Me Duele Tonto

Little known fact: I am a huge Shakira fan. (Okay, okay, so it’s a very well-known fact.) And one of my favorite songs (La Tortura) is entirely in Spanish. As an ignorant American who took Spanish for years and years in school and then immediately forgot most of it, I can’t really tell what’s being said, but it’s a beautiful song. And so, it was when I was happily listening to it one day that I realized that I did understand some of it. In fact, I understood the following lyrics:

Ay amor me duele tanto

It means, as you may have already deduced from your own 6 years of rudimentary Spanish, “love hurts so much,” or quite literally, “love makes me feel so much.”

And do you know what I thought it said when I listened to it? “Me duele tonto” AKA “I feel foolish.” (which may not even be grammatically correct, because again, ignorance). So, I was definitely wrong, and you may be thinking that there is now no reason for this blog post due to one simple Google search for song lyrics. (Well, this got awkward fast.)

But here’s the rub! “Tonto” also means “stupid.” And I’m like, Eureka! That’s it! That’s my entire life rolled into a nutshell of a nutshell. That’s my autobiography title, a simple double meaning conveniently couched in another language. Thanks, Shakira!

Because that’s my entire problem. Every time I feel stupid, I also feel foolish. They’re inextricably linked for me, as they are in Spanish.

Seriously, I want to avoid any situation ever where I feel like there’s a chance I could look stupid. (This is also known as any situation ever because there’s really no way to know everything about everything, and so I look stupid when I try, but I definitely try.)

And so, I self-sabotage a lot because I can’t seem to overcome the idea that if I ask questions or if I seem like I don’t know something, I’m automatically stupid, and therefore, I feel foolish. Quite literally, feeling stupid is synonymous with being stupid in Spanish and in my own head.

So, how do you overcome this? How do you tell yourself that it’s okay to seem stupid AND foolish? Well, as one of my other favorite women (J.K. Rowling) once said, “I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’?” I’d like to think “stupid” could be substituted for “fat” in this quote.

Because there’s a million ways to look or feel stupid. But asking questions so you don’t make mistakes, no matter how “dumb” they sound to your own ears, does not mean you are stupid (tonto). And that also means that you shouldn’t feel (tonto) foolish, either.

All Talk

People say that actions speak louder than words. And people are generally right, unless those people are writers. 

Because in my experience? Nothing is more important than words. Words can destroy and create. They can move you to tears and break your bones like sticks and stones, or embed themselves deep in your heart to carry you further when your legs cannot. 

But when you’re trying to do something with your life? You know, trying to achieve your goals and dreams, talk can only get you so far. And I haven’t found the magic words to make myself actually follow through. 

I mean, I’m writing a novel, working on my six pack, learning a new language, reading a new book every month. But how much have I done of that in reality and not in my mind? A little, on and off, sort of, and kinda.

And in the meantime, I’m telling myself I can and should do all of these things, and I believe it (and then promptly get overwhelmed and do none of them.) 

In the end, I put so much stock in words and what I tell myself that I forget what I could really accomplish if I did something. I guess if talk is cheap, then actions come at a costly premium. But it’s worth it. (At least I think it will be when I get around to it.)

On Hakuna Matata

Hakuna Matata (it’s a wonderful phrase), but what’s not necessarily wonderful is what it means. Yes, of course, it means no worries for the rest of your days. (Update: Disney sued me for using that line even before I published this blog.) But Timon and Pumba also say that it means putting the behind in your–I mean, putting the past behind you. And that’s pretty sound advice, as Simba finds out…until it’s not.

And that’s what I’m finding too. For me, looking at a date in the past (especially if it’s in my childhood diary or in my inbox) makes me break out in hives and a cold sweat, mostly because I worry that 1) I haven’t done anything with my life or 2) I forgot to do something/follow up on something. The past is just a source of anxiety that I try to avoid at all costs that grows bigger and longer everyday, just like my guilt for not doing stuff does. And time itself is something that I’d simply prefer never to acknowledge at all. So, Hakuna Matata it is because I am just a large version of teenage Simba (but with less cooler hair).

But like I said, that’s not really the right way to go about it, and Simba figures that out pretty quickly (in the span of an entire song, but you get it). I mean, if you follow the philosophy of Hakuna Matata I’m guessing that you won’t have any worries, but then again, you may not be doing much of anything else, either. Except eating bugs and grubs. Or you know, ignoring your problems while your uncle plots to rule the world.

I’m pretty much saying what every 90’s kid already knows. Disney can predict what will happen to you in your adult life, and luckily, they already have the answers: face your fears and your past, and you’ll come full circle (of life).

Missing your Calling Twice

In my baby book are the observations of my preschool teacher that have haunted me for the last decades: “Bailey is such an actress! She loves to play pretend and dress up!” And I did. And I still do. I love to perform and act. I love to put on a show, even though I hate to sing. I love telling jokes, dancing, or reenacting full movies. (Ask my roommates about that last one). I still even love dressing up for Halloween and Comic con.

And so, I can’t help but wonder if I missed my calling at such an early age. Perhaps I should have went to acting school and made my way to Hollywood by tirelessly waitressing at kitchenettes and dying my hair blond in my apartment’s bathroom. Maybe I should have been a news anchor or a sketch comedy actress. Maybe I should have starred on a Netflix sitcom. Maybe I should have been in more plays at my school, but again, I hated to sing and all we did was musicals.

But that certainly didn’t mean I hated the spotlight. One day, I simply got pulled in a different direction and had to abandon this passion. Some say I grew up, others say I was just interested in other things.

And now, I’m a writer. And I’ve always been a writer; maybe as long as I’ve been an actress. And yet, I feel that slipping away too. I can barely post on this blog everyday, let alone pursue a novel or any of my poetry.

But I had a sobering and completely freeing thought the other day: I survived losing acting as a predominant part of my life. (It still shows up, just not in the way I would expect.) And if writing starts to do the same thing, then I’m prepared for that too. I’ve missed one calling for my life, who is to say I won’t miss more and get more too? I’m an actress and a writer, but I don’t need to be either everyday to be them any day. I just need to love what I do and remember my roots when I need them. And then I can grow new ones.

It’s nice to follow your passion to the ends of the earth. But you shouldn’t jump off the edge for it if you can’t seem to pursue it right now. It’ll wander back into your life on a meandering path, and greet you as an old friend. Perhaps shyly at first, but you’ll warm up. And when you do, you’ll remember why you loved it in the first place.

A World of Opinions 

Let’s get political for a second. 

I don’t care what you think of Trump.  Wait, I mean Drumpf. (Unless you think he has great ideas. Then I care what you think. Because you’re wrong about that, and you’re probably wrong about other things too.) 

But again, whatever you think of Trump, you have to admit that he’s eliminated apathy in this election. It’s difficult for people to look away, let alone not have an opinion on who should be our next president. Everyone will vote because they can’t afford not to. 

Which is strange for a person who doesn’t have much of an opinion about anything. Because I really don’t. My only opinions? Any one who harms animals should receive the death penalty and that avocado can be eaten on anything. Everything else doesn’t really warrant my opinion. And that gets me into a lot of weirdness. Because it’s hard to really get to know someone who just nods and agrees. 

But that could be changing. We now live in a world where not only are opinions everywhere, people can actually tell you that your opinions are wrong. (Like I pretty much did at the beginning of this post.)

So, what’s a girl with no opinions supposed to do? Well, I guess I’ll start to form them by getting informed. But it is something that needs to be done. Because I believe that the election won’t be the last thing that will polarize the nation in the next few years. And hopefully, that will be a good thing. Because when people have strong opinions, they do something about them. And if the world is going to hell in a hand basket, I want to have an opinion about how it’s going down. 

Owl Medicine 

I didn’t want to post tonight. Not after what the world has been through today. 

No, I’d rather that everyone find their closest loved one and tell them that they love them. Get off the Internet and be with their family. Today is not a day to be alone. 

But I figured that maybe you’re up late at night and on the Internet for the same reason that I am: you’re seeking solace and comfort from other people, because you really can’t be alone when you’re on the Internet. And if that’s the case, then I’d like to do what I can to help. 

Which in my case, as a writer, is adding some words to the world. Tonight, it’s a poem:

Owl Medicine

In the clear air

Bathing the full moon,

An owl called out

Into nothing 

With enough force to send it


On the branch. 

Cars passed its silhouette, invisible. 

Still a question 

In its very call, in its very existence

That has been asked for centuries. 

And sometimes

The owl got its answer. 

But it was quieter then. 

Now the owl only calls,

Begging to be heard over the roar

Of progress. 

But it does not wait

To be heard. It blends

Its sound with those of nature.

As always has been done; as it never had been done before. 

Now. Go find someone and give them a hug. Tell them they are not alone. 

Sympathy for the Devil

Phantom of the Opera is my favorite play. It’s also my favorite opera (because there’s not many options there.)

I don’t know why, but there’s something about the swelling music and the dark and light imagery…and I guess the psychopathic tendencies of the main character sort of make it interesting, too. (Spoiler alert: he’s a murderer in a mask and a cape. What’s not to like?)

And that’s totally weird, because at no point (except the point of no return, at the end) that we’re like, yes, let the heroine go with the kind, caring prince charming and sing a beautiful duet. No, we’d actually like the masked weirdo to win just. this. once. so that he can serenade her in the sewers or whatever he’s been planning to do for years.

Why? Because no villain thinks that he or she is a villain. And so we’re convinced that the villain, even for a moment, is right. We all have a little, or in many cases, a lot, of sympathy for the devil. Don’t believe me? Let’s review the exhibits.

Exhibit A: Gollum from Lord of the Rings. He was actually a Hobbit once, and loved and ate and slept and ate and played and ate as all hobbits do. And then, he murdered in the name of the one ring, and then he turned into a bad guy. But we still feel bad for that decrepit little creature with the huge eyes who lost his ability to speak in complete sentences but can riddle Bilbo Baggins until his face turns blue.

Exhibit B: He Who Must Not Be Named. Do you think that he wanted to be reborn with no nose and be beaten into submission by a baby? No! He wanted to be immortal (which he sort of is as a result of a highly popular children’s book.) And then, he wanted to be the best. And he was for a second, but then again, that baby who became a really angsty teenager with a grudge. (But really, no good can come to people who kill unicorns.)

Exhibit C: Well, that’s you. Because like it or not, sometimes you are the villain. And you don’t even realize it. To you, you’re just having a bad day. But to everyone else? You have a scepter and a poison apple in your bag. And you don’t even know it because it’s not like you mean to be evil. It’s just happening. And besides, you had a really bad day. Why can’t anyone see that? That’s just every villain’s thought process ever. (I mean, have we learned nothing from the drawn out monologues?) “I have to kill you because this, that, and the other thing.” “You were my friend until you betrayed me to blah blah blah, etc.”

So, congratulations. You’re the villain. And contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t feel any different than being the hero. It just doesn’t pay off.

At Least We’re Happy, Right?

I see a lot of people walking to and from work. And that means I’ve seen some pretty weird and amazing things. (I’ve smelled even weirder  and amazing things, though.)

But today, in a really understated way, I heard something that took the cake.

I was walking along the sidewalk and passed a family. The mom was pushing a stroller and a 5- or 6-year-old girl pranced alongside her. The young girl had her arms up in the air and she was waving them, as anybody of that age usually does. And the snippet of conversation that I heard from the mother as she walked by was: “At least we’re happy, right?”

And I have no idea what the context this was in. But I really wanted to turn around and ask them what we’re supposed to be happy about. (I mean, really, that’s a pretty deep comment to make to a young person. To anyone, really.)

And then I realized, it didn’t matter at all what she meant by it or why she said it. And then, right after that, I totally read way into it.

Because isn’t that the question we should all really be asking ourselves? About anything? When we are giving our all and it doesn’t seem like anything will work out, we just need to ask “at least we’re happy, right?” When we are with our significant other and times are tough, we just need to ask “at least we’re happy, right?” When we are making a decision that may or may not shape the rest of our lives, we just need to ask, “at least we’re happy, right?” Because that’s the only question that should ever matter. And here it was, said to a young girl on a sidewalk street.

And if the answer is ever no to this question, well you can stop right there. (And maybe wave your hands above your head or something). Because if you’re not happy, nothing will ever be worth it.

Oh, Bother

Do you ever feel like you’re bothering someone? You don’t know what it is, whether it is the look in their bloodshot eyes or the tapping of their pencil that is tipping you off, but you can tell something is up? Well, what happens next? Do you take the hint and slink away, or do you keep at it until you get what you want, regardless of their glares?

What’s a person to do? Because if you’re anything like me, you may know when you’re bothering someone, but you don’t ever want it to get to that point so you just stop talking way ahead of time. And in short, this means that you pretty much don’t do anything in fear of upsetting or annoying someone, and this, in turn, means that you pretty much don’t do anything.

But I’ve suddenly found that I have to bother, nag, and remind people repeatedly of things I’ve said or done. (And this bothers me on the deepest layers of soul, see reason in previous paragraph).

Suddenly, I’m all like, the doctors’ office didn’t call me back when they said they would, I’m calling them. Usually, I avoid even calling the doctor in the first place, and now I’m actually following up on my check ups? What gives?

And then it hit me: I’m starting to have to put my own needs and responsibilities first, whereas I used to have my parents to do that for me. I’m an adult now, and adults apparently chase a lot of answers.

And that’s why it feels like I’m bothering people–because I’m used to being oblivious to whether anyone was going to answer me or not. I’m used to simply getting the answers–I’ve never been the middle man for this process. But now that I know that I need an answer to move on, I am a little more persistent, and it feels like I’m bothering people because they didn’t remember to contact me. (And technology doesn’t help the situation. “Did you read my e-mail or not…?” is how I start about half of all my e-mails and Google can obviously answer the majority of my questions).

But the point is that we’re not even really bothering each other. I mean, we all have busy lives, and most of the time, we’re just glad someone remembered to poke us about a situation, rather than starting a phone call with “Sorry about the slow response.”

In my mind, as long as it is not excessive, (I’m looking at you, car salespersons who e-mail people every day), it’s okay and even good to bother people to make sure you get what you want. In any case, when given the chance, they’ll bother you right back.

Cooler Than Cool

What makes a person”cool”? It usually isn’t just one thing about someone, but a whole medley of things.

And yet, you can still pick out “cool” people pretty easily. Leather jackets and Ray Bans have always been a staple of the “cool” population, for example. And you might as well have a “cool” sign blinking on your forehead if you have any type of piercing not in your ears or if your hair is a different color than the normal red, brown, black, or blonde.

But do you know what I’ve found to be most true about “cool” people? It’s that they are pretty aptly named. (I know, groundbreaking.)

Because if you know a “cool” person, then you know a standoffish person. A person who is afraid to go out in public when not looking or acting their best. A person who can freeze you out with a look. A person who has perfected one way of thinking while looking down on others. “Cool” people can quite literally be too “cool,” at times. And sometimes, that can be downright cold.

Because “cool” people spend their entire existence pretending not to care. They’re all like, hey man, that’s totally cool that your sister had her baby and named it after me. Catch you on the flip side. 

Okay, okay. “Cool” people don’t say “the flip side.” (I know this because I’ve never been a “cool” person, and I say things like “on the flip side.”) But then again, I’ve never wanted to be “cool.” Who doesn’t want to be excited about things and have to act like they aren’t interested? I don’t want to give anyone the cold shoulder; I’d rather wear my feelings on my sleeve.

And so, I’ll never be cool. But maybe, you shouldn’t be either. Because really, isn’t “cool” just the opposite of warm? And everyone loves a warm person, even if we are, truly uncool.