"A woman who could bend to grief, / But would not bow to shame."
From "Vashti" by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

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"Vashti is unlike anyone I've met! She is smart & is so knowledgeable on things that I haven't even begun to think about! She is curious, kind, friendly, & colorful; Both in mind & appearance! She loves and appreciates the small things in life & isn't afraid to try new things." -How my friend would describe me to a stranger.

My name is Vashti & I’m not quite sure how to go about describing myself. I think a lot about someone can be inferred based on their looks alone, so I’ll start with that. I’m a girl & a dyke. I say both of these, because “girl” & “dyke” probably evoke different images in your mind. I’d say both are somewhat true. You could also describe me as a young woman, one that people normally mistake for younger than she really is. Oftentimes people mistake me for still being in high school, even though I’m a twenty one year old college student with a job. I get mistaken for a boy sometimes, too. It’s not all the time, but it’s not unusual either. I don’t mind it, though. In fact, I actually really like it, even though no one believes me & it won’t stop whoever called me sir from apologizing profusely. Straight people often tell me I’m masculine, but I don’t see myself that way, nor do I see myself as particularly feminine. I wouldn’t know where to place myself between the two, because those words mean nothing to me. I think to define something can be inherently limiting, so I’m not going to define myself in those terms. I’m content with just being Vashti.

I have a distinct style, but not one that I have a word for. All of my clothes are thrifted & several sizes “too big,” because their texture really bothers me otherwise. (I don’t think they’re too big personally, but people often make remarks about how baggy my clothes are). My clothing tends to be really gaudy and colorful; It’s just what I gravitate towards. I wear chunky shoes a lot of the time, making me look taller than I really am. The main focuses of my outfits outside of color combinations tend to be clashing patterns & layering. (With all of this being said, as unbelievable as it sounds, I cannot wear mismatched socks)! I really enjoy putting outfits together & it’s a great source of happiness for me. In January I cleaned out my room & closet, getting rid of most of what I had owned, but of what I kept, it was mostly clothes, showing how important they are to me.

I shaved away my dyed hair in January & plan on keeping it this way for some time to come. One day, last year, I found that rather than dyeing my hair for the sake of dyeing my hair, I was dyeing my hair because I felt as though I needed to do it to maintain my appearance. It was simultaneously what I perceived to be an act of vanity & an act of trying to maintain my identity. (My hair had been dyed for so long that it was how people recognized me.) With this in mind, I decided to shave it off, as an exercise in non-attachment. My sister recently told me that “[I] don’t even care about [my] ugly hair,” & it’s the closest someone has come to understanding me in a while.

Outside of my fashion choices, you could describe my appearance as a bit strange, a bit off, maybe. It’s nothing physical about me, more just the way that I carry myself. As a child, I realized that the other girls in school walked differently & talked differently & I did my best to imitate them, & that counterfeit existence almost worked, for a while, but I could never pull it off. I’ve grown up enough now to where I’ve stopped trying: Too much eye contact, too little eye contact, a constant monotone & a blank face with a slight frown; it’s who I am & I’m okay with it. I don’t want to live for others, to mold myself into whatever will make them (only barely) like me. I’d rather be hated like a person than loved like a dog.

I think another thing that says a lot about a person is what they carry with them in their purse. Lately for me, it’s been pretty simple: a book or two or three, my book-light, sunglasses, (or prescription glasses if I’m driving), noise-canceling headphones, my laptop, a reusable bag & cutlery set, an Altoid tin filled with good luck charms, pens & highlighters (rarely pencils), & something to write on. If I know I’ll be out for a while with nothing to do: my tarot cards, my sketchbook, or my 3DS. (As for the purse itself: always big, always heavy, always swollen, keychain covered, pin coated.)

Occasionally, I take my Build-A-Bear frog on outings with me. Not a childhood stuffed animal, but I carry him around the way a child would. I was looking at old photos & saw that in many, I had a stuffed animal in tow. Why did I stop? Did I want to or did I do it because I was "supposed to?" When asking myself these questions, I decided the simple way to answer them was to just start again, like a child. This small decision was a large part in finding myself, who I am when I look at myself outside the lens of others’ (perceived & hypothetical) judgments.

If you were to follow me around for a day, haunting me like a ghost, you’d find that I live a simple & mostly quiet life. I go to school & work, but still have an abundance of free time. I spend much of it writing, usually about my day & my thoughts; a diary. I’ve never described myself as a “writer,” but I realized in January that in keeping this site, I’ve written more than the average novel. Despite this, no one in my life knows this about me, my most mundane secret. I suppose the difference is that “writer” implies that I’m writing for others, when in reality, I just write for myself. Outside of this digital diary, I like going on walks, cooking, reading, & watching movies. I do a little bit of everything, but these are the hobbies that I do the most. In a more general sense, you’d see that in everything I do, I try to make it enjoyable: I cook almost all of my meals, I get dressed each day even when I’m not going anywhere, much of my time is spent by candlelight & in the bath. More than that, I’ve learned to enjoy the feeling of warm laundry & the small piece of solitude & contemplation that I can find in doing the dishes, in walking to the bus on a too hot day.

What I’ve written so far is all things that someone, a stranger, could gather if they looked hard enough, so let me describe Vashti in her own words, my own words: I’m someone who spends much of my life in my head, introspective and contemplative, but lately I’ve been trying to spend more of my time in my body, making it a point to do things that I enjoy. I may not always be a happy person, but I can find pieces of contentment in most of my days. A friend once told me that I’m not an emotional person, but a moody one, and it was the first time someone identified my capriciousness in words, aside from whichever doctor first spoke the words “bipolar disorder” to me. As I’ve gotten a bit older, I’ve learned to manage these feelings a bit better, to the point where they’re merely a hum in my daily life, rather than a roar.

It may be a bit morbid to others, but I go about my daily life reminding myself that this is my one and only life, that I could die today & that my only chance at life would be gone, always cognizant of the fact that it’s going to end. Memento mori is the simpler way to put it. With this in mind, I do my best to live my life in the present, mindfully, while also trying to give myself the future that I want, which for me is to leave home, to go far away. All I want is to move around a lot, to see as much of this world as I can before it’s gone forever. I want to live a life of simplicity & of novelty.

I love to: write, read, interpret my dreams, cook & eat, read my tarot cards, take walks & public transport, get dressed in the morning, take long baths, & spend my days in relative idleness

I love to taste: udon & soba & pho & coffee & sweets & buckwheat tea & miso soup & tikka masala & veggie samosas

I love to listen to: birds chirping, distant trains, & music: Okurimono by Hyakkei, Carrie & Lowell by Sufjan Stevens, Kokou no Gadan by Kyojaku, Halcali Bacon, Manamoon by Serani Poji / Math rock, Shibuya-kei, Vocaloid, & almost anything really!

I love to feel: the sun on my skin, a cool breeze, the weight of my body as I lay down to go to sleep

I love to smell: fresh air, rain, my cooking, & bleach

I love to see, to look at, & to watch: the clouds, birds, the flames of candles, & movies
↳ I see a lot of new movies, because I like to go to the theatre when I'm feeling sad.

My favorite visual artists: Yoshitomo Nara, Maria Prymachenko, Mark Rothko, Yoshitaka Amano, & Aya Takano

My favorite video games: Animal Crossing: Wild World, Style Savvy: Trendsetters, Persona 5 Royal, Fable II, & Stardew Valley

My favorite things to read: classic literature, Banana Yoshimoto, Yotsuba, Junji Ito, & poetry

My favorite movies are: The Thing (1982), Everything Everywhere All at Once (2022), Spirited Away (2001), But I'm a Cheerleader (1999)

I love... so many things: my Build-a-Bear frog, pigeons, jellyfish, clovers, Snoopy, angels, FRUiTS Magazine, stamps & stickers, Calico Critters, Sonny Angels, pins, & keychains

But most of all,

"I love you / I'm glad I exist"

Not lazy, just tired.