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Interview With A Neighbor: Karena

When I meet people that inspire me I get really nervous. I am like a fear stricken dog that barks and wags its tail to show its excitement and place in the world. I recently had an encounter with a neighbor that I wanted to get to know more about, so I arranged an interview. Is that strange? Maybe, aliens, but I don’t know how to do it any other way. Karena is my neighbor, and I am glad we had an interview. I could tell that Karena is doing a lot for the betterment of herself, but is also a giving, creative, and wonderfully inspired person. Can we do this? Yes we can! Karena is a musician, goes to school, and is working. Girl. So, I asked how she would like to identify her gender, “I love that! That is so cool. She/her/hers.” So thorough! Okay... how do I put this? Karena is pulsating with expressive energy, and cultivating her own universe of light and darkness with sensational goals. Perk those ears and listen up.

I used the 8 words that I know and put them together in as many combinations as possible to ask Karena if pursuing a career in mental health was a life dream, or something new. “I was doing my own thing, and kind of stumbled upon being a psychologist because of a psychologist. Her name was Gemma and she really helped me out.” I am fortunate to be able to buy the time of an alien that listens to me speak as well. “She was able to get down to deep seeded issues and long lived thoughts and beliefs, and she was able to get down and reverse that.” This, however, was not entirely my experience... but I think I have always tried to be aware of my own issues by talking about them at any time with anyone. Therein lies another issue. “I kept asking her questions about how she got into that field, and how she ended up there.” Karena spent two years homeless and struggling with mental health problems. As most of us with mental health issues know, that shit didn’t start recently. There are some things, from our chemistry to our upbringing, that will follow us like shadows and haunt our existence. The human experience, how fun! Karena was struggling with addiction and the call to the underbelly of the world. The part of the world where you use unhealthy coping mechanisms to try not to feel the pain. But moments of familial love and support from a counselor and judge gave her something to do life for. Words and actions used to uplift with compassion and intelligence are simple. “You can do this’, and it really touched me. I really wanted to prove to myself that I could do this for them. I always had my mom on my side too. It’s really important to have my mom, she was huge. She always met up with me and gave me food, and clothes to change out. That was great, and that was needed. She would always tell me that she loved me. I always knew that if I wanted to get sober my mom would be there for me.” Some moms have an amazing superpower. They stay idle, ready to spring into effective action when the time is right. “Mom, I gotta get off the streets or I am going to die, and she was like ‘okay, lets go to rehab’. My mom looked for places that did not have black people, so that I could get scholarships.” Okay, so good strategizing mom, but holy shit! To be more likely to get a scholarship to a rehab facility as a person of color, you apply to the white owned rehab centers. This is the world we live in. This is part of it. You have to pay to get help unless you know how to work it, then you just pay in time. Access to rehabilitation in the United States is a game of chance, and that game is played with a disadvantage if the color of your skin is not white. Enough of the grim adventures of Subdued Intelligensia, because Karena told me about her experience at the rehab center. “I specifically remember one time when we had a mission to climb to the top of this mountain with a steel A because it was the symbol for the company or whatever. So, most of the group said no, but one girl was like ‘I feel like I need to do this for my mental health’, and she was my roommate. I was like... damn... if my roommate is doing it, I gotta do it.” Firstly, I would like to mention that is an extremely honorable thing to do. Stay with your people, aliens! Karena talked about a few more experiences where she was pushed to be physical. I don’t know if this kind of activity is right for everyone, but what I do know is that I am so lucky to find myself releasing negativity every time I work out. Particularly when I do it in the outside world, and I mean the real one with plants and dirt and rocks. Don’t forget that Subdued Intelligencia is Nature Slut. It is one of few ways I have learned how to channel my abundance of emotion outward in a healthy way. Logs, and creeks, and peaks, oh my!

Karena is overcoming life challenges with her music. Obviously, I was curious like a cat. Karena said, “ I have been playing guitar since I was sixteen or seventeen.” She is carrying her musical past to the future. What did she listen to for inspiration when she started playing guitar? “Okay, Nirvana. A lot of Nirvana. A lot of The Breeders, and the Pixies, and that was really it. But, nowadays I listen to Alice in Chains, Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins.” Does Karena listen to music the way I do by feverishly absorbing an album into my consciousness for a week straight with little else to stimulate my ear holes? I get in deep with the audio experience brought to me by whatever kind of musical transmitting device I can find, and push repeat until a few months later when I am ready to transform into someone else's world. Do other people do this? Am I normal? No, but Karena does absorb music in waves of fascination. Karena has recordings of her music, but they are currently unavailable to the interweb because she is missing a crucial chord. Soon I’ll be begging readers to find Karena's labors of life and love in their earballs, but for now just know it’s coming. Does she sing? Yes, girls, boys, aliens... why does she sing? “ For me it’s just anything that gets me going. So, like, for instance my last song that I wrote about was about George Floyd. You know, who obviously was a man that got killed by police from an officer's knee on his neck, and I just like... wrote in the point of view from the police officer. It’s kind of chilling, but it is what it is. I feel like I could write about George Floyd and say all of these good things, but I don’t know him. You know? It wouldn’t be genuine. So to highlight the injustice I took a point of view from the cop.” I recently had the pleasure of hearing this song, and I can not wait until I can share it with you! I noticed a particular nineties grunge style from her musical interests and I wanted to know what kind of vocals style Karena tries to embody, “Pretty basic, grungy, scream.” I feel like there is a whole lot more to unpack with Karena's vocal abilities interlaced with her songwriting talent, but she is a humble human. Karena has a collection of songs, and is seeking help to record and cultivate her musical vision.

Ring, ring! Ring, ring! Hello? Yes, it’s Subdued Intelligensia wondering about Karena’s periods. “Sorry to say I use the regular tampons'' Okay, so no shame in doing whatever you have to do. If you use tampons, good. I am glad that you are taking care of yourself however you would like to. I know plenty of men that use them for bloody noses and sometimes diarrhea, but there is no shame in doing whatever it is that you have to do. I had the pleasure of seeing Karena since we spoke for an interview, and she told me that she just bought a different care device. It’s a period product called a menstrual disk, and she bought the Flex Disk brand. Intimina, the company that I bought my menstrual cup from, does these as well, and I am waiting on the moon for Karena to let me know what she thinks. Y’all know I will be reporting back like a lil puppy that just can’t quit yapping about periods.

Karena, thank you!!! It’s a pleasure to get to know you. I am so excited to share your music!

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