Arn't I A Woman?: A Letter to Myself



Oct 29, 2013

A Letter to Myself

“The Philip Seymour Hoffman Effect”

Dear Jessie,

Today is October 29, 2013. Last night was fun, wasn’t it? Was it? Why did you smoke those two cigarettes? I know why you did. Psychic release. I know why you do the things you do before you do them. Nestled snuggly underneath the squiggly electronic jagged lines that send currents through that big lumpy cranium of yours lays core beliefs you have about yourself, the world, and other people. They are hidden so sometimes you don’t even know they are there, but they are. Some mutate and evolve over time and some have remained untouched for decades.

There are very few unchangeable facts about people. We tightly grasp ideas like “blonde hair” “extrovert” “intelligent” “depressed” “unlovable” to form our identity. Without them we feel empty. But truthfully, these signifiers are as permanent as Miley Cyrus’ innocence. Though these ideas give us temporary existential relief, they ultimately are incredibly limiting because of the attachments they bring. Blonde hair may describe a physical characteristic but has hidden meanings that we might not notice- beliefs we have about what it means to have blonde hair. Maybe “dumb” or “surfer” or other words subliminally pop up as we say the word “blonde.” Our brain does this I guess to cut corners, but it ends up creating a lot of false truths sitting up in our head. Language is a bitch.

I’m telling you this, Jessie, because when you get to the precipice of change quite often you fall short, you “wake up too late” because of abstract beliefs you believe to be concrete. You repeat similar patterns of behavior that do not make you happy because you have bought into the story your brain wrote for you. You think your brain has already sealed your fate, leaving you trembling on the rickety wooden plank of life. Eyes fearfully gulping at the sight of the sharks circling your position below, illuminated by the electric lightening of the perfect storm that sits atop its throne in your head.

You start each day believing this story and even when you take steps forward, it’s still there, taunting you, like an abusive partner daring you to leave, knowing you will inevitably come back because the abuse has left you too crippled to walk away.

The only path out of hell is mindfulness and gratitude, acceptance, and unconditional love. You have trouble at the brink of change because you only love yourself conditionally. When people respond well to you it’s like some Pavlov shit, you immediately lap it up and cruise the wave of pleasure. But then when something happens to make you feel bad, when someone doesn’t give you the attention or response you crave, it’s lights out. You collect attention like Barbie dolls. Being social is a great skill to have but when you fail to truly interact with people genuinely, you are living falsely. 

It has been shown that the times when we are happiest do not necessarily correlate with what you would think i.e. times of good health, prosperity, success, romantic partnerships. What does that leave? Ultimately just you, and how you feel about yourself is what will give you that which you crave the most.  You are chasing ghosts of a happiness that doesn’t exist for you. This is what leads you into danger.

Different worlds exist. You should find them because I don’t know if they’ll find you.

I’ve found that the things most worth remembering are the things you tend to forget the most. It is important to remember this about your perception of pain. It is precisely because of your pain that you can create beauty and live a fulfilling life.

Start listening to yourself about the things you like and don’t like. If you would rather get high and write than go to a punk rock show where you feel like an outsider and get drunk- (which can I just tell you this: getting drunk is really lame and stupid. When you do it at least. It leads to poor impulse control. Remember when you first started college and you didn’t drink but had fun and partied all night anyway?) then you might have to deal with being lonely for a little while until you can find public places where you feel more comfortable and that nurture your interests. I think that’s a good idea. Try that.

Read more. Worry less.

Practice the keyboards!!

There is never going to be a moment where everything aligns for you. Things will always be obscured and discordant to varying degrees so if you keep waiting on that to enjoy life, you’ll be waiting forever.

Life is like the Philip Seymour Hoffman Effect. The idea of him is: great actor, strangely sexy in a weird way, intelligent, special- in person, shorter and strangely less glamorous; weathered. But both the idea of him and the actual him exist at the same time. 

Say hi to the cats for me,


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Sojourner Truth

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that 'twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what's all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what's this they call it? [member of audience whispers, "intellect"] That's it, honey. What's that got to do with women's rights or negroes' rights? If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can't have as much rights as men, 'cause Christ wasn't a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain't got nothing more to say.

Sojourner Truth

Delivered 1851 at the Women's Convention

Akron, Ohio