Saturday, November 29, 2008

Get Happy

Let's get happy, you and me and everyone reading this, let's get so so happy is anyone with me you should send me an email if you are with me let's get happy.

No no no see this could be easy actually we don't have to walk around the world though we could I guess let me know if you are interested we don't have to skinny dip in a warm lake at night though that would also be an option it seems intriguing are there snapping turtles in lakes like that it's just something I want to try I think we don't have to stand on top of buildings or milk a cow or get drunk and fall down the stairs we just have to shut our eyes shut your eyes and pretend you are somewhere else with someone you love or something you love do you like to fish? Let's pretend you are fishing it is a moonlit evening and you are alone and you get a little nibble and you pull it up and there is a little fish and the moon looks pretty in the ocean it is all ripply and the moon looks ripply in the reflection it is a little cold you pull your jacket tighter around you and you pull the fish up and stand up from the chair you brought and unhook it without a problem and you look at it and it looks at you (imploring) and you drop it back and it makes ripples and swims off to go get happy to go back to its family and say you will not believe what happened I got hooked but I'm better now and its wife will say "oh".

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Scenes 2

These posts are fun for me, but if you guys don't like them, let me know. Alternatively, feel free to write your own in the comment section.

We are on a balcony fifteen floors up and I'm looking at the street and you're looking at the moon and I say I like being this high up and you say, I've been higher.

I am hanging my jacket up on a hook and you tell me you have a thing but that it can wait until I am hooked and I say I am already hooked and you say your jacket is not hooked and I say I know.

You are smiling and smiling but then suddenly you are not smiling you are falling and your face has that look on it that says I am not smiling I am falling but I am there, for once in my thoroughly uneventful life I am there in front of you and I grab your arms and steady you so that you are not falling you are smiling and I look you in the eye and say are you okay [I have waited my whole life for that to happen] and you give this tiny little sigh and say: yes.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


1. I am very attracted to the idea of tall buildings. I would like to construct tall buildings or picnic on top of tall buildings or perhaps jump off of a tall building but not in a way where I die just in a way where I feel what it is like to be falling through a city skyline. Are there flying classes? Can I afford to take them? Can I afford not to take them?

2. Nature and nurture are one and the same (you were wrong about that). After two million years we evolved like this, governments are the natural successor of everything that has happened and nurture is our nature. Love is a real emotion, and though perhaps it stems from something in biology it is ours now, it is not yours, you cannot have it back.

3. Consider skinny dipping in a warm lake. Also, play the marimba. Maybe at the same time? (check on this one)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

On Forgetfulness

In seventh grade, I think, though it could have been sixth and it could have been eighth, Sanjana came over to my house with her whole family. Her dad and my dad worked together and she had a brother that was my sister’s age, and so our parents had arranged a small dinner party for our families. We made some awkward small talk and then the kids played a board game while the parents enjoyed hors d’oeuvres. We ate a meal; we had dessert; we said good night.

I had to ask Sanjana her name four times during the course of that evening, and then each time after that that our families got together, which is troubling. I have never prided myself on being a great host, but I at least figured that I was capable of remembering the one name I was responsible for. I guess all I can really do is be thankful that she was so willing to overlook my forgetfulness, and though I could speak endlessly of the many reasons why Sanjana is an extraordinary specimen of humanity I will not; to be honest, I only mention this small fact because it serves to illustrate a point I wish to express to you in no uncertain terms, and that point is this: I forget things.

I forget things, which is broad and vague and worthy of condemnation by fine writers everywhere because fine writing is precise and pristine and does not resort to such bland generalities as “I forget things”, but the point remains: I forget things, and lots of them. I forget the obvious things: names, dates, names. These things are easy to forget. These are the things your mom forgets and then paces around her kitchen for, a fish out of water, floundering and flapping unpredictably until, with a silent sigh of relief, she suddenly finds herself back under the surface, alive and alert, the fact no longer merely on the tip of her tongue but also on her mind, in big, blocky letters. I forget worse things: faces and events, for instance, or the reason I am calling or the fact that I’m in a synagogue and thus not supposed to be swearing wildly. People tell me stories where I play a main role that I have no recollection of at all, and when they are done they grin with disbelief at the blank face I have on and then they ask, “don’t you remember?”, at which point I will smile and laugh because no, I do not remember, and that is both amusing and heartbreaking at the same time and I can only hope it is breaking their heart as effectively as it is breaking mine, though I am certain it is not.

I forget things but I find ways around my forgetting things so that, sometimes, I forget that I forget things, at least for a little while. I do things early when I can so that I will not forget to do things later, or, if for some reason I am forced to delay the completion of a task, I make notes on my hand or in my assignment book, which I read faithfully, at least when I remember to. I surround myself my with people that have great memories, which is sometimes excellent and sometimes less than excellent; it is excellent when I need to find out an assignment I forgot but less than excellent when I am repeating the same joke over and over and I begin to tell it to people who have heard it already, which happens more frequently than you might at first suspect. My poor memory can even have its upsides. I have a tendency to obsess over mistakes I make, so it comes in handy when I forget the reason I’m obsessing in the first place. When that happens, I chalk one up to good luck and move on, which is nice to be able to do.

Forgetting things can have its advantages but I don’t want you to think that I am glad I forget things because I am not. I hate that I forget things. It gets in the way constantly. I will schedule two events at the same time and won’t realize it until the day before. I will walk into U.S. and be informed that we have a test that I should have been preparing for for a week. I will forget about this sentence, the one that I’m reading right now, and then next to go will be the dinner with Sanjana and then the essay and then the prompt and then the class and the teacher and then you. I will have a fantastic ending to an essay all planned out in my head,


Meredith took the picture, entitled "sharp fuzz". I would highly recommend clicking it to view it full. The fuzz looks really fantastic up close.

Monday, November 17, 2008


In the country, Jim's grandfather used to say, there was nowhere to hide. The city was full of niches and cracks, little places to stow yourself away, but in the country, where the soybeans stayed low to the ground for fear of heights and where there wasn't a house around for miles, there wasn't much hope for those who didn't want to be seen.

It was a moonless autumn night, and Jim saw them from afar because in the country there is nowhere to hide. He knew something was wrong from the start; two people weren't out this late on a cold evening like this if they weren't doing something (Jim was walking his dog), and these two people weren't doing something.

They were under one of the few streetlights that dotted the dirt road, the streetlights that were fifty yards apart, no more, no less (there had been a big town meeting about that decision), and one was sitting up and the other was lying down, lying still, in a position that did not suggest sleep but suggested something slightly more sinister, on the opposite side of the man sitting up. All but his legs were hidden to Jim, who approached slowly.

He was under the streetlight next to theirs when the man sitting up looked at him. He was tall and overweight and wearing a heavy down jacket over his overalls. He coughed, violently, a racking cough.

Jim continued approaching.

The man sitting up gave him some sort of face, one of pain, maybe, but more importantly one that Jim was unable to decipher from where he was, and so Jim continued approaching. The man coughed again, and then he looked back at Jim and shook his head.

"Sir?" Jim asked, stepping nearer.

The man kept coughing and shaking his head. He held up a hand.


He was close now, and his dog was whining. The man sitting up just kept coughing and shaking his head and holding up a hand.

Up close, Jim could see the man was in bad shape. A tiny drip of blood leaked out of the corner of his mouth, and he was breathing hard. He struggled to say something, but Jim was unable to hear. He leaned close, allowing his dog to smell the man that was lying still.


The man's jacket fell open, exposing a bare, bloody chest. Blood pumped out from everywhere, warm and wet, drenching the inside of the man's coat. The man coughed again, and red liquid squirted anew from the wounds on his body.

Jim stared. The man stopped coughing and looked Jim straight in the eye.

"Run", he rasped.

Jim heard a whine, and suddenly the body lying next to the man was alive and hurting his dog and then reaching out to grab Jim but Jim was running and running as fast as he could, unable to breathe or think or swallow and only able to pump his legs, one after the other, and he was one hundred and seventy two yards away and seventeen seconds from the streetlight when he turned around and look back, his head swimming and hot from the effort.

He saw a long stretch of empty road.

He kept running.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


We have decided it is a good idea to throw around a frisbee on the elementary school that we climbed on top of so you throw me a long pass and I am running for it but suddenly I am falling for it and I thud flat on my face on the soft grass and then the frisbee hits me in the head.

It is eleven thirty at night outside starbucks and you got vegetable chips and I got a really awful rice krispie square that is only a little bit bigger than my head and for some reason the people at the vegetable chip factory decided to make their bags impossible to open without some sort of power drill so I ask you to hold my rice krispie square while I open the bag for you and I pass you my rice krispie square but it slips out of our hands and falls on the ground but we both start laughing so hard we cry.

You asked me if I was afraid of heights and I said no because I am not afraid of heights, and then I asked you if you were afraid of heights and you said maybe you were a little bit afraid of heights and I asked you how much a little bit is and you told me you had seen a specialist for eight years because you were afraid of heights and the only reason you stopped seeing him was because it had been eight years and you still couldn't breathe right if you looked out your bedroom window because it is on the second floor and then the elevator dinged eighty-six and we stepped out onto the windy roof.

Monday, November 10, 2008

On Everything, On Everything

She took notes on everything, on everything.

He loved her, and the little we know about the whole event suggests an unusual motivation for his love, which was partially in her face and her mind but primarily in her pocket, next to her phone - he loved her because of a green sharpie, and because of what she did with it, what he saw her doing with it when he saw her and loved her: taking notes.

She took notes on everything, on everything, which required clarification from the beginning but which no longer serves our purposes without it, so, to explicate, she took notes on everything, on everything: on all subjects and surfaces. She took notes on bow ties on an advertisement in the subway; she took notes on how sad people look on a table in McDonald’s; she took notes on cars on cars. She was unlimited in her note taking, and so he loved her when he was walking down the street and she was on the opposite sidewalk, pressed up against the glass of Daisy's Dresses and Things, one hand curled lazily up against her hip and the other clutching her sharpie and writing on the glass and then turning around without examining her work because she was practiced at this; she knew she was right; there was nothing to examine. He stared, and she looked at him because to take good notes she needed to see everything, to take note of everything, and so she did not look in his eyes she looked at his eyes and then she looked both ways and crossed the street and looked back at his eyes but this time she was in front of him, in note taking range, and she squinted with effort and stood on the tips of her toes and wrote on his face in green sharpie and then walked away and he was left looking across the street at the store window of Daisy's Dresses and Things which had two notes now, except one of the notes was backwards because it was written on his face.

Sharpie, for our intents and purposes infinitely less permanent than promised, washed off his face after two days and two nights and two showers and he never saw her again, but sharpie, for his intents and purposes as permanent as the writing on the window of Daisy's Dresses and Things ("this store used to sell chocolate") which remained, permanently, remained, permanently, not in his face or his mind or his personality but in his pocket, next to his cell phone and wallet. His sharpie was red and his notes were far more limited than hers, for he took notes on everything but not on everything, which is of course to say that he took notes on all surfaces but not on all subjects; he had only one subject – three little words – which seems unsatisfying but was actually not.

And so he took notes on everything but on only one thing, and since there was not much to say on only thing it ended up that all of his notes were the same: "I love you," written on walls and ceilings and floors and windows and public telephones, to which her green sharpie reply, as constant as the note she was replying to, as constant as the many subjects and surfaces she took notes on, as constant as the flowing ink which has served to communicate ideas and feelings for generations before us and will continue to do so for generations after, as constant as everything, as everything, was always scribbled neatly under his note and was always breaking our heart in exactly the same way and always said, from top-to-bottom and left-to-right, "I know".

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Briefly, On the Making of Lists

Things should be concise.

Things should not be short, or rather, things need not be short, though they are still welcome to be, which is exactly why lists are so excellent: lists are potentially endless but demand conciseness by definition. No one wants a list made up of paragraphs. People want lists made up of sentences. Fragments. Lists of nouns, lists of verbs, lists of nouns and verbs with each item containing exactly one noun and one verb: cut grass, clean room, call grandma. The numbers go on and on but what is constant is the nature: condensed, compact, curt, like a bump in the hallway, a nod in your direction, a telephone conversation with your mother's mother on mother's day.

Lists have an overwhelming potential for frivolity, like that list you wrote about things you want to do before you die, which is so important it becomes pointless (go skinny dipping, punch someone, sex with a french girl), but lists also have an overwhelming potential to do good, to serve purposes, like your list of the major accomplishments of Benjamin Franklin (discovering electricity, inventing insurance, sex with a french girl), but lists have an underwhelming potential for extraneousness because lists are by definition brief and also briefs; they are both brief and briefs; they are brief briefs because they batter you with a barrage of blunt bulletins, a basket-full of bright bits, a bombardment of benign beings.

In summary:
  1. Lists are good.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Regarding Storm Doors

I don't mind winter.

I prefer summer, sure, which is no one's fault if not my sister's, who has convinced me to thrive on flatness and heat and in-and-out forehands, but winter is okay - I don't mind winter. I like snow, and I can deal with the cold. Even the early darkness has its upside: when it's dark I get down to work, so the earlier the sun sets the earlier I start the notes I have due for U.S. the next day.

I have one qualm with winter, though, and it's not even a big one. It's a pet peeve, really, and one that is quite low on the list, resting well below stubbing my toe and only just above people who don't pause for rests while singing.

I hate storm doors.

Just as my love for all things disk-shaped, I get this one at least partly from my sister too; when she was nine my dad was replacing the storm door window with the screen and she didn't know. She pushed down on the door's handle with her right hand and pressed her left against the space where recently there had been glass and so she plunged, head-first, through the frame and came crashing down a million feet below on our concrete stoop, taking only a brief rest-stop during the trip to shatter through the plate glass that my dad had rested on the ground.

(My sister, incidentally, has a bit of a feud with doors in general. The morning before her last day of middle school I watched as she punched through the glass on our side door.)

My own problems with storm doors began when our house was robbed in sixth grade. I came home from the bus one afternoon in February to discover the front door smashed into a thousand pieces but the storm door intact, waiting for me, as if saying, with a big old grin, your house was broken into, but don't worry, I'm fine, I'm still here, I didn't break. I was understandably upset about it. Our front door had sacrificed itself in the name of the defense of our house, had fought bravely as an unnamed man in a black turtleneck split the wood at the dead bolt and splintered the hinges into dust, and our storm door had sat there, watching its companion being slaughtered, and quaked in fear and hoped it would be spared.

Storm doors remain a nuisance. I can't shut the exterior doors of my house anymore because of the cushion of air in between the storm door and the door I'm shutting. The satisfying slam created in the presence of a screen is gone, replaced with a frustratingly gentle wfff of air coupled with the light tap the edge of the door makes as it hits the frame without nearly enough force to move it any farther. I have to press up against the door to shut it, a necessity that drives me crazy beyond belief. And while storm doors make it nearly impossible to shut a door with any sort of force, they also make it completely pointless to open a door; there is no purpose in having an exterior door open if the storm door remains closed, so on an unusually warm day in December our doors are shut even though I want to invite the weather inside and ask it if it wants a soda or something. I could drink a soda with winter, I think - I don't much mind winter. It's storm doors I can't stand.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

How Jeremy Broke His Nose

Jeremy thought cutting himself was gross, so he broke his nose.

Jeremy was a nice guy, really. He got okay grades and he worked hard. He was pretty quiet, but he had a few friends and this one girl in his Euro class who looked at him every once in a while. Jeremy was happy; that part is important. Jeremy was happy and remained happy for the duration of this entire little episode.

The problem with Jeremy was not that he got sad, but rather that he got frustrated. He said the wrong thing frequently and imagined that whoever he told it to was still thinking he's the stupidest person in the world. Jeremy also liked to think that the world was straight forward, even though he knew it wasn't. Jeremy pretended there was a very direct correlation between pain and gain, so that whenever he was hurting, something was getting better. Somehow the lack of blood distinguished between self-mutilation and whatever Jeremy was doing, so he never drew blood, but when things went wrong he punched himself in the head or bent his fingers backwards because he thought it might fix things.

Jeremy stumbled over his chair and words after Euro one day, in precisely that order. He was getting up and suddenly he was falling down, falling into the girl who smiled at him, knocking her down too, knocking the egg she had to carry around for AP Psychology down, breaking it from one bonus point to a mess that was all over her new dress.

"Oh, christ," Jeremy stuttered, "I'm so sorry. Oh god, I'm really sorry. I meant to do that. I meant- I didn't mean- I'm sorry, I meant I meant to do that. I didn't mean- I really like you I'm so sorry."

The girl was already running out of the room.

Four minutes later Jeremy wandered into the nurse's office, talking wildly to himself.

The secretary looked up at him. "Yes?" she asked.

"I think my nose is broken."

She looked at him carefully, noticing nothing wrong. "It's fine," she said.

Jeremy made a quick fist and hit himself in the nose. Something cracked.

"It's really not."