SCHOOL’S OUT! I am so ready to sleep all day and party for like half an hour and then sleep some more all night. Love sleep. Sleep is great. Sleeeeep. I’m very sorry if you’re still in school, but then at least this month’s theme will resonate extra deeply: LONGING. Here’s what I sent our staffers when it was time to come up with ideas:
Hot summer bedrooms (not hot like sexy, hot like stuffy and “I waited the whole school year for summer and now this feels miserable, and it’s sunny but everything is not automatically fixed”). Summer homes and cottages, camp, secret neighborhood hangout spots like bridges, overpasses, rivers, and cemeteries. Feeling homesick. Taking sad baths. “Last Days of Disco” by Yo La Tengo/everything by Yo La Tengo. Miranda July’s short stories. Gerhard Richter‘s paintings that look like old photographs. Mark Borthwick, Corinne Day, Ryan McGinley, and Sally Mann. Overalls, white cotton dresses, chainlink fences, the beach, lighthouses, clotheslines, backyards, watercolors, pencils, butterflies and butterfly nets, seashells, the pool and all the gross pool chairs, homemade lemonade, sunflowers, dandelions, straw, fields, all those dirty-looking flowers, and those vaguely Scandinavian floral patterns that you find on dish towels and shit. The little things you only have time to notice in the summer and are like, “Oh, I haven’t paid this much attention to the light hitting my glass since I was very little.” The sun when it dances on water, the way old memories of summer are kind of overexposed and blown-out from the sun, the way the sunshine cuts in and out of your vision when you walk under the shadow of scattered branches and leaves, the way sun persists against closed eyelids. The dimension between us and the material world, light, glares, records crackling, TV static, the sounds when fingers move up and down a guitar neck between chords, negative space, and waiting, period.
Longing for the future: Naomi’s diary entry, wanting to change just for the sake of change, wanting to change but not knowing how to become that person you want to be. The show Enlightened did such a good job of capturing the kind of relationship everyone has with their smaller, darker self. Sometimes—and I would feel crazy sharing this if I didn’t think it was how most people are—I feel like I’m just consistently trying to keep down and tame and teach a part of myself that gets irritable and lazy and insecure and self-absorbed. Then when I slip up just a little bit I’m like, WELL THAT’S IT, I’M DONE, CLEARLY I AM JUST INNATELY EVIL. Enlightened is so good at showing how you can continue to change regardless—not by reinventing yourself in extremes like Bob Dylan or whatever, just becoming more of who you are and making peace with yourself.
Longing for the past: missing something you never had, missing a glorified idea of something, missing ignorance, missing simplicity (even though when we’re missing things we usually make them a lot simpler in our heads). The Virgin Suicides and Lolita are good examples of how longing takes over your consciousness, and how it can feel even stronger than actual contact, and how longing stays with you as you. (I mean, the narrators are creeps, but they have all that stuff down.)
The Great Gatsby and Daisy’s green light. The paradox of getting what you longed for, the dawning fact that nothing can ever be truly what you wanted.
The longing in The Virgin Suicides with all the girls wanting to leeeeaaave and trying to escape by reading travel brochures and books and listening to music, how that is all a form of escape, how it can create your own private reality and fulfill you in ways Real Experience can’t. Oh, and how sheltered they are. Same with Picnic at Hanging Rock.
Longing for something just because it’s become your default, even if you don’t want it anymore.
Learning to ask for what you want.
Getting what you longed for and finding that the act of longing itself had been sustaining. Like with crushes. Or like when I used to go to Fashion Week, and I realized at some point that some people really are just meant to be fans, that it was more fulfilling for me to keep that distance than to get as close as possible. That’s kind of an Almost Famous thing, too.
Figuring out what you want in relation to what makes you happy. When I hear teachers at my school talk about college, they make it seem like the purpose of education is solely to one day get a job instead of to enrich your brain and inspire you and help you grow. I think many people expect that once they get into that college or get that romantic partner, they will automatically be happier and live in a state of eternal bliss. But I think we all like to never be satisfied, and will always look for little things to get irritated about no matter how good we have it. I think the goal is not utopia/paradise/everythinghappyallthetimealways, just general contentment and a healthy day-to-day mind, which will sometimes be disrupted by extreme happiness or extreme sadness, which you can decide how to deal with, since you can’t control whether either happens or not. There are people who are “successful” and extremely unhappy, and there are people who live alone on a farm in the middle of nowhere and are extremely happy, and who cares if their happiness is not recognized by the rest of the world, because one day they’ll die and so will everybody else. (I am TIRED and have also lately been thinking about becoming a recluse.)
From a zine I made for myself recently-ish: There are holes in the universe. Lost dreams, expectations, the pictures you see in your mind when you read a book (and all the pictures other people see when they read the same book and how different all these pictures can be). Where do these alternate realities go? Do they fit into alternate timelines? Or do the watercolors of memory just mix until old hope becomes a black hole? DEEP AF I KNOW GOD.
I’m aware this whole email is super cheese, but whatever! I wish I could see a gallery of all the visuals every human has ever had in their mind of fantasies and daydreams, picturing themselves getting what they want.
Hope you enjoy. Cannot wait to cry about this month 2gether through our computer screens.