new year new me??

in 2024 maybe i will mood ring from my phone only. no more earnestness from my other fingers, only thoughts transmitted via the brain -> thumb neural pathway. i arrived at our hotel in northern nicaragua somewhere after midnight, and when sitting down for breakfast the next morning at the communal dining table i realized i'd never done anything like what i was currently experiencing. i'd never been on a beach vacation before, much less at a surf and yoga-oriented "resort." resort connotes big beachfront hotels, people sunbathing under umbrellas you have to pay for while vendors hawk beverages from their coolers, but this was more like staying at the estate of a rich friend of a friend - the sprawling grounds, the free-roaming pets (4 dogs + 3 cats) that had been collectively adopted by the manager, gerritt, and the others (mostly europeans) who worked there in exchange for food and board, the daily schedule of activities and shared meals, and the plant life running wild all contributed to a sense of perpetually hanging out. i took three surfing lessons and caught the bug!!! i paddleboarded for the second time ever, at sunset with adam's friend jessie, and swam almost everyday in the pacific, steeling myself to confront my fear of large waves and dive into the choppy surf of the boom. it felt so good to wake up every morning tan and sore, to begin the work day with a cold shower after spending some time in the water and feel the salty residue in my hair. i ripped through books from the comfort of a shaded hammock overlooking the ocean. i felt a deep sense of well being and notably zero urge to return to new york, free from the usual pull that sets in after a week of traveling. the other guests were mostly people in their 30s, young families or friends traveling together. hanging out with them and cosplaying as someone of indeterminate age (although one woman, a journalist and mother to the cutest 3 year old ever, gave me a look once that implied she was on to me) made me feel young and insecure and filled me with longing for a more interesting life. maybe everything sounds more interesting when you're older and didn't spend those extra years just climbing the corporate ladder, but listening to how people had worked various interesting short-term jobs that brought them to random parts of the world made me realize, that could be me. before i'd decided to commit even harder to software engineering last summer, i'd had a fantasy of working at a natural wine bar. mostly this was to meet hot people and to feel fun and hot, but now that i'm on the other side of the job switch i feel surer of my desire to quit, at least for several months, after i've put in my time and learned to be a real engineer here. like xander's dream of owning a farm, the urge to work on an oyster farm has never been stronger. most of the books i read in nicaragua were nicht so gut - here's looking at you, the vegetarian - but i loved temporary by hilary leichter. i guess it has some of that "frenzied/satirical millennial female narrator voice" that lauren oyler and patricia lockwood employ in their respective Famous Books on Contemporary Life, but this book is way better. the premise is an alternate reality where people perpetually temp/fill in for others' jobs to a comical extent (i.e. being hired by the wildlife preservation iniative to fill in as a barnacle because barnacles are going extinct), and the narrator is one such person, who does so with the hopes of achieving "steadiness," the magical feeling of having found the perfect job, the one you will stay at forever. she has a gazillion boyfriends, each of which has an ordained specialty ("my culinary boyfriend," "my mall rat boyfriend"), and as she recounts her various positions she finds bursts of meaning and growing pains amidst the roles in which she's supposed to entirely be another person ("i'm filling in for darla" becomes an exercise in What Would Darla Do), meanwhile she gets older and uglier and becomes more disillusioned with the idea of finding a place and people with whom she will belong. i feel like i'm coming at this from the opposite side: i've found my long-term professional/financial occupation, but i feel like the solution to my chronic insecurity and wistfulness is to indulge in the right short-term employments that will help me understand what constitutes my steadiness. even if the book is pointing out the myth that the right job will lead you to happiness, work structures/gives you a mode of being in the world that is helpful for exploring new things. i want to get better at surfing and be near the ocean and interact with the soil/plants/nature and become more laidback and less insecure; i really believe that (maybe) these are the things that will deeply and meaningfully make me feel good. this year i'm loosely resolving to abstain from my usual monthly or seasonal bucket lists, maybe because i have a slightly better understanding of how i want to live, and that feeling is inside me.

a haiku about thanksgiving

like the feeling of being up before the sun i'm depressed again :D

felt anxious, might delete later

Reading my moodrings from the fall or last year is so embarrassing. When Juhi first announced e-worm's creation on her Instagram, before she and I had become friends, Carmelle and I were in an Uber, and I was reading one of Juhi's early-career worms about how Ezra Koenig should be cancelled. I found Juhi's posts endearingly relatable in their general air of wistfulness, whereas Carmelle thought it was cringe--"This is the kind of shit you do when you're a teenager, not when you're 22." At the time, her sentiment was just another example of how far we'd abruptly, confusingly diverged, and in retrospect it's a hilarious posture, given how young 22 is and the whole continent I feel between the person I am now versus then. And what kind of stilted, lame existence are you living if you're not doing earnest and embarrassing shit in your early twenties? Saturday night I had another Instance of Spontaneous Dissociation while in bed after getting drinks with Adam and a couple of his friends in Prospect Heights. My roommates were hanging out in the living room, having just come home from a party, and as I was eavesdropping without my own consent on their conversation and laughter as it came unfiltered through the wall between us, I felt as I lay in the darkness that my room could have been on its own planet. It was hearing Miya's voice that really did me in; even though she probably sleeps over at least once a week, somehow it feels like we've only overlapped a handful of times, and hearing her goof around with the rest of my house was a jarring reminder that she is actually a regular fixture here, in my home, that her presence represents the true reality that is my life now. I am here, in Bedstuy, in New York, and these people who (besides Ashwin) were largely strangers to me six months ago are now the people I live with and interact with most often and even are arguably some of the people closest to me. The last time I felt this sensation so intensely, it was Sunday at Shaker Mountain, and I had done a fun and flirty cocktail of shrooms, molly, and acid the night before. The molly and shrooms hit simultaneously about twenty minutes into Ryan Elliott's set, and as I danced with Alexa and the rest of our crew in the front I wondered if I was about to faint and if Ryan Elliott could recognize the weakening mental/physical state in my face as I squinted at the mixer's knobs and their drug-induced trembling. I excused myself to sit on the stage to the side of the dance floor, shaking as I wrapped myself in Alexa's white North Face fleece. The group followed and lounged next to me, Nick bringing me a freshly refilled bottle of water, so kind and patient and thoughtful even though I barely knew them and had made such a rookie mistake, the type where you smoke too much weed for the first time in college and pass out on the floor of Shuta's dorm room. Much later in the day, as we mulled about our patch of the camping field, packing up our things, I felt my sense of self temporarily break, like two plates sliding past each other along a fault line. Raving can be such an intimate experience, sort of because of the drugs but mostly because of how you totally revert to your bodily senses when you're immersed in the music, the way you disappear into yourself and the crowd and the music for several hours, movements driven by reflex. And here I was, rolling up my dirty clothes into my duffel bag next to people I'd met 36 hours before, about to share a 6-hour car ride home with them. It's just the drugs, I told myself, and kept packing and forgot about it. After explaining my Dissociation Episodes to Adam, I continued to stare at the ceiling while he fell asleep. In Past Lives, Greta Lee's character tells Hae-sung, "That twelve-year-old girl doesn't exist anymore. When I moved, I left her behind with you." Dissociating reminded me of that--sometimes you think you are who you are, that you know who you are, then old versions of you rise to the surface and swallow up your sense of reality. When I was packing up my room at the funeral home, I found a letter that Marie had written me for my 19th birthday and cried a bit after reading it. On Saturday night, wanting to throw up from some vestige of adolescent sexual trauma, I felt like I was sixteen again and that Marie was the person who would have understood me the most in the world in that moment, that she alone knew the person inhabiting me as I lay next to Adam. A couple months ago, when discussing being friends with your exes, Xander was explaining how it feels silly to have invested so much time and effort into knowing someone so intimately then have that all that dissipate just because you've broken up. Although I've never felt this way about someone I've dated, I've thought about it a lot when I'm reminded of people I'm no longer friends with, this phantom impulse to tell them about something they would have found interesting or funny that collapses into nothingness. There's that Jenny Holzer quote, "The people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive"....

we're so over / we're so back

When you have a crush on someone, you kind of just decide that you like them and everything else falls by the wayside. For a couple weeks, I had had the suspicion that Zane might be dumb based off the strange earnestness of some of his texts and the fact that in 2017 he had still thought that Humans of New York was a cool concept. "What does it mean to be smart?" I had asked the people around me. As a result, when we went on our first date after meeting at Theo, I had avoided listening too deeply when he spoke. My crush was firmly rooted in the exciting and spontaneous way we met and the fact that he was super hot, and I wanted to maintain the delusion, as Claudia jokingly described it. Because I had no idea what expectations either of us were bringing to the table, I was just treating the situation as if it were a given that we were dating. How else do you forestall the anxiety that comes with trying to discern whether and how much someone is into you? "What do you think is the difference between manifesting and being delusional?" I had asked Stacey on Thurday morning as we ambled in slow loops around Brower Park. He replied that if he had to compromise some critical aspect of himself in order for something to fit congruously into his reality, then it was a delusion. We talked about Robby and how it felt like I had willed that relationship into being. Despite how insane I had felt during my crushing stage in the spring when he was traveling and giving me zero sign of reciprocated interest, and despite being predisposed to talking myself down to avoid rejection, I had also felt some crazy intuition that I was right. During the span of our pre-holiday situationship, I would have dreams telling me when things would begin and when I should let them end. I remember waking up after returning from my Eurotrip on the morning of his and Alexa's birthday dinner with absolute conviction that something was going to happen between us, even if later that night as we sat on the concrete benches outside the Lot until 4am I was unsure whether he was romantically or just platonically interested in me. When we were seeing each other, I recognized that he didn't have some of the traits I was actively seeking in my next serious partner, but I felt such a strong unspoken connection with him that ultimately I still wanted the situationship to turn into something more concrete and committed. The fact that he thought The Strokes were British became irrelevant. Wasn't my pointing out of his flaws ultimately just a defense mechanism against acknowledging that I wanted to be in a serious relationship with him? "Smart people can rationalize themselves into thinking anything," Shalma comments as we eat pizza in Fort Greene Park. I tell her that I've been mulling over whether I should talk to Robby about giving things another try, and we joke about how guys always talk about how "they need to be single and work on themselves" when they have no idea what that means and end up doing nothing differently. Already I've been frustrated with him in some of our text exchanges over the past few weeks, and the things that I didn't like about him when we were seeing each other stand at the forefront now--I feel like I have some sense of what we would probably fight about if we were in a relationship, and I'm irritated with how un-novel and un-fun they are, issues that I've already experienced in previous relationships and am uninterested in dealing with again. Things I decided I really want(ed) in my next partner after Ethan and I broke up: not white, hottie, laidback/spontaneous/unpretentious, nice style; someone who likes going out and has an active and varied social life; interested in a lot of things and has developed many of those interests independently; emotionally intuitive; has a creative streak. "I've been talking to one of my friends about what it means to be smart," Zane says as he makes breakfast for us on Saturday morning, and the synchronicity is hilarious, I wonder if he might have been discussing this because he thought I could be dumb. I've decided at this point that I actually really like him, and I sit cross-legged facing him at his dining table as we talk shop about breakfast foods and what I would have made for breakfast if we were at my place. We walk to Head Hi to see the lamp show before it closes, and I stop as we pass by a magnolia tree with yellow-green flowers, something I've never seen before. When we stepped inside and were greeted with surprising friendliness by the baristas behind the counter, I realized that we probably looked like a hip Asian couple, a romantic/interpersonal/aesthetic cross-section I'd never experienced. This surreal sense of watching myself only grew as we walked around Brooklyn Heights and down to Carroll Gardens. Like in giovannisgroom's mood ring, I felt like I was watching a movie about my life. The sun slanted charmingly across the brownstones and blooming cherry trees, and I was continuously shocked by how great of a time I was having, how I sometimes kind of had to try to keep up in conversation?, how easily we were doing all of this. When we stopped to check out a menswear store, I considered pointing out a shirt that I thought looked like something he would wear; later, he paused in front of the same shirt and debated whether he should buy it. Even the diner where we had a late lunch was too accidentally picturesque. I felt like I was getting everything I could have wanted and didn't realize was actually possible, and when he turned to me after he called our shared Uber I knew immediately from his expression what I was about to hear. The following wave of disappointment was swift and undeniable.. How is this happening to me AGAIN, I kept thinking... In Tom McCarthy's Remainder, the narrator is preoccupied with the feeling of realness, which he experiences through the recollection of an unplaceable memory, spontaneous accidents, and violence. He buys property, renovates buildings, and hires actors to recreate these experiences that he has latched onto in order to get a hit of what he felt when he originally lived them, and the stagings get increasingly ambitious and risky until (spoiler) people die. Before all of this happens, he is sitting in a coffeeshop when he sees a group of young people passing in front of him: "They reminded me of an ad--not a particular one, but just some ad with beautiful young people in it having fun. The people with the screen in the street now had the same ad in mind as me. I could tell. In their gestures and their movements they acted out the roles of the ad's characters: the way they turned around and walked in one direction while still talking in another, how they threw their heads back when they laughed, the way they let their mobiles casually slip back into their low-slung trouser pockets. Their bodies and faces buzzed with glee, exhilaration--a jubilant awareness that for once, just now, at this particular right-angled intersection, they didn't have to sit in a cinema or living room in front of a TV and watch other beautiful young people laughing and hanging out: they could be the beautiful young people themselves." In The Rehearsal, Nathan Fielder's biggest enactment uses the scheme of Remainder to recreate the conventional later-in-life dream: a nice home, a partner, a child. Despite the meta-contrived scenarios and his attempts to insure against any lapses from some believable semblance of the real thing, conflicts erupt which cause him to reflect on his past relationships and his own morals--real shit. When I was in high school and wasn't allowed to do anything and would make lists of what I'd be doing in the idealized version of my life, I was molding everything according to images in the media I was consuming: Lux Lisbon smoking on her parents' roof, Palo Alto teenagers sneaking out to drive around aimlessly in the suburban nighttime, the moon in the first third of Melancholia and the disquieting stillness of the golf course landscape beneath it. Even though little of it came to fruition, I felt so much in relation to what I *did* do and what I wasn't able to do, and these emotions, according to Rookie Mag, were quintessentially adolescent: alienation, deep-seated anger towards my environment, and nostalgia for the time I was already currently living. In our most recent session, I talked to my therapist about how my life has the image of what I think the ideal early-/mid-twenties life would be. The image is blurry, or maybe it's a montage, and it's of me running from one thing to another, always with friends. Maybe it's nighttime and we're smoking outside a bar in a space that looks like the Nowadays or Mansions backyards, or we're getting dinner at somewhere that looks like Birds of a Feather where the lighting and atmosphere makes everyone look animated and attractive, or it's a warm summer evening and we're lying in a sprawling public lawn that looks like Prospect Park as dusk drapes over us. "It looks like everything I've ever wanted, but I don't know that I'm any closer to the feeling that I thought I would have," I tell her, "or that all of this will turn into the life in my thirties that I want." I guess I never even thought about what I wanted to feel, except adrenaline and some general happiness. What happened when Nathan tried to provoke and simulate real emotions in his rehearsals? I don't really know what the lesson is here, but we have another session tomorrow morning so maybe I'll find out what I'm supposed to do then...

a tragedy in three parts (abridged)

act 1: the himbo turns out to be pretty smart act 2: i half-decide/half-realize i really like him act 3: he tells me as we're getting in the uber to drop me off at my place that he just got out of a long-term relationship last month and is not looking for anything serious ext stage: i'm lying in bed afterwards listening to mellon collie and the infinite sadness

ask me tomorrow

On Saturday at Lexington Pizza Parlor I told Eric and Daniel how in September I'd stared up the escalator as I ascended to the lobby of our Wework and realized, I could be doing this exact same thing in six months and nothing in my life will have changed. They groaned. "I would have turned around and gone home immediately," Eric said. Catherine and I used to sometimes talk about death on our walks to and from our funeral home apartment, but being 25 has been marked by existential dread more than any other period that I can remember. That moment in the fall has been plaguing me, and here we are already, six months later. Besides the delicious stretch of the holidays and January, time passed so quickly. I struggle to point to concrete examples of what's changed besides my living situation and the pottery class and the radio show, but I also feel that my existence has shifted at least ninety degrees, and the move into this house in Bedstuy serves as a useful delineation point: there's a "before" and "after," a correlating change in lifestyle habits, how my friends and I spend our time together, and the people I see most frequently. I can feel the effort that it's taking to reclaim some of the things that came naturally in the "before"--farmer's market, seeing Olive, going to the movies--as if I'm doing one of those challenges in Survivor where you have to move some giant object by cranking a handle. *I* feel different, afraid to admit that maybe I'm a little more hopeful about life and love but still using fatalism as a crutch, I'm doomed to be alone forever. On Friday night at Theo Parrish I was greeted by Kevin from Musicland when I got to the dance floor and ran into several people that I'd met at Theo's New Year's Day set, notably my sexy dancer crush Simon, who gave me a hug. I felt such true belonging on that dance floor, validated by others' recognition, a sign that maybe I was no longer just an average consumer but rather being invited into an actual community. When I relayed the story of my night to Ashwin, Billy, and Olive at brunch on Sunday, their complete lack of reaction made me sad, and I felt frustrated that something was disappearing in translation or maybe they just truly didn't care. Their faces went blank as soon as I mentioned Nowadays, and I felt like maybe they thought I was namedropping or bragging about my nightlife participation. After the waiter took our order, nobody asked to hear the rest, and they turned the conversation to the weather without pause. In the past year I've been trying to make more of an effort with older friends, and I've started wondering whether it's even worth it with certain people who don't seem to give a shit at all what's happening in my life. Sometimes the conversation when we're together revolves around them and there's no reciprocity, I don't even know what they want or appreciate out of our time together--maybe it was just sought out by some sense of duty to history or desire for social activity. But I suppose we have a good enough time when we're together, enough to fill the void for someone there for several hours. Is that just what friendships start to look like when you've fallen into different lives? Annie hasn't texted me in months...

pacific b2b

In SF I am always colder than I expect to be. It must be psychological, I insist to Juhi, who is incredulous at my shivering and complaining each time I visit. On Friday morning I left the house to go to Cinderella Bakery, enticed by the idea of meat pie and the Google photos of soup. The jacket I wear in thirty degree weather barely insulates me from the Pacific breeze that greets me as I step outside Juhi's front door, and it isn't until I walk down the street and lose some elevation that the sun finds me as well. The blocks stretch on forever, making my ten minute walk feel like twenty. As I cross Arguello it hits me that the white noise here is completely different than the other cities I've been to--there's no chatter and definitely no honking or sirens, just the rush of air and tires on pavement as cars pass by in intermittent chains with no obvious destination at this hour. Even the traffic lights are different, imperious somehow, much larger and affixed firmly to their pillars. I'm such a different person than I was the last time I was here (I can't believe it was almost a year ago :O), and I'm really leaning into the visit this time, making a concerted effort to not hole up in the basement or at the dining table during work. I have few associations with this half of the city, so spiritually distant from North Beach or the Mission, and when I walk around I like to pretend I'm a visitor in a seaside town, I feel like I can imagine what it was like here in the early 1900s, a sleepy city by the ocean privy to melancholy and foghorns and the idea of a simpler American life. This past weekend I had the loveliest day... On Friday night we got home at 3 after seeing Jessy Lanza spin at The Great Northern (which I thought might bear some resemblance to the hotel in Twin Peaks, it did not) and stayed up an extra hour listening to the Jayda G's DJ-Kicks mix that soundtracked my midsummer airport time, strung out on the Adderall we had split earlier in the night. The next morning we independently woke up at 10:30 and procrastinated rising until noon, when hunger drove us out of the house to pick up dim sum at Wing Lee. On the drive over we struggled to find the right amount of stimulation--Juhi fiddled with the radio, the windows, we felt too worn for anything more direct than some fresh air through the sunroof and the softest of electronic music. As we circle the Richmond to find parking, the afternoon sun smears the windshield and I realize Yo La Tengo's "Our Way to Fall" is playing. I tensed at the unexpected familiarity, of the memory of late fall and early December, I was surprised that a time so recent could already feel like it belonged to a different era, and I recalled how Juhi and I had texted in October about how we had both been listening to a lot of YLT. I felt the urge to cry, both out of sadness at being alone again and at the beauty and sentimentality suffusing both that moment and my time here. When we got home I trudged through our goodies while Juhi coordinated her evening plans, steadily relishing my BBQ pork bun. We ate in quiet mutual contemplation of our childhoods in the Bay Area, and I watched the USF girls' soccer team running drills outside the dining room window. Afterwards we napped on either side of the couch, each with a different blanket, YLT playing softly from Juhi's phone on the warm Klipsch speakers. When I drifted awake after a couple rounds of dozing it was heartbreakingly perfect again, the music and the light and the slow tenderness of the late afternoon, a perfect synchronicity between my mood and my senses. We strategized on how to spend the rest of the day outdoors near the ocean. As we readied to leave, Juhi joked, "It feels like we're preparing ourselves for a pilgrimage." We set out in search of a coffee en route to the Lincoln Park Steps--"Keep your eyes peeled," she instructed as we turned onto Geary. I always think about Jerry saying that the trees in the Bay Area are superior to those in the PNW because here they grow in weird and interesting ways. On our walk, I kept pausing to take photos of the massive cypress and eucalyptus trees, their branches warping in mottled knots towards the sky. Juhi pointed out the Internet Archive, housed in a comically conspicuous Parthenon-core building. When we finally caught sight of the ocean I was so happy to be reunited and was awed as always by the sheer force of the waves pounding the cliffs beneath us. "Ocean time," I marveled. On our walk we had discussed some loose hopes that this visit was inspiring, ways that this time together was encouraging us to change our post-visit lives, and we sifted through Juhi's memories of SF and the different emotional chapters of her life here. Maybe it's our age, where we're always searching, but it feels like making a home is just as much a continual process of making the place you live feel new to yourself as it is about familiarity, and our pilgrimage down Clement felt like a testament to that--how much there always was to discover as we walked past inviting family restaurants and cafes that Juhi had never seen before and wanted to return to later. It was both hopeful and exciting and a little despairing, would any of it ever be enough? All of this only matters insofar as you have people you love to share it with... When we rounded the bend past Land's End we stopped short as Ocean Beach stretched out ahead of us in the orange bath of the sunset. Sea foam, which I'd only ever seen one other time, dotted the gleaming expanse of the sand that had just been exposed by the sinking tide, and small clusters of people facing the sun were interspersed with these small alien mounds. As we stepped onto the beach, I crouched down to gently brush the surface of a foam clump, so light and airy that I felt almost no sensation against my fingertips. Juhi was laughing in amazement and we watched as the sea foam scuttled along with the wind, leaving small bubbles in their wake. "They're like, gotta jet!" I joked. Everybody at the beach was on ocean time, and as Catherine joined us on the benches near the parking lot to witness the rest of the sunset and the transition into bonfire time ("the clans"), the fact that we were all here to revel in this natural beauty made it feel like we were experiencing some collective, fundamentally human moment. "I am always tying up / and then deciding to depart," Frank O'Hara writes in "To the Harbormaster." Here, Juhi and I have been in continuous dialogue, dreaming and dissecting. Each moment feels stretched to its capacity for inspiration or sensory pleasure, but despite this my sadness continues to bob to the surface, here to stay for awhile. I have been projecting this onto SF, its friendly and colorful houses with their faces open to receive the sun, the indifferent comings and goings of the people on the street. I could not live here, I think to myself in these moments, but it's not the city's fault, I just can't cope with sitting still and am always planning, stacking plans to pre-empt the sinking feeling that my life is just emptiness... Every day here has felt like a creative endeavor, we keep the plans loose until the moment arises that we want to do them, creating more space for spontaneity, wonder, deeper quality time together... I have many things to consider and carry back with me to NYC, but for now I'm done with the self-reflection. Of the many things I'm manifesting for 2023, my top three: - more ocean time - more organizing - learn how to do crow pose

some 2022 mems

- got covid - recreated some real housewives storylines in sims 2 - breakup - london fog + crossword phase at the center for fiction - someone i *really* liked.. liked me back! - switched teams at work - made out with someone while in line for the bathroom - made a new friend while in line at public records - watched as summer changed into fall - read the idiot - pickled some radishes - theorized about crushes and sexy friendships - moved - drove for the first time in over a year, in spain then arizona - saw fields of dying sunflowers - went to teotihuacan, was moved, had a performative group conversation about it later - in my baths era - blasting the ideal husband in inhae's bedroom - went to riis alone on a saturday afternoon - watched many good movies with friends - watched many good movies alone - swam in the mediterranean - threw up for the first time since 2018 - had a survivor phase - started therapy - so much dancing - ignited a new love for ice cream - got food poisoning, twice - some extremely special diner hangs - prospect park at night - had a prolonged period of continuous anxiety, then found my way out of it - ate a guava for the first time - split some tabs - was given a book as a present - heard our voices echoing off of the red rocks - made substantial progress on a jigsaw puzzle instead of going to paragon - ate a lot of taki's - listened to a lot of car seat headrest - a really good night in the west village in the beginning of summer - went on an abysmal first date - witnessed the sun set during yoga at the cliffs - had a really good holiday season in nyc :)

new zip code

I remember a part of Catherine's worm when she first moved to SF: "I went to pickup soccer in Berkeley. I was there kicking the ball with random Berkeley people and had this moment where I wondered how in the world I ended up here. How am I just here with these people i dont know playing soccer and getting dinner and just being. It felt like I had put on someone else's shoes and just stepped into their life." I keep thinking about that last line, like earlier tonight when walking home from the subway after watching Tar at BAM with Claudia and Georgia, or yesterday when walking to the Duane Reade on Nostrand and Myrtle to buy menstrual discs. This is just my life now, the brown tiles of the Nostrand stop, this apartment that already feels like home even as our living room remains suspended in a limbo of unpacked boxes and disassembled furniture. Like Ben Lerner's 10:04 narrator, I feel that the world has rearranged itself around me. I feel this way while knowing that nothing outside has actually changed, it's just that I'm no longer a witness to the things that used to color my everyday life, and instead those particularities have been swiftly replaced by a set of new ones: the oak tree outside my window, the weird holiday decorations on Fulton, the silence at night. These details were exchanged so frictionlessly that everything feels dreamlike, like I'm on vacation from real life. As a result, the boundary between my mind and the external world feels thin and porous, and my social interactions feel spontaneous, easy, like my responses to what others say are being formed purely via reflex. Last week I had wondered whether the transition from fall to winter was finally complete--in the winter daylight, colors appear a few degrees colder--but as I took a detour through Boerum Hill today on my way to Claudia's, it still looked like fall. I read on her stoop as I waited for her to return from her run, my face warm from the beams of direct afternoon sun. Later I found out I had missed an important meeting at work. Yesterday I went on a date and slept with a bartender/server from Soda Club, where Annie and I had had dinner on Sunday night. The date was superfluous because I had already decided that I was going to sleep with him, and as midnight (the time we were supposed to meet at a bar five blocks down) approached I wondered if I should just skip the whole thing and invite him directly to the apartment. The date itself was fine insofar as conversation flowed easily, but by the half hour mark I had tired of this aspiring 31-year-old actor who spoke with the borderline-smarmy performativity of a theater kid. As we sat next to each other at this bar that supposedly had "the best bathroom in NYC", "The Shining meets disco lighting" (I later went to the bathroom just to look, it was literally fine...), his knee occasionally nudged my leg with such obvious pretense, and when we moved to a dive bar across the street after the first bar closed, I started taking tequila shots in the hopes that I would get drunk enough to stop noticing all the things about him I found unattractive, such as: - saying shit like "live music is the ultimate expression of theater" - our cringey discussion of Triangle of Sadness that I reflexively imagined eavesdropping on and making fun of as a bystander - being 31 and trying to flatter a 25 year old by telling them that they're smart Two minutes into our hookup I thought of how Claudia and I had joked about my being a "threesome loser" and wondered if maybe I was at the beginning of a general "sex loser" streak. Men look so stupid during sex when it's someone you've decided you dislike/don't respect, they get these heavy eyelids that are easy to ridicule when your repulsion makes you feel like a bystander to your own physical form. I hated seeing the details of an aging body and thought sadly, multiple times, of previous sexual partners I'd actually liked, whose bodies I'd had no criticisms of because I'd enjoyed spending time with the people inhabiting them. When the ordeal was over I squinted repeatedly at my watch as the edible we took at the second bar hit and made it difficult to read the analog clock face. "Alright, I get the message," he said, and I happily rose from my bed to escort him to the front door. Ten minutes after his departure, stoned out of my mind, I stared at Aubrey Plaza's latest Instagram post and was reminded of when Angie joked about how her younger, closeted self had thought it was normal to be thinking about laundry when making out with guys. Maybe I'm gay, I thought, ....or maybe I'm just really stoned. It's difficult to interact sexually with men over thirty who employ performative social mannerisms without feeling like they're applying some logic of grooming. Whether they're doing this consciously or not is irrelevant to this sensation; because the conversations feel so artificial, you're left with the bitter taste of the narrative of their successful conquest, even if you went through the whole thing clear-eyed and dissociated. I was disgusted when the guy from last night told me that I was smart--it was so contrived given the intent: to sleep with me. This compliment was delivered with the confidence of someone who believed they were being suave, who thought that the appeal to some deeper quality such as intellect would impress me and strengthen my attraction, and the dissonance between this assumption and my revulsion only bolstered my disgust with him and the whole situation. I was reminded of this when watching Tar, the ways in which youth as an asset only amasses power when wielded by someone who is both aware of its currency and secure enough in themselves to remain emotionally unswayed by the validation being doled out by those older. Yet the nature of youth is that it is often accompanied by uncertainty about one's identity and likability. Moving this time feels so different than when Catherine and I U-hauled our belongings from our narrow, dark apartment on 18th and 2nd to the funeral home. That had immediately felt like a momentous change, a decision we made as people who had now actually lived in NYC and were starting to figure out the contours of the lives we wanted. We moved after weeks of looking at apartments in the sweaty, covid-ridden summer, walking to the LES to see places on Orchard or Allen, Catherine sometimes sitting on the sidewalk out of exhaustion as we waited for an agent to arrive. Later, after signing our new lease, we rode our bikes home in the empty, covid-ridden streets and knew that this moment would never happen again, at least not for a long time. Union Square East would soon return to its pre-covid traffic patterns, and consciously recognizing the scarcity of that moment as we were experiencing it in turn made life feel wider and more full of possibilities. "Out on my skateboard and the night is just humming..."

french people

pros: - direct - opinionated - smokers - appreciate house music - when good conversationalists, skilled at creating a fun, sexy (not necessarily sexual) atmosphere cons: - pretentious about pronunciation - racist - if not explicitly so, then blissfully paternalistic - love making (easily disproven) vibe-based arguments At the Thanksgiving table, Claudia and I seat ourselves near the hot, recently-engaged couple and flirt with them in the offhand chance they invite one of us for a threesome--or both of us for a foursome. The couple is a Frenchman (Alex) and a Russian woman (Anya). The woman is hotter (obviously), with a pixie cut and red lipstick, but she is a little socially oblivious in a way that the man compensates for, buttressing the impression of their union as being evenly matched, a true whole. I take shots of tequila with Anya and Olivia (the Frenchman's sister) between rounds of food, and I address Anya by name as we sit next to each other at the table, brushing her arm once as we joked around. Later, Claudia and I try to muffle our laughter in the kitchen at Vlad the Canadian's dating stories and general oblivion as Bianca grins at and exchanges glances with us from her seat at the table. During this time, the couple is absent, the man having taken a prolonged retreat to the bathroom upstairs before the woman went searching for answers, and Claudia and I muse on whether they're having a quickie, probably yes, they're so hot. The closest we get to a heated political debate occurs when Bianca insists she would never live in a red state while Alex (in classic French fashion) reduces structural inequality to humanistic difference. Claudia and I escape to her room to digest when the French conglomerate arrives, fresh from their own Thanksgiving dinner ("Bring booze," Olivia had commanded them on the phone, her English taking on a French accent as she spoke to her compatriots), and we finish Breaking Dawn Part 1 before deciding to mingle for a bit. The party, despite sounding so rowdy when we were upstairs, has settled down, and we light and relight our stubby joints on the patio while the couple argues about the EU, the woman elegantly smoking one of those long, thin cigarettes, because of course. She reveals herself to be a pro-Russia apologist and complains of the Ukrainian refugees' insistence on the right to their own country and culture when they actually mostly communicate via Russian after leaving their country. The man solemnly underscores the importance of the EU's idealism in maintaining open borders and declares the EU to be the first project of its kind, countries deciding to make some sacrifice for the sake of a stronger whole, ignoring the fact that the USSR and other bodies of legally joined nation-states once existed. A guy comes out to join us on the patio, rolling something on a tray. "Is that a spliff?" I ask, and I offer him our leftover joints, now down to the crooked filters, as Claudia patiently explains the thesis of Adam Tooze's Crashed to the couple to illustrate why the EU can't just say "fuck you" to the US. This is the final sibling, Alex and Olivia's younger brother. As we talk, I have trouble gauging the chances of us hooking up. I feel like there's definitely some mutual sexual attraction but what if it's all in my head? I'm disconcerted by him, he feels incoherent, his words textually present him as a bro-y American guy in his mid-twenties but his voice is too rich to be of someone our age and he's too smooth of a talker, there's something incongruous about the impression he creates even though none of it feels artificial. I realize with distress that it's the UES guy that some of his mannerisms remind me of, and I feel repulsed but still kinda into it but nauseous with myself. When Claudia makes her exit from the patio I leave with her without saying goodbye to anyone. "If I didn't have to wake up early to study I would've done coke with the frenchies and followed them to the ends of the earth," she says later, and I wistfully agree. This morning I wake up sexually frustrated, all the free-floating erotic charge from last night having found no catharsis. A sexy Thanksgiving comes but once in a blue moon, and perhaps I had been unprepared to meet it.

and you in your autumn sweater

The more you find yourself reflecting on your feelings, the more you know you’re going through it. Last week I made a Co-star, consulted it every day, and got a tarot reading at the barter-based art show at Vanessa’s studio. The gist of my reading was: you’re depressed. Joe and I have been taking walks every Monday morning, meeting somewhere in the block and a half between our apartments before getting coffee at Stumptown and doing a lap around Washington Square Park. How many times do you have to do something for it to have the feeling of a habit? We have only done this twice, on consecutive Mondays, but already the rhythm has seeped into my narrative of my final chapter above the funeral home. On this past Monday, which was unseasonably warm, seventy degrees, we sat in the park and leapt between Disney movies and our respective weekends. I had mentioned Costar when in line at Stumptown, and when I brought up the tarot reading, Joe interjected, “You’re really going through it, aren’t you?” While our conversation lingered on whether I was sufficiently depressed to watch and appreciate Evangelion, a cluster of elm trees across the path gave up a beam of yellow leaves to the breeze, and we watched as they billowed to the ground. The beauty was disorienting, the scenery was too picturesque somehow, like we had been transported into some dystopian future where we were all forced to live in a simulation to numb ourselves to the ongoing disaster of the world. Like the soft-color-palette, alienated urbanity of Her or the too-perfect, retro veneer of the (spoiler) alternate reality in Don’t Worry Darling. We kept referencing other media, unable to take things in for what they were. A man and his dog chatted with us for awhile. Tara the dog nuzzled my leg when she approached with the same force and motion as Cecilia when I’m taking off my shoes at Pau and Eric’s apartment, and I scratched her head as she panted happily at my feet. A group of pigeons who were evidently cosplaying as swallows for the day swooped from tree to tree around the park with unusual grace. “What the hell is going on?” Joe asked. I am lying on the gray futon in our Airbnb, underneath a Casper comforter, my head on a Casper pillow. The person who furnished this apartment is clearly wealthy, or at least they decided it was worth shelling out the money to decorate this place entirely with bougie DTC brands like Parachute and Quiet Town. The towels in our gigantic bathroom are the same salmon color as the sidewalk in Sedona, which is the same color as the rock formations that lumber towards the sky everywhere you look. Taking in all the tasteful browns and greens of the houses and churches along the highway, I wonder whether there is some city law that regulates the color palette or architectural style of the buildings here. The houses remind me of the Fremont Hills tract that my parents’ home belongs to; asymmetrical and triangular and a little weird, but in a way that was clearly meant to maximize natural light, let into the home via skylights or circular upper-story windows. Here, such homes are not part of a cookie cutter housing development where every fifth house looks the same. Before we entered the Red Rock region, Cora and I had wondered what it would be like to grow up in a small but not-remote town surrounded by such intense natural beauty as Sedona—how would such extreme material proof of nature’s power and the culture of New Age mysticism shape you? Earlier in the day, we had stopped at Montezuma Castle, where we were surprised by the existence of trees in peak autumn foliage in the desert. It turns out they were sycamore trees; I hadn’t clocked them as such because their branches were so luminously white, unblemished, unlike their cousins in NYC. Later as we walked the small loop along the monument and its nearby creek, I pressed my hand against one of their trunks, felt the sinewy, smoothed grain underneath my palm, traced the outlines of the sage and olive splotches. Some parts of the path were blocked off due to an ongoing revegetation project, an attempt to recover some of the plant species that had been lost to years of flooding and high foot traffic and I guess general neglect. Revegetation is a declaration of hope. Seeing the swaths of creek bed blocked off by caution tape reminded me of when Xander and I took a walk through Prospect Park last fall and he told me about how NYC used to be home to one of the most fertile oyster ecosystems (in the world? In the country at least?) before the settling and colonization and globalization killed most of them, and how this organization is now collecting discarded oyster shells from restaurants to re-seed oyster beds in the waterways surrounding the city. This made sense intuitively before we realized we didn’t understand the mechanisms of how a discarded (i.e. empty and dead?) oyster could be used to create new oyster life. As he told me this, we were walking through the wooded part of Prospect Park, which is apparently the last remaining patch of the sprawling forest that used to be Brooklyn before it was settled by the Dutch. Today Cora and I accidentally found ourselves in the middle of a three mile loop around Airport Mesa, racing the sunset to get back to the trailhead. We had dawdled too much in the beginning, stopping every couple minutes to take photos of the landscape. I kept thinking about Pau’s mantra of “living like you’re in the seventies” and felt like an idiot walking with my phone in hand, pocketed it and instead tried to imprint the moment into my brain, recalling the mental image every couple seconds to compare it against the valley to my left to see what I’d missed. We stumbled out of the trail and to our car just as it got dark. It wasn’t until we got to Whole Foods ten minutes later that we realized we had forgotten to say thank you.

squaring up

This morning I had a sugaring appointment with my favorite person, an Indonesian-American heiress in her late 20s/early 30s who lives in the East Village and spent her high school years taking the bus between DC and NYC to party in the city every weekend. "Who sugared you last time?" she clucked at the ingrown hairs. She grew even more aghast when I told her I didn't have a Halloween costume planned yet for this weekend. "I just feel like the partying spirit is high, but the costume spirit is low," I posited, not really believing what I was saying either--I've been so tired neither sounds appealing. "I understand," she said, clearly not understanding. "But this is degenerate Christmas, you gotta give it what you've got." I took the scenic route home down Greenwich Avenue, stopping inside Mah ze Dahr and debating in front of the pastry case for a couple minutes before I put my foot down, $6 is too much to spend on a croissant. Instead I walked along 8th St. until I came across the Stumptown that Jay and I had once WFH'd from the winter that Drew and Ashwin broke up, a nice space that I always forget exists. $3.75 is also too much to pay for a drip coffee, but this felt more aligned with my desires, and as I took a second detour through the park, marveling at how beautiful fall is, the sunlight and unadulterated yellow elm leaves a perfect complement to the brick facades and still-abundant foliage on the sycamore trees, I decided to stop by the dosa cart for brunch. "Behold, the green and white umbrella that is a symbol of freedom to all," a man with a smiley face tie boomed as he rolled up, dapping up the dosa cart guy and giving him a big hug. Meanwhile, a man with a bike that had been souped up to carry more things than a bike should be carrying was doing a quick charcoal sketch of the cart as he waited for his meal. I ate in the law school courtyard, listening to Time Crisis, and said hi to Jamal on my way home. "Hi, baby," he smiled around his cigarette as he stacked black plastic crates of used records on the folding table outside the record store. I can't believe my time here is coming to an end. Rather than being the agent of this change, even though I actively desired and sought it out, it all feels out of control now, but in a good way, like it's time to surrender myself to it. Today when getting to the sugaring place--a commute whose timing and route I've perfected--and when making my way home I thought about how long it's taken for me to get to this place with my life in NYC, to be so comfortable with the lower Manhattan landscape and my life amidst the constant flow of people and noise and happenings and capital that I now know how to find and create my own pockets of solitude in the four-block radius outside my apartment, which places to eat or drink or sit at when I'm in specific moods, how to indulge and deny myself in accordance with what I actually want. I know my favorite spot in WSP to sit and read at when I have free time in the work day and where to go for coffee when I'm feeling indulgent vs. utilitarian and the fastest path to Olive's apartment and which streets in Soho to avoid when I want a quiet walk home. Self-actualized, as far as my life in this neighborhood goes, and now it's time to throw it away for something new. During our sugaring appointment, Aprilia made a joke about her ebbs and flows between weeks of wellness--"drinking 2L of water a day and eating low sodium foods"--and periods of hedonism--"my roommate told me yesterday that we were going to do coke all day on Saturday, and I thought, I guess I'm in"--likening the cycles to samsara. The reference hit; I thought about how yesterday morning I had lain in bed for an extra half hour listening to Dolly Parton sing anxiously about knowing her man was going to cheat on her with Jolene, then joyfully about knowing that her man was going to leave her: "What do you do, what do you say When you know they want to leave As bad as you want them to stay And there's nothing quite as sad as a one-sided love When one doesn't care at all and the other cares too much ... You know how much I love you But I know you don't love me And I know it's just a matter of time before you leave But I do, I stand aside and just let you walk away But I know you want to leave As bad as I want you to stay." Later that night, when on the phone with Inhae, I told her that I'm still feeling up and down (although crucially, not anxious!) but in a new way where I feel like I can step outside my sadness, not that I'm able to stop it but rather can recognize that it's temporary and important to experience and thus give in to it. It makes the sad spells ("wanting to cry mode") feel more purposeful and nourishing, like vitamins. Similarly to the beginning of summer when I was walking home from Prospect Park with Eric and Pau on a warm June evening and believed us all to be on the brink of a period of great change, I feel that we've begun to actually step into that chapter, emotionally volatile but blossoming, doing fun and exciting things, putting down roots, dedicating more time to our interests and hobbies. No city seems to inspire such continuous conversation about whether you enjoy living here as NYC--it seems like this place has such outsize ability to exert control over your emotional life, and a large part of my becoming more comfortable here has been about learning to grow away from that. It's comical how that sense of security is so explicitly tied to judicious use of money and time and relieving yourself from the pressures that urge you to expend both in service of things you don't want... My brain these days feels clean, I don't give much of a shit anymore about "coolness" and don't compare myself as much to other women when walking around, I no longer feel as trapped by fashion and clothing as signifiers and instead just feel supremely grateful to be here, despite the lack of nature and space. I love my friends and the endless list of things we want to do together, the inexhaustible number of ways of ingraining the city into our memories. I’ve been thinking about that night at Market Hotel where we could see the J and M trains running on the subway track through the windows right behind the performers, and how it felt like we had been picked up and placed into someone else’s vision of life in NYC, Mark likened it to Guitar Hero while I thought of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and it felt surreal to be in that room, having such an awesome time and knowing that in some objective sense this was very, very special.

door city

When the white, former aspiring rapper from the Bedstuy house texted me that, unfortunately, they would not be selecting me as their next roommate, Ashwin and I were on the bus to Dumbo after a "fancy, not bottomless but would have one mimosa" brunch at an Italian restaurant next to the Park Slope Food Co-op. I was on the hunt for a new card case, as the piped leather seam of my current cardholder had begun to resemble a hangnail. As soon as the text preview showed up at the top of my phone screen, I knew--my jaw dropped, and Ashwin looked on as I sent around the screenshot of the current aspiring coder's infuriatingly cheerful text, my accompanying caption growing progressively distressed, from "are u fucking kidding me" to "i'm gonna throw up." Although I had been prepared for this, having taken the lack of notification on Saturday as a bad omen, I still felt the French toast from our breakfast swimming halfheartedly in my stomach and wished I hadn't eaten. Ashwin patted me comfortingly. "You know, every time I hit a new low, it makes everything else seem better than I previously thought." / "We can TP their house." / "It's good to face the worst rejections early on in life so that you handle them better later on." I gratefully accepted my friends' indulgent, crisis management-oriented responses, so loving and encouraging, as if I had just been dumped. When we got to the store, Ashwin determinedly took charge of the endeavor, now retail therapy, commenting on the clothes I tried on, asking the cashier whether they had more wallets in stock, urging me to bite the bullet on a forest green, wool jacket. Several days ago I really believed that I would sink into a three-day depressive period if I were denied entry to the Bedstuy home. I've been feeling significantly better since I started seeing my therapist, minimal anxiety and stronger repression tactics when I feel the despair coming on ("reframing," she calls it), making any moments of lower mood feel more pleasant, the kind of angst that is fun to indulge in because you've half-successfully convinced yourself that it's fleeting. Yet on Friday morning I wondered whether maybe I'd just been unconsciously pinning all my newfound optimism on this move, something that would bring substantial change to my life in a fun and interesting way to ward off the helplessness of feeling stuck. Then I had lunch with Olive at a refurbished Jewish deli, Katie napped on my couch, and we got to spend the next 18 hours together; when we parted ways the next morning after waking up to the latest Time Crisis and getting off the 53rd and Lexington stop together, I felt so on top of the world, so grateful for the people in my life, so in tune with myself and my close friends, like I've really started adjusting to this new era, one that I am actively curious and want to be intentional about.

paradigm shift

two days later, i got the headbanging with friends that i wanted at the pixies concert :)

out on my skateboard and the night is just humming

Early Sunday morning I waited in the cold for my Uber to the airport, watching the yellow post-sunrise sky glint behind and along the dense, gray overhang of clouds. "I would be so sad living here," I thought, then reminded myself that I was already sad where I currently live. Even though I was glad to be getting out of Chicago as quickly as possible, I wished that the thought of spending extended time in the Midwest didn't fill me with anxiety. There had been some good moments of slipping into the familiar: walking from Logan Square to West Town along N. Milwaukee, taking the Blue Line from the airport, eating a quiche at Hoosier Mama Pie in a booth showered with afternoon light. As Jordyne and I walked along the lake from Ohio St. Beach to Diversey, I realized I'd forgotten how much I loved the sight of the waves spilling onto the concrete lakeshore path, the thin layer of water slipping around before receding and dropping back into the lake. Getting breakfast at Uncle Mike's with Lydia and Inhae also reminded me of how fun it had been in college to explore the city in those small pockets of free time during the school week, the adventures always bookended by responsibilities but in an exciting way, like we were experiencing the life that was part and parcel of being a college student. On one winter afternoon third year, Cat and I met at her place after class and got stoned taking bong rips before she drove us to Uncle Mike's. It had snowed recently. We ate our porridge and longanisa in a contented daze, and as we paid the check they gave us free tubs of porridge to take home with us. I wanted to return to the feeling of being home, "real life," but what is my real life anyway? On Sunday night I looked around my subway car and tried to guess who else was headed to the Pavement show. A blonde, extremely surly-looking girl standing near me was definitely going. The night felt momentous, everybody at the concert visibly excited to see one of their favorite bands on tour for the first time in almost a decade. I bought some merch and peanut M&M's and a CBD drink that made no impact on my thrumming low-grade anxiety. It was cool to see the wide age span of the people there and witness a new generation of Pavement listeners who had all been born after the majority of their discography was released alongside the older heads, people who were old enough to have caught the Crooked Rain tour, if not older. During Cut Your Hair the whole crowd fist-pumped and shouted, "NO BIG HAIR!" I kept peeking over at a group of guys a couple rows ahead of me who were dancing and jumping and bobbing their heads vigorously throughout the concert, and I thought wistfully--that's what I want in a relationship. I woke up this morning, 25, melancholy. I tried to finish rewatching The Graduate, but I got so depressed that I went out to buy ingredients for lasagna instead. At the Trader Joe's checkout, the cashier leaned down to catch my eye and smiled warmly and said, "Happy Monday!" I moaned about the weather getting me down and he replied that he liked this kind of weather, it was perfect for reading and introspection. "Ugh, I don't want to introspect," I said miserably. "No," he said, "You want to party?" It feels like I've entered a new phase of my life here, one that began in June when I returned from Mexico City and that has only recently taken shape as being a Chaotic Era, except it's chaotic in a stressful, confusing way rather than a fun and flirty way. "This is what I wanted," I have to keep reminding myself.

chef's salad

Yesterday I went to my first organizing meeting in many months. The sun had mostly set, and an overcrowded F train spit me out onto the corner of Madison and Rutgers, where I made my way to Seward Park. Vanessa's red hair alerted me to where the group was sitting on the pavement outside the NYPL building, and when I sank down next to her she gave me a small pat on the shoulder. I felt an unexpected sense of homecoming--there was a guy who I hadn't met before and exchanged brief introductions with, but everybody else knew who I was and I them. It was proof that I really was a part of this group, that despite the minimal overlap in our personal lives I somehow had continued existing in their minds, and that when I mentioned them in conversations about art or artists it wasn't totally one-sided, I *did* really know them. Vanessa scribbled our meeting notes in her notebook with dark blue marker. A row of grandpas speaking in Mandarin were loitering on the benches behind me, still chatting when I left, while another group of old Chinese men played ping pong next to the library by the light of a single fluorescent bulb dangling over the ping pong tables. Later that night I wandered through the San Gennaro festival for several blocks on my way home from dinner in Chinatown. Soon the festival will be over, another year in which I've failed to properly attend and realize my dream of winning a giant stuffed teddy bear. At drinks with Ariel on Tuesday, huddled in the back room of Local while heavy rain surged outside, I tried to focus intensely on the present. Somehow September is already almost over, another month has flown by.... Some moments to remember: - September 1 was a good day through and through, beginning with a fun morning dancing to Le Tigre, then being greeted by a cool breeze when I stepped out the door, then hearing Bob on the speakers when I walked into Daily Provisions, then listening to Twin Fantasy with Katie, ending with yoga and dinner and a long walk through Prospect Park with Pau. - Sitting at the Croton Harmon station as the train idles, seeing the light tumble in sharp angles over the iconic shape of the Metro-North station. I feel so happy and lucky to be alive--"hopeful about the future," as Claudia says--I never could have imagined at 17 or 19 or even 22 that my life would one day look and feel like this. - Inhae sitting on the bench outside Porto Rico as we meet up to go to a Wework for the day. Wordlessly I hand her a banana upon seeing her. - Basil gelato + cantaloupe sorbet swirl from Leo. - Pistachio + concord grape gelato swirl from L'Industrie. - Dan makes ratatouille for dinner with me and Pranab. I bring some seeded sourdough from DP and Pranab a bottle of red wine. After many years of friendship, being together is easy and familiar. - Chungking Express with a random, fun assemblage of people: Inhae, Alex, Christian from Porto Rico, Claudia. The movie is funnier and more tender in a real theater. - At the Metropolitan screening, Joe and I are seated in the front row and we have to recline almost fully in order to see the screen properly. - On a rainy evening, I stop by Claudia's to drop off moon cakes and lounge in her mansion. - Straddling the bench outside Court St. Grocers as Xander and I split two sandwiches. - Olive and I wait an hour in line for the dosa cart in WSP on a Friday afternoon. - Alexa and I dance into oblivion at the DJ Voices set, and for the rest of the weekend my body feels satisfyingly worn out. - I run into Lance, Matthew, and Ashley having brunch with the twins' mom at dim sum on a rainy morning. The couple who shares my table interrupts our conversation to discuss nightclub culture at Nowadays and Unter with us. - Joe and I share my wired headphones to listen to Pavement on the train home from Park Slope. - Catherine and I Facetime while I stand outside the combination Cinnabon/Auntie Anne's at the final 2 stop in Flatbush. - At Katana Kitten on a Wednesday night, I survey the crowd and think, everybody here is trying to get laid. - Inhae makes me dinner on a Sunday night, complete with basil ice cream. - Ladybugs keep showing up in my apartment. - Crush #2 asks me whether I'm a dog or cat person. You've gotta be fucking kidding me, I think when I read that text, what is with my crushes and asking this question. - I wake up to a late night text from Juhi - "I miss women." - As Katie, her pen pal, and I wait for the G, a violinist and a cellist are playing duets from opposite platforms in the Lorimer-Metropolitan station. A slow, stately piece elongates those four minutes as everybody stands, transfixed. - After hiking at Breakneck Ridge/Cold Spring, we all meet up at Xander's new place for a barbecue. The food is delicious--grilled pineapple! hot dogs!--and there are candles on the table, and I think about the vision Xander once had of a night dinner party in Prospect Park. - I finish Other Men's Daughters in WSP one morning before work and start re-reading it from the beginning later that day. - Ashwin's breakfast collides with Inhae making coffee for us in the kitchen. He pours too much granola into his bowl, and I repeatedly scoop the surplus into my mouth. "Ok, stop now," he commands. - Reading Either/Or is full of synchronicities: (1) "flaneuring", (2) "good on a sentence level", (3) Turkish pepper candy. I feel inspired to travel and have a string of lovers. “So it was true. There really was a whole country where people spoke the language from Eugene Onegin, the recombined components of which now rose up around me, on highway signs and license plates, on the sides of the prehistoric, post-historic, exhaust-spewing trucks. And I had willed myself into it. In the past, I had been in one country or another because of other people: my parents, Svetlana, Ivan, Sean. But I was in Russia because I had looked at the literatures of the world and made a choice. Nobody had especially wanted me to come—indeed, the customs officer who stamped my passport had left a distinct impression of wishing me to be elsewhere—yet here I was.”

people i've run into the past couple weeks

- kristen (on the subway home from hiking) - taylor and analisa (in front of the funeral home, also on the way home from hiking) - jazz (at barbes last night) [did not acknowledge] - t-man + solomon (at nowadays for dj voices) [did not acknowledge] - angel + other musicland people (at alexa's work friend's audiophile party) - jon (on the subway home from dinner w kat, dkwon, and carol) - arielle (at ifc) - fernando (twice in two days, both times in the west village) [did not acknowledge] - teddy (at nowadays for physical therapy) [did not acknowledge] - andy (while waiting for kat at the meat hook) [acknowledged later over text] - yujin (yesterday morning while walking home from the subway) - emma k (while walking to drinks with sam) [did not acknowledge] - leon (while waiting to get seated for drinks with sam)

new crush

fall again.. i feel that i'm coming into myself, my true powers. i walk home on bedford then carmine from dinner and drinks with my coworkers, mildly stoned from the pre-rolled j that alex and rahul and i smoked while everybody else headed home, the pleasantly weak weed throwing the facade of a building near carmine and bleecker into glassy focus, reminding me of the cover of led zepp's physical graffiti. apparently the real building is in the east village on st. mark's, symbolic of a whole generation of tenement living, how old must this building be, what reconfigurations have its insides seen. i'm so infatuated with one of my coworkers on a sister team who is elusive and mysterious and who i sometimes speculate about being a pathological liar because the only facts that he ever delivers about himself seem designed to inspire intrigue, like the narrator in leaving the atocha station. tonight i learn he smokes and/or walks and/or reads in central park in the mornings before work, which is so hot and which i don't buy at all - maybe he does it once a week at most. he is trying to finish up a kafka book and a calvino book, both also hot choices... several weeks ago at dinner with catherine, we discuss him and she shares that he's talked to her about being open with his long-term, long-distance girlfriend because she's bi and sometimes wants to feel free to explore her sexuality. this fact allows me to feel zero guilt about flirting with him, although if i'm being honest, i wouldn't have felt guilty either way, i want to know what he's hiding, and i'm trying to employ all my charms to find out. at dinner my attention is focused so obviously on him, i ply our entire table with alcohol to make things looser, sloppier, and although none of us ever get truly drunk his hand brushes against my shoulder when he gestures while answering one of my questions, and i'm pleased despite being fully aware of how innocuous and accidental it is.

remember that the city is a funny place

Yesterday I texted Cora, "I really want to go to Sedona." Within five hours we had booked flights and an Airbnb for a 4-night trip in November. All that's left is the rental car, my jurisdiction. Today I learn during standup that we have Friday off, and I buy a ticket for Dia:Beacon before the meeting ends. I'm feeling restless and uneasy. My circadian rhythms are all fucked up as if I'm experiencing delayed jet lag, the kind of drowsiness that hits suddenly, and hard, where you go from functional to unable to keep your eyes open within seconds. I need caffeine, but even so little as two sips of coffee from the place downstairs makes my heart pound. I want to throw my phone away. I have a suspicion that something has shifted in the past twelve hours but have little evidence with which to prove it, is it intuition or is it pessimism... In college my friendships were like pendulums; I would become close with someone in a matter of weeks, enamored with them and the parts of myself that I felt were singularly teased out by being around them, but then something would flip and I would feel sick of them. The mildly irritating things that I had previously ignored would become unbearable, and these annoyances would usually feel connected some fundamental aspect of their character and how they operated. In the years since graduating I've tried to manage this by approaching friendships in a more measured way, to stop putting people on pedestals, and the inherent boundaries erected by adult life have helped with this too, in some ways you learn to expect less from friendships because everybody is caught up with their own shit and because sometimes friendships feel better when they're less intimate and entangled. When sitting on the stoop across from Eric's apartment several weekends ago we contemplated how much we expect friendships to satisfy us emotionally. As I've spent almost all my waking time around friends for the past couple weeks, I've wondered--what would my friendships look like in an ideal world? What is my relationship to my friends' company, and do I make them happy? Do either of us wish we were closer? Do I take up too much space in our friendship? Are these friendships enough to make me happy? During second year I became friends with this girl who I had known for awhile from afar. She had a kind of no fucks given, manic energy--some people just radiate an aura of being smart and interesting, and she had that. She frequently wore oversized tshirts with basketball shorts, and clear-framed glasses dominated her petite and surprisingly quite pretty, delicate face (surprising because even though she presented as more androgynous, she had very femme and dainty features). I often saw her in the library chatting animatedly with people, and when we became friends it was organic and quick, my other friends remarked that they were confused where this girl had come from who I seemed to spend most of time with. She was the only person I knew who I would describe as insouciant; her sense of humor felt almost dismissive of you or your problems, and although this was initially very off-putting she seemed mostly to lack the awareness that her quips had the effect of being rude and disrespectful, and she was often sweet and doled out thoughtful compliments in the same childish manner. She and I became friends in the spring, around the same time I descended into a whirlwind romance with someone who I had also known for awhile from afar--intuition. For several weeks he and I stayed up til 3am talking, skipping our morning classes to sleep in together and spend more time with each other. I had never been so attuned to the magic of springtime, and the budding and blooming was like this wondrous reflection of what I was experiencing inside, the narcissistic pleasure of feeling that it was fate, I had *known* this would happen between us, and the material world was validating it. As finals approached and we were forced to drift back towards earth I introduced him to my friend, who his roommate was trying to sleep with. The weight of all the responsibilities we'd been deflecting seemed to settle disproportionately on my shoulders (especially as he was a fucking philosophy major and had no real finals), and I felt increasingly anxious as his responses to my texts grew sparser, more delayed. I would receive photos of him and my friend gallivanting around downtown Chicago, they were so unencumbered to read in coffeeshops or explore the random places she wanted to check out, while I was stuck to the back of the second floor stacks, having mild panic attacks every other day about whether I would need to pass/fail and retake CS 154. Jealousy and stress rolled into one large ball that was so overwhelming that when she told me that they had accidentally fallen asleep together watching a movie in his bed I just felt upset in a blank and directionless way. I was uneasy and a little irritated that she didn't just stop the situation before it reached that point, but bore little resentment towards her in the moment. "I thought he was being kind of sus," she said as she apologized, "I don't like messy gray areas like that." Even when I inevitably got dumped after the school year ended, I had yet to feel any anger towards him. Instead, I was introduced to the concept of gaslighting as my friend railed against him, how inattentive and selfish he had been, how I needed to cut him off because his manipulations made me unhappy. And yet I knew without asking that she hadn't stopped talking to him, that their friendship was unmired by the opinions she professed to hold of him and how he treated me. That summer in Chicago was swampy and paranoiac, I felt suffocated by the flatness of the city, landlocked into my depression. We would sit together for lunch in the sunroom of my 54th and Woodlawn apartment, and I would stare down into my bowl of rice and lose my appetite. Her presence made me miserable, but I had the anxious suspicion that the moment she and I weren't together she would be with him, and I was right; one night I decided to watch a movie with Marie and Samara, and the next morning I pieced together that they had gone to a movie at a ramen restaurant in West Town. Irrationally, I felt that she was using the special, shared parts of our friendship to charm him, like how *I* had been the one to tell her about that screening, *I* had been the one who wanted to trip in Jackson Park, *I* had wanted to watch that movie at Music Box. No matter how much I talked to her about my feelings and no matter how much she tearfully apologized, little changed. Sometimes I still felt like we were on top of the world, two intelligent young women whose potential felt boundless, but mostly our friendship made me want to throw up. The end of summer put some more distance between us as she went back to New York until the beginning of the school year, and I was relieved to have some space from her, for her to disappear from my world. A year later when I ran into her at a birthday party, she drunkenly confessed to being hurt by our drifting apart and told me I needed to go to therapy because clearly my female friendships were so toxic that I hadn't been able to learn to trust her. Afterwards I learned that she and my ex had indeed ended up hooking up, and that was that. Because of her and that relationship, I feel like I'm often averse to talking about my anxiety, especially when it involves another person; it makes me nauseous and icky to think of the things I've verbalized when at my lowest floating out in the world, and it has to be really, really bad for me to talk to someone about it, usually someone far removed from the situation. Boundaries are a curse and a reprieve. Doing things alone becomes a sort of revenge, some proof that there are things about me and my experiences which can't be co-opted by anybody else and whose significance can't be stolen and will remain guarded and intact, mine. I felt this way today when booking that ticket to Dia, when thinking of escaping to the desert with Cora... When will I trust that the people I want or care about truly see and value me for who I am?

only in dreams



Big upswing between last weekend and this past weekend. Learning to be less tied to outcome, trying to figure out how to quell the desire to be in love which I recognize is separate from my desire for a specific person. I’ve never seen someone in this kind of capacity before, having always either only (1) seen someone in a compartmentalized just-sex way or (2) quickly accelerated from meeting someone into being in a relationship with them, and it’s kind of nice to see how relatively okay I’m feeling after the initial few days, not completely detached or zen about it but significantly more at peace. The idea of a relationship feels very remote, and I’m kind of glad to not be tripped out by knowing and believing that, I just want mutual reciprocated attraction and interest and as long as that’s there I’m happy. In the early days I was feeling very angsty about being both a romantic and fatalistic person, always doomed to be the person who notices, internalizes, and cares more, and both those sides are still within me now but in reduced capacities—I want this person to continue to desire me, and I give the whole thing maybe a week more tops before they lose interest, and I'm learning to be okay with it, I’m generally not the happiest person right now and it’s/it’d be too easy to substitute how good I feel with them for what I really want to do with myself and my time: spend more time with the people I love, do the things we and I have always talked about but have never actualized. On Sunday I went to Inhae’s and made fettuccine with clams while she got some basil from her garden to dress the tomatoes I brought from the farmer’s market, and we caught up while I slurped my pasta clumsily (could not figure out how to twirl the right amount around my fork) and she promised to make me basil ice cream the following weekend. Later in the day Eric and I sat on the stoop across the street from his apartment and we talked until the light turned rosy and dusky, and I thought: this day is what I’ve been missing.

i am doll parts

"The vibes are off," Katie said this past weekend, and she was right. It was too hot. The humidity swelled around me the moment I stepped out into the hallway of my friend's apartment on Saturday morning, clinging to the oily surface of my face. As I rode the subway home to get ready to meet Kat for lunch in Williamsburg I thought about my smudged makeup and put on my sunglasses, too worn out to care about looking like an asshole. It was already noon, and the incongruity between what I had always conceptualized as a walk of shame and what I was currently experiencing--95+ degree weather surrounded by sweaty throngs of people--was comical, a nice private joke. I spent a lot of my weekend loitering around McCarren Park and Williamsburg, marinating in my unpleasant, anxiety-driven spiral and others' ennui. Driven by desire for the comfort of verbalizing my thoughts and being affirmed in them, I overshared with someone who was experiencing their own "merry-go-round" of overanalyzing and immediately regretted it and begged them not to tell anyone. I felt nauseous being in such close quarters with people who were privy to more knowledge about and intimacy with the people whose relationships I was mulling over, and the impenetrable circle of their friend group, formed through years of shared experiences both near and far, made me sick and resentful. I felt like the grandma at the end of the William Carlos Williams poem: "What are all those / fuzzy-looking things out there? / Trees? Well, I'm tired / of them and rolled her head away." Despite having a blast going out Saturday night and Sunday during the day, the dread remained. I wanted to throw my phone away and to be completely oblivious to who was and wasn't texting me. I also was feeling so My Brilliant Friend, invisible and insurmountably inferior to the women around me. It made me miss hanging out with Catherine and Juhi and Claudia in Mexico City, people who I feel see and value me clearly for who I am and where I feel there is a priority on conversations and experiences that mutually reinforce our shared connection. In comparison with the over-entanglement I felt throughout the weekend, those friendships seemed so untainted and true. "I miss you," I told Inhae, and I meant it. A moment of reprieve: seeing Vanessa's exhibit at Smack Mellon. The gallery space was completely empty (the employees seemed to be on lunch break), and the cosmic, tactile feelings the artworks produced contrasted nicely with the cement floor and tall concrete columns, like I was encountering the organic remains of some civilization in an empty, dystopian landscape. I listened to Hole's Live Through This and leaned into the anger surrounding my own feelings of impotence and worthlessness. I was glad to be there alone, without any of the friends who had expressed interest in coming. None of them could take that experience away from me by sharing that time with me. I didn't want to hear anybody else's thoughts on it or hear them talk about it later with other people; it was solely mine. When I left I felt better, even though I knew it wouldn't be long before the angst settled in again. On Sunday night I reheated my and Katie's leftovers for dinner and watched the part in The Virgin Suicides where the girls go to prom. So many of my struggles with being a young woman are still encapsulated in that movie and become clearer with every rewatch. I thought of my terrible date where the guy was belittling a former date for being bitter and nihilistic. "Like, give me a fucking break, the world isn't out to get you," he had said. I had wanted to quote one of Cecilia's lines in The Virgin Suicides in response: "Clearly, doctor, you've never been a thirteen year old girl."

end scene

Too crazy of a week this past week, starting with my logistical nightmare materializing on Monday as we realized we had bought the wrong RENFE tickets to go back to Madrid, then tried in vain to find other tickets for the same day at the train station, then rented a stick-shift from the Hertz kiosk. Our car broke down 100km outside Madrid. When we were driving down from Madrid to Cadiz, I had sat on this thought for several hours before deciding to share it, too afraid of manifesting the scenario: Ever since Juhi mentioned The Stranger upon her arrival in Madrid in relation to the concept of "people going crazy and doing dumb shit because of the heat," I had this dread about something going wrong while we were in transit, like our car getting a flat tire, and needing to stand in the sweltering 100+ degree heat while we were stranded waiting for a tow truck that would never arrive. Now that the stuff of my anxieties was coming to fruition I actually felt quite okay, like none of it was that bad--worst case scenario, we get a hotel in Cadiz or we sleep in the car, plus Claudia was such a competent traveler that I trusted implicitly that she would figure a way out. It reminded me of how, in an interview about Melancholia, Lars von Trier said there was some study that showed that depressed people are actually quite calm in catastrophic situations because they're used to expecting the worst; I felt no worries as we played Botticelli on the dirt field at the side of the highway and tried to locate the Big Dipper in the night sky. We got back to Madrid at 2am and stuffed our faces with Uber Eats doner while watching Fleabag, and when I woke up the next day at 9am I stayed up through the rest of the day until my 6am flight, working frantically to accommodate everything I had been neglecting for the past two weeks. Wednesday was all flying, I had booked my flight to get home in the afternoon and spend the evening celebrating Olive's birthday but two flight delays (no surprise from Aer Lingus) made this impossible. I got home at 11pm, showered, and immediately plugged in my monitor to implement the CX for our hackathon project, my sole (and also the most visually important) responsibility. Thursday night Alec and I met up to book swap before going to Robby and Alexa's birthday dinner. I roused myself from my desk to scribble a goodbye note on a postcard of the Mesquita ("church mosque church mosque," he called it) and slip it inside the front cover of the copy of Anna Karenina he had lent me. He had brought both my (Claudia's) copy of The Idiot and his extra copy of War & Peace. "It needs a home :)" he had texted me, making me realize that he really was leaving, how grateful I was that we had become close enough that his absence would be felt and that I would be sad to feel it. We ran into a couple of his friends around Dimes Square who were also going to the birthday dinner, and when we walked inside the restaurant I was a little overwhelmed, I really didn't know that many people there and was glad to see Dana and Emma, the only other familiar faces. I gave Alexa a hug, her hair looked really good. Eventually, Jake, Sam, Shereen, and Amol ("my archnemesis," as I jokingly refer to him with Alec) trickled in, and after some general mingling we all found our seats. Jake and I were both overstimulated by the noise to the point of losing our appetites, and instead we discussed his upcoming Eurotrip and periodically would agree to chug the rest of our drinks (red wine, then some fruity rosemary cocktail)--clink our glasses then down the remnants in two glugs. [9/25 - this part is redacted now sorry] Katie came over on Friday and we spent nearly the whole work day together. When I opened the door I felt a jolt at seeing her face in real life for the first time in months, and we sat and ate spinach and feta kolaches that she picked up from the bakery a block away with the coffee and apricot rugelachs I got from downstairs. It feels so good to have a friend where your closeness is manifest in their comfort in navigating through your space, like when they walk in and immediately grab a glass for water from one of your kitchen cabinets or get up unprompted to get paper towels. "Sorry it's so messy," I said, surveying my things cluttered across every surface. "I hate to tell you this Amy," Katie responded, "but it always looks like this in here." Throughout the day we alternated between working, napping, and sitting on the couch together watching Alone—“I’m bored," she complained, both of us laughing at her childish side coming out--and when she left to hang out in WSP with Mike I thought again about how lucky I was to have this kind of friendship where we have so much fun spending unstructured time together, as opposed to the usual friendships in which, as Claudia pointed out, you often feel weirdly formal whenever you have them over ("I bought a whole fish to make dinner for some of my law school friends"). Saturday I woke up at 7am and texted Claudia and Inhae, who were awake in their respective time zones. Ran some errands in my platform rainbow sandals, luxuriated in walking slowly for a change, toasting in the early afternoon heat, before realizing that I had completely lost track of time and needed to get to Taylor's goodbye lunch. Taylor is moving to Chicago and, as a result of having lived with his parents since graduation in order to save money despite working in finance, is looking for an apartment for the first time in his life, which is absurd. Felt pretty dull at lunch, was put out at spending $30 on arroz con pollo when Casa Adela could do it better for $10 and was utterly disinterested in any discussion of investment banking. It was the same bittersweet feeling that I'd had at a recent dinner where I realized that the friends I've known for longer in NYC (i.e. since the beginning of college) are the ones I feel most alienated from, with the exception of Billy, Ashwin, Jay, and Olive. Went to Ruffian with Billy and Olive, where I told them about bird vs. horse then we discussed whether sexual tension/crush vibes can possibly be one-sided. Emma joined for this part of the conversation, which was running into my scheduled call with Catherine, and she told us about her whirlwind romance that began within an hour of her leaving Good Room on Thursday night. She grabbed iced coffees, pleasantly cinnamon-y, for us from the cafe next door before calling a Lyft for her and I to go to Alec's spontaneous rooftop goodbye party. On our way upstairs we ran into Dana and Drew, who were using the bathroom in Alec's apartment, and we agreed on going to Public Records that night. Dana, with her flowing long red hair, is beautiful in a glamorous Old Hollywood way, and I feel a maybe-irrational affinity towards her because of how thoughtful and enthusiastic she is every time I see her. "I feel like we've never really gotten to hang out even though we keep running into each other," she observed, and she invited me to meet up at her place before PR. When we got up to the roof, I said my second goodbye to Alec of the extended weekend, then quickly left to call Catherine, texted my crush a bit about seeing him later at PR. Catherine was sitting in a coffeeshop in the Marina and we debriefed on friendships and Spain and the mood in SF, I imagined her later that night at the beach while the streetlamps gleamed hazily in the fog, felt like that was the right vibe. Worked for a bit, then went to Dana's, where I sat on her bed while she got ready and we talked about architecture and techno and Beijing. I felt like I was hanging out with an older sister, and it made me miss when Catherine and I used to get ready to go out together. [9/25 - this part is redacted too] "I have no idea how to talk to you anymore," I had confessed, and right after we hooked up I felt the unease of not knowing how to proceed from here, I guess we'll have to see how it plays out... Thank God neither he nor his friends/our mutual friends know what this blog is called, and I hope he never reads this.

alien observer

7/12 - 7/15 Olive and I spontaneously got drinks at Bandits when she landed from St. Barth's on the night before I flew out. It was my first time leaving the house all day, and we stood on the checkered floor under the revolving disco ball yelling at each other before we gave up and decided to leave and walk around the West Village. Olive's yawns began to increase in frequency, and we languidly made our way to the Citibike dock near my apartment so she could bike home. As we waited to cross 7th Ave. near Marie's Crisis Cafe I had the bewildering feeling again of having not been in NYC in a long time, had to remind myself that I had spent most of the previous two weeks in the city. Several days before when walking home from the subway I had wondered whether I was feeling out of sorts because of the weird, disjoint weather. The flip to hot and sticky had been belated and anticlimactic; it was already July, and I felt that I had been plopped into summer without any prefacing crescendo into what I had expected to be a fun, buzzy time. The streets around my apartment were empty except for loved-up couples and homeless people. I passed by a blonde 20-ish-looking pair making out in the shadows against the Minetta community garden, and even though they both looked basic and 6th Ave. is too ugly for PDA to be sexy or romantic I judged them less harshly than I normally would. Traveling in France in particular makes me aware of my anxiety in an unpleasant way, a little similar to how I feel in NYC except in New York I'm reflexively comparing myself to everyone else whereas in France I just feel generally self-conscious, like people are ready to mock anything I do. It also joins with my logistics-related anxiety in the dumbest way, like if I take three steps past a storefront it feels too late to double back and enter, etc., and then I mentally berate myself for talking myself out of following through on the impulse. Paris was pretty dead on Thursday, I guess because of Bastille Day. I had my sunglasses on and Airpods in, which made everything--the sunlight, the noise--muted and slightly unreal. At a bakery I eschewed the fancier pastries for a croissant and a cappuccino, ordered in mangled French. I was parched and they had no cold beverages and I thought maybe despite the bright and unwavering sunshine that it wouldn't be so bad, I vaguely recalled Marie telling me in college that when you're hot it's actually better to drink a warm beverage than a cool one. When I sat down on one of the benches outside I asked the hip German couple sitting to my left for a lighter and they responded in flawless English, depressing me, and I smoked half a Marlboro Light with my back hunched awkwardly, glaring at the empty streets before me. My mouth was feeling dryer by the second, Marie's trivia now debunked. I decided to go to the Rodin Museum and hopped on the Metro. Late afternoon light poured in through the train windows, Grouper was playing in my headphones, and I was dazed at how ethereal it all was for a moment, feeling like I was in a movie and then feeling dumb about that thought. Sometimes I wonder if all the movies I watch are just ruining my ability to process things in an unmediated fashion such that I'm only able to articulate my real life sensory experiences in relation or with reference to the images/videos I've consumed. I was so happy to be in this city I had so much history with and recalled when I'd gone to visit Jim Morrison's grave the summer before senior year and thought about that line by Jenny Zhang - being a cliche is dumb but it feels nice sometimes. Took the train from Gare de Lyon to Nice, had to ask multiple people in apologetic English where my train car was. We emerged from a tunnel twenty minutes outside Paris and found ourselves already in the French countryside, sunflower fields and hills of tan dead grass and dark green trees, Matisse hadn't been making any of it up. The girl sitting across from me took out a Kleenex and poured some water from her bottle to delicately dab her forehead and her nose, already seeming so self-possessed despite being only around fourteen. As the train pivoted and started making its way eastward along the Mediterranean coast towards Nice, I stared blankly out the window at the sea and the pale rocky beaches. Zack met me at the Nice-Ville train station and we walked down the street to his Airbnb. Instantly I felt the comfort of another English-speaker's company shielding me from the surrounding stern French demeanors. We opened up a couple bottles of wine at the apartment before getting dinner in the old town, where everything was booked up, crowded, serving mostly pizza and pasta? We ambled along until we found a restaurant where Zack saw there was duck on the menu. He got an aperol spritz, his "new thing" after his four-day trip to Genoa. It took forever to pay the bill and leave, and we walked back to the Airbnb along the beachfront then through the "main drag" of Jean Medecin. My legs were heavy from the wine and I was relieved when we reached the air-conditioned bliss of the apartment. We sat, slumped, on the couch and continued catching up until midnight then bid goodnight. "I feel like you've always seen me at these weird existential times of my life," he confessed. It had been so long since we'd seen each other and we don't text very often and it made me feel a little strange and parasitic being there, like it didn't totally make sense. Even so, as I curled up on the couch with my feet pushed up against the cushions leaning on Zack's side, I felt tender and grateful towards him, two gals gossiping about boys and work and boys.

3 hours left to kill at ORD

Sitting in O'Hare with the pleasant scent of fast food beef wafting around me, happy to be finally having some alone time. I feel like such an asshole for making such a big deal out of how I wanted to be in NYC this weekend but really can't wait to get home, too bad it's only for a day.. Yesterday I wondered whether I had messed up by not hooking up with this guy Nick in college who was very nice and who I’d taken acid with during the summer after second year. My summer of drugs and depression: a lot of falling asleep drinking wine on Marie's couch, getting stoned at Cat's apartment, psychedelics with kinda random people. We were all wilted and having a bad time. Nick and I had split a tab then Ubered to the MCA to see the Murakami exhibit, where I burst out laughing because a trash can had a plaque behind it and I couldn't tell if it was art or a joke, then Umami Burger, then I think we sat under the willow tree in the park in Chinatown, but I don't actually remember. I also vaguely recall he had slipped me a tab of acid when we met up in Croatia a year later where he was on a family trip and I was traveling alone--I don't think we had actually taken it then because I tripped balls in Zadar a couple days later but I have vivid memories of us peering intently at the clear green Adriatic water together a little ways off from the Split harbor. I was listening to Hosono House and staring out the window at the cornfields surrounding our Airbnb in Lake Geneva (Wisconsin), thinking about Nick, who I was texting because his best friend Katie was also here on this trip. The last time we had spoken, according to my phone, was October 2019. He's working remotely for the next year while he does research at med school, and I thought that maybe if he came to NYC I would try to sleep with him. The thought solidified into a decision for several minutes before I rejoined the group, who was seated around the campfire outside, where the idea dissolved. I think maybe I had treated him callously in the way you try to discourage someone from pursuing you sexually/romantically without doing anything explicitly mean. For all I know maybe I was reading it wrong and he never had any sort of crush on me. He definitely doesn't want anything to do with me anymore, his responses are terse and I wonder if he hates me. We had a pretty good friendship, kind of a bummer to be reminded of that and to know that's gone now. During this entire foray into Lake Geneva for the bachelorette weekend I've had this feeling that I wasn't actually wanted here. I feel like I was invited to accommodate Anna, who's going to be one of Kate's bridesmaids, except Anna got covid and couldn't make it. Instead I'm here, and I feel like I did Kate a disservice with my presence. I'm a fraud, I couldn't even get a good sub-$10 gift for her because I forgot to, I haven't been able to get it up socially to try to charm her other friends. Instead I've bonded with Eri as we sit at the kitchen counter every night, mildly dissociated from the giggly, endearing mass of friendship playing drinking games at the dining room table. "Sometimes I forget that I'm an introvert until I burst into tears after hanging out with people for 48 hours and wonder why I'm crying," Mary joked at dinner, and while I stared stonily out the window with my Airpods in lounging alone on the couch I chalked my mood up to the fact that I had been perpetually surrounded by strangers since Friday. Everything people are saying passes through me and I bring nothing to the conversation, tossing out the occasional, half-baked riff just to keep up the appearance of participating but none of my words seem to land. I offer nothing about my own life unless someone asks, and I feel shitty that I feel no curiosity about anyone else's. How do you explain your life to a complete stranger? It's hard to summon the energy to bridge the divide--Eri and I organically have shared affinities/interests, Kate and I discuss work and computer science, and Katie and I bond over Kundera, but I have no idea what to say to the girl who teaches Pilates or the perky girl going to Iowa for law school, not because they're not interesting (everyone is actually pretty cool) but because I feel like a dead fish in the face of their social energy. On the ride back to O'Hare I wonder if it's rude of me to just be staring out the window instead of talking to the bride-to-be and her friend in the front seat. I ask a couple questions then go back to my gazing. While in the backseat I was thinking about how for most of my life my closest friends have been people who have more extreme personalities than I do: Carmelle, Hester, Marie, Catherine, Katie... Everyone is more talented or more mysterious or more charming or more X than I am, has some kind of defining trait or vibe that makes them singular while I am an emotional and intellectual receptacle for the people in my life. I read Juhi's writing and want to cry because I'm moved and because it's so beautiful, I'm just a lesser amalgamation of everyone I know, a girl with a plain face and unremarkable personality. The practice of writing really bares how your mind works; I'm so self-centered, everything is about my feelings or reflections on something rather than an interesting record of how my days pass. Cora tells me that her friends think I'm cool, but I wonder what that even means, I don't think they want to actually know me or become close friends... Last night as we sat around the campfire, I was freezing--how do these people have such high body temperatures?--and wallowing over the lack of satisfying drama in my life. Part of it has been on purpose, self-imposed asceticism (no Instagram, no dating apps) so that I can focus on my life as it exists right now: pursue the things I'm interested in, spend quality time with friends, etc. But although I'm busy most of the time I also feel like I'm just treading in place; while my friends are falling in love or hooking up with their crushes I'm in this immaterial, juvenile "ha ha I love flirting with some of my guy friends" state. It was nice waking up this morning on the reclining chair (the basement where Eri and I were sleeping had flooded around 1am) to Catherine's drunk texts asking if I were awake, then the sage piece of wisdom: "Sometimes it takes being in a wildly out of comfort place to show you that you're in the right place by being in New York."

these are the good times

Saw Francois K b2b Ron Trent last night at Public Records with Pau and Sloo. The crowd was better than usual at PR, not much phone usage and not much talking, and as we ramped up towards peak time the atmosphere became ecstatic and soulful, they reset the pace with a slow Jimi song that went into the 12" version of Miss You that Barbie played at Nightmoves last fall then one of the songs from American Utopia then Ride Like the Wind by Christopher Cross (Worst Person heads know). At a little after midnight the dance floor opened up and it felt like a real fucking dance party, everybody grooving with abandon both alone and in pairs, focused so completely on moving their bodies to the music. Right before heading over Pau and I had talked about generally living as if the flow of information that one has access to via their phone doesn't exist, "like in the 70s," and I thought about that in those moments; I tried to take some videos knowing they wouldn't do the moment justice so that at least later I would be able to look back and remember what I was trying to capture, an indirect method of pricking my memory, but as I sat in the Uber home and looked at them I couldn't even tell what was really being recorded in those videos except when Francois did a live mix of Warm Leatherette. They closed out the night with Phil Collins' In the Air Tonight and I realized that this whole time I had thought In the Air Tonight was that really shitty Eric Clapton song You Look Wonderful Tonight. The lights came up and everybody cheered and clapped and thanked the DJs, and I was so happy to have stayed til close despite the aching in my knees and ankles, something I'd never done and which was made worth it by this flowing sense of gratitude and community. I ran into someone I had seen but not met at Nowadays on Sunday and went up to them and introduced myself and they gave me a hug, I hope I run into them again. The night also made me think of something I'd read earlier yesterday in an Ali Berger interview: "It was building for a little while before that but it was really Dope Jams that showed me a deeply emotional and powerful side of the House music tradition and taught me to look for a certain kind of physical and emotional release from dancing with other people. Before that party I'd read accounts of the Music Box, the Warehouse, the Loft, the Music Institute and the Paradise Garage, places where it seemed like every track was mindblowing, and the full experience was working to enhance the party. From the sound to the lights to the personalities of the guests and the people in charge. All of these things seemed like myths until I went to Dope Jams and experienced them. It changed my relationship to music and gave me something to strive for. I’m not saying it’s what everyone is looking for in a party or that there’s no other party paying attention to all those things. But Dope Jams parties are incredibly special. Each one is a labor of love and a hot, beautiful, euphoric mess." I have a huge (LOML variety) crush on Ali Berger after seeing him at Nowadays this past Sunday, he was wearing an N95 mask which I thought was kind of funny and very endearing, and he looked like he was having so much fun dancing as he was spinning that I fell in love. The crowd was also so good during his set and quickly went downhill around the time Tony Humphries came on. I'm developing a theory that Nowadays has the worst crowd between 12:30 to 2am. A couple songs into Tony's set, this girl brushed up against the back of my tank top, which was drenched in sweat, and I noticed her and her friends pointing and making fun of me for it in my peripheral vision, and it hurt my feelings and made me really sad and self-conscious and I was glad that Kat and Nilesh were there to cheer me up. The next day I cheated on my Instagram detox and logged on using my laptop and DM'd Ali. During our brief exchange he also agreed with my crowd assessment for the hour after his set, and I was depressed anew about the bachelorette weekend because he told me he would be spinning at the place in Greenpoint this Friday where I'd gone to the Cinemovil screening/rave, a DIY space behind an unmarked door where they were planning on capping capacity at 75 and therefore would have been a perfect way to (sorta?) casually meet and hang out with him, but alas. Anna and I briefly conspired to see if we could drive to Wisconsin early Saturday morning instead, except then I felt really guilty about being so selfish and the maid of honor firmly encouraged that we come in Friday night as planned. The DJ lives in Pittsburgh and not NYC, sucks for me. I can't believe it's been almost two weeks since I've come back from Mexico, it feels like I only came back this past weekend. Catherine says that it's felt weird being back in SF and that she feels out of touch with her life there in a strange but nice way. Other things I did: - Went to the Met with Pau and looked at medieval art (which I learned afterwards did not include early 1400s religious art, the stuff that I had actually wanted to see) - Tanned in Central Park with Pau and Olive afterwards. Olive and I were both in our bikinis and it was fun to partake in this NYC ritual that I would have been self-conscious about if not for the fact that the lawn was scattered with bikini- and swim trunk-clad bodies. The happy medium of feeling like an exhibitionist without feeling out of place - Biked home from the UWS along the West Side Highway at sunset - Got Halal Bae (Kat's nickname for the cart on 14th and 3rd in front of Joe's that is vastly superior to Halal Guys) at 4am and biked home listening to Alex Turner's Submarine soundtrack. WSP was looking very romantic until I looked more closely and saw that everybody sitting on the benches was strung out. Olive had once used the phrase "needing revitalization" regarding my neighborhood, and even though plenty of capital flows through the streets of Greenwich Village I knew what she meant, it's this strange mix of idolized history, bars and restaurants that cater to the NYU kids/drunk youths, and businesses that nobody actually patronizes. Simultaneously a cultural dead zone and cultural war zone, competing economic/real estate-driven interests only exacerbating homelessness and suffering. When I got home I drank two glasses of water and sat on my living room floor and watched an episode of Girls while eating my chicken and rice - The streets were eerily empty on Monday. It was incredible. Inhae and I got coffee at La Colombe and she showed me Sasaki Park, where there was a girl tanning on the deck, and I told her about our fake conversation about Teotihuacan and religion in CDMX ("it's unhip to sit facing the ocean and it's hip to sit with your back to the ocean") and we talked about other things that were both performative and genuine. - Got dinner last night with several coworkers (the OG five, Mike calls us) and the couple members of our sister team that we hang out with most frequently at Sichuan Mountain House. I told Catherine and Rahul about the crushing zine, which Catherine was super into, and we discussed the crush vs. LOML categorizations. Catherine has a LOML who is the bartender at Coast and Valley. On our walk to ice cream after we talked about Ferrante and she lamented about her ongoing friend breakup and I was touched to be on the receiving end of that personal information - Sat in WSP on Tuesday night after a wildly unfilling dinner at Wildair. "I'm not loving when the fountain mist blows in our direction," Sam said, squinting, and I joked that it was unhip to be sitting facing the fountain but hip to be sitting on a bench facing one of the paths

heteronormativity is such a downer

i can't believe i'm missing kerri chandler at knockdown center AND francois k at good room for a bachelorette weekend in lake geneva, wisconsin........

notes from mexico, pt. 1

On my last morning in CDMX I woke up sad for no reason and stared at the ceiling listening to Mexico by Cake. I wondered if it was some acid-induced serotonin depletion and leaned into it, transitioning to Queensboro Bridge by David Mead and thinking of NYC with mixed affection and dread. It's my first day back, and I already feel like I don't have the capacity for anything but a gradual transition back to "real life" before I leave again for the rest of July; going into the office will take a near-insurmountable amount of energy. Instead of working on migrating one of our pipelines to an AWS-based infrastructure I am currently sitting on my couch listening to Diana Ross. At least I went grocery shopping. ___ 6/21/22 Since deleting Instagram my phone has become a brick, I no longer have any outlet for casual self-expression or aimless stimulation. Now I'm limited to just texting people, and the unfortunate reality is that not everybody is available and willing to just talk about their thoughts and feelings all day. As I type this I'm waiting for Juhi to wake up, it's gray and a little chilly today--Catherine compared the weather to SF--and the mood is low. Everybody is content to be quiet, and relatedly, everybody is possessed by a different ailment. At Lardo Catherine kept sneezing and Claudia seemed singlemindedly focused on getting through her nausea. As we approached the restaurant and I saw the globe lights and wooden chairs I started feeling a little embarrassed about having nominated this place, which was pleasant and beautiful but in a suspicious way. It reminded me of restaurants in NYC, the kind of places people go to be and feel picturesque, an opiate of unspecific capital diffusing throughout. It also felt representative of the palpable bubble that comprises Condesa and Roma Norte. I had wanted to go because Robby had recommended it, and I thought about him and wondered how he had felt being in that restaurant. He must have felt positively enough. As we walked to the pharmacy then back to our Airbnb I thought, at least the trees have always been here. It made me think of Fort Greene, also a gentrifying/gentrified neighborhood with beautiful, old trees and beautiful, old buildings that have remained unchanged amidst the morally ambiguous transitions in population and character. As we were walking around yesterday I thought about Hemingway and Gabriel Garcia Marquez and how the trees and stucco buildings seemed to exhale weariness at the passage of time. But how much was I just projecting onto my surroundings, and how much did my lack of knowledge about the country and city enable this? I think the city does have a sense of history because of the sprawl and the varied architecture and the flora; in comparison, American cities seem both naive and on the verge of falling apart, places bolstered by wasteful uses of capital, i.e. nothingness. But how much do people know about the history of the cities and towns where they grew up anyway? I am really happy to be here. I feel just disconnected enough from real life that my texts with people feel like dispatches from a dream even if there is no difference in how they feel on the receiving end. Yesterday I kept opening texts and not responding to them, sometimes returning to them throughout the day to re-read them and mull on how to respond. It's nice to spend hours sitting outside a coffeeshop, content to be doing nothing more than talking with your friends. 6/25/22 Today as I watched butterflies fluttering between the fuschia jacaranda blossoms from where I lay on the deck of our Xochimilco boat I felt a little lonely and drifted asleep. I sometimes feel voyeuristic being here, an impartial third party separate from the interrelations of Claudia, Catherine, and Juhi's friendships. When Juhi and I sat at the counter of the coffeeshop in Coyoacan she told me that whenever one person isn't present she assumes the others are talking about them. On Thursday night when we sat outside the mezcal bar before going to Funk and placed a moratorium on hip/unhip talk, sex talk, relationship talk, and hotness talk, they reminisced about how in college they mostly had just talked about what they were learning or reading or doing, which made me a little wistful, I wish I had memories like that of standing in my friends' kitchens or sitting at their dining tables while bonding intellectually. The texting flirtationships I was engaging in are coming to their logical ends.. When talking with Juhi about them I felt like I was on this high, the way I usually feel when Juhi and I are discussing something and perpetually discovering how similar we are, but I feel like I came down to earth a day later, the relationships feel insubstantial and doomed... 6/26/22 - Writing this on our underused terrace, listening to The Doors and feeling fried from the combination of acid and a little under four hours of sleep. - The pride rave last night was in a semi-converted parking structure on the side of the highway in a part of Mexico City we hadn't yet ventured into. "The void," the low visibility from enthusiastic use of the fog machine, "I feel like we're trekking through Mount Everest," Juhi's Claudia's and my goblin dancing towards the back of the void, the bonding that happens over a shared enemy on the dance floor when they invade and occupy your space, the burst of energy that came with every new drop, feeling limp and faint as I danced as if I could easily miss a step and fall to the floor, the rush that comes with good nightlife. When we were in "the zone" (as opposed to "the void") there was a moment where I felt like I had transcended and my body was just a vessel for the collective effervescence and unbridled hedonism flowing through the room, everyone's whooping and dancing revving each other up further and further. At another point the blue-and-red-striped lights made everyone look to my drugged eyes as if they were characters in a Lichtenstein painting, their outlines etched in diagonal blue-and-red lines. Amidst the smoke and thin tubes of neon red light I thought about Burial and Mark Fisher and depressive anhedonia and thought, I wonder if this is what Mark was talking about, the chase for this euphoria and the resulting easy togetherness you feel with your companions being the drive underlying my everyday life. - It reminded me of when I was reading about the Limelight/Tunnel movement in What I Loved, the part where the uncle is reading the flyers in the nephew's room and he thinks the slogans like "Protect our scene!" are childish. Even if he thinks the lack of specificity is representative of some missing critical moral underpinning, it feels so special to be part of a culture that has existed both locally and globally for decades now, even if it's probably nihilistic and corporate these days in comparison to its previous iterations. Anybody can be a part of the scene by going to enough RA events I suppose, there's nothing particularly reciprocal or mutual with creators/DJs in my participation in the scene, but I'd like to think the force of the emotions I've experienced when raving are enough. I think of James from the record store downstairs peaking at Paradise Garage, looking a girl in the eyes at a diner the morning after a night out and realizing he doesn't even know her name; I think of Junglist; it's hard to think of these and not feel like you are sharing in something larger and special. - I love talking to Juhi when we're on acid. When we got home I tried to lay very still on the couch and watched the popcorn molding on our ceiling bloom and wondered if being completely immobile and horizontal would help reduce the sensory stimulation. She made a comment about how all my stories about friendships feel like they're about relationships, "it's hard being an empath," we joked. We sat and talked for hours about being in love, being young, their friendships/our friendships with each other. - Lately I've been coming around to the idea that I'm a huge romantic after someone I'd just met made the observation as we sat and talked in Tompkins Square Park. Relatedly I've been thinking more about Silas's assertion that it's "a fun and sexy time" when people in a group possess interrelated bits of intimate knowledge about each other and are aware of it without knowing exactly what the contents of those bits are. It is kind of sweet to think about my friendships as relationships, my newer friends as people I'm platonically dating and trying to create some special bond with. I think of Juhi painting Jason's birthday card and Jason hugging her and telling her, "Juhi, you're the best," and I feel the euphoria as if it's my own, being proximate to someone "on the precipice of falling in love" fills me with so much excitement at being reminded of what whirlwind romance feels like. ___ "He was facedown pretending that he was someone else. I was watching him facedown pretending I was someone else. It was over soon. He slapped me on the ass as I walked out the door of the weird gym. 'You'll find your way out,' he said, already walking away. Miraculously I did find my way out without any help--maybe I could escape a serial killer. Before I realized what I was doing, I walked all the way northwest of downtown to go back to the mysterious unfinished building. I wasn't sad, bummed, or even slightly inconvenienced, to be honest, but I did have the urge to remember a day that was before today. I had the urge to think about a time that had felt, for lack of a better term, romantic."

100 page breakup letter

tonight on the walk home from canal street research i listened to lovesong by the cure on repeat. i love when the night is just cool enough that you can have a pleasant, long walk and when it's just late enough on the given day that you can find a route home that involves encountering minimal people. i have been very into the cure this week, and it's a little dissatisfying to listen to their recorded stuff because you just want the sound to match the emotion and you think about how incredible it would be to hear them live with the full richness of their instruments at high volume. a lot of the music i have been into this week are the kind that i want to listen to while lying in bed and staring at the ceiling: burial, the cure, lou. i am feeling anti-work today, i have spent too much non-work time with my coworkers over the past couple days and i am sick of most of them. at team dinner today, which we had only 3 hours after team lunch, i spent almost the entire dinner on my phone texting catherine, which i recognized to some extent was kind of rude but i was too engrossed in conversation to really care. i was sitting next to one of the coworkers i don't like as much and whenever i would look up from my phone to look at him to respond to a question he posed he would stare intensely at me for seconds on end without speaking and it was infuriating, like are you trying to induce infatuation through long eye contact or something? at another team meal one of my coworkers' elbows was occupying way too much space in my part of the table such that i had to lean back to avoid my face being closer to his than i wanted to while we talked, and it irritated me. in general i feel that i have been talking to too many men both platonically and sort of non-platonically and it's gotten overwhelming, i feel like i'm unable to gauge what's happening with any of these conversations and what each person wants from me such that i end up just having the hazy impression of "men want things from me" hovering over me all day. i deactivated my profile over the weekend and it was a relief to have that dimension removed, but now i feel that i'm mostly talking to men with whom i'm developing friendships or men that i've been hooking up with / arranging to meet and hook up with and it is stressing me out. it's always fun texting a newer friend or someone who's in the sweet spot of "definitely a friend" with whom you have "potentially good friend" vibes. i see the names pop up on my phone and get hit with that sweet sweet serotonin but i'm also confused what exactly i want from them or what they want from me.. if they all ended up being 100% platonic relationships i would maybe be a little disappointed but i don't want to date or hook up with any of them either, not even the person who is officially now both an ex-crush and an ex-loml. i feel like when i was making my first slew of new friends in the fall it was with people with whom i organically gelled (you know who you are <3) and maybe being in a relationship helped solidify some of the male friendships as being strictly platonic, but i don't feel quite as deep or natural of an internal affinity with these second-wave, new male friends. but a friend crush is a friend crush, and i'll take em where i can get em, even if in the back of my mind i know i want some sort of male-specific validation from them. just kidding that's toxic. at canal street research we watched "the fall of the i-hotel," a documentary film dir. by curtis choy about sf manilatown in the 70s and the international hotel's tenants' (most of whom were poor, elderly filipino immigrant men) fight to stay in the hotel when it was purchased by a private corporation who wanted to evict them and demolish the building to build a luxury high-rise. the film climaxed during an eviction blockade when alternative legal routes for the tenants buying back the building had been exhausted and police troops were now being deployed to evict the tenants. hundreds of people had shown up to defend the tenants and were forming a human barrier around the building, and there was a shot of the elderly men inside the hotel, dressed in hats and suits, prepared to exit the building if need be, lined up in a row against the wall. the vulnerability on their faces as they awaited their fates, i thought of people facing execution and the phrase "their eyes were watching god" and started crying. for the next five minutes we watched unfiltered police brutality as the cops swarmed on the blockade and beat everyone back and dragged the tenants' defenders from the doorway of the building, and the tenants were called on to emerge and they each walked outside, accompanied by organizers, friends, community members who were there to give them support and help them leave with some dignity. later during the conversation after the movie the moderator spoke about how many people regard that movie as being deeply depressing but how it should fill us with hope, something about how the strategies deployed during that organizing movement still echo in housing movements today and how it was simply a matter of the blockade not being strong enough to defeat state violence - some brecht quote about "things get defeated not because they are good, but because they are weak." i'm not sure how uplifting that perspective is for me personally but i texted vanessa to start looping me back into housing organizing stuff, determined to put myself and my time on the line again.

6 feet beneath the moon

on friday morning i went over to the ues guy's apartment and began my downward spiral. "you could not sound more thrilled," i had texted him the previous afternoon when we were making plans and he was responding tersely, so little validation from him despite my offering up my body. up until this point even though we'd just been having sex there had been some level of effort involved on his part and now i was getting so little attention, and it made me feel "impotent and out of control," as cher in clueless would say. this feeling intensified through the day on friday as we alternated between working and hooking up, he would tease me for things i said and i felt like he thought i was stupid and i felt bewildered at how this dynamic had arisen. "bring me one of your shoes," he texted me from his desk while i sat on his couch, and he took a picture to send to this other girl that he's been hooking up with--the rich girl with the insane nudes. "her sneakers are so dirty but yours are possibly even dirtier," he explained, and it wounded me that he and this girl had the kind of relationship where they even talked, why wasn't i on the receiving end of any of that attention? i realized that it could partially be my fault because i never text him outside of arranging to hook up and he had commented on that once when we first started seeing each other--"feeling chatty today huh"--but none of that rationalizing made a difference, i felt pretty sad and shitty. later in the day when we were talking about general horniness i told him about how sometimes being attracted to women feels tied to being unsure of whether you want to be them/whether you're jealous of them. "that might be a you problem," he said, but i was insistent, i feel like so many other bi women have told me about the same thing, and i feel like that sentiment is probably tied to us still being colonized as fuck by the male gaze in our nascent stages of bi-ness. i told him about how sometimes seeing another hot girl makes me depressed, and he at least understood that much, "society really forces this twisted mindset into women." simultaneously throughout this conversation i felt like what i really wanted was just for him to tell me that he thought i was hot, and when i left around 4pm i wasn't even shown the door and it made me feel so fucking terrible, i felt so worthless and interchangeable and knew that i had failed to hold on to some flirty mystique because i hadn't tried hard enough to be fun and engaging (and i hadn't.. but should i really have to?). at one point while we were having sex i slapped him and that felt really great, and i wondered how much more mind-bending i could do to make myself ok with this situation. i felt defiant and initially resolved to take on the challenge of earning back some sense of power, but the more i thought about it the more i knew that i'd already lost. my low mood and bruised self-esteem started to feel like an indictment of my ability to even have casual sex, which i know i can do, but even the fact that i'm so stubborn to prove it is indicative of the self-molding process, in this instance it's the "cool girl" effect once again--"aping patriarchy," as bell hooks calls it. as i stewed on the subway ride home i got angrier and more hopeless by the second as the horizons of my position were made clear - sometimes i feel like being a young woman is great because the world is so open to you but i was finally feeling the flip side of that now. all of this free passing validation that you get from strangers looking at you and being willing to talk to you a flimsy consolation prize for the fact that you have no fucking power, that "confidence is not a vector of power," that it is so hard to separate the idealization of female confidence from the notion that being confident is sexy and attractive and therefore the image in which you should shape yourself. in girls adam and ray talk about how women are at their most attractive when they're really young - vulnerable and innocent - or middle-aged - self-actualized and no longer reliant upon men to feel confident about themselves. "i'm 24 i'm allowed to be insecure," i had texted katie the previous day, and now i felt like an onlooker to the spectacle of my own insecurity mushrooming into something i would inevitably have to confront. "spiraling on close friends today," i posted to instagram when i got home, accompanied by a small rant of the above, and i felt dirty and weak once again, this time for having gotten back into that relationship with social media where i feel the need to post things so that my implicit call for attention can be satisfied. i resolved to delete instagram from my phone when i go to mexico city so that i could detox through the rest of my travels for the summer. after an hour long nap, i started mark fisher's "capitalist realism" while killing time before going to kat's bubble t pregame and felt myself sinking deeper into depression as i felt everything in the book echoing the same things i've been thinking and feeling, such as the concept of the "consumer spectator" and, separately, how irony about capitalism is played out because it's already been subsumed into the capitalist cultural production machine. i appreciated his varied use of media to illustrate his points, and what really fucking got me was when he talked about kurt cobain, how kurt already knew while he was ascending into stardom that capitalism loves glorifying the anti-capitalist performance and how trapped he felt knowing that everything he was articulating regarding his anger and hatred fed into the very things he hated. the evocative writing also made me think of my and silas's conversation about "performative writing," but even while being aware of some rhetorical strategy working itself on me i felt myself getting dragged further into the pits. i put down the book and started getting ready to go to kat's in order to rouse myself from my funk, and it almost sort of worked, except as i was biking home from the 14th and 1st stop at the end of the night listening to pink pantheress i felt it all rising up again as i relished how smoothly i was cruising home, happy that the streets were empty and that the night was cool. today, pau, marc, and i met at pau's where marc was playing video games and we found the perfect patch of grass in fort greene park near the memorial where we split a tab and came up amidst the spotted elm trunks. eric joined later and i felt myself getting replenished by the companionship, i was so happy that we were all there together. simultaneously i was terrified of looking at my phone, i wanted the moment to last forever and didn't want to confront the eventual necessity of going back out into the real world, real life, where my real problems still existed. before making my way to park slope two different guys i'd given my number to texted me in ways that felt so helpless in terms of how i could produce an actual conversation and i was stressed thinking about opening my messages app and seeing these texts again and being reminded of my gender and sexuality ennui. marc did a bit about rodents and i took a video of one of the several industrious squirrels near our section doing a backflip and we saw an old man walking with his terrier, "they look like they're in conversation with each other," pau said. despite the occasional warning raindrops it never did actually rain while we sat there on the maroon blanket. things started ramping up as soon as we mobilized to pick up lunch at 5spice. the thought of drinking a hot bowl of pho broth sounded incredible, but the vibes were so fucked as we crossed the barclay's area back to 5th ave. i felt overwhelmed and stressed, and these feelings intensified when were greeted by the unwelcome sight of a crowded 5spice and the reminder that they were cash only. we decided to get take out and waited inside to order and then for our orders to be completed. marc was deliberately acting childish, "can you order a beef pho for me? and a vietnamese iced coffee?" when we got back to new boerum i was feeling sweaty and spent and like i needed some ventilation, and i went into the bathroom where i beheld my reflection with dismay, zeroing in on the smudged/faded parts of my eyeliner and my flushed cheeks, and felt generally ugly as a result, before i went back to the dining room and we ate and i gave up on the last half of my sandwich because the pate and baguette were expanding and contracting and thus putting me off from the idea of swallowing any of it. marc played with his food with comic enthusiasm, squirting full packets of hoisin sauce and sriracha into his broth. at a certain point eric winced in exhaustion and i felt sad witnessing his fatigue, which had formerly felt abstract and thus understandable but transformed into something realer and more extreme once i saw it embodied; i hoped that despite the inherent narcissism of tripping we were doing something to help ease its edges. thinking of how juhi dons her sunglasses when she's tripping and doesn't want to be perceived, i kept my sunglasses on during this next section of our trip, which began with our walking down flatbush ave. to prospect park. the vibes continued to be off but things started getting better when we got into the park, everything green and muted thanks to the sunglasses. we meandered in the wooded side paths and alongside the lawn and past a very joyful and clean dog beach and some small waterfalls where teenagers were hanging out on the section of rocks labeled with a "do not climb" sign. we compared them to the teenagers in the cure cover band marc told us about that was comprised of 17 year olds who would "jump out of a van and immediately start singing boys don't cry" and marveled a little at their relative self-actualization compared to how we had been at that age. when we eventually did sit it was in a section of lawn opposite an endless sprawl of little-league baseball/softball diamonds, and someone's microphone resounded through the area, first with a man speaking then later with some weird unparseable sounds ("this sounds like someone is just tuning their bass") then finally reggae music. "the god of prospect park," we called the sounds of anonymous origin, and it felt like we were in some weird purgatory. i watched as a guy on the opposite side of the lawn strode towards a patch of grass then plopped down and lay down on his back with one leg propped over the other knee, the entire transition from upright to this position taking mere seconds and executed with such deliberateness that i concluded he must be a pretty happy person. later in our ambling we came across a pair of teenagers standing towards the side of the trail making out, and we half-joked wistfully about their having a fun and sexy time. we watched birds and turtles in ponds, and it felt good to be around two people who had the ease of having been friends for so long. from 5-6 i kept checking my phone and getting depressed when no new text messages popped up and i thought again of the personal issues i was getting closer to having to confront as we were exiting the portion of the day where we could just be together and tripping and unconcerned with logistical obligations to others. i got a twix ice cream bar from the bodega that was already half-melting by the time i haphazardly tore open the wrapper and shoveled hot cheetos into my mouth and felt gross but also delighted by the extremes in culinary variety i had just consumed. when i got onto the d train back to manhattan i listened to true romance by bella boo and watched as we crossed the river, feeling so distant and so sad. i am actually in such an unhappy place right now and it was strange to realize that i was a Sad Girl again, i was so used to being happy over the past couple years and especially over the past several euphoric months that i hadn't even known how to identify it...."the astro girlies have been saying that something's off for the past couple months," drew remarked while we were in the backyard of the vegyn set, and that was strangely very affirming.


Tonight I went on a date so bad that I went to the bathroom with my phone after forty minutes and asked Daniel and Eric to page me so that I could pretend I was oncall and needed to leave. The ruse was incredibly transparent because as soon as I sat down again I said, "Man, I'm oncall right now and it would really suck to get paged!" then got paged thirty seconds later. Eric called me claiming recommendation strings were down in EU, and I excused myself. I was going to say goodbye more politely as the guy and I walked together back into the bar so he could close out his tab, but he didn't even turn to look at me as I apologized for needing to leave, which was confirmation that this guy was indeed an asshole. Going into the date I had convinced myself that this guy was really nice, just super lame, and Katie said, "This is gonna go one of two extremes and I can't wait to hear which it is." I guess the fact that he was talking to me like I didn't know how to use Google Maps ("You're going to get off at the Lorimer St. L stop and walk five minutes south on Union") should have been a red flag, but I chalked it up to him being weird...guess I should have known. For a split second I wondered if I was just so bad at talking to people who aren't in the same subcultures I am that I was unable to make conversation with literally anyone else, but then I thought about how I had a better time chatting with my 50-something y/o cashier at Trader Joe's yesterday, and I stopped doubting myself. It was the first time in a long time where I felt absolutely, unequivocally mansplained to--weirdly something that has almost never happened to me--and it made me so fucking angry, the fact that because I was 24 and he was 28 this guy thought I knew nothing about how to be a person? It also made me pretty grateful for the UES guy, despite the fact that if we had gone on a date first we probably wouldn't have ended up hooking up, if only because he willingly accepts the premises of my ramblings and doesn't belittle me for talking about, like, crushing. I've been sporadically texting a guy who lives on the West Coast, and regardless of what his intentions are I get a little excited when I see his name pop up on my phone. It's fun to romanticize a mysterious half-stranger who's just weird enough that our interactions feel special. Today I sat at my dining table and started making a list of things I wanted to do/watch/read/see/etc. as I procrastinated figuring out how to elegantly inject some singletons into one of our services. I used to make lists like this in high school when I was figuring out what I wanted from my life, what I felt like I was missing and the ways I could materialize them. There was a lot of "smoke a cigarette while sitting on the roof watching the sunrise" and "watch fireworks at the county fair," neither of which I ever did. I wanted to know how to live the feeling I got when watching Twin Peaks and there's that shot of the dangling traffic light swaying in the night breeze. In retrospect it's easy to see how my conception for how to exorcise/embody my angst was informed and constrained by all the media I consumed about depressed teenage girls: Skins, The Virgin Suicides, Freaks and Geeks, etc. Nobody had told me there were healthier ways to indulge in my angst, but I also don't know what else I could have done living in a semi-rural town where kids either studied nonstop in the hopes of getting out of this town, this life or did crazy shit because everyone was bored out of their fucking minds. When I watched Sex Education for the first time this past fall it made me sad and hopeful to think about how powerful of an antidote this show could be to the self-destructiveness of the stuff I idolized when I was younger, maybe it will make some high schoolers feel less alone but in a positive, life-affirming way. Ultimately I was just really lonely, and maybe I should have focused on finding nourishment in deepening my friendships instead of looking to the day that my life in Pleasanton would be over and I could start my real life. I feel like I'm a similar state right now, I'm waiting for something to happen that will shift things around in my life, but I don't know what that is. When I was making this list today I had a moment where I thought, "What is the point of all of this?" I didn't even think about why I wanted to go see the Lou Reed exhibit at NYPL, I just wrote it down. What was I hoping to get out of any of this? Not that I think that's a great way to go about life and approaching the things you're interested in, but I was thinking about how it felt to watch Worst Person and how that movie materially changed me and my life, and how I didn't want to just watch a movie and be/feel limp and unresponsive to it. I want to feel fulfilled by something, and when I was at my most participatory stage of organizing with the Chinatown stuff, I had so much conviction that community is the antidote to loneliness, that this stuff shakes you out of any self-pity and makes your heart feel so full. I still believe it, but I feel like I've lost that in my life, I haven't done any organizing work in months and need to put more love into my relationships with some of my older friends, I feel adrift amidst the nonstop plans.... Last Friday night as Pau, Eric, and I walked back to their apartment beneath the lush Park Slope trees, I told them, I feel like we are on the threshold of a period of momentous change and I want us to all be as close with each other as possible before it's too late.

aapi heritage month '22: 5/10

The weekend I got back from SF, someone asked me if I too felt like we were going through a very underwhelming spring. We talked about all the blooming that hadn't happened this year. They pointed at the moon, low and waning, through the branches of a budding tree. A couple weeks later my podiatrist told me about how usually at this time of year she has to bat her way through worms hanging from the trees when jogging around the Upper West Side and sweep the caterpillars that have inched their way across her office threshold back out onto the sidewalk. "Not this year though," she clucked, looking at me meaningfully. I nodded solemnly in agreement. This was how I'd been responding to her for much of our conversation during this visit, which felt so unhinged that I thought of the crazy therapist in My Year of Rest & Relaxation and wondered briefly if I really trusted this woman with my foot health. It felt like everyday I was texting Katie about how glum I felt. One morning as I woke up in a bad mood yet again I seriously contemplated whether I was feeling terrible because Mercury was in retrograde. The good weather that happened upon us occasionally during the week never lasted through the weekend, each one colder and rainier than the last. The trend finally broke a couple weeks ago with two consecutive 90-degree days, terrible. Katie and I walked to Frankel's from the Bedford L on one of those days, already tense but the heat making us extra grumpy to boot. Each weekend felt barely pieced together; whereas for the past six months each night of the weekend felt like an exercise in self-actualization, no duds, something kept falling through this past month - bad music, a bad crowd, bad weather. Even though nobody truly close to me was out of town, I felt at a loss for who to turn to when putting my plans together. One of the best nights of the month was when we went to the Chairman Mao DJ set, but those ten minutes of shrooms-induced melancholy have also lingered with and plagued me since then. "Who can I talk to when I'm sad?" It wasn't a great AAPI heritage month for me, life is a hate crime. I cringe a little whenever I see an anonymous Asian woman/white man couple ("the Asian girl to ugly Jewish man pipeline," Cora calls it), like last weekend on the L when I saw a hot Asian girl with a completely unremarkable-looking alt white boy. I was reminded of R&R again, that section when she's skewering the wannabe-sensitive philosophy-major hipsters who position themselves as different than the Chads of mainstream masculine culture but who are ultimately cut from the same cloth, insecure and vain and all dating Asian women. It feels fucked up to use this superficial and shallow evaluation as a starting point for how I feel... I hate using "cringe" and perceptions OF things as part of the reasons why I'm against something, and I want to be able to articulate on a deeper level what bothers me, but I can't get away from the image, it haunts me. When I was talking to the bartender guy and he admitted that his last girlfriend was Korean (his current girlfriend is also Asian), I felt icky in a way I had never experienced before, not even when people would say in college that so-and-so had yellow fever. He was aware of how it looked--"That's where it stops, I promise!"--and I can't tell if that made it better or worse... Probably better, but the damage was done. I believe that he doesn't have a fetish for Asian women, but it's weird to feel part of a pattern. Usually the criticism of fetishization is that it makes those being fetishized feel interchangeable, but that's not what I felt here, it's more that we were both aware of how it looked, and that knowledge was enough to dampen a situation that might otherwise have been a fun fling. There was too much shame, deserved or otherwise. Again, it feels dumb that all of this is coming/came from the appearance of something, maybe I'm more image-obsessed than I thought, but it also feels inescapable as a larger mode of being that we all have been conditioned into. We've been polluted into being overly articulate in symbols and signifiers and we're all in Plato's dumbass cave trying to get back to the real. There is also some part of thinking about race and your own racial identity that is inseparable from analyzing visual culture, but that shouldn't be all of it when it comes to interrogating your interpersonal relations. For most of the last week of May I listened to OK Computer and commiserated over text with friends about feeling antsy and discontent. There was also a week where I played Dominion with Catherine, Juhi, and Jeffrey almost every night. A little sadly, what's made me consistently the happiest this past month has been work, joking around and laughing with my teammates while getting shit done and seeing both my coding and code reviewing skills improve. My relationship to my team is kind of stressful to me because sometimes I wonder if I'm just flirting with everyone (what the hell is flirting anyway), and I worry about whether the other guys on my team are into me or whether that's something I'm going to have to manage (I don't think anything would ever happen, but I worry). One thing that was really nice about being in a relationship, I never had to worry about subtly enforcing platonic boundaries because it was just a given that I wouldn't reciprocate any advances. But I definitely attribute the ease with which I've become a part of my team to some vague, general male enjoyment of my being perky, and sometimes I can no longer tell if it's a persona I've adopted because I know it's beneficial to me in these contexts or if that's just actually my personality. Whenever I think about this I think about the term "soft power," how this attitude/personality/whatever I project at work is so useful to defuse tension, ease working relations, and generally get people to cut you slack. I also think about how I definitely don't act this way towards my female teammates and how I get stressed when talking to the hot senior engineer on my team because she, as kind and inclusive as she is, can definitely see through this shit. She does do the same thing to a certain extent, but it's in a concretely useful way; she uses it to advocate for her opinions and the changes she'd like to make in a way that is both friendly and firm. My never-ending rewatch of Survivor: Micronesia and observation of Parvati's game during this season has had me thinking about flirting and its usefulness for a couple months now because everyone describes her as using flirting as a social strategy, but there are few concrete examples of it. She just generally seems fun and perky and chatty, and it makes me wonder whether that's all that casual flirting is, and if so, whether I've just been doing that with everyone without knowing that's what I'm doing, even if to some extent I'm aware of it as an endearing behavior. Flirting of the verbal, innuendo/double entendre variety is so outside my wheelhouse that I don't think I could do it even if I tried. As part of my essay for the zine on friend crushes and Frances Ha, and also due to some recent friendship conflicts, I've been thinking a lot about my past friendship breakups and what caused them. Last week I was feeling really sad about one of my close friendships, and as I was falling asleep one night I was thinking about how scared I was of drifting slowly apart from them. It never feels good to let someone down, even when your relationship evolves and becomes stronger due to being forced to explicitly recognize and accept someone's flaws. It made me think of what Katie said in the fall about TV friendships--the kind of friendship where you can scream at each other and then make up and have everything go back to normal--and how how they're idealized in media as what close female friendships should look like, but actually in real life it would be stressful and probably impossible to sustain. I realized then that this month has sucked probably also in part because I've barely seen Katie, and it felt so good to hang out this past week, each sitting on opposite ends of my swaying couch, like old times.


today Katie and I ate banh mi in my living room in the 30 min between my sugaring appointment and her date. I showered and pickled some radishes.

someone i met on saturday told me

there is a vast expanse of time in which you will feel young

benadryl brownies

Wednesday night Xander and I got dinner at Casa Adela, where we both got pernil asado and split a side of maduros and my after-dinner coffee came in a paper cup with lots of frothed milk. I like that they didn't ask me how I take my coffee, they just brought it out with a wooden stirrer and asked if I wanted more sugar. It was the perfect temperature outside, slightly humid, and I liked how it felt to be walking down the street at dusk sipping on coffee from a nondescript container, not a coffee cup or thermos but a small unmarked paper cup. At dinner and afterwards as we brainstormed ideas for the crushing zine, we agreed that spring is meant for crushing. Both spring and fall make you aware of the passage of time, but with spring you want to be infatuated and fall in love whereas with fall you just reminisce about the past summer. I solicited submissions for the crushing zine on my close friends story, and people's responses were so endearing--"Crushes rule," Adam said. In WSP yesterday Inhae and I were talking about the widening rift amongst our friends of people who were adhering to the "yuppies who will be engaged by 28" script vs. the rest, and I feel like you could see that with those who didn't respond to the crushing stories vs. those who did. Crushing is on the mind!!! I love that in the wake of the breakup wave now we're all milling around searching for connections and yearning for brief, great loves. Last night at the UES guy's apartment I asked him if he still has crushes at 30. He looked at me as if I were crazy, but he played along, questioning my definition of a crush ("I think what you're describing is a subset of what a crush can be") and brainstorming a list of places in NYC that you would want to go with a crush. We watched a couple episodes of Curb on his couch and argued about feminism and sadomasochism whenever he switched to the hockey playoffs. I signed into my HBO account on his TV and sighed as my viewing history came up, "Now you know everything." Inhae and I watched The Girls at Film Forum, where I got an espresso over ice and a rice krispie. She brought a bag of chips in her purse. The movie started off so strong and funny but started to lose the plot after about an hour. Inhae whispered that she was getting kind of bored, and we left ten minutes after as the movie refused to end. In some ways the movie reminded me of Worst Person, bourgeois white women feeling discontent with the roles they're playing as romantic partners which they had assumed but never truly chosen. I felt the main actress's anger and frustration as she watched the audience placidly regarding her, sensed their complacency in the face of the play's pressing themes that should have stirred people to feel something or do something about their own lives. Sometimes I feel like that when I'm telling friends who belong in the aforementioned domestic yuppie category about how I feel about something or what I've been up to; it feels that there's a barrier between us and they regard me with pity, think that I'm lost or a mess just because I'm not in a stable relationship or perfectly content with everything, when in actuality it's fucking stupid to not be spending your mid-20s making mistakes and doing things that make the world feel bigger and that allow you to witness changes in yourself. Each woman in the movie felt so alone in her ennui despite the obvious solidarity amongst them, and it made me think again of bell hooks and how her definition of feminism is centered on sisterhood. A couple weekends ago when tripping slightly and walking from Kate's apartment to the Chairman Mao DJ set I was feeling alone for the first time in a long time. The pavement was gleaming from the rain and I watched as Kate and Shalma walked ahead of me, so visually alike and with a palpable kinship that I felt I couldn't share in by virtue of undeniable facts about my life: I lived in Manhattan, I worked a corporate tech job. I thought, Who will I really be able to talk to when I'm sad?

sick again

The congestion is making me feel braindead. - Ran into my first year roommate at Vanessa's birthday party because she and her boyfriend know Vanessa's younger brother. She's become part of the art world in NYC and was featured recently in i-D. I'm not sure whether she thinks favorably of me because in college we would sometimes chat in Ex-Libris during second and third year, but then fourth year when we were in an art history class together she never said hi to me. Maybe she thought she was too cool for me or something, but here we are, at the same fucking birthday party. - Getting invited to and going to Vanessa's birthday warmed my heart, she's so active in the organizing and arts scenes in NYC that I'm bewildered by and grateful for the time and thought she's put into checking in to see if I'm ok. - Went to a surprise dinner party that Shereen held at her apartment in honor of Surb graduating from her master's program. I felt ashamed about not honoring the dress code since I didn't leave early enough to warrant not dressing up. At one point I realized I was truly at a Dinner Party, the kind that real adults have?, and it was strange to think about getting older in a different way than usual. - Friday night with Shalma, Kate, and Ann(e?) was sweet. Even though the MGMT DJ set at Schimanski's was a huge L--we spent a total of maybe 15 minutes there--it was fun to see Shalma stoned and giggly as we confessed our desire for pizza or chicken and rice from the halal truck instead of going to a secondary location. The sight of the trees standing tall and silent over the empty streets off of Bedford Ave. made me feel a little sad and wistful, and I thought, here we go, here's that feeling I've been missing. It's nice to experience things that you thought would never happen again and which make you feel like a teenager. I tried to explain the feeling to Shalma while we ate our slices: "I need to figure out the jump from seeing something beautiful to being sad." Kate said that she'd been wanting to run into her exes this past week, and we sat in the wake of our confessions for a couple moments. I wanted to text my LOML about the trees but refrained, maybe in a week. - Watched Castle in the Sky with Xiao at Metrograph, then got Malaysian food after. Even pregnant, she looks stylish as ever in her classic layered black attire, and I don't think that will change as her pregnancy progresses. Metrograph was freezing, I think I blame them for igniting my current bout of illness. This is the best I can do rn. Going to heat up some soup and noodles.

some notes from the past week (5/1 - 5/5)

- It's AAPI heritage month, which means that anything I find irritating I will be labeling as a hate crime. - On Sunday I was feeling very unsettled thinking about how I have almost no recollection of what I've been up to for the past several months. When I was having dinner with Shalma the previous night and tried to recount my general state of existence since I'd last seen her, I felt empty. "Who am I?" I thought, anxiety mounting, "What has my life been like?" - I added a newish maybe-friend to my close friends list and notice when he watches my close friends stories on Instagram. I feel anxiety about my maybe-delusional-ness about whether we're actually friends creeping in whenever I think about this too much. I feel like adding this person was fine in that we have potential to be good friends, especially given a shared interest in nightlife/music, but I still feel weird about it, worried that they'll think I'm trying too hard to be friends with them or something. I'm crossing over into emotional management mode again, I don't want to have hope about friendships developing and be let down when they don't materialize. - Shalma and I also talked about how it felt like the culture of NYC was seeping into and infecting our minds, how "cool" has unconsciously become the immediate orienting axis by which I perceive people. Every morning on the subway I look at the outfits of the women around me and immediately make judgments I know to be untrue about what kind of people they are. - "I feel like we're separately experiencing the same things right now," Shalma says, and I agree--I get the same feeling while talking to her that I do when I read Juhi's e-worms, like our lives are progressing along parallel planes. - I remember something else about SF: Juhi's car. Ori says that whenever he comes to SF he likes to take a picture of the car. "Hit me, bitch," Juhi muttered as someone tried to cut us off with a left turn. For some reason it looked totally different than how I remembered it; the exterior reminds me of the artwork for the Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy album. - At the botanical gardens the cherry blossoms are beautiful but the crowds make experiencing them less pleasurable. Unexpectedly we find ourselves moved by the bonsai collection. - Had a hot dog from a cart. - Sat in Tompkins Square Park with Olive and had dinner together at Raku, one of my favorite meals in recent memory because I felt we were so connected with each other in those couple hours. - “When was the last time I counted something in my head?” Today while trying to calculate the new rent I owed with my roommate I kept mis-reciting the numbers I was supposed to subtract from each other. - Xander, Maya, and I talk about being memory-less. “I feel like I’ve only started to regain sentience this weekend,” I say. “I don’t even feel like I’m sentient yet,” Xander replies matter-of-factly. - I get hate-crimed on Monday morning: instead of being able to apply my unused monthly sugaring credits towards getting my leg hair removed, customer service denies my request and I get charged an upsetting amount of money. - I hit a coding groove after dinner and listen to Can, thinking of Juhi's latest e-worm post and the term "krautrock." - I pay $5 for a banh mi for dinner and eat the whole thing without any comprehension of hunger or satiation. - The tulips, once drooped over the sides of their vase like a moody indie rock album cover, stand straighter and taller as the petals unfurl. - I’ve been thinking a lot about spring and how this year feels different. In college, spring felt like a melancholic, generative time: be wistful, walk home alone from the library at 1am in the middle of the street, marvel at the budding and blooming. In the past couple years (aka as I've gotten less depressed), spring has become an energizing time where I feel myself propelled forward by the collective sense of rebirth and anticipation. Catherine talks about the sweet spot being the time when you can open up the apartment windows. I was so anxious to be away for almost all of March and part of April because I worried that I would miss the magnolias blooming, but it seems to not have happened this year, the trees in Union Square skipped straight to the leaf-growing phase and magnolia branches weren't sold at the farmer's market this year. - One morning when feeling quite angsty I try to ruminate more about feeling disembodied. "Is this moment not enough?" someone posts on their Instagram story. - Catherine responds to my texts describing the difference between a crush and a LOML. “Ok i like That,” she says about LOMLs. “It’s good to keep some things from ever happening.” - I think scornfully of Andy when he suggests hanging out with him and his girlfriend, the more I talk to him the lamer they get. I am young and the world validates my arrogance. - We expense Chik-fil-A for lunch out of despair. Mike seems depressed. I learn that orca shirts is its own apparel category in our databases because of the sheer volume of orca shirts being bought and sold on - I get dinner with Sam and Shereen, where we drink enough wine that my vision blurs, then we go to Clandestino, where Marc Razo from Max Fish (or his doppelganger) is working the bar, then we go to Reception Bar, where we get another cocktail and snacks. We pick up Alec along the way to Tom and Jerry’s, where Sam gets us pickleback shots and we sip on our beers halfheartedly until Sam decides he wants to go home. - I listen to Young Guv when I see the album in my Apple Music recommendations, recalling that Jake had posted about it, and am pleasantly surprised by the feeling of immediately liking the album. Katie and I agree it’s “no frills indie rock" of the dad-leaning variety, which is rare these days.

infinite east williamsburg

The next several weeks at work are going to be rough but it feels good to all be in it together and collectively freaking out. Today everybody on the team was in the office and there was such a strong atmosphere of camaraderie that it made the situation feel not so bad and a little fun. During meetings we joked around with each other with our mics muted, and Eric made a meme using the shot in Memento with the polaroid that says "Don't trust his lies." Alex and I gaped at each other and burst out laughing when a manager made a passive aggressive retort at the person running the meeting. "I'm in the kitchen," Mike slacked us. "We're in a war," Alex responded. This morning I woke up like in the Norm Macdonald joke about the moth--"I wake up in a malaise"--except the primary feeling was stress and the malaise was coming from knowing this is how I'll be waking up for the next couple weeks. Katie observed it perfectly yesterday, "waking up with an elevated heart rate," and I haven't felt this way since college. Monday morning I was so sleepy in the office and tried to gently hype myself up with a mix of cold brew and Talking Heads (as opposed to peak bpm techno, which was too aggro for 10am and which I wanted to save for 11pm). It was my first time going home from work and immediately logging back on, working straight until midnight with almost no breaks. My room is a mess, I really need to clean and run errands this weekend. When I was in SF sitting at Juhi's dining table I had a couple moments where I thought, I can't believe this is my life, I can't believe I'm here right now. I got that same feeling of when I was in Hawaii and felt terrible without understanding why--I wasn't unhappy, I just felt so far from any reasonable understanding of reality, on a vacation I'd spontaneously agreed to and had barely thought about in the four months between when I'd bought my plane tickets and my flight. Trapped wasn't the right word, and dissociated didn't feel extreme or specific enough. Maybe I've been doing too much in the past couple months, too much traveling between extreme settings and too little alone/reset time in the couple weeks I spent in NYC in between, and it culminated in me feeling impotent and disembodied while playing Dominion with Jeffrey and Reed at 5pm on a Wednesday after two hours of playing it on my laptop against two bots. Saturday night I had one of the best nights of my life. I don't know how much weight this statement can hold given that I can't even remember where I've been going out in the past six months besides Good Room and the occasional Nowadays/PR jaunt. For most of Sunday I was afraid the whole experience might lose its weight and float away, but this morning I continued to think back on those magical hours between 11pm and 6:30am, how serendipitous it was that everything which fell into place felt like a culmination of the past six months of my life, just after I'd been reflecting on the excitement of the fall. While I was at dinner with Xander, I was clued in that I might be seeing the LOML* that night and I died right there and Xander watched patiently while my giddiness rose then subsided. Seeing him was even better than I imagined; during that night and through Sunday I thought I might have been making up what I felt was transpiring between us but, reflecting on it this morning, I think it was real. I want to be careful about keeping this person in the LOML category rather than getting invested enough to have them pass into crush (read: bad, painful) category, so I'm going to try not to think about it anymore until I potentially see him again. Between Nightmoves and Nowadays I told the group in the Uber XL about "infinite Pennsylvania" and how it felt like we were in "infinite East Williamsburg." Teddy kept changing the song just as soon as we had listened to enough of the song to start anticipating the beat switch. At Nowadays there was a moment where I was worried the non-ticketed half of our group wouldn't make it inside because of the line, and it felt touch and go for a moment, I was so anxious that they would leave while we were inside that I kept leaving the dance floor to use my phone to text them. Robby and I talked about the ocean, and I told him about those pure ten minutes I spent at Ocean Beach with Jon and Juhi.The dawn light made the clouds appear milky, like gossamer, the kind of colors you see in an American landscape oil painting from the 1800s. I felt some awe watching the Manhattan skyline as my Uber driver Cesar and I crossed the Williamsburg bridge, the mix of brick and skyscraper glowing in the orange early morning light, thinking of Betsy and "drive into New York with me." A sense of homecoming welled up within me as we drove through the Lower East Side and Soho, mostly still deserted. I turned the faucet up all the way and stood shivering as the scalding water turned my skin red but I remained chilled, my teeth chattering as I got into bed, insufficiently toweled off. Xander and I are going to make a zine about LOMLs vs. crushes vs. fun situations vs. unfun entanglements, let us know if you would like to get involved. * For a brief explanation of LOML and its connotations, see:

a week in the time warp

- No matter how sunny it is and what the weather app says (perennially 50 degrees), SF always feels chillier than I expect. Juhi asks how I can be cold when I'm coming from New York, and I don't have a satisfying answer. Olive once said that it's the mental expectation of being warm that makes you all the colder, and I sort of buy it, but I think I should just be able to feel warm anyway. - Ori and I walk to Catherine's apartment on Sunday morning. We talk about SF and how empty it is, maybe the emptiness is exacerbated by the area we're in but it's a stark contrast to where we each respectively live. People were out and about tonight, the pre-summer crowds milling around in anticipation. At an intersection on 7th Ave a trio of girls were wearing the same outfit; in general many of the women I saw when walking home from the 8th Ave L stop were wearing variations of the same three fits like so many ducks in a row. Sometimes when I say these things I feel like I'm being sexist and unfair, it's not our fault that marketing has such a grip on us. Earlier in the evening I accidentally interrupted a hug that Mark Ronson was about to give his sister outside Bar Pitti, realizing who they were only as they each stepped back at my intrusion. After three years of living in this city I've finally started seeing famous people who aren't Supreme skateboarders. - Ori and I decide that SF rewards spontaneity in nonmaterial ways, such as the wealth of unstructured time you end up spending with your friends. - The visits where I stay with friends in SF make me feel as if I'm in an alternate timeline where I live there. The constellation of memories I have all over the city breed just enough familiarity to give me a sense of direction and enable slipping into the idea that I *have* lived there. Everything greets me with an unexpected intimacy that has no basis in anything except feeling; at brunch Zach asks me when I'm moving to the Bay Area and I'm touched, I forget that Zach and I haven't actually talked enough to warrant the kinship I feel with him whenever I'm in SF. It feels real, part of the parallel life I inhabit whenever I'm back. Zach has daisies threaded into the eyeholes of his boots. The sun beams down on us at Alamo Square Park, which looks decidedly like it's occupied by people in the same tech-/tech-adjacent monoculture. I'd like to think our group looked the most alt out of everybody there, but I doubt anybody would have been able to tell us apart. - I grow partial to my pastel rainbow chunky sandals. Noah and Zach each compliment them. - Running bit: "What makes a house a home?" - Catherine: "Every time I see you guys you're playing another round of Botticelli." - After Marc tells us two jokes that I later discover were ripped completely from Norm Macdonald, even the embellishments that Marc said he'd made up himself, we get into a discussion of the first joke about the Sumerian dog. I insist I've heard of it even though I can't remember the punch line because I'd just read about it on depthsofwikipedia, but he acts as if I'm making up my knowledge. We agree it'd be funny if people started going around graffiti-ing obscure punchlines. "The light was on." - In his car Jon tells Juhi and I about the time he and his friend Finn were driving through "Infinite Pennsylvania" to get to NY. He said there was a moment where things clicked and it started to feel like they were on the East Coast, as the Big Thief song in the background played, "Drive into New York with me." - A sober Jon waves goodbye at a stoned crowd watching Elite on Noah's couch. He stares and gestures for ten seconds and flashes a thumbs up. As he leaves the room, Catherine whispers, "Was it just me, or was that an intense goodbye?" - "Ok, Lady Macbeth," Michael heckles one of the characters on Elite. - "Synthetic dingo," Ori and I chime together during a round of Contact. - Jon drives us to the beach. I haven't seen the ocean in so long, but it's too cold to hop over the railing and go closer to the waves. The vigorous breeze makes me feel alive, my lungs fill with the cleanest air I've breathed in ages, refreshing like when you drink a glass of ice water and you can taste the nothingness of the ice. - Juhi puts on Animal Collective when we get home from Berkeley. I listen to Bluish anew--"I like the way you squeeze my hand." - Most days we don't eat til past noon. I make my way through a bag of Taki's. Ori asks me if I've heard the story of Hanukkah. "I feel like you've been eating them slowly but steadily everyday." I finish the bag two days after he leaves. Our Safeway shopping trip is comical: packets of Jello, a dog food-sized bag of Cinnamon Toast Crunch, a gallon of Xtra Cheddar goldfish, a sack of green seedless grapes. The cashier asks if we need them bagged and I hesitate before saying yes. "I would have loved to see you guys try to carry all of this by yourselves," he drawls. - Jeffrey accidentally makes the coffee extra strong using the Chemex. Congested and dissociated, I feel like vomiting after four sips. - Juliette, Ariel, Jerry, Steph, and I sit on the bed downstairs in lieu of participating in the party. Juhi calls us out for being cliquey. - A friend gropes my ass while drunk. His general behavior has been rubbing me the wrong way for a couple months, and I now feel justified. Over the next couple days my anger at his other (more innocuous) antics builds to the point where I express my frustrations to others in the form of a deeper character analysis, which I haven't done in years. I feel like in college it was common to get annoyed with someone in the way where you see the things that irritate you as being representative/symptomatic of certain fundamental traits. Like in the Proust quote: "the most trivial attributes of other people seem to us to form an inseparable part of their personality." - Half-asleep, hair still wet from my shower, and unable to see because my contacts are out, I play Botticelli with Ori and the group playing Dominion, which includes Juhi's date from earlier that night. "We are so understimulated," Juhi jokes. - Ori and I run into Noah at the corner store near Catherine's apartment while discussing the pros and cons of Murakami. - We take the long way back to Juhi's, past the remains of a eucalyptus forest. What I miss the most about the Bay Area: how plant life perfumes the air. It reminds me of when I used to take walks with my parents after dinner when we were living in Fremont for elementary school, the rosemary bushes on the side of the pavement and Southern Magnolia trees in people's front yards and gingko berries crushed against the ground. Whenever I go home and witness the sheer variety of plant life I feel anxiety and loss, all the flora I took for granted that are slowly disappearing from my memory that I will never be able to name, only recognize upon chance sighting. All the dead trees that made way for NYC... I remember when at Alexa and Cora's party in the fall Robby mentioned that the trees in Fort Greene were probably hundreds of years old, and it makes me extra depressed now whenever I think of a tree in the city being cut down. It also makes me spiteful and disgusted at the sub-10 y/o trees that grow on the Manhattan sidewalk--not their fault, but they're such a joke of a consolation prize on the city's part. Jon plays Father John Misty, and "Nancy From Now On" reappears in my life as they eat ice cream in the front seat.

in the backseat of my car, my love tells me i'm a mess

A spider of nontrivial size is crawling along the ceiling. Unless it wanders down to a height low enough where I can kill it with the Kleenex box on my nightstand, I'm sleeping with the floor lamp on. My roommate doesn't know I'm not in NYC right now. Last night she texted me about deadbolting the door and I couldn't think of a casual way to mention that actually I hadn't been home in several days. Tonight Juhi described how recently her social life had turned her house into the site of a nonstop party. When I got to her place on Wednesday night people were stoned and playing board games after their weekly trivia; Thursday night I woke up from a two hour nap to her date from earlier in the evening, Jeffrey, and Jeffrey's boyfriend playing Dominion in the living room; Friday night was an actual party; this morning Shuta broke in through the window at 9am and spent essentially the whole day loitering around with us. The continuous social presence is mostly fun--hanging out with people like Catherine, Juhi, Ori, Marc, etc. is conducive to evolving bits in a way that feels so specific to their friend group, like how we'll spontaneously break out into a game of Contact or Botticelli while walking from one place to another or create dumb acronyms and shorthands for shared points of reference. I don't know if I laugh so much when I'm around any other people, maybe the only comparable experiences in recent memory were when Bum and I walked to Nitehawk Prospect Park together or when Eric, Pau, Bum, Claudia, and I spent hours drinking together before Ashwin's party. I find myself missing people I barely know when they're not around, like this morning when I was super excited that Marc showed up for dim sum even though I don't think we've ever had a real conversation. In other instances it gets so tiresome to not have a break from certain people that you never even asked to be around, like you're on day three of a vacation with close friends and starting to go crazy. Tonight I was in a conversation so predictable that I knew what the trajectory/dynamic of the conversation would be until the bitter end, and it was so irritating that it made me realize it had been months since I'd been in a conversation with this kind of dynamic where someone continuously draws attention back towards themselves in an uninteresting, un-self-aware way. It reminded me of when one of Catherine's friends had described some of the conversations as being "about unimportant things," and even though I'm generally pro- being young and frivolous right now, I deeply felt the gripe. Today Someone posted a meme to his Instagram story about Easter that involved Ramona Singer; I really hit the jackpot with meeting this random person that watches both Survivor and Real Housewives. I've been having this weird feeling that I dreamed him up because I have no coherent perception of how close we are with each other. We only met five days ago and talk inconsistently, but he's also direct and communicative and open in a way that makes me feel like we know each other better/are more comfortable with each other than we actually do/are. Three days ago when I was so congested I felt like I might be dissociated forever, I sat shotgun in Juhi's car as we tried to find a CVS that turned out to be in a Target that turned out to not be the CVS I was looking for then accidentally ended up in Japantown as we tried to drive to the Trader Joe's across the street that ended up being inaccessible due to a parade of one-ways and no-left-turns. "We've lost the plot," I said in despair as we watched the day get away from us. Amidst all this I was having a non-dtr over text as he asked me what I was looking for--I provided the unenlightening and honest answer that I was just trying to have fun--and he restated his position as someone in an open relationship. It was a pointless conversation because there was no new information given by either party ("Maybe I should respond with something really stupid like 'yay!!!'" I told Juhi), but it also felt like a milestone of sorts. Being in that state where you can ponder over someone's (internal) life because you don't know them very well is fun, if a little dangerous because of the proximity to delusion. But ultimately it's the concept of continuously seeing someone you're interested in without ever having to be responsible for their baggage that feels so, so good.


Finally things are starting to take a toll on my body. I've had what I think is the flu for the past four days but haven't told anyone except people who I have no chance of seeing. On Tuesday I had severe enough of a fever that I logged off at 11am and slept straight until 5pm, waking periodically to eat more of my Tofu Tofu delivery (buddae jiggae and japchae), dial into a project sync-up, and drink more water. At one point, moving to cover my face with my pillow--can never be too careful about those UV rays--I noted hazily that the sun, indeed, did rise in the east and set in the west. I debated bowing out of my plans for the night but it felt like too much of an excuse; even though illness is a valid reason to miss a date I felt like I would have been flaking more out of anxiety and nervousness than illness. To be clear though, I did feel horrible. At 6pm after a shot of espresso and some Advil my body aches had subsided and I lay on my couch watching Curb until it was time to make the trek to the Jefferson St. stop. The chills came back with a vengeance at 3am. This past weekend I had one of the craziest nights of my life, but it all feels so far away now and I guess inconsequential. Walking home with Alexa through Soho, we discussed the varied pockets of nightlife in NYC: the basic lower Manhattan bars that only play Top 40 and Mr. Brightside, the Brooklyn DJ/music scene, the party we had just been at. We passed a sports bar on Houston St. as we neared my apartment and laughed at the people still inside at 5am: "This could have been our night." It felt good to be on shrooms together; I felt like we were on the same wavelength even though it was our first time hanging out one on one, prompting a new development in my drugs philosophy: sometimes you should leave things to be rare and special. Practically, I guess this means I won't be eating shroom chocolate every weekend anymore. Time to fentanyl test that sliding compact of mysterious white powder that Olive and I found on the floor of Public Records.


An Instagram caption by a graphic designer I follow who usually makes Good Room's posters/flyers: "Poster for Tonight! @sassyplanet69 -- The time has come (finally) for a sleazy, shirtless gay night that centers around jazz music (early jazz and hard bop mostly). Let the saxophone guide you and party hard. We will not tolerate unwanted advances or any type of jazz made after 1980. You can find a member of staff with a glow bracelet on the dance floor if you're having trouble during songs with a 13/8 time signature. A reminder to b-u-y our book ([in squiggly text] Link in bio)" Do you think this was real or an April Fool's joke? Text me to weigh in.

parvati in survivor micronesia: feminism in a global context

Just kidding. This is a reminder to myself to think more about the following things: choice feminism, Parvati's girl power in Survivor Micronesia, gender at the Car Seat Headrest concert, gender at Gee Dee's Public Records set, and performing a personality

i'm only trying to get home, drunk drivers, drunk drivers

My first time microdosing shrooms and actually feeling something... Juhi would be so disappointed ("shrooms are not for partying"). Part of me wants to ride out the rest of the trip and see what dumb (maybe brilliant?) shit my brain comes up with, part of me thinks I should go to bed so I can run errands tomorrow and re-enter society as a functional being. When I got home today and saw my bed stripped of its sheets (at the laundromat, my other sheet sets in the bin underneath my bed) I thought again of how irresponsible/bad at life I am right now. I remember in the fall I was so excited at all the connections that were sprouting and blooming--the term "fallow period" would come to mind--and whenever I was reflecting on this I would try to self-correct, tell myself to not get too happy and carried away because the other shoe was going to drop and maybe I would get sick of someone I had become close with or maybe some terrible dynamic would arise between myself and a friend that would make continuing our friendship impossible. I feel like I'm in a different although related stage of this now... I wouldn't call it a fallow period, but I'm having a lot of fun and indulging myself in being childish and melodramatic. I've been giving a lot to my social life and spending time with my friends, activities cycling into each other until I come home to a dark apartment. But my brain also feels rotten somehow, I'm scared as always of getting dumber and I think it really could be happening this time... There are no groceries despite being back since Tuesday, compost is taking up space in the freezer, and my dead plants are glaring at me in the living room. The plant I've had since I moved into this apartment exhaled its last breath sometime when I was away, maybe I'm mad at my roommate for not keeping it alive although I guess I never asked her to water it. When I was at Public Records earlier tonight I wondered what my mom would think if she could see me at this very moment. She would probably be happy that I was being young and having fun but concerned about the decibel levels and the drugs. She would be pretty sad to witness me right now, the only correction I've made to my bed since coming home is that now there are pillowcases, the only thing I decided I had energy for. Getting a fitted sheet on the bed is already tiresome enough when sober. Whenever I do any laundry-/linen-related chores such as making my bed or folding clothes I think of my mom and how clumsy I am at the skills she was never taught yet accrued out of necessity, maybe common sense and an inherent adeptness at handling hardship that I--spoiled, American-born, millennial/Gen-Z, sheltered--lack. I feel ashamed at my domestic inadequacy; I can't do anything well in the home except cook. I can't even fold tops correctly (I know how, but it never looks good when I do it, so I fold them differently). I'll make a life partner very disappointed one day.

skins era

hedonism in college was weird and lame, hedonism now is a rush

wine mom

This past weekend my life consisted solely of Survivor and Dooly. As I write this, Dooly is sleeping on his back with his legs in the air. It's the first time I've looked at a dog sleeping in this position and realized it's weird that they don't tip over. It's also my first time seeing Dooly sleep in this position. I wonder whether we can get to 7:45 tomorrow morning without him barking. My alarm goes off at 7:47. There is a photo in my camera roll of slanted light falling over my hand holding a pink tire kong in Cora's living room. My phone had saved it automatically after I'd sent it as a message to Cora, asking her if it was ok for me to use the kong with Dooly. Over the course of the day I kept returning to this accidentally beautiful photo, and I would get sad looking at it. It conveyed contentment and warmth, things you have to pause to experience and soak in and which I felt too tired and strung-out for. It reminded me of when I stayed at Juliette's apartment for Outside Lands and marveled at her roommates' cat stretching out in the sunlight, existing outside of time. "Cats know how to enjoy life," I had texted my mom. In response, she had sent me a paragraph about how a wild cat she'd taken in and raised when she was a child in rural China had gotten pregnant then died during childbirth, thus traumatizing her. There are small luxuries to my current situation: watching the milk settle into my glass of cold brew in the morning, the fridge compartment reserved just for seltzers, having both bacon and smoked salmon in the fridge. Sometimes while in the middle of a deployment or waiting for my tests to finish running I'll sit on the ground and Dooly will run to and curl up in my lap, and I'll think that maybe this my chance to detach from my responsibilities and sit and feel things. But after a minute I get bored of petting Dooly and my tests have finished running anyway. Last night after putting Dooly to bed I started reading my copy of The Idiot that Catherine had borrowed from Claudia then left behind in our apartment when she moved. While reading the first thirty pages, I had the feeling of wanting to cry. Nothing overtly emotional or dramatic was happening, but it reminded me of the small moments of inspiration you get throughout the day that you pocket and forget about and how relatively innocent you were going into college and how old you feel now even though you're still young. I'll have to think about what I was feeling more, especially in relation to what I've been thinking about re-"coming of age" and Worst Person. I recommended the book to Eric and liked the idea of my copy circulating among our friends and becoming part of our little zeitgeist, a la Worst Person and the crossword. The quote in the book's dedication reads: "But the characteristic feature of the ridiculous age I was going through - awkward indeed but by no means infertile - is that we do not consult our intelligence and that the most trivial attributes of other people seem to us to form an inseparable part of their personality. In a world thronged with monsters and with gods, we know little peace of mind. There is hardly a single action we perform in that phase which we would not give anything, in later life, to be able to annul. Whereas what we ought to regret is that we no longer possess the spontaneity which made us perform them. In later life we look at things in a more practical way, in full conformity with the rest of society, but adolescence is the only period in which we learn anything. - Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time, volume II: Within a Budding Grove" I'm so tired. I can't wait to go to California on Sunday.

both sides now

1. katie confirmed my manager is totally crushable 2. i'm over crushing i'd rather just have cute strangers profess their love to me

rediscovering daydrinking

Until I talked to Adam at Sauced on Friday night I didn't realize that the word to describe how I've been feeling for the past several weeks was "exhausted." Barring trips home or to Chicago, this is the least I've cooked for any multi-week stretch of time since graduating from college. Everyday I come home and assess the bananas that I keep telling myself I'll compost and the weeks-old sourdough loaf, hidden from view, underneath. I think about how I've been meaning to make a gyno appointment for a couple weeks now. I get ready for bed then watch Survivor because I'm suddenly no longer tired and also don't fall asleep easily anyway. I no longer have problems talking to my manager after I've decided I'm not a fan of his facial hair. On Sunday Kat and I met up with Gabby, some of her RISD friends, and Dkwon for bottomless brunch at El Born. I think the closest thing I've done to bottomless brunch since college has been the many birthday brunches held at Lil Frankie's over the past couple years, but this, being in Greenpoint at a much smaller restaurant with fewer blonde girls, felt much more respectable. As we wound down in preparation for our exit plan Gabby and her RISD friends each donned a pair of hip sunglasses, looking like the ultra-cool Asian art school types Catherine and I ogled with dread when in line at Mood Ring last summer. ("We need to incorporate someone into our friend group who has a shaved head.") I smack my Chase Freedom dramatically atop the growing pile of Amex gold cards. Kat and I strategize about whether we should wait in the bathroom line or pee at the RISD housewarming and float out into the street, where we Uber XL to East Williamsburg and enter a 1 bedroom apartment that is somehow filled with light in every room. Gabby and I talk about growing up in Pleasanton, which I hadn't thought about in awhile, and it made me romanticize the suburbia, the boredom, the hills of perpetually dry grass, and the teen angst all over again. I guess you could stare at the light-polluted night sky while in a taxi/Uber on the BQE but it doesn't hit the same as when you're 17 and can't conceptualize any future for yourself enough to get anxious about it, with your head against the window of some random person's car. How romantic it felt to get home at 5am before your mom wakes up and the sun already rising, listening to Old 55 by the Eagles and wanting to sink into nothingness in the wheatfield across the street from your house. I remember reading an old Rookie essay last summer with Catherine when we were getting deep into an Ezra Koenig internet hole where Tavi talked about walking home across the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun rose after staying out all night on Halloween. Even as we wanted that feeling we never were able to do it, the weariness that hit at 4am so overwhelming that we would sit on the sidewalk in Bushwick and stare at the billboards above Elsewhere advertising the affordability of Iowa City and think, Honestly, they have a point. As we wait for the Uber to Awoke after the RISD housewarming, we play dare or dare because Ryan says he can do 15 push-ups on the ground right now. He does them, in quick succession and with great form. Elaine doesn't accept my dare to stand on the trash bins outside the RISD guy's apartment and chant "Stop Asian Hate." We laugh at how probably if we had spontaneously started chanting that at El Born all the white people would have cheered or clapped. At Awoke we debate whether a sweater that Elaine likes is too cottage-core, then go the Korean accessories place a couple storefronts down where Cora and I had once met the owners and their toddler. We go to Good Bar and I ask Lucas whether he had been insulting me Friday night when we showed up at Sauced and he said, "Wow, it's the UChicago contingent." After the round of whisky shots for all our friends who were at the bar, we occupy the tables alongside where Adam and Chris are spinning and discuss the merits of crushing and how crushing is more fun when you have no intention of pursuing anything. When I checked my phone to figure out when to leave for dinner I was sad that it was already time to go, and I did some more of the Sunday crossword on the G to Carroll Gardens. When I got home at 10 the hangover was starting to set in. I watched the Euphoria finale, then three more episodes of Survivor, trying to ignore the clock inching closer to 1am.

we can't all look like zoe kravitz

“I want us to be transparent with each other,” my manager tells me with unwavering eye contact. Soon after this statement I tell him that I struggle with corporate etiquette, although I'm not sure how I transitioned into that. “Yeah, me too,” he pauses, then we continue to talk about my upcoming project. I get stressed looking at him face-on and wonder if I’ve always had this problem when talking to people or whether it’s just when talking to him. He wears a blazer one day and an oversized black hoodie on another. My new team is charismatic and talented and so comfortable with each other, and it keeps my heart thrumming at a slightly elevated rate. I feel like I oscillate between giddiness and despair around them, tiny emotional dramas dragging me up and down through the work day. I’m having major impostor syndrome and keep worrying that I'm not cut out to be on this team. It feels too good to be true, and I’m worried that I’ll disappoint them and they’ll think of me with shared pity. Today as we sat at team lunch I had the distinct feeling that I was slowly starting to be lumped in with the kids’ table of the team. The other girl on the team is in her late mid/late twenties and unfairly attractive and good at engineering but she’s so nice that you can’t even resent her for it. I look at her jawline and perfectly shaped features and feel like a misshapen lump. During a conference call amongst engineering teams in our org I try inconspicuously to examine my profile in the video of our team and wonder if getting my hair cut shorter might actually be a bad idea since my cheeks are too fat. “I kind of want buccal lipo,” I text Cora, “But I think having big cheeks will help when we start aging.”

friday 2/18

On Friday it was my last day of work on the old team. Light streamed in through my bedroom window, and I ate my breakfast of toasted brioche with jam in bed, basking and doing the crossword instead of working. The two laptops, clothes, and jumbled blanket cluttering the bed spoiled the decadence of the moment. My apartment sometimes feels like a testament to my inability to complete any chore in full, Halls cough drops from my Covid era still on the windowsill next to my bed, a pair of Doc Martens and a couple tote bags perpetually littering the dining table area, the Village Voice issue with Bob Dylan on the front draping awkwardly over a shelf because I still haven't gotten it framed. I took a virtual farewell coffee chat from bed as well, not really sure what I was supposed to be talking about since the other person made no move to set the conversation topics, even though our meeting was their idea. I was relieved when it was over and tried out some eyeliner styles for the Euphoria party later tonight that Kat invited me to. Nothing really got the job done since I didn't have rhinestones or super colorful eyeliner, but it was my first time putting this much effort into winged liner in months. At least I would reap the benefits by looking good at the dentist's office. At Tend I put in my headphones to listen to Al Green so I wouldn't have to hear any whirring dental machinery as they bonded my teeth. I mused about the (unfortunately) superior experience I was having at this dental office despite hating its existence on principle. I guess maybe because they're VC-backed they can afford all the new dental technology, and it made my visit entirely pain-free even though neither my attempts at mindful breathing nor Al could calm my irregular heart rate as I continued to anticipate discomfort that never arrived. Weirdly, when they did do some drilling, the vibrations against my teeth were such that they perfectly complemented the Al Green song I was listening to and I almost thought the sound was part of the string arrangement. Jen and I planned to meet at Cobra, a bar around the corner from the place we were getting dinner with a group of people I mostly hadn't seen since second or third year of college. As I got off at the Jefferson St. stop and stared at all the billboards overhead, I felt that I could have been anywhere in the US at that moment. The sight of people in leather jackets and beanies laughing outside warehouses-turned-bars and warehouses-turned-restaurants simultaneously was nondescript and made me feel like I was in a movie set from 2010 in the mustache/plaid/oversized glasses era of culture. I tried to imagine I was in a city where I knew nobody. Cobra ended up being more popping than I'd expected, more of a "raucous dive bar" situation than an "empty dive bar" situation. I stood near the door and tried to look nonchalant as I waited for Jen, thinking about how this would be a difficult and lonely situation to navigate if I were truly here alone. I wouldn't be able to do it. I leaned against the counter and stared at the episode of Ru Paul's Drag Race that was being projected on the opposite wall, observed the people trying to contain their frustration as they waited for the bartender. Most groups had ordered and taken their shots and left by the time Jen arrived. I Googled how long after getting your teeth bonded you were allowed to drink alcohol, the consensus being that I was probably good to go despite my top lip still being a little numb. At dinner Shereen and I talked about her upcoming trip to Zanzibar, which I honestly didn't even know was a real place anymore, my only referents being high school history lessons about the spice trade and the Billy Joel song. At the Euphoria-themed pregame I felt the mix of dread and drunken amiability that comes with making small talk with people at parties. A crew of four or five people that seemed a lot drunker than everyone else were singing and dancing in the corner against a backdrop of metallic streamers, screaming the lyrics to The Weeknd then Megan thee Stallion then, (seemingly) paradoxically, Give Up the Funk by Parliament Funkadelic. Their leader seemed to be a girl wearing a plaid button down and jeans and no makeup, not at all in theme, not even if she were trying to be Nate Jacobs. I guess I wasn’t doing much better. People were gossiping about the hosts’ two upstairs neighbors who had made an appearance. I said goodbye to Kat and her friends and took the G to Good Room, determined to make myself do this thing that I wanted to do even if I were doing it alone. The Bad Room where Queen Majesty was playing was sadly underpopulated; I guess people weren’t feeling dub that night except for a white guy in a tan hoodie who held a beer in one hand and occasionally raised a fist with the other. The music was really good in the main room, always a fun surprise when you’re listening to someone spin that you haven’t heard before and they actually turn out to be great. The group comprised three guys, and the one who caught my eye was this half-Asian looking dude who was objectively not that cute, but he was doing such a good job with the music and having so much fun that I found him pretty charming. As he looked out into the crowd I wondered if we were making eye contact and, if so, whether he found it creepy that I was staring at him. I feel like that’s part of the deal when you’re DJ-ing at a venue that’s very DJ-focused? A group of Indian boys who looked barely over 20 swarmed into the space in front of me out of nowhere and lost it as sound and vibrations tumbled out of the large speakers in front of them and echoed through our bodies. As I stood in the coat check line to get my jacket a really nerdy-looking guy who had been dancing near me earlier asked for my number. I declined, and he was so respectful about the whole thing that I walked away pretty impressed with how easy and short that interaction was instead of being insulted that he approached me in the first place. I looked up the DJs on Instagram on the L home and decided to take the train all the way to 8th Avenue, where I was greeted by yellow tape barring entrance to the downtown ACE platforms. As I walked home on Bleecker St, hoping my jacket could preserve all my residual body heat, a taxi pulled up next to me. “Hey miss, do you want a ride home?” “No, it’s ok, my apartment is right here,” I answered, sussed out. “It’s really cold, I’m worried about you,” the driver insisted, “Just come inside.” “No, I’m seriously fine,” I replied angrily. He said something I didn’t hear and drove off. As I approached 6th Avenue it seemed like he tried this again with two girls who were crossing the street, both wearing miniskirts and knee-high boots. The car behind him had also apparently tried to pick them up. “Keep it fucking moving,” they yelled at them from over their shoulders. I admired the confidence and safety they felt in being with each other, relieved when I got to the funeral home.

the low click of the ticking clock

On Tuesday I woke up and it was spring. Even though I knew the good weather wouldn't last past the week and that it had only been a day since Ethan and I broke up, the physical sensation and memory of 50-something degree sunshine on my skin made me feel as if I was already in a different chapter of my life. I felt bewildered by the passage of time. On Monday night when I was walking down Mercer to Canal St. to meet Kat for dinner, I passed by the CB2 where Ethan and I had picked up my acrylic console for the current apartment. Two years ago at a very different time of ourselves and our relationship we had argued in a Zipcar on a hot June day after picking up that console. I felt a little melancholy. Last Friday after we had decided to break up I couldn't fall asleep, crying until 2 or 3 in the morning. "Three years," the phrase tolled in my head. I couldn't believe I was throwing this away, three years of growth together then apart. "For people who weren't meant to be together forever, we did pretty good," he said. On Wednesday the dissociative afternoon light was back. I stared at the shadows the harsh sunshine cast across my living room and the dining table where I worked. I missed Catherine, how she loved opening the windows of our apartment in the spring to let in the fresh air. I felt slow, unable to focus on my work. The world felt alien and open to me. Juhi texted me about the breakup, and I imagined what my life would be like in SF with her and Catherine, weekend trips to LA and foggy evening walks in the Richmond and coffee and scones from Arizmendi's in the morning.

i said goodbye to me i looked in the mirror then i began to cry

Even though I feel like I'm not allowed to say this since I haven't gotten a negative rapid test result yet, I'm finally covid free!! The experience of having covid surprised me because it was truly unpleasant and painful, post-nap aches and grumpiness blending with actual body aches and fatigue. "You're a part of history now," Katie said. Despite having ambitious plans for my legally mandated five days off, I spent almost the entire time playing Sims and watching Sex and the City. One night I got bored enough of SATC that I rewatched most of Euphoria, skimming through the episodes to find the parts that I liked (Maddy at the carnival). Now, looking back at all the times I tried to cheer up friends who had covid by telling them they could finally watch and read all the movies and books they’d been putting off, I realize that I missed the key part of being sick, which is that you don’t want to do anything. While I played so much Sims I felt self-loathing every time I opened the game on my computer, I was envious of my Sims and their lack of inhibitions. It’s easy for them to work out when you tell them to or for them to pursue their wants and desires. Instead of watching TV, they practice piano or play darts with friends; there is less attachment to the digital, they’re shameless, and the pleasure of mindlessness doesn’t factor into what they do and don’t do. It made me think about how Euphoria is fun to watch because of how un-teenager-like the characters are. They have such a strong grasp on themselves and their autonomy, fully formed people with no responsibilities because they’re in high school and therefore so primed and satisfying to live through vicariously. Being sick also made me grateful to be surrounded by so much love, friends who dropped off cookies and cake and books and frozen Arizmendi's pizzas they’d brought back from their trips home, grateful to have reached the point in adulthood where your friendships start recalling some of the easy care and familiarity that was built in during college. Ashwin wrote “Hi Amy” in the snow at Spring St. Park where he was frolicking during the beginnings of the blizzard, a sweet telegraph while I stayed in bed unsure of whether I were contagious. On one of my worse covid days, the plumbers came to my apartment to fix both the long-running tub issue and the newly-discovered toilet issue. I stayed in my room and hoped everything would be finished quickly so I could pee. By hour three I was starting to regret not using the bathroom before they got here but was too nervous to disturb them in the middle of what seemed like a very frustrating pipe troubleshooting situation. I overheard a phone conversation between the main guy, Eddie, and my landlord: "How's it going, fellas?" "Not great, Peter." At hour five I listened to The Eagles in my room while Eddie sat disgruntled on the rim of my bathtub, wondering if he fell into the camp that loved the Eagles or the one that hated them. Or maybe he had no opinion on them whatsoever. His plumbing associate, who arrived at hour six, vaguely resembled Val Kilmer in Heat. January felt spiritually over for awhile before it actually ended. I keep thinking about the impending spring, feeling the excitement of knowing the sun is setting later in the day even if there is no measurable difference in mood or vibe yet. A couple weekends ago I went to Ashwin’s apartment to catch up before the crossword hang since he had just gotten back from India. A woman walking her dog was pretending to try to pick up her dog’s watery shit, bag in hand but not even leaning down as she made grasping motions at the poop running down the sidewalk. We were in the kitchen, Ashwin fixing up some tea and hot water while his roommate Santos prepared his coffee, Fela Kuti blasting from the speakers in his room. I watched as he bundled up and put in his Airpods to listen to music and drink coffee in their backyard. When he came back inside I averted my eyes, touched by the morning ritual and embarrassed for having witnessed something I felt like I wasn’t supposed to have seen. Tonight I watched The Worst Person In the World at the Angelika. I was so excited the whole day, rewatching the trailer, listening to the Harry Nilsson song that plays during the trailer almost exclusively except for Katie’s and my Townes Van Zandt detour ("townes: hot or not?"). It felt so good to watch a movie that’s fun and funny and sexy and thought-provoking and relatable all while being a great display of craft, rather than a movie where you recognize it’s a good movie but are kind of bored and force yourself to look for things to appreciate at a magnitude that offsets your boredom. “I feel like couples either watch that movie and it affirms their relationship or it makes them want to break up,” Ethan said as we were walking on Bleecker St after the movie, and I wondered if the same questions were going through both our minds. It had stopped raining. I wrapped my arms around him as we walked and pressed the side of my face against the fuzzy exterior of his jacket. I wished he were less strict about the covid thing so that we could lie in bed and listen to the Harry Nilsson song together and be caught up in the rush of infatuation, what we were supposed to be feeling. "Great love is not real," Kat says. "There is only horny."

progress on ins/outs

- they played some good funk songs in the musclecars/love injection set at nowadays last sunday - started rewatching skins uk. so good - bought a pair of fishnet tights, but it's been too cold to wear them. katie and i have been holding out against wearing capital p Parkas for as long as possible but i gave in last weekend and i was so warm. it was so worth it. - started watching neon genesis evangelion. feeling ok about it so far. - watched akira and loved it. noticing a trend in 2/2 of the japanese cyberpunk media i'm consuming that there's a preoccupation with preteens/children. also liked that with akira there was no "the moral arc of the universe bends towards justice" stuff, just kids wielding superhuman power with varying degrees of responsibility with no alignment towards some larger vision of justice. - my chinese skills continue to deteriorate. - watched a couple hungarian films from the 60s/70s. won't be doing that again. eric, bum, austin, and ethan all fell asleep during elektra, my love, which goes to show how unenjoyable the movie is that people would be bored/irritated enough to take a nap during a 71-minute runtime. - even though psychedelics may be in for me personally i think culturally they might be out/basic. - reading wretched of the screen by hito steyerl right now. i remember when i watched a couple of her video essays in college i thought they were too out there, but that's what i kind of like about her now. she makes huge claims that she substantiates in indirect and not logically rigorous but interesting ways. i started her essay about the experience of feeling groundless in contemporary life the day before i decided to catch up on euphoria and watching the show actually reminded me of the essay. it felt nice to experience reverberations of something i read in regular life; i haven't had that feeling much lately, still worn out from the vibe shift convos i was having with juhi, xander, kat, and catherine a month ago. (see: - have been haphazardly dream journaling in my notes app - have been making a concerted effort not to consume lukewarm beverages, and it's been paying off. - succumbed to watching some rhony during the throes of covid fever. was pleased to find that i was no longer that into it. - several thinkpieces have already been published about indie sleaze, so take that, alison roman. along the lines of indie sleaze and the desires underpinning the comeback, i've been thinking about how real integrity lies in refusal. you know you can trust someone if they actually don't do the things that they profess to dislike or be against, and the implied sacrifice says a lot more about the person and their character than the opposite (doing something you're vocally a fan of). still coming to terms with this re: employment though.

red flags for women

1. when almost all their close friends are men 2. when >75% of their close female friends are into crypto 3. when they self-identify as being quirky or weird 3a. one of the best lines ever from sex and the city: "it's like she's consciously trying to cultivate an eccentricity so people won't notice that she's completely devoid of personality"

notes from the past week

- dan told us last thursday night that it was going to snow, but i didn't get my hopes up. pulling open my curtains when i first woke up on friday morning, i expected to be greeted by the usual gloom, grey skies on grey pavement. instead there was real snow - on the sidewalk, on tree branches, on the windowsills of the buildings across the street. i took a couple pictures. two snoozes later, the sun was out. wind blew chunks of snow from their resting places, mini blizzards happening underneath lampposts, within the clusters of birch trees in washington square park. - i went outside for a walk before work and picked up tea that was definitely too expensive for 20 teabags' worth from the bodega. at the third rail coffee on sullivan st. i got a cappuccino with real milk. i wondered when buying coffee would stop feeling like an indulgence. agent cooper says to give yourself a present everyday, but it would be nice if the presents didn't feel financially irresponsible. - we were going to ray's candy bar to get hot dogs, almost everything else in the area being closed, but switched to getting samosas from the deli where dan went inside to buy cigarettes. what is the point of korean corn dog chains popping up all over new york if they're not even open past 10pm? what is the point of a corn dog that uses rice flour for the batter and therefore doesn't even fulfill your cornbread and wiener craving? - thought about vanessa's art. i think recently she's done more drawings but i really love her sculptures. - a sunny day with vigorous wind, the sound of trees and tree parts rustling even though you would have thought all the branches were bare by now. things that sound like wind chimes but could just as easily be trash flying into and hitting each other. i remember on one such day in chicago i was downtown midday during the week and looked up at the clouds racing across the sky and thought of the vast expanse of grassland that this place used to be. that's how it was at one point, just us and the land under the jursdiction of the blue sky and the wind. - when watching sex and the city at his apartment ethan looked over at me and asked, "how does it feel to be so successfully targeted?" - when watching sex and the city at eric's apartment he said, "wow they really have a lot of sex." - i wish i had more reference points for contemporary sculptures where things hang besides eva hesse - i didn't think the matrix reboot was bad, but also that was mostly because i had never watched any of the matrix movies before accidentally watching the latest matrix at a friend's apartment, so it was interesting to figure out everything in real time. for people who have actually watched the matrix and are staunch fans it must have felt like a bad, half-assed trip. one thing they got right: people still looked fucking sick when they plugged back into the matrix, and there was no need for any explanation for it. they know it's what we want. - with the continuous 90s revivals in fashion none of the ideologies that accompanied/underpinned those aesthetics have made a real comeback. people in the original matrix looked amazing (<3 keanu), and it made me want one of those black leather trench coats except they've already hit a saturation point. i remember walking home with catherine, and each of the three girls walking in front of us wore one. do you think they even noticed they were all essentially wearing the same thing? call me sexist but i doubt they were deep in a cyberpunk phase.

i love you honeybear

There's an episode in Girls Season 2 that follows Lena Dunham's character entirely for a couple days that she spends at this older 30-/40-year old man's brownstone in Brooklyn, and when she leaves his apartment at the end of the episode you're almost unclear whether the whole thing actually happened or whether it was a dream. He's separated and insists on going by Joshua, not Josh, and the episode is probably mostly about older men not knowing how to process and compartmentalize their emotions properly and taking a lot of shit out on 20-something year old girls who find them desirable, and his tastefully renovated brownstone plays a large part in this, its Heath tiles and nice ceramics and artful chairs and a steam shower that Hannah passes out in. When she first wakes up after spending the first night she finds him in the living room reading with Father John Misty's "Nancy From Now On" playing in the background. It makes sense: hipster millennial dude loves the Sub Pop era of indie music, and I guess that episode aired in 2013 so it was contemporary. As much as FJM's career has gone down a weird arc because of his endless (unclear if intentional?) self-parody that song is so good. I remember listening to it for the first time on one of those "song of the day" podcasts in high school when I was trying to "listen to more indie music," and I don't think any song from that era and niche of indie music was ever as good as that song, it's so beautiful. In the past year I feel like I've seen a lot of memes geared towards people my age that are about the music we listened to in high school; Vampire Weekend and Arctic Monkeys and Mac Demarco and etc. - "guys be like, 'you want this dick?' no i want to be 15 and listening to sweater weather by the neighborhood" (twitter) - "i love arctic monkeys but i'm in whpk and can't admit it" (scrawled in a harper building bathroom stall at uchicago) I've only had my current phone since right before winter quarter of senior year, and I was able to recover only a couple pictures/videos from my previous phone, Snapchat videos that I'd saved of seeing King Krule and Devendra Banhart and three duplicates of the same video of Rich Brian. A video of the entire first half of Mac Demarco performing Ode to Viceroy at the Metro, a song I never got sick of even though it was my alarm clock tune for two years. I'd seen FJM twice in concert, once my senior year of high school when he was on tour for his second album, and later that same year during first year of UChicago as part of the same tour. Those videos are gone forever, the only thing that still exists is the picture Mia posted on Instagram of the two of us. We touched his butt when he crowdsurfed that night. Mac Demarco and FJM are kind of bad now, and I remember after seeing The Strokes at Outside Lands Juhi said, "The concert that you want from them no longer exists." That's how it is with FJM and Mac now as well; I was so lucky to have witnessed this specific moment in history and of their careers, and those performances can never recreated, another concert like the ones I went to will never exist again. Gus Dapperton and all the weird contortions indie music has gone through since that Sub Pop boom will never be able to recapture the innocent excitement of that time, when the term hipster was not so loaded with connotations. The Strokes live now will never be as good as they were in the early 2000s, and the people who saw them then really saw something special that will never be recovered, try as we might to make ourselves feel it when we see them now. The bands that have stayed with us and that may even have gotten better have also gotten bigger, Beach House performs at arenas now, and the vibes are not the same...I don't want to listen to music that's personal to me in a stadium... - "Ah, the 70's, when flesh was just flesh." (jordan when watching the beginning of when harry met sally) - "On our first date, we walked through Chinatown, stopping for lotus paste buns...It was the closest our two bodies had been, in an afternoon fo walking side by side, each careful not to touch the other. The lotus paste had more fragrance than flavor. Later, I was never able to re-create that taste, after visits to bakeries all over Chinatown. None of it could b ere-created. We'd eaten the lotus paste buns on a cold, damp November day, on which the sun shone and rain fell simultaneously, the strange, rosy-gold light of this contradiction intensifying the colors around us as we walked, the fruits and vegetables in vendors' bins, green bok choys, smooth, sunset-colored mangoes packed into cases, the huge, spiny, durian fruits in their nets, crushed ice tinged with fish blood." (the flamethrowers)

longform thoughts, first iteration

Last winter I had this idea of making a video essay. I had been watching and rewatching La Jetee, basking in the elevated angst of this black-and-white short film with beautiful images. The text is so dreamy and mysterious, and I like the vibe that the narration in a lot of French New Wave movies adds, less about the plot than the world of emotions in specific discrete moments, like when a boy and a girl share a look at a cafe. Things are simple and romantic. Nothing creates a vibe quite like a video essay; I remember watching News From Home for the first time because everyone makes such a big deal about Chantal Akerman (Ackerman?) and being like oh actually I don’t really need to be analyzing this and paying detailed attention to it, it’s just a beautiful (if a bit boring) experience to watch these clips of hollowed out spaces in New York like how cobblestoned streets look in the morning when nobody is awake except for you. Re: La Jetee, I was trying to pinpoint what exactly about the movie made it so good, maybe the fact that it's a thwarted love story that also deals explicitly with time, memory, all these things that become extra juicy with sadness and emotion when people talk about love. There’s this scene when the man and woman are staring at the cross section of a tree trunk: “They walk. They look at the trunk of a redwood tree covered with historical dates. She pronounces an English name he doesn’t understand. As in a dream, he shows her a point beyond the tree, hears himself say, ‘This is where I come from…’ and falls back, exhausted. Then another wave of Time washes over him. The result of another injection happens.” I didn’t really know what I wanted to make a video essay about, but I had been thinking a lot about feeling trapped. I remember biking home from the Tompkins Square Park farmers market on a Citibike one day in the summer and feeling like a complete idiot. Three sunflowers lay in the basket, and I was wearing a floral wrap sundress that I worried was slipping into an increasingly deconstructed state with every pedal, the stress making me sweat even harder than I already was in the stodgy air. I felt like the kind of person a New Yorker cartoon about millennials makes fun of, such a cliche with my stupid aspirations towards an apartment with plants and cut flowers and of course I was on a Citibike, a symbol of yuppie-ness despite the fact that there are real and pragmatic arguments towards having a Citibike membership as opposed to owning your own bike. The same feeling has various iterations, but I feel that almost every woman knows generally what I’m talking about, the way one day you see that there are aesthetically coherent typologies of women and you’re torn about which type of girl you want to be, as if the way you dress were the defining component of your personality and not some reverse dynamic. In magazines the woman whose personal style is “classic” is depicted in a way that communicates a completely different lifestyle and personality than the woman whose personal style is “edgy." The next evolutionary step is the woman who’s immediately deemed extra cool because she can blend and subvert these different archetypes. Like the girl who’s hot but also reads (Emrata), “hot girls for Bernie,” girls who like Larry David, etc. This also creates the pick me girl, who’s both annoying by virtue of being a pick me girl but is extra annoying to other women because we can see through that shit and it’s infuriating to see men fall for it. Another dimension of the woman-specific incarnation of this feeling is that you’re extremely literate in how to sell yourself; it’s difficult to get to the point where self-presentation is not influenced by imagining yourself being perceived by people generally (not male-specific, although general gaze is influenced by the male gaze). “There had hung the sense of buffering, insulation, she had noticed the absence of an intensity, as if watching a movie, just perceptibly out of focus, that the projectionist refused to fix. And had also gently conned herself into the curious, Rapunzel-like role of a pensive girl somehow, magically, prisoner among the pines and salt fogs of Kinneret, looking for somebody to say hey, let down your hair.” I remember when I was in high school I idolized Lux Lisbon and Effy Stonem, angsty fucked up girls whose innate self-hating “I don’t give a fuck”-ness translated simultaneously alongside being pretty to turn them into the hottest girls around. How did my teen angst turn into this, every self-destructive act born out of genuine misery but its execution riddled with a desire for the action to be attraction-inducing, to be seen and perceived as profound and beautiful. Like a girl from my high school said, “girls never get to be unhinged… i want crazy i don’t want crazy in a black dress” But everyone our age knows more or less what that feels like these days, the beauty of Instagram I guess is now that men are starting to also suffer from this inner split, no longer “Men act and women appear” or “Men look at women; women watch themselves being looked at,” now men are getting dragged into the depths with us. I recently re-read a copy of The Crying of Lot 49 that I’d borrowed from a good friend in college and never returned. It made sense that a book dealing in paranoia and conspiracy was set in California; the unnerving quality of planned suburbia, things brewing under the veneer of sunny idealism, the mythic quality of the state itself. But even as Oedipa chased the muted horn symbol from San Narciso to San Francisco and back I felt that in some ways California was not rife enough with symbols. Recently when I went to SF to go to Outside Lands (maybe it was the acid but) it was intoxicating. People seemed starved for anything vaguely exciting that it was easy to get someone’s attention just by wearing wide-leg pants that weren’t jeans. I walked down Valencia St. and marinated in my arrogance, sure that the men wearing Patagonia quarter-zips with young children were cliches pining for an exciting affair and pitying the athleisure, the light wash denim jackets, the wholly unstylish and unconfident attitudes of all the people in their early 30s I saw in the street. It was freeing, being in a place whose signifiers felt limited to the tech world and therefore easy to discard because they were already circumscribed accordingly, startup hoodies and Apple watches. NYC feels like the opposite, a place drowning in the symbols, youth, trends, and categorization of signifiers into archetypes and degrees of coolness. I’m trying to decide whether and in what ways this only affects people of a certain class. I don’t think that’s true; each class and/or subculture (which you could argue or illustrate has overlap with class) has its own language of symbols, its own character tropes. I think there’s a case to be made that the number of varieties and obsession with categorization accelerates in magnitude as you rise towards the top, especially when you look at the proliferation of downtown types illustrated by a never-ending series of starter packs that categorize ever-more-minutely the people that populate a certain sect of youth/youth-adjacent culture. it makes sense that, given that the way you consume is a mode of identity-differentiation these days, niche exercises in self- and other-identification would run more rampantly, proliferate more quickly as capital grows. These days I feel that I’ve started worrying less about signifiers overly defining how I’m perceived, although that usually starts happening in the winter anyway.. with the cold weather all that matters is that the general presentation comprises good layering of individually good pieces as opposed to when you have nowhere to hide in the summer, all the girls walking around in kitten heels and Reformation dresses such a cliche but also arguably just one of the easiest things to wear in the weather besides a tank top and shorts, in which case your attractiveness becomes the sole differentiating factor in whether you look cool or just basic. Still, a couple months ago two of my friends made fun of me for having a Criterion tote bag, and I still feel stupid and hurt about it. It’s not like I went out of my way to procure this tote bag to broadcast that I’m a film lover, it was just $10 and gigantic, and I wanted to support the company (brand worship is corny, but whatever). It reminded me of the argument Catherine and I had a year ago where she indirectly called me a cliche for having a Criterion subscription but it’s not really anyone’s fault when the things they like are turned into memes, you can like something before it becomes a signifier or even after it has become one and that’s just the dumb world we live in. Regardless, signifiers and their organizations have become nauseating to me, I feel disillusioned by trust fund kids playing an endless game of one-upping each other by colonizing everything about themselves from the superficial (clothing) to the personal and private (books, music, etc.) into chess pieces in a game of who can prove they’re cooler by evolving past the latest iteration of hip signifiers. I just want to be able to name and see things for how they really are, rather than resorting to this increasingly mediated chain of symbols that become shorthand for other symbols that are the shorthand for the original object. I remember when I first started singing the praises of Joan Didion and how cool it was that she was a gifted writer who partied with The Doors. I would tell people, “There’s value to seeing and being able to articulate the way rich people really behave,” but now I’m not so sure, I still think there’s value but I feel a little disappointed with Joan too, there are way more important things to examine than becoming literate in wealth culture…

pro of being a barista: meeting cute strangers

I wonder if men feel that it’s easier to talk to women than to other men. Today at Book Club the man next to me was drinking a beer and making copious conversation with the barista, Jude, a law student taking carpentry lessons in Hoboken. They (Jude) had a sunny voice, rivaled only by the voice of a blonde girl who loudly announced herself as being from Arizona in the overinflected tones of a theater kid. I wondered if Jude was tired of being pleasant and just wanted to take care of the bar in peace. The downside of being a barista--you get trapped in conversations you don't want to be a part of. At one point an old woman named Mary Magdalene Serra was debating between buying a calendar and a pair of socks. “You should get the calendar instead of the socks,” the guy said. The conversation was a mess; the old woman kept redirecting the conversation back to the art in the calendar and talking about the various artists’ previous shows in NYC while the guy seemed like he was trying to have a real conversation about who they were. He tried to make a point about how her last name was Serra (probably to suggest as in Richard Serra). She ignored it and kept on talking about Betye Saar. "She just had a retrospective at the MOMA, it was wonderful." I tried to imagine him talking as openly with a cis male barista who would probably utter few words in response and only in a monotone, but maybe the man’s general loneliness or openness wouldn’t have hindered him from doing so. I feel that ironically even if there is some undercurrent of sexual interest that powers most conversations between hetero strangers of the opposite gender it’s just sometimes easier to talk to someone who isn’t the same gender as you. (Or maybe this isn't a contradiction?) I started getting stressed and put in my headphones, closed myself off to the environment. Related: - “Despair came over her, as it will when nobody around has any sexual relevance to you.” - “I can’t tell if when I’m interested in (becoming friends with) a girl if I’m attracted to her or jealous of and want to be her.” Once when I was on the subway going home from Eric’s apartment an old man in a Barclay’s uniform sat down next to me and started chatting with me. Giving him my seat when we were both waiting at the station had become license for conversation, which I really was not in the mood for but went along with. Sometimes I feel like when old men you don't know start talking to you it becomes clear after the first ignored comment you make that they’re a little off and not actually really trying to talk to you, they’re just lonely and want someone to listen to them. This was one of those scenarios, I wasn’t really sure what he was talking about but his rambling ranged from spending the 70s in Santa Barbara and Montecito with “rich white boys” to living in a hotel across the street from CBGB’s (the only time our conversation was at a point of mutual interest and he responded to my questions), and he showed me his phone's entire camera roll, which was mostly pictures of the ornate mirrors and animal sculptures and aquariums in his apartment. It was endearing to think of this old man undertaking this dignified project of making his home a place that really felt like home and surrounded by beautiful things that he loved, but sometimes the pictures would be of his kitchen or bathroom which were less nice and it was a little sad, too intimate. During our conversation I kept making eye contact with this couple in the corner of the train who glanced at me with pity like they knew I had been roped into a conversation I wasn’t entirely comfortable in, and I tried to imagine this happening to Ethan. What about my vibe invites this, I thought.

happy new year

in: - sentience, being embodied - boy crazy, yearning, longing (but NOT simping) - writing down my day + night dreams - funk - beastie boys + 90s hip hop - mouthwash - perfume - fishnets - skins (uk) - lip pencil - chunky glitter - cyberpunk - keanu reeves - bdsm/kink - animated media (i.e. anime, cartoons) - sculpture - taking language classes - psychedelics - adderall - shakespeare - hito steyerl - czech new wave films - classical music out: - lukewarm coffee - napping - reality tv - expensive body lotion - natural toothpaste, natural deodorant, etc. - dried flowers - literary + art criticism - marriage, heteronormative monogamy, etc. - aspirational aesthetics + living practices (think alison roman) - cookbooks + food media influencers - personal essays - cocaine - cottagecore - overhead lighting - electoral politics - manhattan - jia tolentino and jt-adjacent affects, writing styles, and moral relativism - "there is no ethical consumption under late capitalism" - comedy of manners films about the bourgeoisie - rose (the wine) - the experience economy

galleries make me self conscious

It’s only 1:30pm, but I think I’m done with most of my movement for today. I woke up early to go on a walk with Ethan in Central Park before he had to work, and it was sad not being able to go inside his apartment and having to be double masked the whole time so that I wouldn’t give him covid (even though I definitely don’t have it!…I think). A lot of great mid-sized to large dogs today in CP, there are still leaves on the ground even though the trees themselves have been bare for a couple weeks now. There was a ring of mist around the skyscrapers in Midtown when I first got out of the subway near Ethan’s apartment such that you could only see their top halves poking out disembodied into the sky. By the time I reached the other side of Central Park it was sunny and everybody was jogging (classic) and the dogs were smaller (classic, also boo). I want to say that I was dumped out of the park onto the Upper East Side but that would be false because Central Park is the most difficult park to navigate and exit, and truthfully I had to walk along a path that curved around the reservoir and alongside Central Park East and couldn’t actually get out of the park until an exit on 86th street, even though I was literally right next to the CPE sidewalk for ten blocks. It turns out every museum on the Upper East Side is closed on Wednesdays, so I couldn’t go to the Met and ogle at some old Spanish paintings like I’d planned. The UES is so lame but so charismatic, all those old mansions and real townhomes (not just brownstones) exuding wealth in a way you think doesn’t exist anymore until you go to the UES and realize still does. I went home and did the dishes and tried to read at Daily Provisions, but they’re no longer allowing indoor seating. The Center for Fiction may be becoming a meme because of how frequently we’re going there, but where else are you going to find a large, cozy space where you can reliably get a seat and which lets you read inside in exchange for just a coffee? The lack of public space in NYC is a travesty, etc. etc. After going home to put on sunscreen because, no matter what Eric says about the UV index, I still don’t want to get wrinkles from sun damage, I went to visit some galleries in Tribeca. I hate on Tribeca a lot I think because in my mind it’s so closely associated with ugly luxury developments and finance offices, but the part that I was in (west of Broadway) was admittedly really beautiful, kind of like if you transposed those Soho buildings with their columned facades into an area with fewer people and even more cobblestoned streets. I remember when I was watching Frances Ha the fact that Sophie wanted to move to Tribeca was such a red flag, but I think I kind of get it now after walking around there today, but you probably would still have to be really rich to afford to rent in one of those old buildings. Whenever I walk around the emptier parts of that west Soho/Tribeca area I always think of when Marty shot After Hours there without a license because it was just so empty back in the 80s. The buildings are so elegant that it’s hard to believe it was ever cheap to live there. It feels like its own pocket of Manhattan; whenever I’m biking or walking through there I feel like I’m watching people on a movie set as they stand and smoke outside the restaurants, especially in the summer. I have gathered more data about the gnats that find their way into my apartment: they don't wake up until after 8am, they like Earl Grey tea as well as coffee, and they're indifferent to sugar (confirmed).

the satc reboot is bad

First day of my week off. I spent the morning at the Whitney looking at the Jasper Johns exhibit I’d seen around the time it opened with Priya. I got so much more out of it this time, meaning I probably shouldn’t go to museums with people in general in the future if I’m trying to actually learn unless we’re both in the mood to get deeply into our separate journeys through the museum. I love winter, it was frosty and bright with the sun shining in my eyes on my walk home around noon and when I went to pick up takeout from Spicy Moon for lunch. There were a lot more people at the Whitney than I thought would be, and not even double-masked? When I was standing at the entry of the fifth floor where the Johns exhibit was I was hoping this old man who was matching my pace when we were (together, but separately) making our way from the left to right side of the large wall would strike up a conversation about the pieces we were both looking at. He got much more into the later works on that wall than I did though. But I feel that the wall actually served as a useful primer for the exhibition in that it presented, without so many words, the main visual motifs / formal elements you actually saw as you made your way through the galleries. Primary colors, repetition, those etching-like marks, the constellation-type stuff that emerged in the eighties. Notes I took: - Diver (1962): indexical / explicit representation of movement, indexing an object through discrete “representative” elements such as just handprints or footprints - Two Maps (1965): repetition, slight differences between each index. I feel like his map works are less successful than the flags because he doesn’t seem to play with that much during the maps. Some of the info placards said that the maps were useful to explore the overlapping representation/communication systems in the context of nationalism, Americana, etc. but I don’t think any of that latter stuff really came across. The flag is more potent of a symbol to play with and acts as a more useful framing device for all these ideas. - The South Carolina room seems more sentimental and concerned with domesticity, introspection. This could have been because of the blueprints in some of his paintings or the Frank O’Hara or the vaguely floral outlines that overlay some of the elements of his paintings, but even though this room was more emotional it was less coherent, more ponderous, in a way that was harder to engage with for me. That being said, I loved the Frank O’Hara stuff. “When I think of you in South Carolina / I think of my foot in the sand.” :( - According to What (1964): the presentation of this exhibit makes it seem like this is a return to the previous themes and motifs after his dalliance in South Carolina but actually this is before the maps even, so any thought that this might be a deconstruction of the things he was working on during flag and map period is a fallacy that maybe is encouraged by the exhibit’s organization? I feel like it’s an impressive work and should maybe have been presented before the flags and maps as a thesis statement since he’s literally representing the deconstruction of painting as a medium with the color palettes, primary colors, gradients, etc. - Racing Thoughts (1984): Somewhere between the previous room and this one it was cool to see how formal elements from previous eras of his work made organic reappearances, such as the use of bisecting and “self-sufficiency” via wraparound split words. It made the piece a little easier to parse even though you could kind of get the gist through the title that it was about his psychological state. I don’t know how we would have been able to know that the man hovering on the upper left side of the canvas was Leo Castelli, his gallerist, had it not been for the info placards, so I guess his gallerist was haunting him and not in a good way. I wonder how Castelli felt about being in this work. The comparison of the grayscale and colored versions actually felt illuminating, like the emotional vibrancy induced by the colors mapped itself onto the contrasting darkness of the black-and-white version to make the latter more depressing. - In the Studio (1982): love a good existential crisis. My coworker Joseph mentioned he liked the surrealist bent of the stuff in this room, and this one stood out to me the most. I love the throwback on the right side with the duplicate paintings on top of each other, the bottom one smudged. Also thought this was a more successful use of “assemblage” or whatever you want to call it—the mannequin-like disembodied arm next to the represented drawing of the arm and the wooden shaft that juts out. I lost steam around this part because I reached the far other end of the gallery floor and it was just people sunbathing on the leather couches and pretending to care about the cast-iron reproductions of some numbers works. I took a look at some of his post-2000 stuff, and the “Regrets, Jasper Johns” one was interesting but I was too tired to stick around and produce some intellectual/emotional connection with it. My general impression was that of a man confronting death, aging, etc. I think my favorites are the Frank O’Hara tribute and In the Studio. Although I didn’t record much or spend much time with his “constellating” works, I appreciated the slower, more cosmic, and …hippie dippie?.. vibe of those rooms. Not to brag but when Carrie searches for funeral homes MY FUNERAL HOME SHOWS UP in the search results. Too bad she didn't click on the link, she could have joined in a mid-sized lineage of films/TV shows that use Peter Deluca-affiliated funeral homes. Unhinged quote: “Rolling Stone India described Ashok as "New York’s stock Joe Gould-like character injected with the creative adrenaline of gonzo journalist Hunter S Thompson and the uncouth coarseness of writer Charles Bukowski.”"

why do guys love pierrot le fou?

it's not that good, and their singing in it is really annoying