“It's their shit, not mine.”

That's something I need to recall in moments of reaction.

The only thing I own in times of conflict is my own reaction.

Every single conflict goes this way, and many conflicts would not escalate if each of us could hold this—what's yours is yours, and what's mine is mine.

If I'm in a reaction, it's typically filtered through the baggage I've brought into a situation. Perhaps it reminds me of the way a parent, ex, or random stranger once treated me. In fact, the feeling is identical in my body.

Same charge, different day.

The previous iterations of these familiar feelings are a hall of mirrors or ones own voice echoing through time and space.

I always find myself back in the same fun house.

• • •

I used to think people were more emotionally stable than me, but I now know that isn't true.

Sure, I had potato chip-level fragility when I had to go to a mental hospital in high school, but once I was there, my inner strength immediately buoyed me. It was less challenging to be there than the so-called reality of my daily life.

All that is to say: I was stable; the world around me was not. And still is not.

It seems like most people have no idea what the fuck reality is. Unstable is normal—normal as in the neurosis you find in the average member of society. Those who I once saw as more stable than me, I now see are deeply asleep and would not want to be shaken from their slumber.

Even the “woke” are sleeping. When I meet someone whose awake, it shakes me. Like all things, it's a spectrum.

• • •

I remember meeting this woman at Skid Row. We sat and talked for an hour at my desk in the employment office.

Skid Row is flooded with Christians, especially the kind with white savior complexes. I had grown so used to their rhetoric, trained into them by years of church and seminary.

This woman was not like them. She was a guest at the shelter I worked at, and I while don't remember a single word she said, I can clearly recall the light in her and the fire with which she spoke. I feel it pulling at my heart, even now.

She was awake—at least more so than anyone else I met those 3.5 years. She told me about god in the exact way I've experienced the divine: grace, surrender, fire.

I found myself in community with many devout evangelical Christians around my middle school and high school years, too, due to schooling and family. A church song that always stood out to me was called something like “Refiner's Fire,” a metaphor where god was an artisanal craftsman working with fire to refine his material. (I always imagined metal or glass).

As a result, I had always associated life's struggles as “the fire which refines”—the pain that shapes and elevates us to something closer to perfection or otherworldly transformation.

I remember years ago binge-watching Charmed on Netflix (the OG one, obviously), and one of the main character's partners is an angel who used to be human. He essentially lived his early life training to be an angel.

I saw myself in it. Something clicked. What If I was living my whole life for the purpose of ascending to the rank of angels? For a long time, I studied Buddhism among many other Eastern and Western traditions. Is that not what awakening or “enlightenment” essentially is?

I remember I used to think people who were into angels were so weird and cringe until I became one of them. I have one teacher to thank for changing my mind about that. Now, I think angels are the fucking shit.

There's this woman, Doreen Virtue, who published several books and oracle decks.

I once listened to a talk she gave at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore, an iconic spiritual bookstore in West Hollywood that sadly went out of business and re-emerged years later as an online (and less magical) shop.

She spoke frankly about her relationship with angels.

I never liked oracle decks until I tried Doreen Virtue's. That woman was incredibly connected to high spaces.

She eventually became an evangelical Christian and denounced all her previous work as demonic.

I'm not sure what happened to her, but it's worth noting the artist behind the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot, Pamela Coleman Smith, also converted to Catholicism (although not evangelical Protestantism) shortly after completing the RWS tarot—one of the greatest births of light of the 20th century.

Again, I still don't know what that's about, but I'm sensing a pattern here. Maybe it's that people awaken, then go back to sleep.

• • •

Anyway, I'm here today to say that 99% of the world is unstable, and that's an overly generous estimate.

The people who seem the most unstable often have a brilliant light that struggles to exist in this dark world where light is simultaneously everywhere and nowhere.

But how does this all relate to reactions? Simply, it's not your shit, it's mine. It's not personal. Their shit is theirs, my shit is mine.

Most people you meet will make their shit about someone else. The inverse applies, too. It's far too easy to make my shit about someone else. But it's not.

I’m contemplating what to do my next film project on. I feel a passion for film igniting in me, but it’s not really about film, it’s about elevating my poetry to the level of accessibility of film, in a sense.

I’m also noticing such a transformation in how I come to my art now, versus when I was a writing student.

I have so much more of a command of my artistic expression, one that translates many mediums.

There are a lot of ideas I can pursue in these upcoming weeks, but I’ll get the most value out of pushing myself outside my comfort zone.

Filming some beautiful footage as a backdrop for a poem is too comfortable.

What is uncomfortable? Myself as a subject—there’s some comfort and discomfort in that. But I also feel in it a desire to filter and becoming too conscious of how others perceive me. If I can fight against it and show myself raw and true—that’s where I step out of comfort.

At the same time, I can make something else entirely. I can create something about my partner, Tyler, a subject I would love to endlessly cover. But that almost feels too fun and self-indulgent to film someone I admire, someone I have access to every day. Also, happiness is boring, and I’m not entirely sure what purpose it would serve me besides self-indulgence. Maybe in the future, but not for this project.

Light bulb flash: The story behind the Nikita film is going to be about the desire to disappear, vanish, erase oneself, die. For example, not wanting to eat because you want to leave your body. Becoming a ghost.

But what about this other project, the one with the endless possibilities?

I keep thinking of Gummo and all the found footage in it. Part of me wants to find footage. I reached out to family members, but I don’t think there are many home movies that will be available to me. There are the ones I have, however.

I can also get more experimental, but honestly, that feels too easy, too. It feels like a way for me to cover up something, step back from the rawness—just a reaction to the fear of being naked.

It's a question I've been pondering for the last year. If I did start one, it would be something small and accessible for my immediate poetry community. Say, for example, 5 curated poems per month via email.

There's no money in poetry, so it'd have to be something with a relatively low impact on my day-to-day life that is also scalable in case I want to adapt it into poetry e-books or something of that nature. But it should also live online so that those featured in it can link out to it to showcase their work. As a poet myself, I know there's a lot of value in that.

My friend Polina West runs a Substack newsletter called “Lollipops and crisps”. She just migrated over from TinyLetter, and I love the email format. It's more intimate, and you know exactly whose reading your work. Plus, there's an archive that lives online, which I find important.

Polina also recently released a very zine-like, DIY-style, hella punk collection, IRL IRL 005, published by Human Trash Dump. IRL IRL was started by her and April Vendetta, who runs Human Trash Dump.

One of the notes in its description is, “IRL IRL is looking for less anxiety inducing or habit-forming methods of sharing ideas and communicating amongst ourselves & with 'the public.'” In other words, Polina and April are geniuses, and IRL IRL takes on a very “fuck social media” stance without actually saying it. . . which is essentially the same sentiment behind writing a low-traffic blog instead of harnessing the power of social media to get my 4,000 followers (spread across various platforms) to consume my work.

Now, Polina can say anything she wants, and the people who consume it have already opted in. They want to see her work. And that's the power of email, a power social media (arguably) no longer holds. She's not under the thumb of the algorithm, and neither is her work. I'd also like to note that IRL IRL submissions are via ProtonMail, which is consistent with her values.)

I've even faced a dilemma about starting this blog. Are blogs dead? The truth of this space is that I want to talk about process and showcase what I'm working on for anyone who is curious about work. It's for the select few who are peeping my work, maybe those who want to collaborate or are just straight up creepers.

Honestly, I'm not even sure what it means to talk about “process.” I often think of the cerebral, inaccessibly “cool” poets and writers, especially those deeply steeped in academic circles all jerking each other off intellectually. I also think of how empty that feels to me.

Since CAConrad has had an immense influence on my work and life, I immediately think of their (Soma)tic Poetry Rituals, which is a form of discussing process that is non-pretentious and also very punk.

I just need to decide what suits me when I discuss process in this space. I guess in a way, that's what I'm already doing.

So, start a press or not? I guess we shall see.

If you know of any writers or artists owning their spaces like CAConrad and Polina, please let me know.

If you're interested in publishing a poem through my future press, please reach out to me, too.

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