On people

The other day I had the first formal interview on behalf of my school’s bimonthly newspaper in several weeks. I’ll admit I arrived feeling the nervousness of a new reporter because I was terrified I was out of practice. Will I come off as annoying? Or nosy? What if my scribbling distracts her? What if I run out of questions? What if I stumble over my words?

Overall, it went beautifully. 

At first I ran into several walls because the interviewee was so guarded. Furthermore I realized early on that many of my questions were two-dimensional. There was a point at which I physically set aside my list of questions and decided to continue on instinct.

It worked. 

All I had to do was get to know this person as an individual rather than build off of what she was known for. We began to talk less about her work and more about ideas that shaped her way of thinking and living. I was genuinely surprised to see just how much we had in common.

I walked away smiling absurdly because I was reminded of why I fell in love with journalism in the first place. I can’t think of what more I could ask for than a job in which I am responsible for talking with and listening to people and writing their stories down. Luckily enough, that already is my job.

Sometimes I feel like a people person, sometimes I’m just in a mood to observe. Journalism lets me do both.

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

I feel so much more whole since the last time I wrote to you. Please don’t worry about me.

Then again, worrying is what mothers do, like when you worried about the long cut on my face from playing football with the boys. Or when you worried when I meant it when I said I would hate you forever for turning off the Gamecube before I could save the game. Or when you worried when you thought I came home in tears becasue of a boy. Or when you continued to worry because I was upset from a fight with my best friend.

I am so grateful for the sheer amount of freedom you allowed me as a kid, however reckless a teenager I’ve become as a result. You didn’t let me get away with everything, though. I remember nights spent perfecting my handwriting at the dining table, writing the O’s over and over this way not that way. I remember getting in trouble for losing my sandals in the ivy bushes during a game of tag.

I remember dorky mother-daughter moments, like belting out to Britney Spears in the car. We talked about our dreams in the same car, and you told me about how much you wanted to open your own restaurant. I told you I believed in you. I can trace paralells between us even now. I continue to obsess over Pokemon and Disney in the same way you collected the respective cards and movies. The color lavender has grown on me. You’re the purple ribbon in my senior project. Your sisters never fail to tell me we have the same eyes though I don’t quite have your wavy hair as much as I want to. We’ve both always been people-people. People have criticized us for being too stubborn to admit we’re wrong.

I just wanted to let you know that I’m happy, and that I hope that you are safe and happy, too.

Love,

Brenda

Reasons I’m thankful for my aunt 

  • providing the one place I know I can call home
  • forgiveness
  • patience
  • dealing with my childishness
  • dealing with my mood swings
  • dealing with my recklessness
  • letting me hang out with people you don’t approve of
  • being a goofball
  • telling it like it is
  • giving me room to grow
  • tough love
  • unconditional love
  • believing in me
  • doing everything a mom is supposed to do and so much more

Love,

Brenda

On outer beauty, part 2

I was fiddling around with a “lip-plumping” lip gloss on Saturday morning unsure about how it actually works when my aunt decided that we should experiment with make-up.

“Your skin is so dark, so we can’t use these colors. Hmm your eyelashes aren’t too long either.” I gave an exaggerated sigh of agreement as my aunt and I both took in my reflection. She looked at me and said quickly, “But that’s okay.”

“I know.”

In the afternoon as I was attempting to wipe off all the make-up, I gained newfound respect for all the poor souls who actually put on and take off these mysterious powders and chemicals on a daily basis.

At one point I furiously wiped at blemishes under my eyes but the dark splotches refused to come off. Then I realized that you can’t quite wipe away nights spent alone in front of a computer screen with a turnitin.com window waiting in a corner, nights spent looking for shooting stars, or nights spent asking “what if”.

Eyeliner reminds me of my mom. It looks a lot worse on me. On me I’m reminded of crying or despair or desperation for some reason. I’ll go without.

On outer beauty

I’ve seen too many girls tear themselves apart because they felt they appeared unattractive. When I’m asked to judge a friend’s looks I give my honest opinion, which has worked thus far because I don’t actually know anyone who deserves to be called ugly outright. I never gratuitously say “You’re beautiful,” unless it’s true, either. That’s not the sort of message I advocate.

I went through this insecurity phase last year in which I became terribly jealous of all my gorgeous, pretty, talented, charismatic friends. I felt small and invisible. Eventually I moved past this, but I still feel somewhat small. There are some things you actually can’t change.

I had this fleeting thought the other day: “Someone needs to teach me how to be a girl.” I don’t know what to do with all my hair besides ponytails and buns and haphazard bobby pin placement. I have no idea if gold goes with silver. I have never worn earrings other than the ones I’ve had ever since I first had my ears pierced, and that was more than 10 years ago. How can you wear something other than a T shirt and jeans with minimal effort?

People like to tell me “You’re cute.” That’s fine and appreciated but becomes very old when I realize how few adjectives people have to offer me. There are greater things I aspire to be than cute, like “exquisite” or “lackadaisical.”

At the first funeral I ever attended I overheard my granduncle tell my aunt that I looked beautiful when I cried. He’s a douche and we don’t talk to him anymore.

I once read about a girl who couldn’t bear to hear people tell her that she was pretty all the time. It was not that she did not believe them, though. To her it indicated boys did not like her for her personality, or for who she was. That’s rough.

There are aspects of my physical appearance that sometimes bother me, but that has more to do with my innate perfectionist tendencies than crippled self-esteem. I have days when I wish I had this person’s flawless skin or another person’s nicer shaped lips. I have days when I want to hide under my hood or beneath a paper bag. I have days when I feel shitty but find out that my hair looks fabulous without even trying. There are days when I manage to wear something other than a T shirt and jeans. The best days of all, though, are when I can ignore the mirror and still feel absolutely stunning.