I deleted my Spotify account earlier this year. I cried afterwards.
The crying was mostly because of my brother Zach.
After he died in 2021 and we started going through his things, my sister Elisabeth found his private Spotify account logged in on his computer. She made it so his account was following both my and her accounts, to create a new link of connection between us, albeit posthumously.
It made me happy to have this new insight into his world. I scoured every inch of his playlists, looking for any songs or bands we had in common. I smiled when I saw his “ari” playlist, thinking back on all the times I overheard him singing along to Ariana Grande behind his closed bedroom door (he also loved Taylor Swift). I melted when I saw the Lord of the Rings audiobook playlist, because as a kid he would always fall asleep listening to that exact same audio series—except back then it was a wooden boxed set of CDs and a little CD player he kept by his bed.
That CD player and boxed set are still in his closet right now.
I wanted to lose myself in Zach’s playlists, to close my eyes and imagine he was here, but I didn’t really feel a connection to any of his music, even though some of the playlists brought me detached nostalgia. What I really wanted was something we had in common. But I didn’t even know most of his music.
The difference between my sister and me is that she took all this new information we discovered about him and saw it as an opportunity to get to know him better, while I wanted to find connections between us that had already been there before he died. Just different ways of grieving.
The only song I found in all of his playlists that I truly resonated with was “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals. Zach had it in a playlist called “loop.” I, too, used to loop that song.
I listened to it on repeat all of summer 2020, when I moved from California back in with my parents in Nevada. I was furious that my life in California had fallen apart, and the way that I processed anger at the time was to go on a run. But it was blazing hot in Nevada, so I would wait until at least midnight to start running, returning home at 2 or 3 in the morning.
And that song “Heat Waves” was constantly on loop while I ran, because that song felt like nostalgia and heartbreak and lost things and the inability to say goodbye. It felt the way I felt.
I was desperate for my life back in California, but utterly heartbroken by the way life there had chewed me up and spit me out during the first half of 2020. It was a weird mix of wanting to go back, but knowing I never could. I felt like such a failure.
Glass Animals said that “Heat Waves” was about “realising it’s ok to be defeated by something.”
They continue: “we are often expected to ‘be strong’ and to swallow our sadness. failing to do that is seen as weakness. so we try to cover up our feelings and hide inside of TV shows or video games or drink or drugs. but being vulnerable should be a positive thing.”
I’ve felt defeated many times in my life, but 2020 was perhaps the first time where I felt truly powerless.
Alongside the excavation of life as we all knew it in 2020, I also lived through multiple implosions of my own life. I kept losing my footing. Instead of just being repeatedly knocked down, yet able to stand back up again, I felt like I was trapped in an avalanche.
Among other things, during lockdown in 2020, I also dealt with suicidal depression, being quarantined with my narcissistic roommate, and having literally no income which brought debt and food insecurity into my life.
Later in 2021, while holing up at my parents house and trying to recover, the avalanche was replaced with a painful volcanic explosion.
I learned I was autistic, which toppled the foundation of my existence. One of my best friends was run over by a semi truck and became a quadriplegic.
And my sweet brother lost his life.
I’m not in a constant state of “feeling defeated,” even after experiencing trauma and pain and loss. I get back up because I want to keep going and keep exploring life, because I feel like my life has a purpose for existing.
But within cycles of falling down and getting back up comes increased levels of vulnerability.
Layers of myself have sloughed off, masks and forcefields and naivety and blindness. All this shedding is good, because I’m becoming a better version of myself. But still. It all makes me feel more sensitive. Trauma is noisy and the world is noisy and it all makes my head feel noisy.
In summer 2020, in the middle of all this defeat, looping songs that talked about this pain felt necessary, because I felt too lonely to just stay inside my own head and my own feelings. I desperately needed to know that I wasn’t alone.
But three years later, I’m feeling emotionally stronger, yet weirdly more sensitive. I feel happier inside my head, but also craving more peace in the world. Which is making me feel like I just don’t have the bandwidth anymore for very much music consumption.
She tried to concentrate on the sound, but music had always unmoored her, and her thoughts drifted.
—Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven
I know there are artists who like music in the background when they work; they use the music to block out everything else. They’re not listening to it; it’s there as a form of companionship. I don’t need a soundtrack to accompany my life. Music in the background nibbles away at your awareness. It’s comforting, perhaps, but who said tapping into your awareness was supposed to be comfortable? And who knows how much of your brainpower and intuition the music is draining?
—Twyla Tharp, The Creative Habit
I admitted to my boyfriend Ethan several months ago, slightly embarrassed, that I haven’t had the urge to go to any concerts since the world opened back up. Surprisingly, he actually reciprocated that confession.
I wonder if the only concert we’ll ever go to together is the one we went to years before we met. An alt-J concert here in Las Vegas, in 2018. What a wild moment it was to figure out that we had been in the same room together, though in profoundly different worlds.
Somehow four years later, the threads of resonance pulled us together. Somehow we ended up in the same climbing gym, on the same bouldering team, on the same frequency.
We’ve been together for ten months now, but I knew before our first date that he was my one.
I’m not actually planning to never go out to a concert again. I’m sure Ethan and I will go to a concert together one of these days. But as I get older and feel a little more stable in life, the way that I want to listen to music at home has changed.
I used Spotify pretty much exclusively as my way to listen to music over the past ten years. It started off just as an exciting way to have access to whatever I wanted to listen to. Then it began morphing into a way to collect memories, especially after I went to bible college in 2014.
Spotify was the absolute shit at bible college. All my friends followed each other’s accounts and discovered what each person was listening to. We would make playlists based on memories or vibes or the semester’s theme (#lighthasdawned) or our favorite locations (rock tree or the lookout or ofc). My college ex devoted lots of time to make “banger” playlists for him and his fellow campus servers to have good vibes as they set up the dining room for retreats or conferences. I worked in the AV department and compiled songs that would sound really epic on the speakers all over campus, on the days that I had to test the sound systems. We both loved Twenty One Pilots, and the summer of 2015 we unintentionally spread TØP love throughout the entire campus, thanks to our respective jobs and access to aux cords. Everyone was singing “Stressed Out” that summer.
Playlists were a way to capture a certain vibe, but also to pin down a memory or a feeling. A collection of songs that could accurately collage an experience. Like a musical scrapbook. Even after each semester or season in life came to an end, a playlist made during that time could bring me back, a rush of nostalgia and longing.
But this playlist building practice felt soured after 2020. I, of course, made massive playlists when I lived in California in 2019 and 2020. My music taste was completely overhauled thanks to my roommates, and I began listening primarily to old school rap, reggaetón, and my now favorite band, Khruangbin. It was total beach vibes there, marijuana plants, surfboards, hammocks, backyard chickens, lemon trees, film cameras, ukuleles, yoga mats, ping-pong table, modelos, shroom smoothies.
When that life ended, I listened to my California playlists endlessly, obsessively. Hiding in the past, hating the present, not at all hopeful about the future. Just truly embodying the concept of “the best days are behind me.” My intentionally built dream life was over and I was stuck living a life I didn’t want. What was there to look forward to?
Not surprisingly, there was plenty to look forward to. I started healing from my pain and grief and trauma, as self-help girlies are wont to do, and my life slowly opened up again. I began fulfilling long held dreams of mine like finally getting to rock climb whenever I fucking want and being in an amazing stable loving relationship for the first time.
The more my life opened up, the more stale these old playlists seemed. I felt tired whenever I listened to them. And I don’t think it was because I just overplayed them, but because of the state of mind I had been in when I obsessively listened to them. I had been so isolated in my head, so lonely, I thought there was nothing more to look forward to in life, and I only wanted to revisit feelings and memories of the past.
Now that I’m healthy again and starting to thrive, I just don’t want to devote as much time to looking back and being nostalgic. It feels suffocating.
I told a musician friend of mine that I deleted my Spotify account as a way to heal and move on with life, and he was kind of horrified. He said that he used his old Spotify playlists as a marker of how far he’s come in life. Listening to the music he loved at a certain time, lyrics and themes, he’s able to track his growth and feel proud of himself.
I actually think that’s really cool.
But for me, I find that a natural part of my healing progression is learning to let things go.
Which is fine and dandy when you’re healing from a breakup or bad living situation, but absolutely tragic when you’re trying to heal from the death of a loved one. It seems cruel that healing from grief of death eventually means that you stop feeling as much emotion from the memories as you used to.
In many ways, it feels like the honorable thing to do is to stay in the state of grief and remembrance.
Part of me doesn’t want to heal, because healing causes you to move on in tiny ways.
Part of me wants to stay traumatized forever, haunted by his ghost, worn down by heavy emotions. I felt so guilty the first time I laughed after he died, the first day I didn’t cry over him, the first day that I felt pretty again and didn’t look like death warmed over.
And part of me felt guilty for deleting my Spotify and no longer having access to his music.
But music nostalgia can quickly morph into just being stuck in the past, or even stuck in a traumatic feeling. And I felt sad when I realized that my music taste hadn’t really changed at all since living in California, how stuck in the past I became. And I felt sad when I saw Zach’s playlists and all this music I couldn’t relate to and thought about all the things I’ll never know about him and how he’ll never get to grow and evolve beyond the 21 year old version of himself. It all just felt so sad and I didn’t want to associate music with catalogued playlists of sadness anymore.
So my Spotify is officially deleted.
Maybe that’s why I desperately want a record player now. Obviously I want one for the aesthetics of it. I love an old fashioned vintage vibe. I feel like it’s my final form as a surly millennial. I already have a tobacco pipe and John Lennon sunglasses, and my sister and I co-own our grandma’s typewriter. Besides aesthetics, I want music to be less of a curated collection of specific memories, and more like an art experience again. I want to listen to albums again, albums, damn it. (I’m saying this the same way that Bilbo says, “I want to see mountains again, mountains, Gandalf!”)
But I think I also want a record player because you can’t listen to music on repeat on it (unless there are some record player hacks to achieve this). The main intention of a record player is to listen to an album all the way through, and it stops when it’s done. No looping or hijacking of emotions.
Zach had a song playing on his computer when he died. Playing on a loop.
We kept his computer on for over a year, the song playing on infinite repeat that entire time. I would quietly slip into his room when no one else was around and sit in his desk chair and put on his headphones.
The song was always playing, a piano cover he had liked, a sweet solace, his final gift to us. I always cried when I listened to it.
We had to shut the computer off around Christmas last year. I lashed out at my older brother for turning it off, but he said the computer was crashing and he was trying to preserve as much as he could.
And the song finally came to an end.
It felt like unplugging a coma patient. It felt like his breath finally let out and his heart gave its last beat.
It hurts to heal. It hurts to let go. But we’re still here living, so we need to live.
The past was beautiful. And so is the future.
No more looping.
Time to start living.
“Elsa,” he whispered, leaning in to kiss her, moving to a song that wasn’t being played. “We are the music.”
—Kristin Hannah, The Four Winds
I am so tuned to being alive that if you touch me it makes music.
—Jenny Slate, Little Weirds
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I’m really not as strong or as brave as I thought I was.
I’ve been through a lot of evolution shifts over the last few years. I’m not talking about physical experiences I’ve gone through, but of deconstructing my entire view of reality. Deconstructing God and heaven and hell and the bible, considering reincarnation, testing manifestation, and peering at various conspiracy theories. Everything that was off the table in the past, too out there or expansive for my then-self, it was looked at.
This has been done almost entirely by myself, because I think that’s the nature of these things. We generally don’t have support systems for personal evolutions. We change from the person that everyone knows and loves, into someone they don’t know yet. Even if there’s lots of love, it can be hard to keep up with that and fully support.
Which is okay. People who want to evolve into a different—hopefully, better—version of themselves need to be strong enough to walk alone. To carry their burden of existence while they grow and expand.
Entrusting one’s life is not the same as opening up one’s soul, and although I love Manuela like a sister, I cannot share with her the things that constitute the tiny portion of meaning and emotion that my incongruous existence has stolen from the universe.
—Muriel Barbery, The Elegance of the Hedgehog
My first comprehension of the weight of my own existence came sometime in my childhood. I don’t know how old I was, but I remember suddenly realizing that my mom wasn’t just my mom. She didn’t solely exist for me, to fulfill my needs and desires. She was her own person with longings and daydreams and thoughts that didn’t contain me.
It was a heartbreaking, reality shattering discovery at the time. At first I felt very unsafe and almost a little panicked. I’d spent my whole life being protected and cared for and contained by her. I didn’t have to know anything about anything, because I had my mom. That’s what she was there for.
But as I grew older and started taking some weight off her and putting it on myself and others, I began to feel happy that she was completely her own person, and not just my personalized carbon caretaker.
The difficult thing about being a human and not, say, a kangaroo, is that humans have awareness. It’s not just about how to physically survive in this world, but also about handling existence itself. The human mind wonders about every facet of everything, the human mind wants to solve problems not just as they come but in a permanent fashion, the human mind wants to evolve beyond what’s already there.
That’s why when I come across cynical-type people who say we’re just here to survive and reproduce like animals, my mind goes blank. It can’t compute that kind of statement, because according to my brain’s self-aware programming, we’re here for so much more.
Sometimes I would like to be nothing more than just a little joey, observing everything from the safety of a kangaroo pouch. Sometimes the weight of my own existence is too much to handle. But as I get braver and experience the joys that accompany bravery, there’s nothing I love more than being an adult human.
By universal design you are born into a perplexing situation, bewildered, and you have one job as a human: figure this shit out.
—Will Smith, Will
A realization similar to the one I had with my mom happened to me in my twenties. This one involving my adult friendships.
Whenever someone would text me asking how I was, I’d start writing a text back about my life. But I would write way too much, type “sorry this is so long” at the end of the text, and then hit “send.”
The reason I was writing so much over text was because I didn’t have a journaling habit at the time. Writing itself is very therapeutic, regardless of the medium, so I found myself opening up to myself while writing text messages, and not editing them before sending them out. Yikes.
I finally noticed the pattern I had of doing this when I felt like my friends were slowly pulling away. I was mortified to realize I was emotionally dumping on them and straining the relationships.
Same thing as with my mom: I came to understand that my friends had their own weights to carry and couldn’t bear the full brunt of me all the time.
So I bottled up.
This was a good thing and a bad thing.
Bad, because obviously there’s an unhealthy aspect to pulling away from relationships and closing off. It keeps people at arm’s length away, and there’s more of a shallowness to the friendship.
But it was also a good thing, because I was in the murky middle of my deconstruction. Personal evolution, like I said, pretty much requires solitude and a lack of support.
Partially why I closed off was because I wanted to know I could support myself, trust myself, carry the weight myself. I wanted to be as strong as possible within myself, so I could be that for the people in my life.
This is around the time I started journaling again, which I hadn’t really done since I was a teenager. Journaling helped me process new beliefs and old fears. It was the suitcase I began to use to carry myself.
Fast forward to today. I’ve gotten much better with my friendships and relationships and allowing people into parts of my life that I’ve process and healed, but I’m still mostly keeping things to myself.
I think of myself as so strong and so brave for facing the stark reality of existence all on my own. Especially proud of removing the safety net of religion and walking on the edge of the cliff, standing firm against the furious gusts of wind and not letting my knees shake as I peer down into the endless black abyss of the unknown.
I’m so good at not being fully known or understood, I tell myself. Now finally, after all these years, I am fully contained like a mysterious island. No longer putting my weight on anyone else.
Until I realized that I was just parsing out tiny fragments of myself without even realizing it.
I am actually wide and spread out.
Whenever I find resonance in something—a book quote, a song lyric, an internet comment—I leave a little piece of myself with it. To me, resonating means a crumb of my soul, my existence, has found rest and peace in this world. It has found a pocket to make its home. A little shelf to rest its weight on.
It lightens the burden to have stories and characters and sentences and lines that feel the way I feel. They express things in ways I didn’t know how, but click right into my being like a missing puzzle piece. It makes me feel safer existing as a human.
This understanding first struck me a month ago when I was camping in the woods with my boyfriend, Ethan. We were hammocking and reading together, and I was reading The Night Circus which is one of my favorite love stories.
And I was thinking, this is it, I’m living my love story with my boyfriend, yet I’m ashamed when words fail me and all I know how to say to him is “I love you. I appreciate you.” But after reading the lines of this love story, I felt suddenly relieved that the words already existed out there. The exact combination of words had already been said.
I felt supported by the fact of this tiny resonance, that a fragment of myself could rest on a fictional character who’s saying what I wished I could say.
Obviously this doesn’t excuse me from trying my best to express how I feel to Ethan, how incredible his existence is, but a part of me felt at peace. Like if I die before I’m able to say everything I want to say, just read the lines I’ve loved over the years, because part of me exists in them.
I am connected to eternity and I am part of everything and although I am with all of it, I am still different from anything and everything.
—Jenny Slate, Little Weirds
There is love to be resonated with, and there is also pain.
It’s a specific pain and feeling to lose a sibling. And pain is so isolating an experience that we feel like the only ones who have ever or ever will experience it. Like we’re being specifically and personally punished. Even having my family to go through it with still feels isolating sometimes, because it feels like we’re being singled out to suffer as a unit.
But I feel lighter thanks to resonance. Like a random reddit commenter who said losing a sibling is like losing a limb—because that’s exactly how it feels. Everything feels wobbly and wrong moving forward in our family without Zach.
I don’t want others to experience the pain of losing a loved sibling, but somehow, the fact that other people are out there feeling this pain too, it makes the burden lighter.
I rest some of my pain on that internet stranger, freeing myself of a fraction of the burden I carry.
It’s good for me to remember that the words I put out onto the internet can also have an effect on others.
One of the most pivotal moments in my writing was when I got an email last year from a girl I knew at bible college. We’ve sort of stayed in touch, on and off, over the years. She considers me a friend, and even invited me to her wedding, but I don’t reciprocate the feeling. I would love to be friends with her, we’re very similar and I have kind of a protective, fierce love for her, but it’s almost impossible.
I’m ex-Christian and she’s very militantly Christian, with a passion for theological debate and missionary work. This in itself doesn’t bother me (although in my opinion, Christians should stay in their own countries to do missionary work and stop trying to be third world saviors).
The thing that gets in the way is that I’m very good at reading people’s energy, and although she’s subtle with it, I can tell very clearly that she will never truly consider me a friend because of our theological differences. She has never missed an opportunity to try to convert me back to Christianity, and I feel I will always remain somewhat of a charity case to her.
Never mind the fact that God is the foundation for both of our belief systems.
Because of this vibe I get from her, I have felt bitterness towards her over the last few years. Wishing we could be friends, feeling resentful when she calls me her friend while also knowing she doesn’t entirely respect me. I usually end up ghosting her to get away from the hurt.
But a year ago I got an email from her. She wrote:
“I just read your “sorrow and solitude” newsletter, and I’m going to work my way through the rest of your archive, and I just have to tell you that it was probably the most peaceful part of my day so far. I’ve cried a lot in the past 12 hours for some reason, forced myself to work out, eaten food, and nothing really helped like reading your newsletter.”
That paragraph softened me up like nothing else (although not before I thought, “HA. The words of a heathen made you feel better“).
But it made me realize that other people are out there resonating with tiny things about me. It does zero favors to hold onto bitterness or judgement towards people who have caused me pain, because it affects my writing in a negative way, making it repel rather than draw in. Making it less of a place of solace and resonance.
I want people to be able to rest their weight on my words like I have rested on the words of others.
Something I wrote resonated with her and maybe she was able to leave a tiny piece of herself on my writing and that’s an incredible feeling.
This thought puts more weight on the Ram Dass quote, “We’re all just walking each other home.”
A human may not be mentally or emotionally capable of carrying the weight of another person for their entire life. And it would be catastrophic for the person being carried, to never know what it’s like to stand on their own existence, in their own strength.
But we can all carry tiny pieces of each other, consciously and subconsciously, as we—perplexed and bewildered—figure this shit out together.
PS: I couldn’t figure out how to gracefully tie this section into the main narrative, but I would be remiss to end this essay without mentioning my sister, Elisabeth. I wouldn’t have gotten very far into my liberated identity-seeking without her steady presence. She has known me my entire life and will always know the different variations of me over the years, so it has subconsciously made it less scary to evolve and shed pieces of myself. She is the Sam to my Frodo, and “Frodo wouldn’t have got far without Sam.” <3 Also, what a great metaphor of Frodo referring to the Ring as his burden and telling Sam he couldn’t carry it and then later Sam saying “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!” *cry* <33
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Title: Little Weirds
Author: Jenny Slate
Read In: 2021
Description: A genre-defying, not-quite memoir that feels like stepping into the fever dream of how Jenny Slate sees the world.
Purchase: Bookshop.org (affiliate link)
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I was born as a breakfast pastry in the fancy part of France and hours after I was born I was still warm from the heat of the oven. I knew that my warmth and lovely shape were the result of thoughtful and gentle work. Oh please feel it: I am the croissant that felt its own heat and curves and wished to become a woman, and I am that woman from the wish. Let me be your morning treat with your coffee. Disregard the fear that I
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am too rich to be an ordinary meal. Allow my antique decadence into your morning into your mouth. Pair me with jam. Treasure me for my layers and layers of fragility and richness. Name me after a shape that the moon makes. Have me in a hotel while you are on vacation. Look at me and say, “Oh, I really shouldn’t,” just because you want to have me so very much.
Introduction/Explanation/Guidelines for Consumption
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What is this spirit in me saying “Up! Up! UP!”? Up for a better view, for a better location to be viewed. Get me to a better place so that I can see more and also be spotted by the kind of people who turn their faces up to the light. Put me in between them and the cosmos, let me be one final stop before the major everything.
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My vulnerability is natural and permissible and beautiful to me, and it should remind you of your responsibility to behave like a friend to me and the world.
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This book is a party—not a set of grievances.
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My father says, “After a while you understand that you can create and raise the child, but the spirit… the spirit comes from the universe.”
I Was Born: The List
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I was born bucking the idea that I should have to be anywhere that I don’t like or talk to people who make me feel dead or trapped.
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I was born as sweet as that and if I am too sweet for your tastes then just clamp your mouth shut and spin on your heels. I can’t add sourness to my sap anymore just to fit onto a menu in a restaurant for wimps.
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This is also one of the first ways that I perceived power in another person: Information about art and nature feels like the best stuff to have, and if you have it, it is powerful and excellent to pass it on. That is an act of power, showing what you know, giving it to another person, realizing that as you spread it, you get to keep it but watch it grow, and by watching others have it, you learn new things about the original thing.
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I held the fragile flower and made my footsteps the same level of noise as hers so that I could be with her like we were one entity.
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When I imagine my ingredients, I imagine that my muscles are made of plums, that my heart is a giant ruby with a light bulb in it, that my blood is goldenrod yellow, and the bones inside my body are made from lions’ bones and shells, and that my brain is made of steak and silk and Hawaiian Punch.
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I recycle the same daydreams over and over—
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He thinks of me as he puts on his clothes, as he buys coffee in the airport, thinking, “It doesn’t feel normal to buy coffee before something so huge! It feels like I should be buying a cloud or a star.
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He thinks in layers when he thinks about how he loves me.
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So now there is not even anyone to dream about, and what an odd feeling. I don’t have the strength to put together the features of a fantasy face. I am heartbroken over no one, over having nobody to wish for, nobody to hope for. I am heartbroken, usually, over someone. Now I am heartbroken over no one.
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But what am I supposed to do with all of the parts of my heart that are only there to be given? What am I supposed to do with all of this nothing that I see? Those parts of the heart, they really aren’t for me, they are not for my home or my body or my self-love. They are for you, and wherever you are, you are too unknown to be in my daydream. You are on the fringe of my wish for someone to wish for. You are in another country of the heart. You are on the very outskirts of the edge of where my waves hit. You are on a beach on the other side of another world. All I can do is believe in the tides, the big drawing in and drawing out that is a type of planet clock. All I can do is let the waves of this whole damn thing flood in and out. If I could remember anything, I would remember my belief that my extra love could just be used on myself. But when I stop feeling pleasure and stop imagining things I also forget my beliefs, the things that float my spirit on this sea. When my beliefs float my spirit on the sea, I imagine the depths beneath me and all of the options for life in there. I can feel, with relief, the wideness of the sea. I can remember that things from faraway locations wash up right on your private wedge of sand and present themselves as yours right away. But I have had my heart broken once again, and I am exhausted, and I have forgotten that I can still give to myself. And so I sit here with waves crashing and repeating, and all I can do is wait and hope that eventually my sea will cough up some shell with a shape like a swirl of sound and I will look anew and I will listen better.
I Want to Look Out a Window
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I want to look out a window at something bright and wide, and at that point accept my nature and understand my intended use and have a clean shirt and clean hands and feel similar to a small planet.
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Each time I fall in love I feel fear that the world won’t let me be in the world with it, that I either have to pick the world or the love.
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Version 1: Jenny Slate Human Woman, Los Angeles, USA, Earth About Me: Hi! I know where the confusion starts, because I am a woman and I do look like one but the real truth is that I am a Color-Spirit. And it says on many documents that I come from here but actually I am a citizen of The World of Shapes. That is where I’m from and The World of Shapes is the place where they speak my mother tongue. All day I do my loving, and all of my feelings are colors and they are shapes and they are shapes of colors, when you get really deep into my experience. I am a creature who is classified in the universal records as a Color-Spirit. I watch the light make tones. I feel a thing and tell myself what shape it is.
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My physical heart feels so exposed, so shallowly planted. It feels like it is in my mouth. I can’t tell if I’m spitting it out or swallowing it. I can’t tell if I’m going to chomp it to bits just by trying to be here. My physical heart seems to be blasting light out of
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my mouth but also down into my body. I fear that when the light is shining directly out of my face that nobody will want to or even be able to look at me.
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There cannot, there certainly may not, be one more man, not even one more man for a night, not one more who comes in and doesn’t feel in himself what I am about, there cannot be one more person who absentmindedly swats at my little triangles and squares as they swim and bob in the air. There may not be one more man who turns his own face away in fear and ignorance from the colors that make him angry because I can see them and he cannot.
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Who will meet me at once in all of my worlds and pump with all of my hearts? To have to kill even one of my hearts to match up with you is simply not worth it to me, after all that has happened. Hit me up if you feel me!
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Who is the sun who will return every day just to make sure I open up, and who will give me my own dark evening to close and just be within?
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I am supposed to be touched. I can’t wait to find the person who will come into the kitchen just to smell my neck and get behind me and hug me and breathe me in and make me turn around and make me kiss his face and put my hands in his hair even with my soapy dishwater drips. I am a lovely woman. Who will come into my kitchen and be hungry for me?
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Personality types not preferred: Know-it-alls, meanies, grumps, vultures, spoileds, piggies, and especially bullies. Preferred: Lovebugs, creatures, boo-boos, rigorous thinkers, wild-hearts, gentle-minds, pets.
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All I want to do is disappear deeply into my own thing and you can decide whether or not to join but I’m pretty much going to enter my own vortex.
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For a while I would have trench-times when everything felt like blank paper and I couldn’t feel anyone’s heart pointed even in my direction, let alone anyone loving me or wanting me to be around. Very boring, very lonely, very tired, again. It was hard to feel anything, except I am not one of the creatures who will experience anything precious. Trench-times were shallow, heavy, and mean. I couldn’t get into the actual morning because I was stuck underneath the weight of my days.
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God dammit, this is a gift from your fucking soul! Self-generate, don’t you see? Break the trap break the trap break the trap leave the trench! Activate the bomb in yourself and bust out, trick yourself out of that trench in any way you can!
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I spoke to myself in the voice of the giant dog from the dream. Open a window up for yourself. I found a window that opened. There you are, do you know what you are doing? You are finding the new air for yourself. What a useful, good action to take. You are a person who got up and found the air. Take at least ten breaths. It’s a fact that this is the main thing that you need to do to stay alive, breathing, and now it is a treat. Look at you! You have done what the earliest geniuses have done: You have taken the most basic thing and elevated it. If you are sweet inside of yourself for the most part, this
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is the truth you will know. I started to spend my extra time caring for myself in little ways that reminded me of the generosity of my dream-dog who shared his seatbelt. The big pet. My dream-dog. I think he was training me in my dreams so that I could eventually play well in my days.
Touch vs. Smack
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I don’t want to smack anything on the ass and say LET’S GO. I want to touch something on the side of the face and say WILL YOU PLEASE TAKE ME?
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The women were new friends but I loved them in a massive way. The love was like a large trove of devotion that could only be amassed over time, but it had arrived all at once. The way I loved them felt like it was from long ago.
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The planet itself saw us. I saw it see us, I think. I think it saw us while we were doing exactly what we wanted, and then it was happy.
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In the night, we slept restlessly but it wasn’t a problem because most of what we were doing in the day was draping ourselves over everything in the world and then
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Instead of asking the old questions that sounded like “What is wrong with me?” I would start asking important questions like “What if I only dreamed gardens, what if I ate carrots because what if I were a pleasant rabbit? What if I got a crown for doing nothing but being who I am, what if even just one
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plant said hi to me or a tree bashfully bowed as I walked by, what if my dog knew what I meant when I wave to him? What if I could always be a little bit on this island in my mind? What if I could always be a little bit naked, a little bit kissing everything, an unplundered trove of my own love?”
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As the image of myself becomes sharper in my brain and more precious, I feel less afraid that someone else will erase me by denying me love.
I Was Born: About to Bust
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I was born at exactly the time when anything alive is saying, “LET. ME. BURST! Let me get to the most beautiful and ornamental and essential version of what I can be. Give me space to bloom and present the blossoms to an ecosystem that will drink from my nectar, celebrate my petals, sniff me, pick me, take me home, make your body smell like my lovely scent.” I was born during the moment in the cycle when almost every single live thing is inclined to mate, to grow, to point a snout skyward and sniff the air, to create.
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The pretty things gathered to live just as I arrived.
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Bring that wildness into the house!
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I was born and the wildness from outside put itself inside of me. That wildness was my first baby spirit food. I sipped it right down before I drank milk from my mother.
I Died: The Sad Songs of My Vagina
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Write a letter to someone. Tell them that this is not a tragedy. The rest of me went home to the universe.
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When I wake up my body reacts so immediately to a new day that you can hear one high, bright note. I am so tuned to being alive that if you touch me it makes music.
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it is very pleasing to me to adorn myself with descriptions that I wear like clothes.
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The night before, the man in the room next to me snored loudly, but I wasn’t cross at all. And yes, the word to use is cross, but again, I wasn’t at all. It is so nice to be a little bit
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closer to other humans. No soundproofing or blocking when a hotel is just a big old mansion from three hundred years ago. It is nice to be with strangers, and everyone is trying to sleep, and we are all in nothing but a big old house. The facts are enough.
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I tried to write down how I felt. I recently found the note I wrote to myself, and all it said was “I’m too overwhelmed to say any more and I’m too scared to say any more and I feel too foolish, but I must not forget this, so I’m writing this down and this is the best that I can do.”
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In the forest, everything that is inclined to thrive really does, and has a job, and some jobs are to grow things up and some jobs are to take things apart and everything is accepted because there is no notion—among bacteria and moss and busy mice—there is no notion of who deserves to do something or be in a place. There are only lives to be lived, and they are everywhere.
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I didn’t tell her that she was making me more than one garden. One outer, one inner. I was woozy as I watched a space open up inside of my inner me-garden, space that would be private just for me, in which I could observe myself and be private as I gazed
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In the last light of a long day, I sit on a chair on my porch and watch the sky drain colors down and out and I realize I want to hear my voice and only mine. Not the voice of my voice within a cacophony of old pains. Just mine, now. And then, at the end of this day, in the start of another night, at the first lip-lick of this appetite for hearing myself clearly, it really hits me: I never really want to argue with anyone ever again, nor am I under any sort of obligation to do so.
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A mistake has been made about wildness.
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I got in trouble for not paying attention to things that seemed boring to me but now are gorgeous to me, like clocks and compasses and calendars. I had, always, a wild call that I wanted to ring out to the whole world. I knew it always. I wanted to be an actress. I often felt like a bird in a house and I felt that people reacted to me that way so I started to try to find ways to do my wild work in inside spaces. I started to find spaces where I could bring wildness inside. I started to find a way to still be myself but be with the group.
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I am a wild thing but I wanted a home. I am wild and I want to be that and to belong to the greater group and have everyone know that my wildness is nothing but a bit of my colors and has nothing to do with whether or not I can be trusted.
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I believe that wildness belongs in people. I believe that wildness belongs in the home. I believe this and so I belong in myself and in my home. My gods are inside of me
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first and foremost, and the mother of all of them is the wild one. There has been a misunderstanding about wildness. Bring it in, bring it in, bring wildness in, and care for it. Place a shell in your shower. Get a whole plant in there. Put a geranium in your kitchen. Stand in your space and howl out. Bring it in or go out and see it. Wildness is the mother, the first thing, not a lurking predator. Wildness is holy. I am a geranium that is hardy and wild, but I want to sleep in a neat little pot. I belong in a castle that was built with the determination and ingenuity of a person who was deeply in love.
Night Treats for Her
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In the bright light of the day, I select the jar of jam. “It’s for her,” I say to myself as I shiver with anticipation. I imagine the moon rising, the loss of control against the deeper desires, a naked still dreaming darling darting through the rooms, an appetite finally met, the top twisting off the jar that is waiting in the dark.
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When I am in my morning, I brush my teeth with no shirt on and look at my torso and touch that area on myself where the fur was in the dream, and I ask out loud, Who will let me be the real animal of myself? I am asking it out loud into the air but of course the only person that I see is me in the mirror and so I become the first one to say yes to my bare self, which is proper and right.
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I would never be this whirling wheel of colors if we had not changed the shape of who we are together.
Clothes Flying On/Day Flying Open
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I am connected to eternity and I am part of everything and although I am with all of it, I am still different from anything and everything.
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I am an example of a specific way of spending time and feeling existence in this world.
I Died: Bronze Tree
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I died but it was so small compared to how I had lived so much and for so long with you, alive. One death was so small compared to all the things that we did in our life, things that
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we did all the way through, right to our ends.
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I would travel long distances in my mind, and it would make my face go blank. That was the compromise for living in the inner world, that my face in the outer world sort of paused.
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You always thought that breaking the rule was not just an act of defiance but of instruction, saying, “This rule is not life-affirming and so I will show you that it is just fine to live life without the rule.”
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your back every night, the belt. One, two, three cosmic smooches from me to you until you died and then I died, but sometimes in the time before I died and after you died I kissed three stars into the air of where your body
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used to be in the bed, thinking thoughts like, “If I can’t have him then I will bring the sky down into the bed, one kiss at a time, and then it will be like I am in the cosmos with him.”
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I died after I lived my life with you, because that was the story, that was the story that happened and it was the only one and so it is what I knew when I died. Closed loop. I died and I have to move on soon, but I will always be so glad for the life I had with you. The fact is that it is incredibly hard to RIP and I’m just not sure I can get it done. Because what will I be now? I know that we will have new life with new forms and that we won’t be able to love each other like we did the last time. Maybe I am going to be a banana and you will be a car. It just won’t work. I know that. And I’m not one to beg for the impossible, especially as a banana, but I can’t seem to stop reacting to the enormity of the final end of us, sweetheart. A death. A bunch of them.
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You walk forward. You keep your head angled up so that you see over the fray. You protect yourself and all the little weirds that make up who you are.”
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It was not necessarily a choice at the outset, but now it is certainly a point of pride
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that I functionally dwell in realms that I was once afraid of. The darks and the in-betweens. They all fortify me. I am a citizen of many dimensions, and now I slip between them easily. I never slip away from myself by simplifying myself. I can’t become smaller to fit into a crouching love in somebody else’s meager world.
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I don’t have to wait to be here anymore. An animal like me lives all the time, everywhere.