Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

20 October 2021

4 beautiful songs, 3 of which were served by YouTube

I'm sick and it sucks. It's not fun being sick alone, getting up on your own in the night to find something cold to lay on your swollen mucus-filled eyes, scrambling for extra tissues you haven't already soiled. But it is what it is, and presents a nice opportunity to be like, "hey, it's just you and me, what's going on?" with my body.

Anyway, my colleague at Muse, David Gianatasio, reminded me of that one time Redbone did a tribal dance ahead of its performance of "Come and Get Your Love" in 1974, and seeing them smile while singing is everything.


Once it ended, YouTube served me The Avalanche's "Because I'm Me," which has the cutest music video in the world. It also vibes super old-school, even though this came out in 2016.


By this point I'd taken an interest in what YouTube would serve up next: "Colors" by Black Pumas, which came out in 2019. And while this is firmly set in the present, it's got a soulfulness and an aesthetic that harks back to decades prior. Not to mention that tribal collar, which was like a blow-kiss back in the direction of Redbone and our country's indigenous roots...


(I could go on like this forever, but I won't. What followed that video: The Teskey Brothers, which made me want to dance slowly around my living room with eyes closed like TV people.)

These feel like warm gifts as I struggle to work, negotiate a move, and just generally get my shit together on a day when my entire face is clogged and my body feels mostly like a lump of clay, held aloft by energy alone. They started with a person, a connection, a memory ... and continued with what YouTube's algo knows about me, and the funny relationships these videos have to one another, and I am reminded that there are no closed systems, we are embraced. 

Not even technology is exempt from that. It expresses this because it expresses us, even as, ever so gently, it develops its own egregore.

I love being alive together. I love the music we bring to each other and into the world. I love what it expresses—this vivid manifestation of our firing synapses, and the longing our atoms have to take shape, make new ones, interact across space. A kaleidoscopic coalescence. 

14 October 2021

Entropy

These days I spend a lot of time napping, biking and walking, and wondering who I'm disappointing out there in this wide world. Probably no one. And if someone? I'm not sure it matters.

When I first arrived in France, it felt good that people were beginning to need things from me and expect me places. It felt like proof of integration. I was laying roots, planting them firm into the good earth.

Some years ago, when I was still at Hurrah, another founder—who knew I was on my way out—told me he loves running a company, and doesn't see how he can ever have a boss again. How, he asked, can I content myself with returning to that?

I've never been a good employee.

Freelance is its own kind of business. But it's mostly a solo business, and it suits me. I evolve alongside my clients and partners. We grow together for awhile, then part. I am sufficiently lucky, at this stage in my career, to be able to choose who I work with, and say no to projects that are more about money than about predilection. I can also command rates that don't make me constantly wonder if I'm being fucked (though one always does, in the end, find ways to wonder if one's being fucked).

I'm happy with my wide horizons of discretionary time. I'm happy with the fact that I don't worry so much about money anymore, in part because I have found a way to feel bountiful within my means. This isn't really about being on top or on the bottom.

These seem like important things to convey because I recently had a shaky moment, where I looked around at all my friends and peers, and admired everything they were doing. She works for the UN! She wrote a bunch of books! He is a minister with the Elysée! He gets sent to different countries to learn the language and culture, just because his expertise is so important to different facets of his company! She has her own TV show!

Then this worm crawled into my brain. Am I where I should be? People are flipping houses, making babies, plunging their roots so deep into the soil that they're touching crust. 

These days, I'm generally contented even when I'm not paid for something that ends up rippling outward. Then I got to wondering if I content myself with "so little" because The Patriarchy has trained women to not expect pay for so much of the value they bring to communities.

There's this book by Luigi Pirandello. It's called One, No One, and a Hundred Thousand. It's basically about a guy who spins out and dismantles his entire sense of identity from the inside, then begins conducting experiments with people he knows to try to understand "who" they think they know. His conclusion struck me: Some people's ideas about who you are can become so powerful that they supersede your inner truth about who you are about the larger world; ultimately, who you think you are doesn't matter, because this other you that someone else designed is perfectly real to them, and that reality has effects that impact you, too.

This is my worst fear.

When I was in high school, my closest friends decided to turn against me. It was a deep, insidious and incredibly wide-reaching collaboration. It made me a pariah at school. Little by little, it spread into the church I attended in another city, and as a result, bled into my relationship with my parents, and also into my relationship with my boyfriend.

It is hard to convey how traumatic that was. At school I became untouchable. I was never able to attend church again, and as a result, lost my closest friend there—a relationship that only healed just a handful of years ago. 

My parents beat me half to death, made me quit my job, and contemplated not sending me to college—my last exit door. My boyfriend turned his back. The one friend I had who was connected to none of this later admitted that she actually helped start the whole thing.

There was nothing I could say and nothing I could do. I had no one. I thought I would die of it, and it wouldn't matter to anyone.

Lately I think about this a lot.

The thing that most bothered me was that this group of people used lies to undo my life, well seasoned with small elements of truth. In essence, they took stories that belonged to me, wilfully changed them to cause harm, and created a larger narrative that became greater in the world than any personal truth. Nobody was interested in my side of the story. Nothing I could say could combat the narrative that had utterly transformed my reality.

Part of me invests a lot of time in trying to inoculate myself from that ever happening again. Indeed, it did almost happen recently ... but I found, to my relief, that the people the perpetrator put her story to stood their ground, and I wasn't even in the room when it happened. In that moment, something about me that was truer to other people than a story that person was telling ended up protecting me. Maybe I was also aided by what they already knew about her, and her nature—things I did not know at the time, or at the very least, though I was safe from.

The life I have now, the life I'm designing, is the one I want. But I also wonder, on days like this, whether there aren't a few people out there who feel disappointed in me—who are expecting something from me, waiting for me to show up and perform what they consider my role. I wonder if, on some level, I'm disappointing myself (why aren't I writing a novel?). I wonder if I am afraid.

I strongly suspect, however, that none of this matters. It doesn't matter that I continue to smoke, because clearly my guilt is insufficient to stop me. It doesn't matter that I've ignored my personal writing projects, because clearly what I want to be doing is resting. And why would I want to be a minister at the Elysée, or work with the UN?

I'm not even really sure whose metrics these are, or to what degree they are even mine. It doesn't seem useful, here, to sit and list all the cool stuff I'm doing and cultivating. It's not even really about that.

Job roles and titles aside, here is what I know I do: I open the box. 

Like Pandora?

Yeah, like Pandora. I am always opening the box—for myself, for others. It doesn't even really matter what's inside. Sometimes I do it for money, when I ask strange questions and those questions become an article or a job or a minor strategy shift. Sometimes I do it for free, when people call or message me at weird hours of the day to hash out some weird puzzle.

I don't need to know why this is, what purpose it serves, or whether it's good or bad, which seems like the least useful question of all. I know it's my nature, and everything living is just looking for the most harmonious way to express its nature.

Generally speaking, that's enough. Being able to harmoniously express my nature is the success metric, insofar as that we need one, and life doesn't really need that. People need that. Life is mostly concerned with diverse possibilities for diverse outcomes, because that yields more and interesting new life. Sometimes harmony does that, but often conflict does. Conflict yields chaos and the birth of new cosmos. That's the function of the trickster in storytelling.

(I'm being repetitive in these posts, I know. But it's what I'm working through, so it's just going to be repetitive until I've sorted it.)

I think I'm arriving at a place where I can just trust that. I can also tell this is working, that this is right for me, because I don't feel any compulsions to be casually cruel or to hurt anyone. I want to love more, expansively, and better.

But we are never monoliths; we are porous, connected to communities and systems. Many things with diverse agendas are working on us, with us, and against us, all the time. So sometimes shit wiggles in. That's fine, it's interesting. It's an opportunity to ask these questions again, in different ways, to see if the answer still comes out as it has up to now. Or maybe the questions themselves change.

I'm entering a new myth cycle—more Cupid and Psyche, less Persephone. I'm going to split my life between France and Italy. I've fallen in love, in a stupid falling-down way, with a person who sees my bugs as features—who's happy to take the full weight of me, and whose full weight I am also delighted to take. We talk to each other like teenagers, but shamelessly. We plan our futures, shared and apart, without fear. We don't worry we will be misunderstood ... which is quite remarkable, given that we're both having to learn new languages in order to speak at all.

We are also nerdy in a way that tickles me. Today we spoke; he observed, rightfully, I think, that when we fight, it will be like two nuclear warheads suddenly facing each other.

"But I want you to know," he added earnestly, "that I will never detonate."

"You'll keep your plutonium in a solid state for me?" I teased.

"I don't operate by fission," he replied. "I operate by fusion."

I swooned.

Grad school starts again in November. It recently also occurred to me that I've fallen in love with myth the way a med student might suddenly fall in love with something rare and particular—cystic fibrosis is everything to me now, I want to devote my life to it! That's how I feel about myth. It's everything, it's everywhere, I can see how it ripples through us and through time, how we change it and it changes us, how the stories we tell are the most important stories in the world because they inform our every interaction and sense of self. We use these archetypes or not, but we always live them, sometimes to our peril.

I don't know what to do with this. For now, it simply is, like the fact that I am always opening the box.

I have also begun knitting a blanket. I knit it in the wee hours of the night, through four, five, six in the morning, while listening to Neil Gaiman read me The Sandman. I fuss over the outcome of each square as I produce it—will there be enough yarn to complete it? Should I add some kind of pattern? What if I change up the knit style? This thing is going to be chaos. But I'm kind of into that—this part of me that's constantly courting entropy. I can't seem to help it. I love it.

You learn that in physics: The universe, always moving toward entropy. It seems like the thing to embrace. The advantage of that is, if you don't like the new cosmos you've made, another awaits beyond your next decision. 

It's something Pirandello's protagonist evokes—every moment, he is made, destroyed, and made again.

06 October 2021

Songline 2

I'm happy that the work I do now takes up so little time in my life. I'm happy that I genuinely like all my clients, connect meaningfully with my collaborators, and am trusted. I'm happy that I feel free, can decide how my days and nights are allocated, and that my work is satisfying and has meaning.

I stopped feeling this way when I ran an agency. I worried I might never feel this way again. 

There was a part of me that used to feel guilty about leaving, when I left, and the repercussions of my departure. Mostly, though, I felt guilty about seeming like the kind of person who couldn't stick it out, put in the 10 years or whatever it takes to ensure a buyout so I could cash a big check in exchange for all my efforts, like Real Founders do.

But founding something isn't really about money. It's about creation. We created jobs, opportunities, and different ways of thinking about work life and how gaming could look. We created new and different kinds of conversations in a pretty hermetic space, and contributed to richer values. We designed an international agency whose language was mostly English in a country where that's pretty rare. 

It mattered at the time and the ripples still do. But like Brigitte singing the world into being in one person's rendition of an Irish origin story, once the making was done I had to leave. It had nothing to do with money and everything to do what my body already knew.

I'm happy. I'm happy with my long horizons of time, and happy that I can prioritise deep-cleaning my shower drain, or relish in the discovery that scum and mould slide off with just a bit of vinegar and scrubbing. I didn't know these things before. I didn't know how good I would feel pulling whole hanks of my own hair out of a drain hole, right after a meeting. I didn't know how much I missed owning my time without judgment—watching Mad Men until 4am while reading the reviews in between, then sliding, exhausted and full of stories, into the clean sheets I chose myself, before waking at midday like a college student.

I do not feel like a hostage to my life.

My home is mine, even if the title is not. It's mine because we care about each other.

My life is mine, and I can decide whom I share it with at every moment of every day. I don't feel afraid of turning down "opportunities" anymore, because if it doesn't feel like a "hell yes" then it's definitely a no. There are always others. This world is full and fat.

Tonight, after two years of intense depth psychology, ritual and archetype study, I'll be initiated a priestess. I'm also happy for this—for the long spiral path I traversed, and the fact that I don't particularly care who knows I'm into witchcraft or animism, or how they feel about it. I am alive in a universe that is also alive, a universe more interested in collaboration and creativity than in ensuring one race of beings wins the life race. 

There is no race. We are here and then we die. All any of us wants is to find the most harmonious ways to express our natures. Sometimes we enter into conflict as a result. Conflict is interesting. It creates new cosmos. But that doesn't mean I have to engage in conflicts that don't matter to me. I don't have to engage in anything I don't want to. 

When I exhale, trees inhale. It is enough. Everything else is bonus. It's play.

20 September 2021

Songline

Something in me is changing, which should come as no surprise. We all changed in pandemic times. But it increasingly occurs to me that the only thing that really matters, whether or not it is paid for, is the nature of my interactions, not only with people but with all things. No one being or object is especially sacred in and of itself, but interaction makes us so. Interaction lights a spark, creates a cosmos—possibility.

I'm not sure how true this is, but it's true enough for now.

There is also a part of me that thinks I've arrived at a place in my life where I'd like to say more here, in this strange quiet corner of public space. I have no idea who is reading this, or whether I mostly talk to myself. But I have often been tempted to say more out loud, and not indulged it. Or else I have done it in an irregular way, like a tap that chronically drips.

It doesn't seem worthwhile or skilful to convey anything true about oneself to more than one person at a time. But maybe that's also what makes it a good exercise. When I begin, it is hard for me to curate. There is only the constellation, every star its place. In the best moments, I feel like I am walking a songline, every meander a part of the myth logic, the scale of a serpent, dragon, god. 

It's strange, the size of the investment we made in linearity. But the lucky thing is, we can withdraw it when we like. One of the first things they teach you in accounting is that sunk cost fallacy is aptly named.

19 May 2021

Such a Lonely Word

In Paris, the weather is strange. For a moment it is sunny, then it will rain torrentially, like now. It feels like an expression of inner climate: Murky, uncertain, unstable.

We still live under a curfew. But stores will open soon. Restaurant terraces are being painted, preparing for public use after over a year of stagnancy. Next month, tourists will be welcomed back into the country and into our neighbourhoods, though most adults probably won't be vaccinated until deep into summer, maybe fall. 

Whose shitty plan was this? If this had been my job, I'd be fired. I'd be arrested.

I scheduled my vaccines. By July 15 I'll be clear. Still, I will probably miss my school gathering in England in June, not that the vaccination would have mattered; France is an amber country, so I would've still required a test to enter, a quarantine, then testing twice a week for the duration of the trip. It doesn't feel worth it. But maybe it doesn't feel worth it because I'm not interested in doing anything.

What are you doing this summer?

There is no more Cannes four times a year, no more family vacations with my in-laws. All my friends have spread out, into the countryside or back to their own lands. There is nowhere, really, to go, not with any meaningful clarity. I cannot go to Sark to play in the wild.

I have trouble sleeping at night. I can't seem to quit smoking. I shuttle from bed to computer to kitchen to computer to kitchen to bed; I can feel the furrows under my feet, in this small space, which is a haven but also so tightly contained that it seems impossible that complete cycles of life are occurring inside it. I work, I edit, I interact with people on screens, I occasionally get good feedback and new gigs.

The work and the life I designed were all my choice and I like all the people I interact and collaborate with. But I am listless, avoidant. I want to sleep. I feel trapped. Yet there is also nothing I'm interested in doing outside anymore—outside, where 90% of my life used to take place, even without cross-country travel. I have walked the length of Paris multiple times, at multiple hours of day or night, my legs hard and firm. I did not worry much about my weight, or the interesting new wrinkles blossoming around my nose and forehead, now so visible in all the Zoom calls.

My face never used to do that before.

But now my life is mostly this tiny home, in this tiny neighbourhood, which will soon flood with tourism.

The Americans are texting and messaging. They are making plans to visit; am I available? I find it overwhelming in a way I can't describe. They don't know what it's been like here, seem vaguely puzzled when I talk about how we haven't had bars or restaurants for over a year, we've gone out with special hall passes and are still living under a lockdown—still, even now. There is a part of me that feels an obligation to rise to the occasion. Another part of me doesn't know how to live in this world anymore.

The aggressiveness of the vaccine situation scares me—how the US, UK and Israel are treating it as a kind of silver bullet, "Okay, get vaccinated, RETURN TO NORMAL." All this pressure trickling down onto people whose pay has been sliced, whose lives became more uncertain. Commercial rents went up from the first lockdown onward. Normal was already difficult for most people at the best of times; now the upward slope back to that is steeper, more treacherous. 

What is normal? 

I have barely been able to process the changes I underwent, a menagerie of dramatic transitions. It will be years yet before we even understand the psychic or physical impact of the larger collective arc, this big strange time we all lived through and braced ourselves against together. Not only the pandemic but the rage. The lies, the confusion, the fights for power, dominance, money, land, right of life, control.

I'm so tired all the time. Is it my body needing rest, or is it depression? Do I give in or withhold?

A part of me thinks I should sit with these feelings: work with the murkiness, reconstruct my solitude. We are not good at things that don't fall on a binary, at not being pushed toward a touchpoint or a goal. I do not want anything anymore. Maybe that, too, is a depression signal. On the other hand, what a strange metric: When did we decide we needed to want things as evidence that we are okay? There is something insidious nested inside that idea, and I don't trust it—something opposite from the state of simply being. 

Do I give in or withhold?

I am not not engaging. I do the work, one small thing at a time; respond to emails, take calls, engage in some hollow simulation of negotiations. I spent five days in Brittany with some of my best friends, witnessed how they have become parents, relished in the beautiful trappings of our lived-in adulthood, how multiple grownups in a space just know how to do things to keep a community going: setting tables, chopping vegetables, flying kites and reading stories with the kids, loading and unloading dishwashers. Then, at night, we can still drink too much wine and laugh until we cry.

I came home and had a cracked tooth filled at the dentist, scheduled another appointment. I cleaned my teeth and let them lecture me about smoking.

"I should quit smoking," I sighed.

"I should also quit smoking," my dentist sighed.

"The trouble is, I like to smoke," I said.

"Me too!" He laughed.

I finished a book, began another. Started a series and gave it my full attention. Returned emails. 

I was relieved to be back home, in my own bed, accosted by my apartment's sweet smell, as if some version of me had still been there, filling the space and lighting incense or switching on diffusers or spraying cedar into closets and patchouli on sheets, even though there was plenty of evidence of my absence: A bouquet of mint, wilted and dead, beside the still-flourishing orchid. The olives whose water grew mould spores. The tomatoes gone soft, too tender to cut clean. On Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, people are still talking, conversations in the air waiting for me to return to them. I wrote riddles, published other people's work, played with the internet.

There is a kind of electric live aroma coming out of the trashcan, which was too empty to change before leaving, but I should have anyway. All kinds of strange stuff is mixed in there—organic, wet, pulpy. Stuff that would be happy in a compost, but we don't have one of those, so instead they rot in bags, of use to no one, the life they could sustain unrealised, annulled. Somewhere in the world, those bags are just piling up, smoking from the inside.

I itched to write on the train, and wrote a little. Back at my desk, or belly-down in my bed, I did not want to write anymore. I feel, instead, an immense loneliness, larger than being alone. I have a letter to send that I still haven't sent.

The life I designed, in this context, feels like a holding pattern. I don't know how to make it not feel like that anymore.

01 May 2021

Reinventions

I did a podcast ep with my friend Aron Solomon recently. It's a fun ep, but he asked about the origins of Muse by Clio's new Reinventions series, which I never got around to explaining. I wanted to correct that in a winding Twitter thread that kinda feels like an extremely unfocused ad. 

If you're ruminating reinvention in this time of so much migration, renegotiation and change, I hope you'll read it and get something out of it. I hope you'll also get into Muse's Reinventions series, which is just starting and has so much wisdom to convey. I am quite excited about the ones yet to come.  

09 April 2021

On the Spin #4

Current mood: Like my feet are chained to the earth.

Listening: 

  • Needy, Molly Burch: "Oh I can be needy, way too damn needy/I can be needy, tell me how good it feels to be needed..." 

  • The Audible edition of Lafcadio Hearn's Japanese Ghost Stories, read by Eleanor Matsuura. Nothing I'd rather listen to while wandering my new neighbourhood, replete with ghosts I've yet to meet...

Reading: 

  • Four Eternal Women: Toni Wolff Revisited - A Study in Opposites, Mary Dian Molton and Lucy Anne Sikes. This explores the four psychic archetypes of women in patriarchy that Toni Wolff designed: the Mother, the Hetaira, the Amazon and the Medial Woman.

    Archetypes are always an attempt to simplify what is not by nature simple, and of course we contain them all; we are legion. But part of me struggles with the realisation that I identify most easily with the Hetaira, even as I feel the relief that often accompanies a long-desired diagnosis.

    A Hetaira's ego is mostly fed by the health and quality of her relationship to men or a particular man. She spends her energies helping them better realise and understand themselves, even as, ideally, she develops her own work and maintains a necessary autonomy. But there's a shadow part of my brain thinking, what if I have no great work of my own, and this is all I'm for? I hate it.

    On the other hand, I love the Hetairas that have walked with me in folklore and history: Aphrodite, Inanna, Circe, Simone de Beauvoir, Toni Wolff herself, and even Lyra Bellacqua of His Dark Materials. For all Lyra's scrappy independence—all the change she effects in whole universes!—in the myth logic of the world she lives in, she is Eve. One does not exclude the other.

Watching: 

  • His Dark Materials on HBO. I'd still gladly name my hypothetical daughter Lyra, something I decided when, as a kid, I first read this trilogy. Unrelated: I recently thought, if I ever have a son, I shall call him Rilke.

    Dix Pour Cent on Netflix. I miss this show when it's not around. It is just different enough from my old life to feel like reprieve, but similar enough that the stakes feel like my own. Also, it's a love letter to the Paris that I know, or once knew. She is becoming something else now, changing like the rest of us.

Studying: 

  • Myths, always myths, forever myths. I'm reading about Yaqui mythology presently, and of course there is my ongoing osmosis of Japanese ghost stories, which have a few charming resonances with Celtic stories, for example. Following the logic of Michael Witzel, that means such themes and stories are far older than even the cultures we happen to learn them in, scaling all the way back, perhaps, to the route from Africa.

    To wit: A worthy man follows a beautiful immortal across the sea and into a world of endless summer, where he passes several blissful years married to her. Then, missing his family, he asks to go home for a visit. Alarmed, and fearing she'll never see him again, she gives him something to ensure he can return if he can just follow one instruction. (You see where this is going.) Of course, he returns to his village to discover hundreds of years have passed, all his people are dead, and defies the one instruction required to assure his return.

    This is the story of Oisín following Niamh to Tír na nÓg, but it's also the story of Urashima Tarō, following the Sea God's daughter to the Dragon Palace across the Sea of Japan.

Something I wish: 

  • The earlier part of Covid confinement was easier. I imagined myself on Aiaia, cultivating my own desires, finally, with the patience of eternity yawning before me. It is harder to maintain a grip on this mindset these days. I'm not sure why. Or rather, I am: Relationship disruptions, separation from my partner of 10 years, after we both tried so hard; moving; the inability to travel freely, which so punctuated my life up to this point; and returning to what feels like the unstructured, more compressed but chaotic life of student with no clear trajectory ahead.

    At this point in life, people have settled into a certain level of material and rhythmic stability, spreading out into larger spaces, buying homes. I feel like I did all that first, then dropped those balls and ran backward, or sideways. Somewhere off the map. When people come to visit my new, smaller apartment, however charming it is and glad I am to have so exquisite and apt an Angela nest, I wonder if this is what they think about: she went backward. Why?

    I wish it were easier to maintain the embodied conviction of Aiaia.

Looking forward to:

  • Something that feels like safe haven.

Projects: 

  • I joined the board of Creatives for Climate, an opportunity to direct years of creative experience into helping other creatives locate meaning in their work and effect long-term environmental systems change. Our recent learning event gave me a chance to try filtering my myth learnings into the larger world:


  • I'm still representing women in esports for Hurrah—which is now a group, not a baby anymore!—and WIGJ:


  • Late last year, I went back to grad school at Dartington Arts, where I'm working on an MA in their inaugural Poetics of Imagination programme. It's about oral storytelling and myth, my bread and butter these days. I just finished my second term paper, on the theme of betrayal as ritual in the story of Tristan and Isolde, and it enriched me in ways I didn't know I required. Whole days and nights of madness were spent trying to birth that paper, and when it was over it was as if my soul had eaten a complete meal.
All good work here. All crunchy, magical things. I'm just longing for my winged sandals. 

Underworld journeys are necessary, and we romanticise initiation times while skirting over the fact that they are, by necessity, agonising and uncomfortable. A death is required.

Knowing this intellectually does not make it easier to live through. I don't think it is meant to be easy. Maybe the trick is ignoring the urge to try constantly escaping it.

Sometimes Blogger feels like a crumbling empire. All the villagers left long ago; there's just birds here now, and stone edifices in various states of toppling. I like it.

07 April 2021

Unsolicited Pro Tip #1: Learn to Cook Vegan

Last year, just before Covid confinement descended, I decided I should finally learn how to cook, and bought a giant bundle of vegan cookbooks. 

I am not vegan. I bought the books because there was cheap deal on Humble Bundle, and also out of some vague idea that vegans who write cookbooks are people who enjoy eating, and, given the constraints of veganism, likely have interesting and creative strategies for making tasty but also nutritionally-balanced everyday meals.

I did not regret this choice. One of my favourite things about learning how to cook vegan is how much more diverse your meal options become. To start, I know how to do tons of stuff with vegetables now, and don't just have this vague, depressing idea that all vegetables are basically just salad. Veggies can be savoury, lush, textured, juicy, fleshy. Learning to cook them seasonally has become one of my greatest pleasures.

Vegan cooking is insanely creative. There are replacements for all kinds of stuff that frequently goes missing in the kitchen, like eggs or milk. If you want macaroni and cheese but are having a bad dairy week, some nutritional yeast will sort you out. Missing milk? Oat milk is a 20-minute make, and most of that is soaking. This is especially helpful in lockdown times, when your ability to shop is limited. 

It's also just nice to have this skill on-hand. If you can cook vegan, you don't worry about most guests with eating preferences. You can quickly prep something nice for them, instead of just serving side greens or extra leftover rice, and people are really grateful for that.

Today I had a hankering to make oatmeal raisin cookies, but had no eggs. Not a problem! Who doesn't have an overripe banana, or some cornstarch and water? I used an overripe banana, was pretty goddamn proud of myself, and my resulting cookies were not only pillowy but also softly banana-bread sweet.

So yeah. Learn to cook vegan. You won't believe how much you learn, and how much more possibility you'll see when others just see the need for a shopping trip. Plus, meat is expensive.


Yup. That's the post. 

10 March 2021

Always, Never

"Always and Never are countries that don't exist," someone said recently, probably in a podcast. And yet they are the countries that so often compose the language of early love. I will always. I will never. Always, never, always, never. So too for love at the end of its rope. You always, you never. I always, I never... 

A swing of promise, then reproach.