(…) 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!