Tiny Revolutions №8: Living in the Grey

return of the queen

I’m back in Los Angeles after two months away. It’s not the first time I’ve spent time away — I left once for about six months — but it is the first time in a long while.

When I left I was ready for a break from the city and to spend time with my family. I didn’t have specific goals for this trip, because I rarely have specific goals for anything, which is probably an issue. But I did want to clear the palate and see how it felt being gone. I know now, I guess, and you know what? 

I feel about the same. Maybe a little stronger because of all the love my family showed me. And because I got to spend quality time with old friends. Many walks in the woods and a few glasses of wine on the porch. Stuff you do when you’re not trying to put yourself out too much. Lots of dinners out, but no *nights* out.

After a few weeks away, I started to feel like my life in LA was a million miles behind me. Some hazy impression of a city jam-packed with people and smog and traffic and a lot of nights alone on the couch watching Netflix or engrossed by my Kindle. 

I’ve had this ongoing battle with myself over whether to leave the city for years now. At least a decade. I imagine everyone who lives in a city like LA has either had it or is having it, but I can’t help but envy the people for whom the answer is clearer. You get anchored by a job, a house, a relationship, whatever, and you just make it work despite all the bullshit. My own anchor is my love for the place, and not much else. I love the way the air feels. I love the light in the late afternoon. I love the perfect blue of the sky.

It’s more than that, of course. I love the way Californians are swinging for the fences all the time. To live here, you must want it all. And you must also believe you can get it, because otherwise, it just wouldn’t be worth it. And that is true of me. Or at least 51% of me — more than half or surely I would leave for somewhere less, well, fucking insane. 

But of course you can’t have it all. No one can. At least not at the same time. It’s naive to think that you can. And yet I kinda still do? If I’m honest, I think I’m just exhausted from trying so hard for so long to get it.

Does this mean it’s time to pack it up and get out of this town for the hustlers or the independently wealthy or the poor? These days, I’m not sure there’s room for anyone else.

So I don’t know how I’m gonna feel after a few weeks of being back. I’ll just be hanging here in the grey area if you need me. 

Ok then. On to some stuff that inspired me recently.

Speaking of ambition…

“We all have joys, hopes, fears, and longings that never go away no matter how old we get.”

Here’s a first person essay by a 30-something minister about her observations about the inner lives of her older congregation. TLDR: Love is the only thing that matters.

What Do 90-Somethings Regret Most?

Do you ever think about how lucky you are to have been born in the place you were born in? (Assuming you were, in fact, lucky on this front.) I find that kind of perspective calms me down. Here’s a cool web site called My Life Elsewhere that allows you to compare and contrast life in the country you live in with other countries around the world. (🙏 I wasn’t born in Tajikistan.)

Please listen to this short episode of the Invisibilia podcast, I implore you. It’s ostensibly about why anyone would leave a message when they can just send a text, but it’s oh so much more than that. I had the pleasure of being in the audience when this monologue was performed, and I remember wishing so badly that I could share it. It’s that good.

Do you follow a dead guru type on Twitter? I highly recommend it. Here are some recent zingers from Alan Watts.

Very excited today as I am going to see two of my favorite musicians tonight: Courtney Barnett and Stephen Malkmus, aka my imaginary asshole boyfriend (‘cuz you know he’s probably the worst person in the world to date and he totally gets away with it. He is married, btw, so let’s all send love to his wife.) Malkmus has reached the stage of his career where videos of his music are earnest, one-take type affairs (lol), but the songwriting is as sharp and resonant as ever. (BTW, If you’re headed to The Greek tonight, holla at me and let’s grab a sparkling water.)

OK, one more from my dead guru.

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😘 Sara