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Pink Roses—Sexuality Series

By Henrietta Krüssenberg

I bought myself a bunch of roses yesterday. On my way home, the roses—peeking out of my grocery bag—made me feel like I belonged to someone. They were pink, which in rose language can mean a lot of different things. Admiration, gratitude, appreciation, and apparently: an expression of sympathy. I bought the flowers for myself, to put in my own apartment, but carrying them through the streets—yes, even buying them—felt too symbolic to make me feel good about it. I kept seeing people’s faces, their eyes on my roses, and I could hear them asking themselves: “Who’s the lucky person?”

It’s been 3 months since we broke up. The first 2.5 were okay. No, pretty good actually. I felt free in a way, knowing I didn’t have to worry anymore about waiting a lifetime for him to answer my texts, or having arguments that only confused me, because talking to him was like talking to a concrete wall. He could make music, but when it came down to talking, everything that came out of his mouth was out of tune.

A week after we decided to go our separate ways, I wrote in my journal that I was doing surprisingly good, but that “maybe for the moment I just allowed myself to forget everything.” And so I did. I kept pushing away everything that I was meant to feel, convincing myself it would all just disappear eventually—that by ignoring everything, the pain would stop trying to penetrate my brain.

I started with two weeks, then four, then six, and by the time I reached ten weeks, I thought that I was fine—that I was over him. When we had just broken up, and I was crying my eyes out, my dad tried to comfort me by saying “I was once heartbroken too. But it took me a week, then I was over it. Chin up, you’ll see!” So I thought ten weeks would be more than enough. Turns out: that’s when that brain of mine shut down and the pain came rushing in.

I followed the textbook, did all the “I’m heartbroken” things. Step 1 (and step wrong) was sending the “I miss you” text. Obviously no response. Step 2 was contacting his ex-girlfriend, which actually was surprisingly great. It gave me a sense of sisterhood, a spark of revenge towards my ex, and it numbed the pain a little. Then one night I stupidly took out my photo album that I had hidden deep down in one of my drawers, thinking it was part of some research for my upcoming photography project. But it only brought back all the memories—of all the good times we had. There were pictures of us cuddling, pictures of our trip to Copenhagen and Ven (a little island south of Sweden). There were pictures of him in my kitchen, of him playing a gig with his band, of him sitting in the sun, smiling at the camera. Each page, each picture, hurt more than the one before. A few weeks before I had told him that I didn’t love him anymore, but looking through the photo album I realized that I still did.

You read and hear about breakups all the time, making you truly understand that you’re never alone in this mess. But still, it’s always going to be your mess. It doesn’t matter how much I talk to my mom or my friends about this—no one will ever really understand. And I guess that’s the beauty of it. It makes me not have to question—at least for a little while—if I am really me; if who I am is not just a construction of everything around me. And the same applies to my ex: he will never understand me, and I will never understand him. And that’s where I have to realize that my love for him is reaching a limit. I can’t try to be his forever.

I can see my roses from across the room. A pop of color against my white, Scandinavian walls. They are beautiful, even if they were bought for me, by me. Today, they make me feel like I belong to myself. They will die eventually, petal by petal.

And maybe so will the pain.

November Art Gallery

Fallen leaves, bare branches. Grayness. Coming and going. Colors fade but anticipation swells. The bright lights are coming—as are musky smells, warm fires, mismatched mittens, loved ones’ hugs…

November can feel stark. Day to night and alarms set too early. Even a hot coffee can’t do the trick. Where did life’s life go? Here’s some sparkling pieces that will brighten things up on this November day—beautiful inspiration from beautiful people.

Welcome to the November Art Gallery.

By Anna Boulogne

By Armony Dailly (@armonydailly)

By Armony Dailly

By Armony Dailly

By Millie Gardner

By MaryGrace Gladden (@marygracegladden)

By By MaryGrace Gladden

By Clementine Mcintosh

By Jamie Pearl

By Jamie Pearl

By Steph Dutton

By Jordan Mitchell

By Jordyn Presho

* * *

Don’t forget to submit your art and poetry to:

messysubmissions@gmail.com

for a chance to be featured!

Signature

High Tide, Low Tide

I fall into a flow. I can be manically happy— the colors! The smell of sugared almonds! The dogs on leashes and hands in hands and sunsets and rises and silk with velvet and sleepy eyes. And then I wake up and it’s not there anymore. The memory of what it felt like to think that way and look at the world that way seems possible, but not graspable. It’s a food I remember tasting but don’t feel like eating anything. I gaze out the same window to the same weather but I swear the colors are different. I rub my eyes, hoping they will refocus and see the good in the bad not the bad in the good. 

I fall into the valley for a while. Days. I admire the rebounders— the people who can have a bad morning and pivot into a good night. I have bad mornings and bad afternoons and bad nights. And then I have good mornings and good afternoons and goodnights. Flows up and down up and down, I’m getting seasick from bobbing along. Hoping that I wake up and can steady myself and see the horizon for what it is, a destination, the sky kissing the ground. And not for a far off,  faraway place that I will never reach. 

Today was one of those days, and tomorrow might be one of the others. 

It depends on how strong the current is.

Here I am at an old place. 

That used to be new.

With pieces of the old me.

That used to be the only thing that I knew.

When you feel lost there is a new place to be found around the corner, a new corner of a coffee shop that you need to pour your feelings into. There’s an old man where the streets intersect with a cigarette in his lips and a scarf around his neck with a story bursting from his fingertips and wise eyes that see the brick buildings like brail. You might feel the history buzzing in the air, intangible electricity, but he sees it dancing before him like a double exposed image.

When you feel like peeling down your skin like a grape think of your hands and what they are able to make. Think of your eyes and what they are able to see. Think of your legs and where they are able to go. Think of your mind and how you will never never never fully know who you are. 

There’s always something to discover. 

I think that is what keeps me sane. 

My walls couldn’t be white anymore. They needed to be decisive, my room and I decided that there needed to be something I could fall back to. A color I could lean up to, and whisper feelings through. I went to the hardware store in Chinatown that is a gaping garage door, wide open with skinny skinny aisles so they can fit everything, and boy oh boy do they have everything. I can’t skinny up into the aisles if someone else is there, two people simply wouldn’t fit. I unscrew cabinet knobs from the sample board, they have none left and it’s fine I want them all mismatched. I pull out a panel of greens, green feels nice. Green feels right. Green was in his eyes and blurred by while I sat in the back of the car on road trips. 

I give the panel to the man over the counter. Which green does he think? He doesn’t think green at all, sighs, and points to the second from the bottom. I grab a quart and borrow a ladder from a gift shop along the road. Have you ever noticed that the lights of gift shops in New York city are blindingly bright? Most light feels yellow, or blue, but this light is WHITE. And a screaming white at that. Walking around at night they look like lures to catch fish or kill flies, drawing the vulnerable in to get snowglobes (I have one) NYC t-shirts (I have two) pajamas (pink pair) and postcards (never enough). He sighs and gives me the ladder, I promise to give it back. I borrow a few times from him, an umbrella, a hammer, a moment of his time to ask which way it is again to this street? 

Step, step, step. Roll, roll, roll. Swatch on to the wall. Stretching up and down covering it with green, but the green overlaps with the green making darker green patches. It reminds me of trying to color a grass or sky background with markers as a kid and never being able to make it look like a solid color, always those inbetween, overlapping scribbles made the colors different shades. I say fuck it and start rolling on the paint in curving motions instead of straight lines, it works. I run out of paint towards the top and paint with the only tube of acrylic paint I have, gold. I smudge it on with my hands. I love it. 

One of my favorite hobbies is “Pastry peeping”. Basically every time I see a sweets or cake shop, or a diner that possibly has a glass case of whipped cream dappled pies, I have to go in and SEE. I have to see the swirls of frosting roses and sprinkles and strawberries. I can hardly eat any of them (being vegan) but I think of them as art. I send photos to my friends who can have cake and eat it too, hoping they might go and enjoy it for me the same way I enjoy it visually. I’ll naively ask if they have any vegan sweets, and they will point to the bottom shelf in the far left corner to a bar made of oats or granola. They must see the disappointment on my face because it’s always quickly followed up with “it’s actually really good!”

I spin on my heels and ding out the door. 

He asked me what do I do?

I said make all of your dreams come true. 

There’s a bookstore a bit of a walk away from my place, not too far, not to close. It has my magazine in it. Sometimes when I walk by on the way to the grocery store I will run in, grab a newspaper, go to the stand, and put it on the top shelf. I was caught once and had no explanation, so I acted like I was just looking and bought a copy of it and gave it to a friend. 

If you are lonely the city is your friend. Chinese food at 3 am. 

If you are broke the city is your friend. It’s the cheapest-most expensive place to live. We spend all of our money on rent and exchange information on where to get $1 coffees or $1 shoes. When the specials are, use my name and get the neighborhood discount. Hop the tracks, squeeze in, two for one swipe. Let’s go for a walk, let’s meet at the park, let’s paint on my roof. Let’s live free and cheap. Let’s live free and big. The MET is donation based so a quarter will suffice. Meet me on the steps outside, I’m walking so I don’t have to swipe. 

If you want to leave, see how far away you can get for $2.75. 

It ends up feeling really far when you are going there. 

And home feels really close when you come back. 

Ride the line to the end. 

Get off, and look around and make a new friend. 

It’s as simple as saying hi. 

I have gone from many “hi’s” to late talking about life until midnight. 

And I keep on wondering…

What friend lies behind a stranger?

What stranger lies behind a friend?

I have to be so many different people to so many different people that it’s sometimes hard to remember who I am.

I think tomorrow will be a high tide. 

A Girl Can Break Your Heart Too

By Anonymous

Since last year when I decided to leave my ex, I’ve felt the sadness of my heart corrupt me at the end of everyday—when the moon would rise and the earth fell silent, I heard my heart weep. Almost as if it were broken because of me, because I detached from a relationship that was no longer healthy for me or my heart. I was lied to, cheated on, used, and only fifteen-years-old—in a relationship with my first love.

I met her around Valentine’s Day only three years ago, and the idea of her and I being together lingered in the back of my mind until the relationship actually manifested in our lives. It was a very new thing for the both of us. Being in love for the first time, with another girl, it’s all too exciting. We felt like the only two in the universe—our auras reflected romance and fed off of each other. Our time apart was spent thinking about each other. I often thought of her lips on mine and my fingers combing through her soft brown hair. My heart was on fire. But, like most first love scenarios, things spoiled and the flame in my heart quickly settled.

I really am a lover. My heart is too big and has room for all the love in the universe. But that relationship has really impacted me. For the past year, I’ve been checking up on her, worrying about her, and falling into endless daydreams wondering if she even ponders about me. But I’ve been growing and becoming the person I’ve always wanted to be too. I’ve indulged in creative projects, reading book after book, filling journal after journal. Change was hard, but being separated from her has forced me on my own path.

But the habits of my heart, birthed from being gridlocked into unhealthy patterns, has materialized into my current relationships. I haven’t felt those lustful, romantic feelings for anyone else since. I’ve been trying to force love back into my life because it’s almost like fuel for me, but my heart, in the softest way, wishes for her again. My heart has different plans than my brain, and I never know who to listen to.

We spoke a month ago. She said she missed me and I let my heart grow attached to her again, just for a minute. She said she wouldn’t disappear from my life like she had before, and I, without thinking, believed her. I’ve absentmindedly been allowing myself to await her texts and have shut out other parts of my life for her again—until it hit me that things will never return to what they used to be. It’s just astonishing to me that, after all this time, I let my heart take control over me once again.

But I know now that I am the color red. I am loud and loving; I am full of spirit and fire; I am created from love. I am not someone who waits on people—my heart is too good for damaging. I’ve finally realized that I should only surround myself with those who genuinely love and care about me. I still have compassion in my heart for her, but I love myself more than I loved her or will love anyone—and love will find its path to me. I’m finally ready to progress in this world without her.

Staring at the ceiling—thanks to my insecurities.

What do you think when you’re all alone, in your bed, listening to music starring at the ceiling?

Here are my thoughts, raw and real. The stories that all the voices in my head tell me every day. Some are good, some are bad.

23 years on earth and still no clue how the fuck it works.

But, if by any chance this helps you, please come and join me in staring at the ceiling.

At first, this piece was supposed to be called “Thanks to my flaws.” The more I was trying to type, the more I felt that something was off. What are flaws? For example, a shirt can have flaws if it doesn’t match the original draw of a designer. A piece of furniture can have flaws too if, I don’t know, a door is broken. In order to have flaws, you first must be meant to be a certain way…Which is impossible for any living form. Saying to somebody that she/he is flawless is inaccurate because being flawed is, in fact, totally normal. We are not meant to be a standard form.

Insecurities are, on the other hand, things that bother us—that make us uncomfortable. They’re (sometimes) things we wish we could change.

I’ve had this draft for at least two months on my phone. But I didn’t feel like I was ready to write it, share it, or express it with complete honesty. The last few weeks have been crazy rough.
I needed to feel at least a little better to be real about my words.

Right now, I’m @ a cafe called Soul Kitchen in Paris, my beautiful city. A little bit sad that I didn’t get an outside table because I’m sitting in front of a mirror. How ironic. I’m staring at my biggest insecurity.

Being confident. Loving and embracing yourself is not an easy thing to do. Not impossible but difficult. It’d be a wrong for me to say that I am confident and 100% happy with myself and my skin. But what I can say is that, despite all my ups and down, I’m fucking lucky to be born in this body, this rocket ship. The only thing that is certain is that I wouldn’t be the person I am today If I didn’t go through my shit.

I feel the need to get this off my chest in order to not leave this topic blurry. What I feel most insecure about is my weight. My weight has always been the main source of my uncomfortableness and, on second thought, my weakness. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been bullied and mocked. I have always felt different and like I am not where I belong. Most people don’t understand how being overweight and living in a society where everything “should be” and “is” skinnier and normal-ish is difficult. It’s not just about the looks that I get—it’s everything. From trying on clothes at a thrift store to sitting at a table in an armchair to laying on the grass. It’s all of daily life that is impacted.

Insecurities take the most out of us. Our minds do that. That little voice in our head that tells us, “Don’t do that, people are gonna think blah-blah-blah.” Being the outsider, the strange one, the “atypical” one (as they say) changes you, and you start to think that you are not good enough.

Once you grow up, you understand that people don’t pay attention to your flaws because they are minding their own insecurities. And yes, it’s hard, but overcoming those little thoughts is the easier part. Trust me.

So why am I thankful?

I am a unique soul. I’m the only pilot of my rocket ship. What’s on my mind is mine and what I want to do with my body, too, is up to me. Once I discovered who I truly was, everything was clearer.

Thanks to the one that bullied me when I was just a little girl; you made me stronger and helped me build bigger shoulders. Thanks to my mom who has taught me that I am beautiful no matter what; I now know that beauty comes in every shape, color, and size. Thanks to my former dance teacher who taught me I could be as good as everybody. Thanks to my not-so-friends for making me realize who I really am and that I deserve better. Thanks for the mockery; I know now how to defend myself with smarter words. Thanks to my stretch marks; I am now a tiger. Thanks to my big thighs; you made me a good ass. Thanks to all the tears I dried; I have become more aware. Thanks to all my negative thoughts; you made me care less and live more. Thanks to my belly and tall height; I’ve never been more proud to be noticed.

Thanks to my insecurities; you’ve made me a passionate and hardworking girl who is not afraid to say what is on her mind. You’ve taught me kindness and compassion, and you’ve taught me how to appreciate every single bit of myself.

It hurts to keep up with who I am but, even in my darkest times, I’m thankful to be me.
What about you ?

October Favorites

Photo by Paige MacCready

Hocus Pocus—Set in Salem, Mass. Forewarning: as a film, it’s nothing to write home about. But it’s fun! And spooky. And nostalgic. And stars Bette Midler and SJP! And there’s just something about 90’s movies.

Little Miss Sunshine—A hilarious classic from ’06. Cast includes a young Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, etc. The film follows the Hoover family en route to California in a VW bus for the “Little Miss Sunshine Pageant.” Stylistically quirky and alluring cinematography. Overall: funny, cute, and undoubtedly heartwarming.

^ By reader, Brianna Knight

So ridiculously bizarre is this 2002 short by artist Matthew Barney (shot in the Guggenheim, from his series The Cremaster Cycle). I don’t have a point in sharing this other than: watch and be confused.

^ Happy Halloween!

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot—A nonfiction book recounting the life of Henrietta Lacks, or the women of whom HeLa cells came from (aka the first immortal cell line). The book was published in 2010 and, since, an HBO film based on the book has been released. In short, it is about a poor black women whose cervical cancer cells were taken by doctors at The John Hopkins Hospital in 1951 without her or her family knowing. The cells become incredibly influential in the field of medicine, single-handedly changing the course of cancer research. It is not just a dry, nonfiction medical book thoughit’s very compelling and discusses larger issues of race and class within the past 80 or so years too. A stunning read.

Old journal entries—I was home for the weekend recently and found myself flipping through a pile of my old journals that are stuffed next to my bed. None of them are finished, I guess that was a habit of mine (and still is). I tended to leave a chunk of blank pages at the end of each. Within the piles of journals were old yearbooks and other print memories for me to explore. We all have our minds as places where memories and thoughts from our past reside. However, as time progresses and the moments when these entries were written fade further and further into the recess of the past, so does the vividness of the memories within us. Reading and seeing words on paper from the past, scrawled out in evolving but stylistically consistent handwriting, is one way to reignite the vibrance of our memories. To take us back in a way that simply racking our brains is unable to do.

Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists? By Linda Nochlin—A 1971 essay by Linda Nochlin, an influential art historian, that explores why there have been little to no known names of female artists when we reflect upon written history. It’s a little dry at parts but worth reading—it is considered a pioneering piece in the realms of feminist art history/art theory.

Shape/object earrings—Stars, moons, teeth, farfalle pasta, lightening bolts, croissants, stilettos. Try mismatching too, maybe a tiara in one ear and a skull in the other.

Sweat-suits—or tracksuits, whichever word you prefer. Whether the pieces were bought as a set or you picked up same-colored sweats and a hoodie while shopping, it’s an easy look that doesn’t need to be limited to airport wear or cleaning day attire. Dress it up. Wear it out. Look to the 90’s for inspo. Extra points for velvet.

Belts—Simple but easy way to add interest to any outfit. Belt a long skirt, your favorite jeans, a dress, etc. Often found near the jewelry display in vintage stores in varying sizes, materials, colors, and embellishments.

Pants that aren’t jeans—Not vetoing jeans at all whatsoever. Just wanting to remind you that SO MANY other types of pants exist. And fun pants! Trousers. Gauchos. Silk pj pants. Corduroys. Sparkly pants. Fun pants!

A “you” color—We’ve all been told at some point or another that there’s a certain color that is “our color” (most likely by an aunt or grandmother, but that’s besides the point). We all have different skin-tones, eye colors, hair textures and shades, etc. And it’s inevitable that our unique features are complimented beautifully by particular hues more than others. So embrace that uniqueness. Hold onto the times you’ve been told a certain color looks great on you. Or, when you look in the mirror, what color do you like to wear? What do you gravitate toward? What makes your eyes pop? Have fun experimenting.

COSTUMES—Yes, the big day is right around the corner. What are you going as? Carrie B? The tooth fairy? Playboy bunny? Warhol? Maybe throw on bits of your costume and jaunt around in your fancy wig or puffy tutu before Halloween strikes…Why not?

Pho—So warming and filling. So many varieties. Broth, rice noodles, a protein of your choosing, bean sprouts, maybe some steamed veggies, and don’t forget the squirt of lime. Cilantro to garnish (if you don’t have that soap-cilantro gene).

Cinnamon toast—For me, the epitome of nostalgia. My mum always buttered a piece of toast and sprinkled cinnamon sugar on top for me before bed. Since moving out, I find myself making such concoction when I am craving home, a hug, or just a comforting nighttime snack.

Dumplings & steamed buns—Delicious and such a quick, affordable snack or meal. Vanessa’s here in NYC (locations in Chinatown, Williamsburg, and near Union Sq) is my favorite. Veggie dumplings with both the soy and spicy sauces are so tasty & only $4.50 for 8. Best eaten too late.

Frozen grapes—Not just for the summer! Grapes will be out of season by the end of October (in the Northern Hemisphere, that is), so buy the good ones while you still can. They’re great fresh too, but there’s something so refreshing about snacking on grapes straight out of the freezer. Great energy booster too.

Delicata squash—Roasted with just a little olive oil, salt & pepper for about 30 mins in an oven set at 425 degrees. Heaven.

Wraps—Just in general. I know it’s random, but they’re so painless, versatile, etc. Anything can go in a wrap. A salad, rice and beans, nut/seed butter & jelly…Whatever you count as a meal, why not wrap it up? Transportable and easy to scarf down quickly for busy days. And it doesn’t need to be a flour wrap! Why not a rice paper wrap? Then it technically becomes a spring roll. Can’t go wrong.

Appetizers—When I have the time, it’s so nice to sit down at maybe 5 or 6 with a glass of wine and a plate of something to snack on, either while cooking or contemplating what to do for dinner. It’s a time to slow down. Maybe you’re solo, or maybe you’re able to chat with your roommates or friends and reflect upon your day. The options are endlessa veggie platter, chips and salsa/guac, fresh bread and fruit, etc. My recommendation: cracked black pepper triscuits avec jam (try apple cider jam)…sounds weird, but I promise you’ll understand if you try it.

Apple pie! T’is the season. Best homemade. Fresh apple-orchard apples peeled and sliced. Follow a recipe online or your grandmother’s. Don’t forget the ice cream with your slice when you’re ready to dig in (highly recommend Trader Joe’s soy vanilla ice cream).

Martin Parr—I’m currently taking a photography class and was introduced to Martin Parr by my prof. I realize I’m a little late to the game, but I really love his work. His photos are zany and raw, and he’s especially well-known for his peculiar food photos. Seems like ‘foodography’ existed far before the Instagram ‘food porn’ era (Parr has been photographing since the 70s). Check out his site: www.martinparr.com

Listening—I mean listening to others…REALLY listening. I’ll admit it, I’m a culprit of half-listening. I get stuck in my head, rolling around in to-do’s and worries and thoughts and dreams. And it feels shitty for both people, both me and the person who I should be fully, sincerely listening to. Most likely, they can tell. I’ve made it a conscious goal to be more mindful and engaged with whatever my task at hand is, be it: a conversation, reading, walking and taking in my surroundings, etc. Do your best to isolate whatever you’re doing. It is a far more enlightening, fulfilling, authentic, and meaningful way to live.

Face serums, hyaluronic acid—We’ve all seen it on blogs and in mags and know from experience that: when the weather gets colder, skin gets drier. And no one is immune—whether your skin is dry, oily, combo, etc. the importance of regularly moisturizing stands. Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan and is claimed to improve skin texture and brightness with intense moisture. I vouch for it and have used a variety of products that contain hyaluronic acid for said benefits. I am particularly a fan of the Derma E’s Hydrating Serum with Hyaluronic Acidskin saver (+ all natural and cruelty-free!)

Zinc—The sniffles can’t really be avoided in the fall. Especially being in the crowded city with germs galore, catching a cold seems to be unavoidable. Seasonal allergies have also been hitting me hard. Taking zinc is a great homeopathic remedy for when you’re already sick or as a preventative measure. I like to buy the cherry flavored dissolvable tablets at CVS, but zinc can also be purchased as supplements in pill form without the added flavors. Course, check with your doctor first before changing up or adding any new constant to your health routine.

Art history is a really enlightening subject to study. It seems frivolous as a field in some senses.  But what people have been able to accomplish and create over the years is really astonishing. Read about it if you’re interested—pick a century and dig in.

Getting in the Halloween spirit—Seems obvious but that’s what October is for. Last weekend in NYC was the Halloween Dog Parade in Tompkin’s Sq Park, and there are lots of fun events coming up this weekend. Check out whats happening in your city—whether it’s an apple pie eating contest, a parade, a movie screening, a party, etc. Maybe gets some friends together to do things you did as a kidcarve or draw on pumpkins, decorate cookies or cupcakes, watch scary movies, make some art.

 

Heebiejeebies—Aminé

Winter—Khalid

Sunday Morning—Velvet Underground

Stay—Milky Chance

Found—Seramic

Same Drugs—Chance

The Bird—Anderson.Paak

Everything—Rayana Jay

Butterfly—Crazy Town

Good Girl—Melanie Rosé

Lonely Lullabies—Kweku Collins

Vogue—Madonna

Hello—Jaunt

All the Young Dudes—Mott the Hoople

Son Of A Preacher Man—Dusty Springfield

Thriller—MJ

Internet Subscriptions vs. Internet Prescriptions

There’s something wrong with the way we’re interacting—with those around us but predominantly with ourselves. We live in a virtual society, one dominated by likes and followers and “friends” and…deep breath. The list goes on. Do we really understand though? Do we understand how terrifyingly harmful confiding in the illusive hideout of our devices can be? I don’t say this in an effort to sound like an “old soul” and or simply act as a contrarian member of our generation. I’m coming from a place of stark honesty with myself and you too.

Denotation versus connotation. It can really throw us for a loop. Say you’re looking at a television. Sure, we’ve come to know a rectangular device that displays moving, illuminated images as a “TV” (it’s obviously more complicated than that, but you get the gist). The word used to define this object (i.e. “television”) is the connotative definition, or its meaning in the context of our contemporary society. It only has this meaning because we have created such.

Denotatively, however, what do we see? What do we observe, as unbiased as possible? Check in with your senses. We see merely a “rectangular device that displays moving, illuminated images.” It’s typically black or silver. It often says “Sony” or “LG” or “Panasonic” at its bottom. Sometimes it’s mounted on a wall, and sometimes it sits freely on a stand of sorts.

The list of surface details is endless. If someone from the 1500s miraculously emerged in our current era, he or she would see the word “television” as nothing more than a meaningless combination of letters. He or she, visually, would observe the surface features I mentioned but would be unable to conclude why? What? How?

Open up Instagram and begin scrolling. What do you see? A latte? A sunset? Two smiling faces? Why do you know what I’m talking about when I use these descriptions, these labels, of sorts? The answer is: connotatively and societally, we’ve given meaning to such things to the point where there’s universal comprehension and interpretation of most visual spectacles we encounter in life. However, all of these “subjects” are fairly objective (the latte, sunset, and smiling faces).

What about when we enter the realm of subjectivity? Again, open up Instagram. What do you see this time?

Beauty?

Glamour?

Sophistication?

Ugliness?

Funniness?

Sadness?

These designations are not denotative. They are connotative but, more bluntly, they are judgmental—they’ve gained their connotation through the widespread judgements and ideals that our society possesses. Our job, as the users and main demographic that makes up such virtual society, is to be honest with ourselves. To recognize that the judgments we give to the things that we see are…bullshit, really. Just because a norm is widely understood or practiced by our society does not mean that it’s valid. Sure, it’s cliché but…beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.

Photos are made up of pixels, just like words are made up of letters and matter is made up of atoms. Everything can be broken down…and broken down…and broken down.

Including YOU.

…your confidence; your sense of reality; your ability to distinguish realness. Don’t let virtuality blind you from reality. Be a conscious-consumer. Be smart! Engage with the world and the things within it mindfully and with awareness.

Spice Island

I recently took a trip this summer to the island of Carriacou for the duration of a month. During my stay I documented my surroundings from wedding ceremonies (cake dance) and the active youth to blush tinted sunrises of the 5 am morning.

Find Sham here

I Won’t Answer—Sexuality Series

By: CLBM

In the summer of my twentieth year, I lost my virginity to a man seven years older than me.

He is a musician, a writer with a colorful mind. He’s a lover of books and drugs, a lover of the fast life and actual love making.

Our first exchange was through Instagram, I slid into his DM’s with a dumb question I can’t recall about one of his bands. He answered instantly, and three days later we met for coffee. It’s all a blur of foamy cappuccinos, walking under the hot sun, and a goodbye kiss in my car. It was our beginning.

What we had was constantly shattered by him while I tried to piece us back together.

He would blame his choice to end things on the fact that he didn’t want to commit to anyone at the moment, on his relapses to his vices and dark ways, and how much he enjoyed having a long list of women that waited to wrinkle his bedsheets. My instincts told me to run away, this boy was no good. But how could I move on when every time he kissed me my knees quivered?

And then one day, after having the perfect date—

That was the day I gave myself completely over to him. Over the blue sheets on his bed, under the ceiling fan that moved the hot air around the room and with a record playing in the background.

I realized I wanted something real with him, something more than this, so I spoke to him about my feelings. A switch must’ve been flipped inside him after we made love, for he went against his own instincts and erased all the other girls from his phone and from his life. At first he seemed content and at peace, but with time I could see something shift behind his dark eyes. A struggle. A hunger he couldn’t quiet satiate with me.

I could tell he missed taking a girl home after playing guitar all night in one of his shows. That he missed those bodies that would fling themselves at him because they wanted to know how a rockstar fucks.

We were both growing uneasy, I offered to give him space to sort out his troubled mind, but he didn’t want to end things between us—not even if it was a small hiatus.

One week later, while he caressed my hair, the doubts kept clouding his mind. Our age difference made him nervous and he felt anxious because what we had was forbidden. Hearing him say those words made me realize I was being kept a secret. That even though he introduced me once to his best friend, that he sometimes held my hand in public, I was never an actual part of his life.

I could feel a knot forming in my throat and the weight of a thousand bricks pressing upon my chest. I couldn’t breath. I quickly put on my boots and left, refusing to kiss him on the lips as I walked out. When the door closed behind me, the tears started to roll down my cheeks.

Somehow, I knew it was over. The next day he ended things.

He blamed the dark patch he was going through and the uncertainty of our future. But I knew he was already sharing his bed with someone else while he wrote me these words.

I felt guilty because I wasn’t enough. I was full of hate for him, but I also wanted him so badly it hurt my heart. So after a while I convinced myself to be alright with what he offered: nothing. Well, maybe just the side of his bed where all of his other lovers later slept. To me, having a small part of him was better than not having him at all. But that feeling of not being enough, of not feeling loved and respected, just grew.

Neither of us are wrong for not wanting to change our ways. We tried each other’s lifestyles and it just didn’t work for us. But he uses my love for him as bait to get me into his bed, and that is the problem. He doesn’t see me, or his other lovers, as people—he sees us as bodies for his pleasure.

I write these words with tears in my eyes, while he blows up my phone asking when we can meet up for a quick midday fuck. But a moment of clarity has taken a hold of my mind. That being viewed as a doll for his pleasure is NEVER alright. That having a different definition of love is fine, but it should never be confused with lust. That giving someone your heart is courageous, but it is alright to take it back when they no longer appreciate it. That even though I love him, I need to love myself more. That I am always enough.

So I won’t answer him. And neither should you.

October Art Gallery

Tote bags filled to the brim with farmers’ market goodies. Wool socks in bed and under sneakers. Flushed cheeks, flushed sky. Tighter hugs and fuller mugs. Pockets are rediscovered as havens for chilled hands. Nostalgia strikes as orange orbs dawning carved faces grin on porch steps. Little legs scramble down bus steps and toward the open arms of smitten parents. October has arrived. A month of warmth, chock-full of messiness, musing, and magic.

Friday night—another long week down. The air becomes heavier earlier, as do your eyelids. 8pm. You drag yourself out of bed. An evening wander, you decide. Upon stepping out, you’re met with an exhilarating chill, eliciting an internal giddiness and sense of gratitude. You stumble into a small gallery a couple blocks over featuring a multimedia art exhibit—all local, community-based artists. Your eyes guide you with wonder and admiration as you begin gazing.

Welcome to the October Messy Gallery.

Grace Dephoff3

By Grace Dephoff (@gracessspace)

By Grace Dephoff (@gracessspace)

Sabrina

By Sabrina

Carolyn Ashe

By Carolyn Ashe

Miranda Pikul

By Miranda Pikul

Isabella Lalonde 2Isabella Lalonde 3

By Isabella Lalonde

SONY DSC

By Maja Kezić (@gwythyr)

IMG_4798

By Delaney Dusch (@photozbydelaney)

By Delaney Dusch (@photozbydelaney)

By Daniela Daisies (@danieladaisies)

By Kati Kirsch (@katikirsch)

By Kati Kirsch (@katikirsch)

* * *

Don’t forget to submit your art and poetry to:

messysubmissions@gmail.com

for a chance to be featured!

Signature

Veganism-Emma’s Story

 

NOTE: This is an excerpt from a 75 page, detailed, comprehensive ‘Guide to Veganism’ we made. The guide ranges from ethics, to recipes, personal stories (like the once you’re about to read), veganism on a budget, resources, myths, + so much more. Click here to shop the PDF Guide (it costs as little as a latte or a few rides on the subway, and could quite possibly change the way you think forever).

Emma’s Story:

I remember being younger, maybe 6 or 7 at my old house. We had these things called “cold dinners” which was just a European style plate. Cheese, bread, thinly sliced meat, grapes, that type of thing. I remember looking at the slices of meat and seeing veins running through them, I looked at the veins in my wrists and feeling completely sick. I started to remake the connection that that meat comes from a living thing, just like me.

This started a struggle with food. I don’t think it was ever told to me that being vegetarian was an option. My parents just fed me meat that you couldn’t tell it had been an animal, aka hot-dogs, meatballs, pepperoni, things that were processed and very far removed from a tangible, living thing.

I essentially just tried not to think about it.

By the time I was in highschool, I just hated the taste of cheese, meat, milk. I was maybe eating meat once a week, because I felt like I had to keep my iron counts up as requested by my coach and parents and as normalized by society.

When I went off to college and had no friends, I spent most nights just on my laptop. I got into YouTube for the first time ever, and kept seeing all of these videos about veganism. Back then it was a new thing on YouTube, and everyone was so pretty, skinny, happy, living in these tropical locations. It was an intense parallel to my gloomy first semester in Seattle, studying and not seeing a drop of sunshine.

I started doing research off of YouTube, reading books, watching documentaries. I started eating fully vegan, which at that time was just apples in my cupboard, kind bars, and five coffees. I definitely wasn’t a healthy vegan, I was just a college student.

In my spare time (which felt like a lot) I was watching documentaries and sharing what I was finding with the small following I had online, this led me to even more and more resources, and how to actually eat healthy as a vegan. I forget about that now because it seems so obvious to me, but it was hard to think about eating an entire day without milk meat and eggs. It started to make so much sense on all fronts, environmental, ethical, health. The evidence kept piling and piling up and I couldn’t believe how blind I had been all those years.

I had a list of documentaries to watch, the last one on the list was Earthlings. I was putting off watching it, mainly because I was already fully vegan. But one night in my dorm I just decided that I needed to know everything, all sides of the industry.

I barely made it through twenty minutes of that film. Just seeing the animals brutally slaughtered. It was too much for me. I cried so hard I got sick for a week. I felt so intensely guilty for a while, thinking about all of the meat I had eaten, and all the animals I had killed. It took me a while to get over that guilt and feel that me going vegan now was good enough.

I wish I hadn’t been lied to for so long, I wish I had trusted my instincts, or been given the support to go vegetarian when I was much, much younger.

To me, it’s so plainly obvious that eating a piece of meat for five minutes isn’t worth an animal dying.

Veganism really clicked for me on the ethics front, but whether you go vegan for ethics, health, environment, you start to see every side.

I went through a few years where I felt uncomfortable explaining to people that I was vegan. Which led me to a lot of, “I’m lactose intolerant..” or “I am vegetarian…” and a lot of half truths. The truth is, the hardest part about eating vegan was the judgment I felt from other people. How I would have to suddenly explain something so personal, something so fragile and close to my heart. It left me feeling quite vulnerable. I started simply answering: It makes me happy. Which is hard to refute. You can argue all you want about stats and how you tofu is bad for you (ps I don’t eat tofu) and ancient man and diet and health and this study and that, but you can’t argue my happiness.

Veganism is a personal journey. My advice to you if you are interested at all is first to get educated, and be compassionate. Not only for other beings, but towards yourself.

xo

 

Learning to Love Freely—Sexuality Series

By Emma Johnston-Wheeler

I’m in love with love.
There are many things that I have yet to discover about myself, but this is not one of them.
I am and always will be a  hopeless romantic.
I know this.

I’m only eighteen and I’ve already experienced multiple forms of love and heart break. I think it’s possible that I’m addicted to the feeling of love. I’ve lost myself in its presence and also found growth in its absence. On each occasion, the feeling has burned itself into my mind. Usually in the form of a name. That’s where this list comes in, a short summary of the boys that have played a part in my hopelessly romantic world to date.

  1. I spent my early primary years chasing boys. I chased one around the playground trying to kiss him. His name was Conner. I chased another down and kicked him between the legs, not knowing how to explain that I liked him. His name was Scott. I chased a third down trying to make him my boyfriend until he was eventually scared of me. His name was Spencer.
  2. In grade three, I had three different boys compete for my love. Freddy, Matthew, and Marcus. There was never a winner.
  3. In grade four, I “dated” one of those boys. He bought me a chocolate heart for Valentine’s Day. Shortly after, I became bored and set my heart on a different boy. I remember writing in my diary at the time that I liked him so much because he intentionally had himself kicked off the jungle gym so he could talk to me. His name was Mackenzie.
  4. In grade seven, I danced with a boy for the first time. We were “together” for two years. I can still remember the butterflies I felt when I was around him. His name was Jason.
  5. In high school, I had a thousand different crushes. One boy that I changed my mind about in grade nine because I thought his hands were too small. Another one that moved away before I could work up the nerve to say anything. A third that I eventually found annoying.
  6. In the summer of grade eleven, I became friends with a boy who I’d been crushing on for a year.  He was the first person to tell me I was beautiful and actually have me believe that he meant it. His name was Danny. He’s now one of my best friends.
  7. Shortly after that I dated the boy from elementary school again. Just over half a year. I was sure I loved him more than anything. He broke my heart.
  8. By the end of senior year, I wanted simply to be able to kiss a boy without risking the feeling of heart break, but I made the mistake of falling in love with him. I couldn’t help myself. He was handsome, funny, wonderfully honest, and one of the most genuinely kind people I’ve ever met. There was a point when I thought he was my soul mate. His name was Matt.
  9. Half way through University I met a boy with a beautiful, indescribable mind. Passionate, present, and carefree. He didn’t want me and that made me stop wanting myself for a while.
  10. Now there is no boy. I look back thinking that there might have been a point in each of these relationships that I thought they were my “soul mate.” I was sure for so long that there was only one person I was supposed to spend my life with.
    I wanted it to be true so badly.

I’m now retiring that belief (or at least trying to). I’ll still pour my heart out every chance I get for the pure experience of it, but without the same commitment. I’m taking out the “have-to” so to speak.

I’d like to think now that instead of a soul mate for the rest of my life (a single “one”), that there is a “one” for each moment. Multiple “ones.”  I was supposed to love and meet all of those people.

Just because a relationship ends doesn’t mean that the time you spent with them isn’t valid.

With this new perspective, I’ve created a sort of free love mantra. Meaning that I will use this message to practice a purer love. One that is unlimited but expects nothing in return.

Because real love isn’t created with the idea of being loved back. Reciprocation may make the love grow, but the reason you loved that person in the first place was because of them. Because you saw light in them and couldn’t help but be drawn to it. And so I tell myself, I will continue to love and be heart broken without ever expecting someone to promise a lifetime to me.
I’ll love in the purest way possible. Freely.​

Hey, Stranger.

Antisocial Diaries is an ongoing thread exploring the concept of connection in an age of constant connection. Written by Emma, currently living in New York City and without any social media.

How do you meet someone through no previous connection?

It’s all about who you know, you already know that. It’s taught in class and in every marketing book out there. It’s the reason why some people go to college or join clubs or make friends with the barista to get a free shot of espresso every so often. You are familiar with what you know, you trust it more. That’s why it’s easier to make friends with friends-of-friends, or follow someone first on social media and get comfortable enough with an image and persona of for you to consider them a confidant. In short: you find out about people and things through other people and things.

How do you make a connection based on no knowledge or previous background of a person? In most situations this middle ground is fertile for growing a connection. Any background knowledge just naturally clues you into what to talk about how how to behave with this person. But what about if you pull the ground out from under you?

Within a weekend I stuck up conversation with people on street corners and passing me by. I met: a savant getting ready to go into grad school at age 18, a wise New York native and ex-coke dealer (it was the 80s), a marketing strategist in-between business calls and dappled in dark circles, and a runaway crying in a red beret.

While each of them taught me a lot about life through their eyes, I learned a lot about listening. And how special it feels to connect with someone that you have very little in common with. Because as it turns out we really aren’t that different, everyone just wants to be seen and heard and understood.

Here’s what I saw, heard, and understood from fifteen minute to five hour conversations with these four compete strangers.

From the 18 year old savant, I learned that being in college when you are fifteen is pretty hard, but counting cards to calculate probability for Blackjack is pretty easy. Also, having a mind that relies on reason and rules can allow for confined creativity. For example, chess is a game of many rules, and thus it becomes a game of new ideas. Also, if given the chance, they would give up this mind to be able to have better relationships. Staring up at the ceiling, he asked me why girls don’t like him. I said it’s not about getting girls to like you, it’s about finding one person who is understanding. He didn’t understand why I wouldn’t sleep with him.

The next day I woke up off of a four hour sleep, 5 am til 9, and needed a coffee. I crossed paths with someone else who needed one as well, finishing a phone call that seemed to be about something stressful, as indicated by sighs and words that I knew but couldn’t define. As the phone call ended, I asked what it was about. We ended up getting a much needed iced americano in a cupcake place where I learned about being a media strategist and how media tricks, influences, and changes all of us. I sipped my coffee quickly, trying to keep up with the conversation. I learned that even executives have their vices, like winding down a river in a tube with a buddy and a beer, or doing a new drug to alleviate the stress of having to attend a rehearsal dinner for a rich San Francisco socialite. Also that even people who control media and money want to live outside of it, on some city in the Caribbean. I got a free coffee and this advice: get off your phone because someone else with a lot more money and power than you is deciding what you like, what you value, and what you perceive to be true.

From a corner off of the Lorimer stop, I stopped to stare at a giant, purple parade float protruding from a crowd. I was trying to piece together the scene when I noticed another person doing the same, but in a more seasoned way. Introducing: the New York native who told me that this was a festival held every year in this spot, and even though the’s not Italian he likes to come by and watch for a while. So we watch, the confetti going up in the air and kids on parent’s shoulders, smiling through the sound of the trumpets.

I learned about the pizza place behind us, how it had been there forever which was a mark of a good manager, someone who could evolve with the times. I asked about old New York, and heard stories of putting tokens in the subway machines to go up to 42nd, which was full of porn theaters, places to dance, and people ready to party. As the years went on, 42nd street put on a smiling, tourist-friendly mask, the streets got safer, and the subways got cleaner. New York used to be wild and risky, but worth it. They used to hang out in bodegas, drinking beers, only leaving to roll a joint on the side of the road, waving to passing policemen.

I heard about escapades as a drug dealer, and then with rehab, and now proudly sitting on a completely sober decade. Not even a cigarette. I asked what my generation was missing, the reply was an immediate: respect. We lack respect for not only our elders, our friends, our parents, but for ourselves. When I asked for advice, it was to never take the same road twice. Get off a stop early or a stop late on the subway, take a different route everyday. Pop into a different place. Don’t become a Friday regular anywhere, keep yourself on your toes. You stay young, you stay discrete, you stay sharp. I stayed on the corner mostly listening and sometimes talking for a good hour, even though I was supposed to be hosting a dinner down the street and was cradling wine in a brown bag in my arms.

And finally, just down the block from my house I was sitting and reading a book I had reread many times before, but still loved. Like a movie you watch over and over. In my happy place, I saw a sad face strolling by, wiping tears away with the back of a hand. I lept up and hugged them, and found out that they had just had their phone stolen, which completely ruined the first fall day of the year. I offered both my subway card and a companion to walk to the subway with. We talked about art and the possibility of a flip phone. I learned that when you leave a foreign country for NYC and can finally afford an apartment in Brooklyn it feels like you are on top of the world. I also learned that following your instincts and acting with compassion can turn someone’s worst day into one that makes them smile. And that we are all carrying struggles and could use a friend, even if that friend starts out as a stranger (so don’t be a stranger, be a friend).

We are connected to people passing by us through adversity, through life experiences, through pain and joy. We are connected by the sheer fact that we are all living this, weird confusing life (or that we both like copious amounts of black coffee). We have a lot more middle ground than we think, which might be scary to some, but certainly comforts me. I feel less alone knowing that I could strike up a conversation with someone who also needs connection. Someone who is just relieved as I am that all that stands between understanding and a stranger is a hello.

Who might you meet that lies behind an unfamiliar face?

A Thousand Words—Svea

A series based around the concept: a picture is worth a thousand words. 

Exactly one thousand word essay to describe a photo. 

Send yours into submit@themessyheads.com

* * *

By Agnes Nebrelius, in honor of her best friend’s birthday.

A picture I took of Svea, in her pajama pants and a The Smiths-tee, cutting her hair. She never seems to settle down. Not that she should, she is only seventeen, but her soul is never satisfied. From cutting her hair to piercing her nose, she is constantly looking for change, whether it be external or internal.

Her biggest fears are:

  1. Deep water
  2. Leading a boring life

She is frightened by the idea of settling down in some suburban house here in Sweden. Afraid to stand still. She is an adventurer who wants to see the world—and although the world is not aware, I believe it wants to see her too.

I met Svea on my first day of school. Only six-years-old and she was already blessed with those striking, thick brows. She had long hair and two cats. I was confident she and the rest of her family were witches. I would like to say we were instant friends, that her presence did not frighten me, but that would be a lie. I was too scared to enter the home of a witch (I was never an adventurer like her), so it took some time before we got to know each other. When we finally did, we created a band called Dragon Fire and wrote songs about magic friendship. I took her to my grandparents cabin and we ran through the backyard looking for elfs and trolls. We decided that we had fairies as ancestors, and we created stories about these relatives. We did everything together, always playing games through our grand imaginations.

A year ago, together with a few mutual friends, we played charades. I held a card to my forehead as Svea tried to gesture the thing written on it. She barely moved her hand before I understood what she was signaling. “That’s obviously a bowl, so I must be a goldfish.” We have the type of friendship where a simple look is all it takes. I truly believe we are interconnected on a spiritual level. Others doubt this, that Svea and I would somehow be intertwined by the universe, but I know it’s true. We have grown up together, creating a sisterly bond. We used to have a club (with a personal theme song) called “The Mind Readers,” because we were convinced that we could read each other’s minds.

Since day one, we have continuously attended the same schools. Sometimes we lose contact for a week, and when we finally speak to each other, it turns out we’ve been painting the same motif or watching the same TV show. The other day I was reading Just Kids by Patti Smith, and I sent her a text wondering if she’d read it. Turns out she was at a Patti Smith concert when she received the message. If that’s not superstitious, I don’t know what is. She had never told me she was going to see Patti, I was even unaware that Patti Smith was playing live in Sweden, but as I read that book I thought of Svea.

I think throughout our entire friendship, we’ve seeked confirmation in the other. We look up to each other. She told me once that she feels at peace when I approve of something she has done, and I personally take her opinion into consideration like no one else’s. She always tells me the truth, and even when she doesn’t I can read the truth on her face. I view myself as intuitive and self-aware, but she notices the things in me that I look past.

We don’t have similar goals for the future, we barely have the same goals right now, but I hope that our friendship will last forever—although our ways may part.

When I think about us I remember our conversations. I remember hours worth of  phone calls, late night walks, bedtime talks. When writing this, I texted Svea in hopes that she would recall some exciting memory of ours for me to write about, but she, just like I, mentioned our talks. Like that one time when we sat in my uncomfortable bed and had deep conversations until 4 AM on a school night. I think we both got scolded by our parents for staying up so late. We talk, and we talk, and we talk. Laying in her bed, that somehow always seems to be unmade. Or in a field of grass, with ants climbing our legs like mountains.

The best thing about Svea is her vast mind. Growing up, she always had the strongest imagination between the two of us. A great companion in the school yard. Now, when we’ve gone from playing games to talking, her mind still baffles me. When we watch a movie, she makes observations that no one else would. The impressions all seem to reach further down in her mind than mine.

The worst thing about Svea is that she takes herself for granted—doesn’t realize her qualities. She is an artist, but she is unaware. When we were younger, we crafted and created together. Made magazines, paper dolls, and music videos. I never grew out of that habit, to constantly create. She, on the other hand, has other things filling up her space. When she comes back to painting or sculpting though, her talent still remains. I hope she notices her brilliance, at least in some modest way.

I have taken endless photographs of Svea. Against the sky, in a field of flowers, at concerts; with a rainbow of colors all competing to shine the brightest on her face. At her house, where this picture is taken, the light is always shitty and yellow. She hates it, but for this picture, I enjoyed the vibe it projected. I guess it describes the two of us together.

No fuss, just us.

One sitting on top of the toilet seat, the other on the cold bathroom tile. Drinking chocolate oat-milk, doing face masks, cutting our hair. Talking.

Piece of Cake: Friendship Frets

Weekly advice column, Hosted by Fii.

Fii is a psychology student and self-love & femme rights advocate. They have been sharing their own struggles with depression and anxiety openly on their platforms for years in order to remind people that they are not alone and to fight stigmas of mental illness. 

 

So.. I have been in university for almost a year now but still only have one close friend. I have a lot of acquaintances, but I can’t seem to go past small talk with any of them. I ask the typical questions like “What course are you in?” or “Where are you from?” but I just don’t know how I can get to know people on a deeper level and still have it happen naturally. I just don’t know if I should ask them questions randomly or what.

Just want you to know how much I relate to this before I go on my way to give you my advice. I just transferred to a new school and haven’t made real friends yet, and at my school prior I only had a few! I found it uncomfortable in the beginning when everyone was overly friendly and nice because everyone was trying to make friends. I realize that it can and will happen naturally.

Firstly, don’t define yourself by the amount of friends you have. Having lots of friends can be nice, but it also doesn’t make you any better of a person, per say. I would recommend keeping those casual conversations flowing when you see your “acquaintances” in class or in the halls. The first step to any relationship is getting to know each other—and through these little conversations, that can happen. Maybe ask for their number and study together! You just have to put yourself out there more (something I didn’t do). The more you try and talk to these people, the more you’ll get to know them, and maybe they’ll even invite you over or something : – )

Also, you don’t always have to get deep with someone to be real friends. It’s good to learn to have different types of friends; some for emotional stuff and others just for light-hearted fun! Intimate relationships are beautiful and meaningful, but not all relationships have to be intimate to be good. Finally, while having lots of friends is nice, you don’t have to have a million friends if that doesn’t seem nice to you. I constantly feel pressured to be social and go out, but that’s really not what makes me happy. Just find what works for you : – )

I just finished freshman year (crazy as it is) and, looking back, it’s weird to see how much I’ve changed. I’ve accepted different aspects of myself that I used to have extreme troubles with and I’ve let those aspects shine. I find though that my friends are more used to the way I used to be rather than who I am now. Not that they aren’t accepting, but they almost seem to think I’m faking it. How do I continue to be myself freely without worrying that I’m perceived as fake to others?

That’s amazing! You are becoming you more everyday, and that is very admirable. Although your friends might not see it that way, you should continue to push yourself to grow and find comfort in the person you are becoming. You have worked hard to get to the place you are at right now— have pride in that, don’t let anyone dim your light.

If they’re your true friends, they’ll learn to love and accept this new you you’re becoming. Friends are there to empower and support you. If they don’t, they are not good friends. It’s important to surround yourself with people that push you to be the best you! If your friends are making you feel bad about your new self, try to talk to them about the situation, tell them how you’re feeling. Maybe they just need time to get used to loving this evolved you, since they knew the old one for so long.

Either way, find power in your abilities to change and take life as it comes. Those friends may have been right for you at a time but perhaps not anymore, and that’s okay. Through your journey you will find new ones that fit better into your life.

I recently started university, and I am having some trouble making friends. I’m extremely shy and, knowing that, I’ve tried to get out of my shell and talk to people. For that, I’m very proud of myself, but nothing has really developed into a friendship or anything similar to it. And although its very destructive for me, my mind puts the blame on me to justify why people don’t approach me or, when I do, why they don’t see me as a friend. Do you have advice on being alone while surrounded by lots of people and not letting that limit or take over you?

I relate so much to this ! And I am proud of you for being proud of yourself. It’s really important to push the boundaries of your comfort zone and try new things, even if they scare you. And it’s important to be proud of yourself for pushing yourself!

I know it’s hard to be alone, especially amongst a sea of people, but it’s better to have a few very important relationships than a bunch of frivolous ones. These relationships aren’t developing because they are not meant to. If you are trying, that’s all that matters! I know it’s frustrating but the people that are meant to be in your life will come when it’s time!

As I said, the important thing is that you are trying, and being alone doesn’t mean you are lonely. Find strength in knowing yourself and find comfort in the solitude. Being alone can bring so much growth and understanding of self. Take advantage of this time to focus on you. The amount of friends you have does not define you, but you can define yourself. Walk proud, stand tall, and know your worth.

Hey there! My roommate/one of my best friends has been a really huge source of negativity for me and I’m not sure how to deal with it. She just has this super negative energy around her all the time, and the way she approaches and sees life really brings me down. She’s also recently told me she doesn’t like the guy I’ve been dating and she doesn’t want to be around him, but we live together. She didn’t give me a reason for not liking him—he’s not a toxic person, she’s just being judgmental. It just hurts to hear that my happiness is less important to her than whether she personally hits it off with someone I’m dating (and falling really hard for). How should I approach this, because it’s hard to live with someone who’s a constant source of negativity for me.

Dealing with friends in this way can be very tricky. On one hand you love them and they’ve been your friend for so long, but on the other hand they are bringing you down. I think the first and most important thing to do is communicate with her. In a civil way you should talk to her about the situation and how you are feeling. Try and be productive about it—ask her if there is anything upsetting her that is bringing her down and if there is a reason she doesn’t like your man. Try to have a constructive conversation about the situation.

If this conversation doesn’t end well and the situation keeps progressing (with the negativity and all) it is best to part ways. Although she is your friend, having a negative entity in your life is solely going to bring negativity onto you, especially if you’re living with them.

***You have compete anonymity when sending questions to Sofia, but if we hear that you are planing on hurting yourself or someone else, we are mandatory reporters. Please note that this advice column is not a substitute for professional help. If you are facing serious family, personal, or mental issues, seek direct help***

HOTLINES

Dating Abuse & Domestic Violence – 1-866-331-9474

Depression & Suicide – 866-488-7386

Child Abuse – 1-800-422-4453

National Runaway Safeline – 1-800-786-2929

National Eating Disorders Helpline – (800) 931-2237.

LGBTQ+ Support Hotline – 1-888-843-4564

Free Therapy and Counseling – Click Here

Fii is a Hollywood native going to school for psychology and gender studies. In their free time they likes to paint, read, and pet lots of dogs. They lives for creativity, does yoga to start their day, and jams out to the Doors. Find them: Instagram// Twitter

Getting Inspired

This is an excerpt from the Sharing Your Creative Ideas PDF now available in the shop. This guide is a candid and honest approach to sharing your creative ideas. The creator of The Messy Heads, Emma, shares her journey to becoming an artist, working through creative blocks, how to monetize your passions, how to communicate your artistic visions to others, and most importantly, how to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

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Remember that creativity is like a muscle. You have to exercise it and challenge yourself to push past your own boundaries, and rules. Being creative is literally just breaking rules and looking at things differently.

The following exercises can help push you out of your comfort zone and jog your creative brain. Try to pick one to do this week!

JOURNALS

This is the best way to keep a creative process alive and thriving. Keep a journal that you secretly vow to yourself you will not share with anyone and just see what comes of it. I feel so much pressure is alleviated when I’m like, hey, no one has to see this and you can start creating what you LIKE and what make you happy. It’s not going to be instinctual because a lot of our lives we are taught that success is in other’s approval. Start this as an exercise and see what you are really inspired by. Here are some links of journaling prompts to get you started

30 days / 30 more days / 30 MORE days / 30 MORE days .

PASSIVE ABSORPTION

Go to a busy location with a lot of people. Maybe a park, cafe, or street corner. Find a spot to sit for at least three hours. Simply observe life moving around you and try to not put any definition or explanation on to anything, just soak up all of the sensory data available to you. After you return home, write free flowing about your experiences without attention to sentence structure, storytelling, or any goal. Just write passively, in the same manner in which you just observed the world.

COLLABORATIONS

Call up a friend and schedule out a chunk of time that you can work together on a project. Gather your supplies, and make it light hearted. Maybe you are writing a children’s book together, or directing a funny short film. Either way, make it a no-pressure situation and make it fun. While working with someone you will learn about your strengths and weaknesses and how to better communicate your random, abstract, creative ideas.

ART STORE

Give yourself a low budget, maybe $5-10 and head to your local art store. Roam through the aisles and see what materials are speaking to you. Purchase and go home and create. Repeat endlessly until you have pom pom flowers, glittery heart cards, clay animals, beaded necklaces, and origami littering your room. This exercise taps you into a childlike state of creativity.

POETRY

Pick a subject that is vague, like the ocean, a cup of coffee, or a sunrise. Write as many poems about your chosen topic that embody a different mood or emotion: happiness, sorrow, loss, desire, etc. This will get you thinking about how many different versions of something exist. Star your favorite poem at the end of the exercise and see what it says about your current state of mind.

IMPROMPTU SONG WRITING

If you play an instrument, pick a simple three chord progression so that you can play mindlessly. If you don’t, that’s fine! You can still sing to yourself or pick some background music. Write down three random words on a piece of paper or have a friend give you three random words. Example: Marmalade, Black, and Parakeet. Your challenge is to now make a song with these three words. This exercise is SO fun to do back and forth with other people and helps you to trust your gut instinct and come up with ideas, rhymes, and melody on the spot. Plus singing in general can be embarrassing so it has helped me get over any judgment I might put on myself.

COLOR

Limit yourself to one or two colors and draw everything with that color that you see today. If you pick purple for example, draw plants, street signs, faces, food, and everything else in purple.

FILMING

Take small video clips throughout your day and find the common thread between them all. You don’t have to edit it, but seeing what you notice about motion in the world is such a great exercise.

COOKING

Find a random recipe and cook it. A cuisine you have never tried, something you always told yourself was too hard to make. Or, go to the grocery store and find three random ingredients and try to combine them.

FILL-IN

This is an exercise you do with a partner. You can choose any medium: painting, writing, drawing, sewing, whatever. Pick your medium. One of you starts and works on it for 15 minutes, then passes it back to the other. The goal of this exercise is to practice not defining how your work will turn out and also how to reevaluate your ideas once they are changed in some way.

MONOLOGUE

Find a monologue online and practice it. Actors are amazing at digging deep in their emotions and pulling out new experiences. Find a piece that you maybe don’t relate to at all on an initial read and then see how your understanding improves after you study and practice it.

ONE PAINTING

Go to an art gallery or museum and only choose ONE piece to look at. Bring your journal and sit in front of this piece for at least 15 minutes with no writing, just observing. Think about the context of the piece, the way the artist might have created it, and what it might mean to them. Ask yourself endless questions and see what you gather about yourself as an artist.

ONE SONG

Start to pick up on the nuances of the lyrics and layers of music. Try to pick out a different instrument every time or background vocals you didn’t hear. Listen once thinking only about emotion in an abstract sense. Listen in a technical way. This is a great excercise to get you critically thinking about different aspects of art.

STYLING

Find the item in your wardrobe you keep around even though you never wear it and make an outfit you love out of it. Reevaluating what makes you feel good, what defines you, and how to work with something that might make you uncomfortable.

Share what you create by tagging us @themessyheads on Instagram. To purchase the complete PDF guide and learn more about creativity and sharing creative ideas, click here. 

Real Eyes Realize

Antisocial Diaries is an ongoing thread exploring the concept of connection in an age of constant connection. Written by Emma, currently living in New York City and without any social media.

Where do someone’s eyes go when you look at them?

I attended a lecture called consciousness hacking on the top floor of a bookstore in the middle of manhattan. It was around 10 pm, and drinks were included with the class fee. I snuck an extra beer and found one empty folded chair halfway back in the room. About a hundred people had gathered to talk about how to extend beyond the mind. We talked LSD, we talked shrooms, we talked Nirvana, we talked about the ego and its imminent death. The lecturer then told us that we could all have the effects of tripping on LSD right now, if we were to just stare into someone’s eyes, unmoving, unexplained, for 10 minutes.

Maybe this explains why when I look at myself in a dimly lit bathroom mirror, I start to dissociate. Or worse, I start to see my face morph into something monstrous. Start to feel my features melting off and puddling on the floor. My nose is a bit off, my mouth shouldn’t be there, I’m a puzzle not put together the right way. Whatever is looking at me, it isn’t mine. Might also be blamable on red wine and lack of sleep, but theres something melty about even looking into your own eyes. The peripheries start to go milky, colors all blurring together.

If we are to go off of the “eyes are the window to the soul” adage, then I feel sad for my little soul. Looking at my physical form and not recognizing it, confused and trying to put the pieces together. Staring at just itself, blackness to blackness, iris to iris, looking into the void and seeing beyond a physical.

Is my soul’s only escape, only identity held within my irises? I have felt people’s souls shining out of their palms and cheeks and chests, but it lays completely bare when you hold their eyes with yours. An illusion gone away. Enough to give you butterflies or plummet you into a pit of fear. Without any explanation or science, you can look into someone’s eyes and simply know. Know what their intentions are. Know what kind of person they are. Know what they are thinking.

I decide to start looking into people’s eyes more, which turns out to be trickier than I initially think.

I start with strangers in the street. I pass by maybe a thousand people a day on my meandering curves with an iced coffee up lafayette, by the waterfront, through Tompkins park, and over to the cheapest but best dumpling place ever.

I decide not to avert eye contact like I naturally do, and even with my headphones in as defense it’s quite nerve-wracking. Some people are instantly weeded out, eyes focused on a phone. After I get over my anxieties and find some eyes to stare into, I find that staring into people’s eyes makes them uncomfortable, too. I see people seek refuge in the cracks of the sidewalk or the hem of their sleeve. Some people get startled by a long stare, averting their eyes every which way, hurrying past me. Some people hold my gaze, defiant and daring. Locked in this few second battle for bravery: who is most unbothered? Then some people smile, some people smirk, and nobody says anything.

Nothing comes of these stares but me feeling like I’m looking at something I shouldn’t be. I blink hard, I wipe my hands on my jeans, wanting to get off something invisible but residual.

I try to hold long gazes with people I already know, or am just getting to know. Sitting across from someone in conversation, never ever breaking eye contact. I can’t really remember what I did with my eyes before when I was in conversation with people, but it definitely wasn’t this. It feels weirdly intimate, even with people I already know pretty well. I notice some people completely avoid my eyes, staring at some arbitrary space nine inches to the left and above my shoulder. Their stare nests there for the entire conversation. Some people bounce back and forth, making eye contact and breaking it. A few keep staring with me, holding a gaze like you would hold hands walking down the street. This makes me the most uncomfortable. It feels like the more we look into each other’s eyes the more intense it gets, the less I can keep up with a conversation, and the hotter the room gets.

I reach my own limit and look away. This only happens with a couple of people, and I notice that these people are just more okay with making direct eye contact than others. Maybe they started from an early age and are used to seeing the colors of souls casually, but I just can’t handle that.

Sitting on a friend’s kitchen floor with half empty pizza boxes on the counter, I glance back and forth between the two people I am talking to, and ask them what they think about eye contact as I try to juggle between both of their brown eyes. They both have different stories to tell. What about when you have known someone for as long as you can remember, and then you look into their eyes and feel that you don’t know them at all? What if you look into a stranger’s eyes and instantly feel as though you know them, completely and totally? How do we discern a love at first sight look from naive hopefulness? How do we know if malicious intent glinting behind someone’s eyes is really just a reflection of our own paranoia? Do other’s eyes tell us secrets of their soul, or do we just see what we want to?

Maybe I end up staring off into space more than I mean to or putting on rose colored lenses far too often. But when I came home after a long day of searching for connection through stranger’s stares and stared at my reflection, I felt comfort.

I’m not sure what that glimmer means, but I’ll keep looking.

About Her and Me—Sexuality Series

By Desiree Michel

This is about a very good friend I’ve had for a very long time who’s slowly slipping away as I’m writing this.

She used to kiss me with her tongue at parties to tease boys. The same ones who later told us at a fast food joint that we’d cast a spell on them. We’d have midnight escapades, singing at the top of our lungs in our friend’s car during the best summer of our lives.

We’d fool around in my bed, the only place I tolerated her hands all over my skin. She’d pull on my wet bottom lip and look at it with big eyes in the middle of the night. She’d tentatively touch me with those wild hands and ask me if I was alright.

And I couldn’t feel a thing.

This wild girl, she was my youth and my teenage years; the poster child for what it’s like to be seventeen and feel like the world is at your fucking feet. There are a million songs that could be written about her because she truly was impossible to catch. Like a lightning bolt or those unforgettable girls Alex Turner writes about. But she still left me cold.

When we were outside, she’d try to hold my hand or put a strand of my hair behind my ear, but it just frustrated me. I couldn’t look her in the eyes or talk when were fucking around. I wanted to make her as little as possible and let those made up boys in my head take all the room.

I didn’t know how to tell her my attraction for girls stopped at the end of my bed.  

She would cross her heart and hope to die that she didn’t love me, but she wanted to spend every second of the day with me and would make a fuss when I refused. She would play all these mind games and guilt me into spending time with her. It always felt like we were driving straight to the edge of a cliff.

The 13-year-old girl in me wanted to be happy. She was yelling at me to accept this because, for once, someone didn’t seem to be able to live without me; my presence was a constant need. Yet, it didn’t feel satisfying one bit to have someone want me like that. The more we fooled around, the more I started pushing her away. I couldn’t stand the sight of her or hear her name. I was confused for a long fucking time.

I didn’t understand how I could be straight, yet regularly sleep with the same girl. Or why I almost hated her whenever we were done, why I wanted her out of my bed and my life. The thing is, I didn’t grow up in an ‘exploring-your-sexuality-is-good-for-you’ family. No one told me sex and sexuality didn’t go hand in hand. I hated myself for being this way with her: so cold after the act. I felt like the toxic asshole, using her like a little doll.

And I tried so hard, too. I tried not to recoil from her touch and I’d give her my hand when she wanted to hold it. I let her sit too close to me on trains and buses on our way to parties, sharing a bottle of hard liquor we were barely trying to hide. I would reason with myself that maybe I was this way because I wasn’t taught it was okay to like a girl, that I pretended to hate the affection she would give me simply because I hadn’t learned to accept it.

But it all felt wrong.

My stomach would sink when she’d ask if she could spend the night. I don’t know how many times I rolled over to my side of the bed afterwards, wishing for a way to go back in time and push her hands away from me.

I was scared it’s the intimacy that I hated, that I couldn’t be with someone who wanted more from me than a kiss in the dark at a party with high schoolers. I thought I was broken and that I didn’t know how to be loved.

It took me way too long to realize that it’s her I didn’t like. I liked the act, I did, I just wanted the sparkles in the eyes to belong to a boy’s face and to run my tongue along a strong jaw. I didn’t mind sleeping around with a girl, I just didn’t want her to be the one to love me.

It’s a year later, and I know now that what I like and want in bed isn’t what I want in life. Sex and sexuality don’t go hand in hand, they don’t even have to like each other.

As my friend is pulling away now, as our friendship has started to go astray, I realize that I never hated her. I just didn’t love her. She has taught me a lot, this wild girl. When Prince said that life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last, he was talking about her and me.