"My I Love You" with Tina Tona

March 21, 2019

Five Things I Can’t Live Without:

1. The Black Album by Jay-Z
I am a very vocal and avid lover of Spotify, but the day Jay-Z pulled all his music off the platform, I experienced such weakening loss. In the age of technology and streaming, I truly never understood the weight of the question “What was the first album you purchased?”. That was until the Jay-Z drought got the best of me and I spent $10.59 on The Black Album. My heavy rotation of this album is 35% due to the fact that I need to get my money’s worth, and 65% due to the fact that I’ve never experienced music that’s resonated with every ounce of my being to this degree. I listened to it the most in my senior year of high school when my self-doubt and crippling anxiety were peaking throughout college application and acceptance season was coming around, and something about hearing both Jay-Z’s unwavering self confidence and the flawless production of each song helped me realize that my greatness wasn’t ever going to defined by someone that wasn’t me. On days where those feelings try to creep up on me, I know they don’t stand a single chance when HOV boldly states “I need you to remember one thing/I came I saw I conquered,” and I recognize that I can do the same.

2. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
When I first arrived in the United States at the age of 4 years old, I landed in Northern California and had more than a brief stint in the small town of Albany, the city that would ultimately have my heart forever. It was my first impression of America, and after leaving in my tween years, I would continue to daydream about my return and write essays about how the rolling hills and ocean breeze would always call to me. I wish I was exaggerating when I say that thinking about California would always make my heart ache. For the longest time I would criticize myself for having these feelings, I would rationalize my melancholy by saying it’s just a city. That was until Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem found its way into my life. The summary in the back of my copy describes it as “the essential portrait of America--and California in particular,” and it almost perfectly mirrored the sentiments I had for my first home. Joan Didion helped me realize that my romanticism wasn’t trivial, and California truly is a beautiful place to be.

P.S: I’m now going to college in L.A, so I guess I found my way back home :)

3. Scrapbooking
In case it hasn’t already been established, I must inform you that I am a huge sentimentalist. Three of the movies in my top five are coming-of-age films, I still have every ticket from every movie I’ve seen since 6th grade (Moonrise Kingdom being the oldest one), and I have a vague obsession with documenting everything that happens in my life. I started my scrapbook a year ago, around the same time that I bought my first film camera (a point and shoot PENTAX!). I was partially inspired by Dan Eldon, who’s been one of my idols since I was 12 years old, and partially inspired by the amount of love I had for my friends and family. Both of my parents have been direct victims of political instability in our home country, and when we fled the country without much preparation, they had to leave all their photos from 20 years prior. I don’t have much reference for what their youth looked like, so I guess in a way this scrapbook is a way for my own children to have a vivid reference for what mine looked like.

4. My So-Called Life
I first found out about My So-Called Life when I was 12 years old. I was reading about TVshows in the camp of the cult classic Freaks and Geeks on my favourite, and now closed, publication Rookie. I tried it out, and I instantly fell in love. I’ve lost count of the amount of times that I’ve watched the entire show, which isn’t that impressing when you realize it only lasted ONE season. I found myself in every single character. It was the most honest portrayal of adolescence and the high school experience that I’d ever seen on TV, and it was the only show to make me feel like I was normal. I got a fade when I was in 9th grade so I could look like Ricky, I picked up a camera after seeing how much Brian Krakow could capture I would ask myself WWRGD (What Would Rayanne Graff Do?) before making any decision, and I was just as lost and in love with Jordan Catalano as Angela. It’s the easiest show for me to return to because it’s always just felt like a part of me. Plus, it introduced me to "Blister In The Sun" by Violent Femmes, and for that I’ll forever be grateful.

5. Lip Gloss
I just love lip gloss. I literally cannot go anywhere without having it on. I have a lot more lip gloss than the average human needs. I’ll go to the beauty store to buy hair and I’ll pick up at least two new shades at the counter. I’ve made my own glittery lip gloss that I use just as much as the Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb. At this point it’s a personality trait. What can I say! I love to shine.

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