Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

There are feathers all over the place.

Listening to Elissa Schappell's Other People interview, part of my effort to catch up on podcasts. The interview to beat so far is Natasha Vargas-Cooper, recently on Longform. She is subjectively pivotal to me as my ideal of a journalist, the way Hole is my ideal of a rock band.

Two PennLive posts have come totally out of my heart: this entertainment roundup — concerned with the ebook price-fixing case and the Fox Mole book — and this tiny meditation on the meaning of the graduation gift. Mine was a sakura tree that, having yet to really bloom, has proven itself to be a strident underachiever. When I fail, I look at that tree and feel better.

The visibility of this achievement—that is, writing on PennLive—is contrasted by my very quiet off-stage achievements of getting my fiction out to exciting places. I've had one MAJOR acceptance recently that I haven't announced! Hobart! I can't wait to share that story!

In addition to furtive fictioneering, I am reckoning with the legion of magazines I subscribed to while I was unemployed, for that was the form my grief took. I kept up with them fine when I wasn't working, but now they require me to be a little more disciplined about my time. Because they are important.

In reading, I cried Olympic-sized tears over Leanne Shapton's Swimming Studies. The book is aquamarine and of a quality that whitens easily, with dark blue details that are easy to rub away. It's really beautiful and the thing of a vocation dying inside of oneself devastates me.

I swim, moving every limb exaggeratedly to generate heat, then push facedown to the farthest life preserver, toward the two women. When I get there I raise my head. One woman talks about how her child is adjusting to school. The other makes noises of assent and sympathy. I wonder: Did they come here as friends or befriend each other in the pond? How long have they been swimming in water this cold? Will I ever have a friend who swims in freezing ponds with me? I circle again and my body feels warm, but it is the warmth of a slap: blood rushing the flesh.
Shapton, Sheila Heti and Heidi Julavits are working on a book together called Women in Clothes, which represents so many wishes fulfilled all at once!

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