Kiss French (How I Am)

Good morning from the depths of monsoon season, my loves. It is very kind & soft & rainy outside as I write this, the world fogged over & lulled into a bit of a dream-state. My favourite time of year.

Artefacts that trace the story of these past weeks: the smallest, most delicate golden hoop earrings... a bouquet of peonies... a fresh tattoo of a quick-sharp rabbit, frozen in a leap... the final available print copies of Half Mystic Journal's Issue I: Allegronow shipped to their forever home...a creamy ribbon stolen off a box of chocolates... a stack of autographed poems for the sound of the sky before thunders, sheets of umbrella stickers tucked into each front cover... a tangle of Christmas lights... a teddy bear smelling of sandalwood...

This is how I am.

A poem of mine, "For H", was recently published in Reservoir LiteraryThis piece is an old ragged thing many years in the making, & I'm grateful to the Reservoir editors for giving it a place to nestle, a place where it is safe to breathe in all of the warmth it's surrounded by.

This is how I am: trying to remain tender. These past weeks have been difficult on my mental health, which is a bit odd considering how externally beautiful life has been, & how much better my health is now than it was even this time a year ago. Still, I am anxious & full of silver heartbreak. Healing is not a process that comes in a straight line, however much I might wish it so.

A few fun bright things for your perusal: a nested universe,humans matching artwork, the joy of not wearing a brathings we've learned.

"Girls as wolves. Rain. Illness. Bodies, human & water alike. The anatomy of healing. Hands. Music. Language. The moon. The juxtaposition of softness & savagery." I gave an interview a few months ago to the endlessly lovely humans over at Thread; here is where you can take a look at that, if you are so inclined.

This is how I am: writing & writing & writing & writing & writing. (Perhaps that is a given, but I thought it worth mentioning regardless.)

My latest evening routine is unwinding at night by watching two or three episodes of CSI: Las Vegas. I'm aware this is likely an odd thing, but I can't quite bring myself to care. In another life where I have an ounce of patience for chemistry, I am a forensic pathologist.

This is how I am:

thinking of love & the lack of it, perhaps because the fourth edition of my Half Mystic column Silver-Tipped Swallow is published very soon. The photograph at the top of this post was snapped this summer, & I rather adore it, have been thinking of it since I stumbled upon it on the side of a Chicago building. (Perhaps a companion to all's fair in love & food?)

When thinking of love, this Nayyirah Waheed quote strikes me as particularly true: “Someone can be madly in love with you and still not be ready. They can love you in a way you have never been loved and still not join you on the bridge. And whatever their reasons you must leave. Because you never ever have to inspire anyone to meet you on the bridge. You never ever have to convince someone to do the work to be ready. There is more extraordinary love, more love that you have never seen, out here in this wide and wild universe. And there is the love that will be ready.”

& other assorted clippings on love in all its wonder & ache... the portrayal of same sex love in ballet ("full of abandon and brimming with romantic desire, [these dances] seem utterly natural"), 13-word love stories ("My dad calls my mom Love, almost as if that is her name"), portraits of a breastfeeding wife ("these are the rhythms of an extraordinary, and extraordinarily demanding, time in the life of the photographer’s family), queers in love at the end of the world (just play it & you'll understand why).

Speaking of love (though, really, when are we ever not speaking of love?)... I had two tiny furious love poems published recently in two of my absolute favourite literary journals. "Mealtime" is in Cosmonauts Avenue ("Anything is yours / if you swallow it.") & "Trigger" is in Glass: A Journal of Poetry("So if I must, I'll admit it / now, with the barrel of a gun the only confessional: / yes, I love the girl."). The latter was nominated by the Glass editors for the 2018 Pushcart Prize - my second Pushcart nomination, which is beyond absurd. Thank you. Thank you.

Also, Lord Huron's blue-lit-yearning song "Love Like Ghosts" has been sticking with me through this consideration of romanticisms, particularly these lines: "yes I know that love is like ghosts / oh, she was sinning but everybody talks / spirit follow to where I go / I sin all day & they haunt me in the night / oh, I sin all day & they haunt me in the night..."

This is how I am: learning to follow the ghosts.

This is how I am:

college applications are wreaking havoc on any semblance of peace I might have spun into being. I am so thankful for the privilege that dictates that this is even something I'm able to complain about, but even still, I rather want to curl into a ball & cover my ears every time anyone asks where I'm applying.

"Mental illness is as much a part of me as my eye colour and my fondness for cheesecake." I gave an interview a few months ago to the gorgeously vibrant Sarah von Bargen of Yes & Yes about my mental disorders & the roads to the heights that matter. Here is where you can read that.

Related: an anti-anxiety list.

This is how I am: perhaps writing a novel? Also perhaps making another short film? (Oh dear; even writing those things out sort of terrifies me.)

In far less frightening news, my first film SUPERNOVA was a finalist in the truly lovely CINE Golden Eagle awards! Such a brilliant, unspeakable honour to be here. Look out for an interview on L'Éphèmére Review's blog very soon about the process of creating that small soaring creature.

Also, in case you've missed me speaking about it always, at all times, ceaselessly, nonstop... my new book poems for the sound of the sky before thunder is out now, & my publisher is doing a 40% off flash sale for the next two days with the code GRINCH40. (Perhaps a Christimas gift for a mentally ill loved one?) Many people have said very kind things about it, which shocks & delights me. If you bought a copy, please do shoot me a photograph of your bright face alongside it -- I'd be honoured to feature you on social media. I have been incredibly, beautifully overwhelmed by the response to this book, & I'm so grateful to all those who are here, listening & loving.

This is how I am: taking many photographs. Holding these days close.

This is how I am:

hard at work on Half Mystic Journal's Issue IV: Grazioso. This creation holds so many languages of tenderness, & I cannot wait to share it with you all. I think it is more necessary in this time of thick dreaming darkness than ever.

Related: five ways to be online, while the world wakes up to itself. (My favourite: "don't assume silence is assent". What a good thing. What a thing shimmering with empathy & truth.)

This year's monsoon season has been one full of wet-lunged birds & dark-skied afternoons & the rain, the rain, always the singing ringing rain. This photograph reminds me very much of what I see outside of my window nearly every day. It is quite wonderful & cosy. Also, in case you are not already tired of Christmas music, here is the mix I've been playing on repeat every time the rain comes, for your enjoyment.

This is how I am:

someone shared this quote with me, from my darling Mary Oliver, & I've been trying to think of it on the days when the sadness & anxiety overtake my vision. I will share it with you, & perhaps it will touch a soft place inside your chest as well.

"If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb."

Don't hesitate. Give into it. Still life has some possibility left.

I think this advice applies as much to hurt as to joy, as much to despair as to love. I think life is nothing if we cannot experience both equally, to their fullest extent, if we are afraid of their plenty, if we treat the things that make us human as nothing more than crumbs. Everything, every messy hyacinthine paradox we feel in this turbulent time is valid. This is how I am: holding that thought close. Letting it keep me warm.

So: this is how I am.

& you?