003 - 🪟 - On Relationships
No, this is not a Valentine's Day-themed newsletter...
January felt like forever, right? But I hope you’re doing well and you’re savoring the last bit of cool breeze before we enter the hot summer months.
I’m going to make this catch-up really quick: big changes have been happening.
I’d be lying if I said I’m not feeling overwhelmed because I really am. But the thing is, it’s the best kind of excitement and fear—like I know the rewards would be worth the tears and mild panic. Especially since one of the biggest changes that’s happening at the moment is one that I kept running away from.
Coffee was such a touchy subject for me the past few years. I quit my coffee job before the pandemic, thinking I’ll be able to pursue a career in coffee abroad. But the pandemic, like many of us, changed my plans.
It was such a battle dealing with my ego when I wasn’t making coffee anymore. I’m not the best at it, but I made coffee my world. My whole coffee life became my routine, and suddenly, I didn’t have it.
So, letting go of that “life” was challenging for me. I had to strip the “identity” that I made of myself (if that makes sense) and start fresh again. But the funny thing is, even if I would constantly resist the idea, opportunities in the coffee world would always sneak their way back into my life.
I’ve only recently started welcoming coffee back into my life. This time, however, coffee and I are taking it slow. Many gears need re-oiling, lots of (life and mindset) calibration that needs to be done, and some things to unlearn, learn and re-learn, but I’m looking forward to making mistakes again and coming back from a long hibernation.
If you’ve known me for years, you know my struggle with this. But I want to let you guys know that I’ll be dancing behind the bar again soon, and I’m excited about that.
Not gonna lie, I’m terrified—but it’s the good kind.
Arabella is one of my best-est friends, and for this month, I spoke with her about her relationship with a lot of things in her life—her art, herself, and with her mom.
Also, I decided to record our conversation — much like an “audio archive” — so we have something to look back to in the future. I won’t be uploading the whole conversation in this newsletter, but it will be out someday! I’ll be uploading a snippet of my conversation with Arabella on Instagram, so it might be best to follow The EverythingEverything, too!
Pro Tip: Best to read this with a glass of wine or a fresh, hot cup of masala chai.
On your relationship with your art
Now that we’re all forced to slow down, has your artistic philosophy changed? Are you making art differently now? How has your relationship with your art evolved from when you started?
We're almost in our second year of being in a state of haywire. During the first lockdown, I was able to embrace that kind of slowness in which I was able to tend to myself and do things for myself that I kind of neglected because I felt that having to pause was a communal experience. Now I don't think it isn't anything like that anymore the world started moving again in some ways and we all have different sets of cards we have to deal with and the question for me I would say is how do I carry the things that sharpened me back in 2020.
Back when I was beginning to make images and stringing words together I had a sense of control in whatever it was that I made, an upper hand if you will, I guess it came with the territory of being young and being able to make something in an impulse. There's a lot of joy in that kind of freedom.
The year before the pandemic was very transformative for me, a kind of baptism of fire. I don't think I was deliberately extending my experiences towards my art but naturally, it reflected the space where I was at that time. I shared my writing on Medium during that year and I noticed in most of the pieces I wrote, I wrote in fragments and now I have just forgotten to write altogether. Kidding. I assume the fragments came from the need to understand while not having a grasp of whatever it was I was writing about and so writing was kind of making amends. Now, I don't want to be consumed by that wanting in "trying to understand"—now, I just want to be able to bear witness.
In a way, you can say it's still allowing for the gray areas of those fragments but also finding resolution in that in-betweenness. I think I am learning a lot more today, so much more than I was years back. I feel like I'm in a transitional period where I have to tie the loose ends from all that I have been gathering for some time now. I have been asking a lot of questions and trying to see which question can lead me to a place I want to go. Though it's much harder to pick up a pen or just bring my camera everywhere with me sometimes because I have a life I am trying to master and sometimes it's difficult to make art when all you want is a good night's sleep. Though I'm very hopeful in the next years of what will become of my art because a lot of things haven't worked out in the way that I wanted them to and yet I am still here trying to write some lines and show you some of the light falling and I feel more vulnerable this way of having done and not having succeeded yet, it humbles me and it makes me want to know what will come after all this but first, I need to get over the fear in showing a bit of what I have been making because I was so used to just going at it alone.
You also have a background in literature—how has this influenced your work?
I was able to learn from brilliant professors back then and they really showed me a certain kind of rigor and paying attention towards language and I am still trying to pull off that kind of diligence towards my work. Also, I will always say that everything is a poem. Poetry really enraptured me.
On your relationship with relationships
You told me previously that your relationship with your mom is your greatest love story and has inspired much of your work—can you tell me more about that? And is there a lesson you’ll always keep that you’ve learned from your mom?
There's a different kind of initiation when roles are reversed in the parent-child relationship I knew at some point it was going to happen to me I mean to all of us it's just natural I just didn't expect for it to come sooner. I was really navigating blind through it because I was so young when I had to move back home and be with my mom and kind of take responsibility for certain things. I say that she's one of my life's greatest love stories because my mom really opened my heart in the last decade.
She's been championing a rare neurodegenerative disease with so much desire and humor that I can't help but just be so grateful to be allowed to see layers of her unfold. It feels like being able to watch her go through her life in the last ten years I can liken to her giving birth to me all over again. It feels like as she's going through her own battles I am also becoming another person myself, being born into another kind of life.
Recently I read this Believer interview with Andrew Garfield wherein he says "And sons have been losing their mothers for thousands and thousands of years, and they will continue to, and you’ve just been initiated into that awareness and into that reality. Some illusion has been lifted. You’re in a real-er version of the world now, and it’s painful", and having read that kind of felt like being punched in the gut but in a very sobering way. I'm still learning a lot from my mom up until this day but if there's anything I have been patiently trying to learn from our shared experience is that our capacity for grief is only a direct measure of our ability to love. When you're always outlining the edges of death and asking it for more time you're actually moving closer to the depths of love and the magnitude of how that feels like.
When relationships end—romantic or not—we grieve that connection and the version of ourselves that we lost with it. How has this been like for you? Letting go of friendships and romantic relationships?
If we're lucky we're allowed to witness a hundred deaths of the person we love but this rarely happens. When I was younger I was very sentimental about my relationships–– I was always freefalling until I would hit the surface. It was hard for me to let go of my relationships because my ego was always stubborn about the work and attention that I put into a relationship for it to fail. So even after the end of a relationship, I would bask in it, but now it feels different and a lot has shifted in me.
I no longer want to be sentimental and always look back on what I had because I am much more looking forward to the idea of crossing paths with new people in the time I have left in this world. I want to make the best out of it and I don't want to be the kind of person who's always glorifying the things that once took place. The possibility of desiring again and being desired again or taking care of someone and being taken care of in ways I can only imagine excites me more and this world of thought helps me move forward.
On your relationship with yourself
You’ve recently just ended your Saturn Return; how was that chapter like to you? How do you feel coming into this new version of yourself? What lessons did you learn and unlearn?
When I learned about Saturn Return which is supposedly really learning your life's important lessons and one of the hardest periods in your life (they say it can happen twice or thrice in your lifetime) I was f*cking hyped about it.
I remember getting a Saturn tattoo to kind of initiate and welcome it. Though of course life was kind of already happening for me and I wasn't aware that I was already in my Saturn Return. I even thought I had years left of it and then, surprisingly, when we had that conversation we found out that I was almost done. I just feel glad. That's it.
Somehow I know I did my best in that period because It literally felt like a Sisyphean cycle. It was one hell of a growing rock rolling over me. Now that it's over I don't think the difficulties will just magically vanish. I just know that the last years have changed me and it will water down the experience of learning and unlearning if I say that I am this new version of me that feels more like "this and that" because I learned "so and so" I just know now that I don't want to run away from the circumstance I've been dealt with and so this period of having gone through my Saturn Return feels like where it begins again.
You know how when a song climaxes and then suddenly there's a loud silence? Then the song goes on again and you're kind of relieved to hear the voice of the singer, that's exactly how I feel right now. God, it feels fucking good to be singing again.
We often forget to pat ourselves in the back when we do great things, or we constantly look for the next big thing. But at this moment, what are you most proud of? And how do you celebrate yourself?
This muscle inside of me still stubbornly beating. I'm fucking proud of it. I guess this whole covid era got us all feeling so intensely, so much loss and grief and yearning in such a short amount of time. Some days to be able to just see the day through is exhausting but to wake up and say, okay let's do it one more time and do it with a bastardly grin on my face. It just feels so good to be alive, doesn't it?
Wasn’t that the best? Wait until you hear our 2-hour long conversation that I’ll be posting here when the time is right.
A Little Bit of EverythingEverything
✳︎ Some prompts for February:
When was the last time you felt completely aligned with yourself?
Is there any relationship(s) in your life that requires attention?
What has been inspiring you lately?
✳︎ Been watching barista videos because I’ve been creating lectures and scheduling training for our baristas. I’ve been enjoying watching her kill rushes by herself!
✳︎ We all could use a Grouphug, don’t you think?
✳︎ Super love Hall & Oates' Rich Girl and The Bird and The Bee’s rendition. But I love this yummy version, too.
✳︎ I binged the first two seasons of The Morning Show, and I loved it. I can’t wait for the third season.
A Little Bit of Arabella’s EverythingEverything
✳︎ A conversation.
✳︎ Another conversation that was mentioned earlier in the newsletter.
✳︎ When I listen to this, it feels like my life can turn at any time. A friend also told me they used this track in Malcolm and Marie.
✳︎ My friend and I were on a zoom call date one time and he just shared beautiful songs that night and I was just smiling on the screen just listening to this.
✳︎ A film.
Next month is my birthday month! Will she do another long-form interview? Will she take a rest? Will she do something different for the newsletter? Who knows.
See you next month (or the next)? You’ll find out.
Thank you again for spending time with me. 🙂
Take it easy,