It's not usual that I'm afraid to talk to someone. I won't talk to people that I think dislike me, but that's just out of a desire to avoid conflict. But for some reason I'm afraid to talk to her. She's quiet, intelligent, and above all intriguing. I'm afraid to talk to her lest I appear dull, or I find out she disapproves of my ways--how she could disapprove! She doesn't seem sanctimonious or arrogant. She just seems, well, pure. She wouldn't want to disapprove because she was judging us, it would be like me disapproving of dirt or something. I don't know.

Does she know she's intriguing? She doesn't seem like it. It's almost like it would ruin it if I told her.


left turn only

I was driving through downtown earlier. I swear the streets there are designed to fuck you up. I was stopped at a stoplight--one of the seemingly endless red lights that I always managed to hit--listening to the radio. Well, I say listening, but really I was paying little attention. It was someone talking about something, as if his words might change something.

I wasn't really sure where I was. I get lost in that labyrinth a lot, no matter how nice the streets are laid out. But I always find my way in the end.

Something was happening up ahead. I couldn't tell what it was, but some kind of commotion--maybe a fight, maybe a reunion. One of those real human moments, the kind you don't hear on the radio or see on tv because they're real, they're spontaneous. Even if they happen every day they're rare because every one of them's different and--I was going to drive forward to see what happened. Then the light changed and I looked up and saw the sign.

Left turn only. I tried to cycle round but it was gone.


follow you around

If our eyes caught once across a crowded room, if we exchanged a few brief words and I never said anything else--I promise it's not because I think you're dull. Come say hi sometime and if you want I'll follow you around.

A girl introduced herself to me the other night, at the house show. I don't remember her name, but it sounded exotic and interesting. She looked exotic and interesting. Something about that smile, her hair, her clothes, said 'Europe' to me. Germanic, probably. We didn't talk much. I actually spent most of the night glancing over at her, and I swear she was looking back most of the time. I'm probably imagining it. I like people that are legitimately foreign and exotic, not just people that pretend like I do.


angry men and dark alleys

I was walking home from the coffee shop this evening--it was after midnight and the joint closed shortly after I'd ordered my drink. I was chatting to my friends about trivial things when I heard the sound of a man shouting up the street. It was not street preacher shouting, but the shouts of a man who is violently angry. We had just turned in that direction, and after a few paces, we saw the man up ahead. He was approaching.

We dodged into an alley to avoid confrontation, and dodged out as soon as we could to avoid getting mugged. I can't help wondering who that man was, why he was angry. What happened to this man, this angry man, that was walking down 45th street late at night?

I almost wish we hadn't avoided him, had at least waited to listen to what he had to say. If he had anything to say.

a new year

I hope you won't take it amiss if I write for a moment about the new year. It is a holiday that is oft-derided--'why are you celebrating it? what's the big deal?'--but a holiday which everyone knows about and generally agrees upon. There is definitely a new year and it is definitely not based in any one religion.

Other holidays in Christendom tend towards the religious and the false piety. Christmas pretends to celebrate the birth of the Christian savior; Thanksgiving is the time where we pretend to be thankful for all the stuff we aren't really thankful for. Easter, all the marginal Christians dust off their old religion and pretend to be pious. These are all holidays where most people are pretending to be something they are not.

The New Year is not religious. It is a time to reflect, to forget, to start afresh. Yes, you could do this any time--but why not devote some time for it? People think symbolically of time all the time. The month of August tends to be terrible for me over the past few years. September is usually a good month. Some years are wonderful years and some years are horrible, and sometimes you just need a different number in your calendar to look at and say 'well, that's all over, let's do something different.'

I realize there is an element of pretending to be someone else at certain New Year's parties. People wear masks, or sometimes costumes, or just dress up. I confess to never having been to such a party, so I'm no expert, but here is the thing about a masquerade or a costume party: people are not actually pretending to be someone else. If I dress up as Kurt Vonnegut, nobody thinks I am actually Kurt Vonnegut. I'm not trying to convince anybody. It's almost a mockery of the other holidays: at best I'm pretending to pretend to be someone else. No lies, no tricks. Just honesty.

Monitoring the New Year, you can try to Start The Year Off Right. Your first kiss of the year, first song, first meal. You can try to make sure things get off to a good start, be sure that new number in the calendar is representing something nice. Is it completely arbitrary? Sure. But what isn't? Humans make up symbols all the time. Doesn't make it meaningless.

Thanks for indulging me. I promise it won't happen often.


wrong letter

She handed me a letter. She told me I should read it, we could talk about it tomorrow. I said sure, whatever she wants, went home, put the letter safely on my desk, along with some of the others I had--some I hadn't read, some I had. She was writing me a lot of letters lately, and sometimes I was too afraid to read them.

Eventually I got around to reading. I selected what I thought was the letter she'd given me earlier--it looked about the same, how was I to know?--and read it. She was angry. I'd hurt her with my words, with my silence, my actions and inactions. She accused me of things I hadn't done, and things I had. I grew angry. I'd already apologized for all that. Surely she knew that? I'd tried to make it up to her. She said it was enough. And she was still angry? She lied to me!

When she called me up to ask if I'd read it I swore and shouted. Told her she was a liar and told her she should tell me when she can't accept my apologies.

She didn't answer for a long while. When I finally said "Well?", in my voice thick with unrighteous anger, she said, softly, "I just wanted to say I love you." This confused me. I looked at the letter.

"'You ungrateful bastard'?" I said, quoting the salutation.

"No, that's not--that's not what it says," she said. Her voice was on the verge of tears. I had nothing more to say. It dawned on me that I'd been reading the wrong letter all along.


meditations on a leather-bound journal, pt. xiv

I attended a New Year's Eve party at a club downtown. I didn't have a date--most of my friends think I'm acting weird, and I wasn't interested in a date anyway. It would just make me think more of her, of the notebook. It was getting to be too much. I needed a diversion. I needed some time to myself.

A girl with a mask on was standing near me when the countdown began. I noticed she seemed to be watching me, not the screen. As the crowd shouted 'happy new year!' she pulled me close and kissed me. I was shocked, to say the least. I know I still looked rough. When she released me I whispered 'Liana?' and took her mask off.

I understand now why she threw the notebook away. Everything has become a lot clearer.

Happy 2007.