When I went into the screening room I couldn’t tell how big it was. How could anyone tell? Everything was black. There was a bench, so I sat down on it. Were there rows of benches behind me? It was dark; I couldn’t see. I just assumed there were. And that I was in someone’s way.
When the movie on the screen got lighter, and the room lit up, I saw that there was only one bench. And I was sitting on it by myself.
I leaned back, and I was leaning against a black wall. It wasn’t a room, it was a box. And I wasn’t in anyone’s way.
So what if I had been?
The movie didn’t mean anything. It literally meant nothing. On purpose. That’s the kind of movie it was.
I was all alone in there making people mad. So what if they were mad? They weren’t even real.
I hate questions like: what was the best moment of your life? Really, the peak moment when you felt like everything was exactly as it should be?
As soon as I answer, I am filled with remorse and an urge toward revision.
Wait, let me think. Not the night of my wedding, that wasn’t the best night of my life. It was a great night, but wait, there must have been a better night in there somewhere that I am forgetting. And remember that shitty thing that happened, at the wedding? I felt terrible about that. And then I was happy again five minutes later, happier than ever.
But I don’t know, maybe it wasn’t the VERY best night.
(I can think of a thousand worst nights ever but that wasn’t the question.)
When I got married I did not have bridesmaids. Why narrow it down? Friends all the time, all your life, everyday, everyone is different. For every occasion and in every setting. People. Friends. Why assign rankings?
Be yourself fearlessly. Ha ha ha! That is so funny.
I signed a marriage contract in a municipal hall in a city in northern Virginia. I did it willingly. My body was very much involved in the decision. Some shit got signed away on that day. Freedom, rights, possibilities. I was eager to make the trade. Something lost, something gained. That happens with every contract.
Just let go of everything negative right now and shine from your authentic self. Just do it. Never give up trying. And don’t get frustrated when you fail.
made of classes at the academy, country club summers, saddle shoes, shaved legs, nicks that bleed made of elite institutions, air-conditioned museums, art books, getting off (i’m sorry officer, i didn’t know i was speeding thank you, i won’t do it again) made of straight air, no freshener straight hair, or straightened, and cotton sheets made of fly there, drive’s too far thank you notes, magazines, fashion, diets, accessories made of never the checkout girl never the waitress, never the maid made of fine china, registry, engraved invitations botox, waxes, twins in the bugaboo made of cashmere, caffeine drinks, james taylor, l.l.bean made of gated villas, all inclusive pan asian takeout, never chinese
we need someone to be honest with us we need to learn how to be honest with ourselves we need to know that life has a purpose, that it’s well worth living we need to know we have value (love and support, love and support) we need to recognize beauty and to crave it to cry to feel sexy to laugh to have sex to touch to hold to be held to feel smart and think big thoughts to receive a lightning bolt to the heart and to really turn the lights on in there or ask someone else to flip the switch for us or at least show us where the hell it is …
“When I expect myself to be superhuman, I become anxious and depressed; when I expect you to be, I become hostile; when I expect the world to be superperfect, I become self-pitying and rebelliously inert. If I am truly human, and expect nothing but humanness from others, I shall practically never upset myself about anything.”
What is the worst kind of divorce? I used to think they were all bad. But now I know a few divorced people (as opposed to children of divorced people) and I see that divorce is not bad. People wouldn’t get divorced if it were a bad choice. It looks like a very good choice, even a fantastic thing, for the married people who choose it. It’s really an act of deep acceptance. This marriage isn’t working. Let’s get divorced.
“Madonna once would come in dreams to cheer My slumbers with angelical delight; But now she brings foreboding in the night, Nor can I drive away my grief and fear. And in her phantom-face I see appear Her own hurt mixed with pity for my plight, And I hear words that cry above my fright That the final term of joy and hope is near. “Does our last evening not return to you?” She says, “Your eyes were wet and shining when For the lateness of the hour I had to flee. I could not, nor I would not, tell you then, But now I tell you, it is proved and true; Never again on Earth you’ll look on me.”
It’s more than just the Japanese version of suicide, because it’s got the redemption of honor wrapped up in it. In Western culture, suicide is a kind of surrender, or giving up. To some it’s even a crime, bars you entrance to heaven. My impression of hara-kiri is that you are redeeming yourself by removing yourself from other people’s lives, getting rid of the “problem” (you). Also, in the West, suicide is certainly a ritual but not nearly as codified as hara-kiri, which is a kind of sword dance.
I was introduced to the concept of hara-kiri when I watched a biopic of Yukio Mishima (late eighties—would never get made here now). Mishima was a Japanese novelist who made a significant impression on American intellectual life. Again, hard to imagine today.
Mishima committed hara-kiri, or performed it. What is the verb for that action? An action verb I guess.
Madonna never came to me in a dream. But Joni Mitchell did, and in the dream, Joni encouraged me to stay on my path. That dream was about a hundred years ago and I suppose I am still on my path. I mean, whose path could I possibly be on but my own? That seems obvious, but when Joni said “stay on your path” I thought that meant get onto her path, and follow it straight to genius, greatness, fame. Follow the path that takes you to Madonna, that makes you Madonna. That path.
Years later, after dragging my guitar around the East Village for a while, I picked up a book about the best “female singer/songwriters” (this was circa 2000) and I was surprised to see Madonna featured alongside artists like Joni Mitchell and Carole King. I‘m a proud Madonna fan when it’s appropriate, but I never thought of her as a singer/songwriter. It just didn’t seem to be the right label for her. The book immediately convinced me that I was wrong, mostly because I have a hard time holding onto my opinions. Madonna’s songs may depend on synth sounds, samples, and mechanical drum beats, but they are still songs, so she is technically a songwriter, and she is also very much a singer. So she qualifies for the book, which is no doubt out of print, because who really wants to read a book about Sarah Mclachlan, etc? We still hear the songs on the radio, occasionally, so enough already.
"Tart rose hips and citrusy lemongrass woo the voluptuous blooms of hibiscus flowers. An infusion that’s bursting with life and tinged with the color of true love to make sure you never have to live a day without passion."
Say your repeat the same thing over and over again to yourself like a character in a play by Samuel Beckett. Then you wake up one day and you are in that play. Everything lumpen and gray. Over-coated. Circular.
No one in the cast has ever heard of a rainbow or a unicorn. In fact, the audience looks down on rainbows and unicorns.
Do you play your part? Cry backstage? Go on strike? Say your lines even though they don’t make sense?
Not everyone likes you. You can try to be as charming and gracious as possible, some folks still won’t like you. You can try to be funny, they won’t laugh, because they don’t think you are funny. You try to helpful, they think you are being condescending. You can avoid them, but when you see them, as you inevitably will, you will be reminded. Not everyone likes you.
You have a talent for overthinking things. You’re so hard on yourself, there are little welts on your heart from self-inflicted pinches. Pinch pinch pinch, all day long. You feel badly about everything you do or say. Everything is agony. You shall be a stay-at-home mom. Home is the only safe place for you. (Don’t screw up your children.)
“Sometimes, in Chichester, I had taken care of children in the evenings at a lonely house almost at the Point. An old, one-eyed Airedale kept me company, snoozing on the sofa. Abruptly he would waken and lift his head, pointing his nose toward the door, and then, assured that there was nothing outside after all, he would look at me with his one intelligent eye. This look, so companionable and preternaturally wise, frightened me more than his attention to the door, beyond which he had sensed the lurking of some unknown thing: I was afraid the dog would speak. This droll idea, of brief duration, was but the envelope for another fear: the fear of my own mind which had conceived so awful a possibility. Like the motorist through dense fog at night who has proof of only himself, his automobile, and the road, and must accept accept a priori the fact that the rest of the world has not been dematerialized, I could not demonstrate the external authorship of myself and the dog nor our independence of one another. What proof had I that the dog was not the creation of my own mind and being such might, if I willed it, speak to me; conversely, what proof was there that I was not the dog’s idea, evolved in those mysterious, perhaps Olympian, brains behind the obtuse snout? What broke my ghastly reverie was the registration of sound on my mind, the doorstep of some late walker, or the rustle of a bed above as one of the children turned in his sleep. I argued that since my mind had been altogether on the dog, it could not have produced a noise in the distance. My hearing re-established my spatial relation to the outer world’s complexities and immediately thereafter my judgments were restored.”