013: Mercury is in reggaeton

Send help 🐌

Sorry for opening this letter with such a corny joke, but the retrograde (or perhaps Scorpio season 😖 — but actually really just fatigue) means I’m finding solace in really basic jokes to get by. I mean, yday I was cackling for hours at a clip from that episode of Family Guy where Cleveland is a member of Black Box. I feel like The Simpsons references are timeless witticisms, but Family Guy references are toilet brain.

I looked up that clip because I was listening to procrastination music on loud and dancing like a fool in my apartment. (Lately it’s been a lot of diva house and early jungle. I’m convinced my upstairs neighbour is producing jungle tracks now — my influence 😎) In other words I was feral and on a deadline of my own design.

I’ve had my head down all week working on a new season of Burn Out, the pod, and it’s finally here! Click through to listen to conversations with:

Debby Friday**, an experimental electronic artist with influences as disparate as Avril Lavigne and NON Worldwide,

Cold Specks**, a Polaris Prize-shortlisted singer-songwriter with four albums under her belt, learning to stand on her own feet again,

and Gyimah Gariba, an exciting young animator who sees the potential for cartoons to shape new worlds and emotional textures.

**These episodes are supported by FACTOR. I got a grant y’all!

It was a fucking mission and perhaps ill-advised to drop these episodes at the start of Mercury Retrograde. I’d taken Lisa’s advice and rented gear to record the forthcoming episodes (there are already three more banked, so subscribe!!!!) in order to better manage my time. So this new season of Burn Out isn’t just hosted and produced by me… I also recorded it!!! But guess what? You can tell. 😩 The limits of my technical knowledge are truly showing. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about this here, because it seems unprofessional? But the truth is that I’m really figuring it out, and I’m doing it all alone, and I have help in the form of people who can answer questions but it’s still difficult. As it should be: it’s an entirely new skill set. And yet, I refuse to let my self-consciousness — or the pursuit of perfection, which means I’d probably just fiddle with it forever — make me feel like I’m not good enough or smart enough to make a podcast. I’ve been enrolled in Podcast Night School this week. I’m truly learning!

The point I’m fumbling toward is that I’m content with being less than perfect in public if it means that I’m taking risks and stretching myself in new ways. I recommend it, particularly moving toward the end of the year which always feels more intense than it needs to be. Be easy, be un-selfconsciously feral. Finger paint. Scribble. Scream into a pillow. Post a ‘bad’ photo of yourself. Don’t edit the caption. Read a book that everyone talks about but that you don’t quite understand and be okay with not ‘getting it.’ Do the same with a movie. Go to yoga and lie in savasana the whole time, especially if you’re tired as hell. Literally, do what you want and don’t worry about it.

Thank you as always for being here, reading, and listening. In the last month I’ve met a bunch of new people who are already subscribed! So nice. And welcome to the new subscribers — I guess many people had feelings about unfollowing a Toronto man 😂

Please take a second to rate and review Burn Out on Apple Podcasts.

And if you like this newsletter, please share it and consider a paid subscription. It helps subsidize the time it takes to put these together.

Lots of love,

Anupa

012: Unfollow a Toronto man today

For ur health 👐🏾

Last week I made a series of small choices that resulted in a feeling equivalent to, like, 20 hours of therapy. I unfollowed a Toronto man. Actually, I unfollowed like 25 to 30 Toronto men. These aren’t friends or people who I respect — in fact, they are the opposite. Men who have directly disrespected me, or other people (mostly women) that I know. Men who wield a kind of soft form of power within the city, and with whom it seems important, if not just plain useful, to maintain some type of social connection with via the internet.

Perhaps you’re not from Toronto, but I imagine the same amorphous circles of power and influence exist wherever you live, whatever scene(s) you occupy. I want to assure those of you who feel nervous about the implications of dashing one-two-three-four-or-more wastemen from your feed, that all of that disrespect curdles at the bottom of the bin and the stench stays lodged in your nose unless you hose the thing out every now and then.

Can I share an example? I unfollowed this guy I once thought was a cool and interesting nightlife fixture, but who called me a groupie when I was a baby reporter who was very clearly on the job. Why was I still following this person years later? I don’t know. I guess I just thought that it would “be awkward” if we saw each other around. You know, the dumb justifications you come up with to avoid telling yourself you deserve to be treated with respect?

I also unfollowed someone whose work I sometimes enjoy, but who has a reputation for stealing ideas from his ex-gfs; a former colleague who tried to kiss me in the office; a manager who asked for favours but repeatedly condescended to me; and multiple men who I know as stakeholders and who are personally banal as hell but who have still found ways of dinging the self-esteem of women that I know, love, and respect.

I’m not trying to make it about men, I promise — but it just kind of is. Men hold power and social influence in ways that women do not. It’s a completely different mental calculation. I just wanted to stop considering those people, and their energy, as a variable in the logic of my own life.

(As an aside, the ‘fungibility’ scene between Rhea and Logan Roy — the mascot for professionalized toxic masculinity — provided a really good analogue to this feeling. When Logan yells, “You’re fungible as fuck” and Rhea looks him in the eye, says, “Then funge me” and walks away. I felt that.)

Whoever the people are at the extreme peripheries of your life whose perceived influence lingers like a sock loosie waiting at the bottom of your drawer, getting in the way of who you know you are and what you are capable of — unfollow them today. The shame they’ve somehow inflicted on you, their assumed influence and power — neither is sustainable. Dare it. Power needs a story to survive.

That’s all. Happy unfollowing!!!!!!

Lots of love,

Anupa


If you enjoyed reading this newsletter, forward it to a friend — or consider a paid subscription.

Toronto: Alica and Natasha of ATM: At The Moment, have invited me to be one of three panelists speaking about ‘logging off,’ next Tuesday, October 15 @ Soho House in Toronto. The event is free! RSVP here.

011: You got some tomato on ur face

🍅🍅🍅🍅🍅

It’s only Tuesday and I’ve already failed. And by ‘failed’ I mean I’ve experienced some relatively benign moments as a result of being a person in the world, and am — naturally — mortified and disappointed in myself.

This newsletter was originally intended to be profound and inspiring! I’ve had a lovely August: I did sunrise yoga on a cottage dock! I went to London and met a brand new baby, and hung out with my brother, and reunited with a bunch of my New York friends! I spent a weekend with my grandparents! But as I’m now realizing, moments of clarity are really just a way of passing time. 🤔

I’m being slightly facetious here, because while I’ve experienced a lot of growth and written about some of my personal ‘progress’ over the last year — I don’t want to attach value to it. Or, maybe it makes more sense to say that I don’t want to suggest there is an endpoint. That’s how you end up tweeting about the adrenaline rush of mortification at 5:30am (that, and jet lag).

Okay, time to stop beating around the bush! Clearly I’m feeling sorry for myself. I walked away from some work that wasn’t coming together and had started to feel painful to push through. And a recent conversation with a friend left me feeling very alone. These are hardly reasons to mope for hundreds of strangers in a public letter, but here we are. Sometimes these things happen, and there’s a fog of self-pity around any clarity you’ve cultivated. It’s so foggy you forget about what you know is part of living, working, and loving: things like baby steps and working with what you’ve got.

Yesterday on Instagram, Jessica Dore posted about how unsettling the “liminal space” of change can be — “after things got really bad & you’ve managed to collect yourself but then you sort of plateau & could go in either direction.” I think I’m in that in-between, which is more beautiful and optimistic than the Upside Down…. but also, um, not fictionalized and definitely more permanent. “The old life is going through a kind of dying, but you’re not ready to let go….. when you go back everything’s changed, it doesn’t feel the way it did. What you’ve seen you can’t unsee.”

I’m not sure I can unsee, or unfeel, what it’s like to wake up clear-headed, well-rested, and energized, unburdened of emotional regret, and filled with purpose. I’ve had a few glimpses at that recently, and yet life stays lobbing tomatoes!!!! What matters, or what I’m trying to tell myself matters, is accepting these random encounters with self-pity as part of the experience. Or, when life throws tomatoes, make pasta. (Again!)

More soon. Lots of love,

Anupa

FYI:
- New episodes of Burn Out, the podcast, will be arriving this fall. I’m very excited about the new guests! Please subscribe via your fav podcasting service if you haven’t already, and the episodes will pop up in your feed when they’re ready.
- Last month, I wrote about Sean Paul’s Dutty Rock for Pitchfork’s Sunday Review, and a colour I’m calling Regulation Red for SSENSE.

And, if you enjoy receiving this newsletter, forward it to a friend or consider signing up for a paid subscription.

010: Anupa's Life Tips

"Leave the glamour of self-sacrifice behind" 🙅🏾

I’ve never seen myself as goal-oriented. I’ve always been a dreamer, with big ideas and values. A friend recently described me as “a seeker.” This perspective has definitely given me a sense of purpose, but I’ve often felt crushed by the weight of my own lofty dreams. In past newsletters I wrote about skipping steps and the healing benefits of doing ‘nothing’ as a by-product and solution to burnout. I think I needed to go there before I could get to a place where I can filter out the internal and external distractions in order to get shit done. To take baby steps, or participate in what a person more patient than myself might describe as ‘the process.’

But I’m learning! I’m learning how to sloooooow down.

I didn’t check in here for over a month because I took a yoga teacher training program (!!) and wanted to focus on what proved to be a physically and mentally intense process. I mean, I guess I could have just typed something out, but I spend time on these and that would have defied the goal of trying to slow down!

The other reason for making this yoga goal is a bit more complicated, but it also speaks to baby steps and process. Modern yoga culture’s relationship to Hindu spirituality, ‘Eastern’ philosophies, and brown people in general is weird and exploitative. This isn’t about white people doing yoga, but more about how that perpetuates the lack of brown people who are able to speak, move, get paid, or just comfortably participate in a discipline that connects to our traditions. For years I stayed away from yoga but last year, while practicing at the very wicked Sacred Brooklyn in Bed-Stuy, I dug my heels in. I wanted to move past feeling powerless and alienated. I didn’t even know if I wanted to teach, but trying seemed like the best way to figure it out. So I took a baby step and set a goal.

And I’m not just CHUFFED AF to have accomplished it — I’m banging on the furnace of god’s frickin’ basement! I’m proud of myself because it was scary! I faced my values and ego, my body, anxiety, cultural identity, professional fears, and my own damn impatience.

I’m slower in life too. Earlier to bed, and earlier to rise — not to get a head start on the day but to let it unfurl quietly before my attention is hijacked. Moving intentionally with new friendships. Taking hot baths in the morning, and going to sound baths at night. IDK. Enjoying… life? ((FYI, that was weird to type but let’s just go with it and add “I didn’t know I could enjoy life” to the list of strange admissions this newsletter has unearthed 🤦🏾‍♀️))

Last week in training, I ‘yesssss’d as we moved into a restorative pose. A new friend on the next mat over started cackling about my sloth-y love of bolsters, and eye pillows, and lying in stillness. “You really pamper yourself,” she said. My Taurus moon just popped out 🌚

Rest matters though! And I don’t just mean sleeping/napping, or meditation and movement. For me this includes small tasks that allow me to feel more rested throughout the day. Meal-prepping, taking a short walk to return a library book on time, cooking and washing up as I go, doing laundry before a trip so I come home to fresh sheets (pro-tip 😎), or making the damn BED in the first place.

Khalila put me onto Naimonu James, who recently wrote this: “There is radical justice in rest. Leave the glamour of self-sacrifice on behalf of others behind. Listen within before doing without.” Tara Brach would get somatic with it and say something like, “Feel from the neck down.”

Even when I was practicing yoga 10 years ago, I never spent much quiet time with my body. Instead I learned to minimize, control, berate, overwork, and ignore it. On top of that, my dad didn’t allow my brother and I to sleep in when we were kids! From where I’m at now, it feels like a betrayal to forego relaxation in favour of being clenched, servile, distracted, defensive, aggressive, and acquisitive all of the time. Our bodies send out a lot of signals that our external lives help obscure, and yoga allowed me to start decoding some of that. The point of this whole meta-ass story about slowing down is that maybe that’s what I can contribute as a yoga teacher, you know? Not to rebrand myself as a social justice yogi — there are lots of others working on that! — but to simply rehabilitate the self-abnegation of my body, and maybe help other people (like my parents) with it too. Slowing down makes me feel more secure in my intuition, which is the stuff big ideas are made of :)

Lots of love,

Anupa

P.S. My summer anthem: “Secret” Burna Boy Ft. Serani and Jeremih

009: Wholeness is no trifling matter

🐣->🐥->🐔->🍗->💩->🌱

It’s a quickie! I’ve been thinking about this Toni Cade Bambara quote for the last 24 hours because I’ve been kinda down since the Raptors win (it’s weird, I know). Lately when I’m bummed I’ll invariably get to this point in the process where I realize that I wanted this! I decided to finally let myself feel feelings, and how small is my self-perception that I thought this would be a simple task! 🤦🏾‍♀️

In the spirit of hard work and knowing yourself, here are three new episodes of Burn Out, the podcast. I’m very proud of these ones because all three women I spoke to — Alanna Stuart, Akua, and Zaki Ibrahim — gave up equal parts soft and hard. There’s determination and mastery in their stories of music-making, as well as a lot of womanhood. Because wholeness is no trifling matter. (There are a looot of wicked tunes too). Click:

Listen, subscribe, share — and maybe hit reply to this e-mail and let me know what you think. Or consider investing in this project of learning how to be well, together, with a paid subscription :)

Lots of love,

Anupa

PS: More writing incoming — here’s a short essay for one of my favourite websites, The Creative Independent, about my last year and why I decided to make this podcast and newsletter.

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