Today is quiet and I feel other lives touching mine—and they are mine, except I can’t reach [the past] them. Books will steal your brain and leave a kaleidoscope in its place. I am restless and angry with myself. I am going to carry binoculars around so I can see what those trees are doing so far out in the lake—looks like it’s going to rain again. [A rabbit! Behind the fence.] We’ll meet on my neighbour’s roof.
—phone notes, June
I saw two boys on the train who were the same person and I was the only one who knew it. One was gross and the other was evil. I had been reading Frank O’hara before boarding—though I did not have my glasses—and by that point my eyes had swam back into my head so I did not get a good look at either. Not that I wanted to. You should never make eye contact with boys on the train.
One was on the upper level, the other I saw as I was getting off. They never saw each other. Somehow, they were connected. Partners in crime. Possibly in another dimension. I also saw a ghost on the train, in the seat across from me. I thought it was my future husband, time travelling. Then he took my brain and I fell asleep. He’d meant to erase my memory of him—a non-human, I mean—but either changed his mind or did a sloppy job.
Never start your day without coffee.
The things that discourage me also encourage me. Great art is a cathartic beauty. I find myself at the last page of a novel and no longer know what to do with my hands. With myself. I want to lie down for a while, maybe forever. I never want to write again. How can I? How can I when this, this, exists?
How can I not try?
My arm is weaker than usual. It keeps slipping off the laptop keyboard. Have I been drugged? Quick. Think. What did I consume last? Media. Of course. Social media.
I seem to have a talent for being poisoned. First my sister. Now the media? Who— what, can I trust?
The owner of a convenience store once let me off the hook for ten cents. I can trust him.
The sky is black. So black it is almost dark.
Signing off for now.
I know what to say but I don’t know how to say it. Does it scare you? How many words were meant for you but never said to you?
And it’s not hard. Not all words are meant to be pretty. Yet we never cease our pacing. This pacing behind a mental wall. This wall, shimmering in the light so slightly. This wall of dust and air. This wall that is not there.
I’m sitting alone with an elbow propped against the table and my head in my hand, writing this instead of writing what needs to be written and it is so loud. I am in a library and it is so loud.
I was in such a hurry to leave I forgot my glasses so my eyes are stinging and my coffee is slowly cooling in my mug back home and my handwriting is so shaky. So shaky.
And the man beside me is wiping down the table with some kind of cloth and he’s wiping and wiping and I never knew cloth could be so loud and I want to ask if they’re paying him, if he’s the fucking Table Wiper of this library because if he is then God bless your services sir will you wipe my table next?
I know I’m pacing again I’m always pacing
He’s wiping every corner like he’s wiping fingerprints from a crime scene but the only crime I can
see hear is this noise he’s making in what’s supposed to be a QUIET SPACE and why the HELL is there a baby crying? What’s a baby doing in the library BABIES CAN’T EVEN READ.
Sitting there in the backseat of the car I had a whole goddamn speech prepared for you and now all I have left is sorry.
Sorry: the only word that ever makes it to the other side of the wall with me. Sorry.
Except I don’t know if I’m sorry for me or for you or for all the pacing we do all the fucking pacing.
And if the Table Wiper isn’t sorry for wiping then the Writer isn’t sorry for swearing.
I think I put off getting my driver’s licence because I don’t trust myself. I’m scared I’ll get bad one night and take my parents’ car and drive until my vision is too blurry for me to see the road. I would do something stupid like that. I mean, I got good, but sometimes my ration still has trouble swallowing my intrusive thoughts.
I got good, but I still run to the washroom at work whenever I can to bury my face in my hands. The world is still too much.
And when they talk to me I can feel my eyes drift away and I tell myself to stop, but I can’t. I can’t. They think I’m weird because I never speak and I don’t have the strength to prove them wrong.
It’s just that I don’t want to hear where you went Friday night and how drunk you got and who cheated on who and who wore what so please just let my mind drift won’t you please just let my mind drift.
I love taking the train because I can stare at the trees for hours listening to calm music no one wants to hear played at parties and no one will try to speak to me because I’m in the Quiet Zone and I can breathe.
I can breathe.
God it gets so hard to breathe.
I don’t want my driver’s license because there are always too many cars on the road and it freaks me out. And all those people in those cars and all their stories and all their dreams and all the things that make them cry like I cry. It’s too much.
Sometimes I think I’m too soft for this world. I listen to slow songs and live for quiet rainy days and tear up when the sun shines through the leaves and I love.
And it kills me.
And I believe everything you say so please don’t trick me.
It’s so hard being strong.
You can’t go back in time because that would create a paradox. It self-contradicts. It cancels out. Except, isn’t life itself a paradox? If death inevitably swallows us all (for the sake of simplicity we will leave religion out of this), how can I even be conscious at this moment? When I die, and I will, my thoughts will vanish. My five year old self only exists because I am here to remember her.
If I live on to ninety, but not ninety-one, then ninety year old me and my ninety year old dreams are non-existent. And if all these years eventually collapse into one blurry memory that flickers and dims out of existence, then I am not here. I am already dead.
Existence is a paradox. So are people.
People are predictable. They are easy to read. You learn a bit about someone from the things they say, even more from what they don’t. They’ll tell you one thing but their smile is slanted. They’ll smile at you but their gaze is razor sharp.
Except they’re also complicated. I am an introvert as well as an extrovert. I have anxiety but I love public speaking. I am quite the cynic but I believe in magic. I like coffee and tea. I like cats and dogs. I am A but also B. I am Me.
Humanity is a rubix cube writers cannot put down.
Writers are nothing but people-watchers (who were given a pair of funky shades at birth so they see the world in an odd way). They notice every detail, and when they find that each detail contradicts the previous, their wonky little brains shudders and jerks and spits it all out in coded form. Humanity in metaphors. The truth through fiction.
That’s why they say books are humanity in print. Each author captures and presents the world from their eyes. Stephen King wrote that fiction is the truth within the lie. It really is.