else quite frankly, I have to earn it all over again. I have to work. I need to be dedicated. Because dedication and well-intention practice and hard work cannot be faked.

I get in the habit of making a to-do list every day I’m home and have free time. And there’s always something on there. But today, in this heat, and my weird refusal to leave the house, today I find myself compelled to catching up on reading I have put on the back burner for too long. I just finished Kate Mulgrew’s “How To Forget”, which I devoured. Next up is a book from the 33 1/3 series on Jawbreaker’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy record, written by Ronen Givony, which I picked up at Jawbreaker’s merch table when I saw them at Starland Ballroom a few months ago. I think in March. I’m not sure why but I’ve been using all my will to get myself to read rather than to watch TV. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m surrounded by TV / screens all day, when I’m at work or if it’s because I feel like no one reads anymore and in a weird way, acknowledging this, I take it up myself to make sure that I do. It’s this weird impulse to make sure I practice this dying art, perhaps similar to deliberately learning and speaking Latin.

I may go for a walk once the sun goes down. But right now, it’s too hot to do that and then come home to a house with no air conditioning. How did anyone manage heat before that glorious invention?

I’ve lately been debating the pros and cons of alcohol / common debauchery, reflecting on landmarks of my youth somehow marked by intoxicated abandon, and wondering if in fact the reason I still reluctantly cling to them is in some strange way a subconscious attempt to relive and resurrect my youth. Or perhaps less dramatically, I attempt a way to still feel connected to it, and somehow find stability and comfort, even if it means taking my hands off the wheel for awhile. But I think a tolerance has manifested that will never erode. And it’s really the tolerance of time. That is to say, those moments, in that time, at that age – will never be again. I will never again experience and live within those versions of me. They live forever, but are also lost forever and I can never claim them again. There is only now and whatever small window of the future we think we perceive – or what in fact will be. I also do think that the repercussions of a hard night of drinking hit harder as we age and this I know and have experienced, but besides that, besides that punishment. It is as if a switch has flipped. I no longer see the joy in drinking, but in acknowledging this I am simultaneously upset at admitting it to myself. I am upset at it’s truth. This past week I have opened more than one bottle of beer and choked it back, wishing I hadn’t opened it, yet consuming it since I spent the money on it. And I think this self-admission is painful for me because partying, or at least it’s justification and ethos, is what identified me for so long as a teenager and then into my early twenties. I get that it’s maturity, I get that I as a human being have the right to change, but I suppose then the reason why this thing upsets me is because without this feature, without this “will to drink”, who am I? I think it is easier to assert oneself in a public space as someone who likens to that sort of thing than it is to practice temperance. Because the truth is, I know I’m changing / have changed. It’s done. I refuse to swim against the current of my own intuition. Maybe it’s people. Maybe it’s all about who you hang out with and since my crowd has changed considerably in the past few years and I’ve become more self-sustaining, I retreat into myself and have no need to go down those roads. Or perhaps it’s that any trauma, or sadness, or emotional terror I had and needed something to numb, quell, or distract from that inner pain, has now been smoothed over by yoga, meditation, a good night’s sleep, or a good cup of coffee. Maybe it’s all about the coping mechanism. Because the truth is I feel more grounded than I have in a long time, even on my anxious days (which lately there have been a few).

Well the ice in my glass has long since melted, and I think it’s time to hit that “Publish” button for today. The sun is setting and it’s getting considerably cooler in the kitchen (which is truly saying something). I think I’ll cut myself an apple, help myself to some pecans, and settle into this Jawbreaker book so I can devour that too.

waiting to leave

I’m waiting to leave my house.

It’s 9:20 AM on a Tuesday. I have studio time booked for 10, but it’s too early to leave.

It’s not that far. Only a 12 minute car ride from my house.

I’ve hired a violinist play on a sad track I wrote called, “All Your Books”. A track that I know is my most honest one yet, but I’m simultaneously afraid to release it for fear people/listeners will needlessly worry about me. (Y’all don’t need to – The song was written awhile ago in a different headspace than my current one.) But I can’t deny the honesty Life. That’s what music and art and songwriting is all about. And I feel as though I must stay true to that, regardless of others’ potential misconceptions.

The song touches on loneliness and I suppose feeling left behind in an important aspect of growing up – that of physical love. And grappling with that. Trying to pull myself up out of my depression by my own bootstraps; Trying really hard to put a positive spin on it, and lift myself out of it based on logic and sheer will. It’s a very intimate song. It’s delicate. It’s vulnerable. It frightens me.

But the one thing that does not frighten me is the certainty that I am not alone. That I am not alone in my feelings or experiences and that there are other people out there just like me. Who feel just like this. Who will/can resonate when the hear the song and/or read the words. And as an artist who appreciates music, how else can I contribute to the scene without putting something out there that perhaps has never been expressed before in this way? Isn’t that the point? To do it even when it hurts? Even when you’re scared?

Today the sky looks like blue raspberry italian ice. I’m drinking cold brew I made with Madcap coffee (really good coffee and would totally buy those beans again). Today would have been my maternal grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary (that’s Nonna and my Poppy for those keeping score). Today my mom seems tense, anxious, and worrisome.

We got a little puppy last month (a Dachshund/Chihuahua mix whose name is Mario) and he has been such a joy to have in the house. He’s going to be 7 months in a few weeks. He is playful, a little mischievous, doing pretty well with house training, and only barks a little a night – he’s getting better with that…

I think there’s so much more to talk about and say – I’ve forgotten how nice it is to just let it out on the page sometimes – but I think I will focus on finishing this cold brew and loading the few items I have into my car.

To anyone who’s reading these weird, little, intimate posts of mine – Hello! Thank you.

And even if no one is, I don’t care. Sometimes it’s nice to write it all out, just for me. 🙂

 

self-imposed guilt

Why do I feel so guilty when I don’t do yoga? Or when I don’t get everything done on my to-do list? I hate that. Why am I such a perfectionist? When can’t I just chill and let things go, let things flow? I hate how I allow these minor infractions of going off-schedule or “off to-do list” can slow down and drag down my whole day. I need to rise about this self-imposed bullshit I put on myself.

I worked a late shift last night, got home around 2, showered, and by the time I got to bed it was 3. I woke up at about 9:40 and knew there was a restorative class at 12:15 I totally could have gone to. But I went downstairs and forgot my brother had taken the day off and I feel like I haven’t seen him all week, so we had breakfast together and it was nice. But eating when we did ruled out going to yoga (because I don’t practice well if I eat less than 2 hours before. I don’t feel right and it’s distracting). And I’m glad we spent time together. I probably would have made the same choice if I started my day all over again. Yet why do I feel guilt for not going to yoga? It’s not like I said I’d go and then didn’t show up. I didn’t even reserve a spot. Yet I feel like I’m punishing myself, making myself feel badly for not committing to something I wanted to do in a perfect world, you know?

And it’s not just yoga, it’s other things too. Like clearing my desk, reading more, changing my guitar strings – anything really. Yoga’s just today’s example. Sometimes there’s just not enough time in a day or not enough personal energy in a day to get it all done. I have to learn how to be okay with my choices, especially when choosing not to do something. When we’re young, our parents are our primary disciplinarians teaching us right from wrong, teaching us values. But as we get older and find ourselves in more and more situations where we need to rely on ourselves, I think there are moments sometimes where we know we missed the mark (or think we missed the mark) where we end up disciplining ourselves in a strange way. As though there is some straight-lined objective that’s a part of us. And feeling like shit or “unfulfilled” or “guilty” is part of that self-punishment. And I think it’s so ingrained into my mind it happens automatically. It’s like a Pavlovian effect.

Because although it may not be my list, having breakfast and laughing with my brother, catching up on TV, or going for a walk (which I still hope to do) are still good and wonderful things. And I don’t regret doing those things. I need to stop feeling as though the day is lost because I didn’t get one or two things done. I need to learn how to look forward and move on and see the big picture.

Maybe it’s the curse of being near-sighted; I get too close to things and forget to back up and realize it’s all part of a bigger picture.