Quote of the Week: “Our culture treats love almost entirely in connection with interpersonal relationships and interactions. Emotional love is based on external gratification, having our love reflected back to us. It’s not grounded in feeling love from the inside. That’s why we keep needing more. When we love somebody emotionally, that need for feedback creates a powerful attachment. We get so caught up in the relationship that we rarely arrive at the essence of just dwelling in love.” —Ram Dass, Be Love Now
Now let’s get one thing straight: how a sentiment resonates with me depends on where I’m at in my menstrual cycle. So the fact that I’m contemplating every relationship in my life during ovulation, when I’m normally a dazzling force of sex and joy, means shit is fraught.
My primary rumination in life after 30 is friendship: how it fades into the background of weddings and baby showers and work happy hours and the necessary alone time to recharge between all those crushing obligations… the fleeting moments of platonic intimacy you wish would last forever… recognizing fundamental differences from people you thought were lifers. I first started really unpacking this at Cheryl Strayed’s writing workshop in the fall. I went there alone and had reckonings of both independence and community among strangers, and I still feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what I’m meant to understand about human connection. That Ram Dass quote always reminds me of exactly what I wish to embody within that context: love independent from external attachment. Someone who exists in a state of love regardless of how they’re treated, where people disappear to, etc. (It’s worth noting that I lifted this quote from a piece I wrote in 2021 called “Dismantling my wifey complex” wherein I dissect my obsession with marriage as a panacea. Read it here if you’d like. It’s certainly relevant.)
Sad girl internet culture rewards you for being cynical and miserable. It exalts she who recognizes everyone around her as fraudulent and broods accordingly, makes art of it. I may indulge my depressive spirals, but ultimately, I want to challenge my tendency to take every tiny moment of unrequited attachment as grounds for hopelessness. And I want it to reflect in my writing—some reassuring undercurrent that says when you feel fundamentally misunderstood by half the people you know, it will not matter if you live in love. And man, did I have no intentions of writing so much about a quote, but here the fuck we are.
Wanting: A bike. I’m caving. The past couple years, I’ve ridden Philly’s city bikes pretty regularly during the spring and summer. This year, I feel it in my bones that it’s time to take the plunge on something cheap and minimal. Some of my freest moments are experienced on a bike. And if there’s one thing I’m obsessed with, it’s freedom. How patriotic!
Listening to: Help, I can’t stop listening to the same two or three meditations from this Australian woman on Spotify. And the incredible thing is I have no idea what’s said in any of them; I just feel deeply soothed by her voice and accent. That’s really enough for me.
What I Wore: Saturday night was slutty grunge. Tiny top, plaid skirt, combat boots, rhinestone drop earrings.
Feeling: Relieved. Now that I’ve mentioned the whole marriage thing, I want to share the latest development on that front. Andrew and I have decided to forgo a wedding celebration. Since getting engaged, the plan was always a courthouse wedding with some small party afterward. As we started looking into restaurants/venues, we realized we were both dispassionate, only going along with it to please the other. Kind of funny how that works out.
It’s weird feeling like you should be mourning something you never cared about. And I think that’s been an omnipresent feeling for me throughout our engagement, like the private simplicity of being extra lovey during this period isn’t enough because it won’t culminate with a public celebration. Truthfully, it would have been a bad idea anyway, because I’m not someone who can just be present and enjoy my wedding day knowing I’ll blink and it’s over. I get sad when the lights come on in a bar at 2 AM, you know? I’d be sulking over my wedding for months. Anyway, here’s to putting that money toward our honeymoon and future home. I’m talking south of France straight to suburban ennui, baby.
Just Read: Instead of boring you with a current book, or some essay that you probably won’t read, today I’d like to direct your attention to Angelina Jolie’s Wikipedia. Of course, I arrived here because a song on Lana Del Rey’s new album samples “Angelina” by Tommy Genesis, reminding me that Angie is a perfect human specimen. But more importantly, I remembered she is also a bit fucked up and we loooove a fucked up hottie in this house. We can’t totally squash the sad girl thing, amiright? Key takeaway: Angelina Jolie tried hiring a hitman to kill her at age 22. Not to minimize the despair behind that decision but like… god, that’s the melodrama I aspire to.
Loving: 1.) A slicked back ponytail/bun/braid. Anything that allows me to wax it all down and not think about the state of my hair. Plus, as the girls say, face card never declines, and you are all face with these looks. I like this wax and this brush kit.
2.) I need to thank Sydney from @coffeestainedlace for doing the lord’s work of putting us on to the TJ Maxx in St. David’s, a bougie suburb on Philly’s Main Line. I always say Maxxinistas are the target audience of this newsletter because we represent the heartbeat of American lowbrow. But man, this particular store was a gold mine. I finally scored some Loveshackfancy at a sixth of the price. I’ve been dreaming about owning something, anything from this brand for years now because at my core is some repressed ultrafemme cottage fantasy. See my dream skirt below, thanks.
Thinking: 1.) I don’t receive a lot of online hate because I value my peace too much to instigate it or engage with it. But last week someone replied to my selfie on Instagram making fun of my “overplucked” eyebrows. It was an interesting experience. I had to take a minute to weigh the value of advising some stranger not to remark on others’ appearances, versus simply letting them know that I prefer a thinner brow. Indeed, I went with the latter.
In the past, I’ve felt the need to punish people for their bad behavior. Give ‘em a good moralizing, teach ‘em a lesson. But why task yourself with the impossible when you can be so matter-of-fact about growing up in the 90s, loving a good Pam Anderson eyebrow? The point of telling you this is that we ended up having a pretty chill exchange. Some people just really believe they know what’s best for your face and even if that’s totally wrong and uncool, it’s also so fucking whatever.
2.) The Philly chemical spill is making me feel very end of days. About an hour after the first alert was sent out, Andrew and I went to Rite Aid where there was a line wrapped around the store, bottled water spilling out of people's arms. Everyone clad in their Sunday sweatpants and slides, the uniform of public hysteria. The energy was this sad mix of anxiety and defeat—an unsurprising emotional cocktail in a “post”-pandemic world. This raven-haired beauty behind me would not stop bitching to her boyfriend about how “corny” this was, how “these people probably don’t even drink water,” and it was one of those rare moments when you really feel sorry for a man.
Working on: I made the grave mistake of calling for advice column submissions recently, not having seen the *pile* already sitting in my inbox. So I’m trying to get to as many as I can over the next few weeks. Appreciate your patience and having confided in me to begin with! I’m also working on a piece called “The feminine urge to destroy your life” about my (mostly PMDD-induced) impulse to run away from everything. And lastly, I am working on a piece about everyone forgetting my name after meeting me, which is honestly pretty sad to admit. One must find levity in being forgettable… somehow.
There are a LOT of new faces here, so I want to thank the Substack algorithm for its random generosity. That said, I lost interest in asking people to pay for this newsletter a while ago. I have a full-time job, and I don’t expect this will ever replace that. If you believe in my writing and enjoy the good will of paying for art, I surely won’t stop you. But my main hope is that you’ll share this with a friend. Maybe tag me in your Instagram story (@brokebutmoisturized) or on Twitter (@ciao_dia). As always, thanks for reading.
Damn, I’ve been wanting to get my bike fixed up and go riding again. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Schuylkill River track. From my apartment, to the completed track, then back home was 12 miles. It was so thrilling to accomplish it. Hope you have some fun with it.
The quote... *snap snap* I’m there with it and have been thinking more about being my own love first.
As always, an immediate read and like. Thanks for being fabulous and (this week) frilly.
“I always say Maxxinistas are the target audience of this newsletter because we represent the heartbeat of American lowbrow.”
Have you read “Tacky” by Rax King? It’s one of the books that has made me feel most seen. It’s about the “joys of low pop culture and bad taste.”