does it feel like fall to you? does it?! does it!! nope, not here either. not to worry. our playlist is the perfect transitional track list, we have good books to keep you occupied while you wait on the weather, and some internal fall cleaning for you to think about. hop aboard!
→ The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams.
nadine: this month’s classical rec honestly sounds like a flying bird. a bit like the end of summer, too. the other day, i sat in the kitchen with the window open, listening to this song, and birds sat on my balcony, near the window. i had fun imagining they were listening.
→ pony by orville peck
gray: i don’t have much to say about this album other than it’s a vibe. like. a big mood, if you will? i know that country is weirdly trendy right now and this is my favorite thing to come out of that so far. fave tracks: roses are falling, buffalo run, take you back (the iron hoof cattle call).
→ mirror by IDER
m: “people love, people leave, people let down / people show up, roll up, people grow up / people move out, people disappear / people don't change, people rearrange / people miss the game, people lose / people try, people lie, can't look you in the eye..” really feel like the alternative title should be: “congratulations, you’ve arrived in your mid 20’s, now cry.”
→ Norman Fucking Rockwell! by Lana Del Rey
nadine: i’m trying to think of something to write that isn’t “?????? so good????” but i can’t. this is my favourite Lana Del Rey album yet.
→ three futures by torres
gray: a dark, sexy, heartfelt album. right now, i’m using it to get into october autumn mood while its still 90 degrees summer september out (and it’s working). fave tracks: skim, bad baby pie, three futures.
→ till now by BANKS
m: this song sounds like if love was cough medicine. awful and intoxicating, for all your raging but still love drunk moments. the production to BANKS’ latest album is wild. makes altpop feel very dark and syrupy.
→ this 5-minute vlog set in a cabin in the woods in october.
nadine: please, pause your life for a few minutes, make yourself a hot beverage, and watch this. it’s the little things.
→ legal immigration by jon oliver
m: this is great primer on legal immigration in the usa and how this impacts our view of illegal immigration. considering the state of things (did you know Trump wants to ban all refugees’ entrance into the usa by 2020?), this is something that needs to be on your radar.
→ nadine: my friend sent me this post and it was the final nail in the coffin of the illusion that “neediness” exists.
→ girl made of stars by ashley herring blake
gray: big fan of this book! the plot wasn’t exactly what i was expecting and the characters annoyed me a little, but all in all i think this is a super important book and i wish it had existed when i was in high school.
m: can confirm. read this one.
→ serpent and dove by shelby mahurin
m: o. my favorite trope, enemies forced into close proximity… enemies to lovers... (in this case, a witch hunter is forced to marry a girl who is secretly a witch!!!!!)... this is addicting. funny. slow burn steamy. thoughtful. perfect? thanks for the face journeys.
→ too much cold brew cause i found out i get a discount at the coffee shop next to my work :/
(see also: see also, the starbucks pumpkin spice cold brew is actually so good.)
→ m: who will i be in a post trump america? i can assure you that i am a different person than before this presidency, and not all of this is due to the passing of time; i am an angry, worried person full of lingering dread, repeatedly fighting a feeling of devastation. i curse a lot more often, because those are the only words i got. i keep wanting to apologize for saying any of this, as if i am being too dramatic. i am not. i'm more confident speaking up for myself, others, and my beliefs. i sleep more often during the day. i'm usually at least a little pissed off, but increasingly inspired and empowered by those in the Jewish community's #NeverAgain, and women in politics like AOC. i am extremely tired and afraid for many people, but more driven to dream and learn. i am proud of my friends for their advocacy work, poems, and/or resilience with their loved ones. i am thankful for much and do not want to lose this. this isn't to thank this era, but to say fuck you, donald trump. this is not the dream of adulthood i'd envisioned as a child. this is to say protests are the closest thing i get to church nowadays. i like the way poets raffle their books to raise money for children's lawyers at the border. i like the way we have protest sign collections in our cars. i like our collective desire to resist and fight for diversity and peace. but fuck trump. i don't want to remain this person swathed in dread and angst. i want to stay soft.
→ nadine: i’ve been doing a lot of pruning in my life. how can i do less of what is feeding the parts of me i don’t want to feed? for me, this month, this meant leaving all social media for good. doing a lot of letting go. it’s never easy to let go. through moments of anger or sadness, i asked myself: what can i do now to take care of myself? writing down the answer to this question and actually doing it felt even better than i thought it would.
when it comes to leaving social media, pruning is only one side of the coin. the other is love. i was fortunate enough to receive a lot of love this month! from people around me, from myself. receiving love has taught me to love more and better; it has taught me my value and the value of my needs.
what about you? what's making life worth living lately?
send us an email at email@example.com
hello, and congratulations!
you've made it half way through summer and august. i feel absolutely torn: do i want to be cozied up in a sweater and flannel and leg warmers with tea, or do i want to remain half naked sprawled out next to a pool or ocean, steeping in the sunshine? i have no clue. but i am positive that your girl powered playlist will thrive this month.
enjoy! do let us know if there's anything in particular we need to sink our teeth into x
→ Vivaldi’s Summer (first movement; find all three in order here)
nadine: this month’s classical rec. if this doesn’t sound like august, i don’t know what does. summer, waning, but still shining frighteningly bright.
→ At Now by Anna Nalick (2017)
nadine: i must’ve listened to Breathe (2 AM), Anna Nalick’s hit song released in 2004, at least a few thousand times. recently, i learned that Anna Nalick is still making music --- and it’s so good. this album is changing the way i feel about music-making, about getting older, about what makes music good. Breathe (2 AM) is a difficult song to “top,” objectively, in terms of numbers, especially for an indie artist. it would also be difficult to write something catchier or more poignant to so many people. At Now doesn’t give the impression of desperately holding on to what made Breathe (2 AM) work. on the contrary, it’s honest, authentic, and artful. do you remember (have you ever experienced it? i may be too old) the magic of buying an album at the store, putting it on, and listening to it from start to finish, in order, and it being a delight? loving the album as a whole maybe more than for its individual songs? this is it.
→ stranger in the alps by phoebe bridgers
gray: this album has been a favorite of mine for a while, but for the last two weeks i’ve been especially into it. the cover of tom petty’s “it’ll all work out” has especially been a late summer-kinda sad-nostalgia mood recently. fave tracks: killer, chelsea, you missed my heart.
→focu$ by rimon
m: the video is beautiful. the sound even more. pairs well with becoming yourself, even when it hurts. "had a tough time / but don’t let it mark you / you don’t need no one / to comfort yourself, embrace yourself."
→ if only there was a river by anna st. louis
gray: this album has more of an early autumn vibe than a summer one, but i think i’m just so over the heat that i’m doing everything i can to will the autumn weather to come sooner. these songs make me feel full and empty (in a good way) at the same time. fave tracks: water, paradise.
→ skin & earth acoustic by lights
m: Lights wrote and illustrated a comic book under the same title, and then created a soundtrack, yet she didn’t stop at these feats. no, Lights then recorded acoustic versions of the soundtrack within the actual settings of the comic. that is, when a song is set to play in a tunnel, she records it in a tunnel. or a cliff. or outside in the rain at midnight. the resulting album and videos are magical.
m: this Netflix docu-series based on the New York Times column of the same name is both heartbreaking and incredible. patients with mystery long term illnesses are able to present their story and files online, and follow leads submitted by readers. you’ll be wiping your eyes in no time.
→ the song of achilles by madeline miller
gray: my goodreads review of this is simply “*prolonged screaming*” and i stand by this
→ fruit of knowledge by Liv Strömquist, translated by Melissa Bowers
m: this one took me a long time to get through. extreme sexism does that to someone. that being said, this comic needs to be read, and i don’t care what gender you are… read this history and analysis of the pussy. how has it been viewed through history and science? what about periods? read it !!!!
→ Satoko and Nada by Yupechika
m: these short mangas follow two international roommates in an American university, Satoko, a Japense girl, and Nada, a muslim girl. they, and the reader, have so much to learn and celebrate as these three cultures intersect.
→ water. remember to stay hydrated, readers! we’re nearly through the hot season….
→ nadine: what are your stories and how are they beautiful? what are the stories of your loved ones and how are they beautiful? a suggestion: take the time to ask someone you love for a story and listen. you won’t have to find the poetry of it; the poetry will find you.
→ m: “desire is just information,” says Jamie Lee Finch. what do i want, and why? how do i feel about this, and why?
→ m: i recently took a trip along the Oregon coast, and it was absolutely stunning and mind blowing. every day and every moment felt like utter magic, whether the sun played over my books driving through forests, wild horses sipped the river, or whales spouted in the ocean. i fell in absolute love. coming home though this begs me to dig my way through disappointment into every day wonder. what do i love about where i am in any moment? which senses are engaged? where can i find contentedness within monotony?
what about you? what's making life worth living lately?
send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I've been feeling a bit more alive lately, and I can't tell you exactly why, but I can tell you about small wonders recently:
> The nights and mornings are suddenly much cooler,
> and the owl has returned to their perch outside my window, hooting.
> The Owl and Bone August tarot challenge has stoked both my honesty and vulnerability. I am learning that it is okay to want things... passion = direction!
> The dad happily telling his son how awesome the library is. He just said, "All of this is just stuff and things until you realize how important it all is. So dig in. The library is so awesome." My librarian heart exploded!
> Steve. Harrington.
> This dog made me cry tears.
> The Turkish brew coffee using hot sand. The world is magical.
>And the reason I'm here... poems and poems and poems! Words keep stumbling into my way lately, and snagging my breath. Following are some quite short, but so saturated poems for your every day grief, astonishment, and political disenchantment. Take a sip. Enjoy.
Have a lovely weekend. Stay hydrated and connect with the earth somehow.
We're back with another love list, with the same message as usual: pleasure matters. I wrote about this on my Instagram:
pleasure matters, and taking stock of such pleasure is essential.
lately the news really gives me big feelings. not just anger, but like, this place has a lot of straight up evil in it, and i am very helpless to stop any of it. i heard about a little girl who said if she could have any super power, it would be softness- she could touch any bad guy and soften them. honestly, yeah. add in the people who have apathy. anyhoo, i’m remembering that it’s okay to stop taking in the news for a bit to relearn/remember joy and beauty and pleasure. that’s political activism too.... to remember and prove that life is worth saving and loving. long way to say: i like leaves with water droplets. they make me feel better.
→Holst’s Venus, the Bringer of Peace from The Planets.
nadine: this month’s classical rec is for those soft summer mornings. Holst’s Planets Suite in general inspired many movie scores -- you may hear echoes of popular movie themes in Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune… what i like most about Venus is the gentle dreamy dancing tune. there’s a depth and an undeterrable idealism in that tune. i hope Venus does indeed bring you some peace this month.
→ Mother’s Daughter by Miley Cyrus
nadine: to me, this is about the very contradictory messages that our generation has received growing up -- especially those of us who were afab and raised by at least one feminist adult. i think we were taught to stand up for ourselves, to affirm our boundaries, to accept no ill treatment, to tear down walls and smash glass ceilings… but then we inevitably had other adults around us send us the (sometimes very clear and unambiguous) message that doing so made us “freaks,” “nasty,” “evil.” sometimes it was the very same adults saying “you can do anything,” and “no, not that, sit back down young lady.” this song is almost like: “see the monster you created? it’s beautiful. we’re beautiful. we will not change. we will not make ourselves small. we will not try less. and don’t you dare try to take away our freedom.”
→ Comfortable by Lontalius
m: i discovered this song through nothing.nowhere’s livestreams, and it stops me in my tracks every time i hear it; it’s one of my favorite songs…
→ wildly idle (humble before the void) by hand habits
gray: idk man i just love hand habits. i love the little “scenes” scattered on this album and their beautiful atmospheric quality. oh, and having the last lyric on the album be, “i’m gonna grow”? here at the sprout club, we stan. fave tracks: in between, cowboy (scene), sun beholds me.
→ high as hope by florence + the machine
gray: file under laying-on-the-floor-and-doing-nothing music. fave tracks: sky full of song, patricia, no choir.
→ Stranger Things season three.
m: 80’s music has been more popular at the pool lately, and i half expect billy to strut by. need i say more?
m: i saw this video, and it blew my mind, and that's when i knew i had to actually sit down to watch this movie. i loved it. if anything, watch it for the art.
→ Heartstopper by Alice Osman
m: this webcomic is so stunningly lovely. gives me all the warm and fuzzies, while simultaneously wanting to punch all the mean boys in the world. read for wholesome lgbtq+ content. comes in print and for free online, on tapas.io.
→ on earth we’re briefly gorgeous by ocean vuong
gray: m included this in last months love list, but i hadn’t read it yet. well, now i’ve read it and i just think it needs to be on this month’s list. so now there’s two of us telling you to read it. so if you haven’t, now you have to.
→ Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal
m: men have gone extinct, leaving only women alive, leaving me fighting to keep a straight face as i read this comic at work. hilarious, relatable, and surprising.
→ “the writing advice that’s secretly good life advice” by molly conway
gray: the best writing advice always has the foundation of “just write.” as conway puts it, “the worst thing i’ve ever written is still better than the best thing that only ever lives in my head.”
→ LitHub’s Most Anticipated Books of 2019, Part 2
m: LitHub’s list of books coming out in the remaining months of 2019 is absolutely juicy. it took me ages to sift through, and left me utterly overwhelmed at the amount of good work coming out. if you need something to read, this is your go to.
→ everything by Adrienne Maree Brown
m: this person, and their pursuit of wholeness and justice, is poetry. Start with The Creative Independent's feature, and then start Emergent Strategy asap, on dealing with and creating change.
→ cold brew everything.
m: finally realized i could make coffee and chai and let them brew overnight in the fridge. actually life changing.
→ trump is a ra_ist
choose one: c / p.
tea that is not new, but true.
→ nadine: tell me what you want, what you really really want… but seriously. in all-caps in my morning pages, i wrote: “who am i and what do i need from life and what do i want to offer the world?” it’s like part of me knows exactly what the answer is. but then i keep writing: “do i really want this?” with the wild hope that maybe i’ll go, oh, right, i don’t, phew! but i do, i do, i do.
→ m: i retook the personality tests (myer briggs via 16personalities, strengs finder, and enneagram) for the first time in a year and was somewhat pleasantly surprised to see shifts in my self. I was the same myer briggs, but through 16personalities’ percentages, i could see growth such as being more in touch with intuition. feels like healthy growth. on the flip side, i don’t know what enneagram i am, and this leaves me overjoyed… the 6 has felt like a straightjacket, and i am shedding it. moral of the story: we are ever evolving beings, always creating ourselves. and sometimes the worst circumstances teach us to become more like we always wanted to be. i think this is what faith is. i am not thankful for what has happened to me, but i am thankful for who i have become.
→ m: “am i a perfect living realization of my values and beliefs?” -- emergent strategy by adrienne maree brown. your work matters. everything about the world feels heavy and impossible, but the way that you carry yourself and hold responsibility for the energy you bring into a space matters.
find something you loved this month. tell us about it.
we are all humans. we might not feel like it sometimes (i rarely do), but really, we are, i promise. i think that lately, it has been difficult for many of us to express love and joy without a lingering sense of guilt. it’s cool on the internet to be emotionless and how can i even think about those things when the arctic is melting and the middle east is unstable and there are school shootings and there are over 70 countries where homosexuality is illegal and some of those it’s punishable by death and the bolsonaro is trying to sell the brazilian rainforests to the highest bidder and--
“As we're bouncing up and down trying to make the floor break
it’s unhealthy to think like this. yes, it’s important to be socially conscious, but, like i said, we are humans. first, we are not super efficient robots who have the ability to solve all the world’s crises, and it’s inhumane to try to put that pressure on ourselves. we really don’t have the ability to process and take on all this suffering, and when we do, we tend to feel a sense of responsibility. second, by denying ourselves true expressions of joy and love, we are denying ourselves intrinsic and crucial parts of the human experience. when was the last time you ended a good day that didn’t have an asterisk attached?
“In those heavy days of June
the month of june is pride month, which i’m sure you all knew, maybe from the inundation of rainbow merch or photos from pride parades or just generally not living under a rock. it’s important that, during pride month, we memorialize the founders of the movement, remember our history, and pay tribute to those we have lost. but just as importantly, we, as lgbt people, should express love and ourselves even when it wanders far from the status quo. in a world that wants to make us ashamed of who we are, we should try our hardest to not be afraid. if we are out, we should do this loudly, so that people know we are here. if we are not yet out, we should respect ourselves and our boundaries and proclaim love softly, so we know we are here. these small acts of self are acts of defiance, and feed the hope of a better world.
To love yourself, you must know yourself. And to know yourself, you must love yourself. Love then is a sublime and universal understanding of self and of others. Love is a discipline of one’s own self-consciousness. Love is beautiful. Love is just. It must endure, it must evolve, it must expand, it must be born-again.
we do these monthly lists not only to share ourselves with you, but to share the things that make us happy, that make everyday life more livable, that we love, and we offer them to you. these small examinations tell us that it really isn’t all bad, it isn’t really all hopeless. the world is a beautiful and weird thing and is somehow there for your taking, so grab all you can fit in two hands. and without further ado, here is the june love list.
→ love yourself/with my whole heart by sufjan stevens
gray: sufjan stevens is out there trudging through mud fighting for our rights this pride month. we love u sufjan.
m: i was going to say this too. u will love it.
→ too bright by perfume genius
gray: i have to include this for pride month!! i so much love how this album seamlessly marries piano ballads with art pop anthems with some more experimental cuts. fave tracks: my body, grid
→ Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in C Major, I. Pezzo in Forma di Sonatina
nadine: this month’s classical rec is also well-timed for pride (it is generally accepted nowadays that Tchaikovsky was gay). this man’s story hit me super hard in the last month. to put it shortly, Tchaikovsky married a (female) fan for well-intentioned reasons, but then it turned out to be the Worst Decision Ever, so he ran away. he then wrote that “there is nothing more fruitless than not wanting to be that which I am by nature.” i listened to that story on BBC Radio 3 [https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/p01ydqsj] and i wondered why people like him (...and me lol) ignore their own inner guidance and any glaring red flags in order to orchestrate the biggest self-sabotage possible.
→Tennyson's Beautiful World
m: i rediscover this song every summer, and i'm head over heels. i'm consistently amazed at Tennyson's surprising sounds used as music, such as the rush of a bubble drink being poured. deep pure summer vibes.
→ halsey on stright pride and fear
m: you may have heard the call for a straight pride this month. recently, two women were beaten for being gay. when halsey performed in the town, she gave this speech. by the end, i was definitely in tears, as queer kids yelled, “I am not afraid.”
→ on simplicity and beauty, in a silent, four second video
m: the earth is magic
→ Rocketman (2019) in theatres, for those “new life who dis” vibes
nadine: ugh, this. i almost didn’t put it in because i feel like it detonates and honestly, i have shame around proclaiming my love for it (a can of worms i shall open in my journal). but the truth is i love pop and musicals, i love things that are flashy and sort of camp, i love things that are over-the-top and larger than life, i love going to the cinema, and i love this. it’s exactly the type of thing i want to make, songs and score (the arrangements are sublime) and story. plus it feels so good to go to the cinema and forget straightness exists for a while, you know? this movie is kind of a musical happening in Elton John’s head. it’s very introspective and it’s ultimately about personal growth and support systems. please watch and ponder: what is authenticity? when we create ourselves, do we become more or less authentic?
→On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
m: oh oh oh, you know how it is when ocean vuong writes. it’s exactly what you expect: beautiful and fascinating and saturated and heartbreaking. it’s exactly that. OEWBG is a poetic book about coming of age within a family laden with trauma, so be prepared to feel something. I felt inspired in many ways after i completed this book, including in the way i write, and what i write.
→ “All Other Trans People Are Real, But *I* Am A Terrible Fraud” by Devon Price
“I thought I could live a whole lifetime being mistaken for a woman and just cruising along through it. I figured that if I was really trans, I would have known in childhood, and that I would have asserted it loudly, with defiance. Something. Just. Anything. But I didn’t have that confidence. I lacked that introspection. And for years I’ve held onto that, and taken it for a sign that all my feelings are fake.”
gray: insert *i’m in this photo and i don’t like it* meme. but seriously i think it’s hard to admit self doubt and as someone who feels the same way about my gender identity as this author does, i really admire this piece.
→ “Feminist Trans Men & the Narrative of Internalized Misogyny” by Seth Katz
“The difference between a trans man or nonbinary AFAB person and a cis woman (detransitioned or not) isn’t that we hate women and want to utilize misogyny, it is simply that we aren’t women.”
→ Levi the Poet on “I Used to Think that Positive Self-Talk was BS”
m: it's easy to disregard most self help things, esp if you have depression and anxiety. but i've been learning that so many things i roll my eyes at are, scientifically, true. levi covers one of these.
→ seltzer and only seltzer please someone help me i am kind of addicted….
→ the smores frap is BACK at starbucks and i am HAPPY. marshmallow whipped cream you say? on my way.
→ new york’s next public monument honors two trans activists: Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. yes. this is the exact tea i want.
→nadine’s 30 day journal/tarot challenge is kicking my butt in a good way.
→ Questions to Assess Negative Views of Self and World
→ m: why haven’t i done the thing ive been mulling over for years now? what holds me back? what did i used to love, and why did i stop doing it?
→ nadine: when i developed my shame and guilt, what part of my personality took the biggest hit? how may i heal this part of my personality? maybe i need to stop asking myself what i “should” do and start asking myself what i want to do.
→gray: love for oneself is far more complicated than love for another. when we are confronted with self love, we are confronted with questions. when asked, “who are they?” about someone else, we can take comfort in the fact that it’s impossible for us to ever really know. but ourselves? aren’t we suppose to know? and since we’re supposed to know, if we realize we don’t, how can we love? or if we do, and we don’t like what we see? this is something that i struggle with. love for my body and love for my mind. these things do not come as naturally as i would wish. the only way i can reckon with this fact is that i am trying.
what about you? what's making life worth living lately?
send us an email at email@example.com
HELLO, FOLKS, IT IS ME, AND I AM TIRED.
tired of a lot of things. such as this country. and worrying that i am void of feelings. this love list felt so daunting to me, as i felt like i hadn't had room in me to love lately... and i think that's when these lists are so important. thanks to gray and nadine who argued when i said perhaps we should skip it this month. they filled this place with love, and in reading it, i was reminded that, indeed, i have loved things too, even in my anger.
so it is my pleasure to introduce you to our may love list. i hope you also find strength in you to lay aside your anger for a moment to make room for love.
→ better oblivion community center by better oblivion community center
gray: a phoebe bridgers/conor oberst collab was not only the best thing for conor oberst’s career in the latter half of the 2010s, but also the best thing for both the part of my heart that is still 16 and angsty about everything and the part that is 22 and tired and constantly feeling weird. fave track: didn’t know what i was in for
→ city sun eater in the river of light by woods
gray: this album just feels like spring. fave track: politics of free
→ Górecki’s II. Lento e Largo - Tranquillissimo from Symphony No. 3, Op. 36. for when everything seems to harsh.
nadine: this month’s classical rec is not technically classical (it was written in 1976). it’s honestly so soft and gentle. it features a soloist, but i’d say that as far as “opera” singing goes, this is extremely approachable. the soloist sings in polish about child-parent separation during World War II.
→ I Like (the idea of) You by Tessa Violet, to pair with raging crushes, ice cream and hot wind in your hair.
nadine: honestly!!!! i have!!! so many feelings about this! Tessa Violet is brilliant (check out her previous two singles, Bad Ideas and Crush) and she did it again.
→ blood moon underworld by misogi
m: i just know this one is going to be so difficult to beat for my favorite album of the year. Misogi isn’t your average lo-fi rap/hip hop soundcloud artist. the 19 year old has built something gritty, smooth, and rich in one album, immersing the listener in a saturated spacey world. i love how diverse, yet cohesive it is- we have our emo rap songs (featuring my fave, nothing,nowhere), our beep-boop spacey instrumentals, and our heavy punk guitar filled songs. i’m in love. artful. fave track, a reverb heavy bedroom dream punk song: bleached
→ nightmare by halsey
m: because i am angry, and so is halsey.
→ i think you should leave with tim robinson
gray: super funny sketch comedy with super short episodes, so binge watching it feels less guilty.
→ “mr. ratburn and the special someone” arthur s.22 ep.01
gray: i already wrote about this on the blog but i have to include it here too. it makes me so happy!
→ angry bill nye via john oliver
m: the bill nye we all knew and loved, but make it 2019 on a literally suffering planet. it's less than a minute, which is to say, you have no excuse not to watch this one.
→ autobiography of red by anne carson
gray: this is easily the best thing i’ve ever read, and i don’t think i have read or will ever read anything quite like it again.
→ i hear the sunspot by yuki fumino
m: my first manga, and i am smitten. the i hear the sunspot series follows two boys: a deaf boy and his note taker. it's simply so well written... we subtly observe the nuances of these boys' lives, including the struggle of school/career, the struggle with self-actualization within a developing disability, a difficult home life, and emerging sexuality... i'll spoil something for you now with a question you'll ponder: are they gay? for each other? and when will we know fore sure? :)
→ pilu of the woods by mai k. nguyen
m: Oh oh oh !!! this comic is so heartfelt and so beautiful and so important ! willow loves nature for its beauty, serenity, and intricacies, so unlike her feelings and school and home. this is the story of willow learning to understand the little monsters in her- feelings, in this case, grief- and how to treat herself and others... a good, extremely pretty, kids comic for learning about emotional literacy, compassion, and self expression, for all ages.
→ smoothies with cold brew, oat milk, chocolate protein powder, and bananas
→ trader joe's organic tumeric and ginger tea
→ nadine: this month has, i think, been trying to tell me that compassion should start with the self. i tend to take it for granted that other people need my compassion more than i need my own compassion. why do i assume this? empathy is a gift, not a curse: it should help me do good rather than guilt-trip me.
→ m: how much is too much? when can i walk away from the news and relinquish my need to be an Extremely Informed Citizenship, if it makes me cry multiple times a day?
and you? what are you loving on lately? we'd love to hear you.
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remember, whether you just have a bullet point list of things that make you happy, or you've written an epic, we want to read it.
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(…) Here it is:
some days are difficult for me to live through… not necessarily because they are hard, but sometimes things are so good i don’t know how to hold it. i’ve been reading about overcoming imposter syndrome, and one night i understood some things about my view of myself:
i tend to define myself by what i do, and not who i am. when what i do changes, even only slightly, my sense of self is disturbed.
i also divide myself into selves based on context, though not in that good girl/bad girl way that people think teenagers do… mostly my access to words and self changes based on context. when these selves cross paths, i feel shame, fearing i am less authentic. funny, because the merging of my selves makes me more myself than ever. so i need to remember this: i can be both-and, and all. multi-faceted. deeper.
some days, i simply do not recognize my self.
and on these days, i need to settle into my body, into my self. to question what matters. what is beauty, in my eyes. what makes me feel. what i want to do. my intention in every situation.
sometimes this simply means i put clove and tangerine oils in my diffuser. maybe i eat outside and steep in sunlight. maybe i do a little yoga. do my skincare slowly. and sometimes it means i read nonfiction, or fiction, or poetry.
poetry always does that thing to me, whether i write it or read it. it asks me to see and feel the world, without remaining an apathetic observer. to appreciate something, even if it’s the wording of something hard to swallow.
it’s national poetry month, so i’ve added some poems that i think are worth reading or listening to. i hope you find something that brings the color back to your world, and helps you feel a little more like yourself. let us know if there’s anything we should try. we love to hear from you.
namaste, the light in my recognizes and honors the light in you,
→ still i rise, by maya angelou, performed on so you think you can dance, for survival
→ laugh with god, by madi mae parker, for becoming
→ for the dogs tho barked at me on the sidewalks in connecticut by hanif abdurraqib, for meeting yourself
→ angel of the get through, by andrea gibson, for your best friends
→ the future, by neil hilborn, for your hardest days
→ things that could happen to a girl wearing jeans, by rhiannon mcgavin, when politics gets too much
→ how to be a poet under the new regime by roberto montes, on being
→ self portrait with no flag by safia elhillo, for pledging allegiance
→ joy seekers, by levi the poet, for easter
→ Elgar’s Nimrod (Variation IX) from Enigma Variations. listen when in pain, for the reminder than in every hurt there is longing, and in every longing there is hope.
nadine: this month’s classical love is a staple. apparently, according to the song’s wikipedia, it’s played pretty much all the time (i’m exaggerating, but only a little). this enigma variation was dedicated to Elgar’s closest friend, August Jaeger; it’s the story of how Jaeger encouraged him to push through pain and keep making music. in a letter to Jaeger, Elgar wrote that each variation had been written borrowing the voice of a friend, “if they were asses enough to compose.” to me, the Nimrod variation is a reminder of what a powerful balm sincere encouragements can be. i hope it catches you at the right time.
→ Happy by Julia Michaels (released in Inner Monologue Part 1, jan. 24, 2019). listen if you feel like dancing and feeling sorry for yourself at the same time.
nadine: mmm who doesn’t like a good sad pop anthem?? this one’s been stuck in my head all month. (also worth noting that i think this song needs to be taken with a certain measure of self-deprecating humour; it’s absolutely not necessary or even useful to “kill relationships for art.”)
→ Night Falls over Kortedala by Jens Lekman
gray: a long time favorite album of mine, and my favorite Jens Lekman album. every year, for me, this album seems to usher in the beginning of spring. the dancey instrumentals and silly, lovelorn lyrics will never cease to feel brand new to me, even on the thousandth listen.
→ Mississippi by Kevin Abstract
m: the outro to the brand new ep ghettobaby, this song had me both tearing up and dancing at my desk. it’s homey and homesick at the same time.
→ Guava Island
m: i’m of the opinion that Donald Glover can do no wrong, and i am right again. this time, glover is flanked by Rhianna and Lititia Wright *heart eyes*
→ The Future is Feminist edited by Jessica Valenti
m: a brilliant intro to feminism, spanning much time and differing schools of thought. each essay is different both in subject and mood (yes, some will make you smile.) despite the hot pink and orange text (I couldn’t read the quotes in orange), i love it. i want it. this is intersectional, empowering, accepting feminism, and i feel empowered creatively and mentally.
→ “Why Do I Always Have a Crush on Someone?” by Heather Havrilesky
“The trick is not to stop wanting. The trick is to stop abandoning yourself and your life every time you want something. The trick is not to stop eating. The trick is to stop blaming yourself for your hunger.”
as a chronic crusher, this piece makes me feel validated and made me think a lot about how i exist in relation to and treat my romantic/etc desire.
→ With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
m: Acevedo’s first book, The Poet X, was incredible, and so many thought so. Her second book releases May 15, and let me tell you… it is spicy and sweet and warm and bright. Emoni is a single mama, a girl who adores cooking, and a high school senior. this life is so much pressure, but so full of love. highly recommend, not just for the story, but also for the beautiful writing.
→ Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad by Austin Kleon
m: i feel like this book is a guide to life. all you need to know right now is that it’s austin kleon’s new book. perhaps i’ll give it its own blog post.
sipping + eating
→ thai coffee, strong and sweet and spicy. good for chatty dinners over stir fry noodles or productive afternoons.
→ lemonade. it’s already hitting temps of 80F here, so i might as well lean into the summer weather with a classic drink that happens to be a favorite of mine.
→ ginger matcha ice cream with dark chocolate chips. healthy for your heart.
→ nadine: how are the hindering things i do benefitting my fake self? what can i do to stop the negative cycle where my self-sabotage fuels my negative self-beliefs? procrastination, i’m looking straight at you. i will not let you make me angry.
→ nadine: i want peace of mind, but i am constantly looking for ways to make my life more intense, dramatic, exciting. in my journal, i have written: “why am i not that person now? thick fabrics, plants, light. a big garden. who is this person & what has changed within him/her to bring him/her to let go of that need for drama & intensity? why is he/she content with that life? what life is that?”
→ m: what do i feel like i’m not allowed to do, and why? what blocks are in place before my creativity, and what have i forgotten to love as the years pass by? how can i dismantle shame
→ m: do i have a routine? what is my dream routine, and how can i slowly work it into my mornings, days, and nights?
→ m: how can i create space for other people? who have i not forgiven?
→ gray: time is passing whether or not i want it to. i have spent the last several months oblivious to this, stuck in a pattern of being stuck. now it’s april and i find myself trying to figure out what i’ve even been doing. a short break post-grad turned into a time where i have been questioning all my decisions and skills that i believed i had. how do i move forward with my life now that every turn is filled to the brim with uncertainty? and who am i to complain? how do i stop focusing on the path not taken?
what about you? what’s been making you think, lately, “i’m glad i stuck around long enough to discover this?” let us know!
i don’t know what march is like where you are. if you can feel the springtime coming. here (a corner of canada; this is nadine writing) you can’t. it’s cold, it snows, it’s cloudy. the only clue is the lengthening hours of daylight. and yet somehow that’s enough. you can feel it in others, this quiet resilience, a mixture of tiredness and hope. march is ugly. march is thick ice and grey snow, asphalt invisible under the rocks and the dirt, trees still bare, puddles bigger than the street, car wheels that spin loudly on the ice. sidewalks are the enemy, obstacle courses. march is not kind. but march is precious. thirty-one days. one month. march may not look like a gift. but i refuse to see it as anything else. maybe march is a test. maybe march is nature, vulnerable and wild, fragile and fierce, asking us “can you still love me like this?” and i want to be the kind of person who says yes. i want to be the kind of person who loves unconditionally. people, nature, life.
for me, these days, trying to love life unconditionally means two things: appreciating it as it comes and daring to reconsider it completely.
hopefully these favourites of ours will help you do just that. anchor yourself to the present and look to the future with hope. because you know what? there will be more. a month from now, we’ll make a favourites post, and none of us knows what will be in it yet. you’ll have new favourites too. definitely something worth sticking around for.
→ Debussy’s La Mer: Trois esquisses symphoniques: 1. De l’aube à midi sur la mer played by the New York Philharmonic conducted by Jaap Van Zweden (released feb. 22, 2019). listen with closed eyes. you’re on a small fishing boat on the Atlantic Ocean by the coast of France. it’s dawn. the sun rises, the sea awakens. the sunshine reflects on the waves, blinding you at times. everything is saturated, but in a good way. the song ends at noon and you’re still out on the sea, with the sun at its zenith and your compass unwaveringly pointing north.
nadine: this is impressionist music; like the paintings from the same movement, its purpose is to create an impression in the mind of the person who encounters it. in this case, i find the impression startlingly and pleasantly clear. i know 9:16 sounds like a long time, but it’s so worth it. the last minute of this piece is pure euphoria to listen to for me (the chords!!!!). after i heard it the first time, i had to stop everything, remove my headphones and just laugh because who knew there were still such wonderful treasures i’d never heard before? you never know what you don’t know, and if that’s not a reason to stick around, i don’t know what is. finally, two things: (1) if you have time to listen to the entire programme/album, do it! it also features The Rite of Spring, which i actually discussed in my last post. (2) i will be back with a classical music (loosely-used term) piece each month. will probably discuss why i think classical music is beautiful, powerful and relevant in a blog post, but until then, i do hope you enjoyed this at least half as much as i did (and that would already be a lot).
→ Sucker Punch (LP) by Sigrid (released march 8, 2019). listen when you’re out for a walk on a sunny day, or on a cloudy day that you want to make sunnier.
nadine: Sigrid is my favourite newish player on the pop scene! this is her first LP. listen for a quirky voice and production with an upbeat vibe. i recommended the entire LP because LPs are a rare commodity these days, and LPs with many enjoyable songs are always a rare pleasure. if happy pop is not your thing, you may want to skip directly to the last song, Dynamite; otherwise, honestly, these are all straight from pop heaven.
→ Placeholder by Hand Habits (released march 1, 2019)
gray: the new album from meg duffy’s project hand habits is like a breezy spring morning. duffy’s sweet vocal melodies and melt over ephemeral instrumentation and evocative lyrics. let it fade away, in the bathtub with clay on your face (“are you serious?).
→ What Chaos is Imaginary by Girlpool (released february 1, 2019)
gray: i guess this month i’m into sprawling sounds. since the album came out earlier this year, i’ve been captivated by the vagueness of the lyrics and the moments of larger-than-life sounds (“what chaos is imaginary,” “chemical freeze”) mixed with soft, intimate moments (“all blacked out,” “hoax and the shrine”). let the sound surround you until what’s real becomes…well, imaginary.
→ Avalanche by Just Friends, and other songs on the playlist. listen with the lights dim, your body fluid and submissive to the way music asks you to move and groove. alternatively: on a porch watching a spring rain.
m: bonus points, moving on a rainy day. someone asked me recently what music i like and i froze and blurted out “reverb… beats… purple stuff that envelopes you and makes your body loosen up!” juicy songs to do yoga to. music in the background writing papers, yet the same music you can close your eyes in, and lose yourself in the waves. world building music. avalanche does this incredibly well. half through, the bass thrums in your chest, yet water trickles in the background, but all you can hear is a woman’s voice. then, a piano chord. it’s intricate, yet feels so simple and human. dip into it. then, shimmy your shoulders to playful cellos and basses and more in soul alphabet. dip and repeat.
→ Self Control by Frank Ocean and Cavetown and Dissect. listen loud, with that bittersweet ache, and a thought for summer, late at night, on the phone with your best friend.
m: covers are hit and miss. usually, i prefer the original, but sometimes an artist does a song so differently, or so distinctly theirs, that i fall in love (such as Somebody Else by Vérité.) this is true here. frank ocean’s self control is so intimate and distilled, a musical journal. beautiful. i suggest listening to the podcast dissect episode on the song. lyrically and sonically, it is an art, and irreplaceable. when cavetown, a red haired english boy, covered self control, i was skeptical. while very similar to frank ocean’s version, this version is somehow distinctly cavetown’s. listening to the tune, i could believe each version was written by the artist.
→ The Dream Chapter: STAR by TOMORROW X TOGETHER (or txt, for short). listen when you want to feel happy and excited and kinda silly. like afternoons in the summer with your best friends that you'll remember forever
julia: txt is a new group, they have debuted only a couple weeks ago, but I'm completely addicted to their debut EP. they are pretty young, with members ranging from 20 to 17, so their songs are basically about the growing pains of being a teenager. the main single, Crown, talks about a boy who one day wakes up with horns on his head and is afraid he turned into a monster. but then he meets a boy with wings and realizes that he's not alone in being a bit weird and now his horns feel more like a crown. even though i'm way past that age, i still can relate a lot to both feeling inadequate for something i was born with and trying to come to terms with that too the point where i can see the positive side of it. Also the songs are just bops, Cat & Dog is absolutely absurd and hilarious, it always puts a smile on my face.
→ this video of Miley Cyrus and Mark Ronson’s acoustic cover of No Tears Left to Cry with violins and cellos for BBC Radio 1 (released dec. 11, 2018). watch at the end of the long day with the quiet conviction that you’ll find a plan.
nadine: i actually love covers, so i was already sold on the idea of combining this duo with one of my favourites 2018 releases, but this exceeded my expectations in every way. i’ve watched this oneit so often by now that now anytime i finish a video on youtube, however unrelated, youtube is like: “now this?” and i’m like: “YES!” i could probably write an essay about this cover/song. or Miley Cyrus. it’s so quiet but it feels so huge.
→ MARINA’s new album trailer (released march 8, 2019).
nadine: i like people who think deeply, creatively and earnestly. Marina, previously known as Marina and the Diamonds, is definitely one of those people. besides, album trailers are a cool concept, and this one doesn’t disappoint. about staying soft and kind, finding beauty, and finding love in the midst of fear.
→ John Green's Cause for Celebration (released november 20, 2018) for when you feel unwell and unhappy.
m: John Green reminds me how much humanness we have lost recently. sometimes i wonder at the human inclination, across culture and age, to dance. humans love to dance. along with this, humans, forever, have celebrated, for the seemingly smallest occurrences. sure, some of this is because people of history actually depended on things like rain to survive. a harder life, for sure, but a more thankful life. i wouldn't mind reclaiming some of this joy, especially in the dead of cold spring.
→ txt’s live performance of Crown
julia: this month has been really all about them for me and I'm simply in love with this choreography. it's so intricate and fun! I have watched it so many times but I'm still not sick of it.
→ Will You by Carrie Fountain, a poem to read on your kitchen counter.
m: this poem uses glitter to confront your wakefulness or apathy.
→ Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
→ Yes She Can: 10 Stories of Hope & Change from Young Female Staffers of the Obama White House compiled by Molly Dillon
m: good for crying into your coffee when you should be working, or googling “credentials to work in the white house, wait a second, who’s the current president?”
→ Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience
m: i picked up my copy of this book today, and i am already stunned and touched. incredibly well written, featuring voices such as elizabeth acevdeo, chen chen, safia elhillo, and ocean vuong. steep in another's world.
→ matcha with vanilla almond milk. pairs best with lust for springtime and planning the present.
→ dirty chai with oat milk. a literal incarnation of the term “bittersweet.”
→ coffee, lots of coffee. currently my fave is a citrus chocolate blend from my friend's own brand. citrus + chocolate, opposites complementing each other instead of fighting, the kind of balance i want for my life.
→ this month was for Existential Questioning with much-deserved capitalization. examples of questions nadine has asked himself/herself/themself include: ♫ what does it mean to be a good person? ♫ why is it important to me to be a good person? ♫ what does it mean to do good in the world? ♫ just as i don’t want to pretend i know what’s best for someone else, can i pretend to know what’s best for the world? ♫ how may i balance altruism and hedonism; how may i contribute to the wellbeing of others while having fun? ♫ what is inner peace? is it attainable? is it a selfish thing to want? do i even really want that? ♫ why do i think i am currently alive as this particular human here? ♫ where does my pain come from? ♫ how much money do i really need, assuming i’ll live to old age? ♫ what motivated the past Big Life Decisions i’ve made? ♫ what pursuit brings me the most happiness, why, and why did i ever give it up? ♫ how can i find more people who don’t make me feel like a freak, who make me feel less alone? ♫ what do i want to do with my “one wild and precious life”?? ♫ what can i do now to start exploring the world more thoroughly? to have more fun? ♫ how may i reframe my feelings to realize that regardless of their degree of normality, they’re normal for me? ♫ how do i become the best friend i can be? ♫ etc. ♫
→ how can i be honest with myself without running away, terrified?
→ club prompts, 3/10/19 ☽ what do you stay for? ♡what is ur church? how do u pray? ☽ spoken word for a wordless song ☽ turn on a song. dance. move the way u need to. capture your thoughts + arising feelings ☽ poems for tarot cards ☽ instant film ♡send us your favorite skies
→ club prompts, 3/5/19 ☽ sink into the point of view of an original character ♡ use a morning routine to create a piece ☽ boat building ☽ what details encapsulates your february? ☽ the horoscope you need to read ☽ erasure ♡a light in the wrong place
what about you? what’s been making you think, lately, “i’m glad i stuck around long enough to discover this?” let us know!
the sprout club
a small collective dedicated to personal, creative, and communal growths.