9/20/2021

Happiness Is Possible

As of today, I've been intentionally unemployed for three weeks. I have worked consistently since graduating college in 2017, and haven't yet had a paid job where I "used" my English undergraduate degree in a significant capacity. I left my most recent position in customer service to focus short-term on writing, reading, visiting friends/family, and figuring out what the hell I'm going to do with the rest of my 20s and the rest of my life, generally. I know I'm on the right path - it's just a very rarely-travelled path in quite a dark part of the forest, and my way is lit by fireflies, but I'm kind of spooked by that because I really don't like bugs.

This blog post isn't here to discuss my plans for the future or my quest for the elusive title of "emerging writer." It is here to say that I felt real joy for a brief time, and the memory of that freedom sustains me through moments of self-doubt and anxiety. I had the honor of being a houseguest at a close friend's place for a week, in the same city (and on the same street!) as my partner of four-plus years. A week is a very long time to join a household of four other people, but I felt so welcomed the entire time. For the first time, I actually enjoyed and felt comfortable sharing living space with other people. I felt like I was at summer camp. I felt like I had sisters. I felt safe and buoyant - my hopeful future spilling out in front of me in glowing pastel colors.

I know that vacations aren't real life, and part of the reason I was so happy in my friend's house was my lack of obligation to anything - no job, no bills, no worries. But I also know that I deserve to feel acceptance and security in all of my living situations. This experience is further confirmation that following my heart, no matter how challenging, will lead me to happiness. I wish that everyone had the privilege to do the same, because I truly believe in the power and rewards of creativity and self-exploration. I may fail, in the months and years to come, but I will never regret the effort and time taken.

7/30/21

Crying In Pole Class


Two weeks ago, I went to my first-ever pole fitness class. I think pole is a really gorgeous artform and have always felt deeply impressed by people who do it regularly, whether for fun, fitness, and/or money. I thought that learning pole would help me feel more powerful, confident, and feminine, because those are the qualities which I associate with accomplished pole dancers. I wanted to feel more grounded and in touch with my body - letting go of shame and “listening to Body,” as my therapist says when we do grounding exercises. Plus, I was inspired by the pole-spinning library scene in SZA’s music video for “Good Days.”

[I want this to be my life so bad, it hurts.]

So I signed up for an introductory series at a small dance studio. And I rushed over after work, managing to be about 15 minutes late due to the impossibility of finding parking anywhere in Seattle. I came into the class already out of breath and forgetting my water bottle - an inauspicious start! I stepped out of my shoes and socks and was in a sports bra and athletic shorts, like most of the other people in the class. There were about six other students, and I immediately jumped into doing warm-ups on my yoga mat in sync with everybody else, keeping an eye on the incredibly ripped instructor. Literally five minutes into doing these warm-ups, I was faced with the extreme limitations of my body’s flexibility, stamina, and muscular strength. I was already breathing hard, and I was trying to cover it up out of embarrassment. My face felt hot. My throat was closing up. In shock, I realized that my body wanted to cry. Pure shame! I swallowed it down and looked around; tried to think about funny memes I had messaged to a friend earlier that day. The instructor showed us how to do a move that seemed way too advanced for a “Level 1” class. The move was actually kind of fun, but my core started screaming after about three attempts. I ran to the bathroom, took some deep breaths, found a glass, and drank some water. I came back and the instructor said that we were going to start climbing the pole. Excuse me?! Everyone else in the class wrapped their limbs around the cold steel and shot up to the ceiling. I thought we were all beginners here? I confirmed with the instructor that I was in the right class, my voice cracking. Now I was really not doing well. I was able to leap onto the pole, but couldn’t hang on for more than a second because of the excruciating pain it inflicted on my shins, and also because of my lifelong lack of upper body strength, often referred to as “noodle arms.” The tears were getting closer and closer to breaking free of my eyes. I was ashamed, caught off-guard, and full of self-hatred. Water wasn’t helping. I ran to the refuge of the bathroom for probably the fifth time, and broke down. The crying was completely unstoppable. There was no way I could continue this class without being a disruption. I ran out, gathered my things, and said an apology/explanation/thank-you combination to the instructor, which the other students unavoidably heard (it was a small room). Then I walked back to my car with my bag, hastily-rolled yoga mat, and keys in my hands, sobbing in broad daylight. Not my cutest moment.


Before I get to what I think is interesting and illuminating about this little adventure, I want to emphasize that I don’t place an ounce of blame for my experience on the instructor, class, or studio. Nobody was at fault for my reaction, and everyone was kind and accommodating. As far as I can tell from the website and from how I was treated, this is a wonderful studio. They rightfully support sex workers, who invented, practice, and perpetuate this art form, through fundraisers and employment. They price their classes fairly and clearly have many devoted and grateful students. I didn’t ask for a refund, because I genuinely wanted my $60 to go towards the support of their business, especially during pandemic recovery.


What I wanted to write about is how trauma is inside of you. It is stored in your body, which you take with you everywhere you go, except maybe into your dreams. It is very, very patient, and it doesn’t care if you forget about it, or pretend it doesn’t exist. It will live inside your limbs and ligaments, 24/7, and it will never forget or ignore you or go away on its own. It is always waiting for that opportune moment to emerge - when you are worn down, and pushing yourself or being pushed, and maybe your guard has been let down. Trauma is terrifying, so we don’t want to face it. But if we don’t face it, if we don’t keep facing it throughout our lives, it will stop us from living our lives as authentically as possible. Ok. I will put the megaphone down now. You don’t have to agree with me, but thanks for listening.

[I still haven’t read this, but it’s on my list.]

Making my body undergo anything which it deems as “exercise” unearths buried trauma inside of me, because of experiences that I have had since the age of 7. I don’t have the energy or willingness to detail every single instance here, and it would probably be pretty boring for you to read. It will suffice to say that I have always been found wanting, whether in standardized testing or playground games or weird ranking systems that young girls spontaneously (and horrifyingly) invent to compare themselves to each other. Could never swing on the monkey bars in elementary school. Could never do a pull-up in middle school. Bummed around the track with the scene kids when we were supposed to be running a mile in high school. See? It’s all pretty derivative, and not very interesting, even if it is all true. I always prized my mind far above my body, as if they could ever be separated. My mind was something I developed, showed off, and was proud of. My body was something to hide, incompetent and unwanted. The two were at war - and now at the age of 27, they continue to battle. The most tattooed person in the pole dancing class, crying because her arms can’t support her own weight.

The shame I feel for being this way is endlessly heavy. It is deeply embarrassing to be at such a low baseline for physical fitness, and to have such little experience with making exercise a part of my life. This is compounded by the fact that most people just see an “average” body type when they look at me, and I often get the “you’re so tiny!” comments because I’m short and know how to dress in order to look smaller or to deflect eyes to different parts of my body. I can get away with it. People don’t berate me on the street if I want to enjoy some greasy fries - they assume I’ve “earned” them or am “allowed” to have them, as if it was anyone’s fucking business what others choose to feed themselves with. As if we aren’t all just eating microplastics in every meal anyways. I’m sick of hiding the truth: that I love living a sedentary lifestyle because it feels safe and familiar, and I hate exercising because of everything it forces me to confront. Predictably, I also don’t want to get sick, injured, or die young. And lack of exercise makes all three of those a much higher possibility, so here I am. Looking off a precipice. Holding truths which appear to be conflicting. Contemplating a lifestyle decision which seems so dramatic to me, while most other people call it routine or even enjoyable. Actually, I’m genuinely grateful for the experience of taking the class, because it reminded me that the suffering I experienced has stayed with me and continues to affect me. I’m always happy to learn more about myself; that’s a learning which is never-ending and always rewarding, even if it is extremely difficult or painful. I wish that there was more widespread conversation around exercise-related trauma, especially how it affects women. If you have any resources, I’d love to hear about them.


Love, Auzin

6/27/21

F9: The Fast Saga Movie Review


Yesterday, my partner and I went to see F9: The Fast Saga in an effort to beat the heatwave which is currently pummeling Seattle. In a city with air-conditioning in only 29% of rented homes, the respite of a cool, dark, and climate-controlled theater sounded like an excellent option. I had been looking forward to my first post-quarantine movie theater experience, and honestly would have watched anything, regardless of quality – I was born and raised in the PNW, and we are not at all used to 90-degree days (Farenheit) here. I was not really excited about seeing F9. I had only ever seen the first Fast and Furious movie before, and that was because my partner showed it to me as something which was important to his childhood. The Fast and the Furious (2001) was also important to the genre of pure action films overall, which I’m not typically a fan of. I have a high tolerance for action and violence on camera, due partially to being a desensitized millenial and also to being a lifelong lover of science fiction and fantasy media, which often relies on battle scenes and graphic violence to add excitement and visual interest to the plot. I actually enjoy Vin Diesel’s other action vehicle, the sci-fi Riddick series, quite a bit. But just straight-up “action” movies are often boring to me. Anyways, at around 3:40pm, I settled into my fully reclined Regal theater seat, happily chewing on Airhead Extreme Sours, honestly thankful for feeling almost (!) cold. I had no expectations of F9 other than to occupy my mind for two and half hours while the sweat dried on the backs of my knees. As the previews ended and the first speeding cars began to flash across the screen, I envisioned myself as a small piece of flotsam caught in the crest of a huge tidal wave. I resigned myself to taking the ride to wherever F9 would drive me. I let my overthinking nature fall to the wayside, and locked my independent-film-snob tendencies in the trunk. I am here, I am present, hello F9, do your worst. Anything is better than this heat.


Reader, I am so glad that I went, because this movie is incredible.


The Fast and Furious franchise, which now spans two decades, has entirely morphed its own genre since the first installation, which as I reiterate, is the only other one I’ve seen. The original F&F was a standard action movie about illegally racing cars and an undercover cop who gets sucked into the world of racing. It had Vin Diesel, it had modded fast cars, it had a predictable plot and bad dialogue. Somehow, this franchise has evolved into the spy/heist/thriller genre with an uncountable cast of characters, many played by extremely well-respected and well-known actors. F9 is an action movie, yes of course, but I would also like to posit that it is a science fiction movie. Choosing to view it in that way made watching it unbelievably fun, and also helped to stop my overactive brain from looking for a reason “why” or “how” everytime something insane happened. There is no point to asking any questions of F9. F9 has no time for your idiot questions. F9 clearly does not take place on any Earth that I recognize, or if it does, it is so far into the future that we’ve invented transporters, and so instantaneous travel between distant locales is possible. The characters pop from Montequinto, to London, to Edinburgh, to Tokyo, to Tsibilisi, to Los Angeles, and back again with seemingly no jet lag, no fatigue, no monetary difficulty (even though very few of the characters have an actual job), no language barriers (everyone speaks or understands every language, which makes me think that universal translators have been invented), and most importantly, no planes. There is not a single shot of a plane or airport in this entire film, despite it switching settings as rapidly as Vin Diesel switches tank tops. There are helicopters, which belong to the bad guys, and there is a jet, which somehow picks up a villain’s car and flies off with it at one point.


The cars in F9 do not behave like cars. The humans in F9 do not behave like humans, or speak like them. A handful of the main characters are openly suspicious that they may be invincible, due to having experienced an inordinate amount of violence and disaster and car crashes over the years without even a single scar. And if all of that wasn’t ~speculative~ enough for you, Ludacris and Tyrese Gibson go to outer space in a Pontiac. They drive the Pontiac in outer space, while wearing space suits.


Never before have I enjoyed being treated with such utter disregard by a film before. F9 does not care about capturing an audience – it knows exactly who its audience is, and what they are there for. They are not there for plot, because plot is irrelevant. Plot is determined by the next absolutely insane and impossible thing to happen. Plot is Vin Diesel and John Cena being brothers, and said by another character to have “similar features,” even though the only feature they both share is being built like silverback gorillas. As I mentioned before, trying to figure out why anything happens in this film is a futile endeavor. Would I have understood more if I’d seen all of the previous F&F installations? Maybe. Did I care? Absolutely not. Wait, is that Cardi B? Yup!


This movie has something which I feel many contemporary “popcorn flicks” with heavy action are missing, and that is confidence. Explanation and exposition are strictly limited, and all of the bonkers shit is just shoved in your face, like a buffet. Serving after serving of impossibility, not even pretending to be reality anymore. Nonstop violence, but no darkness or grittiness or gray areas. Why are you thinking so much? All that F9 wants to do is entertain you. It’s pure in that way. This is the perfect post-quarantine movie, and I felt all of my anxieties about my tentative reentry into “post-pandemic” activities fade away for its duration. Outside, climate change was melting my city and preventable tragedy on a global scale was still raging, but inside, I was temporarily adopted into the Fast and Furious *Vin Diesel voice* family. I laughed hard, shook my head in bemused disbelief, crunched popcorn with fake butter, and finally, felt inspired to write this.


If you go see F9, I hope you have as much fun as I did.