After one week of being smart enough to start these early, here I am again at nearly 11:30. I was tempted to sit things out this week–I’ve had more than my fair share of a week’s worth of introspection, and not the kind that makes words easy–but this is The Friday, Currently, so skipping a week, and rendering it slightly un-current (if that makes any sense; I doubt) feels wrong somehow.
So here we are. This is Issue 006, and I am C U R R E N T L Y . . .
R E A D I N G A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, as predicted in my previous post. Managed to make it so that I only have a third left, and the more I read the more I see why this book is considered a “modern classic.” The moment that has stuck with me most, frankly, is when Francie Nolan, pondering her relationship with her mother, thinks: “I guess being needed is almost as good as being loved. Maybe better.”
(Obviously, a part of me somewhat shares those sentiments, as seen in Issue 002 of The Friday, Currently.)
W R I T I N G calligraphy posters and journal entries. This week’s required a lot of thinking, which has turned into a lot of writing–either my own thoughts or, more often, someone else’s. One of those “borrowed thoughts” is a portmanteau/alteration of two very powerful quotes from Game of Thrones (which I still keep up with, even if I’ve more-or-less stopped watching).
(I also did a post a couple of years ago with the same sentiments–the “Kill the girl” part, at least–which you can read here. Although, to be honest, I’m taking the sentiment in a slightly different way now than I did then.
Suffice it to say, the quote hangs at my desk in my office, where I can stare at it and remember the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch, Jon Snow.)
L I S T E N I N G mostly ASMR videos by WhispersInBloom. A week’s worth of introspection hasn’t exactly been conducive to my R&R, especially since I’m a chronic overthinker.
Thankfully, I’m also one of apparently many people who has what’s known as autonomous sensory meridian response–the ability to feel a pleasant, non-sexual (for the sake of the community, I feel I need to emphasize that) “tingling” sensation when encountering certain triggers like whispery voices, tapping, pages turning, etcetera. For a better (and more soothing) description, check out this video by one of ASMR’s star “ASMRtists,” Maria a.k.a. GentleWhispering.
(Apparently you can earn good money from this community–based on this article on Maria by Cosmo, making ASMR videos apparently helps pay the rent! I can’t even do that with my singing voice!)
W A T C H I N G a mix of ASMR videos and Pemberley Digital 2 extras/bloopers–basically the equivalent of “brainless TV,” which isn’t exactly brainless considering that, on the Pemberley Digital side, you have James Brent Isaacs talking about modernizing Austen and the various actors discussing the challenges of their characters and their craft…which only makes me miss acting, to be honest. I’ve always wanted to be part of the cast of a webseries, but Nothing Much To Do beat me to Much Ado About Nothing and someone else has already started with Northanger Abbey so…
Not sure what to interpret next. Unless you all would like to see the nth reinterpretation of “The Taming of The Shrew?” (Comment below if you would because, honestly, I may be crazy enough to try it. I’d also like to hear any other ideas you might have…just in case.)
F E E L I N G fair, I guess? The Chinese had a pretty way of calling this mood: 馬馬虎虎 (mǎmǎ hǔhǔ), which literally translates to “horse horse tiger tiger.” The phrase technically means “mediocre,” as in “mediocre work,” but I guess can also be used as a stand-in for something like the French pas mal–“not bad”–or comme ci comme ça–“neither here nor there.” Which is how I’m feeling, really: neither here nor there. After a week of swinging highs and strange lows, equilibrium naturally follows (I guess), and I can’t say it’s not welcome.
(Okay, I lied: maybe I’m not completely meh. After all, Spot.ph did decide to feature Hideaway on its list of top 10 spoken word poetry destinations in Metro Manila. C is so happy that he’s started using “Yiz” for yes. When my usually-snarky partner-in-crime starts using “cute” internet-isms, unironically, you know the mood is better than usual.)
S M E L L I N G my Aveeno Pure Renewal dry shampoo because I am working in my bathroom, for no good reason but that it’s one of the quietest rooms in my house.
W E A R I N G my pajamas, because it’s 12:41am on Saturday so what else would I be wearing? (Please, don’t answer that.)
L O V I N G A Way With Words, another podcast I’ve discovered on iTunes. This one covers the history, origins, and uses of various words, from regional colloquialisms to modern slang. It’s a lot more interesting that I’ve probably made it sound, as the show is carried by its two very funny, very vibrant hosts and there’s a “quiz segment” in the show that’s definitely worth puzzling over (pun not intended). You can check it out here, if you want to give it a shot and take a listen.
No news on the word “bae” yet, though.
W A N T I N Gto go to bed…but I press on.
N E E D I N G a little bit more chill, since I obviously put off finding some this week.
Guess I missed my own memo, Ross.
W I S H I N G my voice won’t sound completely tormented tomorrow at band practice/studio time. Jian’s challenging me to do a “one take” of our lead single, Surprise Me.
T H I N K I N G about the odd nature of freedom.
Today–or, well, yesterday, if we’re getting technical–was Philippine Independence Day, which is a national holiday and meant I had the freedom to spend 70% of the day in bed, in a nest of pillows, sleeping off one thing or another (except maybe a hangover; living with vocal nodes means I’ll never be able to drink enough to get one of those). The other 30%, though, I spent figuring out what to write about. Unsurprisingly, I settled on “freedom,” in honor of the holiday, but as I’m not exactly what you’d call a history buff (Reserve that title for Disinterested Interpreter.) I figured I probably wasn’t the best person to pontificate on the national experience of liberty.
(And yet somehow I’m the best person to talk about the meaning of freedom in general? Oh well. No turning back now.)
What I can talk about, though, is my band, Stories Told. Having been together in the music circuit for over a year now, we sort of have a solid “band image” down, more or less (admittedly there are kinks we still need to sort out, here and there). But it wasn’t always this way. Long ago, right around the time of what was then one of our biggest gigs to date, we were a fledgling band with quite a glaring problem: a frontwoman who didn’t manage to fit.
I’m not going to mince words in this next bit: I was taking the whole “rock and roll” thing a bit too intensely. This meant exaggerated facial expressions, lots of aggressive hairography, and way too much of that put-on bravado that, in small amounts, does help sell a band but in large amounts can look almost comedically disastrous. Couple this with my then-awkward spieling style (I’d like to think it’s gotten a little less awkward? Maybe? Probably not? Eh.), and you had the makings of a girl who persisted in looking like a caricature of the “hardcore-punk” star…while fronting a fusion band.
I probably would have carried on this way if our lead guitarist, Jian, hadn’t decided to tell me that, tl;dr, I looked like I was trying too hard and stuck out of the band like a sore thumb. Being a Pol-Eco student, he tried to use more diplomatic words than that, but I’m not going to lie: I was angry. Wasn’t this whole band thing supposed to be about freedom of creative expression? After all, hadn’t they chosen me to be frontwoman? It wasn’t like I’d asked for it. If they’d picked me, they should have been prepared for who that person was. They should have been prepared to match my energy.
I was not the problem: they were.
(I am cringing as I write this. ST Bros, thank you so much for not pulling a Farro Brothers vs. Hayley Williams on me at this point.)
A few of my friends–those who, unsurprisingly, hadn’t seen our performances and were only hearing my (admittedly biased) side of the story–downright supported me in my quote-unquote righteous indignation, encouraging me to go my own way and get the appreciation and freedom that I deserved. And I might have, except that a little voice in the back of my head told me quitting right then and there was not so much an option as a diva move.
(At least my common sense hadn’t completely flown the coop.)
Out of options, and tired of passive-aggressive FB-arguing with Ji, I decided to give their way a shot, if only to prove the point that I would look even more unnatural toned down than amped up. At the next gig, I buckled down and followed the advice I’d been given…
…and I felt great.
Instead of rendering me cooped up and caged like I’d thought, “pulling back” onstage actually made me feel more confident, in control, and–wouldn’t you know it–relaxed. I hit fewer sour notes, felt a little less stage fright, could sense that on some level, even if this wasn’t what I would have instinctively done as the frontwoman of a rock band, it what I was meant to be doing. I had gotten into the groove of something, and with that settling came an immense feeling of relief, like there was a burden I’d been carrying unconsciously this whole time. And there had been: I’d felt a pressure to perform, to be this high-octane rocker with fiery red hair who owned the stage fearlessly. All those grand gestures, “hit it boys!,” and pa-star headbanger moves had been an act meant to perpetuate that image.
But it wasn’t my image. It wasn’t me. Freed from that stereotype, I could become the performer–not the performance–I needed to be. Me in the band instead of “the girl in the band.”
Safe in that image, I could find my own way–discover the “creative expression” I’d gone on and on about. I won’t pretend my execution has been perfect since–heaven knows I’ve been very public about being “the unlikely frontwoman”–but it’s felt a little more genuine and a little less smoke-and-mirrors. More importantly, I’m not as scared about that big stage. I’m a little more at home, free to “let loose” because I’m confident that looseness isn’t some grand idea I’ve set up for myself but is actually something closer to home.
And all this because, in a moment of frustration, I’d decided to compromise and give the reins a chance.
Which leads me to that weird point about freedom: it tends to happen within limits. Unlimited freedom looks less like utopia and more like the movie The Purge. But put a few boundaries, make a few helpful suggestions, rein a few loose elements in…and suddenly the possibilities seem endless because they’re more or less guaranteed to be right possibilities.
Maybe this is an overly-simplistic explanation. In fact, I’m pretty sure it is. After all, it’s 1:38AM and my brain isn’t exactly in its best state to muse on the nature of freedom and the human condition. What I can definitively say, though, is this: sometimes, holding back doesn’t mean depriving yourself of the ability to be yourself. Instead, it’s giving you a pass to become your best self, discovering a bit more of “the real you” hidden under all the labels you might have placed.
I used to think I was a loud, party-animal extrovert, until one-too-many “you’re too intense” comments ended with me giving myself the permission to pull back, to be quieter and maybe “lonelier.” Only then I discovered that I was a happily agoraphobic lobster who unapologetically picks and chooses the company she keeps based on her energy level. I felt freer, because I didn’t need to try so hard to be something I wasn’t. And, to be honest, that quieter, more toned-down version of myself (who I dearly need to find again; I think she has all the “chill” I’ve been missing) was a whole lot happier than the me I used to be and the me I sometimes still find myself becoming when I feel I need to fit in and make friends and be socially “attractive.”
(Old habits die hard, I guess?)
Something they used to teach us in Philo class back at Dragon U comes to mind: Freedom doesn’t mean being able to choose anything. Freedom means you’re able to choose the good without restriction, self-imposed or otherwise. It follows, then, that freedom comes when you have a better idea of what that ‘good’ is.
The limits I’ve put myself are often the result of compromise–I “compromise” on my perception of who I have to be, and discover in the process who I can be. Nine times out of ten, that discovery has resulted in the same feeling of relief, of finding a groove and finally being able to actually “let loose” instead of accomplishing some pre-conceived notion of what “letting loose” actually looks like.
I get a clearer idea of what “good” is, and I find the liberty to choose it.
Well, that’s it for my attempt at philosophical examination. Perhaps this is all just an overflow of this week’s over-thinking. I’ll try to show up with a slightly more coherent issue next week, though it’ll probably be late or early (if it happens at all) as Stories Told has a Mow’s Bar gig on the 19th and Hideaway finally happens on the 20th.
Is it bad that, while I’m excited to play the gig and host the event, I’m even more excited to get it all over and done with? (Maybe it’s the agoraphobic lobster talking.)
That’s it for this week’s Friday, Currently. I remain, your unfiltered…