There Aren't Enough Lifeboats

I was writing in my journal a little over two years ago, and I was feeling completely overwhelmed. I was knee deep in my quarter life crisis. I had just finished Grad School and had no clue what the hell I was doing with my life. I thought I had a plan, and then I realized I totally didn’t. I was freaking the fuck out. 


I sat down and the first sentence I wrote after I had written the date was “There are not enough lifeboats.”


That one sentence perfectly described the anxiety I was feeling. I felt like I was the captain on a sinking ship, that I was responsible for making sure everyone got off of the sinking ship and to safety, and that there just were not enough lifeboats for everyone. (I might have been thinking about James Cameron’s Titanic when I sat down to write, because I think about Titanic a lot.) Really though, when you think your life is falling apart, it’s a great way to describe the anxiety you’re having. 


If you’ve ever met me you know I talk in an extremely quick cadence…if you haven’t met me, imagine a squirrel hyped up on cocaine saying all of the following without taking a breath; I finished school and now I have more debt, I have a great job but it isn’t my dream job, I don’t know how to get to my dream job, I don’t know if my dream job will help me get out of debt or put me into more debt, I just turned 25 and that seems so old to me, I’m not married yet, I probably won’t be married for a really long time because I just went through a shitty ass break up and I hate everyone and everything, what’s the meaning of life, I just want to be content and fulfilled and warm at night, cats, internet, maintain friendships, take your vitamins, did you pay the bills or just imagine you did, maybe I should get a haircut, No but I should revamp my wardrobe, What have I been doing with my life, Oh yeah I just finished Grad School while holding down a full-time job, I finished school and now I have more debt…and then they just repeated over and over again.


I didn’t have enough lifeboats for all of those thoughts. Talking with both my mom and my therapist made me realize, not everything deserves a fucking lifeboat. Leave some of that shit on the sinking fucking boat, and move the fuck on. I couldn’t do anything about getting older, except die, and since that wasn’t part of the plan, it doesn’t get a life boat. I had a six month grace period on my student debt, so that didn’t get a boat. My marital status? No boat. Healing after my break up, that got a boat. The meaning of life? Nope. No boat. Feeling fulfilled and content and being warm at night? That got a boat. Getting a haircut and revamping my wardrobe? Those were both manageable, and would make me feel better, they got a boat. I think you’re getting the point, here. Some things just don’t get a boat. And that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes you have let the whole boat sink, start swimming, and figure out the rest later. I think that’s what most people refer to as rock bottom. The point is, my freaking out doesn’t mean I magically get more resources to handle all of the problems. It doesn’t work that way. You handle the shit you can, and the rest is the rest.


I also learned, that sometimes your lifeboat doesn’t look like a lifeboat. My mom and I love to joke about the “God Will Save Me” story. I’m sure most people have heard that. “And God said, ‘Son, I sent you a warning. I sent you a car. I sent you a canoe. I sent you a motorboat. I sent you a helicopter. What more were you looking for?’ “We were joking about it one day and I said, “I’ll take the boat, the catamaran, the pontoon, the sloop, the bicycle, the penny farthing…” we were both laughing too hard for me to keep naming vehicles. Sometimes I get so caught up in looking for a lifeboat that I’m freaking out and not realizing I have resources to help me, they just aren’t lifeboats. I am getting better at asking for, accepting, and recognizing help. 


I don’t wanna act like I have this shit all figured out, I don’t. Today, I feel like there are enough lifeboats. So today, I’m writing because maybe someone out there needs to read this. Maybe it’ll be me, tomorrow morning, who needs it.


Eyes towards the horizon,


xo jordi

The Multiverse

*the following is a work of fiction. i wrote it sometime last winter (?). i was mourning the end of two relationships and reading a lot of comic books.  


there’s another universe where we exist. where we met in paris, two americans lost in a city bigger than our dreams. we were staring at the same painting in the louvre, and i was hungry. you got the courage to say hello when my stomach growled. it didn’t matter that you were younger than i was, or my skin was darker than yours. our mutual interest in special effects make up and dancing was enough. i flew home before you, and my home was one river, two counties, three states, and four hours by car away from yours. but i was in between jobs, so coming to see you when you finally came home wasn’t a problem. we fell in love. we were a romantic comedy. we wrote letters. we took road trips. we found new, better jobs nearer to one another. you wrote for a music magazine and i ended up becoming an interior designer. we lived in a shitty apartment where everything was always falling apart and fixer-upper was an understatement. we got a golden retriever. we sent out engagement announcements with photos of our golden retriever balancing the rings on his nose. we went back to paris on our honeymoon. in this universe, things worked out between us.

there’s another universe where we exist. where our first date was a kanye west concert. both is us were huge kanye fans, but we tried to act unaffected and like we were too cool for the whole thing. we were really hip, but our hipness couldn't keep our bodies from swaying in unison. you reached for my hand during the vamp of flashing lights and we held hands and kissed all throughout runaway. three months later you move into my bungalow in the canyon. we spent hot mornings having sex and cool afternoons taking bike rides through twisty roads to get to out of the way cafes for dinner. i got angry when the santa ana winds whipped through our back yard and you soothed my nerves with essential oils and cucumber tea. we started our own band in this universe. we opened for phantogram. i wrote the lyrics and you sang. we were fairly successful. we never got married. we did have a daughter named amnesty. she chased your cat, errol, through the yard daily. in this universe, things worked between us.

there's another universe where we exist. where you were the frontman of world famous band, and i was a penniless would be music video director. you saw one of my youtube clips and suddenly i was being flown to new york city to take care of your next video. you didn't know i'd be so pretty. it smells like a rare hamburger outside, but we are stuck inside a warehouse and i’m teaching you dance moves and you wonder why i don’t have a choreographer; i mumble back that i’m new at this and you chose me. our animosity towards one another is not real animosity, it is unhealthy flirting. as we’re packing up to leave that day, and i remind everyone that call time is 6am the next morning, you ask me on a date. my face twists in confusion. no, i will not go to dinner with you. your face twists up in confusion. no woman has ever said no to you after your first single went platinum. i remind you that i am your boss, or maybe you’re my boss, for the next two days, and besides it being unethical i am not the kind of girl that dates rock stars. you shake your head and walk away. you ask the next day and the day after that, and the night we wrap. i tell you no every single time. i am on a plane back to san francisco that has wifi checking my e-mail. you thank me for a great shoot, say you can’t wait to see the finished product, and ask me out again. i relent this time. we get married on a yacht. in this universe, things worked between us.

there’s another universe where we exist. where we did not break up a week before our two year anniversary. we went disneyworld like we had planned. i took photos of tourists for my street style blog, we played games on your phone during long line waits. my mother asked me if we had any plans to be married before we left. i laughed at her and told her we liked things the way they were, no titles, no commitments, just each other. i was actually good with that, by the time the trip rolled around. when we came home, you were finally moved out of IT for the website you worked for and became a paid contributor. i was happy one of us was making real money, because it looked like my next band might actually work and i could keep putting off going back to school. it didn’t, and i did go back to school. culinary school. you laughed at the idea, but you liked how i took things one day at a time. i was a new person; someone who wasn’t anxious about the endless sea of tomorrows. eventually i opened my own bakery.  in this universe, things worked between us.

there’s another universe where we exist. where we did break up a week before our two year anniversary, just like in this universe. but, in that universe it was a clean break. we let each other go with dignity, and then we met up again on a flight to seattle. you were going to visit your parents. i was going just to go, i had never been. i thought i saw you when i checked in with TSA, but i convinced myself it wasn’t you. like i didn’t know your body and your walk better than i had known my own at one point. i chanted and prayed until it was time for me to board my flight, i didn’t know if i was asking the universe to make that tall blond man you, or please keep it from being you. a snot nosed woman who constantly looked like she was smelling something unpleasant sat next to me. i looked up into the shadow you cast as you begged her to trade seats with you, because i was your ex girlfriend and you missed me and wanted to talk to me. i froze you out like a snow queen for the next three minutes. i finally melted and we caught up on the last two years on our flight. we agreed to meet at your favorite bar, you asked if you could take me to the space needle. i liked seattle. i liked you again. you tried to kiss me. i said second chance romances never work. you sang me a maroon 5 song. we ended up moving to seattle, and buying a big house with the advance with your first novel. i left my job in rights and licensing at BMI, i unintentionally started a new wave of riotgrrrrl rock by producing music in seattle. in this universe, things worked between us.

there’s another universe where we exist. where i am a beautiful actress, but am entirely broke. i take a horrible film shooting in a remote jungle, because it is the only audition i can land. we arrive on the island that is supposedly haunted. you are a thirty foot tall bonobo. the director scraps his film and decides to bring you back to los angeles, and charge people admission to see you. i am the only person who speaks against him, who tells him it is wrong. he captures you anyway. i spend time in your cage on the voyage home. you’re an animal, but you’re the only place that has ever felt like home. when we get back to los angeles, i refuse to participate in his stage show. you escape the first night and rampage the city looking for me. you find me and clutch me in your fist as you scale the capital records building. military helicopters shoot as us until you fall. you die. i die of a broken heart. somehow it still feels like in this universe, things worked between us.

there’s another universe where we exist. where we met online, on our favorite blogging website. we both have passions for writing and love the same bands. we exchange long e-mails and post secret in jokes on our blogs. we text each other daily. the two hour time difference doesn't bother us. we decide to meet. austin, texas has an up and coming music scene that we are both interested in and we have heard good things about the local food. our flights land at different times, so we agree to meet for dinner at 24 on lamar where we split chicken, waffles, and sweet potato hash. you cancel your hotel reservation and we are back in my room at the cute little boutique hotel i looked up online fucking each other's brains out. in this universe, things worked between us.

there’s another universe where we exist. where you crash your car into mine, driving drunk. it is the first time you’ve ever driven drunk. you get arrested. you contact me after your insurance has written me a check for my totaled car. you apologize over the phone, your voice sounds so sad and lonely, not only do i forgive you, but i ask you if you want to meet for coffee. you make me sides ache with laughter, even though you're describing your chronic depression and descent into alcoholism. i have never told anyone besides my therapist about my years long affair with bulimia, but i confess to you. i tell you if i can conquer my addiction, you can battle yours. i act as an unofficial sponsor. it's good things are unofficial because you can't kiss your sponsee, which i do on our visit to the grand canyon. you get clean. i relapse. we work through it. we move to norcal. we adopt a vietnamese baby. in this universe, things worked out between us.

there’s another universe where we exist. where we never meet. you never went to csulb, you stayed with your parents in seattle, and worked at a small book store. i started many failed blogs. i married a woman with red hair, and ended up with in the hospital from complications from my anorexia. you never got married. you had a baby with a woman you met at a show and didn't want to speak to again. we were both consumed by sadness and couldn't figure out why. soulmate doesn't mean you stay together forever. our souls needed to be touched by on another; to learn things, to figure the world out, to be loved, to become a more complete soul. our souls needed each other. without it we were lost. this universe was the saddest of all. 

there is this universe where we exist. where we broke up the week before our two year anniversary, because you thought we were better as friends. i said i never wanted to see you again. i still called you twice a week crying and cursing. after everything; i missed you and i loved you. in this universe, where i was insecure and starved myself for your approval. in this universe where you drank and totaled my car. i wanted to go back to paris with you, i wanted to believe we could conquer our demons and have a large family of interracial children. your mother blamed our age difference. my mother called you a dog for refusing to marry me. sometimes at night i think we were just too different. we are trying to be friends. sometimes it works better than others. i called you from the space needle, when i finally went to seattle. you told me the city suited my color. we've talked about getting the band back together, but our failed trip to the grand canyon as "just friends" told us that wasn't such a good idea. in this universe where i've quit four different careers as a blogger, a pastry chef, a director, and a photographer, because the future frightens me, and this fear led me to worry about our future, beg you to marry me, punish you when you said you weren't ready. in this universe where you found success as an architect, after building a beautiful new musical venue in austin, inspired by our first trip there. you called me last night; king kong was on tv and you were thinking about our first date. we talked for a little while, and i didn't cry after we hung up. in this universe, where things are unknown between us.

Thank You


*I stole this from a writing on Chipotle cup. It resonated with me. I hope the author doesn't mind. My gratitude game has been slacking in favor of my complaining game. 


My first love taught me what a power chord was. The girl he kissed in front of me, breaking my heart, apologized for hurting me and asked if we could still be friends. Cobain said, "Your writing has a common theme...resilience". My uncle drew me a color coded diagram when I said reading sheet music was too hard. Nicole helped dye my hair purple in a dorm room bathroom. Mike asked me how was doing after I had my wisdom teeth pulled and couldn't come to work. Some girl who's name I never learned sat next to me on a bench while I cried and told me it was going to be okay. My mom always answers the phone when I'm on the other end. Kirsten never gave me an A, because she knew I could do better. My fifth grade teacher bought me a copy of the book she had read out loud to our class for Christmas, because I liked it so much. Hailey and Jessi took me to Chipotle for the first time and paid for my burrito because I didn't have money. Anthony told me to always go out with my friends and make memories, even if I had to drink water and order off of the dollar menu. Sirose made a Facebook post asking if anyone was interested in being part of a group cosplay. Sami held my hand during my grandmother's funeral. James asked me to model for him. Richard agreed to my personal trainer when I wanted to be physically strong, because I was so emotionally weak. My other uncle got me tickets to go see Good Charlotte for my 14th birthday. My brother told me I wasn't a good writer. Davey Havok and Gerard Way we're both really kind when I met them, even though I was being weird and emotional. Chozzen went to see Black Veil Brides with me. Heaven Ashlee is never afraid to ask for help. Nico said "e-mail me your resume, I'll see what I can do". Jon and Chelsea consider me their friend. Miles and Rini paid for my favorite tattoo. Coco thinks I'm cool. So does Vivian. Sigma Kappa reminds me that there's a vision larger than my own. Annelisa is probably the dopest person I know. Jameson can talk music all night. Tara never gives me shit for forgetting to text her back. Joli said, "let's carpool!" Louie and Liz love sharing a good beer. My oldest brother first showed me Star Wars. Wendy Lau wrote me a letter of recommendation. Jamie asked me to be an advisor. Amber and Alicia showed me Seattle, and when Adam told me about a really cool bar while I was there, Bonnie and Shana checked it out with me. Beth helps me write melodies. Kirsten had lunch with me after getting her iPod replaced. Nicole texts me positive things. Caitlyn and I have a lot of the same opinions. Brittani always want to go out for pancakes. David, Tony, and Denise because my friends after being my teachers. Donna loves to dance with me. Eva is always willing to listen. Jonny throws great parties and gives good advice. Tommy asked me to write for his website. Jordan was my best friend. Cynthia made my Spanish better. Skyy told me to stop mean mugging; life couldn't be that bad. My aunt likes to get her nails done too, so we would go together. The sad guy at the burger stand said he liked my KISS shirt. The two kids in my neighborhood told me to believe in myself after I fell off of my bike in front of their house. My former boss tried to fire me.  You read my blog. 

In the (dis)interest of passing

Passing is the ability of a person to be regarded as a member of social groups other than his or her own, such as a different race, ethnicity, caste, social class, gender, age and/or disability status, generally with the purpose of gaining social acceptance or to cope with difference anxiety.

I have no interest in passing. This story has to begin with the understand that the Western world is measured using the straight white male as the bar. I am a black cishet female. That’s how I was born. It’s the most base thing I can be categorized as. Before I went to school, before I discovered subculture, before I met friend groups, that was me. I do not have the ability or desire to pass as anything else; one look and you know that I am a black (I don’t think you can tell whether or not someone is cishet just by looking) female. 

I am also neurodivergent; I have an extremely high IQ, I have synesthesia, and I’ve already been open about my struggles with depression and anxiety. These are things about me that you can’t see immediately, some of them you might never know if I didn’t disclose them to you. However, they certainly make me an “other” when in a group of people.

Because of the aforementioned things, I spent most of my life not fitting in. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood and was in GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) programs from third grade forward. I was different from the other kids, but I wasn’t weird per se. Not until middle school. Then I became weird. Then I was ostracized from my peer group and shit got difficult. This is also when I started to get way into the alternative music scene. It was early 2002-2003, the birth of the “scene” phase, and my time.

Being a part of the scene became everything to me. I was regarded as weird because of my physical appearance and because of my brain. I found solace in the lyrics about being downtrodden and outcast. I had always had an attraction to horror movies and creepy shit. The scene became my home. My hair has been every color of the rainbow, I've got multiple tattoos and piercings, 90% of my wardrobe is black. I go to shows, I play guitar, long after the scene has "died" I am still here. I was offended by the "emo-revival" last year, because to me emo never went anywhere. 

I loved being so outwardly "other", because I was so inwardly "other". At the time I had no understanding of passing. I had a "me" and "them". I had a very narrow, teen-age version of "me" and "them". "Me"; black, really smart, always sad, loved to write, read comics, still played with barbies in secret, played guitar in public, family didn't have money, hated football games, not popular, and didn't fit in if my life depended on it. "Them"; mostly white, super peppy, barely passed their classes, were totally cool and drank at parties, got invited to parties, listened to pop music in public, families had money, and were a part of the crowd. I was not one of "them" and never would be. There was no point in trying. I only realized this, because I tried. I tried and failed; no matter how much Hollister I wasted my mom's money on; there was always someone around to remind me I was black and then ask to copy my homework. So, I dug in, excelled in my classes, took office in extracurricular clubs, and did it all with flaming pink hair. 

Then I met people (besides me) who celebrated the person I was, despite my being an other. I went to college on scholarship because of my academic strength. I pledged a sorority. A lot of people will read this sentence and say what? I did. I had no intention of rushing, let alone pledging. I was tricked into it by the Student Life advisor at my campus; he was familiar with me and my on campus involvement in high school. I told him it wasn't for me, I wasn't "that girl". I thought for sure no organization would bid me; I wore fishnets to recruitment and said "Marilyn Manson" when one of the women asked me what my favorite band was. However, my (future) sisters loved that about me. They saw a unique young woman with leadership qualities, who wasn't afraid to stand on her own, and was pretty engaging once you got her talking. The camaraderie I experienced as a sister convinced me I did not have to pass; awesome people would see me for who I was. 

And then I got a job a retail. As I've hinted before, I was a computer and mobile device technician up until May 2015. My location had catered to an older affluent crowd. My coworkers and managers were generally young, hip, forward thinking people. No one batted an eye at my septum ring or my purple hair or my tattooed back. They mostly wanted to pick my brain. But, in retail, customers generally think they can say whatever they want to you without consequences. I was called "the black girl with too much makeup", I was called "the girl with silly nose ring", I was accused of being racist against black people...the list goes on. My manager one day, a young tattooed woman, herself sat me down after a particularly harsh customer and asked, "why don't you just take the septum out at work? It's not all about how you look." 

But, it is. I could have a symmetrical naturally colored hair cut. I could take out all of my piercings. My (current) tattoos are generally all covered by clothing unless it's very warm out. But, I'm still a black woman after all of the drag is washed away. I'm thinking of Viola Davis's Emmy award winning scene in How to Get Away with Murder. You know the one. And then I'm thinking about how Viola Davis was the first black woman to win a Best Actress in a Dramatic Series Oscar. I'm thinking about the year I spent trying to pass in high school; only to be told by a drama teacher I couldn't have the role I was overly qualified to play because I was black. I'm thinking about the customers who refused to work with me and demanded a man because "they know more about this computer stuff". 

I started writing this because I met an emo girl in a professional setting. She was trying so hard to pretend she wasn't emo. Wearing a sweater to cover tattoos on an 80 degree day, hair pulled up so you couldn't see the streaks unless you looked hard, pops of color on the black clothing. I wanted to pull her aside and tell her "It's not worth it. Anyone who is going to judge you for that is still going to judge once they get to know you. Let that freak flag fly". 

I have no interest in passing. I might not show all of my cards on the first meeting. But, I will never ever try to diminish myself in any capacity for other people. I've been there. I tried it. But, I'm still me regardless. Outwardly other, inwardly other. I know I speak from a place of cishet privilege, and I'm not writing this at all to diminish my LGBTQ brothers and sisters. I know for them passing can be a matter of life and death. I say this all to diminish the society that wants to bend everyone to one standard. The same society that makes my skin a matter of life and death. We have got to stand up to this fucking system. Standing up to the system is why I have no interest in passing.