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.