12.19.2015

In the Bleak Midwinter

No symbols or metaphors, just want to hold my old friend's hand.

12.08.2015

Dear Allison

Dear Allison,

Please see link below for the most satisfying Slate clickbait experience of 2015:

Prince’s Long-Hidden Cover of “Creep” Is Back Online and Incredible

Best regards,

Brian

11.07.2015

Haunt

For last week's word I wrote a song. Sort of.

10.30.2015

Spell Check

Found poetry!

I don't have any red flags/
hug issues working with him

10.28.2015

The Chain Demo

I can still hear you saying...

10.18.2015

Jailbreak

JAILBREAK! I roared, swiping their outstretched hands and sprinting past. They scattered from the stoop. The sleepy night churned alive with shouts and curses, flashlight beams, steaming breath. I flattened my body against rock in a shallow bed at the yard’s edge. I gulped in air to slow my galloping heart, afraid it would give me away. But I was proud of the escape. I was not fast, and I was fat; I who was deliberate, I who played by keeping hidden, had freed them. I closed my eyes and fantasized it wasn’t just our palms that grazed.

10.08.2015

And if I Should See a Car

And if I should see a car that looks like yours and search for you inside it, is that profiling? And if I hold a scene, waiting for my own skills to catch up to what I want to say? And if I seek a connection in every piece of art, both great and mediocre? 

How quick I am to jettison these projects.

10.04.2015

Chaotic: Test Driving Similes

As hair. As tectonic plate shifts, as a continent, as evolution. As drums. As rock. As syncopation. As a sprig of whiskers on the face of a cat. As a heart. As memory. As a family. As history. As a campus. As fire. As friendship. As wind chimes. As a kid in sand. As a ball pit. As violence. As Canal Street. As a boiling kettle. As seaweed. As a tree branch. As a nervous system. As a dare. As one single gun in one single hand.

9.20.2015

Sketch

That last one was done for the word of the week, ink, brought to you by the good people at e.c. sketch, a weekly sketchbook project. I took the "any medium" aspect to heart and make stuff entirely unsuitable for Instagram, which doesn't like hyperlinks.

The Squid


I was born in summer, under a sun that shimmered on the waves. I was never much into superstition, but these days I second-guess my beliefs, and I wonder if it was all set in motion by that day. I still remember joking around with my buddy Mike, loitering one night, playing a silly game where we parroted the old wives’ tales from the neighborhood in our best imitation of our parents’ voices: “Calm seas, stormy life.”

Watching Janna swim was spellbinding. Me, I had always felt uncomfortable in my own skin, as if there was too much of me. I’d catch my reflection and frown at my chaotic mouth, my clumsy arms. But Janna had an instinct for teasing out the rhythm of the water. With sure and measured strokes, she’d relax into that rhythm and be carried along. I wanted to be carried with her.

I was born with three hearts. She occupied them all.

On dark nights we would hunt together. Afterwards we would drift arms in arms under the rocks, where it was chilly. Janna would pull me close for warmth, and we’d rest, a knotty tangle of limbs, a glorious mess. Those times I never felt too big.

She made me feel invincible. It went to my head, and we weren’t as cautious as we should have been. One night, we swam up to the shallows to watch the moonrise. Wide shafts of light filtered down onto the sand. It was too bright; we were easily seen. The dolphin charged lightning-quick, a torrent of muscle and deafening clicks. We both inked and tried to thrust away. We were blinded in the sudden flood of dark, then thrashed by the massive body. She flung out an arm and I clutched it. The dolphin’s perfect teeth tore through, snatching Janna and my arm. Screams and searing pain. I sank, I lost all balance. When my eyes adjusted, I could only make out the murky mass of my red-brown ink, mingled with the deep purple of hers. It still held the vague duplicate image of her form.

I limp along these days, thinking of the things we heard growing up. I weigh whether my tranquil birthday triggered all my carelessness, my recklessness. My nightmares end in a stain of red and violet and refracted moonlight. All the waters in all the depths of all the seas won’t wash out the memory. I hobble along and try to give advice to my old hearts: keep moving, keep pumping—consider the shark.

9.14.2015

The Sun Set

1
The sun set. The violence of the day melted away at dusk: the chokehold of morning, the broken bone, the bleeding ear. We cracked knuckles and relaxed into our desks. We flicked the switch; out poured music. We shucked armor. We nursed wounds. We wrote India.

Light lingered in the street. People shouted. Bars beckoned. The breeze persisted.

2
I could not wait for it to be over, for an idle day to pass into the night’s possibilities. A quiet, unyielding August heat hung over town. A slip of moon showed by late afternoon. What I wanted was to break the patterns we clung to. Someone would call. Someone would pick me up. We’d drive off. Then we could begin.

3
Day dissolves right there, over the water. We only notice sometimes. Would the moment lose its magic if we lived here, where we could always witness it? What are we thinking of: surprised at our own survival? Aware of the universal? How does the day unfurl in the other hemisphere?

Dogs play along the shore, attentive to the orbit of a tennis ball instead of celestial bodies.

4
Sunset, civil dusk, nautical dusk, astronomical dusk. I never knew about the precision of the coming darkness. We must have a mnemonic: She could never abide. She could never accept. Or: Selene comes, night awaits.

5
That sliver of time when Dad called us in for dinner. Mom just arrived home, and she examined the progress of her plants along the front walk. The Plymouth Grand Voyager ticked its cooling tick in the driveway. Pasta boiled on the stove, kitchen lights blazed.

6
The firefly shook the bark off her back and took wing at twilight. She tasted cool air and rustled through the marigolds. She swiveled her head when she noticed him shyly glowing beyond the pear tree. A warmth filled her belly. She smiled, flashed a pulse of green, and floated to greet him.

9.11.2015

In the Morning

In the morning we walked the length of the West End of Commercial Street. The street was narrow, and cars were delayed by tourists strolling and biking. We admired old homes, nearly all converted to inns with names like The White Wind, the Queen Vic. There was a larger one with rainbow-colored bunting, and we debated whether that was the right word for that type of decoration. (You suggested I ask my mom.) I liked the toothpaste green paint on a house after the road curved south.

We spent the first day at Herring Cove Beach, a narrow strip on the western edge of the cape. I was mostly drawn to the spot by an online review that claimed the beach’s placement meant the water was slightly warmer. The beach was not crowded. The sun was out and the sky was clear. The waves broke more frequently than our usual beaches, but they were small and rocked idle bathers along the shore. The sand was coarse, the ground under the waves rocky. I could not see without my glasses, and I worried whether the dark shapes below were rocks or something malevolent, waiting to sting or swallow.

There was a moment in the Harbor Lounge when we talked about an acquaintance. I said I sometimes don’t know if I’m in on the joke, or if there is a higher-order humor where he’s laughing at me. You didn’t think it was like that. I said maybe I have a general hang-up where someone might look at me and dismiss me, thinking “You’re a ridiculous person.” You said you never knew I felt that way. I said that it was the first time I thought to express it in such terms.

You asked about dream cars. I said convertible, and you chose your perennial Jeep Wrangler. Then we walked by a house with those two cars parked out front, and I whispered: “It’s happening! Our dream is happening in Provincetown!”

The weather was crummy the next day. I walked into many of the shops; you had to stay in to fill out forms for work over again. We watched Diary of a Teenage Girl. We went to a bar, which bumped their typical activities in favor of football. Fans applauded after each play, while I marveled silently at my apathy towards the New England Patriots.

And the pines on the dunes, twisted by wind: the tenacity of life.

9.10.2015

A Matter of Trust

Dear reader, you will simply have to trust me when I tell you that I wrote about 720 words today, accounting for yesterday and today. Shit got more personal than I care to post online. But, I can share a handful of observations from Provincetown:

  • Town is like a Stars Hollow by the sea, with colonial history and colorful characters. We saw our innkeeper Thom on the street last night, and we recognized our restaurant host as he biked past after dinner. (We learned his name was Peter when another resident greeted him.) Today we saw a movie in a theater that sat 70 people.
  • We took the dune tour. Regarding my quest to know the plants, I made notes of what the guide pointed out: the wild cranberry bogs, the beach roses (rosa rugosa), the rose hips, the beach plums (prunus maritima). And in the next moment, he was quoting Henry David Thoreau's Cape Cod.
  • I loved the beach. The wind is a constant suitor.

9.08.2015

The Harvard General Store

The Harvard General Store sits on an honest-to-goodness New England common in the center of Harvard, Massachusetts. The store abuts a graveyard for a neighboring UCC church. The store faces the south end of the common. The north end hosts another church (Unitarian), and beyond that, the ancient town hall, covered in scaffolding, undergoing restoration. The town was founded in 1732, a marker proclaims.

Sale items include: candles, teas, wine, beer, shirts that encourage eating local, a Harvard cookbook, and a laminated guide to Favorite Apples of the Northeast (marketed as “waterproof”). On September 9, 2015, the store ran out of drip coffee. Two travelers bought one hot latte and one iced latte, then mounted the stairs to the second floor.

The second floor runs the length of the building. It serves as a performance venue for local artists in the evenings, but waits untouched and unattended that afternoon. A brown grand piano presides over the northeast corner. A collection of reclaimed wooden doors provide a backdrop. Clumps of tables and chairs dot the space. A mural fills the southern wall. It depicts a winemaker pressing grapes by foot. Track lighting overhead and a modest flat screen television are concessions to modernity and the room’s nighttime function.

The visitors chose a pair of leather easy chairs by the northwest window. One switched on a tablet to study. One rose to tour the room.

He scanned the books for sale on the shelves in the southwest corner: The Chronicles of Narnia, Fifty Shades Freed, a pile of Alexander McCall Smith in hardcover, a volume of poetry concerning birds. He peered through the office door that hung open and glimpsed a topographic state map tacked above a dormant computer.

The visitor did not notice the additional flight of stairs in the southeast corner until he heard a man trudge down. The man from the third floor stared, but crossed without comment.

9.07.2015

I Will Come Back from the Sea Whole

I will come back from the sea whole. (Now is not the moment for revision, but I’ll always make time for delusion.)

JP and I went to see An American in Paris. How to express dancing in words? He said the show uses dancing the way others use music. My limited vocabulary of music. I consult online. I think the section I like is the swells and flats of the “Andante ma con ritmo deciso.”

(Up swim days when Bob was obsessed with “Rhapsody in Blue.” I had a recording on cassette.)

The guncles wandered Brooklyn with the twins. Kevin interviewed the people we passed, asking about the neighborhood, contemplating a move. We walked Montague, the Promenade, and quiet pockets around Willow Place. Erin and Andrea used to live somewhere not far from a street called Pineapple, but I didn’t see it. We walked up Atlantic, past the old sail makers building, stopped at the usual bar, only this time with babies. I drank an IPA that tasted like coffee. We walked eastward into the heart, walked to friends in Fort Greene. Carlin told us of the family trip to England. They all eventually wearied of evensong. (Such a good word, though.) I talked to her brother about how the whole idea is to illustrate how deadlines are useful. Cousins visited. Squirrels darted across pipes. The boys got tired.

Back at home, Mike, JP, and I tried to calm them. I laughed when we sang Britney Spears (“It’s weird singing this to a baby!”) and “Careless Whispers” and they stared in silent wonder/confusion/alarm. I smiled thinking of all the parents trying to figure this shit out. They played with their toys: the owl, the hedgehog, the whale.

The city is empty of its people on Labor Day. I headed down Lexington and paused in the shade around Gramercy. I walked through the Farmers’ Market in Union Square. Cartons brimmed with heirloom tomatoes. (I search online and find another good word: nightshade.) I browsed in the Strand. I pulled Mary Oliver off the shelf and read “Starfish.” (“…while the sea poured its harsh song through the sluices/while I waited for the gritty lightning of their touch…”) I found she lives in Provincetown; maybe we’ll see her. I realized I got the detail about the bread wrong the other day. It does not matter. I bought the decaf espresso for my father.

Words cradled me to sleep? I persist in wishing to know all the names of trees. I make no ground towards accomplishing this goal. My thinking was just write double the words to account for the missed day. This is proving difficult. Sad: one day can’t fill enough words. However, it encourages me to jot down notes. More observant/open to the world?

JP packed up his office and, lacking a grandpa cart, brought it home in suitcases. Books are stacked about the place. He skimmed papers, sorting for filing or throwing away.

I searched for stamps, always forgetting where I last put them, certain the last time I would have told myself, “Here, this will make them so much easier to grab when I need them.”

I weigh registering for another race. One comes up that starts and ends at the pier by my grandparents’ old apartment. It’s been a big summer for me and that pier: I saw it every time we rode the ferry to Jacob Reis. The race is at the right time if I start training now, but it has two out-and-back loops, making it sound unquestionably terrible.

We want to organize our lives. We want to discard all the things. We want to donate the clothes and vacuum the floors. We want to update the software (Jesus Christ). We want to attack the checklist. We want to write better about food, nature, and dancing.

We received the change of address. We drank the smoked carrot margarita. We wondered how our new old friend is faring.

9.05.2015

We Saw Baby B Today

We saw baby B today. He has large blue eyes, chubby cheeks, and doesn’t want to go to sleep. Like baby R, he rarely blinks and drinks the world in. Like Imme, he wants to be a part of the conversation.

Baby B, who would have thought! What can I tell you of the world you’ve landed in? I can tell you of the easy generosity of your parents, the warmth in which they’ve always welcomed us and our friends into their home. I can tell you of that time just before you were born, of Christmas dinners and barbecues. How your parents would try to read Moby Dick to you. I can tell you how your father tried different names on his tongue, looking for the best one to yell angrily at you in your adolescence. (Carl!) I can tell you of times earlier, of the shining excitement I felt when your mother and I moved to the city.

I can tell you how our paths intersected over years. When your father flew to France, when your mother lived in Boston for a summer. When we walked the leafy campus. When your mother and Brooke waged a war of attrition against their roommates over toilet paper. When we chased down a bus, a baguette strapped to your mother’s backpack. “You could surf on the wave in his hair,” and failing to stifle our laughter. Awkwardly watching classmates perform “Is this sexual harassment?” skits in Business French. So many more stories from this era, I should try to capture them.

I can only tell you from the middle of the story, because it stretches even further back, to debates and math teams, to high school slights, to high school dances. Still, I can tell you of your mother’s handwriting, and of the time your father painted her a canvas, colors bold and textured.

I can tell you that today we sat with you, and ate baked French toast, and drank coffee and mimosas. We talked of careers, the new house you would move into, and family. I can tell you of the time before, and I can’t wait to hear from you of all the times to come.

9.04.2015

All the Pregnant Ladies Say Fuck Almonds


All the pregnant ladies say, “Fuck almonds.” I can safely conclude this among those that had gestational diabetes. (Again, here, n=2. For literary reasons we are unconcerned with sample size.)

There was an art installation in the Flatiron Building, twisted metallic trees.

The second book of the Neapolitan novels starts with Lila giving Elena a box of notebooks that she needs to hide from her husband. Letters as identity, like an essay I wrote for a French class. In Lettres d’une Peruvienne, the lover returns the letters. In Lettres de Milady Juliette Catesby, she asks for them back, and the guy says he’ll never agree to return them. Letters as a piece of yourself, in ways that all this newer technology cannot replicate.

“That mailbox story--that was the worst.” The days when our mail would overflow but we wouldn’t bring it in and the pink notice came through because they were holding our mail at the post office. “My god, he’s my boss,” she thought.

Is it a trick of light or the day’s haze or are the trees already thinning? Quickly falls the evening. The sky stayed gray but never gave up rain. A bride being photographed outside Gramercy Park. A buttery lobster roll for lunch. Bitch session in the cellar. Wine, slate. A drink with tequila and pineapple kissed with foam. Then entranced by murals on the Lower East Side. I wanted to linger over the hearts and bright skulls. I liked listening to stories about horse races.

Plans for another relay. Nostalgia for old shows, old jokes, from the way, way back. “The synapses sparkle and flare,” I wrote a decade ago. I haven’t used it yet so throw it in here. The original question was something about alcohol and choices. Full circle to tonight, the film about the German girls and the monster they create.

Which of your gods have fallen, and which have you propped up? Don’t get hung up on lines you don’t like. Now is not the time for that. Now is time for deadlines and thresholds.

9.03.2015

Poets Love Plovers, I Can Safely Conclude

Poets love plovers, I can safely conclude after this summer (based on a sample size of 2). This bird was heretofore unknown to me.

This morning we woke to sad news. Always lose words when confronted with death, how to express condolences. In India, too, where words can run flowery, and when there is a question, one has a “doubt.” Problems that search engines can’t solve. And then saying place yourself in one’s shoes. Time stops. Punched in the solar plexus, wanting to howl a great big fuuuuuuuuck.

In the canyon of the buildings on 24th street, I spy a woman offering food to a man and wonder if she could be Jesus. The man takes the food, he cries out unintelligibly.

Then I start singing Sia. “Chandelier.”

Jessmar’s birthday today. Last time at home I laughed thinking of her pages of purple ink scrawled in the yearbook, her angry circles around my terrible headline for the Forensics team (“Cats Can Speak, Too”): “WHAT???”

These days were made for gelato. The city is humid but the light is liquidy and golden and makes you want to take pictures. People in the park, in twos and threes. All iterations. A thought rattles about radical relationship structures, but I can’t pin it down. Legs overlapping, scripts being read, kickboxers sparring, even a poem about possibilities sketched on concrete. I should have stopped in the grass.

Fruit flies on the wall. Or a hair at eye-level in a bathroom at work. Everything a distraction. Rage, rage against the dying of the battery. Greasy keyboard. “This article has multiple issues,” says Wikipedia on Jesus and Messianic prophecy.

The ships go out, the shipments come in, the cat sits contented, and I resist sin.

Now we break to chat with my colleague in Singapore. How to pick up the thread?

I need to escape the neighborhood for some fresh ideas. I have Italy on my mind. I return to this question of making a cul de sac come alive. I crack my knuckles and my vision blurs. I was going to make another rhyme.

9.02.2015

I Slipped From the Dream

I slipped from the dream just as it was getting menacing. Phil, a singer from college, wandered in drunk in the early morning, waiting for a party to start.

We had a goodbye lunch for Angela. “Are you seriously comparing vegans to ISIS?” “Yes!”

I imagined the raised eyebrows of coworkers when I brought in the nachos. Hey, leave me alone. Draw me a Venn diagram of our vices.

In the park the vendors worked to set up food stands for Madison Square Eats. Everyone sweating, painting, stenciling.

We looked at calendars. I e-mailed. We made up exclamations based on people’s names. Heavens to Josephine. [One-Syllable Name] Almighty! We planned for gelato. So much of today was about scheduling.

Paltry.

I wonder when BeyoncĂ© will have a song called “Hotfix.” Word autocorrects her name!

Waiting for the elevator I thought maybe some character will emerge that is not me.

I’m not really sure about this starting fresh thing.

I told Adam to slow down, he thinks and talks faster than I can catch up.

The basement is too hot. The blueberry skin got stuck in my teeth. I told two people I was going to Cape Cod; they said, “Where’s that?”

Lifeblood. Algorithms. Both good words. What did Tennessee see? Just what Dani saw.

We played on the beach with the kids. We built a sandcastle for a princess and a ninja turtle, with a great central tower and a long entrance road. I read a poem, it made me think of Andrew, I need to send it to him, he culls his Sufjan list.

I finally tasted that root beer that everyone had this summer.

In the darkening evening, the cleaning ladies sat together on the benches lining the park. The great hull of the building faded away. Let’s trade secrets and cigarettes.

Renewed effort. The basement is too damn hot. Put in your headphones, turn up the fan. News about the Pope, and trains couldn’t make it from Babylon.

9.01.2015

Journal

End of summer thinking, planning, trying to wring the most out of each weekend. Yesterday I wrote 330 words in my journal and thought this could be a target to aim for. Must alternate between written bitchlog and digital bitchlog. I wonder what I ever could get out clearly typing. Fifty words right there!

I won’t look back. Things won’t connect, or they will.

Raina dreamed I had a son named Aziz Hudson. I dreamed of touching a man’s beard, and he said it felt nice, and he leaned into my hand like Jade does when I pet her neck. I dreamed of cats that don’t pee on the bed. I dreamed of doing things in fall. I planned most weekends, but not the wedding. I don’t dream of perfect vision, only glasses free of smudges.

It’s sad to think about how you sometimes need to leave your usual just to think. I went to L.A., and while maybe that was mixed, I had above-average dread of the return trip. Like how you can only think at 30,000 feet, or how in any given day you will push thinking off just to check off your To Do List. That Bored and Brilliant woman may be on to something.

Eliot dreamed of Halloween costumes. I dreamed of dinosaur notebooks. I spent money online. I try not to repeat myself. It is a crutch.

I read Hannah on the train. I am inspired! I get a text message from Ro with my name spelled wrong on a Coke bottle, she says I’m the only Brian she knows/cares for. I steal that slash from her. It is dear to me. I send a text to Yvonne.

My mother fights with her sisters. She scatters her uncle’s ashes at sea. Left to our own devices the rest of us drink.

I saw Matt play guitar at Bowery Electric. He sings of break-ups and not wanting to grow up. It reminds me of a poet who says something about all the past being grist for the mill, because his singing and my writing and that Chabon line about writing the same damn thing over and over. Then I have to go search for it. (“Afternoon Happiness,” Carolyn Kizer: “All life’s awfulness has been grist to me.”) I don’t want to take time to look up the link but then suppose it is good. Then I send the poem to JP.

I grasp at blueberries. I devour the coffee ice cream.

8.15.2015

Saturday




(Matthew Rohrer)

8.05.2015

Movie Talk

No news (here) is bad news. Don't miss the link to Every Single Word, which is powerfully depressing.

8.02.2015

Go Set a Watchman

I've been reading several stories about Go Set a Watchman, and I had a hard time separating my reading experience from them. This is why I should stick to reading things years after they are popular. I just finished the book. If it's a draft, then it's inspiring to think that this became To Kill a Mockingbird. The best parts of the book are the flashbacks to childhood, which makes me buy into the draft story. But Adam Gopnik is right to say that this novel doesn't really stand alone:
Yet here is where the questions of the book’s provenance begin to arise, and they, too, get a little sticky. The emotional force of “Watchman” depends entirely on the reader’s sharing Scout’s shock at the revelation of Atticus’s new friends and new affiliation, and, since Atticus is scarcely dramatized at all before his fall from grace, the reader already suspicious about the pedigree and the background of the book becomes doubly so. If you don’t know Atticus as a hero—and in this book you really don’t, except by assertion—why would you care that he seems to defect to villainy, however well he defends it?

7.27.2015

Story Idea: Tuesdays with RiRi

Ha, I didn't think of a story, I just liked the title. But spitballing: Rihanna meets me at a Zipcar every week and we take road trips around the tri-state area, discussing music, love, and marketing. It culminates in a trip home to Whippany, where we do a dance routine at Z's.

Gilmore GIFs

In this day and age, it is a great pleasure to shout out during the viewing of a scene, "I want a GIF!", to take to the Internet, and to find some enterprising person has already done it for you.


7.22.2015

Possibilities

Yes, It's Possible to Be Queer and Muslim, by Lamya H.

"...that Islam is not a monolith, that my Islam is expansive and my God, capacious. That queer too, is not a monolith, there are different ways to be queer, different narratives that do not fit neatly into Western models of coming out and nesting in nuclear families that replicate straightness."

7.19.2015

A Little Life

I filed away Hanya Yanagihara's A Little Life after seeing the headline on Facebook, A Little Life: The Great Gay Novel Might Be Here. It started as one of those New York stories, about a group of friends moving to the city after college. It ended with me hyperventilating and in tears. (You have been warned.)

In between was a book that was difficult to read. After I finished, I read Yanagihara's essay and found this description could have been helpful beforehand: "One of the things I wanted to do with this book was create a protagonist who never gets better."

But it was also beautiful. Let's go to the videotape.

Describing the subway crossing the bridge into Queens:

"The other aspect of those weekday-evening trips he loved was the light itself, how it filled the train like something living as the cars rattled across the bridge, how it washed the weariness from his seat-mates’ faces and revealed them as they were when they first came to the country, when they were young and America seemed conquerable. He’d watch that kind light suffuse the car like syrup, watch it smudge furrows from foreheads, slick gray hairs into gold, gentle the aggressive shine from cheap fabrics into something lustrous and fine. And then the sun would drift, the car rattling uncaringly away from it, and the world would return to its normal sad shapes and colors, the people to their normal sad state, a shift as cruel and abrupt as if it had been made by a sorcerer’s wand."

Twenties:

"There had been periods in his twenties when he would look at his friends and feel such a pure, deep contentment that he would wish the world around them would simply cease, that none of them would have to move from that moment, when everything was in equilibrium and his affection for them was perfect. But, of course, that was never to be: a beat later, and everything shifted, and the moment quietly vanished."

"...when their professional identities were still foggy to them and they were united by their aspirations instead of divided by their daily realities."

New York:

"New York was populated by the ambitious. It was often the only thing that everyone here had in common."

Life:

"There were times when the pressure to achieve happiness felt almost oppressive, as if happiness were something that everyone should and could attain, and that any sort of compromise in its pursuit was somehow your fault."

Misc:

"...small bright hurt of Andy easing the tape off his leg..."

"...loved the cherry trees, with their froth of pink blossoms..."



6.28.2015

Pride

A weekend for the history books. Too exhausted to write more now, after yesterday's concert, after singing and marching and fanning today.



6.24.2015

Modern Love

UPDATED: I love this scene in Frances Ha!

6.22.2015

Thrown

Game of Thrones, Season Five Finale: What Happened and What Should Have Happened, by Sarah Mesle

"But is it narratively required? If Games of Thrones wants to be a coherent story rather than just a fascinating immersive world, I’m not sure it can manage without [REDACTED]: there just aren’t enough characters left who we care about."


6.21.2015

Gone Girl

A well-written, excellently paced, captivating, unsettling, absurd tale of two major assholes.

6.20.2015

Grasshopper Jungle

The central question in Grasshopper Jungle is, “How could I be in love with a girl and a boy, at the same time?” The question is posed while the world is ending and the town is being devoured by giant mantises.

I landed on this book from delving into the NYPL's blog post, How did YA Become YA?. "The narrative voice can get awfully repetitive," (AV Club), and Shann is overlooked, but I remained drawn to the story.

"And no one knows what bisexuality is," and I don't claim to, but I think Austin comes close to describing it at times.

The Library of Congress classifications at the beginning of this book include 1. Survival - Fiction, 2. Friendship - Fiction, 3. Gender Identity - Fiction, 4. Family Life - Iowa - Fiction., 5. Insects - Fiction, so yeah, I was into it.

5.31.2015

Apartment Flood #3 (Give or Take)

"That dehumidifier was a good idea."

"It's gotten us out of a few tough spots."

"We sound like such old farts right now."

5.28.2015

Links



5.26.2015

Running Commentary #12

I finished the Brooklyn Half. Achievement unlocked! I ran faster than I expected for a time of 2:15:54, which was a pleasant surprise. Not near a PR, but better than my last half time, and only 2 minutes slower than when I ran my last Brooklyn Half in 2009.

Both my sisters are planning for marathons in the fall.  I am tempted, but I'd like to focus on another half and training to get stronger and faster.  I made exercise a priority in the first few months of the year, feel like it paid off, and I would like to keep it up.

But "personal project" time must now pivot toward wedding planning. Just need to find more "personal project" time overall.

5.25.2015

Questions

How many galaxies lost, suns drawn in margins round the holes for binders, the day I shredded nine years of notebooks?

What’s your greatest fear? (Is this a game people play at a typical bachelorette?)

She shrugs to say, “That I’ll be unhappy, one day?”

I smile/suppose I’m like that. I don’t want to end up your roommate.

With sheets berried and striped what screw do you hope to turn?

Whatsamatter. Whatsamatter? Whatsamatter! You.

It don’t matter so long as there’s a screw to hold onto.

5.18.2015

The Way He Looks

The Way He Looks is the latest reason this blog needs to start using a #ComingOfAge hashtag.

5.16.2015

5.13.2015

Story Idea: The Country's Best Vampire

There's this vampire who loves frozen yogurt. He sleeps all day, and then he rises from his coffin and his friends are always hounding him to hang out and kill people and drink their blood, but he ventures into the night for frozen yogurt. It's about the roles we're born into, and the choices we make for ourselves!

5.08.2015

Step 1: Find Your Moon

This is what wikihow will advise after you google "how to tell whether the moon is waxing."

4.30.2015

Poem in Your Pocket Day 2015

Happy PIYP Day, which falls late this year! Check out "Undertow" by Dean Young.

4.29.2015

This Is What a Gay Relationship Looks Like

"Time out, I've been meaning to ask you: doesn't the mint soap feel AMAZING on your balls?"

4.26.2015

Running Commentary #11

12 miles today for your mommies! Brooklyn Half in 3 weeks. My first half in a long time (I didn't do one last year), so I'm looking forward to it.

4.20.2015

Losing the Language

I remembered "to look for," but not "to find."

3.31.2015

A Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands

I purchased Judith Schalansky's Atlas of Remote Islands for these reasons:

1) The title/subtitle.


2) The conclusion of the introduction I flipped through at the store: "This atlas is therefore primarily a poetic project."

3) The premise of the preface: "Paradise is an island. So is hell."

4) That middle school career quiz that recommended I should be a cartographer.

A beautiful, depressing jumping-off point to learn more, tales of lands I've never heard of and explorers I forgot.

Gap

story about the Gap, introduced by the contrasting fates of the Livingston Mall and the Mall at Short Hills.

3.29.2015

Vail Life

Sitting in a hot tub, eating a Rice Krispie Treat, listening to Blu Cantrell. I love vacation.

3.10.2015

Overheard

At chorus rehearsal, during a solo:

"If I were Ursula, his is the voice I'd steal."

3.05.2015

100 Essays

I acted in plays in high school.  I read some big ones.  I've seen fewer.  (And in 8th grade I went to a playwriting workshop with Bob, Lindsay, and Jen G., so I've "written" a one-act play in the course of an afternoon.) I loved reading about plays in Sarah Ruhl's 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater.  I did not know who Sarah Ruhl was before, mind you, but now I'm mildly obsessed and want to read everything she has ever written. Which is also a wonderful feeling! This book sang to me.

I highlighted the shit out of my Kindle edition. Can you please read this book and tell me if you love it, and if you now want to write plays, or see more of them? I've seen one since I read the book!

Some passages I liked:


  • On the language of clear steps, asking "But did clear steps ever make for a good story? (See Hamlet.)" In a later essay: "We need you to fight the mania for clarity and help create a mania for beauty instead."
  • A quote from Maria Irena Fornes, objecting to "the language of intention in the method school of acting": "Who always wants something from someone else? Only criminals. And Americans."
  • One essay is about a fire alarm interrupting a performance, and the actors picking up on the steps of the church they were evacuated from, and the author being transfixed, "remembering that theater is at its roots some very brave people mutually consenting to a make-believe world, with nothing but language to rest on."
  • "Recently, my son said to me after seeing a ballet on television: 'It’s beautiful but I don’t like it.' And I thought, Are many grown-ups capable of such a distinction? It’s beautiful, but I don’t like it. Usually, our grown-up thinking is more along the lines of: I don’t like it, so it’s not beautiful. What would it mean to separate those two impressions for art making and for art criticism?"
  • On reading her diary from when she was twelve. She wrote then that she feared she'd written all her good stuff already. "I am not sure what I thought my literary peak was—possibly my unproduced courtroom drama about landmasses, written in the fourth grade, in which an isthmus spoke. But the point is that even then I seemed concerned about the lack of linear progress in the writing life; that every blank page presented one with the same conundrum, the same terrifying newness, and then, after completion, the downward spiral." 
  • Can we pause here to say that this--the drama, the isthmus--could be the single sentence that makes me want to read all her plays?
  • "Things we used to wait for: the news, mercury in a thermometer to rise, letters from overseas, boats to come in from whaling expeditions, the fifth act, the fifth course, a turkey to roast in the oven, a pig to roast on a spit, the phone to ring, a tape to rewind, bread to rise, tea to brew, grapes to ferment"
  • "Perhaps having children makes one increasingly distrust the symbolic world. Because suddenly nothing is as important as the very real particular."
  • The final essay focuses on community theater. "I was affected by seeing work born of people I was related to or knew casually." And "what I mean to say is the productions that have had the biggest impact on me—have ferreted their way into the most porous, childlike parts of me, winnowed in, and stayed there—have also been the smallest in scale."

2.23.2015

Things I've Been Doing

Reading, running, rehearsing, exploring YouTube Data API, e-mailing, Big Gay Church shopping, laundry for days, no wedding, no writing, winning pub trivia!

2.14.2015

Valentine's Eve Eve

"It's my second favorite Pyrex container."
"Stop it."

2.01.2015

Conversations with Myself

Let's do some word association.

Song.
Freedom.

Come in and enjoy our warm kale bowls!
Go to hell.

1.24.2015

Enthusiasm

I idled in LAX and saw a book by Austin Kleon. This morning I am poking around his site and enjoying the enthusiasm and his handwriting. I am also enjoying penguins again.

1.14.2015

Every Letter Is a Love Letter

Dear Younger Me,

Good news: you will sing ABBA hits in gay choruses from Denver to New York.  So many times. And you will love it.

Dear Nieces,

Tio is rehearsing "Let It Go" for his next concert. He is super into it.

Dear Tia Becky,

I can never listen to the instrumental in "Live and Let Die" without seeing cheerleaders doing tumbling passes in my mind's eye.  That shit was pure genius.

Dear Jenn,

I'm inspired by your sentence-a-day.

Dear God,

I'm grappling with the news from my friend's family. Help us focus on what's important, help figure out what we can do, help comfort and protect, help.

1.10.2015

Reading

When I finished The Marriage Plot, I felt similarly to the way I felt after Sentimental Education. “It’s interesting. They’re all terrible people.” Even though I didn’t enjoy The Marriage Plot as much as Eugenides’ other books, man, do I marvel at his abilities.

They’re not terrible people. They are only flawed. I cracked up on early on in the novel at “Madeleine’s love troubles had begun at a time when the French theory she was reading deconstructed the very notion of love.” Reading and expecting what you’re reading to hold all the answers to the questions buzzing in your life. Then there was this perfect summary: “So many people at college were jacked up on ambition, possessors of steroidal egos, clever but cutthroat, diligent but insensitive, shiny but dull, that everyone felt compelled to be upbeat, down with the program, all systems firing, when everyone knew, in his or her heart, that this wasn’t how they really felt.”

These characters had been sitting with me when I read Reading Like a Writer, by Francine Prose.  I chose this one because it was $2 on Kindle, because I love books about writing, and because it’s that annual-resolution-to-write-more time of year. (Instead, I’ve been reading more.) In the first chapter, she covers a literature class: “I was struck by how little attention they had been taught to pay to the language, to the actual words and sentences that a writer had used. Instead, they had been encouraged to form strong, critical, and often negative opinions of geniuses who had been read with delight for centuries before they were born.” In the last chapter, she discusses meeting two young writers who were often urged to “rewrite their characters for greater likeability.”

It’s one of the things that writers are most commonly being told these days: their characters should be likable and sympathetic so the reader can care about them. And what does care mean, exactly? Too often, I’m afraid, it’s being used as a synonym for identify. But what’s even more unsettling is the possibility that, in order for us to identify with them, characters in modern fiction are supposed to be nice people, like us, having the exact same experiences that we have had…
In fact, most writers would you to identify and sympathize with their characters, even if you don’t particularly want to.

I also liked:

Part of a reader’s job is to find out why certain writers endure. This may require some rewiring, unhooking the connection that makes you think you have to have an opinion about the book and reconnecting that wire to whatever terminal lets you see reading as something that might move or delight you.

I couldn’t sleep on Tuesday night, so I got out of bed and started reading a book that moved me, Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I started crying when Junior starts crying because his teacher urges him to leave the reservation. I loved this book. And Gordy, Junior’s nerdy friend, has his own Prose-like advice: “You should approach each book—you should approach life—with the real possibility that you might get a metaphorical boner at any point.”

Pondering

9 Points to Ponder on the Paris Shooting and Charlie Hebdo.