fall 7, stand 8

So, I missed a few days here and there, but most nights in November I sat here in the last hours of the day and thought about what to tell you. As in, I thought about you, invisible multiple you, and wondered what to tell you, and to be honest about half of the time I put a post down that wasn't worth reading just to say I had done it. It was a good practice, though, that weird state between work and play. It makes me think that I won't leave the blog behind for a year again. If I write, I want to write the kinds of posts that were worth reading, which sounds arrogant and I don't mean it to. I'm not fooling myself about quality here--I just don't want to feel like I have to put something down just for the sake of putting it down. Practice doesn't have to be public.

I was shitty at responding to comments and reading other people (because I wound up squeezing this practice in at the end of the night). I maybe should have turned commenting off? I hope you, multiple you, forgive me for not being better at that. Or I hope you say psssh and basically that you didn't expect any different from me, that you were better at this than I am. 


If I don't see you again any time soon, know that my December is going to be full of stuff, mostly good, in a way that my Decembers haven't been for years. (Decades!) It's probably going to be awkward, legs and arms flailing in the air on the way down to the deep end of the pool. I really don't care so much about being awkward anymore because have you seen people, they are just as awkward as I am if not more. And if you find yourself with a hole on your Christmas list and you want to fill it with a book, something beautiful and meaningful, you should choose The Empathy Exams, and this is the last time I'm going to tell you to read it but I will probably quote from it over and over again until you read it and tell me how right I am. (Oh, turn me on, tell me I'm right.) I'm rereading it now in preparation for a discussion and I am loving it even more the second time through. It's a thoughtful and heartbreaking and lovely book, and there are worse things in the world than spending time thinking about thoughtfulness and broken hearts and the ways we are human, especially at this time of year. It reminded me what I am made of, and if you want to be effective at loving other people, you have to have some idea about your component parts. You have to know what you're working with, which toolkit you've got and what you're missing. Then you practice.

put a pin in it

I used to be friends with a girl who was way more into music than I was. I think most people are like that; my tastes are pedestrian mostly and I can go weeks without listening to a song that isn't played on some store system. But she and I were friends and we were the enmeshed sort of friends, and it was exhilarating and troubling and it was the frame of my life at the time. I could not conceive of living otherwise. If you are a woman, you have probably had a friendship like this at one point or another. When someone meets a certain tipping-point level of friend criteria, it's so irresistible to sail in and get all Anne-and-Diana, isn't it? 

The friendship and the enmeshment aren't the point of all this, but the music is. We were friends when David Bowie toured with Nine Inch Nails and she loved David Bowie; he was her forever man and let's be real, this is as much a sign of her good taste as her love for me, right? There was no way she would not go, and I liked Bowie well enough, liked Nine Inch Nails, and yes, I would go with her. I don't remember precisely when or how, but it was in the context of this event that she said something like It's always good to have a thing like this to look forward to, you know? Like "I have to live until the Bowie show, I can't let anything get in my way until that." Then you just find something else a few months away that you have to live for.

This was not a girl given to suicidal thoughts. Of the two of us I was the more dour and cynical. I don't remember how I reacted at the time, but it stayed with me, decades now. (Auld, auld, to be thinking of things on a timeline of "decades" and yet have them feel so close and large and warm.) The girl didn't--didn't stay with me, I mean. I broke our enmeshment myself for a dumb reason. Aren't they all dumb reasons? I was overflowing what I thought was the shape of my life, which no longer had space for the shape hers had become. So ridiculous, so short-sighted, so mean of me. Given the chance now I would break any shape and make room for her, I would be as generous as she always was for me. I remember us driving away from the amphitheater after that show into the dark, wondering what was coming next that would be good enough to live for.

This is a long way of saying that I bought concert tickets today. There are lots of reasons for me to keep going every day besides the obvious stubborn insistence of my body continuing all of its biochemical processes and reactions. I have not taught my mother-in-law the carrot soup recipe! I have book club meetings! I have that stack of paper I have to shred! But when I'm running for a bus and my boots skid on ice and I (hopefully) catch myself before I fall, I'll swear in my head and remember that I have a place to be in a few months. Maybe I'll be more careful. Maybe just better.


Last night I had every intention of writing--I really did! Because why take on a daily writing thing and then flake out? But flake I did. When I looked at a clock it was 1230 and I said a very silent "fuck it" and went on with my Friday night late night thing.

Then came today. Sleeping in, morning at Third and Bird surrounded by shoppers and baubles, then fixing a quick  batch of soup for Myron's dad, heading out for Japanese for dinner, and home again home again. It was dizzying and fun and I should be exhausted, but I'm charged up and blissed out and wish I had a few more hours left of stuff to do. 

What I can do is finish up this bit of a post before midnight. And add in some photos from dinner because that's what you do. Yep. Done. 


shiitake beef
mushroom skewers

that's me, clinking my glass.

The benefit of not having written a blog here in more than a year is that I didn't write my traditional Thanksgiving post in which, instead of enumerating my gratitudes like people do, I complain about how very much I miss the United States on the last Thursday in November. I am bored of enumerated gratitudes and do not believe there is anything wrong with a holiday that has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with gathering, food, and people you love, like, tolerate, or loathe-but-must-suffer, and their plus ones. I wish it happened quarterly instead of annually, and I wish it did not come with the shadow of imperialism and genocide, but no one has asked me yet to create my own holiday, though you are all free to celebrate my birthday next year if you want. I will tell you the story of how my grandmother burst through the hospital door marked No Admittance while my mother was in labor with me. We can make a rite out of that, can't we?
Instead, on this non-holiday, I stained wood and made black beans with tomatillo salsa for Myron and a dish of chipotle tuna salad for me. I stayed away from Instagram and the stream of a thousand turkeys with trimmings. I put the last of my December obligations into my planner, and I felt the illusion of control. That's an addictive drug, right there.
I hope if you Thanksgivinged, it was a good one. And I hope if it was just another Thursday, that it was a good one of those, too.

a scrap of gold

He doesn't know what makes him say what he does next: Is it empathy, as he hopes, or is it a boast, an alluding aloud to the improbable and wondrous turns his life has taken over the past month? "You know, Felix," he begins, "I never had friends either, not for a very long time, not until I was much older than you." He can sense, rather than see, Felix become alert, can feel him listening. "I wanted them, too," he continues, going slowly now, because he wants to make sure his words come out right. "And I always wondered if I would ever find any, and how, and when." He traces his index finger across the dark walnut tabletop, up the spine of Felix's math textbook, down his cold glass of water. "And then I went to college, and I met people who, for whatever reason, decided to be my friends, and they taught me--everything, really. They made me, and make me, into someone better than I really am.
"You won't understand what I mean now, but someday you will: the only trick of friendship, I think, is to find people who are better than you are--not smarter, not cooler, but kinder, and more generous, and more forgiving--and then to appreciate them for what they can teach you, and try to listen to them when they tell you something about yourself, no matter how bad--or good--it might be, and to trust them, which is the hardest thing of all. But the best, as well."
They're both quiet for a long time, listening to the click of the metronome, which is faulty and sometimes starts ticking spontaneously, even after he's stopped it. "You're going to make friends, Felix," he says finally. "You will. You won't have to work as hard at finding them as you will at keeping them, but I promise, it'll be work worth doing."
Hanya Yanagihara, A Little Life
a book which, it turns out, I'm not all that fond of, but which has some truth in it