So I figured I'd write.
A long time ago, when I was going through some rough times, I wrote in here a lot. I wrote about the things that were going on in my life, and I used this journal as a place to promote my work. People read along, for a good couple of years. I came out with an album, and then I came out with a book that grew into a series.
I'd post on here every once in a while after that, and my entries got more cryptic as they went on. And who knows how often I'll write now? But this time, I'm writing less for you and more for myself. Tumblr is too PC, Twitter not enough characters, Facebook too perfect. And yeah, maybe I'm writing from work at the moment, while I'm putting in information and being a database.
But nobody's really reading this yet, are they?
Here's the thing: I've been in New York City over four years now. Do you know how many albums I've produced in that time? Do you know how many songs I've written, how many times I've gone out there to promote myself? I actually made a habit out of it a long time ago, before places closed and I had to work instead.
There was a boy. It always starts out that way, there was a boy. We promised we wouldn't get too far in deep, that we'd be honest with one another. He supported my art. I was able to find temporary work, go to open mics. When I was let go from that job, he ensured I wouldn't have to worry, took a new job himself to make sure he could support both of us, moved in because living in New York is crazy. We were both crazy, we both had our faults, but at the end of the day, we were honest with each other. We didn't go to bed mad.
That was the most creative period of my life in NYC. I got a new job, one that enabled me to grow up from the crazy that I had been accustomed to. I found an open mic I could go to and even got my own show. I went to Comic-Con and we performed, and I created an album, and everything was perfect -- until it wasn't. I don't want to say my anxiety got in the way, but having all of your belongings in trash bags in your kitchen is more than a little rough. We grated on one another. Somewhere in the shuffle, my flash drive with my Comic-Con stuff was thrown out. I blamed him way more than I should have. I started blaming him for everything. He let me.
I went through a depression for the first part of 2015. Nothing happened. I woke up, went to work, came home. I wrote a little bit, but I was out of it. I was in survival mode all over again. The old-school methods I had used a long time ago woke up again: God hates that you were being creative, so He sent bedbugs to stop you. You might think I'm crazy, but that was the way my brain was operating.
I wasted a year. I wasted an entire year. At least he was around, right? At least he was being productive, starting his YouTube channel. I stayed off the computer. I let him have it. I was just in the way, right? I didn't want to take the computer and waste time while he could be recording his shows. For what it's worth, I did try. I lost sleep composing music for a friend's cabaret and now she's not talking to me because I wanted to be paid for a future one. I choreographed a dance and performed it in front of others, and then a fight broke out and my boyfriend escorted me into the nearest Mickey D's before the cops could show up. It was supposed to be a competition, and nobody won.
Things like that wouldn't knock old Emily down. I'm not sure he ever properly knew old Emily. Old Emily existed before January 5, 2012.
And you're still here in black and gold
Your inner core the only change
So how much of the girl I fell for still remains?
You know what I should have done on January 5? I should have quit the city. I should have called my dad, said "this isn't working out, I'm coming home." And yeah, I signed a year lease, but those things are just numbers in this city, anyway. I would have gone home, maybe gotten yelled at a bit, but hey, I would have gotten what I wanted out of the city, right?
But in the end, I'm glad I stayed. I've learned a lot about myself, about the way I process things. I've learned that it doesn't matter where you are, as long as the people you love are around you. And I've learned what that actually means. I know now what New York City is, for better or for worse. I know it's not a be all, end all. I know people romanticize it, and even those who live in the city romanticize it. It's our bubble. We live here, and if anybody threatens it, we act like it's 9/11 all over again. (Ted Cruz just made some interesting comments on this.)
Because we make it, right? Because we all struggle in this city. It's a shared struggle that we romanticize so much. We talk about how hard it is to find a dollar coffee, how we're squished like sardines in the subway car, the number of homeless people and pigeons and piles of puke we walk right past on our way to work, where we must dress exactly how they want and act exactly how they want in those high rises lest we go back to working at Mickey D's. (And they probably make more money, at this point.) Everything is always our fault, but that's okay, because we're making it in the real world. We have our shoebox apartment and we wouldn't have it any other way. We can't afford to go out because we're too busy working two jobs, but we certainly have it better than anybody at home, right? We blow through our bonds and have no money left in our savings accounts, no future, but we're living like the starving artists on Broadway. You know, just like Jonathan Larson. God bless Jonathan Larson.
We pick up and we scrape by, and we're nice to those near us as long as that niceness doesn't actually hurt us any. We put on our headphones and ignore the beggars on the train, the people sitting with cardboard signs as we go to work in our elite sports clubs. We oversleep because we don't want to get up in the morning, but hey, it's what "real people" do. And I don't doubt that anywhere. But I used to talk about the Oxford bubble, and now I'm talking about the New York City bubble, and I'm wondering just what is real. Is real life what we make of it? If so, then everybody in New York City automatically gives too much control to everybody else. We have to, in order to make this city work. If you deviate too much, you're left behind. If you don't move at supersonic speed -- and that's saying something, considering this city must be moving faster than Top Thrill Dragster -- then you have no time or energy or money to write or music or create or anything. And it's even worse for those of us who deal with mental problems, who were bullied as kids, whose fathers' words echo in our heads even when our mothers tell us they no longer matter. New York City is okay -- but it's not for everybody. To pretend it is for everybody is to shame the world we live in, to shame every place that isn't New York, to ultimately shame New York and the individuals who might be creatively trapped here.
And I know what everybody in NYC might be reading. You don't like it, then leave?
Maybe I will.
I go to Jersey for a jaunt and I plan my life, knowing that when I'm back in NYC, I'll be moving too fast for me to properly think. I go to Albany for my yearly jaunt to the convention and I feel tired the entire time, unsure if I should return back to the city. I go to Cedar Point, because maybe racing for the sky and racing underneath the sky are two separate things. Maybe I can't fly in NYC. But maybe that doesn't mean I can't fly at all. Maybe it just means the buildings are too tall here for my liking. Maybe the skies are too crowded. Maybe it's more hopeful for me to leave.
There's only so much you can learn in one place
The more that you wait, the more time that you waste
In July, I went outside of the city to have the most successful gig of the year. We made it all the way through and my client was so happy, and I'll never forget the look on his face and I learned we might actually be making something here. While I was in Charlotte for the gig, my boyfriend was busy being in somebody else.
He told me in October. I should have chased him out, burned his things, but I was stunned enough that I let him stay another month. I still haven't gotten rid of some of his things.
But I dealt with the stress of that, and I've dealt with the stress of it, and I need to toss those things out. I've tossed out memories before, and I'll do it again. I say that I remember everything, and it's true -- but just because I remember something doesn't mean I don't want to remember. The past means nothing. The past doesn't help me out. The past doesn't pay the bills. It only holds me back.
That may be the best thing to be right now.
For now, though, I work. And I plan, in the little bits that I can. I get outside the city to think. I take the ferry. I fix music. And hopefully, this summer, I'll go back to the place where I had my successful gig, and lightning will strike twice.
And the thunder will follow afterward.