Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

30 December 2022

What is your kiwi?

A few years ago I had lunch with a former intern who was in town and wanted to catch up. He told me a story of a man who had never eaten a kiwi.

"It's not a very interesting story," he said. "His parents didn't like kiwis so he never had them as a child. Only when he was older, and people started saying, 'you've never had a kiwi?', did he realise it was a weird thing. But he decided to make it a choice. He still hasn't eaten a kiwi."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because he thought, one day when life gets too dull or repetitive, or he feels depressed, he will know there is still something new to look forward to. All he has to do is go downstairs to the nearest shop and buy a kiwi." He paused heavily on that ending and leaned over our empty plates. "Angela. Do you have a kiwi?"

I can't remember how I answered. I like the idea of having some small, easily-accessible thing that remains to be experienced, a hedge against the everyday travails that can make life feel Sisyphean. In moments I've considered the question since, I mostly think about big kiwis: Moving to Paris. Half-moving to Italy. Learning to forge and tend fires. Learning to cook. That one time when, lonely in my new Paris life, so long ago, I took a four-hour improv class.

But the point of the story is that a kiwi isn't a big thing. It's a tiny thing that reinfuses a tiny dose of magic into life, enough to keep going, to hope again. I went to the Italian bookshop in Paris and practiced Italian with the shopkeeper, which made me nervous. I let Demo talk me into buying butter cookie-scented candles. I ate dark chocolate with octopus on top. I conducted that Covid experiment where I stayed up as late as I wanted, and slept when I wanted, and ended up living on a reverse schedule to everyone else: Breakfast became dinner, sunrise my sunsets.

The general vibe on the social networks right now is that people are tired of hoping for a "better" 2023 than the 2022 we got. I think of something a client said, months ago: Nobody believes anymore that life will be better tomorrow than it is today. Nobody thinks anymore that their children will do better than they did. 

Hope is being crushed, at a growing pace, under the burden of capital.

What a mindset to find oneself in, though. Where does one go from there? I've already done the rage against the machine, shuttled through the abject desolation that follows. There's no solace there. There is no there there. As King Solomon once said: "Meaningless! Everything is meaningless!"

It occurred to me, the other day, what my kiwi actually is. I've been fooling around with it for the last few years, and it has never stopped restoring my sense of wonder. 

My kiwi is making weird choices. Big, small. Doesn't matter.

When you're finally ready to cede to chaos, it merits remembering that chaos yields new cosmos. This is the lesson of trickster gods, and, oddly enough, kiwis: The fruit is thus named because it resembles the furry egg of the kiwi bird. It is a something that looks like something else—deceptive, but not shatteringly so. (Unless you're a kiwi bird, I suppose.)

Social conventions are collapsing. All the things we didn't dare do, for fear of punishment or opprobrium? Fuck it. Make the weird choice you didn't think was allowed. Go on vacation alone. Do the wacky masters degree. Run away from all the war news and take a salsa class. Quit your job and live on unemployment awhile. Take up a weird hobby that has zero viable hope for becoming a "career." Fuck careers. Learn High Valerian—or better yet, a real language like Tagalog—and speak it to strangers.

Call reality's bluff. Test the elasticity of your possible, your normal.

We spend so much time chasing rewards and avoiding punishment. Half of the rewards and punishments don't come to fruition. I suspect the worst thing we can do in this time is dig our heels into the old, dying promises and threats our system has made to sustain itself, and find ourselves alone holding an empty bag in the end.

Norbert Wiener once observed that the more one learns about the universe, the more one realises that life was an improbable gift, utterly squandered when you measure it by the arbitrary benchmarks of civilisation. The sum of this gift cannot simply be spent desperately pursuing capital or some golden standard of success. We need more.

Make weird choices. My weird choices have done more for me, and borne more beautiful fruit, than my careful plans. Sometimes the outcomes have sucked, but that was less than 5% of the time, and 0% were devastating. It has all been a good exercise in staying open, curious and childlike; and learning the many nuanced lessons that love still has to teach me.

To return to the topic of kiwis, though, here's a weird choice I made about them specifically once, when I felt too lazy to peel one. I bit straight into the skin. It wasn't fibrous or unpleasant; improbably, the skin is totally edible. Practically melts in your mouth. Because of this weird and vaguely antisocial choice, I will now spend the rest of my life knowing that peeling a kiwi is a luxury I can indulge in or not. 

It doesn't take a massive weird choice to make your life richer.

Chaos makes new cosmos. If you don't happen to like the one you find yourself in, another awaits around the corner of your next decision.

22 December 2022

Fitful hibernation

I'm on a complicated journey. It's entangled in my feelings about capital and exploitation, and a newfound fear about whether I can continue to sustain myself—to make money, as if from air—as I've done for almost two decades.

I've changed, but the world has also changed.

This past month or so in Paris energised me, as it always does, a wolf mother feeding a prodigal cub. I activated myself for work in ways I haven't in two years. I began new projects, started turning the wheels on a different kind of life that will cost more and demand more of me. I barely slept. 

In those weeks, which slid by like water—and despite the challenges, which were numerous and insane—everything seemed possible. I seemed possible.

But now I'm back in Italy. However long I run the fire—and I've become so good at igniting it, nurturing it, feeding it and cleaning it—upstairs it remains cold as a marble tomb under night air. I can see my breath, even wrapped under covers. It is hard to crawl out of bed, to initiate the day. It is hard to do anything but tend fire.

My mobility, of course, is also not what it is in Paris. As long as I don't have a car here, I'm limited. The nights are longer, solstice having passed. I didn't mark it, but watched the sky go darker earlier. I spend the nights on the phone with banks, trying to sort international transfers, paving the way for new things.

We are in the lee of holiday time. Everything grinds to a halt; I shouldn't fret, that's what this time is for. It's Hekate's time, Crone time: A moment reflected in our days by the auspice of night, in our months through menstruation, and in the year with winter. Like all animals, we slow and recuperate energies for waking time, waking season. Sugar and water will once again rush up the veins of trees.

When I walk across the garden for firewood, I become aware of the stillness of the plants, and of the careful coverings Demo's father placed over the crops and the external faucets. The chickens no longer squawk. Everything is sleeping. Braced against the cold, I do my yoga—stilling my racing heart, trying to locate quiet as I listen to my body. Where are we aching, where is it tight? I refilled my private apothecary, combining oils and plants for muscular pain, nail fungi, lip balm, mouthwash, moisturiser. 

Constant movement but still I feel that anxiety, that all the energy I whipped up in Paris will somehow snuff out beyond reach and beyond reignition. That the hope and possibility I felt were contextual and temporary and now I'm back to stillness, waiting for a new life to begin while uncertain what to chase, or whether to chase.

I oscillate between offering services to people and wondering if there is anything, really, I can or want to offer. In a matter of days I've again lost my sense of fit. I drink peppermint tea mixed with cacao, filling my body with familiarity and comfort. I make porridges, alternating between salty and sweet.

In the night I'm fed by offerings: Thick stews Demo prepared, cool bean-based mixes his father set on the doorstep, one morning when I hadn't yet found the courage to face the chill beyond the sheets. My life here is quiet and almost maddeningly calm, and I think again about how, during our time together in Paris, Demo said it was hard to sleep because my relationship to time is different, I vibrate with stress, it rolls off my skin and permeates space. He's contemplating changes, too, to ease my back and forth swinging.

Eventually I will adjust, like always. I need to find a way to make peace with these dynamics and move forward regardless of where I am, locating equilibrium between these two selves, which can no doubt serve whatever I decide to do in their own way.

"What's happened with your PhD?" my Italian instructor asked pointedly.

"Nothing," I answered. "It's too expensive and I can't take it on right now."

He frowned. We talked a bit about where I could look in France. "France would be easier, and cheaper," he said. I told him about my fear of complex writing in French, even after all these years; he said he wrote his PhD in French while still learning it. "Some things I would say better today, other things not," he said. Then he shared his own anxiety: Next year he'll apply for a fascinating programme in California, one that excites even me, and he worries for his English.

I laughed. "I can help with that," I offered, and he smiled. I know he won't take me up on it but I also know he's glad that card is there. We like each other and share affinities. That I found an Italian instructor as taken by mythology as I am doesn't feel accidental.

I'm going to read, and do some handwriting—things I haven't done in weeks, so taken was I by the tides of Paris and what I've been needing to do there. The fire has finally caught, so I can step away for awhile. It wouldn't be right to say I don't dare to hope; rather, I don't have to hope. Instead I have to wait, slow down and reflect. I will need this rest for what's to come, whatever it is.

I think of the woman who married a bear. It burst into her tent, spiriting her away, locking her in his cave just in time for hibernation. Beside him, she falls into deep slumber; sometimes, in that time out of time, she wakes in the dark, her tummy a sharp hollow, and pokes him sharply. He groans and gives her his paw, from which she licks thick tears of oil. Just enough nourishment to fall back into sleep until spring, when she wakes as his wife.

15 November 2022


14 novembre, 2015.

This is a love story.

My entanglements, my worries, my fears. My swinging back and forth between Friuli Italy and Paris—une vie de pendulaire. Returning to Paris just in time to remember November 13: The day I got married. It rained, Romain went home to take a nap, I bought perfume.

I took my cousins to dinner at Le Depanneur, minutes away from where I now live. Back then, it was on the other side of the city. When it all came crashing down, we caught the last Uber back home, with a driver who panicked midway and tried to kick us out of the car. "Je me suis mariée aujourd'hui et il ne répond pas au telephone !" I shouted. My voice cracked. He was silent the rest of the way.

The days that followed. Romain’s early-morning grocery shopping. Trying to get up to run, sitting in the dark in the hallway for an eternity, playing with my laces. Something in me had slowed and become fearful. Cousin Dave messaging: “Time to come home, lol?” 

The recoil I felt.

How a guy who raped me was the only person I wanted to talk to, the only person who struck the right chord. It was the most peaceful and forgiving conversation we’d had, and our last.

I recently considered leaving Paris for good. Sustaining this life divided is tough. I feel like giving up. And every time I go back and forth, it’s not only me who has to adjust; it’s Demo, too. It stretches our elasticity, wears us thin even as it makes us burn for each other again.

But then I came home, back to my city, after midnight. Paris was wet and slick from recent rain. The pavements were shiny black and the air smelled clean. (Also: cigarettes, and in the metro, piss.) The winter lights string stars across the city, glimmering between buildings. I can’t see Orion here, I can’t see Gemini, I can’t see the moon. But I can see the cobblestones under my feet, and the red sky that first seduced me.

I poured out water and wine, let it bleed into the crevices of the concrete. Paris kissed me back.

She is my oldest and most enduring love. She took me as I am, made space for me; I started a company here, married and divorced and cried, made friends that became family because I had none here, and needed  that. As we get older, I see how important these ties are. How many secrets have been accumulated and honoured in the girl group, how many struggles divulged over whisky and cigar smoke in the guy group. We hold each other close, witness one another’s lives. We need each other in a way that is visceral.

What a strange thing, to have fallen in love with a man who loves me exactly as I am—Demo of the autumn eyes—and whose first declaration to me, witnessed by the mulberry trees of Tricesimo, was “I’m going to die on this land.” What a Hermean thing: A heart divided, inevitably, between loyalty to a land and loyalty to a man as bound to his earth as if it were part of his own body.

It’s beautiful and sad. It’s sublime: To experience love here, to experience love there, forever laced with an ache. Humans are slow data delivery devices; we are bound by space and time.

So I have to hold them both, carefully, at once. But to touch either of them, I swing: back and forth, back and forth, whatever the cost. Pendulaire. It's a good destiny. It's one whose cost hurts, but this is also how I know it matters.

08 November 2022

Things that mattered

I'm still doing that thing where I divide my time between North Italy and Paris. Presently in Italy, it's getting cold enough to start the fire stove. This was the topic of my last post—the pleasure and necessity of the fire stove, and preparing the wood over the course of the year. 

Having the wood now, nicely dried and chopped down to size, is a pleasure to gather from the garden every morning, just after emptying the cindres from the previous day (the cindres will later be used for the garden itself).

I've gotten back into the rhythm of work, which has its highs and lows.

I found a store going out of business that I want to save, and won't, so I will just love it until it is gone.

I decided to delete and black-hole all emails that sell me things, and already my brain feels freer.

I indulge every idea that flits by my face, for the afternoon or for however long it's around. Most of them will never fruit, but at least we got to try each other awhile.

These are the things that mattered lately.

Remember His Name

For those seeking a short but dense read, I've published my masters dissertation!

The dissy itself is a bit over 19,000 words and describes how gods are made, how they impact us, and what kind of god is scaffolding global imperialist capitalism. You can scoop it up here. Also, I've screenshot the table of contents, which you can check out below:

I wish these images were clearer but it is what it is; I fear that once Google remembers that Blogger exists, it will simply go away.

I am writing more regularly on, though. It is a platform that will most definitely go obsolete as Substack takes precedence. It's probably stubborn to resist Substack. But I feel like the latter will push me into something that I'm not interested in being in right now; namely, choosing a "personal brand" and a focus. 

Can we just not do that? Everybody hates that. Nobody wants to be whittled down to flesh versions of their LinkedIn and Instagram. I just don't want to live that way and I don't think anybody else wants to either.

18 July 2022

A pointless story

When I was about five years old, we lived in a small apartment on a street called Sierra Road, which I always remember as a mysteriously contoured woman with flowing hair. 

It had stairs. I placed a plastic fish on the floor, then went upstairs, sat with my legs swinging through the bannister directly over the fish, and released the end of my jumprope. I did this for several afternoons, waiting patiently to catch the fish.

My father walked by downstairs. I heard him laugh. There was some bustling, then a violent tug on the end of my line. I looked down. Nobody was there. I pulled up my jumprope. My fish was tied to the end of it.

For a long time I was convinced that my experiment worked and I had effectively caught the fish on account of my clear understanding of how fish are caught, nourished by patient men on television. I told my parents; my mom congratulated me warmly and my father just laughed for reasons I didn't get, but in any case I didn't care.

Time went by. I realised I could never have "caught" the plastic fish, it being inert and me having no bait, so I decided it was magic. "God," my mom said. This seemed viable. Someone once pushed me into a fountain and my mother said it was the devil, so it tracked. Later that same day I found a squashed banana I had forgotten about in my backpack, further proof that the devil existed, and thus the divine spectrum upon which he resides.

More time went by. I mostly forgot about this event, and maybe things would have ended there—with me thinking this was divine intervention. Then something made me remember it again, I don't know what. It was only then, years later, that I saw it must have been my dad tampering with the line, because he doesn't respect my the scientific method. It also explained his mysterious laughter and the violence of the tug (he never quite got the measure of his own strength relative to ours).

The end.

20 April 2022

On finding new ways to exist

I started a page, and here is everything I have to say about that.

10 April 2022

Loose reflections on voting, and also getting older

I don't have a lot of time to write at the moment, so I'll try to be quick.

I just went to vote for the first time in France. I stood in my line for my voting bureau, which is tied to my address, with neighbours I have never seen. We entered a school. It's the first time I've been inside a French school for children. I observed the high bannisters, the carefully painted walls, the sign along the stairs that said "I keep to the right, and advance quietly!" 

The tall, heavy doors reminded me of my own school halls. Memories collect in these places. I felt I could almost touch that potential; my memories of school mixing and mingling with the everyday sights that accompany long days here.

Behind me, a little girl sighed beside her mother. "The line is too long," she said. "We should just go home." She was impatient for the rest of her day to start.

Her mother laughed. "This is something we have to do," she said. "It will be over soon. Someday you will be proud to stand in this line."

A few people brought dogs. My quartier has the highest concentration of dog owners in the city. A soft-spoken volunteer tried to tell them that dogs are not allowed. One woman asked if an exception could be made because they were not aware until now. The line was long. It was a hassle. He said, "This time we'll close our eyes to it."

We let older and less able people advance ahead of us. "We can't just let them stand there for an hour," a woman said, and no one disagreed. We made way. This is what we do for each other.

People were cheerful in the voting room, but there was also a sense of officiation. I entered the isoloir and folded my choice into a small envelope: oiling the Republic. Is that a bad metaphor? Is the Republic's problem that it is too oiled? I stepped out and toward the man at the ballot box. "Please cast your vote," he said.

I placed my ballot inside. Another man looked for my name in a registry. He pronounced it, my full name, with care and gravity. It gave me a frisson. Then he pointed to a place for my signature. A transparent ruler sat over my information, ensuring I did not sign in the wrong place. I signed with a Kaweco Lilliput pen that is very scratchy. "Thank you," he said. My voting card was stamped.

Then I walked back out into the sun, cutting through the lengthening line and home again. The act took 45 minutes.

I was in college the first time I voted in the American elections. It felt important. I took it seriously because that's what I was educated to do: You're an adult now, your liberal education tells you about the importance of this act, you go and vote and do it infused with the sense that this small gesture may bend democracy in the direction you prefer.

It is different doing it as an immigrant. I've been in France for 13 years. Regardless of how I felt about the leadership, the impact of presidential shifts rippled through my life in ways they did not, not quite, as a de-facto American citizen. Under Sarkozy, my visa renewals were more arduous. Under Hollande, they felt more like formalities. But in renewing a visa, there remains a distance between you and the person on the other side of the table. 

You need to be careful. You are, ultimately, a guest.

This sensation disappeared when I received citizenship. The ceremony explained our rights and responsibilities (we can be called to war, not just for France but for Europe!), but there was also a sense of levity. When we sang the Marseillaise, they gave us the words and said, "We won't sing the whole thing. Just the parts that are used for football." It felt good to sign the citizenship book. France has cared for me, and I felt myself folding into her, weaving into her tapestry.

There have been moments that really reminded me what it is to belong to a country. When the November 13 attacks happened, I remember Romain did something odd: The day after, he got up early in the morning and did groceries. There was a purposefulness to this.

Once he returned, I walked outside our door to lace up my running shoes. But I just sat there, letting the automatic lights go dark before remembering to hit the switch again. One of our neighbours, who'd also done morning groceries, stepped out of the elevator and encountered me there.

"Are you all right?" she asked.

"I think so," I said. I was twisting a lace around my finger and releasing it.

She kept on staring. The lights went off. She switched them back on. She put her groceries down.

"I have a daughter about your age," she said. "She had friends at the Bataclan and friends trapped in restaurants. She keeps watching the news over and over. She can't get out of bed today." Her lips thinned. "It is a trauma, what happened. But to go on replaying that moment for yourself is to live it over and over." 

I switched the light back on.

"If you're afraid about running today," she went on, "run in the gardens of the hospital Salpétrière. You'll feel safer. But I think if you are sitting out here, you have to go outside."

I went. In the end I ran along the Seine. An older couple was feeding swans. A younger couple pushed a stroller. Teenagers lay across concrete benches, photosynthesising in silence. 

The sun was bright. There was a kind of tentative bravery to being outside, trying to welcome a day marred by blood drying on the cloak of an evening that had grown sinister. 

When the attacks happened, I was at a bar with my cousin and his wife. 

It happened I was there again last night, or across from it anyway, smoking a cigarette and staring at where I was sitting when something anomalous tore through the fabric of the terrace's cheerful reality.

Hours before the attacks, Romain and I had been PACSed at the Mairie du 5è. We'd meant to have drinks in the area surrounding the Bataclan, but he didn't feel like it, so my cousin and I changed our plans and I took them to Montmartre. I'd managed to catch the last Uber running; the guy tried dropping us off halfway through Paris, while the shooters were still roving, and I'd screamed, "I just got married and my husband is not picking up the phone!"

Later the next day, a cousin texted me: "Time for you to go home? LOL"

I winced. What a crass thing to say. He immigrated too, from the Philippines, when he was very young. Did it occur to him to "go home" when 9/11 happened?

On November 14 I could feel how Paris' knees buckled and how difficult it felt to get back up. We were only a few months out of the Charlie Hebdo attack. Things feel real as they draw nearer to you, and these particular attacks weren't only a matter of proximity; they hit worlds I inhabit, touched people I know, bleeding into my profession and social circles. I had my first French date at the Petit Cambodge, which was also attacked on the night of the Bataclan. 

I still remember that date. I had bird poo drying on my head and Gaël, who became my first boyfriend, didn't tell me until after dinner.

You don't abandon your family in times of difficulty—or, well, you do your best not to. I could not imagine leaving Paris like a thief in the night when I could feel her fragility.

So today I voted. I voted because after that night and those bleak, traumatic times, we curled closer together instead of moving apart. When I received citizenship, I felt the country recognise me as one of its own. Rights and responsibilities. This isn't just a matter of having a new passport, or more mobility in the Schengen area. It's a matter of what I owe to my country, who folded me into her in the peaks and valleys of our shared life.

This also doesn't make me less American. I still vote in the US, and sometimes it hurts. My last ballot never reached the counting stage, joining the many mail-ins mysteriously lost in the last election. 

This upset me. A relationship to a country is also a contract: I will take my responsibilities seriously, but you have to, too. I am not saying this because I want to compare whose democracy is better; my feelings about democracy are, it's an ancient model, and it's generally been known to collapse. It requires a rigorous upkeep that, neglected, renders the model fragile as power begins to concentrate and pool ... making the powerful more inclined to accumulate and hoard it, siphoning strength from everywhere else.

Time is passing. Last night was a good friend's 40th birthday. Everyone, mostly all parents now, was committed to getting drunk and dancing and staying out as late as possible. We don't have nights like this often anymore, and people threw themselves into it with resolve. It felt like New Years. 

But I also noticed how we have changed. Tentative friend groups have hardened with time. People I barely speak to, but spent years just kind of "around," feel intimate to me now; our presence in each other's lives is taken for granted, and we've come to take solace in the familiarity of our faces, the casual brushing of our hands over one another's bodies—layers of contact we lost in nigh-on three years of a pandemic. I used to think intimacy was a matter of intense face time. Now I know it can blossom, surprise seeds sown and germinated, just because you keep showing up.

We used to start drinking and keep drinking, letting the alcohol sweat itself out with dancing. Now we alternate alcohol subtly, with diet Cokes and menthes à l'eau. Shots of hard liquor don't dance around the room. We dance a little, but mostly just sit and mill together, weaving in and out of each other's conversations. We make space for how we have all gotten older, for the ways our lives have changed.

I am getting older and as I get older I am also increasingly aware of how young the concept of a country is, and how much I still have to learn about what we owe to one another. We are never truly safe. We can never be enwombed again. But I get it now: Rigid control over variables is not the move. The move is dispersed indebtedness. The move is stepping closer to each other and breaking bread. It always requires courage. But I think it gets easier. I think we just have to keep trying.

Okay, this took a really long time, and I've still got a dissertation proposal to wrap. 

06 April 2022


  • Going to bed in linen sheets, in a gigantic bed that is only mine, and that I sometimes share with a few books and notepads.
  • Riding my robins egg-blue bicycle through this mad city. I feel so connected to it. And there is so much I know now about how to care for and love it!
  • Coming home and listening to Mark Ronson's "The Bike Song," which no longer makes me sad now that I have a bike again.

  • Drinking peppermint-infused water from my fun but reasonably subtle jungle-themed water bottle, which replaces the one I lost when I slid down the cliff last month. RIP, sweet Zojirushi thermos.
  • Thumping on my drum, which always kinda makes it feel like something is coming, but actually nothing is coming, I just don't know how to drum in any way besides the one that sounds like a T-Rex is heading toward you.
  • Reading books on sunny terraces.
  • Just fucking being in Paris, frankly. It's home. It's a very serious lover. (But I'll also love being back in Italy, and I'll also feel home, etc.)

05 April 2022

A funny sidenote

All these years, all this change, and you know what? I've never gotten sick of the design format I chose for this website.

Things I'm trying right now

I just need to put this list somewhere, and here's as good a place as any. 

Things I'm trying right now:

  • Seed cycling. This is meant to naturally balance hormones at different moments in the menstrual month, and accompanies other food choices that should be favoured to reinforce this, but the seed bits are easiest to remember. I'm getting this from a book called Eat with the Moon, which is mostly a cookbook but explains seed cycling in a For Dummies kinda way that's sufficient to kick me off.
  • Managing my hair in an Ayurvedic manner. Okay, that's a big way to convey the small lazy thing I'm doing. I'm just massaging my head more, and also moisturising with coconut oil for just a few hours once a week instead of overnight, to avoid what the lady I'm following on Instagram calls "abuse." It feels like it's working. Basically I'm just trying to stress my hair out less.
  • Putting my shed hair outside, for the birds. I've been doing this for awhile. It feels like a subversion. The thought that my hair is helping make nests, or even provide nutrients to natural space (if it finds any), is a good way of remembering that my existence mattered today. It's a vote for a different world.
  • Kundalini yoga? Sometimes. Not lately. 

Things that are harder to do right now:

  • Barefoot walking. I started this in Devon, but now I'm back in Paris and it's complicated.
  • The professional gig stuff I've spent the last 16 years doing. I'm different now. I'm not sure how that happened, but it did, and I'm glad. I can't do this anymore. 

Things I should be doing, come on Angela, you're at gunpoint:

  • Working.
  • Completing my family project.
  • Re-reading The Homeric Hymns and Gaston Bachelard's The Poetics of Space (both for school, not that either of those books require a justification to reread).
  • Prepping my dissertation proposal, which is due NEXT WEEK ANGELA COME ON
  • Prepping my PhD proposal, which still requires a lot of back-and-forth before it's turned in END OF MONTH ANGELA COME ON
  • Advocating better for my own creativity. I'm going to buy watercolour paints today. That counts, right? Like, in a kindergarten way. Not to hate on watercolours; I meant in the sense that it's a way of appeasing this need to advocate better for my own creativity without actually doing the things I know I should be doing to advocate for it. But I'll get over this. I have to, otherwise it'll be gig work all the way down. 
My profession has been good to me. More than good. If I hadn't changed, I'd be happy to go on doing it into infinity. But I've spent the last few years reconnecting with desire—initially, letting my desires dilettante around. Then nurturing the ones that stuck, until a few grew strong and sharp like knives, and cut my spirit out of my skin. I realised she's strong and wild, and has a lot of desires. It's a compass I can follow the rest of my life. And I have much terrain to catch up on, those years I mostly kept her in a box under Persephone's throne.

For awhile I had to demonstrate that her function in my life was not to support me in the market; I would love her, and prioritise her, anyway. But now I've initiated into a different relationship with her. Now I want to marry her. 

I'm making this sound more woo-woo than it is in practice, which isn't to say it isn't still woo-woo:
  • Part of prioritising my spirit is understanding that cleaning my space, including bed-making—something I've had no fucks available for in the past—is a way of administering to the altar of myself. 
  • As a person who now lives between three places that speak three different languages and, in fact, host three different Angelas, maintaining stable rituals between all three, however small, is work I'm taking very seriously.
  • My days are no longer organised around what I do for work. They're organised around relationships—to myself, to my space, which is alive and in constant conversation with my body; to the people around me; to past and future. I've spent most of my life shirking all the big-deal stuff to run on the treadmill of an abusive capitalist system that's incentivised to separate me from my desires and keep me working until I die. The Nap Ministry is right: Rest is revolution, and that's my priority now.
To clarify, I love what I do for work. It's my relationship to it, or rather my relationship to the market's treatment of it, that became corrosive. I've also expanded my sense of what work is. The work that's important in my life is a lot bigger than what I do for money. And it is increasingly my suspicion that what I do for money is not the most important thing I have to do in most moments. 

The latter discovery isn't something our market is designed to value in any meaningful way. And that's a problem, because market value has somehow become married to our intrinsic value in the larger social world.

So I'm uncoupling this stuff. I suspect a lot of people think this is a midlife crisis of some kind. That's okay. We're all trying to get a grip on different things. There's room for all of it.

19 February 2022

"If you love Jesus..."

 I’ve been thinking about those chain letters from the early days of the internet.

“If you love Jesus, don’t be ashamed to proclaim it! Send this to 10 people…”

I used to take those letters really seriously. I had all these thoughts, like, Wow, I really do feel hesitant to send this around. What differentiates me from Judas, or Thomas, or Peter? For awhile it felt brave to forward them. I was proving something to myself—that I wasn’t afraid who knew I was a Christian. I’d say it loud and proud when called upon! All that kind of nonsense.

Those chain letters migrated into social networks alongside us. I still get them from time to time, in new variations, from religious aunties, usually, in the Philippines. They slide into my DMs, utterly disinterested in me, strangers really, unless they’ve got a holiday GIF or a chain letter to bomb me with. I started removing them from my contacts. Blood and shared names don’t mean relationship.

The internet still functions like in the early days, but faster and more efficiently now. Social media amplifies our every writ thought and emotion, finding traction for them like a magical loudspeaker, locating more sympathetic (or antipathetic) readers. Lately I’ve been feeling pressure to say something about myself—reveal a position, make some kind of stand. About vaccination, about magic, about animism, about science and technology, about my work, about the latest race killing, about Asians supporting Black brothers and sisters, about what people get wrong…

And there are new pressures now, memes that ominously read, “We are taking note of your silence.”

I get it now, about the Jesus chain letters. Sharing them with ten people doesn’t mean you’d be more likely to hide a Jewish family during the Third Reich. It doesn’t mean you recycle, or that you’d reach out to help someone having trouble in the street. It didn’t mean you pray, refuse to masturbate, take communion. 

Really, it was a pressure game: if we push this button inside you, do you comply? Will you go on amplifying beside us? Are you in or out?

That’s what so many of these hot takes feel like on the internet. It really doesn’t matter what you say, or how often you say it; everyone is saying too much, thinking it’s important in ways most would be hard-pressed to explain if asked. No one is listening much. They’re all just waiting their turn to show whose side they’re on—for you, against you, seeking to educate you. We are just itching to clarify our positions on the broader stage to other actors on stages.

But this isn’t the move. It isn’t really a move at all. It’s just forwarding the chain letter.

It matters more to know when to speak and when to act, and to speak and act when it counts. Sometimes we’re going to fuck up, to misfire, to fail to read the nuances of the moment. It’s all right. It’s part of the messiness of being human.

It’s not that I don’t think the hot takes matter. Sometimes they’re good therapy and expiation. Sometimes you learn something, find the words for something you’ve suspected and felt, but didn’t have time to fully think through. Some of that stuff needs to be said, and needs to be read.

Sometimes they just seem designed to make a few targeted individuals feel bad about something. Mobile, viral Puritanism.

I don’t think the idea of hot takes matters as much as anybody thinks they do (assuming anyone does). Sometimes even clever, thoughtful people get addicted to them, convinced it’s part of the service they provide to the body public; another product, then, to reliably get out the door on time.

Most of the time, I don’t think anybody needs me to weigh in on anything. This is not a lack of confidence, or some kind of judgment call. It’s also a way to conserve my energy, to save it for what I think matters, and when it does. I often find that the private moments matter, between me and one or two other people. You have time, then, and space, to exchange on the nuances of what you’re saying, to think it through, to change your mind, to change someone else’s, to add to each other’s inner constellations.

The larger stage, the broadcast platform? Less so.

It's helpful to remember when I believed in the Jesus chain letters—oh my God, I need to share this or I’m just as bad as those fallible disciples! It was an immediate reflexive reaction to what I thought was a moment of conviction, but what was actually a transparent and childish social pressure play. The chain letters had no meaning. They delivered no value. They won no souls to Jesus. Their entire function was to go on being passed on, ostensibly until every person on earth had seen them and meaningfully interrogated themselves (or deleted them, thereby dooming them to hell, I suppose, where Judas would be waiting to weep with them).

These days when I feel a hot conviction to say something—and truly, it’s constant, practically a plague—I stop and ask myself what my motivations are. Quite often I find that the motivation is something to the effect of, “To show where I stand!” 

And that’s when I know I’m 13 again, knee-jerk reacting to a chain letter that’s just gotten subtler, more insidious.