12.17.22 [on the J train]

i remember my [abortion clinic escort] shift just before christmas last year as the coldest by far, and i have thus wildly overdressed in a sweater from the reykjavik red cross and some insulated stirrup pants(!) i bought for a press trip in the french alps long ago when the earth was flat. i had actually intended to ski on that trip, and after i mentioned as i got fitted for my equipment that i hadn't been on a slope since adolescence, someone showed up at my room with a supplemental insurance card. fair play, club med; fair play.

so i think what's happening is that i'm going to try blogging in a notebook whenever i ride the subway, a nod to the early days of writing out my posts on the back stairs when we lived in san francisco. less angrily, i hope, or angered for different reasons. we went out to bushwick last night for a son little show and when i met joe at a restaurant beforehand - a place styled to look like its owners' parents' turkish supper club in midcentury wisconsin, as i recall - he said i had a 'scattered and off' vibe (which he eventually attributed to the blogging). so that's something we can expect going forward, maybe. the show itself was at what i would call an archetypally bushwickian venue - hairy light-threaded star clusters hanging around the big old disco ball (joe called them neurons, i called them vogons), a big sign prohibiting body shaming, permanent illuminated signs for the EXIT, the COURTYARD/SMOKING, and FOOD TRUCK. the person who searched my bag noted faux-neutrally that i had a lot of earplugs. "you never know when you might grow another ear," i said. the bathroom attendant had a QR code in case you wanted to venmo him. son little himself was sleepily charismatic, and delighted when the crowd added in "whoa-whoa-whoa"s for the "blue magic" singalong. no one had done that before, he said, but it made sense that new york originated it, he reasoned.

i still haven't convinced my editor to take me up on the iceland travel piece i mentioned back in october, but i did sell and write her the iceland story i nearly reported for her colleagues on the print side more than a year ago, and i suspect it's going to do well. the many icelanders i interviewed have thus far been pleased with my diligence and accuracy, and that is all i really care about, though i certainly wouldn't sneeze at being the magazine's de facto iceland correspondent. one of the translators i pinged who was particularly generous with her expertise has been really warm as a general proposition, and i think maybe we'll be friends? (she seems to spend half the year in iceland and the other half in brooklyn.) that's especially buoying at the moment, for i seem to have lost friends this year.

in the course of an argument joe and i had in the spring, he told me that one of the old pals we'd visited in the dominican republic a few months prior had suggested to him that perhaps i had "the kind of syndrome that makes people rant in the street." i immediately texted said pal and told him how hurt i was that he'd made that suggestion. well i seemed not myself, said he. i explained that there had been a global pandemic, and that i was newly sober, traveling with a partner who was in serious distress, and unexpectedly writing my first piece for an outlet i badly wanted to impress while on vacation, and i guess i'd thought he would see me in the context of all those things, and extend me the empathy i've tried to have for everyone else as we navigate our respective challenges. i was also mortified, because i had worked so hard to be a good guest when we were out there; i couldn't believe i was being pathologized. i tried to explain that there had long been plenty of mental health professionals attending to me and that maybe calling me the manic street preacher of the lower east side was not thoughtful or kind, but he didn't seem very interested in listening to me. when i texted a few months later to say that i care about them and hoped we could figure something out, he and his wife said they want to meet me in person to talk about it; given how pear-shaped things seem to have gone the last time we saw each other, i don't want that. so i am mourning them. i thought they saw me.

is that brutal? what if anything do you owe someone who tells you they think you're something you're not and keeps insisting on it when you disagree and offer a bunch of evidence to the contrary? i don't intend for subway bloggin' to focus on mental health, which i don't enjoy discussing all that much, ironically, but i did just spend two hours getting properly preached out on a street corner, so i feel like i came by it honestly. this morning it wasn't all that cold, but the antis packed up on the early side, and i'm now officially done human-shielding for the year, praise hekate. take care of yourselves, and each other.


aunt pauline said...

I love this newfound subway blogging, and this article encountered by chance on Mastodon (not that it's as good as something you would write, but you know) made me think hard about your experience of having no skin:


because the way it's described reminds me so much of how it felt to start hormones, having a damper taken off that you didn't know was there. I'm very sorry you got pathologized by a friend and as long as you keep writing your way through I'm along for the ride.

lauren said...

i love you, pauline. cryin' at rats all 'round!

sometimes i'm a bit bitter that the ecstasy the writer describes hasn't been a thing for me. a dark little worm in my head says that's because you didn't drink like they did and you're suffering through the solution to a problem you didn't have, but i'm mostly able to ignore it.