lethargy & optimism

Every November, I experience a particular, familiar fatigue, the same repetitive thoughts from the year before. It is the season when chronic suicidal ideation strengthens, when it takes root and rapidly solidifies itself in my brain, my blood, my heart and I want to give up. My neighbours choose one sad song and listen to it on repeat for hours, and I cannot escape for my body is in pain, it’s raining, and I cannot afford a coffee every time my home feels to confining for my weakened joints and scattered brain – so I teach myself a cognitive trick, pretend my neighbours know how I’m feeling, care how I’m feeling, and are playing my favourite song in an effort to comfort me from the other side of our too-thin walls, in a crumbling building older than my grandparents, walls with more stories than I’ll ever be able to know.

Each morning, I wake up surprised to begin another day. I slip off my eye mask, put on my purple glasses, take out my swimmer’s ear plugs and place them back in their plastic case, and turn down my white noise machine – not off, just down. I have lived through days that felt impossible, I have felt like the cliché of the phoenix rising from the ashes again and again, I have felt like a caricature of a borderline, and I have felt both re-energized and motivated, and lethargic and fucking bored. My heart feels heavy and my limbs feel weak.


A small corner of my birth chart. Every Scorprio season, the Sun sets aflame the influences of Saturn (rules, structure, boundaries…), Mercury (communication, connections, processing), and Pluto (darkness, shadow sides, destruction of illusions…), as well as my South Node (habits, lessons from the past, gifts, & un/learning…), and asteroid Juno (relationships & partnerships, issues with jealousy & trust…) all at once. Fuck you, Scorpio season.

Lately, I’ve been crying everywhere. I cry on every transit ride I take, I cry in waiting rooms and cafés, I cry at home, in bed, and on my floor; I cry at the post office, the park, bookstores. I cry while I’m performing, cry when I hear about another event I’m missing out on, cry when I feel left out or forgotten, cry when I’m bored of crying. It’s still new to me to be able to cry, especially to be able to cry in public, without also wanting to die – the first time it happened, I was on a bus, on my way to a doctor’s appointment, and the driver had scolded me for not waiting close enough to the bus stop, but remaining at some distance, where there was a bench – he did not want to hear about how I can no longer stand up for the length of a song, let alone an unpredictable bus schedule. So I cried, but I wanted to live. And that was new.

It’s not always like that, though, especially in November – sometimes I do still want to die. It’s always been a difficult season for me, but with my ability to walk becoming less reliable, and with less access to basic needs, each struggle compounds one another until it seems futile to continue – embarrassing, even. When I imagined making art, offering Tarot readings, writing another zine – I felt this awful foreboding, like anyone who saw it would think, How dare you? How dare you try to live? How dare you try to connect, to support, to share, to ask? Why bother?


I turned thirty a month ago. My twin came to the city, and we launched our split zine, Telegram #38 / Critical Breakfast #1. Among other things, we wrote about our Return of Saturn, which happened last November. Although it is not uncommon for me to cry while reading, it surprised me when I did at our launch because I hadn’t been feeling anything beforehand, hadn’t been feeling anything as I was reading. I laughed about it and kept reading – my throat choked and tears appeared, but I didn’t feel much. I am accustomed to feeling numb. Afterward, I offered pay-what-you-can Tarot readings, shuffling the vibrant cards of my Magic Mirrors deck, holding a small space, sometimes painful and sometimes sweet, for each question, each story.

You can buy our split zine through my Etsy, schoolformaps.etsy.com or my twin’s zine distro, Fight Boredom. In Telegram #38, I write about my Return of Saturn and turning thirty, learning how to interpret my birth chart, astrology as a method of self-exploration & healing, reconnecting with past selves and memories of being a teenage witch, practicing Tarot in daily life, lost time, friendship & jealousy, fragmentation, learning how to love myself, and recovery with trauma and chronic pain. In Critical Breakfast #1, Amber Dearest writes about her Saturn return, synchronicity, a bad landlord, working as a lab rat, sobriety, building self-confidence, and an auspicious Tarot reading.

I had no plans for this age, and I still don’t. I have no solid goals. My health is too unpredictable for long-term plans, too precarious for creating step-by-step guides to making dreams come true, for “manifestation,” for imagining anything beyond next week. But despite not knowing where the water will come from, not knowing what the harvest will look like, despite the seemingly toxic soil and shadows obscuring the sun, I plant seeds. I scatter them, not counting them, not noticing their shape or colour, not knowing if they’re root vegetables, healing herbs, or trees where squirrels will play; maybe they’re nothing. Maybe they’re already dead. But I have them. They’re mine.


This Fall, I began offering online Tarot readings through my Etsy shop, and I am now offering readings in my home in downtown Toronto as well. I live in a little bachelor apartment I’ve named Amethyst Cove, and I’ve set up a small space, deep violet meditation cushions on a fluffy lavender rug on my kitchen floor, where we can explore the cards together. My spirituality is grounded in my ongoing experiences with madness and disability, and my Tarot practice prioritizes mad folks, crazy people, disabled folks, queers, trans folks; and writers, artists, and weirdos. Let’s collaborate with one another to create a space that is healing, inspiring, compassionate, wise, re-energizing, and caring – and, of course, confidential. My readings are also pay-what-you-can! Please read on for more information.

Zines, Tarot readings, blog entries, texts to friends, appointments, workshops, books, a cup of coffee – to carry the lazy but apt metaphor – they’re all seeds. I dare. This is how.

Goallessly Yours,

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making spaces accessible & scent-free to create opportunities for friendship, connection, & support!

I’ve been telling my pals I’m gonna write a blog entry about Multiple Chemical Sensitivity soon, but have been avoiding it because I don’t like talking about it. But it feels like it’s time now, so I’ll give it a try! First, I just wanna say that this is not intended to be a comprehensive text or resource about MCS; I’m not gonna say everything that could be said about it. I can’t. It’s just a few of my own experiences, my own stories, offered as a contribution to the information already available, and I hope it’ll get folks to feel some feelings about accessibility, disability, and chronic illnesses. I also wanna note that I’m not gonna try to write this well, or eloquently, or anything, because I don’t feel like it. The subject wears me out.

I’d also like to note that many disability justice activists and artists have already been talking about creating scent-free spaces for years, with various perspectives – certainly before I knew it was a thing and took it seriously, and definitely before I developed a chronic illness myself. I’ve also been talking about MCS in zines and online for a couple years, but it’s a daily frustration (read all those links before you try to talk to me about it!), so I’m bringing it up again.

When I write about accessibility, I prefer to share my own feelings on how it feels to lose access to spaces many of my pals can take for granted, to become ill in spaces that I am meant to be a part of, that I want to be a part of, but often can’t. There is magic in disability, yes!, but much of my experience of disability involves loss and disconnection. I don’t wanna write anymore how-to guides or try to convince non-disabled people give a fuck about me. I’ve tried being mean about accessibility, and I’ve tried being patient and kind. I don’t know what else to try. So I’ll try this.


Like every other illness I have (I won’t write a list here, but I recently filled out some forms on which I was able to name fourteen diagnoses I’ve been given! Gosh!), MCS affects me in every moment, everyday, no matter where I am or what kind of headspace I’m in. I get sick and I get sick often. I didn’t always have MCS. I began to get sick from synthetic scents and cigarette smoke when I was in my early- mid-20’s, and it’s gotten progressively worse since then. When one has MCS, as well as various other disabilities and chronic illnesses, no space can be truly, fully accessible – often, not even our own homes, especially if we live in shared buildings or have roommates, etc. But we can work toward making spaces as accessible as possible!

Thanks to MCS, some of the places I get sick are: cafés, libraries, sidewalks, transit, theatres, concerts, readings, events, zinefests, parks, waiting rooms, bookstores, friends’ homes, and my own home. And that’s an incomplete list! Not everyone with MCS is allergic to the same things, or gets sick in the same way. Some folks are allergic to perfume and cologne; others are allergic to essential oils and incense; some folks with MCS are allergic to cigarette smoke, and others are smokers! Some folks will get sick right away when they come into contact with scents, others will get sick later.

For me, MCS does not operate on its own. It’s interconnected with my other illnesses, mental and physical. I have BPD, complex-PTSD, and fibromyalgia; among many other things, some of the physical manifestations of those conditions, for me, are fatigue, chronic headaches and migraines, and multiple chemical sensitivity. I like to think that my friends are conscious and knowledgeable about how to make spaces accessible for folks who’ve survived trauma, since so many of us have, but in my experience, MCS has almost never been taken seriously. My accessibility requests are inconvenient. People get miffed when you tell them scents make you sick! Like with so many of my conditions, I am just being “too sensitive.” And I don’t look sick enough, so it’s not real.

When I’m in a space where folks are wearing scents or smoking, I get nauseous and am unable to breathe, I have panic attacks, and I get a headache which often becomes a migraine, which leads to puking, weakness, and becoming bedridden, sometimes for days. I once had a four-day migraine that led me to ER. Sometimes scents can trigger traumatic flashbacks and dissociation. I keep a whole lot of meds and other fun things on me at all times, but it’s not always enough (and I’m on Disability, which covers some meds, not all them, and absolutely no other forms of treatment for physical and mental health conditions).


Losing access to spaces means losing access to friendship, connection, meeting new people, gathering with friends, experiencing performances and readings, supporting friends & artists, etc.; it leads to loneliness and isolation. If someone already has a mental illness that involves chronic feelings of emptiness, loneliness, and isolation, spaces becoming physically inaccessible will exacerbate those symptoms.

I’ve been losing my ability to walk for a few years. I’ve been using a cane for a year and a half, but sometimes I can’t walk at all. Sometimes when I’m walking, I look totally okay, like I’m not experiencing pain at all. Sometimes people tell me my cane is cute, and they think it is an affectation, not a real thing. Other times, I do look sick, and I have a great deal of trouble walking. Sometimes I crawl through my apartment or cling to the walls for support. I have collapsed in public, alone, more than once, and not been offered help. A couple weeks ago, I fell, and I curled up in a ball on a busy sidewalk with my cane by my side for nearly half an hour before anybody asked if I needed help. I never, ever look sick enough.

MCS becomes more difficult to navigate with a chronic pain condition, and an unreliable, unpredictable ability to walk. I’m not sure if I know anyone with MCS who doesn’t also have at least a few other health conditions to take care of, including chronic pain. When someone wearing scents enters a space I’m in, I can no longer rely upon the option of simply getting up and walking away (not that I should have to). If I stay or if I go, I will become ill.

I don’t expect the planet to become scent-free. However, it’d be cool if my pals made efforts toward creating scent-free spaces anyway, to offer us just a few hours of justice and accessibility in an inaccessible world; I might get sick on my way to your event, or on my way back home, but it’d be cool to have the experience of being in a space where my accessibility requests are respected, and where I can hang out with my friends without worrying too much about puking on them or having to leave and miss out yet again (or stay and miss out anyway because when I’m triggered by scents, I am barely able to focus on conversations going on around me or stay present anyway). And maybe this request could go beyond one-time-only events and become integrated into our daily lives.

If you’re holding a scent-free event, it’s important to have a plan in place for if/when folks arrive wearing scents anyway (I’ve never, ever gone to a scent-free event where every single person was scent-free! And I’ve gone to scent-free events where the organizers were wearing scents!), and it is not up to folks with MCS to implement this plan; we’re gonna be busy trying not to puke, so someone else will have to approach them with the ol’ accessibility policy and ask them to wash off their scents or leave, okay? And I don’t want to judge anyone, or shame anyone, but I also don’t always have the patience to explain to folks why accessibility matters, and why their feelings about how very difficult it is to respect disabled folks’ accessibility needs don’t matter to me. That’s what “allies” are for.

And this is a fine time to note that you might as well become an ally (as much as I hate that word, and must remind you that it’s a verb, not a noun) now, because you will certainly become disabled at some point in your own life, and you’ll join my side of the struggle, trying to convince your pals that your experiences are real.

Sickeningly Yours,

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friendship, jealousy, & fear of being forgotten

I’ve been grappling with the idea of paranoia as an intense expression of one’s fear of being abandoned or forgotten. I am thinking of abandonment as an experience that happens to one before they have learned how to speak, and happens over and over in different ways as one grows up, creating such an intense fear that it becomes unclear which thoughts, emotions, and behaviours are rooted in that fear, and where that fear itself began. And I am thinking of being forgotten as less intense or intentional, less definable, but, the thing that happens accidentally, perhaps when two or more people with the experience commonly labeled as ‘lack of object constancy’ stumble into one another, share a moment of joy and validation, and then forget to call back, forget to reconnect.

I’ve also been thinking about what it means to prioritize friendship (or, to be more specific, to prioritize queer disabled mad femme friendship) when many of us are not fully “healed” or “recovered” and maybe never will be. (I know we all have different feelings about recovery and healing; my personal belief is that I am never going to come to the end of this path, realize my one true self, and be done with it – I will be in this process until the day I die: healing, recovering, learning, practicing…) When each person involved is sick in some way, or in pain, or crazy, or traumatized, or disabled, or broke, or all of the above and then some. When we all have our reasons for not being able to be present, physically or emotionally, as often as we’d like to be.

My friendships feel fragmented and inconsistent; but sometimes they feel joyful and magical, too. How can I find a safer balance of these feelings? Can I hold them all at once? How can I seek deeper connections? How do we learn how to trust and support one another? What does it mean to be visible through ones’s art & writing yet still feel deeply disconnected? How can we help one another feel validated, affirmed, and seen? Trauma, chronic pain, and anxiety all contribute to my friendships feeling detached or disembodied in some way, kept at some distance from my heart, reaching out but feeling incomplete; yet, if I were given the option never to have experienced these disabilities, I’d say no.


Three of Cups: The Wild Unknown, Radiant Rider-Waite-Smith, and Kitty Kahane’s Magic Mirrors

The Three of Cups, for me, represents my ideal feelings of connection and friendship, including the fleeting and impermanent ones, because they are necessary to keep on going, too. This card often appears when I need a reminder that when I’m feeling lonely or disconnected, I do have good friends, I have the potential for working toward meaningful friendships, and unbelievable as it may seem, I have friends who think about me and care about me when I’m not around. I like to imagine the Three of Cups as a coven that has come together to deepen their practice after surviving trauma, invalidation, and self-doubt. I like to think of them as friends who haven’t always been present for one another, but are learning how to be more present and dedicated in their friendship, and how to share their feelings, their pain and their joy, how to make magic together. They are friends who would not have found each other if it weren’t for all their crazy coping mechanisms that kept them alive so they could experience this moment.

My BPD symptoms have become less visible in my daily life; I am less reactive than I used to be, I am significantly less destructive and self-destructive than I used to be, I am less impulsive, and my life is less chaotic. However, I still have fears of abandonment and being forgotten, issues with a sense of identity or stable, consistent sense of self, difficult and frequent emotional triggers, and anxiety. I have a lot of difficulty with interpersonal relationships, and sustaining meaningful friendships. There are still times when I worry my friends are gossiping about me or even actively organizing against me, making a plan to shut me out for good.

While my imagination can put me in all sorts of scenarios that are likely not actually happening, my fears of abandonment are not entirely irrational (I don’t believe any fear is irrational, no matter how “crazy” or ridiculous it might appear). While many of my fears began in early childhood experiences, I’ve also lost friends, or lost my trust in friends, enough times throughout my 20’s that I know that abandonment, disappointment, and loss are real risks, not just fears to let go (or maybe they are both). One of the emotions that has led to the endings of some of my friendships was jealousy.

Jealousy, for me, is part of my experience of fear of abandonment or of being forgotten. Jealousy is interconnected with fears, resentments, rage, and even, in the past (self-)destructive behaviour. I’ve been doing hard work with this specific emotion and the way it manifests in my life for years, and it still arrives more often than not, tugs at my heart and grips my throat, not done with me. And, as you may already know through personal experience, jealousy becomes so much more complex when we’re surviving experiences like BPD, (c-)PTSD, chronic pain and illness, etc. But those complications give us so many more opportunities to learn, as long as we can rest with them long enough to listen.


Three of Cups: Tarot of the New Vision, The Collective Tarot, Thea’s Tarot

I’ve written about jealousy in the past, and I feel the need to share those pieces again. In 2012, I wrote Creativity and Jealousy: stories, how to deal, & questions, and in 2013 I wrote The Other Side of Jealousy. I don’t usually like to look at my old writing, but when I returned to these entries, I was happy to see that I’d come up with some valuable ways to cope with jealousy that are still useful to me today (even though I’m sure I’d hoped I wouldn’t need them anymore by now), and was also grateful that I’d been able, sort of, to name the fear that each time somebody made a piece of good art, there’d be less space for mine, less time for mine, rather than more.

Lemme say that again: One more good book / zine / blog / idea / performance / event / band / what-fucking-ever in the world makes more space for yours, not less. And I’m not being an arrogant jerk about this; this is a reminder than I need everyday, too.

One of the reasons I’ve worried about being forgotten is because I’ve become less visible in certain ways, sometimes by choice (like by deleting my Facebook account over a year ago, and blogging less), and sometimes not (like no longer being able to travel to zinefests, stay out late at night, or attend/organize as many events as I would like to). These experiences have given me opportunities for plenty of self-reflection, recovery-work, and magic-making, but it’s lonely, too. I’m trying to accept the paradox that the process of recovery can trigger the negative emotions and behaviours I’m recovering from. It’s okay.

I want to honour the part of myself who fears being forgotten, rather than react to it or try to escape it. I want to honour the hermit, the solitary, the quiet part of myself. I want to take a deep breath and know that all of my feelings and worries are valid; they may inform how I interact with the world but they don’t need to control it.

Fearfully Yours,


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let yr freak flag fly: on recovery, feelings, magic, & Tarot

Throughout my recovery, I’ve been reconnecting with my teenage self. I still have some objects that were in my bedroom when I was thirteen. I have the first book about witchcraft I’d ever read and practiced from, some little stones I’d gathered from a witchy shop without remembering their purposes, memories of the ill-fitting band t-shirts I wore (in particular, I recently remembered one of my Coal Chamber t-shirts; it said “LET YOUR FREAK FLAG FLY” on the back and it made me so happy).

When I was fifteen, I bought my first deck of Tarot cards, and I tried to teach myself how to read them alone in my little lavender bedroom filled with pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Marilyn Manson on the walls, sitting atop my twin bed which had been detached from the bunk beds my twin and I shared when we were kids (I slept on the bottom bunk because it felt cozy, hidden, secretive). Back then, I had no friends who were into Tarot (no friends at all, actually), no internet access, no weird used bookstore with an occult section hidden at the back, and I’d never made a zine; no ways of learning what I wanted to learn, or even being able to name what I wanted to learn seemed available to me. I had a couple of books about Tarot and other oracles, but they were too complicated for me to understand at the time.

For a long time, I gave those things up. I’ve spent most of my life being conditioned to think that everything I think, feel, want, is wrong, and magic is something I had to leave to behind to survive. Although I got rid of the Tarot decks I’d begun to collect as a teenager when I left my hometown, I held onto those crystals; I also held onto my rage, my trauma, and my alienation. But so many of the ways I found to survive stopped working; they burned me out and isolated me. So I’ve returned to magic.

After realizing last year that I’d created a life that my teenage self would have adored but my current self was unsatisfied with, I knew I had more work to do. I still have this obsession with the objects of my youth, this gratitude that I have a kind of personal power that I could not attain back then, and yet, I was still so acutely unhappy. When I imagined all the things my teenage self would want by this age (my own little apartment, purple hair, published books, etc), I forgot one thing: feelings. Back then, the possibility of feeling loved, validated, empowered, blessed was outside of my realm of imagination – it was so far away, I didn’t even know I could dream it up, let alone work toward creating the causes and conditions to feel those feelings.

But lately, I’ve been reconnecting with my teenage self in different ways, and seeing new possibilities for creating a life worth living for me back then, and for me today. I remember being told that I felt too much back then, that I was too sensitive – so as an adult, as a traumatized Libra, I developed the skill of turning off those feelings altogether. They were so inconvenient. I learned how to not feel at all, but when I did (and do) feel, it was still too much. It’s only very recently that I’m learning how (or re-connecting with my forgotten ability) to feel without being overwhelmed, without hurting myself. I feel like I’ve found this big treasure chest inside me that I’d forgotten I’d buried so long ago!

On July 31st, with the Full Moon / Blue Moon in Aquarius, a true weirdo moon for real, I released my Tarot readings to the universe!

Justice, Libra’s birth card, and the scales on amethyst, for healing, balance, and psychic intuition.

You can now book a Tarot reading with me at schoolformaps.etsy.com!

Tarot is one of the many paths I’m wandering through my process of healing from trauma, mental illnesses, and chronic pain & illness. This is a life-long path, in which I am more likely to be “recovering” than “recovered.” Tarot has offered me access to the wisdom, guidance, and magic I may not have found on my own, and it has new lessons and reminders for me everyday. For me, Tarot offers incredible insight; sometimes a gentle nudge in a new direction, sometimes a rug pulled out from under my feet, and often, more questions. Tarot can be a validating and magical way of taking care of ourselves, understanding ourselves and our surroundings, offering an escape route when we’re feeling stuck, and comforting us when we’re feeling lost.

There are infinite questions to ask the Tarot! My intent is to be open, validating, and encouraging in my readings with you. You may have questions related to creativity, spirituality, recovery, self-care, friendship, relationships, boundaries, healing, self-expression… whatever! I’m here to search for the answers with you, to nurture your inner weirdo, and help you feel more at home with yourself!

My copy of The Practice of Witchcraft: An Introduction to Beliefs and Rituals of the Old Religion by Robin Skelton, a witch who died the year after his book was given to me.

This book was passed onto me from a friend who’d been given the book by her aunt but, luckily for me, wasn’t interested. I used it to start a coven with three of my friends in junior high, whose parents eventually forbid them to talk to me, which did nothing good for my precarious mental health, and I’m still learning about the impacts those situations have had on my current understanding of my health and my psyche.

The Ace of Bones, Nine of Keys, and Seeker of Feathers in The Collective Tarot. What a reading!

I’ve been keeping up my daily ritual of writing gratitude lists. Some of the things I’ve been feeling grateful for lately are: the astrology fundamentals course I was able to take; writing 1,000 words for my next zine; learning about crystals; daily Tarot readings; bumping into friends around the city; feeling re-energized rather than drained after talking to friends; community acupuncture; sunshine; 99 cent nail polish at Honest Ed’s; $2 pizza slices; talking to my twin a whole lot; remembering my dreams; sobriety; getting rid of stuff I no longer need, putting it out on the sidewalk, and watching it disappear; resisting apathy & cynicism; delightful encounters with strangers; butterflies that fly in through my windows and land on my body; femme solidarity; the images captured below!

***quick little content note for self-injury below the photos, as I’m celebrating one-year without cutting myself & wanted to talk about it a little***

The infamous, elusive white squirrel of Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto, Ontario! Some people don’t believe this magical creature even exists, but this weird little squirrel hung out with me for like half an hour on a sunny Saturday morning. A truly special moment for me!

A bunch of crystals gathered on my windowsill.

Zines! This is my table at yesterday’s Midsummer Pop-Up Fundraiser for Toronto Queer Zine Fair, who are raising money toward the costs of hosting an accessible zine fair on Saturday, October 17th! This was the first zine thing I’ve attended for I-don’t-know-how-many-years without having a panic attack, getting a headache, or feeling sick & gross in general. A weird, delightful, new experience!

Oh! And tomorrow night, I will be celebrating one whole year without cutting myself by going to a Marilyn Manson and Smashing Pumpkins concert! A magical experience for both 13-year old me & approaching-30 me! I have lots of complicated feelings about cutting and self-injury, as you know, and while I don’t believe cutting is necessarily unhealthy, and is definitely not bad or wrong or negative or shameful or embarrassing or immature or any of those things that we’re supposed to think it is, one-year cut-free is still a very important date for me to celebrate. As you may know, I started cutting myself when I was eight, and this became a pretty regular survival skill for the next twenty years of my life. So, I’m welcoming myself to a strange, new phase of my life by honouring my past, honouring the music that kept me alive, honouring the skills that kept me alive even (or especially) the ones I no longer need. Onward!

Magic-makingly Yours,

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befriending myself

I feel like I’m in the midst of recovering from emotional / spiritual / physical / creative burnout, and I’m not sure which direction I wanna wander next, but I’m happy to have made it to this place. Now that I have some energy, I find myself unsure of where to direct it. What I’ve been trying to do lately is become more myself, trust myself, embody the Queen of Wands, and write it all down. I’ve been trying to open myself up to new experiences & opportunities, new conversations, new feelings. I’ve been trying to befriend myself. It’s hard work!

I’ve been creating new daily rituals, and inviting some old ones back into my life. One of those rituals is simply drawing a Tarot card in the morning, and letting it guide me through my day. Although I’ve only been drawing one card, I began by drawing three, a quick Past Present Future reading, or, as I referred to it that day, “What the fuck happened? Where the hell am I now? And where am I going?”


I drew The Tower for my past, The Chariot for my present, and Strength for the my future. It does indeed feel like a series of disasters, near-deaths, and everything falling apart over & over is how I’ve ended up here. The Chariot was a reminder that this is a process, a journey, but I do have inner resources & skills to carry me to the next place, even when it doesn’t feel like it, even when I don’t know where I’m going. And Strength, well, what can I say? There are many moments in which I do not feel strong, emotionally or physically, in any way at all, and yet, I know I contain many strengths within me, and that there is strength to be found within all these messes as well, strength within gentleness, sadness, and pain. I’m slowly learning how to embody these strengths, and how to redefine strength as well. (I recently saw a Tarot card in which Strength was drawn as a woman tickling a lion’s belly!)

The crystals in the photo were given to me by a lovely Tarot reader & witch in Toronto who really encouraged me to love myself, trust myself, and fully embody the Maranda I often feel is hidden so deeply within me, or is even way out there, so far away I cannot even find them. She gave me orange citrine for communication & creativity, amethyst for psychic ability, and black tourmaline for protection. I keep them with me tucked inside the little pouch that holds my travel-size Rider-Waite-Smith deck, in my backpack wherever I go.


I wrote a new zine! It’s a split zine with myself! I felt as though I were telling two stories, but they could not be told separately, so, you can read one story, then flip it over & read the other. Telegram #37 Part A is about complex-trauma, resisting & (re-)imagining recovery, creating new boundaries, abandoning identity, navigating the city of Toronto with a cane, the ways the body remembers trauma when the mind cannot, winter survival & disability, embracing the present while mourning the past, self-protection, & gratitude. Part B is about learning how to stay present in my body, choosing compassion rather than empathy, learning about and practicing yoga, naming & learning how to embody my values, how MDMA made me want to stay alive, understanding suicide, & trauma recovery. Read it at schoolformaps.etsy.com!

Recoveringly Yours,

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permission to protect myself

I haven’t written much for a while because I felt like I was (and am) going through all these untranslateable internal processes and I didn’t wanna puke these messy words all over the internet. There’s this strange thing about writing / blogging / zining / existing in public that creates this illusion of no boundaries. I realized maybe it’s my habit of over-sharing that makes people feel entitled to my time, to my energy, to my advice, to more information, to everything (or maybe that is self-blame, and I am in fact entitled to my own personal boundaries no matter what I write). I don’t know. I’ve made myself too vulnerable over the years. I guess that’s what kept me going for a while, but it’s not useful anymore. I’ve been learning how to communicate my boundaries for years, but it still feels like no one’s listening. I hid my blog for six months because I couldn’t handle readers’ expectations of me, couldn’t handle feeling like people were writing at me like I was a therapist or a confessional, or like we were suddenly best friends when I didn’t even know them. I couldn’t handle feeling like I was being looked at but not seen. I still can’t.

Hello Kitty Tarot cards taped to my door. The Devil, Justice, Strength.

I was recently diagnosed with complex-PTSD, which helps clarify all kinds of stuff in my life, and it also makes me want to retreat from certain spaces to focus on my recovery. I’ve said about a thousand times over the years that I need to “focus on my recovery” but I could hardly ever figure out what that meant, and my feelings of obligation to keep all that stuff documented, to share it, to validate all my weirdo pals and strangers, actually just led to this really gross lack of boundaries and an inability to take care of myself. I realized I was using writing as therapy for a long time because more meaningful, competent mental health care (beyond meds) was not accessible to me and, once again, that was useful for a time, it kept me alive, but it’s not enough anymore. I also realized blogging about my mental illnesses, as much as I wanted to share these processes, was hurting me way more than I was able to admit. So, yeah, not only did I hide my blog while figuring out what to do next, I also deleted more than 1,000 comments and 50 entries because I just wanted to get rid of all that discomfort. I’ve been writing out of such anger and pain and I don’t want to do that anymore. I kinda wish I’d written down all the kind words y’all shared with me, but I mostly just remember the harassment. (There is no longer an option to leave comments here. Self-protection, etc.)

A stack of Telegram, my first book, which you can still get here.

I still have a bunch of zines available at schoolformaps.etsy.com, and I’m working on a new one, all about recovery & boundaries & self-protection & letting go & embodying my values and stuff. I’m still learning how to accept that as my chronic pain condition worsens, and as I try to heal all this stuff, a lot of zinester-type things (fests, readings, gatherings, conversations, whatever) are becoming more & more inaccessible to me. I still wanna make zines, but I’ve also got to mourn the things I used to be able to do that I can’t anymore (and practice the things I can do now that I couldn’t in the past!). There are very real physical and psychic barriers keeping me away, but I’m finding more ways to survive, and to do so much more than just survive. I’ll tell you all (well, some) about it someday.

Self-protectingly (Not) Yours,

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borderline personality disorder, psych wards, & friendship

content note: suicide, self-injury, overdose, psych wards, ableism, transphobia, the usual

I’m writing a zine about suicide, borderline personality disorder, & friendship, but I’m struggling because, gosh, I’ve been writing about these things for such a long time & it feels almost impossible to offer any new insights or hope. I’m also trying write about the ableism & transphobia I experienced on the inpatient psych ward at CAMH (Centre for Addiction & Mental Health in Toronto, Ontario) in May, but I am so sick of writing about gender & ableism & madphobia! I’m so sick of feeling trapped with it all.

Anyway. I’m sharing an excerpt below. Maybe you’ll relate, maybe it’ll explain some of my weirdnesses, I don’t know.

“Lately, I’ve been examining the possibility that it’s my borderline tendencies destroying my friendships, making me feel disconnected, harmed, and scorned. The DSM-5 notes: ‘conflicted close relationships marked by mistrust, neediness, and anxious preoccupation with real or imagined abandonment; extremes of idealization and devaluation and alternating between over involvement and withdrawal.’

Each time I reread those words, I feel like Arthur in Velvet Goldmine jumping up and down, pointing at the TV, shouting, “That’s me! That’s me!”

While I still believe that many of the hurts and traumas I’ve experienced through friendships and communities over the years are very real and very painful, and have had serious negative consequences on my life and my psyche today, I also know that some of what’s going on is my crazy brain and its inability to understand humans, friends, as complicated, complex, contradictory, and magical beings – despite so often declaring myself as such.

This kind of simplistic, all-or-nothing black-and-white good-or bad (binaries!) thinking is a destructive force in my daily life, and it limits how close I can get with my friends, new or old; it limits my possibilities of loving and feeling loved, caring and feeling cared for, and of simply feeling good in each moment.”

A page from I Hate You Don’t Leave Me: Understanding the Borderline Personality by Jerold J. Kreisman MD and Hal Straus

“The system is shit,” the last doctor I spoke to at CAMH told me. I’m glad I kept a diary; reading my messy handwriting, I’m reminded of how much I’ve forgotten so quickly, the daily minutiae of psych ward life, the tiny bits of magic I tried to find nonetheless.

I’ve been admitted to hospitals four times in the last month and a half (twice I went to the ER & was sent home, once I was brought unconscious by ambulance to the ER, and then I was transferred to the psych ward for about a week). In April, I went to the CAMH ER. When the intake nurse started filling out my forms without asking me questions, I interrupted to tell her not to check the ‘female’ box, but to scribble in ‘non-binary, “they” pronouns’ blah blah boring shit I’m sick of talking about.

She cheerfully said, “Non-binary! I’ve never heard that term before! What does it mean?”

“It means I’m not a girl and not a boy,” I mumbled. “With so many gender options on your forms, working in this kind of environment, this term really shouldn’t be new to you.”

“Hey, I’m here to learn, too!”

I took a deep breath.

“I know. But you’re the one getting paid for this, and I’m the one in a suicidal crisis. Your education is coming at the expense of my mental health and your lack of knowledge directly harms queers and trans* folks coming to the ER. I don’t have it in me to teach you right now.”

When I came back to the ER a month later, I pretended to be a girl because I didn’t want a repeat performance of the nurse who thought I’d be an excellent learning experience – but “Non-Binary” was already on my file now, and they confronted me when they brought me into a private room, so I explained myself, but it seemed pointless.

The psychiatrist at CAMH told me she might be able to send me down to the women’s unit, and refer me to women’s only group therapy sessions. I told her that I’m not a woman and wouldn’t be comfortable there; I reminded her that I’d already tried to explain that pretending to be a gender I am not is partly what’s killing me. But she told me the women’s unit would be the best place for me (thankfully, she didn’t actually send me there after all). She told me, “As long as you make it clear to everyone there that you’re female-assigned-at-birth and don’t have a penis, your presence shouldn’t trigger anybody.” I was too exhausted to tell her that it’s this kind of gender essentialism that makes me wanna die, this hopelessness of the mental health care system that makes me wanna die, that she was exhibiting such Transphobia 101 that I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry (I did neither, I was numb), and that being in such a space would in fact be triggering for me and damaging to my psyche and my recovery.

Within two hours, I’d changed my mind from wanting to find a safe place to sleep, to wanting to give up entirely. I wrote my suicide note while the psychiatrist filled out my discharge forms. I walked home and overdosed about an hour later. I was brought by ambulance to another emergency room, fell into a coma for twenty hours, and don’t remember much. Later, I found myself on the inpatient psych ward. I actually didn’t know I’d been in a coma until a few days later, because none of the doctors or nurses told me what had happened, and my memory had been erased.


When a nurse came to my room to bring me a bag with a change of clothes and my cane that my sweetheart had dropped off, she tried to confiscate my cane. Apparently, my sweetheart had tried to warn me via text that the nurse looked iffy about my cane, and to prepare for trouble, but my phone was locked up in the nurse’s station so I didn’t get the message.

She told me I couldn’t use my cane because I might use it as a weapon. I tried to remain calm and explain to her why I need to use my cane, and how confused I was that a hospital of all places would confiscate mobility aids, but she wasn’t listening, and I began yelling. Two more nurses came to my room to back her up. They stood too close to me, and I did begin to feel violent. My cane was folded when they gave it to me, and I unfolded it and used it immediately.

I remember them telling me to calm down and stop telling, that I was annoying the other patients who had just gone to bed. This made me feel the need to yell louder. “I DON’T CARE IF I’M KEEPING EVERYBODY AWAKE! I WANT THEM TO KNOW THAT THIS IS HAPPENING! IF SOMETHING SIMILAR HAPPENS TO THEM I WANT THEM TO KNOW THAT THEY AREN’T ALONE.” Eventually, my screaming became indecipherable; I mostly wasn’t screaming words anymore, just hopeless noise. I told the nurses that if I wanted to hurt them, I’d use my hands, not my cane. I became belligerent, noisy, triggered. The nurses left me alone to scream at the walls and the floor. They let me keep my cane. I thrashed my cane all over the room, breaking nothing, of course, just scuffing up the cheap black metal of it, watching it crumple and bloom again each time it hit my desk, my chair, my bed, the walls, the floor. I curled up in a ball on the floor and screamed until I slept.

Nobody mentioned it the next day, but whenever the nurse who tried to confiscate my cane was back on the ward, she’d refuse to make eye contact with me. I took names to file a report. I found out later that the staff are supposed to offer a walker to anyone who needs a mobility aid, because sometimes people do indeed use their canes as weapons (it sure is tempting!), but since I didn’t have my cane with me when I was admitted (because I was unconscious when I was admitted), they thought I was lying about my disability and didn’t really need it.

I spoke to yet another doctor the day I left and asked her how to get ahold of my file. “Of course!” she said. “You’re perpetually curious!”

Borderliningly Yours,

P.S.: I have a new zine! Telegram #34 is about trauma. It’s not just about PTSD, but also about finding ways to exist in public with these messes and these stories, harm caused by one’s own communities, chronic pain, loss, getting sober and staying sober for three years, madphobia, in/accessibilities, and the im/possibilities of recovery and healing. Magic and Tarot, too, because they keep me going. It’s not gonna be the most fun read. You’ll probably feel uncomfortable. But maybe you’ll know what I’m talking about and maybe we can get through this together-ish.

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