Bright Notes

Peeled oranges; morphologies of water; whalesong / Concepts to Linger With

Some weeks ago, I tweeted out a list of concepts I've been lingering with lately—motifs arising over & over in my art & life right now, ideas I haven't been able to rid from my tongue. They were a rather slapdash, hastily scrawled snapshot of what the inside of my head & my chest & my notebooks look like right now—but, it seems, quite a few lovely readers found a little light in the idea.

Below, a smattering of just some of the dozens of responses across social media from the past few weeks of the concepts each of you is currently lingering with. I've tried to link the person's website or social media presence by each list, especially as many respondents are artists themselves—so if you particularly enjoy any specific answer, please do take the time to search out more of that person's work. 

Dear readers: what concepts are you lingering with these days?


My own: hands / peeled oranges / dog-eared pages / white wine / deer / open windows / freckles / floral bedsheets / electric guitars / shortbread / thyme / swimming pools / flightlessness

Jessie Lynn McMains: cornfields / smoke / rock 'n' roll / leather / carnivals / moonshine / mood rings / dead shopping malls / dead girls / ouija boards / qualities of light / grandfathers / swans / rivers / spells / origin stories / saints / roses / hitchhiking ghosts / the desert / genetic memory

Caitlin Conlon: softly lit bedrooms / tracing skin with fingertips / plums / the sound of brass instruments / sticking your arm out of the car window & letting it float with the air / love that stays / laundromats / star maps / the smell of hardware stores / peach wine / card games cross-legged on the floor / finding glitter in the bathtub / empty swimming pools / high heeled shoes kicked off near a doorway / TV static / succulents in hand painted bowls / the smell of old books / vases at garage sales / trying to get better

Rhiannon Admidas Conley: whales (dead & alive) / snails / beds / raspberry bushes / spotted fruit flies / spotted fruit flies ruining a raspberry bush / plastic / how having a child has changed my perception of the world / lakes / loons / pressed flowers / the body as machine

Danielle Hale: having & naming children / owning animals / the faults of memory / genetic memory / heredity / serial killers / convicted innocents / percussionists / the universe as body / imperfections of the body / imperfections of the mind / the relationship between Fuzband & cats

Katherine DeCoste: processed food / lake & sea bottoms / misplaced organs / the prairie / fear of the self / lavender / curly hair / freckles / soft paws / butter knives / rust / sea foam / forest mulch / decay / Greek deities / inheritance

Andy Winter: thoroughly unimpressed by reality / misty mornings / the shade of night melting into ocean / sheet masks / Twitter thought vomit / alleyways / abandoned libraries / tulle snow / writing at wee hours / tinted aviators

Caroline Grand-Clement: kisses that taste like sweat / sleeping with the windows open / thunderstorms / family / the moon / improvised kitchen utensils / ruined plans / plan Bs / driving in empty fields / veins & the blood that rushes through them / loneliness / healing / admitting you need help & asking for it

E.: recycled notebooks & pens / warm summer evenings /  the shape of a relationship / poems, always poems /  how I bite on my lips / soft flowers / warm yellow / the word "tender" / shame / metamours / metaphors / writing in a second language / you, always you

Emma-Louise Adams: sunsets / sourness & bitterness / stuffed olives / bite marks / the number seventeen / the Bible / transitions / cars & driving / miniatures / summer holidays / heat / swimming

Catherine Garbinksy: monsters / the way fear lives in us / the way trauma haunts us / rituals & spells/ tarot / astrology / fairytales / porches / drying herbs / passed-down recipes / patina / fire / ash / dragons / yawning babies / magic in the mundane / a devotional heart

Jeanne Obbard: fey & strange girls / gardens / spooky rainy misty places / flowers & small creatures / transcendence versus immanence / birds / seasons

Kathryn Ivey: fate & free will / the mundane vs. the divine / archetypes: the martyr, the hero, the chosen one / the sea / the stars / love as an altar / dark green woods / people & places outside of time

Margaryta Golovchenko: morphologies of water / the cold side of the pillow / lingering kisses / promises / the language of shadows / finding comfort in feeling lost / reading a good book on the subway & missing your stop / rediscovering macaroons / laughing deeply & carelessly / cool & rainy summer days

Laetitia K.: knees buckling from laugher / finding lost things / the ghost of a kiss / singing off-key / dried flowers / sleeves going past your wrists / the way the sky reflects off the river / the moon / fireflies / you & me & sleepless nights / staying, just for a little longer

Kolleen Carney: love / husbands / apples / oceans / deserts / trauma / joy / old houses / botany / dreams

Paola F. Bennet: lavender smoke eyeshadow / feeling a crush's fervent heat fade to savoured fondness / wafts of eucalyptus / the pulse of an amp / how a name feels between your teeth / wine-drunk arguments / purple summer lightning storms / staying a little too late at the party / "you don't have to." "I want to."

Megan: smelling flowers / blossoming / the ache of missing someone / watering succulents / sunsets / photographs / rainstorms / reading / writing, always / grief / admiring beauty / a walk in nature / making friends with stray cats / when the whole world’s just fallen asleep / a quiet sadness / empty space / slightly broken hearts / sitting with ghosts / feeling the energy from the earth / mornings spent alone / the moon / flower gardens / pastels / confessional song lyrics / dreams / platonic love / rekindling faith / healing, healing, healing

Lydia Havens: astronauts / fireplaces / cursive handwriting / speaking things into existence / different shades of purple / poppies / good luck charms / the role of grief in history / capers / incomplete sentences / tulle / pianos / humidity

Keren Chelsea: untouched notebooks / coloured markers on white paper / handwritten love notes / reading the letters out loud / a heart so filled with love / falling in love with new friends / photographs of mundane moments / coffee over tiny conversations / plants just starting to bloom / poetry readings / the rose emoji / the smell of new laundry / laughter that booms / trying new things / lipstick swatches on the back of thumbs / loving & losing people, & being okay with that / finding joy intentionally

Kara Goughnour: matchsticks / shame / marble / the homes of those who shop at thrift stores / genetic grief / shades of red / chewing gum / canyons / Oni masks / fishnet stockings / A-line cabins / healing love

Elizabeth Ruth Deyro: the woman's body as a metaphor / varieties of life interweaving through fleeting encounters / attempts to give trauma a mouth / sex & Catholicism / unreliable narrators in poetry / embers against starry skies / depths of the ocean

Bebe Rena Blackwood: dreams & nightmares / Rachel & Leah / things that don't go together somehow going together anyway / history / myths / not wanting to know everything / places I know by name / ghosts you conspire with when no one's listening / questions / duty versus obligation / the fantasy in reality

Rebecca Connors: girlhood / shame / swimming / magnolias / honeysuckle / memory / being a mother / daughters / anxiety / boundaries / love / city raccoons / trust / the shore / breath / asserting my voice / bones

E. Kristin Anderson: magnolia trees / blackberry brambles / Agent Scully / the idea of home / plants native to Texas / bees / teeth / viscera / Dave Grohl / vines / joint pain / pavement / telephones / Stephen King's hatred of women / the ruralness within a city / Texas vs. New England / medical trauma

Nicole Ting: the beginning of goodbyes / nine A.M. black coffee / sunflowers halfway between bloom & uproot / soft candlelight / la vie en couleur pleine / the war-worn force of women bringing misogyny crumbling down to its misshapen knees / old cathedrals / fluffy carpet rugs / unselfish prayer / my mother’s succulent gardens / friends finally stumbling across the star-bright happiness they deserve / empty Texas highways at night / Malaysian street food / the reeling infinity of the universe / a game of hide-and-seek with love / Asian-American voices in supernova revolution / my brother’s head against my chest / red wine / music festival clothes / abandoned train stations / wanderlust / the way the sun goes out: not with a bang, not with a whimper, but with cotton candy skies & honeyed light

Kwan Ann Tan: sticky-sweet syrup at the bottom of a can of peaches / watching the ocean from a balcony / counting down the days until I next see you / perfumed sheets of paper / the final chord of a piece ringing through the air & then coming to a stop

Wanda Deglane: whalesong / thick oil paint / road trips through the desert / the corrosiveness of anger / silence / the healing nature of the ocean / memories attached to places that no longer exist / nectarines / the body as one with the mind / greenhouses / Venus flytraps


These responses have been edited for length & clarity.

Thank you so much to everyone on this list, & all those I missed (far too many, I know) who also took the time to let the world into the tender & biting concepts they're currently inhabiting. The inside of your heads must be such bright places to live. If you haven't already: share the concepts on your fingers with me in the comments? 

&: weekly love letters for more tender things like this sent to your inbox

A Smattering Of Things That Are Good (Part VII)

(Because why on earth not?)

i. Red lipstick. My love affair with this brilliant little creature began a few years ago, & is the sort of situation from which there is no escape. I believe in red lipstick’s power to heal, to boost, to quail, to transform, to glow. These days I am known in the circles I frequent as "the one with the lipstick", & I am always up for sharing brand recommendations. Red lipstick turns every outfit into honey or bramble, refusal & allowance all at once. I consider it a hazard to leave the house without it. (Also, I will not lie, I rather adore how every time I wear a red lipstick, the entire world is decadently aware of who & what I kiss. But maybe that is just me.)

ii. Freckles, moles, scars, stretch marks, tan lines, every other gorgeous piece of poetry marked on a body—a life—well lived. I always go back to the last line of my dear friend Caitlyn Siehl’s gorgeous ode to her stretch marks — I am a world that cannot be explored / in one day. / I am not a place for cowards. Amen, amen, amen.

iii. Furious organising days. Since I am moving out & university-bound soon, I have been spending much time digging old books out of the back of my shelves, trying on shirts that might have fit me in the eighth grade, spreading twelve years’ worth of school paperwork in small piles around me on the floor, highlighting & sticky-noting more than is probably sustainable, finding an honestly troubling number of coins & bills & even cheques scattered in various nooks & crannies across my space. It’s a bright thing, a healing thing. Feels a little like baptism or like resurrection.

iv. Accent walls. My baby sister has, however inadvertently, turned me on to this odd little design quirk—I breathe a secret little laugh when I see one I particularly like, the way it feels like a wink, a smirk of art.

v. Gentle happy flirting with maybe-something-more friends. The inhale at the beginning, the tentative newness of a love that could be, the choosing of outfits & the scrutinising of text messages. For once, the deep not-knowing. It's a first movement & a reprise all in one.

vi. People who are kind to ants. Also: spiders, snakes, mice, & other animals considered conventionally undesirable. I think one way to get to the core of a person very quickly is to watch how they react when a non-adorable animal crosses their path, to see exactly how that reaction differs from the way they treat dogs & cats & butterflies. &, of course, to adjust your relationships accordingly.

vii. Spending the whole day in bed—working, writing, sleeping, reading, dreaming, & all the rest. I do believe, these days, in this sort of etched & soft-lit flux-state, in lingering in patches of shadow & sun, ambered & slow. Like a love letter to oneself, knowing that the world can wait for a day to see you again. The whole thing a stunning contraption of song drifting from the radio, of clean-pressed sheets, stillness & movement & warmth, thinking: maybe this is it, the whole thing, all along. Maybe this was always what we were here to do.


p.s. love these small reminders of the good in the world? support their creation on patreon (& receive small weekly notes & poetry from yours truly as a thank you gift).