Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Lights, camera, acción.

Between Clarice Lispector's Complete Stories and Lana Del Rey's "High by the Beach," I sort of had a summer. All I want to do is watch the "High by the Beach" video. But I've managed to do other things.

But its magnetism has not kept me from my mission to read all the books I've been hoarding. Finished: Patricia Lockwood's Balloon Pop Outlaw Black, Dodie Bellamy's Barf Manifesto and Viola di Grado's 70% Acrylic, 30% Wool. Falling into the unhinged maw of Balloon Pop Outlaw Black made for the kind of afternoon I which was open to me more regularly, long and yawning and dedicated to just one thing. I've been reading essay submissions and if anything ever came close to Barf Manifesto you would hear me screaming from wherever I am. I hazard to guess but 70% Acrylic 30% Wool might have been the first occasion I ended a book gutturally mumbling "what the fuck" (going to pick up Hollow Heart, but with caution).

Everything I have accomplished in the last week has been a Herculean achievement since I saw Best of Enemies in Philadelphia and have since wanted to stop everything and finish Gore Vidal's Palimpsest. My favorite vignette is his discovery of a teacher's notes on his behavior: "I wish I were a bull so I could gore Vidal."

On the same visit to Philadelphia, I found Talk, the only NYRB edition of Tove Jansson's I did not own (True Deceiver), Elizabeth Taylor's A View of the Harbor and — unexpectedly, joyously — Fleur Jaeggy's Last Vanities, which I had long hoped to run into in the wild. Talk rocked. Now Ottessa Moshfegh's Eileen is making me regret all my commitments. Except for Story of the Lost Child, to which I dedicated the long weekend. The allure of Elena Ferrante is tidal.

I finished the Neapolitan Novels. Last year, I thought I would bide my time for Story of the Lost Child's release by reading her standalone works, not realizing that by being a quarter of the size of her Neapolitan Novels, they would contain a concentrated dose of that same intensity. Troubling Love pulverized me. So I am saving the Lost Daughter and Days of Abandonment for special occasions.

Somewhere amidst these activities, I also finished Vidal's The City and the Pillar — which I would have loved when I was in high school and am sorry I spent so many years confusing Gore Vidal and Oliver Stone — and started doing yoga. I intended to start three years ago. Like The City and the Pillar, I am disappointed in myself for waiting so long. Also, Moshfegh's McGlue was a surprisingly perfect companion read that I could have done well, also, to read, like, years ago — years before it was published. It is, however, a counterintuitive companion to yoga, since I interrupted my routine to finish it.

I like to think of myself as adept at prioritizing things I enjoy and pretty much utterly lack grace when confronting maladaptive habits. When my ability to handle stress goes haywire, I am loath to accept any very commercial methods of coping. But something is off, my productivity is derailed, and instead of flogging myself about it, I've been trying what I can to revive whatever synapse has retired. I now have a tin of solid perfume (just beeswax, coconut oil, and the scent in question) the scene of which I consult occasionally throughout the day. I don't think I look really crazy, but I embrace the bias that informs that opinion. It's mimosa-scented — the flower — which, along with a few cherry blossom-scented candles, is really doing something for me.

Which is a relief, because I've got a lot of work to do. Rebecca Jones (digital producer, my favorite coworker, high-ranking Swede in the Scandinavia of my heart) and I are going to BinderCon in November. I'm on the VIDA Count team (although I don't know which count I'll be involved with yet). Catapult's launch is upon us (NEXT MONDAY). I have a book to finish.

By "finished" I mean edited legibly, serving the purpose it needs to serve, and with a formatted bibliography and index. The only words I need to add are in the introduction, where I look at the media that anticipated Girls and white feminist fatigue. For this I've had to re-watch Sex and the City. That task has made for a punishing couple of months — the show really turned against itself at one point. Maybe that was necessary. I have a lot to contemplate there.

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