asingleromance

only the grandest messes of letters

On Sunday: Two Vegan Treats

 

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On Sunday I read Yummy Books and make hummus, carrot muffins and tea. I wake up early to buy cheese and a teaspoon. For the almost two years I have lived in New York I have never been so at ease. Sunday is like vacation. Even the marathoners cannot stir my rest; though their dedication does inspire.

Hummus
3  cups dried chickpeas; soaked for 12 hours and boiled for 1
1 cup water
2 dollops tahini
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 lemon

Combine all in blender until smooth. Serve with toast points made from the other half of the baguette you bought at the Farmer’s Market in Union Square yesterday.

Carrot Muffins
2.5 cups shredded carrots
1 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Combine flour, salt, baking powder and soda in large bowl; stir thoroughly. Mix in carrots and wet ingredients. Spoon mixture into muffin tins and bake for ~35 minutes or until muffin tops are lightly browned. Eat for breakfast in preparation for another terribly boring day at the office where your dreams have gone to die.

In October

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In October I laugh-cry. I spend most of the month feeling so happy that all the good memories I have left flood me; I realize they all happened right around now a year, two years or twenty years ago. The passage of time shocks me, along with a specific pang in my stomach that alludes to the exact feeling I felt at the time of a memory. My body accesses what it felt like to listen to Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah” alone on the road at midnight after leaving a party; it was a feeling of forever and I have held onto it for as long.

The shivers I felt when each singer would stick the landing on their note in choir; my body remembers those. And when I listen to the King’s Singers in secret because I don’t want anyone to know that I actively choose choral music over pretty much everything else in October I re-feel those shivers.

When the wind blows red leaves around the sun I realize I have lived a great life and I continue to lead a great life. I cry a lot at the always-stunning realization because I am lost in the enormousness of what it means.

I laugh because I am a simple person crying among billions while the red leaves go ’round the sun.

This Old Letter

I’m moving right now- literally, right now. Right this very moment I am packing up the last year and a half into borrowed boxes. It’s a feat, how long I have been here. In the year and a half before this apartment I moved six times. I lost thousands of dollars to the tune of “Security Deposit” after breaking leases, always on a whim.  Now that I am packing up my life again I feel like, in those days, I must have had nothing.

I’m a sucker for keepsakes: movie ticket stubs, strips of images from photo booths, old notes from friends long gone, too many tokens to take with me every time I go somewhere new. All the time I spent in this room has accumulated to a quick, cardboard getaway and the oldest memories, those that for some reason got stuck sticking around, are the ones getting trashed. Or so I tell myself. New Yorkers must reinvent themselves with every new place. In the morning the garbage men will feast curbside on my mementos. 

I found this old letter from 2009 I wrote to one of my best friends from summer camp. I never sent it, which I’m happy about because I can read it now and see who I was then. I thought I would be her forever.

Time is funny.

Dear H,

I found out the secret to my own happiness. Don’t smoke weed. Drink instead.

The past week of school has actually been incredible. I’ve been doing what I want instead of what I think I have to do. For instance, this film project. I’m going to finish it all in a day. COFFEE.

Ok. Start over. I want us to move to Portland with Wyatt. Just for the equivalent of one semester. We can go up there, lock ourselves in a basement apartment and make a whole album. Then before the end of our time together we can go on tour with our band and make some $ and put it in a joint bank account in Switzerland until we finish school. We’ll put the $ into our second album, which will hopefully increase in popularity.

For so long when I got back, Bard felt like a bubble. And every time I looked out, the sky or the trees closed down and the Earth showed its gravity. Has that ever happened to you? That you look up and not only feel small, but oppressed by being rooted here… It’s not like that anymore. I’m finally going to take care of myself. I’ve already been to the gym twice this week!

I’m in a writing class in which all the other students are more experience and better writers. Each of my papers has been sophmoric and awkward. My professor is an old, grumpy jokester who hits the table and rambles to make subtle examples out of his own insanity. I love the class because I am never victorious. My papers are getting better… but they’re hardly ever good. All I can do is work at it. It’s called Cultural Reportage. I critique movies, plays, books, etc… The class has gotten me to start writing again, and has gotten me to think about what pot does to me (it slowssss me down).

For so long I stopped doing what I loved because I thought I had to. I stopped being enthusiastic because I thought silence and compliance were more appreciated. I don’t know where I am going with this. I never want to stop writing this letter. I wish you were somehow writing me your past few months’ life story because I feel like I haven’t heard from you in so long. Redd has come to visit Old Lyme a few times and it reminds me so much of when we first started hanging out all the time and had to travel to visit each other. Those were some of the best times of my adolescent life (am I still an adolescent?). Riding the train to NYC felt like an escape each time. Old Lyme sucks. Literally, it sucks people in and makes them stay forever to become soccer moms or drug dealers. The idea of it is so scary.

Something inside of me was always pushing outwards for more. Sometimes it still is. I keep checking myself to make sure that I haven’t forgotten- My entire existence is a quest for greatness. My restlessness is my reason to live. I can never go back there. What an amazing feeling.

One last thing.

Love. You can’t put a face on love. Memories can hurt you. You can’t catch it. It changes in moments. Love is better unknown. Love is the whirlwind inside the melee.

So much of this old letter resonates because there are many phrases I still say to myself. That I’m taking care of myself, that I figured “it” out. That I’m starting a band. Six years later there are also things that seem completely foreign. I could go back to Old Lyme, my hometown, to curl up and take a break from the constant noises and smells of urbanity. The unrelenting sensory overload, I could leave it today! I would go back just to lie down on the floor and listen to silence- not really giving up, but holding on for one second. 

Then there is the part where I said that my entire existence is a quest for greatness.

What a beautiful thing. What a shame to have forgotten it for so long.

I appreciate naivety, I always have. I am not a practical person. In a few years I will probably pack up all of this again.

 

melting pot

I have been slowly reading Colson Whitehead’s The Colossus of New York which I picked up along with Sylvia Plath’s The Colossus and Other Poems. It feels as if nothing has happened since two, three, four, ten months ago when I wrote in this blog or in my journal or on napkins in chain restaurants about love and New York City. Then again, time feels more colossal than it ever has felt before, and the city has only grown since then.

(Nothing changes and everything changes)

Trying to find a therapist is like trying to find a dentist is like trying to find someone who will pull your teeth out with laughing gas and a time machine, sending you back with all the tools and knowledge you need to really take care of things the way you were supposed to the first time. 

I wish there were therapists who specialized in feeling like a melting blob of human dreams. I used to be as firm as a newly shaped waffle cone, but nowadays I find myself leaking out of the hole in the bottom with all of my toppings, my unique bits and pieces falling apart or collapsing together as gravity sucks the cream down and the sun melts them just as fast. I wish there were therapists who understood the mechanics of waffle cones.

The Colossus of New York is meant to be cherished during those times in the day where you get stuck in the memory of the routine, pulled drastically out of the moment itself and into the narrative of what is happening to you. 

poem for my Mother

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I hesitate to write cliche lines regarding
What I remember, or how you
Did a good job bringing up two brats
(Who were not brats by birth,
but by circumstance).

I trip over the desire to pen lengthy descriptions of
Summer smells, sweet, and your figure
By the stove. 
The warmth of Chinese take out
Accompanied by our orphan dog,
Our dark horse,
The symbol of what we survived and where we went.

Sometimes when I am waking up I feel true peace
And in that stillness I know not to skip anxiously through moments.
I work out your lessons and imagine
The long stretch of time, infinite and light.

Mom, you branch up and out of our family tree
And I am held at the trunk,
Looking up curiously.
I want to match your ambition
And strength to climb great heights and 
Reach.

From you I learn it is possible
To silence fear, to
Dream for peace after tragic years.
From your example, I long to be
Humble and kind, and
To forgive what gets lost
In the march of time.

What happens next?
We continue to reach. We
Teach our loved ones
Lessons of peace.

We look to the skies,
We revel the beach and
We speak of lightness if ever the night is dark.

Annandale: A Cross Country Conversation

An exchange of text messages on 29 January 2013 with Kate Nemeth and Lindsey Filowtiz

ImageDespite a year and a half’s time, despite the undocumentable distance from coast to coast – or even moment to moment – despite what had happened in that moment, in that place, during that time, paling in comparison to what we saw happening on the pedestal of our memories, one winter day in our separate cities, Oakland and Brooklyn, we tried to piece together a frame of words that could hold our college experience. Using our phones for rapid fire responses, we wrote poems. We created a disjointed narrative linked to real events, glorifying our experiences with instantaneous explosions in the latest generation’s network. The work that follows is a collaboration between two post-grads, flailing in the tides of life that now wash over us. We attempt to stay afloat as we rush towards American adulthood in the new Millenium.

 

-

 

I feel nostalgic and I long for walks along Blithewood, spliff in hand, views of pale pink flowers budding off trees.

 

There is a crunch under my feet from the remaining golds and reds that fluttered onto the moist Earth beneath me. I see blue kitty cat mountains, and a still river beyond.

 

-

 

The subway underground is nothing like Metro North

Or like getting stoned in the morning, looking out to peaks.

Not like taking long and thoughtful walks or

Eating alone with “Modern Love” in print

(Four, Five, Six. now

Get me away from this Kindle shit).

What would we be doing there today, junior year?

Me: Near the library meeting friends and catching up,

Happy and light in heavy boots and cold wind’s blush.

 

-

 

Today, junior year, I’d be making the first footprints in pristine parts of my acres of yard. Carefully, I slide across my frozen creek; the dim makeout bridge overlooks the waterfall. We live on Broadway.

The familiarity of a first embrace.

 

-

 

Slipping my way toward the Country Grocer.

Trying to buy Bustelo and milk. The shuttle would

Spatter slush.

We wouldn’t be able to swing because the park would be covered in snow.

You and Me: Stoned and listening to Beach House.

 

-

 

Sausage, egg, and cheese, please!

I would ask Evan, whiskey and cigarettes stagnant on my breath.

His eyes red and squinted shut – could he hear me?

I looked around. His kid screaming at a laptop screen, his wife large and smelling of dreaded hair. We were all judging each other with our eyes. It was the-morning-after meeting place. 

Yeah, I saw you punch that dude in the face last night, yes, you tripped on an ice patch outside the old gym, yeah, you tried to kiss him in the parking lot. 

My head hurt because it was spotted brown.

We all tried to keep our sausage down.

 

-

 

Sausage. I nicknamed him BJ when he took up my offer on

Beef Jerky. Too drunk.

I bought him a vodka tonic at the Black Swan so

He would sit with me while I told him that I loved him.

His response was undesirable.

“Thanks.” Or… “Why?”

All the party boys were fighting over a lopsided pool table.

All the girls were sitting in the corners, frumpy and dry.

 

-

 

I often think of the Swan as a place I never want to return. The stench of stale beer seeped into the wood. There was a pile of lonely clothes stuffed into the architecture.

The Mike’s made oblivion possible for all of us.

I walked around in circles, it’s dark and tinted green. I can’t see my friends.

On the bathroom line I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. 

She was aggressive and model-like. She pushed me around for making conversation with whoever she was currently romancing. I sat on the toilet, ready to cry. But before the stream, I could hear, muffled though the black graffitied walls – he was defending me.

 My lip curled up. 

Later, spaghetti hands sketched a chalk profile in the pool room.

Want to come smoke a cigarette with me? Let’s go sit on the stoop across the street.

It worked every time.

 

-

 

Carrying books heavier than my heart always did the trick.

I stuck my nose inside of them and strayed from

Cliques and women

From LA and men from

God knows where, but they make them damn good there. 

Feminism haunted me and cigarettes haunted my hands.

Coffee haunted my heart and all the boys stood in the stands,

Looking over a playing field that was built up on a virgin spring.

Like a house over a burial ground,

Tricks and taunts often knocking.

 

-

 

Sunday mourning. The siren opens my iris’s at noon.

I’m late and irate. Chug water. Urinate.

Coffee coffee coffee, stay awake.

Flannel things, black things, laces up my legs.

Get out. Walk back in.

I forgot my books, reading material, and lipstick for looks.

Ford Taurus, please start, I have to go to the library, so I can stay smart.

Drive down the brown puddly lot.

Where is your car? This I can not spot.

Up the stairs, smoke in the air.

Don’t distract me, my friends are all there.

Second floor, comfy chair.

Under the skylight was the spot where.

Read, read, read. The words jumbled in my brain.

Eye contact. I hated this game.

A place to think, that’s for sure.

I need to be prepared for tomorrow, I was insecure.

The yellow on my head turned blue, my glance was askew.

The blue turned black, I left without looking back.

 

-

 

From the gazebo you can smell the sweet smoke stagnant on designer coats and Carharts. 

My room is awkward.

It’s white and the hazy yellow summer light comes in for the last breath of afternoon.

I have a hula hoop this year and I mount it on my wall over the place where the guitar stands.

Marie is here and she has cut her hair to look like Mia Wallace again.

I feel fatter.

The year hasn’t begun and already I’m bubbling over with beer and disappointed sighs.

I don’t belong here anymore.

 

The mountains stand as certainly as I do.

 

-

 

I arrived a week early to soften the transitional blow. The house was massive and vacant aside from the cigarette butts lodged into various holes throughout the property.

I locked all the doors that night – everyone else was due to arrive at the village the following morning.

Several staircases were hidden like scoliosis under the skin. The sealed doors killed me like a cat. I don’t really know you, but let’s bust into the basement and shine our flashlights onto cobwebs. Let’s tell tales of the murderer on magical mushrooms who ran here. 

I was frightened of the hallway leading to the master bedroom. Sometimes I would end up there after hours, uncomfortable and tense. Hundreds of heads left their cans and filth behind for me to eat up.

 

I am not safe here.

He believed me through my tears.

Lock your doors, wipe those smears.

 

-

 

We snorted a Vicodin on your yellow floor and I started to cry.

The house was old and I felt the sifted spirits of parties past

(Weren’t we supposed to be enlightened by all of this?)

I learned to gossip before I learned to talk,

How to drink before I learned to walk,

And every time I took a shot or snorted a pill,

My mind felt freer as I trudged uphill.

 

Academia, academia.

Anemia.

I’m tired.

 

-

 

Insomnia. I’m wired. Sunrise is associated with guilt.

You were sleeping in the grass as I quietly tiptoed past.

Brie and butter lived on the left and the cerulean blue water tower blended in with the sky.

My machine was minutes away. Shoot.

I was eager to let my eyes lead me around.

Why did I do that to myself? Where can you do it too?

 

-

 

I teach myself how to put on tights in the smell of popcorn.

The bricks are quiet and warm on the walls.

They don’t ask any questions. I follow suit. 

Comfort surrounds me, I realize abruptly, like a philosopher in a dream.

I lick my lips: numb. My gums are sweet and stained with smoke. 

Over the tights, these boots they lace high and my might grows with each step upwards.

I am mobile,

I am free,

I am on a spinning rock.

I romance myself with stares.

I stop to think.

I need to care.

Their voices run like wind through my hair.

 

-

 

Chemicals seeped through my skin as I stared at him. Fix. Develop in dark closets.

I jumped out of bed without a minute to spare. Gasping – I was late to my first day.

Typical. I was Shore I was fucked. 

Retrospectively naive.

 We listened to Stevie nicks under the red light. Nothing suddenly became blacks and hundreds of grey hues. Leaning in so close, liquid almost touching my nose.

Second fix. It lingered on my fingers.

 

-

 

I had rehearsed myself for four years

Juggling familial binds, flings and many hands.

 

Enter Kate: self-titled role as a pain in the ass, flirt, frowner.

I grasped at memories and bits of grief to get the feeling right.

The idea was grander than the product.

The thought was loftier than the lot.

Frames per second measured long lines in my family tree

And short spurts of my personal history.

 

Enter Kate: I earned this role when I shot out of the womb

With a third eye staring into the hot center of everything.

School groomed my drunken manners,

Artists held my hair back,

Boys taught me confidence and tears.

Mom gave me the breath to blow like a puff of smoke in the winter night,

Gigantic, full, and evaporating quick.

Pull on your boots and pick yourself up kid cause

The End is not near

And the way through the forest to the water tower is clear.

 

-

 

The last two weeks ebbed and flew more quickly than a 500th of a second.

Faster than any session of swinging and swaying and stomping and praying.

Faster than an intellectual’s premature ejaculation. 

We tried to hold on with the strongest of grips,

only to drip ourselves with flowing tears, cucumber vodka, and the dirty Hudson.

That dock, those rocks,

was my heart, head, or leg more badly bruised?

The fruits of deception and lies.

If you follow me home enough times

I’ll give in.

Who am I?

I have no fucking idea, but none of us do.

I love you! I love you! Olive juice!

we all cried.

Grudges and preconceptions hitched rides with slithering beads of sweat.

Close your eyes and take this all in,

cause it’s the last time we’ll all be together again.

Blizzard Blues

Four days off in the middle of a blizzard. I remember what it’s like to have true time to myself. Cooking ensues, and then some light cleaning. But mostly I spend my time with my nose stuck in culture and my ears massaged by talk radio. It is so comfortable, I take naps midday. It is so calm, I could be anywhere cold and rural. This time passing, I have come to understand, is another mirage in the urban desert. Tomorrow I will be a fool for believing that there may have been a dark oasis in a city of steel and eyes. But today, Ruth Stone.

Ruth Stone // Snow Trivia

In secret molecules
snow is going back into the sky.
From edge to edge
the glacier pauses; midwinter thaw.

Snow is more air than water.
Buried alive under its crystals
you might live for days.

One year in Vermont
sheep herders froze in July
during a break snowstorm.

Road commissioners, intercoms,
snowplows at three a.m.
booming like Civil War cannons.
On the ski trails
wax and more wax. Pole uphill.
Ski racks on compacts,
front wheel drive.

When the airport in Tehran
imploded under four feet of snow,
a survivor said she felt only
a cold tremor before the roof came down.

The study of snowflakes can
be an interdepartmental discipline.

Before pollution, mothers created
ice cream by adding sugar and vanilla
to fresh snow.

Snow is deceptive.
Even in Nepal where the Abominable is,
the doomed climbers trapped
on a narrow ledge
which helicopters could not reach,
continued to be seen waving
and lighting flares
against the mountain until
they were blotted out
by snowfall.

Consequence

All I can think to do is read and write. It is convenient because I am sick, and also because I am heartbroken. I have been cut off, a woman cut off from a man like a hair off a head or a bean from a tree. No big loss to anyone but me. The influenza manifests itself in fits of coughing and sneezing, and it forces me to quiet down and tuck in any extravagances like a manicured hair-do or a beaming smile. This blends so easily with the symptoms of heartache that I almost feel my emotional pain invisible. Good. If I cannot fool myself I can at least fool everyone else without trying.


I have acquired too many people in my life. I no longer know who I would write letters to while in a foreign country, chasing a (nightmare) dream. I can count ten people that would be OK with receiving a note from me postmarked in Chile, Spain, Taiwan… But not one who I would feel truly at ease being honest with (All adventuring aside, solo travel reveals one’s own horrors to oneself. One needs a dedicated pen pal on the receiving end for both the triumphs and the tragic confessions). Recently I discovered (whether I like it or not) I chose a path of “a lot of impatience” instead of a path of “selective dedication”. I wanted to be popular and well liked, so I turned on an idle charm and charismatically skipped over still waters for three years. I made so many friends so quickly, I thought my work was done for life. Funny. Of course I lost a few friends in this process, probably the closest friends I ever thought I had. Eschewing confidants for gossips and sobriety for beer, I just wanted to be the Queen and I was very high on amphetamines very much of the time. That and I was growing up, or something, and saw a possibility for a different lifestyle, a kind I never thought I would reach.


If one was never well-liked, being or even becoming well-liked is an intensely difficult thing to imagine. I had friends in high school. I think I did 75% of the school activities, though my accomplishments were mostly made through a veil of tears. I was terrified of embarrassing myself, and sensitive to everything. I sang in many choirs because it was only a little more acceptable than weeping loudly in the lunchroom. I carry this with me into college, trying many things, activities, rugby team, etc… but avoiding many people. This doesn’t last more than the first few months, because something happens in college when you let go of everything you think you know and realize that the world is infinitely large. Consequently, you finally understand, for real, that everyone who went to your high school was an asshole. Cue excessive drinking, promiscuous sexcapades, 420, self-immortalizing Facebook statuses, and the ascent to attaining the gloriously deceptive (deceptively glorious) adjective “well-liked”. If the world is infinitely large, and I am in it, then opportunities only abound.


I see now how I was wrong. The lesson to be learned is how to balance the infinite with ever-imminent consequence.


A friend once told me, “You have to learn to reap what you sow”. His advice was in response to a comment that I had made about being holed up for so long, listening, thinking a million thoughts to my lonesome self. I was finally starting to go mad when he helped me understand that I simply needed to share more. The opposite is happening now. My phone doesn’t really ring. No one comes to my doorstep. Nothing is on my calendar. No prospects lie like dogs at my feet. Finally with the influenza and the heartbreak I can see the light at the end of the tunnel- the OTHER end. I am walking into my own mouth, step after step up the nasal passages and into mushy corridors.  My ears ring because I am reaping the silence of so many words I have sown. Whole phrases in quietude will become mine. My heart will melt my Ice Queen brain and, God willing I will be a kind and generous servant to beauty again. There may be amphetamines but that’s ok, as long as the goal agreed upon- Infinity/Consequence.


Travelling solo like this, I need a pen-pal. I will write to myself.

Remembering College

An My Le got the MacArthur fellowship, so I enter the Bard College website for some time to read about her and her war photography. Eventually I find my way to the Undergraduate section of the website where fresh, inquiring minds go to imagine what their lives may be like at a college like Bard. Overarching thought: Why do I do these things to myself?

I read the list of foods available for lunch today at Kline Commons; Seitan Fajitas, Fried Chicken, Farmer’s Salad, Two Hot Cereals. My mind starts hearing the din of dishes from the kitchen and the shout of the morning Omlette Man, “Green Peppers, Red Peppers, American!” I see a girl in a fashion sweatshirt, skirt and little shoes scuffle towards the Egg Station. I smell grilling, stewing, meat, vegetables. Today at Kline the two soup pots I used to stand at as I listened to my stomach rumble are filled with Broccoli Cheddar and Vegetable Noodle. This is when I arrive in the memory; I am wearing a yellow zip up sweatshirt and skinny blue jeans. I am looking at my plate, avoiding eye contact with anyone who may be in line behind me. It might be Evan, or God forbid that kid Zack with the nose and the collared shirts and the eyes that stare. I ladle myself some vegetable noodle and shuffle along. The radio plays 104.7 The Wolf, I find out when an announcer screams the words before the break-in riffs of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” spit up. I walk to the toaster and look at the caloric information on each bag of bread. I lift everything delicately because I am severely overwhlemed by the cold front that has just arrived, by the unfamiliar smell on my clothes and still, by that growling, howling sensation in my gut that will become common-place over the months that follow. I settle on Whole Wheat, 100 Calories per slice. I cover it in peanut butter, banana, honey. The line at the Egg Station almost snakes out the door and it is hard to grab a plastic tumbler near the soda fountain because no one can decide what they want to drink. I hit water, then Cranberry, then water again. From the corner of my eye I see black curly hair and lose my breath. It isn’t him, I see, but the tingling stays alert on my arms and in my throat as I delicately swallow the soup and toast. The New York Times Sunday is on my table so I make a grab for it and start reading Modern Love. All around me, voice rising and falling as they recount the night before. There are laughs and beat up faces and jackets and hats. When the cold front arrived everyone got a little bit quieter. A thin layer of frost lies on the grass. It’s still early.

 

Horoscope for Gemini, October 23

Dear Gemini,

You work a lot and you tell yourself it feels good. It doesn’t really. Work, and a vague inclination to be healthier (and not drink so much) saps most of your energy now as you feel you need time to meet new people in your personal life. You haven’t slept with anyone in what feels like a long time, but has it truly been a while? Or are you lonely? Saturn might have left your 5th house of true love and creativity earlier this month, but you cant stop the ringing of absolute silence that reminds you, “The man in the flesh left your life”. Before you get under the covers tonight, Gemini, play your guitar. Try to remember that everything is moving forward, whether you feel it pulling you along or not.

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