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If I think about it too much I might become less stable than is required for daily functioning. Let's say we're in Cleveland (never been, but work with me here), or Interlaken -- either example will suffice. At any rate, let's say we're there. And this feeling comes again. It's slow, but its presence is unmistakable. And, I could argue, inevitable. I'm used to it now, but that doesn't make it any easier to comprehend, or enjoy, or destroy. Anyway, it comes, I feel it, and either I let on, or I don't. Which will it be? Which would you prefer?
I played up my bad mood all day, not for sympathy, just for a change. Something new to do. Seriously, what am I doing here? I can hear her hyena-laugh in the next room, her crowing over “Sixteen Candles” yet again. Molly’s not that great an actress, honey. Anyway now I’m in here, trying not to fall asleep. My horoscope told me to be flexible. Instead I dream, cognizant that my routine will continue when I finally snap back to reality. And snapping back is what your laugh is doing, thanks for that. Maybe I will wake up cheerful tomorrow.
So much pressure in a hundred words! Even now I’m counting, and I’ve barely begun. It is late, I’m a little drunk, but I had a great night and wanted to expound. Even walking through the rain didn’t dampen my spirits. I let my mind wander, and of course it wandered to you…where are you? Anyway you’re not here, or I’m not there, whichever it is. Same difference. Today I wore a coat to the bus stop…imagine! A week ago I was schlepping in flip-flops, brow sweating. Fall is almost here. Just listen…can you hear the turning of the leaves?
I can’t even watch ‘Felicity’ reruns anymore, the whole DVD collection was a waste of money, you look too much like Noel, and it hurts to watch. And then my editor shreds my article and I receive a blood-red document, dripping with her comments. I want a new job; I want to write the new ‘Felicity.’ Don’t laugh! It was a good show, and it wasn’t her haircut that caused its demise. Don’t be so sexist. Anyway it all grew back now. And meanwhile Noel is divorcing in real life. Luckily there is no one for you to divorce yet.
I like how you call me just when I miss you the least. Like, when I’m finally turning the page, starting a new cycle, the phone rings. You must have a sixth sense. And always, I answer, knowing full well what the end result will be: me doubting the choices I’ve made, the place I’m in. Next week we will start all over. Today, I’ve had enough. I let the battery on my cell phone run out – from three bars, to two, to the eternal one (damn! I have a good phone). To zero. Don’t call. At least, not today.
Tonight I will drink, smile and have fun with friends. Then I’ll see someone with your eyes, or smile, or (lack of) height, and feel a pang. It’s so cliché to miss you like this, and even more to write about it…I’m embarrassed when I pine. My phone rang this morning but I missed the call. I didn’t recognize the number…but it could have been you, the area code was the same. Would you call me on a Saturday morning? Did you miss me on a Friday night? Eleven words left and I want to use them all on you.
Becoming a city-dweller is a slow process. You may move in overnight, but months – years, perhaps – can go by before the city becomes your home, a part of you. Walking the streets today I realized I’ve met a lot of people named “Joy” lately…are the gods trying to tell me something? But, even with the comfort of this place I still have to remind myself to relax, to “be me” when I enter a room. It’s a separate issue, but still. When did I develop an anxiety disorder? Regardless, things are moving along. But I still want a new puppy.
The sizzle of the eggplant on my George Foreman was the most satisfying noise I’ve heard all day. So I threw more slices on and watched as they bubbled and browned. Cooking is a new hobby of mine; surveying and selecting which spices will complement the dish, pinching miniscule portions into pans and bowls. I stir the vegetables; wipe the moisture from my upper lip. This Indian summer plays with my mind. I pull a plate from the cupboard. Welcome to September, welcome to the third floor apartment, welcome to any future that doesn’t involve fear. Just spices and scents.
What is it but all shades of light, anyway. Faces pass but I can’t really see them; instead I focus on the windows, the walls that form the walkway. Do you remember in college, when we climbed walls and painted our names in the sand, laughing…we followed our own walkways. I think I’ve lost a little of myself since then. On the window the rain makes its presence known but I still ignore it. This bleak day only serves as a reminder of what once was. Changes are inevitable, this was inevitable, and I think you are an inevitable success.
This is a wishing-poem. World peace (ha), an honest Administration, a new job. A job market, period. Equality. A fresh pedicure, a beautiful fall, a new X-files movie. Carbohydrate-free pasta. Free laundry in my building. A return to Paris, with you. A sold screenplay, vanilla ice cream, financial comfort for all my family. This isn’t a lot to ask for! The rain to stop, the sky to return to blue, my dog. Twenty eight more words so this entry can be complete. New boots, fancy ones, and a celebrity’s phone number programmed into my mobile. And, finally, a British accent.
The saddest part of any movie is always the beginning, because there is already so much you have missed. Think about the beginnings of your favorite movies: the introduction of characters and conflict, sure, but also the absence of history, a background. How can an audience really ever catch on? I’ll tell you how: the movie has to tell a universal story, something of which everyone already knows the story. Even the “groundbreaking” films, the indies that start out on three screens in New York and LA and then explode into Suburbia, USA, are all movies we have already seen.
We sat in the kitchen and laughed like sisters for the first time. I already have 2, and they’re amazing, but you have to adjust when situations call for it. A tells us a crazy story about searching for the name of a band when all she knows about it is the face of a possible member. I envision the internet search as such: go to google, type in “band”, and make a night of it. Alas, A is smarter than I often give her credit for. She got it done. I’ve never been that practical or analytic. Or stalker-ish.
Tonight I am watching planes circle the firmament -- in a city, they are the closest to stars one can see. They make me want to be on a plane again, back in the mountains of Switzerland or the streets of Avignon. I can see the castle remains still in my head, can feel the cool ancient stone beneath my hand. Sometimes the trips flash back to me so vividly, so brightly, I feel sick; other times, I struggle to remember who I was back then, what we said. I should have captured it more clearly. Or not at all.
Ever since Ayn Rand I have romanticized trains. I am still fascinated by the idea that I can board a train and in 5 hours be in a different state, different country, different way of life. No one could know who I am, where I'm from, or my destination. When I travel now I don't even care about window seats, I like the aisle so I can see who is coming and going. I call myself Dagny. I like to watch the conductors mysteriously punch our tickets, their codes and numbers making my mind churn. What do they all mean?
At work, when I search the supply drawer for more post-its, I have an urge to seize the markers, in their innocuous boxes, and color massive paintings across the blue-washed walls, in the form of Lichtenstein or Pollock. I don't really even like modern art, but I understand the appeal: filling up a space with shape and color, making it your own. I know it is more than that, but staring at my beige cubicle makes me yearn to grab the Sharpies and mark my name in bold green across the 4-foot walls. I need to take an art class.
This is me, stealing shamelessly from another's entry. Dear D: Is it weird that I miss you, considering I was relieved to be rid of you? There are so many reasons we are not friends. Among them, the fact that you feel the need to turn all of my friends into your lovers, twist them into curls and leave their remnants in my backyard. Additionally, there is the recognition that you must have everything I have, but more. I prefer to work on my own terms than compete on yours. This is me, trying to make this goodbye note clinical.
I yelled at my roommate again today, just because she laughs too damn loud. I was all, relax. Just because someone you knew in college is on Paradise Hotel is no reason to get excited. Then he got kicked off. Anyway that show reminds me of high school to a sickening degree…but here I am on a Monday night, sucking down the shallow depths of their conversation like its freaking Nietzsche. My mom once asked the greatest question: why do we all still care so much about how our high school peers view us? She too has moments of brilliance.
Through this morning's revolving door – literally and figuratively, as more were let go before market opening – I saw you and couldn't remember what I was thinking. Truly. I used to get so mad at you for your ignoring, your playing games and pretending I wasn't in the room. I knew you saw me the whole time. This morning I laughed – internally, to be more appropriate – when the curls at the back of your neck didn't make me flutter. The credits have finally rolled on that episode, and I think I won the best acting award. You, unsurprisingly, weren't even nominated.
Let us run through the schedule of my day. Wake up too early but still run late. Cook breakfast at home -- no carb, high protein. Enjoy watching my roommate pretend she's a Very Important Person by leaving for work impossibly early...in flip-flops. Channel surf the morning news. Leave apartment. Wait for bus. Stand on bus due to no seats. Try to read one-handed as driver lurches between stoplights. Enter office. Work. Cry because work sucks. Work. Leave. Cry on phone to mother, then sister, that work sucks. Channel surf the news. More high-protein, low-carb food. Friends at 11pm. Sleep.
So many things happen in a day when nothing happens. Lea asked me once, in high school, if you and I told each other everything. I was stunned to learn most people kept to themselves remarks others made, looks they saw pass between friends. You and I shared all the details of the day and passed the next armed with that collective knowledge. It's harder now, when I can't fully picture your days, nor you, mine. I'd like to tell you what Annan said, how I saw Queen Latifah at a photo shoot. But I don't think you would care.
Fall always make me think of the classics. I imagine the Puritans, with their scarlet letters, shuffling their way through falling leaves while humming the praises of god; Thoreau, observing the new colors by his pond. I sit in a classroom, new jeans, turtleneck sweater – a college catalogue come to life. I wonder, will I ever adapt to an autumn that doesn't involve school? Who notices the changing seasons from the 18th floor of an office, where it is eternally a bleak afternoon? This is why we have children, probably – to relive our youth, entering first grade time and again.
I hate to host, but somehow I always end up hosting a dinner party, or a Halloween party. I blame my sister, since she's the one who comes up with the ideas and then, in her usual diplomatic way, rationalizes reasons for my hosting it. Yesterday I was in a funk because I have this party coming up this weekend, and I thought "Why am I hosting? What if no one comes? What if people come, but they're the people I don't really like and just invited as fillers?" These are the questions I am grappling with. We will see.
This is the trouble with birthday presents! They should mean something while being telling of both the giver and the receiver. I searched the music sheet store for hours today, and you're just my roommate! I don't even play and yet was considering the purchase of quite a few song books. Tori will do that to me. Anyway I think the cashier was mocking me when I said hi. A momentary lapse in concentration – this is New York, after all, not a friendly mom-and-pop shanty at the shore. I mean beach. Christ, I'm beginning to talk like them now too.
Who knows what the tarot cards will say? This is why I read them, why I get them read, why I follow my star sign and look up yours occasionally, too. There is always the chance of things changing. There is always the knowledge that at any moment, within a split second, our fortunes can crumble, or multiply infinitely. I held the spellbook in my hands last night, and pondered the idea of second chances. Or third, or ninth. I think our collective belief in remaking ourselves, in changing, may be uniquely American. Only we need to reinvent this often.
Let me tell you about the time I almost slipped into mental illness. I was a junior in college, and seriously, every day it was something new. Plus, I put additional pressures on myself. I clearly remember laying awake in the middle of the night, unable to close my eyes and stop the train whose tracks I was barreling down. I considered calling a hotline. Then a friend called to make sure I was alive, since she dreamed I committed suicide. It was then I realized that none of the things I was going through were actually mine to own.
Finally, we wore coats today. At the bus stop our breezing scarves formed a rainbow, bright blue wools dancing next to leafy greens and fireball reds. We could smell the change in weather – the lingering scent of barbeques and coconut lotion gave way to leather and pine practically overnight. The light is different now; sunlight hits cars at wider angles. On the bus I look out at the skyline, noticing how it looks cleaner, almost, and starker. Under my jacket I shiver and run my fingers through the ends of my striped scarf. It is still too warm for mittens.
We seem to slip back into our old selves as soon as we're together. Or maybe it's just me, ridding myself of the invisible backpack of insecurities I tote and morphing into the ultimate me, since you do it so easily. Tonight over margaritas I realized I missed you, even as you sat across from me, laughing. The salt melted down our dewy glasses, making our fingers sticky. We ordered another round and watched the darkness light up around us, in this favorite restaurant of mine. The city is a different animal on weekends, but tonight it felt just right.
Pose a question, deliberate on a response, close with witticism. I have noticed this common structure among entries – at least, those entries that are more like journals versus the short fiction, or continuous plots, others submit. Which would you rather read? I think I like both equally. No, I am not a Libra. Cancer, actually, though I don't really cook. That's not to say I couldn't if I tried. But I leave that to my brother, the chef. Anyhow I was talking about commonalities among entries. Well, we all enter the same way: with hope that we will be read.
Let's say you're in Vancouver, because I like Canadian city names (try saying "Ottawa". Just for fun). Even there, would you still remember the photo-like quality of our faces, or the symmetry of an asymmetrical cityline? Here in the subway I can't stop thinking about it. At each stop I enter a new world. Or rather, a new world enters me: here are strangers with whom I am sharing this common bond: a ride on the A train. It makes me think of what our common bond is, or was. What is common about us. This is a rhetorical question.
I can't believe how often I forget to look up. Today as the autumn sun reflects off the windows and rooftops, the skyscrapers and helicopters, sleeping clouds interrupt a vast blueness. They have been here for hours, like me. From here I can see New Jersey, its bridges and jutted shoreline, and it looks like a glistening mirage. But really I am focused on the sky. How is it that we live day after day forgetting about the sheer amazingness of the firmament? It must be too much to think about, so we subconsciously ignore it. Instead we discuss fashion.
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