New

Did y’all know I was really sad in Seattle? This seemed too ironically typical at the time, since Seattle has a reputation for being depressing. Boy, was it ever. Chett and I arrived smack dab in the middle of a huge wave of gentrification, and in our naive millenial reliance on public transportation, we soon developed fraught and, in my case, furious relationships with Seattle’s ineffectual infrastructure.

Not to rationalize my emotional state: I was just flat-out depressed. I have long struggled with powerful mood shifts and anxiety brought on by not being able to tune anything out, but Seattle really cranked my freakouts up a notch. If I could help it, I wouldn’t leave the apartment for days at a time, for fear of overhearing some misogynist Amazonian bullshittery or having dozens of encounters with the same crew of hipsters who pretended we had never met after three or four conversations about their apathy, their band t-shirts, their expensive haircuts.

So, we hustled back to the east coast, to a place I’ve described on more than one occasion as miserableso over, and debilitatingly expensive: New York.

Some context: every trip I’ve taken to NYC has been overwhelming in great and terrible ways. My long-time best friend’s incredibly cool cohort all ganged up to laud the city after a wine-fueled dinner party. My ex had a full-on freakout and insisted on crashing in a Brooklyn Best Western and ordering Chinese take-out. It thunderstormed and I wept under an awning in Midtown, soaking wet with a deep gratitude for East Coast rainstorms.

Last May, at age 59, my mother took a job in Manhattan, rented a studio apartment, and solidified her status as the most badass, fearless human I’ve ever met.

Fantasizing about a life without scooping ice cream, with some of the spectacular friends I’ve managed to accrue in my many ill-fated friend trysts, I started to get serious about abandoning yet another potential: did I want to reforge a life for myself in a sea of strangers and a super-white literary scene, or could I imagine being as poor as I have been for my entire adult life once again, but in the most wild and alive city in the country?

No question.

So, nine months into our service-industry soaked Seattle life, full of penance for being Southerners and East Coasters, Chett and I packed up our ample book collection and shipped it back across the country, sold our Ikea furnishings, and bailed on Seattle.

Since January, we’ve been settling into NYC-paced life, and despite all the anxieties about being slow-moving Southerners, we’ve done a pretty goddamn good job. In truth, the quick pace matches my own “get-shit-done” mindset, which was unusual in NC and fucking unheard of in Seattle. I never knew that spatial awareness was such an integral part of my human identity, but New Yorkers manage an incredible balance of doing a million things with getting out of each others’ ways, physically and psychically.

I’ve been working on striking a similar balance: work and writing, friends and sleeping. After a few weeks worth of freakouts about my future plans (I got into NYU’s perfect MA program but I couldn’t afford it; I’m working at a restaurant…again; what am I going to do now?), I have nestled into a great pattern of reading on the train, writing poems, sending mail, sleeping, and drinking shiploads of coffee. I’m still looking for exactly the right opportunity, the slippery but ideal mix of work and play, but that would be true anywhere. I’m grateful to not feel hemmed in by my surroundings, but rather, empowered to try stuff. The stuff is endless, and somehow, I am not overwhelmed. I am myself again: sassy, a serious bookworm, always seeking.

Cards

I’ve been wanting business cards for such a long time. I never felt quite right making them myself–I’m such a big supporter of graphic designers and artists, I felt like designing my own cards was sacrilege.

Enter my cool coworker McKenna, who designed these groovy business cards for me. She’s got such a clean aesthetic, and she’s as into Georgia (the font–not the state) as I am! Check out her cute website here.

Business Cards McKenna Haley

Yum. And for my writing clients, you’ll recognize the quote as possibly my favorite thing to say in sessions to drive you to the brink of insanity. You love it.

Join

I’ve never been a joiner. For someone deeply into so many cultural things–film, veganism, games, feminism, natural healing, poetics–I have just never found a clear-cut group with which I identify.

The closest I have ever come to this was–weirdly–in my hometown, when I was still in high school. While most of my close friends were very different from me in terms of interests, we all balanced one another out in a dynamic way. We glowed with energy: debates blossomed, flamed, and receded; we could introduce each other to things we loved: designers, artists, filmmakers, music, novels. I have often wondered if this was because every one of us were artists in some fashion or another–or if we were just immensely lucky to have the kind of chemical rapport that we did. It came naturally as breathing.

In years past, I have lamented the loss of this space. Friends moved far away or dropped out of contact, busy with relationships or drowning in work. I myself got into less-than-savory activities and lost focus on my writing and the relationships that mattered to me. My communities began to revolve around parties, substances, and shutting out unpleasantness rather than inviting intellectualism and art in.

Now, so physically far removed from any of the communities that I worked to create and maintain, I am realizing that my disinterest in joining may actually be a gift–alongside with the difficulties of being unaffiliated, I have the space to move free and fluid within and without spaces of my choosing. I am not betraying a group by taking space away from it–I am in flux.

Part of me yearns to join the clique at my job–to dye my hair and drink tall boys of Rainier on the beach taking selfies; part of me wants an MFA–an insular group of sheltered creatives shuffling towards meaning; other parts want vegan friends–white yipsters bleating about local foods. But these parts of me clash.

What I really want is curious and critical friends of many persuasions–and I am very lucky to have somehow made that happen. I didn’t join a pre-established community; I have always worked to create my own, sometimes to flourishing success, and often to shrieking failure.

I am proud of the time I have spent creating space for myself. I am more proud of my active role in my own communities than I would be defaulting into a crowd.

Sometimes I am lonely; sometimes I feel alienated. But I am always capable.

Yoga

Ever get that icky feeling when you and a group of other white people who can afford to spend $16 on a yoga class chant “ohm shanti shanti shanti?”

Me too.

I’m fleshing out the skeleton of an essay chronicling my complex relationship with yoga, and, peripherally, with non-western healing in general.

Topics include Orientalism, embodiment, social business models, capitalism. The usual.