Sometimes after seeing a particular type of movie, I become quite quiet and pull into myself. Last night, after seeing ShopGirl, I went to a small food market to watch someone else shop. I wasn’t hungry anymore; instead of food, I devoured details. If only I always felt that cerebral, I could shop at Scoop again and listen to waifs try to sell me this month’s "it" jeans in a size too small. "Oh, but they stretch." Yeah, so does my ass, Lady! Except she’s not a lady; she’s a twelve-year-old boy with better skin and chemically straightened hair.
At the market, the texture of a cantaloupe smeared past me, as if it were the inside lip of dress, up in a twirl, the whip of hair across a shoulder. A blurred slow-motion, as if I were seeing everything through an unfocused lens. Maybe depressed is the wrong word. Withdrawn, in my own square space. The sheen of eggplant, aborigine cauliflower with wilted green leaves. Noticing these things made me feel like I was in a movie, my eyes the camera angle, my squint the texture and grain of the film. I like this feeling: withdrawn. When I’m quiet like that it almost feels as if I’m concentrating. I picked up the melon and inhaled with my entire face; the bouquet was more fragrant than the gray brainy fruit hinted. I was happy in that moment, at a market, smelling a melon. And I hated the movie, but I was glad it created a withdrawal.
A plum tomato sat alone, in a cardboard box, awaiting, like a puppy in a window. It looked lonesome there beside the half-price bruised apples. I wondered when the last time was that I cooked a tomato. I missed the season completely this year. I used to make fresh tomato sauce at least once a week, pressing sauce through my food mill, removing glossy strips of tomato skin and beady seeds. I do and I don’t miss cooking. All I want to make are soups, but no one is excited about soup for dinner, in a pot with a floating crostini. No one but me. They always want something else, something that bleeds.
I was going to bake a sheppard’s pie this weekend, but I couldn’t find the meshy drain bit to my potato ricer. (Some nescient pawn just emailed to say how dumb I am because of how I chose to spell “sheppard.” Then she waxed on about my lack of attention to Katrina. What’s that? Wax on, wax off? Bye now.) Ahem, as I was saying…I was going to meet my friends for drinks, but I had too much reading to do for my Monday night writing class. I was going to take a vacation, but I had too many appointments and obligations. I was going to see Little Manhattan today, but I still had too much reading to do for class. "I was going to" is just another way of saying, "I didn’t." It’s as bad as soon, and "you have so much potential."
I learned a profound worry of mine is that my writing isn’t any good. That’s what came of my yesterday at a writer’s conference. "They spoke so eloquently; I will never sound like that."
"Well they’ve had more practice."
"No, I will never, ever, be that fluid and graceful."
"You mean you’ll never be that smart?"
"Exactly!" I will never be that eloquent, learn to seamlessly use the words "jejune" and "lionize" as if they were pronouns. "Blithe" isn’t a word you say; it’s something you write.
A friend sent me a line today, "There are no facts in a marriage." Why couldn’t I have written that? Honesty and sincerity should not be confused with quality. I don’t know how to recognize my good writing from the bad, from the easy. I don’t have a problem with honesty, with hanging it all out there, but I need to become aware of where I fall into easy, where I know how to cheat myself out of my writing with a clever turn of phrase. I want to improve, and I imagine the only way to do it is to read more. I’ve heard so many writers speak of their love of reading. I haven’t felt that in a while, which I suspect is my tourniquet. I am a slow as fcuk reader. When I was in fourth grade, I was in the group with the really dumb kids. I mean, the really slow ones who still had problems with their motor skills. Throughout college, I mostly slogged through a mire of monarch notes in lieu of the text. I learned more from poetry and Ibsen plays that Proust. Strindberg and Chekhov. Plays and poets appealed to me. Chaucer and Homer (not that kind of poetry), not so much. I hated having to read anything I was told to read, save for Jane Austen. I didn’t have an intrinsic love of reading or books; doesn’t that make me less of a storyteller? I’m still tragically slow, and I cannot spell (and I don’t always bother to pass everything I write through spellcheck… it’s a journal!) But I can correct my mistakes and delete whatever I want. I need a nap and someone to read to me until I fall asleep.