Assorted music, podcast and book thoughts and childfree musings

In the Facebook group entitled Amazing Childfree Singles, someone posted a topic asking what people’s likes and dislikes were, when it comes to potential romantic partners they may have. What I wrote in response to said thread reads:
I love: directness, both in terms of being direct myself and receiving directness from others. Dealbreakers: republicans; if folks are deeply religious and want me to be too; folks who conform to society/who never question anything; racists/homophobes…and also, anyone who doesn’t accept my truth: that my family of origin is toxic AF, so much so that I’ve been full no-contact with them for a few years now. I put this particular one on my deal-breakers list, as some people judge and have judged me harshly for this…rather than seeing me as the cycle breaker that I am.

When Lady Gaga (a well known pop star) came out with her new album on Friday, I got myself hyped up about it by first listening to an interview that she’d done with someone on Apple Music prior to this album release. And in this interview, Lady Gaga talked about why she’d taken so long to release new music, after the release of her last album called “Joanne.” This part of the conversation was interesting to me, as I was not a fan of this particular album of hers; like, I really felt like she wasn’t herself, in terms of the way that the album “Joanne” sounded, vocally and instrumentation-wise. So when I heard her say in this particular Apple Music interview, that she’d recorded her album “Joanne” because she’d desperately wanted to heal trauma that her family had gone through, I had so much love and compassion for her. I kinda even felt like it was a dick move for me to have judged this album so harshly, now that I’d actually heard about why she’d created it in the first place.

But anyway, going back to this interview she’d done on Apple Music, I had such fun listening to this ear-gasm. The person who’d interviewed her seemed like they were genuinely having a great time–this interview was definitely the most authentic interview I’ve ever heard. I’m serious!! And so, as Lady Gaga and this interviewer talked about the release of her latest album entitled “Chromatica,” there were several times throughout said interview that nearly brought me to tears. For one thing, I really allowed my entire body to relax while listening to this interview; and I relaxed so deeply that I just naturally thought of how my favorite Aunt Loretta was such a huge Lady Gaga fan. I thought how she (my favorite aunt) would be so excited to hear this particular interview…and then to listen to this album. But the thing was, at the time when I’d thought these things, I hadn’t actually listened to Lady Gaga’s new album “Chromatica” myself yet. I could also relate to the things that she (Lady Gaga) was saying in this interview though, regarding how she became good at blocking out unpleasant things about herself, rather than dealing directly with them. I could relate to the parts in this interview when she talked about feeling like she was being pulled in different directions, not really knowing where to turn. I honestly didn’t realize, before listening to this interview though, that a lot of how Lady Gaga has experienced the world, is similar to the way I’ve experienced the world…thanks, trauma!! I’m definitely a “little monster” (what Lady Gaga calls her stans).

Also on Friday, I received an email from the college I attend. This email informed students about the options that are available to us, in terms of how we’d finish out this particular semester, given how Covid19 hit the US hard. The email stated that students would only be able to act on the available options by clicking on a link and fill out a form that day. But otherwise, students would have an entire year to petition the powers that be, to allow them to submit an excused withdrawl request for this particular semester or a pass/fail request for said semester. So I took some time to think about what my best option would be and it didn’t take me long to come up with what I knew was the right answer: fill out the form to have an excused withdrawl from American Sign Language one. But unfortunately for me, the form was acting weird with VoiceOver. Like, usually VoiceOver is great about saying “edit field, first name” or something along those lines…but not this time. So I ended up having to have my caretaker fill out the form separately and I then emailed it to my school as an attachment. There was apparently nowhere on the form itself that had a “submit” button, nor was there an email address given about who to submit this request to. I just knew that Admissions and Records was the department who’d sent this email to me–at least that email was sent from an email address that people actually check. That made this whole thing a tad bit easier. It was still a hassle over all, though!! Lack of accessibility really is a frequent pain in my ass.

Yesterday I wrote a status update on Facebook about how I’m feeling about this situation. And what I’ve written reads as follows:
So yesterday, students at the college I attend were given a couple different options of ways that if we needed to, we could request an excused semester, due to Covid19. And so, I requested an Excused Withdrawl, EW, for ASL one. Making that decision hurt my heart…but I’m trying to remind myself that this is an opportunity for me to redefine what success looks like in my life. And redefining success is something I already do regularly…but it feels larger, when it concerns school. I’m telling myself that I don’t need to see a letter grade to know that I worked my ass off in this class. And I don’t: because at the end of the day, I gained knowledge that I’ll happily allow to regularly carry me through my life over all now. I’ve gained friends and strengths that I never knew would be possible. But also, I gained more love for myself, especially considering that physically, my entire left wrist/arm caused me horrible pain. Sharp pain that would nearly bring tears to my eyes…and I have a high pain tolerance. But anyway, I’m not posting this status for others to pat me on the back–I’m logging this here so that Future Chelsea can be reminded of her greatness…and of her willingness to always challenge herself and the status quo.

Another thing that happened on Friday, was that I received my new shoes. The shoes are blue and they have a much nicer material than my old shoes do. I’m just surprised how fast they got to my house–they were only shipped to me on Tuesday. As I was switching the new shoes from the old ones though, I was telling my caretaker about how one of my favorite smells is the smell of new shoes…and also, how I love the smell of shoe stores.

In a recent episode of This American Life, the show’s host Ira Glass starts the show off by telling a story about a family that’s both literally and figuratively in a place that most of us would hate being put in. What I mean by that, is that the man in this family is a doctor that’s well-respected where he works and lives; but he’s in the United States as a guest, I would say, as he’s on a waiting list to receive his green card. And because he isn’t currently here in the US legally, he isn’t allowed to travel outside of his current city and state. And complicating this situation even more, is the fact that he has two young children and a wife to take into consideration if/when he decides what his next course of action will be. And the sad thing is, people that he knows, who of course know that he’s a well-respected doctor, don’t seem to understand the risk that he’d be taking by leaving his current location. And it’s interesting to me that the government would most likely penalize this doctor, simply for choosing to do the right thing of going elsewhere to help with this particular crisis the world is going through…all because he isn’t currently in the United States legally. That shit hurts my heart sooooo bad!!

In the next story Ira Glass tells in this episode of This American Life, a few young siblings meet a random stranger when they’re staying in a hotel with their other family members. It’s the youngest kids in this family who this weird situation happens to, though; and what happens, is that a stranger ends up in these children’s hotel room. Like, the woman essentially breaks into their hotel room; and right away, the kids realize that something isn’t right about this person. And so, the oldest child does her best to stay calm and tries to read the situation accurately, in the hopes that she could make this woman leave the room for good. And eventually, when she does make that happen, the lady then screams at the top of her lungs. And then when this young girl and her siblings tell this story to one of their parents, their parent is pissed. And as this woman (the oldest of the siblings) tells this story to Ira Glass, she explains that within the last few years, she’d asked her parents what they’d found out about that stranger from years ago. And her parents tell her that they’d discovered that this woman had come from a mental hospital, the very night that she’d broken into the hotel room that she (the oldest sibling) and her younger siblings were in. But it’s interesting to me that this older sibling says that this particular event wasn’t traumatic for her. Because personally, the entire time I was listening to this story, I kept thinking how fucking creeped out I was about this whole thing with this stranger. It seemed like something that only happens in movies!! I’m pretty sure that if something like that happened to me, I’d find it traumatic.

In the next segment of this podcast, an actor reads a play-like portion of someone’s memoir. The reason I say that this reading is play-like, is because what was used for this part of this podcast was actually recreated specifically for the radio format. And so, the way this play-like piece read, was quite similar to the text-based adventure game I love playing called Timecrest. But this play-like piece was about a heavy topic: being in an abusive relationship and then physically going through the assorted options of how the person being abused could best handle the situation. But interestingly, we as the listeners never find out what happens to the characters in this story. I feel kinda weird about that, just because I love hearing things have endings…even if those endings have to be ones that I create in my own head.

In the next segment of this podcast, a story is told about a family that’s quarantined together. And the main part of this story, is that this family were germophobes, I’d say…and how even with that truth, one of them still caught a sickness. Thankfully, it wasn’t the Corona Virus; but this story did illustrate how when disaster is going to strike in one’s life, no amount of prior or current preparation will prevent that disaster from happening. Hell, I’ve learned that this is true, from my own life experiences; like, when I’d tried to convince myself that I could make myself into a healthy person, simply by eating right, exercising enough and ensuring that I was getting good sleep as much as possible. But as much as I’ve fought mwith my body throughout my life, I ultimately learned that listening to my body is literally the best thing I could ever do for myself.

The last story in this episode, was about how in the country Israel, a cab driver happened to be driving a passenger somewhere. This passenger of the cabby’s though, had two horrible situations that were going on in his life then that were both awful–the guy’s wife had had a miscarriage and his dad had tongue cancer that doctors weren’t sure he’d recover from. And for the most part, the cab driver was complaining to tthis passenger of his about how his (the cab driver’s) life was so hard. The driver repeatedly told his passenger that he’d never gotten into an accident before…and then just a few minutes later, this very driver and passenger got in a car accident. But what I found most puzzling about this story, was that as the commotion from the accident was happening, the passenger in the cab took a phone call and lied to his father (who was on the phone) about what had just happened. That just blew my fucking mind.

Occasionally Audible.com gives me a credit to get a free trial of said service. And taking advantage of this particular thing has been something I’ve enjoyed for several years now. And one book I’ve recently been listening to via Audible, is a book by Jaci Velasquez (who is one of my favorite Christian music artists). Jaci Velasquez’s book is called When God Rescripts Your Life: Seeing Value, Beauty and Purpose When Life Is Interrupted. And in the second chapter of said book, she uses the phrase “differently abled” instead of using the word “disabled” to describe that one of her children is disabled. This phrasing of hers gets under my fucking skin because disabilities are a fact of life for some folks. Disabilities aren’t things to be ashamed of, and just because there are people who feel/say otherwise, that doesn’t make that harmful belief true. And so, I’m frustrated that no one on Jaci Velasquez’s team caught this huge error. It wouldn’t have been hard for folks on her team, or even Jaci herself, to reach out to disabled people on social media, to listen to us identify ourselves as disabled…and to then use the same wording that we’ve used. Because sometimes it’s OK to follow people’s lead; this is a situation where being a follower is the best possible course of action that one could take.

Another thing in Jaci’s book that gets under my skin nearly right away, is the way in which she discusses having dreams for her children and then freaks the fuck out when things don’t go like she’d wanted them to. Quite frankly, that sort of thing happens to all of us at some point in our lives–God has nothing to do with it. I have no problem admitting that before I knew that I actually had several chronic health conditions that could become life-threatening at any time, I said that I’d likely kill myself if I ever got even one such diagnosis. But then once I actually did get diagnosed with several chronic health conditions that could become life-threatening, I didn’t want to end my life. I mean, I knew that my life would end up looking a lot differently than I’d thought it would…but different did not mean “an actual death sentence” for me. I was growing into more of a warrior than I’d been previously…but ultimately I’d come to understand that these unanticipated roadblocks I’d experienced, would help shape the woman I’d continue to become. This sort of cycle, if you will, is not a God thing; it’s literally part of the human experience for everyone.

But truthfully, when I first heard Jaci Velasquez say in this book of hers that she’d spent time literally planning how her first child’s life would look, that rubbed me the wrong way. Because I felt like she was saying that she didn’t actually intend to leave room for her child to grow into whomever they wanted to be…and that’s wrong on so many levels. What makes it wrong though, is not the fact that she has those dreams…but that she seems to feel like a failure when things in her life go differently than she’d wanted them to. But again, this particular thing happens to us all in life, whether we believe in a higher power other than ourselves or not. And yes, life really does change in ways that suck; sometimes we do find ourselves grieving…and that’s a healthy part of the healing process that we all have to get through, one way or another. But when I heard Jaci Velasquez say, for example, that she wanted her sons to marry a woman, that hit me hard as well. I mean, I know that many Christians think that same-sex relationships are immoral…but Christians who believe that way, are actually the immoral ones. I say this because it doesn’t make sense for people to claim that they are loving individuals…yet in that same breath, they say that certain minority groups are somehow not deserving of love. Homophobia is fucking stupid–I’m just glad that I don’t have internalized homophobia anymore.

Something else that surprises me about this book of Jaci Velasquez’s, is hearing her say that she ended up marrying the guy who was unsupportive of her being in a secular movie in the early 2000s. Because I’d always known that this marriage of hers was her second marriage, and that she’d even had children with her current husband Nick Gonzalez (who happens to be the lead singer of a Christian music group called Salvador). I’d known these things because years ago, I regularly kept up with Jaci Velasquez’s music, her tour dates ETC. I’d definitely say that I’m a stan of hers. But given that I hadn’t kept up with the fact she’d planned to release this book, I was surprised to find out in reading said book that Nick Gonzalez seemed quite possessive of how Jaci lived her life. He kept stalking her, I’d say…even when she’d made it known to him that she wasn’t interested in him romantically. But honestly, this truth fits very well, I think, with the way that Christianity forces people to believe that if things are not Christian-centric, that means they are automatically not good. I respect that this is Jaci Velasquez’s story being told, but that doesn’t mean that I share her values or that I agree with what she’s saying. But fuck, I’m still in disbelief that she married someone who wouldn’t support the new experiences she’d wanted to allow herself to have, nor would he (Nick Gonzalez) leave Jaci Velasquez alone, in terms of pursuing her romantically. This whole situation has toxic written, no, splattered all over it!! Nowadays if someone tried to mold me into something that wasn’t me in any way, shape or form, I’d cut them out of my life without hesitation. Hell, I’ve cut people out of my life for that very reason, within these last few years. And I can’t ever imagine going back to having them in my life, especially not as I continually figure out how to live in my truth more fully.

Yet another thing that surprised me about Jaci Velasquez’s book When God Rescripts Your Life, was that she said something along the lines of “my first marriage was accidental.” Ummmm, there literally is no such thing as getting married “accidentally.” Perhaps her first marriage was something that she’d rushed into; but I feel like in Jaci saying that her first marriage was not a conscious choice she’d made, she’s not accepting responsibility for this choice of hers. And I can empathize with the fact that she’d been going through a ton in her personal life and publicly; and given that she was so busy then, she probably didn’t have any time to confide in anyone about the very real and oh-so-present turmoil she’d been experiencing. She had a similar disposition as me, in fact: she thought that if she just pretended that things weren’t so bad, that that way of thinking would make those things go away. But instead, what ended up happening, was that awful things in Jaci’s life kept piling up on her. And ultimately what slowed her down for a time, was that she had vocal chord surgery done, Due to how much she’d used and/or strained her singing voice. This was something I’d never known about Jaci Velasquez, until reading this book of hers. And honestly, I was surprised to read it, as I’d been under the impression that Jaci knew how to use her singing voice effectively. Like, I’ve watched lots of her TV show appearances, YouTube concerts and in-person concerts of hers that I’ve been to…and I couldn’t ever tell that she was straining her voice.

But before I go on to discussing other things, I want to write about Jaci Velasquez’s choice back in the early 2000s, to be an actress in a secular movie. I want to write about this, as it did have an affect on my life–mainly, I was happy to see Jaci Velasquez’s potential at crossing over into the mainstream world. I say her “potential” because I’d honestly thought that that’s what would happen. At least, I’ll admit that I wanted to see Jaci cross over from the Christian music world into the secular world. I often thought about what it would be like to hear her sing mainstream songs…and so, when I heard that she’d be starring in a movie called Chasing Papi, I was beside myself with excitement. I didn’t understand, and still don’t understand, why there were folks who were outraged about Jaci Velasquez having made this decision. I mean, I understand that part of what many Christians believe, is that people should not have sex before marriage and also that they should not even kiss anyone on the lips until they’re married. And so, given that Chasing Papi was a movie about a man who was romantically into three women at once, I knew that many Christians couldn’t believe that Jaci Velasquez would even star in this kinda movie. But personally, I loved the movie!! In fact, I’m pretty sure that I still have said movie on a DVD somewhere around here.

I’m also reading a book called FREQUENCY; this book is by an author named Penney Peirce. And this book is about how as we go through life, many of us are not even conscious of the fact that there are stages that we all go through. So for example, when we don’t know how to deal with life well, that can make things in our lives chaotic. One personal example in my own life, is how for years, I acted tough. I talked openly about how I didn’t want or need to have romantic relationships with others–I was fiercely independent…but to a fault. What I mean in saying that, is that I thought I was living the correct way. Little did I know, people actually saw through my bullshit; and the more I displayed that tough exterior, the clearer folks saw that I was actually deeply hurt. And so, this book FREQUENCY talks about how human beings not being in touch with who they really are has a profound impact on their lives. And it’s interesting to hear things framed that way, as this book is making me think about things in a different way than I ever have before.