“I understand the gravity of a train from the empty space and warm afterbirth air of recent loss which I encounter when I run down to the platform 30 seconds too late.
It is the same with all things of such weight - to know them best when you have just missed them.”—Franny Choi, Notes on the Existence of Ghosts
“Actually there was one thing I wanted to do which was a fur jumpsuit. To walk the dog in. You don’t have to think about anything. You just have your bra and panties on. You just put this giant fur jumpsuit on, head to toe, hood and little hush puppy boots. You’re out walking the dog. And looking amazing. Surprising everyone in your neighborhood.”—Issac Mizrahi, unintentionally describing my go-to dog walking outfit in Unzipped.
“I go to a hotel and try to get there by 5:30 in the morning. I keep a dictionary, a thesaurus, a bible, a deck of playing cards, a bottle of sherry, and stacks of yellow sticky pads. I shut myself in for six, seven hours. I have an arrangement with the hotel that no one may go in my room. After three or four months, they might slip notes under my door like, “Dear Ms. Angelou, please let us change the linens. We think they might be molding.” It’s probably true. I let them in if they promise not to touch anything other then the bed.”—Let’s revisit Maya Angelou’s writing rituals. Shall we?
An actual person I went to high school with just sent me a Facebook invitation to his juggling performance at a local turnip festival two-thousand miles away from where I’m currently sitting at my desk, completely unaware that one could so easily choose to become a professional juggler and rehearse one’s dreams during an entire weekend devoted to tubers.
It was a cold night in Rhode Island ten years ago when my ex-boyfriend explained to me how the end of Daylight Saving Time is his favorite unobserved holiday because “you’re out on a Saturday night and 2am rolls around but then you realize hey, it’s actually ONE in the morning and you get an extra hour of partying! It’s like a little present that only comes once a year.”
This was when our devices did not adjust to changes in the universe. He didn’t own a cell phone, anyway. Large photocopied signs lovingly taped to dorm doors by the invisible adults around us reminded us to turn our clocks back. In March, the urging grew much more dramatic, followed by an inevitable series of classroom stragglers on Monday morning who had forgotten to spring ahead.
These days, I’m half asleep at 2am with the paws of a little dog digging into my lower back while my fiancé alternates between snoring and sighing next to me. There is absolutely nowhere else I’d prefer to be. When I was sixteen and begging to stay out past curfew with that aforementioned ex-boyfriend, my mother would explain that “nothing good ever happens after midnight.”
This is all just to say that my definition of “happening” has changed over time.
“I always thought competition was for horse races and it never belonged in art. I never felt that competitive with other girl singers, really. I admired them; if I really admired them, I would try to find a way, if it was appropriate, to figure out a way to sing with them.”—Linda Ronstadt repping Shine Theory
This week I found myself unexpectedly hospitalized. My body can’t figure out how to cease producing inflammation. This time, instead of my guts or my spine, it was my lungs. After a dramatic scene in which Jacob rescued me from myself, gasping for air, I wound up on the 12th floor of a hospital with better views than the hotel we spent our anniversary at just a few blocks away.
I have never given birth, but I understand what it is like to endure pain. Weeks of it. Months. At the hospital, I am given high doses of morphine while doctors struggle to determine what type of infection is filling my lungs. My brain focuses on the smallest things as my body waits for relief:
Thank-you cards that have never been written.
How Maude’s paws feel digging into my back on a Saturday morning as she burrows into the sheets.
The exact motions of braiding hair into two long plaits.
An inventory of my desk drawers at the office.
Isolated, single lines of pop songs.
Mostly, isolated, single lines of pop songs:
Drake’s solo from I’m On One (“two white cups and I got that drink/could be purple it could be pink”)
Katy Perry’s Firework (“boom, boom, boom, even brighter than the moon, moon, moon”)
N.E.R.D.’s Everyone Nose (“all the girls waiting in the line for the bathroom”)
This week, as if to mock me, it has been one part of the chorus of Holiday Road, the theme from National Lampoon’s Vacation. Deep into the night, Lindsey Buckingham sings “holiday roooooooooooad” to an audience of one, my beeping IV pole keeping time. I’ll drift off for an hour or so, only to come around to a tiny celebration in my empty room.
“Hanging out does not make one an artist. A secondhand wardrobe does not make one an artist. Neither do a hair-trigger temper, melancholic nature, propensity for tears, hating your parents, nor even HIV - I hate to say it - none of these make one an artist. They can help, but just as being gay does not make one witty (you can suck a mile of cock, as my friend Sarah Thyre puts it, it still won’t make you Oscar Wilde, believe me), the only thing that makes one an artist is making art. And that requires the precise opposite of hanging out, a deeply lonely and unglamorous task tolerating oneself long enough to push something out.”—David Rakoff