but before I go, got tagged in some questions from here
- What’s the last YouTube video you watched? weirdly, this
- What do you do on snow days? I live in sydney, australia. it does not snow.
- Your life is a movie, what song plays during the opening scene? How about while the credits roll? opening scene: a boy like me by patrick wolf. credits: float on by modest mouse.
- What career would you LEAST like to have and why? this question presumes that I have my shit sorted. I do not.
- Knock knock, who’s there? probably the mail lady, annoyed that we don’t have a big enough mailbox for book deliveries.
- Favorite flavor of ice cream? vanilla or pistachio. fight me.
- What’s your favorite anything? what? (tea, petrichor, hail, stars, the feeling of being published, comedy meetings with giant nerds, ugliness as an aesthetic, acquired tastes, plants, crochet, unknown things I am yet to discover)
- Where do you want to go? iceland, london, new york, to a small cottage in a small seaside town in the middle of nowhere.
- What do you collect? experiences, semi-precious stones, varieties of tea, words.
- You’re a superhero. What’s your name and power? I definitely do not trust myself with these decisions. Ideal superpower is shapeshifting, though. I’d probably just choose a word I liked for a name. Mercurial isn’t a bad fit.
- What’s your guilty pleasure? nothing guilty about any of them.
Made a mixtape because spring and summer and good music and why not? Poorly scanned collage and tracklist is below, 8tracks link is here.
- Went to the library for the first time in this suburb (I moved). I borrowed all of Firefly (I’ve only watched a couple of episodes), and got a library card registered under my preferred name (yesssssssss!)
- Found a potential job to apply to, pending some details I’ll call tomorrow to get because I’m tired and sweaty and cbf right now.
- Handed in my volunteer forms at the op shop and had a lovely chat with the badass woman who runs it.
- Rode my bike around and experienced True Pain going up hills (I thought I had leg strength from running and walking but it turns out bike =/= running and walking. Bike is much more painful.)
- Made lots of tea.
- Painstakingly made a Google Calendar full of every editorial deadline in 2015 holy shit it took forever but now I feel organised.
- Drew some really bad pictures because why not
- Finished Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which you should definitely read (first book of 2k15)
And yesterday I played board games and swam and ate food and listened to music and appreciated good people. Es ist gut.
Hello friends. As the title suggests, I’ve spent the past two days in a vague fog, mostly probably because I actually went to a New Year’s Eve party for the first time ever and got home at five a.m, drunk and happy and hella tired.
Today I left the house in scrappy old clothes to go to the op shop. I wore thongs. This is an occasion for me because I only ever wear boots, even in summer. But Doc Martens do not mix well with trying on clothes, and I was in the mood for ease, so I wore thongs and two minutes out of the house one of them broke apart. “What the fuck?”, I said to no one in particular, then put the thongs in my bag and walked barefoot the rest of the way. I was listening to shoegazing, and the combined effect was that I felt a bit like the protagonist of a little-known film from the eighties or nineties.
At the op shop I found some rad things. These include:
- Dark green high-waisted trousers
- A silky paisley button-down
- A pink and blue blazer that is beyond mortal description (I erred over buying it because I have too many blazers, but then the woman running the shop came up and was like “ah, yes, I too am a jacket slut”. Somehow this compelled me to buy it.)
- Spotty high-waisted shorts
- A (currently awful) short-sleeved button-down that needs some modification (but which will be rad when fixed)
This list says a lot about my current aesthetic, which is pretty much “borderline awful but vaguely aspiring to a deeply
skewed interpretation of punk”. Catchy, yeah?
At this point in writing this post, my internet died a tragic death. It is back, but it is several days later, which is rubbish re: consistency and also the title. Oh well. Embrace the scrappiness of this post. I’ve given up on professionalism. Who was I kidding, all those years when I thought I needed an ~~audience~~? This blog is a clusterfuck and shall remain so. I decree it.
Before I go pass out in front of the air conditioner (summer is destroying me), an update on the blog collective project thing. Henceforth known as the blog collective, because why not. There are now four members, including myself (hurrah!). I have updated (or rather, am going to update and will have by the time anyone reads this post) this page to link to the blogs of the participating potatoes, and also with /slightly/ more streamlined information. As always, if you want to join this straggling endeavour, you need only ask.
Lately, to my surprise, I’ve been reading something that is, technically, a self-help book. It’s called Tiny Beautiful Things (by Cheryl Strayed), and it’s actually the best thing ever. I cannot recommend it more wholeheartedly. Please read it.
I’ve always semi-consciously elected not to read self-help books. Having reflected on this impulse, I’m pretty sure it’s one of arrogance. Embarrassingly, I’ve always had a belligerent certainty that I do not need help. This certainty was present on both occasions that I saw a psychologist (and I really should have learned, because each time I left surprised and comforted at how helpful it actually was). It was present when, all through high school, I elected to conceal bullying/procrastination issues/stress issues/low to moderately abusive relationships/how much I was not coping with being in the closet /etc. instead of, y’know, asking for help. And it was definitely present when I picked up Tiny Beautiful Things and thought that I’d read it just to pick it to pieces.
I was so wrong. And it was actually really humbling.
The book is a collection of advice columns – responses to letters sent to Strayed as the then-anonymous online agony aunt Sugar. It’s a pastiche of different problems from different people of different ages, and Strayed’s surprising, honest, beautifully written, beautifully comforting responses. It’s authentic, not contrived. It’s actually really fucking beautiful.
Tiny Beautiful Things is not a marketing gimmick, or an unrealistically optimistic take on life by someone who has obviously never suffered. It’s not any of the things I pictured a self-help book to be. It’s not even really advice. It’s listening, and permission to seek help, and a brutally honest yet never judgemental source of comfort. It made me cry ugly tears while reading. It made me fold over pages to write down quotes that resonated so surprisingly that I had to stop reading and really think about them. It was incredibly cathartic, and it keeps echoing around in my head even now that I’ve finished.
One quote in particular has been on my mind for a while now. I haven’t got the book beside me right now, so I’ll probably butcher the wording from memory, but it was a line Strayed wrote as advice she’d give to her twenty-something self, and it went something like this:
Be more magnanimous than you believe yourself capable of being.
I had to google “magnanimous” just to be sure I completely understood. I’m going to paste some of the definitions below, because I think the statement resonates more with them alongside.
- “generous or forgiving, especially towards a rival or less powerful person.”
- “generous in forgiving an insult or injury; free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness” (Source)
- “the virtue of being great of mind and heart. It encompasses, usually, a refusal to be petty, a willingness to face danger, and actions for noble purposes.” (Source)
This is the only time in my life so far that someone’s advice to their younger self has felt absolutely appropriate for me. I am trying to do this, to be more magnanimous than I believe myself to be capable of being. And I’m fucking up lots. But I’m also finding, every so often, that I’m getting better at it. I don’t really do New Year’s Resolutions any more, but this is my resolution for the near future. Be more magnanimous than you believe yourself capable of being.
I picked up Tiny Beautiful Things through a combination of chance and luck. I’d received a flyer in the mail for a cinema a few weeks ago. On that flyer was an advertisement for the film Wild, soon to be released. I thought it looked good, so I googled it. I found out that it was an adaptation of a memoir by Cheryl Strayed, about a time when she walked a long way through wilderness, alone, in an attempt to get her life back together. I deeply appreciate solitary walking, and the idea captivated me. I searched for the memoir, and at the library where I found it (I’m reading it now), I found Tiny Beautiful Things next door. I thought “why not?”. It was a good impulse.
TL;DR: read the fucking book. Just do it. You’ll thank me.
(ping @ Elliot and Ruby, if you’re reading this. I think you two especially would enjoy this.)