NB: This essay is best read after you’ve listened to Baker’s Little Oblivions
Julien Baker’s music makes me want to move. And I don’t mean like dance, though her new album does do that (help, why am I bopping around to the line: “I’ll wrap Orion’s belt around my neck and kick the chair out”?). No, her music makes me want to move in that it makes me want to make stuff.
It always has. Sprained Ankle made me want to draw. Turn Out the Lights made me want to paint. …
It started with three eggs. Smooth and blue. The kind of blue you only get on mornings without haze or mist or fog. Tucked in a nest left over from last year. Tidied up but structurally old.
It was mid-April and I was losing control of my nervous system. (I was ignoring the fact that I was losing control of my nervous system.)
I left my window open one night and swore to the chorus of frogs that I was ready for new growth. I could lose the coping mechanisms — the insomnia in particular — and enter our new…
Over a month ago, I left my friend’s sunny porch awash in the feeling of wholeness. Everything felt light as I walked to my car. I was full of friendship and the rare glory of (masked) face-to-face conversation. I was untouchable. By the time I pulled into my driveway ten minutes later, it was gone.
I’m not sure what it is, but lately my emotions have bizarrely short life spans. I’ll be deeply sad, but it doesn’t linger more than a few hours. …
People talk about figure skating like the athletic and the artistic are separate things. Separate scores, separate strengths. And this isn’t just from outside either. There has been talk from the International Skating Union of adding so-called “technical” programs that seem to be something like just skills tests.
But the thing is that they’re not separate. There’s not athletic figure skating and artistic figure skating. There’s just figure skating.
Do you think you can get a really deep edge without athleticism? A spiral without mad core strength? You can’t. I’ve literally tried. You can’t. …
You made me two pies
After I lied
And told you I was going west:
to the mountains
to breathe air and catch desiccated leaves as they floated down to earth.
I couldn’t eat them. The pies.
But it felt like so much to tell you that the way you wanted to help
made bile rise in my throat.
I hid in the bathroom from the empty apartment
With the lampless hall waiting like a tomb.
Everyone thought I was somewhere else,
A collection of somewheres I couldn’t stand to be.
I knew that I couldn’t handle —
In the last year I have seen three friends’ faces in the flesh, and only one consistently. This is because of the pandemic, of course, but it is also because only one of my friends lives in the same city as me.
It has been, despite everything, a pretty meaningful year for friendship. I kept up, caught up and made new. I have been cared for and have cared. It’s been hard, but it’s also been nice. I’ve had surprise FaceTimes about hard stuff with people who’d previously been mostly up for banter. I’ve made new friends on Twitter who…
As a teenager, I refused to cry. It was hard at first, but I’d bite my cheek and clench my fists and stare at the ceiling and eventually it would pass.
I guess I thought it was weak. I guess I thought I was strong.
I don’t remember when I decided crying wasn’t something that I did, but I do remember when it became impossible to hold back anymore. As soon as I started crying again, it was like a dam broke. I cried my way through college, curled up on my friends’ shoulders when I was homesick. I cried…
There are moments as a skating fan when you cry because you’re watching something beautiful. There are moments when you cry because you’re watching something history-making. And there are moments when you cry double because you’re watching both.
About halfway through Amber Glenn’s free skate at the 2021 U.S. Nationals, I started sobbing.
She killed that free skate. Full stop. She was glorious. Strong, powerful skating, emotive and clean. It was beautiful.
It also made history.
Because of that free skate, Amber Glenn, an openly bi/pansexual woman, won a silver medal. That…
In the fading light, Abby Jones, a newly-minted 10-year-old, dug her hands deeper into the cold dirt of the old sandbox.
“It just seems like she should be making friends at school by now,” Abby’s Aunt May whispered. She worried her lip between her front teeth and stared at the child.
Abby watched as her mother clenched her fists in response — long, ragged nails digging into the flesh of her palm.
“Maybe it’ll be fine.” Aunt May said.
Even from across the yard, Abby could hear her confidence wavering. It was a prayer meant to come out a promise.
Anna Shcherbakova is Russian champion once again after winning nationals this week. One month ago, the 16-year-old withdrew from a competition with “pneumonia” —assumed to be COVID-19. At nationals she was breathing heavily, given smelling salts by her team before, and falling into her coach after skating.
“It seems to me that I will come there in any condition and will show everything I can,” she said in an interview. “I just won’t forgive myself if I don’t even try to perform, qualify, but sit at home watching everyone compete.”
Shcherbakova is a child — one who has been coached…
Freelance journo and designer. I write. A lot. Tea obsessed but need coffee to live. Usually dancing- poorly.