“One thing you who had secure or happy childhoods should understand about those of us who did not. We who control our feelings, who avoid conflicts at all costs, or seem to seek them. Who are hypersensitive, self-critical, compulsive, workaholic, and above all survivors. We are not that way from perversity, and we cannot just relax and let it go. We’ve learned to cope in ways you never had to.” – Piers Anthony
It would be a long while, because, quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean “love” in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again. I remember walking across Sixty-second Street one twilight that first spring, or the second spring, they were all alike for a while. I was late to meet someone but I stopped at Lexington Avenue and bought a peach and stood on the corner eating it and knew that I had come out out of the West and reached the mirage. I could taste the peach and feel the soft air blowing from a subway grating on my legs and I could smell lilac and garbage and expensive perfume and I knew that it would cost something sooner or later—because I did not belong there, did not come from there—but when you are twenty-two or twenty-three, you figure that later you will have a high emotional balance, and be able to pay whatever it costs. I still believed in possibilities then, still had the sense, so peculiar to New York, that something extraordinary would happen any minute, any day, any month.
“There was an episode, one of my favorite moments in Star Trek, when Captain Kirk looks over the cosmos and says, ‘Somewhere out there someone is saying the three most beautiful words in any language.’ Of course you heart sinks and you think it’s going to be, ‘I love you’ or whatever. He says, ‘Please help me.’ What a philosophically fantastic idea, that vulnerability and need is a beautiful thing.”
– Hugh Laurie
A comment by el_gallo on BoingBoing.com – Occupy Oakland: Riot police use tear gas, other nonlethal weapons on protestors:
My part of Oakland is full of poor people. There’s at least one murder a week. Old creeps pimp out teenaged girls in broad daylight. You can buy crack or heroin 30 feet from my door, and two of my neighbors have been held up at gun point this summer. And the City of Oakland says they don’t have the police to stop any of that. But a bunch of people protesting the fact that rich people got a bail out and everyone else got nothing? The city shuts them down tight. Bang. Done. Riot act. Do you ever get the feeling you’ve bean cheated? I do. Every day.
It’s a long time since I wrote to you, Frau Milena, and even today I’m writing only as the result of an incident. Actually, I don’t have to apologize for my not writing, you know after all how I hate letters. All the misfortune of my life — I don’t wish to complain, but to make a generally instructive remark — derives, one could say, from letters or from the possibility of writing letters. People have hardly ever deceived me, but letters always — and as a matter of fact not only those of other people, but my own… The easy possibility of letter-writing must — seen merely theoretically — have brought into the world a terrible disintegration of souls. It is, in fact, an intercourse with ghosts, and not only with the ghost of the recipient but also with one’s own ghost, which develops between the lines of the letter one is writing and even more so in a series of letters where one letter corroborates the other and can refer to it as a witness. How on earth did anyone get the idea that people can communicate with one another by letter! Of a distant person one can think, and of a person who is near one can catch hold — all else goes beyond human strength. Writing letters, however, means to denude oneself before the ghosts, something for which they greedily wait. Written kisses don’t reach their destination, rather they are drunk on the way by the ghosts. It is on this ample nourishment that they multiply so enormously. Humanity senses this and fights against it and in order to eliminate as far as possible the ghostly element between people and to create a natural communication, the peace of souls, it has invented the railway, the motor car, the aeroplane. But it’s no longer any good, these are evidently inventions being made at the moment of crashing. The opposing side is so much calmer and stronger; after the postal service it has invented the telegraph, the telephone, the radiograph. The ghosts won’t starve, but we will perish.
~ Franz Kafka, from a letter to Milena Jesenska, whom he met in person only twice.
“I come in peace,” it said, adding after a long moment of further grinding, “take me to your Lizard.”
…”It comes from a very ancient democracy, you see…”
“You mean, it comes from a world of lizards?”
“No,” said Ford, who by this time was a little more rational and coherent than he had been, having finally had the coffee forced down him, “nothing so simple. Nothing anything like so straightforward. On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”
“Odd,” said Arthur, “I though you said it was a democracy.”
“I did,” said Ford. “It is.”
“So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t the people get rid of the lizards?”
“It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”
“You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”
“Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”
“But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”
“Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in. Got any gin?”
“I said,” said Ford, with an increasing air of urgency creeping into his voice, “have you got any gin?”
“I’ll look. Tell me about the lizards.”
Ford shrugged again.
“Some people say that the lizards are the best thing that ever happened to them,” he said. “They’re completely wrong of course, completely and utterly wrong, but someone’s got to say it.”
– So Long and Thanks for all the Fish, Douglas Adams
Via the stupendous Ellen
Girl #1: Black like my soul.
Teacher lady: Maybe you should try pencil.
Girl #2: Wait what did you say?
Girl #1: It’s black like my soul.
Girl #2: You should get a kitty.
–Dominican Academy, East 68th Street
Something about me wants to learn how to sing soul music, that drum machine spoken word that focuses on notes like inspiration and cleverly explains every bar-tab feeling that love ever wracks up inside our hearts. These words aren’t enough some days. I desire chords. I keep being put on the spot next to pianos and feeling entirely inadequate as my tongue searches for something I know all the lyrics to. I’ve lost all my known songs, all I’ve got left are children’s tunes and the thin skin of pop songs that don’t stand up to scrutiny. A man suddenly startles from a couch. “You’re not a musician are you? That would be a shame.” “No, I’m not. Really I’m not. Why would that be so bad?” “I would haff to stop what I’m doing right now if you are.” “What?” “I don’t let myself ever do this with musicians.” Understanding glitters in her mind and her lips quirk. They laugh while the others look on uncomprehendingly. He leans back, settles his head back on the pillow, and she continues to be pleased. I wanted to sing. I swear. Please believe me. I would give up every ounce of hesitation I showed so that you could have had me sing for you. Hands on the keys and I felt like magic was real. I felt like I remembered, the first time I left for the city, the first time I met you. I will never stop wishing you’d called. The phone silent in my pocket felt like a John Cage piece. Four hours and thirty three seconds before I step on a plane marked only by the absence of vibration, of tone, of hello where do we meet. Those hands, so slight, pulling rabbits from my jaded hat. Sound.
Store chick: And?
Lady: I don’t remember the title or author, but the cover is purple.
Store chick: Our purple books are downstairs.
Lady: They sent me up here.
Store chick: We’re sold out of purple books. You want something in a yellow?
–Barnes & Noble, Brooklyn Heights
Does anyone have a scanner? I have a lovely Polaroid of Andrew, Mike and myself that I insisted be taken by an unkempt vagrant downtown who was wandering around asking tourists to pose for a fee. We’re standing in the middle of Grandville street at night looking like nothing better than drunk kids. I would like to have a digital copy of before anything strange happens to it. I’ve never had a Polaroid before and I’m pretty sure I’ve never looked like a yuppie’s girlfriend before either. The novelty is slightly addictive. I want to wear it in my hat like an antique PRESS pass and ignore people who stare at me on the metro.
Larry called on Friday while he was driving down the highway home. We fell immediately into comfortable conversation. I was glad, still am. I’ve been feeling him as living farther away lately, no matter that Missouri’s a hell of a lot closer than Paris, because the frequency of his posts dropped lately and there’s been less content. My distances are measured in information, not geography. Every letter typed is a drop in a river. I don’t have to close my eyes at night to see it. I can be walking barefoot through cold mud, whirling glittering scarves over my head, and think, ah, so-and-so would like to do this with me. I can tell. They write that way. As I was discussing with Rick, on the bus Sunday, grammar and punctuation can mean so much on-line. The entire language changes to make up for body-language, for visual cues. Sentence structure is suddenly crucial in a way that doesn’t effect speech. Typing the word “like” or “um” every three words is unacceptable, though I’m sure we say them more often than we’d like to admit. Spelling takes on the measure of your education, typos of your intelligence. Code overshadows everything read, as LOL translates to “well that was enough to make me smile”. It makes me wonder how well I transliterate to page. I’m told that I smile more in person than on-line, but that my typos are less. What about you?