Upside Down and Inside Out
I have seen Inside Out three times. Three. Times. I have paid real cash money to see this movie in theater, with popcorn. I cried every time. I think this is important to say because:
- I don’t go to the movies a lot.
- I never see Disney/Pixar movies on purpose.
- I hate crying at movies, in public, with strangers.
The first time, I had to see it at my least favorite theater because I didn’t want to see it in 3D. The theater employs cops during the evening shift, which I didn’t realize so I was caught off guard face to face with a cop in the lobby buying my ticket. The second time I went with Katy on a Thursday afternoon. We saw it in 3D and it was pretty. It was both our second time seeing the movie which says so much about why we are friends. The third time I went on a Monday afternoon. I was almost fifteen minutes late for the movie because I decided to go at the last minute. I had just finished tidying up Villa Rot for Joh and Joy’s return and it had rained all morning which had me feeling all kinds of tearful. I wanted to cheer myself up. I knew I wanted to see Inside Out again but I looked at every other movie first and seriously considered seeing Magic Mike XXL. I had to rush to the movie theater. I put on Katy’s sweatshirt because I wanted to feel like she was with me. I was sufficiently altered for all three viewings of Inside Out. I remember the drive to the theater being perfect. My phone knows me better than it should. Starships, Break Free and XO blasted out of the stereo and I thought about music as monumentality. When I got the AMC the cashier couldn’t sell me a ticket for Inside Out so they sold me one for Max and I went to see Inside Out anyway.
I was chatting with Jay Santa Cruz in my hesitation. I was worried that going to see Inside Out again would be emotional masturbation. But that’s kind of my thing. I’m into feeling. The two parts of my Myers Briggs that never change are Intuition and Feeling. I suppose that’s enough to explain my obsession with Inside Out. I saw someone on Twitter complaining about Inside Out, “So the worst thing that happened in your childhood was moving to the Bay because your dad owned a startup…” with the hashtag WhitePrivilege. And I found this exasperating because DON’T MAKE ME DEFEND DISNEY. As someone who survived seemingly insurmountable trauma in childhood I didn’t need Inside Out to mirror my experiences to be able to relate to it. I love that this movie makes me think about my feelings and brain in a fresher, more sympathetic way. I do spend a lot of time imagining what my Islands of Personality would be, what sort of landscape is unfolding in the Sade version of Inside Out.
I came up with a few Islands:
- Bad Bitch Island (aka Friendship Island, because my best friends are bad bitches)
- Empathy Island & Responsibility Island (I feel like these are two of my best interpersonal traits)
- Queer Island & Stoner Island (um, duh)
- Poetry & Creativity Island (what I do best)
- Feeling Myself Island (in lieu of Family Island, rife with body positivity, self care and self love)
Maybe it’s cliched but let’s start at the beginning. Our origins determine so much about us. I knew that I was doomed to tearfulness from the early minutes of the movie when Riley’s parents are holding her. And she feels Joy. Joy that mirrors the joy her parents feel right? My origin still feels so fragmented to me, all of it is pieced together by hearsay. I was born to a single teen mother. She was 18 when I was conceived and 19 when I was born. When she found out she was pregnant she went to my grandmother who told her you’re keeping this one. She didn’t finish high school (only going back for her GED once my brother and I were in school). She worked at a supermarket and lived with my grandmother. My father was not interested in having a baby. He was off to college and eventually joined the army. To my knowledge he has never even admitted to being my father. But whatever. I think about what my mother might have felt the first time she held me and Joy isn’t the first feeling that comes to mind. I think she was afraid and or sad, if she felt anything at all. I think that for most of my childhood and adolescence Fear drove the control console. Or it was disabled because feeling was unsafe.
I don’t have a lot of childhood memories. I’m not 30 yet and entire years of memories have already faded. I have to work hard to remember things. I think my long term memory labyrinth would be sparse and mostly purple or blue. Most memories are so traumatic that they border on the unreal, they feel untrustworthy, damaged, nonlinear. EMDR has been exhausting mainly because it dredges up and connects the dots between all those first core beliefs and core memories that have fueled my first 28 years. The things that I have been actively forgetting and ignoring so I can be productive. Now I’m acknowledging all this hurt and challenging all these warped messages that I received about who I am. Like the realization that so much of my early excellence in school was an attempt to earn my mother’s love, to make her proud of me, to make her see me at all. Or the extreme disappointment and hurt I felt, at eight, when I told her that something had happened with my step uncle and she didn’t do anything. Or the way that she would blame me for things that couldn’t possibly be my fault. She would make me feel like my body was disgusting. How her refusal to be responsible planted a hyperresponsibility in me that I now strive to manage. I spent such a long time trying to earn something that’s impossible to earn, feeling unwanted, burdensome, wrong, ugly.
The past several months have quickly unraveled much of that. People say things like We’re so happy that you’re here. Or We really want you to be a part of this. They ask what I think and how I feel. They think I’m talented and funny and smart and beautiful. All I had to do was be Sade. There are people who really love me. It makes me so happy. And then I burst into tears because for a long time I was afraid I would never know what that felt like. Or at least, I wouldn’t know it as a sustainable reality. Yeah, there were people who encouraged me when I was younger, but if someone’s giving you a compliment in a war zone you might not hear them. I think a lot about Saturn’s Return. I’m right on the cusp of mine or in the midst of it depending on what you adhere to astrologically. On my chart Saturn dwells in the first house, the house of personality and world view. So this time seems ripe to heal the way I was taught to see myself and conditioned to move through the world. A time for creating new core memories, time to let Joy and Sadness drive together.
This week’s Lonely Britchlist
- Last month I read an article on Toxic Shock Syndrome and it scared the shit out of me. I immediately began researching alternate menstrual aids and decided to order a starter kit from Holy Sponge. I used the sponges during my last cycle and was really pleased with my decision. Using the sea sponges was easy and comfortable and made me feel very earthy.
- I skipped my friend’s wedding because I was afraid of being the only black/POC there. Instead I stayed home and cried while watching season four of Catfish on Hulu. I also spent some time loving the sweet sisterly care package that Gina Abelkop sent me. It was full of cosmetics, candles and poetry.
- It has been a real gas seeing some of my friends in Silk Creation scarves that I’ve made. Nikki Wallschlaeger, Amy McDaniel and soon Amy Pickworth, Devi Lockwood and Lauren Traetto wear my work and words with pride and power. Rock on.
- EMDR has been getting really deep. Everything makes me cry lately (well maybe just like cry more? I don’t know, it’s been a really tearful week). It’s become ever important to practice self care after these sessions. Last week I treated myself to a trip to Sephora. I bought Lavanila’s Vanilla Lavender Rollerball, some shimmery gold eyeshadow and eyeliner and a nude shimmery lip color. After that I went to Seoul Garden for Korean food.
- Thursday I had lunch with Katy at Café at the Overlook and it was the tits! If you follow me on Instagram you know how much I love to take pictures of the delicious food I eat (it’s a basic bitch indulgence and goddammit it’s my right as an American). After lunch we scooped up Chris Holdaway and attempted to spend the afternoon writing, though mostly we got faded and tearful and watched music videos and Drag Race.
- Friday Katy and I hit up Café at the Overlook again because we both still had things on the menu we wanted to try. While we were eating we came up with a fantastic idea for a blog/site which we’re going to call Make Those Bitches Eat It. Stay tuned for that. After lunch we went into the studio and my precious friend worked her magic on some crêpe de chine silk that I bought to make a flowy shawl for myself. I dyed it in the indigo bath a couple weeks ago and her addition to the piece is just perfect. I can’t wait to wear it in New York and cry my eyes out. Once we were done in the studio we went to the JJC to workshop Citizen and write with the girls there.
- Saturday the Bad Bitch Club (Katy, Nichole and myself) attempted to make it to Chicago for dinner and a book release party. The weather had other plans. We made it 17 of the 88 miles before we turned back. Deterred but not defeated we had a great evening. They even helped me clean poop out of a very surly cat’s fur. I cried and the cat peed. If that’s not friendship then I don’t know what is.
- Recent events have me feeling really low. Everyday I feel the need to escape my proximity to racialized, gendered violence. I’ve been playing a lot of animated shows in the background while I do other things. I rediscovered Futurama on Netflix, which is actually very tearful and tender and of course funny.
- Another favorite escape and total time killer is games on my iPhone. Katy has me hooked on Inside Out Thought Bubbles. I’ve mentioned Mountain before. Forever favorites also include Monument Valley (right up there with Mountain in tearfulness) and Two Dots. Honorable mentions: The Silent Age, 2048, and Alphabear. All of these games keep me locked to my phone and my battery in constant need of charging.
My initial tenure here at Real Pants is coming to an end. Two more posts to go and then I’ve got to focus on my move to New York. But I’ll be back at Real Pants in some fashion after a little hiatus. Tata my lonely britches. Jamey this is for you.