01 i work at a clifftop coffeehouse. i go to restock the fancy baked goods counter and a shifty-looking wolf follows me up to the crag we use for storage. i give the wolf a sudden push and he falls to his messy death; his corpse turns into my friend’s ex-girlfriend. YOU’RE A USER, i shout at her. THE GOVERNMENT WILL ISSUE COINS TO COMMEMORATE WHAT A USER YOU ARE. SEVENTH-GRADERS WILL WRITE ESSAYS ABOUT IT.

02 my seventh-grade history teacher is lecturing us about crests painted on medieval shields. i ask if a certain kind of shield would be held by a lancer or a swordsman. “i think you should spend less time thinking about what’s on the knights’ outsides and consider what’s on their insides,” he says, not unkindly.

03 i have a bunch of slick blazers like donna tartt’s.


on recumbent bikes at our soviet-era gym, my septuagenarian neighbors discuss kim kardashian {I}

1: she has a butt, is the thing. you have no butt.
2: it's true, i have no butt. and you have no waist!
1: i have no waist, but you should see my daughter.
2: you talk to her, what, five times a day?
1: five times a day. i'm going to go call her—i'll see you on sunday, unless something happens.


graffiti, istanbul

{graffiti in istanbul}

i finally purchased a pad for the beauteous turkish rug i sort of haggled for* in cappadocia and then stuffed into overhead compartments all the way back to new york city! of course, the suitcase i lugged beside said rug is still sitting next to our front door and serving (as most of turkey did) as a makeshift cat-home, but we're leaving for a week in madrid next friday, so it almost makes sense. that trip has nothing to do with my new career as an international woman of mystery, at least not directly; joe and i decided months ago that we wanted to get out of town for thanksgiving this year. the trip was to be even longer, actually, but as i've raked in about $500 in the last month and joe hasn't had much of a chance to accrue vacation time at his new job (we keep things exciting around here), we're sticking to spain. i refuse to haggle there, though.

on transactions, i've set some parameters for myself in my post-office life (run >5 km/day, volunteer >8 hrs/week, write >1 draft/day, NO PAJAMA PANTS, and so on). the drafts are a bit of a bitch—you know you need to fine-tune your process when you find yourself thinking fondly of the wide-open, tech-free hours you had to yourself at jury duty—but i've been told that these things take time. several colleagues have made the transitions associated with becoming a freelancer sound rather like the transitions associated with becoming a vampire, actually, which i take to mean that it's bewildering and painful at first and you have to crouch in the dark and catch rats for food, but eventually you realize that time was a threadbare human construct and enjoy unlimited power.

Not that I have the slightest desire to leave any lasting mark, of course. One barely casts a shadow even while the sun's out. But I shouldn't mind doing something that temporarily engages me. Actually, I should like to lose myself totally in a piece of work, but I can't imagine what it would be. And whatever it is I'm damned sure nobody would pay me to do it. In the meantime, then, is one to go on tossing fanciful recipes and fanciful arias into the face of despair? Is one to go on writing asinine books about asinine people with a few felicities thrown in to relieve the private torment? Answer: Yes. Keep bearing in mind that tunnel at the end of the light, Samper, the one that goes on for ever.

(james hamilton-paterson, from the exquisite cooking with fernet branca)

*surely i was the worst haggler in all of turkey; on several occasions i was perfectly content with a price, a shadow would pass over the face of the gentleman i was dealing with, and he'd duck into his shop and come back with some lower amount or a freebie to accompany my purchase. in ürgüp a guy actually dashed down the street to hand my friends and me pairs of free socks post-deal.



“want to sample our new smoothie?” who doesn’t want to sample smoothies? monsters, that’s who. let’s do this.
“have you voted yet?” yep, but i like this democracy-in-action business. carry on.
“have you heard the good news?” frequently and vehemently, as i grew up in megachurch country in southern california; since you’re unlikely to chase me down the block to hand me that pamphlet, whatever.
“do you like to laugh?” yes, though i’m not sure what that has to do with times-square-adjacent standup. moving on.
“do you have a moment for the oceans / gay rights / homeless children?” i rarely carry cash and i’m not going to give my credit card info to some undergrad with a clipboard on the sidewalk. DISCONTINUE THIS, NONPROFITS.
“why don’t you smile?” because facial expressions are my signifiers, not your wallpaper.
“can’t you acknowledge a compliment? [crickets]
“you wanna – ?” wow, the dude i married hasn’t ever asked me that, and we’ve been together for fifteen years! points for novelty, you psychopath.


a bit of light from the surface

also i was on a press trip in turkey for a week! filing from the road was difficult, as the turkish wifi access i attempted to purchase at the airport in istanbul proved wildly unreliable, and even the best wifi falters when, say, one is attempting to report from a cave. this is not that cave (which was far and away the finest of the trip's accommodations; in all seriousness, i wish to move to a turkish cave hotel), but a shaft of light from the surface at derinkuyu, an underground city in cappadocia. full-time freelance writing is a bit like cave-dwelling, as it happens! there is ample opportunity to nap and take intense bubble baths, but the isolation can be a bit daunting and the ceiling discharges tiny rocks every now and again.