reading recs, quotations, & tweets
Here’s what I have for you today:
What I’m reading
I’m moving to LA in a week. Please tell me about all of your favorite places to go there. Museums, bookstores, coffee shops, tattoo/piercing parlors, restaurants? Tell me, tell me!
What I read this week:
Tender Points, Amy Berkowitz
No Archive Will Restore You, Julietta Singh
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Here’s the long and the short of it: I may have never felt the need to cut my friends out of my life in service of my own optimization, but I still don’t answer their texts. I can’t help but feel crushed by the weight of what I owe to my community, certain I’m going to hurt the people I’ve fooled into loving me, convinced that I’m doing them a favour by icing them out until I get my shit together. I am too loud, too self-involved, too insensitive, never caring enough or attentive enough or possessing enough natural kindness. I have made people I love feel alone when they needed me; I have been cruel to people I never wanted to hurt. Like many — dare I say, most — people in their early 20s, I find it hard to shake the feeling that my life is a pinball machine of relationships and opportunities that I’m hurtling through headfirst, knocking over bystanders and crashing into obstacles, unable to stop for long enough to figure out what I’m doing wrong. It is tempting, in this world of alarm-bells and flashing warning signs, to want to trap myself in a room where there’s nothing to bounce off of but myself.
When we insist that we could only ever effectively love someone who’s been perfectly “healed” — who will not struggle, accidentally hurt us, trigger us, say the wrong thing, do the wrong thing, or participate in any other uncomfortable display of humanity — we are reinforcing, and perhaps projecting, our own beliefs that we have to be perfect in order to be loved.
Therapy, while genuinely beneficial in many forms, has started to become homogenized in the personal-wellness zeitgeist as a kind of resume-builder for the self; a box to check off on the way towards becoming a hyper-functional young professional in life and love. “I only date people who go to therapy” has become a nearly unavoidable refrain in dating app bios and viral tweets.
I’m not trying to discount the genuine benefits that therapy can provide. A good therapist really can help you notice your blind spots, recognize and process your emotions, and build healthier relationships, and I know many people (including myself) who have reaped great benefits from therapy. My problem is the positioning of a one-size-fits-all solution as the only way to become a good, functional, whole person — and the idea that one must be “whole” in order to love or be loved.
We all exist to save each other. There is barely anything else worth living for.
The process of becoming yourself is not a corporate desk job, and it is not homework, and it is not an unticked box languishing on a to-do list. You do not have to treat your flaws like action items that must be systematically targeted and eliminated in order to receive a return on investment. You have no supervisor; you should not be punished when you fail. Your job is not to lock the doors and chisel at yourself like a marble statue in the darkness until you feel quantifiably worthy of the world outside. Your job, really, is to find people who love you for reasons you hardly understand, and to love them back, and to try as hard as you can to make it all easier for each other.
It’s hard, certainly — it’s painful and exhausting and fundamentally terrifying to rip yourself open and leave the guts at the mercy of the people you choose to love. But if I know anything, I know this: It’s better than being alone.
There is nothing more seductive for me than a stone lover, nothing more exciting than one who takes my body entirely but strategically limits my access to theirs in turn.
I want to be responsible to and for my body, for everything it yields.
I wanted to steal a private moment with her, to express something I had not yet developed a vocabulary for. A feeling without words. She felt like a gift, something singularly exceptional that I wanted for always and was about to lose.
I was all feeling, all hopeless desire.
Extreme physical pain swallows its object. It dwarfs you.
I withhold the extent of my damage until it becomes unbearable to do so.
The threshold of pain is the body’s breaking point, where you move from a recognizable version of yourself to something wholly estranging.
When I feel pain, I hush it up and keep my head high. I push the threshold into a distance, so that it becomes a thin line that tests my endurance, as though I am medal-worthy for my capacity not to succumb to it.
I had nothing womanly to offer, only words and feelings that kept spilling out of me.
This is our archive. It clamors against my every hush.
I am all feeling.
I discover myself to be a deep and enduring fracture.
She becomes other-animal, forms herself into strange hybrids. She has not yet learned to be a girl.
Is it really so simple to stitch desire into language? To do so presupposes that you have an archive of desire ready on your tongue.
There is value in giving a name to something with no name and thereby giving it legitimacy.
Illness is the only form of ‘life’ possible under capitalism.
-The Socialist Patients’ Collective
I don’t remember how it feels not to be in pain. At the doctor’s office, pain scales are impossible because I lost my zero.
Trauma is nonlinear. There are flashbacks and fast-forwards.
The black holes in my memory become part of the story. I mean, they are the story.
I wanted to be some bright thing in your dim life. I was a flower, waiting to bloom for you.
Listen: / A growl that tastes like blood
Psychology traditionally approaches trauma through its effects on the mind. This is at best only half the story and a wholly inadequate one. Without the body and the mind accessed together as a unit, we will not be able to deeply understand or heal trauma.
-Peter Levine, Waking the Tiger
i swarm. myself to be a. body. to become. a woman
-Abi Pollokoff, “to forest is to hide a woman”
Violation is the antithesis of love, indifference is the enemy of memory, too big for the room. How to be ruined by someone you loved, to burn.
My cosmic want. It goes on and on.
I still mourn my becoming—
when adulthood burst from me
and a witch stuck two melted candles
to my chest, still burning.
-C. E. Janecek, “I am an influx of signifiers”
Your eyes two ocean buoys
gasping for air. The body doesn’t go easily
but it does go.
-Steven Espada Dawson
All I have / ever wanted is to want more.
I know what it is to be swallowed by need & open my palm for more.
-Roseanna Alice Boswell
I still can’t embed these because Elon’s a man-child. Sad!
Look at these cute earring chains I made for myself last night.
& some recent flowers:
Have a great weekend—