I’m having a really good time doing my Friday roundup columns on Zèbre. It’s forcing me to remember, and it’s forcing me to pay attention to the details and write down things that are outside of myself—I only hope that they’re of interest to others.
Here are the last 3:
Every time I try to refocus this blog, I can’t seem to stay on track. Personal essays are scattered in with one-off songs and images and reblogs, and the lack of continuity drives me nuts.
In an attempt to create a place on the internet where I post things that have been through a few revisions or even taken a week to initially write, I’ve teamed up with a couple friends, Mallory and Kelsey, to create Zèbre. The name is of no consequence. It’s a long-running inside joke. All you need to know is that it’s up and running—slowly, to start—and we’ve got a few pieces up at zebrezebre.com.
Hi, I’m going to rate some things on this overcast (quel surprise!) but strangely balmy San Francisco morning.
Making a new friend: A+
Straight Outta Compton: A-
The sushi last night in Japantown: B-
The “Secret Breakfast” Humphrey Slocombe ice cream flavor: C, surprisingly
Feeling like the world is full of possibilities after feeling like a bum in a dark hole for the past week and a half: A+++
The Saga series: A
This book club I’m a part of: A
Another book club event I definitely don’t want to be a part of: “Discuss Modern Romance, picnic… and maybe yoga!”: C
The subtle sexism in this one Meetup group I’ve been going to: F
My camera being broken: F
Leaving work at 3 pm to go camping in the redwoods: A+++
The Twirl and Dip swirl cone dipped in TCHO chocolate with sea salt on top: A for taste; D for price
The fact that summer fruit season is almost over: F
The health of the very expensive plant I bought: A!
My TMJ: F
The number of times I catch myself grinding my teeth on a daily basis: F
Revisiting this New Yorker story about pandas: A
My local laundromat: B+
Living in San Francisco: Still an A
“Ochsner called the second section ‘occasional ideas.’ These seem to be general thoughts that did not fit in with the notes on specific islands. It also contains citations for literature related to his observations.”
Existing, being, interacting, and reading the internet is enough to give you an ulcer. I used to have people to complain with regularly about how awful the internet was, but since I’ve moved across the country and need to make new friends, I don’t want to be known as the person who complains about the internet. What’s the point? I also love it, as someone who has interacted with it daily since she was 12, loves it. I love what you can make with it; I love how you can interact with people you like on it. But the internet, on the regular, makes me feel loneliness, frustration, and anger, with its kneejerk reactions, fleeting obsessions, article dogpiles, and reportage of the most mundane of activities. (Somebody tweets.)
I’m especally lonely now—sometimes I avoid Facebook or Instagram on weekends where I know a large group of people I know are hanging out somewhere and having fun where I’m not. If I don’t see evidence of it, the ache is amorphous. There are no images to fixate on. I can only imagine things.
This is another one of those weekends. Many of my friends are at a music festival in Wisconsin. What a peculiar ache. Tomorrow morning I’ll ride my bike by the ocean and in the afternoon, I’ll ride a ferry across the bay. In the down hours I’ll spend time in a bookstore, I’ll clean the apartment, I’ll bake some banana bread. Whatever it takes to take up time.
Good thing #1: OKREAL What could be an obnoxious website containing interviews with stupidly successful women isn’t. Its tone feels more honest than other similar websites.
Good thing #2: Abdi and the Golden Ticket on This American Life. Now that I have a 20 minute walking commute, I listen to a lot more podcasts. This one was fantastic.
Good thing #3: “Off Diamond Head” by William Finnegan in The New Yorker. A beautiful piece from a few weeks ago about being a surfer, and an outsider, in Hawaii. Finnegan’s book, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life comes out next week.
Good thing not on the internet but about the internet: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson. I read the first 12 pages of this in a bookstore and an excerpt in The New Yorker, probably, some time ago. Going to circle back to it when I finish the stack of 20 books by my bedside table. (Or… go to the bookstore this weekend.)
Your face did not rot
like the others–the co-pilot,
for example, I saw him
yesterday. His face is corn-
mush: his wife and daughter,
the poor ignorant people, stare
as if he will compose soon.
He was more wronged than Job.
But your face did not rot
like the others–it grew dark,
and hard like ebony;
the features progressed in their
distinction. If I could cajole
you to come back for an evening,
down from your compulsive
orbiting, I would touch you,
read your face as Dallas,
your hoodlum gunner, now,
with the blistered eyes, reads
his braille editions. I would
touch your face as a disinterested
scholar touches an original page.
However frightening, I would
discover you, and I would not
turn you in; I would not make
you face your wife, or Dallas,
or the co-pilot, Jim. You
could return to your crazy
orbiting, and I would not try
to fully understand what
it means to you. All I know
is this: when I see you,
as I have seen you at least
once every year of my life,
spin across the wilds of the sky
like a tiny, African god,
I feel dead. I feel as if I were
the residue of a stranger’s life,
that I should pursue you.
My head cocked toward the sky,
I cannot get off the ground,
and, you, passing over again,
fast, perfect, and unwilling
to tell me that you are doing
well, or that it was mistake
that placed you in that world,
and me in this; or that misfortune
placed these worlds in us.
This poem is relevant every single year of my life. I’ve posted it so many times before, but here it is again, because once again, I feel it so acutely:
“Finding Is Losing Something Else”
Finding is losing something else.
I think about, perhaps even mourn,
what I lost to find this.