Thought 1: when i stopped teaching i began the career of ~learning who i am~ in a 500 sq ft apt in glendale that i was in love with and am still in love with. i think about it all the time. it was my first solo apartment and every detail was carefully hand selected, by me, wow. i subscribed to the New York Times because it didn’t occur to me to subscribe to the Los Angeles Times. i guess because i didn’t feel connected to Los Angeles yet plus when you’re building an identity there are no rules. you make them up. i subscribed to Ad Busters and put a white board on my fridge to write the names of local leaders on. i wanted to have them memorized, but never did. i subscribed to The Paris Review and read it on my $30 plush brown couch from Out of the Closet. my curtains opened to be just wider than the couch, hugging me in this scene. i read Ta-Nehisi Coates and James Baldwin and took notes on 3×5 cards that i kept on a little table with a pen. i bought a keyboard and taught myself how to play dashboard confessional and lorde because they felt like accessible in-points. i drilled mannequin hands through the main room wall so it looked like they had reached through it to grab some vintage oversized burgundy glass grapes that sat on a thick wooden shelf beneath them. i wasn’t sure who i was yet, but i was the girl who did that with the mannequin hands, that was pretty neat. i started giving energy to my ideas, i started filming what would grow into my first film. i went vegan for awhile, made cashew mac n cheese and jackfruit pulled pork sandwiches and honey mustard and apple brussels sprouts and vegan pumpkin alfredo. i know honey isn’t vegan now but i didn’t at the time. i cooked for myself every day. i went for a jog almost every day, i hiked Beaudry Loop, i slept in, i tried to explore the city as best i could, i did photo shoots for fun. i fleshed out my bar and made 5 ingredient cocktails in coupe glasses that i pre-chilled in the freezer and garnished with rosemary sprigs. i bought green chartreuse and got good with it. if i had people over, i’d hand them a ~specialty chilled and garnished cocktail~ upon arrival. i had a vintage coat rack that used to be my mom’s and when i had small holiday gatherings the coats would go there. i bought vinyl versions of my favorite albums and chose records over spotify. i hung a joanna newsom quote on the wall under a huge walking stick i found in yosemite that looked like the mouth of a big smile. i made a Ren Hang wall. i became a person who takes baths. and buys flowers. and cleans up. i hadn’t been that person before. everything was new.

Thought 2: i feel like most of my emotions these days started as coping strategies before they were genuine experiences for me. i’ve practiced coping so much that i can, even at a time like this, be genuinely excited about something small, like getting to wear a new shade of lipstick. a version of me 5 years ago would yell at Now Me for being frivolous and silly and wasting my time on meaningless drivel when people everywhere are suffering. that used to be my *all the time* mindset, i didn’t need a pandemic, i mentally lived there already.

i’ve since learned to get micro on my quest for fulfillment, and how important letting small things fill me all the way up is. and small things do fill me up because i let them. and when i am filled up i can do better, with everything.

listen, feel all the pain attached to these times, you must, that’s part of it. but you can’t let it be all of it. you have to put that pain down at some point every day, and remember what you love and feed those things. let small things light you up. learn what it means to savor, either for the first time or more deeply. all the small details of your life have surely been magnified recently, so be romantic with them. make things special for yourself. you’re gonna need to be able to from now on, and it feels better once you can, so start practicing. for 25 years i was the most cynical one in the room, and i’ve been practicing my way out of that mindset for a decade now because i can’t make anything better by feeling bad.

\\\ romanticize your own life as a survival skill ///

wolves have been on my mind for two reasons: Wolves by Phosphorescent is the only song that’s ever made me cry like that. and, don’t forget there are wolves battling inside of you and the one you feed most will win.