I only made it four years in NYC. Among other things, I found it too busy, too cold, too much. All stimulation all the time, and that didn’t suit me. I’d moved there from the sunny, slower south, and stimulation was what I’d thought I wanted, but it didn’t take me all that long to realize that as a human being I need way more wide open space in my life.
You can find wide open space in New York City in the summer – there’s the riverfront and the parks and ocean just a train ride away – but during the winter, your life consists mainly of going from one small box to another. Or at least that’s how it felt to me, a working stiff with a studio apartment and no access to vacation properties.
At the end of the second winter I was there, the artwork for a new record practically saved my life. Cat Power’s You Are Free came out on 2/18/03, so I must have bought it soon afterwards, during that last dreadful stage of the season where you’re sick to death of all your warm clothes and just the idea of stepping in another icy puddle makes you want to cry.
The album art shows a woman running through the summer woods, and I’ll never forget how it made me feel when I first held it in my hands.
After a long period of confinement in offices, in coats, in dive bars with poor ventilation. Of restrictions of various kinds. Even if it wasn’t real, it was GLORIOUS because it gave me a hint of what was to come as the days got longer and the light got stronger.
I’ve felt a bit of that freedom since getting the vaccine, and as the virus abates here in LA county and beyond. It’s beautiful. It gives me hope.
There’s a quote attributed to John Waters where he says, “if you go home with someone and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ‘em.” Great advice, right? My corollary is an anecdote about the bassist Kim Deal from the Pixies. I read an interview with her twin sister, Kelly, who said if Kim goes somewhere and the music sucks, she leaves. I try to do that as often as I can.
Freedom! In an existence where we have so little actual control over anything, it’s critical to remember the ways in which we do. The easiest things are, like, change the channel, leave a shitty restaurant. But our agency applies to jobs, places, and people too, and we often forget that. So let’s remember.
A few things that made me feel free this week:
The smell of sunscreen on the wind as I walked the strand in Manhattan Beach
Driving with the windows open and the radio blasting a playlist of beloved songs from my childhood
Dancing to this song
Declining a potential work project that sounded fucking dreadful
What makes you feel free?
Thanks to all of you gems who answered last week’s poll asking where you hang out besides home. From “toodling” on your motorcycle to watching the ducks to yearning for the return of the libraries, it was fascinating to read about how we are living now. All I can say is thank goddess for parks!
You are free to decline requests.
And definitely you should free yourself from the idea of perfection.
Go ahead and free yourself from Zoom calls with the Zoom Escaper, “a tool to help you escape Zoom meetings and other videoconferencing scenarios” that “allows you to self-sabotage your audio stream, making your presence unbearable to others.”
Maybe you’ll enjoy this video of Cat Power’s Chan Marshall getting free: here she is playing guitar in the woods in the 2004 film Speaking for Trees.
A Tiny Assignment
What can you free yourself of this week?
Hey! Sorry I’m a day late with this week’s dispatch. I moved rooms in my house over the weekend and didn’t leave enough gas in the tank. Back on schedule next week.
And oh! Enough of you answered last week’s other poll about potentially doing a Tiny Revolutions meetup that I think I’m gonna do it. Watch this space for details, but I’m thinking it will be a late Sunday morning hang at a park. Picnic blankets and BYO tea.
Have a great week, y’all, and thanks for reading.
p.s. I’ve got a special guest appearing in next week’s issue that I’m really excited about! We’ll be talking about routines (if we have them), and what they do or do not do for our mental health. See you then!
p.p.s. If you liked reading this, share it with a friend! Let’s all get free.