“Overeducation is something Woody Allen seems to discern more often than the rest of us might. ‘I know so many people who are well-educated and super-educated,’ he told an interviewer for Time recently. ‘Their common problem is that they have no understanding and no wisdom; without that, their education can only take them so far.’ In other words they have problems with their ‘relationships,’ they have failed to ‘work through’ the material of their lives with a trained evaluator, they have yet to perfect the quality of their emotional consumption. Wisdom is hard to find. Happiness takes research. The message that large numbers of people are getting from Manhattan and Interiors and Annie Hall is that this kind of emotional shopping around is the proper business of life’s better students, that adolescence can now extend to middle age.”—Joan Didion in Letter from ‘Manhattan’
Pro tip for Andrew Bird fans hearing Break It Yourself for the first time: Clear away any and all distractions, listen on headphones and let its subtle charms sink in slowly. Early mornings or late nights work best. This isn’t a record for chaotic commutes or busy offices — these are songs of quiet contemplation, performed by a classically trained artist who sounds unmistakably confident in his craft, yet more muted than usual.
As I heard his voice, unexpectedly, though that’s the exact sound I’d been pursuing, my breath caught somewhere inside my chest and my ribs refused to expand. I felt the electrical impulses of my heart stall and the blood pool in its ventricles. My lungs deflated as a sharp pain seared my nerves and my eyes blurred.
How could such an expected sound catch me with such an enormous blow? The impact of this invisible strike left my brain spinning and pounding and screaming to escape.
And there was nowhere to go. I’d done this to myself. I’d pursued him, knowing how far it would lead. Now I sought any glimpse of that familiar light that reflected from the corners of his eyes on those sunny July afternoons. Now I had nothing more than a desolate space where we’d once stood together, a depleted hole that I’d once filled with a handful of hopes and memories.
Knocked out. My entire body felt weak as I recalled that voice, it’s pleading urgency one moment, it’s vicious bite the next. The spaces beneath my scapulas suddenly felt empty and I pressed my left hand to my chest, hoping to smooth the contents of my life back into place. My right hand held steadily to the phone, pressed against my ear.
This voice, this sound, this strike just below the notch at the base of my ribcage, it sounded sharp and dismissive. I knew that’s how this would happen. I readied myself for what would come next, drawing on the contents of conversations that had drifted through these same wires in the months leading up to this moment. He’d use my full name, because he always did when he was angry. He’d point out something I’d missed along the way, implicitly noting my capacity for intentional insensitivity. He’d mention that this thing I thought I had — not this conversation or these words or these ideas, but this, the light that ignited whenever we’d pick up the phone or run into each other on the sidewalk or stand toe to toe shouting at one another in the street — was nothing. I’ve imagined it all.
My entire existence sank as his voice slipped from my phone and resonated in my skull. I struggled to catch my breath, I fumbled with a response, and yet, I had nothing — no air, no words, just a deep, sick feeling as his voice filled my ears and made thinking and hearing and responding impossible.
I fought and failed and was left with the echo of his sound. “Hello.”
The silence surrounding this place is not just any silence. It is the work of a lifetime. It is the work of renunciation and determination and expensive litigation. It is a silence of self-exile, cunning, and contemplation. In its own powerful, invisible way, the silence is in itself an eloquent work of art. It is the Great Wall of Silence J.D. Salinger has built around himself.
Ladies (ok, really, I’ll take advice from anywhere at this point), I need a dress for what is essentially an adult prom this Saturday. I’m thinking not long, not red, not yellow, not brightly colored. The blue/green/purple/black/grey family (if that can be called a family). I need to able to buy it in a store between now and Saturday and I’m hoping to keep it under $150.
“Atheism is more than just the knowledge that gods do not exist, and that religion is either a mistake or a fraud. Atheism is an attitude, a frame of mind that looks at the world objectively, fearlessly, always trying to understand all things as a part of nature.”—
- Carl Sagan
[I’ve watched maybe hundreds of hours of carl sagan. loved every second of it.]
“You need to do the same, dear sweet arrogant beautiful crazy talented tortured rising star glowbug. That you’re so bound up about writing tells me that writing is what you’re here to do. And when people are here to do that they almost always tell us something we need to hear. I want to know what you have inside you. I want to see the contours of your second beating heart.
I’m probably way, way behind the times on this but, seriously, you all need this (mostly for my benefit). You can use this incredibly simple little piece of html to add an audio player to the bottom of your tumblr space. The rest of us can then listen to a stream of all the audio you’ve ever posted. Incredibly useful (for me) for those of you who have amazing taste in music. Do it!