Pretty Darkness

The aesthetic of pretty and dark is an interesting one because it poses a sort of juxtaposition that never gets old. When it comes to portraits and doodles the pink ribbons, heart tattoos, and vibrant roses printed among the la femme drawings capture you in but the provocative gothic tones of mascara stains, bloody tears, and decaying branches dare you too look away. Look, but don’t look. Dismal, yet dazzling. There is this perpetual captivation fueled by the melancholic intimacy behind pretty darkness.
The same juxtaposing state exists when the art of written word hones this pretty darkness. The proper dosage of negativity in text can elicit the rawest and rarest of emotions- and emotion on any level is a beautiful and breathtaking part of being human. Any aesthetic that can celebrate or examine human nature, in any of its mysteries, simplicities, miseries, and revelations, is a pretty dark one.

– Valerie Parente (12-9-16)

(Over)Reactions

In the past few months I have come to an overwhelming amount of personal revelations regarding my ego self and the mechanisms of my personality. Most of these revelations have been very idiosyncratic to my own circumstances, invoking a potpourri of diary entries rather than blog posts. Though, there is one recent awe-inducing epiphany which I believe could be beneficial to share. This epiphany revolves around the simple notion that if I want to understand my feelings and reactions to certain situations then I must ask myself the ironically simple but omnipotent question – why? Why do I feel this way? Why am I reacting this way?

To arrive to the answer of this very straightforward inquisition I had to respond with complete honesty regardless of whether or not the response would stir up anxiety, discomfort, or any other unpleasant emotions.

just-a-little-sensitive

Without going into too much detail I will use a recent example in which I was addressed by an older woman at the supermarket. She had followed me inside the store to tell me that I should not leave my dog in the car when I am running an errand, regardless of how quick I am running in and out the store, regardless if I felt that it was “not that hot outside”, regardless that I left the windows cracked open. Long story short I said a polite “okay, I understand” and returned to my car with (temporary) composure. Although my public reaction was congenial to the woman, this was absolutely not my unfiltered reaction once I relayed what happened to my friends and family both on the phone and in person. To be blunt- I was pissed off. I was livid. I was swearing up a storm and shouting about how infuriating it was that this woman was “telling me what to do”. In retrospect, it was a complete overreaction. But, at the time, I saw my rage as perfectly reasonable, and I was obsessively ranting about the incident to those close to me. (And, of course, every time I explained what happened I, almost mechanically, would infuse a whole lot of defensive content about how my dog was perfectly fine and safe).
Eventually when I told this story to a very important person in my life, a person whom I am consistently honest with no matter how unpleasant my honesty may be, she asked me the simple question… Why? Why is my reaction so intense? Why am I getting so worked up? So angry? So defensive?
Right on the spot, without any internal deliberation, I spit out my unhinged answer, “Because! Because I love my dog and I would never want to hurt my dog and… and…” in what I can only describe as a flash of pure enlightenment I knew exactly why I was so intensely bothered by this interaction, and my furrowed expression rapidly crumbled into tears, “And my cat just died!”
Everything made sense. Everything made sense in a way that, now, looking back, I can’t believe I didn’t see before.
You see, I have been deeply grieving the loss of my cat, a feline family member whose role in my life I can’t adequately describe in this one sentence. So far it has been one full month of heart wrenching crying and laughing while honoring the life of my cat through conversation and shared memories.
As the tears rolled down my face I understood why being addressed about my dog had been so intense for me. I was overly upset because the extremely touchy subject of one of my pets had been presented, so my grieving mind and recovering heart translated this woman’s well-intended words into harsh criticism about how well I take care of my pets.
If there is a primary lesson I can relay from this personal revelation it is this- when you think you are “mad at a person” or having a reaction to another person’s words or actions, you are not feeling an emotion at another person
but a discomfort within yourself that has been stirred. Other people do not make you feel. You make you feel.

– Valerie Parente (9-23-16)

Better Lost Than Found

Writer’s block has forced me to address a narcissistic quandary I have been able to avoid under the influence of inspiration.

Do you deliver halfhearted writing piece after writing piece just for the temporary gratification of seeing your name in print, only to find that none of those writing pieces hold any true value to the world? Or do you take your hands off the keyboard, sicken yourself with self-doubt, face unedited introspection, and feel indescribably lost?

identity crisis

When I realized that the scarier reality was giving no value to this world versus being lost from my own mental limelight it became clear that this heartache, confusion, and serious self-doubting induced by writer’s block offered me the perfect opportunity to reach a new milestone.

My greatest breakthrough against narcissism came from the humbling realization that I would rather lose touch with myself than ultimately find out I have nothing to offer the world.

I would not have come to such a comforting revelation without the discomfort of writer’s block.

– Valerie Parente (7-22-16)

Bright Side In Darkness

rootsDwelling on sadness and pain can create some of the most beautiful and authentic masterpieces of art. Many of my favorite writing pieces, if not all, have stemmed from a dark place. But as far as I am concerned the dark writing pieces without any silver-lining of illumination belong in the privacy of my journal, not on the webpages of my blog.
Ranting and moping into a diary is effortless, while publicly writing about sadness and pain is tricky. On one hand you want to adequately express yourself, but on the other hand you want to contribute something beneficial to society. And it is extremely hard to benefit people with writing so focused on negative topics and dark emotions. Negative writing that is meant for eyes other than your own should be handled very carefully, thoughtfully, and considerately so that the writing does not cross from “comforting” over to “bringing other people down with you”.

This goes back to my motto: Finding beauty in darkness. Darkness without beauty is idle, or, if anything, detrimental. But darkness with beauty- whether that be the beauty of coming away from a hardship having a personal revelation, the beauty of knowing that you are not alone in struggling or feeling badly, or even the beauty of spreading word about something negative to elicit positive change- that is what I believe art is meant to be. You need a bright side to see the beauty in darkness. And when it comes to my art, dismal writing without any silver-lining belongs in the diary.

– Valerie Parente (7-1-16)

Daydreams Are Shadows

Daydream CastleDaydreams are shadows. They linger. They follow. To exist, a glimmer of hope has to shine down in order to cast a sincere outline whose unique shape derives from that which occupies space in reality. They are projections captured between all we are made up of and a guiding light above. No matter how much we may want to reach out and physically touch them, they will always remain intangible entities that can only be felt with the imagination we each have.

– Valerie Parente (6-18-16)

Two Types of Inspiration

yellow tulips

In artistic creation there are two types of inspiration, one which blooms from the conscience and one which blooms from the subconscious.

The first is when you get inspired by an emotional experience then try to immortalize the imprint of that experience through art. The second is when you, under the influence of a thoughtless drive, create something without fully understanding why then take step back and analyze where in your psyche that inspiration was rooted. Working backwards to find out why it is so aesthetically fulfilling to paint blood stain tears underneath your eyes or scribble decaying trees in illustrations.

– Valerie Parente (5-31-16)

Relevance

Finding your identity is not a process of elimination. You do not look at everything outside of yourself and say “not me” then look at what is left and label it “me”. You and everything in the universe are relevant to each other. And you will never truly discover who you are by isolation. You will discover who you are by recognizing yourself as a part of the whole that is the world.we are all relative

– Valerie Parente (5-11-16)

Damsel in Distress

Damsel In Distress

“Damsel In Distress” by Valerie Parente

Growing up I admired the damsel in distress in every movie I watched. The scenes that got me most excited? When an emotionally invested prince caught a glimpse of his princess in trouble. Not the spectacular moment right before when he swooped in on a stallion or right after when he saved the princess by slaying a dragon, but that exact moment in between. That fleeting succession of frames where the prince’s poignant eyes fixed on the princess writhing in her conflict and you could see him processing the sight. That, to me, was the pinnacle of romantic. The simple act of boy witnessing girl. And, in hindsight, I think that warped level of infatuation that I had as a child alluded just how prevalent daydreaming would be to my emotional being. Because that moment when the prince watched his true love suffer wasn’t some concrete action of heroic proportions with no substance further than what it offered visually. That moment was an intimate connection where one character mentally absorbed the dire state that another character was in, and it gave me as a wide-eyed viewer an empathetic opportunity to freely imagine what prince charming and his straining heartstrings might be feeling regarding his beloved. And that practice of fantasizing his emotions through the infinite flux of my own imagination provided nothing but ecstasy for the emotional daydreamer in me.

– Valerie Parente (4-28-16)

Validation

Valerie Parente (handwritten)

I think, from a psychoanalytical standpoint, one of the key reasons I write down my thoughts and daydreams is to validate my own stream of consciousness, as if ink on paper could assert the existence of my mind in this overwhelming universe.

– Valerie Parente (4-8-16)