Dispatch From The Mundane 022
May I be open to the pain of sorrow, the pain of grief
What can we make of this time together? How’s your heart?
This dispatch begins on a snow day. I’ve worked almost fifty hours and my legs hurt. I wake up, and it’s warm, and I enjoy it, but then I wonder what it’s costing. The bill’s been higher. I fall back asleep and dream of the interface of the Outlook screen and write, “To circle back, I want to be happy.”
Wake up feeling empty, but I was confused; I was hungry and tired and not nihilistic. I trudge through the snow, slip, and fall, and stop into the nail salon. It’s full of people and laughter. I was up with cyanotypes all night and looking at porcelain cups; the rich blue is always on my mind. In 2015 I bought a cerulean blue skirt, and it felt pivotal then, and I suppose I’ve always been in a blue period.
I ask for a partial manicure and show my nail tech the picture, and she says, “yes, it’s so pretty.” I’m not the sort to sit and idle in a nail salon. It’s a hollow action of taking care of me, but it feels significant this time around. I’m open to all exchanges. The laughter in the shop on that cold, snowy afternoon and the fact I left the house. I had to go to the hardware store, which was a detour.
I am sitting now and eating seaweed and seasoned rice, revising this dispatch and realizing that the world seems so different each time I wake up and look at this document.
I’m eating black sesame banana bread and listening to this meditation on grief for the 100,000th time in ten years. I’ve written about it before, and I’ve likely sent it to you if I thought maybe you’d enjoy it, but I listen to this likely once a day. I am not my sorrow; I mumble, brushing my teeth and pulling floss to get stray sesame seeds from my gums. I regret the time I didn’t spend with my family over the years, and I regret how an implosive rage defined me. I am every dry swallow of sweet black bread. I can taste the coarse grains of salt in the bread, and it cuts my tongue, and I say again, I am open to the pain.
I’m sipping horchata watching a recording of Giselle with Svetlana Zakharova, Roberto Bolle, and the Teatro Alla Scala Ballet Company. Oh, it’s so gorgeous and so sad. I cry every time I see Giselle return to the grave, this version with a trap door and an extended hand leaving the Prince with his woe and a rose.
I love this version the most because Marta Romagna’s one of the most enchanting Myrtha, Queen of the Willis. Giselle would’ve been the old world’s Carrie. I love the wrath, the grand jeté, vengeance, and the grace of the ballet.
There are blankets of snow, and the following day it’s gone. It’s sleet grey out, and now it’s so warm I’m unraveling myself at customer service, the heat built searching for a receipt to do a return at a store causing me to drip because it’s too hot for the layers I put on because it was frigid yesterday. It’s hard to adapt lately.
I’ll tell you what I’m reading or about to read:
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion: Re-read, in progress, and often before bed. I recall Caroline telling me about Joan in high school. Caroline’s Mom read Joan when she was a girl, and Caroline tells me how she wants to write like Joan Didion. She talks about sentence structure, all the magazines Joan was in, and the big deal. I don’t take any of this nostalgia with me as I sit in the dry heat of Joan’s California. I find myself surprisingly empty-handed.
What I'm listening to:
I've listened to this playlist on repeat. Oh, I love it. I enjoy all these thematic gen-z playlists. "Vintage Jazz" makes me laugh loudly! Dark Academia, haunted romances in a castle classical lo-fi, "you're a nymph who has just been granted immortality as a tree," indie rock mixes. The notion. I love the Johnny Hartmann track— I looked up and thought, this person is a genius. It weaves in one of my favorite Nina Simone songs towards the end, and I'm teary-eyed, crooning. Slow-dancing in a cozy hell, lovely.
I've been a fan of Placebo, what feels my entire life. I listened to their newest releases while working this week and got quite excited to see them in the future. I can't say if I thought the new music was good, but I had a distinct fan reaction of "you're doing great sweeties," and that goofy feeling alone delighted me.
After work on Tuesday, I sat on my lumpy and sunken futon sofa in the living room listening to the new Claire Rousay Sometimes I Feel Like I Have No Friends album and staring out the window as the sun shuttered like a garage door. I ate lemon turmeric couscous with roasted beets and chickpeas bound together with a garlicky parsley tahini dressing. I chewed slowly.
My favorite meal of 2021 - I usually use whatever juice or fruit I have - apple, mango nectar, or orange. I saw a recipe once with cranberry juice, and I’m pretty intrigued by that one. I make this about once or twice a month. I made it with leftover basmati and mushrooms this week, but I’ll marinate tofu or seitan some other weeks. Honestly, you can use any meat/non-meat; honestly—I love this dish with mushrooms or chickpeas.
I'm pivoting. A lot. All the time. Feel like I'm an extra in a Strictly Ballroom (1992) remake, and I've got a goofy, puffy taffeta and lace dress that's cleaning the floor like a Zamboni cleaner. It's a lot different than feeling like a volcano (occasional) or feeling like a temperamental teen ficus in the wrong but also the proper light exposure. I feel like a ficus where everything could be enough, yet I don't know what I want and wither in indecision.
Lately, I'm pivoting towards the cozy.
I want to know comfort in 2022.
As I said, I'm dreaming more— more than I have ever before. I tell my therapist that I'm excited about Jesse's wedding this summer, and she says, "so you're seeing a future?" I suppose I am. I can't think beyond two weeks, but that's more than one day. Sometimes I don't want to think ahead— I can, but I don't want to the burden of dreaming or being happy seeing Adam and Mitchell and it not happening. I am excited to compare the width of SJ's smile to Emma's and measure for measure, inch for inch, create a new currency. I'm bartering in smiles.
Spent a decade sleeping on a broken futon bed that I got in college, and I'm the sort that complains but sleeps where there's space. I recall sleeping with rats crawling over my sister and screaming because one crawled into her mouth. Thirty years later, and now I want to learn how to make a space warm. I want to feel a strictly bought chair is beautiful and comfortable. I often have guilt for wanting to throw pillows.
Want to frame all the photos I've just had in a trunk for years instead of taping them onto the wall. I am not sure why these desires intrude my mind during this inflation time when materials to make a frame for a photograph cost so much, and anything you order might take weeks, if not months, to arrive. It's boring; these are slow changes I'm making that feel unnatural. These mundane ways make you feel permanent. Why decorate if we live in hell? Do I need a welcome mat in hell?
Perhaps I accept that there will always be hell, and I want it to have lovely candles melted into wine bottles and soft, warm light; I want it to smell of pine, cloves, and burnt sugar. There's an IKEA Billy bookcase in hell. Hell is organized and minimal, where even the flames have their place.
Years ago, I dreamed of living alone and cooking vegan recipes; I remember hours editing videos together and reaching out to Sam to ask to use one of his songs in the opening. Recall awakening to a miscarrying in my college bedroom and the pale coldness of my skin as I forced myself to get up quietly and not wake up my housemates.
Couldn't think of going back on a channel about self-care when I was self-destructive. Perhaps that's the reality of any self-help trending, main characters, and that girl is that you're fraying, holding on by a thread, and the sum of your physical objects doesn't outweigh the void. Carried that bed I almost died in with me from place to place until I threw it in the dump four years ago.
Lived out of IKEA bags and in a constant shuffle for so long; I've done what I could with what I had, and now in this room of my own, every time I say grace before a meal, it's to forgive myself.
Simplifying things has been a process over the last few years. I'm not good at it, and it's not natural to me/I recently saw the artist Claire Rousay live, and I was floored by how efficient and minimal their setup was. Watching her pack up after the set— every object had a place, and there wasn't one cord too many. I have yet to pack for a weekend trip that didn't look like I was u-Hauling across the country. It's taken a few years with therapy, meds, good friends, and living to see another day to get to a point where I can hear my thoughts again.
Just put the kettle on because it’s something I do now.
It’s something I feel I was born to do. I have an electric kettle now but I recall the black iron kettle of my youth. I grew up in a chaotic home as a child, truly evil, but weirdly it’s the mundane and slow objects in the house I recall fondly. I loved the heavy kettle and the way it’s whistle alerting me that it was time for the dinosaurs in my oatmeal to hatch. The electric kettle can’t scream at me like my mother telling me boil water. She’s going into labor as I iron my school uniform.
Almost seven years old and I recall calling 911. I am shrugging my backpack on and she’s in a stretcher. The EMTs ask if she wants me to come but we both shake our head because I’ve got to go to school. I say proudly that this morning I litt the pilot light with a match all on my own.
The EMT says “Are you sure she can go alone?”
“She’ll be fine, she does it all the time.”
alone in my room is a once defunct and now weekly dispatch from a person who clapped when the plane landed on a domestic flight. consider donating to the world central kitchen and their mission to feed the people during crisis.