New Year’s Realizations


This New Year’s I had a lot of resolutions floating around in my head. Things like, check your phone less. Make more art. Call up friends more. Drink less. Read more books. Keep going to the gym. Make some goals and come up with plans to follow those goals.

But lists and charts seemed lacking. Instead I wanted to make a “vision board”: a collage filled with images of your aspirations, the people you want to be, the concepts you want to invite into your life. I wanted to see what my goals might look like, what color and shape they would be.

My vision board became a vision box. Which is kind of great because I was looking for an image that represents opening to reveal myself inside. I envisioned an open mouth or a cave maybe. I didn’t find it but realized later that a box is the perfect symbol for that.


Making a collage is about noticing what you’re attracted to. Feeling for that twinge, no matter how slight. Waiting for that moment when the pieces fit together in a pleasing way. Trusting your impulses- Cut this face in half? Seems weird but ok. Completely cover up this image that minutes ago, seemed essential? Sure. Glue the fish on sideways? Whatever you say.

I noticed that I was vibing with yellow. And women. And water and mountains. Some images just looked good to me, and some I chose for their pure symbolism: dancing woman, drawing woman, reading woman. Old woman. Mountain goat. Singing bird. Arrow in the target.


In yoga class yesterday the teacher said, “Lead with your heart.” The pose felt amazing, and vulnerable- chest out, arms back- but I also thought, what would life be like if you always led with your heart? Not “follow your heart” as people often say, but slightly different. Lead with your heart is more active, intentional, decisive. Heart as a flashlight, a steering wheel- not a leashed dog pulling you around.

I don’t have very specific goals and I never have. I’ve always just been drawn to a certain kind of artistic lifestyle without any real idea of how to get there. When I was a kid someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said, “happy.” But I realized recently (well, really my insightful mom suggested this theory) that it’s maybe not a result of a lack of imagination or a lack of drive, but from a kind of guarded protection against desire. Sometimes I have a desire or a goal and I immediately shut it down for one reason or another, the excuse often being, “I’m not the kind of person who does that.” Which is total bullshit. I don’t let the want get big and substantial enough to gain momentum. Because if you have no real desires, you’re not vulnerable. Desire can have a kind of power over you. But isn’t desire the strongest kind of power? It can be if you have the resources, the persistence, the smarts to get that thing you want. Otherwise you just have the want and no path to it; you are at its mercy. Easier to just not want it.

I think that’s what my brain has come to believe, for some reason.


Well, I’m going to practice¬†wanting.¬†Big things. Seemingly impossible things. I want things of epic proportions. I want to live in Switzerland in a little chalet, and eat exquisite fresh cheese for breakfast and learn to play the violin. I want to be a professional illustrator and be best friends with Carson Ellis. I want to bike along the West coast, from Canada to Mexico. I want to be a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance. I want to make all my own clothes. I want to be an expert gardener. I want to weave. I want to go surfing. I want to write a memoir. I want to go on a road trip and visit all my friends and camp in Yosemite.

I want half of my income to come from art and writing, and the other half to come from barbering. I want to have enough money. I want Benny to have a job he loves. I want to live in a clean, uncluttered house with a porch and a studio and a yard, and a big enough living room that it feels easy to invite people over. I want to be wild and colorful and giving and gracious and loving. I want to be loose, warm, open, alive, uncalculating, free.

I want to cook beautiful flavorful food. I want a spiritual awakening. I want to learn to tap dance. I want to feel connected to people without being afraid that they will take something from me- my time, my energy, my attention, my freedom. I want to be willing to work hard for something I want. I want to grow my hair long and wind my hair around my fist like power. I want to be remembered. I want to be admired. I want to be humble. I want full days to myself, days where I never have to speak or make facial expressions and I can be completely internal, or just forget myself entirely and become what’s around me.

I want to be Prince. I want to float in water at night, looking up at the stars. I want to destroy my phone. I want to sleep in a tree house. I want to swim with a whale. I want to walk through New York City. I want to understand the workings of things. I want to make things out of clay. I want to meet again everyone I’ve ever loved- including my mom, dad, sister. I want to remember my own birth. I want to know my ancestors. I want to live to an old age. I want Mina to outlive me. I want to accept people as they are. I want to take risks. I want to feel possibility as a tangible thing in my hand. I want to soften.

My Time Machine

I’ve been listening to a lot of the Mortified podcast lately. My mom got me into Mortified several years back, and since then both she and I have performed in Portland branch of the event. (If you don’t know, Mortified is a nationwide movement of people getting onstage to read from their adolescent diaries.) When I did it, I chose the time period of when I was about 17 and it’s intense stuff, losing touch with my friend group and becoming kind of a loner. Listening to the podcast, I started to get curious about who I was in middle school, and what I wrote about getting my period, my first kiss, how I felt about the first day of 8th grade. So I dug into my boxes in storage and found my 8th grade journal, delighted with the detailed descriptions of this awkward and tender time. And when I got to the end I wondered, “Wait- THEN what happened?”

So after some searching I found my 9th grade journal, and 10th (I skipped 11th because I had already gone over that recently), and then got lost in the turbulent roller coaster of 12th grade. Then of course I had to move onto my first year of college and so on. I didn’t read EVERY journal, or even one entire one, but I did a lot of sequential skimming, piecing my past together loosely in my mind. I got an urge to create a timeline of the significant events in my life.

I might still do that, but meanwhile I managed to, for the first time in my life, compile all my journals together into three sturdy boxes, labeled by time frame and arranged IN ORDER. Dang. Twenty five years of journaling, at times almost excessive. I’ve slowed down quite a bit in the last ten years, and that’s why it was so mind-boggling to find thick journals that only spanned a month or two.

Having such densely packed accounts of my experiences is such a gift; it feels like a time machine that allows me to be 12 again, to be 15, 18, 23 again. When I put the journal down I’m left dazed and disoriented, swimming in a strange stew of mixed emotions: yearning, regret, shame, confusion, wonder, joy, and also a compulsion to somehow “make things right” with people who I hurt or abandoned. There’s an urge to reconnect with people who used to be essential components to my life. But I also don’t want to get too caught up in the past, I want to move forward and create new artifacts for my future self to delight in.