Juniper Disco | No. 28
Less is more. But first, more words.
After my Month of Terrible Anniversaries — which began joyfully as I packed for a destination we would never reach* and ended with me waking up during the last minutes of a procedure, painfully aware of the endoscope down my throat — I needed a reset. (Also, more night night juice next time, please!)
So what was originally planned as a personal reading retreat became three days of staring at the water, watching the patterns, the ever-changing light, the occasional seal rippling through the glassy surface. I did watercolor sprints as the light turned in the afternoon and read poetry. After brisk beach walks, I thawed my face over steaming cups of maple espresso tea. I listened to brain-soothing sound baths in the dark. I lived in the quiet. So much life-giving quiet.
I’ve continued to nest, because I’ve since been unable to do anything else. I’ve surrounded myself with scented candles and PBS, warming myself from the inside out with The Super Mr.’s soups and snacks, turning off all the noise, embracing the darkness, and sleeping deeply.
And I’ve been noodling on why exactly my amygdala has hijacked my life as I journal through the discards of last year and the shininess of this new one. Something clicked during a therapy session after I started having panic attacks at night. “Less is more,” Dr. B advised. I was so focused on not wanting to ever have these again that I kept having them again. And again. Oh. Click.
So here’s to less. Less anxiety and guilt-induced stress. Less focus on the world burning. Less energy going to people who don’t reciprocate. Less stuff in our space. Less spending. Less emotional labor. Less awareness of what other people I don’t even know are doing or thinking. Less noise. So much less noise.
*We woke up to a hurricane headed for our destination in the Bahamas. I gave up all agency while The Super Mr. cancelled everything and rebooked an entirely new trip to the Dominican Republic. A day later we were lounging poolside while my nerves unfurled.
I would like to mention the hell that is “security” in Charlotte (seriously, what is that airport, Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg??)
Also, I found this in my therapist’s notes: “bright, articulate, dressed casually.” I have never felt so seen and I am hereby requesting this be engraved as my epithet on my memorial pool chair plaque at the Ptown pool.
One of the best things to do in Provincetown is to find a bench to sit on and let the world come to you. Overheard on one such occasion: “This place feels like happiness.”
We had a blast on our plan B vacation in the Dominican Republic. Passion fruit mojitos. A baby peacock and his pea hen mama visiting us at each breakfast. Papaya three times a day, every day. A morning chorus of bananaquits flying from tree to tree. Swaying palms and fast-moving clouds. Impossible pool Zumba. The best Moscow Mule I’ve ever had. And the soul affirming brightness of the sun on our faces.
At the end of my monthly grief ritual — now marking more than two full years since my father died — I hold the glass votive to my belly, still warm from the candle just extinguished. It feels like a hug from my dad.
I also realized I now not only send messages to my friends on their birthdays, but also on the anniversary days of their parent’s death.
Lately, I’ve been yearning for the analog, or at least an algorithm-free path through life. So I mostly quit Twitter, took it (and Facebook and Instagram) off my phone, and started making a mess of things over on Mastodon. That space is filled with dogs, Star Wars discussions, photos from walks in Scotland and Northumbria, a new fox AND a new capybara photo every hour, and fellow Agatha Christie aficionados. It is DELIGHTFUL!
And I found Discord channels for peculiars like me who nerd out on extreme weather and birds and lists and read-a-thons and very specific spices. I abandoned GoodReads (which always felt like it had a weird competitive vibe with it’s pressure to read things other people are reading) and am blissfully over on StoryGraph. I follow no one and it doesn’t alert you if anyone follows you. I also somehow renegotiated my relationship with Instagram — my one true love — and have suddenly found HOURS of time.
I also conducted my annual purge of everything occupying psychological space. All those unstreamed, unlistened to, unwatched episodes of everything. Delete. Those thousands of articles I saved in my reader. Delete. Delete. Delete. Corporate Instagram accounts. UNFOLLOW.
My desk is piled with stacks of seeds catalogs. I’m planning to grow a small forest of zinnias to hide in this summer.
One of the most generous things I learned to do for myself last year was to regularly soften my belly, like releasing a pair of self-imposed Spanx. Try it now. Feels so much better, right?
My friends bought me one of the best gifts I have ever received — a birdfeeder with a CAMERA that sends photos and videos to my phone. And Stephen and I have been watching the winter flock of robins devour the bittersweet, an invasive I leave alone just for this reason.
I fretted over all of my birds during the recent cold bitter winds from some place North, cracking the door and tossing out bird seed everywhere so they would have a source of energy to produce warmth.
I started a weekly Feldenkrais class. I even turn on my camera and talk. And Stephen makes occasional appearances according to his whim.
One of my nurses at the cancer factory called me “kid.” It was the high point of a deeply humbling experience. Being surrounded by people in all stages of disease, I always leave with a renewed feeling of deep, deep gratitude. I know I am provided scans and surveillance and preventative treatments and procedures that most people are not. I also simultaneously feel like a spotlight is on me — SHE doesn’t have cancer — and a fraud when an assumption is made that I am like everyone else there, sick.
My turkeys have not returned to roost in our trees at night. I seem to be the only one on our clamshell path that is sad about this. I miss their awkward morning dismounts from the upper branches and counting them each evening when they would fly to their roost. (Not to worry, they’ve settled a few streets over.)
Stephen and I found a dead coyote on the beach, a reminder that we live a hairsbreadth from the edge of all that is living. I also discovered the location of two sacred wolf trees.
The Super Mr. and I used to have date night every Friday night for most of our relationship. We finally had a chance to re-establish that tradition with the most wonderful meal at The Mews (“The Muse” on that American Horror Story season shot in town). Almond-crusted cod with citrus beurre blanc, shaking beef, a clementine Cosmo, lobster dumplings in the most sumptuous broth. And gelato and a tawny port (mine) and Laphroaig (his) to cap off the meal.
The dark season has brought me several hours of alone time in the mornings. I sit in complete silence, illuminated by my twinkle lights and the glow of my laptop. One morning my peace was interrupted by a coyote howling just outside in our front yard. My amygdala checked to see if the door was locked.
I’ve been thinking a lot about:
How roadrunners kill their prey. “Roadrunners have been observed beating rattlesnakes against the ground for up to an hour and a half.” Wile E. never stood a chance.
May you see grace
wherever your eyes land.
May you need not look far
to feel the humbling knee-buckling delight
in being alive.
The bobwhites we used to see everywhere in Eastham when I was a kid.
Also, here’s some stuff:
First, a new addition to the newsletter: The MYSTERY LINK.
The Millions’ annual A Year in Reading series. I most appreciated Nick Moran’s unintentional journey reading authors beginning with all 26 letters of the alphabet.
“How to Make an M” syllabus. Friends, it took me a minute to realize I know the person who created this super creative list. I used to joke that they sprayed us with a special scent at Harvard so we could find each other outside the gates.
The Kō Strategies newsletter. “Kō is the Japanese name for the 72 micro-seasons that make up the solar year. Each has its own particular mood and focus. The purpose of these seasonal micro-divisions is to remind us that life is changing in every instant, and to encourage us to throw ourselves into the full experience of being alive.”
I found the perfect carry-on and personal item for air travel. Also:
a napkin holder that magically dispenses one napkin without disturbing the rest of the pile
the perfect moisturizing SPF serum that I wear every day
a car freshener that actually works and is universally appealing in its scent
the best winter hat for the biting winds out here (looks like it’s on sale now, too)
really effective earplugs and earphones and the Endel app for creating the right sonorous environment to counter my hypervigilance
I’ve read 18 books so far this year, including Feral Creatures. Few stories have touched my heart like this one. It’s about love and grief and having the world stolen from you and the power of working together. It is also narrated by a cursing crow. If you relate to animals more than people, worry about climate change and the state of human beings, or love anyone, this is for you. But read Hollow Kingdom first!
Bone Valley podcast. One of the best podcasts about a specific miscarriage of justice in a long time. // The BBC Sounds app. I’m halfway through The Dark is Rising. Next up in my queue: Lucy Worsley’s Agatha Christie: A Very Elusive Woman. // This episode of local Mara Glatzel’s Needy podcast, featuring somatic expert, Molly Caro May, who discusses how to listen to your body.
The Big Brunch (HBOMax). By the end, I wanted them all to win! The closest an American competition show has gotten to that GBBO vibe.
The Sea Beast (Netflix). I absolutely fell in love with this animated world of sea creatures. // The People We Hate at the Wedding (Prime). That scene with the attempted threesome had me HOWLING. // Belfast (HBOMax). Painful and beautiful story set during The Troubles, something I do not think I will ever understand. // After Sun (Prime rental). There is so much room to insert your own experience in this film about the last holiday a girl takes with her father. It crushed me.
The second and final season of Hunters (Prime). It is violent and difficult, but worth the pain to follow this story of a group of Nazi hunters to the very end. There is also some FABULOUS hair. A special shout out for episode 17, “The Home”, which you can probably watch as a stand alone. I’m still stunned. // You Don’t Know Me (Netflix.) Riveting courtroom drama with intricate storytelling. // One Lane Bridge (AcornTV). Set in New Zealand, people seem to keep dying on or near this bridge. I binged straight through two seasons. Season 3 is on Sundance Now and I’m finding the right time to do a free trial so I can watch it. // Three Pines (Prime). I never read any of the Louise Penny books so I was thrilled to see this fascinating murder series come to streaming. // Magpie Murders (PBS). Another mystery book I haven’t read. Such an entertaining and intricate story! // 1899 (Netflix). It is dark and confusing, but the payoff at the very end is worth it. (However, there will be no second season, so you have to be ok with unanswered questions.)
Wu-Tang Meets Rhythm and Blues. “This is other-level remix ecology. The familiarity of the original cuts will have you singing choruses at full breath, while the genius lyricists invite us to time travel.” -ELÍAS VILLORO
Nu Genea’s Bar Mediterraneo. I had this on repeat for the flights we took to and from the DR.
A few local things:
“Why did Provincetown's East End Flood On December 23? Understanding Future Storms and Sea Level Rise in Provincetown” — recorded talk from the Center for Coastal Studies. Boy, do we have problems to solve!
Sustainable CAPE’s monthly Harvest Highlight workshops at the Truro Public Library. I grabbed a spot for the cheese-making class.
Winter Wellness series at The Commons. Saturdays at 2pm — still to come: bone broths + a cacao ceremony + gut health + a body positive workshop.A post shared by Nicole Cormier, RD, LDN (@deliciousliving)
The last word — and my theme song for 2023 — according to The Style Council. I play this song at least once a day. (Also, this updated fully orchestrated version Paul Weller recorded in 2021.)
More Juniper Disco: Website | Instagram
Currently Reading: The First Lady & The Writer, Provincetown 1961
Conversation Pit of the Month:
Kaftan of the Month: