Escaping Alive from Dekalb Market and Saturn Return

A Week In the Worst Month of the Year

“Mood follows action,” a March mantra for chronic overthinkers

Monday: I spent the morning completing my application for a school I’m hoping to get into in the fall. It was Purim, a Jewish holiday of which I only vaguely understand the premise, but am certain the phrase “they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat,” is applicable, as it is with most of our holidays. After submitting my application I made the pilgrimage to Downtown Brooklyn to run some errands. Within a ten minute walking radius there’s a Target, a Trader Joe’s, a Whole Foods, another Target, a Stop n’ Shop, and a row of outlet stores otherwise known as fast fashion purgatory; they all seem to sprawl from the looming shadow of the Barclay’s Center, a demonic structural homage to capitalism himself.

In my usual leave-me-the-fuck-alone manner, I was walking fast, faces pass and homebound, when I noticed some young women standing outside the entrance of the Trader Joe’s in Dekalb Market; they were handing out small boxes that looked like happy meals. On my way out of the store, one of them tried to ask me something but my pace and noise canceling headphones reduced it to “are you ooiwejr?” I felt a tinge of guilt for ignoring her, she couldn’t have been more than 20 years old and whatever her mission was for that day, being stationed in Dekalb Market was a punishment unto itself.

Compressed into the bowels of the City Point building, it houses 25 different vendors, but it’s about a fraction of the size of a food court you would find in a traditional mall. It is a loud, windowless, neon carnival maze in which you could buy an empanada from one place, follow it with a crepe from another, and wash it down with a pint from the brewery, all while enjoying the dulcet sounds of screaming toddlers at your communal table thoughtfully wedged underneath the escalators. The marketing behind trying to make this place “cool,” is truly a wonder of 2017 Brooklyn pretension.

Still, I managed to escape unscathed with my harvest chili and ranch seasoning, and began walking to my next stop a few blocks away. I was still coming down from the sensory nightmare when I was intercepted by another young woman at the entrance of the Whole Foods. I realized that this was my chance at karmic redemption from my previous snub, so I took my headphones off and paused, “I’m sorry, what?” “Are you Jewish?” she asked. In myriad other places and times on this planet, that question is a trap… but her knee length denim skirt and stockings paired with running shoes was ample evidence of my safety. Not to mention the uncanny innocence in her face. She proceeded to hand me one of those aforementioned boxes and explained that as part of the holiday, Jews are meant to hand out gifts to strangers as a ‘mitzvah,’ or good deed. Technically, practicing Jews are meant to do mitzvot everyday, but handing out free stuff is certainly a fun gesture. In this box there was a chocolate wafer cookie, a bag of pretzels, two hard candies, a hamantash, and two coins taped to the inside. She explained that the coins were for me to give to whoever I please, so that I may also do a mitzvah. We chatted briefly; not surprisingly she’s from Crown Heights, a neighborhood with a sizable ultra-orthodox community. I told her I’m from Bed Stuy (the town right over), to which she replied, “Where is that?” Again, so innocent. With all the ills of the world constantly on my head, I contemplated how nice it must be to live in such a bubble. After we parted ways I made a few more stops then went home. The whole journey took about three hours but it felt like an eternity.

Back at my apartment after unloading my plunderage, I realized I hadn’t taken my depression medication. I’m now on a treatment that’s accompanied by a daily text with a survey designed to track my symptoms. Certain prompts give you a happy face, a neutral face, or a frowny face, to answer. Which I suppose is more succinct than writing the words “worse/the same/improved”… right? Anyway, some days a prompt will ask if I’ve thought about killing myself. I find it so interesting that we’ve come to a place as a society in which such questions are thrown into a checklist as if to say, “well, who hasn’t thought about it but like, have you thought about it… today?” 

Here’s a tip from a seasoned pro: regardless of the treatment you’re on, if you wish to continue it, don’t answer that question with “yes.” Although if you do have your mind set on it and you’re a woman, in certain states now if you just tell the right people that you’ve had an abortion, they’ll kill you for you! 

Sorry… if my sense of humor is any indication of whether or not this treatment is working, well, you can decide. Personally, I can’t tell. But starting Monday, I was told to up my dosage from 60 to 80mg, a negligible increase. Or so I thought. Because right after taking my medication I walked into the living room where one of my roommates was sitting, enjoying the daylight from which he’s otherwise deprived in his $850 a month converted hallway, and we began talking. Unlike my other roommate, the one hoarding two bedrooms who is responsible for relegating any other tenants to said hallway, this guy is pretty easy going. I brought out my McMitzvah box with the intention of offering the treats to him. Instead of just telling him, “Hey! Free food if you want any,” I proceeded to explain with my own loose understanding, what the holiday of Purim celebrates.

Purim Vulvas

“There was this Persian king, whose viceroy Haman, hated jews and wanted to kill them all – what else is new – but the king had a hot wife, Esther, who was very smart and secretly Jewish, who managed to save her people from a tragic fate at the hands of Haman, blah blah blah…” In attempting to explain what a hamantash is meant to represent, I considered all the interpretations I knew. The literal translation is Haman’s pockets, but some folks see them as Haman’s ear, and some see them as his three cornered hat.

I really should’ve left him with those imaginings but somehow I felt it necessary to include the more modern interpretation for these filled pocket pastries, which is that they are Queen Esther’s vulva. Scholar’s have made a pretty convincing case as to why this is actually the most fitting symbol and I’m inclined to agree. But I don’t think poor James was prepared for an impromptu lecture from his skiddish roommate on why she was offering him vagina cookies. 

Alas… 80mg might have had something to do with it. 

More than ever I am struggling to find anything to buoy myself from the sinking feeling that everything is terrible. It’s no wonder given the state of the world combined with… winter. I dread winter every year and this go around has been particularly brutal. But tonight the clock moves forward an hour and the days will become longer, and soon they’ll be warmer, and maybe, just maybe, I will feel warmer with them. Applying to a school for the first time since college is also providing me with a bit of hope. While it’s nerve wracking, it’s also invigorating. The prospect of being able to learn again is keeping me going.

Virgo full moon in Bed Stuy

Tuesday: I completed my first Saturn return. Within the period of a Saturn return one is meant to learn the things that will make them officially “an adult,” (that is at least according to an article I read in Women’s Health magazine). Among the few things I can say I’ve accomplished in these last three years – I finally recorded and released one of my songs. And I even played a few shows! Now before you brush off those achievements as inconsequential, please consider the source. 

“Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.”  – Donald Woods Winnicott.

In my case the desire to hide wins far more often than the impulse to communicate. So, now that Saturn has moved into Pisces, would anyone care to tell me what that portends? Actually… maybe don’t. I consulted a Youtube psychic’s pendulum to ask if I’ll be accepted into the school I’ve applied to and the answer was less than reassuring… so I think I’ll resist trying to get answers. Bracing for life’s disappointments feels like standing in front of a firing squad. If it’s going to happen I’d prefer to be spared the agony of a countdown – just do it.

Ah! Sinking again. Sorry. I promise I’m a blast at parties. Sometimes. 

Wednesday: International Women’s Day. Iran celebrated by releasing poisonous gas into all girl’s high schools. The Christian Taliban did their part in Alabama by proposing an update to their abortion ban to make exemptions in the case of rape or incest. Of course, one would have to prove it, which is not only traumatic but quite difficult logistically. But that’s okay because if you can’t prove it you could go to jail, which is better than South Carolina’s new bill proposition which states that anyone who’s had an abortion could face the death penalty. Happy IWD indeed. I took an edible and watched “The Banshees of Inisherin.” It was beautiful. It will not win the Oscar. 

Thursday: Of the hundreds of job applications I’ve submitted over the last three months I actually got an interview. This is a win… right? I closed the day by watching “Triangle of Sadness.” It had some satisfying moments but it was otherwise about 45 minutes too long. It will also not win the Oscar. 

Friday: Silicon Valley Bank collapsed. I don’t exactly know what that means except that a bunch of rich people are mad and that brings a bit of peace to my soul. 

Today: I am attempting to write and publish a piece without falling into the spiral of revisions that prolongs the completion of my work and so often precludes me from sharing anything at all. Maybe later I’ll check off another movie nominated for Best Picture. But I will most likely be scrolling through TikTok until my edible kicks in. 

Tomorrow: The Oscars. This time last year I was in LA. My friend invited me to join her at a viewing party where I was no doubt in the company of folks with insider knowledge, (I don’t care how honed your instincts are, you don’t win every bet you place unless you know the outcome). The whole experience was surreal, as driving to the viewing party meant navigating traffic around the blocked off parts of Hollywood Boulevard where the event itself was taking place. It was strange to realize that this glittering spectacle of self aggrandizement that I’ve watched every year since I can remember, actually takes place in sweltering Los Angeles daylight.

I hope it rains.

Of course, I don’t know what’s to come of things in the future, and as much as I love a good tarot reading or pendulum swing, I am still at the mercy of fate. I can only focus on the good things in my life, for which I’m so grateful. Spring is coming. I’m writing this. Maybe I’ll publish it. Maybe I’ll get some good news soon. I’m gonna go for a walk.