In this 2021 year in review you’ll find select lines from my morning pages, Evernotes, text messages, notes from a talk, or book, or a podcast I found interesting, something quick I scribbled on a notecard, a quote I pinned in Google Keep, and a few film photos from that specific month. All snapshots of the things that struck me enough to notice.
Jim Rohn asks that we be students enough of our own lives, our own futures, of our own desires, anger, joy, and suffering that we keep the notes, and keep the journals. I hope you find a tiny mirror of your own existence in mine.
June - December for the paid babes next Saturday.
Your support means the world.
1/3: It’s sinful how good the sun feels on my skin. We haven’t been on a plane in over a year. This shit is weird. It’s all weird. This time in history. Cortney and I pick up the rental, head through Palm Springs to the Airbnb near Joshua Tree. I crack open the window, peel off my sweatshirt. I’m trying to steady my camera, shoot the endless palm fronds passing through the rearview.
We stop at a vegan burrito place before heading to the house. Sit on the hood of the car, look at each other, stuff our faces, laugh.
Man. This life is too sweet sometimes.
1/4: I wake up in cold sweat at 2 am. I dreamt about death. I can barely catch my breath. Touch my face to make sure I’m real. Go to the bathroom. Dry off. Try to tell myself it was nothing. Fall back asleep.
4 am. My sister calls. Hysterical. I can only make out, “Uncle. Died. Dad. Get through this?”
I can’t speak about my Uncle in the past tense.
It’s been 15 years since I heard my father hurt like this.
I can’t stop crying. Cortney brews some coffee. Guides me to the patio to watch the sunrise. Seven birds perch on our neighbor’s power line. My Uncle is survived by five kids, a beautiful wife. I watch them. I pray. I sip my coffee and lean on Cortney.
I watch one fly away and the others follow.
1/5: I text my cousin:
There is so much of him in you.
That’s why men like your father never really die.
I was reading “Gratitude” by Oliver Sacks this morning and came across this quote:
“There will be no one like us when we are gone, but then there is no one like anyone else, ever. When people die, they cannot be replaced. They leave holes that cannot be filled, for it is the fate—the genetic and neural fate—of every human being to be a unique individual, to find his own path, to live his own life, to die his own death.”
I love you and I’m so grateful to know you, and your phenomenal family.
1/8: When do you allow yourself to take up space?
1/9: I had a portrait session with my friend, Makenzie. I’m forever honored when anyone trusts me with their image. Everyone, especially Black and Brown women, need stunning ass photos of themselves. A single portrait. Proof that we were here. In all our beauty and complexity.
2/1: Pay attention to how people talk about endings. Friendships, family, previous partners, career. Do they ever mention their mistakes? I took a business idea to someone I considered a friend. If I’m being completely honest, she was a strong acquaintance. She started a manufacturing company and claimed she had the capacity to produce my creation. Her company still hasn’t delivered on five figures worth of product and it’s been five months. Before I paid, in full, we had a drink downtown. Her stories about endings were all one-sided, always the other person’s fault. Especially with customers.
Pay attention to how people talk about endings.
This experience still doesn’t deter me from doing business with people I admire, respect, and enjoy. Friends and acquaintances. People I would recommend to my people. I haven’t been this angry or disappointed in forever, but I’m thankful this happened when it did.
2/9: Allow it to be easy, Nneka.
2/10: In this life, there is abundance. And I deserve my share of it.
2/18: “We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard-of, must be possible in it. For it is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed; it is shyness before any sort of new, unforeseeable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope. But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical, will live their relation to another as something alive and will himself draw exhaustively from his own existence.” — Rainer Maria Rilke
2/26: “Once we’re thrown off our habitual paths, we think all is lost, but it’s only here that the new and the good begins.” – Leo Tolstoy
I start locs today! They're cute lil’ unruly coils right now. I should’ve done this like a decade ago.
3/1: Notes from a chat with Cathy Park Hong x Kiese Laymon:
“I write to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted” — Richard Pryor
“What are the ethical boundaries of truth-telling?”
“Courage takes narrative dexterity.”
“Parents of immigrants feel indebted to a nation and their children feel indebted to them.”
3/5: Every dollar I spend comes back to me 10x over.
3/18: Notes from On Being - Ocean Vuong
“So many of us immigrant children end up betraying our parents in order to subversively achieve our parent's dreams.”
“We have to articulate the world we want to live in.”
“Language is not a private or isolated act.”
“The voice and the air are a second page. The pauses, the cadences.”
“Our “how are you?” has failed us.”
3/23: Revision is a form of forgiveness. Your current self holds the treasure of hindsight. We can examine old words and ways of thinking that no longer serve. We can time travel. Transform. Progress. Revision is a form of love.
3/24: “We write to heighten our own awareness of life. We write to lure and enchant and console others. We write to serenade our lovers. We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection. We write...to render all of it eternal and to persuade ourselves that it is eternal. We write to be able to transcend our life, to reach beyond it. We write to teach ourselves to speak with others, to record the journey into the labyrinth. We write to expand our world when we feel strangled, or constricted, or lonely.” — Anais Nin
3/29: Take your foot off your own neck.
3/30: Forgiving oneself/others is not the same as absolution from wrongdoing or responsibility. Don’t avoid the tension, the conflict. Don’t run away from the difficult, necessary conversations that could lead to true reconciliation.
4/5: PATIENCE x CONSISTENT ACTION (written in all pink caps next to the date)
I realize there are times that I wish the book I’m writing would write itself. I wish it were easier, not that I was better. I wish I didn’t have to pitch to agents or write a screenplay, or revise, or practice, or do any fuckin work. But, as Kiese Laymon says, “we’re not good enough not to practice.” We’re not good enough, or white enough, or rich enough to not do the work ourselves. This is the price. And it’s a price I’m willing to pay. So be it, see to it.
4/12: I text Cortney:
Oaxaca is a dream. The colors. The food. The people. We’ve been eating 7-course meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This shit is amazing. I don’t think we realized how much we needed this, wanted this. Sometimes, when we’re sitting to eat, we find ourselves laughing uncontrollably at the beauty of it all. Is this heaven? Puerto Escondido today! Loving and missing you, always, mi amor.
4/17: Notes from Jim Rohn’s “The Art of Exceptional Living”
“There is no exotic answer to success.”
“Leave behind the treasures of pictures as well as words. Leave behind your library. The library that instructed you, fed you, acted as stepping stones out of the darkness and into the light.”
“Repetition is the mother of skill.”
“Be a student enough of your own life, your own future, your own desire to keep the notes and keep the journals.”
5/7: I feel my most significant and insignificant when standing at the ocean's edge.
5/18: There are feelings of hurt that few people assume I have regarding our friendship. The peace I feel comes from understanding we were meant to be friends, to cross paths. You were meant to see what you needed in a friendship: grandiose acknowledgment, attention, and frequent communication. I was meant to see what happens when an ego goes unchecked. When numbers on a platform we don’t own fosters an insatiable desire for praise and validation. You made me question who I’d be, who we’d be, without it.
“Bitterness is like cancer; it eats upon the host and does nothing to the object of its displeasure.” — Maya Angelou
5/19: “But will you let mere fame distract you? Turn your gaze to the quick forgetfulness of all things, the abyss of the ages on either side of the present moment. For the entire Earth is only a mere point in the universe, and what a small corner of the Earth is our dwelling place. For the time that remains, remember the humble refuge that is yourself.” — Marcus Aurelius
The real work, like roots in the winter, happens underground. In solitude. In the places and spaces where no one seems to notice.
5/20: What if the past was practice? The experience: plays. The people: players.
5:27: Keep asking the question: who can I get around? Who can I spend more time with? Who would have a positive influence on my life?
5/29: I can’t stop thinking about Alice Walker’s perfect summation of how I feel.
"Some periods of our growth are so confusing that we don’t even recognize that growth is happening. We may feel hostile or angry or weepy and hysterical, or we may feel depressed. It would never occur to us, unless we stumbled on a book or a person who explained to us, that we were in fact in the process of change... Whenever we grow, we tend to feel it, as a young seed must feel the weight and inertia of the earth as it seeks to break out of its shell on its way to becoming a plant... Often the feeling is anything but pleasant. But what is most unpleasant is the not knowing what is happening... Those long periods when something inside ourselves seems to be waiting, holding its breath, unsure about what the next step should be, eventually become the periods we wait for, for it is in those periods that we realize we are being prepared for the next phase of our life and that, in all probability, a new level of personality is about to be revealed." — Alice Walker