september love list
does it feel like fall to you? does it?! does it!! nope, not here either. not to worry. our playlist is the perfect transitional track list, we have good books to keep you occupied while you wait on the weather, and some internal fall cleaning for you to think about. hop aboard!
→ The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
nadine: this month’s classical rec honestly sounds like a flying bird. a bit like the end of summer, too. the other day, i sat in the kitchen with the window open, listening to this song, and birds sat on my balcony, near the window. i had fun imagining they were listening.
→ pony by orville peck
gray: i don’t have much to say about this album other than it’s a vibe. like. a big mood, if you will? i know that country is weirdly trendy right now and this is my favorite thing to come out of that so far. fave tracks: roses are falling, buffalo run, take you back (the iron hoof cattle call).
→ mirror by IDER
m: “people love, people leave, people let down / people show up, roll up, people grow up / people move out, people disappear / people don't change, people rearrange / people miss the game, people lose / people try, people lie, can't look you in the eye..” really feel like the alternative title should be: “congratulations, you’ve arrived in your mid 20’s, now cry.”
→ Norman Fucking Rockwell! by Lana Del Rey
nadine: i’m trying to think of something to write that isn’t “?????? so good????” but i can’t. this is my favourite Lana Del Rey album yet.
→ three futures by torres
gray: a dark, sexy, heartfelt album. right now, i’m using it to get into october autumn mood while its still 90 degrees summer september out (and it’s working). fave tracks: skim, bad baby pie, three futures.
→ till now by BANKS
m: this song sounds like if love was cough medicine. awful and intoxicating, for all your raging but still love drunk moments. the production to BANKS’ latest album is wild. makes altpop feel very dark and syrupy.
→ this 5-minute vlog set in a cabin in the woods in october.
nadine: please, pause your life for a few minutes, make yourself a hot beverage, and watch this. it’s the little things.
→ legal immigration by jon oliver
m: this is great primer on legal immigration in the usa and how this impacts our view of illegal immigration. considering the state of things (did you know Trump wants to ban all refugees’ entrance into the usa by 2020?), this is something that needs to be on your radar.
→ nadine: my friend sent me this post and it was the final nail in the coffin of the illusion that “neediness” exists.
→ girl made of stars by ashley herring blake
gray: big fan of this book! the plot wasn’t exactly what i was expecting and the characters annoyed me a little, but all in all i think this is a super important book and i wish it had existed when i was in high school.
m: can confirm. read this one.
→ serpent and dove by shelby mahurin
m: o. my favorite trope, enemies forced into close proximity… enemies to lovers... (in this case, a witch hunter is forced to marry a girl who is secretly a witch!!!!!)... this is addicting. funny. slow burn steamy. thoughtful. perfect? thanks for the face journeys.
→ too much cold brew cause i found out i get a discount at the coffee shop next to my work :/
(see also: see also, the starbucks pumpkin spice cold brew is actually so good.)
→ m: who will i be in a post trump america? i can assure you that i am a different person than before this presidency, and not all of this is due to the passing of time; i am an angry, worried person full of lingering dread, repeatedly fighting a feeling of devastation. i curse a lot more often, because those are the only words i got. i keep wanting to apologize for saying any of this, as if i am being too dramatic. i am not. i'm more confident speaking up for myself, others, and my beliefs. i sleep more often during the day. i'm usually at least a little pissed off, but increasingly inspired and empowered by those in the Jewish community's #NeverAgain, and women in politics like AOC. i am extremely tired and afraid for many people, but more driven to dream and learn. i am proud of my friends for their advocacy work, poems, and/or resilience with their loved ones. i am thankful for much and do not want to lose this. this isn't to thank this era, but to say fuck you, donald trump. this is not the dream of adulthood i'd envisioned as a child. this is to say protests are the closest thing i get to church nowadays. i like the way poets raffle their books to raise money for children's lawyers at the border. i like the way we have protest sign collections in our cars. i like our collective desire to resist and fight for diversity and peace. but fuck trump. i don't want to remain this person swathed in dread and angst. i want to stay soft.
→ nadine: i’ve been doing a lot of pruning in my life. how can i do less of what is feeding the parts of me i don’t want to feed? for me, this month, this meant leaving all social media for good. doing a lot of letting go. it’s never easy to let go. through moments of anger or sadness, i asked myself: what can i do now to take care of myself? writing down the answer to this question and actually doing it felt even better than i thought it would.
when it comes to leaving social media, pruning is only one side of the coin. the other is love. i was fortunate enough to receive a lot of love this month! from people around me, from myself. receiving love has taught me to love more and better; it has taught me my value and the value of my needs.
what about you? what's making life worth living lately?
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sources for desire
There is nothing more humiliating to me than my own desires. Nothing that makes me hate myself more than being burdensome and less than self-sufficient...I had arrived in my thirties believing that to need things from others made you weak. I think this is true for lots of people but I think it is especially true for women. When men desire things they are “passionate.” When they feel they have not received something they need they are “deprived,” or even “emasculated,” and given permission for all sorts of behavior. But when a woman needs she is needy. She is meant to contain within her own self everything necessary to be happy.
To paraphrase, the crane wife stays up all night to pluck out her feathers, to hide that she is a bird, a creature both capable of flight and requiring care. "To keep becoming a woman is so much self erasing work. She never sleeps. She plucks out all her feathers, one by one."
I know I am not the only one to whisper, "Ope," embarrassed for being so recognized. So what do we do with this vulnerability, with this deep want? I see two paths for myself: first to unsurface the origin stories for this sense of shame and responsibility, the stories we collectively share, and the ones that are my own, and to learn to thirst, to learn to articulate desires. First of all though, we gotta realize that this is okay... Contentedness is a means to appreciate, but does not discount desire and drive. That desire is taboo, in the truest sense of the word:
For example, I wrote earlier about Polynesida, and how the word "taboo" comes from "tupua" (or "tapu"), which means menstruation, but the most common translation of "tapu" is actually "sacred."
So there it is. Yeah, we know desire, and expressing desire, can feel taboo- silly and wrong and shameful and unnecessary and too much- but we gotta remember that the word also means sacred. Want is not evil. It can be sacred. Desire can show us a path to who we want to be. Desire can drive us to pleasure and love and gratitude. But how do I get there? It is all unlearning and learning again. Where am I ashamed? Why? Where can I steep myself in materials that give me space to want and articulate such desires?
I am not asking you to delve into manifestation... only to acclimate yourself to who you are, and where you want to go. You usually aren't a danger to yourself. Hear what you want. Dig into it.
Without further ado, following is a list for learning to desire, and to speak.
Resources for Desire
Go in peace x
summer is over, and i think it's time i break my silence here and post something.
i was caught in an inner whirlwind of healing. at the time, i couldn't fully make sense of what was happening. i couldn't see the overarching theme in my growth. all i knew was that come the end of the summer, my nesting instincts (which i hadn't known i even had) were kicking in at full force. suddenly, i knew exactly what kind of "nest" i wanted for myself.
i've been working on myself with much dedication for a long time. i trace it back to three years ago, almost day for day. i was 24. i'd spent the three years before that as a shell. i have almost no memories of the years i was 21, 22 and 23. the other day, i saw a picture of myself from that period and i literally did not recognize myself. i squinted and said: "who... what... is that me? i had that hair?"
yesterday, for no discernable reason, a memory from that time popped in my head: i remembered the lemon cookies i used to make when i was 22. i remembered the sweet lemony taste and the perfectly soft and chewy texture. honestly, i think that was my first time remembering something from those three years that i didn't want to burn out of my brain.
i remember loving those cookies so much because they felt like the one thing i could do right. i felt powerless — most days, all i ate was peanut butter on toast and all i did was lie on the couch and watch the sky darken — but some days i could manage those cookies. for a few minutes the cookies made my roommates happy and that was the best i could ask for.
all that and much more was over by the time i turned 24. the question "why?" was plaguing me, as it had over the three years prior. why? why had all that happened to me? i set forth on my journey to try to find an answer, because without an answer, how could i know for sure that it wouldn't happen again?
anyway, fast forward. 24 to 27, three years of zealous introspection. i studied anything that might help explain my experience of shellness: several personality typing systems; possible alternate/additional diagnoses; queer identities; different topics in fields such as psychology, personal development and spirituality...
results were few, far in between, and often short-lived. i think i considered 9 different myers-briggs types and 6 different enneagram types, among other things. it was a confusing time.
in 2019, and especially the past summer, i started seeing results at a much higher pace.
using the enneagram for a bit because it's easier
turns out....... i'm a 4.* that's enneagram talk. i don't want to start explaining the enneagram or even guiding you towards resources because whenever i start i have a hard time stopping. but i'll try to condense it infinitely: the enneagram splits people in 9 types (numbered arbitrarily 1 to 9) according to the main threat they perceived in their environment as children and how they managed to cope with that threat. "4" is a type.
the most important thing i absolutely want to stress to anyone reading about the enneagram is this: you may get the impression that the enneagram is a self-flagellation session that makes you realize what a terrible person you are. please allow me to shift your perspective on this: all enneagram types embody equally good ways for the young psyche to protect itself from perceived threats in the environment. we all have an enneagram type. that's good because it means we were brave enough to find ways to protect ourselves and make it to adulthood.
however, these protections inevitably backfire in adulthood. all of them. there's no type that backfires more or less than the others. learning about your enneagram type is helpful because it helps you say: thank you, subconscious, for protecting me the best you could; now, it's my turn, and i will protect myself in healthier ways that will allow me to grow and become a better person.
that's so important to understand. we all hate our enneagram types at first (if you don't, you're probably mistyped), but it's important to grow past that and find space for gratefulness and acceptance.
now, type 4. 4s, when they were hurt in childhood, used the explanation "i was hurt because i am bad and unlovable" rather than see the world around them as mean-spirited. this way, 4s developed a vision of themselves as impossible to love and lacking in everything. nothing can ever redeem them. because they believe themselves to be unlovable, 4s both fear being abandoned and somehow unconsciously want to be abandoned (because it will confirm their worldview). 4s put a lot of emphasis on emotions: their own and others'. they daydream of happiness, and they envy others, especially those with "simple" lives, but they are so convinced that they are too broken or complicated to be happy that they sabotage their wellbeing in different ways.
something that clued me in on the possibility that i might be a 4 was when i got the feedback from someone who knows me well that i was (wrongly) convinced i wasn't important to other people and that i was never satisfied.
the way 4s experience these patterns in everyday life changes vastly from one instinctual subtype to the next. i've heard them described as the glad 4 (self-preservation subtype, sp4), the sad 4 (social subtype, so4) and the mad 4 (sexual subtype, sx4). for example, imagine three toddlers who want to get their needs met by their parent. the first one behaves as well as possible and hopes this will attract the attention, love and approval of their parent (sp4). the second one starts crying and talking about how much they are hurting and lacking (so4). the third one throws a tantrum about how everything is unfair and it's all their parent's fault (sx4).
even as adults, 4s have a hard time directly asking for help and, especially, for love. instead, they are consumed by envy, and they end up acting out that envy by masochistically enduring (sp4), vocally complaining (so4) or angrily demanding (sx4). of course, in real life, most people aren't just one subtype. they have a dominant subtype, and a second one, and one they use the least. my conclusion is that i am a sp4, though i do tend to reach for anger like sx4s from time to time.*
(note: my main/favourite source of enneagram information is The Complete Enneagram by Beatrice Chestnut.)
end of enneagram talk
ironically (or not so ironically), what helped me find my enneagram type in the end was to focus on healing for a while without thinking about the enneagram too closely. i did my introspection challenge as well as the 12-week challenge presented by Julia Cameron in her book The Artist's Way. that's what i've been doing all summer.
after a while of this introspective healing, i reflected on what was helping me the most. by analyzing these helpful techniques/paradigms, i kind of reverse-engineered what i had started out most needing.
the most helpful change i have instated in my journey is self-nurturing, hands down.
unsurprisingly, it turns out that not asking for support is the best way to not get support! it also turns out that beating yourself up all the time about everything is helpful in absolutely zero ways.
halfway through The Artist's Way, Julia Cameron presents the affirmation: "treating myself like a precious object will make me strong."
self-nurturing means i am taking over the role of being my own parent. for a long time, the idea of having to "parent" myself made me feel sad and lonely. now, it feels comforting because i trust myself more. it's honestly so comforting to know you have someone there who will always give you what you need.
like, i need to take a day off? i take a day off. i need warm tea with oat milk and honey? guess what, i have warm tea with oat milk and honey. i need to feel like my emotions are valid? surprise, i validate my emotions. my cluttered kitchen counter makes me feel overwhelmed? i do the dishes and, not thirty minutes later, i can breathe easier.
i'm so thankful for the care and support my parents have provided me with, and for what they still provide me with. but no matter how hard they tried, they weren't perfect. i understand why i didn't receive some fundamental forms of care, and i forgive my parents — and myself — for that. now, it's my job to "parent" myself. i can give myself whatever forms of care i need. the best part? i don't even have to ask.
that being said, learning to ask for support is still important. it's something i'm in the process of doing. i am trying to cultivate friendships where we both welcome the other when they ask for support.
i used to recoil from self-nurturing for different reasons, the most important of which being: i thought self-nurturing was selfish.
here's what trying out self-nurturing taught me: true self-nurturing is the least selfish thing one can possibly do. the more i nurture myself, the more caring and loving i am towards other people and the world. i get less angry. i listen more. i am more present. i adopt more eco-friendly habits. i love without worrying that i will not get love back.
asking for support has a similar consequence: the more i ask for support, the more comfortable others seem to be asking me for support.
there is simply more love to go around.
maybe it's no coincidence that the memory of the lemon cookies popped in my head yesterday. because that's love, too. i made them because i loved them. because my roommates loved them and because i loved my roommates. because for a while something was stronger than hopelessness.
love, my friends. it's abundant and you deserve it.
*edit (2019/11/11): i am no longer under the impression that i'm a 4. regardless of whether or not i am a 4, everything else i wrote here still stands. i especially want to repeat how important i think self-nurturing is! whatever my enneagram type is, self-nurturing changed my life.
alt title ideas: "the unbearable void of my personhood" "tales of the goalless" "identity who? i don't know her."
i think that at one point, i had a direction. maybe, a long time ago, i had a vision of a future. this isn’t a sad post™, and i’m actually doing pretty well recently. but i guess i’ve just been really confused.
in may, i started a new job (probably why i haven’t posted on here since). it’s a retail job, so in no way is it the ~ dream job ~. but lately i’ve just noticed that i have no idea what my dream job would be. i think i was passionate about something once, but what was it? where has it gone?
some of my coworkers are starting back up at school for the fall semester. my manager asked me if i was back. no, i graduated over a year ago! i replied. good for you! she said. but really, is it? when i’m not any further away from school as i was on graduation day?
i went to school for graphic design. i like it well enough, but can i imagine myself doing it forever? i don’t think so. should i have realized this earlier? yeah, probably. but in reality, hindsight is 20/20 and i’m a much different person today than i was in june of 2018.
i think i’ve always been directionless. when i was young, i never had an answer for the question of what to do when i grew up. you can be aimless when you are eight. but it is less acceptable when you are sixteen. so i figured out something that i already knew i was good at and latched onto it as an identity. i never really gave myself time to reconsider. i was really young then but i felt like i had to be old. i didn’t feel old but i acted old. i am twenty two now and can’t believe that i was so afraid of the unknown. i don’t know anything now. is sixteen year old me worried for me? their feet are set into cement blocks and i walk freely.
i walk freely but it is an aimless and tired stroll. i’ve been trying to decide what the terrain is recently. some days it feels rocky, uphill and dense; others it is smooth and barren. if these exist within my mind, i think they are equally bad. this feels unrelated, though. the real question is who am i? not where am i walking? i’m suspicious that less people know than i think, they’re just better at pretending.
i think summer is hard for me. blushed pink in the sun and wet skin is enjoyable, but deep down it is not me. will direction return to me in autumn? only time may tell, but the fact that i’m actually writing this may be a clue.
the real problem is simply, how do i know who i really am? i like a lot of things. i like to write and read. i like to walk, to listen to music. i like to lay on my floor and think. i like things that a lot of people like. i even like graphic design. other people turn these into identities but i’ve been struggling with that. identities run from me in all senses, they are all slightly out of my grasp. maybe my identity will be my evasion of identity.
i’ll be honest, part of me feels stupid and naive for talking like this. there is always a part of me that tends to not believe a single thing i say. but here’s the thing: i am still young and i will take that for granted as long as i can. i will continue to think about this and read new things and continue to learn until something really clicks. soon, i will start to look for a place that feels right. i used to feel like time was running out, and i had to make all my final decisions and plan out my whole life. but if the last year has taught me on thing, it is that there is time enough for all of us.
this was rambly and weird! sry! good to be back tho :) xoxo.
poetry in the practices
It's September first. I feel as though it was the last day of August for five whole days, like July had been ending for the entire month. But we're here now, and I'm relaxing my shoulders and tuning into the softness of my jaws, windows open, feeling more awake than I have in a while.
We've been quiet in this space, and I know it. We've been traveling, exploring, reading, thinking. Here, we may have been quiet, but I know in our minds, hearts, and bodies, we've been anything but. I think you have too; Whether or not we acknowledge it, we continue to shift and grow with the passing of time, and I hope we do pause to acknowledge this. We've all just been constantly learning to be human. Constantly creating ourselves. Because here too is poetry: there is beauty and interest and softness within the way we think and decorate and become. Isn't that poetry? A saturated exploration in humanness? It's a practice, endless. Did you see the way a specific theme floated through your being to the surface of your mind? Suddenly, you saw connections? The flow and the web? There is poetry in the connections. There is poetry in the mundane, because it creates space for us. I could cry going to the grocery store for the seventieth time this year, or I could soak it in and allow my mind to go forth and explore where I am, and connect an article to a song lyric to a chapter in a book to the way that I view my body. And so I have learned something, mind wandering looking for oat milk.
Especially important when you come back from a mind blowing trip and have to sink back into regular life in a midwest city. Ha. How am I human in all settings? Especially important when shootings dance across our headlines and twitter trends once every two weeks, when we are caught between hopelessness and a deep aching hunger to heal ourselves. How am I still human when I am suffocated beneath first anger, then fear, then... nothing. Numb. Gone.
How many times do I become nothing at all? How do I come back from it?
I haven't written as much poetry lately. I am trying to accept that sometimes I don't have much to say, and it is okay. In this acceptance, my brain has been steeping. I got some things to say now.
When I am nothing, when I have nothing to say, something the practice is in the feeling of it. Just curled up in bed, exhausted, quaking, watching YouTube and YouTube and YouTube and YouTube. The practice is the interruption of a Facetime call leaving us giggling. Staying out late and eating Olive Garden and losing the breath laughing over salad. Editing pictures of that time you felt so alive and safe. Making the playlists. Inhaling jasmine and tangerine oils. Copying song lyrics when all other words evade you. Taking notes on the podcasts and articles and dusting off your origin story. Discovering the origin of a word, so construed. Re-understanding yourself. Putting on lotion or taking a picture when you feel as though your body is an enemy you are bound within. Sun soaking. Wrapping your palms around a hot mug.
I'm not a practiced person. I don't have the energy to maintain a daily routine of reading and journaling and meditating and stretching and loving. But I kind of am. Everything we do has room for the intentions. Room creates room creates room, even if we're cuddled up in the corner and haven't ventured outwards. We will.
And there is time to be quiet, and there is time to say what you mean. We'll wait for you, and we thank you for waiting for us.
Don't forget to live that life you have, and to think it through. That too is creation. That's poetry too.
Namaste, see you soon,
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