“I knew it was all over. I was lost. From this moment on, it would be a touching, an eating of foods, a learning of language and algebra and logic, a movement and an emotion, a kissing and a holding, a whirl of feeling that caught and sucked me drowning under. I knew I was lost forever now, and I didn’t care. But I did care, and I was laughing and crying all in one, and there was nothing to do about it, but hold her and love her with all my decided and rioting body and mind.”—Ray Bradbury, “One Timeless Spring” (via lifeinpoetry)
We were hungry. We went into a bakery on Grand Avenue and bought bread. Filled the backseat. The whole car smelled of bread. Big sourdough loaves shaped like a fat ass. Fat-ass bread, I said in Spanish, Nalgona bread. Fat – ass bread, he said in Italian, but I forget how he said it.
We ripped big chunks with our hands and ate. The car a pearl blue like my heart that afternoon. Smell of warm bread, bread in both fists, a tango on the tape player loud, loud, loud, because me and him, we’re the only ones who could stand it like that, like if the bandoneón, violin, piano and, guitar, bass, were inside us, like when he wasn’t married, like before his kids, like if all the pain hadn’t passed between us.
Driving down streets with buildings that remind him, he says, how charming the city is. And me remembering when I was little, a cousin’s baby who died from swallowing rat poison in a building like these.
That’s just how it is. And that’s how we drove. With all his new city memories and all my old. Him kissing me between big bites of bread.
“You know, they straightened out the Mississippi River in places, to make room for houses and livable acreage. Occasionally the river floods these places. “Floods” is the word they use, but in fact it is not flooding; it is remembering. Remembering where it used to be. All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was. Writers are like that: remembering where we were, what valley we ran through, what the banks were like, the light that was there and the route back to our original place. It is emotional memory — what the nerves and the skin remember as well as how it appeared. And a rush of imagination if is our “flooding.””—Toni Morrison, excerpt from “The Site of Memory,” What Moves at the Margin: Selected Nonfiction (via commovente)
Someday Somebody's Gonna Make You Wanna Turn Around and Say Goodbye
On the subway ride to work yesterday I was sharing a pole with a tall man. We weren’t especially close, especially not for 8:30 AM on the D train, but he seemed annoyed that I was sharing the space he had decided was his. I peered over the pages of my book at the tattoo on his wrist, waiting for his sleeve to shift so I could read what was written in swirly script there. It said:
Get out of my way.
No joke! Unbelievable. More people piled on at Grand Street, and I shifted to let them pass, and I suppose that was the last straw for him. Perhaps I wrapped my hand around the particular part of pole he had wanted because he sighed loudly and finally moved further back to a pole he could have all to himself. And I smiled delightedly into my book that he had been forced to get out of my way because I’ll be damned if I’m making room for any men who think they’re entitled to more space than I am.
It’s mid-October, but warm enough to walk to work in just a cardigan. I don’t even freeze with mostly wet hair, my eyeliner hastily applied, as I try to make it past Brownstone Bagel and its heavy cloud of warm oniony bread without stopping.
I’m working on this theory that the more you tell people about your life, the more likely they are to be kind to you, because they begin to see you as a whole person. To test it, I’ve been slipping facts about myself into conversation and watching the way other people’s eyes change. I think I surprise them.
I suppose I’m looking for ways to make the world react a bit more gently to me because I still haven’t grown the thick skin of a business woman. I work diligently to cultivate a sense of apathy, but it doesn’t come. I am still so easily stung, so desperate to do well and to be liked, so quick to scold myself for any misstep.
On the way home, at Jay St.-Metrotech, I notice the “p” has been partially scraped away from a “Help Point,” so that it reads “Hell Point,” the second “l” drooping slightly. I enjoy the unoriginal, defeatist graffiti, especially at this station where the platform is so narrow that every approaching train feels like it might barrel right off the tracks. The evening commuters are tired, my blouse has come untucked, rats scurry in the garbage along the track. Hell point, indeed, but it’s only 3 stops from home, and even when it feels like I won’t make it, I still do.
“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”—Anais Nin (via iamnomes)
Ok, Hey Jude, this fucking song, I could write an entire essay about this song alone. Like, just imagine Paul writing that for Julian Lennon to sort of say “hey, I’m sorry your dad sort of sucks” and reaching out to John’s kid in a way John never seemed to be able to. And Paul singing these words with John standing in the background just playing his guitar? Is that not enough to make anyone cry? When I was younger, that classic line ”Hey Jude, refrain, don’t carry the world upon your shoulders/for you know, its a fool, who plays it cool, by making his world a little colder,” really resonated with me. And like, yeah, that line is still great, but now the part that makes me cry is ”Let it out, let it in, hey Jude, begin/ You are waiting for someone to perform with/ And don’t you know, that its just you?/ Hey Jude, you’ll do." Because just holy shit, doesn’t everyone (or at least, me, right now) need someone to be like "hey, you are okay, you can do it". Its like Paul telling Jude that even though his dad has dissapointed him, he doesn’t need him, he can be his own man without him. And then the chorus swells and all of the guys start joining in and even John is singing and its like the whole song gets stronger and more triumphant, like they are sending Jude out into the world. And that line about carrying the world on your shoulders is so drenched in teen angst, because Jude is just a boy and Paul gets it because he had been that young not that long ago. But by the time he wrote that song he had grown up and could now give advice to a kid not that much younger than he had been when they started the band.
Wow that was really long, I’m sorry I just have a lot of feelings.
Saw my uncle perform in his Beatles cover band over the weekend and those lines - ”Let it out, let it in, hey Jude, begin/ You are waiting for someone to perform with/ And don’t you know, that its just you?/ Hey Jude, you’ll do.” - really got to me, too.
I’ve been thinking about how telling anyone my plans makes them less shiny and special and mine. I have ideas about my life that feel secret and breakable and I don’t know how to take care of them properly. It’s not that I want secrets, in fact I think I crave the telling of things. I want to give away, give away, give away until the moment I have finished giving and then I want to gobble my words back up again.
I’ve been thinking about how many different kinds of pain there are. How there are particular variations of pain I have yet to feel. There is pain that I could not comprehend if someone were to describe it to me now, and there is pain I feel now and cannot even describe to myself.
I want my life to be something it’s not. More languorous, more verdant, more sweet. Perhaps that’s the mid-fall fear in me, as the summer fades and the dark creeps closer and closer, encroaching on my days, rolling into the city like a cold, black smoke. When the days grow shorter it always feels like all of time is running out. I imagine the light hours cupping my life like two palms, drawing closer together like a set of parentheses until nothing is left between them but the punctuation mark of me.
Summer for prose and lemons, for nakedness and languor,
for the eternal idleness of the imagined return,
for rare flutes and bare feet, and the August bedroom
of tangled sheets and the Sunday salt, ah violin!
When I press summer dusks together, it is
a month of street accordions and sprinklers
laying the dust, small shadows running from me.
It is music opening and closing, Italia mia, on Bleecker, ciao, Antonio, and the water-cries of children
tearing the rose-coloured sky in streams of paper;
it is dusk in the nostrils and the smell of water
down littered streets that lead you to no water,
and gathering islands and lemons in the mind.
There is the Hudson, like the sea aflame.
I would undress you in the summer heat,
and laugh and dry your damp flesh if you came.
“Every human being alive has a right to say what they can and cannot do. Do you want to keep working, just to serve your shiny picture, without knowing what it all adds up to? Because I want to tell you something. You are a force to be reckoned with. You are laser sharp and you are on fire. That anxiety you feel isn’t about laziness; that’s the white-hot flame of a heart in chains. You were big and bright and raw and sensitive and sweet and you used to admit what you didn’t know, easily, without fear, and you know what happened? The world beat that shit out of you.”—Heather Havrilesky for president (via christinefriar)
I took today off, thinking I would unpack and clean the apartment, but instead I’m lying in a towel on my bed, eating endless amounts of those chalky-soft pastel after dinner mints, imagining how difficult it would be to be a parent.
“I like her. She makes life interesting. She, herself, is interesting, I suppose. She talks right from the heart. I appreciate her frankness and I like the fact that she doesn’t force the natural flow of a conversation. There’s personality in her words. She thus gets to the core of things and that’s important because with her — I can talk knowing that the talk is real! Oh believe me, it’s amazingly real! And she also gives me the opportunity to listen as fully and completely as possible. And I can’t seem to get her out of my head […]”—Virginia Woolf, from Selected Letters (via girlinlondon)
I keep catching myself wondering is this my depression? Is this? What about this? As if every feeling must be a symptom of a diagnosed illness in order to be legitimate.
I have anxiety attacks whenever I visit my family now, and I’m ashamed of it and I try to hide it, and I worry constantly about hurting everyone’s feelings. I am starting to recognize the ways in which this has been true for me since childhood - the familiarity of deep breaths in bathrooms and mid-afternoon naps as methods of escape. A lifetime of feeling out of control and worried in social situations, as if it’s my job to mediate, to reassure, and at which I feel I am continually failing.
I love my family so much it makes my chest hurt and then I don’t know anymore if that’s love. My love rearranges itself as panic, exhaustion, an empathy that feels like drowning. I’ve been trying to call my anxiety by its name. I find it helps to press my finger to its pulse and acknowledge it in the moment it’s occurring.
I guess I shouldn’t, but I like the word crazy because that is how it feels - like a madness that has nothing to do with me, an outside force acting on me without my consent. I don’t know what it means to be crazy, but I sometimes wonder if it’s the feeling of being too sensitive to live in the world, incapable of accepting even kindness without feeling pain. I have been wrestling with an inability to express myself, to smile when I’m happy, to be friendly toward friends. Is it crazy to feel a widening space between inward and outward selves? To know, rationally, that I am emoting incorrectly, becoming an unrecognizable reflection of my self as I know it?
When the anxiety is bad on the subway, I squeeze Ben’s hand tightly and he knows without my having to say anything, and he says nothing back, but moves ever so slightly, rearranging his body to protect mine. Sometimes he’ll put his cheek, gently, to mine, and this helps. Neither of us knows what he is protecting me from, or how to do it, but we are both trying, with hands and faces and arms, to make this world a little more tolerable, to bridge the deep, grasping gap of sensitivity.
“I’ve always been a fan of that saying that there are really only two prayers: thank you, and please. I’m not a praying person, but I think that same quote can work for poetry. Thank you and please is all I’ve got.”—Ada Limón, interviewed by Suzannah Windsor for Compose Journal (via bostonpoetryslam)
“I discovered The Silent Woman, Janet Malcolm’s portrait of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, last fall and read it in just one sitting, the book in one hand and a champagne flute of white wine in the other. I had recently broken all of my wine glasses. I did not break them all at the same time. Some I broke while cleaning, and I was upset that I had managed to destroy something while trying to make it clean, make it better. Other glasses were broken using more theatrical methods, smashing them against walls to prove points. I had also recently broken my bed frame, cracked a rib, and wrecked a series of valuable relationships. Broken things had become my metric. It was fall and this book fell on my head in the Strand. It was fall and everything was falling out of place. It was fall and I felt, constantly, as if I were in a state of vertigo. I could go on. I won’t.”—The Last Book I Loved: The Silent Woman by Michelle King. (via therumpus)
I feel heavy with dread about I don’t know what, but I’m taking a train out of here tomorrow to be with the people I love.
Gonna get through the end of this long, long week and plunge head first into forests and orchards and strange quiet. I’m ready for mashed potatoes and let me help you with your bag. Gonna have hot chocolate and long showers. Gonna stop up this aching heart and hug a dog and tell my parents I love them.
“When you can state the theme of a story, when you can separate it from the story itself, then you can be sure the story is not a very good one. The meaning of a story has to be embodied in it, has to be made concrete in it. A story is a way to say something that can’t be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is. You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate. When anybody asks what a story is about, the only proper thing is to tell him to read the story. The meaning of fiction is not abstract meaning but experienced meaning, and the purpose of making statements about the meaning of a story is only to help you experience that meaning more fully.”—Flannery O’Connor (via nathanielstuart)