Category: Butterfly

Oscars Roundup!!

You may recall a certain plan I made that set out to view most/all movies up for major awards at the upcoming Oscars.  I am happy to report that I have succeeded – AND MORE.  This was mostly made possible through actual movie passes and the wonder that is MoviePass – I mentioned it in our SyncSwim newsletter (you’re not signed up!? go to!) but it deserves a second shoutout because it is a #game #changer.  I am in fact not a wealthy goddess woman and cannot afford to see all these movies on the big screen at face value.  Imagine my joy when, lo, my pal told me about a magical piece of plastic that allows you to see unlimited movies for $10 a month and isn’t lying! (Apparently right now it’s for only $8 a month based on the link I just put in? How is that possible??? Where was this when I was 14???) Aka, what movie dreams are made of.  You can also quit whenever, so it is very much worth getting it for just one month and then making a mad dash to the nearest theater near you.  Ergo, thank you to both the Academy and MoviePass for sponsoring my journey into cinematic bliss (but not you, Harvey Weinstein.  You and your sliminess can kindly stay out of here).

That said, if you’re feeling disoriented on the road to the Oscars, or if you’re just looking for one or two to see to stay relevant, or if you don’t care at all, or if you care too much – here’s my take on how to prioritize, in the order I saw them, followed by the order I would recommend seeing them in if you’re pressed for time.  If you’re anywhere near Chicagoland, there will be ample opportunity to escape the rainy, snowy days ahead in the walls of your friendly neighborhood theater (unless you’re trying to see Black Panther.  Good luck getting a ticket.)  If you’re like me, you can movie hop while you’re there, and catch the second half of another flick (I’m looking at you, Greatest Showman) because why the heck not!

And so, without further ado,


  1.  I, Tonya (3)

I remember reading about Tonya Harding in various People collectibles that detailed crimes that shocked America, and I always had questions about this one.  There was a lot of talk about Nancy Kerrigan being saintly and pretty, but not a ton about Tonya Harding the person.  No more!  The acting is excellent, but the best thing about this movie is how little it actually focuses on alleged crime and instead finally gives Tonya her due, making her sentencing way more heartbreaking.  She’s a badass beyond measure, and even with the beautiful skating taking place at the Winter Olympics this year, still holds her own as one of the very best in history.  Also, shoutout to the guy that plays the bodyguard, aka maybe my favorite supporting character ever.  Also also, listen to the Tonya Harding singles and read Sufjan’s cutie note about her for the full experience.  This movie rules.

2.  3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (1)

Let’s just get out of the way now that this was my very favorite of the bunch, and the one I think you should see if you’re going to just see one.  Okay! That’s done!  The writing is incredible, the story is unpredictable, there’s a lengthy feature of Abba, Frances McDormand is a punch to the face.  It’s not for the faint of heart – my roommate describes it as “emotionally violent” – but it’s the most original of the bunch while remaining very much on the nose about the typical.  Might just go see it again right now.  Wanna come?

Frances winning all of the awardsThe Post

3.  The Post (5)

I would not have seen this had my mother not asked me to accompany her, and I am oh so glad she did!  It is predictable in certain senses (due to the whole Stephen Spielberg-Meryl Streep-Tom Hanks thing), but it’s really riveting anyway.  Nothing against Queen Meryl, but it’s one of the few performances of hers in recent years that I think actually merits the nomination (obviously she’s the best but come on, give someone else a try!).  Nothing like a movie about journalism to cut right to the point, while simultaneously managing to make you long for a gold caftan and the lives of Washington’s elite.

4.  The Greatest Showman (6)

Haters, back off.  Think I’m exaggerating all you want, but I cried 3 times while watching this movie out of sheer joy, and I have snuck into it twice since seeing it to catch whatever left of it I can after my real movie is over.  I get why people are like “meh,” but I also don’t think that’s a fair response if you account for the fact that it’s just trying to be what it is – a joyful celebration of good entertainment done well.  And, it is.  Also, the acrobatic love ballad between Zac Efron and Zendaya is one of the most romantic things I’ve ever seen and they did all of it themselves!!! Which, arguably, should be the case if you are getting paid millions of dollars! But still!!  Acrobats! Of love!

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I’d Like to Thank the Academy

The month of January is typically reserved for post-holiday blues and sludge-trudging, but, truth be told, it is one of my favorite times of the year because it means I get to go to the movies about once a week and not feel bad about it because THE OSCAR RACE HAS OFFICIALLY COMMENCED.  All of the contenders come out to play around the same time, as though they’re collectively nervous that if they’d decided to release in March the Academy would forget about them (which, it seems, they do). I remember the January of my senior year of college, when I went to Birdman and Foxcatcher and Whiplash with various cohorts of pals in what felt like an endless barrage of really good movies after several years where there, like, weren’t any.  Though I tend to prefer seeing movies alone, I love nabbing whoever I can to share the screen with this month, to look over at each other dumbfounded or crying at the end of whatever the heck just happened.  When I have a semi-respectable space to do so (not presently), I love to host an Oscar party and print out ballots and shush all of my guests while watching all the pretty people thank their mothers and be told they’re extraordinary.

I love going to the movies; always have.  When I was in elementary school, the greatest treat was when my mother came and picked me up early from school to see a movie (particularly when that movie was The Lizzie McGuire one).  She had excellent taste, and gave me my very first viewing of Pride and Prejudice at age 11, a gift I can never repay.  Movie theaters are the hallowed halls of middle school group dates spent itching to hold hands, or solo voyages when you need a good cry in the dark.  They are perfect for rainy days, or when you’re living in Holland and going stir crazy in your host family’s house.  The best is when you luck out and get a theater all to yourself – objectively, it sounds like it should be spooky, but experientially it feels very luxurious.  I used to keep every movie stub I acquired in a pile by my bed, until it grew to a size that required containment.  There are still little boxes of stubs in my childhood bedroom and an ever-growing bouquet in my wallet because I can’t quite seem to kick the habit.

A great Oscar mystery, rooted in legend and the 90’s

Here’s what I’m tryna see this month in my first round at the theaters before February:

Phantom Thread – bonus appeal: final film performance of Daniel Day Lewis </3, king of my heart; deterrent: looks scary!

I, Tonya – bonus appeal: I tried figure skating for two weeks when I was 7 years old and I’m eager to learn how my life could have turned out!, coincides beautifully with Sufjan Steven’s Tonya Harding singles, so I’m already emotionally prepared

3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – I want Frances McDormand to win all accolades possible, including for her supporting role in Something’s Gotta Give

The Greatest Showman – because of who I am as a person

Here are the movies I saw throughout 2017 that I just have an opinion about and hope will at least get some vague nomination, i.e., Best Cinematography

Baby Driver – I don’t really know what it could be nominated for (best writing? Cutiest trust fund boy-turned-actor-boy? Idk) but it’s still my fave movie of 2017

Wonder Woman – mostly just to ensure national exposure of the first 20 minutes in which the Amazon women are generally kicking all of the asses

Get Out – unlike any movie you will see this year and also ever

The Shape of Water – I normally hate the phrase “grown-up fairytale,” but it absolutely applies to this one, and it’s beautiful

Lady Bird – I didn’t love it as much as everyone else but I love that Greta Gerwig directed it and would like there to be 5 women alive who have been nominated for Best Director so!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – well, duh!

Here are the movies I know I’m supposed to want to see but feel totally! ambivalent! about:

Call Me By Your Name – saw one other Luca Guiadagnino movie and am too scared to see another one (but will probably cave bc peer pressure and bc important)

Darkest Hour – love Gary Oldman, love Winston Churchill, the math just isn’t there! (but also if someone paid for my ticket I would more than likely rally)

How crazy is it that over a hundred movies get made every year and there are some that only a handful of people see when there are thousands of people (this blimp included!) trying to make them?  And every year someone has to win, even if it’s not as good as the winner from the previous year?  It makes no sense! Emma Stone should not have won for La La Land! There, I said it! Cat’s outta the bag and running towards 2018!

Please do let me know if there’s something missing from my list – I have 6 glorious weeks to add to it, and I #dontwannamissathing.


Is Christmas about the gifts? Definitely not! Do we, here at Synchronized Swim, love to give and receive gifts? Definitely yes! I’ve been reading blogs consistently for a long time, and if there is anything I have learned from my dutiful readership internet-wide it is that gift guides are both ubiquitous and a huge indicator of taste / kindred-spiritness. I have always secretly loved holiday gift guides, and every time I read one I always secretly want to turn around and make one of my own — mostly because I often don’t find in the gift guides any of the sorts of things I would actually like to give or receive for Christmas.

My favorite kind of Christmas gift is the really lovely thing that you would genuinely love to own but would never buy for yourself. Not the things that might be nice to have, not the things that are just good to have around. No, the things that stick in your heart, the things that could fill a real empty space no matter how narrow. That, for the most part, is what this list is made of. I’ve kept many, many of the things on this list squirreled away in my amazon cart under the “save for label” tab or in a list called “Things I’d Love to Someday Own” in the notes app on my phone. These are the things I think about sometimes with a feeling I’m almost ashamed of, a feeling that is just a little smaller than longing. It’s funny how objects are not that great, really, most of the time, and yet our life is peopled with them. Slowly but surely, I’m enjoying surrounding myself with objects that I love and find to be useful, and I’m getting rid of things that do not fit that bill.

In order for me to want to own an object, three things need to be true of it. I need to feel like the object is beautiful, useful, and true. Beautiful meaning simple and lovely, with visual interest, clean lines, thoughtful construction. Useful meaning I can think immediately of how I would use the object or why it would be worth taking up space in my tiny home. And true meaning full, holding more than just the baseline of what the object is, carrying a little bit of extra meaning, story, care, personhood.

All of the objects on this list are here for a reason, and all of the objects are things that I genuinely would like to own and don’t already. They are not things that I need–now that I am an adult, I buy the things that I need when I need them. No, they are things that I genuinely want but probably will not buy for myself. They are things that you may also genuinely want and probably would not buy for yourself. In favor of full disclosure, this is basically my real-live Christmas list — because what are we doing here at Synchronized Swim if not trying to offer up what we have going on right this second in us as something somehow worth something. These are the things that I, Amy, would love to receive for Christmas or otherwise. These are the things that live in lists, waiting for some sort of someday, little object-dreams, little “maybe-somedays.” It is amazing how precious to me the things I use every day become. It is amazing how ordinary objects become sacred because of their having been touched by my own two hands over and over again. How the books I read become, somehow, more than just books. How the bowls I eat from become more than just bowls. The objects I live with become, in many ways, a part of me. As Isaiah and I packed up to move to the woods, it was so clear to us which things were important and which things weren’t. We knew what we wanted to have near us. Belongings are not nothing. We travel through the world with our bodies and our things. The physical stuff of life is worth paying attention to. It is good to make and keep beautiful things.  It is good to believe in what you own.

So, I suppose, here’s to more belongings that are not nothing. Here’s to gifts that are like real blessings. Here’s to pointing out what we think is beautiful, somehow, and seeing if other people agree. Here’s to offering what we have, and here’s also to not pretending we are experts on things we are not experts on (like what anyone but myself should want for Christmas!) I’m not going to tell you what your gift guide should hold, instead I’ll just show you mine and hope that someday we can dance together to ABBA in my kitchen after a simple/special handmade dinner in the light of a beeswax candle wearing wool leggings and shirts we maybe even made ourselves. Amen.


For dancing (with Jess) in the kitchen/living room/bedroom: ABBA: Gold on Vinyl

For taking your knitting/hand-quilting/embroidery to your pals house to work on while watching a weepy movie: Fringe Supply Co. Field Bag

For feeling like cooking is a real/possible thing to do (Sync-Swim-Snack-Mom Margaret approved): Dinner: Changing the Game by Melissa Clark

For taking half-way decent photos of the full moon during particularly spiritual moments that need to be documented right that second, obviously: iPhone X (cheeky, we know, but why not!)

For staying hydrated, which is truly so hard to do adequately: 12 oz Hydroflask

For accidentally weeping on the bus and then again later at the park: All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews

For when you feel like moving to the middle of nowhere and farming for the rest of your life: The Art of Loading Brush, Wendell Berry

For keeping tools close at hand and debris far away while making stuff: State the Label Smocks

For waking up without your phone in your face: Analog Alarm Clock

For writing your life: Midori Notebook

For making impromptu gatherings at the table feel more legit: taper candle and candlestick.

For keeping legs warm because coats aren’t for legs and maybe they ought to be especially when you live in the middle of the cold snowy woods: Smartwool leggings

For mystics who need someone to tell them, “keep going,”: Magdalene by Marie Howe

For if you want to wear probably the best pants in the world: Elizabeth Suzann Clyde Pants

For eating your corn flakes in the most beautiful way possible: East Fork Pottery Breakfast Bowl

For a recycled / very lovely quilt experiment: Jamie + the Jones raw silk scrap bundle

For feeling encouraged by lovely people doing/making lovely things: Taproot Magazine

For wearing your heart/secrets on your neck: In and Of Silk Scarves

For learning about what is real and true: Chekhov plays

For turning your fabric stash into pouches eventually: Pink zippers

For little moments of measurement: sewing gauge

For snipping what needs to be snipped on-the-go: 5-in Gingher Scissors

For drinking coffee out of something that is (1) not from a thrift store, and (2) just so beautiful that you’ll want to stare at it the whole time you use it and absorb the color of it into your skin somehow: Ocean Mug

For when you’re feeling burnt out or are maybe going to feel burnt out soon: How to Not Always Be Working by Marlee Grace

For sewing into a long-sleeve shirt ASAP: two yards of Cotton + Steel Cheshire Stripe fabric by-the-yard

For everything, forever (VERY IMPORTANT): Blackwing 602 Pencils

For learning about how plants are even more magical than we already knew they were: The Modern Natural Dyer

For keeping warm beautifully (with something that isn’t a quilt for once?!): Hillary Sproat blankets, Swiss Fields

For making your own jacket with your own two hands: Tamarack Jacket Pattern, Grainline Studio 

For first finding out that making your own clothes is easy/possible: Lotta Jansdotter Everyday Style

For REAL TRUE HEAVY-DUTY SELF CARE: Lush Bath Bombs, any/all

For feeling pretty: Marble + Milkweed Rosy Lip Tint

For adulting in style (because why have a million kitchen appliances if you can have one magic appliance that does it all?!?): Instant Pot

For blessing/acknowledging the year to come with something useful and beautiful and true: Sarah Parker Textiles Hand-Printed Calendar Tea Towel




observation, conversation, inference, repetition, failure

Cumulative GPA

results pending


riding on airplanes

sitting in libraries

reading the Harry Potter series four times through


wearing headphones so people think I’m listening to music when I am in fact listening to them


Special Skills

uncanny Keira Knightley impersonation

ability to use a blowdryer successfully

ability to identify songs in less than one second

good kisser

watched The Big Short and understood it

ability to walk into a room I am not supposed to be in and convince persons therein I am in fact supposed to be there

quick walker

good at locating best thing on the menu and proceeding to order it


ability to look at a person and assess if their day is crummy, glorious, or woefully in-between

can apply makeup satisfactorily when given appropriate amount of time

good at making playlists


laughing at my own jokes

good at making points


can dance to express emotion

excellent Scrabble player

good at parties (if I want to be at said party)

steel trap memory

ability to be plopped into a new city and get from point A to point B

good at persuading other people to like the things I like (Madewell jeans, Sing Street, Nicolas Cage, The OA)

Reasons You Should Not Hire Me But Come with the Territory Though You May Never Actually See Them Because Women Are Excellent at Hiding

still not 100% clear on American geography

allow my own feelings to overshadow reality

subpar cooking skills

quicker to tell someone else they’re wrong than to consider I might actually be wrong


tendency to give the long version over the short one

incessantly pick my nails

put my own needs before those of others

don’t like being told what to do

hate showering (not because of cleanliness but because it takes a lot of time but either way bad at showering)


laugh at my own jokes

a severely undercover fandom for the music of Selena Gomez (can’t predict how this will affect the workplace)

often run late

judge myself by my intentions and others by their actions

chronically dissatisfied

often accidentally shame people for not liking the same things as me

difficulty listening when I am thinking about something else (which is often)

Comments That Have Influenced My Work Ethic

“I was an English teacher, so I often wish people could express themselves more perfectly.” – woman talking to herself at library

“I just think things are gonna work out for you.” – my friend’s mom

“You smell really good, you smell like a combination of shampoo and pizza.” – my friend Whitney

Please find attached a photo that best describes said work ethic.

Thank you for your consideration, and please feel free to respond either by phone or email.  I look forward to hearing from you!


Just the Facts: Courteney Cox

We have received our unofficially official third request for Just the Facts, and we here at Sync Swim rejoice because there are few things I love more than a niche portrait of a life lived in the 90s.  My friend Travis suggested this lucky number 3 to me as we walked to an overpriced pasta dinner, as he is a staunch fan of Friends but knows not much about 1/6th of that powerhouse that kept the 90s from crumbling (as if it was in danger) – one Courteney Cox.

It’s as though she’s saying, “Yes, fame was a surprise, but I brought a cardigan just in case it would be cold in the white lights.”

Her rise to fame is somewhat infamous.  Legend has it she was serendipitously pulled onto the stage of my birthday twin Bruce Springsteen during one of his shows, which resulted in her appearing in one of his music videos because that performance was being filmed.  If you want to watch Bruce Springsteen adorably not know more than one dance move then watch the whole thing, otherwise skip to 2:30 to see their truly meaningful eye contact, and 3:29 to see her be organically pulled on to the stage and do her best to appear carefree.

From this footage, she was spotted by an agent for her really excellent hair and clearly #freespirit (I tried to get on the stage of a Killers concert when I was 15 but instead got trampled by a slew of drunken college students and I’m honestly not bitter okay some people get multi-million dollar contracts others get crushed dreams, it happens!!!).  Friends was certainly not her first gig – she was in several TV pilots that have since been forgotten – but it is obviously her most notable.  It was the sitcom that defined her generation and arguably the one after it, as more 20-somethings binge watch it on Netflix while they make it through life in their first (non-rent controlled, non-NYC) apartments.  For those living under a rock or with a more cultured streaming palate, she played Monica – formerly obese, neurotic, the ultimate hostess, sister to Ross, and in my opinion the most endearing of the group.  Sad fact: she was the only member of the cast never individually nominated for an Emmy, which just seems mean and unnecessary.  Though Rachel is considered the most fashionable on the show, let’s take this moment to admire that Monica aka Courteney (surely through her own flair for style and not the help of a wardrobe department) was the true style icon:

Any time I go to a Goodwill, it is to look for this dress.
I made a Pinterest board to hunt down this outfit, named “I Can’t Believe I’m Doing This.”
Please forward information about this dress to

Keep reading…

Screenshot Shimmy #3

As a disclaimer, I’m listening to Sufjan Stevens’ “Barcarola (You Must Be a Christmas Tree)” right now and also I have my period, so I have a lot of feelings. A very good reason to write something light-ish and simple-ish tonight, though, nothing ever ends up actually being light or simple for me and my heart and body, and everything is connected, braided, etc. It’s all okay. I’m shimmying! Here! Right now! Do it with me! Let’s do the screenshot shimmy!

I’ve been spending a lot of time yearning lately, and also a lot of time cooking, and not a lot of time, comparatively, making things with fibers. In case I haven’t said it out loud lately, it is one of my deepest dreams at this point to somehow make the making of handmade quilts my living, or some semblance of a living. This is something I have been carrying around for over a year, turning over and over, considering and reconsidering, saying yes to over and over. Yes, followed by wait.

Yes, wait. Yes, wait. Yes, wait.

So I dream. I plan, loosely. I hope, wistfully. I despair briefly sometimes, mostly at night. I work on the things I’m making when I get the chance, but not as often as I’d love. So many projects in mind, so many daydreams, so frustratingly little time. I’m forever trying to reconcile the day job / creative work / relationship health / personal health / leisure balance, mostly doing a bad job of juggling things, ending up feeling resentful and exhausted more than I’d like to admit. I let my Instagram account, a strange journal of a space, be the place where this dream is most fully realized, where I can stand up and say, “THIS IS WHAT IT IS FOR ME, THIS IS WHO I AM AND WHAT I’M PROUD OF.” I don’t really get to do that in real life, so I do it on Instagram, a strange liminal space of incessant creativity and renewal, a rat race of making — at least the Instagram I subscribe to. It is whatever the individual makes it. Mine is full of people doing the thing I want to do, people showing me what they’re making while I’m sitting around, exhausted, wishing to make. Instagram, as always, is a blessing and a curse to the artist. A blessing in that it is a window to community, a chance to see beyond one’s own studio cloister, a look into what is both possible and happening elsewhere. Little lifelines to kindred spirits. But the curse, oh the curse. I think about this a lot. It’s maddening, the possibility, the things that other people have already made that you wish you had thought of, the envy inherent, the ugly angle toward comparison stealing all the joy away. Not sure if this tension is there for you, but it’s certainly there for me. It feels good, important really, to name it. One of the hardest parts of seeing the work of others on Instagram is that it makes me feel like other people somehow just get to make the things they’re making all the time while I’m stuck doing all the other crap for 95% of my time, and then trying to make something beautiful with just 5% of my energy-depleted self. I know it’s all an illusion. I know that if I got to sit down and talk with every person I admire through the tiny keyhole of Instagram, every single person would tell me that it is so hard for them too. Every single person would tell me that they wish, oh how they wish, that things could somehow be different, that there could be more time, more resources, more togetherness, more opportunity, less comparison, less stolen joy.

It’s necessary, I suppose. The hunger at the center of me, the tension inherent within my very own body and soul as well as all around me, is what drives me toward beauty and creation, toward true things, toward heaven, really. I am on fire, perpetually, and it won’t go away. So I scroll Instagram. I let it hurt. I see something beautiful, something that feels recognizable to me, and oh! It makes me ache! The really beautiful things are the things that stop me in my tracks, that hurt the most keenly, that meet me where I am and make me feel that I’m a part of something with all the hunger inside of me. That, that thing amongst all the things, is beautiful. I save them for later. Tuck them away, look at them sometimes when my energy has all been divvied out elsewhere.

The word “inspire” bums me out, but I’ll use it anyway. These folks on Instagram inspire me. These folks are the ones who, I think, are somehow like me. Who also act out of hunger, out of a lunging toward beauty and truth, though the stretching hurts and the body is exhausted. The ones who find something to be compelled by and go after it, though it seems like everyone else is over somewhere else and probably no one cares. Over and over again, the things they make and offer stop me in my tracks, go straight to the hunger at the center of me. The things they make are beautiful and true, somehow, for me. Seeing and saving and returning to these beautiful things encourages me deeply, helps me feel real as I chase some hopeless dream, make some strange idea into a reality so much more slowly than I thought I would. This is why I take so many screenshots. Because the beauty is too much to scroll past. Because I have to remember what is possible. Because I don’t want to do it, any of it, alone. Because we, the hungry people, are making things that feed, somehow. Because this is my community, these are my people, we cloistered, tired hope-rs, we makers of meager things, trying less to look impressive and more to look hopeful and honest. These are the people I’m on Instagram, the strange wilderness of it, for.

A FEELINGS-RIDDEN POST ABOUT INSTAGRAM, bet you didn’t know that was what you were signing up for when you started reading this post!!! My apologies. Again, I’m on my period, so I have no chill. I’m straight up broadcasting from my desert island of madness, waving my arms and signal flags frantically, eating so much chocolate and tortilla chips, crying over nothing, listening to Christmas music because I need Advent to be a full two months long this year, please and thank you.

I feel like the actual collection of screenshots I’m sharing here is not quite as cohesive as I’ve made it sound in this impassioned intro. The reality of it is far more random and far less cohesive and curated than I’ve made it sound.  There are also scraps of many things, a few cookie recipes. That’s how life is. Everything all mixed together, all of it turning into something full and balanced, somehow, delicately. The biggest, strongest beauty is in the way a gorgeous hand-dyed quilt, hours of someone’s life, is casually there on your phone screen, to be either seen or passed over, nestled between a super-fancy super-styled ad from some company and your college acquaintance’s dog. This is the madness of Instagram. This is the madness of life. The stunningly beautiful things come between all the other things. Nothing gets to be pure. Nothing gets to quite take up the amount of space it really needs or deserves. Maybe that makes it all better. Maybe if we were to linger too long in the most beautiful things we would explode. We need some cookie recipes in there to temper the feelings. A season for everything, even on Instagram. Fleeting keyhole looks at beauty, filed away for later, scrolled past, posted by a hopeful hungry person, seen some random people who don’t care, but also by someone equally hopeful and hungry, someone very far away but so very near.

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A Gradient of Tears

I have a complicated relationship with quotes, but I am able to put my judgments aside for this one: “The cure for anything is salt water – sweat, tears, or the sea.”  I can testify to the truth of this personally, as I’m sure so many others can.  Catharsis is best found when all three are woven together; perhaps a sprint on the beach that leads to a good cry, culminating in a good float in the ocean, where you’re breathless and beaten up by the waves.  I regretfully don’t live near the ocean and have a difficult time compelling myself to sweat when it’s not dancing, so more often than not my salve for what woes me is tears.  Let it be known: I know that some people think I am exaggerating when I mention crying, in writing or in life.  I am here to tell you – I really do cry as often as I mention it.  I cry a lot.  Not in a miserable or endless way (though on occasion it does feel as such) – it’s just the way I experience life.  I am easily moved.  I can go for months without crying; I sometimes cry every day.  I am moved to tears sometimes by very small things (thinking about birds, when someone lets me pet their dog, when someone uses a word aptly), often by very big things (when other women tell me about what makes them cry, looking at the moon long enough, when I listen to Helplessness Blues, pretty much every Sunday at church).  I have been a cryer for as long as I can remember, and am not picky about where I cry.  It’s not an end-of-the-world kind of thing (sometimes it is).  It’s a Tuesday kind of thing.

When I know I need a good cry that won’t come, the best way to just get it out and have done with it is watching the right movie (which inevitably leads to a long walk in the woods where the real tears are shed or a feverish pitch of writing in my journal to the same effect).  It softens the blow.  Sometimes I need to cry about something too big to approach head-on, and thus need a little pre-gaming before the main event can take place.  A thaw, if you will.  A friend of mine was recently on the hunt for a particular type of crying movie.  Her specifications included that said movie not elicit “cheap tears,” that  romantic elements were allowed, and that it preferably not be soul-crushing.  I found these requirements limiting in a helpful way, and began creating a sort of mental Venn diagram of what fit where, what was permitted based on need and merit.  For full disclosure: I have cried at truly awful movies, including the Sex and the City movie, 10,000 B.C., and Star Wars: Episode III.  Having plumbed the depths of tearful cinema, I’ve found it to have over-corrective capacities, rendering me reliably able to separate gold from straw.  Included below are my various categories that I humbly suggest are worth your tears should you find them hard to procure, with limited descriptions because I so hate to spoil.  I think movies, as much as anything else, have the potential to change your life – or at least the way you think about it – when you let your guard down just a lil and remind yourself that the reason most art is made is to remind other people they’re not alone.

Danger That Way Lies – Full Frontal Weeping

I have watched each of these movies exactly twice, and have decided that I should not be allowed a third viewing.  All 3 of them are based on nationally renowned novels; I don’t know if that means anything, but I thought it was worth mentioning.  They have either made me cry for an absurdly long amount of time (Cold Mountain) or have elicited a lone tear, all that was permitted to leave the deep waters within (The Hours).  All 3 are slow, slow burns (and 2 of them star Nicole Kidman – what’s that about?), punching you right in the face out of nowhere and leaving you there with nothing to ice it with.

Cold Mountain

A historical love story set in Cold Mountain, North Carolina during the Civil War, complete with piano serenades in the back of a carriage It’s proof that sometimes love really is contained to a handful of moments, and that survival of anything – be it war, heartbreak, or a terrible family – is always a choice.  I was so moved by my first viewing of it that I made a terrible painting inspired by it in my high school art class.  It has mysteriously disappeared.


Recommended watching: alone, under a blanket, windows open, October breeze wrapping you up

The Hours

The intersecting stories of 3 women in 3 different time periods circulating around the themes of Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf over the course of one day.  Approaches simple themes such as female sacrifice, life as an artist, and the meaning of life.

Recommended watching: with a pal, so you are reminded you are in fact not alone in the world once the movie is over

Never Let Me Go

The story of a love triangle between 3 friends complicated by the fact that (spoiler alert!) they have each been raised to be organ donors in a dystopian world.  The type of cry where you realize you haven’t been breathing deeply for most of the movie, and then it all comes tumbling out at once.

Recommended watching: alone, but with soft lighting

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Sync Swim Fall Feels

Though it’s only October in name while the 80 degree heat continues to blaze, the fall feels have arrived according to Amy and I’s internal clocks.  Even now, I stare out my moody blue window into a grey rainy day.  Ah, yes.  The feels have come.

But! That is not to say all fall feels are blue and rainy grey.  Sometimes they are bright orange like a Carly Simon song, or weirdly jubilant like a long ago choral piece.  Amy and I have made a playlist that features both and runs the gamut, trying to once again smoosh together our seemingly at odds taste in music that we find out again and again are actually not at odds (only a little)(will never want to actively listen to Bon Iver).  Amy’s tunes sound like a wilderness queen sitting in the woods because…she’s a wilderness queen sitting in the woods; mine sound like a person running around trying to tell you the British are coming (so have I been for the past 2 months, so shall I ever be)(the joke is funny because Harry Styles).  And yet, all the songs seem to keep coming back to the feeling of wanting to go home.  Which is how I find myself feeling before every winter/always.

There is a very specific math to the order chosen for the songs.  For instance – “Everything Now” by Arcade Fire is last on the list, because the very first bars of it sound like a Billy Joel song (the first on the list), and the rest of it sounds like it could be on an ABBA album (precisely in the middle of the list).  Most of the songs are in conversation with each other, weaving in and out of certainty and apathy, going home and being far away.  We’d recommend you listen to them in order for that very reason, but that’s because we’re 4’s and also control freaks.

Anyway.  Happy Fall!  We hope this provides a useful soundtrack for your walks through crunchy leaves, your late nights at work, your weekends in Wisconsin, your back and forth between doing what you do and don’t want to do.  We love you – we really, really do.

in the weeds

Isaiah and I are moving to northern Wisconsin on Thursday so everything we own is flung about the apartment. I woke up this morning with a terrible stomachache, and I have no way to plan or think beyond this coming weekend. Change always gets to me no matter how much I grow or mature. It rattles me up and makes me much less functional and even more less thoughtful except for the most immediate of feelings. In short, I’m in the weeds, too much going on, too much changing at once, too big for my most-inflexible of hearts.

I wish I were the sort of person who could write something lovely and true at a time like this, especially at times like this. But I’m not, I guess. Saying things like this, making excuses, is all I can do today, and I suppose that’s okay. I still think saying something, being honest, is better than not showing up at all. As I sat on the bathroom floor this morning, I remembered that I had to write, that I had forgotten to start last night. At first I felt resentful, despairing, the way you do when you’re on the bathroom floor. But then I remembered that I could do it, something, anything really. I could say what I know, what is true, meager though it is. What I know is that I don’t know. What is true is that everything is changing and my body is tired. Macaroni!

If you want to listen to the same playlist as me as I pick my way through the weeds, you can click here. If you want to know what it will look like where I’m going, you can click here. If you want, also, you can say a little prayer for my heart, because knowing me knowing you, I need it. If you want to email me a prayer, particularly one written by an ancient saint or in the form of a poem, you can do that too ( and I will probably cry with appreciation and hope. When I take off the layers of stress, I can see that I’m really excited about the things that are changing, the place we are going, how it may be when we get there. But, right now, I’m caught underneath some things, and the body reacts. The body reacts!

Bon Voyage, Chicago. Next time you hear from me I’ll be in Wisconsin and things will be different. You’ll see. I’ll see.

Harry Potter and the Gauntlet of Fire

As some of you may know, this past Tuesday celebrated the 20th anniversary of the great tome of our collective youth, Harry Potter.  Every time I reread it, I am mind-boggled by how J.K. Rowling couldn’t possibly have known when she began to write them that hers would be the most ubiquitous book of an entire generation.  I don’t think anyone with a world-changing idea for a book ever thinks it’s going to be world-changing. I listened to her Desert Island Discs last summer, and her story rings true to how it is often portrayed: a single mother on welfare, writing on spare bits of parchment (whoops, paper!!), spending what little money she had on a beautiful portfolio case that never got returned to her by the editor that rejected her manuscript.  I, like so many others, am actually a better person because of reading these books.  No matter how many times I move, I always bring them with me, because I never know when will be the exact moment I need to start reading them all over again.  So, before we begin, thanks J.K.  Sorry you had to whittle your name down to initials so that boys would read your books.  WHO’S LAUGHING NOW.

I could babble on about how I’ve read the series straight through 4 times, went to multiple premieres dressed as Bellatrix Lestrange, had a birthday cake comprised of 6 of the 7 Horcruxes made by my best friend, and made butterbeer from scratch (and how bad it tasted), the injustice I feel at having never been to the theme park in Florida or the filming location in England, but I’d rather celebrate the anniversary with two things I hold nearer to my heart: theft and hip hop.

My friend Jake made a brilliant chart about a year ago assigning various characters with their hip hop alter egos, and what better time to share it with the world after making my own bossy edits?  His was far more technical/based in reality and an homage to the Young Money Crew; mine is much more instinctual and subjective (who, me?!?).  Have I actually kept any of his assignments or just completely stolen his idea (with his express permission – this is no Kanye/Taylor duel)? Who can say.  Either way, I think J.K. would be pleased.  It is all subject to change and open to investigation, but also unimpeachable and don’t fight me on this.

I didn’t know I’d start a revolution, but I ironed this collar just in case.

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