Imagine a caterpillar feeling the mysterious urge to make a cocoon and then turning almost completely into mush, having no idea what the fuck is going on, because it basically just turned into nutrient-rich soup. And then imagine some fellow caterpillar friends coming along and asking the cocooned mush “heyyyy what’s up, what’s new?”
How the fuck does the caterpillar answer that in a way that doesn’t sound insane?
That is what I’m going through. I feel like mush.
It feels selfish to basically turn all my energy inward to focus on this metamorphosis I feel happening, but it’s necessary for the process. A caterpillar can’t half-ass their transformation. Despite having “transformed” many times in varying degrees of intensity, this is the one that feels—though not as emotionally intense as the one I went through in 2020—like I cannot spare any energy for anything else during this time.
But it’s weird because I accidentally created a bit of a “life coach” dynamic with a lot of my friends last year, where I held a lot more space for them than I expected in return, out of fears of being rejected for being “too much” (a common occurrence among autistic females). I spent a lot of energy last year maintaining my long distance friendships, and basically collapsed from the imbalance of being leaned upon but barely being able to lean. So going from very involved supportive friend to basically ghosting everyone might have been a bit of a shock to them.
But still, they ask after me, because they’re not assholes and they care about me.
I told one friend “spiritual journey.” I told another “I can’t really explain what happening to me but I’m changing a lot.” Many of the conversations I’ve had are uncomfortable, because I’m no longer the “self” they’re used to, but I can’t articulate who I’m becoming or what’s even happening to me right now.
I was venting about this to my sister today, and she’s actually the one who brought up the cocoon metaphor. I’d had the metaphor in my head for a bit, but hadn’t verbalized it to anyone as a way to describe my current condition.
My sister said, “It makes me sad that your friends can’t understand that you’re in a cocoon right now, going through all these changes, becoming the person you’re supposed to be.”
I was momentarily shocked that she was able to so easily see and verbalize what I’ve been going through. I seriously underestimated her. It feels so good to be seen like that.
One of my hopes for this blog of mine is that it’ll help me better articulate the changes I’m going through, the evolution, the ascension, whatever the fuck it is. I have a vague inner knowing and I’ve seen a few random pieces of writing on the internet from “spiritual” people or whatever they are, who talk about this kind of thing—but I think I’m not going to understand this until I reach the other side, however long that’s going to take.
The friend who I told “I can’t really explain what happening to me but I’m changing a lot” asked me if they were good changes, if I was happy.
Yes, they’re very good changes. Yes, I’m very happy.
Confused and mushy, but happy and good.
I am alone a majority of the time but I rarely ever feel alone.
I do not feel alone when I’m sitting in the sun, pleasantly warm with little covering up my skin. It’s no coincidence that they call it “sunkissed” for that’s how I feel with the sun heating up my skin, bringing out the natural toasty smell of me. How impossible it is to feel lonely when the lord of the day is caressing me, making my entire body blush.
Even better for not feeling lonely when one is alone, is when the sun is accompanied by a breeze, softly. It makes me feel like something is happening. Like I’m at the beach or riding a bike down the boardwalk or cruising down PCH with the windows down (can you tell I miss California?).
The last year and a half has felt like waiting and like growing. But I’ve learned gentleness and slow living, and that in the silence of the mind, the desert actually makes a lot of movement and noise. I end up feeling grateful that my life has emptied out and slowed down and simplified so much so that the sun and the wind have become my companions. I think this is how someone like Emily Dickinson gets made. Slow down and listen and feel. The earth comes alive. The characters of nature reveal themselves.
Sometimes in the quiet revelry of worshipping the sun I wonder what it would be like to instead be caressed by a person. My skin is so soft; shouldn’t anyone else know this, touch this? It’s been 18 months since moving to Nevada, 18 months since being in the arms of another, four years since I was in an “official” relationship. Yet when my energy is not focused on the missing but instead on the other beauties of life, I hardly feel the desire to belong to someone. Don’t be mistaken: I have overflowing bucketfuls of love to give. But I suppose I feel that for now, me and my words and the sun and the wind have more need of my love than a lover.
I need to write more frequently. I feel like I need to publish every day. So I will until my body tells me to disappear and go inward for a while. Like a true manifesting generator.
I was reading the newsletter of a writer I love, Peta Kelly, and she was saying she can only put out fresh stuff. Like she was editing some stuff she wrote in 2020/2021, and barely any of it was salvageable. It felt too “old” to publish.
Her words are EXACTLY how I feel. My old writings feel stale. I feel like I need to share it ALL and share it FAST.
I can barely stomach reading the stuff I wrote in 2020, nevermind publish something I wrote last MONTH. She and I are both manifesting generators (and I’m CERTAIN she’s also on the spectrum like me) so maybe that’s why. We like to work quickly and independently in phases and bursts.
Which is why it’s been vital for me to get my platforms figured out, go inward for a bit and sort out what’s authentic, and then slam forward like a train. I’ve read that spectrum brains are like trains anyway.
Once I figure out where I’m going, what I’m carrying, I’m moving and never stopping. Until I feel like it of course ;))
I’ve always liked the idea of letting my words simmer—in theory—but in reality if I set something aside, it doesn’t feel like it’s simmering but rotting. I can’t put this out once it’s sat outside of my head, molding, rotting on paper, to be decided upon later. It either needs to stew in my head or be published immediately. I’d rather something melt away and be forgotten floating around in my head, than rot on paper, waiting for the right time to be released. Or worse, when I get something amazing out on paper but then overthink the editing process and it never gets put out to be read.
Let things thaw out, but prep, cook, eat them the same day. Or they’ll spoil.
I wrote this out on paper in the sun this afternoon and it’s midnight by the time I’m getting this up on my blog. I told myself to go to bed and finish it tomorrow but I literally know I’ll wake up and despise it. It will be oldy and moldy and need to be tossed for the fresh new thoughts of the day.
This is kind of anti- the slow timeless work I’ve idealized. But for some reason I feel differently about the book I’m working on than I do about the stuff I want to share online. My book is a coming-of-age memoir, so I don’t feel the need to be fresh. It’s timestamped in my body and soul already. It’s just about untangling the right words from my head, shaping the story of my heart.
But this damn blog, agh heaven help me, I need raw and fresh and wriggling.
There used to be two ugly trees directly behind two palm trees in the backyard, but a couple weeks ago the neighbors had them cut down and removed. I like that the landscape looks more picturesque now.
I don’t know how to feel about the fact that I’m happy two entire trees were killed for the sake of aesthetics.
My parents didn’t like the pine needles that one of them dropped into our pool. The other one shot out seed pods periodically that always startled me and the dogs.
I wonder what the neighbors did with the tree remains.
After tromping around outside I got back in bed and read the entirety of Emily Ratajkowski’s book, My Body. Even though we live two completely different lives, I felt like I could have written that book myself. Almost as if I could have lived her exact life, if something in my timeline shifted ever so slightly.
In July 2020 I took a vow of celibacy and singleness in order to focus my energy on my career and finances.
My appearance used to project more outwardly. Men approached me in stores, or places I worked—or a few times even pulled over to the side of the road if they saw me walking on the sidewalk and offered me a ride.
Somehow in the last year and a half, I seem to have learned the Marilyn Monroe trick, of turning myself off and on, because now I’m invisible. And I like it a lot. Invisible in a way where I still feel pretty but I keep it to myself. I project my energy inwardly.
Seven months ago I deleted all of my social media.
Three months ago my brother died.
Both of those things left me feeling even more invisible, but this time invisible even to myself. I became more and more unconcerned with my appearance and with taking photos of myself. The latter seemed absolutely distasteful and pointless to me.
It’s strange how grief for my little brother has affected the way I see myself. I’ve despised seeing myself in pictures the past couple months. I tried taking selfies periodically, just to see if my anguish was visible on the outside. I couldn’t see any sadness, but I also couldn’t see any beauty. My body felt like a husk.
But today was different. Today I felt cute and pretty, and surprisingly, felt like documenting it. Even more surprisingly was that I liked the way I looked in the pictures. For the first time since my brother died, I feel pretty to myself again.
Still not ready to project myself outward again, to “become her” like Marilyn Monroe. I still like being invisible to the world.
But I’m happy that I started reappearing for myself again.
The wind has been howling for two days now. There is a palm tree in front of my bathroom window, and when I was showering late this morning and the sun was behind the tree, the constant lightening and darkening of the room was making me feel emotionally queasy. Like I had a phantom headache and stomachache and raging anger, even though I wasn’t actually feeling those things.
I love the wind when I am outside, but when I’m inside it makes me crazy. The sound used to give me nightmares as a kid. I felt very unsettled by the inconsistency of the noise. Even the ocean drives me a bit insane sometimes, but at least the ocean has a distinct pattern to its crashing.
The wind forces me to be present. I love standing in the wind when it’s warm and sunny out. It feels like a wild animal wanting to play with me.
But when I’m trying to do anything else in the wind, besides being present, I feel a bit crazy. I cannot read or write outside because the rattling papers frustrates me. Inside, trying to focus, it makes me just want to get back in bed and go to sleep. The wind makes me tired. I love to drive but the wind makes me a little nervous on the freeway and forces me to use both hands on the wheel when I’m more comfortable just lazily slinging my left arm on it and resting my right hand on the gear shift or sometimes pretending there’s someone in the passenger seat and I’m holding their hand.
Maybe I should stop fighting with the wind and just do what it tells me. Get back in bed and read a book or go play outside.
It’s evening now, and the wind has calmed. I am writing letters to some friends. I would love a third cup of coffee and a fourth chocolate chip cookie. I like the look of letter-writing supplies on my desk.
I’ve been calling 2021 my “Emily Dickinson year,” because I made the firm and intentional decision to be a loner and a homebody. I’ve been turning down dates, I haven’t gone out and made new friends, I’ve done very few “activities.” Basically, I’ve done nothing but sit at home.
Please don’t misunderstand: my decision to “stay home” has nothing to do with the lockdown. I have exactly zero fucks to give to the government.
But it was the quarantine orders that got my gears spinning around the concept of being at home, and wondering why so many people felt trapped there. Instead of fighting the system in a knee jerk reactionary way, I decided to go inward.
If Emily Dickinson hardly left her home her entire life and could fill her head and heart with so much wonder on the small parcel of earth she inhabited—why couldn’t I do that for a year? Why couldn’t I, too, partake in “the spreading wide my narrow Hands to gather Paradise,” as she wrote in her poem, “I dwell in Possibility”?
I didn’t quite have “become one of the greatest poets in American history” type expectations, but I did want to see what happened when I removed external stimuli and the “fear of missing out” from my body. It was a task that required much meditation and journaling, because external stimulation is an addiction and FOMO is a nervous system response.
It’s crazy to be able to actually admit this, but after several months of this I genuinely don’t give a shit what other people are doing or what they think of me and my life. Not a defensive reaction, but a deep settledness in my bones. It feels like a superpower.
I refer to last year as my V For Vendetta year. In an aesthetic sense, I did shave my head like Natalie Portman (although I was smiling giddily rather than crying). But on a deeper level, I felt like everything I thought I knew about life and the world had been stripped away. Everything opened up to me, layers at a time. Things are still opening up to me, but last year was my first fresh shock of “the world doesn’t work the way I assumed it did.” The head shaving was basically a physical marker to represent how different I felt inside, to represent the pivotal moment when I realized that losing everything wasn’t the end, but just the beginning of my new life.
This year, things are quieter. I’ve come to peace with many things. Even the things I desire to change and am actively changing, I’m still at peace with their current states. I’ve given myself a healthy dose of peace, stillness, meditation, and journaling—and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made.
Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way, was an absolute game changer for me. I began to implement her morning pages back in November (three daily pages of handwritten stream of consciousness journaling). It was like I suddenly had an answer for every existential problem that came up. If I could only recommend one book for the rest of my life, it would be this one.
Mediation was a huge thing for me too. Learning to shut off the live stream of thoughts, the barrage of information, the 24/7 movie screen. I came to realize that I was the source of everything I needed. Nothing external is what makes up me as a human being. I don’t need to be fed constant entertainment via social media, movies, friends, events, hobbies. All I need is within me, if I’d give myself a goddamn minute to tap into it.
And lastly just good old fashioned peace and quiet. Sitting in stillness in the desert of Nevada. The desert is a great place to sit in observation, because at first glance it comes across as lifeless. But the more you sit, the more you see. The desert is ablaze with life.
I’d find a trail of ants and follow it, looking for where they ended and where they began. I’d watch a hummingbird make a pass through the backyard flowers every afternoon until one day I realized I was a little bit in love with him. One day, after weeks of watching him, he flew right up to my face and hovered there for a second. I’d listen to the various bird sounds and I swear that one of them sounds like “AL-LY?” A high pitched timbre, the note rising at the end. I watched the lizards sneak out of the flowers and bushes and crawl onto the warm pavement to do push-ups. I went on long walks, in the afternoon in the winter and at night when it started getting hot again. One hour, two hours, three hours in the desert. I’d walk and walk, marching to the mantra “solvitur ambulando.” Latin for “it is solved by walking.”
And notes. Constant note taking. Filling notebooks and index cards. I finally began to develop my writing voice, finally began working on a couple books, writing poetry, looking to submit some things, started pursuing work as a freelance proofreader and editor.
I experimented daily. I would find what worked and what didn’t, and I had a system for actually making these realizations. Quiet, peace, solitude, a practice in awareness, note-taking and journaling. Creating what I wanted bit by bit each day by figuring out what I wanted, what I didn’t want, and closing the gap between them.
“. . . failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.”
—J. K. Rowling, 2008 Harvard commencement speech
Sitting at home, opening my mind, and taking note of the daily changes in my heart and brain has made me into the person I’ve always wanted to be. I’m proud of who I am. My younger self would be in awe of me, and a bit intimidated. Some things are still in the works to fruition, but everything I’ve dreamed of for myself is coming to pass. Not even six months into my Emily Dickinson year, and she’s already changed my life. She knew something about living.
The home (even living at your parents’ home at the age of 25) is a wildly expansive place, if you let it.
Some people are overwhelmed with the concept of meaning, whether searching for the meaning or insisting there is none at all. Some people are overwhelmed with the concept of feelings, whether insisting that they’re nothing more than a chemical reaction or cautioning against them altogether because they’ll deceive and betray you.
I’m not out here chasing highs like an addict, but for me, feelings are the meaning. I can read a sentence in a book and be overcome with emotion. Beauty, sadness, resonance, joy. My insides feel like champagne and fireworks and stardust. My eyes fill with tears and I don’t know why but I like it because it feels like how you would explain to a robot what being alive feels like.
Jedidiah Jenkins wrote in his book, Like Streams to the Ocean, “I’d say life itself is meant to be our soul mate.”
I contain the entire universe beneath my skin, and the things I encounter through life are what crack open the feelings and connections. I love the concept of “i am the universe experiencing itself.” How else can you explain infectious laughter, reckless nostalgia, déjà vu, tears of resonance? Why is this song so beautiful that I have chills and tears? Why is this line of poetry giving me butterflies and nausea?
If that’s not enough meaning to be alive—the experience of pure crackling ALIVENESS—I don’t know what is.
Touch yourself, experience yourself, made in God’s image, love yourself.
Animal body. Computer brain.
And what of the heart, the soul,
the spirit? They must be guides
given to us from God. To give
depth to our animal bodies and
conscience to our computer
brains. Three different parts.
Strange combination. Beautiful
I don’t want kids and I have dozens of reasons why not, but it’s partially for the mess. The disruption. I want my routine. I want things in their specific place. If an item gets rotated half a degree to the left, I will notice it.
But one time I had a long distance boyfriend and he visited me for a week, the month after we started dating. My room was organized particularly, but he wasn’t particularly organized. I’d find myself subconsciously trailing behind him, picking up his small messes and smoothing his wrinkles. I was annoying myself, I told myself to quit being a fucking kinfolk magazine, but I couldn’t curb my impulse.
After he left, the cleaning stopped. I went around my room, touching the little changes he made. The blanket he rolled up instead of folding. The guitar he leaned against the bookcase instead of zipping into its case. The little Hot Wheels car he found in the grass on his morning walk and proudly displayed on my dresser.
Suddenly wondering at how disorganization by his hands could feel so sweet and intimate. But maybe it’s the same thing as having a trail of tiny bruises down your body. Why do painful purple spots feel so romantic and tender?
I slowly eventually started straightening up my room to how I normally kept it, but felt a bit sad about it the whole time. The absence of a person makes you want to keep things exactly the same, as a shrine to them until they come back. Sometimes though, they never come back.
Lives are not meant to stay the same. We are not museums. We are nature. Movement is literally in our blood.
Sometimes the never-ending motion of daily minutiae makes me crazy, and that’s one part that scares me about having children—how the routines and motions stay the same for ages and I don’t know if this body wants to perform those motions day after day—but I do know that we are meant for motion in any case.
Washing a counter—moving crumbs. Sweeping a floor—moving dirt. Intimate sex—moving body parts.
Germs spread. Spittle flies. “Plums defy,” as Stephen King wrote in On Writing.
I suppose just it’s a matter of deciding what kind of movement your body wants to make in its lifetime.
Every time someone asks me what I’m doing with my life, it’s hard for me to respond. I feel like this book character from The Night Circus named Prospero the Enchanter. Retired from stage tricks that woo the masses, to complete seclusion, faking his own death so he could experiment with immortality in peace.
I’m here in the present, soaking up the sun and the sounds of birds and the smell of fresh brewed coffee, but I’m mainly existing in the metaphysical. Tweaking the codes of reality. Tinkering with the placebo effect. Rewriting the past and watching it change the future.
I came to the desert to set aside my fomo, to sit in my immortality, to dance with creation and time and resolution. In peace.
People ask me what I’ve been up to lately, and I tell them “reading and writing and stuff” but all I really want to say is, “concentrating.”