The Existential Vacuum

I’m the type of person who feels overwhelmed when my schedule is busy yet panics the moment that I have too much free time. Whenever I find myself coming home from work around noon with no appointments or plans for the rest of the day, I think to myself, “Oh my God, what am I going to do with all this free time! I must fill up my schedule!” and proceed to fill up my schedule. However, I recently have discovered that I’ve been so stressed out that I didn’t even know I was stressed out. I’ve been completely out of touch with my own self and have been piling layers upon layers on top of my soul with to-do lists and plans for the future. Where am I- my relaxed self? For the relaxed self is the true self; the self that exists solely in the present moment is the only true self. The self that gets ahead of herself trying to plan out each month, year of her life is only getting away from herself. The real me is buried deep in there, somewhere, underneath all the layers of anxiety and stress.

I am also an extrovert; I become lonely easily and like having other people around. I feel like it’s a sad day if I go the whole day without seeing a friend.

Thus, I have decided to do something dramatic tonight: face the existential vacuum.

In a really inspiring video on YouTube, Ralph Smart discusses our need to constantly be doing things; he says that we are afraid of this silence that awaits us, or the existential vacuum. However, he says that it clears the mind to face that vacuum and to ultimately realize that you don’t have to do anything.

Tonight, I had plans with a co-worker that got canceled. Having the evening suddenly free, I then thought to myself, “Oh shit, what am I going to do now? I can go to open mic night! Oh shit, I have nothing to perform! Okay, let’s try to find something to perform. Oh wait, I should go to dance class instead! Or, maybe I should just call my boyfriend, I’m feeling lonely. Man, it’s a Thursday night, and on Thursday nights fun young people go out and do stuff. I would be a total lame-o if I didn’t have a crazy adventurous night tonight.”

Then, however, I decided to challenge myself to simply not do anything with anyone. If I’ve been so stressed out recently, how am I supposed to relax if I’m running around and doing stuff? If I’ve been so out of touch with myself, how am I supposed to come back in touch if I’m distracting myself with other people?

It hasn’t been easy. I keep wanting to just call my boyfriend and whine to him about my loneliness. I keep checking the clock to see if I can still make it to dance class (if I leave right now I can!). I want to go look up on the internet how to move abroad and how to get an English teaching job abroad and how to study abroad and how to go back to college and how to save up money and looking for another job in order to save money and OH MY GOD my brain never gets off the treadmill, does it?

I am facing the boredom, the silence, and my own frenetic energy that is so confused in this still environment- and I think that it is the greatest thing that I could have done for myself tonight.

Blind to You

Note to self: keep your thoughts- the things about which you ponder, your opinions, the topics about which you are knowledgeable, your ignorances- to yourself. Otherwise people whom you barely know will call you out and pick you apart.

The comment wars. How we spend our time debating subjects on Facebook, bullying people, or simply being rude to them when in real life we would never act this way. The veil of the Internet allows sharpness and a disregard for others’ feelings to come out. The social barriers of kindness are gone when the medium is a keyboard or thumbs on an iPhone in lieu of a voice, of eye contact, of facial expressions and body language. It is so easy to hurt people whom you barely know in this fashion. It might even make the perpetrator LOL in the process.

I am not perfect and do not know everything about everything. I am not a cultural expert on the world. However, I understand that black women’s hair can be a very contentious issue, and I know Shakira’s ethnic background because she is my idol and I probably know too many random details about her life. I love Shakira and Beyoncé, the subjects of a Facebook status that I posted. I recently watched Beyoncé’s music video for her song “Blue,” and my favorite part of the video was the fact that her hair was “perfect” in my eyes: long, wavy, silky, and light blonde with dark roots. I then wondered why I loved hair that looked like a white woman’s hair. Additionally, Shakira is one of my “hair idols.” I envy her natural wild curls and love her hair when it is dyed blonde.

Fuck. I dye my hair blonde.

Beyoncé is African-American, and Shakira, though born in Colombia, is of Lebanese, Spanish, and Italian descent. My Facebook status in question was pondering why these two women choose to dye their hair blonde when, according to my knowledge at the time of posting, it was pretty obvious that they are not naturally blonde due to their ethnicities. I totally believe that people can do whatever they want with their appearance, including their hair. Again, I think that Shakira and Beyoncé have beautiful hair. However, there is a cultural phenomenon called a standard of beauty, and in too many places around the world, beauty is associated with having lighter skin color, hair color, and eye color. I was hoping that Beyoncé and Shakira weren’t trying to meet this standard and instead choose to go blonde simply because they like it.

I dye my hair blonde because I like it. I am also of German, Swedish, either Russian or Lithuanian but my mom doesn’t know for sure, French, and Irish descent. I have pale skin and green eyes. It is pretty common for people from my particular ethnic backgrounds to have naturally blonde hair, and so I sometimes I think that I can pass for being a natural blonde. I also live in a place that is sunny all of the time which contributes somewhat to the lightness of my hair.

I learned after posting my status from a commenter that some Middle Eastern women naturally have pale skin and light hair and eye color. I am glad that I now know that and am a little bit less ignorant on that subject.

However, I had a couple of other commenters “calling me out” for the fact that I, too, dye my hair blonde. One commenter whom I met one time two years ago and haven’t spoken to since said, “Posts a status about how weird it is that other women dye their hair. Dyes her own hair. LOL.”

You know what? I do think it’s kind of weird that the two arguably most famous pop stars in the world dye their hair blonde- yet I dye my hair blonde. I also think it’s weird that someone came up with the idea of shaving one’s legs and armpits- yet I shave my legs and armpits. It’s weird that a lot of men will pay for dinner on a first date with a woman- yet I have let men pay for me on a first date. It’s weird that in our society, we respond, “Good!” to the question of “How are you?” regardless of the fact that we may be doing poorly- yet I tell people all the time that I’m “Good!” I think it’s weird that someone came up with the idea of painting one’s nails, and I don’t paint my nails. It’s weird that humans have consciousness and plants don’t. It’s weird that we don’t know what happens after we die.

I like to dance weirdly sometimes. I am prone to meowing randomly. I once went through a phase in which I greeted people by saying, “Hiiiieeeeeee.” I also went through a Scrunchie phase. I don’t ever want to have children.

Weird is not bad. Weird is curiosity-inducing, thought-provoking. Weird is fun.

Or maybe that is just my own weird opinion.

There are things about me that are weird. There are things about life and the world that are weird. There are in things in my culture that I think are weird but in which I partake anyway. I’m a fucking hypocrite, guys. Isn’t it weird how “guys” can be a genderless way to address people but “girls” is not?

Anyhow, I’m entitled to my own thoughts, opinions, and ability to ponder the world around me with my sociology glasses on. I’m a sensitive person and a lot of the time cannot handle the backlash that comes from being a human being with a voice and an opinion- but perhaps I should work on maintaining confidence in my own voice and even my own human imperfection as opposed to bowing down to people who disagree with me or who are flat out mean to me.

As Collie Buddz once said, “I’m blind to you, fucking haters.”

Ataturk

Maybe freedom is worth the ones whom we love
To hop on a train down the Côte d’Azur
or to fly into Ataturk
is so much better than happiness
Sometimes I wish that I could be old
and skip to the part where love matters most
Or I pray for selfishness
Because different maps excite us
and that’s normal
But I hate normal because it hurts so bad

Stand It

How much does it hurt?
I miss the smell of his shirt
I’m too high on caffeine for this to work
Into you I ran
Open mic night champ
I can’t stand it
I wore short shorts
But I fell to the floor
When you didn’t want me anymore
You played shamisen, they’d never heard it before
You held down the floor with photos and videos
I want to go home
I must paint my face like the clown that I am
You bring me down, man
I don’t know if I can
Prop myself up with my own hands
Again and again you leave me out of your plans
And you don’t give a damn
I’m not worthy of your time or your text back
But you’re not worthy of my heart attacks
Come back

Amurrican Gurrl

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Okay that photo is not completely related to the topic of this post, but I thought that it was funny…

Sometimes, I like to pretend like I’m this global citizen- I mean, hello, I’ve lived and traveled in Europe, I’ve been to India, I read Al Jazeera for my news, and I can conversationally speak another language. Look at me. Yet, I am not immune to my own cultural upbringing and have noticed some particularly American behaviors in which I partake.

For example, I am currently eating scrambled eggs at 3:50 P.M. and writing this at the same time. Not only am I multitasking- a creation of the fast-paced American lifestyle- but I am doing to worst type of multitasking at all: eating and doing something else at the same time. Hell, eating and (sort of, does this count as work?) working simultaneously. While people in a lot of other countries actually sit down and have proper meals with their families, I regularly eat whilst writing, driving, cleaning, or getting ready for the day or to go out. I don’t always view mealtime as a way to relax and reconnect with my family- I too often see it as something to get over with so that I can accomplish more things. I also eat at really strange times of the day, such as now, and I eat breakfast foods at non-breakfast times. I remember regularly eating eggs at 5:00 PM in Paris and my host family thinking that I was really bizarre. Okay, that might be a bizarre thing to do in America as well…

I also drive everywhere, seeing as my attempts at biking in America are very stress-inducing. Sometimes, I drive places that are a few blocks away from my house. Actually, I do that all the time. When I lived in Paris and even Seattle, I didn’t have a car and subsequently just walked or took public transportation everywhere. In those places, there was infrastructure and a culture that made a car-free life, for the most part, effortless (totally effortless in Paris, doable in Seattle). I live in a culture of cars now however, so I drive. Not driving is hard, man!

Finally, I don’t know how many kilos I weigh, I drink hazelnut iced coffees at work every day (in Europe coffee comes in one of two formats: a shot of espresso or a cappuccino), I don’t put milk in my English Breakfast tea, I call it a “craype” and pronounce Ximeno Street “eggs-em-in-oh,” and I’ve been told that I may or may not talk like a Valley Girl…

At least I don’t shop at Wal-Mart or eat at McDonald’s? Fuck, I had McDonald’s fries last night… that I bought from the drive-thru and then ate in the car on my way home… they’re just so damn good!

True Happiness

I’m about to do some unabashed bragging/getting personal about my life, but I think that I deserve it because the last 6 months were nothing short of difficult. But now, I genuinely love my life. I live in a city that I love, and I’ve been letting go of people and situations that no longer serve me. I’ve been meeting wonderful new friends and people who inspire me to be my best, happiest self and artist. I’ve been letting go of trying to live up to society’s expectations and have been living my life for me. Things now seem to fall into place effortlessly. I feel happy in this here present moment- not “when I move there,” “when I travel there,” “when I quit this job,” “when my yoga certification is over,” or “when I get this boyfriend.” I’m loving the journey and not the destination, because y’all, there is no destination!

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