1 – neck deep in the quarter
It’s the penultimate month of the year and I am in week six of this ten week quarter thing and that calendar system is, you know, about as terrible as I thought it would be. (Except also I will be taking more classes and doing more stuff next quarter and I shudder to think at how overwhelmed and tired and stressed I may well be then.)
Anyway, I have been doing well. It feels a little weird to be like “yeah, I’m good”, and I’m pretty sure that’s me just used to being really anxious and depressed and not feeling good and now that I’ve made such a big move and am Surviving it’s like – Is this a joke? When’s the bad thing gonna happen? Where’s the proverbial other shoe that is definitely going to drop? I’m trying improve my self-talk, though, and just stop myself at “I’m good” before I get to catastrophizing and the like. In October I turned in my first few assignments here at UCLA, I got a good grade on the one assignment I got back, I hung out with people, I hung out with myself, I went to the gym, I kept my room relatively tidy except for one corner, I ate 100% more dessert items than I do at home. I feel pretty good about October, actually.
The thing I find myself comparing now to is a few years ago in Edinburgh. It was the same time of year and I was, in many ways, doing similar things: meeting new people, going to class in the form of huge lectures, walking about twenty-five minutes to get to class, eating by myself in the dining hall, studying and doing homework in fancy looking libraries. My mind is expecting Now to turn into That any second now, with the accompanying crying in bed, missing my boyfriend, agonizing over how I haven’t made my Best College Friend yet, feeling self-conscious about not laughing uproariously over dining hall food with a hashtag girl gang. I’m definitely in a better headspace about the whole thing now and, like I said before, I’m mostly sure my unease is me not quite knowing how to be OK. I’m figuring it out though, and I am OK. Soon I’ll be OK with being OK.
2 – good things
Cheyenne Barton on YouTube: This woman’s YouTube channel is so so nice, my lord. She’s an artist in a lot of different ways – she illustrates, makes videos, acts, and sings. Her videos on YouTube are so sweet and charming. I really love seeing her sit down to draw her stickers while her cat Sophie walks around her, make tea with her partner, and go to cafes and whatnot in the Pacific Northwest where she lives. Her illustrations are colorful and cute and happy. I usually put some YouTube videos on when I do my lil nighttime bathroom routine of skincare and teethcare and whatnot and recently I’ve been watching more videos from artists rather than influencers and it’s very nice! We’ll tackle the debate on whether influencers are artists another time, but for now my clarification here is that most influencer YouTube videos say something like “here are things I bought or received from PR teams this month and some affiliate links, hooray for capitalism, consumption, and destroying the planet with glitter packaging”. Anyway I digress from my praise of Cheyenne, highly recommend, love her, cannot get enough.
The Mind Explained on Netflix: This is a spinoff of the Vox ‘Explained’ show focusing on, well, ~THE MIND~ so psychology and the brain and that sort of thing. It’s informative, wonderfully edited, and narrated by Emma Stone, who still has a lovely voice despite her Scarlett Johansson-esque choice in roles recently. My favorite episodes so far have been ‘Psychedelics’, which features the author Michael Pollan and discusses research on LSD and shrooms as treatment for mental disorders such as addiction, anxiety, and depression; and ‘Mindfulness’, which explores mindful meditation originally from Buddhism and features Buddhist monks as well as Western biomedical researchers who explain what happens to your brain waves when you’re a master meditator like those monks.
How Millennials Became The Burnout Generation by Anne Helen Peterson on Buzzfeed: Such a good article about an awful thing. AHP is my fav celeb PhD Buzzfeed journalist speaking truth about Armie Hammer. Writing on her own experience becoming a professor in this quote below, she explains how millennials and the generations that follow have been raised with lessons that are no longer true for us. We now face systemic, institutionalized barriers to our future, and that’s our own personal economic future (and our lives on this dying planet, which are linked in the most fun, heartcrunching way).
Still, thousands of PhD students clung to the idea of a tenure-track professorship. And the tighter the academic market became, the harder we worked. We didn’t try to break the system, since that’s not how we’d been raised. We tried to win it.
I never thought the system was equitable. I knew it was winnable for only a small few. I just believed I could continue to optimize myself to become one of them. And it’s taken me years to understand the true ramifications of that mindset. I’d worked hard in college, but as an old millennial, the expectations for labor were tempered. We liked to say we worked hard, played hard — and there were clear boundaries around each of those activities. Grad school, then, is where I learned to work like a millennial, which is to say, all the time. My new watchword was “Everything that’s good is bad, everything that’s bad is good”: Things that should’ve felt good (leisure, not working) felt bad because I felt guilty for not working; things that should’ve felt “bad” (working all the time) felt good because I was doing what I thought I should and needed to be doing in order to succeed.
“Yet the more work we do, the more efficient we’ve proven ourselves to be, the worse our jobs become: lower pay, worse benefits, less job security. Our efficiency hasn’t bucked wage stagnation; our steadfastness hasn’t made us more valuable. If anything, our commitment to work, no matter how exploitative, has simply encouraged and facilitated our exploitation. We put up with companies treating us poorly because we don’t see another option. We don’t quit. We internalize that we’re not striving hard enough. And we get a second gig.”
We optimize ourselves for work so much, making sure everything we do is in service to our economic stability, like growing an online following with a hobby that we later leverage for a job and feeling somewhat guilty when we do something just for fun, and it’s literally all for naught. I’m not really sure what to do here now that we know this and I don’t think she is either. But at least we’re self-aware, right? And I think that’s the first step.
3 – not so good things
Being a renter: In a realization shocking to no other renters I am sure, being a renter has been Not Fun! Our apartment has a whole bunch o’ problems and our landlord doesn’t really respond to maintenance requests. I also, apparently, am in the single most expensive rental market in this whole goddamn state according to the LA Times.
Missing familiarity + the work it takes to gain it: Everything is new here and I am a homebody and creature of comfort with social anxiety, so predictably I’m having a bit of trouble fighting the urge to just curl up under the blankets forever. I miss having a routine and a regular schedule and knowing which restaurants in town have specials on what days. And I don’t like not having that but perhaps more, I dislike the work and time and effort it takes to gain that. It kind of scares me how complacent I am with being in a place I dislike just because I’m terrified of the work it takes to get out of it. So there’s something I’ll work on with a therapist if I ever get around to finding one here.
Why I Haven’t Gone Back to SCOTUS Since Kavanaugh by Dahlia Lithwick via Slate: Some big awful quotes here on letting the whole Kavanaugh thing go.
That is the problem with power: It incentivizes forgiveness and forgetting. It’s why the dozens of ethics complaints filed after the Kavanaugh hearings complaining about the judge’s behavior have been easily buried in a bottomless file of appeasement, on the grounds that he’s been seated and it’s too late. The problem with power is that there is no speaking truth to it when it holds all the cards. And now, given a lifetime appointment to a position that is checked by no one, Washington, the clerkship machinery, the cocktail party circuit, the elite academy all have a vested interest in getting over it and the public performance of getting over it. And a year perhaps seems a reasonable time stamp for that to begin.
The problem with power is that Brett Kavanaugh now has a monopoly on normalization, letting bygones be bygones, and turning the page. American women also have to decide whether to get over it or to invite more recriminations. That is, for those keeping track, the very definition of an abusive relationship. You stick around hoping that he’s changed, or that he didn’t mean it, or that if you don’t anger him again, maybe it’ll all be fine when the court hears the game-changing abortion appeal this year.
4 – reading list
Johann Hari’s TED Talk on depression and anxiety
Jenny Odell on why we need to learn to do nothing via The Guardian
The Modern Trap of Turning Hobbies Into Hustles by Molly Conway via Man Repeller
Unhappy Meals by Michael Pollan via The New York Times
The Birthstone Ring by TAI Jewelry
5 – camera roll
I went thrifting at Jet Rag Vintage’s $1 sale! I got some really good stuff, some of which I have worn and some of which I am unsure if there will ever be a situation to wear it to (bolero top with pandas and tigers on it, hello), but all of it was a bargain that would make my grandparents proud.
I am always behind on finishing up my planner pages – hence this from September.
Using my foot as a pillow!!!! (I typed those words in the wrong place just now – i.e. “using my pillow as a foot”. I’m not drunk or sleepy or anything, perhaps just a little dumb, but isn’t that hilarious?)
Sometimes Pisces memes hit me right in the heart. Here’s one of them that Josie sent me. On the very day he sent me this I had earlier masturbated to procrastinate writing my philosophy paper. I also think my remix of track 8 would be Cross Stitching and Baking Shows feat. My Cat.
My friend sent me a letter with a crane she made!!!! It is on my bookshelf now and I am uwu about it.
I wrote and mailed letters to a couple friends and a boyfriend! I’m pretty happy I did this because I have a problem of wanting to send letters (/ do art) and not actually sitting down and getting around to it. I also got to use the wax seal I got in Rome with my initials on it. How pretty and useless, eh?
My laptop refused to turn on one day shortly before my first essay was due and I freeeeeaaaaked out and Lyfted over to the nearest Apple store that would get me an appointment right away. They fixed it thank the lord (and thank the lord I’m in a financial situation courtesy of parents to pay for that) and I met a really cute dog there. It was also the first time I was in The Grove, which I’ve seen many a time in influencer vlogs lol, but I didn’t enjoy it due to laptop-related heart palpitations.
I used the leftover thread from my Van Gogh cross stitch to make some lil plants from Stardew Valley! I used the guides here – the book costs $32 but there’s a sample PDF which is what I used. I also bastardized the colors completely just using what I had in store lol.
One dark night in LA, I was driving with my roommate home from Target when we saw the local cinema closed off. A big sign read “El Camino”. “What’s that? Do you know that movie?” I asked. “I don’t know, I’ve never heard of it,” my roommate replied. I forgot about it. UNTIL I WENT ON INSTAGRAM AND SAW THAT IT WAS A MOVIE PREMIERE THAT BOBBY BERK ATTENDED. I.E. A TEN MINUTE WALK FROM MY APARTMENT. WE WERE SO CLOSE. This is obviously my first brush with celebrity and I am not a native Angeleno.
On the shelf in my philosophy TA’s office!!!!! She said she didn’t know anything about it and it probably belonged to someone she shared the office with, but I was overjoyed. Am thinking of asking to borrow it.
On Halloween I went to a club in Koreatown lol. It was a pretty off brand activity but was still fun and an interesting insight into the ABG lifestyle! I couldn’t do it, y’all – I lack the ability to apply fake eyelashes well, the knowledge of how to twerk, and the dedication needed to up my alcohol tolerance.
Happy November, friends. I hope LA cools off soon and I get all the classes I want for winter quarter. I hope you get whatever you’re wishing for and your favorite fruit is on sale when you go shopping.