22

“I forgive my 22-year-old self.”

I was thinking this to myself in the bathroom mirror this morning analyzing my reflection, tweezing my eyebrows (which are long overdue to get waxed) and putting on moisturizer, combing my freshly blow-dried hair.

Last night my mom and I found ourselves going through some of my old songs, my old bedroom recordings. And I started reminiscing and reading the lyrics of my 24/7 project, et al. (Remember that?) And I was in awe of how long ago that seemed. Also in awe of how much detail I recalled about every single one of those songs. I knew where I was when I wrote them, why I did, what certain lines meant, etc. And I mean, I planned it that way. Each song was supposed to be a snapshot in time. That was a crucial aspect of the project. But the experience of actually remembering it was slightly profound to me.

And this morning, I was just thinking about the insane expectations I had placed on myself when I had graduated college (part 1) in 2013. Or maybe not that I placed them on myself, but they were things I thought society had expected me to fulfill by that age. The expectations I had believed were to be gainfully employed, financially independent, and married or in a committed relationship – all after college. And sure, there are some folks who have ticked one, two, or all the things on the list – and good for them – but I was not one of them. When I finally graduated I was tired, I was depressed, I was floundering; Unsure of everything, disconnected, disenfranchised, unsure of my place in the world and how to live in it. I was miserable.

And listening to these songs, reflecting on how much has changed in a mere 5-6 years since i wrote them, I couldn’t help but think of that 22-year-old girl finding solace in Oasis, Star Trek, and little else. And I forgive her because those expectations are absurd to fulfill in general, nevermind right away. I recognize I am still a work in progress, but it felt good to turn back for a moment, acknowledge the struggles and anxieties of my younger self, offer her forgiveness and tell her it’s okay.

I also think that I’ve been giving my “music career”, or perhaps my “musician / songwriter persona” a lot of thought lately. My EP songs are basically mixed, mastering is happening soon. And I wonder if the music I have painstakingly dedicated so much time and money to will eventually connect with others. That’s my primary goal. It means so much to me. And in addition to this, I also bear in mind my current work self. Because I like my job, like what it pays, like where I am. But have come to acknowledge that songwriting is my absolute most favorite thing in the world. It is undeniable, indisputable personal fact. I’m not naive enough to go chasing rootless pipe dreams. I recognize this. But I also recognize what I love. When I think long and hard about it, I don’t fancy myself a touring musician but I do love to write songs more than anything else I’ve ever done in my life.

And with that said, I know I’ve been terrible at making time to write and practice and know I need to start making time again, and maybe writing this will make me more accountable. More on that another day.

-xo-

coffee, black

I’ve been putting cinnamon in my coffee. Partly inspired by a combination of a detailed recollection from Kate Mulgrew’s How to Forget, and a choice episode from the television show Weeds (when the Botwins go to the state fair and Silas and Andy smoke a joint Silas rolled with cinnamon) – ANYWAY. Last time I made it, I put in too much and the coffee was overly bitter. This morning though, it’s not too bad. I just shook out a little bit onto the grounds before brewing. I drink my coffee black – like Lorelai Gilmore, like Janeway. And I remember exactly when I started drinking it black:

Four years ago, about a week or two after my grandmother passed away, I had a trip planned to California to visit a friend. I was staying at his place for the week, and every morning he would wake up before me to go to the local coffee shop, and bring back either an iced coffee or iced tea for me (which was incredibly sweet and kind of him). At that time, I usually would take my coffee with non-dairy milk (soy or almond), and maybe a Sweet n’ Low (although, I might have cut that out of my diet by this point. I felt like it was numbing my taste buds after awhile). So the first morning of my stay, my friend brought my coffee order to me as I had requested. But the following morning, he had either forgotten how I took it or had brought it back black on purpose. I remember him saying some along the lines of, “You know, it’s better for you black. And cold brew is actually meant to be enjoyed black so you get the full flavor profile of the coffee.” I acquiesced; He was my friend, he was hosting me and paying for me. I wasn’t going to complain about a little deviation in my coffee order. So I thanked him, accepted it, and began to drink it. Since that moment, black coffee grew on me and ultimately became my preferred way of drinking it. And there are so many perks – More caffeine per cup, less waiting for my order to be ready at coffee shops, and no calories. The flavor profile has grown on me. And I can’t help but think, that similar to straight whiskey, it is the drink of women who have known pain; who have experienced the complexities of Life. This bitter companion is the bringer of comfort, inspiring confidence. It does not lie. It is not sweet. It is not an idealist, but a realist. It will not deceive you. And every time I drink it, I am reminded of this California memory, freshly grieving my grandmother’s death while in a new state with a new friend. And how my own death and rebirth cycle was so deep and profound to me then, happening in real time. …I’ve been doing a lot of self-reflection lately – but then again, when am I not?

Last night I went to a late-ish yoga class – the last one of the day. And my teacher (who is one of my favorites) started the class by talking about the different reasons why we start yoga. She noted that everyone’s reasons are usually different. For me (aside from the fact that my dad had been practicing for many years and I have close friend who is a teacher), I think I saw it as a way to decrease my anxiety while simultaneously focusing on strengthening my dough-like body. It also was something I always wanted to do, but could never quite get going on it. I was too anxious, too scared, felt like I wouldn’t belong. Fear of failure; and maybe a little bit afraid of potentially hurting myself. But when a studio opened up in town last year, I felt I had run out of excuses. And that’s when I started my practice. My teacher then went on to say, that although we start for a reason or reasons, wonderful other things end up happening along the way that we didn’t plan on or expect. And I agree with that. I love that. Things I could not have accounted for are being part of a wonderful community, the very simple joy of learning my body and listening to it, learning self-acceptance, self-love, and trust. It gave me something to think about and reflect and gave me extra energy / inspiration for my practice that night. I slept easy and well when I got home.

I’m still drinking my bitter nectar, or my black gold, as I like to call it. The dog was briefly settled in my lap, but I put him down so he could sun himself from the back door of the kitchen. Think I’ll make the most of this morning and go for a walk before it gets too warm.

puppy voice & past lives

Mario is so anxious for my mother to come home from her business trip. She should be back within an hour or so. But while her and I FaceTimed this morning, she saw him and called out to him using that gosh-darn puppy voice, the one you just can’t turn off around puppies, and he heard her and he lost it, sniffing about the house, looking everywhere, paws perched on the chair gazing out the window facing the driveway to see if she had finally come home. Even after the call ended he stayed like that, barking and crying out. He was very confused and could not be made to understand. Eventually I talked him down. But all day today he has been very cute and desperate for attention, wanting to play and frolic and cuddle and nap on my lap. He’s going to flip when she finally comes home.

This afternoon I finally finished a personal project I was working on, if you could call it that; I successfully consolidated the contents of two hard drives onto one. The first was my go-to external hard drive when I was at Ramapo, while the second was my go-to external hard drive when I was at Montclair. As you can imagine there was an enormous amount of content on there – and not just school-related. Pictures and songs (audio and video), resumes, etc. A wild assortment of the past 10 or so years of my life if you can believe that. I look back at that girl and she seems so strange to me. I do not remember being her. She seems like a different person, living a different life – at least one I can’t quite remember living. But she was/is me. I did live that life. Strange how it’s all changed and how I was 10 years ago seems like such a foreign concept.  But with that said, I’ve always felt like my younger selves are always with me. Like a nesting doll or the rings of a tree stump after you cut it down. They never go away. They never forget. They are my foundation, for better or worse.

Today is another beautiful day outside. I would love to go for a walk before the sun goes down all the way, and even get another yoga class in. I went last night and it was divine. All in all, today has been just as relaxing as yesterday, but tomorrow I’m back to work – early. However, I very much appreciate and love these little self-care days. Sunlight, fresh air, a dog, peace and quiet. What more could I ever ask for? I intend to enjoy this one all the way until my head hits the pillow tonight.

tuesday daytime solitude

Tuesday daytime solitude is delicious.

I took off work today and tomorrow as my mom’s on a business trip in AC and someone needed to watch the dog while my dad is at work and my brother’s at school. This is the second week she’s had to go to AC for work and the second time I’ve had two wonderful, peaceful days off; Days where I try to relax, yet be productive, and balance not being too hard on myself while relaxing and not having impossible expectations on myself while simultaneously attempting to be productive. What could go wrong?

I do have tentative plans to go to a 6:30 hot yoga class this evening. That way I’ll have a car by that time and won’t have to walk. Though if I did have to walk, it would be a beautiful day for it. I have windows and doors open all around the house today. The pooch is snoozing next to me on the leather loveseat and we have been lulled by the quiet and fresh air all day.

Usually I opt for doing yoga in the morning, but the day has been so beautiful and my mind has been so content that I haven’t wanted to budge. I’m still in my pajamas and have 0 regrets about it. It’s been two days since I last took a class and as much as I try to forgive myself for not going, it has been difficult for me to let it go. Yesterday my evening commute wore me out and I instead opted for finishing my mom’s Chicken Scarpariello leftovers and playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey on my brother’s Playstation. The day before I also had work and that time, my evening bus commute made me queasy by the way the driver kept braking on and off (unnecessarily) and by the time I got home I felt like all the blood had drained from my face. Eating some watermelon perked me up, but I don’t like to eat so close to class time and it was about 20 minutes before class when I ate it. But as much as these reasons are true and objectively valid (IMO), I find myself constantly terrified of making excuses and self-sabotaging myself – because in the past, for one thing or other, I have. Do I just sometimes have such a weak will that I cave to food and video games? Or am I being smart and disciplined by knowing when I should and should not be attempting for lack of a better word, “vigorous exercise”? I think I also become paranoid that if I “drop the ball” so to speak, it’s that much harder to get back on the horse. And I’m terrified of that. Life is a really difficult balancing act.

But I think I’ll watch The Power of Myth this afternoon (because I’ve been meaning to for actual weeks), maybe I’ll have some more melon, maybe I’ll write a song. The potential activity possibilities that haunt my free days are constantly daunting. I wish there was a cure for it. Why can’t I just chill?

ready 4 fall

It’s a cool September morning. I’m so ready for fall to begin. I’m always ready for it. I love the exchange of cooler temperatures for the oppressive summer humidity. My birthday month is coming up, and even though I’m not particularly excited about the date itself, there is always something in the air this time of year that makes me fall in love. It’s a promise of something. Butterflies that keep you on your toes.

The back door is open, cooling the house. I still hear crickets and insects, that not sure what to make of this overcast day; Unsure if it truly is morning or still right before dawn. I hear the light traffic of Bloomfield Avenue and the occasional chirp of a bird as my fingers dance across the keys. I’m downstairs in the kitchen alone. It is quiet. It is divine.

Because I can’t openly type like this when everyone’s awake. I’d never be able to get comfortable. My mind would also be less inclined to give into it’s own observational will. I would be distracted and unsettled.

While the dog and my mom and brother are still upstairs snoozing (as they should) on this cloudy, cool day, my dad just recently left for a yoga studio in Montclair where he’s a karma yogi, as yesterday he accidentally walked away with some cabinet keys in his pocket, and forgot to return them before the studio closed for the night.

We were preliminarily planning on going to a 9:30 class in town. My body feels good from the class I took yesterday, aside from some hip soreness likely due to deeply getting into pigeon pose; There’s so much tightness and emotion I’m holding in there that I have yet to unravel. I can feel it. But I recently decided against going this morning class, as I wasn’t feeling well. Nothing major. Just some mild GI-related discomfort that is already passing. But I didn’t want to chance it. Going into a hot class where the temperature can get up to 105 degrees and not feeling your absolute best going in, is a sure-shot for a miserable experience. I also would feel like I would be rushing to get there. I like to properly hydrate before I go to hot classes – because that is also a miserable experience if you haven’t had enough water beforehand – and when I haven’t, or feel like I’d have to rush it to make it, I try not to push going. I think I’m just excited about my yoga “streak”. I’ve finally gotten back to the hot classes and aside from the fact that that in itself has made me very happy and ecstatic, I’ve been feeling so good afterwards. The reward of breathing and stretching and holding poses makes me feel electric. I’m afraid of stopping – even for a day – for a irrational fear that I’ll fall off the wagon again and have to rebuild my muscle memory all over again.

I’ve made coffee. I’ve been trying to finish up a bag of Irving Farm beans. I have just enough left in the bag for one more cup before the bag is done. As I sip, I realize the cup I made is a little weak, and maybe I should have just finished up the bag, opting for a stronger cup.

Everyday I have things I want to do and feel like I never get to. I find that how I experience my morning is dependent on how the rest of my day will go. I don’t feel tired today, but very laid-back. I don’t want to over-exert myself. Sipping this coffee and typing is really great place for me to be right now. I do have mountains of laundry to put away, records I’ve been meaning to clean. A box of clutter I desperately need to go through. And maybe all of that will get done today. Maybe not.

I also need to go through some mixes Matt has sent me and send him notes in return. I’ll likely do that after this, pending on when my family comes downstairs. I also have been meaning to make a spreadsheet for myself, documenting my recording costs (which I’m slightly afraid to do). I’m not hungry, and have only had some Kombucha and a half ounce of almonds this morning.

..And almost like clockwork my dad has come home at the same time my mom has come down with the dog. Everyone’s mood is bright and buoyant, if not a little sleepy. My writing spell has been broken, and I must move on to make the most of my day. The sun is trying to come out.