October 27, 2007
Can you believe I used to ask William what he wanted to eat for dinner, and offer him options? I did. And sometimes I’d skip that and just announce what we were having, and he’d say “Oh come on, not pork stir fry [or whatever] again!”
Mayyybe this is why I’ve been living on sandwiches and takeout and scrambled eggs for the last three months.
Today, though, I decided I would go to the trouble of making a real meal for myself. I didn’t feel like doing it — my stomach hurt and I felt sad and lonely — but I went to A Cook’s Companion and bought a saucepot with a tight-fitting lid for rice and a shallow big frying pan for stir-fry. I’d left these things’ analogs, ones I’d used hundreds of times, behind in the kitchen of the apartment where I’d lived with William. All the things I left behind, I’ve been replacing piecemeal. I tried to do one big shopping trip to replace them all at once right when I first moved in, but inevitably there were a bunch of things I didn’t realize I needed. In these circumstances, there’s no way to know what you’re missing right away. You’ll be halfway through a recipe and then realize you don’t have, like, a liquid measuring cup.
(You’ll be going through the motions and halfway through, realize that some key component is missing. But you’ll go ahead anyway because what are you supposed to do, go to bed hungry?)
When I first started to develop this staple of my repertoire, I was reading a lot of Ayun Halliday’s zine, the East Village Inky, and sort of fantasizing that someday, not soon but soonish, I’d be living her life — brownstone Brooklyn, two kids, adoring husband — with William. I definitely never admitted this, even really to myself. But why would you live with someone — why would you stay with someone for six years — if you didn’t somewhat think that they were the person you’d end up with? Of course I talked a big game about not believing in marriage. But I had detailed, specific ideas about proposals and weddings that I would never have told you about if you’d held a gun to my head.
Anyway, Ayun’s zine had some ideas about what to do with “1/4 lb of ground pork” that I later combined with a Cook’s Illustrated recipe for a Chinese-ish stir-fry made of sliced pork tenderloin. First you cut up a quick-cooking vegetable or two into bite-sized pieces. I like: baby bok choy or Savoy cabbage or snow peas or red bell pepper or bamboo shoots, or a combination. Then you take a something like 1/4-1/2 lb of ground pork and sprinkle it with soy sauce and cooking sherry and mush it around. In a bowl, you mix together a little more sherry, 1/2 cup chicken stock, 1 tablespoon oyster sauce, 1/4 tsp cornstarch, 1/4 tsp white pepper, a splash of rice vinegar and a splash of sesame oil. In another bowl you mix a bunch of finely chopped garlic and ginger with a splash of peanut oil. Then you stir-fry the pork til it’s done, remove it from the pan, stir-fry the vegetables, shove them to the side put the garlic-ginger mixture in a little plop in the pan with them, count to 20, then stir it all around, add the pork back in, dump the sauce on, cook it all together, then serve over white rice, topping with scallions. This is probably my favorite thing to make and eat.
Except every moment of the preparation process (he used to tell me I couldn’t cook rice, well look at how well this rice turned out, must have been that old pot) and every bite (I am putting this bowl down on the coffee table and it’s my bowl, I’m not serving anyone else first) reminded me of William. I was just finishing up the dishes when R.E.C. called. “Are you at home? Check your email.” She’d shown her ex (I forget right now what his secret-blog alias is!) her latest post, and, I guess, this blog, for the first time, and his response had made her cry and think and try to analyze.
We talked about the feeling of being alone, and how weird and uncomfortable it is to live for yourself when you’re used to living for someone else. Living for yourself is, I guess, some people’s default mode (male people mostly). You should always be living for yourself, I’ve heard. But how to shake this feeling of being so small and so uncared-for, the feeling of “nobody cares what I do or think or feel”?
“I could choke on a bone tonight and nobody would notice for days and Doree’s dog would eat my face,” I told R.E.C. She laughed. “You do know that you’re actually quoting Bridget Jones’ Diary right now, right?” I paused in my pacing around the rooftop and put out my cigarette (since nobody cares what I do, I’ve been smoking a little bit).
“Well the worst part about being single is realizing that all the cliches are true,” I told her.
The other worst part about being single and living a cliche is that you start thinking exclusively in song lyrics sometimes. Like: “You really can’t give love in this condition still you know how you need it.” And: “I’ve been throwing my arms around every boy I see. They only remind me of you.”
October 25, 2007
October 23, 2007
Scuttlebutt and I had just gone to Target, where she’d bought a vacuum cleaner. She’s nesting right now: around the same time I was breaking up with my boyfriend, she was moving in with hers. For most of the five years I’ve known Scuttlebutt, she’s been my incredibly single friend, always reliable for some drama at a party involving, like, making out with some dude in the bathroom or on the roof or being peeved because some dude made out with some other girl instead of her in the bathroom or on the roof. She was also the kind of friend who could be subtly — almost subconciously — deployed as a researcher when someone incredibly not-single (like, uh, me) was curious to know what a male mutual acquaintance would be like in bed. She really never failed in this regard, and some of her findings were extremely amazing.
Anyway, we were walking across Flatbush and she was sort of clucking and mother-henning me about a recent mistake (maybe not a mistake? probably a mistake) I’d made. “Never say you’re not going to have sex with them and then weaken. It doesn’t matter about having some bullshit third-date rule or not — you should do what you want when you want to do it. But if you do have some rule for yourself, that’s fine. Just don’t, like, tell them about it, and then break your own rule! You need to at least seem like you’re in control,” she scolded.
“That’s what I’m bad at, the seeming,” I told her. She gave me a long stare. “This is such a weird role reversal,” she finally said, and smiled.
It’s true: I’ve spent years hearing about her indiscretions and doling out advice that I was probably pulling out of my ass/some magazine I’d read/some feminist book, and she has spent years listening and then not following my advice.
Anyway, I headed up Atlantic and she headed towards the subway back to Greenpoint. Probably she was going to cook a delicious meal in her big new kitchen with the beautiful glass-doored cupboards. Walking home, I realized I had no desire to order takeout, nothing in the fridge except a Brita filter, a thing of soymilk, and a container of grated Parmesan, and no energy to cook anything real. So I stopped at the inexplicably crap-ish health food store and bought the ingredients for a sandwich.
White bread that is organic so, you know, it’s not SO bad. Sometimes whole wheat bread is just too depressing
Those presliced Applegate Farms cheese slices (cheddar, pepper jack)
safflower mayonnaise (Hellman’s is better but: health food store)
Combine into sandwich. Eat alone while typing.
October 14, 2007
“You think what people say is what matters, an older friend told me long ago. You think it’s all about words. Well, that’s natural, isn’t it? I’m a writer, I can float for hours on a word like “amethyst” or “broom” or the way so many words sound like what they are: “earth” so firm and basic, “air” so light, like a breath. [...] But of course what my friend meant was that I ignored inconvenient subtexts, the meaning behind the meaning: that someone might say he loved you, but what really mattered was the way he let your hand go after he said it. It did not occur to me, either, that somebody might just lie, that there are people who lie for pleasure, for the feeling of superiority and power. And yet it should have.” — Katha Pollitt in that great/crazy Webstalker essay
“You just bleed it out all over the place. Why can’t you keep yourself to yourself?” — my ex-boyfriend
“YOU should be password-protected!” — the dude who’s the reason parts of this blog are now password-protected
Today I got my ear-holes stretched two sizes bigger. I’ve been slowly stretching them for about 8 months now with no clear idea of why. At first it was because I thought it looked cool and badass but it turns out no one notices your earrings except you unless they are giant African tribesperson plugs, and I don’t ever plan to get there, though I actually don’t know how far I’ll go. The last time I got it done the lady at Sacred asked me how big I ultimately wanted them to be and I said I was “playing it by ear,” har. Now they’re a 6. Stretching one size bigger only twinges for a second but two sizes hurts and right now they are still dully throbbing. Also today I got very thoroughly bikini-waxed. In two weeks I’m going to get another big tattoo. I wonder wonder wonder why there’s a part of me that seeks out pain.
It’s not that I enjoy pain! Pain, you know, fucking hurts. I think it’s more about mastery of pain. I enjoy pain as long as I am in control of the pain, or I think that I am. And it’s this maybe-misguided impulse that compels me to do other things besides poke holes in myself and swim until I’m falling-down exhausted and have my hair torn out by the roots. Like, for example: put big chunks of my “personal, private” life on the internet for anyone to see.
Maybe it makes me feel safe to think that I think that if I tell you all my secrets you won’t have any ammo against me that I haven’t given you. Maybe it’s that I think that my pain and my pleasure are just that fucking important. Maybe I just like telling. Part of it, certainly, is that I don’t want to have these thoughts and feelings inside me. I want to get them out. But if it’s just about getting them out, why am I not just pouring them into a word document or some flower-printed dear Diary?
Because: I don’t believe that “private” exists anymore, if it ever really did. Privacy depends and always has depended on pretense. We politely pretend that the versions of themselves people present to the world are the ones we accept, but behind their backs we whisper. I hate that shit. For a long time it has been considered unseemly but tacitly acceptable to mock and examine and analyze the personal shortcomings and proclivities of celebrities but now everyone who achieves anything like prominence in any field is accessible to us in a thousand intimate ways online. We’re all “celebrities” now. It is futile and silly to pretend that we have “private” lives anymore, so why not just let everything hang out?
Well, for one thing, because other people besides me are involved in my secrets, and those people might still want to cling to the fragile little scrap of perceived privacy that is left to them, and might be sad or disappointed or angry to be portrayed in a public confessional. Also: their own reticence prevents anyone from ever knowing their side of the story. I can understand how shitty that must feel, which is why I’ve password protected some of the posts on this blog. (You can email me for the password and, quite possibly, I’ll give it to you.)
Here’s another thing, though: I know it is silly to imagine that, by preemptively spilling my secrets, I’ve been successful in controlling the pain. I might just have been letting the pain control me. And, perhaps, letting myself in for more pain. But ultimately, I don’t regret telling you anything. I’m glad you know. I’m glad you heard it here first.
October 9, 2007
October 5, 2007
I woke up a few minutes ago with my heart racing, unadulterated rage coursing through my body. I’d been having repetitive nightmares about last night, when I went to two of the oddest, most high-schoolish parties I’ve been to since high school. Both were heinous new (and old) media clusterfucks, and both contained unfortunately high concentrations of people (well, okay, two, but it feels like a lot to me) I’ve fucked. Or will, in all probability, fuck (why did that brand-new boy show up? the thing I was liking about him was that he’s not part of this world). Also out in force: people who would like to fuck me, but likely never will. Also: people I’ve fucked with, people I’ve fucked over. And one person, in particular, who I can say with complete certainty I’ll never fuck again.
The nightmares were about him, of course. Jake! I thought I was so over him. I mostly am! But there’s still this huge part of me that wants to punish him, or protect the world from him. I wince, of course, when I see girls fawning over him. But I’m not deluded enough to think that my impulse to warn them away has anything to do with protecting them. True, I don’t think he should be loose in the world, working through his issues on unsuspecting, vulnerable easy targets. But there’s no way any of those ladies is as easy a target as I was. And anyway, I don’t care about them, or him, really. I care about myself and my wounded pride. I care, mostly, about the idealized self I glimpsed, momentarily, through his eyes: a beautiful prize, something that someone as pretty and poised as he is would be proud to wear.
Ugh, and he is so pretty, and he so knows it, and it’s exactly that overweening confidence that makes him — made him! — irresistible. But my dreams last night weren’t about romance, they were about anger and competition: him fucking me over (professionally!) and me feeling impotent to stop him. And when he creeps into my fantasies, this is the context: I’ll flash on his prettiness — like, him asleep and innocent-looking at dawn, gold summer sun coming in through the window and slicing bands of light across his muscular back, his cherub-in-a-painting ass — and then immediately my thoughts will turn violent. It scares me, actually, how much the idea of hurting him (which I’d never actually be able to do; he has great reflexes from years of martial arts training) thrills me. Mostly I imagine the satisfying crumpling sound as my fist connects with the cartilage of his beakish nose.
And then I feel weird and gross and pathetic, because another odd truth of the situation is that there’s still this part of me that likes him. Not LIKES him, but just sort of sees the value in him as a person, likes talking to him, values his smarts and his skills. Above all, I think he’s funny and talented. He might be evil, but he’s interesting, you know? And how many people can you say that about? The other boys I’ve been killing time with lately, while they’ve got a ton of compensatory charms, don’t ring that bell. There’s nothing about them that makes me want to investigate, to get to the bottom of it.
But I’ll never figure Jake out. Duh! I’ll have to settle for trying to figure out me. Because seriously, what the fuck is going on there.
October 5, 2007