Tag Archives: 30 Seconds To Mars

I was dreaming when I wrote this

It is nearly 2:00AM where I sit right now, and I should be tired. But I am not. I have too many thoughts, too much music in my head right now to sleep. And not just actual songs–though those are certainly present: one lyric after another streaming through, one bass line overlapping another, drums and drums and drums–but also the music of the rain, the music of my dog’s slow breathing next to me, the music of my the computer keys under my rapidly moving fingers. It’s so mesmerizingly distracting.

For the record, I am not on drugs.

I have had this one line running on loop in my mind for a few weeks now, and I have to share the series of emotions and thought bubbles it has inspired. No one who has read this blog before will be surprised that the line is from a 30 Seconds To Mars song, A Beautiful Lie:

“Lie awake in bed at night, and think about your life. Do you want to be different?”

My response to that question is a loud and resounding YES.

YES, I do want to be different. In so many ways that I can’t even bear it sometimes.

The first way in which I wish to be different is that I do not want to be an asshole. Is that crude? I’m sorry. But, frankly, I am disheartened by the number of just unfriendly human beings I encounter on a daily basis. I am always pleasantly surprised to encounter kind, sociable people, but I shouldn’t be. Kind and sociable should be the norm. I should not be taken aback when someone holds open a door for me, or smiles at me as we cross paths when I’m out walking my dog, but I am. I am always dumbfounded when I meet other nice people, because it doesn’t happen enough.

That. Is Tragic.

So, yes, I wish to be different and be (pardon me while I utilize an old church analogy) a light for the world rather than a black hole sucking the light from the sky. I try to smile at everyone I can, from the grumpy teller at the bank, to people who pull up next to me at red lights. I try to make someone laugh every day because A) laughter is a cure all for them and B) for me, making others laugh is the greatest feeling in the whole wide world. I want to be one of those people that you meet and in a seconds-long encounter, your day is changed for the better. It depresses me to think that I have ever made anyone sad–and I know I have in the past, and I am sorry–but I hope from here on to only (or at least, mostly) bring happiness. I owe that much to the other nice people in the world: a little reciprocity.

But I am also a conceited little fuck and want to be different for the sake of…not being like anyone else.

If my parents got one thing right with me, it is my name. I LOVE the name Pamela. Spot on, ‘rents, spot on. I mostly loved that name as a child because no one else my age had it. There were a handful of Amandas, a couple Nicoles, plenty of Jessicas, but just one Pamela, and that ROCKED. I never appreciated the existence of Pamela Anderson in the world, particularly when my 3rd grade teacher made that my nickname, but for the most part I enjoyed my unique title. I wasn’t always so down with being different, but sometimes, your soul just takes over and originality happens.

Destined to be different

I also learned from an early age that scars are cool. I have over 80 scars on my body, and while I don’t remember where all of them came from, I do have a story for most of them: the dime-sized spot on my forearm is where my dad’s parrot took a chunk out of me for no reason except it is the devil; the raised purple knob on my knee is where a piece of my high school track is still embedded from falling flat on my face during my first ever track meet; the long thin line on my toe is where a screw wedged itself once; the spot next to my right eye is where my mom cut me with a poorly sharpened eyeliner pencil while getting me ready for my dance recital as a tot. I adore each and every one of my scars because they are proof of the life I have lived. Even the crack in my skull, the one that you can follow with your finger from my hairline down to my eyebrow, is a wonderful part of me that I embrace, for had I no scars, that would have meant I have lived a safe (and utterly BORING) life. Each time I fell off my bike, that was a life experience I wouldn’t give up for anything. Each time my brother pinched me with his dirty little fingernails causing tiny infections all over my arms and eventually leaving a dozen little pockmarks, those were…well, not great experiences, but they shaped me. All my “flaws” are evidence of the life I’ve lived up until now, a life that is all mine, not yours.

Over the years, learning to appreciate what makes me different has led me to yearn for even more originality. I don’t want to be like anyone else but me, thanks. When people say, “You know who you remind me of?” my heart sinks a little, because I only want to remind you of Pamela Wall. I want to be so badly one of those people with a certain je ne sais quoi. I have an asymmetrical face, crooked ears, an annoying voice, and enormous and intrusive hand gestures: you should remember me, goddammit. I am flattered when people tell me I look like Chyler Leigh but I don’t see it, and I don’t want to see it: she is a perfect china doll, and I only wish to be imperfect, lopsided, lovable me. Is that so much to ask?

I am always looking for more ways to be more like myself, more ways to show the world who I am inside. And, you know, that’s not an easy task, seeing as some people don’t want me to be me. Ralph Waldo Emerson is my hero, and he said something that I tell myself on a daily basis:

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

Fuck yeah, it is. I have people telling me how to look, how to behave all the time: don’t cut your hair, be more like a girl, stop wearing Converse All-Stars, stop being so loud, CALM DOWN. Well, guess what, if I want to chop off my hair, I’m fucking going to. I am a girl, even if I don’t fit your form of what a girl should be. My Cons are my FAVORITE and I will not give them up for anyone or anything and why do you care what I put on my feet anyway?! I AM loud: I am Polish and Italian, it happens. And I will NOT calm down. I am a high-strung crazy chick and I know it, but I thrive on a good dose of anxiety, I get help when it gets to be too much, and it’s up to me to decide which it is, thank you very much. It is real work to ignore all the voices pressing in every day, but when I do, that’s when I feel right. I feel good. I feel…like myself.

In my still-rocking Be Brave phase, I want all the more to stand out from the crowd. I happily danced, sang, and skipped on a 4-mile walk with my dog the other day, and it was SO FUN. I got some weird looks from passing cars (well, actually, the cars didn’t look at me, they’re cars. The people inside the cars did, if I’m using correct English) and a few people who were hanging out on their porches laughed (I’m assuming at my singing which is unabashedly awful) but so what? Even if I see these people again, will they know it was me? And frankly, if I saw a girl skipping down a main drag I’d say, “Damn, that girl has flair.” I’d like to think I have flair. I try to have flair. I hope to someday have flair.

YAY FLAIR.

Anywho, I keep humming to myself and answering the “Do you want to be different?” question with a soul-shaking “affirmative!” I’ve never felt like I fit in, so why should I try now when it is so much more fun sticking out like a sore, goofy thumb. It might embarrass the people around me but, clearly, if they’re embarrassed of me then I don’t really need them around and they can fucking leave. I am staying right here, with my purple converse, my nerd glasses, and a smile, because life is so much more fulfilling when I get to be myself, unashamed and unrefined.

Aaaaaand, now it’s 3:00AM, and the music plays on and on and on and…

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Filed under self-reflection, The Good Moods, Uncategorized, Wellness

It’s like Ohm Shanti…but not

When you think of mantras, I bet you envision monks meditating on snowy mountain-tops, or tan glistening yogis in L.A. coaching plastic-surgeried housewives and celebutantes. You don’t? Oh, well, I always did.

For me, the word mantra evoked notions of people seeking peace and transcendence. And while reaching a higher plane is all well and good, these days, I need a little less peace and a little more…action. But I read an article in Runner’s World about running mantras that help you power through the hard parts or push yourself a little harder for that last half mile. Something about a simple sentence to repeat over and over spoke to me, so I selected myself a little mantra to try out on an 3 mile-run: “Stride Strong, Be Brave.” After beating my 5K PR, I knew I had a winner. But I didn’t know that a little running mantra would wake me up.

Courage, bravery, that’s always something I’ve felt I lack. I have plenty of fear– fear of the unknown, fear of failure, feat of judgement, fear of conflict, fear of change (which ties in with the unknown), fear of insanity (that’s a whole other blog)–and that really hinders my enjoyment of…life. How can I make a decision, live my life at all, if I am paralyzed by the idea of something going wrong? How can I feel free to be myself if I am constantly afraid of people judging me? How many times have I chosen a safer path, a more boring haircut, a less feisty comeback, out of fear? I finally got sick of it, and it all started with me wanting to be a better runner.

Anyway, I started thinking to myself “Be Brave” on and off throughout the day, sometimes about things that may not even have anything to do with bravery: I really want that ice cream“Be brave”Oh, guess I don’t. I really like these nerd glasses, but my boyfriend might not“Be brave!”Fuck it, buying them! The more I started aligning myself with living without fear, the more  self-confidant I felt. And then, last weekend, I did something that would have mortified an old version of myself. Something that was clearly one of the best ideas I’ve ever had.

And so follows my Super Epic Tale of my Mantra. So maybe I didn’t confer with god…I think this is still pretty amazing.

Here’s what happened. I LOVE 30 Seconds to Mars (read this for more on that) and I finally decided to part with some money and see them in concert. I was totally stoked and had been planning every little detail down to what shoes I would wear for weeks.  And then, a mere 6 days before the show, they announced a theme: sports! Let me say that of all the themes they had to choose from (bloodball, whiteout, goth, etc.) they went with the last one I would have chosen for the Detroit show. And, you know, a month ago, I probably just would have worn a Tigers T-shirt (not that there’s anything wrong with that. Yay Detroit teams! Go Tigers! Go Wings! Go…oh, does anyone care about the Pistons anymore?) and called it a day. But I was in Bravery phase. I wanted to stand out, and just because they picked what I considered to be a lackluster theme didn’t mean I personally had to lack in luster. I wracked my brains for that almost- week, and literally found myself having nightmares about what I would wear to the goddamn concert.

And then, the night before, I had an epiphany: in what sport do the athletes wear fishnet stockings and torn tank tops and war paint and arm bands? In what sport is sexiness part of the fun (and I am not talking about beach volleyball)? Roller derby! I have totally admired those girls since I saw the derby episode of Psych, and it just seemed like the ideal costume idea: certainly a sport, but way more noticeable than a baseball cap. And hey, in the spirit of being brave, why blend in when you can standout…in a helmet.

So in a few frantic hours before the concert, I ran around Southeastern Michigan on a raging caffeine buzz gathering materials for two roller derby costumes, one for myself and one for my very loyal friend Shannon who agreed to be brave along with me. And that night we rolled (pardon the pun!) up to the Fillmore in Detroit decked out in knee socks and helmets and armbands. Shannon looked at the very innocuously dressed crowd with trepidation, but I felt all the more spurred on by the lame-zors in the crowd. We were dressed to theme (whether anyone else knew there was a theme or not was beside the point…the band knew, and I only cared about what they thought), we looked damn good, and we would turn heads. Maybe the people inside those heads would think we looked crazy, but I didn’t give one single fuck: I felt awesome.

We got stares. Stares and sideways glances and quizzical smirks and I loved every minute. And slowly but surely Shannon started to see the fun in being epically courageous in a huge-ass crowd. And had my whole night consisted of people thinking I was nuts, I think I would have been happy with that. But I have my little red helmet to thank for the best night ever.

I was just rocking out to the (Incredible!) show, waving my helmet around, having the time of my life, when I saw Shannon Leto (drummer extraordinaire) looking at me. Not you or you…ME. I waved, and he waved back, and then I put my helmet back on…and he mimed as if he was doing the same. I looked around at the sweaty crowd around me like, “Did anyone else just witness that?!” It was awesome, and I would have carried that memory home as a happy little talisman  except something even more unreal happened.

For the encore song–their ANTHEM “Kings and Queens” no less–the band pulls people up on stage. You hope, you pray, but you never actually think you will make eye contact with the dead sexy Jared Leto, see him point at you and say “You, with the armbands”; you never dream that you will say, “Me?” and knock on your helmet; you would never really allow yourself to believe that he will nod, and then offer his hand to you to help you up onto the stage; and you definitely never ever thought in a million billion years that you would look into his ice blue eyes (the ones you watched in the music videos  and movies all those times) and say, outloud, so he could actually hear you, “I love you.” But yeah, all that happened. I told the Jared Leto–actor, singer, songwriter, most-beautiful-man-to-ever-walk-the-earth–that I love him. To his face.

I should be horrified. But I’m not.

I am just really, really happy that I bought that cherry red helmet.

I wore this in public. I have no fear.

Bravery rules.

So yeah, I never thought a simple mantra could rock my world like this,  but it did. Telling myself to be brave gave me a night I will remember FOREVER. And now, I can’t help but wonder, what will happen if I keep it up?

Seriously, if I just keep being true to myself and keep living courageously and fuck anyone who wants to quash my awesomeness, what can’t I accomplish?What would you do if you drown out all the voices and live without fear? Think about it. No, really, stop, close your eyes, and really think about it: What would you do if you decided to just be brave. It boggles the mind, doesn’t it? Suddenly, I feel like I have no limits…just as long as I’m brave enough to barrel through the barricades.

I think I’ll start with getting the fuck out of limbo and into a career.

But change is scary…“Be brave, be brave, be brave“…OK, let’s do this thing.

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Two steps backward, one enormous leap forward

Recently, I have regressed. And it has propelled me forward like nothing else has been able to.

For my readers to fully understand what I hope to express with this post, I need to first paint you a quick portrait of the girl I was between the ages of 15 and 18, give or take a few months in either direction.  So, let’s meet Pammy.

Don’t I look so thrilled with life? Well, half the time, I wasn’t. I suffered from mild depression during high school and into my early college years. My parents’ relationship was toxic, my father didn’t know how to be a father, and I was a smart, unique girl in a two-star town where those traits were not valued. My mother, god love her, did her very best to boost my ego and repair the damage my dad did on a daily basis but for the most part, I was sort of on my own. I turned to music to save me. I listened to 89X radio here in Detroit religiously. Their mixture of pop-punk and alternative spoke to my miserable side as well as my rebellious side. I adopted their red and black color scheme in my daily life. I blasted My Chemical Romance in my bedroom. My father would bang on the door, bark that he didn’t like the shit I was listening to, and I would simply put on headphone and damage my hearing even more, while I let the despairing messages make me feel better.

The other half the time I was this girl.

When I was actually among peers who welcomed my presence, I was more alive. I had comedic timing, I told great stories complete with character voices and waving arms and I knew how to work a room when I had to. The sound of others laughing with me rather than at me was intoxicating and it was my drug: if I could make others laugh, then I was a person worth being. My friends used to comment that I smiled and laughed constantly. I’m glad people saw me that way because I really tried to hide how shitty I felt when I was alone (which was the majority of the time), so I created a character that I played as often as I could: a bit hysterical, but mostly just jokey and huggy and eager to love and be loved. But because it was a role I was playing I rarely let those people I called my friends be friends to me. I supported them, but didn’t want to be supported. I could play the part and keep them all in the dark and if that meant when high school was over that these people didn’t really mean as much to me as they should have, well, so be it. It was my survival strategy.  It got me through those bad years. (And I should mention that I did let in a few people over that span of time, and I will forever be indebted to them for still liking me when my facade cracked and I fell out of character.)

Thankfully, when I got to college, MSU assigned me an incredible roommate and with her support and the support of the few other really wonderful friends I made, I got to stop acting and start being. The depression faded after some time, the laughter and jokes became genuine rather than forced and I got to have real friends and be a real friend. I healed. I was happy. I was driven. I loved school and my friends and my boyfriend. I was bright and talented and I had so much passion for life. I was going to do great things after leaving school. I was certain of it.

Yes, I healed, and I never looked back.

OK, there ya go. A brief history of Pamela. Now, onto my real point.

As we know something changed after graduation. I’ve been grudgingly content to be in limbo for the last year. Not only stuck in a rut because of the economy and other circumstances outside of my control, but also just…lazy. I can be honest. I’ve been lazy. Saying I was planning to start writing again but not. Watching reruns that bore me rather than reading. Giving up on going for a career because my job is paying the bills alright. It’s pathetic, really.

Well, lately the rut has been really getting me down. I haven’t looked around at my life and been this unhappy since I lived with my parents. And something in me snapped and I started feeling like a 16 year old emo-kid all over again:  sarcasm and foolishness were suddenly helping to hide the fact that I was really unhappy with my lot; I started painting my nails black again; and I turned to music to drown out the sadness.

I was listening to my old fall-backs again: Fall Out Boy, The Killers (trying to convince myself that I could be Ms. Brightside if I tried hard enough) and Anberlin. I’m not proud of this exactly, that I was doing the timewarp right back to 10th grade, but it made me feel better.

Well, then I watched the VMAs. And this video won Best Rock video.

And I looked it up. And I watched it. And then I watched it again. And again. And again until a blissful balloon had inflated in my chest and I knew every word to the song. It was like waking up from a long sleep full of bad dreams. I felt…awake. Alive.

I wanted more of that feeling. So I bought the album.

I was into 30 Seconds to Mars once upon a time, but they, like all my favorite sad-kid bands,  fell by the wayside when I cheered up. But after downloading ‘This Is War’ I couldn’t remember why I stopped listening to them. Something about the theme of taking up arms against the sad state of our nation rang out in me. I wanted to be part of their Echelon, the Vox Populi. And I remembered why I wanted to be a writer. I remembered what it felt like to be different and proud of it, the desire to use my differences to help the world be…different. I looked around at the average life I’ve fallen into and didn’t recognize it as my own. I am not average. I have never been average. I am extraordinary,  but I allowed the disappointment of my post-grad life to smother all the passion I had when things were going great.

This awakening lit a fire under my ass. I am reading ravenously again. I am positive about my future, and actually making plans for making it begin. And I started this here blog.

It’s wild, a little regression reignited my forward momentum. Pretty sure that defies physics, but I’ll take it.

P.S. A heartfelt thank you to 30 Seconds to Mars for being the slap in the face that I needed.

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