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A teenage girl rants and raves about the important things: books, quotes, writing, reading, and life.
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1. post script / end of blog

post scripts:

I am not asking you to prove anything.
Life no longer feels restrictive to me.

I cried on the phone because I had the feeling of "not enough" and when I realized that it was a lie, I was able to take a breath, and I saw things differently. I don't know, it's okay, I don't know, it's okay, chorus chorus chorus.

Sometimes people tell you things that mean something to them and you take that as a gift. It is a gift. For somebody to open themselves up to you. Not everybody does this. Not everybody can do this.

It's okay if someone isn't perfect, nobody is, least of all you, and it's okay that you can see this, and it's okay that it makes you pay close attention, and it's okay to not think about it the way everybody else thinks about it, and it's okay to just see how it fits.

Things change quickly.
Maybe it does and maybe it doesn't. It's not up to you.

All you ever have to do is do the things you are doing, and think only on whatever is in front of you, and be clear and honest, and not tell stories, and pay attention, and with all else - just see how it fits.

Just see.

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2. an attempt to write something true

I am sitting on a bed
in a small city in Southern California
about a mile inland from the Pacific Ocean
my name is Erin
I am Erin

I think way too much.
I think way too much.
I think.

Everyone can be very beautiful to me and in fact is. I don't understand the purpose of singling out one or the other.

I thought myself to tears. I think about the same things over and over until it's boring. Until I've convinced myself of something that isn't even there.

All you have to do is be honest and then it's really easy.

There's one topic my brain keeps returning to. A handful of people it jumps between and one specific topic.

I consider speaking to my father.
I consider going to a hypnotherapist.
I consider women.
I consider leaving well enough alone.
I consider an appointment with a gynecologist.
I consider

This is what happened: I got a text and I took hours to respond. When I did I got another text, two actually, and the second one said this, it said, Why don't we catch the sunset and have dinner tomorrow? and do you know how much I liked getting that text?

And then what happened was my brain said here's a little bit of that topic that you are running in miserable circles around and then here's this, that you can see this person as a person, which is not always the case for you in these situations, and so this is just a person, as he is, as she is, as they all are, and I return to

Everyone can be very beautiful to me and in fact is. I don't understand the purpose of singling out one or the other.

and then I noticed my hands and my arms and I remembered my body and that I am alive and it startled me so much I said out loud, "Erin, Erin Erin Erin - !"

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3.

We're standing in the back room, quiet and vast and windowless, surrounded by shelves and shelves of odd hats, bags, plants, mirrors.

"I'm not worried at all," she said, and sincerely.

Just before, I'd said, "that was an amazing Kiki. That was exactly what I needed to hear. So I'm glad I came."

She gave me two hugs and I realized we'd never done that before, I haven't hugged any of these people yet, even as I feel a burgeoning love for each of them bubble up in the center of my chest.

She spoke of discomfort and frustration and the necessary unknown. She talked about trust, about each other and ourselves and the words. She said we on our own are enough. I thought, she is a great leader. I thought, I admire that. 

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4.

i had something in my head like about my head lying against the sand which at the time seemed the same as my head lying against his chest the universal in the particular just like walt whitman yesterday i read song of myself and today i felt it all around me breathing in ocean breeze

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5. Amanda Bynes is in the freezer aisle

I wake up at 7:30pm. I stumble to the kitchen and open the freezer and pull out the ice cream. I stand, leaning against the counter, eating it. My whole mouth burns it's so cold, and my tongue goes numb.

I dreamed a childhood acquaintance emailed, asking me out on a date. Immediately after, he got engaged to someone else. He emailed again saying we could no longer see each other. Last night, which seems at least three nights ago (was it my mother's birthday yesterday? Was I at Heidi's apartment yesterday? Was I petting Zula, and in the kitchen with leftover enchiladas talking about spirituality, and letting myself out to meet him at the gate yesterday? Was I in that dark, loud place listening to dark, loud music yesterday? Have I really worked an entire shift since then? Is it really the same day, still?) I dreamed a coworker and I started going out, and in the dream she was emotionally vulnerable, which I've never seen her be. I wanted to hold her, like a little bird.

I am noticing the negative thoughts I have. I want to be so clear that if my thoughts were loudspeakered out I'd have no problem. I care less about people knowing certain feelings I have and more about the unbidden diatribe where I thoughtlessly think things, mostly to do with strangers, like this person is an idiot and way to fuck that up. What's up with that?

I hear my roommate walking around, I hear her say "oww." In the kitchen there is a plate with uneaten eggs and traces of mashed potatoes. I know that feeling, when even scrambled eggs hurt to eat. I replace the ice cream in the freezer, where there are about eight other containers also containing ice cream. Häagen-Dazs Peppermint Bark, two of them read, and I think, yum.

I close the door to the freezer and walk back to my room. I close the door to my room and I start to write. It's 8:30pm now. I might just go back to sleep.

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6. a notice

A small, hunched over black woman parked her car, windows down, singing along to Carrie Underwood. "I doooooon't even knooooow his last name!" she warbled. As she got out of her car, she started talking, real loud. "If I can find a man, then I can be free to do what I want. Stupid bitch. If I can find a man, then I can stop doing whatever a man tells me to. Ha ha. Stupid bitch! Stupid bitch gotta find a man!" She went on, and on, and on like this. All in the same vein. She was shouting it like she was trying to get me to hear.

--

His hands as he places them on the steering wheel are very beautiful. This is the thought I have, noticing them. The smoothness of them, the perfect color of the skin. He's talking and I keep wondering what are you afraid of and if you weren't what is it you want.

--

Across the street from my apartment, a man moved onto the sidewalk. He has a radio and sofa chairs and a homemade bong using a soda bottle and a long, tall straw. There's steam coming out of it and I can smell the grass. He has all kinds of possessions, and he's arranged everything like a living room on the sidewalk and ground facing an empty lot. He sings real loud, but I don't recognize the song.

--

I'm holding pre-made salads and I'm laughing. At myself, at my feelings, at my imperfection and my desire.

--

She wrote to her friend in Africa, and I tried to read the message over her shoulder but it was in German and the only word I recognized was gut. If we go it's because of a book and a man and a game he and I played two new years ago. Trisha brought Filipino pastries from a bakery in Eagle Rock and they were sweet and soft and strange-tasting. I mean that as a good thing. The grapes Brett and I bought from El Super were the size of eyeballs and crunchy with seeds.

--

Everything moves so fast. There is so much to be paying attention to. There is not time to be distracted. Concentrate: an audition, an interview, a date, volunteering. Notes, feedback, reworking, new working, editing, meeting, making, shooting. Print something, read something, think about things. Call people and make music. Co-create, make sure she gets how much you mean it and are behind it. Go to parties, plays, see your father, do your homework, do your taxes, check your tires, go to work, taste things, cook the fresh vegetables that sit in your kitchen and eat the fruit. Not all poetry is useful poetry. Mandy Patinkon said it: I don't know, I don't need to know, forgettabout it, just shut up and keep swimming. A song plays: what a beautiful life, what a beautiful world.

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7. merely players

Speak Easy Mag is a (fairly) new online journal, and they’re awesome, and they just published a personal essay I wrote last summer about acting and theater, but/and/also the ephemeral nature of everything, of which theater is just an amplified microcosm. We have our exits and our entrances. It goes on, until it doesn't. Things are there. Until they're not.

(perfect gorgeous illustration by Rachel Wheeler)

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8. lines / wires



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9. We lost it up there.

We lost it up there. You said “the woods clear my head,” but when we came to the cabin, cold and dusty-empty a mile from the lake, nothing shifted. In the morning, frying omelets, we fought. To add chives or not. You grating cheddar over bubbling yolks, oil popping spitting gurgling, trying in its small way to interrupt the grate of our own voices.

I was thinking about what it had felt like, seeing you for the first time. Memories like that seemed more real in a way than what was happening now. It was incredible, to be this angry over a stovetop. I thought this calmly, even as you gripped the frying pan’s handle, even as the muscle in your arm arched lifting it. The thought came to me: how odd it was for us to be here at all.

And by “here” I meant life, or earth, or the universe. This was my failing (you informed me) – my inability to focus on what really mattered. I had a habit of slipping into awe and bewilderment at the magnitude of the universe and ourselves scrambling around in it. Eggs, chives, breakfasts, you – at any moment, anything and everything verged on becoming either utterly inconsequential or monumentally important, depending on the shift of my gaze.

The oil was hot when it hit the freckles on my face. Your face was red as you stared, fist wrapped so tightly around the wooden handle. “Is your head clear now?” I screamed – ludicrous, sad, in retrospect – but you could not make a sound. My next scream was one of pain and still you stood there. You looked lost, like a small child who has lost sight of their mother in a crowded shopping mall. Helpless to move. Looking around for somebody to help.

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10. in the final hours of being twenty-three


I'm not much for reflection these days. Or wisdom. Writing it, I mean. Pretending I have it, I mean. Sometimes I feel sad and sometimes I feel alone and terribly alive at the same time. Sometimes I feel empty and sometimes I feel overwhelmingly grateful and breathtakingly alive at the same time. There are things I feel I never thought to feel, things I have I never dreamed of having, things I want or no longer want that I couldn't have predicted at all. And so on, and on. The sheer fact of being a person blows my fucking mind.

I love having my birthday aligned so closely with the beginning of calendar years. Tonight, in a room full of young girls and older volunteers, we had to go around and say, in this order: our names, our rap names (mine is "e-rock", thanks to L - although I definitely thought of "emac" first, thanks to Holly), and what we were looking forward to in the new year.

"All the things I don't know that are going to happen," said I.

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11. "We Were the Last" (part ii)

[part i]

After a moment, the ringing through the phone stopped, and a man's voice, crisp and clear, could be heard coming out of the phone's excellent speakers.

"Yes?" said the voice.

"M 9 2 19 50," said Carrie.

Still standing behind the counter, the woman's face grew whiter by the moment. She opened her mouth into a wide, pleading gape, ready to speak, but Carrie held up a single finger to silence her. Cathleen watched all of this without moving or making a sound.

The three of them waited while the moment floated between and around them.

"Alley 15, Greenwich Village, Suite 134?" came the man's voice again.

"Affirmative," said Carrie.

"Request to speak to the providor," said the man.

Without responding, Carrie held the phone out to the woman, who took it from her. Carrie noted that the woman's hands were very cold and not a little unsteady.

"Sir...." said the woman.

Instead of the man's voice, though, a robotic recording came streaming through the air. "This is an official notice of job termination. Your services are no longer needed or desired as a part of this corporation. Refer to part C of your initial contract: immediate termination clause. Thank you for your compliance."

The woman's chin wobbled a little. Cathleen looked away, uncomfortable. Carrie stared at the woman, hand held out. The woman placed the device back into the little girl's hand.

"Um," said the woman.

"Excuse me," said Carrie.

"Car--" began Cathleen.

"Excuse me," Carrie repeated, firmly, into the air, as if trying to get through to everything at once: the woman, her sister, anything not interested in making this as brief and simple as possible.

The woman began gathering a few things behind the desk. A picture frame (it took a moment for Cathleen to name the object - who had those anymore, anyway?), a mug (ditto), and a curiously shaped wooden box about two inches tall, long and narrow. The woman teetered through a small side exit and the door clicked tightly shut behind her, locking. Cathleen stared at it even so, as if waiting for something else to happen.

Nothing did.

"What is my next step?" Carrie was saying into the phone.

"Authorization to proceed," the man said. The call ended.

"Alright then," Carrie said, pocketing the thing. "Next things next."

"Car," said Cathleen.

"What?" Carrie asked.

"It's just," she tried. "I just...."

"Look," Carrie said, voice softening, finally looking her sister straight in the eyes. "It's the two of us," she said. "You know that. We know that. The only way to get through anything is together. We're everything."

"Yeah?" said Cathleen, although with more hope or more doubt it was hard to say.

"Yeah," said Carrie, smiling now. "We're what comes next."

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12. 2014: 12 months / 12 photos

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13. ad nauseum

there i stood a few days before
christmas wondering if it was snowing
in new york and if your nephews
were making you feel whole and alright
lists ran in my head of everything i learned
from that about that about you about
people relationships want and manipulation
along with freedom dreams and taking care

an interview question: was there any sense
of loss and dislocation? was there any
sense? the phrase keeping in touch being
however hard you insista lie. after this
there can be no keeping and no touch,
although sometimes i feel i have become
a terrible hole of need or want as i understand
suddenly the fear of having no one
to hold you in the night

there is a funny shame in the admittance
that once having had it it's hard going
back, desire and necessity being two things
that tangle like gifts and giving or art
and sharing like memory and reality like sheets
and legs, less and more present with no certain
clarity and i not any better than him, wanting
relief from avoiding what it is we wish to actuate

if you called i'd tell you i have a cold and
stayed in bed all afternoon sleeping and
avoiding work and i wrote a lot of words
most of them about lingering not unlike the title
of the poem we don't know how to say goodbye
and over and over i thought let's rephrase
but some of the words were prescriptions
to my own soft body and they said in a casual tone

just, like, listen to a lot of cream
(don't you have something of theirs on vinyl?)
something about a girl's brown body
the sky loving the sea and drowning
and don't forget the one that repeats ad nauseum
i'm so glad, i'm so glad, i'm so glad

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14. unknown elements

I'm reading A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan which was recommended to me in a high rise apartment in Chelsea two months ago by a woman whose sofa I was sleeping on, a woman who once gave birth to a childhood friend of mine. When I get to the chapter entitled "Safari" it's like getting gut-punched: it's a perfect piece of writing and it devastates me. Not as a writer, but as a human being. I temporarily can't keep going, so I slip the paper I'm using as a bookmark in between the pages of the next chapter. It's a piece of wrinkled receipt paper with the name "Coby" and a phone number scrawled on it. It was given to me months ago by a man who encouraged me, but when I saw him a second time, just last week, he could barely focus. His eyes kept jumping around, his voice talking, going in waves as if the words themselves were nodding, yep, yep, uh-huh.

I stop by work to say hello at the holiday party, on my way to buy a present for my brother. Dustin's wearing a Snoopy sweatshirt and he seems happy. He gives me a long, long hug. It takes me a few seconds to realize this and enjoy it and when I do it's nearly over. "Thank you," I tell him after. "I needed that tonight." "Good," he says. "I did, too." 

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15. it isn't the sugar bowl that's important, it's what's inside it



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16. You can't break up with Sam at brunch, because you're so happy to be alive.

(I saw this and then I wrote this and then I read it aloud and I had such a good time with that that I uploaded it. So, your choice: listen to me read it, or read it yourself.)



You can't break up with Sam at brunch, because you're so happy to be alive. You just sit there, hands folded around your cup of coffee, watching him as he talks. He's talking about a television show, maybe, or an annoying coworker, probably. The sunlight coming in through the wide panes of the cafe's glass front illuminates his face, your hands, the half-eaten plates of waffle and egg. Watching him – lips cracked, ears slightly protruding – you feel the same warm, joyous feeling of openness and possibility that you did at the very beginning of your relationship. Everything feels clear, just as it did then:
     your flickery feelings of affection for this person,
     the feeling that something is about to change,
     the absolute certainty of knowing not only what you want, but that you are on the very brink of getting it.
  You open your mouth to speak whatever must be spoken (I want to end this – I feel that this has come to an end – has run its course – is no longer moving forward), but each time you only smile, or laugh, or reach out to touch Sam's face, because you are so happy, by god it's beautiful, he's beautiful, every person and thing in this bright and shining world is beautiful. In return, Sam begins to smile, Sam begins to laugh, and with every second that passes, his happiness seems to increase, buoyed by your own. You were always good at this: raising him up, out of the cloud of his own mind. And, as his eyes brighten, you start to wonder how you could ever dare to dim them, and the certainty in your chest begins to twist itself into a muddled knot, and the feeling of limitlessness dies away, and by the time he reaches out to kiss your fingertips, emanating happiness from every inch of his being, and says, gaze direct, I love you, you begin to feel the confines of your life settle back around you. Your face smiles back, and your mouth says (because it is true), I love you, too, and something inside of you disappears, buries itself, and you tell yourself, well, if it nags at me now and again, so what? You resolve to forget it, forget all about it.
  For the first time in my life, Sam is saying now. For the first time, everything makes sense. Because of you. You listen, knowing you could never undo that, how selfish an act it would be, to knowingly destroy a person's happiness.
  I'm glad, you tell him, already struggling to remember how that even feels.

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17. these streets will make you

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18. "We Were the Last" (part i)

Cathleen peered over the counter at the woman thumbing through a beauty magazine. She peered at the woman's fingernails: glitter-green shellac, long. She peered at the woman's face: puffy lips, puffy cheeks, painted eyebrows thick-brown and arched. She peered at the woman's clothes: a tight, loud-patterned dress snuggled over rounded tummy, thick arms. Cathleen cleared her throat once.

Down two aisles and to the left, Cathleen's sister Carrie peered at the rows of toy, wooden furniture. Carrie was small and impatient and hyper-intelligent. She pulled out her smartphone and sent a text.

To: Cathleen
have u asked yet?

Cathleen received the text at the exact moment that the woman behind the counter looked up.

Ping, said her phone.

"Can I help you?" said the woman.

"Um," said Cathleen. She peered down at her phone. She peered back up at the woman, who seemed taller suddenly.

"Do you have. . . ." she paused. She could imagine Carrie two aisles over, all ears, straining in anticipation of the woman's reply.

"Do you have. . . ."

"What I don't have is all day, kid," said the woman.

"My mom said. . . ." No, that was wrong. "I mean. I meant to - I wanted to ask about the - if you have - "

Ping, said Cathleen's phone. It was Carrie, again. It said, how about now?

"I needed to see about the transferents?" Cathleen said, hurried breath rushing out. The woman blinked at her. Maybe she doesn't know? Cathleen thought. Maybe we came to the wrong place?

"Whoa," said the woman. It was her turn to peer, down at the little girl on the other side of her counter. The girl's eyes were normal-sized, and her hair was light brown, and she wore plain enough clothes. But she'd just asked about transferents.

Just then, Carrie appeared and walked to the counter to join her sister. Whoa, thought the woman again. Another one. And they looked exactly alike, too.

"Excuse me," said Carrie. Carrie looked over at her sister, as if to say, sorry, but you were taking too long. She turned back to the woman. "We're here about the transferents. Emily and Timothy? They were sent on Monday."

The woman gaped.

"Who sent you?" she asked the pair standing in front of her. In response, Carrie reached into her back pocket and pulled out her phone. She tapped the screen for a moment and then held it up to the woman. On the screen was a series of letters followed by a code, symbol, and digital voice activator.

"Oh," said the woman.

In response, the phone lit up, and began to dial a number. The woman's face fell.

"No - " she began to say.

Carrie shrugged, as if to say, sorry, but you were taking too long.

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19. hypothetically speaking

1 Say you’re making a playlist, and the first song you choose is The Beatles, “I’ve Just Seen a Face.” What do you choose to follow that? Can anything follow that?

 2 Say that you know what will make you smarter, and wittier, and you actively reject that in favor of getting your hands dirty, as they say. What will happen?

 3 Say you want something and you don’t do anything about it. Perhaps you’re overwhelmed by the feeling of not knowing how to do it, or, you really don’t know how to do it. What then?

 4 Say you actually go up to a person you barely know, look them in the eye, and say, “I want to get to know you.” Without any of the usual fumbling you-seem-like-a-cool-persons or hey-that-thing-we-talked-about-once-let’s-talk-about-it-more. If you just say something that plainly, that honestly. What follows, what will happen, what then?

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20.

Spring Mornings in California: An Exhibition


I receive phone calls from people in other countries, or across town. You wouldn't believe everything I receive, and daily.

When I write, things either work or they don't. Except that's too neat and probably a lie. Things become less clear and more, harder to take and more beautiful. Some say it's soft, like vanilla and cinnamon, but to me it's more like hands sometimes steady and sometimes trembling.

The impact upon realizing something I wanted was not mine to have in the moment is a feeling you would be forgiven for thinking I'd be used to by now. But it came like a shock all over again. And I had to excuse myself. I forget all I do have in the face of one thing I don't, and frequently. It's not something I'm proud of.

I keep writing fragments of poems, thinking my feelings on the matter at hand (whatever that happens to be) can be corralled. It's precision, a math equation, where to put the colons and dashes and line breaks. I take a significant amount of pleasure in the minute tweaking of words and punctuation.

I want to tell you how giddy I get from being alive. I never could have predicted how happy I could be, and consistently. All the things I love best are in my life, and then some. I walk to cafes and play records and visit museums and audition at movie studios and in tiny theaters and get recognized for being on television and write poetry and children’s stories and collaborate with friends on projects that are meaningful to me and go for walks and meet new people and explore new places and have good conversations and laugh lots and lots. I'm leaving out so much; I couldn't possibly include everything. I dance and eat cake, I get hugs from strangers, I love everything that is mine and some things that aren’t and I can’t remember the last time I truly hated anything. I don’t mean I get everything I want, only that, at the same time, I have everything I could ever want.

I don't know what's going to happen next, but something is, and I get to be around for it. And that's stunning.

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21. preheat

It was too hot a night for it, but I did it anyway: turning the knob on the oven, lighting the stove, oil slicked on the bottom of a pan. Set the table for two. Sweated. Sat down: double ice waters, a quick kiss, then dinner.

I am so tired, and I don't want to move. A dog named Charlie barks from behind a closed bedroom door. I lick peanut butter off a knife. I read articles about sad women who write, who want to understand writing, who want to be heard, who want to die.

Things that are close in my mind: my great-aunt Dorothy, my great-aunt Norm, here is a photograph:

"I don't know much, but I know I love you" is apparently a line from a song, but I didn't know that when I said it.

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22. Prayer for the Dog Days of Summer

mercy for the barefooted woman
with the green purse walking
toward Sunset. blessings on their heads,
two young boys running,
skateboards in hand, fleeing
7-11 and a curfew. kisses
blown in the direction of
the mountains, my brother
inside a new home, hoping
this time to make it better.
peace be with the girl
I love, and her worry,
and the downward tilt
of blue eyes and dark lashes.
hallelujah for the mother who dances,
the father who distances,
the aunt who writes. the grandfather
and the grandmother, surrounded
by garden, sewing, failing eye sight;
baseball on the TV and casserole
in the oven, baking in
the Midwest heat. I baptize
myself, wet sweat dripping
down, tired and impatient, stomach
full on every kind of love, room
enough in my chest to draw breaths
steady and grateful, forever
and ever amen.

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23. you-ology, me-ology, love-ology, kiss-ology, stay-ology, please-ology, I'm sorry-ology, forgive me-ology

Sean believes he can know what’s going to happen next, if he knows what the current situation is. [...] In one scene, Sean sees a man in truck. He is so sure the man is going to turn and see him staring that he does an elaborate charade to make it look like he’s actually not looking. But as sure as he is—he even visualizes the man’s head turning—the man doesn’t look over. The story he’s created in his head, as much as he believes in it, doesn’t happen.     (from)
Outside my window, a man yells, "Turn it down, please. ...TURN IT DOWN!"

"Hey, Charlie," I say, sitting on the couch, tying my shoelaces. I ask him a question, as if he will be able to answer me. He just looks back at me, all chocolate eyes and floppy ears. I sigh and stand.

Acknowledging that you make mistakes, you have made mistakes, you continue to make mistakes, regret is a simplistic feeling in this sense. At the same time, the echo of your teenaged self: Non! - je ne regrette rien! It can be comforting, to speak with one's mother on a cool fall day, eating an orange, tears smudged all over one's face.

You finally find a tattoo you won't get tired of, you stop hearing from someone, you cannot be responsible for another person's happiness, (that is a difficult one), you wish you had done things differently, you write poetry you will never show your mother, you make another mistake, the instant you start to love it all is when it begins to be alright.
 ...to make sense of the insensible, to describe that inarticulable space where despite what came before, something still struggles to be born.   (from)

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24. the world is quiet here


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25.

a pair of speakers, and i buy myself my own groceries and bring them to my own home, and listen to "towers" on repeat, and talk with my roommate and talk to her sweet dog too.

the woman looked me in the eye, and leaned in, and lowered her voice. "i wish you - what i wish you. is. peace, and harmony." she really looked at me. she so sincerely thanked me. called me by my name. "i really mean it," she said, hoping i'd know, and i knew, even without her saying that.

shooting the shit in the break room, out on the floors. "why does everybody give you such a hard time?" the one asked, and i just laughed, and laughed.

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