fish out of water: change the channel
straight from the keyboard of your editor-in-chief Taylor Yates, this is a column for anyone who has recognized their potential to be in their right element / tribe / space / frequency yet continuing to fall short of actually making it there. oscillating between an ache and a hope of knowing that state exists. taking a hard look at what it might take to get there.
this space will exist as a regular documentation of a dedicated attempt to work through the blockages that prevent us from finding satisfaction of self. utilizing creative and intuitive methods to navigate a way to a desired headspace. engaging in constructive conversations and gleaning insight. a means by which to (try to) stop getting in one's own way. or maybe just catharsis. probably a bit of both.
this first installment deals with anxiety, intentions, expectations, tarot, astrology, headspace, pizza, letting go, and the need to break things down in order to build them better.
tuesday, march first
this journey starts, as it does for all of us in the beginning, on my birthday.
I woke up in Brooklyn, where I’ve spent most of my time for the past several months, a little after 8 to find that I’d received no digital birthday wishes during my slumber. I felt something in that moment that I’m embarrassed to admit - sore disappointment. but your family is all on the west coast and it's 5 am there, my brain reminded my gut. it's 8 am and your friends are sleeping / getting ready for work / living their normal lives because they are adults and you are an adult and that is what happens. I had not even realized that I had wanted to wake up to something until the moment occurred in which I hadn’t, and I felt that familiar sad trumpet float through my deflated headspace. you are 29 years old. what is even happening right now?
I have yet to even mention the fact that my endlessly loving, patient boyfriend had woken up right next to me, had pulled me into his arms and wished me a very sweet happy birthday in person, face to face, kisses on my cheeks, whispers in my ears. the person who loves me the most in the world (without familial obligation) celebrated with me the moment I awoke, but because it was not amplified by the acknowledgement of every single person I know, I soured the moment he left the bed.
what the fuck is wrong with me?
therapy: a theoretically ideal way of dealing with our inner workings; a practically complicated cultural luxury inaccessible to most who need it. I have developed a way of playing Self-Therapy, facilitated by my Pisces sun and Capricorn rising duality, in which I ask myself lots of questions and rationally soothe myself back to a place of functioning. tricky, but free.
two hours later, I am temporarily funk-free on the train to Jersey for a rehearsal. my mind is reeling in an effort to figure out why I’m feeling this way. expectations.
rehearsal leaves me feeling light and I wonder how I was able to plummet so early on in this day. it's on the train ride back to Brooklyn after basking in the sun that my mind explores the implications of expectations and how they set us up for disappointment. I'm stuck on the part where I'm certain things are starting off as intentions and then somehow, against my will, or entirely because of my will, because I don't know any better, because of my untrained mind, they are contorting into expectations. they are catching fire and burning up, they are curling up and dying. what am I doing wrong?
it's here that I remember Yumi Sakugawa's Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe - that I am supposed to be planting seeds and letting them grow, that I am supposed to set intentions for things I would like to see and then give them the space to take root. as soon as the lesson downloads from my braincloud, I laugh upon recalling my initial response to it - complete and utter skepticism. yeah fucking right that's how it works I'M SURE YEAH OKAY
I laugh again upon realizing that I've never told her this. we have been friends, we have discussed many philosophical and astrological potentialities, we have been on the air together, we've now worked together in print, I've loved her zines, and yet I've never admitted to her that I originally and still occasionally struggle with this fairly simple piece of advice. I am sitting and writing this out stream-of-consciousness-style and I decide to email her about this at some point. for now, I'm left wondering where it is exactly that my mind lets me start thinking that things I'd like to happen should most definitely all the time happen or else. what kind of evil, manipulative plants am I trying to grow?
my birthday tarot reading informs me that my progress toward finding balance (Temperance) is blocked by my need to release old pain (reversed Three of Swords). it's not news I'm excited to hear, but release is always positive and I'm always interested in uncovering detritus to jettison in order to make room for the new. personal hero High Priestess makes an appearance just above the Hermit and I recognize the need to turn inward in order to achieve some next level intuition. the reading ends on the Wheel of Fortune, the last of six Major Arcana cards. I ruminate on the kind of Big Changes that lie in store for me this year.
I am getting ready to meet Chris for dinner. I think I am going to leave on time and yet I don't because this shirt isn't perfect and it's my birthday and I should really just keep trying to find the perfect shirt except for this one is great but it doesn't work with these pants and now I'm slipping into a place of total discomfort and I should really get out of here because now I am late. I text him to tell him I have gotten off the train - we have planned to meet on his corner to walk to dinner - and he tells me he's already there. something collapses inside me and suddenly nothing is right about anything. as I walk alone, I find my mind turning over every stone it can for evidence that this is indicative of some Larger Dysfunction. do we lack fundamental communication skills? are we even meant to be together at all??
needless to say, I ruin the rest of the night, which ends with me in tears. my brain feels hideous.
wednesday march second
this day is spent in a six-hour class on espresso fundamentals at Counter Culture while simultaneously writing out what will in fact be the second installment of this column, dealing with the ancestral baggage we all carry and investigating the thick, encrusted layers of emotional sediment we must spend our lives chipping through in order to live peacefully. anyway, I have reached a point of exhaustion with the current level at which my anxiety functions and I am determined to break through it once and for all.
thursday march third
I see Yumi write a post on facebook about being grateful for the person she's become and playing a role in the spiritual and mental awakening of students and I freak. this is it. this is my nudge from the universe to contact her about my thoughts.
I write what is, in my mind, a thoughtful elaboration on why it is exactly I am fated to be emailing her at this very moment, and what is, once actually on the screen, a rambling confession of feeling inadequate as well as thickheaded. I ask if she is willing to talk me through a bit of her own journey and explain how to better plant seeds. I hit send and immediately reread it. I pray that she finds my borderline incoherence and potential desperation "charming."
it is later that night, sitting in the kitchen with my roommate Julie consuming cheese and crackers and beer for dinner, that I find myself declaring that “self-awareness isn’t unbiased.” I hadn’t really thought about this before now, our inner monologues being unreliable narrators, though it makes perfect sense. “we think that because that voice is able to point out our flaws to us, it must be accurate. we trust it because it doesn’t sugarcoat us for us.”
Julie agrees that she hadn’t really thought of it that way before either, and we discuss the possible cousin of expectations, boundaries. though Julie is 24 years my senior, we have always known - it’s been confirmed by friends - that we are essentially the same person. we’re relishing our college dinner of cheese and crackers and craft beer while acknowledging our strangely specific upbringings, being kids on the lower end of the income spectrum in wealthy academic environments. boundaries, present throughout our own upbringings, seemed much more fluid for our peers - which as adults leaves much more to be grateful for.
“without boundaries, we can’t function,” Julie explains, and I wonder if this is why expectations exist too. “how do we know what we’re capable of if there’s nothing ever telling us what we’re not capable of?” do expectations exist to serve as milestones, markers that help us determine our limits? once we hit upon an important point - that we’re barely able to control ourselves, let alone external forces - it seems more likely that while boundaries serve as an external measurement of what we are capable of, expectations are a projection from within by which we measure what others are capable of. the same feeling directed at the self registers as shame - an equally powerful, if not more so, emotion with just enough capacity to cripple, but stemming from a very different place. disappointment seems like a uniquely judgmental feeling, administered from a very personal scale, regarding that over which we are incapable of maintaining control.
“self-awareness doesn’t come with any perks. just because you’re able to recognize the behavior doesn’t make it any easier to change. why isn’t it easier to just say, ‘okay, I see that I do this, now I can stop doing this?’” she’s right. self-awareness makes us no better than oblivion. if anything, oblivion is at least free from self-punishment. just because we’re able to make note of them doesn’t make us any better equipped to do anything about them - except engage in guilt, an entirely unproductive emotion.
“I keep getting stuck in the trap of thinking that I shouldn’t be feeling the things that I feel. that I’m supposed to be better than these emotions.” I’m shoving cheese into my mouth and we’re both about to get our periods. “what gets me stuck is that there is this school of thought that we are capable of rewiring our system - this idea that we can just simply eliminate negative thought patterns. I get caught up in that and then I have a negative emotional experience and feel like I’ve failed. but I tell everyone else that it’s not about changing the feelings, you simply can’t change the feelings, it’s all about how you move forward with them. that’s always a choice.”
I google “expectation” thinking I’ll find something obvious in the definition - but it’s the synonyms that make me facepalm. assumption is right there looking at me and I feel foolish. you know what happens when you assume. how could I be so naive? I am so anti-assumption, I trumpet the pitfalls of assumption, I am well aware of what happens when you assume. why have I not recognized the similarity in these two words? and right next to it is presumption and suddenly I feel sick with myself. I have made strides to avoid ever being presumptuous. who even am I?
internet definition aside, I think some more about what an expectation actually is and what purpose it serves. like the aforementioned boundary, it provides a structure within which we are able to recognize what is and is not possible. looking at a situation and determining where our expectations lie allows us to know, whether consciously or subconsciously, whether our needs have been met once an event has transpired. this is all seemingly reasonable, and if anything, it raises the validity of the needs themselves, not the means by which we measure their fulfillment.
here’s an interesting point, the notion of validity, because validity is something that we often see externally. to explain this, let's wrap back around to where this all started: I woke up in a (stupid, irrational, emotional) funk that morning, but that day was the very day I conceptualized this whole writing assignment - so what happened between those two points? as I sat there sulking, passing the time after my beloved left for work (and he didn't take the day off? because I'm not worth it? oh my god get it together), I finally reached a point where I wondered why the fuck I was choosing to spend my birthday morning - really any morning - that way. and I admitted to myself that I hadn’t received any instruction on how to spend it otherwise. that because I hadn’t be wished a happy birthday, I was not capable of taking the initiative to actually have a happy birthday. as soon as this occurred to me, I felt endlessly ridiculous. so because no one had given me the permission to have a good day, I was going to steep in misery? what would the point of that be? as soon as that question crossed my mind, my attitude shifted, I happily planned out my afternoon of my own accord - and keep in mind, I had not received any messages still at this point. this was all a switch that flipped entirely in my mind.
Yumi writes me back that night. she's totally in and suggests a conversation in rounds. I go to sleep thinking about how I want to go about funneling this brainstorm into tangible bites.
friday march fourth
I wake up to find it's snowing - a total surprise to me - and wander into the kitchen to make my breakfast smoothie. everything is going great until I plug the blender in and turn the switch, only to find it won’t turn on. I unplug it and move to another outlet with no luck. I make sure the pitcher is aligned with the base, I turn on the lamp that is plugged into the same outlet...I remove the pitcher and turn over the base and stare at its monochrome bottom as if something is going to look back at me and tell me what is malfunctioning. I place the base back on the table and sigh, imagining myself in some conversation with someone in which I could say, “well the morning got off to a terrible start.” I think about all the food I’ve just wasted, now sitting in this blender, useless, remember that I have no other breakfast options in the apartment, wonder why I hadn’t somehow known to test it out beforehand, realize I will have to tell Julie.
on cue, I hear myself think, “it’s just that I can’t seem to think that it’s not my fault.” the blender kicks on.
okay. maybe I’m wrong about expectations being a measurement of external judgment, because in this moment I realize that expectations also serve as a way for us to put ourselves in check. the notion of this failed and I can think of 12 things I should have done differently - but what’s funny is that the rest of that thought is not to improve the outcome, it’s to have anticipated the failure of this thing before it failed.
saturday march fifth
we have a great morning making breakfast, and even though I check the time half an hour before we’re supposed to be leaving for me to get to work, I am able to remain pretty calm in getting ready. at the last minute, I notice that my face is way darker than my chest, which I am showing in a tank top for the first time since winter. I question this decision and start rifling through my shirt drawer. I don’t know what I’m looking for - anything to quell the doubt that has suddenly filled me. I find an acceptable t-shirt but still I am left desiring something I can't put my finger on. I hem and haw while spinning my wheels in front of the dresser.
I've effectively wasted a full five minutes and thrown off my entire rhythm. and things had been going just fine.
we get to the platform just as the F is pulling away and I'm surprisingly nonchalant about it. "that's the train I needed to be on, but I'm not worried about it. another one will come soon." I hear the way it sounds and I recognize it as the calm before the storm. the next F train arrives ten minutes later and by the time we sit down I'm practically hyperventilating.
"there's no point in worrying about it now. I'm only going to be a few minutes late. in the grand scheme of things, this is not a big deal. this is fine."
Chris is smiling and nodding at me as I state this robotically and I can see his patience fraying.
"if I hadn't stalled we would have made that train."
"you don't know that."
"if I had just trusted that I was ready to leave we would have left and we would have been on that train and this wouldn't be a problem. I just keep finding ways to sabotage myself so that I can feel guilty about things and I don't know why."
I know that I am A Lot when I am spiraling and I'm talking myself through it out loud to help ease out of it but I wonder if it's just making things worse.
as we approach my stop and it is confirmed that I really will only be a few minutes late, I feel the machine begin to slow. my face slackens and I breathe in and out. this can't be the way that I respond to everything. this has to stop. there has to be a way out of this kind of fruitless anxiety.
after work, I meet up with Chris and we walk to a friend's birthday party at the Love Shack, a space I still don't entirely understand beyond it belonging to people who rent it out on Airbnb. when we arrive, I know why - because it's fucking amazing. I am immediately drawn to the astrologer camped out in the corner and wait patiently for her to finish up the line and take a break. I hover uncomfortably, trying not to let her see how badly I want to get in there. finally, I sit down. she is eating pizza and she is ready for me.
looking at my birthchart on a freestanding iPad, she tells me that I'm currently having a really hard time, walking around in the dark (that would be my Moon card manifesting from my birthday tarot reading), and that I need to figure out how to just get comfortable and start relying on my instinct. "it's hard," I tell her, "because my Capricorn rising doesn't like it when I shut off Reason." she chews diligently while staring at me and I remember that we've all gotta eat. "I know. but you've just got to work that out. April is when things start to come together and feel clearer. things you've been working on will start to feel like they make sense again." Queen of Wands in the April slot of my New Years reading. she's talking to me through the crust. "seriously, just relax and trust yourself. everything is going to be fine. there's nothing else to do but just let go. trust that you're bringing yourself to exactly where you need to be."
tuesday march eighth
I wake up to an email back from Yumi with answers from my first round of questions. we curl up in bed and I read them aloud.
TY: in Your Illustrated Guide, you treat intentions like seeds, and advise that we plant them and allow them to grow. I am notoriously terrible when it comes to plant life. I have killed a shameful number of small green living things and I never know what I'm doing wrong. perhaps I feel similarly about setting intentions - to me it feels delicate, requiring a gentle, patient approach that I haven't mastered. I poke and prod and somehow twist them into expectations and in the end I'm left with a contorted version of what I'd hoped for - or nothing at all. can you tell me about how you set intentions and suspend the need to interfere with the process?
YS: This is such a great question and I've been thinking about this for myself, especially for the last few months. I remember maybe five years ago I read on a popular personal development blog (Zen Habits, I think) that this blogger decided to let go of having goals and to-do lists, and this radical shift in attitude completely improved the quality of his life in such an unbelievable way. And at that time, I didn't get it AT ALL. Like, how can you possibly structure your life if you don't have tangible GOALS to work towards? Wouldn't your life completely fall apart? Wouldn't you just sit around doing nothing with all these unfinished errands piling up all around you?
And years later, I am beginning to understand what this blogger was saying. I won't say I'm a master of this, but there is something beautiful and amazing about wanting something really badly for yourself and, simultaneously, being at peace with the fact that the desired outcome may turn out very differently or maybe never happen at all, even if you work really hard towards it in the most perfect and studious way possible. Or rather, believing and trusting in your evolved instincts that you will do whatever it takes to get the work done without punishing yourself constantly, and it can all unfold in a playful, joyful and intuitive way where many things are simultaneously happening even if they are unseen, like a growing garden or an unborn child developing in a mother's womb.
If I'm not so attached to this perfect outcome, then I'm going to free my mind to explore the process in a more open, curious and playful way. And if I am more open, curious and playful without thinking of failure or perfection, then I am more likely going to come up with something more authentic and more interesting than if I felt that I had to labor through every step while weighing myself with the burden of executing the most desired and perfect outcome.
Related, I went to a lecture by Deepak Chopra once (I was only able to do this because I used to work for a wellness start-up his daughter founded - which is so random) and he emphasized that the most important thing is not what you are doing, but who you are being. Basically, by being fully present and just being-- you are doing the most important work that you as a spiritual being can possibly do. And I am beginning to get it. You are showing up, witnessing the present moment, and celebrating what is happening right now by being fully present. Truly, that is the most important thing.
Also, I am a believer in planting intentions and letting go because looking back on the last five years of my life, all of my best and exciting successes seemed to have come out of the left field out of weird serendipitous magic, and were not meticulously planned.
TY: a common misconception is that when you share ways in which to take care of yourself, you are always 100% amazing at taking care of yourself. I know there are times when you too must feel a bit off-path, out of touch, left of center, stuck. what kind of steps do you take to reset yourself when this happens?
YS: Daily morning meditation practice is simply amazing. Or if it isn't something you do regularly, simply allowing yourself to sit or lie down for ten minutes doing nothing, feeling whatever you feel like feeling and thinking whatever you feel like thinking. I cannot recommend it enough. And when I am feeling off-path, it's amazing how going back to the basics can work wonders: a full night's sleep, hydrating yourself, taking a walk, taking a nap, eating healthy, calling a friend, writing in a journal. Going offline for long periods of time is also highly underrated.
Also, it is so important to give yourself permission to do nothing. Having pockets of time - whether it's a few hours or a few days if your schedule permits - to do nothing and just letting yourself be is so unbelievably important for the body and soul. I am a big fan of doing nothing.
my mind is swirling. doing nothing. it is okay to do nothing? it is okay to do nothing.
wednesday march ninth
for the past few days, I've been meditating, and I've decided that means lying on my back, often still in the arena of my bed, with my hands resting above my head, soles pressed together, just breathing. it is borne of a sentiment of laziness, of not knowing what to do to calm my mind, of not wanting to "try" to think about anything in particular, of not wanting to just lie there like I would lie at any other moment of the day. breathing feels really good, and thinking about breathing feels good, and my ten-minute timer goes off a lot sooner than I think it will. climbing into tiny pods of stillness. I can get used to this.
the breathing keeps me from listening too closely to my thoughts, the quality of which is, on a good day, tap water and on a bad day, sewage. back to what I'd been discussing with Julie, is this about employing some sort of filter, or indicative of a time to completely overhaul the pipes?
I send a follow-up question to Yumi and she writes me back the same afternoon:
TY: while meditating, you recommend "feeling whatever you feel like feeling and thinking whatever you feel like thinking." when I find myself at odds with my brain, I feel torn between two common approaches to psychic cleanliness: that we are not our thoughts, and that enlightenment is only possible through detaching our headspace from the thoughts that pass through it, because many of them are fleeting and they cannot all possibly define us; or that it is possible for us to alter the nature of our thinking process through a type of rewiring - changing the channel. do you agree with one of these more than the other? are they mutually exclusive? is it possible to change our way of thinking if we are not meant to be attached to the thoughts themselves? I get caught up on the idea of changing the channel. on a good day, if a negative thought is stuck in my head like a song I don't want to hear, I recognize that I am capable of switching over to something else. but when feeling Very Stuck, it is much more difficult to turn away, which only adds to the frustration that I'm incapable of altering my headspace, and that frustration probably isn't very constructive...
YS: I don't think they are mutually exclusive at all. For myself, the bigger, macrocosmic picture is detaching from one's thoughts and seeing them as temporal clouds passing through the sky. Of course, easier said than done! The microcosmic subtask that is happening in tandem with the bigger picture is to change the quality of the thought clouds so that they are more empowering and healing to you (or as you put it - rewiring and changing the channel.)
So I find myself toggling between both approaches depending on what I feel I need for the moment. For example, I have a near-automatic response to obsess and nitpick over the minutiae of all my social interactions and judge the shit out of every wrong thing I said every time I do a public event or lead a workshop. And on top of that, I have a meta-thought of all these negative thoughts that I shouldn't be having these thoughts in the first place, which of course make me feel completely terrible.
What has worked for me is to do the big macrocosmic thought detachment first - to allow myself to feel the tenseness in the body, the self-conscious discomfort of replaying all my past social interactions in my mind - and then as I relax into giving myself the space to think whatever I feel like thinking and feel whatever I feel like feeling, to gently create alternate narratives for whatever negative thoughts are racing through my mind - which is allowing rewiring and channel-changing to happen if they feel natural to me.
All of this is not easy - but years of daily meditation practice definitely makes a difference.
it's comforting to hear Yumi has had her own trouble with rewiring, and to know that it's entirely possible. I am typically impatient, so the idea of having to just keep at something little by little is hard for me to grapple with, however, I know that I must push past this in order to crawl out of my current brainhole once and for all. I recognize that I default to a prescriptive approach to self-care, deciding that it is only necessary when I am already feeling stuck, as opposed to a preventative approach, which is what meditation is asking of me. I have to keep doing this, even if I don't feel like I need it. I want to keep doing this, even if I'm already feeling alright. I want to break free. I want to think better.
tuesday march fifteenth
after stewing over Yumi's words and letting my to-do list pad collect dust for a few days, I end up with one last question (for now):
TY: you encourage the taking of time off when possible, and mention that even a few days can be helpful. with a busy schedule, how do you remove yourself from your process and your tasks and the work that needs to be done without creating more anxiety? how do you keep track of what still needs to be done so that things don't fall by the wayside? and if you're not a fan of to-do lists, how do you stay on top of work when you return from these mini-sabbaticals?
friday march eighteenth
YS: As an exercise prompted by a newsletter I subscribe to, at the beginning of this year, I made a list of my most memorable moments of 2015. What were the most exciting, beautiful moments that lit up my senses when I remembered them? And, not surprisingly, nearly all of them had nothing to do with work or professional accomplishments. They were all about catching up with friends when visiting from out of town, artist retreats with friends squeezed in-between super-busy times, going to amazing art events, meandering one-on-one evening walks with friends in the city, etc. It made me realize many things, one of them being that you can't wait for the ideal free time to rejuvenate and do nothing, it has to hurt a little bit because it feels like you are stretching your schedule to fit it in and is almost always inconvenient, but it is as vital to your spiritual wellbeing as oxygen.
I see rest and rejuvenation now as an important, crucial part of the creative process, NOT an optional luxury. I find the best ideas when I am doing "nothing" - walking in neighborhoods, aimlessly browsing bookstores, going to museums, shooting the shit with girlfriends, etc. As opposed to my previous attitude when I would mentally flagellate myself when I felt I wasn't disciplined or working hard enough, I am now experimenting with the mindset that if I believe in my intention to manifest a project, my mind and body will naturally configure themselves to give me the energy, focus and discipline to get whatever needs to get done, done. Like how nature doesn't need micromanaging. And if my body and mind need rest, I can trust myself to recharge as needed and come back to whatever I am working on without falling to the wayside.
All of this is a very new thought experiment for me and actually a little scary (because it is so much TRUST you have to feel - in yourself and in the universe) but so far, I feel much happier and inspired in this state of mind.
sunday march twentieth
Chris and I are on the PATH train back from Jersey when I connect a series of threads into a revelation, most of which I manage to remember while attempting to cement it into my notebook later that night:
the past couple of months have felt Hard.
I have had a lot of feelings the past two months, have felt so goddamn sensitive, raw, and have felt critical in response, yet it's not preventing the feeling, it's getting used to sitting with it. I pulled the Queen of Wands for April and the King of Cups for May. that is a place I'd be happy to reach - feeling in touch and comfortable with my feelings regardless of the circumstances. meditation has been helping with this issue by providing a space in which thoughts outside of my functional range can surface and subsequently dissolve into the ether. if we can treat thoughts like synapses, then the detachment from them leaves the affiliated receptors unfulfilled. when those receptors go for long enough without stimulation, they shrink and cycle out, creating space for higher-level receptors to develop. not the inclination toward sensitivity as a curse, but refocusing what the mind is sensitive to. the execution of the stages of thinking: releasing obligation to negative thoughts while restructuring how the brain receives or intercepts information. all tying into the High Priestess as environment card from my birthday reading - sensitivity lending itself to the development of intuition based on an improvement of the quality of thoughts.
shrink. cycle out. level up. repeat.
there is hope. it can be done. it is already happening right now.
Taylor Yates is the editor-in-chief of Selfish, a freelance copy editor, a book fair fiend, and a sugar junkie. her work has been published in DUM DUM Zine and she can be found giving amateur tarot readings and drinking you under the table.
Yumi Sakugawa is a comic book artist and illustrator, and the author of I Think I Am in Friend-Love with You, Your Illustrated Guide to Becoming One with the Universe, and There Is No Right Way to Meditate. Her comics have also appeared in Bitch, The Believer, Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014, The Rumpus, and other publications. A graduate of the fine art program of University of California Los Angeles, she currently lives in Los Angeles, where she spends most of her time as a wannabe foodie and pursuing the next perfect taco-truck taco. You can find her on twitter and instagram.
stay tuned for part two, due next month, which deals with ancestral baggage, desire and attraction, and what it's like / what it takes for black girls to feel beautiful. featuring a conversation with poetry editor Alys Velazquez.