Discover more from warm cups of tea
this is me trying
miscellaneous year end thoughts and feelings?
It’s December. And it’s me. Here again like inevitable rain after a particularly hot day. Have a lemon cake and peach iced tea (a drink I haven’t actually had in a while but am incidentally craving).
reminding me, love, that it’s all connected
I don’t have much to say here, actually. I think I’m pretty drained of words. I haven’t nearly been social enough recently but it’s not really bothering me. Anyhow, I’m thinking that I will simply collate various thoughts and ideas. Personally excited to find out what I have to say.
It really hasn’t sunk in yet that we’re really running towards the end of 2022. I’m currently listening to ‘Too Much is Never Enough’ by Florence + the Machine, as I tend to do around this time, just to hear A year like this passes so strangely / somewhere between sorrow and bliss. There’s been events and happenings and I think I feel a little more grounded than when I started. As always, I’m mostly glad to have made it this far, and I hope all of you are also. It’s funny (to me) how days can pass so easily and add up to a monument like a socially agreed upon calendar year. I’m revisiting my December 2021 playlist and it’s bringing such vivid memories of who I was, specifically when and why I listened to these songs. I don’t feel changed, but then again maybe I need further distance from myself as I am now to really chart it. I do know that I’m always changing, and yet becoming more of myself.
I started this Substack right at the beginning of January, and it has been a lovely exercise in writing and sharing my thoughts. Almost every month I have a crisis of newslettering purpose, but I wanted to see it through at least this far; we’ll see what happens next year.
I read Zadie Smith’s Intimations a bit ago, an essay collection from the first year of the pandemic (and isn’t that a time capsule?). An idea that stuck out to me, in Smith’s version of a ‘Why I Write’ essay:
Watching this manic desire to make or grow or do 'something', that now seems to be consuming everybody, I do feel comforted to discover I'm not the only person on this earth who has no idea what life is for, nor what is to be done with all this time aside from filling it.
One of my favourite things is this idea that everybody is connected in some fundamental way. We’re all just filling time. And then it’s like, why not fill time together? I’ve been over this so I won’t again, but as ever, the people around me reinforce my belief in the value of holding on to each other. Kind of a strange thing to grapple with — living in the world, moving through it, interacting with it. Chasing the feeling of Blind Pilot singing, Tonight I’m in love with everybody on the city bus.
A quote taken from Hanif Abdurraqib and Carly Rae Jepsen’s conversation about Carly’s newest album:
I do think that loneliness actually breeds a real human need for connection, and I think reaching for that is what I wanted from this album, and I think why it has a hopeful spin on it, is it’s not just like, ‘be okay on you’re own’, like no, it’s natural to want to reach for people, and we should, and I think that’s what life is about.
When I came to this newsletter I found a Substack draft with only this transcription. I think this idea resonated with me because I’m somebody who is pretty lonesome by nature, and I did get the loneliest I’ve ever been in 2020 and it was brittle and awful, and this year I have spent time with so many wonderful people, and right now at two in the morning I can’t not feel sentimental thinking about it.
I’ve been pretty single-mindedly watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, more on this to come (/threat). Anyway, this line from near the beginning of season 7:
In the end we all are who we are no matter how much we may appear to have changed.
The remark speaks to the season as a whole, which actually gets pretty incoherent but is very much about beginnings and endings and continuations. As the final season of the show it’s hard not to notice the ways in which every one of these characters has changed — sometimes pretty drastically — and yet stayed the same. Which is so vague but alternatively I would start trying to unpack at least five different character arcs. The character writing in this show is fantastic and I think part of the effectiveness is that it does resonate; the show on the whole excels in its premise of drawing upon supernatural events/creatures/plots as a metaphor for growing up. At the end of the day, we’re still ourselves, and in some ways it’s about learning who that is and then making peace with that.
This whole ‘we all are who we are’ idea naturally invokes the existential questioning of the epilogue of The Goldfinch, asking how to live with “a self one does not want, a heart one cannot help”.
We can't choose what we want and don't want and that's the hard lonely truth. Sometimes we want what we want even if we know it's going to kill us. We can't escape who we are.
No further thoughts ^_^ Except to tangentially self-promote that I had a ‘poem’ ‘published’ the other week, first written while I was not in a great place (England) in early 2020 and thinking on these very issues. I came to editing/titling earlier this year and went first to my Goldfinch Playlist where I picked up on Selling Rope (Swan Dive to Estuary) so there’s that I don’t necessarily stand by the piece being good but then I stand by approximately one thing I have written in my life and yet I have to go on as myself. And yes it does read like I just read War of the Foxes. It is here.
Something strange is that I never know whether I focus most on the past or the present or the future. I truly don’t, which doesn’t matter except that personality quizzes often like to ask me. I try not to think about any of the three, or maybe I am just not very self-aware, but by default I tend to focus on the current moment. See earlier re: negotiating the world, perhaps.
That said, I do have this fascination with the idea of onward movement. Cycles, even. The end of the year/start of the next is this neat crossroad between looking back and looking forward, where we can think about both but forward movement is the only option. It’s “We are all going forward. None of us are going back.” and “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” and “Longing for what we’ve left behind, and dreaming ahead” and “We sidestep ourselves in order to move foward” and even the final lines of The Goldfinch, thinking of “the next generation of lovers, and the next.” We’re all changing, we’re all moving forward, whether we like it or not. And again, I am ever-grateful for the people who have been beside me for the changing and moving forward and so on.
At the start of this year I clung more than ever to the opening of ‘New Year’s Resolution’ by Camera Obscura, which I completely isolated from the rest of the song: “New year’s resolution, to write something of value / New year’s resolution, to write something would be fine”. I guess I did that? The writing bit. And I’m happy, to have found something to fill the time, and I enjoy it, and here I am sharing and I am grateful for that, too, that there are people to share with. I also had all these ideas back in January about limiting my caffeine intake which I will not be taking up again next year god bless.
Jessica has a forehead scar from the deep end of a pool. I ask Jessica what drowning feels like and she says not everything feels like something else.
Timeless lines . . . a contemporary classic . . . from ‘Jessica gives me a chill pill’ by Angie Sijun Lou and I’m obsessed with the line break after the ‘I’ here. It is doing so much. A pillar at the end of the pool, a poetic narrator cut off from / asking Jessica what drowning / feels like. This is here because I randomly remember it sometimes and it is everything. Not everything feels like something else.
I will be back in ~two weeks to meticulously catalogue what I have been reading and watching and listening to over the past three months and then probably a year end list or two.
Here’s to 2023?