wireless wiz

I usually write to you from the comfort of my kitchen table, where no one can see me, where I can write for free. We’ve been keeping the heat off all winter, though, so it’s a little chilly on the home front. (We’ve saved a ton of money though. Worth it.) Today, however, I am writing to you from Wireless Wiz, a phone repair shop downtown. I’m sitting in what appears to be a large wooden throne. When I walked in, two teenagers were sitting on this the same bench. Making out. Oh, to be young. The throne is just one of the many medieval-dungeon-style decorations in Wireless Wiz. There are large, metal light fixtures attached to the stone wall, a wooden gate type thing affixed to the ceiling, and a row of large, metal chandelier things. There’s also a gumball machine. And a table with two children’s books on it, Goodnight Moon and All Around Busy Town.  Interesting.

I’m here because my phone is a broken piece of shit and I can’t afford the new one I want. I can’t afford it because I already bought it, and then lost it, and suspect that it may be one of the dented, scratched ones under the glass that’s being resold at market value; it did fall out of my pocket on this very block, after all. But whatever. Will never know. Moving on.

Moving on to the tune of $90 for screen repairs. Repair: what I should’ve done in back in December, since I’m someone who used to believe in reducing, reusing, and repairing instead of buying the shiniest, new thing. I double-backed on my values and fell into the trap of consumerism. It’s not hard to do. It’s so comfortable. Everyone does it.

“Everyone does it,” is what you tell your parents when they try to lecture you about smoking pot. Or not-smoking-pot, rather. “Everyone does it” is what you tell your friends when they sleep through class. “Everyone does it” is often a trap. An excuse. At best, I use it in attempt to forgive myself for doing something common, but something I disagree with. At worst, it’s being complicit in systems that produce and reproduce social inequality, that does little to protect the planet and those who are most vulnerable with respect to the changing climate.

But what if I don’t want to be “everyone”? In my clowning class (yes, i am enrolled in Yale’s only seminar on clowning…please ask me any and all questions you have. i love talking about it.), in clowning class we practice being vulnerable as we try to express the stuff that churns deep within us. The molten lava. The birthplace of weird. Different. We are told not to do things for a quick laugh, but rather to take risks with our bodies and our voices. It’s a practice of unleashing your inner weirdo. Fortunately, my inner weirdo lives a few centimeters below the surface, so I can tap in pretty easily. Especially if I’ve had a cup of coffee. It’s terrifying and satisfying and gratifying. And it’s a reminder of just how important it is to foster social-emotional connections, to flirt with our honest emotions, our primal selves. Being like someone else, no matter how funny that person is, doesn’t serve you or anyone. It’s identity theft. Being yourself, no matter how different, no matter how difficult, is the way to go.

I spent a solid chunk of Tuesday evening setting reminders on my calendar about when what bills were due and how much they typically cost. I have other calendars full of reminders for other things I wouldn’t otherwise remember. But I’ve been thinking lately about other kinds of reminders, spiritual reminders. Remember: Social media can be a tool, but it can also be a weapon of mass distraction. Phones can be useful, but they can also be weapons of mass distraction. Bills need to be paid, but we are here to serve a greater purpose: to be present to ourselves and others. Small acts of kindness, generosity, are important. Taking strong stances on issues, especially at a time when our government is as truly frightening as it is at this moment, is important. When you have the ability and privilege to do so, giving your body, your mind, your time up to serve others is essential. Resting your body, your mind, and giving yourself time to digest, heal, take care is essential. Write love letters. Take hot showers. Be grateful for the ability to love. To take hot showers. Say ‘thank you’ to people who have helped you, mean it, and repeat it. Dance–spontaneously and often–as you would if you were four years old. A reminder that this life is short and we can spend it in and out of a rut, the trap that has been set for us, to live like everyone else, or we can take individual approaches, create the new thing, abandon it, and start all over again. It’ll be terrifying. But surely gratifying, satisfying, too. 

HOKAY well, my iphone screen hath been repaired by the medieval knights of Wireless Wiz. Thank you, medieval knights of Wireless Wiz. I’ve been listening to some badass, weird women lately. Found this gem from Imogen Heap. Enjoy. Be true. Be weird. Be brave. With love,

PJ

ONE HUNDRED, MFer!!

Folks. I have cold, and it’s disgusting. I don’t feel human. I feel like snot. But excited snot, because guess what…yesterday marked 100 days to graduation. That’s right. I’m writing you from the other side of one hundred! Double digits from here on down. May 22nd is right around the corner. Are you ready to party?

I celebrated yesterday by picking up cupcakes (totally invalidating the dental cleaning I’d just endured) to eat with my mom. Since I’m sick, I couldn’t really taste them. It also was hard to eat because I can’t breathe through my nose, but like, it was symbolically celebratory.

I’ve got a lot of work to do between now and May 22nd…so I’m gonna cut this post short. However, things to look forward to: A post about attending a really ritzy dance, eating all the gluten free cookies, then leaving to drive Uber. A post about how much I love my car and how we’re gonna go to the car wash this week because the snow has made her really, really dirty. A post about post-nasal drip. A post about Valentine’s Day–actually, probably not.

 

JK…I’m really, really ready. However, this is a great song.

depresh-yawn

You know when you wake up from a night of partying, how everything’s a blur and your room’s a mess? Clothes thrown all over, a wine bottle lying on its side, a big Merlot stain bleeding out of the neck like a word cloud that I imagine would say something like “WTF PJ?” or “Really, girl?” That was my room this week. Except instead of one night it was one month, and instead of partying it was depression.

I didn’t wake up from depression, but rather, I woke up to it. The more aware of it I became, the more desperately I wanted it to vanish. To go back to where it had been hiding. To never bother me again. I scrunched up my face the way you do when you realize you have to face something you wish never existed in the first place. I rolled out of bed, put on a hat, and walked my butt to therapy. The appointment was long overdue. And it showed. As I sat there discussing medication, something I’d only flirted with as a concept, my mind started rolling through a list of common, but destructive, thoughts:

How did this happen? I take good care of myself. I quit drinking (more on this later). I do yoga, meditation, acupuncture. I exercise. Take vitamin D. And B12. And magnesium. I sit by a sunshine lamp. I drink smoothies and herbal tea. I journal, practice gratitude, pray, go to church. What am I doing wrong? What did I do to cause this? What went wrong?

The answer, of course, is nothing. What can I do better? is also a trap. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy & all the self-care things are great, essential, but sometimes they aren’t enough. The last time I felt this bad, I left school. If you’ve been following along, you remember those weren’t the best of times. I had a cushion then; I had time then. I could take time now, too, I guess, but I don’t want to leave. I want to complete the next 112 days in this Institution. I told this to the doc lady, and told her, too, that I was terrified. And exhausted. Unable to do my work. When you’re depressed, she said, things that take two points of energy now take twenty. Yeah, I said, slumping down a bit, I feel that. And since I have no appetite whatsoever, I can’t fuel all the extra energy I need to get through one day, let alone one hundred and twelve. I told her that it’s been a particularly hard week, no, a hard month, and actually, now that I think about it, this has been creeping up for the better part of a year.

As someone who loves caring for herself and others, it’s been hellish being unable to do so. To do basic things. Recycle a milk container. Open my car door. Remove my eyeliner. Gather my tax papers. Schedule appointments. I have to ask for more help than I’m comfortable receiving. For forgiveness. Patience. Love.

I’ve been here before, and have dealt with it in different ways. When I was a teenager, I powered through. Destructive, but effective at the time. A few years ago, I didn’t have the capacity to do that again. I lowered or removed all expectations. I withdrew, hid, collapsed. I apologized for the time and space I was taking, time and space that were mine to take. I’m not doing that again. I’m trying new strategies to cope with this nasty disorder. I’m going the pharmaceutical route. The yoga-every-single-day route. The write-and-talk-it-out-even-when-there’s-nothing-I’d-rather-do-less route. The honest-conviction route. The hold-tight-and-wait-it-out route. The whatever-it-takes-to-graduate route.

I was driving home the other night and was behind a car that had a license plate frame that said: “With God, anything is possible.” I turned on this song, reached up to grab hold of the rosary I hang from the sun visor, and tuned out. 

 

Crying in Public

Oh, what’s PJ doing? Crying again? In public? Again? What do you want from me? I blame writing. And reading. And living. All this stuff is just too good and too hard that one can’t help but shed a tear from time to time. Or, you know, imitate a fire hydrant. Potato, potahto.

Good writing rattles me. Good writing is different from something well written. It’s hot guts spewed on pavement, not a neatly stitched wound that leaves no scar. Some months ago, I read something that was both good and well written. My friend, whom we’ll call Smate, wrote a personal essay untangling some stuff. Grown-up, Life stuff. The essay centered around an event, a positive decision Smate had made in an attempt to abandon past conceptions of self.  The decision symbolized a commitment to change; the essay provided  way to work through the cascade of emotions. As I read through it, I felt a subsequent cascade set off inside of me.

Good writing rattles me because it hits nerves that I try not to touch. Edit: it hits nerves most people, safer people, try not to touch. But not me. I’m always poking the uncomfortable places, the painful spots, the wounds. I read a tweet recently from one of my peers which stated that writers should remember to let joy, and not only pain, fuel their work. Soon, I thought, but not tonight.

When I received Smate’s email, I was sitting at home. It was the middle of the day on like, a Tuesday. I couldn’t focus on my work. I welcomed the distraction. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but it became evident that it wasn’t going to be a light read. I heard her voice and began to feel. And then cry. I kept scrolling. Crying wasn’t enough. So I bawled. I got up from the table and paced the kitchen, wrapped my arms around my chest. I sat back down and read more. I refilled my coffee. I kept reading. Another nerve struck. I wailed. I went to the corner of the kitchen and sat down, pulled my legs into my chest, and let the wall and door frame hold me in a sturdy embrace. I put my hands to my wet, hot face and gasped for air.

When I was finished, I thought of a satirical piece I love: If you think I’m pretty when I cry, you should see me sob on the bathroom floor.  This kind of knees-to-the-bathroom-floor kind of pain, whether brought on by a break-up or some good writing, isn’t cute. I couldn’t tell tears from snot. I was sweltering and shivering. Inconsolable isn’t cute, but it is beautiful. It’s beautiful to feel your way through powerful shit–shit about what it means to be “pretty,” to be loved, to be whole, to be broken, to be healing, to be a woman, a person, stable, alive. To feel less than, unworthy, scared, petrified, confident, elated, petrified, alive.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve cried in public. Not because I don’t know the number, but because I don’t want to worry you. I can’t tell you how many times, but I can tell you a few places. I’ve cried in administrative buildings at my school. In parking lots. On airplanes…on a stranger’s shoulder. In a 24-hour diner at 5 am. In a 24-hour supermarket at 6 am. At church, often, but I don’t think that’s particularly strange. Subway cars. Chipotle. My yoga studio. The list goes on.

I’m not ashamed of my episodic crying. We are socialized to feel shame about stuff like this, but I won’t. As a woman, I’ve been told to calm down. Like, so many times. I’ve been told to be more rational. To be strong, be soft, sit still, stand up, lean in, lean back, nod my head yes, shake it no. To make sense. To boil everything down into a crux that other people can easily understand. To show less emotion so people take me seriously. I don’t want to be understood or taken seriously. I mean, I do, but by people who know what I’m saying even when my voice is cracking. My head isn’t the only part of me that provides useful information. More times than not it’s my heart and gut and toes and knees that show me where and how to go. I’ve learned so much by creeping into dark places with “Do Not Enter” Signs, often without a hard hat on. I don’t often emerge with a smile, but it’s been worth it every time.

This world will take everything from you if you let it, and that sounds a bit cliche, but as I count down the hours to tomorrow, they are the only words of comfort I can find. Don’t let this stuff make you hard. Don’t let Fear consume you. The world can take everything, but it also has everything to give. So make some room. Cry until you have no fluid left. Then hydrate and begin again.

Be beautiful. Be graceful. Be messy. Be true.

With love and nothing else,

PJ

And, obviously, Florence + the Machine: 

The Heart at 23

A few months ago, my roommate had her birthday and I posted “The Brain on 23” on her facebook wall without even thinking. It’s cleverly written–the kind of tempo’d prose I love to read and write. Much, but not all, the piece resonated with me, so I decided to carve out my own poetic essay about twenty three. I’m posting it today in honor of my beautiful bestie, M, who celebrates her 23rd on this very day. (A couple of years ago we celebrated our first BBBFB, and we haven’t looked back since)

I’m 23 and change (enough that you’d pocket it), not yet a college graduate, as you are well aware by now. The fuse burns, though, and I’m ready to shoot out into a productive future. Yeah, right. I’m 23 and living in Donald Trump’s America.  I’m 23 and all my friends have degrees, but they were gracious enough to stick around town to support me and each other as we figure our shit out…M doesn’t think it’s right for me to live my life like I’m in a movie, but I just tell her that it’s research for when I do, finally, eventually, write FOR THE BIG SCREEN. Movie life or not, our existence together is pretty fucking magical. Here’s to M, and to making the rest of ya’ll jealous of our life: 

We’re twenty three and we flirt with each other and our smoking habits. We play it safe, except when we don’t, which is often, and thank God for that. It is in the moments of naked risk when we are most ourselves.

We’re twenty three. We smash flower pots boys we don’t like gave us. We are too old for cooties, too young to want bouquets that seem to say: Look at me, I am trying to buy your love. We are too young for that kind of Love. We pick the flowers first and make them into crowns because in our hearts we are eight, but in our minds we are twenty three, nearly twenty nine, running up our time to be free, single, alive. Of course this is a lie, force fed by the media and our mothers, but still we chug it like we chug our three-dollar Trader Joe’s wine.

We are twenty three. We smash pots and the patriarchy, smoke pot and monsters out from under the bed. Our monsters aren’t the hairy, scary ones of the past, well, maybe that one night stand, but we let that one pass. No, instead we battle societal expectations, telling us to dress smarter, look for a partner–But we’re not crafting CVs, we’re drinking craft beer in converse sneakers which stick to the floors of the only bars we can afford. We want to dance till our feet bleed, pressed up against a stranger we won’t text tomorrow, because there is no tomorrow in our minds. We are twenty three.

We still babysit. Come home and sit cross-legged on each other’s bedroom floors, giggling about the silly shit we got into that day. We are twenty three and trying to navigate “intimacy,” whatever that means. We know nothing of string theory, and everything about no-strings-attached theory. We ghost and get ghosted, which seems only fair. We are learning that love is difficult and a mess, so we find comic relief in the”hey beautiful” messages we get from Tinder matches we probably–no, definitely–won’t meet for drinks. Drinks we can’t afford and drinks we do not wish to have because porch beers with our best friends are all we’re looking for right now.

We’re twenty three. We take each other on writing dates in hipster coffee shops, drink our coffee black. The baristas smile at us, flirting or trying to make tips, we can’t tell- We’re too preoccupied to care, really, about his tattoo sleeve, her guitar pic earrings. We’re busy writing love letters, cover letters, and grad school apps, well, some of us. We’re busy making and breaking plans, hearts into pieces. We’re busy being us.

We are twenty three. We play with magnetic poetry and prank each other with ugly statues we bought on sale at Good Will. We sustain ourselves on boxed pasta and avocados, black bean brownies and dreams. We don’t follow recipes or rules, which means our lives often look like a drunk dart board. Our floors are covered with clothes and the occasional thermos of what was juice but is now wine. We either own cats or despise each other for owning cats. Most of our walls are covered in chalkboard paint. We are dusty, musty dreamers–we are doing it right.

We’re twenty three. We sleep alone in unframed IKEA beds to which we have no extra sheets. We are early to bed early to rise, trying to get worms, grow up, sometimes. Other times we’re skipping downtown through moonlit muddy puddles, back to the same hipster cafe to drink stale wine and coffee-flavored cocktails. We hold hands and our contradictions, telling each other it will all work out. We hold back tears and the door open as we stumble back to our shared home. Our out of season Christmas lights. Our life.

We are twenty three. The future is out there, looming like the parking tickets we swore we would pay yesterday. We are just the right age for jumpsuits and postage stamp skirts and knee-high boots. For half off margaritas any night of the week. We aren’t dressing smarter, looking for partners. We are driving to the 24-hour Stop and Shop at midnight, buying Mylar balloons and coconut ice cream. We are twenty three. We flirt with each other and our smoking habits. Twenty three, not dead.

 

And because I’m hipster and sappy as fuck, and fancy my movie-life to have the same filter as a Wes Anderson film, but with strong feminist overtones, I present to you, as your musical note, The Zombies: 

 

A toast

A toast! A toast! I recorded my first blog post! (This is a trial run, so be kind. The iPhone 7 camera is super high quality, and you can see all my pores and hear all my voice cracks)

So, I learned that my childhood crush was getting married…today. I thought I’d drop him a line to say “congrats” and also to brag about the cool & dope aspects of my life as a Single Lady. So in lieu of music, you get a 6:24 minute monologue of me in my kitchen. How luck you are! But not as lucky as Zack.

PJ’s Postgrad Plans

160 days until *~graduation~* and people always ask me what I’m gonna do, where I’m planning on living, working, brushing my teeth, buying stamps. People are nosy. So for anyone interested, here’s what I got. Excuse the caps. I had some coffee. Also I’m sick of having to make up something that appeals to capitalism’s road map for twenty-somethings, so if it feels like I’m yelling, I am, from the top of a snowy peak, from underneath my comforter….

~*~*~*~*~ 

“So what are you gonna do with that degree?”

WHAT AM I GONNA DO WITH MY DEGREE? MY PAPER WORTH $200,000 AND A MENTAL BREAKDOWN? OR TWO? YOU KNOW WHAT I’M GONNA DO WITH THAT DEGREE? I’M GONNA TACK IT TO THE WALL, FIND SOME DARTS AND GO AT IT. THAT’S WHAT I’M GOING TO DO WITH MY DEGREE.

NOW MY LIFE. THAT IS SERIOUS. MY LIFE IS ART IN PROCESS. AS PROCESS. I KNOW YOU ARE DISAPPOINTED WHEN I SAY THAT WHEN I GRADUATE, I AM GONNA DO THE SAME THINGS I DO NOW. I’M GONNA EAT AND SLEEP AND DREAM AND SPREAD THE GOSPEL OF PEACE. I’M GONNA BE HAPPY. AND SAD AND SCARED AND HOPEFUL AND DESPONDENT AND RINSE AND REPEAT.

WHEN I GRADUATE, I’M GONNA KEEP LEARNING. KEEP READING. KEEP GROWING. KEEP FALLING AND GETTING BACK UP. I’M GONNA SPEW HONESTY AND I’M GONNA GIVE THE WORLD AND ALL ITS PEOPLE AS MUCH LOVE AS I CAN HANDLE–EVEN MORE ON GOOD DAYS. I AM GOING TO STOP CHECKING BOXES AND START EXTRICATING MYSELF FROM THEM. I AM GOING TO ESTABLISH VALUES AND ABANDON THEM WHEN THEY’RE WRONG. I AM GOING TO DISSOLVE FEAR AND RESOLVE TO LIVE FOR LOVE AND FOR JUSTICE. WHEN I GRADUATE, I AM GOING TO KEEP ON BEING. OH, AND I AM GOING TO WRITE. AND WRITE. AND WRITE.

~*~*~*

And to feed my inner angsty child and yours, some Third Eye Blind: