YALL! This is the first in a series of Existing Together Interviews, that will serve as the introduction to the horoscopes once a month. Each interview features a writer whose birthday is during that month - someone who is an inspiring expression of that sign. Astrology is best understood by seeing it embodied / enacted, so this is another way to learn about the signs. It's a way to include the perspectives of each sign that I couldn't provide myself and it's a union of this horoscope / astrology project with my other life project of interviewing and publishing other people's writing and thinking.
We, you and me, are THE LUCKIEST because Virgie Tovar responded to questions right here. I could not be a bigger fan of what she does. Here's her bio:
Virgie Tovar is an author, activist and one of the nation's leading experts and lecturers on fat discrimination and body image. She is the founder of Babecamp, a 4-week online course designed to help women who are ready to break up with diet culture, and started the hashtag campaign #LoseHateNotWeight. She pens a weekly column called Take the Cake. Tovar edited the ground-breaking anthology Hot & Heavy: Fierce Fat Girls on Life, Love and Fashion (Seal Press, November 2012) and The Feminist Press will be publishing her forthcoming book of non-fiction, You Have the Right to Remain Fat (August 2018; now available for pre-order <<< www.feministpress.org). Find her online at www.virgietovar.com.
Follow her in all the ways, read what she writes, take Babe Camp even if you don't think of yourself as someone who is invested in diet culture, it thoroughly exposes an oppressive sea of thoughts you've inherited that you might not even have known you can cast off! Watch her ted talk, read her prolific online publishing, buy her book!
On an astrology note, Virgie, as I see her, embodies an incredible mix of Taurus, Aries, and Gemini - the embodied, practical, pleasure-seeking earth energy of Taurus, the quick-witted intellectual magic of Gemini and the confidence-spreading tendencies of Aries! Read this interview to see what I mean.
1. Under what conditions do you experience the most joy?
Imagine my thinky face here. Well, the first thing that comes to mind is when I get to have a snowy plover from Andytown. For anyone who lives under a goddamn rock, a snowy plover is (1) a beach bird that is cute and chubby, but (more germane to this question) it is also (2) a drink comprised of espresso, brown sugar and bubbly water and topped with homemade whipped cream. First, I love the, like, Marxist queer worker-centered vibe of Andytown. And that kind of vibe also brings me incredible joy. Like in general, any human-centered, artistic, bohemian place filled with fat people and gay people and feminists who don’t smile and people of color is going to bring me joy. Tiny, ridiculous hats bring me joy. Talking about how liberals are actually not the awesomest people – contrary to popular belief (lulz) - brings me joy (on that note, a friend of mine just introduced to me to the song “Love Me, I’m a Liberal” and everyone should listen to it). Talking loudly about dicks in a café filled with tech bros brings me joy. My feet touching the grass or the sand brings me joy. Also: tiny dogs or any dog in a dog wheelchair, babies waving at people or eating, seashells, finding huge earrings for under $5, the feel of a new pedicure, a stranger’s kiss, gaudy necklaces, tiny dresses covered in flowers, lipstick on coffee mugs, having pie with my lady friends, talking shit, Nutella, the way my legs feel right after I shave them and put oil on them, the way jasmine smells, seeing a new place, buying the last amazing-looking cookie, inscrutable high theory, swimming pools and hot tubs, rose quartz, finding someone the perfect gift, sending postcards, putting on butterscotch scented Prada perfume.
2. Do you ever feel that your personal needs are somehow in tension with larger social justice needs?
In general, no. I’m a huge proponent of adopting an activist/justice practice that nourishes you and my own practice mirrors that. I’m a brown fat woman and so taking care of my needs *is* justice work. If you’re marginalized and/or traumatized taking care of ourselves is sometimes the only justice work we have capacity to do, and that’s more than enough, I think. I will say that sometimes I feel like I’m not challenging my worldview or privilege blind spots enough – and I can’t tell if this is a moment for self-compassion or if I need to push through because this is work that I need to really do.
3. If you do feel this tension, how do you deal with it? What helps? (If not, what advice would you give to people who do feel something like that?)
I encourage people to look beyond traditional modes of activism and see what they already do well and are naturally drawn to. That’s the heart of your justice work – what already makes you thrive. I want to tell this little story about something that inspired the shit out of me the other day. I was in Waterbury, Vermont at the Ben & Jerry’s factory. I went for the ice cream, but I discovered on the tour that they are actually a rad company. They are politically involved with issues like climate change and LGBT rights, they work to create better lives and work practices for people who provide their ingredients (like being conscious about the impact on farmers who source their cocoa powder and hiring low income people who need jobs to make their, like, 30 tons of brownies), and they even mix all their discarded ice cream with manure in order to make clean energy! Their guiding question as a business is: “How can we make the world better with ice cream?” And I mean, this is the power of the human heart, right? Like, two dudes thought this up. To me, this means ANYTHING (even, like, Chubby Hubby) when done with loving intention can be part of our justice work.
4. Describe how you see your "spiritual life." What does that phrase mean to you and what are your favorite expressions or practices of it?
Well, I’m super woo. I talk to plants. I listen to Stevie Nicks. I talk to rocks. I see and hear, like, mystical truths in unexpected places (like when I’m listening to music that has no lyrics). I touch trees because they are obviously full of wisdom. I know that we are all connected – plants, animals, rocks, trees, the ocean, humans, the stars – and made of the same material. I believe the universe naturally moves energy pragmatically and ever toward a universal synchronicity and healing. Lately I have been doing more witchy work than ever before, strengthening my work with stones (my favorites right now are rose quartz, smoky quartz, citrine, and selenite). I keep them near my bed with my flowers and my tiny cactus, Lumpy. I spend a lot of time looking at the sky, the moon in particular. I’m very connected to nature and I’m finding more and more space to see other people – like, really, see them (their hopes, dreams, fears, why they do or say weird things, what I can do to make them feel safe and loved). This is about intuition and trusting your body even when your head doesn’t understand something.
5. Who or what makes you laugh the most and why?
My friends make me laugh the most – they’re so weird and observant and smart and introspective and vulnerable and witty and real. We talk about our lives and our feelings constantly – like, before we’ve even processed the feeling we’re talking about it (often we’re talking in order to process a feeling) and it’s done with such art even though we’re dealing with really hard stuff. Like my friend whose life advice to me almost always starts with “you’re really being a heterosexual right now” and ends with “what might this situation look like if you were less invested in heternormativity?” Like my single friends who literally can’t meet a normal human to save their lives, I love their stories about dealing with a Tinder date who talks about being attracted to their mom or the humiliation of getting ghosted by someone who hosts a podcast about marijuana or trying to hide a Coffee Meets Bagel alert after just having had the monogamy talk or what happens when someone who has spent an hour bragging about making 6 figures asks them to go dutch on their duck fat croquette sandwiches while in the BiRite checkout line. Just today I was texting with a friend who was telling me that he’s decided not to go on the tenure track market when he finishes his PhD (which is a really hard decision after dedicating so much time to one discipline) and then we started comparing academia to being in an abusive marriage with a rich dude. Or, like, my friend is going through so much right now trying to raise two kids and so the other night we got together at Mission Pie, smoked weed and talked about the people we’d dated who loved our butts. Or the other night my friend came over to help me clean my closet and she always makes up phrases and then tries to popularize them. This month’s is “toking the daffy,” a reference to when your co-worker smokes too much to do his job properly.
ARIES | March 21-April 19
Question - When do you notice your mind obsessing?
Meditation - a field with a slight breeze.
Assignment - What methods do you have for moving your attention to and away from things? Write about these, give them more credit, give them more space. If you feel at a loss for methods to move your attention from something you don't want to focus on, to something you do, seek this out. Ask questions about how others do this. I'm not talking about avoiding, I'm talking about shifting the attention when that is called for. This is important for you to develop.
TAURUS | April 20-May 20
Question - When are you overly quiet?
Meditation - getting loud.
Assignment - Are there things you don’t say because they seem obvious to you? Do you assume that people will know you are there because you are physically? The physical is so real to you, sometimes you need to remember that you have to say things for others to know what you are feeling. Take note of when you’re quiet this week, or when you’re assuming that something you’re feeling doesn’t need to be said. Especially if it’s feelings of love, or if it’s things you are struggling with. There’s power in speech, and your verbal expression in particular.
GEMINI | May 21-June 20
Question - What is the opposite of thinking?
Meditation - just go back to the feet.
Assignment - You keep thinking that thinking will solve it. You keep asking why. It's not that why isn't important, it's just that it's the question we ask first, when we need to be asking it much much later. You don't have to worry about losing your ability to analyze - it will always be with you. So you can hold it so lightly and experiment with other methods at arriving at what is needed. The mind is just so compelling, it sucks you into its proliferation. But you don't have to do this! Your breath and your feet are calling to you to come back home.
CANCER | June 21-July 22
Question - When do you say everything is okay when it’s actually not?
Meditation - permission to include everything.
Assignment - Sometimes you are such a good mimic, and learn so much through absorption that you can psychically pretend yourself out of certain feelings. I’m not suggesting wallowing, I’m just encouraging you to speak the truth this week, to be honest with yourself and others about exactly how you are feeling. The more honest you are, the more any challenging emotions can be freed and released. The less you try to resist seeing your own pain, the more benefit is possible. Be honest about how you are feeling, whatever it is. Speaking the truth is a great way to express your faith that this, too, is passing.
LEO | July 23-August 22
Question - What images do you regularly consume?
Meditation - input versus output.
Assignment - Look deeper into your image consumption this week, and how that relates to your creativity. What do you filter when it comes to media, photos in your domestic space, art, and other visuals? How intentional are you about this? Consider the relationship between this input, and what you creatively output. Write about this. When do you feel most creative, and least creative, and how does this relate to your media and image consumption? Give yourself the gift of more conscious intention when it comes to this, whatever you decide. Your creative vitality will thank you.
VIRGO | August 23-September 22
Question - When do you give yourself a chance to play?
Meditation - playfulness.
Assignment - Put play on your to do list if you have to, but allow time to do it. Notice the use of the word ‘allow’ instead of make, or use. Just simple allowing, not too much effort. Sometimes you can even lose touch with the feeling of play, and this is a very human, essential aspect of life. Less obligation-fulfilling, more play. Purposelessness serves a very important purpose.
LIBRA | September 23-October 22
Question - What story would your feet tell if they were narrating your life?
Meditation - moving awareness from the sky to the earth.
Assignment - I mean this question sincerely - what story would your feet tell about your life? What perspective would they bring, what secrets would they reveal? How might they illuminate what you prioritize in a way that you couldn’t in your conscious mind? What might they ask you to change about your life? How do they ask to be taken care of? How do they feel? What shoes are they put in? Have a long conversation with your feet and see what they tell you.
SCORPIO | October 23-November 21
Question - When do you notice and connect to the in between moments?
Meditation - routines of the body.
Assignment - Let yourself notice your own body more during in between times. Like the times when you are walking from the bed to the bathroom, or work to your car, or from the stove to the sink. The small movements that our actual lives actually consist of. Scorpio can focus on the big dramas, or the aspects of life that feel more intense, but what might you miss if this is always your focus? What big dramas might be taking place in the small movements you make every hour, every minute? What intensity and aliveness and nourishment and simple appreciation might arise when you just look more deeply into your body and what it is doing when it seems like it’s not doing anything?
SAGITTARIUS | November 22-December 21
Question - When and how do you listen to your body's messages?
Meditation - your body is full of messages to you.
Assignment - Let yourself be tired, then take a nap. Let yourself be sad, then cry. Let yourself be anxious, then expel energy. Let your body tell you what to do. Any stories that disagree with it - be gentle with them and disagree right back. Key word: allowing.
CAPRICORN | December 22-January 19
Question - What does the flow of money look like to you?
Meditation - the intricacy of a spider's web.
Assignment - Focus on the web of connection this week, and examine stories that deny this web or omit it or brush over it. You don't have to do it all yourself. The less you effort to do it all yourself the more independent you will feel, or the less independence or being taken seriously will matter to you. What is something you can ask for help with, and let yourself receive it? How does this relate to your money flow and how more accepting from others might change your money flow?
AQUARIUS | January 20 to February 18
Question - Where is happening with your home right now?
Meditation - a nest.
Assignment - The moon is moving through Aquarius right now, which brings up questions of domestic space, comfort, safety, your home. What is your literal home, what is your emotional and spiritual home? What level of comfort do you have in these places / spaces? What can you do this week to give yourself more comfort? Take care of the places you inhabit right now, as a way of taking care of yourself.
PISCES | February 19 to March 20
Question - What would happen if you refused to adjust?
Meditation - a smooth stone.
Assignment - How good a stone feels in the hand, one that is worn down by water. You're so adaptable, sometimes I want to tell you to not adapt. To see what happens if you don't. To let everyone else deal with it. To let it fall around you and see how you feel. To breathe and be smooth like the stone you have washed with adaptability all this time.