The Update of Updates

I realize that it has been a long time.

Quite a while since I’ve written on this (well, ok. I had a post in November, but decided to take it down. I’m still working on it through it, and I’ll figure out if I want to repost or not).

As I was saying, it has been QUITE A WHILE. I’ve had this blog, this space, for a few years. In the beginning, I wanted to chronicle my life in New York City. I had a Blogspot blog for this very reason. Initially, I was enthusiastic. Then, I became….disheartened. This superficial yardstick that we use to measure “progress,” “success,” was just becoming too much.

Over the years, I have second guessed myself, doubted myself, wondering if whatever it is that I am trying to achieve is worth it. Compounded by the fact that whenever people asked what it is that I was trying to do, I had a vague notion of an answer, and this just depressed me. Also compounded that I was seeing people in my age bracket who were doing laps around me, and it’s just so, incredibly, disheartening.

Most are quick to remind me that, hey, I actually have gotten far. Look at all the progress you’ve made and be mindful of that.

Yes, I appreciate that. I am mindful of that. But I am also incredibly hard on myself. I will tell myself, I didn’t move from some tiny ass town in Mississippi to one of THE largest/greatest cities on earth to waste away my life.

Having said all of that, I have victories, both minor and major. And they’ve actually inspired me to keep pushing on.

In 2015, I took a self-defense class for women. I felt inspired and empowered. I wanted to take the class again. The instructor said that he doesn’t do regular self-defense classes for women. I told him I was interested in training so that I could teach the classes. I have been training for the past year, and in March of THIS YEAR, I will FINALLY be teaching! Excited af would be a SEVERE understatement!

This instructor also runs a business in finance (that’s the best way I can describe it), and I took one of his courses back in 2010. I’ve been in a mastermind/apprentice group since then. Last year, we were having our second to the last meeting, and the director of the group had to step down because she’ll be doing extensive training for the next 18 months.

So they were looking for a new director. Something in my spirit compelled me to offer myself. And everyone else agreed. I thought it would be a great opportunity to be a leader. I feel like seeds had been planted, and I just need to nurture them and allow them to grow. So now I am the director of a 14 person mastermind/apprentice group. We’ll have our first official meeting either this week or next week. And I haven’t figured out what we’ll discuss yet! No worries ❤

My office is in a recording studio. I do not technically work at/for the recording studio. I’ve known for awhile that Loudspeaker Network. My degree was in television and radio. I’ve been wanting to do podcasts. It didn’t click in my head that a yuge opportunity was sitting in my lap and that I should probably do something about that.

So I reached out to the studio manager. He said they could offer me an internship (which is exactly what I wanted). He gave me Chris Morrow’s email address (he’s a founding partner of LSN), and there was a little back and forth. It fizzled. Scottie (studio manager) would occasionally check in with me. He hinted that Chris would come in on certain days. One day (the day before the election), he told me that Chris would be in. I had somewhere to be later on, but I rushed back to the studio after it was over. We talked a bit. He told me that LSN was a bit unorganized and asked what was I looking for and what I could offer. I was then introduced to Matty Raz.

I sent out an email. Heard back after a month. That fizzled.

Scotty reached out to me again, told me that he knows for a fact that Chris comes in on Wednesdays for The Read. So two Wednesdays later, I stayed after work to see him. Glad I did. He told me that he had been thinking about it. He brought up being disorganized again, and I had mentioned again that I am highly organized (in my head, I am. I’m great with scheduling lol). We go over some things, and he mentions that he’s been looking for an assistant. In my head, I’m thinking I AM HIGHLY ORGANIZED I AM GREAT WITH SCHEDULING AND I’M ALREADY IN THE BUILDING YOU MIGHT AS WELL PICK ME! So there’s that. I may also be helping with a new show they’re working on. I see him this Wednesday.

I have a book editor. I’ve had her since 2010. I love her. Last week she suggested I do a reading of my work, either for her March or April show. It’s contingent on if there is any space in March. I would rather do March, simply because I am seizing on a moment, but April works as well. I just need to figure out which six minutes of my novel I’ll be reading.

So now here’s this…

I went to Shouting at the Screen last week. It’s hosted by Wyatt Cenac and Donwill. How to say? It’s like Mystery Science Theater for blaxploitation films. I went in telling myself, “You are going to talk to Wyatt tonight. Yes, you will.” I had been in January and chickened out and didn’t say anything. So I did it. We talked for a bit. I blathered for a bit. Somehow we came on podcasts. And he’s like oh, Tracy from Another Round is behind you. Let me introduce you to her. So my head is OMG TWO OF MY FAVORITEST PEOPLE I AM SPEAKING TO THEM AT THE SAME TIME IN THE SAME NIGHT HOW CAN THIS POSSIBLY BE HAPPENING HELLLO UNIVERSE! So Tracy and I talk for a bit. A long while. Like maybe half an hour? This is all exciting to me. And when I have to get ready to go, she hugs me. I’m in heaven at this point.

So that’s been going on in my life right now. I will probably flesh this out later. This is literally free writing right now. And it’s all good.

And speaking of things being all good, I have been growing “freer” and more comfortable with myself. And I have Beyonce for that. Yeay Beyonce!

Oh! Also changed my name last year. Maybe there is something to this whole universe in alignment. And maybe not the universe in the science-y sense, but something like that. Yeay!

 

xoxo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I was just coming around to accept that maybe, just maybe, pain is not required to create. After 17 years, I thought I was ready to accept that.

But I was wrong.

Crying

Oh, don’t mind me over here.

I’m a bit estranged from my mother. Every now and then, I’ll take a look at at her Instagram.  She doesn’t update it terribly often, and it’s mainly screenshots of her Fitbit stats and green smoothies.

She had a photo of a rose bush.  My grandmother’s rose bush. She had written that my grandmother always loved Mother’s Day, and even though she’s been gone since 2011, the roses bloom every year.

So I’m just over here, crying.  Because I still remember that day, when I was about to call my grandmother, only to find out that she’d died.

And I feel so alone. 😦

Recharging Batteries

I have depression. I’ve had it for awhile now, nearly twenty years (which makes me sound soooo old!)

Being a teenager, coupled with being black and growing up poor, was just  an entire shit storm for me. Teen angst, being moody, being accused of being a “drama queen” is only amplified when depressed. I had a very warped misunderstanding of depression. One of the myths is that when you have depression, you are depressed all the time. That’s not true. For me, at least, it occurs in cycles. Yes, there are bouts of happiness, but then I slink back into my “routine”: beating up myself for being sad, not getting things done, then beating myself up for not getting things done and being sad. It is an awful cycle.

Having depression is lonely. And isolating. When you try to bring up going to therapy or seeking counseling, people (family and friends especially) are quick to tell you that you don’t need that, but just a friend to talk to (or, if you’re black, “prayer”). What they fail to understand is that they aren’t equipped to deal with depression, and even something that seems harmless, like saying, “Get over it” or “It’s time to move on,” can undo much of the “work” that you’ve done. Which is why I am hesitant on discussing certain things with certain people. Sometimes, you just need to vent, and I just need you to shut up and listen to me.

I do have a therapist, someone that I have been seeing for the past three or four months. I find it effective, though I don’t think I’m comfortable disclosing what I talk about during sessions (aside from the depression, obviously).

And on top of that, having anxiety makes things even worse. Constantly worrying and stressing out over even the most minute of details. Even as I’m writing this right now, my head and shoulders are literally burning with stress over a mistake that I may have made at work. Something that I will most likely be feeling well into next week.

I have attempted to deal with this stress over the years, but I haven’t tried to “consistently” tackle it until last year. I was reading a Lifehacker article on – surprise, surprise – dealing with stress. I came across an app on meditation, Headspace. I did the free ten-day trial and paid for a month of service before I fell off the bandwagon. I will probably use the app again, but paying $100 for meditation just isn’t in my budget right now. I can say that I feel less “stiff” and stressed out than I do. When I realize that I am feeling depressed or stressed, I take a deep breath and lower my shoulders. I’ve realized that when I am stressed, my shoulders shoot up in the air, which contributes to that “fight or flight” response.

I have a Facebook friend, years ago, who tagged me in a post about depression. I don’t recall telling him that I was depressed, but I appreciated that he thought about me. He talked about how depression is like having drained batteries, how it sucks the life out of you (and quite literally!) and how we should spend time recharging our batteries. I really loved that analogy and remember it to this day (obviously).

What are some ways that I “recharge” my batteries? I’m a hardcore introvert, so having (lots of) time to myself is a good way. But that also becomes a double-edged sword: that same time that could be used to ground myself is also spent beating myself up for not being where I “should” be in life, comparing myself to others, telling myself that I will never be good enough. Meditation also helps. I try to start off each day meditating for about 10-15 minutes, depending on how much time I have. It especially helps when I may not have gotten enough sleep during the night and I’m feeling particularly groggy. Talking with friends. Giving. Reading. Writing. Listening to music.

And then there’s the flip side. Whenever I catch myself thinking self-destructive thoughts, I don’t necessarily turn them into “positive thoughts,” but keep asking myself “Why?” or “So what?” And keep asking myself those questions until I get to the root of the issue. Most times, my critical brain will just give up and crawl back into the hole from whence it came. It helps me to realize that, in most cases, even the worst case scenarios that I’m making up from the fly aren’t that bad. I am incredibly privileged in that regard. I also take the time periodically to cull anyone in my life who isn’t supportive of me. I don’t say “negative,” as that could be used to stigmatize those with mental illnesses and isolated them makes their situation worse. Curiously enough, I’ve found those who’ve suffered mental illness to be much more supportive to me than those would consider themselves “sane.” Interesting how that works, eh? Anyway, I have a very “burning bridges” approach when it comes to some people. Sometimes, they can’t be let off nicely. Sometimes, you have to tell them, “Don’t ever speak to me again,” and have to say it in such a way that you mean it (although, sometimes, they think you mean that you’ll eventually let them come back). I find it incredibly unfair that we live in a society that encourages us to keep ties with those who are toxic to us, and that is it our job to help “cure” their toxicity. I am not qualified to do that, and I already have enough issues of my own that I am trying to deal with.

“White People”

I was going to wait, until I had all of my ducks in a row. Making sure everything was going to be perfect.

But things never go to plan. And I’m blaming this on White People.

The documentary came on MTV last night at 8 PM EST.  I had cleared my calendar weeks in advance to watch this. I popped imaginary popcorn for the occasion.  I collected buckets for the flow of white tears that I was sure to be pouring from my flat-screen TV.

After the disappointment that was “Dear White People,” I wasn’t expecting it to be nearly as enlightening as it was made out to be. I am also aware that these things are meant to be a catalyst, not the change.

That being said, I was thoroughly entertained.  And even informed. For instance, I know that the majority of white people are liars when it comes to having a “black friend.” According to the show, 91% of white people only have white friends. And something tells me the remaining 9% have at best non-white acquaintances or co-workers. I also knew that white people are more likely to get scholarships, but they’re 40% more likely to get a scholarship than someone who looks like me!

What really struck me was the scene where Katy is lamenting about how she’s gotten high marks in school, yet she’s not able to get a scholarship.  She mentions that she was up for a scholarship between her and a Filipina, and the Filipina got it. A white guy, I’m assuming her brother, just leapt at the chance to say that this Filipina woman wasn’t qualified for it.

Um….did he know her personally? Who is he to say that she wasn’t qualified? Maybe Katy was mediocre.

And that is what’s so insidious about white privilege/aggression/fragility.  This idea that everything is inherently theirs, and there is no way that a so-called “minority” could possibly qualify for anything. It was just “handed” to them.

Despite the fact that white women receive the majority of benefits via affirmative action, there are still black and brown people with PhDs, who worked hard to get where they were, only to be told that it doesn’t mean much, because “affirmative action.”

There was also that scene where, after being presented with facts that whites are more likely to get scholarships than everyone else, Katy felt “attacked.”

Isn’t that the song of our times? Whenever confronted with facts and lived experiences, white people feel “attacked.” It’s very nauseating.

And speaking of which, I was legit attacked by several white folks on Twitter yesterday. I made an error and fed some of the trolls. Then I realized they ain’t shit and just decided to block me. Then some more decided they were going to screenshot the fact that I blocked them. They think they’ve won. But in actuality, I just don’t have the patience to teach idiots.

I may have to start playing this #RacialRoulette game!

Death

Today, while I was on the Long Island Railroad going home, I realized something, both seemingly trivial, yet profound: I no longer like my pseudonym.

I’ve had the name JD Ariza since December of 2002, while I was a freshman in high school. I came up with the idea while looking at the word “Arizona” in a blurry way, and the “ona” just disappeared and formed “Ariza.” I liked the sound of it. I stuck “JD” in front of it, and BAM! There was my new alias. I eeked out a few stories  under the name Ariza. She was like my alter ego: a black girl with black hair and red highlights and green eyes. She, much like me, was a tortured soul and wanted nothing but to get out. Over the years, she matured – from Hot Topic to more of a Victorian style. She still appreciated the dark and morbid, but it was in more subtle ways.

I think she was a way to cope with my depression.

However, all good things must come to an end. I must admit that over the past few months even, I just had a nagging feeling about the  name. It just doesn’t suit me anymore. And I’m fine with that. And she’s fine with that.

So now I have to start the process of changing all of my social media names. For now, they will, for the most part, be “Writer on the Radio.” I’m still figuring out a pseudonym or two for myself.

It does seem trivial, but this seems to be in line with a number of things going on in my life as well. I’ve felt like I’ve been growing in some spiritual or mental way. Discarding what doesn’t suit me and embracing the new things that life has to offer. I feel like everything is coming full circle.

JD