When I was in college, I had a cat that was always trying to escape the apartment. But when she succeeded, she didn’t know what to do with herself and would scurry across the courtyard to safety at our friends’ place. When I graduated, my roommate kept the cat and they moved into a freestanding house, and once when she got out, my friend found her running in circles around it.
I’ve been thinking about that cat (RIP, Snacks!) a lot lately. Between being vaccinated, spring in the air, and the world opening up again in these parts, I have an incredible desire to GET OUT (of both my head and my house).
But like my sweet old cat, now that I have the freedom, I’m not sure what to actually do with it.
What did I do before the pandemic when work was over?
What is there to do now?
Yes, yes, walks, chores, errands, and the occasional meal with friends. Those can all be done. But I’m sick of them. Public spaces are only just opening. But even if they were freely available, what am I going to do, go to a bar? I’m just not interested.
We seem to be in a weird in between stage where everyone I know is both excited and terrified about coming out of hibernation. As I wrote about recently, I’m more on the former side, but it strikes me that we need more interstitial spaces for us to get our sea legs again socially. Low-pressure, low stakes ways to just coexist with other like-minded people. Interactions like we used to have at libraries, coffeeshops, bookstores, offices, classes, events, etc.
After so much being in our heads and on our screens, it just feels critical. But how? And where?
I found a hint of an answer in this episode of Jocelyn Glei’s fantastic Hurry Slowly podcast called The Angst of WFH:
“The most surprising takeaway from this conversation was Sean’s perspective on identity and how ghosts stack up when we do all of our tasks and inhabit all of our personas in the same place. How the space that used to be reserved for relaxation and fun now seems polluted, or at the very least diluted. It brings me back to a theme I land on again and again as I try to understand the impact of technology on the human condition: that it pulls us out of our bodies. Out of 3D space, and out of awareness and dialogue with our core, vital, essential physicality. We need to move through space. We need to change spaces. We need to have space for community, space for working, space that is sacred. Without that, life is just like one long infinite scroll through the same experiences with different headlines. We need real world, 3D interactions. They are the thing that makes us human, and that gives our lives meaning.”
Listening to it snapped a lot of things I’ve been thinking and writing about in this newsletter lately into place – that it’s not unusual that I’m feeling so sick of myself and my work and my life. This is a great conversation that explores what we lose when we live and work and recreate solely in one place, and if you too have been feeling this pain, I recommend giving it a listen. I love the conclusion that the spaces we need are still to be invented. I joke with friends that we need something like a modern version of the Elks Lodge, only without the heavy drinking and discrimination and whatnot.
And on that note…
An Idea and a Poll!
I’ve been thinking about hosting an actual in-person meetup here in Los Angeles. Probably just something at a park on a weekend afternoon – bring a picnic blanket and something to drink and just hang and chat. How does this idea strike you?
Because I’m curious: where do you go when you just need to hang somewhere that is not your house? Do you have a need for a space like that? (I do want honest answers here but I also like ridiculous ones, so please say something.)
OK! On to some other stuff.
I’m in love with How Many Plants, a new site featuring “comprehensive guides for all your favorite houseplants - covering the basics of watering and lighting needs, more advanced topics like how to propagate, and diagnosing common problems.” The illustrations are so charming!
“A lot of us simply lack the capacity to endure “taking entirely" what we would receive if we were to really listen. A lot of times we don't ask and aren't curious because, simply, we don't want to know the truth. We fear we couldn’t handle it.”
Another exceptional essay by social worker/tarot reader/budding mythologist Jessica Doré about perception and understanding, and about the work required to even be able to hear a hard truth. I’ve heard a few of those lately, so this one hit home.
Meme of the Week
Timely advice on connecting with other humans.
“In some ways personal branding has filled a void in young people that have felt directionless and dispassionate, giving them the ability to construct a personality, which gives them a sense of industry and characteristics resembling a personality without the energy that comes from having one.”
Really enjoyed this rant: Personal Branding Ruins People’s Lives.
That’s all for me this week. Thanks for reading, as always. Share it with a friend if it resonated.
p.s. After I posted Miike Snow’s Animal last week, reader Niki Colet sent me her cover of the song. Beautiful! She writes a great newsletter called Voice Notes – check it out for music, poetry, and a slice of life in Manila.
This was an interesting read because I feel like I've been thinking a lot about what community is and relationships and all of that. I tend to agree about needing in person time - the lack of in person interactions throughout this past year has not done me any favors. At the same time, I've frequently been someone who has found a sense of community through fandom, which is all online spaces. I DO think it's important to have a balance of both, but as I get older, the in person friendships don't come as easily for me and another result of covid-19 is now my peer support system (that was in person when I lived in LA) is spread all across the country, so it feels more and more necessary to keep up those Zoom calls since we won't be seeing each other in person very often anyway.
Sure was good to think about that lil Snacker again! <3 and i needed this today. Per usual. Thank you Sara!!