(be)longing: #playlistdiaries – a collaboration with Flash Thrive

Album Art by Krista of Flash Thrive

** NOTE: I unfortunately wasn’t able to complete my project in time for the newsletter but I will do my best to finish the update by midnight PST tonight. Thank you for your patience! **

Welcome to my first blog of my new domain: eileenramos.com ! It’s a honor to be chosen by Flash Thrive, an artist collective, for their October 2020 #playlistdiaries newsletter. My project is titled “(be)longing” and they’re for 20 fictional couples with 20 different slow tempo songs on various stages of falling in love and being fallible. Each individual is designated a number and the duo has an instant photo of their belongings, along with their in setting, all accompanying their conversation and story. You can listen to the spotify playlist and follow along.

1:15 AM

On the bedroom floor, sifting through letters, birthday cards, photo albums, and text messages.

1. “Slow Dance” by Evil

An instant photo of an AM/FM radio taken on the top of the slide where the couple, 1 & 2, played as kids. They secretly had crushes on each other, but their friends thought kissing was gross. Many years later, they return to the playground rusty and worn, that same radio in 2’s hand, where it all began. 

1: Oh wow, I haven’t been here in ages, I can’t believe this playground is still here.

2: Do you remember how much Steve, Dylan, and Teresa HATED the idea of kissing? They always yelled “cooties!” when I gave you a hug.

1: I think their teasing was why it took me so long to ask you out ‘til we graduated high school. That and you called me your sibling haha.

2: HEY I was confused and didn’t think I stood a chance. I thought it was better than losing you. I’m so glad you confessed first.

1: There’s one secret I didn’t share yet until now: I always wanted to slow dance with you. *turns on the radio*

2: I could never say no to Babyface. I wish we went to prom together.

1: We’ll have a highschool reunion here, just the two of us, it’ll be our homecoming. This is really nice.

2: Eww cooties haha.

2. “I would” by slchld featuring Aso and Harris Cole

The photograph has three pill bottles, one on its side and open. It’s lying against a bucket that’s a makeshift pot for growing leafy plants. The photo is in the middle of this pyramid, the start of a garden.

3 & 4 are at a table in a communal room of the mental ward where 4 resides as an emergency patient who had a psychosis where they believed they are the Anti-Christ and the cause of the astronomical national debt as well as 9/11 and car accidents. There are bandages around their wrists, they’re rubbing their left one. 4 & 3 have been quiet for twenty minutes ‘til 4 breaks the silence.

    4: You visit me everyday but we barely speak, I’m so embarrassed and ashamed. Why are you still here? Why even bother coming?

    3: I wanna make sure you’re okay. I don’t mind not talking, as long as I see you

    4: Aren’t you scared of me? Just last week I accused you of not being my actual partner. I shoved you away when you got close because the sports announcer told me to, saying you were a spy sent to frame me for my real partner’s death. I ran away from you multiple times and screamed, yet you still stay. Why, 3?

    3: Because I love you no matter what you believe and you’ve been there for me multiple times when I was at my own brink. Taking the knife away and hiding all the sharp objects from me. You wouldn’t let me cut my own steak til a month later. It’s what we do, and what we only do for each other.

    4: But my bipolar disorder is for life and I don’t know how many more psychotic breaks will come. This is already the fourth in six years. I’m scared that I’m going to hurt you, 3.

    3: But we both know it’s not you; we will get through this together. You’ll probably have to take pills every day of your life, but we can still build your dream garden. We can still strike through our bucket lists. There is no other person I’d rather spend awkward silences with than you, 4.

    4: *Reaches their arms across the table* I don’t know what I did to deserve you. Maybe I saved the country in a past life haha.

    3: *clasps 4’s hands and gingerly rubs their bandages* You certainly saved mine.

“Daylight” by JAIE and NYK

Lyrics: https://genius.com/Jaie-my-daylight-lyrics

The instant photo has the same Kodachrome transparency slide shown on the end of a sharpie pen cap. It was taken in the daytime but you can’t see the slide’s contents at all. However, this shot was taken at night and you can see the beach being revealed by the outdoor light. How being with someone at night can reveal their inner design that the daylight cannot. Like Richard Linklater’s “Before Sunrise”. 

Two strangers, 5 & 6, spend the night hours together, waiting for the first train to depart. They met at a book publishing conference, both from out of town and new to the field, with no friends or family in the area. They’re in a vinyl booth at Sal’s, a 24 hour diner, 5 sipping on a strawberry milkshake, 6 eating waffles.

    6: So why publishing? You must be in it for the money.

    5: Haha, we both know entry level is complete shit in terms of money and workload. I guess I want to give readers the same thrill I got from books, especially when I was lonely; to be part of the reason why they feel seen and understood. It’s worth it.

    6: I get that feeling when I find a damn good submission from the slushpile. Despite the numerous Harry Potter and Twilight knockoffs that burn my eyes, I’m proud of discovering a gem and making the author’s dreams come true. I hope one day someone can do the same for me.

    5: You’re on your way. I know it.

4. “Love Die Young” by Eric Nam

5. “Afraid” by Xavier Omär 

Lyrics: https://genius.com/Xavier-omar-afraid-lyrics

    Newsletter Entry: “Afraid” by Xavier Omär 10: I’m lost so much of the time and not always sure what step to take next. In this framework—failure, mistakes, stumbling, and the unknown—they aren’t as scary as they used to be. It’s always a chance to learn and grow.

The couple, 9 & 10, is hanging out at their new home. 9 notices this jack o’ lantern container of fortune cookie slips that belongs to their partner. There’s many more such jars in the box next to it. They ask 10 which one is their most favorite, and 10 takes out their wallet and extracts this fortune cookie slip, bent and worn. 9 asks why.

10: I never feel good enough. No matter how perfect my grades were, how big my bank account gets, despite all the glowing compliments, I’ve always felt insufficient. But this fortune cookie slip—“If you understand what you’re doing, you’re not learning anything”—it showed me grace. And patience. 

9: It’s your adjacent hope.

10: I’m lost so much of the time and not always sure what step to take next. In this framework—failure, mistakes, stumbling, and the unknown—they aren’t as scary as they used to be. It’s always a chance to learn and grow.

9: …do you feel lost and confused with me?

10: *laughs* Completely. But unlike everything else, it’s never a bad thing. Sure we both had plenty of fuck ups, but I only wanna learn from and with you. You’re inexplicable, 9, and you helped me improve so much.

9: How sweet but “Inexplicable”?! What the hell, dude. God you’re annoying. But I do like the way you think. Only you would find joy in being confused haha. 

You really are remarkable, roomie hehe.

6. “Hold Me” by Be Steadwell

Lyrics: https://bsteady.bandcamp.com/track/hold-me-2

“Meet Me in Amsterdam” by RINI

Music Video: https://youtu.be/FhCuoJuHwQA

Lyrics: https://genius.com/Rini-meet-me-in-amsterdam-lyrics

On a table with family photos, there’s an instant photo of a bowl of cheap cup noodles with egg and sriracha sauce, in silver and peach marker it says “MY 30TH B-DAY” beneath it. A golden paper clip with a a confetti filled glass ball holds it with the original noodles packaging. On top 13 writes “BY CHEF 14 💜” and there’s an inked ribbon with the date 10/03/2020.There’s stickers of a boba and a purple teddy bear that holds a heart saying “fun day” frame around “13” in the barcode. In smeared golden marker, it states “IT WAS PERFECT”.

14: I’m sorry we couldn’t celebrate at that new ramen place you’ve been dying to go to. Money’s tight and it’s just not in our budget. Forgive me for this. *grimaces and slides a bowl of noodles towards 13*

13: For what? This is so good! Just the right amount of spice. I don’t hate it.

14: STOP. It’s your birthday, you don’t have to pretend to like anything. I won’t be hurt. I just wish I could give you something worthy of this big milestone.

13: Your presence is more than enough. Trust me. Here try it *spoonfeeds 14*

14: Decent.

13: No, miraculous. No other chef could make me this happy.

14: *finally smiles* Happy birthday, 13.

8. “Fall For You” by Leela James

Lyrics: https://genius.com/Leela-james-fall-for-you-lyrics

These two photos are of the same fragment, the front is a green and orange pottery piece, and on the back of it is a piece of aged tape that says “GOOD LUCK”. I got it from one of my favorite writers, Adam Gnade. It’s surrounded by big orange blossoms. 

An individual, 15, finds this exact piece on their partner 16’s fireplace mantel, among old family photos, trophies, and other such prized items. They’re confused why it’s there. 

15: Why do you have this still? Didn’t I break it? It’s useless.

          16: Flip it over

          15: “Good luck”? I don’t get it.

          16: We met at that pottery class but for weeks we didn’t speak until you dropped this vase I wanted to give to my mother. You were so flustered and apologetic as you showed me the fragments, but I didn’t care as long as you weren’t hurt. You treated me to dinner and a trip at a greenhouse to make up for it. It was the best accident of my life, then and now.

    It was the reason why we began.

9. “Ocean” by Lady A

Lyrics: https://genius.com/Lady-a-ocean-lyrics

Music Video: https://youtu.be/sWBqdWTg3Vs

In 17’s ornate jewelry box is a hidden room for a pink spoon doll, inspired by Carl Jung’s childhood, where he kept a box for his manikin, with a precious stone and scrolls of secret writing that no one else knew. The jewelry box is decorated like a bedroom with hanging flowers, easel and palette, sconce, artwork, windows, a stuffed zebra, rug, and even a mannequin. The Altoids tin holds the scrolls made up of ephemera: quick jots of anxieties, daydreams, and little hopes. They carefully hand it to 18 and tell them to look inside.

    18: Wow did you make this?

    17: Yeah, over the years I’ve redone the room a bunch of times, but the spoon and rock remain the same. I know I’ve been distant and it’s not you at all. I’m just… not used to sharing how I feel. Open the tin and read this.

    18: “I’m scared that 18 won’t accept me, but they haven’t rejected me yet. I’m slowly revealing my depression and anxiety, and still 18 holds me. They never doubt, gaslight, or belittle me at all. I think I’m safe with them. I think I’m finally safe.” 17, I’m. honored. Thank you for sharing something so precious to me.

17: Thank you for making me feel precious.   

10. “New Balance” by Jhené Aiko

Lyrics: https://genius.com/Jhene-aiko-new-balance-lyrics

11. “Somebody” by Depeche Mode

Lyrics: https://genius.com/Depeche-mode-somebody-lyrics

    This song was made in the 80s and when the view master was particularly popular. These reels aren’t from that era but from container, which is a press that publishes unconventional books in rolodexes, remixed board games, and these reels

12. “Alone” by MISO

Lyrics: https://genius.com/Miso-alone-lyrics

A toy balancing bird in view of the backyard with a clothesline of drying clothes. It listens to 23 & 24 who are in a heated argument, their third in a week. 23 is struggling with their severe depression and in the middle of an accelerated nursing program. 24 is the sole breadwinner and has a horrible work life balance. 

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