(Originally posted: 5/7/17)
Peace Talks with the Sunday Scaries
Tonight I’m excited to introduce a new Staunchly series: Sunday Self-Care Recipes!
Every week, I’ll offer up a foolproof equation for self-soothing with some tried-and-true “wellness” picks designed to beat back the blues. Or perhaps embrace them. Sometimes to beat the blues you gotta join the blues, am I right? (Whoaaaa. ~Deep~)
It's worth noting that proper self-care is a response to what your body needs, not an excuse for indulgence. It’s a check-in and a tune-up. Sometimes the solution is a long hike up a sea-hugging canyon. Sometimes it’s a McFlurry. There is no judgment in self-care. Just take care of yourself.
This has been a tough, destabilizing week for so many of us. We desperately tried to stop the House GOP from passing a Molotov cocktail of a health care bill, which, if I understand correctly, will be devastating for everyone who isn’t named Barron or Conrad Hilton.
We saw the limits of the resistance but also its awe-inspiring resilience in how quickly people mobilized and protested after the loss. That’s a pretty magical rebound. This is the “bend and snap” of movements.
For me, the past few weeks have largely been a period of numbness split with Trump-era rage. I’ve started to notice the creeping symptoms of my mental illness reappearing— the demogorgon of clinical depression sticking its cold, gnarly head through the curtain of my SSRIs. Yet even at my cloudiest, I’ve felt truly fortunate that, unlike so many others, I have the meds, funds, and support system to help me bounce back.
On that note, May is Mental Health Month. I’d like us to have some frank discussions about mental illness. I can be a little flippant about my own disease. I'll make jokes about being on “Girl Interrupted-levels of Prozac.” And then I'll call it a “disease” and you’re like, sheesh Carey, chill, it’s not lupus. I think the point I'm trying to make is that mental illness can be tragic and funny and everything in the space between. Let’s spend a little time walking in that space this month.
For now, let’s get to tonight’s recipe, designed to cut through any numbness you may be feeling 100 or so days into this administration (or is it just me?):
Whiskey + Wax + Gaitskill
Yes, I suppose it’s odd to start an anti-numbing self-care ritual with a literal anesthetic, but look, if we are going to wax (more on that in a sec), we definitely need something to take the edge off. Also, not sure about the rest of the country, but it is whiskey weather in Los Angeles today, gray and damp, so a couple fingers of a rich and smoky potion like High West Campfire will be very satisfying.
Show me a girl who enjoys shaving her legs and I will show you a fucking unicorn. I recently bought this Bliss At-Home Waxing Kit after seeing it in Audrey Gelman’s Top Shelf and was excited for (what I thought would be) a fast-pass to Skintimate-commercial levels of silky realness. In terms of efficacy, comfort, and overall customer satisfaction, I could not rate this product lower. I tried a tiny strip on my legs and the pain was so unbearable I yelped. Unclear how something so cheerily packaged, so harmlessly teal, could seem so much more brutal and medieval than the same treatment at a spa.
Ok so why am I recommending this? Why have I included this in a self-care ceremony? What is wrong with me? (lol)
Because nothing, nothing jolts you back into consciousness, forces you to inhabit your physical being and confront the exquisite pain of existence (/contemporary Western beauty mores), thus reinvigorating your own sense of your mortality, like viscously tearing wax off your body.
It's basically primal.
So, fuck mindfulness. Give it a try. Smooth some hot gum on your body, wait a few seconds, and pull.
[Also, I understand what I’m recommending to you is really no better or healthier than John B. McElmore’s obsessive nipple piercings on S-Town (spoiler alert?), but c’est la vie].
3. The short stories of Mary Gaitskill
No one does masochism—traditional or bootleg—better than Mary Gaitskill. Take a dive through her short fiction tonight with Bad Behavior or Because They Wanted To and embrace the pain and beauty of such complicated, well-drawn female characters.