Alone in a Crowd

Written by Amara Hartman.
Part 1 of 2. Read part 2 here.

There are more ways than ever to connect with each other. It’s hard to imagine an era when people awaited the arrival of their correspondence strapped in saddle bags. Longhand letter writing is a charm of a bygone time, and any small sect of people who still try to keep it alive appreciate it for its purity. There aren’t any of the trappings of modern communication. No visible friend counts, gifs, or emojis. Nothing flashy driving the want to stay in touch except suspense and imagination. Even email’s been leveled to one-liners or co-opted by instant messengers like G-chat and Skype. Blogs are popularized by purveyors of trends who want to teach you a lifestyle: how to wrap an infinity scarf or create a refreshing grapefruit spritzer.

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And in the middle of it all stands the behemoth social media. Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat have all morphed from handy tools to actual propellants of our culture. Tweets are regularly featured in the news. Emojis stand in for text within text. We get what the peach and eggplant mean–a far cry from actually having to woo someone into liking you in the first place, much less into your pants.

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With this insane glut, like Augustus Gloop stuffing chocolate in his face, one of the last things anyone would describe an average American as is lonely. It’s a natural conclusion that the more interactions you have, the less you’re alone. In a society of likes, followers, and subscribers, it’s hard to imagine anyone feeling stranded in a hollow abyss of loneliness.

Continue reading “Alone in a Crowd”

Getaway Girl

There’s no place like home.

Aside from the blatant cliche, there is a deeper truth in this quote. When we stay home, we stay comfortable. If you’re like me, you might have spent a lot of time wanting this. Then one day something changes. Maybe it’s a pretty photo on Instagram. Or a cheesy movie starring Julia Roberts, probably. Whatever it is, you get the bite. To leave. Not forever, of course. But to just go somewhere else.

As a single woman just passing the dreaded thirty threshold, travel felt to me like a foreign prospect (pun intended). In my somewhat dated perception, traveling alone for girls wasn’t all that common. And I, having no male companion to speak of, almost felt shut out of the opportunity for long-form vacations, believing they were reserved for couples in love or retirees with savings.

It wasn’t until I hopped my sixth or seventh plane in Southeast Asia, on the first big excursion of my life, that I realized my assumptions were all wrong. Not only was traveling easy for me, the fact that I was doing it my own way, on my own time, made it that much more fulfilling.

Continue reading “Getaway Girl”

Shannen Moser

Oh, My Heart

Written by Casey Holmstrom

Shannen Moser, Music, Philly, Musician, DIY
Shannen Moser. Oh, My Heart image via Bandcamp.

“Oh, My Heart” is the third album from Philly’s DIY scene’s Shannen Moser. It injects something vital into the listener, like nutrients to a healthy garden. The vibe holds a blend of the Dixie Chicks’ banjo storytelling and harmonizing and a more mature version of Girlpool’s innocent emotional tolls of growing older. Girlpool also plays in the same Philadelphia circles as Moser. “Oh, My Heart” sings to the heart of spring and the melt of winter.

The opening track, “I’m Going Home (Sacred Heart),” is a lilting intro with an almost gospel-sounding timbre. As the dust settles, “Alex (282)” sets you on solid ground. Moser inflicts her audience with a voice similar to Marissa Paternoster of the Screaming Females.

Continue reading “Shannen Moser”

Unfuck the World

I saw this shirt posted by Pitchfork from  Angel Olsen (a musician I’ve never listened to, but I know comes highly recommended). This paired with the recent news from London–the bombing, the vehicular homicide (among SO MANY other things, obviously)–brought a totaling body count to mind. Flesh heaped on flesh, red digits racking up, no time for a breath, blink and gone.

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Image via elevation.supply

Why is the world so fucked up? I mean, it’s not new. People have suffered at the hands of each other for centuries. Our whole history is made up of who won a war against who, who is memorialized for dying in it, and the nameless millions and billions and more who no one will ever know. Pride and greed top the obvious list for why our world is fucked up. Wherever there’s selfishness, there will be souls in its wake. It’s easy to point this out at a distance: Wall Street fiends, celebrity hacks, politicians and preachers–all often one in the same. We seethe at home, thinking that if they’d just WAKE UP or GET LOST, we’d all be better off. But it’s always boggled me how we wish for peace at large, yet within our own communities, we still foster discontent. In my mental wingback chair, I sigh and suppose… it’s because our primary needs of sorrow and neglect are erased by protective shields and barriers like anger and vindictiveness, which cause divide.

I’m not above any of this. I’m envious, I’m spiteful; I get sad, I get tired. And that’s part of being human. It’s impossible to eradicate all of it all of the time. There will always be something that gets under your skin, offends, pains, discourages. I don’t think the point is how to avoid reacting to any of that, I think what splits the difference is teasing forward that other part of yourself that says,”I want to try again,” or “let me understand,” not “fuck you” or “oh well.” Those are easy tropes. They can be funny while they are erase responsibility. But where is the emphasis on compassion?* Our collective culture doesn’t actively lift up language for healing. And I don’t mean that in altruistic ignorance. I mean the language that seeds what can happen when you choose to regenerate like a green plant instead of blistering under heated pride.

Pride isn’t the only cause for trouble in our world, but from where I can see in my little corner, and what I’ve had to deal with and encounter, a lot of the gratuitous fuck yous and self righteousness that feel good in the moment just perpetuate stand-offishness and aloofness could have been salved with the generosity of spirit. That thing that rings in the back of your mind and says, “We all bleed. This isn’t the hurt olympics. Help me.” Call me an idealist at heart (please do), but I do think that with each small step we take in our own lives to honestly account for our actions and feelings, the closer we will come to that embrace we all seek: hope.

*I read something somewhere once that was like, “The three hardest things to say in life are, ‘I love you. I’m sorry. Help me.’” I try not to waste my time wondering why it’s hard to say these things. I’m more interested in trying to open my mouth and say them.

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Good Friday

I’m baacckk! And what better day than today to be here? 1) It’s gorgeous outside ☀️, and 2) the leader of the free world just keeps giving us reasons to regret being cognizant. But since we can’t do anything about that, for at least one day, let’s just pretend he doesn’t exist and focus on some goodness! There’s plenty of it.

  • BECK. His tour is stopping in Minneapolis August 17 for the first time in 9 years! Of course I went ham on Etix and refreshed for a half hour until 10AM in case anything happened without me knowing and snagged tickets. And that just reminded me of this homage he orchestrated, covering David Bowie’s Sound and Vision. It fills my soul with joy, literally, almost to tears. The menagerie of vocalists and instrumentalists is too much. Swelling, hopeful, joyful.
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Image via NPR.

Anu and her family were followed by the BBC as it reported on funding for kids who need prosthetic limbs to pursue sports. NPR reports, “The National Health Service got a grant of some $2 million for that effort after last summer’s Paralympics, but the money was split between research efforts and the “active limbs” program, and further funding is in doubt.” To find out more or donate here in the U.S., check out Limbs for Life.

  • For some of you, this won’t mean squat because you were ahead of the game. For us here in Minnesota? FINALLY. Our Sunday liquor ban has been lifted, and I look forward to being able to buy whatever my heart desires whenever I want to all day Sunday.
  • So, when’s the premiere of Wonder Cat? 😹

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😳

Hey,  people. Apologies for the absence. A couple things are going on, one affected by the other. A few weeks ago I decided to try to streamline the content here so we can give you even stronger, kick ass quality. I have plans to gather the team and contributors to really knuckle down and spruce things up. In the meantime, my grandpa died. So, where I planned to start tweaking and ferreting around, this time has turned into a reflective, quiet pocket. 

I’m still out here, just  thinking about things, waiting, giving myself space. I wanted to give viewers and followers a heads up because your support and interest is valuable to me, we’re all in this wacky life together, and you’re owed an update.

We’ll be back soon! 

🖤

Amara