In this one I “talk abt survivor, feeling awful, and spring! (?)" It also includes a new poem. Here's the link to the original on patreon.
Hi everybody! Hope you’re holding up and hanging in ok <3
I’m going to dive right in, but first a few little website updates: I made a shirt for Olivia, let out a pair of pants, darned a mitten, updated the description for my butt patching, added my bandcamp fan page to my info zone, and finished a poem (which I’ll talk about further down.)
Organizationally, since I’ve been mainly feeling two things in rapid oscillation this month, I’m going to split this one into two parts. Let’s start with:
Maybe a weird entry point, but Olivia and I have been watching Survivor lately, and there was a little moment that really stuck out to me. Inside season fifteen (Survivor: China), there’s a challenge (called “Gatecrasher” on the wiki, lol) focused around what I would call a puzzle log: a big, ten foot wooden battering ram with a labyrinth carved into it. It’s kind of hard to explain the puzzle aspect with words, but the part that hit me was before navigating a peg through the labyrinth, the six folks on each team have to carry the log and use it to smash through several walls. On one of the teams is this guy, Dave, who is actually totally insufferable (and misogynistic, but that’s most men on Survivor…) He thinks he knows best how to run the camp so he bosses everyone around and refuses to listen to any input and ends up completely overworked because he’s just doing everything at camp himself. So, at his team’s second barricade Dave is carrying the front of the puzzle log by a little strap, and he is just totally wiped out. He can barely lift the log. The host, Jeff Probst, yells something like, “Aw geez, looks like it’s the log that’s throwing Dave around!” And so I turn to Olivia and I’m like, “That’s it, that’s exactly how I feel!” I’ve never seen a representation of someone on TV so flat out exhausted before, and it helped me realize that the cause for most of my despair this month has stemmed from a very simple weariness.
I’m still working full time, and every day that I wake up at 4am and eat my little breakfast in the dark on the couch and change into my musty little work clothes and get on my little bike and zoom through the cold to the bakery and put on my little non-slip shoes and my bandana and my apron, I just think: “Weary, weary, weary.” Usually by 8 or 9 I’m feeling better, and I am getting a lot more comfortable socializing with everybody in the morning, and I know my situation is easier than a lot of people's. But, this is the despair section so dangit I’m not going to minimize that every week that passes I feel more miserable and closer to breaking! Compounding on pandemic fatigue, I’m phenomenally forgetful and very often apathetic at home. I have all these things I remember I want (or need) to do, but once I’m in the place to do them my conditioned instincts kick in and I either grab the Switch or open Twitter. In the last week or two the latter developed into an unhealthy non-stop scroll. I’m entering the space where I’m following too many people, so there’s more content than I can reasonably see. Because of this, I end up hunched over my phone on my lunch breaks hurtling through tweets. It doesn’t help that things aren’t exactly ever going that well, so I’m trying to sprint past police brutality and anti-trans shit so I can see my funny little trans jokes online. Anyway, twitter is now once again uninstalled and I long for the summer, when I intend to go back down below full time. Until then it’s just getting from week to week.
I think I’m getting into a routine with this monthly newsletter thing where right after I’m done writing I get to ravenously read all the other newsletters and articles that piled up while I thought about my own. A very important one this month was from the luminous and brilliant Jules Giles-Peterson: “Abigail Shrier Goes to Washington to Fantasize About Sex Crimes with Children”. It’s responding to what has been the most despair-inducing thing this month for me: the swelling legislative attack on trans kids across the US. She brings out the psychoanalytic idea of projection, which finally clarified the conservative discourse-flipping I’ve been trying to name for a few years now. She very clearly demonstrates how all the TERF discourse about trans people sexually abusing children is actually exactly what TERFs are doing to trans children. I’m not going to get into this because I already tried a draft where I do, and I just can’t write clearly about it. But, Jules can, so I’d really recommend giving it a read. I do want to say though, it’s disgustingly haunting remembering a year ago when Idaho passed its unprecedented transphobic sports bill. It’s wretched to know I am in one of the worst fucking places, that more than half the country is taking ques from this garbage zone. And now they’re doing it again with this bill trying to intimidate schools out of teaching about racism or sexism! I’m cutting myself off here, too much despair.
Near the beginning of the month, Olivia forwarded me a different newsletter that I haven’t stopped thinking about: Anne Helen Petersen’s “No I’m Not Ready”. It really clearly pointed out how now that vaccines are being rolled out, there is an increasing social pressure to move on, get back to normal, and get back to work, all without addressing or attending to the immense grief and trauma we’ve all endured this last year. Since we read it, Olivia and I have been talking a lot about this. We’re noticing how many headlines are referring to the pandemic in the past tense, as if infection and death aren’t still running rampant. Not mention how many people are simply not getting the vaccine...
That being said, thanks to my continued employment through a grocery store, I am now fully vaccinated! It was a flurry of news following state announcements, followed by rushed research and a surprisingly soon appointment, followed by 2 weeks of strange in-between-ness, then a big tiny moment this last Friday, and now a big mess of emotional processing. I left work early for my shot, and what a weird shift that was. It felt like such a big deal, like some huge mechanisms of possibility were moving around, knocking on doors I hadn’t thought of in a long time. But at the same time, it was so banal! One of my coworkers got it done on her lunch and came back without much to say. It felt almost boring that everyone else I know is going to have a similar experience. Per the above linked newsletter, I also don’t feel at all ready to re-enter the world. I’m afraid and exhausted by the idea of having to readjust my COVID norms, re-evaluating every interaction against new, somehow-even-more-complicated situations. And despite all the complexity, when I was sitting in that chair waiting for the cooldown period after the shot, I still felt like crying. But instead I talked to an old-classmate-turned-coworker about torrenting etiquette and how the Film & TV department got started…
Have you noticed we’re on the bridge between sections? It kind of snuck up on us... Suddenly you look around and see a sign indicating the other focus of the newsletter. It reads:
Of course, I’m thrilled about the vaccine too. Paired with the burbling up of spring, it feels like hope is right around the corner, like maybe I can start living again! I keep having these moments of clarity through the fog. I bike home with only a jacket over my t-shirt and remember what it’s like to be vivaciously outside! We open the windows to let the sounds breeze in! I’ve got that spring-cleaning itch!
I’ve been playing a lot of Stardew Valley this month. At the end of summer in the game there is an event where you go down to the docks after dark and the whole town is gathered to watch the annual migration of the moonlight jellies. A soft song plays as little bluish purple sprites drift in from the ocean. The camera pans slowly across the docks. I had my headphones on and there was sun coming in the window, and I felt all at once that very big feeling of the seasons shifting, somewhere in my nose, even though I wasn’t in the same place as the game. The renewed possibility of regularly going outside is just filling me with so much joy, ok? My body is excited about it.
Another glowing light this month was the grand and sacred occasion of Olivia’s birthday! Late March of last year, as you can maybe imagine, was not a great landscape for birthday parties, so this year we worked really hard to redeem the fun of celebration. A few days ahead of time we picked up frozen potstickers (and a boba, of course) from Young’s Alley. The day of, I was off work, so I made a lovely funfetti box cake with whipped ganache and Milk Bar cake crumbs, watercolored some drippy stand-ins for late gifts, and orchestrated what I’d like to call a “conceptual scavenger hunt” in the new arboretum. I would give a clue to a location, and then when we got there, I’d reveal my reflective conversation question prompt. It took us all the way through the arb. As we were leaving, the hail came in hard, so we extra enjoyed our potstickers & cake in the comfort of home :^)
Under the umbrella of “togetherness”: I finally finished a poem that I’d been struggling with since last summer. It’s called “local enormity”, you can read it on my website at that link. It’s about that holy closeness you feel with people in moments outside of time. The first quote is from Adrianne Lenker’s album songs, which I talked about in January, and the second is from the film Before Sunrise. Of course, now that kind of proximity has been largely impossible for a long time, but partway through the month I got to meet-up with Scout in the old arboretum. It was simple, but it felt holy. We hadn’t seen each other since last October, which was the last time I hung out with anyone in the flesh in a substantial, standalone way. We had talked about how we would survive the winter, and then we went and tried to survive it I guess. So this month it felt like an especially big deal for both of us to emerge from our little dens to see each other.
Last night was the worm moon, but the weather was so wild it was totally obscured. The night before, I could see it out the kitchen window through the branches. It drew me out, worm from my burrow. But yesterday the wind picked up. By midday the hills were gone, dust-hidden, and as the sun sank it grew more and more intense. We heard rain on the windows, then hail, and by the time we went to bed there was a solid layer of off-white outside. The sky was bright, and I could still feel the moon through the clouds. We woke up this morning with the snow-hail still present and the temperature below freezing. I was very glad to not have to get up and zip to work this morning.
Writing this, I am curled up on the ground. I’ve pulled the couch cushions upstairs into the office, and I’m propped up against some pillows against the bookshelf. Kitten is curled up with me in my nook. Olivia is at the desk, toiling away. I’m listening to Emily Alison Zhou’s soothing blue hour, looking out the window. All I can see is the top of a tree wiggling in the persistent wind. The clouds are rolling in quick over the blue sky. And now, snow against the sunshine. And now, a flurry of hail. And now, sun through the clouds again.
We're getting there,