I Used to Have a Sibling: Three Months (Part III)

Dear Living IRL readers,

What follows is a series of excerpts from a work in progress—a memoir about my experience living life in the world after the death of my sister. Because she and I both grew up online, technology plays a role in my grief. It has strong fingers, has managed to work its way into my endlessly tangled emotions.

I won’t explain much else, other than that this is what I am trying to give you: concrete examples of moments when my grief and technology have interacted. Sometimes this involves phone calls. Sometimes texts. Sometimes emails. Sometimes social media. It’s all always there.

Sincerely,
Becca Spiegel

Thirteen Months
Somewhere in New Zealand

Last night was the first night I’ve spent alone in the last six months. I read Open City and drank
Pinot Noir in the back of the red campervan Jon and I have been living in and tried to catch the
mouse that ran around the van and poked its head out next to a pack of AA batteries. For
dinner I ate dark chocolate and plain Cheerios and before I fell asleep I pored over a year’s
worth of text messages between me and my sister. Like doing a close reading of an ancient
poem, analyzing what was said or not said and finding all of the parts where I could have been
better. Mentally highlighting the repetition of “love” to show myself that it qualified as a
theme. Realizing that there were patterns to our exchanges that I had never seen before.

The motif of medicine and whether or not it should be taken, was working, was worth it. My
feelings of being stuck in my relationship; her feelings of isolation in places both full and empty
of people. We used the word “poop” a lot. She was tired, low, and overwhelmed or happy,
high, and overwhelming. I was busy, unsure, or going for a run, offering unasked-for advice or
platitudes or plane tickets for a visit. We told one another we believed in each other. She was

frightened first by how much weight she lost, then gained; I, by how much food I was eating. A
list of grievances and love, neither one of us writing about particular happiness. Just being and
grateful to be in it together.

I can see how it all adds up now in a sad way— can see on the screen of an iPhone all that I do
and do not miss. Can see what I thought about then that I still think about now. Can see
everything that has changed and will never change and how I couldn’t have done anything to
change it.

 

Featured Image: Becca Spiegel

Looking for more of this series? Find other installments HERE.


I Made a Real Life “thank u, next” List

In January of 2018 I turned to the apps in hopes of finding someone I could love and be loved by. I had reached my late 20s only ever having had 2 boyfriends with a few dates here and there. Nothing had happened organically (it doesn’t help that my version of flirting is the opposite of flirting) so I decided to turn to the modern day classified ads for love and stuff. I certainly didn’t intend or hope to date so many guys, and to be honest, 2018 has left me discouraged that nothing has worked out. 

In fighting resentment and coincidentally channeling Ariana Grande, I’ve turned to gratitude. Nothing has been wasted. Every interaction with another human, even a bad one, provides something to be thankful for. And it goes both ways.

So thank you, to all the guys I dated in 2018, to the ones who caused heartache and the ones I can barely remember.

#1. Thank you for giving me a glimpse of what it could feel like to love someone.

#2. Thank you for showing me that not everyone is compatible with you sexually.

#3. Thank you for showing me that just because you are a decent human does not mean I will like you romantically.

#4. Thank you for being excited about diversity, even if that means Scottsdale to you.

#5. Thank you for showing me humility.

#6. Thank you for showing me there are still softies out there before ghosting me.

#7. Thank you for making dating fun even though I think we ultimately found each other boring.

#8. Thank you for finishing my drink for me so I could drive home. 

#9. Thank you for tacos.

#10. Thank you for telling me you brought your roommate on our date, 15 minutes into it.

#11. Thank you for being nice when we ran into each other after I turned you down for a 2nd date.

#12. Thank you for having an entire date in Spanish with me.

#13. Thank you for the great kiss right before you ghosted me.

#14. Thank you for the coffee.

#15. Thank you for the laughs at happy hour.

#16. Thank you for pushing through your discomfort to allow me the closure I needed.

#17. Thank you for asking the important questions, even at the risk of not hearing what you wanted.

Cheers to 2019, and hopefully a shorter list.

 

This piece was contributed by an Inspiring and Anonymous Author

Interstellar Internet: August

On August 11, we have a partial solar eclipse. This is the fourth in a series of five eclipses in Leo (including that rad total solar eclipse back in August 2017!).

    • February 10, 2017
    • August 21, 2017
    • January 31, 2018
    • August 11, 2018
    • January 21, 2019

Eclipses draw our attention to changes in the ways we experience aspects of ourselves or our lives. Knowing your rising sign can help you better understand which area of your life is being highlighted by the eclipses in Leo. To find out your rising sign, you can use online calculators like this one. Then, scroll down here and find out which  “house” or area of your life the eclipse in Leo is impacting. Take advantage of the extra magic of eclipse energy by reflecting on what has been happening in this area of your life and setting intentions for what you want to manifest. After this eclipse series ends in January 2019, we won’t have eclipses in Leo until 2026.

Tips for reflection:

  • Once you know which house the Leo eclipses have been highlighting, think about what was happening for you around the days of the eclipses in February 2018, August 2017, and January 2018. If you need to jog your memory, take a look at your google calendar or scroll back through your social media.
  • Set a timer for 10 minutes, put your phone down, and put pen to paper. You might be tempted to use a note app on your phone, but we really suggest going analog here. Write down everything that is coming to mind about what has been going on in this area of your life. What have you been learning?

Tips for Intention setting:

  • Set another timer for 10 minutes. This time, write down what you want to bring into this area of your life between now and January 21, 2019. A lot can change in 5 months if you set the right course.
  • Take time to write down three actionable steps you can take toward making these intentions come true.

Leo rising: 1st house of self, body and image. What have you learned about yourself and your sense of identity? As you set your intentions, figure out how can you make more space in your life for the things that help you grow into your power and make you feel strong.

Virgo rising: 12th house of your inner or private life. Use this time to reflect on the aspects of yourself you keep hidden from your timeline. As you set your intentions, visualize yourself embracing the parts of yourself that you have been neglecting or struggling to accept.  

Libra rising: 11th house of good fortune and community. Reflect on the blessings that have come to you through your networks (online and IRL). As you set your intentions, aim to ring in 2019 surrounded by friends and celebrating all the

Scorpio rising: 10th house of public life and career. How has your career has developed since February 2017? If you still aren’t where you want to be, set your intentions by writing down your ideal job description. Fill it with the work that makes you feel alive and useful.

Sagittarius rising: 9th house of intuition, education and travel. Reflect what you have learned from your travel and adventures in the past few years. Not just the highlights you posted, but what you actually experienced and how it felt. As you set your intentions, visualize yourself growing in your ability to trust your inner wisdom. How can you start connecting to your intuition?

Capricorn rising: 8th house of death, rebirth and sexuality. How has your life changed since February 2017? What has died, or come to an end, so you could get closer to where you are now? What do you still have to let go of to get where you want to be?

Aquarius rising: 7th house of committed partnerships. Are your current commitments (romantic or in business), charging your up or draining your energy? If the answer is the former, it might be time to set some boundaries.

Pisces rising: 6th house of health and work conditions. If you aren’t feeling your best, this eclipse is a great opportunity for a midyear reset. visualize yourself feeling physically and emotionally nurtured. What rituals and routines can you integrate in your life to get there?

Aries rising: 5th house of creative and erotic energy. The artist within you demands to be seen. Reflect on the ways your creativity has evolved during the past few years. It’s not possible to experience or make too much art, so set your intent to make more time for it.

Taurus rising: 4th House of home and family. What has shifted in your family and home life since 2016? Are there spaces you are trying to fit yourself into, rather than finding (or creating) somewhere you truly belong? Visualize yourself surrounded a family (bio or chosen) that embraces the fullness of your humanity.

Gemini rising: 3rd house of thinking and communication. Take note of important communications that occur from August 9-11. Reflect on what you have you learned about your style of communication during the last few years. Are you speaking your truth? Remember: you have to be honest with yourself before you can be honest with others.

Cancer rising: 2nd house of value and assets. We can change our communities and the world for the better, but we need the full expression of your talents to do so. Reflect on the ways your current work environment is or isn’t valuing you and what you bring to the table. Write down your greatest strengths, and the ways that you can use them to bring about the change you want to see.

Sun Signs and Rising Signs

You probably already know your sun sign. Your sun sign is your core identity, and is calculated based on the day of the year you were born.

In astrology, The rising sign (also called ascendant) is just as important as the sun sign. Your rising sign represents the way you present yourself to the world. It is a big part of your personality and how you interact with the world, and can show up in your appearance and attitude.

Your rising sign is the sign that was rising over the eastern horizon when you were born. The rising sign changes every two hours, so you need to know your time of birth to get an accurate answer. Some birth certificates unfortunately don’t list your birth time, so you may need to rely on a parent’s memory. To find out your rising sign, you can use online calculators like this one.

 


When I Learned I Was An Alien

I’ve been thinking a lot about the one time my family was detained at the border for (at least what felt like) an entire day when I was a child and how scared I was. This, despite having papers and being nothing but upstanding citizens. It was the last time I crossed that particular border. I remember asking my mom why they called immigrants “aliens.” It was the first time I had heard the word in that context . It was on a poster on the wall. I thought aliens were green with antennas. My mom thought that was cute. It was the first time I realized I was an alien. Weird.

How we call humans aliens. Like we’re not all of the same earth. I remember wondering if we were in trouble even though I knew full well we hadn’t done anything wrong. I remember thinking they didn’t need a reason to do anything to us. We’re aliens. I most of all remember having my mother there to hold my hand and tell me we were okay, especially when my dad was taken out of the room. I remember holding on to her hand so tightly. And that experience pops into my head every time I’m at an airport. Every time I fly internationally. Every time someone looks at me uncomfortably in a public space. I remember that I’m an alien and that’s enough of a reason to treat me differently and to not see where I’m coming from.

This isn’t a country that wants immigrants. It hasn’t been that country for a while, especially for those running from authoritarianism, from war, from famine, from the effects of climate change. I am Asian. My family is highly educated. I am highly educated. I am of the privileged few. And yet these experiences still follow me. We came here because we had options, and I’m not kidding when I say I would give up my spot for someone who does not have that privilege. Though, I would argue there is certainly room here for us all.

Removing children from the people whose hands they hold when they’re afraid is a disgrace. It may not be a violation of any human right written anywhere, but it sure is an inability to see the humanity in others. Gathering families running from horribly dire situations and locking them up, together or apart, is yet another inability to see the humanity in others. It has long term impacts on a child’s (and eventually adult’s) psyche. It is so much more than just a simple detainment. This isn’t about what is legal or illegal, but about the ability to see the root cause, to see where others are coming from, what others are feeling. Fundamentally it’s an inability to care for experiences that aren’t our own.

Just something I’ve been thinking about lately.

 


I Used to Have a Sibling: Three Months (Part II)

Dear Living IRL readers,

What follows is a series of excerpts from a work in progress—a memoir about my experience living life in the world after the death of my sister. Because she and I both grew up online, technology plays a role in my grief. It has strong fingers, has managed to work its way into my endlessly tangled emotions.

I won’t explain much else, other than that this is what I am trying to give you: concrete examples of moments when my grief and technology have interacted. Sometimes this involves phone calls. Sometimes texts. Sometimes emails. Sometimes social media. It’s all always there.

Sincerely,
Becca Spiegel

Three Months
Long Beach Island, New Jersey

Online Community exploring how millennials live authentically in an internet culture.

It’s summer and I haven’t been wearing my watch. I went for a walk along the beach yesterday and had no idea how long I was gone.

I tried to think about nothing. Tried to focus on the blueness of the sky and the shapes of its clouds and feel the sun and the sand burning my skin. Instead I thought about names I might give to children I don’t have. I thought about wanting to have kids just so I can name them after my dead sister.

I’ve been trying to read books, to scroll through pictures and posts, to eat cherries and spit out their pits, to go on hikes and walks and runs, to watch Orange is the New Black. I’ve been trying to be 24. I’ve been trying to be tired enough that I’ll fall asleep at night. Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s harder. Two weeks ago I became so anxious that I could not catch my breath for I don’t know how long.

I try to remember if there were stretches of time like this one: months that went by when I didn’t talk to or hear from Emily. Because it still feels possible that she’s only gone because she’s studying abroad. Like my friends’ little sisters, who are all turning 21 or graduating or giving toasts at weddings or doing anything that living little sisters do that big sisters then post online. When I “like” their pictures what I mean to say is, “Be so grateful.”

I couldn’t wait for you to leave. I drank to your departure from New Orleans on the last day I saw you because your depressed visit had been so draining and then four days later you were dead. So I’m trying not to think about how long it’s been and I haven’t been wearing my watch.

 

 

Looking for more of this series? Find other installments HERE.