Underneath the surface of your skin
lies truths about yourself
that you refuse to acknowledge exist.
Character flaws, irrational fears,
bad habits, annoyances, troubles letting go,
many more I can think of
that make up who you are.
We all want to be the reliable
narrators of our own stories
but we're the worst narrators,
especially it comes to ourselves.
We're biased and only want to
focus on the things that make us look good.
Instagram profiles and Facebook feeds
only highlight the best parts of our lives
because no one wants to share
what's really happening on
the other side of the screen.
Fake smiles are never genuine,
photographing to get likes
takes away from your actual life.
This trend has become an epidemic
in our society, everyone loves the
highlight reel and loathes stories
longer than six words or 280 characters.
Taking everything we see as we scroll
on social media with a large
grain of salt is a good first step.
Building awareness of your own story
by acknowledging the truths underneath
the surface of your skin is the first step
to changing your own biased of who you are.
You will never be a reliable narrator,
but you can be more accepting of who you
actually are instead of who you want to be.
I watch my cat watch the tv, every time a dog comes on the screen, his pupils get big, I wonder what goes through his mind, what must he be thinking, is the time he fell out the window from the second floor playing in his head, what is a cat’s memory, does he remember the season where he could go outside, can he tell when the night arrives sooner in the day, I try to read his mind, my thoughts come up with options but no conclusions, he will always be a mystery to me, the night is slowly beginning to be pushed back in the day, the new year has flipped forward once more, these thoughts have no home in my head, they come and go in one moment to the next, the ones I captured in this post are ones that come back from long ago, they only appear when I’m grasping for inspiration to write anything, what to write when I have no prompt, nothing to say, avoiding writing something that I’ll give into eventually, I have these thoughts to share with you, the lingering surface thoughts that mask the layered ones, my cat is on the couch beside me, sleeping, afraid of the dog who is staying with us, the dog who encouraged him to fall out the window, with only a small tree to ease his fall, the dog is calm but my cat shakes like a leaf in my arms and hisses at her like he’s facing his worst nightmare when she’s near, he’s purring now, the tv is paused, exhaustion crashes into me like a wave, but I know if I swim now, I will just end up floating on the surface, lost in my thoughts, staring up at the sky that’s fading into the night.
The title is a quote from Michelle M. Lucero.
The week before last, I graduated from college with honors, something I never thought I would accomplish. I majored in English with an emphasis in creative writing. A few days ago, I got my final grades for my last semester. 3.93, my highest GPA of my education journey.
I wasn’t the most productive student in high school. I was an average C student. I didn’t care about school. I didn’t see the point of trying hard because I didn’t have a choice if I wanted to go or not. For the record, I didn’t want to go. Classes were too early (7:45am, I’d be there by 7, get a good parking spot far away, and sit in the library for 45 minutes before the first bell rang). I didn’t have a study routine, I was terrible at taking tests, and I barely turned in my homework.
This thinking carried onto the first few years of college. Though the schedule was more flexible, I didn’t know what I wanted to study, therefore I didn’t really care. I got good enough grades to pass. When I decided to study web design (a decision I made because I didn’t know what else to study), I got decent grades, better than I did in my general education classes.
As fate would have it, the summer before I began studying web design, I decided to take an online English class to get a sense of what school would be like the following semester, with all online classes. From that summer class, I would discover my passion for writing. Life works in mysterious ways and puts the pieces together before your able to see the full image.
In fact, the Joan Didion quote currently at the top of my blog is from that English class. “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” The first week of summer school, I read that quote in the essay by Didion and wrote a response in an online discussion board. I cannot remember what I wrote but this quote has become a sounding board over the last few years. It’s been a reminder for me to keep writing, that this is why I love writing so much.
The last two and a half years of studying English have been the most fulfilling semesters of my educational journey. I’ve written numerous pieces, two of which have been published (poem and essay). I’ve grown so much as a writer and a woman. These last few years, I’ve come close to the person I can see myself being.
The quote by Michelle M. Lucero was shared in her speech at my graduation ceremony. It’s a simple set of six words with a relatable message, a good reminder in these turbulent times. Be kind. Regardless of how you’re feeling, try to be kind to everyone you interact with. Be brilliant. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box or to see life through a different lens. Be you. In a society filled with people constantly chasing trends or thinking of the next big thing, know yourself and follow your own path, marching to the beat of your own drum.
I’ve been sick six times this year. For me, that’s a lot. Normally, I get sick once a year. Sneezing for a week or two, maybe lose my voice, and feel crappy. But it doesn’t last. I get my annual cold out of the way with and carry on with my life.
This year, I’ve continued to get sick. Maybe it’s because I was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid disease at the beginning of the year. Maybe it’s because I was diagnosed with a second autoimmune thyroid disease in the fall. Maybe it’s because my immune system has taken a hit with all of the health stuff I’ve dealt with this year. Or maybe I just have terrible luck.
I get congested. I sneeze. I cough. I get too hot, then too cold, then too hot again. I feel like I have a fever when I don’t. I have a sore throat. I lose my voice. I can’t hear anything clearly. I eat cough drops like their candy.
Each day, the cold morphs into something new, impacting a different part of my body. Though I’m very thankful to have just had a common cold (six times), it takes a toll on me. I’m paranoid to be around other people, not wanting to spread my germs to innocent people standing near me. I complain too much about feeling terrible that I feel like people will think I’m either lying or exaggerating.
Last week, I graduated from college. All I could think about was how miserable I was feeling. We had to stand for an hour and a half before the ceremony and all the noise around me created a buzzing sound in my clogged ears. Halfway through the ceremony, I discovered water under my seat which helped me deal with my very dry mouth. It was hot and the sweater I was wearing wasn’t helping. When someone asked me how I was feeling the morning before the ceremony, all I could say was, “I have a cold.”
It’s not fun being sick, especially for very important moments in your life. Being sick once or twice is not uncommon. Getting the common cold six times in a single calendar year isn’t a walk in the park. It’s important to take care of yourself and that’s what I’m doing now. Wash your hands, drink water, and warn people how you’re feeling before you hug them. It’s the polite thing to do.
I don’t know why we continually
repeat ourselves as if the people we’re talking to
haven’t already heard a thousand times before.
We’re a broken record on repeat trying
to convince ourselves what we’re saying
must be true because we’re saying them
the exact same way, refusing to put
the words in any other order.
We continue spinning
even when one of us gets dizzy.
What we see and what we know
are two different concepts.
We don’t claim to know anything
but this back and forth is continuing
like one of us will share something
to make this reality stop rotating.
I have nothing to add anymore,
my stutter has gone silent to the listeners
and I’m not even sure why I’m still here
when I know what has led me to the place
where I can forget the time and space
of what is meant to be getting something done.
I’m done running away from what I cannot change,
from what needs to be arranged. I feel like
I’m beginning to go insane. So I’m jumping ship
to free myself from this horrid habit that has
morphed and shifted one too many times.
Leave me be, I’ll find my way without a boat,
just leave me here to float. The rocking of the waves
is a much needed change from the blurred
reality I’ve known too well. I need to trust
in my own vision instead of relying
on another story that has already
been written. I need to create my own
stories instead filling my mind
with speculation of realities that
will only exist in my imagination.
One year ago, I was in a hotel room in New York City, about to leave and take the N train from 42nd street to 23rd street to see the Flatiron building, when I got a notification on my phone from CNN. There was a breaking story on Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker. The story was by Ronan Farrow and it broke down many tricks and avenues he would take to manipulate and take advantage of women. I showed my mom the headline and she shrugged, continuing to get ready for the day. I sat down on the bed and scrolled through the story, getting chills on my arm from every account I read.
One year ago, I didn’t know the magnitude this story would have on our society. No one did. After so many years in power of Hollywood, no one knew the significant impact the fall of Harvey Weinstein would have our society. No one had seen a man fall from grace this hard and this fast. No one realized that he was the first of many who would follow in his footsteps. I was too preoccupied with seeing the Flatiron building before the remnants of Hurricane Nate rolling through New York to focus on our society breaking into two. A few hours after receiving the notification, I became overly preoccupied with trying to get home through the shitty weather.
It wasn’t until the next day when I was sitting in the hallway, waiting to go into my last class of the day that I understood how this Weinstein story hit a spark in the universe, creating an explosion of women sharing their stories. I was seeing people using the #MeToo on Twitter and Facebook. The more stories I read, the more I felt less alone while at the same time becoming angry by the fact of how common this is and how it took a hashtag for so many women to share their stories public. I was hesitant about sharing my story and after lots of trepidation, I wrote two poems about how the actions of careless boys have impacted my life.
One year has passed since #MeToo spoke to the zeitgeist in a way no one could have ever predicted. We have opened a door we can never close again. One year later, we’re listening to women’s stories and believing what they share, yet we don’t believe them enough to change the old patterns of human history.
I won’t be posting a review today. Instead, I have some very exciting news. One of my essays is published!! I wrote this essay for a class in the spring of 2017. It’s about my journey to beginning to acknowledge my stutter and how that coincided with finding my passion for writing.
For almost a year, I had submitted this piece to different publications and received one rejection after another. I had gotten a DM from Z Publishing on Twitter in late April, asking if I was interested in submitting a piece for their upcoming emerging writers from Colorado anthology. I decided that this was going to be the last piece I would submit this piece to before completely rewriting it. I had submitted my essay in early May and forgot about it for about a month.
In the middle of June, I thought I didn’t get it because I hadn’t heard from them. But, by the end of the month, I got an email congratulating me on having my essay being accepted for publication. I’m still on cloud nine and can’t believe this is happening. This is only the beginning!