Is this thing still on?

I haven’t forgotten how to type — I’ve been doing quite a bit of that recently. But this isn’t about that.

This is about the thing that I started earlier this year. A thing that I considered not finishing. The thing that took all of my energy and focus in some moments and couldn’t grab my attention for more than five minutes in others.

So why am I bringing it back up?

An update, if you will, or more appropriately a marking of my finishing it.

But it’s not really “finished”.

I’m finished with it. I ended up filming all of the videos before I left Brown at the end of the spring semester. I tried to finish my editing, get it out in one day so I could truly say that it was finished and put it out there so I could be “done”. But before I could finish it I realized I didn’t need to. It had already served its purpose before I opened the last few videos in iMovie, before I added the correct recordings to my versions, and before I tried to thing of sounds to overlap before submitting your version this internet thing.

But I was finished, I am very finished. I got the catharsis I needed. I went back through the things I needed to go through and I can let go if it now without feeling like I left loose ends.

I started this to tie up loose ends, and that’s exactly what it did.

So reverence? According to the internet thing, reverence is:

  1. (noun) deep respect for someone or something
  2. (verb) regard or treat with deep respect

There are other definitions out there, but I’m most interested in reverence as a practice. I’m thinking about the “reverence” that is pronounced with a slightly French accent. I’m referring to the ritual that anyone who has anything to do with ballet has either seen or done more times than they could begin to count.

The internet thing says that, “The ritual of the reverence in ballet is performed at the end of a dance sequence on stage before an audience and at the end of each class as a sign of gratitude towards the teacher and the pianist.” It’s the way you mark your end. If you’re on stage, it is how you part ways with your audience. You perform a sometimes elaborate port au bras (“carriage of the arms” for you literalists), you may bend forward, and you may arch your back. You may turn away from the audience in some moments or you might lunge towards them, opening your arms, signaling a more direct giving of your gift of gratitude to them. You perform a short dance after your dance. In the studio space, these after performance performances may not vary, although sometimes the instructor may switch it up. On stage, the reverence is choreographed — set so that every member of the piece knows how and where to thank the people for paying to see them. I wonder how long the longest reverence is. I wonder how many times people have forgotten to revere before running off stage. Whatever the case, the most important thing is that you bow. You stamp the envelope closed, you put a period on the end of your sentence, you make it clear that you’re leaving before the curtain gets to close.

In sum, it is how you say goodbye.

I had more thoughts on how to say my goodbyes (to this project and other things, not the wordpress though). I had many pretty words floating in my head to talk about the significance of what I found in these videos and which iteration of myself I feel that it commenced. But of course, as I start writing, these things escape me. Maybe they’re not that important. Maybe I’ll think of them later and edit this post and let you know. The main thing, though, is I had a lot of things that I wanted to say goodbye to. This video process was a long, slightly melodramatic, and very involved way to do so. But here I am, 25 videos deep in my thoughts and in my movement and in a process of learning more intimate things about myself and who I needed to be for myself than I care to share.

So a few things to note as I perform my reverence:

  1. The chairs are visible in this video. There is clearly no audience. There was never an audience.
  2. Sometimes in reverence, we bow or curtsey several times before we say goodbye. How many times can you try to leave without actually going anywhere? I spent 15 minutes trying to figure that out.
  3. Papers on the floor? Maybe some scattered musings. Hopefully, you can’t see the words.
  4. If there is any recurring theme throughout the videos, it’s falling. Or stumbling. Or tripping. Whichever shoe fits.
  5. Re: themes — this was improv, but there were conscious choices, at times, being made.
  6. There’s nothing wrong with your sound. If silence for 15 minutes is too much, pick a piece that you think fits with the movement. Dancer’s choice.

So if you stuck through this post, this process, and/or if you even remember what I’m talking about since I haven’t posted about it (or anything) for over two months, this is how I’m choosing to say goodbye.




Shattered Screens – A Horror Story

I saw a performance today, one that most of us have seen (“us” being any member of society at large that has access to this blog post, one way or another) and have probably been a part of. It only took about a minute of my time to watch, so it should take even less time to describe:

I, the spectator and probably the sole audience member, was walking down the street. A grey sky, a few drops of rain, slick pavement, and hooded faces created the backdrop as four or five performers entered the stage (if the stage is the sidewalk, the car that they were getting out of would have been stage right — on the performers’ right if they are facing the audience). Energy exuded from this group of friends, as they laughed about some joke that was still ringing in their ears from the car ride and they circled and danced around each other as they started making their way down the street.

And then it drops, and time froze.

Face down on the pavement the iPhone (6, 6s, or 7, from the size of it and “rose gold” color) rested and each member of the group shared the same expression. Time slowed to a stop until one brave actor reached down to inspect the damage. The audience was not close enough to see the damage for themselves, but as the laughter and banter picked back up it was implied that the day of the phone owner had not been ruined by a shattered screen.

Scene (or blackout, if we’re considering this a dance).

As you can imagine, a brief moment of fear struck my heart as I empathized with the person who had just dropped hundreds of dollars worth of material on the pavement. I, too, am familiar with the feeling that comes with seeing your life face down on the ground — a dangerous position for an iPhone to be in, as any owner of one knows.

But then I started grinning and laughed a little bit to myself as my performance studies brain took over and started to analyze the moment. Any of my friends at school can attest to the fact that I’m becoming more and more obsessed with ideas surrounding the performance of the every day (largely due to the fact that I’m taking two performance theory classes, one of which really hammers in ideas about this topic). I’ve been consuming jargon that tries to pick apart performances of race, gender, and sexuality, among many other things– for example, how we identify with these things or don’t identify or try to go beyond or try to emphasize, to name a few — but in this moment I was particularly interested in how we are choreographed by every element of our everyday. I was most focused on how we are choreographed by the technologies that we attach ourselves to (she writes as she performs writing a blog post from her MacBook Pro — her eyebrows wrinkling as she realizes she doesn’t know which letters in “MacBook” are to be capitalized per Apple’s naming and her model not having it labeled at the bottom of the screen).

I had the opportunity to attend a conference on Brown’s campus a few weeks ago that brought together people who were interested in both/either performance and/or technology and wanted to talk to other people who wanted to explore their intersections. This has more recently become an area of focus for me, and, in pursing a degree in both Computer Science and Performance Studies, is something that I will obviously be examining more and more as time goes on and hopefully until I die a technologically mediated and somewhat performative death (italicized because I’m proud of this description and hope I die this way). I talked about a lot of things at this conference with a lot of people older than me (I would say “adults” or as a friend of mine would say “adulty-adults” but after spending time in close proximity with adulty adults at this conference, I’ve become disillusioned by the idea of adulthood, something I’ll probably explore later via blog post) and a question that was posed to us after a movement exercise provided a frame for the particular performance that I saw today.

I’m paraphrasing, but the question we were asked or the thought that we were told to consider was how we are choreographed by our technologies. We were told to think of any choreographies as they directly pertained to our technologies — and technology here is loose, because in order for something to be a “technology”, it doesn’t need to have a screen — and the choreographies that we were coming up with made up an endless list. Think about how you interact with your smartphone if you have one. Without loss of generality (wow, discrete math jargon!!), I’ll assume that you’re an iPhone user since that’s what I have so I know how it works. Think of the swipe gestures that (I’m pretty sure?) Apple has copyrighted, movements that they choreograph and intend to be credited for. The swiping between home screen apps (unless you’re like me and just have one page of folders — which is by far more efficient @all of my friends that roll their eyes at me and my folders), the expanding of two fingers to zoom in, the scrolling, and I’m sure there are more that I’m too lazy to pick up my phone to remember. And then if you have some sort of Apple laptop, the three finger swipe up to see all of your windows, the four finger flick out to move all of your windows to see your desktop, you see where I’m going with this?

This is really just a long-winded way for me to say that if you don’t consider yourself a performer, you are and you have been choreographed in ways that extend beyond how you use your phone. We have been scripted and instructed by the devices that have become an extension of the arm for many people and our interactions with them and how they fit into the performance of our every day contribute to the improvisations that we carry out in every second. This morning (morning being 1pm), my phone rang, instructing me to wake up (curtain rising on the stage of my consciousness). I answered, to which my grumbly voice instructed my mom to hang up and tell me to call back — a movement that I have choreographed on her (which I actually find really funny) since she knows that I hate being woken up, and she also knows that I’m useless and can’t communicate properly right when I’ve woken up anyway. I then rolled over to try and go back to sleep, then after about ten minutes resigned to my awakened state, and reached for my phone. I swiped through Instagram, I marked several emails as read by swiping towards the left (but not too much, so that I wouldn’t accidentally archive the message), I tapped on Facebook notifications, and completed this every day performance before calling my mom back.

The familiar hunch over a computer, the glance and then flip of a phone to put it face down on a table after it dings while you’re at dinner with someone maybe less interesting than whatever popped up but that you’re supposed to pay attention to, and the stroke of fear through the body when that device is face down on the pavement, are all ways in which our digital technologies have choreographed us.

I could ramble on more about how non-digital mediums have given us our scripts and stage directions. Maybe you perform differently with certain groups of friends because of the directions they have given you (implicitly, usually), or your racialization (interesting note, that “racialization” auto-corrects to “radicalization” — what are you trying to say Apple?) informs how your perform yourself in spaces where everyone looks like you versus spaces where no one does, or your gender identity influences your costume design — your costume being the clothes you buy, the makeup you wear, any and all elements that together create your aesthetic. Everything you consume, every space you are positioned in, willingly and not, and the other performers you surround yourself with influence and choreograph your performance.

So when are you not performing, if ever? And how are you performing, and what are you performing? How does your audience perceive your performance, maybe as a direct correlation to how long you spend staring at a screen, as an example?

Just something to think about the next time you’re walking down the street or find your iPhone lying prone on the pavement.

(embodied memory) – Whatever This Body is Seeking to Communicate

I did a lot of filming yesterday. I posted another video about a month ago that I said was the first in a series that I’m planning on doing, and the video in this post is part of that project. Briefly, if you haven’t or don’t feel like looking back at the other post, this project is basically just me improvising to journal style entries that I wrote a while ago, as a way to revisit old emotions and express them and release them through movement.

So this question of “embodying memories”. Literal definitions of embody suggest that to “embody” something is to give a tangible expression of something, to contain something as a constituent part, or to form into a “body” of something. So by embodying my memories in these videos, I’m guessing I’m making them more tangible by throwing visible representations, as vague as they may be, out into the universe.

So then the question of what a body seeks to communicate. I obviously have more information on this than you do since I elide the words from all of these videos in the editing, but I think my body is trying to communicate very specific things that don’t really need words to explain — and here I’m abstracting the body from the self (the self being myself) and implying that it is saying things that I may or may not intend it to say. In the “featured” video in this post (which I will warn you is 13 minutes long — but has good content at least à mon avis), there are very clear movements that I’m repeating over and over. As I watched this video over and over as I worked on the editing, I had to wonder why those movements? What was I trying to say? How did what the body feel needed to be said relate to what was actually being said in my recording? I also filmed 3 other videos this day, which I’ll link here (linking for vanity purposes in the hopes that people will actually watch — but there’s also a playlist so you can navigate to each one from another once you’re in the youtube), in which I also repeat a lot of the same movement, some of which is explored in each video. So I have to ask why, and what my body wanted to say, to either complement what the self was saying or go beyond it.

Also as I keep going back to this project, I keep asking myself why I’m doing it in the first place, which you also may be wondering. Short answer: I don’t have a good answer, but I have a lot of answers. None of which I’ll actually go in depth with here, but art is a valuable way to explore aspects of yourself and your thoughts and a slew of other things, so in these videos I’m not really exploring or entering a dialogue (monologue?) with one thing, I’m revisiting a lot of things.

So now that I’ve said too much, if I can steal 13 minutes and some seconds more of your time:


(Just as an FYI, this is the 6th video — not 5th because it corresponds to the 6th day — but it’s first in the playlist right now because for some reason when linked here it was the first video which was not the one that I wanted. So in the event that I reorder this and you end up watching (anticipatory), if you feel so inclined you should click on (embodied memory) fro the playlist since that’s what I actually want you to watch. Yay wonky technology!!!)

The Allure of Reinvention

If you’re friends with me, chances are in the past month or so you’ve heard me repeat over and over again that I’m trying to “find a new/my aesthetic”. It’s become an obsession, really, and denying it would be counterproductive and would take away my inspiration for this post (so by writing this I’m acknowledging that I bring this up too often). I’ve been consumed by the allure and intrigue of finding “my” style and figuring out what makes me feel like my outward presentation, consisting of clothes, makeup, and other decorations, represents the best version, or what I think is the best version, of myself.

This obsession, this consumption, reminds me of a performance art piece that I “choreographed” with two other artists and friends (“choreographed” because I’m referring to choreography as a general structuring of a performance, instead of the more commonly understood “making a dance”). This piece, which I don’t remember if we titled, was about this obsession — the  preoccupation with the decorative, with outward presentation, with performance of an exaggerated self. We lined an “aisle” with our clothes, shoes, and accessories, neatly folded at first, and as we dressed and undressed ourselves over and over for about 15-20 minutes, we trended towards chaos. Entropy resurfaces here again. Bags on our head, mismatched shoes that didn’t fit, a pair of pants on one arm, a skirt on the other, mass chaos is what we decided this obsession leads to.

So that, that being mass chaos, might be where I’m headed.

I don’t really think that will be the case, but by hiding behind a mask of Bareminerals and other brands found at Sephora and sometimes CVS, I am both presenting a better self and subconsciously (more consciously this morning, as I carefully concealed the dark circles under my eyes), and hiding the “uglier”, more chaotic version, whatever that may be.

But I have had to ask myself recently why does this matter? Why take the extra 20 minutes in the morning to cake products on my pores that probably just need to breathe? In a way, I’m taking more time for myself than I had been before. By spending this time focusing only on what makes me feel better, more presentable, more me (even though I could be becoming less “me” at the same time), I’ve created a ritual that could be considered a celebration of myself. I actually really just like makeup, too. I like the colors, the different looks you can achieve. I love watching makeup tutorials, even though I rarely take the time to recreate the looks. I clearly love participating in the capitalist side of the makeup industry, because I have accumulated enough makeup to probably exceed the amount of money currently in my checking account.

But still, I have had to ask myself recently, why does this matter? No one else cares about what I look like other than me. Maybe I like the attention of it. Maybe I like the way that the attention that my face attracts compliments the attention blue/green hair brings. I consider myself an introvert, but we all tend to indulge and wallow in the attention of others right? No matter how many times we say that we “don’t care”?

And in terms of what I wear, maybe I’m building an aesthetic, or I’ve finally grown out of my uniform habit after two years of freedom and have learned how to actually pick out clothes. Maybe I’m just figuring out how the pieces of the wardrobe I already own fit together instead of complaining that I have nothing to wear (when I literally gave away 6 bags of clothes last summer and still have way too many – this is the kind of issue you run into when you haven’t grown significantly since middle school). Or maybe I’m striving to be like the people that I notice walking down the street. The people whose style I admire and who I take a moment to watch as they seem to have their life together.

The issue here, I think, is this idea of “seeming”.

Part of me wants to “seem like” I have it together enough to look how I think good looks when I go to class every day, or anywhere for that matter. I think the only reason I’ve kept this possible façade up for this semester is that I haven’t yet become exhausted by it. This act of “seeming”, this performance of a different (or maybe not so different) self, hasn’t yet made me feel like I’m trying “too” hard or doing “too” much.

I’m “seeming”, but maybe I’m just playing with different ways of being. Ways in which I can better appreciate myself and take time to do things that make me feel more present and more proud of this self. Outward appearance, of course, is not everything, but I do feel a little bit better when I blend away the dark circles and blemishes, and darken my eyebrows a little bit. When I put together an outfit I really like, when I recreate my aesthetic, when I redesign “me”, I feel some kind of different. Good different, a different that I didn’t feel last semester when I wore my uniform of sweatpants, a sweatshirt or oversized sweater, wool socks, and my red Dr. Marten’s (ironically though, as I’m editing this to post I am in fact wearing sweatpants, wool socks, and these red shoes, topped off with a full beat — which is makeup lingo for lots of makeup slapped on my face). Of course, these things aren’t bad, but again we’re focusing on the allure of reinvention. The obsession with consumption and indulgence in the self.

So with the masks I’ve been doing more often and the time that I take out of my morning for me, I’m falling in to the trap of reinvention. I’m falling for things that society promotes; and yet, I’m finding a little bit more of myself as I do these things and think critically about these things and why I’m doing them and what I gain and what I’m doing for me in this process of redesign.

And it goes beyond the superficial, right? Obviously you’ve noticed that I’ve been writing a lot, but this is really nothing knew. I’ve always written, but for more specific purposes, and never just about the inspiration that I find from my day to day. I found that when I wasn’t indulging in myself in any kind of way, I wasn’t taking enough time to find inspiration in my mundane. So maybe, in a general sense, I’m just playing with mediums of expression that go beyond the movement I rehearse or devise in the dance studio.

I wouldn’t be writing this post if I didn’t take the 20 minutes out of my morning to “beat my face”, because I wouldn’t have anything to write about.

I wouldn’t have started focusing on creating more, both in words and otherwise, share my thoughts, via words and movement and perhaps otherwise at some point, had I not made a commitment to finding out what makes me “me”.

Even if that means a little bit of redesign.


How can I learn how to center myself when self centering is understood as self centeredness and gets translated into arrogance? It becomes over confidence; it is seen as too much. “Too much”. How often is anything women do, black women in particular, dumped into the category of being “too much”? Too loud, too quiet, too much makeup, too little makeup, too much of this, too little of that, “too” of something no matter what we do.

So if I center myself, if I take the extra time to look at myself in the mirror and genuinely admire what I see, if I take the time to indulge in myself and in the things that I love, if I pause to appreciate me, is that “too much”? Am I doing “too much”? It seems as if I haven’t been doing enough. I haven’t cared for myself enough, because someone else or something else always seemed to be the focus. Something else was always my center.

So if I put me back at the center, when does the too little, become too much?

via Daily Prompt: Center

Wear and Tear

I got the inspiration for this small collection of pictures (that I may or may not add on to) when I noticed that I managed to rip a seam on a pair of relatively new boots. And then when I remembered the holes in the sleeve of my favorite leather jacket, and how the pocket of this same piece is held together with a fabric glue of some sort. And then I went to get my laptop, which has half of a cracked case on it (the other half broke about a month or so ago), out of my backpack, in which the holes where the zipper is detaching grow larger and larger every time the zipper gets caught on the string…

And then later, either later that day or the next day maybe, I went to open my drawer with the handle that has been broken since the day I moved in. And I was confronted by my favorite eyeshadow colors by noticing certain shades accented by the silver of the palette they’re held in. And the broken nose pads on my sunglasses, and my mini fridge that wobbles every now and then, and the chipping paint on my door…

And so on, and so forth, and so on.

So I’m surrounded by so much damage, if you couldn’t tell, and these are the trivial things. When I was back home most recently, I realized that when a house has been occupied for a certain amount of time, apparently everything starts falling to shit. And I realized during the fall semester, that if stress goes unchecked, grades and mental health (most importantly mental health) start falling to shit.

And when plants don’t get watered as often as they should, and along this same vain when relationships, platonic and not, aren’t tended to, and when good habits are not cultivated, and when materials are not well preserved, and when clothes aren’t washed on the right setting…

And so on, and so forth, and so on.

I’m finding that everything, at some point, just has to fall to shit.

There’s a scientific term (one of maybe three things I remember from high school chemistry), entropy, that describes the general decline towards disorder, which seems to be a more elegant and intellectual way of explaining things “falling to shit”.

So in looking at these things, and these people, and these elements in general crumbling around me, becoming damaged, I also thought of a question: how long do we hold onto things before we decide they’re damaged beyond repair? How long do we hold onto people until we decide there is no more fixing we can do? How many times will we sew the crotch of a favorite pair of leggings before we decide it’s time to throw them away (asking for a friend of course)? As dancers, when do we decide that our ballet shoes have too many holes? As students, when do we decide that our laptops are failing us enough times to finally toss them aside?

As individuals, to make a darker point, how deep do we let ourselves spiral? How “damaged”, by our terms or others, do we let ourselves become before we realize we’ve hit bottom?

I don’t think I’ve hit a bottom – I’ve felt like it, definitely, but I don’t want to consider my hypothetical bottoms as true bottoms in case I ever actually hit the bottom of the deep end – but I’ve let myself fall into damage further than I would like to admit a few times. Further than I’ve noticed, I’ve learned recently, and I had to ask myself, why did I let so many holes open up and why did I let so many cracks form before I started patching? Before I started figuring out if my warranty had expired – how had I gone so long without realizing that in some areas, I had given up and/or let myself go?

This ended up being a longer thought on my photo series than I thought it would be. And in exposing my damage, I’m not looking for comfort or pity or any of the other things that people do when others admit that they’ve struggled and are still struggling in some ways but improving but still trying to stop struggling (which begs another question – what and who defines a “struggle”?). But I’ve been thinking about damage a lot – physical, material, emotional – and how long it takes us before we realize that our things, or we, are almost in pieces.

I don’t care to admit how long it has taken me before I realized that there was yet another crotch hole in my favorite pair of leggings. I haven’t yet decided how long it will take me to send my backpack back to North Face in the hopes that the warranty hasn’t expired. I don’t know if I’ll ever get facilities to fix the handle on my drawer, since it’s been that way for months, or whether I’ll retire the leather jacket, or if I’ll ever bother getting a new fridge, or when I’ll throw away the “plants” (in quotations because 2 of the 3 are dead) that I stopped watering months ago, or when I’ll let go of some relationships with people that are declining towards disorder…

And so on, and so forth, and so on.

A lot of things are or have already crumbled around me, so I took the time to document a few of them in an effort to make myself notice.

What damaged things are you still holding on to?

How many times are you going to patch them before you throw them away?