For as long as I’ve been a sub, I’ve never been attracted to any of my colleagues. I have always simply seen them as neutered public servants, no matter how cute they have been. In fact, I’ve had students poke fun at me and certain teachers, but have personally never made a single move to lead them on. I’ve always kept things professional.
I wish I could say the same thing about my life as an artist.
It took me forever to stop mixing business with pleasure in my musical endeavors. It was only when I began to regard all of my collaborators with respect and deny the desire to move things to the next level that I began to enjoy success in music.
Of course, not all of my musical contacts became my romantic love interests. I’m not some studio whore.
But the ones I did cross the line with became the sources of some pretty important lifelong lessons of what NOT to do if you want to make it in music.
For example, had I chosen not to mix business with pleasure, I would not have become a pregnant teen.
Honestly, this outcome somewhat surprised me. I met Alex when I was sixteen years old and wasn’t even remotely attracted to him. He was tall, thin and Mexican/Salvadorian, just like me. His best friend Antonio was my neighbor at the time and I was super into him, although that ended up not working out, mainly because I was the Sancha. More on that later, though.
I remember the first time I saw Alex, it was in Antonio’s back yard, and he and Antonio were playing basketball.
They both ran track or cross-country for Lakewood High School, I can’t remember which at this point.
At some point of my irresponsible, immature love affair with Antonio, his best friend Alex found out I was a singer, and he was making beats and rapping at the time.
So, when I was about sixteen and had already gotten Antonio out of my system and moved on to a more stable, exclusive monogamous relationship with a guy named Billy, Alex expressed his interest in working with me.
Alex, then, was the first person who believed in me enough to help me record my own songs. He would pick me up from my house, drive me to his house in Long Beach where he lived alone and had set up a home recording studio, and he would have me listen to his hundreds of beats until I found one I liked and started writing to it.
At the time, Alex and I were just friends. He even had a girlfriend whom I liked very much, and then a girlfriend whom didn’t like me very much and who seemed to be threatened by me but Alex assured me that things were ok, until one day there was an inflatable boxing ring set up on the neighbors’ front yard and the boys dared us to duke it out. That’s when I realized this girl had something against me. It was all fun and games until I noticed the aggression in her eyes and how intentional she was about using this inflatable boxing match as the perfect cover for her to let out her true feelings towards me. She put up a good fight, to my astonishment, and the boys ended up having to end the match prematurely. I never saw her again after that.
Of course, it was not my intention to make this girl feel some type of way but I suppose my Sancha reputation preceded me. However, I made it a point to express that those days were behind me and that I’d found true love finally in the person I was dating at the time, but that wasn’t altogether true, and my songs reflected my ambivalence.
The first song we recorded was called Ordinary No More, and it was about how having love in my life with my new boyfriend made my days as a studious, parentified child much brighter than they had ever been. Truly, this guy gave his all to make me feel special and I had never really had anyone treat me that way before, so I held on to that connection. Unfortunately, most of my connections before then had been premised on my physical appearance instead of the value of who I really was inside, and if I was valued by the boys I was interested in, it wasn’t enough to have them commit to me entirely, since a couple of them were already in relationships with other girls, or they didn’t take me seriously based on my middle school reputation that was transferred to my high school experience.
The second song was called For One Night, and it was about my struggles with fighting the temptation to trespass outside of my relationship with someone from my past, and my wish to only allow myself one night to indulge in this person before finally calling it quits. Some people call it a Last Hurrah… My former Sancho likes to call it “One Mo ‘Gin.” Think “One Last Time” by Ariana Grande with a sultrier, more hip hop vibe and that’s pretty much what the song was. I left the talent show panel with their jaws open when I auditioned with it my senior year, and they gently veered me off in a direction that would show off my voice, entertain the crowd and preserve my image more effectively. I mean, “Loving You” by Minnie Ripperton wasn’t much better lyrically, since the song was about sex too, but at least it wasn’t a message about cheating, and everyone recognized it and was thoroughly impressed by my high notes, so nobody cared about the lyrics.
Those were the first two songs I wrote with Alex, and I didn’t record any more with him after that for a few years because I got caught up in my relationship, my eventual affair, my school responsibilities, drama at home, a month-long trip to Japan and then college.
The songs stayed uploaded to my Myspace Music account for years and we basically lost touch for no particular reason, until the day he randomly called me and asked me to come to the studio he’d just opened in Bellflower with his friends.
I remember picking up my best friend Marci at the time in my all black bonfire-smelling uniform and heading out to Bellflower with her, where we met with Alex, his best friend Kosmic, another friend named Jose and a few others. They were drinking beers and listening to beats, freestyling along.
At the time I had just ended my freshman year in college and since I moved out, I no longer had a room of my own, so I set myself up in my brother Pancho’s room with my keyboard and a leftover twin bed that my brother Angel used to use. My only musical endeavors were my piano lessons on Saturday afternoons, singing opera at Macaroni Grill on weekends and taking a music theory class at Cerritos College.
When we showed up, we didn’t know what to expect. In fact, we were treated like sheltered children compared to these guys, who were older and had been on their own longer. In fact, Marci seemed to be more knowledgeable than me regarding music and hip hop, since I’d been indulging more in practicing classical music and jazz because of my job at the restaurant, so singing with these guys was a completely different experience. It was the first time I realized I sucked at writing hooks, mainly because Kosmic was so good at it and liked to help me.
At the time, my dad had set me up with a couple of guys that he worked with who were in the music scene and I would drive to their studio setup inside of an old shop to work with them, but one thing was certain: their stuff was pretty Mickey-Mouse and while I was grateful for the opportunity to record music again, as soon as I said yes the door opened up with Alex again and I was led into an even more authentic, relevant and innovative environment to create my own music.
The trouble was, I was on the rebound. I had just decided to end my relationship with my high school sweetheart, mainly because I felt that we had grown apart as far as our goals and interests. I was in college and he was at a trade school working on becoming a mechanic, and I was interested in making music whereas he was more interested in partying and hanging out with friends.
I decided to end the relationship, much to his demise since his intentions were to marry me but I wasn’t interested in settling down just yet.
This made it really easy for me to mistake my wonder at this lovely, creative environment and my spirit being fed in different ways with an opportunity to be in a relationship. I wish I had held back longer and really figured out what I wanted, but I wasn’t used to being alone.
After only a couple of weeks, Alex was drunk and we got too close and the vibes were high and we ended up fucking on the studio floor with no condom on.
And that turned into a situationship which turned into a relationship, and suddenly we were head over heels in love but he was still getting over his ex and I was still getting over mine and the nastiest, most toxic and yet most exhilarating drama unfolded from there.
We became hopelessly addicted to each other, and yet deep down inside we knew we weren’t good for one another. I stopped going to school. He stopped caring about anything except spending time with me. I didn’t show up to my house for days on end and my mom ended up filing a missing persons report and when people tried to look for us we’d hide under the covers of his bedroom and be extra quiet until the knocking stopped. That whole summer we went on adventures to the beach, vegas, restaurants and anything we felt like doing, we did.
But when the summer ended, things weren’t practical anymore. I started cutting class to stay home with him and I ended up not paying any particular attention to my appearance. I would try to go to the gym and he’d get upset so I ended up gaining a lot of weight. I never went to see my family anymore because I was always staying at his place, and I never fully moved in so I was always wearing his clothes out. He’d be smoking weed and I’d be watching. He’d get so drunk and drive me around that I would get scared. When he started disappearing without explanation I started suspecting that I was not the only one. Then the harassment from friends of his ex-girlfriend began and I was sure I wasn’t the only one. I began to grow insecure and he also started getting jealous of people, including his own friends. It turned so quickly from something sweet and addicting to something sour and dangerous. I abandoned the contacts my dad gave me to push me forward in music because Alex insisted I drop those bozos and work with him instead. I sabotaged my education to be by his side and I even went to school with him. I met his family and his mother was not pleased when she met me because my mother had reached out and told her that she was concerned. His mother was actually the one who told us that my mom had filed a missing persons report and that I needed to call her right away so that she would stop worrying about me so much.
At the time, when I was in it, the connection didn’t seem crazy, but it was. We became so addicted to each other that we didn’t want to be away from each other anymore, and if we were away from one another it became a source of insecurity and loneliness that drew us to other people. I went back to my ex even though I really didn’t want to, all because I needed someone to rescue me from the toxicity that was Alex. I didn’t understand how I could be so weak with him, and how I could allow myself to get so caught up that I neglected everything else that was important to me, like my appearance, my health, my family, my education, and my music. More importantly, I didn’t know how to work it out and I didn’t want to learn, because I could see that he was mentally and emotionally unstable and an alcoholic so I preferred to simply throw the whole thing in the trash instead of try to confront him about it. I considered him my abuser and myself the victim, but looking back at it now, I realize that the abuse I was enduring with him was carried over from the abuse he’d endured in his last relationship and my participation in it only exposed some of my own tendencies to gravitate towards people who didn’t really care for me or couldn’t be all that emotionally available for me since I was also not too into intimacy. This explained my deep need to have someone as a stable partner while still stepping outside of the relationship, which I also repeated with Alex. In essence, we were both crazy.
But it was too late. I had broken up with him and taken all my shit with me including all my cooking pots and three weeks later I was at the clinic getting tested for a UTI and lo and behold, I was also pregnant.
I decided to keep it because I didn’t believe in abortion, and he was the first person I told.
“I’m happy because we’re having a baby but I’m sad that we aren’t together.”
I told him I intended to raise the baby on my own, and I decided to change my contact information and disappear from the face of the earth. I went back to school, I put myself in therapy, but for the most part, I gave up on music. I didn’t think I had a chance to still pursue singing full time if I was getting raedy to have a baby.
More importantly, I was ashamed of myself for ruining my opportunities to sing by getting too close to my colleague. Why couldn’t I just keep things professional? I was simply too immature and too needy of love and affection, and I sensed his own need and met it. There were no real intentions for greatness…just placeholders for the loneliness that plagued us both.
These days, I am careful with whom I invest my creative energy with and whom I even put my hands on, because I understand my power and the effect I have on people now, and I am also aware of my limitations and my own tendencies and what I am recovering from and prefer to move forward creatively. This isn’t my only instance of mixing business with pleasure and sabotaging myself in the process, but it is the most painful.
But more on that later.