On Self-Respect

You’ve got you. That’s it. Everything else is extra.

About a year ago I kept repeating this to myself, a mantra of sorts. I was having quite a hard time of things then — I was suddenly very sick and dealing with it alone and couldn’t understand why. You’ve got you. That’s it. Everything else is extra. I repeated it to myself a year before that, on the resigned end of a blazing love affair, and even some months before that, when my grandmother passed.

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Wild One

To say that I have been reckless would be a bit of an understatement.

The revelations of the past few months — even of the past month — have inspired an elaborate wildness in me that the witnesses of my life are not quite accustomed to. You’re only young once, being the worried wisdom I’ve hung my hat on. Once, if you’re lucky.

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The Boys of My Youth

These gifts then, that I have sent? You don’t need them, of course. They are for the rest of us, to see what you make of them. For me. For us.

Ovid

I remember him on a night like this but warmer, the moon shimmying down the black lake. He drinks and wanders from room to room. The blanket is on the floor, breathing softly. Men in exile owe so many letters. Now he is weeping – improbable. Every night around this time I put on desire like an old coat. I wonder from room to room.

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Not to dwell

My response to turbulence in airplanes disturbs other passengers.

It’s not what you probably think. I don’t go white-knuckled or green-faced or breathless or limp. I don’t jabber or skulk or pray. The opposite, really—though my response may be born of the same awe. When I see from my window the tremoring of wing tips, when I hear the rattling of loose luggage overhead, I laugh. The more violent the tremor, the louder the rattle, the harder I laugh. Come now, I think. Is that all you’ve got?

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Then, butter

Nothing can cure the senses but the soul, just as nothing can cure the soul but the senses.

Oscar Wilde said that. Or a character in one of his novels did. It reminds me of me, of the bad habits I’ve been nursing. These days I come home, swearing to do some useful, necessary thing, but instead plunge headfirst into the pursuit of pleasure. I’m a walking appetite. Salt, water, moon, bread, tang, sweat, sweets. It’s extraordinary, the way things taste.

Fun fact? Sasha Grey took her stage name from A Picture of Dorian Grey. An interesting study in appetites, Sasha. And the book. And the name.

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A new place

Tonight I’m writing you from somewhere different.

I moved to a place on the water. “I think you can make a real home here,” my mother said, stepping in, weighted down with boxes. I felt the dark wood moldings and breathed in the lake, a salt-dusted almost-sea smell, and agreed.

Now the place has some furniture in it, and I’ve stacked its shelves with what little I own, and it still feels like something borrowed. You can hear the waves in every room. You sleep to their pull, wake to their breaking. It gives new meaning to the thing we say about sadness, that it feels like living underwater. The waves, it turns out, don’t sound so different from under water than from three floors above it.

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Shuck

As I write this I’m eating cold corn on the cob, roasted yesterday in its husk, and it’s as good as anything I’ve ever eaten.

It’s been a trying month. I feel myself getting a little weird. My belly is pregnant with apricots and corn and spelt bread. I don’t think I’ve spoken a single word since digging for beets in Cabrini Green yesterday and don’t mind it. I bought goggles for swimming in the lake. At first it terrified me, being way out there in the water, to see the smallness of my belongings on the shore. But then it got all weightless and quiet and profound.

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