88. 💞 loving annotations 💞
thinking about purpose, again
Hello, and happy Monday.
This weekend really felt like the start of spring. I managed to go for a run outside both days. This is something that I’ve been aching to do, but in previous weeks, the weather didn’t feel right, or I was honestly just nervous. It had been a while since I had felt good about running.
I started running outside at the beginning of the pandemic thinking that I would absolutely hate it. I never enjoyed running growing up because I thought that I had to be “fast” or “good” to do it, and I was neither of those. (I’m still not.) But these were dire times, and I needed something to do that would expend my energy.
I started running with a friend, and running with the help of the Nike Run Club guided runs (obviously not #sponcon). The combination was an absolute game changer for me in terms of my perspective on running and what it means to be a “runner.” I learned that my pace was my pace and that I didn’t have to measure success or progress if I didn’t want to. It was enough to just go outside and move my body and listen to some fun music for 20 or 30 minutes every day.
I felt that again this weekend. Warming up before the start of my run, I was a bit nervous—what if I got tired or thirsty or sad? I answered: I would slow down or stop, and it would be ok. And that made me feel better. And it was ok. I ran, and I enjoyed my time outside, breathing heavily, watching the doggies go for their walk.
✏️ Still processing.
For the past few years, I’ve been using a fairly consistent set of annotations for things that I want to stand out from a text when I review it in the future. Ideally, after I read a book, I’ll go back and take notes in Notion on what I read and what I want to remember. It’s fairly simple, and operates on a checkmark system that I put in the margins of a passage:
✔️ = This is interesting. Not something that I will write down in my notes, but I still am compelled to mark it.
✔️✔️ = This is even more notable. I’m not sure if I’m going to write it down yet, but I feel like there’s something here that resonates with me.
✔️✔️✔️ = This is it. I am definitely writing this down. This is one of my main takeaways from the text.
It’s taken over 10 years to streamline my annotations into this system. I used to use stars and lines and circles and letters. It got a little overwhelming, as though I needed a key next to me to decipher all the symbols I had come up with. I realized that what I really needed was one consistent symbol and a pencil with an eraser at the end of it.
I should also note that this system started as a way to annotate my academic work books, though from time to time I use it when annotating poetry or non-fiction that I read for fun. This is why I found it so interesting when I recently started to find a compulsion for a different kind of annotation.
I’m burying the lead, here, because it’s still tender. And I only want to show this vulnerability to you as an act of solidarity with folks who may be feeling similar to me. Recently, I have been really feeling the precarity of my academic career. I have one more year of this postdoc, and I’ve been having to contend very deeply with the reality of the academic job market as it stands in 2022. It has been a reckoning for me, one that I have not taken lightly. I’ve had to take time away from the work of writing in order to interrogate what I want out of my life.
In the process, I’ve also re-read bits and pieces of the academic books that mean the most to me. The ones that remind me why I started doing this in the first place. The ones where I see the stakes of the work so clearly. The ones that gave me a vocabulary for my own lived experience. The ones that made me tear up—I felt so seen when I first read them. The ones that made me who I am today and form a lot of the ways that I think.
Re-engaging with these texts helped me to begin to restore my soul from the disillusionment that I was (and still am) feeling. While I am still reckoning with reality, I nonetheless want to remember the joy of ideas and the impact I think they can have on the world. In this state of emotional openness, with a hand on my heart, I re-read the introductions and acknowledgments of these books. I re-read the passages with two and three checkmarks beside them. In doing so, I found my hand gravitating to a pen, and drawing a heart (❤️) next to the sentences that struck me most.
This heart is a new annotation—one that I’ve never used before. So much of reading for work is about extraction. What’s the argument? What are the methods? Is this a good analysis of the evidence? How are the stakes framed? Who is the author talking to? This is how I’ve been taught to read.
This experience of reading, though, has been for a different purpose. Rather than the ones above, the main question on my mind has been: why am I doing this? The heart marks the passages and ideas that remind me why.
I don’t think I’ve ever really interrogated how the ways that we come to a text dictate what we get out of it. Perhaps this is why re-reading at times gives us new perspectives on works—we are coming at the text with a different perspective, having lived a little longer. Right now, I am contending with the quesiton of purpose, and I needed an annotation to reflect that. Who knew that what would come out of it was a heart.
🌀 Still consuming.
Y’all. I have been absolutely SLEEPING on FKA Twigs. The above music video is amazing and beautiful. I’ve been low key listening to her entire discography on repeat.
Also plz stream the entirety of Charli XCX’s new album and tell me how someone can write absolute bops so consistently. This was my running soundtrack this weekend.
I love that there is now a word for the “running list of smallish tasks piling up in your head at all times” — THE NEEDLE LIST!!
As someone who grew up watching beauty channels on YouTube, I thought this was a really interesting read.
This is also a wild read, just because it is so resonant!! The people cannot be stopped talking about what they want to talk about!
🚨 Call for Submissions! 🚨
My wonderful and amazing friend Zsofi Valyi-Nagy & her friend Emily Friedman are working on a zine called “High Functioning,” and are soliciting work for folks to submit! Check out the info below if you’re interested in contributing!
"Have you tried yoga?”
“It seems to me that you are struggling with anxiety.”
“Is your life particularly stressful right now?”
We have all heard these questions: from doctors, mainly, but also from people in our lives who care deeply for us—parents, partners, mentors. Medical gaslighting is insidious, and it’s not limited to the clinical, beige walls of doctors’ offices and sticky leather of psychiatrists’ chairs. We are sick but never sick enough, hurt but never hurt enough. It’s the curse of being “high functioning.”
People who struggle with chronic pain and invisible illness often find the most comfort in recognition, shared experience, and collective outrage. This is the impetus for our zine, High Functioning, which will serve as a space for anyone who has experienced or continues to live with chronic pain of any kind. We welcome submissions in most forms: poetry, prose (fiction, non-fiction, creative writing, confessional, sci-fi, etc., you get the point), visual art, comics music—really anything that can somehow be presented in zine form.
Please submit your proposals (this can be a sentence, a text message, whatever you’re able to handle at the moment) to email@example.com June 15, 2022. Feel free to share this call with friends. We welcome submissions from people of all identities, ages, and gender expressions.
📖 Book club corner.
Friends! The people have spoken! For April’s book club, we will be reading Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer! I’m so excited!! Feel free to purchase the book here, and the details are below!
Here’s the event info:
Date & Time: Monday, April 25 @ 5PM PST/8PM EST
Suggested Donation (for those able to donate): $3-10 through Paypal or Venmo (@idyalz)
You can learn more about the tiny driver book club here!
🐶 A pup-date.
Higgins is enjoying the summer weather by being outside. We think that he likes the security of the chair as his little den, though. Better to creep on birds, perhaps.
As always, thanks so much for reading through, and I'll see you in the next one!