Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I graduated a year ago this past week from a tiny liberal arts college in the very center of the state. I did not pay as much for that education as a lot of people do for theirs - I am in a very reasonable amount of debt. Before transferring from community college (where I had a weird time; I'm glad I did it financially, and because I was as passionate about hating high school as I am about the things I genuinely enjoy, so I got ambivalence out of my system in a cheap way) I studied psychology because I liked its theory and history and how it has evolved - something one does not learn studying psychology as an undergraduate. Graduating with my degree from the college I went to then is one of my favorite decisions, up there with my fixations on Sailor Moon and Courtney Love and my mystifying discovery of Geek Love at eleven. I studied writing incidentally because it fulfilled my desire of higher education: I learned to better communicate my ideas, articulate my suspicions, manage teams, assert myself, implement changes to the institutions I was directly involved in, read what I wouldn't have arrived at independently with at least one person who really likes it or is paid an appealing sum to fake enthusiasm, and - very importantly, to me - feel a sense of accomplishment within a community that has identifiable limits, something I could wrap my head around. I'm not a competitive person. Writing itself is an edifying process and it was never the ultimate thing once something of mine was done to get acclaim for it. I was not exposed to that possibility when I was younger. By virtue of participating in class I received the first positive feedback for doing my favorite thing (and not doing it very well) and I needed that. I felt secure enough to hope to get the editorship at the school's literary journal, and I did. For this I had a perfect college experience, with enough unnerving misadventure and poor dark alleys to insure I would also never want to relive it.

After I graduated, I wrote a short novel. I've done a lot of things, but I made a mad dash to draft that thoroughly before I started working full time, and finished it completely once I started dating my boyfriend. I had pieces of it and had worked on it as an idea since I was in high school. I've sent it four places (three presses and a contest), three of which rejected it. I haven't heard from the last place and it has been a quarter of a year, which I'd think is not unusual for a book, but is a long time to wait for a rejection I'm reasonably certain will be flippant, not because I expect this from this press but because it is the kind of book you kick away. It's weird. Rape, incest, molestation, trauma (personal, national), public execution and murder come up but do not make up the subject of it, and it is such a slight book. And it is a good book. I'm amazed to read it now because it is my first big work and I would read it if it wasn't mine. It does what I want it to do. I fixed the last few things about it that really bothered me today, so now I do not intend to alter it again.

I lose perspective easily. To say I do not dwell on what I've done is offensively off the mark - I don't really notice for more than a minute before I hole back up in the black abyss of what I want to accomplish, what I haven't reached yet. Generally this works for me, but sometimes it makes me sick and crazy, particularly in such situations as I'm in right now where maintaining perspective is vital. My state is so liminal. I think I am unreasonable to feel a trajectory should be more comfortable, but I should definitely recognize that I am on one even if it is vertiginous. I do not always recognize this. Reading my little book made me feel better about this. To have produced something I believe in so much, I should give myself more credit. I have done a lot in a year.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Brain Storm.

This is no assumption: I know I strike a great many of those whose opinions impact me as, if not lazy, terminally steady. I give off a gleaming vibe of competency, but also a troubling little psychic bleat about being too relaxed. Something like that which is borne out of not being an anxious person, having a tough time on occasion with anxious people, and so I use myself as a weapon against generating more anxiety than needs to fill a space that could otherwise include a Klaus Nomi impression. This belies a torrential, churning hurricane of nonstopped-ness that I don't believe to be unique to me. I note it because I've been freaking out more than usual about things beyond my control, things that, three weeks ago, were of no concern to me. This getting freaked out does nothing to bring me closer to achieving my goals, so I reason, and go to strip off the anxious-pants with a few episodes of Mad Men and a sixteen hour nap, thereby perpetuating my famed relaxedness. I don't think 'balanced' looks comely on me. Neither does a carousel of self-criticisms. My mother and I got into an absurd pep talk/argument during which she pointed out that worrying was silly because nothing has ever failed to work out for me, which I told her was a major part of my anxiety: I know that is not how all things go. I'm doing much better now that I've spent my last knot of nervous energy and am looking forward to redefining the parameters of aproductivity for maybe the rest of May. I should eek along the assembly of my portfolio and do only fun things. That might make my anxiety jealous, though, and it would impress upon me to let it return. I could always become a true failure and then ambition - the frothy, rabid heart of any anxious energy I possess - would turn on its heels.

This whimsical curmudgeonry is brought to you by my spontaneous re-viewing of Public Speaking on Monday. Whereas Tina Fey's past and my own share some uncanny moments, so my life and that of Fran Lebowitz's straddles the Twilight Zone. Maybe, having never been exposed to it in such doses, I lack the digestive enzyme for empathy.

Monday, May 9, 2011

I am glad I have the radiance.

1. As soon as I got back home from the trip, my mother asked, "How was the Gonque?" Waiting to check in in the Algonquin lobby blew my mind as much as getting lost in the Met and winding up in the regal bedrooms. I did not know the hallways were wallpapered with New Yorker cartoons. We paid $300 and got a suite with an unquantifiable bed, a bathtub the depth of which was almost to my knees, a separate living room with a couch and desk, and two TVS! I've never stayed in a real hotel over night anywhere. A great deal of that thrill had nothing to do with New York. It was so amazing that I was overjoyed to stop jetting and curl up there at eight on the night of my birthday.

2. My boyfriend and I went to the American Folk Art Museum, the MoMA, the Neue Galerie and the Met. The Folk Art Museum had two floors closed and so cut admission in half, so communing with Henry Darger cost me $6. I was out of my skull right away. I swooned all over the MoMA. My boyfriend and I unanimously agreed upon the German Expressionism: the Graphic Impulse exhibit as our favorite part of the trip. I fell in hard, mad love with Egon Schiele.

The Neue Galerie is on 5th Avenue, we were on 6th, and the vast difference in house number made no impact on me as we hiked forty blocks first thing Saturday morning with no breakfast. It made the Cafe Sabarsky that much more unfathomably perfectly fin-de-siecle-ly Viennese perfect. I almost cried when I noticed the reproduction of Freud's couch. It was like coming home. Also: Egon everywhere. The Met came as a pleasant surprise. I had never gone that far uptown, did not realize it was across the street, and when we noticed the Alexander McQueen exhibit was on, holy shit -

My boyfriend charmed my face off by whispering to me how cute he feels I'd look in the Widows of Culloden dresses. His charms are unfathomable. He also reacted with complete calm and appropriate assertiveness when Google Maps deposited us twelve blocks from where we needed to be upon first arriving. Not freaking out is something I am not used to in traveling companions - keeping calm is typically my responsibility. He was so cool about just being there, and that alone made every facet of the weekend radiant.

3. It was the maitre d's birthday at the Jewel of India, too! We did not make it to Big Gay Ice Cream, but we did find the Macaron Cafe, and I had a matcha-chestnut macaron that I miss like a lover.

4. My boyfriend works in downtown Harrisburg and has a permit to park on City Island. We left the car there and walked at 4 a.m. across the bridge, downtown, to the train station. His sleeping the whole way with his gorgeous head on my shoulder and the train-speed scenery blurring and Fleet Foxes' new album provided me with the greatest dawn I've ever experienced.

5. John Waters curated a table at the Strand. We have Siamese brains. Other organs, too, have at least psychic linkage. That link does not provide the full list, but I went batshit buying his recommendations that I did not all ready have and thrust voraciously at acquaintances. My boyfriend gave me his presents Thursday night - Dalkey Archive and New Directions books he picked out of my wishlist, Zizek's Living in the End Times, which I fondle any time we go anywhere, and SQUEE!, which I never picked up when I was in high school and have always regretted it. I wanted to hug these on the train ride at least, but I thought better of it, and I am grateful - no self-control was exercised in my attack on museum shops and bookstores. My very favorite book purchases were Mel Gordon's Feral House titles Voluptuous Panic and the Seven Addictions and Five Professions of Anita Berber.

Now I am twenty-four, and I have the day off from work tomorrow to convince my body that it's getting rest.

Monday, May 2, 2011


My birthday is this Friday! I'm getting up before dawn to get on the train. The train will deposit me and my boyfriend in New York where we're going to curl up in the Algonquin and go back to sleep. I've never had the opportunity to sleep in New York. I am as excited about this as the Macaron Cafe and Big Gay Ice Cream. I wish a fellow happy birthday in advance to those with whom I share May 6th - Freud and Orson Welles - as they will be as busy as I am on Friday, I'm sure. Hiding in sewers in Vienna.