i didn't feel it, but i feel now.

(from december 11th, 2016.)

these are my last 10 minutes being a teen and i know nothing's going to change, but my stomach says otherwise. i'm sitting in my bed rounding up the last few things i will have with me from my teen years. i think my mom was the last person who saw me. i think ella fitzgerald was the last thing i listened to on my computer. i think solange or jennifer hudson was the last thing i sang.

i know it's inevitable, i know the warranty on your body is only 25 years, i know most first-world millennials are subject to adopting the term "adulting" as they wander beyond the bounds of whatever this is, and i knew it would happen to me, i just didn't think it would happen to me.

19 has been a year, i guess. most great things about it existed in moments and i and a few other people were there for all of the moments in between. some of it was necessary and a lot of it was not. i got some of the most important people in my life out of it, and i'm leaving some of the most important people in my life behind. and i don't know how to feel about that. mom asked me what i was going to say goodbye to in these last few minutes. "are we out of the era of mixed feelings?"it's i said no. to be honest, everything is weird and nothing is grounded and i don't know what i'm going to do. i realize now that confusion isn't a 6-year-long itch. and neither is an abundance of hurt. no matter how hard i try to leave those things behind, they will always try to latch onto me. i am not sure yet what i'm going to do about that.

this is the last 10 seconds. i'm scared. 5. 4. 3. 2. 1. this is it. i skipped a breath. my heart beat but i just sat there. i'm 20, this is 20. i didn't feel like i was 19 for awhile, but now, it's actually changed. i feel warm in my torso, under my heart and through my stomach and my spine. i think this is the first time i've actually felt different on my birthday. maybe this means something. maybe. i don't know.

i'm sitting in my bed rounding up the first few things i will have with me from my adult years. you are the first person i've spoken to. there is Christmas music playing in my sister's room.

now, i just need to pick the first song i will sing.

On this Day, in 1996, at 5:21pm.

On this Day, in 1996, at 5:21pm.

Today (or tomorrow, really) we celebrate our Author's birthday. Her friend Rachel (and a crucial part of the TEOMF team) wrote a faux celebrity interview for her 18th birthday. We felt it was appropriate to post here. 

At Pizza Hut with Jocelyn Chambers

“Can we meet over pizza?” That’s the first thing Jocelyn Chambers asks me as we’re arranging our rendezvous over the phone. Even though I’m lactose-intolerant and rarely eat pizza, I let her know that yes, we’ll meet over pizza and I’ll probably bring something I can eat. I ask if her if she minds, and she says, “No, not at all.” We agree to meet after her concert at the Civic Center in Portland, Maine and go to the nearest Pizza Hut location. I get myself a ticket to her concert, despite the fact that I rarely attend concerts. But I love symphonies. I witness Jocelyn put on one of the most raw, emotional, and epiphany-producing shows I’ve seen in a long time before I meet her outside. We hug and greet each other; it’s the first time we’ve met in person, but we talk like we’re just old friends catching up. Jocelyn is nearly six feet tall in heels, towering over my five-foot-two stature, and she dresses like 1950s pinup glory. Her hair and makeup are impeccable. She has a soothing, slightly raspy that’s half fairy princess and half film noir siren. “So how about that pizza?” She asks with a breathless smile. We get in my car and I drive her to Pizza Hut.

Jocelyn is nothing short of talented. She’s dabbled not only in film composing, but in writing, photography, blogging, painting, singing, short film directing and poetry. She works hard at everything she does, and it’s paid off; her book The Era of Mixed Feelings, which features contributions from other teenagers describing their experiences as teenagers, has received endless accolades in the book industry. Not only that, but she scored an Oscar nomination for composing the score to the coming-of-age drama A Word Made Flesh, making her the first black woman to earn that honor. “I’m still reeling over it,” she says. “It almost seems unreal. Like it’s just a dream or something.”

Once we get to Pizza Hut, Jocelyn orders a personal pizza that takes nearly forever to come out, as is tradition with pizza hut, and she does not hesitate to dig right in. We sit in silence for a little bit, Jocelyn eating her pizza and me eating a leftover veggie burger that I brought with me, but it doesn’t feel like an awkward silence desperate to be filled. It’s like we have nonverbally communicated that right now, eating comes first and talking will come later. When we’re finished with our meals, I ask her how she’s been lately. “Busy,” she says without skipping a heartbeat. “But it’s a good kind of busy. I’m doing what I love and I couldn’t be happier about that.” One thing’s for sure, she’s keeping herself occupied while anticipating the Academy Awards coming up in a month; she’s been performing concerts at multiple locations around the country, making her debut performance at the Madison Square Garden in two days, updating her Tumblr blog with stunning photography and profound quotes, and documenting her strong outfit/hair/makeup game on Instagram. Even what Jocelyn does in her spare time isn’t done in a mediocre fashion; she’s fully and completely in love with what she does. It’s that full-on passion for everything she does that has earned her an Oscar nomination and a spot on the top of the New York Times Bestseller list. “People have always told me, ‘Jocee you can’t do that, Jocee that’s not possible.’” She says about the people back home in Texas. “But they were wrong. When I show up at the Oscars, I’ll look straight into the camera and smile and wave to the people who put me down. I don’t believe them anymore. At this point in my life, I feel like I can do anything.”

Happy birthday, Jocelyn. We love you.

somebody catch my breath.

somebody catch my breath.

i don't know what to say. there are 0 days left. the book comes out in less than three hours, print and digital. and it still doesn't seem real. i still haven't cried, which is something i feel like i have to do to solidify things. but. i don't know. i just keep thinking about how this is all for you, because i love you, and i want the best for you. and it's for all of you - even those of you who aren't breathing anymore. you never lose your value, even when you've left the earth. 

ha, i don't know what to say anymore. my mind's a mess and i don't know what i'm going to do when midnight hits. but i have a timer on and some orange juice nearby. i just hope you love it as much as i do. 

to those of you who kept breathing to get to this point. to those of you who did not. welcome home, my loves. it's almost time. love, jocelyn.

on the other side.

on the other side.

since it's coming so soon, i've decided to video myself recording a short poem from the book. so enjoy.

five more days. or four. basically four. so soon, guys. love, jocelyn.

parks and reconciliation.

parks and reconciliation.

this poem was written by my friend malikya, and once i read it i knew i had to post it on the blog for you to see. in TEOMF, our many contributors spanned from ages 12 to 22. i don't know if it's a coincidence that she highlights these ages in her poem, but if you ask me, it's too good to ignore. you can find malikya posting good pictures and gooder words on her instagram account. but before you check that out, read this. seriously. 

At age 17, parks are venues for recreational breakdowns and talks rooted deeper than the trees that grow around instead of lengthy bike rides, At age 12, that were ridden upon harsh trails known to kiss the rubber right off of tires and swims in the creek that were treated like the beach vacations your parents could never afford.

But now the swings sing a rusted tune of oxidation and adolescent hieroglyphics now stain the aging metal playscapes—a perfect display for the neighborhood novels of children during their adolescent adventures.

God how you miss the days when long division was the most of your worries and when you thought the world was as good as gold. 

From 12 to 17 and finally at 22 you'll again find yourself on the swing set of any old park: admiring the adolescent artwork and listing to the dissonant tune of oxidation—just looking for reconciliation.

//

seven. more. days. get. ready. love, jocelyn.

the current state of things.

the current state of things.

my friend tyler once said that people have to stop assuming that everyone is a straight Christian, and he's right, because not everyone is. here is an extremely important poem by one of my closest friends, who happens to be agnostic, and one of the most hilarious people i've ever met in my life. this is their reality. 

it aches, it also heals.

it aches, it also heals.

my dear friend alexxus wanted to write something for today, and this is what she said.

"I wish to God I had asked for help sooner. I wish to God I could’ve healed sooner. But then again, I think I’m still healing. I’m still learning what it takes to breathe again. The process, it aches.

When I think of the torment I put my body through, I cringe, I get anxious, I cry, and I become numb. Over and over again like a merry-go-round, my childhood refusing to let me go, refusing to let me get off, and I become dizzy thinking about it all. But when I think of the torment my heart and mind went through, the torture my soul endured, I can’t feel anything. All I know is I’m falling, darker and faster and darker and faster. But then, isn’t that a new kind of self-harm?

Forgiveness isn’t easy. But then, when I hold the weights in my hands, I’m uneven and lopsided, falling over and stumbling, because self-forgiveness is the real bitch. Long ago I stopped blaming myself for the things that were out of my control, but it’s hard to acknowledge the things that were within your control. I stayed hidden in the shadows. I somehow, along the crooked path, fell in love with my sorrow. And like an old flame, I still sometimes slip back into its dark and brooding arms. That is within my control. That is something I wish I could let go of.

The truth is, I find myself burdened more by the implications of what I went through rather than the actual thing itself. I can get over the blood, sweat, and tears, but I can’t seem to get past the way it haunts me today and the mark it leaves for everyone to see.

But I’m learning that self-forgiveness, while hard and at times, seemingly impossible, is found in community. A community like this. No judgment, and not even any answers necessarily, but a hope and a comfort found in a group of people who understand and can walk beside you. Don’t get me wrong – the care and support from loved ones who don’t necessarily understand in the sense of relation is precious and a gift and a blessing. But there’s something special about a community of people just like you, offering love and support, even when they themselves are struggling as well.

One day I hope I’ll be completely whole. The process, it aches. But the process, it also heals. I will heal. I will forgive myself. One day."

15 more days. i love you all, have a wonderful thursday. love, jocee.

 

i wish wishing actually did something.

i wish wishing actually did something.

we asked you to write something you wish you'd be able to do as a teenager, tag it #teomf and post in on social media. i'm overwhelmed by the response and wanted to spotlight a few. or several, all from my dear friend named katy, who didn't mind that i used her name. she's really a brave one. 

- i wish people wouldn't have helped me with anything when i was younger. i'm so afraid of being independent now. 

- i wish someone knew that my anxiety was so bad before school that i threw up every morning. 

- i wish i had that one best friend - the one main characters always have in movies and tv shows - the one you tell everything to - the one you do everything with - the one who shows you the tough love you need - the one you get in trouble with... i wish i had that one best friend, even now.

- i wish wishing actually did something. 

- i wish some people could understand that sometimes i really can't - i'd never wish this kind of pain on anyone. but i wish they knew what it felt like so they could understand. 

- i wish someone was always there to just hold me when i completely broke down - no talking, just comfort. 

- i wish i could learn to love myself faster.

- i wish i didn't have to cry so much. 

- i wish i could stress about something, learn to be okay with it, and be done. not overthink it every time it comes to mind. 

- i wish i could just "not worry about it."

she is under immense pressure to be happy because that's what her family is known for. she is afraid to show any emotion lest someone ask her if she's okay and she finds herself unable to respond. sometimes, she feels as though she doesn't have anyone to turn to. and TEOMF has given her a voice, because this is one of the first times she's been able to express her feelings in a safe and healthy way. sometimes self-care is getting it out. and we have to be mindful of other people's experiences, because they always go through it differently than you. 

16 more days. much love, jocee. 

to have a voice.

to have a voice.

over the next, like, two weeks, up until the official launch of TEOMF, we're going to have a conversation. we're going to talk about some of the things we've gone through (or the things we're still going through), and why TEOMF helps with that. why does TEOMF make you brave? why does TEOMF give you a voice? that's what we're here to find out. here's an entry from dear friend who deserves all the love she can give.

"she became like a weight on your back, dragging you down even though you tried to lift her up. it became unhealthy. i doubt she'll ever try and enter my life again. not as long as i keep being 'too pretty' and my life continues to be 'too perfect.' honestly it still kinda hurts that something trivial would drive someone away from me even though i cared about them... i just. i tried so hard to be supportive and understanding and i kinda used to look up to her for her intelligence and stuff (before i started seeing some flaws in her logic and beliefs) ...and in the end she rejected me because i was 'pretty.' it was kinda a slap in the face because the main thing behind my anorexia was me feeling like my body was all that mattered, like people (including myself) couldn't see past my looks and see me, so they became the thing that defined me. what i needed was someone loving me, not rejecting me because of the thing i felt defined me when it didn't and shouldn't have. does that make sense? overcoming the anorexia was about me realizing i'm worth more than just a pretty face. and then someone stops being my friend because i'm 'too pretty,' despite how understanding and patient and helpful i tried to be. i still worry about her and what's gonna become of her, and i want to help her. but i'm also still hurt and pissed and confused. 

TEOMF gives me a voice because i always hear the story from the side of the person who's leaving. no one ever talks about what it's like to be left, and when they do, no one listens. i feel like this time, people will listen."

17 days until launch. have a fantastic monday, friends. love, jocelyn.