It’s been a while since I fought so hard to hold back tears. The museum was heavily crowded, children kept close to their mothers and couples shuffled along in disbelief. Following a short film of personal testimonies from political figures, we were ushered from the theater and into the belly of the World Trade remembrance.
The beginning of the walk was digestible, but erie as hell. Here we all were, standing on ground zero. The floors leading to fallen relics of the World Trade buildings were smooth like that of sculpted ice. We marveled at the tortuted and twisted pieces of steel, weathered by fire and a fall from hundreds of feet.
My experience took a turn as we approached a mangled fire truck. One half was in tact, while the other rest in shambles. “There were eleven firefighters that rode here on this truck, all of them were killed.” I got this sensation inside me that things weren’t right, listening to a man retell tragedy. A lump grew in my throat. “Continue on to the walk through, it takes forty-five minutes but I can assure you it’ll be the highlight of your visit.”
The highlight? Perhaps he shouldn’t have used that word.
The central organ of the World Trade museum was the chronological walk through. I didn’t think I would make it to the end. Overstimulated doesn’t even begin to cover it. Everywhere, the truth of 9/11; The sadness, the death, the desperation. Sirens, photographs, voicemails of passengers. Tears rolled down my face as I turned the corner and saw people preparing to jump. It was all too much, and I had to ask myself if this type of display was ethical.
I completed the walk through. I think it is important to have an experience like that available to the public, it can be too easy to forget what happened. Fear mongering? Conspiracy? Or an honest offering of an event that changed the course of history in America, and the world?
I left the museum feeling imprinted, enlightened to the events of that day. Now I can begin to draw my own conclusions. For that fact, it is well worth the visit.
I shot a short video while waiting for a train over the weekend. It was an impromptu “I guess I could entertain myself for a while” type of situation. Also, there was beautiful music echoing through the subway halls. I was genuinely taken by an opportunity…
So I want to talk about why I decided to title it “Shapes.” Yes, there are shapes in the video, but only because they embellish an overall idea.
For me, art is representative of the stages in our lives. In my opinion, one’s art doesn’t have to be “refined,” or “good,” or “dope,” to be valuable. It doesn’t need to be regimented, or practiced a million times to be worth doing. Expression exists to filter our experience. Of course, intention is the important part, right? Practice is necessary depending on your intention. When you strive to let your art speak on it’s own to others, time is required. But I digress.
Authenticity speaks volumes.
This is where I get so stuck as an “artist;” am I just lazy? Probably so. But for now, where I am in my life, vulnerability is my art. Letting moments live and breathe, is my art.
So with that being said, I want to talk about why I decided to title it “Shapes.”
It’s pretty cliche, really.
As I played it back, I was disappointed in myself.
“I don’t like how my body looks.”
I winced at the rolls of my stomach, they seemed to be the only detail of the footage that I could see. I’m still adjusting to this body. I’ve changed drastically over the past few years… this happens when you are a woman. Yet, thanks to outside influences, natural changes in the body are not always easy to navigate. Whether you’re shamed, sexualized, or celebrated, the tone is always the same.
I wake up every day striving to be body positive. I nod at myself in the mirror; a salute, a commitment.
“Tell yourself the truth until it becomes the truth.”
Confidence is learned.
Each and every woman has experienced the trials and tribulations of body image. Sometimes, our frustration is so great that we amplify the insecurities of others. Regardless of the body, the shape, especially the bodies of those we may envy… We must remember to be kind, not only to ourselves but to each other. We each have our own stories, locked deep in the temple that houses our soul.
Your shape is a reflection of your moment. Your moment is a reflection of your existence.
My body is a reflection of acceptance; a lesson I will study for a lifetime. My movement is a reflection of the way I delegate my time, a reflection of my travels, a reflection of rest and regeneration. The shapes, a reflection of an ongoing journey, building beauty in myself rather than the standard. Sharing this video? A reflection of my inner studies; trusting that my body performs beautifully, exactly how I need it to (for what I request of it today). My writing, a memory.
If my shape is a reflection of the moment, and the moment is a reflection of my existence, well, I believe I already have the control I seek. Moments are moldable, from one to the next, just as our bodies and minds.
And through this process of pondering, I see I am no longer just a shape.
I am woman; Shapeshifter.
Sunrise on the train after a fine night of dancing in NYC.
Day-to-day journal entries from a 23 year old, randomly selected and in no particular order.
24. November 20, 2015.
“I’m clearing this room of misunderstandings. I’m clearing this room of miscommunication. I’m clearing this room of expectations. I’m clearing this room of guilt. I’m clearing this room of bad intentions. I’m clearing this room of judgment, so that I may make room for understanding, trust, good intentions, love.”
23. October 7, 2015.
“I always feel like my shadows are unwelcome to the world.”
22. November 1, 2015.
“Are you going to continue scrolling through the thoughts and feelings of others? Those thoughts and feelings are not your own. Oh, to be young in this generation. I want to get off this train. But I’m attracted like a moth to a bulb. Distractions again and again. I notice myself being passive. I go with whatever. Sometimes, I tell lies. Three of the realest words I’ve ever wrote.”
21. February 18, 2016.
“Contemplative. Tired. Cravings. Allergies.”
20. March 16, 2016.
“Also, like Ive mentioned in earlier pages, I’ve been rethinking what my body is meant to look and feel like. Obviously, the thin and fit has been valued for a long time. I found that I don’t want to be fit just to be fit, to fit an image. I want to be at optimal performance level, I want to be strong but the type of strength necessary to excel in what I do. I love my body. I don’t want to tune that out.”
19. February 22, 2016.
“I want to be
Not a wondering woman
Not a wandering woman
But a lady with a plan
Living life atop questions
Doesn’t do it for me
This is who I am?
This is who I want to be?”
18. December 13, 2015.
“A very interesting encounter of conversation occurred tonight at the house between a couple men. It was crazy. Accountability and emotions. It was fascinating to hear the way ideas and feelings were discussed.”
17. September 16, 2015.
“Today I had a rocky start because I am worried about my alarms not going off and so I have dreams that I go through my day being late and having to explain it to everyone and it sucks. My neck hurt and I had a throbbing headache, but once I got a move on it went away.”
16. June 20th, 2016.
“You know how they say we only use a small percentage of our brain? I believe the same goes for our spirit… depending on our environment, we only use a small percentage of our spirit when living our every day lives.”
15. April 8, 2016.
“2016 is the year of starvation. The word kept coming up today even while I was hanging out with my roommates. “Hunger is hard, but it works.” Or something like that.
Starvation of empty words.
Starvation of toxins.
Starvation of old ideas.
Starvation of love.
Starvation of excuses.
Starvation of entitlement.
Starvation of knowing.”
14. February 19, 2016.
“Just spent about 20 minutes doing a post on Instagram.”
13. December 21, 2015.
“I cried tears of joy going to bed last night. What an amazing feeling to be here. It takes on a new life and meaning every time I come back. I feel so cheerful and peaceful.”
12. July 17, 2015.
“The girls and I stepped foot in there for the first time last night. I cried, we all cried. It was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. I want to do that, I want to sing like that, and move the crowd like that. I noticed how people didn’t use their phones, nor did they bring drinks to the floor. When they danced, it wasn’t invasive… But there was this intimacy like I’ve never experienced. It was incredible.”
11. October 1, 2016.
“I am shedding my skin. Piece by piece. I’m still unsure of how to use it. Do I keep the pieces, will they bring me back? What are the alternatives? My mind has been so calm, I meditate daily. I feel grounded yet I also feel the ground shaking beneath me. There are changes I must make, decisions I need to confront. I am writing the story of my life… Creativity doesn’t come so easy these days… But I am organized, focused. My friends ask me why I haven’t made anything lately. They say, ‘get it together!”
10. February 1, 2016.
“While sitting on the train ride home from teaching today I was thinking about my outfit; cuddled under a warm headband and hoodie, jacket, gloves, sitting with my bike.. if someone could have told me what I would be doing two years out of school.. what would my reaction had been? Trying to know myself.. I think I would have had an optimistic take on the situation, maybe I would be surprised? Because when you look at your future, I don’t know if anyone truly imagines themselves in a place of lesser than they hope. Maybe they fear a certain outcome, but the imagination serves a different purpose. And my fear wasn’t where I was now, my plan was to work in my field and I am doing that.”
9. March 15, 2016.
“Public disguise- I was interested after work tonight, in my covering up while on public transportation. Ironically, a man at circle K approached me and asked my name, saying he had mistaken me for someone else. Then he asked me “why do you cover your face that way? Is it to hide your beauty?” I laughed because I felt like I brought the encounter upon myself.. I created this costume to blend in but the energy it gives off transcends. It was a funny conundrum.”
8. May 1, 2016.
“Silence is sometimes the best way to prove a point.”
7. January 1, 2016.
“I write this story out of necessity. Necessity for many things, such as; a necessity for understanding, a necessity for company, and most importantly a necessity for memories.”
6. December 3, 2015.
“I had a moment while riding my bike today, a small panic attack. I stopped on the overpass, watching the cars whiz forward and back. I felt another call from a spiritual place, like the one I felt on my way to Tucson with mom. The light through the clouds..”
5. June 26, 2016.
“This morning was a wake up call. I woke up on the fall, stuffy nose, happy from the night with friends but not happy about how I felt. I felt silly. But, I don’t regret it, not at all.”
4. July 16, 2016.
“This world was carefully crafted. When I walk on the sands of the beach, and I feel tattered pages turning around me. How could something so beautiful, simply just “occur”? The earth is artistry at it’s purest form. Maybe it’s my creative nature that always brings me back to the truth, the energy, the magic. Maybe it’s the reality of dangerous conditions throughout the world that take me away… I am spiritual, but over the past couple years I have become skeptic of these wonders around me, perhaps as a coping mechanism for what I know I’ll never understand. If one thing is for certain, whoever built this world is a fine storyteller.”
3. December 4, 2015.
“A man just approached me, in much excitement; ‘I got a job after not working for over a year because of my disability!’ Well congratulations!”
2. July 13, 2015.
“I am ready to walk into my 23rd year with a beaming smile and a resilient spirit. I think I’m finally embodying that lesson of replacing the bad with the good. Inhale (joy/grattitude) exhale (toxins/negativity/stress).
Pain is temporary, I am in control.”
1. July 18, 2016.
“Today is my birthday. It’s also my first day at my new job! Age changes you, ya know?”
It has been years since I was able to say “immediately” as a response to anything.
“When can you start?”
I am a creature of longevity. While working on my resume, I realized that my “relevant/recent” experience left me with only two jobs to detail; sales, and education. I have spent four years of my life in both a retail position, and a teaching position, six years of my life overall. During this time, I was also pursuing my degree in Dance, and learning how to be an outstanding citizen of these United States. I am so proud of my work experience, that it comes in years and not months. But in today’s age, I find myself asking; can one stay too long?
I’ve always admired the concept of longevity, and strived to embody it myself. I think longevity is a quality that our generation lacks. A grip of us grew up without much interference from technology. However, we still exhibit the signs of severe attention deficit disorder, especially when it comes to working hard for what we want.We had television as children, but in my experience, it was always expected that we get outside and “go do something,” or “go create something.” You can bet we did, because we didn’t buy our own food those days. I remember being in college and watching the “yolo” lifestyle snowball. “You only live once!” Emerging trends such as this one, changed our relationship with longevity. Constructive discomfort became an enemy; “Don’t put up with that, you only live once!”Stupidity was glorified; “Just try it, you only live once!”
Today, we can present a window of our talents in a mere sixty second video and receive the praise we’re looking for. No wonder it’s challenging to spend years creating something; perfecting a craft. And have you noticed that we are conditioned to seek affirmation from others? That is they way things are. It has been this way since fourth grade when we began learning about the bibliography. Hey guess what? You have no original thoughts. CITE EVERYTHING. “Where did you get this from? I’m not sure I believe you wrote this yourself.” Anything sound familiar? That kind of rhetoric can do a number on the developing brain. Look around, most of us are in our early twenties wondering “where is the initiative” to change our situation, to pursue the peak, to embrace the process; the reality that it will probably take years to get to where we see ourselves going. Perhaps, we haven’t believed in our abilities from the beginning. Maybe our initiative was diluted years ago when we discovered that our job was to gather and sow the thoughts of others, rather than grow our own.
I had fantastic teachers and mentors growing up. I was fortunate because my teachers did the best that they could with the nature of the education system. They worked overtime to make sure myself and my peers had a fighting chance to be successful. I know too well that this is not the case for everyone.
I’ve been hanging around in my early twenties for a while now. Still to this day, I struggle to be confident in my personal journey. I graduated college two years ago, I have the paper to prove I can complete something that is important to me. The reality is that there are no more deadlines that I can procrastinate against. There is no one to mark up my paper, to help me articulate my ideas. There is no one to remind me who I am, to give me feedback on my progress. There is nobody, but me. I was part of a college program that had all of these realities in mind for their students. We were dancers, but we were also expected to be independent leaders in the community, and for that I am forever grateful. Because of that, I was somewhat ready for the real world.
Are we in fear that we will lose the best years of our lives to a goal that won’t flesh?
Do we detest time?
Have we forgotten we truly are in control?
Are we victims of the system? Are we victimizing ourselves because of it?
Are we so busy with debt and paying bills that we forgot we can change (and should) at any time?
It’s possible to be your definition of free. Knead the soil, plant the seeds, and grow your thoughts. I am writing this for that reason!
It has been years since I was able to say “immediately” as a response to anything.
“When can you start?”
The story began in Phoenix, circa 2011.
I met a firecracker Mexicana, we’ll call her YADHANIE M-O-D (Mother of Dragons). I came to find out later, that Game of Thrones actually based their famed character Khaleesi off of this woman. Swear. I was there in the room once when the director called her for character development advice. And as I write this I can bet that when she gets around to reading this entry; her brows will furrow, she will shake her head in embarrassment, and what follows might be a laugh, but it will most likely be the groan of “wtf emily.” She seriously admires the Khaleesi and couldn’t possibly compare herself, but she knows damn well that I am great at doing awkward things that people couldn’t possibly do themselves, and I also have no reservations towards apotheosizing my friends.
I met a firecracker Mexicana, we’ll call her YADHANIE MOD.
We both loved to dance, but most importantly we loved to laugh.We loved to laugh about laughing, and laugh about the fact that we were laughing about laughing. That was the initial glue of our friendship. In my pre-dominantly “white” mountain town, people considered me Mexican or latin, even African American. When I met this individual, I quickly learned that there were realities that came with those titles, realities that didn’t relate to me. I attribute much of my growth in cultural awareness to her. She showed me her experience through stories, but especially through her music. I appreciated her blunt honesty. Building a friendship with her was free-world and education all wrapped into one. We shared and continue to share, the worst, and best of times.
If I’ve learned anything about her recently, it is that this woman truly is the mother of dragons; the embodiment of wind and fire. She dances through tribulations, situations that bring normal humans to their knees. She’ll roll up her sleeves and build a castle with ease.
If you wrongly cross her, she will blow your house down and then light the lot on fire, or she’ll light the fire first and clear the debri with a couple flicks of the wrist. A baby dragon literally sits perched on her shoulder at all times.
On the 16th of June, fourteen peasants gathered for a most sumptuous event. We conversed around a table adorned in the finest treasures. Lady Christina, presented the Queen with a long-awaited birthday gift. Lady Christina always provides the best presents. Little did we know, this year would change everything. Little did we know, the power of the garment inside.
As she revealed the prophetic blouse, the table burst into flames and tacos rained from the sky.
Right hand at twelve o’ clock on the steering wheel
The speedometer needle higher than the limit
Traffic is thick and I’m a bit irritable
I check over my shoulder and press down on the pedal
An impulse decision made me forget to signal
It had been a long day at work and I wasn’t thinking
I was tired at the moment, this was true
Until my eyes saw those lights turning in the rear view
My chest tightens in knots
So I pump on the breaks
And I frantically start analyzing all my mistakes
As I maneuver to the median
I’m wondering what I did wrong
And then my mind starts racing with;
“How much did you drink?”
But I don’t drink and drive
I’m on my way home, alone
I realize as I stop
That I’m reaching down for my phone
My seatbelt is fastened
My pockets are void
I’m shaking like a developing polaroid.
My chest tightens in knots because I’m young and reckless
Breaks and mistakes are just a learning lesson
I wonder and worry because I care about my record
I can’t afford a ticket on the insurance I get help with
I’m on my way home, alone
Towards family and friends
A safe place with support where I can rest my head
I reach for my phone so I can text my mom
To let her know I’ll be late for disobeying traffic laws
My seatbelt was fastened and my pockets void
But let’s be real, consequences don’t get to good girls and boys
After stern conversation with the man in blue
I’m free to go to roam the roads like I usually do
My chest tightens in knots because I’m young and black
Breaks and mistakes can mean a life in prison
I wonder and worry because I’ve known the loss
I can’t afford to lose my life, I know the cost
I’m on my way home, alone
But these tired eyes look stoned
And my culture made me harmful through those stories they’ve been told
By family and friends
In that safe place where they rest their head
I reach for my phone so that I own evidence
I’m sliding the button so I can use the lens
My seatbelt was fastened and my pockets void
But let’s be real, if they want to destroy then they’ll destroy
These pockets don’t matter, cause it’s my body that counts
So I’m calling my blessings before they count me out
After sitting at gun point with the man in blue
Am I free to roam the roads like you usually do?
I was tired in the moment, this was true
Until I saw those lights turning in the rear view.
-By Evar After-
Written as a response to ongoing injustice. #blacklivesmatter
Looking back on my memories in Capao Redondo, Sao Paulo Brasil!
Here I am singing my original song “Synthetic Heartbeat” with a wicked Brazilian body percussion group “The Tucboys,” Bboy Rodstyle and friend.
How is my day going? I just lost five hours of work on the computer; my new and improved resume. It’s really difficult not to completely lose my mind at the moment, but perseverance is truly the only thing that sets success apart from failure. A break outside, then back on the box of knowledge for round two.
I recovered the resume! A great reminder that sometimes all we need is a little space to breathe and clear our head. Whatever your frustration today, create your solution!
My first day in New York city, as a “New Yorker” reborn included;
-A coffee that I couldn’t allow myself to finish because it made my heart race frighteningly fast when posed with simple tasks, such as climbing the steps of the subway tunnel.
-Sitting on a bench in Central Park and observing passerby’s, like they do in the movies.
-Feeling the wind in my hair. Just kidding. Feeling the 89% humidity in my hair.
-Attempting to shop and then realizing I already exhausted most of my allotted funds for the day. *I swear I didn’t drop any money so how is there nothing left in my wallet after breakfast*
-Meeting up with awesome family and friends who keep their word.
-Getting overwhelmed and exhausted by the stifling heat and crowds. Finding shelter in a Hilton hotel where I bummed off the wifi and outlets in a dark corner of the patron cafe.
-Stopping for free water at numerous Starbucks.
-A delicious deli breakfast sandwich at 530pm.
-A dance class I’ve been waiting for since March.
-A successful solo subway mission.
-Congratulating new apartment spaces.
-Breaking out in a vicious case of hives.
If you think the last mention was TMI, I would like you to know I’ve gone so far as to seek skin condition advice from my Uber driver. If I’m itchy everyone ends up knowing about it, I can’t stop when I’m itchy.
I’ll admit I’m overwhelmed. As far as my next “move,” I’ll try not to make any rash decisions.
If you are just tuning in or have recently stumbled upon Evar After, thank you for being one of about twelve daily site views that have not come from my personal computer or mobile device! I try really hard not to loiter around here, but it’s challenging to avoid. Why? Because as an “artist,” you gotta be your biggest fan. When I post anything, I have to see it curated; I force myself to accept the standing ideas in a chronological succession down the scroll bar, no matter how imperfect the words look, how unfinished the ideas feel. This is my visual gallery, my digital memoir, and I will always nit pick. I’ll edit a post (even if it’s a spread of two photos) at least five times within a following hour, till things feel right. I wish I could say that being authentic meant saying what I wanted to say right in the moment and leaving it at that forever. But let’s be real, in today’s age, authenticity looks different. We are constantly re-imagining and re-inventing who we are, how “they” see us, how we then see ourselves. This doesn’t have to be a bad thing, because for the first time in history technology can keep up! Whether it’s with our fleeting moments, split decisions, or strokes of brilliance (unfortunately, technology can keep up with our strokes of stupidity too; a double edged sword). My authenticity lies in sharing this truth with you. And that’s why I love the blogging platform (I’ve been Facebook free for a month today. I know right, I’m such a revolutionary! Like, how can she do that. Just kidding, it’s not a big deal. It’s improved my productivity on a massive scale though, if you’re curious). With a blog, I don’t find myself striving to meet the intellectual expectations I’ve only created for myself, or embarrassed to utilize the delete/edit button when I want to rethink that idiotic thing I said on a whim that I didn’t have facts to back up. There are no social reminders of how my life could be going “better,” and most importantly no cat videos. I can peacefully transform my page in real time, as my mind, understandings, and perspectives shift and fluctuate. And they DO shift and fluctuate. A lot. People change! Social media is a helpful tool with the right intentions. Am I getting off subject?
So yeah, I used to get stoked about my views until I realized they were exactly that, MY views. If you are just tuning in, I am so excited to have you, my view.
If you have been following already, “allow me to reintroduce myself” (corny comments are always fair game here, my friends know me as the joke-telling husky dog meme on the internet, if that provides you any context to my personality). YOU are a family member or friend who I have shared this manifestation with personally, and for that fact you are very special to me. I summoned you here, for I know you will join with me in the celebration of the tides of life, or perhaps you will applaud my wit. If I’m lucky, you will laugh, or stare blankly, or get angry at me, or maybe tell me that what I said was dumb as f*%#! And I will resist you when I feel my voice is strong, but sometimes I’ll reflect and end up with “yeah you were right.” Your critique will steer me towards further education and deeper self-discoveries. I am grateful for that.
It took me four years to get things rolling. I kept this domain dormant until the timing felt calculated. I was also being lazy, and insecure towards my abilities. I learn time and time again that there is never a “good” time to start; light a fire under your butt and get going. I’ve always envisioned for myself, an ever-developing transcript of experiences. This is that vision, and it is clearer than ever today because I just got a brand new pair of glasses; I can finally read road signs, and see scores of sporting events on the television that I don’t care about.
Maybe you’re curious what the whole “Evar After” thing means. Well, Evar After started as a musician’s alias, by a simple merging of letters; “Evar” is a combination of the E from Emily (my first name) and three consecutive letters of my last name, VAR. Originally; it was going to stay at that, EVAR. Obviously that’s awkward. Or maybe it’s just me.
I feel compelled to tell you that I am writing to you while sitting on an incredibly turbulent, one-way Delta airlines flight to New York. I sit besides my resting mother, a lovely Argentinian woman, and a crying baby across the aisle. Today, I am moving to New York, to pursue something. But let’s get back to the information you’re really here for, the dirt.
So, this one evening during my sophomore year of college, I was sitting at my desk on the phone with my dad, and we came up with EVAR. The “After” came too perfectly. I really liked the statement. It felt whimsical, but political. It felt personal, but universal. It felt solitary, yet collaborative. It felt original, but relatable. Fantasy tales, especially the role of women in such tales, fascinates me. “Evar After” crystallized, and the identity was born.
Watching the Golden Girls and processing approaching realities.