26 February 2014

0 let's do this again

it often feels like i'm driving a train on two tracks. one where everything is going better than imaginable, and the other where there's this constant agitation, restlessness, unease. and sometimes the train stays on the one track and sometimes on the other, but mostly it's on both.

which feels weird.

and fractured.

which is, i guess, the whole state of modern life and how we're all supposed to be because modern life is hard.

which seems like a cop-out.

the month of february has been cray. like every tree i planted in the last year or two or four suddenly bore fruit. one every day. for weeks.

except you can't live like that. in that state of stuff happening. inevitably, it ends. and i go back to the library and squint at my story and do the heavy lifting again. this is, in part, why the moments that i can identify as A Moment (by which i think a mean a moment that will, ultimately, be an integral plot point in the way i tell this story later on) are so precious. why i feel the need to grab a pen and put them down.

because they do not last.

because they cannot last.

because one cannot be on fire for all of the time.

it's a weird week, as all of the weeks that hold the birth and death days of the people who've died are apparently going to be from here on out. presumably different with each passing year, with each passing person, but an ache that persists nonetheless.

none the less.

joe died a year ago this friday.

in a few days it will have been four years since partner's transplant.

this is the year that donovan did not turn 33.

i've been reading siddhartha mukherjee's biography of cancer, which has been harder than i thought for reasons all too easy to forget.

the little girl next door died when i was five.

we played together.

her hair fell out.

she disappeared.

i conflate this with the challenger explosion.

conflate it with standing on the landing between the stairs leading to the den and the stairs leading down to the kitchen, the landing where the window seat had a lid that i absolutely must not lift because it was made to break little fingers, listening to the adults gasp on the other side of the door they had closed behind them.

this conflation makes a degree of sense. both situations required a protection, a prevention of an experience i was not yet old enough to understand. an experience i, consequently, now feel robbed of and a bereavement, i fear, i may spend the whole rest of my life trying to understand.

because, for years, i made sense of it by assuming the little girl next door who died was killed in the holocaust. i made sense of it by letting myself think that the holocaust had happened next door.

0 always

live near water. live in the west. 


25 February 2014

0 14:47-15:32 GMT

this afternoon, i submitted my materials for the upgrade and cheered. because i was going to go to a lecture on reading and see a movie and go to a conference tomorrow and a training session thursday and not have to look at another endnote for three whole days.

the cheering lasted two minutes.

at 14:49, i discovered there were materials that needed to be submitted for the upgrade that i'd not known about.

and so, at 14:51, i de-submitted my materials for the upgrade and gave in to a slough of despond.

ROLLER COASTER OF EMOTIONS.

until 15:02, when The Sup asked if i had some time to do some work for her.

whereupon, at 15:16, i manned up and said, 'hey, i have a habit of demanding of myself things that other people don't expect, so do my materials really need to be submitted this week?'

to which she said no.

so i could say yes.

which is the story of how i came to be reading the new york times for pay.

0 true



22 February 2014

0 FJ: musings on stories, sources, stories about sources, sources as story-tellers, and the story of story-telling as relates to the story of jackie kennedy’s alleged love affair with mr. RFK (ie. the sex lives of dead people, reprise)

jackie hearts
Lest you think biographers do nothing but lazing about eating bonbons and sipping champagne, it actually boils down to, for me anyway, rather a whole lot of intellectual/psychological heavy lifting about motivations and character and societal demands. Fun times!

13 February 2014

0 boats! boats! boats!

today i went to see aristotle onassis's yacht.

so this all came about because i emailed the lettings agent last july and he said he'd be in touch when he was next on the ship. he was on the ship now because some people were looking at buying it and he flew across the atlantic to show it off. so i was, essentially, the sketchy person who goes to look at a house she has no intention of buying (like that one time croftie and i pretended to be a lesbian couple so we could see a posh apartment in chicago), casually drifting through the ship at a leisurely place, peeking in the bathrooms and bedrooms and closets, whilst the serious buyers put on hasmat suits and went down to inspect the engines.

what was it like? well, the ceilings were very very low (which maybe kills my contention that docudramas always err on the detail of ceiling heights). that's the first thing i thought upon walking in. i thought, my god, it's claustrophobia city in here. i cannot breathe! and then spent the next hour wondering how jackie, a woman always on the lookout for freedom, didn't go completely cray stuck in that dark, confined space.

then i went upstairs and opened a door i wasn't entirely sure i was allowed to open and, as a stiff breeze slapped me in the face, walked out on deck.

and it was like, OH. that's how. because you can leave.

we were parked in a marina in chatham, england on a gloomy, rainy day and still i could see how it might have been. how that might have made up for the oppressive dark paneling and the low ceilings and all that bearing down. being able to open that door and step outside and see water.

having been inside, being outside felt better.

and then it was over and, because i hadn't brought a high-visibility vest with me, the ship's crew called the man from dock security and asked, can you come pick up our lady? he came and picked me up.

coming into town it had been quite grim and gray. on the off-chance that the boat wasn't the story and the getting there was and also because i have this insane need to always depart on a journey at 5 a.m. and so arrived in chatham a full three hours early, i'd climbed a mountain and traversed a heath in driving rain. and then used the toilet at dickens world, which- if i'm interpreting it's billboard correctly- is to charles dickens what medieval times is to the medieval times.

the walk back was the clear opposite. shorter, because i now knew where i was going, and the rain had passed, the clouds flattened out as the sky'd turned a brilliant robin's egg blue.

and i thought, good god, why am i always whining? why am i not just grateful for all of this?  

i'd forgotten that there are these moments. the moments after the doing of some big jackie-related thing where each new moment leads back to the moments before it and, for however shortly, it all comes into focus. the vast expanse of the last four years in particular, but also the last twenty, that have led here.

it's like flipping through a narrative in-progress with which you're intimately familiar but in which a new paragraph has just been placed.

it is not unlike the process of editing my own writing, except this isn't my writing but my life.

in these moments i am 100% present.

in truth, these may be the only moments where i am 100% present.

today i went to see aristotle onassis's yacht. tomorrow i'll go to the library.

0 :)


12 February 2014

0 gaslight


tomorrow i am going to chatham. to see onassis's yacht. this all seems significantly less sketch now that i have realized that the people i'm meeting are from florida and have never been here and that is why they keep referring to the city we're meeting in as 'chatham-kent' (a province that i now know, after rapacious googling, is in ontario) rather than as the city of chatham, which happens to be located in the southeastern english county of kent.

(i am, for the record, taken aback by my own willingness to trust people who have no grasp where their boat is solely because they are from florida.)

this is the british equivalent of saying you're meeting in 'nashville-davidson' or 'chicago-cook' when there's actually a city with that name on an island 3,945 miles away. so that the person you're meeting has to continually question whether you are, in fact, talking about the same place and wonder if they will go to great lengths to meet you in the southeast of england whilst you're awaiting their imminent arrival in the great white north.

so tomorrow morning i'm hopping a train (which will run regularly because the tube strike was averted) and going down to chatham, which is located in kent, and through which i will walk miles and miles because i'm too cheap to take a cab, to arrive at a location for which i now have an address.

when i worked for MJ and things would fall into place, which they did with great regularity because, with even greater regularity, they fell apart, he would mime spitting into his hands, clap them together, and say, now we are cooking with gasoline! 

in the last three days, i've found myself wanting to perform that gesture repeatedly. because even though last month felt like the titanic and this month feels like the lusitania and next month very well may feel like that carnival cruise where the people were stranded at sea for days and days without working toilets, still it feels like the stars i stared down all summer are starting to align. the stories are starting to fuse. things are coming together.

this morning, before coffee even, i checked my email and there it was. in the subject line. (thank god for people who tell you everything you need to know in the subject.)

gloria said yes. 

and for the first time i not only thought it but actually believed. we are, indeed, cooking with gasoline.

0 the public

(when you google 'general public', this is what you get)
i'm on the committee for department seminars. we had another last night. beforehand, there were rumblings that 'members of the general public' had been in touch to see if 'members of the general public' were welcome to attend. we said yeah.

'members of the general public' wound up being one lone man. who then came along to our committee dinner after the seminar and sat so close to the speaker that each of us committee members mistook him for her husband.

after dinner, after the speaker had fled into the night and it had been established that the member of the general public was not her husband, had not previously known her, was in no way affiliated with academia, and really was just a member of the general public in the generalest sense, he mentioned that he'd heard about the seminar on twitter.

we looked at one another in wonder as this was not something we had known was plugged on twitter.

given that twitter casts a wide net that nets ONE, it maybe needn't be.

on the train ride home, as we discussed the oddness of the member of the general public and realized it maybe wasn't the safest thing that he had accompanied our other female committee member to the train ('i hope he doesn't slay miranda...'), my fellow committee member turned to me and said, 'maybe we should limit our audience to the university. members of the general public are just creepy.'

and, thus, the doors to the ivory tower which i had so hoped to pry open slammed shut. way to ruin it for everyone else, dude.

10 February 2014

0 true story


last july, there were a bunch of reports that ari onassis's yacht was up for sale again. upon a little digging, i discovered that- lo and behold!- it is moored about an hour outside of london as it awaits purchase by some bajillionaire.

on a whim, after a comparatively shallow google (shallow when compared to the googles i've been doing to locate oral histories of people in the foreign service regarding jackie's trip to cambodia), i located the contact info for the agent in charge of the sale and asked him if i could see it. he wrote back and said i could the next time he was on ship.

and SEVEN MONTHS PASSED.

i was actually thinking about this the other day. in that way that you randomly think about things and your having thought about them suddenly takes on great significance later on when they fall together and you look back and think i am a prophet!!! except you know you're not because it's all just random and your job isn't so much to put the pieces together as to keep them moving towards each other so they can some day, when the forces align and the timing is right and everything is in balance, fall in... anyways, i was thinking about how i should email these people because it had been seven months and they couldn't possibly remember me and then, of course, i did absolutely nothing about it.

so it was with some bemusement today that i received an email reminding me that i had emailed them in july and summoning me to the ship later this week. and it was with even more bemusement that i received the news that the people i am meeting on this ship seem to not be entirely certain of where it is.

this is where we are: on thursday, in the midst of another tube strike, i am taking a series of trains to chatham, in the hopes of locating the right docks, rendezvousing with the right people so that i might attain security clearance to enter said docks, and step aboard a boat on which jackie once lived.

i'll admit i feel a little rusty. it's been awhile since i've been about this business of jackie-related adventuring. two and a half whole years since i sat in the room where her mother died.

for a year now, i've spent putting her into words and sentences and paragraphs on a page that is emotionally fraught at best. it's an entirely different feeling, one i'm not even going to begin to justice to here, to take her out into the world. to go out with her into the open. to stare out into the water, into the atlantic, sit in rooms where she was.

writing about her is describing the contents of a kaleidoscope.

being where she was is like drawing the deepest possible breath.

after all that squinting, i can- at last- open my eyes.

06 February 2014

0 thursday randoms

this morning i rolled out of bed and braved the tube (which really required no bravery whatsoever on my end as i got on at the first stop, got a seat, and rode it to the end of the line) to get to east london to help a friend carry a desk and a chair to north london on the overground. file under: memories i will likely now recall every time i ever go to brick lane from this date forward.

my struggle now with jackie (that ghost i bring with me always) is that there are ten different directions in which i want to go. so i rotate between them taking a step here and then one over there and then another way out there. which, in the end, results in the slowest of slow progress. today i spent an hour writing the chunks left over from the disembodied chapter three out by hand. the result of this was ONE NEW SENTENCE. one. that is what i imagine people in the financial sector (that is, if i knew any) would deem a low return.

but it's progress, no? and we take progress wherever we can get it.

i'm still thinking about this. and about kaleidoscopes.

kaleidoscopes are the metaphor to which i keep returning (writing that, i suddenly feel like felicity in season 4, slaving away on that senior art project about piƱatas that was destroyed when the art department caught on fire). because, even in just handing it from me to you, the perspective shifts infinitesimally. so that we do not see the same thing. though, really, do we ever see the same thing?

this is the best story ever. no really. it is. (and that wasn't a coy way of testing my theory that we never see the same thing... it was a flat-out truth!)
'Mr. Khorishko said there would be no special treatment just because the yogurt was bound for American lips. “We are a lawful country,” he said. “You should follow the rules.”' 
i mean, omg, right?!

k.lo's coming to town soon (and yes, this post has essentially just turned into my live journal).

lastly, after three hours spent curled up under a blanket by the radiator with gore vidal, i summoned the will to go to the grocery for a bottle of (my new love) beaujolais and a box of multi-grain chex. so this is dinner:

0 oh london




05 February 2014

0 update

(1) the dane wrote this...


obvi, agreed times a thousand. 

(2) there's a strike on the tube that began last night and is running through FRIDAY. can you even imagine?! 
the other way of looking at it is that this...


currently looks like this...


like they took the guts out. 

there's also a teaching strike tomorrow so it's very UNIONS OF THE WORLD UNITE over here in england this week. 

(3) after weeks of planning to attend voluntary lectures having nothing to do with my own work and skipping out to do my own work, i finally went to the victorian fashion talk at the museum of london last night, which was all about crinolines. which can apparently be seen as- if not feminist then- pleasureable, because they enabled women to inhabit increased spheres of space. a notion i rather enjoy.

the take-away quote was this: 'in every age where women were all-powerful, you find the crinoline.'

(4) lastly, they set a date for this...


it is right smack in the middle of my being in america in may. would that i could do it from there, but alas. 

03 February 2014

0 today, in amazing discoveries about our language

'swiftboated' is a legit word.

and it comes from exactly where one would imagine...


and STILL i can't make amazoning a thing!!! (at least paging has finally taken off...)

0 we are nothing if not fatalistic

s: 'well, january was a sinking ship and february doesn't look much better.'
o: 'we seem to have escaped titanic and boarded the lusitania.'