How are YOU doing?

Jeez… what a year, amirite? We are resilient as hell. But in this world of high stress, feeling of endless hopelessness, and constant exhaustion, I wanted to share with you a method of coping that is attainable to most people. Because even in this burning world, we can find pockets of beauty and humanity.

My mom’s hands during a hike. Shot with film.

Sometime in March, when the pandemic was in full force in the US and we were required to quarantine, I made a promise to myself – I would be more physically active. There wasn’t much to do and every screen I encountered would induce panic and stress, with its frightening COVID statistics and constant doom and gloom. So, after a few weeks of panic of not knowing if the virus was simply everywhere, I began to build a routine to help me stay sane. I pulled out my FitBit that I had received for Christmas and I set some goals: 10,000 steps per day (pre-pandemic I would walk about 7,000 on a good day), more veggies and fruits, sleep right, and every other day watch some work out videos. My gym was closed, for God knew how long, and at that time all restaurants were closed as well. Eating healthy wasn’t difficult as I was *forced* to eat my moms delicious food (if any of you know my mom, she’s the best cook ever).

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8 minutes and 46 seconds

Floyd: “I can’t breath, my face… Just get up.” More labored breathing.

Chauvin, visibly annoyed, responds: “What do you want?”

Floyd insists more loudly: “I can’t breath! Please, your knee in my neck.”

Minutes pass

Chauvin: “Well, get up and get in the car, man!”

Floyd: “I can’t move!”

Chauvin repeats the command. 

Floyd: “Mama— I can’t.”

Floyd says he can’t breathe once more, and then again, repeating himself until his body goes limp. 

I meant to write this post days ago, but couldn’t. Each passing day brought a new chance to fool myself into thinking I’d be strong enough to watch the full video of George Floyd’s murder. I wasn’t, and I still haven’t. But I tried again today anyway. 

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twenty-five: the good and the bad.

2019 was rough. This isn’t a conclusion based on my own experiences, but rather, a general consensus I noticed after polling a few friends/family and strangers. Now, you can attribute the general agreement to a more than rocky political environment, the looming doom of climate change, the ugly spike in hate crimes, and all the other messiness (for not wanting to say chaos) to the demise of 2019; but regardless of the reason, I have decided, like many others bloggers in the stratosphere, to share my take on the year… with a twist. After much thought on how to spin my post, I concluded the most monumental happening of 2019 was not the importance of the calendar year itself, but rather the evolution and transition into my mid-twenties. Oh boy, do I have plenty to share on that.

The Good: Why not start off with the peachy qualities of being young and “free” within a carefully drawn line of boundaries constructed on past experiences and mistakes. Overall, I will admit this year was a challenge, of which I came out of with more clarity. I have grown more this age, than at any other time of my life. Here are my top six goods of the year, in no particular order:

  • I picked up my love for reading and have even moved on to reading in French. This, in turn, is beneficial for improving my French (duh), learning more vocab etc., and getting in my word count (like steps but with words, you get it). Books I recommend: Pachinko, The Leavers, Inés of My Soul, and the entire Neapolitan book series by Elena Ferrante.
  • I traveled a bit for work and learned to network with highly revered psychologists and professionals— good skill.
  • My personal style skyrocketed. I am a mucho big fan of fashion and see it as an integral part of my self-expression. For me, it is not entirely about the latest trends and items but rather discovering different layers of my personality and showing them.
  • To keep it short and sweet, I found full and caring love.
  • I unexpectedly met beautiful, supportive humans that helped me get through the year.
  • Due to this said clarity, I have finally developed an escape plan and have put my plan in motion, more to come (exciting I promise!).

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I challenged myself by taking pictures with only a disposable camera.

I have one essential piece of travel advice: enter without any expectations. This tactic will permit you to wipe your mind of any stereotypes and be more open to experiences. Naturally, before visiting a different country, everyone seems to have advice— mostly the places to avoid and things you shouldn’t do. All useful advice, that I often take with a grain of salt… not entirely ignored but at its core, it is crucial to be aware of your surroundings and never put yourself in tricky places.

That being said, as I boarded my flight to Jamaica, accompanied by my close friend Idiatou, nicknamed Chum, I had zero expectations and loads of excitement. Contrary to the usual input, I had only heard positive stories about Jamaica, and after a particularly rough beginning of the year, we were in need of positive vibes. I sat next to a burly man, soaked in cheap cologne and dripping sweat. I said my hello and set up my nest, prepping music and pulling out my sweater. As I arranged myself, a gay flight attendant, who was sweet and noticeably flamboyant swooped down to our seats and asked if we needed anything. “No, thank you,” we all responded and resumed our activities. The flight attendant roamed around a few times and the snickering began. I began to hear comments about how gay he was and how ridiculous he looked/acted. The giant next to me tapped my forearm and pointed at the flight attendant and hypothetically asked with a heavy accent, “why is he like that?” a question that led him to chuckle and shake his head. I could feel my blood pressure rising at his ignorance and intolerance, and responded rather rudely, “who cares what he does?” He didn’t speak to me again. Many times before, I had heard Jamaica was an extremely homophobic country, often considered to be in the top ten of the world. I tried not to let this single experience spoil my mood and fell asleep rather pleasantly. Continue reading “Jamaica”