Unless you live in a technology-free commune somewhere deep in the rural mountains, you’re blatantly aware that we’re in the thick of a global health crisis. (And if you do happen to live in a technology-free commune it’s unlikely that you’re reading GO magazine, digitally).
COVID-19 is utterly serious and it’s completely shaken up our society, emotionally, and physically. We’re in a collective state of panic and fear, which is only exacerbated by strong government warnings to stay home and practice “social distancing.”
Before we go any further, let’s all send a dose of good energy– and perhaps a Venmo donation for the hundreds of thousands of people who don’t have the luxury of working from home, thus are rapidly losing money or are putting their lives at risk by going to work. *Anyone* with the ability to work from home is blessed and must be kind and giving to those who are not so fortunate.
But regardless of your privilege, let’s get real for a moment. Social isolation isn’t easy. We’ve been reared in a vehemently social culture. Social isolation is particularly grating and strange to those of us who live in crammed, over-populated cities like New York. Even if we’re of the elk who incessantly share “introvert” memes on Instagram, or are always writing long Facebook statuses about what antisocial creatures we are — no one can deny that we’re not constantly surrounded by people all the time.
For we spend large chunks of our lives stuffed into subway cars sharing the same breath and thoughts and dreams as the strangers clutching onto the same metal pole. Our backs touch at crowded dive bars. Our eyes meet as we reach for the same box of pasta in our tiny neighborhood grocery store. Co-existing is intimate. Our energy collaborates with the energy of others whether we realize it or not.
And when all of a sudden, we’re entirely on our own, left to our own emotional devices, it’s jarring.
You might be tempted to turn on Netflix and escape the quiet by throwing yourself into a false reality. This is a totally normal and okay coping tactic. But I think there is some magic in the quiet. We can take advantage of creative magic if we can muster the courage to put down the remote.
Why do you think writers and artists and poets hide out in tiny mountain houses when they’re knee-deep in a meaningful project? Or at the very least ignore text-messages and hole up in their shitty studio apartments?
Because the best creative ideas come to you when you allow yourself to be still. Creative magic appears in its puffy cloud of pink smoke when you’re stewing in your feels. The feels we’re able to avoid by working and drinking ourselves sick at parties and getting lost in the chatter of group dinners. But now that so many of the escaping tactics we’ve come to rely on have been snatched away, we might surprise ourselves as to what we’re capable of creating.
Think of me, not as your lesbian big sister, but as a sort of creative fairy (I was going to say “gay fairy” but then I remembered all fairies are a bit queer). And I’m waving a Gucci-print wand in the air and my wings are wild, (leopard print!) and I’m sitting on your flannel-clad shoulder and I’m whispering creative ideas into your perked up little ear right now. I’m sipping on glitter champagne and I’m telling you about all the projects I think you should dive right into during this eerie-yet-unique time of acute isolation and silence.
1. Write that memoir
You know what I’m certain of? That you (yes you) have a really interesting story to tell. We all do. And even if we haven’t lived particularly outlandish or adventurous lives, our stories are fascinating beyond measure, so long as we tell them with fearless, naked-to-the-bone, honesty.
Even the parts of your life that you think are trite, like the time you bled into your white jeans on your first day of Junior high, are wildly compelling. In fact, it’s often the smallest stories that create the biggest impact. Why? Because they’re so utterly human. And we’re all craving raw humanness right now. There is so much faux-heroic, self-important bullshit swirling around the ever-spinning world, that you simply writing about the first time you got caught smoking a cigarette in the woods behind your school — is such a well-needed breath of fresh air!
What if you made a pact to write one story about your life per day this week? Writing is a muscle just like any other muscle. The more you use it, the easier it becomes to complete an exercise! So if you commit to penning one personal essay every single day, by Friday, you’ll have the banged out five stories, which could serve as the very backbone of that memoir we all know you’re secretly dying to write.
We all have a memoir inside of us, babe. It’s time to put it on paper and set the words you’ve held captive in your brain free.
2. Brilliantly collage the shit out of your home.
I’m of the firm belief that collage is one of the most underrated art forms, of all time. Not only is it fun and cathartic to execute, but it also forces you to gaze into images that please you, glue them down and then display those goddamn beautiful images somewhere in your home, so you and others can marvel in its glory.
I know “vision boards” are considered silly and a bit “woo woo” Northern California for a lot of us, but I believe just letting your imagination run wild, not overthinking the final product, but just cutting out the images you’re called to cut out, and placing them wherever your hands find, is powerful. Those images stuck out to you for reason. Even if they’re dark (purr). You might learn a lot about what’s lingering in your ~subconscious~ through indulging in some collage time.
Pro Tip: Don’t fret if you don’t have poster-board. Who the hell has poster-board (well, I do, but I’m a mentally ill mascara lesbian living in New Jersey, so I don’t count)? Get creative! Use cardboard from your last Amazon (or Etsy, I see you indie babe) package. A cardboard canvas is super dope. Cover up a painting you detest (extra points if you do this over your roommate’s hideous “Live. Laugh. Love” painting from Ikea). Cover up a plastic table! The possibilities are endless.
3. Make a fire playlist.
Remember when you used to make mixtapes and burn CDs for your best friend in high school, the one that you secretly loved, but only knew how to express your top-secret, forbidden love to her, by making wildly emotional playlists you would shyly give her during homeroom? Do you remember how good it felt to deep dive into your emotions and string songs together? And how they were always in a very specific order because there is a ~flow~ to every good playlist, and that ~flow~ — that curation of music and feelings — that is art.
So get on Spotify and make some fire playlists. Make one for a lover. Make a sexy one for your hookup. Make one for your depressed friend! Make a ton for yourself; one that will light you up, one that will inspire you to change all that is negative in your life, one that will let you revel in your sadness, because sadness is such a lovely sea to swim in sometimes, isn’t it?
Oh, and make one that honors your teenage self. Do you remember how music used to save you back in high school? How blasting music into your cheap, giant headphones as you pushed through the acne-ridden masses of the school halls made you feel so much less alone in the ever lonely adolescent world? Music was like a roadmap that always led you back to yourself! Your real self.
And chances are, the music that sparked up your high school heart will still move you. Because you can’t kill your inner-teenager. No matter how hard you try. If that bitch survived high school, she can survive anything.
4. Write something fictional and strange!
Not compelled to your write your own story? Write someone else’s. Flip through a magazine. Land on a picture of a human who intrigues you. Write their story. Where do they live? What do they do for work? How is their day going? Nothing teases the creative libido like letting yourself daydream about the life of someone else. Do this with reckless abandon and creative magic will begin to pulse through your veins like you’ve injected it into your bloodstream with a hypodermic needle!
5. Experiment with fashion + beauty!
Do you know what THE MOST undermined art form in the entire world is? The fashion and beauty arts.
Fashion and beauty are so powerful because they’re art forms that move through the world with you. Which means they are you, essentially. Maybe now is the time to rethink your style. Go into your closet and start playing around. Mix and match shit you usually wouldn’t pair together. Shorts and combat boots. Beat-up sneakers and prairie dresses. Expensive coats with shredded jeans.
Get out your trusty scissors and cut the necklines of the ill-fitted old tee-shirts you sleep in and make them look fashion. Get on pinterest and create boards of looks that inspire you. Spend the day at home in red lipstick and see how that changes your mood. Spend the day at home with goth-y boi eyeliner smudged around your eyes.
Get weird! Don’t be serious or precious. Let your freak flag fly. Your freak flag is your lifeline in this time of isolation. They can take away your social life. Your craft cocktails. Your expensive taxi rides through the lit-up city. But they can’t take away your freak flag. So crawl up into the attic and take her out of the box and start swinging her around, like a real whack-job. Do so in your really hardcore black boots, the ones you’ve been too afraid to wear because you don’t think you are cool enough to pull them off. Your freak flag will assure you, you’re not cool. You’re better than cool. You’re a creative bitch with a style of her very own.
And remember: Stay healthy. Stay sane. Stay creative and connected and KIND during this time.