6 min read

this year i'll spend november in the house

this year i'll spend november in the house

content warning: this newsletter talks about being depressed, eating disorder/body image topics, and suicidal thought. read with caution and with care. it’s not about music except in the way my life kind of is.

the first zine i ever made was called this year i’ll spend november in the house. that’s a line from a martha song called ice cream and sunscreen. it’s a great song. this isn’t about martha.

i made that zine about a lot of things. being depressed while studying abroad, finishing college, feeling lost and depressed. there’s a lot going on in it. if you’re interested in that you can view it in all its digital glory at this here link.

but there’s a page about the way i’ve always felt i stabilize my identity through items around me.

(you’re welcome for this hilariously low quality screenshot of the only version of this i could find on my laptop)

and that idea is kinda what this is about. by the way, if anybody knows what antique/vintage shop that is i’d love to know. it’s in humboldt park i think. i went there after going the wrong way on the bus after an appointment with my therapist for 35 minutes going the wrong way. (edit: i have been informed this place is likely north avenue collective!)

when i moved from chicago to philadelphia i realized just how much crap i have. there’s the big stuff like my records and clothes and furniture and framed art stuff and then there’s all the other stuff. i have boxes of film negatives, zines, paper, postcards (both bought with the intention to send and those i’ve received), books, tote bags (god so many tote bags) tools, cameras, skincare items, makeup, years old magazines, promotional materials from inside records and merch i’ve bought, envelopes, notebooks, planners, a long stapler… all this shit i had to pack into boxes and move 800 miles away because the thing is that i love all that stupid shit. i need all of it.

i can’t be any other way.

i once read an article about like divorcing yourself from your stuff and how physical items aren’t you. i’m also superficially obsessed with the ideas of capsule wardrobes and marie kondo. that concept of simplicity and curated lifestyles is appealing to me but i fear the latter has prevailed where the former… well.. not as much.

making zines is appealing to me only because it’s physical. i like writing and doing the design but it’s all for nothing if i can’t hold it. i don’t have much interest in digital media that way. i don’t like looking at digital zines. i feel really mixed about the fully digital zine i made with the help of a bunch of wonderful contributors earlier this year. online zine fests made me feel really depressed and far away so i didn’t participate in any.

on the flip side, buying records has felt like a really stabilizing thing for me. i’ve always held the knowledge that i like buying records because i like a physical manifestation of the music i like best.

i’ve bought 28 LPs since march. i got a few 7 inches too. even worse, i have also purchased more than one flexi in that time period. maybe that’s not a lot for you, but it is a lot for me. i bought a lot of stuff i wouldn’t usually with frequency i wouldn’t usually and i was thinking about why a lot.

i wanted to think it’s maybe an overall phenomenon as a result of bandcamp fridays or filling a hole shows left but i spoke to a few people about their buying habits and what they’ve noticed with their labels and i don’t think so. i just think it’s having more money from unemployment and a student loan and feeling isolated to the point of needing to have something to look forward to or i’ll unravel.

10/19 post-it note to self: i can’t kill myself before december because the bumper preorder doesn’t mail until then.

marie kondo talks about only keeping stuff that brings you joy. i can do it with clothes as an exercise in being okay with my body as it has changed. like i’ve gotten a lot better at getting rid of pants that don’t fit because seeing them causes the worst kind of horrible feeling. i know that’s not joy but i think maybe i don’t know what joy is.

do all the nicely printed landland promo materials bring me joy? my florist records? the copies of the chicago reader i spent $70 on to get delivered to me in philadelphia? my impulse is to say yes!

or maybe it’s just a clinging to something that i can’t extract from what i think my personality is.

most of my life is clinging to something that makes me feel like me when i don’t know who i am. i don’t often feel like i know who i am.

the thing you’re always told when you get treatment for mental illness is that you’re not your illness. not your eating disorder. not your depression. whatever it may be. i dated a guy once who didn’t like that i called myself mentally ill because he thought that i shouldn’t define myself with it. he preferred i say something like, “i’m having a bad mental health day” but i think when i try to divorce who i am from the things that color my life in that way, well, it upsets me.

i think he has a point in that we shouldn’t shy away from treatment because we fear having to figure out who we are without having to cope with something like life interrupting depression. we should want to find out.

of course, he didn’t mean it like that. he meant it like he was uncomfortable with the idea of facing my documented and very real mental illness so he didn’t like when i said it outright.

when i first really started to be able to cope with my eating disorder it felt like this loss of a huge chunk of me because it had eaten up (no pun intended) so much of my young life. food and my body have occupied my thoughts since i was 12 and the girls would all talk about forgetting to eat as if it’s a badge of honor.

food ruled my life for so many years and when you’re in an eating disorder like that it’s not just your behavior at home. it bleeds into everything you do. it governed what social events i would go to and what times i would go out. how i’d talk to my friends. what time i would take classes so i could tell myself i was forgetting to eat just like the girls in 8th grade.

it controlled every part of my life. i hadn’t had a life without that vice grip on my brain since i was a pre-teen. what was i supposed to do?

well, i think i just filled that hole with stuff. i got into buying records and dvds and cassettes. if i could no longer feel a sense of control over what my body looked like and how other people would see me, well, i could have control over my surroundings and what people saw when they walked in a room.

and now i sit all day everyday in an apartment i’ve filled with that stuff and i feel out of control again. and i’m alone because my boyfriend goes to work and i have to sit here and attend zoom law school then read a bunch so i can do okay in zoom law school even though everything is falling apart (notably and repeatedly, the government and supreme court).

so i just buy records and i buy merch and i wait for my issues of the reader in the mail. i always hope these things will feel like a cocoon of control but lately it just feels like a reminder of the world of people and experiences we’ve lost.

my dial bookshop tote bag broke yesterday. i cried. this post has no ending. just a string of usps tracking numbers and a pile of records chosen carefully to help me survive another november in the house.

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