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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Friday, September 15, 2006


the lovely dan nester posted two of my new yorker poems. check it out.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Five Years Ago

I was in Atlanta, Georgia, in bed in a salmon pink bedroom. Jon had painted it that color for me before I moved in, but we were both alarmed by the brightness. I had put Carmen's bright green painting of the Buddha over the bed to accentuate and resign to the brightness. September was still hot in Atlanta, so the air conditioner hummed with insistent dullness.

Jon had gotten out of bed before I had. His study was next to the bedroom, so if he kept the door open, which he did that morning, I could sort of see him when I woke up. I think I felt him pulling away from me those mornings, and I would peer through the crack and envy the screen its intoxicating allure.

The New York Times was his home page. I was twisting awake. He made a sound, and then, honey come here. He often found bizarre news stories or pockets of the internet world vastly more fascinating than I did, so I moved slowly.

"It says here that a plane just hit the World Trade Center," he said and he was clicking the mouse repeatedly. I don't think I quite registered what that meant, but the gravity in his voice when he said plane and hit sat me up.

I had moved from New York to Atlanta to be with him about five months prior. Atlanta was a big hot parking lot, but it moved slowly and I was learning to drive. I was stretching out from the hunched over, list making, little worried warrior New York City had been carving out of me. But I missed my friends, and had planned to fly back to see them and celebrate my birthday the next week.

"There's no story," he said. It was too early. Just a flashing headline. He went to the yahoo AP headlines and it said breaking news. Let's turn on the TV, Jon said.

As soon as he turned it on, there it was. A picture of a plane flying into the side of a tall building and it erupting into smoke and flames.

“Jesus Christ," Jon said and we froze.
After a minute, he got in bed with me. “It looks like it blew up,” I said, and then the other one started to fall, too.

There were sounds on the news program that you don't usually hear on TV, unproduced chaos and panic. I think the program was only on for a second before the newscaster said the plane hit a second tower. We watched the whole thing live, holding one another. I felt a rush of fear, excitement that tragedy was returning him to me mixed with guilt, hollow, numb disbelief.

We would watch that image over and over that day, and for several days after. So many times that we had to make a rule, a first for us. We were closer that morning than we had been in months, two humans clutching. I think while we talked about forever those days, we both already suspected that wasn’t going to wind up being the case. The differences in the way what happened affected us later began to cement that. It would take a few more years for us to break up. That morning though, we were together, and there was a sense of the world changing and falling apart around us, and that was what mattered. We lay like that, stunned with stillness in our dull pink womb, for maybe ten minutes before it hit me and I jumped up,

“I have to make some calls.”

People in New York were going about their days. We knew what was happening before they did. My sister watched the tower on a TV in a storefront window. Joelle walked her bike over the bridge. My aunt couldn’t go home. Aimee was kept late at school while kids called their parents.

“Their parents worked in the trade center?” I asked. She worked with poor kids.
“There were janitors in that building,” she reminded me.

Technology was limited, phones were tied up; there was only so much the TV could do. It was becoming a story with a theme song before our eyes. We went on a walk and our connection was limited too. The force of my world away from him was gathering itself. He wanted to go to war. He worried about people first, but he also worried about America and he worried about money. I was remembering who I was and our differences made us lonely. A week later, I would go to New York, but I would take the train and spend days with my journal, watching my America, train stations and farms, people shutting gates, slow moments out the window.

The city still smelled like burned flesh. People felt like dogs running in circles barking I'm alive. My sister was in love with firemen; my old girlfriend was afraid to go to the corner store. When I arrived at ground zero for the first time, the first person I saw was Sharon Olds.

“I can see your auras,” she told my friend and I, and she could. She could see tender pink human colors around us, fraught with the intersection between our own little lives and this great, burnt pile of the larger world around us.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The mistake men make as writers is to forget the inner life, to project it all on to choices symbolized by lovers, places, jobs. The mistake women make is to project the inner life into dialogue, so that people say exquisitely articulate things off the cuff.

Lorrie Moore does it all the time. All the characters in a Lorrie Moore story are as witty and articulate as Lorrie Moore. Gaitskill does it only occasionally, like this passage in Veronica when Alison says to her sister: "But sometimes I get this picture of what it's like inside her. I picture inside her being a maze that's really small and dark, full of roadblocks and trick doors. I picture her twisting around and around, waiting to go forward and not being able to find the way. Like a bee that's banging on the screen door--you open the door and you wait for it to go out, but it just keeps banging on the screen."

That's the writer talking, not the character.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Mary Gaitskill may be shrill, high-maintenance and a little odd, (who's talking) but damn, can she write. I'm reading Veronica and it's dizzyingly good. Some part of my brain observes her sentences: I can do that...I can do does she do that?

Friday, September 01, 2006

sentences submitted by pratt writing students on the first day diagnostic grammar quiz for use of the pronoun she

Eliza said that she was a fashionista.
She stopped talking to me because we got in a fight.
She rubbed the sleep from her eyes and turned on the light.
She has a birthmark the size of a quarter on her right thigh.
She had long, yellow hair like gold.
She's a rainbow, colors everywhere, and in her hair.
While Alexandra did enjoy the sport, she hated to run.
She is such a lazy girl.
She went to the pet store.
She was a simple child with her marbles and paperdolls.
I'm not sure if she is in my class.
She told them all when to meet for lunch.
She knows what she wants.
He came to her and she knew he was all she needed.
She could no longer pretend that her boyfriend was not a moron.
She never wanted to touch him in the first place.
She didn't like her name, so she asked me to call her Aimee.
When I told her about my error, she was not happy.
I knew she was wrong, but I listened to her point of view anyway.
She laid out her outfit with care before shoving it into the suitcase.
She is the one for me.
She walked down the street.
She is stupid and dull.
She spoke and we howled with laughter.
She was having a very rough day.
She liked to be called by her real name.
She was tall.
She let out a sigh.