8622 in review

This is my life story so far. Not all of it, the telling of it all would take as long as it took to happen. This is just what sticks in my mind now, though I know I am missing a lot of important details. I wrote it, I am publishing it, I haven’t read it since I typed it out, and I haven’t edited it.

UPDATE: I’ve read it again now, and briefly edited just to add in years.

*possible tw: suicide, self harm, rape, eating disorders, mental illness, cops, drugs

(1993) 8622 days ago, I was born in Greenwich, Connecticut on my mom’s birthday (and, it turns out, Donald Trump’s). My parents are incredibly loving, supportive, compassionate, intelligent and accepting people. It’s taken me a long time to understand just how rare that is. I have an older sister named Katie.

(1996) I grew up in San Diego, California, in what can only be described as a mansion, in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the US.

(2000) I first became “political” when I was 7, when Bush won the presidency despite losing the popular vote to Gore. I didn’t really know much at the time, all I knew was that I thought this seemed unjust and my parents were very upset about it.

(2001/2002?) When I was 8 or 9, a bunch of my dad’s investments went south and my family lost a huge amount of money. I didn’t know then how bad the loss was or how much debt it put us in. We were always comfortable, and still quite wealthy, but we moved out of the mansion and into a smaller house and stopped having nannies and housekeepers around to entertain my sister and me. I grew much, much closer to my parents, especially my mom, because of this, and it has strongly affected the way I view money.

(2004) When I was 11, I would say I began a “spiritual search” in earnest. I first got interested in Wicca and neo-Paganism, then Buddhism. When I was 13, I started doing yoga (the asana practice) and through this got more interested in Hindusim, but I never found ideas of dualism really made much sense to me.

(2007) My best friend when I was 13-14 was a girl called Kathleen. She was obsessed with Ayn Rand and Objectivism and rational self-interest and we used to argue about the nature of reality all the time. Her view was “A equals A, existence exists.” My view was, “What if nothing exists and there is no objectivity and there are no absolutes?” though I didn’t know how to articulate it well then. I did start reading a lot about libertarianism and anarcho-capitalism. I requested that my school library buy Murray Rothbard’s Man, Economy and State and tried to read it when I was 13. I since stole it and found out a few weeks ago it’s still at my parents’ house. Also with Kathleen, I started drinking and smoking weed. We almost got kicked out of high school for being drunk on campus in 9th grade.

Kathleen died on May 8, 2014. At the time, we had not spoken in a few years.

Also when I was 13, I became very close friends with a girl called Felicity and we’ve remained best friends since. I call her my sister, she is in some ways much more my sister than my biological sister, and I love her with all my heart.

Also when I was 13, I became bulimic.

(2009) When I was 15, I started attending services every now and then at the Self Realization Fellowship, but still, the dualist, this-is-all-Maya, give-up-the-limited-self thing didn’t make much sense to me, and I don’t think I understood it fully then.

I fell in love for the first time when I was 16, had my first romantic relationship, had sex for the first time and many more times, all with a lovely guy called Aidan whom I don’t really speak to anymore, but I hope you’re well, dude, wherever you are.

(2010) Also when I was 16, I did a 200-hour yoga teacher training, and part of the training was a weekend workshop with Douglas Brooks. He talked about his view of Rajanaka and Shakti Tantra and was the first person I’ve ever read speak back the things I felt to be true in a way that could guide me. He said a lot of things that I absolutely live by. The first being, “I am not you, I am like you, I am nothing but you, and they’re all true.” The second, “The universe is from New Jersey. It’ll ask, whaddayawant?” The third, “Are you honey badger enough? Because this is not going to be easy, and it is going to take some time.”

(2010-2011) When I was 17, I moved to New York to start college. I majored in political science and sort of minored in post-colonial history. I got really into slam poetry and capoeira and started doing less yoga. The summer after my first year, I lived abroad for the first time. I spent 2 months in Israel, living in Tel Aviv and interning for a human rights non-profit. When I came back, I got heavily interested in Middle Eastern politics and history.

Also when I was 17, I fell in love for the second time with a guy called Chris. There was a complicated bit in there with another guy called Russ, and I’m not sure how in love I was or what that means in this situation, but depending on the day, I maybe loved him too. Anyway, my relationship with Chris was what you probably call rocky, and passionate, and unhealthy. You might call it mutually emotionally abusive. We broke up for the final time shortly after I got to Israel. Again, we don’t speak anymore, but I wish you well, dude. Sorry for a lot of things, and I’m sure you’re sorry too.

(2011) I’ve always been liberal and political, but I was around 18 when I first started to become what you might call “radical.” I spent more time in activist circles and started reading more about anarchism, socialism, and communism. My best friend then was called Pazia, we had a lot of talks about the queer struggle and poetry and activism and political philosophy and I still love her/them (not sure which one you’re using these days) dearly.

(2012) The summer after my second year of college, I interned for a communications and public relations company in DC and found I hated offices and cubicles and sterile lighting and, on the whole, my life. Also at the beginning of that summer, I had my first “psychotic episode.” It involved being drunk, it involved the same Russ, it involved my being violent, I don’t remember much.

I believe it was my junior year of college that I took a class called Political Economy of African Development. It was an interesting course, and at the end of it my professor talked about attacking problems from the root or the branches or something like that, and recommended a book to us. It was called Two Cheers for Anarchism, by James C. Scott. The rest, as they say, is history.

(2013) When I was 19, spring of my junior year of college, I first became suicidal. It was also around this time that I finally stopped being bulimic. I’d gone to the doctor while home in December to talk about my bulimia and mounting depression, and she put me in Zoloft. I didn’t feel so sad, and I didn’t feel the need throw up so much, but it turns out sadness is not the only uncomfortable thing you can feel. Like, mania, for instance. Racing thoughts and aggression and constant jittery feeling and paranoia and self-loathing are like, also a thing. The more you know. I stopped taking Zoloft.

It was also then that I first got interested in filmmaking. I’d loved films my whole life, and always thought of filmmaking as something I’d want to do, but never really done it. I made a short film called The Shy Man Who Lives in My Butthole. It was a hell of a lot of fun to write and direct and edit, and I loved the whole process.

That summer, I moved to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, to intern for an investigative journalism and alternative media organization and improve my French. I think I kind of hoped being around so much poverty would shock my depression out of me and make me value life and myself and the world. That didn’t happen. It was a weird time in my life, and I’ve already written about it a lot. I spent my 20th birthday alone in my room in Delmas 33, eating chocolate and playing solitaire on my phone.

That fall, I began my last semester of college. My mom was writing a novel, and it inspired me to write a novel as well, which I did. It was the first time I’d ever finished a book. I don’t know if it was a good book, but writing it was one of the most important things I ever did. I remembered how good it feels to be completely absorbed in writing, or any creative or expressive project, and it is still probably my favorite feeling.

Also during that fall, I was raped. It’s taken me years to even claim that as what happened, but that is what happened. I didn’t feel particularly traumatized at the time, and I don’t now, but that still is what happened. I still can’t talk about it without clarifying, that it wasn’t violent, it wasn’t traumatic, it was just weird and shitty and quick and then it was over.

Also during that fall, I applied to grad school. I had never wanted to go to grad school before, but then I read something about small community economic structures and giving culture and cooperative economics and social ties between producers and consumers changing the idea of self-interest and I had to go study it. So I applied to the London School of Economics.

(2014) I moved back to California with the intention to move to a small island in Washington state called Lopez and work on my book and live in a small, farming community and see what that was like. And then, something called me back. I spent time with friends in San Diego over Christmas and New Years and had such a good time that I just wanted to be there again. So I moved back to San Diego. I slept around a bit. I did a lot of silly things. I started a part-time job I hated, started dating a guy called Alec, and had a lot of fun. In February or March, I got the news that I’d been accepted to LSE, and would be moving to London in the fall.

Then, in May, I was sitting in a public restroom at a mall in East County, San Diego when I got a text from a high school friend called Amy. It said something like, “I don’t know if you’ve heard, but Kathleen overdosed and there’s going to be a memorial in a few weeks.” And I didn’t cry. I just texted her back to clarify the situation, that Kathleen was really dead, and that was what happened. It wasn’t until later that day, in the middle of having sex with Alec, that I first cried about it.

I went to a breathing circle a few days later hosted by a lovely man called James who had been in my yoga teacher training. I kept feeling close to Kathleen, but like she was on the other side of a glass wall and I could see her but not reach her. I got up from my yoga mat and went to the bathroom and sat on the toilet and spoke to her. I told her I wanted her there with me, that I needed her. And then, almost visually, almost physically, I saw her in front of me, and she turned around and stepped backwards into my body. And all of the hilarious moments we’d shared and love I felt for her flooded through me, and when I went back to the breathing circle I could feel her there in me in every breath.

I think it was the next day that it flipped. I’d come home from a long, aimless drive and got into the bath. And something flooded me again. Whether it was Kathleen or just me or our oneness or something else entirely, I could feel almost maniacal laughter inside me, speaking in her voice, saying “If you want me, then here’s my pain.” It’s so real to me I can still feel it just writing this. I felt it walking back to this room, just thinking about writing this. I took a razor and cut my stomach and my thighs. It was summer, and I wear shorts a lot, but every inch of skin that I could reach that nobody would likely see, I sliced it. Not deep, but it still stung.

I told my boyfriend a few days later that I loved him. I wasn’t in love with him, but I did love him as a person. And I cried when I said it. I cried because I couldn’t stand the idea that he would die too without me saying it, even if I wasn’t even sure it was true.

He broke up with me a week later. I was drunk, again, maybe psychotic, again, crying and screaming, again. I was unemployed, again. I wasn’t getting along with my roommate, again. It was a month and a half later that I was drunk, yet again, maybe psychotic, yet again, and suicidal, once again. I got into the bath, once again, and cut my arm with a knife. The cuts weren’t deep. I sent a lot of dramatic texts to my two best friends at the time, and Felicity 5150’d me.

Cops came to my house. They sat me on the bed. They told me they were there to take me to the hospital. They wouldn’t let me leave. They wouldn’t take no for an answer. When I tried to get up, they pushed me back on my bed and handcuffed me. They drove me to the hospital where I was intended to be under a 72-hour psychiatric hold.

I talked my way out of the hospital after a few hours. The cuts on my arms were so minor, barely enough to break skin. I seemed calm. I could speak normally. I could crack jokes, and funny ones too. Felicity drove me home. My mom came down. I went back to stay with my parents.

I went to see my sister’s psychiatrist, who then became my psychiatrist. She diagnosed me with bipolar 2, put me on Lamictal, and said I should maybe defer my move to London until I’d stabilized on the medication. I had a severe allergic reaction to my medication and had to go back to the hospital 2 weeks later. I spent the night there, then went back to my parents’ house, then back to the hospital the next night, then home with my parents from there. My psychiatrist was hesitant to try me on medication again. I went to my uncle’s farm on Lopez Island in Washington, this time intending to stay in his trailer for a bit. I deferred my move to London, then ended up moving back in with my parents after a week. I got put on Abilify, I wasn’t allergic to it, it seemed to work.

In August, in the trailer, I started writing my second novel, Genesis. I didn’t know if it would be a novel then, it was just therapy for me. In early September, I moved back to San Diego and started working for a radical queer rights nonprofit. In October, we got the news that the organization was going to have to shut down due to funding issues. I started dating my then-boss, LC. This was my first romantic relationship with someone not born with a penis. My parents were supportive and accepting, but a bit confused, because gay or queer or bi or whatever was never something they’d thought I was before. In truth, neither, really, had I. Anyway, we fell in love. We moved in together. We came up with a plan to pull our nonprofit out of the gutter, and for a while it seemed to work.

(2015) LC and I broke up in April I think. I left my job. I went drunk-maybe-psychotic again, and went back to my parents’ house for a bit to figure things out. I kept living in the house in San Diego with LC. It was rather horrible then (though we are friends now, and we still speak now, and I love them dearly).

In June, I moved to New York for the summer to intern for a tech start up and mostly get away from that house and that breakup. I started going to yoga again. I ran into another friend from high school, and he offered me a room in a beautiful apartment to live in for free for a month (still grateful dude). The summer ended well, and I moved to London.

I lived in Shoreditch. I fell in love with London instantly. I wanted to do a PhD at LSE mostly just to stay in London, also partially because economic sociology was still really interesting to me. I became friends with a hilarious group of people who were on the whole very different from me. I started doing a lot of drugs, mostly coke. I started drinking a lot. I stopped giving a shit about school. I stopped giving a shit about anything. I thought about dropping out, but I didn’t want to leave London and couldn’t stay without a visa. I decided to apply to film school.

(2016) In April, I walked into a co-working space called Ziferblat and instantly started cracking jokes with the guy working there. I saw a cute man laughing at us from the corner. I went up to him and said, “Who are you, laughing man in the corner?” He handed me a button that said “I talk to strangers.” His name was David. I might have loved him then, or maybe it started that night when we wandered around East London talking about everything and making weird music and playing capoeira in the street and doing what I can only describe as Soul Fucking. He became one of my dearest friends, in what was then a strictly platonic way.

I started studying for exams like crazy, because I hadn’t really worked at all that entire year. I went to Ibiza, took pills for the first time, had such a bad comedown that almost made me suicidal again, and went home for a few weeks to figure things out. I came back, had a lovely hot summer full of lovely hot sex, tried to stop taking drugs, and didn’t really succeed. I finished my master’s at the LSE in August, got my marks back in November, graduated, and on the whole did a hell of a lot better than I should have.

On August 1st, I moved out of Shoreditch and onto a houseboat with my friend Yas. I stopped taking Abilify. I felt like I could breathe a bit now, that I had room to stretch and come back to myself. The change didn’t really start until we’d gotten as far away from Shoreditch as St. Pancras. I didn’t want to be in Shoreditch anymore, I didn’t really want to drink or take drugs. David told me he was about to leave to go traveling, and it clicked in me that I wanted to have sex with him before he went. And then, when I let that love I had for him be sexual in my mind for the first time, some sort of floodgate opened and I fell head over fucking heels. Then he left. I was sad. I was in film school, and insanely busy all the time.

I met a guy who told me he was going to New Zealand, and instantly felt, “I want to go to New Zealand.” And my mind turned around and looked at itself and said, “Really?” And I answered back, “Yep.” I got it in my head that I would drop out of film school after 1 year and go backpacking from India to New Zealand.

At the beginning of November, I went to Amsterdam to see David. We had an absurd amount of sex. We had an absurd amount of harmony together, and spent a couple days living in flow and in love and I felt like I saw him and understood him and he saw me and understood me in a way that’s hardly happened with anyone before in my life. The last night I was there, we took mushrooms and it was one of the most emotionally intense experiences of my life. Everything started to click. A myriad of philosophies and ideas from Hinduism, from Wicca, from Douglas Brooks, from anarchism, from James C. Scott, from Taoism, from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, from communism, from Charles Eisenstein all started to fit together. I knew something big had just happened. I knew I would need time and space for excavation.

Three days after I came back from Amsterdam, I woke up to the news that Donald Trump was to be the next president of my country. I had a panic attack. I could hardly function that whole week. The Monday following, I had a long walk and a long think from school in Covent Garden to my boat in Bow, and I realized I needed to go traveling now. I didn’t have time to wait. The thing that I was onto needed to manifest in me before I could be its manifestation in the world. It needed to happen now. I told my school I was dropping out at the end of the term in December. I decided to start my trip at New Years.

On the 17th of December, I moved out of my boat, got rid of almost everything I own, and went home for Christmas. I came back to London on December 29th, I left for Ireland the morning of January 2nd, and arrived in Scotland January 17th. I’m now at the Findhorn Foundation outside of Forres in Northeast Scotland, sitting in my bed, writing this. Today is my 8622nd day on this planet, in this form.

(2017) Hi. Hello. My name’s Anna.


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