Monday, August 6, 2012

Imagining Chavela Vargas... Or, The Cook

I read two items in the last few days that have impacted my thinking tremendously:

"This is no time to stew in your own juices. Or boil in your tormented fantasies. Or broil in your nagging doubts. Or be grilled in your self-accusations. You need to be free from the parts of your mind that try to cook you."


"Vargas rose to fame flouting the Roman Catholic country's preconceptions of what it meant to be a female singer: singing lusty "ranchera" songs while wearing men's clothes, carrying a pistol, drinking heavily and smoking cigars."

While they don't seem to be related, they intersected perfectly in my life.  The first passage is from Free Will Astrology (more about that later) and the second is from an article about Chavela Vargas, an inspiration of a human being and singer who died on August 5 at age 93.  Born in Costa Rica and immigrated to Mexico at age 14, she lived her life according to her rules and made no apologies for who she was.   Although she didn't come out as a Lesbian until well into her 80's, she made no apologies for waiting to come out, either.  Her voice was hauntingly raspy and beautifully harsh, much like the songs she sang.  She was beautiful but unconventional.  She didn't begin her singing career until she was well into her 30's.

Chavela Vargas was a force to be reckoned with, but I'd like to imagine that  at times she felt bad about herself (we all do, at one point or another).  In any article I've ever read about her, she made no apologies for who she was.  There is such power in knowing that who we are is exactly who we need to be in that moment.  That said, I'm taking a stance: I refuse to apologize for being me...for being here, on this planet, where I have a little space carved out for myself.  I will not apologize for who I am ever again.

Chavela Vargas, circa 1965

The passage from Free Will Astrology hit me like a truck.  I've spent the last few weeks thinking about a lot of things and they all came to a head Sunday when I felt like crap.  I spent the whole day in the house and I didn't accomplish much.  I have laundry piled up and books to put away and junk all over my dresser.  I have mail to sift through, poems to edit and a blog to write.  Instead, I napped, watched a few movies and the latest episode of Breaking Bad.  Thus begins the vicious cycle: by doing nothing I had an immense feeling of guilt.  Guilt only made me feel worse about myself.  Feeling worse made me shut down...and so on and so forth.  I felt a little better when I talked to one of my best friends and he informed me that he felt the same way.  They say misery loves company, or, in my case, grubby and un-motivated.

I was trapped in the parts of my mind that were trying to cook me.

I've been feeling this way for a while now, but I kept ignoring my bad feelings instead of dealing with them.  I had an argument with a friend, a few bad gigs with the band, I've been feeling a little lonely and I'm broke - all of these factors contributed to my desire to beat myself up.  I've felt a greater need to silence myself and isolate from friends.  I listen to my playlist entitled Sometimes I Cry and think about loves lost.  I doubt every word that comes out of my mouth and keep myself up at night wrought with regret and worry.

I've gotten sick of myself.  It's come to be too much.

There is no light switch when I feel this way.  I can't just turn off the feeling, but reading those two passages reminded me that there is light all around me if I choose to see it.  I don't have to silence myself but I have to be deliberate with my words - I have to think before I speak and take others into consideration.  I can't do everything at once, but I can pick a project (my laundry) to start with and go from there.  I'm writing a blog right now.  I may edit a poem later tonight.  I will stop broiling in my self-doubt.  I will sing lusty rancheras at the top of my lungs and make no apologies for it.

Descanse en paz, SeƱora Vargas... the world is better for the songs you sang.

Next time: Broke 

1 comment:

  1. It's crazy what happens when you don't deal with those negative emotions and they finally explode. I've had those days for sure (one on Saturday actually). I think that goes hand in hand with not apologizing for who you are. We all mess up and we all make mistakes but I know for me I have to forgive myself and move on. Deal with it and move forward. But I slip back occasionally and then I have to remind myself of who I am now and what made me this way.