It is the only constant in this life time.
It is also the theme of this month's zine.
I am amazed by the vulnerability that was shared with me this month.
Lots of opening. Lots of self exploration. Lots of bravery.
Take a scroll.
Ready to Mingle? by Tij D'oyen
I sat down this morning to write with my usual setup; at my kitchen counter, with my coffee, laptop, and Chopin on the Alexa. And I couldn’t think of a single thing to write. After my, what critics are calling, “brilliant” submission last month, I felt the need to top myself with this months submission. You know, for the fans. (Hey, Aunt Jill!) So I asked, “Well Tij, what do you want to talk about?” And it hit me. It hit me like it hits me almost every freaking day of the week...I want to talk about why I’m single.
Why am I single?
All of you happily-in-a-relationship or never-had-a-problem-finding-a-partner people, keep walking. This is for me and my I’m-single-but-don’t-want-to-be-and-have-seemingly-many-opportunities-to-not-be-yet-still-some how-am peeps.
So again, why are we single?
If you’re like me, you’re not only person in your life who’s asking this. My grandpa asks when he not so subtly reminds me that myself and my dud of a cousin are the last two men capable of carrying on the D’oyen legacy. My mom asks every time I go home for some obscur small town festival, which are really just excuses for people to get perfectly sloshed in public (R.I.P. Blue Ridge BBQ Festival). My friends ask non-verbally with apologetic glances, when they see I’m the only single person in a room of couples at our weekend gatherings. Even just this past weekend at an Oscar party, a friend of mine told me how he and his lover, I imagine probably while feeding each other grapes after having amazing pornstar-esque sex, struck up a conversation about nothing other than my facebook relationship status. After he told me he thought there was no reason I should be single and kindly tried to match me up with one of his friends, which I declined, mostly due to my arrogance of believing that my true love and I will meet by headbutting each other in a dusty upper west side bookshop when we both reach for a first edition of some Murakami novel, and partly because I think I’m terrified of the fact that if I agree to a blind date that I may actually like them, I couldn’t help but wonder.... am I really single because I choose to be? Or is the monster that is dating in NYC paralyzing me and slowly turning me into a monk?
I mean they are all semi-legitimate in their concerns. I’m 6’3”, 23, I wouldn’t say particularly handsome but I’ve got presence, and living in NYC. I know I’m a catch. Well at least on one or two good days a week I know I’m a catch. There just has to be at least a few matches for me floating around this toxic island. But even if they were right in front of my nicely moisturized and hydrated face (lookin’ at you Estée Lauder), I probably would miss them due to the fact that I have set my standards so high that I have become blind to even the perfect candidate. I could debunk anyone's candidacy by the slightest flaw that I’m sure to find. Too short. Too young. Not enough matching flatware to host a 12 person dinner party? Sorry...but I think we should just be friends.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I’m not attracted to anyone. Of course I am! All the people that I A. have no reason being with and B. who are already taken. See, I’m not a eunuch. And I’m on the apps. I’m looking. I spent thirty minutes laying in bed swiping through Hinge just this morning. But that's the shitty thing about those apps for people like me; the
distance. I can lay in bed and pick these people to pieces without ever having to meet them, and can blame my solitude on a lack luster profile that just didn’t do the trick for me.
Truth be told, this desire does come and go. So, maybe just call it cuffing season; If cuffing season can last all year and if my lack of an attempt to cuff doesn’t cancel out my chance to be in the running to get cuffed.
What am I saying? I guess my goal here was to start the dialogue for myself and hopefully for others who find themselves in a similar ring of self sabotage, to stop and ask ourselves; can I set aside my fear of putting myself out there or the fear of getting hurt or the fear of truly being seen or whatever the fear may be, to make room for the potential of finding someone who can lift me up and who I can learn from and who can learn from me and be extremely happy with? Someone who will make me laugh and to watch bad movies with and who supports my art and who is crazy about me and who I am crazy about. Can we do that for ourselves? Or is the safety and comfort of being single and content with the intimacy of our friends, who are amazing, enough for us and where we are in our journey right now?
That’s a genuine question. No shade.
I hope this by no means sounds like I think being in a relationship is the ultimate goal in life. But for someone like me who has never been in a long term relationship, I can’t help but feel that this may be something for me to be open to right about now.
No growth in the comfort and all.
I also hope you didn’t think that by reading this you’d get some answer that’d allow you to free up a few megabytes of data on your iPhone by finally being able to delete all ten of your dating apps, but I do hope that I gave you some comfort in knowing you’re not alone. Cause that’s how I feel now. I mean, I am alone...because I’m single. But you know what I mean.
Well, anyway. Happy hunting?
All of the photography narrating this month's zine was taken by Athena Pepe.
A dreamy winter scene that perfectly fits my mood as this season barrels through us with its frozen mornings and early twilights.
Book her on instagram @athena_pepe_photography
She also takes some fire portraits.
Page One, Again - Nick Ritacco
I sit here, in your chair; worn, golden brown,
A throne, tucked’ in a most modest palace;
A sprawling den of knowledge, built from scratch.
Where once there was nothing, forever you.
The walls still lined with years of assembly,
Collection, hand to hand, appreciation,
Each selection, once new, now carved with grind.
Your back hunched, finger tracing, eyes behind
Encumbering specs grit across the parch,
Attacking each fleck with ferocity;
An insatiable hunger to absorb.
Unquenched need, purpose, stay thirsty my friends.
But now the paint is chipping from the ceiling,
The tile by the door is cracking and dust
Has settled in all of the bends and folds.
And you aren’t here anymore, it’s just me.
Alone. I can’t seem to locate my voice.
Bottled up cries and tears, and pain and rage.
You left me with so much, too much. Okay,
Not too much, but you never told me where
To start or how best to take you with me!
To make you proud is all that I desire.
So here in your vessel of empathy
I sit, and breathe, and think, and breathe again.
A clue or hint you left me here resides.
It hits me like a single drop of rain,
Dear God, don’t say the roof is leaking too!
It’s not. Yet this imperfect solitude
Grows vivid in the focus of my mind.
You did not leave this world the way you wanted,
But you left me the way you wanted me.
Back hunched, and hungry, riveted, engaged,
Eyes soft, drinking, encumbered by the fact:
You are utterly irreplaceable.
I stumble forward, broken but breathing,
Quixote smiles at me across the room,
I know that where I go, you go with me.
New You- Dean Tierney
Hey! Aren’t you excited?! there’s a whole new year!
Oh. Yeah. another one haha
I can’t wait. A whole year to unfurl, discover, go after and attack
yeah. (Beat) this feels familiar.
have I met you before?
What? No that would be impossible! It’s the new year!!!!
Yeah. but last year. do I know you from something? I can’t remember but you seem…
No Way! I’m New!! I’m fresh and starting over!
Ok new, but where’d you come from. Were you just born?
No I… I’m New!
But you obviously know me. We’ve met before I know it.
Well, yeah. You know me. Im New! I’m always here! RIght Now!
New? You’re New? Well where’s Old?
Haha, we just wished old out!
He Went Home
Where’s that. Home. Where’s Home?
It’s away. Not here. Here is now but Old went to then.
I need to talk to Old
No Old’s gone. New is here though. Look, the sun is coming up earlier now. There’s more light now. When old was here it was dark remember? It kept getting darker. Now I’m here. New. And It’s already becoming Daytime. And soon it’ll be summer. And we’ll all be new and fresh and live in the now.
I’ve seen this though. Wait a minute you look familiar. What did you say happened to Old? I MISS OLD. What did you do to him?
New and You take a moment. Something happens, changes.
What happened to you.
What is all over your face.
Leave it I spent all day.
Spent all day? how many layers of this shit do you have painted on your face? God it’s so thick.
Starts to weep
No wait stoppit. It’s ok I love you. I had thought that I lost you.
People kept saying awful things about you. About how they couldn’t wait to get over with you. I just laughed and smiled. Told my rough stories. But you didn’t leave. How are you still here?
I’ve never left. I’ve just added layers.
It’s never changed. The calendar never moves.
So I’ve never lost old. You’re always here.
I’m always here.
What about New?
Handyman- Chad Knuth
You lost your right arm about a year ago,
so you started fingering Anna with the left.
You can’t quite flick your fingers the same,
so you switch them out too often.
You’ve found they tire easily.
Your whole arm
She almost seems
but she never
She kisses you
Her hands suggest
she wants you.
You’re not sure
if it’s genuine,
she just wants you
You roll onto your back and
she climbs on top of you.
You haven’t been on top
you lost it.
Dirty Pain (great news)- Emma Factor
A dark and dingy room. The room contains a twin bed, a circular kitchen table, two chairs, one window, a sink, a record player, a stove, a tea pot, and some cabinets. A sits at the table. After a moment, B enters through the door.
A - Oh good, you’re back. You’re finally back. Where have you been?B - I’ve been away. A - Away, yes. That’s where you’ve been. You’ve been away. B - I have. I’m sorry I took so long.
A - Oh, thats okay. Not so long. You’re here now. So, it’s like you never left.B - Is it? A - I think so. B - That’s nice.
A - It is nice. You’re right. Would you like some tea?B - I would love some tea. A - Great. Coming right up. B - How have you been?
A - How have I been? You know, I can’t remember. I’m sure I’ve been just fine. I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t be fine.
A - I’m so glad you’re here. B - Me too. The place looks great.
A - Oh, good! You know I heard something recently, “how you take care of your space could be how you take care of yourself”. I like the ‘could be’. Keeps the mystery of it all.
B - It sure does. pause B - Do you know why I’m back? A - Of course not, how would I know a thing like that?
A moment. The water starts to boil.
A - Am I supposed to know? Was I told and I forgot? You know I’m so forgetful. People tell me I should write things down but here’s the thing, I just forget to write them down. (laughs) Oh goodness, I’m hopeless.
B - You’re not hopeless. A - Oh, well you’re just being sweet. Here’s your tea. B - Thank you. A joins B at the table. A - Remind me, how long have you been gone? B - A while. A - Yes, it’s been a while. How are you then? B - Good. I’m doing very good. A - Yes I’m sure you are. I hear a lot about you, you know.B - Do you? A - Oh yes, all the time. B - Oh, what a nightmare. A - No, are you kidding? It’s the best part of my day.pause A - Did you come because you miss me? B - No. a moment
A - You know, now that I think of it, I’m doing really well. I’m doing all the things they say you should do, and, you know, it’s really paying off. I feel completely at ease and in love with the experiences I have day to day. I drink my coffee from my cup and I think “Wow, can it be so simple?” I can’t even remember how I could be so silly to be sad in such a beautiful world. I wake up and I experience the morning like a secret gift that was given just for me. My day unfolds through a series of touches and tastes, with each even more wondrous than the last. The mystery of the world pulls me forward into the unknown and I feel held, like falling asleep with the chatter of a party in the next room.
B - That’s beautiful.A - Yes, I think so.
B - I heard a story about you the other day, would you like to hear it?A - Yes, please.
B - The other day, late at night, I was playing a game. In the game a group of us where comparing our likeness’ to other people and a woman said -
A - A woman?
B - —yes, a woman-
A - Great, go on.
B - A beautiful woman actually, no doubt the most beautiful woman in the room, and only made more beautiful by her complete disbelief in her own beauty -
A - Yes, that makes sense. B - Yes, anyway, this gorgeous woman waited until the very end of the game and softly admitted to us -
you know the way a woman like that can suck the entire room in with just the intention of speaking -A - Uh huh -
B - She admitted to us that the whole time we were playing she was praying that we would all say she reminded us of you!
A- Of me? B - Yes! Can you imagine? A - I guess I could, but I wouldn’t dare trust the dream. B - I figured you would like to know how inspiring you are to others.A - Me? Inspiring? B - Why of course. Do you not see it? A - Not an inch. B - That’s a shame. A - Do you see yours? B - Yes I do. A - That’s interesting. B - That’s one way to put it. A - I’m never happier than when you’re here. B - I know.
A - Does that scare you? B - A little. a moment A - Do you also like it? B - Unfortunately I do. A - Would you like to play a game?B - Yes I would.
A - How about chess? B - Do you have a chess board? A - No I don’t. pause A - What do we normally do with each other?B - You don’t remember? A - No, I remember. But, just, remind me. B - We do all kinds of things. A - Like what? B - You read me stories. A - I do? B - Oh yes. A - That’s lovely. B - It is. You’re quite wonderful. A - Oh now, stop being ridiculous.
B - You are. You always ask me about my day and then listen to my answer. You laugh at my jokes and you hold my head when I cry. You smooth my hair like the world would be less without me. You scrunch your little toes into mine and it tickles but I like it. You feed me breakfast. You wash my clothes. You sing with a frail voice that’s mightier than you left yourself believe. You get scared that the closer I get the less I will care but the truth is the closer I am the more I understand my place in the world. The breeze carries a melody and strangers become my family. I look up and I ask, “what else could there be?” Strike me down right here but keep my heart, ‘cause it’s beating, I swear, truer than any of the others. I walk like I’ve got a secret dance that nobody will ever see. And that’s okay, ‘cause I’ve got nothing but time. I rush to tell you the news, but you already know. You’re there, dancing that same dance, without a care for your
life or a cent to your name. We stay up all night because there’s no weary heads to rest and we live in the time we’re given.
A - Wow. All of that? B - And more. Like the living things on the land under the sea. Lying in your arms made me believe in
magic. In quantum leaps. In angels on earth.A - It can’t be. B - It was. A - Then why did you leave?
B - You asked me to, and I agreed.A - You should have said no.
B - I couldn’t recognize you. You left, right before my eyes, without saying a word. Your skin was still there but the light, your light was gone.
A - My light? (gasps) Oh gosh! A looks at B, horrified. A - You came back because you love me? B - Yes. A - Now I remember. A moment. B gets up and puts a record on. “Stardust” by Nat King Cole plays. B and A dance.
And now the purple dusk of twilight time Steals across the meadows of my heart High up in the sky the little stars climb Always reminding me that we're apart
You wander down the lane and far away Leaving me a song that will not die Love is now the stardust of yesterday The music of the years gone by
A begins to sing the next verse as they dance.
Sometimes I wonder why I spend The lonely night dreaming of a song The melody haunts my reverie And I am once again with you When our love was new
And each kiss an inspiration But that was long ago Now my consolation Is in the stardust of a song
B - Mightier than you believe. A - You’re right about me. They both sing the final verse. iIt is sweet and sincere, at times a little goofy. They are not good singers.
Beside a garden wall When stars are bright You are in my arms The nightingale tells his fairy tale A paradise where roses bloom Though I dream in vain
In my heart it will remain My stardust melody The memory of love's refrain
A - When do you need to go?B - Soon. A - I’m sorry I left. B - You’re here now.
A - So it’s like I’ll never go.B - Never. A - That’s great news.
A smooths B’s hair. Lights out.
Periphery. or the angry poem. -Emily DeForest
I wonder why the men I love only see me in their periphery.
Why the first time I ever had sex was an act of begging.
I remember being 12 and sunkissed, reading a Cosmo with my best friend
Flipping shiny pages, soaking in words of unworthiness like they were biblical.
I scream for that me- I wish I could hold her and tell her
Truth will only make you light, this weight you are feeling is not your own.
I wonder why the men I love only see me in their periphery.
I’m a tiny dancer that’s moving through space wishing you’d love how easy I please.
I remember writhing alone in my room, mouthing Green Day, hoping to angst the angst away
Tracing black eyeliner around my vision, a guarded focus trying to narrow in
On the day when I can get away from blonde Texans who remind me how alone I am.
Straightening my curls out till I’m good enough.
I remember the first time I was naked with him, how wrong and cold I was.
I called him over and found him in the dark, bare feet on sticks and pavement.
I had been lighting candles in the room for hours, an act of preparation and prayer.
I felt like crying and I bled for days.
Now I get why they burned bras.
I wanna light something, anything, everything on fire.
Some ritual flames to burn through all the old shit.
Let the ashes blow away or mold together with my tears to create a solid foundation.
I know why I was only ever loved in peripheries.
As I grow I’m stripping these razor lessons away.
Useless and cyclical and painful.
I want to be naked and warm and whole.
Love myself in the everything sense.
To not starve myself into productivity.
To not disappear behind pleasing.
I wanna be earth, wind, and fire.
I wanna tell people to fuck off and mean it.
I wanna dance with women until we die with joy and exhaustion.
I wanna kiss every tear on the face of little me.
I want to laugh one day at how this shakey pain has rocked my world.
I wanna love and be loved head on, smiling cause I see me reflected back.