This week does not have to be such a big week; this week does not have to bear all the weight of the past and the future, and it does not have to bear the weight of all of your secret dreams. This week, try to give yourself a moment to rest. Take a bath, take a day off, take a minute to watch the sky. You’ve survived so many things already, and all you have to do this week is be very good to other people. All you have to do this week is be kind.
Basically, I realized, I was living in that awful stage of life from the age of twenty-six to thirty-seven known as stupidity. It’s when you don’t know anything, not even as much as you did when you were younger, and you don’t even have a philosophy about all the things you don’t know, the way you…
The night before your 9am flight, you stay up texting until midnight, but don’t cross into the hinterland, as your horoscope predicted. You are again unsure of yourself. You are always unsure of yourself.
“You are so ashamed of who you truly are, beneath the witty remarks, beneath the polished know-it-all swagger. Start with your soft, chewy center. Stay there. Dare to be uncertain. Dare to make guesses. FEEL YOUR WAY IN THE DARK.”—Ask Polly: I Hate My Job. What Should I Do? — The Cut
Opening old boxes, at “home” home and at home, has infected me in ways I did not anticipate. I’m way deep in nostalgia and don’t see the way out. Old friends. Old writing. Old journals. Mom’s meatballs. Now I’m listening to the football game on the radio. My sister’s buying a house. Old traditions gone, new traditions about to start. I have a low-grade ache, and I’m not sure what to do about it. All the things, the Mississippi Mud Bars and shoestring potatoes, I’ll never have again, and the ages it will take to explain to someone new just what it was like and how sad it is that it’s all gone. We stacked blocks together in the family room just so she could knock them down. Her bachelorette party is in six weeks. I can’t even keep track of all of the memories. Too many, all at once.
The last time I lived alone was the summer of 2002. I had six months to kill awaiting my grad school acceptances and spent every last wonderful drop of them in New Orleans.
I rented a tiny (300 square feet?) apartment on Dublin Street in Riverbend, a camelback with a screened porch.
I loved that apartment. It was a mess when I moved in. I was so broke, I convinced the landlord, who drove a fancy white SUV but was a decent fella, to let me clean it for a break on the first month’s rent.
Tina downstairs later told me that the previous tenant had been a frat guy who had been seen at least once vomiting out of the second-story window. It was pretty dirty.
But I had all of my things. Books. Dad’s old record player. An old enamel-topped table that my great grandfather used to fillet fish on in Mississippi. My first digital camera. The statue of David with the blue glitter hair and pubes purchased the summer before in Sorrento.
Landlord John told me I could take a trip to Freret Hardware and pick out paint to put on the tab. I painted the first room, my bedroom, blue. The kitchen, with my desk, and an old dial-style TV I got when I turned seven, was to be chartreuse. Or yellow-green, as I think the crayon was called.
(Have you been to Freret Street lately? WOW.)
When at home, I subsisted mainly on Easy Mac, runs to Taco Bell on Claiborne for Mexican Pizzas, cheap white wine, and cigarettes.
I distracted myself by writing on Diaryland and taking selfies, of which there are hundreds from this period.
It’s funny — in my post-9/11 funk, I let my birth control prescription lapse, and had a terrible, almost disfiguring breakout that required many trips to the dermatologist. And yet, there I was, months later, kind of cleared up, taking as many pictures of myself as I could. Finding just the right kitchen light to do it.
Same thing happened to me a year and a half ago when I went off the pill. Guess I can’t blame the terrorists, stress, or my mom being a carrier of Streptococcus B after all.
I just shipped two posters to myself that I had framed at the Michael’s in New Orleans that summer. They’re from The Public Theater’s marketing closet, which I had keys to, a privilege I did not abuse, except for taking the beautiful poster Dancing on Her Knees, which hung in my boss’s office, and an early print of Lackawanna Blues, before we realized Bill’s name wasn’t on it.
I’m staring at Dancing on Her Knees now. I have no idea what the play is about.
I remember thinking that summer, fuck it, this could be me going full cat lady for the rest of my life. Love may never come, and that’s perfectly fine. Because I am an eccentric woman who wears scarves and drives a Volvo with stickers on the dashboard and who’s gonna be a writer anyway so nyah nyah nyah.
And here I am, twelve years later, wearing gold glitter toenail polish, reading my tarot cards, wandering around the streets of Brooklyn, going wherever I want, doing whatever I want, writing, drawing, bookstore-ing, drinks with friends, kissing my dog, and loving every minute of it.
Last time, there was a certain fragility associated with the experience. Where will I get in? What will happen next? I knew the spring and summer would end with a move, somewhere.
I feel the same fragility. What will happen next? What job offer might I get? What person might I meet?
It’s something precious, not to be concerned about.
It makes all of this navel-gazing, this going through old boxes at my parents’ house and taking the time to Write it All Down seem really important and worthwhile. Because it won’t last forever.
This ridiculous 26th floor view of Manhattan from the other side of the East River won’t last forever. And I have no idea what will come next.
It only took about 3 weeks for me to cook up a Tinder drinks date, start to finish.
Just as my local yokel conversations were starting to get humming, I up and took a 11 day, 10 night trip home. New zip codes. New doods.
Sitting at a dark French Quarter bar, I opened the app to show my sister how it worked.
We found someone who had written a sort of enfant terrible novel in the early 00s and, more recently, an article about his experiences on Tinder (mwahahaaha MATCH!).
We found someone in town from Boston for a bachelor party (mwahahaha MATCH!!).
We found someone with a dog, a tattoo of a famous literary character, and a resemblance to Ryan Gosling (mwhahahaha MATCH!!!).
I had drinks with Ryan Gosling last night.
The red Hamster rental and I took the Franklin Avenue exit. I sat at the bar of a joint that only makes me think of increasingly inappropriate R. Kelly jokes. Someone cute — a different someone cute — sat next-ish to me. That was the Craigslist missed connection.
He came in through the back door.
The rest I will describe to you via this stream of consciousness word jumble:
T-shirt Comb-over Belly (rubbing) Personal space; lack thereof "Coming in hot" Modelo tall boy "New Orleans isn’t a city…it’s just a TOWN" (stage whisper) Hates football Hates football fans “I swear to god, if I hear ‘Who Dat’ one more time…” (<— at a bar during a Saints pre-season game) Hates the media Hates people who hate pit bulls Hates the police, and the protestors, of Ferguson, pretty much equally Hates Teach for America
1.75 hours later, I said, “I hope you find your peace.” I said it like I imagined Pema Chodron would say it while sucking on a lozenge at the end of a very long meditation retreat.
I got into the Hamster machine and drove back uptown.
"What I mean is, where before I would have striven to grip the meaning of what you were saying, and would have fretted over whether what I understood and what you meant were the same, now I just listen. I’m resigned to the effect of this sort of abyss that swallows your words and spits them out on my monitor and vice versa. It’s almost like sending each other an endless series of inkblots. But that understates my interest in what gets said. As you’ve surely noticed, I hang on every word you say. And I freak out every now and then and have to hear your voice or see you. That’s when I’m pissed off at the abyss and I need to narrow it. But one thing I hear every time you say or write anything to me is: ‘I want you to hear this.’ And it’s louder or softer in proportion to how much zeal or effort is apparent in what you say. So that’s how I get past the contradictions (or swallow them). I’m not reading for sincerity, I’m reading for what went into writing or saying it. Because it seems profound to me that a person with such bleak views as you could ever think, ‘I want you to hear this.’"
There has been a Bunuel (you’re not going to see the tilde, so just chillax) fest going on at BAM for the past couple of weeks.
Years ago — when I first moved to NYC? — I saw That Obscure Object of Desire at Lincoln Plaza and it really stuck with me. Not just the surrealism, but also the sense that this was the era from which I sprung. At once familiar and foreign.
My two takeaways from the film are: 1) the totally inexplicable replacement of the lead actress with another lead actress in the middle of a scene — something that makes me remember, I really need to get around to rereading Two Serious Ladies again, dammit — and 2) car bomb out of nowhere. The very 70s, darkly funny, deadly serious, sense of the political being the personal and that you might as well do a bump because ETA could off you at any moment.
I missed re-seeing that one on the big screen but caught The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie last night.
I can’t really put into words how stupidly appropriate it was for me to see this film, at this exact moment, but it was. If I knew, I’d be off writing my expository essay on identity politics, Latin America, the man with a creek running through his house, “that caucasian look” recreated in the #selfie the Brazilian guy who rejected me liked, Tinder, cousin Pedro, “I love New Orleans…except for the corruption of course,” “The best run city in South America,” and all this other shit I’ve alluded to in previous posts.
Instead I am here, drinking coffee at 4:54pm on a Sunday instead of cracking open a bottle of wine, looking out at the East River, sneezing because I refuse to vacuum, washing my whites, defrosting homemade meatballs, wondering if I should try to hit another Bunuel tonight, wondering why the guy who sat one seat away from me disappeared into the night so quickly, wondering why Charos from Uzbekistan went from approving of my breakup to disapproving over the course of one wax.
I have been listening to this song on repeat for the past six weeks. It all started on an overnight flight to Madrid in which I stared into the back of someone’s head for eight hours, finally speaking to him, but never catching his name.
I have listened to this song so much, it plays in my head when I’m not listening to it. I now walk down the street in time to this song.
I don’t know why.
I don’t think it’s a sad song — it strikes me as triumphant and funny-sad despite the lyrics — but there is just something about it. I know it’s trendy to like Nina Simone at the moment (yesss I read the New Yorker article). I don’t care. She is so right for right now, and that’s all that matters.
The whole place gives me the heebies. Starts with the Wes Anderson monogram-as-sign covertly placed in the upper-right-hand-corner, hoping you don’t even notice. Oh god, it’s you? Fine…come in.
Enter and be judged by a lit-er-al-ly blonde botoxed bitch who rolls her eyes cause you walked over to the wrong couch area duhhhhh. This ain’t a Denny’s, and I ain’t stealing a carafe, girlfriend. And fine, I’ll type my name into the goddamn iPad mini.
Makes the Ace seem downright quaint and friendly.
Seriously it’s a “CANTEEN?” Are you kidding me?
He was wearing white-rimmed glasses. Perhaps mother-of-pearl.
Have you ever met someone who waltzed through life getting everything they wanted because they’re so good looking? I have. It was 1998, and I launched a strange, semi-successful attempt to befriend a very good looking man/boy/man because I thought goddamnit probably no one takes you seriously, but I WILL.
Did white rims know? Did he not know? It was hard to tell. In an attempt not to break the spell, he committed to natty dress. Hanging out at the work collective. With the goddamn CANTEEN. Keep gritting your teeth and being cool and wearing Thom Browne and whatever you do don’t stop walking, just keep walking, everything will be fine if you just keep humming, getting older, older, beauty fades, Thom Browne and CANTEENS last forever.