The world is light on water
bright and high and hot
like SoCal
(or that’s what you’d say if
you’d ever been
to SoCal)
with your skin two-weeks golden and the sea in your hair
and the sun over everything.
The sea in your hair
and his hands too,
his mouth against yours
and bodies burning.
The arch of your back curving into the question.
Your fingertips tracing the answer on skin.
Yes, my love.
My love, that’s right.

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Being Sorted

I don’t hold any faith in astrology, although I enjoy symbolism and a 90s vibe so aesthetically I’m a fan. That being said, I have never felt like a Capricorn – the most boring goat at the party. Capricorn is in the corner looking at their watch, thinking about their early start. Capricorn is training for a triathlon and will not stop talking about it. Capricorn lectures your friends about the long-term effects of recreational drug use when they’re just trying to have a nice time. I reject Capricorn. When I was younger and clutching at things to believe in, I would speculate that actually, maybe I was really a Sagittarius because I was born two weeks late, and if I’d been on time I would have been. That counts, right? I’m way more Sagittarius than Capricorn. So when NASA found that thirteenth sign in the Zodiac and the whole thing shifted, I was pretty psyched to learn that not only am I not a Capricorn, I’m a motherfucking Sagittarius. Come at me world, I fucking knew it!

Still, there’s only so far that kind of frivolous joy can carry you and the next day my flatmate found me in the kitchen, weeping over chorizo. “What’s wrong with your yellow chakra?”, she asked. “Which one is that?”, I asked. “Identity,” she said. Well damn.

Like most people I know, I’m on a constant journey of self discovery: I am gonna find my truth if it kills me. For years I’ve carried around identities based on little but short-sighted desire; there was a specific way I wanted to be, and I rejected anything that flew in the face of that. I even refused to take the Pottermore Sorting Hat test because I felt, in my heart, that I was a Ravenclaw and if I’d been put anywhere else it might have broken me. But now, well. Now I’m more mature. I’ve opened my mind, and learned to love myself a little bit more than I did before. So maybe I’m not a Ravenclaw, and that would be fine. I could have an easy life in Hufflepuff, growing plants and getting high. I could go on adventures with my fellow Gryffindor buddies. I don’t have to be the smartest person in the room. So I took the test, and turns out I’m a Slytherin. Let me tell you, I did not see that one coming. It’s been a landmark week for the yellow chakra of this Sagittarian serpent.

Of course these are just labels, and not ones that I subscribe to in any legitimate way (at least I’m trying not to or this Slytherin thing would be a real blow). But wherever there’s a label there is community, and a source of comfort. Your battles become so much easier when you feel understood, and it makes sense that self-acceptance would be easier when you’re accepted by others. But I’m not sure, anymore, if this is helpful. There are labels that have haunted me, that I fear identifying with. I’ve spent so many hours reading, researching, desperately hoping to prove that I am one thing, that I’m not another. But none of it has changed the way I experience the world. What I’ve wanted is a way to avoid making difficult decisions – and labels will do that for you. If I am this, I can’t do that. Of course it could never be that simple: truth is in flux, and so am I.

I am kind, most of the time. I’m extroverted to an extent. I am often emotional. I am into joy, but I accept my sadness. I am a writer, and I am writing. And sure, I can be a Slytherin – green is my favourite colour, and they’ve got that gothic vibe going on. I bet they listen to The Cure a lot. I’m fine.

Being Sorted

Finding Joy, or; How I learned to stop worrying and make my own granola

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. I’ve always been a cynic at heart and I’m the type to bite my thumb at the notion, to trot out some tired trope about real change coming at any time. Which would be fine, except I’m also stagnant at heart, so real change rarely comes. I love a rut. Show me a rut and I will stick myself in it, only venturing out if there’s a new Sondheim show in town. But then, at the tail end of 2015, lots of things happened: I got a new job, I broke up with my boyfriend, I stopped taking the pill, and suddenly 2016 was looming and I thought, fuck it. So I wrote a list. It’s not a list of resolutions because steady on, I’m working against a lifetime of negative feeling here and some things you just can’t shake. And if we’re being pedantic, I didn’t write it: my flatmate did, while I dictated, because she’s a positive and helpful person who will push you in the right direction. But it’s my list, and it’s a Joy List.

The concept of the Joy List is simple: it is quite literally a list of everything that brings you joy, no matter how small or big or frivolous. Having one, it turns out, is amazing. My mind is busy and cloudy, and things I am bang into include over-thinking, second-guessing and being generally anxious about stuff. I often have no idea what I want to eat, to wear, to do with my life. It’s easy to lose track of yourself when a million different things get in the way; desire is easily overshadowed by obligation or expectation, and on especially cloudy days it feels like all you really want is the absence of everything else. But a Joy List is tangible, true, and here for you. It is the voice of your best self telling you to Do Those Things More. It is standing on the tarmac in a hi-vis jacket, waving those paddles around, guiding your plane home.

My joys are pretty simple, too. I love singing, so sorry to my flatmates who now have to put up with my frequent shower renditions of Good Morning Baltimore. I love riding bikes, and while I can’t quite commit to the 20-mile round trip that is my new commute, I’m packing up my panniers and cycling to Southend. I love painting my nails and catching sight of them during yoga practice, because damn they look good. I love the buzz after exercise, those endorphins, that dopamine.

Since I made my list I have run more often, and further, and faster. I have made breakfast and lunch in advance. I have bought not one Sainsbury’s meal deal. I am writing this: my first non-work-related piece of writing in over a year. None of these things are themselves on the list, and had I made a resolution to run morefurtherfaster I doubt I’d have kept it, because arbitrary goal-setting is meaningless to me. But here I am, doing it. It is much easier, now, to draw a path towards happiness and comfort, and to trust in the decisions I’m making to get there. There’s no need to “give myself a break” because it’s only February and I’ve already cracked under the New Year, New You pressure. There isn’t any pressure. It’s going to be ok.

So yes, my advice to you, dear reader: make a Joy List. And probably stop taking the pill if you can. Following your gut is way easier when you can actually hear it.

 

Finding Joy, or; How I learned to stop worrying and make my own granola