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Juniper Disco | No. 29
Panic in the (Juniper) Disco
On a rainy afternoon in the yoga studio, we went around the room and shared why we were there. One woman was going through a divorce. Others were deeply exhausted. Several were there for themselves after retirement, after the kids left the house, after all of it. I shared my challenges with anxiety through a creaky and strained voice. Two nurses expressed the deep pain of the last few years. As they did, my tears slipped out and I watched the women across from me sniffle and crack.
It was the first time I felt like it was normal to not be ok. We’ve been wounded, we’ve carried more than our fair share of the emotional burdens for far too long, and we feel unsafe and unprotected, even hunted as women in this society. And for a short period of time we were together in this space to be comforted and supported.
We curled up on our yoga mats, adjusted our cushions, and covered ourselves with warm cozy blankets. Little tingly ASMR sensations percolated in my head from the first sounds of the singing bowls.
But the second frequency ripped through my body. It was so alarming and surprising and disturbing that it activated my panic response. Every cell was yelling: Get out of here! Run! And I whispered fuck! into this space that was meant to be healing.
Ok, breathe. Get this blanket off me! I trust. I am here to receive. I trust. I am here to receive. Chill the fuck out! Breathe, breathe, breathe. Why is everyone else ok? Why am I not ok? What is wrong with me? Trust. Breathe. Trust. Breathe. Trust. Breathe. I can do this. It’s a fucking SOUND BATH.
Eventually, I settled into an aware, but relaxed rhythm for the rest of the time, peeking at the instructor every time a new sound started. I was dumbfounded that I could be activated in the safest, most supportive environment.
Since then, the experience has haunted me. I’ve had many more episodes since then, including one standing at the pharmacy counter picking up my new PANIC ATTACK MEDS.
I’ve journaled about it. I talked to my therapist about it. I told other people about it. I’m telling you about it. And I’ve started turning those inky scribbles in my journals and crashing thoughts in my head into a Something. A Something that might eventually be helpful to others.
For now, all I can offer is this: I’m not ok. I’m talking about it, because I’m guessing some of you aren’t ok either. I’m finding my way. It’s not a terrible place to be. The sun is helping. Putting my hands in dirt is helping. Therapy and meditation are helping. I can do this. You can do this.
Winter was condensed into one subzero blast that killed my potted summer sangria yarrow and ALL the hydrangea buds that had been gathering energy. Honestly, not having to worry about those hydrangeas has been enormously freeing, even if that makes me a bad Cape Codder.
I stood in the native perennial section of my local garden store and watched where the bees and insects landed the most. Those plants came home with me.
I’ve developed a surprising nostalgia for the houses in the neighborhood where I grew up. It was a special place surrounded by a creek with a waterfall at the entrance. This one belonged to my friend and I remember their house smelling like Norwegian coffee and shag carpeting.
The best way to start the day: knock out Wordle, my mini crossword, the day’s Sudoku, and genius level in Spelling Bee before 7:00 am.
I am completely obsessed with the tops of robins’ heads. Photo from my Bird Buddy:
I laid on my belly for the first time in five years, since my reconstruction surgery. And nothing bad happened. It was uncomfortable, but I was fine. I was fine! Feldenkrais has helped me to fully occupy the very edges of where my physical space ends and everything else begins — including the parts of me that are not biological.
Phrases that made me click: “fabulous new resort pools” + “crunchy cheese” + “craft of NON-HUMAN origin” + “cultural finger wag” + “reviving ancient water practices” + “celestial driftwood” + “things that have died in the pool.”
I’ve read 54 books this year so far. 42 to go to meet my big goal of 1,000 books! I’m currently in my Low Stakes Mystery Thriller era.
In my 40s, I spent almost every birthday in Jamaica or somewhere warm. This year, I celebrated all month right here. I sat in a salt cave, bought books at my favorite book store, and laid under a blanket for an aromatics healing ceremony. My friends took me to dinner and then offered up a dessert tableau of deliciousness. The Super Mr. made me my favorite pozole and brought me birthday pizza. I read all day and watched Star Wars. The moms made me dinner — comfort food and my favorite lemon cake. And we drove to the other end of the Cape to sleep in an Airstream trailer and eat at my favorite Greek restaurant. That baklava!
When someone told my mother, “It takes a village,” she replied, “Missy is a village.” As a person who used to feel like the black sheep in the family, the one everyone else said needed rescuing, I deeply appreciated the validation for the person I’ve worked to become.
My doctor spent 20 of my 21-minute appointment with him explaining weight loss medications that I will never take. He lost me at “controlled substance.” I’d rather eat broccoli. Also, super not into the snarky gaslighting.
For the first time ever, we added the cancel-for-any-reason clause to our travel insurance for an upcoming fall trip.
Stephen turned 10. He played with the doggies at the dog park, tolerated his annual birthday hat photo shoot, swallowed a whole chicken heart causing his mama to freak out, enjoyed the family pizza party we had for him (he ate no pizza), and got overwhelmed by his new toys and passed out on the bed before our favorite mama-and-Stephen show, Drag Race, ended. He’s clearly in his Sassy Senior era.
I’m casually keeping track of how much time I spend outside. And by “casually” I mean carefully color coding every hour on a tracking map in the shape of a tree.
We travelled Harry Potter-style in a private roomette in the sleeper car of the Lake Shore Limited. It was cozy and private and slow (10 1/2 hours each way) and the only way I want to travel from now on.
Things that are working for me right now:
this morning meditation that I do every day + sitting on the deck watching the birds and staring at my plants + the Curable app (it’s for chronic pain but it is working for my anxiety) + Black Fish Creek coffee roasted and ground for me the same day at the Beanstock Coffee roasting facility + reading books that other people want to ban + spinach salads, crispy tofu, and Italicus spritzes + scent therapy: The Gilbert & Soames Spa Therapy candle (the scent of our favorite resort in Jamaica) + this perfume with narcissus and jasmine grandiflorum + this hand soap with juniper berry, geranium leaf, wild native bergamot, and pink pepper that I bought after visiting The Lake House on Canandaigua + not watching the news!! + bat wing kimono-sleeve tops (I’m going full-on Wellfleetian art therapist on summer retreat this year. Think Frankie.)
I’ve been thinking a lot about:
“Kinkeeping.” I’m not on TikTok. But this one is extremely well-articulated — although, she’s probably just reciting what the Gen X professor told her in class.
Female friendships. I’ve started listening to We Can Do Hard Things. For decades, my friendships have been mostly with gay men. When all my female friends starting having children, I found I had more in common with the boys. Lately I’ve been missing that shared understanding of what it is like to be socialized as a woman in this country — as Glennon Doyle discusses in one episode.
The Super Mr. and I are huge fans of Tournament of Champions on the Food Network. The judging is entirely blind — the judges don’t even know who is in the competition. And here’s the interesting thing (SPOILER-ish): all four seasons have female winners. Hmmm.
And THIS, which I now use to reframe my anxiety as I am just a tiny speck of fluff in this world of galaxies:
Also, here’s some stuff:
The MYSTERY LINK.
The live Panama fruit feeders cam through The Cornell Lab and hosted by Canopy Lodge. I am coveting that fresh papaya that is often laid out on the table.
The Manifestos series. “10 rules to live by from activists and creatives with something to say.” From Ai Wei Wei to Willy Nelson.
As the Season Turns podcast. One 30-minute episode per month with the most delightful bits delivered with a British accent. // The Moomin Phenomenon podcast. Hosted by Jennifer Saunders. I’m working my way through the Moomin books and I just adore that world. // The “TERF Wars” episode of The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling. It’s gobsmacking the lengths we go to when we project our fears onto other people, especially when we don’t take a moment to imagine what it would be like to live their lives.
Shrinking (AppleTV). I have not burst out in laughter like this for such a long time. I adore these messed up people. // The Traitors (Peacock). I watched this for one reason: Kate Chastain. She delivers! // The Boy, The Mole, The Fox, and The Horse (AppleTV). Get a box of tissues ready. // The Diplomat (Netflix). I also watched this for one reason: Felicity. // Rabbit/Hole (Paramount+). Absolute must-watch if you loved 24.
When I had COVID in the early days of summer, I binged non-American suspenseful thrillers using my Sundance Now free 7-day trial — the third season of One Lane Bridge, Wisting, The Suspect, The Light in the Hall, Black Snow, The Innocent, and Hollington Drive. All perfect I’m Sick! suspenseful thrillers.
The “Lonely Mountain” episode of Moominvalley was made available for 48 hours on the Moomin Official YouTube channel in the US. Delightful. About space and togetherness.
Everything But the Girl is BACK with a new album, Fuse, which they recorded in SECRET. I loved following Tracey Thorn on Twitter and her Bedsit Disco Queen is in my book pile for this year. This is already my summer poolside chill.
San Gabriel, with his total John-Hughes-girl-gets-boy, I-grew-up-in-the-80s-and-I-fucking-miss-it vibes.
The Pine Walk Collection. “DJ Sets from Fire Island Pines & New York City (1979-1999). These tapes were found in a recently purchased house on Pine Walk. There are over 200 tapes in total and they have been carefully digitized and remastered and offered to stream for free … on Mixcloud.”
A few local things:
The Dune Shack evictions. Evicting the families of nine dune shacks (eight of which are currently up for lease to the HIGHEST BIDDER) is Darth Vader Death Star level fuckery. Please sign this petition!
Dinner at Mezze. I cannot stop raving about our meal at Mezze (it’s Yolqueria in the morning, when it serves brunch)! Highly recommend the chicken wings with sumac-spiced yogurt, date sauce, dukkah, and peppadews. Also the grilled eggplant with tahini sauce, pomegranate molasses, fresh pomegranate seeds, mint, and crushed toasted pistachio. And all the dips!
The last word, according to Denali:
Kaftan of the Month: