No Great Illusion

Caroline is a twenty-something former film student, frequent subway-crier and headboard enthusiast. She lives in Brooklyn.

My writing here.

Send me a letter: nogreatillusion [at] gmail [dot] com

On Changing My Mind

I don’t want advice. Can I say that first, just to get it out of the way? I don’t want your advice. Please.

I just want to feel like I can talk about the fact that trying to lose weight and teaching myself to run have been and continue to be so extremely difficult for me that it is becoming an emotional weight I feel I can no longer bear. I’m embarrassed and ashamed of how difficult it has been.

I have worked my way up from huffing and puffing through four 3-minute runs, all the way up to two 9-minute runs over the past 7 weeks. I try to move more on the days I don’t run. I built an multi-month exercise plan that feels attainable to me and I have rearranged my life to stick to it.

But I feel like there’s no place for me to talk about how despite changing my lifestyle from very little exercise, to running and walking 3 times a week, every week, despite eating healthier foods, and more vegetables and less alcohol and more water and eating breakfast when I’m hungry, and lean protein, and nothing fried, despite pushing myself so far outside of my physical and emotional comfort zone that I often end my runs exhausted and shaky and tearful, consistently, for almost two months, my body remains generally unchanged.

Five minutes into this morning’s run I stopped and sobbed on the sidewalk and Ben held me while I cried. We sat down on a stoop for thirty minutes while I told him how failing at this makes me feel worthless. 

I want to feel proud of myself. It has been a struggle for me to commit to exercising on a consistent basis. Sometimes it means getting up at 6 AM, or running late in the evening when I’ve worked overtime. It means spending part of every weekend getting outside and moving. It means feeling, often, like the heaviest girl at the gym. Feeling stares on my white thighs as I struggle through my routine. It means putting all of my energy into ignoring unhealthy messages, and starving coworkers, and an unrelenting media that dictates how my body should look. It means trying to do this carefully, kindly. 

I have begun to dread the runs. I worry about them all day. But I don’t know if I dread them more than I dread living inside this body. More than I dread the well-meaning advice of friends. More than I dread the impossible urge to compare myself, and isolate myself, and hate myself.

This is not giving up. This is not the end. I am willing to keep working at this, but I am not willing to keep holding on to this unhappiness. I am not running from something, I am running toward it. How do I remind myself that this is not a war? This is a peace march. This is a slow dance. This is a goddamn evolution. 

On Bees And Other Winged Creatures

"Shai told me a story one evening. Summer and still bright as afternoon. We were sitting in this bar called Tom and Jerry’s just on the Village side of Houston, I was wearing red lipstick and drinking something with watermelon and tequila, well on my way to drunk and to probably three other things that night, because it was during that same hurt, sloppy, spiteful summer when I was constantly on my way to a bar or a concert or a party or a date, constantly rushing home to change in front of the air conditioner before going to a rooftop concert, to meet up with the drummer from that concert to go to a different concert, to a bar in SoHo for a date with a bartender, to the bar upstairs at work to flirt with an engineer from Depeche Mode, to the liquor store on Spring to get cheap Prosecco for a party at Anna’s, to Prospect Park to sit outside an M. Ward concert and text boys I oughtn’t. " - Lily

You should follow the link and read this whole thing that Lily wrote, because she is a writer, a good one, really only a very good writer can do what she does. Lily can make crying into a plate of enchiladas sound romantic. She can spin her own embarrassment into glamour, can fairy-godmother her own memories into something sparkly and made of glass.

Sometimes I can hardly believe we lived in the same city, worked at the same hotel, knew the same people, called the same borough home. I don’t remember any of it being so exciting, but then I wasn’t Lily. Boys were never trying to fuck me, strangers were never trying to help me, or bartenders flirt with me. Can you imagine how much I wanted to be like her? To flit about the city like a winged, wild, thing - a real life manic pixie dream girl, riding her mania like it was public transportation? I would have given a month’s rent for half the bounce in Lily’s step.

Instead, I was the keeper of clean linens, ice water, and unwrinkled blouses to loan. A lackluster sidekick who couldn’t hold the spotlight with both hands. Not even at my own birthday parties.

I’m in this story, too, actually. I was there the night at the bar in Park Slope, sitting quietly, perhaps even contentedly on a barstool with Lily and Anneke and whatever the ex-boyfriend’s name was. After the bar we went to a diner, and I remember that they ordered pancakes because not one of them would touch the diner syrup. Only real maple syrup would do, and if they couldn’t have it, they preferred nothing at all. 

I was jealous of Lily, am jealous of her maybe. Not all of us can be the kind of girl who makes an entrance, who lights up rooms, who can look a man in the eye when he compliments her and say, with utter confidence, “I know.” I am still trying to come to terms with being the other kind. The kind of girl who puts other people into cabs, maternal and steadfast, though just as swollen with emotion. Sometimes I feel like there’s no place for us, that the world turns on its axis for the effervescent Lilys, as they bluster through cities, fearlessly kissing all the boys we might have loved. 

I wondered, reading this story Lily retells so beautifully, if it were possible that the bees didn’t stop stinging the men after all. Perhaps they carried them in their palms, despite the stings. I have found that there is jam so sweet, you hardly mind the sting of the bees it attracts. After a while, you hardly notice it at all.

Crying at the dentist at age 27 because money and scraping and other people’s hands in my mouth and money and aching jaw and drill in my bones and judgement and blood and money and money and money. 

So I did that thing I do where I make myself stop feeling and I go numb as novocaine and I nod, nod, nod.

I don’t care if I’m too old to think I want to go home. I want to go home. Like I did at elementary school slumber parties. Homesickness like a lump in my throat. So I float up out of myself and I think about other things - about god and water parks and leave in conditioner. I think myself right out of the room.

I’m not here anymore. That’s someone else handing over her debit card blankly, bottom lip slack and head full of unshed tears. Face like a water balloon. Face like a drawing done with my non-dominant hand - loopy and scribbled. 

I’m someplace else. I’m on the sidewalk. I’m already halfway home.

Variations

I want it on record that although I lived for years in a three room apartment in Brooklyn, with sloping floors and a metal gate over one of the kitchen windows, I existed in lavish places also, and that I ate and drank heartily, lived exuberantly, gave easily.

There are layers under the snow like strata, lining the sidewalks of Brooklyn. Nearest to the top is Thursday’s recycling, then Monday’s garbage, then more snow, more garbage, and at the very bottom a stratum of decaying Christmas trees. Trash blows into the vacant lot next door and collects around the clothing donation bin at the end of the block. The snowbanks are painted with dog piss and grime. The ground is coated in indefatigable ice, despite the salt that crunches everywhere underfoot.

Somewhere in lower Manhattan, I recline on a Fendi sofa in a 36th floor hotel suite while behind the glass of the floor to ceiling windows, the sun sets over the Hudson river in an orange rind sky. The ice in the champagne bucket cracks quietly, shifting as it melts. I sink into the furniture, buzzing with the pleasure of knowing I brought us here: New York, my first home, and the hotel, my second.

We take the leather-paneled elevator all the way up to the top floor to the empty meeting room, and I watch my sister and her husband wander between the empty tables covered in white linen. The city sparkles from every direction, the Manhattan bridge winking in the distance. From 46 stories, the city seems very bright and very quiet. I am puffed with pride, as if I had a hand in building it, block by block. I show off the Chrysler building like a new necklace.

Back in Brooklyn, I drink whiskey and lime and tequila and more lime in a dark bar that glows warm and amber like a glass of scotch. It’s little more than a hole in the wall - a luminous, shadowy little cave, and the four of us merry and pink with our good fortune.

At dinner, there is red wine. I have the first taste from the bottle, spin the liquid in my glass. Then there is bruschette pulcinella, mozzarella di bufala alla caprese, and warm bread in a basket. Red checkered napkins and a wood-fired oven. There are pizzas with pesto, with potatoes, with onions and spicy sausage. We eat until we can’t take another bite. Full and flushed, we make our way back out into the city. 

I feel caught between so many lives, tangled like ribbons wrapped around this place. I have answered phones and folded laundry. I have slept in a penthouse and stolen chocolate covered strawberries. I have sipped cocktails in speakeasies and slept on subways and scrubbed toilets. I have danced in ballrooms with towering crystal chandeliers and washed my hair in a glass walled shower overlooking the city skyline and I have sat on curbs, crying, vomiting, lost or drunk or angry. And all of these are New York for me, not one any more or less than the others. I am fortunate and diligent and brave, scuffed up broke and rich as royalty. I am still putting night after night in my pocket for a story.

I’ve been lying in bed for days. Shivering at first and then sweating through my clothes, through my sheets, waking up wet and shaky and flushed, reaching for Ben who gathers me into his arms again and again. 

Yesterday I decided I needed the fresh air and thought I’d walk the half mile or so home from Urgent Care. I was hazy from not eating for almost 48 hours, but my fever was down and I was finally feeling hungry. All I wanted was chocolate peanut butter ice cream and Newman’s lemonade, even though I don’t particularly like chocolate peanut butter ice cream and haven’t eaten it in probably 15 years. Still, I felt a strange urgent desire to satisfy my cravings, so I stopped at the grocery store and floated around the aisles, pale and greasy, and gripping tightly my little bag of antibiotics.

After the grocery store, I continued on my way home and missed my street for the first time in four years. Just walked right on by it and didn’t notice for a block. I could have been any crazy woman with snarled, unwashed hair and vacant eyes, turning around in the middle of the sidewalk and retracing her steps. Under my new winter coat I was wearing Ben’s tshirt and the same pants I’d been pulling on for days. They were the same cheap black jeans I wore in Albany Medical’s stroke unit, waiting with my mom while I felt this fever coming on, flaming up the sides of my face and freezing my hands and feet. She says she’s afraid to go to sleep at night and I know we are both thinking of that hole in her heart, tiny as the point of a needle or the place where crosshairs meet. I think, my blood, my heart, my mama.

The hours are all muddled. I stay alert until 5 AM, sleep past noon, let the apartment go dim and then dark around me, thinking about hospitals and illnesses and the girls I’ve known since high school who will be doctors soon. There’s a picture on Facebook of Natalie - my baby, my niece, my girl-child in the heart-print cotton shirt and leggings I bought her for Christmas, sitting cross-legged in a little blue wagon in a hospital hallway with an IVIG in her arm. She stares at the camera, unsmiling, pensive, every inch of her peach-pink and tender. I think - my blood, my heart, my little one. I want to gather her in my arms again and again.

Perspective

Two days ago, my mom had a stroke.

And now here I am, sitting in a hospital room in Albany, New York, listening to the old woman behind the curtain ramble semi-incoherently to her physical therapist while somewhere else in the building, doctors are studying my mother’s heart, looking for holes and she frets about her greasy hair and unmade up face.

I bought tulips at Penn Station. Pale pink that fade to white at the bottom. We made a vase out of a clear plastic measuring cup and set them by her bedside. The walls are the color of a pale pat of butter. The nurses bring breaded fish and salads with iceberg lettuce. 

I spent yesterday distracting her with pictures of all my friends. She likes to hear the gossip, who’s dating whom. Today we took political compass quizzes.

It feels strange, letting the world in New York go on without me. I feel like an escaped balloon - aimless, fading into a dot on the horizon.

January

Too cold to leave the apartment, we hole up inside with the dry heat of the overbearing radiator. I wear Ben’s plaid button down shirt and little else for days at a time. After weeks of inactivity, we decide to exercise at home, sliding the ottoman out of the way to make room for lunges, squats, and planks in the living room. The next morning, my thighs are stiff and climbing down the subway steps is a challenge. The cold air turns my tired legs numb. Every pair of tights I own has holes in the toes and some are split in the crotch, but I keep them anyway. Each morning I feel like a bicycle in high gear, unable to get moving without strenuous effort.

The streets are lined with discarded Christmas trees and the hallways of my apartment building are coated in browning needles, smelling of stale pine. The days are steel colored and blurry, like the inside of a dirty kitchen sink. Trash clings to the sides of the chain link fence surrounding the vacant lot next door. When the wind blows, I wind my scarf tighter against the breathtaking cold on the way to the office. 

All anyone at work talks about is juicing. "None for me, I’m juicing." "I can’t today, I’m spinning." Juicing and spinning, as if they collectively resolved to squeeze the life force out of everything this year, including themselves. How much lemon juice does one need to make a lawn-tasting beverage palatable? They compare notes and I hear myself joining in. I note warnings about the dangers of sugary pineapple juice. Everyone looks dizzy, hopped up on black coffee and ambition. I am struck by how little I have to say. 

The snow melts and the weekend is warm and wet. The rain is misty, hovering in the air like a fog, as if each drop was poised to fall and then collapsed into apathy before reaching the ground. Like those cartoons where the plane runs out of gas and halts in midair. Even the sky is exhausted. Ben and I make soup in the slow-cooker, filling the apartment with the scent of warm onions. We write thank you notes and bake pizza with thick, floury crust. I buy bagels by the bagful, brown rice and black beans, peanut butter and fat loaves of peasant bread, to stretch every dollar. 

I start the year by surprising myself with my own face in the mirror, with new short hair that curls slightly just below my chin. Before the cut, I tell Lily that I want it despite knowing I’ll regret it. “There’s something powerful about ugly-on-purpose,” she says, and I agree. There is power in making swift, scissor-sharp regrets. In beginning the year with a head that is literally lighter than it was before. I don’t even glance at the dead ends on the floor. 

Poor disgruntled January, puffed up like a balloon with the all the hopes of the new year, wheezing its way to empty before we’re halfway through the month. I neglected to make a resolution, so I resolve now to be kinder to January. Overeager new calendar January, with its red-rimmed eyes and curbside puddles, poised to disappoint. We thrust our optimism and anticipation into the new year and are met with a wide-mouthed yawn.

Dear Lily,

dearcarolinedearlily:

I miss you.

I know we’ve said it and will continue to say it to each other, but I want you to know that I mean I miss the way you look eight when you’re delighted. I miss your curly mop of hair - in pigtails and ponytails, rained on and frizzy and all done up with braids and pins. I miss how you smell like vanilla body splash and always show up wearing an old cardigan of mine, earbuds in your ears, with a bounce in your step.

I miss texting you from my cubicle while you work two blocks away. I miss your shiny turquoise flats walking down the cobblestone soho streets next to mine. I miss sneakers laced together and slung over your arm because you were always on your way somewhere that required running. A purse overflowing with books and snacks and god knows what else. I miss singing and subways and side glances together.

I miss our margarita habit and the way we always laughed at the same parts of movies. Your innate ability to hate the same people I do. The fact that I’ve never once seen you carry an umbrella.

I miss sangria, cheese plates, guacamole, mimosas, french fries, whiskey-soaked cherries, and sea salt chocolate with you. BLTs and turkey clubs at 2 AM with you. Diners and grocery stores and bars and brunches with you. 

I miss “have you heard this song?” and “did you SEE that email?” and “did you hear who quit?” and “meet you in 15,” “see you in 10,” “leaving my apartment now,” “be there in 5.”

I miss the way nothing felt real until I told you about it. The way I trusted your opinion about everything and got angry at you if we disagreed, and took you upstate to meet my folks at Thanksgiving like you were my new boyfriend.

You should know that New York’s all wrong without you and I think the Chrysler building’s gotten dimmer since you’ve gone. I should tell you I’m still thinking about moving to some east coastal town in a year or two. A cottage near the ocean where I can write and raise babies. And I wouldn’t complain if you moved in next door. We could plant flowers together and eat dinner outdoors, and I’ll send the kids over to Aunt Lily’s for salt and I’ll make up a pitcher of margaritas with fresh lime. I’ll say “Come over!” and you’ll say “Be there in 5!”

2013, In Review

2013 was the year Ben moved in with me. It was the year this relationship filled a space I didn’t know I was capable of making.

It was the year that my one year old niece was diagnosed with cancer and OMS. The year my family shook loose our disagreements and discomforts in support of this child. In the pursuit of her health. The year my sister fought for her daughter’s life in daily hospital visits.

In 2013 I emptied my tiny savings account and got on a plane. I spent a week in the Caribbean Sea. I climbed a mountain in the Adirondacks. I took a boat out in Central Park. Rode the Cyclone on Coney island. I wrote my first short story. Read 30 books, saw 2 plays, 2 musicals, and 2 ballets. I hung art on my walls. I started writing copy. 

It was the year I spent an entire September with everything I own in plastic bags. The year I learned everything I’ll ever need to know about bed bugs. A year of letting go of things I thought I couldn’t do without. The year I did without.

It was the year my mother got remarried in a little church upstate. The year I came to terms with that.

2013 was the year I laughed instead of crying. The year I shrugged instead of yelling. The year my best friend moved across the country. The year I said I was fine, and in the end, I was.

Books Read in 2013

In case you aren’t already End of the Year Listed out, here are the books I read this year (in order) and the briefest of impressions of each.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon - I’m the only person who doesn’t like this book on the entire internet. I wasn’t interested, and every time I started to get interested, the plot veered abruptly and something else I didn’t care about was happening. Sorry, internet, I respect your opinions, but this one was not for me.

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz - A relief, after Kavalier and Clay. Very readable, swift, colloquial prose. It drew me in, but never lit me up.

Wild by Cheryl Strayed - So, so good. Please read it before the movie comes out and you can no longer hear Strayed’s words without thinking of Reese Witherspoon’s face. (I’ll totally see the movie, against my better judgment.)

Emma by Jane Austen - Delightful, charming, Cher Horowitz, etc. Boys, please get over yourselves and read some Jane Austen. I’m sick of boys and men never knowing anything about Jane Austen except that the ladies seem to like her. It’s a travesty.

Old New York by Edith Wharton - After finishing Emma, I only wanted something old-fashioned and perfectly crafted, and this was ideal.

An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin - I kept waiting for something to happen, but enjoyed the wait, even when nothing did. I liked this book, but I don’t really remember it, except for the impression of so many white gallery walls and expensive hotel rooms. The characters were largely forgettable. What a pretty cover, though.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green - Loved it. Fuck the haters, Green. It’s hard to write a book about teens (and for teens) with cancer that isn’t overwrought and tremendously cloying, and this wasn’t, and that’s something.

The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls - This book has really stuck with me, maybe more than any other book I read this year has. The story is fascinating and Walls writes about her childhood so clearly and beautifully. Made me want to ready nothing but memoirs.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy - I went into this knowing nothing and was very pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t expecting poetry. I wasn’t expecting nightmares. I liked it very much.

Self Help by Lorrie Moore - Loved it. Obviously. I’ve read Who Will Run the Frog Hospital and The Gate at The Stairs, and I liked this one best, by a long shot. 

Some Kind of Fairy Tale by Graham Joyce (guess his parents wanted him to be a writer) - Cute premise, plot got completely lost, what the hell was this even.

The Chronology of Water by Lidia Yuknavitch - Yuknavitch writes with such lyricism and emotion. Inspiring, gorgeous, and moving.

Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon van Booy - This was pretty enough, though not particularly memorable. I think it might make an interesting film, if there was a good cinematographer involved and lots of shots of the city.

A Taxonomy of Barnacles by Galt Niederhoffer - I was loving this book for the first half. Completely smitten with the characters and the descriptions of their lovely, crazy house. I was still on board for the 3rd quarter, and then it fizzled out completely at the end and things were wrapped up dully. I honestly can’t even remember the end except that I was very disappointed with it.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles - Coolly, elegantly written. I enjoyed this all the way through.

Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov - My god, you guys, Pale Fire almost killed me. I am not smart enough for this book. I went in without any context and I was puzzling about for a while. Really just flailing through it, getting the humor occasionally, putting the narrative together slowly. I wanted to appreciate it, and I guess I did, but I was so relieved when I had finished.

The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt - I blew through this in a day. I liked it, but I’m struggling to think of anything else to say about it.

New York Diaries edited by Teresa Carpenter - I enjoyed many parts of this, although to be honest, I didn’t care at all about most of the political figures or specific entries about historical events. I much preferred the simple, silly observations of daily life. Sometimes it was very jarring to constantly be jumping time periods. Tough to read straight through, though I did.

Special by Bella Bathurst - A must read if you enjoy depressing books about adolescence, boarding school, and/or teenage girls. It reminded me a lot ofCracks, which was an alright book and a lovely, little-known movie starring Eva Green.

The Adults by Alison Espach - One of my favorites of the year, though I can’t exactly pinpoint why. I loved this narrator. I didn’t want to put it down. 

New Yorker Stories of Ann Beattie - It took a few stories before I was comfortable with Beattie’s style and rhythm, but the further I got into this lovely, large book, the more I liked it and the more I desperately wanted to write some short stories of my own. This book is a good teacher.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple - A fun and silly page-turner that reminded me of much of the teen lit I read in high school.

The Devil and Miss Prynn by Paulo Cohelo - This parable felt like something I would have been assigned to read in high school English class. Interesting enough, but without any particular soul.

Inferno by Eileen Myles - This was more difficult than I expected it to be. I wrestled a bit with the structure, or lack thereof, but I liked the challenge of the writing and the unique form.

Seven For a Secret by Lyndsay Faye - The word “romp” comes to mind, as do the modern Sherlock Holmes film adaptations, replete with fist fights and old-fashioned insults. I liked this book best when it didn’t take itself too seriously or give way to too much flowery prose. 

Paris, I Love You, But You’re Bringing Me Down by Rosecrans Baldwin - This was just alright. I wasn’t sure of the point, mostly. Anti-climactic and more dreary than funny.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen - So good I had to read pages of it aloud to Ben. Have to admit to being a little disappointed by the ending, but that seems to be a theme with this list, so that may be a personal problem.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain - This felt very similar to Rules of Civility. I think the writing wasn’t as quite as good, but the plot was marginally more interesting, so it’s sort of a toss up. 

Hard-Boiled Brooklyn edited by Reed Farrel Coleman - Some of these stories fell flat, some worked as fun interpretations of the crime theme, one in particular was quite good. It reminded me of those short-film collections Paris J’Taime and New York I Love You. They could easily make a film noir-specific one about Brooklyn based on this collection.

Torch by Cheryl Strayed - This book was pretty unbearably bleak. It didn’t make me cry, though it hit me in the gut more than once. It was just… so so grey and exhausting and hospital rooms and jail cells and cancer and snow and god, I’m getting tired just thinking about it. This cover is wildly misleading. I liked it fine, but Strayed has written many better things.

I wanted to include Bel Canto by Ann Patchett on this list, but I left it at Ben’s mom’s house while I was home for Christmas and now I doubt I’ll finish it before the new year. I’m enjoying it very much so far.

2013 In Emails I Sent

Inspired by Lily’s post.

January:

"and I don’t know how to be sad with other people but I wanted to tell you because I know you’ll understand."

February:

"Some girl on my facebook just posted: "to anyone out there who is feeling sad, angry, depressed, upset, anxious, etc, you’re one workout away from feeling amazing, happy, joyful, blessed. life is beautiful - enjoy it <3 there is no room for negativity from you." and I want to reply that I worked out this morning and it did not make me feel amazing, happy, joyful, OR blessed. it did, however, make me feel sweaty, disgusting, out of shape, short of breath, and exhausted, so there’s that."

March:

"6. This is trouble.

7. I think you’re on the rebound and you’re crazy about this exciting new feeling of being attracted to someone who is attracted to you and exploring and freedom and cocks and bad boys. 
8. You’re not crazy.
9. Omg don’t do a threesome. Not because there’s anything wrong with a threesome, but because it sounds like it’s going to crush you emotionally.”
April:
"I guess I just have to learn to live with the fact that even at 26 there is still always a little voice in the back of my head saying "no one actually likes you, everyone is ignoring you on purpose." Because that’s what this is about, right? That’s the reason I hate when people break off plans at the last minute. It’s because it validates my biggest fears about being unliked and unimportant."
May:
"I’m sorry for making this more than maybe it is. "
June:
"…so you and I should drink rooftop mojitos and take books to the park."
July:
"It feels like something I still need to explain to a lot of people. And maybe that the problem - that I’m proselytizing, rather than writing from a place where the words and imagery are the most important thing. "
August:
"It’s where I go when I’m feeling particularly hungry/poor (which is often!)."
September:
"But like, really, Caroline, get a grip. Living in a hoarders style apartment is doable for 3 weeks. I will not die. I know this. I’m just ranting and really exhausted. Let’s hang out soon. Anywhere but here."
October:
"Oh, spontaneous weeping. I have been there, for both work and non-work related weeping. But that’s what having a fiance is for, right? You are a WOMAN and as such you have all these EMOTIONS that men know nothing about, because men are all robots amirite, ladies? Ok just kidding. But seriously, don’t feel bad about the weeping. Also - don’t despair! You are going to find something great and you are gonna make a lot of money and then you’re gonna quit this crazy scene (as Joni Mitchell said). "
November:
"You should be with someone who is fucking blown over by you. Someone who’s falling all over their shake shack fries to kiss you."
December:
There’s no competing with a woman who doesn’t exist. You’ll kill yourself trying.”

You guys, it’s just been one of those days where you log onto your bank’s website 50 times while you’re at work and you try to add things up, try to will the numbers to be different, and you regret every stupid thing you’ve bought for the past six months and you beat yourself up and you call your mom on your lunch break and then again after work and you cry on the phone because you can’t afford Christmas gifts or the stupid fucking expensive Christmas cards you bought and your family deserves better, your boyfriend and your friends deserve better than this girl without self-control, without the capacity for austerity or the ability to lose weight or get up early. You eat old chocolate out of the fridge and you pack a suitcase and you try to think of anything but this - the money and the weight and the failure and the heaviness in your chest - and you hug your boyfriend for a long time and text your mom again, even though she won’t answer, and you vow to change, you swear you’re going to get your shit together, you’ll be better, you’ll be smarter, more grownup and a better daughter, and you get in bed early, wheels still turning, throat still lumpy, evening still all fucked up. And you remember that Thanksgiving is just days away, that you still have a life you love, in spite of pants sizes and empty savings accounts, despite not being the sort of girl who updates her Facebook daily with the reasons why she’s thankful, you’re still thankful, mad at yourself as you are. And you realize you could spend all fucking night listing the reasons why you don’t deserve to be happy, and then you could tear that list to pieces or you could sleep and try this damn thing again in the morning.

You know those days?

Dear Caroline/Dear Lily: Dear Lily,

dearcarolinedearlily:

Cold weather has come to New York. It’s the kind of cold that makes you walk a half step more quickly, hunch your shoulders slightly, regret wearing flats without socks, try to remember how you wore flats last winter because flats never look ok with socks so is it boots all the time now, or what?

Here is a new thing that Lily and I started. It’s a keeping in touch thing. An envelopeless stampless thing. A tin can in New York with a string stretching across the country to a tin can in Portland sort of thing. Atlantic to Pacific, sea to shining sea, two sides of a friendship necklace. Postscripts and paperweights. Rariora and repartee. 

Notes

Today, the internet was down at work and everyone kept pacing around everyone else’s cubicles, cracking jokes, breaking into song, chatting and gossiping. It felt like the hallways of a college dorm. It felt like being trapped indoors during a storm with people you’re warming to. 

Last night Ben and I walked to the BAM to see Blue Is The Warmest Color, which is a long and tearful movie. I didn’t cry, but there was lots of snot-dripping crying depicted with big fat tears. It was realistic and prolonged and beautiful, like a life. It made me feel reflective and sexy and hungry. And that is my review in its entirety.

Tonight we cleaned the apartment. We have capital C Company coming tomorrow and I’m always a bit nervous about inviting outsiders into my messy little place with its grimy windowsills and too many books. Now I’m burning a pumpkin souffle scented candle in a pretty white jar. I had chocolate and red wine for dinner, as one should, on occasion. I have Fanny Price and her ball on my mind and I don’t know what’s going to happen next and I like that.

November, Just Barely

This weekend I put on my sneakers and jogged for the first time in months. Ben and I made our way up to Prospect Park. I huffed and puffed and complained that my throat was hurting from the crisp air. We appreciated the trees. I begged for water. We walked. We pointed out dogs. I focused on my breathing.

This weekend I ate french toast and drank mimosas out of stemless glasses on a little patio. 

I curled up with hot chocolate mixed with kahlua and sambuca on a leather armchair by a roaring fireplace and read Mansfield Park, while Ben laughed quietly next to me, reading Me Talk Pretty One Day.

This weekend I bought tickets for the American Ballet Theatre’s performance of the Nutcracker at the BAM in December. 

Ben and rearranged our artwork and hung some old prints on the walls, high-fiving when we got one to hang just right.

I listened to the marathon runners go by out my bedroom window. A block away, a live band played all the music my dad likes - The Beatles, The Traveling Wilburys, The Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu.

This weekend I ate peanut butter cookies and took a long, hot bath. I pulled up the big, grey, feather duvet and hid under it. I reveled in the radiator’s hissing.