favorite and our best 2020
it's been a year. here is what we have loved, during a year so very hard to remain soft enough to enjoy.
→ Positions by Ariana Grande
m: if you need a bratty song to blow momentum into your new year, look no further than just like magic.
→ Dreamland by Glass Animals
m: 2020 escapism, in true dreamy Glass Animals fashion.
→ Monument by Keaton Henson
nadine: My favourite release of 2020. Keaton Henson releasing singles before this album release is what got me through the summer... "I'm off balance but I feel my soul"? "I know it's ending but I'm on the mend, oh unbalanced, triumphant, and trying again"? "I'm afraid I'm ablaze with the people I've been"? "Sorry I'm late, I was ablaze"? "I will make a mess of telling you"? "I'm the reason I can't sleep; I got all my baby teeth all buried underneath my grown ones"? I mean???
→ Light of Love by Florence + the Machine
nadine: Considering High as Hope saw me through March, the release of Light of Love was perfectly timed! This was my most listened-to song of 2020. And when I looked back on my year, I could see its influence everywhere... Here's to trying to soften, relentlessly and no matter what.
→ Beautiful Anyway by Judah and the Lion
soap: Every single time I listen to this, I can't help but cry. Watching a loved one suffer with depression and suicidal thoughts, desperately wanting them to see their worth and wake up every morning and decide to continue living. If 2020 has taught me anything, its to keep fighting when everything feels hopeless. You deserve life.
→ Fine Line by Harry Styles
soap: I don't know how I would have gotten through the year without Harry to lean on. The pop songs like Golden, the longer ballads like Cherry, the heart-wrenching finale of Fine Line...all of them inspiring me to love and love fiercely, and most importantly, TPWK.
→ Never Have I Ever (Netflix, 2020)
nadine: This was so bright and honest. Watching this as an adult dared me to look Teenage Me in the face. Can I have compassion for my younger self and all the stupid, brash, hurtful, arrogant, destructive things I've done? Yes. Yes.
→ slow-paced vlogs (K.A. Emmons, amandamaryanna, and others)
nadine: What better way to escape for a few minutes than watching prettily filmed mundane things with a somewhat philosophical voiceover.
→If Anything Happens, I Love You (Netflix, 2020)
soap: TikTok brought me a lot of joy this year, but this recommendation truly left me in tears. This short follows two parents in the aftermath of losing their daughter in a school shooting. A reminder to cherish those we have when they're here because we never know when we may lose them.
→ Cheer (Netflix, 2020)
m: You don't need to come from an athletic background to adore and cheer for this elite team of young athletes as they train for their most difficult competition of their careers, while simultaneously bringing you through their deepest heartbreaks and joys. Cheer is all dizzying and energizing, tearful and powerful.
→Little Women (2019)
soap: I have seen this now no less than six times this year, three of which were in theaters before the world began to shut down. There is nothing better than watching a family grow up together, fall in love, laugh, grieve, and comfort one another as they all discover who they are. It is a sense of belonging and support that we all need during these periods of isolation.
→The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)
m: Spooky in a way that will tap further into your tear ducts than your adrenaline, this one's a beautiful, albeit twisted, look at trauma, love, and ghost stories.
→ Anything by Kacen Callender, particularly Felix, Ever After and King and the Dragonflies
m: beautifully written prose on intersectional identities and love. love love love.
soap: Seconding on Felix Ever After. My absolute new favorite book of all time.
→ Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
m: picture this unimaginable situation: a pandemic sweeps the world, upending society. what then? this book is one part horrific and two parts gorgeous, a fully surreal and devastating 2020 read.
→The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
soap: I have always been a person who holds lots of stress and anxiety within my body, and learning about the intricate ways that trauma and mental illness affect your emotional and physical well being was incredibly fascinating. I don't know that this book necessarily helped me learn how to manage and overcome much of my trauma and inability to release pain, but from a sociological standpoint, it was educational and the narrative flowed beautifully.
m: This one's been a tough read during a time of collective trauma, but it has been clarifying. I'm especially interested in how time impacts trauma. Absolutely worth a read, at the very least, post Covid.
→Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
soap: One of the most interesting books I read this year, this book details two sides of a family tree from current day Ghana, one side of which thrived in British colonial rule and the other half which was in servitude to them. Compelling writing with complex characters full of motivations, flaws, and feelings, making nearly all of them relatable in some way or another. Gyasi's second book "Transcendent Kingdom" is currently sitting on my shelf, so I am excited to get to it this year.
→ Runner Ups: Empire of the Wild by Cherie Dimaline (indigenous horror), Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour (introspective fiction), Recollections of my Nonexistence by Rebecca Solnit (20's young womanhood memoir)
→ earl gray with a splash of vanilla oat milk
m: discovered via a reception for another literary/art magazine. warm and cozy and soft.
→ turmeric herbal tea with chai spices
nadine: the gold-coloured goodness that has been powering my afternoons.
→ copius amounts of kiwi starfruit drinks
soap: Starbucks was another shining light in the darkness of 2020. The Star Drink was the perfect concoction to spur me into my nostalgia of summer breaks in elementary school.
→ how to bake!
nadine: Like many others this year, I polished my baking skills! I can now make exquisite cinnamon buns, croissants, almond croissants, brownies, cream cheese brownies, cookies, cakes... Like seriously. Exquisite. This year, when it felt like nothing in the world made sense, delicious food was there to remind me that sometimes I have to accept that pleasure is the only thing that makes sense.
→ more lessons than I could list, and gratitude that I was in a position where I could learn them.
nadine: Really, I learned so much this year, about myself, about the world, about life. I saw Jojo Rabbit (2019) in February, and the part about looking the tiger in the eyes struck me. I spent the rest of 2020 trying my hardest to look the tiger in the eyes and not look away, and I'm so thankful that I had the support I needed to make it happen.
→ imagination is power.
m: Ah yes, another year of ~realizing things.~ So many times I packed up my heart and home and considered permanent moves into people's lives or states across the US. It's been a year of extremes, for everyone. Learning to hold a desire to nest safely and loved and known, in the same hand as a deep set anxiety and thirst to break away, free and unknown. Two threads follow through these fist fulls of desire for wholeness: Allow yourself to feel the chemically driven response of angst and fear for a moment, but let it become discernment after a couple days. Allow the unknowing. This too is temporary. Second, you need to start dreaming and imagining good futures. The only way out may be through, but it helps to have a place to press towards.
→giving up is not a sign of weakness.
soap: Something that I have struggled with for the entirety of my existence is having to see everything through to the end. I need to finish every homework assignment, I can't call in sick or leave work early, I have to lift just five more reps. While pushing yourself normally is good and healthy, I realized that it was causing me harm to continue to push myself with my meter hovering dangerously above empty. It's okay to skip a few homework assignments. It's okay to take a mental health day. If you can't do something, it's not the end of the world. There is always tomorrow.
here's to a better year.
favorite and our best of 2019
you thought we'd stop with love lists? oh no, we're still channeling lola! we have yet another list of treats to jumpstart your new year (decade?!) right here, from albums, drinks, and many thoughts.... read on, and send us your list x
→ placeholder by hand habits
gray: one of my favorite musical discoveries of 2019 is hand habits and their album that came out earlier this year has been one of my faves all year. scratches my folksy-indie-rock itch like no other.
→ Bad Ideas by Tessa Violet
nadine: no, i cannot shut up about tessa violet (see: love lists from may, october and november, and i promise i tried to switch it up). i suggest taking a half-hour to yourself and listening to the whole thing. i just think that writing a quality pop album is such a fine art: it needs good, solid singles, and more catchy songs to glue it all together, and lyrics that mean something. tessa violet managed it brilliantly in bad ideas.
→ Blood Moon Underworld by Misogi
m: ah yes, we’re back to the grungey lofi depths of my spotify. this album is so impressive… atmospheric, with cohesive song just different enough to cater to a range of different music tastes (even hardcore.) close ties include ARIZONA BABY by Kevin Abstract and E by ecco2k.
→ Rowena Tsai
nadine: my favourite youtube channel this year.
m: same tho.
→ Refinery29’s State of Grace series
m: Refinery29 took the unexpected, yet incredibly important, route this year, with journalist and queer christian, Grace Baldridge, exploring issues within the American church, primarily gender and sexuality issues: “State Of Grace is a series that explores the intersection of human rights, sexuality, and faith. Host Grace Baldridge dives into controversial societal realities that Americans face everyday and how to navigate the modern world while remaining faithful.” This series has been a source of both hope and education for me as I have spent 2019 de/reconstructing beliefs.
→ Rhythm + Flow
m: a rap competition judged by Chance the Rapper, Cardi B, and TI. feels like a display of artistry, and i’m happy to have discovered new artists. genuinely had me wiping my eyes during the finale.
m: a docuseries about crowd sourcing mysterious chronic illnesses.
→ The OA, season two
m: total mind bender. perfectly creepy. beautiful.
→ Skate Kitchen
M: b e a u t i f u l. angsty.
→ On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
m: if you’re tired of hearing about this book, it is because you need to read it. Destined to be a classic you actually love.
→ Serpent and Dove by Shelby Mahurin
m: my favorite trope, enemies forced into close proximity... enemies to lovers... addicting. funny. slow burn steamy. thoughtful. perfect.
→ Bright Dead Things by Ada Limon
m: i wish i had picked this up sooner. ada’s poetry is simply breathtaking, yet so ordinary and real. i’ve never read poetry like hers, or about topics like hers. a must read.
→ Things Are What You Make of Them: Life Advice for Creatives by Adam J. Kurtz
m: short, snappy, and so necessary, whether or not you consider yourself a creative.
→ Heartstopper comics series by Alice Oseman
m: simply lovely. read to decompress, read to believe in love.
→ gray: unflavored la criox was truly my drink of the year
→ m: coffee with a pump of vanilla and a dash of creamer. took me this long to realize simplicity
→ nadine: oat milk in tea! why did i never try this before?
→ nadine: for the lessons 2019 taught me, see this post; otherwise, i learned some cool facts this year…
(1) when i visited a friend last june, i saw a cute magnet on her fridge and she told me the story of a hunter-trapper who completely changed his career path in the 80s and opened a refuge for wild animals.
(2) the same friend taught me what “desire paths” are… it’s not what you think.
(3) 2019 was the year i learned about the danger (for the environment) of not only buying polyester (i haven’t bought polyester outside a thrift shop in too many years to count) but also owning — and especially washing — polyester. it’s worse for “fluffy” polyester fabrics. see this study (nature, 2019), this other study (2017) or this news article, among others. kudos to m for opening my eyes to this! basically, when washed, all fabrics (the fluffier, the worse) produce microparticles. the natural ones disintegrate, but the man-made ones don’t, and they threaten many crucial parts of our ecosystems.
(4) i went to the canadian museum of nature last fall, and i learned such mind-boggling things! in the section about the arctic, i found myself looking at a few panels open-mouthed for an embarrassingly long amount of time… did you know the arctic used to have bear-sized beavers, 3-metre-long sloths and giant camels? some people even think that the characteristics that help modern camels survive in the desert (nutrient reserves, large feet) also helped them survive in the snow! additionally, in another section of the museum, i learned that, though the same mineral can come in different colours, it will always make the same colour trait when you scratch ceramic with it. finally: a friendly reminder that we are all standing on a gigantic ball, the middle of which is made of melted iron (i don’t know about you, but i tend to forget). for all this, fun interactive exhibits (e.g. create your own volcano!) and lots of information on important topics like environment protection and diversity in science, i recommend that museum if you’re ever near ottawa, canada.
(5) skating on thin ice is an actual sport, at the meeting of art and science, and it makes the coolest sounds. see this national geographic video.
→ m: where do i begin!
o most corporations pay $0 in taxes.
o don’t donate to charity at the grocery store register or amazon check out. corporations profit from donations-- using your money. give your money directly.
o tarot! is mindblowing! so thankful to have begun this practice.
o submit. just do it. Submitting your work takes a certain amount of audacity i do not typically possess, but it doesn’t matter! let the work breathe. have courage. say thank you. keep making.
o it’s okay to feel anger. it’s part of healing. feel it all.
o when you feel stagnant, change it up. try a new medium. change your scenery.
o when you feel stagnant, check in with your routines— and your senses. do you even have a routine? do you plan to connect with your senses? you should.
o everywhere is a vacation destination, even if you live there. nadine’s post has really helped me through discontent with home, post oregon road trip.
o capitalism is not great, and our intersectional feminism needs to address that.
o people’s opinions of me are not the same as my own-- and usually better. just as i assume the best of others, people usually return the favor.
o reconnect with that friend you lost touch with. it’s worth it.
o mossery planners > any other. #nonspon but please sponser us :)
o now for my 2020 experiment to learn whether or not a desk is worth it :)
here's to a good year. enjoy.
december love list
are you keeping warm this winter? are you finding light? in one week it will begin to lighten. one week. we will have made it thru the longest night. we are getting there. so proud of you.
make sure you have a drink beside you (no really, go get water.) settle in. fall in love.
→ Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major, First Movement
nadine: for this month’s classical recommendation, i was going to go with a december favourite, Pas de deux from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker (the piece i like best from the nutcracker, which also features the holiday classic the dance of the sugar-plum fairy), but i honestly can’t stop listening to the first movement of the violin concerto. on break at work. in the morning. on public transport. as i make dinner. on walks. all the time. it’s so good.
→ Toute seule pour Noël by Klô Pelgag
nadine: i have been waiting impatiently for new material from this artist for so long!! this is a christmas song; the lyrics (translated from french by myself) at one point go: “i’m looking for the star like the others / we’re the new apostles / again [we’re] all alone for christmas / pulling the sleigh of the father.”
→ ocean eyes cover by Alicia Keys
nadine: this time last year, i was listening on repeat to a playlist i made that i called “urban conch shell” and that featured the original ocean eyes. i haven’t listened to it much since last december. but now this. i’m not sure what makes this cover so special. it’s something words can’t say. please listen to Alicia Keys make magic.
→ E by ecco2k
m: sad boi hours, but in a rainforest.
portrait by frida vega.
→ repairable by never,forever
m: this song, an unreleased nothing,nowhere track, has been a source of hope this season, with its honesty and calming guitar: “i’m not so broken, repairable / yeah i’ve got my flaws too, exposable.”
→ big business by levi the poet feat. j givens
m: been thinking a lot about church and deconstruction (and impeachment). levi the poet’s album cataracts is my soundtrack to this discussion, especially big business.
→ nadine: Abbie Emmons created this gold mine for anyone planning to write a novel.
→ m: i just finished brooklyn 99, and while it’s a bit like cop propaganda, i absolutely love this show.
→ nadine: travel guides from where i live, especially themed ones, for discovery ideas and new takes on old sights. “the real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” (Proust)
→doubling down on love by brene brown
m: when anger is not enough to stay sustainable.
→ bunny by mona awad
gray: this book was just so weird and funny and got me out of a super long reading slump.
→ bright dead things by ada limon
m: i’ve never read a book like this. limon’s poetry had me gasping and taking pictures of poetry to send to a friend. one of many surprises included her poems about mourning singleness in a new relationship. i’m a very independent person, and rarely do i feel seen in this feeling. love her work.
→the crying book by heather christle
m: crying. too both ordinary and disturbing to pay too much attention to. one act that takes whole books and sculptures to make sense of. this tiny, complicated, ambiguous thing. heather wrote a book of- about- crying, in all its flavors and experiments and rooms and all the things. is it poetry? is it prose? is it an experimental essay? yes.
→ becoming rbg by debbie levy and whitney gardner
m: an easy to read comic book biography on our queen ruth bader ginsburg. this is aimed towards middle grade, but works so well for most age groups.
→ naked berry blast
m: i deeply resent the single use plastic bottle, and will probably never drink this again once i am off an elimination diet, but straight up, this drink is saving my life and happiness right now. good for dessert, good for a snack.
→ nadine: what are some causes and manifestations of overwhelm for me? how may i accept and manage them more successfully? (reading Was That Really Me? by Naomi Quenk helped a lot with this)
→ m: my perception of my self does not belong to others. In fact, i can not possibly say i know what is thought of me, unless i am told. and what i am told is generally the opposite of the narrative told by my ever so eloquent imposter syndrome. and this is good. how may i learn to believe the voices outside of my head?
what about you? what's making life worth living lately?
send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
GIF art by cheyenne barton
november love list
it's this time again
a moment i both love and resent at once. a moment i both sink into with ease and gratitude, and also scrabble hard against with refusal. november. it's a strange one, this month. i wrap my fingers around hot mugs and press my palms toward the warmth. i snuggle into my softest clothing, sweaters and leg warmers and socks, and top it off with blankets and pillows. it's so comfortable. safe. layered. and sometimes, thus smothering. the sky is a lid, capping off the sunny days much too early with clouds, and sighing into a night. sometimes, if we are lucky, the sunset is absolutely brilliant, a last hurrah at five pm. it's harder to get out of bed and shed the warmth long enough to wash the sheets, or clean the rooms. my brain feels like a hibernating bear, or a tree losing its leaves: it is here to survive, cutting off circulation to my creative, spiritual side.
and this is okay. like nature, we are built of cycles. often, they reflect the weather, because we too are nature, as are our feelings, chemical reactions and acclimating to light.
it's okay. really. it's okay if you are not your summer self. we will get there again.
and thus november is a practice:
how can i practice patience when i am frustrated with my assumed stagnation?
how can i notice and feel deeply the light and warmth, without feeling they are warning signs of a deeper, darker cold?
how can i motivate myself, when everything is dragging and slowing?
how can i lighten the way i feel? (for me this includes a hair cut and lots of healthy food)
an answer, one of many, is to simply love things again. to take stock of what you enjoy, and to meditate on your participation in them. and if you don't love? then find it. remember what used to make your soul feel okay, and pursue, even slowly. luckily for you, if you're out of ideas, we're here to bring you a new edition of our love lists. remember that we have many more! go find something you enjoy, and tell us about it!
with love and peace,
→ Léo Delibes’s The Flower Duet; original version or cello adaptation.
nadine: i picked this month’s classical recommendation because i think it’s pretty and floaty and like the first snowflake twirling in the air in a rose garden before it lands on a wilted flower. no other reason.
→ les failles by Pomme
nadine: this is my new favourite thing. the lyrics are gorgeous and poignant and the music sounds so effortless like it’s the lyrics’ natural form. some of my favourite lyrics (that i’m translating to english) include “i don’t want to go out / i don’t want to discover in me / the cracks, the cracks / and i don’t know how to dance / i don’t know how to forget myself” and “at my dreamed anchors / after the chaos / i come find you again / like the birds” and so many others. Pomme wrote a song in the first person from the perspective of anxiety and it’s so good. all of it is good.
→ Bad Ideas (the full album, finally) by Tessa Violet
nadine: i’ve been waiting for this impatiently since the release of the first single, Crush, a year and a half ago! i am not disappointed. the album holds itself together as a (terribly honest and vivid) story. besides, it’s so catchy and good.
→ this video of King Princess covering Lady Gaga’s Speechless for BBC Radio 1
nadine: i never found myself thinking “hey i wish someone would make one of Lady Gaga’s best songs gay” but here i am!!!!
→graveyard, stripped live from nashville by halsey
m: the lyrics to this song are some of the best released this year, i’m positive. the lyrics are full of double meanings, creating both a world and a feeling and a toxic relationship. this version is soft and heartfelt, and the set is simply divine.
→ cheyenne barton’s channel
m: when i want to feel calm, cozy, and creative, i turn to 20 something artist cheyenne’s channel. her vlogs are relaxed, beautifully edited, and speak to my 20 something thoughts… a longing for a beautiful, simple life, with a side of oh-no-how-does-one-human-tho.
→ elysium by bear’s den
m: this music video broke my heart.
→ The Seasonal Soul by Lauren Altetta
m: if my intro resonated at all with you, you must do yourself a favor and read this book. altetta views the soul as literally seasonal, theorizing that your soul’s spring, summer, fall, and winter all ask different things of you. i love it. it makes all the sense... reassuring and motivating.
→ Japan in Bloom by Hanya Yanagihara
gray: A beautiful and descriptive article about the history of the cherry blossom’s importance in Japan. “That idea--that everything in life is temporary; that all desire, whether altruistic or selfish in nature, is meaningless--helps explain the culture’s adoration of the sakura. If the cherry blossom can still be relied upon to bloom at a specific time, it can also be relied upon to die soon after: For 51 weeks, one waits, and within seven days at most, one is consigned to waiting once more. The pleasure of seeing a cherry tree in bloom is the sorrow of knowing that it will soon be over. To be in the presence of one is to be humbled before nature, and moreover, to be welcoming of that humiliation. A sakura is the human life condensed into the period of a week: a birth, a wild, brief glory, a death. It is to us what we are to the sweep of time--a millisecond of beauty, a memory before we are even through.”
→ Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
m: i reread this novel in verse this month and loved it more so than i have before. it’s been so intriguing to read this book at different points of both my spiritual and creative journeys, as i hear the main character Xiomara in different ways each time. Poet X follows a teenage Harlem girl as she navigates misogyny, religion, autonomy, and poetry. it’s beautifully written.
→ Becoming Dangerous: Witchy Femmes, Queer Conjurers, and Magical Rebels edited by Katie West
m: a badass, tender anthology covering a myraid of topics, from the gender politics of boxing, to fashion, to chronic illness and disability, to gardens, through intersectional feminism.
→ organic bone broth
m: i used to be a near vegan, until a recent prescription called for the aip diet. bone broth is a gift from this protocol. my tastes tend to lean savory as it is, so whether i’m sipping bone broth soup or just squeezing in some lime and sipping it straight, it’s a warm, savory, clean gift.
→ cappucinos with oat milk
gray: what can i say? mad yum
→ cinnamon apple spice tea by celestial
m: perfectly sweet, fruity, and spicy, good on its own or with vanilla almond milk creamer
→ m: what do i not do when i am not feeling well? this list may serve a couple purposes: to recognize and catch myself when i begin to slip, and to give me a concrete to do list of things i can do to make myself feel better.
what about you? what's making life worth living lately?
send us an email at email@example.com
gif art by Alexandra Dvornikova
october love list
the harshness of october has made me reflect on why we do love lists.
i have this image in my mind of stopping to use the bathroom at a tim hortons during a roadtrip (as i'm sure most canadians have done in their lifetime). i don't remember where i was going or whom i was with. it might have been around 2010. i do remember what song i listened to on repeat during the roadtrip — the cave by mumford & sons — and how happy i felt that i'd found a song i loved so much. i remember thinking: “i hope i never stop discovering songs that make me feel like this.”
it's been almost 10 years and i can safely say that i still regularly discover songs that make me feel the heady joy of oneness with music. it's a gladness of living and a burst of love. and i trust, i believe that i haven't listened to every good song currently in existence, that many good songs remain to be written and produced, that i will never run out of “new” good songs.
love lists, for me, are a celebration of the joy and love i feel for favourites new and old. they are a manifestation, a tiny proof that there is an abundance of things out there that i can love.
my wish for you is that you see love lists as such: as a reminder that the world is abundant in lovely things. maybe you don't feel it right now. that's ok. there are seasons for everything. resting is as much an act of love as sharing favourites or calling up a friend.
with love (and i mean it),
→ Bach’s Concerto in D Minor, II, Alexandra Stréliski’s interpretation (on spotify and youtube).
nadine: this month’s classical rec, a contemplative, melodic 5-minute piano-only piece (there is no orchestra accompaniment), fits well with the mood i perceive october to have so far. please check out Alexandra Stréliski’s other works (Pianoscope and INSCAPE) as well; they suit the increasing hours of nighttime beautifully.
→.i’m wide awake, it’s morning by bright eyes
gray: i’ve been feeling ummm..”sentimental for days gone by” (sorry, wrong bright eyes album), and in a result i’ve been trying to return to my high school faves. i’m always surprised at how well bright eyes holds up through the years and how i always feel like i can return to it. fave tracks: poison oak, road to joy
→ Le souper by Jean-Michel Blais, a short instrumental track from the Matthias et Maxime soundtrack (on spotify and youtube).
nadine: i recently saw Matthias et Maxime at the cinema; the soundtrack was my favourite part (and it won the Cannes Soundtrack Award). this is so delightful. sweet. gripping and soft at the same time. [note: the full soundtrack is available as of today! i haven't listened to it yet, though.]
→ all mirrors by angel olsen
Gray: angel olsen is always so so good and this new album really glitters. It’s a beautifully cathartic break up album with a dramatic string section that permeates the songs. fave tracks: lark, all mirrors
→ Initium (music video) by Keaton Henson
nadine: i think you may need to be “in the mood” to watch this (in the mood to watch the sea for nine minutes straight while listening to a slow orchestral piece, specifically), but what a mood that is. the music video is stunning. i gasped at some point. it’s like the sea was listening to the song too.
→ 30 rock
gray: the last great major network comedy
→ Games (lyric video) by Tessa Violet
nadine: Tessa Violet being amazing again, reminding us we deserve better.
→ radio silence by alice oseman
gray: a very sweet YA novel about school, expectations, and friendship. literally cannot recommend it enough; it made me smile, it made me cry, and it made me feel almost every emotion in between.
→ the moon asks a question, a comic made by purutsukid from dirgewithoutmusic’s short story.
nadine: a quick, easily-accessible must-read for anyone who’s ever wondered if what they felt “qualified” as “love.”
→ gray: london fog latte. why is psl the official autumn drink and not this? messed up!
→ nadine: lots of tea. my kettle broke, so i got a new one. it’s slower to boil. i think that’s a great thing.
→ gray: i am trying to consciously recognize how the things i do may affect others, especially when it comes to my job. just want to make sure i am not a major source of stress for anyone!
→ nadine: i’ve been thinking about so many things. what connects it all? there is always a connection. maybe it’s love.
what about you? what's making life worth living lately?
send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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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august love list
hello, and congratulations!
you've made it half way through summer and august. i feel absolutely torn: do i want to be cozied up in a sweater and flannel and leg warmers with tea, or do i want to remain half naked sprawled out next to a pool or ocean, steeping in the sunshine? i have no clue. but i am positive that your girl powered playlist will thrive this month.
enjoy! do let us know if there's anything in particular we need to sink our teeth into x
→ Vivaldi’s Summer (first movement; find all three in order here)
nadine: this month’s classical rec. if this doesn’t sound like august, i don’t know what does. summer, waning, but still shining frighteningly bright.
→ At Now by Anna Nalick (2017)
nadine: i must’ve listened to Breathe (2 AM), Anna Nalick’s hit song released in 2004, at least a few thousand times. recently, i learned that Anna Nalick is still making music --- and it’s so good. this album is changing the way i feel about music-making, about getting older, about what makes music good. Breathe (2 AM) is a difficult song to “top,” objectively, in terms of numbers, especially for an indie artist. it would also be difficult to write something catchier or more poignant to so many people. At Now doesn’t give the impression of desperately holding on to what made Breathe (2 AM) work. on the contrary, it’s honest, authentic, and artful. do you remember (have you ever experienced it? i may be too old) the magic of buying an album at the store, putting it on, and listening to it from start to finish, in order, and it being a delight? loving the album as a whole maybe more than for its individual songs? this is it.
→ stranger in the alps by phoebe bridgers
gray: this album has been a favorite of mine for a while, but for the last two weeks i’ve been especially into it. the cover of tom petty’s “it’ll all work out” has especially been a late summer-kinda sad-nostalgia mood recently. fave tracks: killer, chelsea, you missed my heart.
→focu$ by rimon
m: the video is beautiful. the sound even more. pairs well with becoming yourself, even when it hurts. "had a tough time / but don’t let it mark you / you don’t need no one / to comfort yourself, embrace yourself."
→ if only there was a river by anna st. louis
gray: this album has more of an early autumn vibe than a summer one, but i think i’m just so over the heat that i’m doing everything i can to will the autumn weather to come sooner. these songs make me feel full and empty (in a good way) at the same time. fave tracks: water, paradise.
→ skin & earth acoustic by lights
m: Lights wrote and illustrated a comic book under the same title, and then created a soundtrack, yet she didn’t stop at these feats. no, Lights then recorded acoustic versions of the soundtrack within the actual settings of the comic. that is, when a song is set to play in a tunnel, she records it in a tunnel. or a cliff. or outside in the rain at midnight. the resulting album and videos are magical.
m: this Netflix docu-series based on the New York Times column of the same name is both heartbreaking and incredible. patients with mystery long term illnesses are able to present their story and files online, and follow leads submitted by readers. you’ll be wiping your eyes in no time.
→ the song of achilles by madeline miller
gray: my goodreads review of this is simply “*prolonged screaming*” and i stand by this
→ fruit of knowledge by Liv Strömquist, translated by Melissa Bowers
m: this one took me a long time to get through. extreme sexism does that to someone. that being said, this comic needs to be read, and i don’t care what gender you are… read this history and analysis of the pussy. how has it been viewed through history and science? what about periods? read it !!!!
→ Satoko and Nada by Yupechika
m: these short mangas follow two international roommates in an American university, Satoko, a Japense girl, and Nada, a muslim girl. they, and the reader, have so much to learn and celebrate as these three cultures intersect.
→ water. remember to stay hydrated, readers! we’re nearly through the hot season….
→ nadine: what are your stories and how are they beautiful? what are the stories of your loved ones and how are they beautiful? a suggestion: take the time to ask someone you love for a story and listen. you won’t have to find the poetry of it; the poetry will find you.
→ m: “desire is just information,” says Jamie Lee Finch. what do i want, and why? how do i feel about this, and why?
→ m: i recently took a trip along the Oregon coast, and it was absolutely stunning and mind blowing. every day and every moment felt like utter magic, whether the sun played over my books driving through forests, wild horses sipped the river, or whales spouted in the ocean. i fell in absolute love. coming home though this begs me to dig my way through disappointment into every day wonder. what do i love about where i am in any moment? which senses are engaged? where can i find contentedness within monotony?
what about you? what's making life worth living lately?
send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I've been feeling a bit more alive lately, and I can't tell you exactly why, but I can tell you about small wonders recently:
> The nights and mornings are suddenly much cooler,
> and the owl has returned to their perch outside my window, hooting.
> The Owl and Bone August tarot challenge has stoked both my honesty and vulnerability. I am learning that it is okay to want things... passion = direction!
> The dad happily telling his son how awesome the library is. He just said, "All of this is just stuff and things until you realize how important it all is. So dig in. The library is so awesome." My librarian heart exploded!
> Steve. Harrington.
> This dog made me cry tears.
> The Turkish brew coffee using hot sand. The world is magical.
>And the reason I'm here... poems and poems and poems! Words keep stumbling into my way lately, and snagging my breath. Following are some quite short, but so saturated poems for your every day grief, astonishment, and political disenchantment. Take a sip. Enjoy.
Have a lovely weekend. Stay hydrated and connect with the earth somehow.
july love list
We're back with another love list, with the same message as usual: pleasure matters. I wrote about this on my Instagram:
pleasure matters, and taking stock of such pleasure is essential.
lately the news really gives me big feelings. not just anger, but like, this place has a lot of straight up evil in it, and i am very helpless to stop any of it. i heard about a little girl who said if she could have any super power, it would be softness- she could touch any bad guy and soften them. honestly, yeah. add in the people who have apathy. anyhoo, i’m remembering that it’s okay to stop taking in the news for a bit to relearn/remember joy and beauty and pleasure. that’s political activism too.... to remember and prove that life is worth saving and loving. long way to say: i like leaves with water droplets. they make me feel better.
→Holst’s Venus, the Bringer of Peace from The Planets.
nadine: this month’s classical rec is for those soft summer mornings. Holst’s Planets Suite in general inspired many movie scores -- you may hear echoes of popular movie themes in Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune… what i like most about Venus is the gentle dreamy dancing tune. there’s a depth and an undeterrable idealism in that tune. i hope Venus does indeed bring you some peace this month.
→ Mother’s Daughter by Miley Cyrus
nadine: to me, this is about the very contradictory messages that our generation has received growing up -- especially those of us who were afab and raised by at least one feminist adult. i think we were taught to stand up for ourselves, to affirm our boundaries, to accept no ill treatment, to tear down walls and smash glass ceilings… but then we inevitably had other adults around us send us the (sometimes very clear and unambiguous) message that doing so made us “freaks,” “nasty,” “evil.” sometimes it was the very same adults saying “you can do anything,” and “no, not that, sit back down young lady.” this song is almost like: “see the monster you created? it’s beautiful. we’re beautiful. we will not change. we will not make ourselves small. we will not try less. and don’t you dare try to take away our freedom.”
→ Comfortable by Lontalius
m: i discovered this song through nothing.nowhere’s livestreams, and it stops me in my tracks every time i hear it; it’s one of my favorite songs…
→ wildly idle (humble before the void) by hand habits
gray: idk man i just love hand habits. i love the little “scenes” scattered on this album and their beautiful atmospheric quality. oh, and having the last lyric on the album be, “i’m gonna grow”? here at the sprout club, we stan. fave tracks: in between, cowboy (scene), sun beholds me.
→ high as hope by florence + the machine
gray: file under laying-on-the-floor-and-doing-nothing music. fave tracks: sky full of song, patricia, no choir.
→ Stranger Things season three.
m: 80’s music has been more popular at the pool lately, and i half expect billy to strut by. need i say more?
m: i saw this video, and it blew my mind, and that's when i knew i had to actually sit down to watch this movie. i loved it. if anything, watch it for the art.
→ Heartstopper by Alice Osman
m: this webcomic is so stunningly lovely. gives me all the warm and fuzzies, while simultaneously wanting to punch all the mean boys in the world. read for wholesome lgbtq+ content. comes in print and for free online, on tapas.io.
→ on earth we’re briefly gorgeous by ocean vuong
gray: m included this in last months love list, but i hadn’t read it yet. well, now i’ve read it and i just think it needs to be on this month’s list. so now there’s two of us telling you to read it. so if you haven’t, now you have to.
→ Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal
m: men have gone extinct, leaving only women alive, leaving me fighting to keep a straight face as i read this comic at work. hilarious, relatable, and surprising.
→ “the writing advice that’s secretly good life advice” by molly conway
gray: the best writing advice always has the foundation of “just write.” as conway puts it, “the worst thing i’ve ever written is still better than the best thing that only ever lives in my head.”
→ LitHub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2019, Part 2
m: LitHub’s list of books coming out in the remaining months of 2019 is absolutely juicy. it took me ages to sift through, and left me utterly overwhelmed at the amount of good work coming out. if you need something to read, this is your go to.
→ everything by Adrienne Maree Brown
m: this person, and their pursuit of wholeness and justice, is poetry. Start with The Creative Independent's feature, and then start Emergent Strategy asap, on dealing with and creating change.
→ cold brew everything.
m: finally realized i could make coffee and chai and let them brew overnight in the fridge. actually life changing.
→ trump is a ra_ist
choose one: c / p.
tea that is not new, but true.
→ nadine: tell me what you want, what you really really want… but seriously. in all-caps in my morning pages, i wrote: “who am i and what do i need from life and what do i want to offer the world?” it’s like part of me knows exactly what the answer is. but then i keep writing: “do i really want this?” with the wild hope that maybe i’ll go, oh, right, i don’t, phew! but i do, i do, i do.
→ m: i retook the personality tests (myer briggs via 16personalities, strengs finder, and enneagram) for the first time in a year and was somewhat pleasantly surprised to see shifts in my self. I was the same myer briggs, but through 16personalities’ percentages, i could see growth such as being more in touch with intuition. feels like healthy growth. on the flip side, i don’t know what enneagram i am, and this leaves me overjoyed… the 6 has felt like a straightjacket, and i am shedding it. moral of the story: we are ever evolving beings, always creating ourselves. and sometimes the worst circumstances teach us to become more like we always wanted to be. i think this is what faith is. i am not thankful for what has happened to me, but i am thankful for who i have become.
→ m: “am i a perfect living realization of my values and beliefs?” -- emergent strategy by adrienne maree brown. your work matters. everything about the world feels heavy and impossible, but the way that you carry yourself and hold responsibility for the energy you bring into a space matters.
find something you loved this month. tell us about it.
our june love list
we are all humans. we might not feel like it sometimes (i rarely do), but really, we are, i promise. i think that lately, it has been difficult for many of us to express love and joy without a lingering sense of guilt. it’s cool on the internet to be emotionless and how can i even think about those things when the arctic is melting and the middle east is unstable and there are school shootings and there are over 70 countries where homosexuality is illegal and some of those it’s punishable by death and the bolsonaro is trying to sell the brazilian rainforests to the highest bidder and--
“As we're bouncing up and down trying to make the floor break
it’s unhealthy to think like this. yes, it’s important to be socially conscious, but, like i said, we are humans. first, we are not super efficient robots who have the ability to solve all the world’s crises, and it’s inhumane to try to put that pressure on ourselves. we really don’t have the ability to process and take on all this suffering, and when we do, we tend to feel a sense of responsibility. second, by denying ourselves true expressions of joy and love, we are denying ourselves intrinsic and crucial parts of the human experience. when was the last time you ended a good day that didn’t have an asterisk attached?
“In those heavy days of June
the month of june is pride month, which i’m sure you all knew, maybe from the inundation of rainbow merch or photos from pride parades or just generally not living under a rock. it’s important that, during pride month, we memorialize the founders of the movement, remember our history, and pay tribute to those we have lost. but just as importantly, we, as lgbt people, should express love and ourselves even when it wanders far from the status quo. in a world that wants to make us ashamed of who we are, we should try our hardest to not be afraid. if we are out, we should do this loudly, so that people know we are here. if we are not yet out, we should respect ourselves and our boundaries and proclaim love softly, so we know we are here. these small acts of self are acts of defiance, and feed the hope of a better world.
To love yourself, you must know yourself. And to know yourself, you must love yourself. Love then is a sublime and universal understanding of self and of others. Love is a discipline of one’s own self-consciousness. Love is beautiful. Love is just. It must endure, it must evolve, it must expand, it must be born-again.
we do these monthly lists not only to share ourselves with you, but to share the things that make us happy, that make everyday life more livable, that we love, and we offer them to you. these small examinations tell us that it really isn’t all bad, it isn’t really all hopeless. the world is a beautiful and weird thing and is somehow there for your taking, so grab all you can fit in two hands. and without further ado, here is the june love list.
→ love yourself/with my whole heart by sufjan stevens
gray: sufjan stevens is out there trudging through mud fighting for our rights this pride month. we love u sufjan.
m: i was going to say this too. u will love it.
→ too bright by perfume genius
gray: i have to include this for pride month!! i so much love how this album seamlessly marries piano ballads with art pop anthems with some more experimental cuts. fave tracks: my body, grid
→ Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Major, I. Pezzo in Forma di Sonatina
nadine: this month’s classical rec is also well-timed for pride (it is generally accepted nowadays that Tchaikovsky was gay). this man’s story hit me super hard in the last month. to put it shortly, Tchaikovsky married a (female) fan for well-intentioned reasons, but then it turned out to be the Worst Decision Ever, so he ran away. he then wrote that “there is nothing more fruitless than not wanting to be that which I am by nature.” i listened to that story on BBC Radio 3 [https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p01ydqsj] and i wondered why people like him (...and me lol) ignore their own inner guidance and any glaring red flags in order to orchestrate the biggest self-sabotage possible.
→Tennyson's Beautiful World
m: i rediscover this song every summer, and i'm head over heels. i'm consistently amazed at Tennyson's surprising sounds used as music, such as the rush of a bubble drink being poured. deep pure summer vibes.
→ halsey on stright pride and fear
m: you may have heard the call for a straight pride this month. recently, two women were beaten for being gay. when halsey performed in the town, she gave this speech. by the end, i was definitely in tears, as queer kids yelled, “I am not afraid.”
→ on simplicity and beauty, in a silent, four second video
m: the earth is magic
→ Rocketman (2019) in theatres, for those “new life who dis” vibes
nadine: ugh, this. i almost didn’t put it in because i feel like it detonates and honestly, i have shame around proclaiming my love for it (a can of worms i shall open in my journal). but the truth is i love pop and musicals, i love things that are flashy and sort of camp, i love things that are over-the-top and larger than life, i love going to the cinema, and i love this. it’s exactly the type of thing i want to make, songs and score (the arrangements are sublime) and story. plus it feels so good to go to the cinema and forget straightness exists for a while, you know? this movie is kind of a musical happening in Elton John’s head. it’s very introspective and it’s ultimately about personal growth and support systems. please watch and ponder: what is authenticity? when we create ourselves, do we become more or less authentic?
→On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
m: oh oh oh, you know how it is when ocean vuong writes. it’s exactly what you expect: beautiful and fascinating and saturated and heartbreaking. it’s exactly that. OEWBG is a poetic book about coming of age within a family laden with trauma, so be prepared to feel something. I felt inspired in many ways after i completed this book, including in the way i write, and what i write.
→ “All Other Trans People Are Real, But *I* Am A Terrible Fraud” by Devon Price
“I thought I could live a whole lifetime being mistaken for a woman and just cruising along through it. I figured that if I was really trans, I would have known in childhood, and that I would have asserted it loudly, with defiance. Something. Just. Anything. But I didn’t have that confidence. I lacked that introspection. And for years I’ve held onto that, and taken it for a sign that all my feelings are fake.”
gray: insert *i’m in this photo and i don’t like it* meme. but seriously i think it’s hard to admit self doubt and as someone who feels the same way about my gender identity as this author does, i really admire this piece.
→ “Feminist Trans Men & the Narrative of Internalized Misogyny” by Seth Katz
“The difference between a trans man or nonbinary AFAB person and a cis woman (detransitioned or not) isn’t that we hate women and want to utilize misogyny, it is simply that we aren’t women.”
→ Levi the Poet on “I Used to Think that Positive Self-Talk was BS”
m: it's easy to disregard most self help things, esp if you have depression and anxiety. but i've been learning that so many things i roll my eyes at are, scientifically, true. levi covers one of these.
→ seltzer and only seltzer please someone help me i am kind of addicted….
→ the smores frap is BACK at starbucks and i am HAPPY. marshmallow whipped cream you say? on my way.
→ new york’s next public monument honors two trans activists: Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. yes. this is the exact tea i want.
→nadine’s 30 day journal/tarot challenge is kicking my butt in a good way.
→ Questions to Assess Negative Views of Self and World
→ m: why haven’t i done the thing ive been mulling over for years now? what holds me back? what did i used to love, and why did i stop doing it?
→ nadine: when i developed my shame and guilt, what part of my personality took the biggest hit? how may i heal this part of my personality? maybe i need to stop asking myself what i “should” do and start asking myself what i want to do.
→gray: love for oneself is far more complicated than love for another. when we are confronted with self love, we are confronted with questions. when asked, “who are they?” about someone else, we can take comfort in the fact that it’s impossible for us to ever really know. but ourselves? aren’t we suppose to know? and since we’re supposed to know, if we realize we don’t, how can we love? or if we do, and we don’t like what we see? this is something that i struggle with. love for my body and love for my mind. these things do not come as naturally as i would wish. the only way i can reckon with this fact is that i am trying.
what about you? what's making life worth living lately?
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