#433rds Day 9

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 9

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A nut and bot walk into a bar. The nut says, “hey, yew,” and the bot turns into an iron chicken. I slept for all but three hours today–the only exon in a day of junk DNA. Sugar hours, underwater mindjuice with tedious neverending storylines. I pried my eyes up with showers, a swanky belt, a tiny castle university, but I was Jonah and the jaws kept snapping shut. A nut and a bot walk into a bar. The barkeep is Mark Twain, who thinks he’s in an Austen novel because everyone in the bar is a Presbyterian. He tells the nut and bot that her characters are detestable. The bot asks him to tell them a story with a likable protagonist, so he tells them Sleeping Beauty. The nut’s into her cups by the time Twain finishes. She says, over her fifth white Russian, that she’d do a better job cutting through the thicket than the bot. They bot says don’t bet on it. Mark Twain offers to judge the contest. The Presbyterians rise up and kill Twain dead.

#433rds Day 8

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 8

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The model plane has skinny-man wings. They wouldn’t lift. If it were a man, its shirt would be squalid, dumpy as Eve Harrington’s hat. No guns there, maybe a feeble cropdust. I miss fraternizing with women who sew with bone. There’s nothing like beading, honing your sparkle, threading the tidy slight.

#433rds Day 7

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 7

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A new study suggests our brains conform to certain identical patterns of activity when we watch movies. It’s a cuff of a fact, starched independent of hand or sleeve.

Oscar Pistorius wept in court today and in photos you can see the veins of his straining neck as he tells Reeva’s parents how he feels. The theater of his vomit has garnered a lot of attention, but I’ve been doting on the truth value of his veins. (It’s ok! I’ve been invited to consider the pormenores of his body. He feels vulnerable without his legs. He has trouble sleeping.)

Pepita barfed today. Ashamed, she pulled her paws in.

No studies yet on brain patterns when we watch trials. A judicial, magnetic paisley, whorls of sameness they try to pin down into prints. Court fabricates consensus. It weaves bizarre propositions: premeditation is putting your legs on. Fear is legless.

The court adjourns so Oscar can sleep. Someone suggests  they amputate his arms. Justice weird as ozone, ambient, hole, toxic, turns blood into pounds, usurps free radicals: what discount if he liquefies into tears and vomit, turns his guilt into gruel?

The longest axon in the body runs from spine to toe. Our legs—when all our brains line up—are always last to know.

#433rds Day 6

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 6

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focus stacking

Back in the cycle of slime. Flash! Oh love, I’ve been avoidant. I’ve watched flash videos, completed flash courses, read about bouncing light off walls. Marooned myself on a guilt fort with a flash moat. Think Castle Crystalskull. When you fret about a mote of dust in a dead wasp’s eye, you know you’ve got problems. Glass, glass, all you see is glass. Try to look through. Try to stabilize. Read medicinally: the lucid novelistic profiles of gold miners. They do not help. The words thread and you feel their gentle vegetable draw but can’t meet their motion. You’re in a grabby mood. You want to have grown and written them.

But yours is a slippy-slow digest, a fleshy tube of work.

You’re bored with long exposures. Instantaneity’s the thing. Light’s what we want. You want so much to be a ray you’ve nearly done it: if you mounted yourself on a slide right now and looked under a microscope, you’d barely exist. Attention slips, lurches to the side. Your right temple feels like two raw wires joined and fritzing. Chase the lights and flash the underneck shadows! Mount. Panic. Sink. Bail. Ladle the errors out.

#433rds Day 5

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 5

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the piano teacher

The wasp from this morning still isn’t dead, but I’ve discovered the perfect breakfast: it’s three beignets and a coffee.

Things weren’t good before it. I remembered, the way you do when you’re climbing out of sleep and fall off a cliff, that I still hadn’t answered her invitation. It was issued indirectly, to my mother, which makes it hearsay. I never got it, I can think, or pretend to think, but it’s this: Be a guest of honor. Play at our concert. (The answer is a no, a wretched no, but how do you say “I can’t” to someone to whom you have never been able to say “no”, or “I have forgotten why we fought”, or “my life became sloppy without you”.)

To breakfast! What a mess our car is. Of course the radio is playing Liszt. Of course it’s a child prodigy. I shut the radio off before I can hear his voice.

We find a space. I scuff around in the gravel pit next to it while Aaron wrangles the parking meter and I almost drown in the drowsy pleasure of scuffing. “That’s like your version of a Japanese garden,” Aaron says. A bit of gravel surrounding a half-dead tree. There are cigarettes in it. Of course, I think, because before breakfast I exude self-pity and think in absolutes: it’s the undiscipline that set in after her. Ten years of regimented practice, of bows and drills and trips to Japan. I think I was once good at raking perfect rows in clean white sand. I know I was once good at balancing on curbs.

Childhood is sitting on curbs waiting for things. Fifteen minutes for a table, the waitress says, and we sit obediently. I used to go the three blocks to Linda’s for my lessons walking on curbs, counting the steps between the sidewalk slabs.

Over breakfast I think of grenadine, of Shirley Temples drunk at the bars where—as a kid—I sometimes played.

After breakfast we passed three liquor bottles in a tidy row in the gutter. The gravel next to our space is less magical now: the man who lives in front of it is raining angry blows on his window.

We get in the car and drive home with perfect stomachs.

The wasp is still dying. The dog still wants to fight it. I want it to die so I can light it properly, take some close-up shots of its flawless spotted eyes. These are the only circumstances in which a person can really enjoy coffee—heaps of powdered sugar on the dough next to it, to cut and cut the taste.

#433rds Day 4

April 4

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A blood gradient is what it sounds like: a Punnett square fading out towards one edge where the traits jog and skip generations like pixels printed apart. I’m getting divorced, the woman says. Everything in her café is red, and so is her hair—a purple red she has to keep redyeing. (I can’t wash it often, she says over a 2:00 Irish coffee [it’s been one of those weeks, she says]). She only has one daughter, aged six, who cries when she can’t decide what shoes to wear. I don’t understand it, the woman says. Her older two kids are boys. They’re easier. They just read. I nod as if I know this and compliment her skin. I never meant to run this place, she says. I just did the accounts. I don’t know quite what she means. We’ve met just as I’m becoming a regular and she’s becoming an owner. Neither of us is good at it yet. Her orchid hair clip is made out of the same material as a wetsuit, she explains, and the fuchsia veins are painted in. Blood doesn’t bite paper as hard—it’s how we read zoo captions over the apes without seeing our alleles, unbathed.

#433rds Day 3

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 3

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I finish a good book coasting on a triad of virtue: relieved and exultant and—because most endings tilt down in an elegant droop—sad. When a good show ends I’m just embarrassed. I get goosebumps. It’s involuntary like a blush, and I do tamp them down, but there’s a cost to that, a long flatness of response that needs time to rise more sensibly, like dough.

Then come the giant notions, ungainly as jet-sized grasshoppers: Is Doll and Em the Key to Friendship? I’ve never liked Amish friendship bread very much: too saccharine an offer, too broad and glad a hope. But there goes my brain, haplessly baking, hunting and pecking. I’ve spent today wanting to tear off pieces of this show and mail it to people in plastic bags for them to ferment in their kitchen corners. (With a note: Grow it into Dolls of your own!) It’s so weak, isn’t it, to feel passionately about a tv show? Weaker still when you’re forced to say. Explaining why without explaining why (oh my Doll) means tailoring the chills out, and that’s delicate mathematical business and my feelings are more like wasps hurling themselves at the front window. Hard to coax a swarm like that.

Populate your life with scenes from a show: at night you write about this show instead of your day because you spent it panicking quietly because good shows bleach out their borders until they get translucent and bleed through because they give rise to fantasies (did I tell you I got a digital pen?) like maybe, if I write exactly the right thing, I can punch through, put the cold shoulder on ice, make an offer. Hard to see Caliban liking Miranda, but let’s drink in a hot tub wearing old photos, see if the thing develops.

#433rds Day 2

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 2

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my grain

When a gray day breaks out of its dark
and toasts into a warm brown spot
the moves seem safer. But then you sprout
new lenses.
They open too wide
no matter how fast the shutter snaps
and down it all goes like a squall in porn, like soup.

#433rds Day 1

(See a description of the #433rds project here.)

April 1

instagram day 1 2 instagram broad city

the gossip

Sir Thomas Browne’s friend described him as “answerable to his name”. He meant his hair and complexion were brown. (Get it?) The friend in question was named—it seems worth mentioning—Mr. Whitefoot. Thomas kept warm, though he wasn’t excessive about it—Mr. Whitefoot reassures us that “he never loaded himself with such a multitude of garments, as Suetonius reports of Augustus, enough to clothe a good family.”

I might describe a friend of ours as a lincoln log cobra or maybe harder and shinier: a fluorescent sequoia. It’s a bad description. It lacks Mr. Whitefoot’s hot-under-the-collar anxiety. It’s not defensive or competitive enough by half. It evokes nothing. (Remember when you listed your friends’s mimickable behaviors while we ate banh mi? The ones you might mimic if you mimicked? You remembered the hands and the angles of their squints.)

Thomas had a good memory. He “remembered every thing that was acute and pungent” about the Latin poets, Mr. Whitefoot says.

He, Thomas, blushed uncontrollably (according to Whitefoot).

Samuel Johnson didn’t know Thomas, but he wrote his biography, and it’s affably barbed. He, Samuel, thought Thomas’ writing on things like ancient burial practices was unhelpful but self-aware: “Of the uselessness of these inquiries, Browne seems not to have been ignorant.”

Browne liked the number five.

I’ve forgotten the names of the two actresses of Broad City, but Annie blogged about their show today.

(Thanks to Samuel Johnson, I worry about blog posts:

“Some of the most pleasing performances have been produced by learning and genius exercised upon subjects of little importance … it is a perpetual triumph of fancy to expand a scanty theme, to raise glittering ideas from obscure properties, and to produce to the world an object of wonder to which nature had contributed little. To this ambition, perhaps, we owe the Frogs of Homer, the Gnat and the Bees of Virgil, the Butterfly of Spenser, the Shadow of Wowerus, and the Quincunx of Browne.”)

I introduced Annie’s Broad City post to my friends with a story about Amy Poehler told by her friend. Amy Poehler produces Broad City, which is about two friends perennially describing each other to each other. It made me think of how Tina Fey describes her friend Amy Poehler in Bossypants. Amy Poehler did something Jimmy Fallon found obnoxious. When he said he didn’t like it, she turned to him and hissed, “I don’t fucking CARE if you don’t like it.” My friend Heather remarked that it was the only really risky thing in Tina Fey’s book. She’s right. Amy Poehler’s qi lives in that description.

I’d like to think six degrees separate the Broads from the Wife of Bath, with time measured in shoes. Broad, narrow, spiked. Push harder and your white feet ache, squeezed into the cisternae.


For the month of April, my pal beenepon and I are doing a project called #433rds.

  1. At 3 pm every day, no matter what you’re doing, stop for a sec and take a photo. Doesn’t have to have any aesthetic value whatsoever—it’s just a record. Post on Instagram.
  2. At some point during the day, take 30 Bananagram tiles and arrange them into words as fast as you can–3 minutes or less.
  3. Write something that day based on those two inputs. (Or, if you’re feeling Cage-y, don’t.) Ideally, you’ll use all your words.

April=4  plus  30 Bananagram tiles  plus  3 minutes to arrange them  =  433rds.

(We came up with this one boozy night during a hard-core Bananagrams match when our respective Bananagrams turned out sort of dream-like. They seemed like accidental x-rays of our days. Feel free to join—hashtag #instabanana for the bananagram thing, #433rds for it all.)

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7

Day 8
Day 9
Day 10