i got a zine and some tinctures in the mail today from my friend jay rae verbena, someone who i know through zines and have only met IRL once, in 2011, when i was on a megabus zine tour throughout the midwest and going through the worst breakup of my life. they haven’t done a zine since 2007. i read it in 2008 when i was going through some hard times and it became a lifeline for me. this new zine was like that too, but in a different way, since everything is so different now.
in 2008 i was 25/26 years old, i felt old which is absolutely laughable now, i had some really intense health scares including 2 months where i thought i had cancer and it took 2 fucking months to get some answers because i didn’t have health insurance or money. 2 months where every moment of every day had the backdrop of, am i dying? wondering if this was going to be the last week, month, year i felt ok enough to do things. living with that intense fear. at the time, i had a life that mostly felt really good to me–a safe home, an entertaining-if-poorly-paying job, lots of amazing friends. i was writing my book and i loved my city. i did activism that felt purposeful. dealing with trauma and the aforementioned health scares and the realities of surviving on about $700 a month when my rent was $440 and i didn’t know if i could rely on anyone if i got too sick to work.
anyway, this zine came into my life through a distro order and it was a balm on my weary heart. now it’s 2020 and things are bad in a different way, in the opposite way. i make a living wage and have a supportive and emotionally available partner who i love, two things that were completely elusive throughout my 20’s. i live in a city that is pleasant and that i enjoy but have no real ties to. i don’t have any friends who live here (have a few friends in neighboring towns, but we don’t see each other because of pandemic and other factors). my day-to-day life has been feeling really bad for about 4 years now, no matter what i do, and i’m starting to wonder, is this just how things are? is the good part of my life just, like, over? the apocalypse felt right around the corner in 2008, but from a 2020 perspective it seems almost quaint. i do think that we are going to see mass suffering in America that most of us have no reference point for; i do think it’s completely naive to blame everything on 2020. i think, unfortunately, we’re going to get to a point where 2020 seems pretty good.
but, anyway, reading jay’s zine reminded me that even when life feels super bad, there is still joy to be found, there is still connection to be found in the world. i’ve been reminded of this in a lot of ways, from a lot of corners. i finally, after 8 years working in mental health/at least 30 years of being really fuckin’ depressed, am reading “feeling good: the new mood therapy” which is a book about CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and a lot of it is about working to reframe the negative cognitions that depression gives you. it was first published in 1980, the edition i’m reading came out in 1999, and it’s like, why did i not read this in 99? or in 2002? or 2008? or any, any other time when i was doing a lot worse than i currently am, when my brain was more pliable?
but, i have it now, and i’m trying to integrate its teachings into my life now so my life can be more meaningful now, for however much time i have left. i’m trying really fucking hard to not waste so much time on the internet, and it’s helpful with that, and it’s helpful by making me realize how much time i have actually wasted.
anyway. the zine made me remember how when i lived in arcata, another place where i knew a few good people but mostly felt extremely isolated and depressed, i was able to find a connection with the natural world, particularly plants, in a way that was really helpful and soothing. in arcata, there are a lot of wild plants, things growing in cracks, in abandoned lots. here are two pictures i took in 2019 that i wanted to share with you:
i wore these overalls today too, by coincidence, but everything is different now.
i think i’m gonna try to do nanowrimo, which i’ve never done before, but now seems like a good time. i’m underemployed, covid cases are surging, i don’t know anyone in this city. last night i was at work, smoking a cigarette under the beautiful waxing moon around 10pm. i thought about it, this novel i intend to write next month, and the doubting voice said, “does the world need this book, tho?” and another voice said, “the world doesn’t need it, but i need it.” i need to write this book, whatever it is (i only have the vaguest plan about what it will actually be about, expecting to be taken away somewhere by the writing, and if it isn’t good then i never need to show anyone.) there are a lot of bad books in the world, but i bet most of them changed the person who created them. i know mine did. and i’m writing this right now because i need to write it. if you’re still reading this, hopefully you needed to read it. thanks!
the title of this post comes from a show tune i loved when i was like 12/13. i tried to pretend, for a while, that i was someone who didn’t love cheesy musicals and sincerity and sunsets and every other hobby or interest that is judged by killjoys. by “for a while” i mean for longer than a while. but now i’m like, realizing that that’s stupid and that by pretending to be indifferent to things i love, i’m actually attracting people i don’t really care about and perhaps shielding myself from meaningful human connections. anyway, fuck it! fuck it all! i am 38. my brain is no longer plastic. the world is on fire/my state is on fire. it’s time to start living as if i am truly not afraid.