Picture If You Will

My favorite ride is being converted into some bootleg new attraction. This year! It's the end of all things.

First Thought

Sometimes I just say this to myself when I'm walking:

Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark, in the hopeless swamps of the approximate, the not-quite, the not-yet, the not-at-all. Do not let the hero in your soul perish, in lonely frustration for the life you deserved, but have never been able to reach. Check your road and the nature of your battle. The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it’s yours.
— Atlas Shrugged

Ah Yes

I had forgotten about this line from Marina Tsvetaeva:

как живется вам с простою женщиною? без божеств?

How is it living with that simple woman? 

Charlie Winslow

Normally I get really embarrassed about things I've written after time has passed and I realize how many mixed metaphors I use. But some things stay okay, even if only because I am amused.

It’s not like you can change what happened. It’s my ineluctable fate to be no more special than any other piece of lint with a dream.
— Great Men Are Free Men

The most fun sketch

"When communication with a prestigious manufacturer is lost, an elite task force is sent to investigate... but what they find is everlasting terror! They bite off more than they can chew and things go b oom. Pa st their breaking point, these two colonial marines must find a way to survive in a world gone wonky!"


I have been writing about writing about the Vandenbergs for more than a year and a half. I have been so many different people in that time! And I've only produced an outline and the first few paragraphs of text, which involve a person opening an invitation and then showing it to another person who a) says they should go and then b) thinks about some memories. One thing remains: I aspire to be Chamomile Vandenberg. She's everything I can't express.

Look at this person I used to be, wondering about the Vandenbergs. Photo by Emma Mead.


April is the cruellest month, breeding
lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
memory and desire, stirring
dull roots with spring rain.
— T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

I keep waking up with a sense that I've forgotten something important, that I've left something behind, but I have no way of knowing what it is.

My doctor has a shorthand for the feeling of coming out of a depression. She says, "April is the cruelest month." 


I hope 2016 is a good year.


My sketch group will be performing live on Friday November 20 and I will technically be a part of the show. Don't set the things you love free when you move away, what kind of sociopath are you?


Three years ago on Halloween, King Puzzle and I got creative:

Then two years ago I was left to my own devices:



Last year, I made a shirt.

And I was in a sketch group and played dress up in public on a regular basis.


Well, now is just now.

I've wept in the hallway

I remember when I wore a younger person's more fitted, less ambiguously athletic loungewear, I wanted to hear from voices I respected on the subject of laughing with one half my face and crying with the other.

Last week I bought a volume of Aleksandr Kushner's poetry because he was the only Russian poet on the shelves of the UCLA student bookstore. So here is this:

In despair or in trouble, trouble,
Whoever you may be, when you go down in sorrow,
Know this: I’ve been there before you on this murky star,
I’ve gone cold, I’ve wept in the hallway.

So as not to be noticed, I lowered my eyes. I admit to you
These tears of my own, unfortunate friend,
Whoever you may be, just so you’ll know: the heavens
Will not be struck by that thick, silent cry,

And they will not reply. Don’t you see the ancient track?
You are not the first to thread the shadows along the precipice.
The path is laid. There then, isn’t that better?
Touchy one, I’m playing with you.

You’d like me to spell out my misfortunes? They will not
Pass my lips; the thick-skinned bush is still smoldering.
Like that moment in Pushkin: “it’s all coming down on my head...”
What is this “all”? Don’t ask: all of us have the same all.

Ah, you, whoever you may be, aren’t you
Already less wretched, less lonely?
Pace the room back and forth, or lie down on the sofa awhile,
And here’s life, up and about again, tender, blue-eyed.
— Aleksandr Kushner

All of us have the same all.


Los Angeles is beautiful.

All life is a purposeful struggle, and your only choice is the choice of a goal.
— Atlas Shrugged

Fear and Twombly

I wanted to go back and read something about the knight of infinite resignation yesterday, but all I have are casebooks and pocket Constitutions.

Dites-moi pourquoi

This week a stranger called me a mentsh in recognition of my demeanor on the phone. He explained that it was the highest compliment and obviously he meant it to apply to me in a female sense, "dear." Then he apologized for the informality of "dear" to which I replied, "Oh, it's quite all right." He took a breath and said, "Wow, you really are a lady."

It was a great personal triumph.

Mostly because the odd prosodic features of my speech are well noted, i.e. I've got a weird voice. I've got a weird, weird voice.

Throwback Thursday

A few years ago, I had an intensely clear idea for a book. It's a love story--but also about economics, poetry, pharmaceuticals, and self-exclusion--inspired by a mashup of translations of Psalm 49: "The ransom of a soul is costly, no payment is ever enough." The main character, who is introduced in the second half, is named Theo. The ending is a variation of the prisoners' dilemma game. I wrote 3600 words, including a line I pillaged from another work-in-progress: "Life should not be a longing for all that you lack." And then I quit.

The synopsis sounds pompous. The execution felt trite.

It could have been garbage. It could have been great. It could still be either and at least it would exist. After all, this cutting wisdom is circulating Tumblr:

But I don't plan on taking it out of the drawer any time soon.

Other projects. Obligations. Obstacles. EXCUSES. Though mostly I blame the abandonment of this story on a shift in my attitude towards writing. If it's silly or absurd or simply pretty and nice, it's not bothering anyone. If, however, it's a ponderous nuisance, I'd rather keep it to myself. Maybe that's maturity or maybe a veiled form of insecurity. 

Anyway, should it matter very much, I will say that when I've completed something tremendously enlightening for public consumption, I have every intention of forcing it in front of people's faces.

Now, I rarely write bloglets, so while the text box is open, here's a postscript:

I was struck by a literary parallel yesterday.

Either love is
—a shrine?
or else a scar.
— Marina Tsvetaeva, Poem of the End
‘What is he to you, Gail? In the nature of a shrine?’
’In the nature of a hair shirt,’ said Wynand.
— Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead


The display for Rapunzel at the Philadelphia Flower Show.


I've lived in Philadelphia for one whole year of my life! And what a year it has been, where actually now that I think about it, a lot of fun things took place elsewhere? Whatever. Philly!