One of the reasons I'm a fan of romantic comedies is not just because typically everything works out in the end, but because of that turn around process to get there (see Legally Blonde, Bridesmaids, Clueless You've Got Mail, Bridget Jones' Diary etc.-blonde white women have this shit on lock apparently). You know it, where basically everything the protagonist holds dear turns to shit. One way or another they are heartbroken. They fail miserably in their jobs, careers, school. They have a fall out with friends. They are emotionally broken, often looking a hot mess. And then classic climax. They see something or have an important convo which leads to this epiphany, followed by a video montage set to music of them finally coming out of their funk, going inward and doing all the things best for them, all the things they should've always been doing. It often involves some sort of class or learning, some physical/health activity, spending a lot of time by themselves and maybe with people who truly love them whom they may have previously neglected, them working really hard on some sort of big career life-altering project, typically to make up for one that turned to shit. You see seasons change to suggest this isn't an over night process. And then boom! Suddenly everything gets better. They make up with friends. The grand project comes to fruition. They finally get over the partner who left them or that person comes crying back to them realizing the err of their ways. But often times they end up having a magical new relationship with someone who was probably there the entire time. They have a great sense of happiness and satisfaction and largely because they were able to say “fuck this” and got their minds right.
I periodically envision my own little turn around montage set to some Jilly “Slowly Surely” as I come out from the dark, followed by some “Inside You” (of course from the Last Dragon) as I start doing the necessary “stuff” to get my life together, and closing with something from my “Sweet Little Ditty” playlist, probably involving Ne-Yo. But the reality is when I attempt to actually execute the turn around, somewhere I get stuck. If I even do get out of “the funk” (a nice name for depression which at some point I'll have the courage to frankly write about) enough to consider what it would look like, the execution seems impossible. I had a quasi- George Costanza moment yesterday afternoon. But instead of thinking that all my instincts were wrong and doing the complete opposite of what I would do normally, I realized that my instincts are in fact typically right. Where I fuck up is by doing the opposite of my instincts. It usually goes something like this: “This would be a bad idea.” ***Do it anyway*** “I immediately regret that decision.” So now I'm thinking WWTBVOVD? What would the best version of Valle do? What would I be doing if I went with what I know is best for me right now, in this space, to carry out the turn around? I love me some lists and so do you, so here's one.
Get the fuck to work. I'm in Cartagena for a short ass period of time. I need to be writing field notes every single day. Interview the hell out of people. Read and write every day like my career depends on it. Oh wait, it does.
Drink more. Bet you didn't see that coming. But seriously, I know myself. I know how my brain's on 10 when I go out. How I'm sociologically analyzing every party goer and every interaction. I am not having the fun and brain quiet time I need. Mo' rum. Mo' shakin' like no one's watching.
Check Facebook 3x a day and no mas. I look to it for news, which only further depresses me. And while I do genuinely get happy periodically from some of folks' posts which are funny or beautiful, for the most part looking at FB all the time just makes me feel like I'm off my game, professionally, financially and romantically. Fuck that.
Cook more. While I don't enjoy cooking, I enjoy eating, feeling my food won't be the obvious cause of my demise, and not having to figure out what the devil I'm going to eat for major meals. Thank the heavens for Tupperware.
Expend no energy thinking about those who aren't 'bout that supportive life. Living abroad is tough. Doing dissertation field research is hard as hell. Battling depression is ridiculous. Trying to do all of the above simultaneously feels like trying to win the big prize in a carnival game. While a few nail it and leave with an arm full of fluffy Tweety birds, for most it feels damn near impossible. I've been living in Cartagena for almost 4 months and haven't heard a word from some of the folks who understand what I'm up against and I thought were supposed to give a shit. Fuck 'em.
Have regular convos with the real riders in my life. These talks go a long way and are coming from sources I hadn't even necessarily expected. Cheers to the riders.
Work out. No montage is complete without exercise. I don't really enjoy it and never seem to get that adrenaline rush that others do from working out but I'm going to find something that I actually enjoy doing that will still get the heart racing. Riding my bici around town is stressful and feels like I'm fighting for my life every time I hop on that seat, but maybe I need to find a route further out. Maybe go back to Zumba. Somethin'.
Get all of these experiences down on paper more. There's so much happening and I've been a chronicler of my own life since I started a diary in 1988 that I've actively maintained for the last 25 years (counts on fingers. Yep, 25). But the deeper I get into this Bizarro World the less I can articulate what's happening. I said I would blog about the travels but I get caught up in the words. I just need to get 'em down and if I feel compelled I can play with them later. Maybe I can swap tears for words in some kinda cathartic process.
Avoid goddamn “situations.” This one is huge for me. Situations are those messy little romantic stints that grand scheme of things mean nothing but somehow end up meaning everything while you're in them. They're easy to fall into and hard as hell to get out of. Now don't get me wrong. I truly believe experience for experience's sake has real value. It keeps life interesting and makes you a hit at parties as you run down how you ended up in Naples, Italy to see a man you met in Cartagena the year before, only to find out he bagged up a girlfriend 8 days prior to your arrival (true story). I can look back and laugh at a lot of situations, but depending on what I have to do in my life or where I am emotionally, they can be just way too taxing. If I were able to emotionally disconnect and just enjoy moments for what they were I'd be far better off. But I'm not that person. Which leads me to my final turn around task.
Remember who the fuck you are and play your position. I am fuckin' awesome. Like for real. Yet soooomehow I lose sight of this and end up in spaces that are far less than awesome, and by that I mean they blow. And I may be dope but I'm also HELLA fallible, so playing my position also means knowing my limitations. For example, I have recently come to realize that there ain't an easy breezy bone in my body. And unless I get exposed to radiation, making me a mutated comic book hero, that's not likely to change. So I therefore can't engage in exhausting and frustrating conversations with people who will unlikely never even understand what I'm saying or spend time with enervating people who just take take take. Because I just end up pissed off. And I don't look good in Bitter Blue.
So how do I go from the mental movie montage to actually improving the quality of my life? I certainly can't stay on my present course for much longer. But shit, the fact that I even have the desire to make a change is a step up from the last few months' sense of hopelessness. But this is about baby steps. For now I'll have to be content with asking myself WWTBVOVD?