Wednesday, November 27, 2013

the beginning

I didn’t really know where to begin.

I thought that maybe if I just went on a walk, I would come back to our house twenty minutes later and have a better grasp on some of the things that had been on my mind. Instead, while walking, I got distracted by the realization that lighting is everything. It’s all about the light that fills up my room when the sun is rising, making our blonde wood floors smile and the walls dance, transforming my sheer white curtains into wedding veils rippling away in the wind. There’s the pale and fading after-afternoon light that seeps through the two tiny windows in our bathroom so that taking a shower without the lights on becomes an ethereal experience that drowns me in a storm of honest, grey-blue sadness. In the evening there is a gentle light downstairs that drapes the faces of the people we love, complementing the glow of their bodies and spirits subtly, thoughtfully, all the while careful not to reveal too much. And outside, there’s the light inside of the other homes, outlining the profile of a young child’s pure face or articulating the unspoken softness that radiates from his mother’s wide, round hips. 

I glanced at my watch. Eleven minutes had passed. I didn’t have a better grasp on anything, but at least I knew where to begin.

I walked back to our house and took a shower without the lights on, ate dinner silently and alone underneath light that made me wish that anyone else was with me, and looked forward to the white hot glorification of my room in the early morning. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

the letter

My grandmother sometimes tells me this story about a man she once loved. Whenever she tells the story, it’s always unclear to me who this man is; Grandpa, or some other significant beam of light that once shot across her universe. 

She begins the story ironically. She says that she doesn’t remember how it all began – as if there was no quantifiable point in time in which she and he met, no coffee shop romance, no fleeting moment at the train station. She says that she doesn't remember how it all began, but then reminds me that it has one hell of an ending. 

Her story jumps around and it’s hard to follow, although there is one bit in particular that has always struck me as worth remembering. She and the man hadn’t spoken for years. My grandmother and her friend were just getting back from graduate school. It was early evening, and the sun had long been set, but she could make out a handsome man across the street walking towards her apartment. Her heart stopped. It was the postman, but it reminded her of someone else.

She says that they walked across the street towards her apartment and suddenly she knew, with an eerie amount of certainty but without the ability to explain it, that the postman had something special for her. He handed the mail to her friend. Decades passed in the time it took for her friend to hand the letter to my grandmother. “It’s for you,” she said, with a look. My grandmother says that she will always remember the look, because it confirmed what she already knew to be true even before she had seen who it was from.

So it was him! I say, excitedly. What happened? I ask. And how does it end? She smiles and completes the story with yet another hint of irony – a question. 
Isn’t the important part that I knew? 

Monday, October 21, 2013


Your twenties are disgusting, she said, and not in the way that you think of the word disgusting. They are troubling. Your pain and fear is visceral, and you are alone in everything, all of the time. You think you’re not alone but you’re always alone in your twenties. You’re just a child amidst a jungle of high-functioning people and sideways relationships and silver watches that interrupt the lull in your quiet office with their tick, tick, tick. You’re making decisions that can change the direction of your entire life via one conversation with a stranger, one move to the big city, one signature on the dotted line. But you feel sixteen, and you’re much better at being sixteen, navigating the waters of going to a late movie or sweating around someone new and exciting. You aren’t good at signing on the dotted line because you haven’t even perfected your signature yet, because you haven’t had any time, and you can’t remember when laughing with strangers in line opened the door to laughing with strangers in bed, and you had no idea that moving to a new place would change the kind of skin you have or teach you how to be nice. You are constantly spinning and typing and walking and looking at people, and looking at yourself, wondering how you got to that bathroom in that house with that kind of lace on the windows. You’re going to walk downstairs and find someone real to look up to but it’s hard to find that because everybody has some ugly in them. People tell you that being in your twenties is one big sexy production, one fun, flashy extravaganza, and so you keep waiting for the curtains to open so that you can be the star and everyone can applaud you. You work hard and choose your supporting cast carefully so that when the big day arrives, you’re ready to emerge as the sensational hero you were always meant to be. But the truth is, the disgusting truth of it all, she said, is that there isn’t a single person in the audience when the curtains open. That’s what they don’t tell you. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


I couldn't believe that he wanted to drive in the rain with the windows down. It was silly, and he was doing it on principle, like people who only use a French press or like my friend at work who only writes with a monogrammed pen. Your leather seats are getting wet, I said. They're getting ruined. I emphasized ruined because I wanted him to know how he made me feel.

He ignored me and continued on with his lecture. If you believe everything that literature tells you to believe, then we have a problem, he said.

I stared outside and felt the rain on my left eyebrow and on my upper lip and in between my eyelashes. In that case, I said slowly as I rolled up my window, I guess we have a problem.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

the problem

The problem was that she could fall in love with anybody that she wanted to. She could just look at someone and suddenly love them. Sometimes it was the way the back of a head looked, or the in-between color of a passerby’s skin, or someone’s work ethic. Other times it was the sound of someone clearing their throat, a sound which she had always found annoying until she woke up one morning and just decided to be in love with it. The worst was when she would tell me that she loved someone because they loved her first. “Why do you love him?” I would ask over a cup of coffee that had gone cold, only half-amused with whomever had been cursed as the object of her affection for the day. She would cock her head to the side and smile, shamelessly flirting with her eyes. “Because he loved me first. That's why.” 

Monday, August 12, 2013

monday musings

"Date a girl who doesn’t read because the girl who reads knows the importance of plot. She can trace out the demarcations of a prologue and the sharp ridges of a climax. She feels them in her skin. The girl who reads will be patient with an intermission and expedite a denouement. But of all things, the girl who reads knows most the ineluctable significance of an end. She is comfortable with them. She has bid farewell to a thousand heroes with only a twinge of sadness."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

dear diary

Dear Diary,

Everybody tells me that she’s beautiful. Catch her in the summer, they say; she will be lovely and complicated and you will find her laughing irresponsibly in the cool depths of the mezzanine, or seek her in early March somewhere in the tiny kitchen as the sun sets outside and an adolescent spring flexes its muscles awkwardly to ward off the cold.

When I ask what’s so special about her, they say it’s her absoluteness, it’s her history, and it’s the way she knows the answers to questions you haven’t even asked yet. 

They say she’s always moving, but she never leaves. 

She’s the city that never sleeps, and I can’t wait to meet her. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

before I fall asleep

Sometimes right before I fall asleep, I think about what the world would be like if nobody had eyes. What if we all missed each other’s sneaking sideways glances, or the slap of narrowed suspicion, or the round wide-eyed purity of innocence, or the freezing heat of a lingering stare? What if we could never watch one another, or what if we could never look down with shame or look up with hope or look away with vacancy? 

Seeing is power and knowledge, but only if you know what to look for.
Does this mean that some people who have eyes don’t really see?

Friday, March 15, 2013

a very normal boutique

There’s a boutique about three blocks from my house and every time I go there I almost start crying. I don’t understand this because it’s a very normal boutique, with pretty little things like local bracelets and teal colored scarves and tongue-in-cheek cards that make me laugh out loud. I like to walk around and pretend that I could buy anything I wanted for anybody, I could buy those earrings for my neighbor and those table coasters for my mother and the beautiful clock with the red and gray birds and the sleek metallic numbers for my friend who isn’t my friend anymore. I think about how I would give it to her, maybe I would say, here’s a clock that I bought at a boutique that always makes me almost cry, and I know we aren’t friends anymore but I thought you really might love it. Maybe I would leave it on her doorstep and ring the doorbell and then run, but then I remember that I don’t know where she lives and that I can’t afford that clock and that actually we aren’t even friends anymore.

I think the woman who owns the boutique knows everything, because when I start to blink a lot or wipe my eye she says with the kindest smile I’ve ever seen, is there anything I can help you with? 

Sunday, March 3, 2013


It's like love has all of these corners that you are afraid you will get stuck in again. But you're not entirely sure you'll get stuck because you think they're right where they should be, because a square is a square just like water is water.

Of course, that would mean that love has boxed you in.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

the day by the lake

It was late in the afternoon, and I could see that she was tired. The lack of sun and the overwhelming blue of the water and the dark gray blue of the sky was making her eyes shine in a lingering, haunting way. I thought she might stop talking, I hoped we would go home. We didn't.

What's the ugliest part about you? she asked. She looked too eager when she said it, and suddenly her eyes danced like this had been the only thing she had ever wanted to ask anybody since she was old enough to know what the word ugly meant, what it really meant. I was silent, and she smirked in a frightening way and then she said, I'm just naturally curious, that's all. 

I didn't know what to say. I rambled a bit about the scar on the right side of my forehead, I said that I didn't believe in God and I told her about the time I got so angry I burned my hand on purpose. She didn't seem interested and so I sighed, exasperated. I really don't know how to answer that, I said. What's the ugliest part about you? 

She looked up quickly and tried to be soft about it but it was a harsh look, too harsh a look for someone as pretty as she was. Now her eyes glowed and with those glowing eyes and a smile she softly whispered, I thought you'd never ask.