On Deeply Listening

Shoutout to the moments when a homie’s eyes glint in that kinda way they only get when hyped up or nearing somewhere between mesmerized and electric.

Sweet sweet divots to the waffle of my heart, 

I’m writing to you from my Dad’s potting room in my family’s home in Portland, OR. The potting room is exactly what it sounds like - a room entirely dedicated to moving plants that have outgrown their homes into new ones - decorated with scattered soil and various leaves stretching towards the sun. I love the idea of a space specifically designed for celebrating the messiness of metamorphosis. I’d love to see more of them. The room smells like fresh dirt dewed by water and breeze carried in by trees that have been here longer than my grandmother and phewww - does it feel good to be here. 

Good to leave New York for a while. Good to sit in the presence of many things that like me are messily growing and expanding beyond the borders of what no longer fits all they have to offer. Good to eat meals with my siblings and cackle and bicker and cackle again in that ever-revolving way that only siblings can. Good to have the opportunity to slow when so much of the world is revving up. Good to hug friends I haven’t touched in over a year and hold their familiar scent, and hear their laughter not through a screen but the live and in-person booming from their chest. My homie’s laughter is my favorite instrument. And I’ve so, so missed listening.


Like this week, a friend and I were reunited for the first time in 16 months in their kitchen (future love poem: the intimacy of knowing where everything is in a friend’s kitchen). And as they scattered crimini mushrooms onto the gluten-free dough, I listened as they giddily talked to me about this rare phenomenon called "Baikal Zen.” I’m paraphrasing from their explanation, but this is essentially when a flat rock has fallen onto ice and catches the sun and melts the ice underneath it, and when combined with some wind physics, creates a thin, frozen pedestal beneath the stone. And I was so delighted. Yes, delighted to know of the existence of another one of this planets’ endless miracles - water and earth caught in an ephemeral kiss. And also, delighted to see the way they talked about something they loved. My homie, a geologist, a lover of matter and the way it shapes - their eyes jumping like the fish we’d seen earlier at the river that day as they explained all the tiny mechanisms of earth and air and water that came together to make this phenomenon happen.


There’s an intimacy to deeply listening. I love the moment when a friend is talking to me about something that genuinely makes them happy, even when (in fact sometimes especially) I don’t understand anything about the topic at hand. In these moments, I feel like I’m being trusted with a tiny key to whatever is making their heart expand or their mind firework. And I hold that trust with so much gratitude. Gratitude to witness the moment when a homie’s eyes glint in that kinda way they only get when hyped up or nearing somewhere between mesmerized and electric. 

So listen. Just for a second. You may not believe me, but someone, somewhere - has gotten a little spoonful of joy added into their day because they listened to you talk about something you love. And that someone may not even be a person. It might be your canvas or your notebook or the tree you passed on your walk that you weren’t even noticing but it was hyped to feel the energy you emitted when you thought about your art. It might be the little flame that lives inside you, and me, and all the grandmothers, and all the people I see on the train carrying flowers, and everyone that’s ever gotten their heart broken or danced alone on the roof of their apartment, the little flame that sparks and grows when we’re in flow with what makes things seem possible and blooming.


I’ve been thinking about that little flame inside me. I’ve been thinking about what it needs to grow, what if I explored creating from a space of curiosity rather than chasing some mysterious lightning bolt of inspiration. How I can find a playground within asking questions. How there are changes within me that need me to be compassionate to myself and asking questions to make themselves present. How the things that excite me are trustworthy.

From here, I’m metaphysically bringing you a sandwich that we can share as you discuss the things that are making your heart skip or your mind wander or the changes you hope to make within yourself jump with eagerness at your curiosity. I triple-dog dare you (sorry, I really did have to pull this one out - it’s that serious!) to write down three things you love, and three questions you have about them, and to tell someone in your life one of the questions you’re thinking about - even if you have no answers. 

Sending love and the brightest sunflower,

Annika


5 things that made me feel joy 🌸

1. Between Lil Nas X passionately making out with his background dancer and learning that 100 meter track star Sha’Carri Richardson is has a girlfriend my lil heart is SCREAMING WITH BLACK QUEER JOY.

2. black beyond, radical platform for artists and activists to speculate alternate realities for Blackness, recently hosted _origins, a virtual experience reimagining Black Femme Futures. The work was absolutely stunning, go take a view and support the artist’s work.

3. This blessed image of Octavia Butler at Joshua Tree National Park, California in 1984. Photo by Harald Sund.

4. A stunning interview with poet Aja Monet with The Creative Independent: “I’m a part of the many voices in the air, I’m a reflection.” 

5. This hummingbird relaxing after drinking flower nectar, which is also me recovering after every meeting I ever have.


4 designs I’m 😍 over 

1. These t’s by Erwin Hines x Future Is Color, to be dropped Thursday July 1st at midnight.

2. A beautiful interview between Camille Okhio and the fashion line Botter.

3. Every single cake created Hyun Jung Jun’s dream test cake kitchen. Like y’all - LOOK AT THIS. I strive to be this maximal and lush.

4. An amazing piece on Queer Typography by Paul Soulellis.


3 sounds that make my brain hum sweet songs 🎶

1. Soooo much new music has come out in the past few weeks. Between the drops of Tyler the Creator, L’Rain, SAULT, and Hiatus Kaiyote - my brain is exploding.

2. Prentis Hemphill’s podcast “Finding Our Way” is one of my very favorites. I recently loved their episode with Priya Parker, author of The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why it Matters.

3. A supremely sweet queer Columbian short film Cariño, directed and written by Carlos Taborda, Roshel Amuruz, and Ashley Williams.


2 spaces to support 🌍

1. The Aux Creative Fund Creative Fund provides support to Black creatives and artists. They’re currently fundraising, and you can invest in their work by visiting here.

2. Black Trans Rent Relief supports Black trans folks with rental relief. You can support their work by visiting here.


1 piece of nonsense


Sending you much love 🕊.Drink a glass of water after reading this email

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