small magic | into the unknown
a tiny, tentative step into the dark, sparkling sea
hello, fellow luminous being. i'm so glad you're here.
I'll be honest: I don't know how this whole newsletter thing is going to go. I don't know how often I’ll send it, what’ll be in it, whether I'll be good at writing it, or if I'll even have anything to say. That's unnerving to me, as a creature who craves structure and finds peace inside a meticulously color-coded plan. It's also part of the point.
When offered a long list of values like love, ambition, wealth, community, or family and instructed to select their top five, many trauma survivors—myself included—will put safety first. And we tend to view safety in binary terms: a person/place/situation is either safe, or they're not. If a safe person/place/situation ever becomes compromised, even momentarily, they are moved from the Safe column into Unsafe, and there is no moving back.
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This is a useful mental shortcut, evolutionarily speaking; there's no point trying to befriend a tiger twice. One swipe of the claws should tell us everything we need to know. But modern life is short on literal tigers and long on smaller-stakes, context-dependent, more nuanced dangers. If we stick to our binary system, eventually the entire universe ends up in the Unsafe pile.
My personal Unsafe pile is marvelously diverse. Some highlights: crowds; contractors entering my house; men I don't know, in general; Thanksgiving; whales; and unstructured play.
At least one of the items on that list is probably not going to hurt me. I'm not about to attempt whales again any time soon. But play seems...if not doable, then at least possible. I can try to play. Play is scary because unknowns are scary and spontaneity is scary and relaxing is scary and failure is scary. But I know that there’s a vast, glittering sea of creative possibility (and even fun, maybe???) out there, and it sure would be nice to at least get my feet wet.
Will you do this with me? We can even make a plan.
Shoes go in the sand.
Socks get balled up and shoved in the shoes. Why did we wear socks to the beach? Are we new here? Whatever. Just go with it. (See? We’re improvising already! Look how relaxed and casual we are.)
Let's see if we can survive dipping a toe.
✨things i've written✨
For The Last Word on Nothing, I interviewed fellow poet/essayist/science writer Sabrina Imbler about publishing, gender frustration, and (what else?) marine invertebrates. Our conversation was so rich that I had to break it into two posts. Part I is up now.
The blessed reanimators at Doubleback Review republish creative work from magazines and journals that have gone under. My poems "Pink Light" and "Pink Light (2021)" are out again now, and I'm so glad.
✨this month's magic✨
Here are some useful words I encountered recently
from Claire Comstock-Gay:
Denying yourself laughter or fun won’t correct the injustice in the world; ignoring your needs won’t help anyone. You don’t have to earn every moment of happiness through hard work or suffering. You deserve whatever joy you can find, simply because you exist.
& Guillermo del Toro:
Since childhood, I’ve been faithful to monsters. I have been saved and absolved by them, because monsters, I believe, are patron saints of our blissful imperfection, and they allow and embody the possibility of failing.
✨i can’t close this tab✨
Speaking of monsters: Sarah Gilman’s adorable rendering of the acutely relatable man-eating sea monster Mother Carey continues to bring me more joy than I even thought possible. I’ve had this image open in a browser tab for weeks, and every time it resurfaces I yelp with fresh delight.
Thank you for reading all the way to the end, and for wading in with me. If you have thoughts on safety or sea monsters or wearing socks to the beach or anything else you read today, just post a comment or reply to this message. I’d love to hear from you.
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