Saturday, November 14, 2009


and years have passed since that film.
So many years that you've lost track. Decades, maybe?

Watching it again you admire yourself as you would someone else:
Your lithe body,
Your hollow voice,
Your white teeth and lineless face.
It's like seeing your own ghost.

(Celebrities, like everyone, sometimes get lonely.
Unlike everyone, you're especially lonely.
It's like choking and you feel your eyes bulge in panic.)

Press pause during a boring part,
refill your glass,
then look at your spotted hands, your knobby knuckles.

Take a drink.
Breathe deeply.
Laugh sadly.

You can pretend like nothing is the matter,

and lift the pumpkin off the window sill
to dust beneath it.

Suddenly rotten pumpkin is on the floor
as it collapses between your hands,
soft but still orange.

Rotten pulp is on your socks,
on your jeans,
underneath your fingernails.
Strangely, it doesn't smell.

The inside fell out
when you picked it up
(like that gorgeous lover
who stole your savings).
The exterior was so firm
and the ruin was unexpected
(like your parents' divorce
when they seemed so in love).

With violent gestures
you clean the pumpkin off the floor,
off yourself.

Promise you will never again trust the exterior you touch.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Price of Your Shit

There is something regal about eating alone in a cafe. It requires a sort of poised dignity; you sit with your back straighter, your eyes carefully unfocused and concentrate more on pacing, for your bites are not punctuated by voiced observations or laughter. When you eat alone, the sound of chewing will be heavy in your ears. It'll remind you of that squishing sound your mother's tuna-salad made as she mixed it together with a rubber spatula on Sunday nights. You'd have tuna sandwiches all week at school for lunch and the noise your mouth made chewing those cellophane-wrapped sandwiches was the same as that stirring. You wonder if that's the same sound food makes as it moves through your intestines, as it's broken down by acids and turns into shit.

You're alone and suddenly eating seems foolish. You daintily dab your mouth with a napkin and push your plate, which still has half a frittata on it, toward the center of the table. The frittata was $9.50. $9.50 is the price of your shit. If your mother was here she'd tell you to finish eating, she's scold you for being wasteful. But eating alone has made you tired, each bite is exhausting. Besides, it seems indecent for a woman to finish a meal when she's eating alone, just as it's bad form to lick clean your plate on a first date.

You read a book last summer about the way people eat when they're eating alone. Surprisingly, some people go to great lengths to make themselves a meal. They light candles, open bottles of wine, let them breathe and then pair them with a carefully-prepared dish. Maybe they listen to classical music as they do this, waving their arms like the composer as they orchestrate their meal and work through various courses. When you eat at home, alone, you're lazy like a college-aged boy. You eat a lot of cereal, canned fish and fruit. Once you went the whole summer without using your oven or stove. You remember the words of a friend some years ago- he said, "Eat to live, don't live to eat," and you've thought about this advice often over the years, usually as you're eating rice right out of the pot in which it was made. After a couple forkfuls you put the lid back on and put it directly into the refrigerator with a potholder underneath. It's pathetic, and when friends come over you just don't let them open the fridge, or your cupboards, so they don't know how low you've stooped. Idly you'll wonder if these are the typical eating habits of a singleton.

The waiter at the cafe will come over and look concerned, will ask if everything was to your liking and if they can take away your plate. "Oh," you'll say, startled and fumbling to find your voice as if you'd just woken up from a nap, "Everything was great, thank you. Yes, yes, you can take it away." The waiter will smile gratefully and ask if they can get you anything else. You'll shake your head, put on your coat, leave twelve dollars on the table and leave.

Six hours later you'll be hungry again, and when you stomach grumbles you'll sadly wonder, what's the point?

Monday, June 22, 2009

More like England than New England

It's been raining here for a week and the weather is all anyone seems to speak of anymore. "I hear it's supposed to last ten more days," people bemoan to strangers on street corners who, like them, are fumbling with their umbrellas as the wind gusts around them. Umbrellas are useless in weather like this. The rain is more of a mist than anything and it lingers in the air making everything damp, regardless of how you shield yourself. It's like Belgian rain which I've always considered to be visible humidity rather than rain. Real rain actually makes a noise when it falls and is best when it involves lightening and loud pangs of thunder.

Maybe I'm crazy, but I find this weather to be hugely romantic. I love the cozy overcast sky and I use the drear as an excuse to stay in bed all day, drinking coffee in the morning, wine in the afternoon and gin in the evening as I watch the sky change shades of gray through my bedroom window. I listen to love songs and sing along, I litter my bed and window ledge with magazines and books half read. I write bad poetry. Days- weeks- like this are my forte, and I'm enjoying this miserable weather immensely.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Letter I Will Never Mail

Dear ___,
I just ate half a bag of spinach and thought of you. Not because you especially like spinach, but because if you were here we would have gone out for a real meal, somewhere.
I know that it’s been months- and months, and months, and months!- but still, I have not grown accustomed to you not being here. I want you around to check and balance me, to tell me I’m dumb and to give me praise in the moments in which it’s deserved. I miss your creativity, your passivity and your back massages. Though they weren’t in any way erotic, I loved having you touch me. You’re the only person other than my mother to clasp the contour of my waist, to feel each of the ridges in my vertebra and the curve of my neck in a very long, long time. I miss that touch, your touch.
And it wasn’t just your touch, but also your gaze and, more importantly, your admiration that I miss most. I love you as a flower blossoms: I slowly open as you shine upon me. Eventually, together, we make something beautiful, like tree branches against an intense blue sky or, more accurately (perhaps), flower pedals in a bed of wet dirt. It’s a shame that we’re both so practical, that both of us hate to waste time. And oh, my God! ____, how I wish you weren’t an atheist. For I imagine us living in a Howard Roark-esque home, lying beside one another on modern furniture and eating organic ice cream until we’re 100 years old, together. We wouldn’t hinder our relationship with words of unhappiness, we would simply endure, together, forever.
Like a forest.
Remember, _____, that I am, to an extent, forever yours.
I usually love you,

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Knees Go Weak for Louis Armstrong

I’ve worn my hair short, long, curled, slicked back, in nonchalant ponytails and tight fishtail braids. I’ve had it colored deep black, golden brown, and once had bright red highlights that embarrassed my father and attracted the wrong kind of boys. Currently it’s a shade of eggplant and fades to lavender between colorings. I don’t remember what my real hair color is anymore, though I would hazard a guess and say that it is probably a dull brown, the color of potato skins or dried mud.

I’m not particular about my hair, and when I go to get it cut I rarely say anything other than, “Please, just make me beautiful. I trust you.” And then three hours later I walk out with a whole new look and the same attitude. I can’t remember the last time I cried over a haircut; it’s always been a very liberating experience, whacking off pounds or grams of hair and exposing a whole new me, only to find that I am still myself despite it all- that I am unchanged. I’m glad that I’m not that malleable, that my hair doesn’t define who I am.

A month or so ago, Vogue devoted an entire two pages to an article about the new shoulder-length cut (another insightful article from Plum Sykes…), as if it was some kind of daring, note-worthy move: cutting one’s hair to the shoulder (or, near the shoulder). It was silly. It was absurd. Cutting your hair to the shoulder and calling it chic is like playing poker only to fold every turn under the guise of playing it safe. It’s a lie and it’s boring. Please, women (and men) of the world- cut your hair asymmetrical, short, or give it interesting color. Don’t just leave it dusting your shoulders in a drab sort of way- give it some bounce and some life in the name of Spring!

In other news, I am totally addicted to live-streaming All That Jazz on WFAE. It’s the best jazz station I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sheepish (or not) on Sunday Mornings

I haven’t been to church in a while; more specifically, I haven’t been to church since January, when I was home and church was a social engagement as well as a spiritual experience.

The church I attend in Boston, as haphazard as my attendance may be, is progressive and the messages are intellectually focused. My pastor wears suits and quotes C.S. Lewis, Christopher Hitchens, Ghandi. We sing hymns. The congregants are young, many of them are married and they seem to exclusively wear J. Crew and their blinding wedding bands. They’re studying at Boston’s finest institutions to be brain surgeons, business leaders and lawyers; they’re a smart group and I enjoy going to church with them- to an extent. My only complaint, and it’s so, so silly, is that I don’t know anyone there. I’ve done the introduction many times- I’ve exchanged handshakes and extended sentiments of peace to those sitting around me. I’ve gone to a few events and had a couple successful conversations but I’ve failed at forming any kind of lasting friendships with my fellow churchgoers and I’ve been avoiding going back because of it. It’s a strange catch-22: I don’t want to go because I’m alone, but I’ll never meet anyone unless I go.

It’s absurd, really. I’m absurd. I should just go. Especially because I like going once I actually get there. It’s really such a relief to be in a room full of Christians in a city the denounces religion.

One way in which I justify staying in on Sunday mornings is by insisting it is helping me write my senior thesis. I’m putting together a collection of short stories about falling away from religion, but not God, and I’m abstaining from attending church as research. This isn't exactly true, however, and I know God can see through my feeble excuses, but in a way I am finding it helpful for my own peace of mind. But already the itch to get back in a room full of Christians is driving me mad. I don’t necessarily feel guilty, but I feel as if I’m denying myself a great pleasure, a way to develop my intellect and glorify my savior. I want to go to church, and if I had a friend who wasn’t a Catholic, atheist or Jew, if I had someone who wanted to go to church with me, I would be there every Sunday with that person by my side. But I don’t, so I’ll simply have to work up the nerve to go alone, again. And again and again and again.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Missing Home on a Sunday Night

I left Minnesota because I don’t like small talk and the way vowels seem to drag as if everyone has all the time in the world to listen to what I have to say. I wanted to leave because I was never fatally attached to my friends and knew from a young age that as long as I had my family, somewhere, I would be able to survive. I wanted to leave because I was tired of being distracted by my parents who made my life too comfortable. I left because nobody else was doing it.

I came to Boston because I like to win, and the East coast is the place to go to get ahead- and I’m not referring to time zones. It’s no coincidence that the Red Sox, The Celtics and the Patriots all had wonderful seasons after I moved to Boston; it’s a city of winners. I love the autumn leaves on Commonwealth Ave, wine and afternoon reading on the esplanade along the Charles River and the sound of waves lapping against the wharf as the gulping birdsong of seagulls sounds in the background with the consistency of a blaring alarm clock. Boston is great. Good-looking college students wander the streets in a daze from too much partying or studying- it’s hard to tell which. Trim professionals in well-cut suits hurry with expensive phones pressed to their ears as they urgently move to attend meetings or buy another cup of coffee. For the most part the residents of Boston have brains- they write for important journals, buy local, read the New Yorker, The New York Times, The New Republic, The Daily Beast. They’re politically correct, they think the only states that matter border the ocean, they drink expensive cocktails. Boston is a great place to live. For a while, anyway.

In the three years I’ve spent in Boston, I’ve realized that I may not, in fact, be fatally attached to my friends and family, but they’re more important to me than I ever thought possible. My connection to Minnesota is strong and deep. I don’t want to be on the ocean if the sea levels are rising, I don’t want to live in a city that has viable reason to fear a terrorist attack. I want to live in a city where my rent isn’t ridiculously high, where my mom can come over on Sundays to help me decorate and teach me how to make white bean chili and braided bread. I want to walk around the lakes and play cribbage in small cafes with The Currant as my own (our own) personal soundtrack to life.

Minnesota, I’m coming back. It may take a while, but I’ll return to you.