this year, mornings imply an act of bravery
The title of this dispatch came from a poem in my friend Ricky’s gorgeous debut poetry collection, The Life Assignment. The poem is called “Layaway” (perfect, right) and speaks to finding contentment and optimism in the discontentedness.
It’s a relief to acknowledge the hardness. IT’S SO HARD RIGHT NOW. The terrors of the world continue to compound (ps here are some QTPOC orgs doing mutual aid in Texas) and all the days are just smearing into each other. I’ve been regularly having early morning ‘coffees’ with friends — super simple calls with our favorite hot drinks that always improve my days — and recently, a friend was like, oh god I had to pep talk myself so hard out of bed today and I almost dropped the phone I was so happy to hear someone else say it. I didn’t know other people did the daily negotiations that I do — coaxing myself into drinking another cup of water, to make dinner, to leave my house for a walk because its just been too many days of not leaving the house at all.
I’m on a mission to see where else I can cut out the unnecessary suffering in my life. I’ve been wearing a ‘deprogrammer’ to remind my jaw muscles they can relax, and it’s working. It’s working! My head feels blissfully silent. My body no longer feels at war with itself. The success of the deprogrammer inspired me to upgrade my wfh situation, too, which means I’m no longer hunching over my kitchen table for eight hours a day in a-very-nice-but-totally-unsuitable-for-deadlining caneback dining chair. Being kinder to my body has felt like the truest act of love. I can’t believe I endured such debilitating pain for so long. The 5 of Cups card called it: We can wrap pain around us so tightly we can’t imagine any other way to be. I think I was so afraid there was no solution, and the fear of that possibility kept me from trying to address it, or even talk about it. In her 1985 book, “The Body in Pain,” Elaine Scarrey writes that “physical pain does not simply resist language but actively destroys it.” All of my energy went towards coping, to feelingnotfeeling, leaving zero capacity to deal, even as it impacted my moods, my capacity for levity, socializing, romance and sex.
The departure of the pain made so much room. I can’t wait to figure out what will expand into this new vastness. I feel broken wide open. I saw the phrase ‘embodied aliveness’ in a tweet recently and it resonated in a deep yesyesyesyesyesthatsexactlyit way. That is what I am working towards. I’ve been in a protective state (even before the panorama, though she just exacerbated it) and now, it’s a total pleasure to watch the shell start to fall away.
What I’m reading: Mary put me onto this library app called Libby and I’m thrilled that I can devour books and not give Amazon another DIME. (I tend to read fiction on my devices and non-fiction in print, so I can dog-ear, highlight and underline.) I’m currently working my way through “A Burning” by Megha Majumdar and Mateo Askaripour's “Black Buck.” Please send me your fiction recs!
Beans I’m eating: Samin’s olive oil refried beans recipe, which call for a long stovetop simmer and not an InstantPot, which felt scandalous to me. I love my InstantPot and I can’t wait to have enough counter real estate to have two. But she was right: There’s nothing like filling a cold climate house with the earthy scent of beans, bay leaves, cumin and aromatics. Making this recipe used up my last bag of my quarantine beans — !!! — but I just got some Christmas lima beans from Zursun and placed an order for sorana, prim manteca and butter varietals from Iacopi Farms. Will report back.
What I’m watching: I’m enjoying the meditation on grief and refusal of reality in WandaVision, even though I wish the show gave a *little* more attention to the lingering loss and disorientation that has upended Captain Rambeau’s life, too.
What I’m listening to: Sam’s new album “Interior.” It’s dreamy, a drifty soundtrack that is perfect for moon rituals, salt baths, journaling, snowy walks.
What I’m thinking about: Tre’vell’s sharp piece about the growing commonality of identifying as non-binary and why some of us don’t identify as trans. If you’ve read it and have thoughts, please holler at me! I’m also listening to ‘Test Kitchen,’ a ReplyAll pod about the psychological toll of dealing with workplace racism and sexism — in this case, at Bon Appetit. I’m also standing in solidarity with Black podcasters who have since revealed that the toxic dynamic explored by the ReplyAll was *also* perpetuated by ReplyAll, and closely following along to see what happens next.
What I’m drinking: Filtered water with organic sage leaves and Meyer lemons.