Resolutions and Recorrelations: On Becoming an Ex-Suicide

“The difference between a non-suicide and an ex-suicide leaving the house for work, at eight o’clock on an ordinary morning:
The non-suicide is a little traveling suck of care, sucking care with him from the past and being sucked toward care in the future. His breath is high in his chest.
The ex-suicide opens his front door, sits down on the steps, and laughs. Since he has the option of being dead, he has nothing to lose by being alive. It is good to be alive. He goes to work because he doesn’t have to.”

-Walker Percy, “Lost in the Cosmos: The Last Self-Help Book”

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Doll Heads - Erin J. Bernard

You’ll Get Bad Things and Like Them: Hate Songs, Little Mouth Cuts and Great Looming Silence

Have you ever had a little cut in your mouth that you couldn’t stop chewing on?

Poking at, worrying over, jabbing and stabbing against with your tongue, endlessly, compulsively? Even though it hurt, even though you knew all that biting was only prolonging the suffering? Didn’t you feel just inexplicably, irresistibly compelled to mess with it, even if doing so kept it from healing over?

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Under His Spell: In Scrabble as in Love, it’s the Little Words that Count

 Deep down, I think, what most writers really want is to be loved with words.

Forget the short-shrift gestures, the achy-breaky looks, the profound silences. Forget ever, ever leaving anything unsaid.

But, ah! The hand-penned poem, the stumblingly sincere email missive, the drunken, napkin-back confessional. These are the mightily longed-for asseverations of a writer’s native tongue. They are ardently imperfect. And they are beautiful.

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… That No Alarm Can Destroy

When I was a kid, we had this green plastic cup in our kitchen cupboard that my sisters and I shunned, entirely and summarily. It was ugly and puke-colored and it had a line melted into its side from when the dishwasher rack got too hot once.

We fought like banshees over who had to drink out of the green cup whenever my mom served us a round of apple juice or milk. Ending up with that cup in hand represented a failure of will. It meant that you hadn’t fought hard enough.

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Moonstruck

At 2 p.m. on Valentine’s Day of this year, I am sitting in a coffeeshop in Milwaukie, Oregon. I am doing some writing. I am watching the world go by.

A tweaker stumbles in the door. He’s carrying a small, crumpled bouquet of flowers. He orders a very large cup of coffee and then he twitches his way to a table near mine. He sits down, but he can’t hold still. He’s jumping and wiggling all about and slurping at his coffee. He keeps clearing his throat, and so violently that I develop sympathetic neck pains.

The Tweaker is clearly feeling the love this holiday. He cries out “Happy Valentine’s Day!” to every person who walks past. He strikes up a conversation with the wall.

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Lydia

But dreaming just comes natural / Like the first breath from a baby /

Like sunshine feeding daisies / Like the love hidden deep in your heart

-John Prine

I.

When I think of you, it’s always summer. It’s always strawberry wine and convenience store coffee and forbidden cigarettes and sad songs too loud on the radio some forgetful afternoon.

It’s a day that summer after my junior year and your and Ryann’s senior year when Ryann bought a picture frame.

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Letter to a friend: Life since J-School

So I wrote this letter to an old professor of mine.

Professor Vos:

So I’ve been thinking the past week or two about the request you made in your previous e-mail – for to tell you about my travels since I left the J-school.

I’m always sort of baffled and intrigued by the premise of Summing Up. As you may recall, my grad thesis was 178 pages long, when 78 may well have sufficed. Brevity has never been my strong suit. Despite that, or perhaps even because of that, distillation in any form strikes me as a useful, if slightly maddening, exercise. So I sat down and started writing out an answer and I guess in the end it was mostly a letter to myself but I’m going to send it along to you for posterity and whatnot. Onward!

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… And a happy VD to all!

Yesterday, on 2/13/2013, I did two things that are, for me, vanishingly rare: one, I went to a mall, and, two, without blinking, I dropped $130 on lingerie.

Not because I have a hot Valentine’s Day date (I don’t), and not because I’m upset that I don’t have a hot Valentine’s Day date (I’m not). Just because, well, the bras and panties were there and I was here and I’ve been working out and have a nice tan from my trip to India and I sorta liked the idea of titillating myself just a bit.

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Firmament

I am sitting at my desk, and I’m looking at a tomato.

It’s orangey-red and sort of heart shaped and haphazard in that way homegrown garden tomatoes usually are – fruit left to come up semi-wild and just in the manner it pleases, made of sun and dirt but tasting mostly just like the sun part, in the end.

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