San Junipero, technology, and humanity

imagination is paradise SOM

I tweeted these thoughts on the Emmy-award winning episode from Black Mirror, “San Junipero,” on Saturday and I think it’s worth reposting my thoughts here.

If you haven’t watched this episode, you really should. But here’s a synopsis from Wikipedia. Here’s a conspiracy theory, too.

Astrologically, it’s Libra season, the season of partnership and justice, and the moon is transiting through Aquarius, the sign of technological innovation, friendship, large groups of people, and arguably humanitarian efforts.

Yorkie’s tragic story of becoming a quadriplegic soon after coming out to her parents is really painful. And that her super religious parents do not allow her to euthanize herself makes her feel so trapped.

The Libra-ness of the situation, the sense of injustice, and how Kelly did her a favor by marrying her so she could upload to the heavenly cloud…it also touch on the Aquarius moon to me, how humane it was to marry her so she could be free to be herself.

I decided to watch this again a while ago but I never got around to it. I was going to use it as something to just be happy about. But instead, when I think about Yorkie’s plight and how she gained redemption of her life through technology, and the love of Kelly, it just has me getting all teary.

It could be that transiting Jupiter, which is in partnership-oriented Libra, is just about to go into intense Scorpio, which trines, or has a harmonious aspect, to my Jupiter in home and family oriented Cancer. Jupiter is an expander, so whatever emotions I’m feeling, they are being amplified.

Libra and Aquarius are both air signs and both are concerned about connecting with people. Yes, there’s a lot about thoughts and intellect (with Gemini, too), but usually the air signs are never without friends. So yesterday the Libra sun was in harmonious relationship with the moon which is traveling through Aquarius. It’s just out of orb (or degree significance) now, but that could have affected me, too.

Here’s what I was feeling all day:

It’s been a heavy time in the United States, in Mexico, and in the Caribbean. The earth unleashed some unrelenting fury near the end of the summer. My traveling to San Junipero ironically didn’t help me escape how delicate and fragile our humanity is. It just intensified it.

It’s amazing how art can open our hearts so easily. Charlie Brooker, the writer of this episode and the co-showrunner of Black Mirror, definitely dipped his quill in the heart of humanity–and he won an Emmy for this writing as well.

Anyway, astrology aside, I still think about how humane we are to each other, and how race, gender (and gender expression), ethnicity, sexual orientation, religious and cultural beliefs, age, and so much more get in the way of that. Those robots were more humane than so many of us are to each other, tending to the care of people’s uploaded lives.

But back to astrology–Aquarians get the bad rap of being cool and detached. For whatever reason, I felt my heart open wide under an Aquarius moon. Maybe that detachment is like their sister Capricorn’s detachment–feeling so much. Capricorn, Aquarian, and Pisces probably feel the most, at the end of the zodiac.

I just tweeted a thread up there. You can click through. I’ll spare you more embedded tweets.

I should go to bed as the moon plays hide and seek behind some rain clouds. I wish for all of that we find a love that is as kind, just, and humane as the love that Kelly has for Yorkie.

the district

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You know, if I had visited a few months ago, I’d be feeling differently.

This month, I finally made it back to the place where I began…in utero, that is.

When my parents immigrated to the United States, they started out in Arlington, Virginia when my dad was a family practice resident at Howard University. It didn’t last long since I ended up being born in Oklahoma City.

But that’s another story. I had never been to D.C., which seems strange and frankly unAmerican. So when a Facebook friend (whom I knew from this spiritual retreat/event I attended two years ago) asked if someone wanted to drive her car from Miami to D.C., I jumped at the chance. I thought I’d be seeing a lot of friends, see some sights, get some time to clear my head.

What I got was: a clearer head, saw some sights, saw two friends. The best laid plans, right?

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Sunrise at Sunny Isles Beach, Florida

I made my way by Greyhound to Miami and stayed at a hotel on the beach, the Thunderbird. It’s old and not that fancy–BUT THE BEACH. That’s where that sunrise picture came from. Later that day, my friend and her daughter packed up a utility van with two dogs and a cat, as well as my friend’s hatchback I was driving, and we headed north on I-95.

My friend was a bit…um…neurotic? Of course she was. It’s a cross-country move. We barely knew each other, and she’s in her 60s. But at the same time, being more spiritually attuned, I knew we were going to be fine, that we could trust each other. Still, I tried not to be bothered by the frustration and worry (I’m just here to help!). I tried to use my Cancer moon and soothe her while letting her daughter take care of her, which she did. It wasn’t the best planned trip, but for the most part I was well taken care of.

My biggest concern, besides not driving too fast on this fast interstate, was if I was going to be triggered by a healthy mother-daughter relationship. Having had these realization about my narcissistic mother a couple of week prior, I partly didn’t want to see a healthy relationship in front of me, but at the same time, I wanted to observe what it was like to really like your mom and to have your mom really like you.

I got the best taste of it before we left Miami when we went out to dinner. It was so…normal and balanced, but it was a foreign feeling. In many ways, I will never know what it’s like to have that. But how can you miss what you’ve never had?

Besides taking forever to figure out how to sync my phone to the car (because music on a road trip is life), the driving itself was pretty uneventful. (OK, there was this one time I was kinda racing a VW bug in North Carolina, but whatever!) I talked to a friend in South Carolina as I drove through her state, realizing all too late that I could have possibly seen her.

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It’s Pedro from the kinda eerily almost deserted South of the Border at the NC/SC border.

When we got to Fayetteville, North Carolina, later that evening, I had a little pang of jealousy when the daughter had a college friend drive down from Raleigh to hang out. It made me wonder: do I have friends in my life like that now? I’m not so sure. But as I was jealous, at least I felt a little less weird about following that same sort of impulse–“oh, you’re in town; let’s hang out.” Granted, younger millennials have less adulting to do, but still…

This brings me to arriving in D.C. and how bittersweet it was for me. For one thing, I didn’t tell my mom I was traveling, although she had kindly sent some money to help me out earlier. I just had decided that this emotional homecoming of sorts wasn’t something she’d really care about or care to hear about.

The other thing was that I had tried to 1) stay longer in D.C. because I erroneously assumed that with enough time, I could arrange staying for a few days and 2) see people. One friend was out of town, but friends I had known for years couldn’t accommodate and it kind of floored me. I know I’m not in a place to do the reverse, to host someone, but if I was, I would. My trip was rather abbreviated because I had made what I thought were some safe assumptions. I honestly wanted to go to D.C. to hang out with friends, and that’s why my friend picked me to come.

Before we even started our trip, we talked about this very phenomenon over dinner–of friends visiting town–and my friend knew how I felt. We talked about how we both would get offended if someone came to visit our respective towns and didn’t even mention it. I have cut ties with people for this–not because I’m a diva, but because I give an actual shit about them (i.e., it hurts).

So while I drove down Rock Creek Parkway, seeing the Pentagon, the National Mall, etc–basically the nickel tour of Washington D.C. and all the unexpected lush greenery, I felt a little sad, even as I blasted D.C. native Thievery Corporation’s “Lebanese Blonde.” It was great, but it was not what I had planned.

We made it to my hotel (the Omni Shoreham which is AMAZING) where I handed off the car and settled into my digs for a bit before I walked (over a mile) to 14th Street for dinner with a Twitter friend that I had known for a little bit. I’m so glad she came out and we got to see each other face to face. It was a pleasant surprise with yummy food and astro convo.

The next day, I went to have breakfast with a dear friend and got to catch up with her a bit. It was nice to finally see her face to face, too, and there was no weird online/offline switch. It was seamless, like we had been talking for a long time (which we had been). This was what I was craving, like how it had been for me in my early 20s.

It was nice to be back in a city, too, to be able to walk (albeit with a heavy backpack), to go to my bank, to see city people doing city things. D.C. is not as big as Chicago or New York City, and it has a different vibe, like a “we’re doing big governmental things that can change the world” vibe. It was my kind of nerdy. It also wasn’t that noisy.

I walked from Dupont Circle to the White House, which was strange to view for the first time. It was definitely thrilling but it reminded me of seeing Rockefeller Center’s ice rink in New York City for the first time: it was much smaller than what I thought it would be. There were some protesters and tourists milling about, taking selfies in front of the fence. Some young white woman was loudly singing the National Anthem in a minor key (more like off-key). So my little I, too, am America moment got ruined by a wannabe protest moment.

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A view of the Washington Monument from the Lincoln Memorial

I’ll skip the rest of about National Mall and how I didn’t walk up the Washington Monument (although I did walk up the Bunker Hill Memorial), or how my jeans chafed me so bad I had sores, or how moving it was to go to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial, or how I wished I had taken a picture of Union Station because it was so beautiful, it looked like a museum. I was just glad that I was able to have some Bojangles fried chicken at the train station, that I got on the right train to get to BWI, and that I was able to fly home and have my roommate pick me up and taken my bone-tired butt home. I had done my good deed, seen a couple of friends, and racked up over 1000 miles on Waze.

The friend stuff? Well, vacations, even if they are working ones like the one I had, can be proving ground for relationships. This trip to D.C. made me re-think about my friendships and why I had made these horrible assumptions about certain ones.

I just didn’t feel the same afterward. I felt the weight of the imbalance and have moved on from a few friendships, ones that I knew were already gone, or ones that proved themselves to be not worth the time and effort I put into them. And it sucks.

I care too much, period. And as I’ve been re-learning who I am and what I value, it’s been tough to see how overextended I am in relationships. It’s probably penance for when I felt like I was being too much or demanded too much in friendships. Either way, it’s been unhealthy, and I wasn’t expecting to let go as I’ve done recently. But, I feel better, so that means it was for the best.

This is one of my adulting flaws: I’m not good at demoting friends, or making them less of a priority. It’s like trying to be friends with exes–I just don’t do it. Either we’re friends or we’re not.

I am not the perfect friend, but I want to be a good friend–a better friend, even. I definitely am not the perfect daughter, but I tried to be and failed. And that’s OK–pleasing mothers, narcissistic or not, is an impossible task.

Driving over a thousand miles, I came back home and was feeling not as connected, to my mom or to a few people I called friends. I wasn’t expecting that.

But that’s what was true. It’s not pretty, and I’m not that elegant when it comes to the nuances of human relationships. Maybe I’m as elegant as a butter knife sawing through a steak. But I do want to get better,  so I don’t have to cut and run so often–or at all.

Instead of seeing the world as black and white, a point of view that a a sun opposition moon aspect in astrology can create, I can better perceive those shades of grey, these subtler gradations of where most of us live, just trying to do our best.

“I accept that”/the lost tribe

acceptance1_SOM

Lately I’ve been binge-watching the outlaw biker show, Sons of Anarchy, and one of the minor characters, Chucky, says the title a lot. He’s got…some issues. If you’ve watched the show, then you know what I mean. It’s clear that he’s been in a lot of therapy that had some Eastern/Buddhist leanings. As a sidenote, I find it really intriguing how new age/spiritualist messaging has filtered through pop culture.

I woke up this morning thinking about that phrase: “I accept that.” As the new moon in Aries starts a new lunar cycle, I definitely feel the urge to start again, to leave the past behind.

What am I actually accepting today? That, in this Venus retrograde season, where we’re reviewing what we value, and that includes relationships, there’s no going back to the glory days of my relational life–and that would be college, where I found my people, people who valued a rich interior life, people who were really thought, really snarky, and really there for me.

I accept that most if not all of them miss me the way I have missed them. I’ve been living in mourning since I left and returned to college to finish. That’s at least 17 years of sorrow. Life happened the way it did, and even though I’m friends with people from college on Facebook, it’s not the same. We’ve all gone on with our lives–without each other.

Case in point: I noticed that my first year roomie, a fellow Capricorn, was in town on vacation while I was in grad school. I reached out to her, met her son–it was fun. But, it wasn’t the same. Later, I reached out to her during one of my many hard times down here, and I got some kind, almost condescending “there there” words, but no real help. Whatever real friendship we had dissolved in the seas of time.

Currently, she’s doing really well, working in municipal government. I’m torn between being proud of her, being insanely jealous of how her life has been so stable and rewarding, and just being tired of putting any emotional thought or concern into her or her seemingly fabulous life whatsoever. I’m pretty sure it’s all of the above.

Multiply that times a few people, and it’s a constant emotional drain, like a pipe that’s been leaking for a while, and then all of a sudden, a pipe bursts. I wistfully look back on these relationships that were supposed to matter–that’s the bill of goods you’re sold as you go into college and graduate school, that these will be lifetime friends. I don’t really have any.

Add to it that it’s very hard to make friends post-college, then I wonder if finding a lost tribe is possible, or worth it. Adulting is hard enough, but it does help to have some semblance of support.

Earlier last week, I thought of how school past junior high was always full of conflict. All these lifelong friends I was supposed to have do not exist. What I have instead are boring acquaintances. I get to see their babies and their spouses and their vacations and all the curated happiness they allow to filter through their Facebook feeds. No tinges of intimacy.

Another story: a friend of mine and I connected on Facebook a few years ago, and I spilled my guts about a mutual friend who basically cut me out of her life because I was a little too Mercury in Sagittarius-blunt about the death of her father. I said she must be glad about it. Maybe she had come up in conversation–I’m not sure why I brought it up. Usually, I don’t disclose things without a reason.

That other friend and I had seemingly parallel lives, and we bonded on that. Friend #1 reacted like I had uncorked bad wine–she was compassionate, but it just seemed like time had rolled on, and that I had spewed some irrelevant vinegar all over her. I had apologized to Friend #2, but it’s definitely up to her to accept, or to not accept, my apology, or to forgive, or to not forgive me. I did the best I could with my antidepressant-addled brain, making my way on my own painful journey. When ours intersected at her father’s death, we abruptly parted ways. And all I can do now is shrug. I’m done mourning what can’t be undone.

I don’t think I won’t meet people like the ones I met in college again, but there won’t be the same shared sense of mission, of collective awakening that seems to happen only in college. We were all writing our own bildungsromans, together, being the major and minor characters in our life stories. And with my family’s drama dragging me down, I missed out on the final chapters that my friends were writing. I had faded into an apathetic background, into obsolescence.

But this is what I accept: if my story was meant to be any other way, it would have been so. I fought hard to stay in school and get back into school, and most of those friends fell out of touch during that time. I did the best that I could with the resources that I had. And, if I had mattered more, people would have stayed in touch. The only person that kind of kept in touch years after I had left is dead. So, that’s that.

I’m frowning as I write this because acceptance isn’t necessarily some pain-free experience. I’m sad that a lot of the human condition I’ve experience involves losing a lot of people–or maybe never really having them at all. So much of my time was recovering from familial wounds. So maybe the better term is acquiesce. I reluctantly, but without protest, accept that I’ve lost way more people than I have kept.

I’ve been ruminating about how I had been framing my life here as an isolated one, as someone who is completely emotionally destitute. This support group I’ve been attending for the past few weeks at first seemed to be my local only lifeline. Now I’m not so sure.

I skipped two times in a row because of allergies and because of writing deadlines. I didn’t miss the group, and yet I made myself go last week and it was canceled when I was just 10 minutes away. I didn’t miss the group because the last two times I shared about my life, it just seemed to not land on any place of understanding. And it hurt, doubly. Sharing with strangers isn’t easy, but the lack of response is a sort of rejection. Yet I was definitely missed. I received text messages from a couple of people wondering where I was. It was nice, but there wasn’t a mutual sense of being missed.

I don’t know what that group will mean to me in the future, if I will go this week or ever again. And that’s 100% completely fine with whatever outcome comes to being (yes, I’m saying that more for my own edification). I probably needed this group to realize that I’m not as bad off as I think I am, even if these people will definitely not be the lost tribe that I am looking for.

And that’s why I have gone back to my college years, in my mind, when I was able to share deeply and intensely, for hours, and not get blank stares in return. It was a special time, but I live in a different time now. I accept that.

Also: I am finally learning some fucking discretion about who I share my life to. Those recent heartbreaking and honestly embarrassing group experiences reminded me that most people will not care about the quotidian details of my life. There’s something I’m currently going through that only one person knows about–which is not really normal for me, but it feels mature and normal now, to value myself, my life, my desires, my passions, and to share them with people who do the same.

Maybe, most of all, it’s that I do have good relationships with people online. It’s not the same as being in the flesh with folks, but it has been enough for a while. I kept making my life wrong and empty and less than by valuing in-person relationships over just relationships in general.

I accept that this is the path I’m on. It’s not the one I’d actively choose for myself, and many times it’s unpleasant and soul-crushing. But I’m doing the absolute best that I can. I accept that no other relationships are going to rise from the dead and be as awesome and as close and as meaningful as the relationships I have in my life right now. I’ve tried, and it’s just…never the same.

Having a tenderhearted Cancer moon that really values relationships and the past-I’ve wasted that precious emotional side of me exerting a lot of effort into dead things, like my past. As alive as it can be in my life, it’s so very, very dead. All of it. It got me to where I am now, but I’ve been living in the cemetery of my youth for such a long time. I accept that my life still looks like the remnants of a forest fire, still smoldering, still raining ash. I also accept that through all that fire, fertile soil is underfoot. Seeds have been planted. Sprouts are appearing and will continue to appear.

So, with the newness of Spring, of Aries season, and of this new moon in Aries tomorrow, I welcome more new life, new chances to be understood and seen and heard, and new chances to not waste time on trying to revive dead things. I can instead use the rich organic matter of pain and loss as the fertilizer for new dreams and a new life. I don’t have to wait. It can start right now. I’m not dead: only my past is.

P.S. I am baking apples because I hate Gala apples and I accidentally picked some up. I saw the number 55 (which means big changes coming) right before I returned my cinnamon onto a shelf. While I did that, I brushed passed a favorite mug of mine. It crashed and broke into a musical explosion. Holding onto my past is like holding onto a shattered mug. Instead of holding onto those broken pieces, or trying to glue them back together, I swept them up and threw them away.