My boyfriend’s apartment is rather unaccommodating, but it has always charmed me: seven guitars and no table to eat at, two armchairs used as coat racks, one gorgeous and cramped red velvet couch in the corner. When I want to watch a movie, as I often do, we open the closet where the TV is kept and drag an old foam mattress into the middle of the room. I usually fall asleep halfway through the movie, which sort of annoys him since (supposedly) I snore. But I can’t help it. I’m just so comfortable.
Right now my favorite song on Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (which I flub, chronically, as Yankee Foxtrot Hotel) is the second-to-last song. I don’t know the song names, but I know all the words, every brilliant and aching and confounding line. I am also in love with the album opener, “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart,” and maybe, eventually, that will be my favorite. But it’s hard to say.
When Julie and I walk out of Y Tu Mama Tambien, we know we picked a bad day to quit smoking. Jesus Christ, that movie.
So we go to a bar in Echo Park, where the bartender announces that he’s drunker than 10 Mexicans (not that he’s racist or anything) and whoever cuts limes for him gets free drinks. You see where this is going. Soon Julie is behind the bar and we are smoking at the bar — which in Los Angeles is allowed, umm, never — and “Waterfalls” is playing on the jukebox by our request, and this is two days after Lisa Lopes died in Central America, so between the movie and the afternoon and the song I kind of tear up, because I’m that way.
It is Athens, Georgia, and I am past deadline on a story that doesn't work, and doesn't work, and doesn't work. Broke and hungry, depressed and alone. My friend Aaron calls, and how can I explain? How good it is to hear his voice.
My father and I spend the day riding bikes on Mackinaw Island in the Great Lakes. The island is a time-frozen tourist prop – horses clopping along cobbled streets, taffy pulls, sprawling plantation-style hotels (where they filmed Somewhere in Time we are constantly, embarrassingly reminded of). The Great Lakes open up to our right as we wind our way around the rocky perimeter of the island, not saying much.
My reading in New York is a hot white blur. So many strangers, so few laughs. Except every once in a while I can look up and, beside some polite and blank-faced New Yorker, see one of my friends smiling so big that I can only smile back. Neal and Ada. Bryan and Jolene. Craig and Lisa and Joanna. Stephanie in the back, towering over the crowd. Afterward, Ada takes a Polaroid of me, and my grin swallows my entire face. When I show it to people I usually say, “Hi! I’m Smiley McFriendly!”
Tara makes a mixed CD for my birthday, and we all dance like we used to in college – sloppy, raucous, skirt-ripping, shot-pounding fun. The next day is all regret, but that night is worth pain. I think everyone can agree that Nellye’s “Hot in Herre” is the song of the year, and I place Eminem’s “Without Me” a close second, although neither of these are on the CD Tara made (I just wanted to mention it).
On Thanksgiving, my family plays Taboo. My mother is close to getting the answer, hovering around the word but never seizing the word and my brother has stalled in his clues. “You’re there,” he says, over and over. “You’re there, you got it.” He repeats this for 30 seconds maybe, locking bewildered eyes with my mother. “You’re there,” he says, “You’re there, you’re there,” and I am howling, because no one makes me laugh like my brother.
The street outside my house covered in lime and orange and burgundy leaves. The clouds ripped with purple and pink. On my way to somewhere, anxious as I often am these days, anxious far too much.
I am in Alaska. It is 11 at night, but the sun will not set. It sits fat and opalescent above the trees and reflects in the lake, which grows white and crusty around the edges. I keep thinking I will see the stars here, but I never do. I keep thinking I will see more here, because it is Alaska, because I am always playing everything out in my head before it occurs, imagining things grander than they ever can be, asking for more than what I am given. Sometimes I wonder if the only good things in life are the moments unanticipated. The sun blazes till midnight, while I write this all down.