Set fire to the rain

I told you that I found Adele.  Love her.  Seriously – get the album.  This bluesy, fantastic soul-laden album with 12 tracks that are reminiscent of the R&B soul and blues of the 70’s, while bringing this new modern sound and edge.

Anyway… this song, along with many others is about love.  But, given my love for rain and inclination to the “fire” theme on this blog, I thought I’d share this song as my final post of the month.  Happy listening.

And go get the album, 21, by Adele.  This is the 5th track of that album, “Set fire to the rain.”

Push

The last post of February, more than likely.  It’s been a rough year for me, so far.  I haven’t blogged to that effect, but it has been.

I spent January in thankfulness.  And it was appropriately timed.  I probably would have lost my mind if I wouldn’t have.  February renewed my love for music.  I pulled out the old CD case (you know, the case with sleeves for, like, 300 CDs) and ripped a bunch of new music into iTunes.  Yay for me.  Smashing Pumpkins, Matchbox 20, Led Zepplin.  Also, discovered Adele… wow.  That’s all I can say.  Downloaded the album and I can’t figure out which one I love the most, just yet.  I’ll keep you updated.

March is almost upon us.  I have decided to blog with a vocabulary word as my title next month.  Fun and unique words.  I think it’ll be neat to find a new way to build a blog around a particularly interesting word.  But, I am a nerd that way.

I am nervously talking.  If you knew me in real life, you’d know that was my way of filling space.

Why am I so nervous… for no good reason.  I’m hiding behind avatars and screen names.  No real reason to worry about you dear readers knowing who I am.  And yet… I am nervous.

I know I’ve let people down.  Let myself down.  I slip.  I’m needy.  I feel like a failure.  I can’t seem to follow through on anything and I am so fucking co-dependant that I believe stupid things.

It’s been difficult for many, many moons now.  Tough to describe, but I suppose deep down, I have always thought I deserved nothing better than what I have.  I work for more and I want more… but truthfully?  I don’t think I deserved more.

I am foolish and I believe that things will change.  I think love is enough.  But my heart and my head fight this battle all the time. I know things won’t change and despite the love that is there, what is contaminating every fiber of my being are the awful words and actions.

I’m not without fault.  Trust me – I’m no angel.  I have my laundry list of things I need to work on, as well. So I know it isn’t one-sided.  But, I want change and I seem to be the only one moving forward.

It’s a horrible feeling that most people won’t understand unless you’ve been here. And that isn’t to excuse my pathetic and worthless behavior. But it is a feeling of self-loathing and sadness that I can’t describe. We beat the odds, until now.  Now, it seems like it’s us who’s taking the beating. I just want to feel loved and secure.

It is to the point where I can’t even stand to hear about the good things in other people’s relationship because it is so devastating to me. To hear someone say, “My wife did this,” or “My husband did that” or “My girlfriend said this.”  Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Must be awesome to be you. Bite me.

I am not a bad person…  Just apparently pathetic.

So here is the final song, which is a testament to dysfunctional, co-dependant and abusive relationships.  Push, by Matchbox 20.

If you have found this post, today, and you are going through it, too, know that you aren’t alone.  But I don’t have any answers.  If I did… this would be an entirely different post.

But if you do have some answers… fuck.  I’m all ears.

I stand alone

My independence is my Achilles heel.  A blessing and a curse at the same time.  It is the thing that strengthens me, and limits me.  I’m better than I used to be.  But, I still slip back into bad habits.

Ironically, I don’t care as much as you’d think.  I mean… I do, because I think my need to do things myself isolates me and makes others feel rebuffed.  I don’t like that.  I don’t like others feeling like I have deliberately shut them out because I don’t need them.  I need them more than they can ever realize.

But… I get hurt easily.  My feelings get hurt.  And when I feel that sting, I revert back to that wild independence.  It is easy as blinking my eyes.  And I say, to myself (and sometimes out loud – which can be hurtful), “This is why I don’t count on people.  This is why I don’t ask for help.  This is why I don’t need anything from anybody.”

Yeah… wow.  Unfortunate.  But, true.  And when I *am* needy, when I actually do *need* someone, it is very hard to ask.  Because I assume they will deny me.

I’ve gotten better about it.  I’ve gotten better about saying, “Say XYZ right now.”  “Tell me good job.”  “I need you to do this for me.”  That helps.  Most people oblige me when I spell it out.  I don’t spell it out for their benefit.  Believe it or not, I spell it out for me.  It is a conscious choice to tell people what I need so I don’t suffer in silence.

I’m getting better.  Recently, I had a full-blown shut down crisis.  I took care of what I needed to, said the awful, “I stand alone today” stuff, but then got over myself.  I worked through it faster than I expected, and moved on.  A choice to let go.  I am proud of me.

What I took away from the last incident was this: I don’t like feeling so independent.  I have to need people.  I have to need help. A very good friend of mine pointed out that letting people in assists in continued personal growth.  She’s right.  But, every now and then, when I get in that mode, I am proud that while I accept that I need people, I know I can still do it alone, if I had to.  And that is the balance I need, for now.

This song happens to be one of the “Fuck-the-world-and-I’ll-do-it-myself” anthems of my time.  I Stand Alone, by Jackyl.  Thankfully, I don’t stand alone as often as I used to.

Purple rain

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Artist Still Known as Awesome in my posts this month.  Seriously, I have more Prince on my iPod right now than any other artist. I absolutely LOVE him. From early Prince, to Purple Rain, to the flig-a-lie-flag-a-lie (yep, I said it), to Prince again – I’ve been hooked.  Hell – I even like BatDance.

Prince is this crazy-smart, inherently sexual, amazingly talented guy.  He has had some phenomenally powerful songs: Thieves in the Temple, Sign o’ the Times, 7.  He’s had fantastically dirty songs; songs that border on pornographic: Let’s Pretend We’re Married, Gett Off, Sexuality, Erotic City, Sexy MF.

But my favorite Prince is Purple Rain.  The only album like it that he ever made. Plus, the movie… wow.  The acting was terrible, the storyline was strange.  But the music rocked. Screaming guitars and interesting beats; powerful lyrics and storytelling sound.  It was, and remains, one of the best soundtracks ever made.  It even won an Oscar.

I had a whole plethora of songs to choose from, but ended up with Purple Rain.  No, it isn’t my favorite off the album (that would be Computer Blue or Let’s Go Crazy). Why Purple Rain?  It speaks to my heart:

“I never meant to cause you any sorrow.
I never meant to cause you any pain.”

or

“I don’t want to be your weekend lover.
I only want to be some kind of friend.”

or

“Honey I know, I know times are changing.
It’s time we all reach out for something new;
That means you, too.”

This song reaches out from my very soul and speaks through the haunting melody and well placed lyrics about love and pain and desire and trust and friendship and abandonment.  It speaks the truth.

I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain.

Hear it here.

Angel standing by

When you’re going through it, all you know is what you feel.  All you know is the hurt.  But as an outsider, it’s the hardest thing in the world to comfort.  Grief –  Loss’ fucked up sister.

Today, all I can do is use my words.

On the second anniversary of my sister’s passing, I got inked.  It wasn’t anything special, it was just a word: “Memories.”  It hurt, and anyone who knows would know that I am a baby when it comes to pain threshold.  But I sucked it up and did it.  Ironically, it wasn’t the tattoo pain I needed help dealing with.  With every pierce of the needle, I remembered a little more how much I missed her.

Why did I do it?  Well, I had my reasons.  Anyone who has lost a loved one knows the pain that comes in waves.  Sadness, hurt, disappointment, anger, resentment.  Sometimes all of those at once.  But in between, and after those moments, is even more loss.  That is why I did it.

I lost a little more every day.  I lost her smile.  Her laugh.  I lost the sound of her voice.  The nuances in the color of her hair. I lost her comfort.  I lost her advice.  I lost her strength. I just…. lost.

That ink kept her close to me.  I knew, no matter what, I’d always carry her (and the memory of her) with me.

Every April 30th for many years after her passing, it rained.  As if God, Himself, were paying tribute to my grief; I would watch the rain mirror my tears.  I cried, and sometimes I still do, because it hurt.  I allow myself to feel that.

More days now, though, I think of what she wanted for my life.  I hear her speak to me in quiet moments.  She tells me to love myself more.  She tells me to take better care of my heart.  She tells me to honor my spirit.

I never got the opportunity to say goodbye before she passed.  But I have spoken with her many times, since then, in prayer and in my dreams.  She’s okay.  And she wants nothing but the best for me.  She wants me to be patient with being human.  But she also doesn’t want me to use that as a crutch.  I try to honor her place in my life by living a better one.  I try to add days to her existence by adding light to mine.

This song brought me much comfort.  Angel Standing By – Jewel.  Sweet and simple.  I hope, to any of you who might feel the same sadness, that it brings you comfort, too.

On a Sunday afternoon

When I grew up, things were different.  Not in the world as a whole, but certainly in my world.  Family was everything.  Although my mother seemed to be the exception to that rule, my family went out of their way to keep me safe.

And my life wasn’t without its fair share of things that weren’t safe.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  • a step-dad who was a heroin addict
  • a mother who was a meth-addict
  • another step-dad who was a meth-addict (after the first one)
  • gangs
  • physical abuse
  • sexual abuse
  • drive-by shootings
  • poverty
  • homelessness

My brothers and my father were always there.  Always.  And they had their fair share of bad times, as well.  Believe me, they weren’t perfect.  But they always had my back.

Family was more than just the people related to you.  There’s a famous quote, and I don’t remember who said it, but it goes like this:
“Friends are the family you choose for yourself.”

It still is that way, for me.  I have chosen many brothers and sisters.  I have had a few moms.  …. Well… I’ve never had a daddy better than mine, but that isn’t the point.  The point is that I have always had a much bigger family than my lineage would imply.

Which leads me to my point.  My lineage.  My heritage.

I am Hispanic.  Specifically, I am Spanish.  But I don’t say that anymore.  These days I say I am Mexican.  Because, truthfully, I am more Mexican than I am Spanish.  My father’s mother came straight from Mexico before she settled with my father’s father, who also immigrated from Mexico.  Technically, about 2 generations prior, we came from Spain.  But that is all semantics.

This “family” dynamic I speak of is the only one I knew until I became an adult.  Loving each other and supporting one another unconditionally was the only family relationship that was acceptable.  When I grew up, and met the hubs and his family (as well as other “families”), I found that white folks are crazy.  I’m sure it is just my perception, but it seems that white families are so much more about selfishness and backstabbing than my family ever could have been.

I have been accused of being racist against white folks.  Let me be clear: I am not.  What I am intolerant of is sneakiness and greed.  I absolutely abhor the way they play nice to each other’s face, only to talk shit about them as soon as they leave the room.  The fights, the bickering, the one-ups, the constant feeling that they are “owed” something from their siblings or parents – I don’t understand that.

I grew up around a lot of Mexicans.  I grew up around people who didn’t speak english. 
In hindsight, I wish I would have listened and learned instead of watching their soap operas (by the way, Amor en Silencio = my favorite soap of all time).  Someday I will learn to speak spanish… hopefully sooner than later. 😉  But… I digress.
What I saw from these people was that family was the center of the universe.  And all things revolved around them.  The men, who weren’t out committing crimes as the media would have you believe these days, were working two jobs (and making far less than their white counterparts) so the matriarch could stay home and raise the kids.  The kids weren’t criminals.  They were going to school to be educated; to learn so they could take their place in a society that needed a little perspective.  They took care of their parents.  They took care of their children. They took care of each other. This is a bit of a soapbox of mine.  I’d rather categorize myself with a bunch of illegal immigrants and Mexican-Americans who are hard-working and kind and loving, than to group myself with anyone else.

When I grew up, we didn’t get together for holidays and sit around pretending to be stuffy and eat on the “fine china” with the “silver”ware.  We sat in the living room, on the floor, on the couch, at the table and we enjoyed each other.  We didn’t have a kids table.  Holidays are designed for children to see this dynamic modeled.  Why relegate them to their own table?

Now, this isn’t about being white, or Mexican, or Indian, or African-American. It’s not about being right.  Here’s what I am saying: Damn it!  Love each other.  Quit standing behind tradition.  Quit giving obligatory gifts on holidays, like stale chocolate.  Start giving and loving.  I will admit that there are Mexican families out there just as screwed up as my husband’s white family.  I just don’t know any of them.  I don’t want to know any of them.  I know too many as it is.

Whenever I hear this song, On A Sunday Afternoon, by Lighter Shade of Brown, I am reminded of a time when things were different.  I remember my family, and my extended family.  I reminded why I want to spend time WITH people, and not just around people.  And yeah… white folks are crazy.  I’ll never quit thinking that.  My best friends are white.  My husband is white.  I am half white. (The PC side of me wants to disclaim that I am American… not anything else.  But that whole PC thing is a post for a different day).  I love them, and I love myself.  But when I get the census form and it lists the ethnicities, I’ll always check “Hispanic.”  I’m proud of that.

Now… if I could just figure out how to say “white people are crazy” in spanish, my life would be a little more perfect. 😉

Color my world

I live life out loud.  I love, laugh, cry, screw up and yell in full color.  Every moment of life should be lived, without question, full-speed ahead.

When I was in choir in my youth, my teacher called me out on my mistakes in front of the entire class.  I was mortified.  He said, “If you’re going to make mistakes, make them loud.  There’s no shame in them unless you don’t learn.”  Agreed.  Truer words were never spoken.

I’d rather beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.  I’d rather fall, get up, fall again and get up (again) than stay still in fear.

But let me tell you a little something about fear: It is very underestimated.  Fear makes people do all sorts of crazy things.  It’s the pain/pleasure thing.  Until the pain outweighs the pleasure, nothing will change.  People tolerate all sorts of nonsense (myself included) because, while it may not be fun, the fear of the unknown is enough to keep of putting up with bullshit.

In all of this, I find that people challenge me past my limits.  Uncomfortable, yes.  But worth it, if I am validated in the process.

I can be a little high maintenance.  Not, like, “Buy me stuff and take me places, blah blah blah.”  Nope.  I’m *not* that girl.  I do, however, demand affirmation.  And I shut down faster than a bank at closing time when I don’t get it.  I withdraw and isolate.  And you know what the messed up thing is?  It isn’t because I am angry.  It’s because, suddenly, all the awful things I think about myself come seeping into my thoughts – contaminating my self-worth.  Poisoning my confidence.  It’s a horrible feeling.

I’ve worked to change that.  Letting color slip in to replace the darkness.  It isn’t easy.  And every now and then, a little birdie will tweet past me, singing his song of life and instantly adding light and color back in.  I light up from the inside, and radiate that out.

I’m so thankful for that color.  A song that I heard, first, in the depths of the night when I was 10 years old has always made my heart sing a little.  So simple, the words, and yet… how much they mean.  Colour my world, by Chicago.