not so vanilla
making decisions that reflect who I am and what I want
I have a midterm on thursday, but i’ll come over tomorrow
what are you doing
did you remember August?
They said you’ll never see him again, the voices
yeah fuck that,
i’ll see him tomorrow.
what are you doing
i’ll stop everything I’m doing, will
you let me tell you that you fucked it up?
that day we napped, kissed, tensions built up walls along my skin,
cement that cracked with skin and skin, and cement
and lips cracked too, open, my blood fell onto your eyes,
did they bleed too? or did you think I could trust —
coldly bruised, i knew that you’d hit me up 2, 3, 4, 8 months later.
with a couple of girls, yeah you remembered me most.
my blood stained your eyes, you felt my skin the other day,
you think it’s ok to leave things unresolved, tangled up, leave your necklaces wound up,
Leave your people and tell them tomorrow, or 8 months,
What’s the difference anyway.
what are you doing,
her tight ass, yeah you fucked her too, huh.
I saw you holding hands on Valentines Day, she’s your girlfriend?
i doubt it.
You can’t commit for shit, I know you mostly.
but i know that she’s hot, and you like heat,
reminds you of blood, my kisses on the windowsill,
when you yelled at me, “do you know how much it hurts, Brianna?”
yeah, i’ve been feeling it for months,
you didn’t ask though.
But you remembered, and you thought about it for a second,
math is the only thing you’ll ever love, i know that.
we know that.
I look at you and understand your brain, and i’m not mad,
but don’t fucking pretend,
don’t tell me you’re doing well,
You’re fucked up, will
you let me go?
tumblr screenshots from various points in my life // mornin’ goats
I often think back to when I first encountered poetry. I was about 6 years old and had just started first grade at Le Lycée Français, an international French school in Los Angeles. I had never had homework before, as they only started giving it out in first grade. So when my French teacher announced to the class that we would have to memorize and recite a poem of her choosing every Friday, I was both nervous and curious. Intrigued, I raised my hand and asked Madame Renoir, “qu’est-ce qu’un poème?” (“what is a poem?”). Amused by my innocence, she proceeded to read beautiful combinations of words I couldn’t quite understand — but I fell in love with the rhymes, the rhythm, the emotion, and the discursive nature of poetry itself. I didn’t know why it existed, or how anyone could understand the content, but I knew that I had discovered something very special indeed.
Fast forward a few years to 10 year old Brianna, and I had been reciting poems every week for four years, honoring the words of Jean de La Fontaine, Paul Verlaine, Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Aimé Césaire, Racine, Jacques Prévert…etc. I was becoming quite the poetry aficionado, scoring 20/20 on every recitation, perfectly enunciating and inflecting, I had fallen deeply in love with this new language. It was like a secret code, a complex problem that could be interpreted differently after each reading. I was entranced.
In 6th grade, I was assigned to write my own poetry in English class. Not any different from my six year old self, I raised my hand and asked, “But Mr. Kennedy, what should we write about? I’ve never written a poem before, how do I do it?”. What I didn’t realize was that I could write about anything I wanted, and that there was no right or wrong way to go about it.
And I chose to write about my depression. And I shared it with the class, after everyone had shared their poems about trees, sports, traveling, and their pets. And I was deeply embarrassed. But I had discovered a new way to express myself, a way that I understood more than anything else in my little bubble.
So I went home and I wrote. I filled up journals with poetry, pages smeared with blood, drawings, scribbles, and calcified salt deposits. I didn’t show anyone anymore, because the more I wrote, the more honest I became with myself, which meant my words were pretty grim. I learned a lot from a very young age, and grew jaded quickly.
In High School, I wrote sophisticated shit — I analyzed my life and the absurdities I experienced. I wrote about love (or so I thought it was love), and I wrote about things I didn’t understand. I wrote about suicide because it was on my mind. And I wrote about nearly dying, about hospitals and doctors and trauma. But I was less honest with myself in High School.
I didn’t write as much my first semester of college, I was happy and in love so I lived life instead of writing about it. But once I experienced real heartbreak, I retreated back to the only think I knew: poetry. I spilled my heart out; I cut it open and dissected my feelings for what they were. I learned about myself and my limits — but I disregarded my limits, I went past them and discovered my middle school self again. I hadn’t changed a bit; I was just as empty as I had always been. I was just as alone. But poetry helped me realize that it was all okay, because the emptier I felt, and the more honest I was with myself about how I felt, the easier it became to accept life as such.
Poetry was and will always be my shoulder to cry on.
“I can be an asshole”
but he was falling for me fastly
I couldn’t tell, but i saw his eyes well up up up
we got high
started to chew on the lack of emotion
i thought i over reacted
But he knew that his silence hit the walls of the room
through my bones, warmth left the first layer of my skin, the walls
built up, resentment shook my lungs,
and maybe he lost me, scared, what’s wrong, what’s wrong?
I didn’t feel like a woman, like my ethos prevailed
weak, pushed up against that blue fence
i was scared
little girl, little me — scared to lose him
mother didn’t take my tears,
“you’re the reason i can’t go to work”
I am not sorry,
they stuck their hands in places and motions i didn’t know,
Eleven years old
i learned fastly too
i learned how to close up, shut up, die away slowly,
don’t complain, you have it good —
but i couldn’t be a burden,
i didn’t want to lose them, him,
did you know that i knew
how to lack of sound, no emotions since I was eleven?
I will be patient, patient and soft, soft and lackluster,
i’ll moan if you’re quiet,
touch you, kiss you,
when you want me to,
i’ll grovel for your affections, it’s the only know-how i know.
so when you’re not speaking,
just know that i know,
I’ve lived to know how to read,
to understand silently, look at your eyes and know,
you can be an asshole.
Yeah, we’re releasing our first-ever Blend publication, “wut”, very very soon.
As like, a printed, tangible thing.
And as a big fuck you to every guy who has made me feel like shit. I may have been voiceless in my relationships, but never as an artist.
Calling out every human who has been left feeling broken and lonely by a man, “wut” is an ode to self-empowerment, to standing up for yourself, for breaking down and feeling weak, to feeling and being unafraid to feel.
All poetry/drawings/pictures were created and experienced during times of great turmoil and disempowerment.
A5 softcover zine
you can buy it at the BlendShop! (very soon)
If you’re interested in pre-ordering a copy, comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll send you something special along with the zine 🙂
My face is hot. I feel the cold air hit my cheeks as I walk down Piedmont, rehearsing my speech over and over again until I can’t even remember what I’m trying to do anymore. With each step, my heart beats a little faster than before, and I can feel the beads of sweat fall down the palms of my hands. I rub my hands on my skirt, trying to get rid of the sweat, but they only stay dry for a second. And I try to hold back tears that have been falling for days now, but my eyes start swelling and all I can do is try to hide the overwhelming bursting sensation in my chest from everyone walking beside me. I’m broken. But I am stupid enough to believe that I ever felt whole. Or that I thought he was my other half.
“I love you. I promise I’ll change, I promise. I want to be with you forever, like we’ve talked about. I want to live in that house with you with the dogs and the horses. I want all of it, and I’ll do all of it with you if you give me another chance”. Standing outside of Clark Kerr, I’m repeating myself over and over again in my head, waiting for someone to open the door to the building. At this point, my heart is beating so fast that I feel like he can hear my chest thumps from his room. “Stay strong, everything will be back to normal tomorrow”. And then someone comes up from behind me and opens the door. And I walk through. And all I can think of is turning back. What in the world am I doing here?
Taking a deep breath in front of his door, I knock once. And I hear voices coming from inside of his room, so I know he’s there. He’s probably reading about the Cold War, or laying in bed listening to Johnny Cash, or playing some stupid game on his new PS4… Regardless of what he’s doing, I wonder if he’s feeling the way I do, but I have no way of knowing considering it’s only been three days. Three agonizing days. As my mind moves faster, and as my thoughts become increasingly circular, I knock again. And then again. And then again, the knocking becoming more frantic as the minutes pass by. The voices stop after awhile, and all I can hear is the sobbing coming from my own pathetic self. People come out of their rooms looking for the source of the clearly audible weeping, but then realize it’s me and awkwardly retreat.
The sobbing doesn’t stop, and I haven’t moved from his door for an hour. His roommates text me to let me know that he refuses to open the door despite their pleas. He sits in his room listening to me cry for that entire hour, listening to me profess my love for him, listening to me make an awful fool out of myself. But I’ve lost the only thing that has ever mattered to me, so I figure that there isn’t anything left to lose at this point.
My head starts spinning and as soon as I know it, the two of us are in the study room next door, and my tears have soaked the collar of my shirt, the salt depositing slowly on my neck. Unaffected by my pain, he sits in front of me stoically and logically explains why we don’t make sense together. I look at him desperately, trying to find an ounce of empathy in his body, giving him the benefit of the doubt — after all, he must have a heart.
“Brianna, I am in so much pain right now telling you this, but I just can’t do this anymore. I am going to have to cut you out of my life completely”. His face is calm and collected, and he crosses his arms and sighs as if he had just told his daughter that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. I’ve fallen to my knees, slowly watching the world crumble around me as he walks out the door without remorse, and without saying goodbye.
I’ve offered him my entire heart, life, and being, and none of it could ever suffice for him. I stay in the study room and nothing makes sense to me anymore. All of the memories we shared, the plans we had for the future, and the way we made each other feel — all of it was meaningless, all of it means nothing to him now. But until this moment, I hadn’t realized how much empathy he truly lacked, and how he placed his own self worth above all else. Of course he refused to open the door despite the apparent suffering I was enduring, as it would have been too much for him to handle. And now, still on the floor, my face entirely smeared with mascara and salt, I think back to all of the times where he valued himself more than he valued me. I think back to when I would ask him why he was so against veganism, and how his responses amounted to him just deciding that he just doesn’t care about killing animals. I think back to our political arguments, and how he was so stubbornly conservative. And I would ask him how he could just ignore the problems of so many good people, and to that he responded similarly. He just doesn’t care, as it doesn’t affect him.
Filtering out the beautiful memories, I realize quickly that the man I’ve fallen in love with is in fact a dark reproduction of everything I absolutely despise. But of course, I can’t live without him, because even though our views on nearly every single topic are polar opposites, this man has captured my heart unlike anyone else. His clearly narcissistic characteristics only truly shine through after realizing how disillusioned I’ve been throughout the entire relationship. And as I sit here thinking about my future, I start eliminating any possibility of a future with him, and the tears come flooding down my face again.
Even though I am capable of rationalizing the situation, I physically feel my heart splitting in two as I remember what we always used to say to each other.
“You’ve got me, and I’ve got you”, and these words stick to my heart like glue.
We just got in our beautiful Valentine’s Day cards in the shop. Simple and elegant, the whole card devoted to Alain Delon reading to Romy Schneider casually on their couch. I fold each card, and look at how happy they are. And then I think of all of the people who will buy these cards and give them to their special someones. And then I think of how I’ve never had a Valentine, and how I was dumped a week before Valentine’s Day last February. I tell my boss how much I like the cards, and how I’m excited to sell them off to cute boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives… But clearly the expression on my face indicates otherwise.
Excited about being in the early days of a budding romance with a boy I like more and more with each coming day, I have this idea in my mind that maybe I’ll have a Valentine this year. Maybe I’ll get an extra special kiss that day that tells me that I’m someone important in his life. Maybe he’ll make me a card or make me a bouquet of flowers he finds around Berkeley, or even just ask me to be his Valentine. But alas, such simple gestures seem to be asking too much still.
I go home after work and all I can think about is how this boy had told me just the night before that “Valentine’s Day is stupid”, all after proudly telling him about the new cards we had just received in the store.
But is it really? Sure, you could argue that you wouldn’t want to be involved in the “capitalist scheme” to get people to buy flowers, chocolate, cards, and presents under the guise of a fake holiday that celebrates “love”. Yeah, of course the whole idea is “stupid”, but him saying that to me invalidates everything I had ever felt about the significance of the holiday, and everything I feel about even just feeling special.
Embarrassed beyond belief, I nervously laugh and tell him that I was just talking about the cards and how they’re cute, nothing more. But deep inside, my little hopes of being surprised and feeling special on Valentine’s Day are crushed. My heart sinks a little, and I think back to every guy who has invalidated my feelings, and back to every guy who has ignored the little things that I care about, and the little things that make me happy. I think back to all of these times, and I remember that I’m the one who lets people treat me this way.
But knowing myself, I probably still won’t stand up for myself, even though deep down I know very well that I deserve so much more. And so does every person out there who has been told that they “ask too much” or are “being ridiculous” when it comes to wanting to feel special. You’re not asking too much, because Valentine’s Day is fun, and why not celebrate being together? Why not spend a day to be mindful about feelings and ultimately just digging each other a little more?
So, if you’ve got a boo on Valentine’s Day, show them some love and make them a card/pick them flowers/cook them a cute dinner, because no matter how stupid the significance of the holiday actually is, showing someone you care never is.
I’m so curious. I want to know about literally everything! I wish I could somehow acquire knowledge and experience infinitely quickly. I have always been this way and I love this about myself but it definitely does pose challenges for me.
I was the type of child to go through a million different phases and interests… my poor parents had to deal with this and I am eternally grateful for how well they did so. When I wanted to be a singer my parents sent me to singing lessons. When I wanted to be a pianist the signed me up for piano lessons. And guitar. And ballet. And theatre. And gymnastics. And soccer. And softball. When I wanted to be a scientist they, being the supportive parents they are, supplied me with the microscope I had been begging for. When I wanted to learn a new language, learn what it’s like to live in a new culture, and learn to be independent and create a network of friends and peers around me, they gave me this opportunity too! They sent me to Rome, Italy all by myself during high school… just as I had asked for.
Anyways… that’s all to say that I haven’t changed one bit. I am still curious and interested in just about EVERYTHING. I don’t know what I want to major in… because I want to choose all of the majors. I want to do pre-med, economics, business, legal studies, engineering, nutrition, political science, cognitive science, computer science, mathematics, integrative biology while simultaneously learning 3 different languages and joining an investment club, the sailing team, the Effective Altruists club, trying to get in shape, stay updated on the news and have a social life… oh yeah and I want to get a part-time job too! Although I am very far from it, I want to be well-read and be able to discuss books that commonly come up in conversation. I even feel left out when people discuss TV shows they are following and feel that I need to keep with that part of “general knowledge” and watch popular shows to stay in the loop with that stuff. Does anyone else feel this way? It’s such a struggle because I feel that if I am not learning all of these things and experiencing all of these things then I am not taking full advantage of the life and opportunities I have been given. I feel like I am missing out on everything and anything that I am not doing… which is most things. It’s just too much. There’s not enough time in life to do all of these things and be sane. I wonder all the time if being more efficient and wasting less time and taking less time to just talk to friends and relax would allow me to get more of these things done. I wonder to what extent it would be worth it. Who knows!
This all feeds into why I want to know about what’s going on in the world, know about different political views and understand where everyone is coming from and know the context of big topics and events. I want to be able to engage in conversation and understand what people are talking about and be able to contribute my own ideas too. I have for the longest time stayed away from engaging in particular conversations because I am insecure that my knowledge on whatever particular topic being discussed is too narrow. I always think:”they probably all know a lot more about this topic than I do so that’s probably the main reason I have a different opinion.” I don’t think I’ll ever get to the point where I am completely confident with how much I know because I will always feel that it is not enough, but I know that learning more about frequently conversed topics helps with this enormously.
I recently copied Brianna and downloaded the Apple News App on my phone and turned on the settings for notifications from some of the top news stations such as CNN, NY Times, Tim, Vox, The Washington Post, and even Fox News. I think it is very important to look at information from all sides because all news is biased. It is essentially impossible to learn what is going on in the world objectively. If you surround yourself with information that is already in conjunction with your bias you are not learning anything really. Is your intention just to convince yourself more of what what you already believe? Well that’s definitely not mine as I want to learn NEW things. It’s a lot easier to follow the track you have already been on and not look outside of what you already believe. It’s easy to not have to question your past views, but it’s much more rewarding and commendable to fully consider opposing beliefs and decide for yourself in this moment, not just going back to what “old you” would have felt, what your stance on any particular topic is.
I have found it incredibly helpful to read about what is going on in the world. I only recently, maybe just 3 or 4 days ago, notably increased how much I go out out of my way to read and/or listen to the news and have already recognized how big the return for this small investment is. For example, with the recent political events that have occurred at my school, UC Berkeley, I decided to read about everything that was happening and why people on the right felt the way they did and likewise with the left. In this particular instance, Berkeley College Republicans invited an alt-right speaker, Milo Yiannopoulos, to speak at our school. Left supporters protested against this to show that they did not tolerate the Yiannopoulos’ ideas and the speech was eventually canceled. Although it was not typical of me, I really challenged myself to learn about the events and to fully understand the different points of view. Although it may seem like a small feat for most, I was proud of myself because I was completely able to understand the context and arguments of the many in-person and social media debates about the topic.
So am I crazy? Or do you want to know about everything too?