The Poet and His Postcards

"David J. Thompson has been sending me four or five postcards a week since I was eighteen."

2014, In Order

My version at home has 'Cried' written down on all the days so far.12. December

11. November

10. October

9. April

8. March

7. February

6. January

5. September

4. August

3. July

2. June

1. May

Related: 2013, In Order

The Cost of Winter Running

cold gotta runGym fatigue, an old injury that makes running on a treadmill awkward, and a general preference for the great outdoors led me to cancel my Planet Fitness membership this year (making me $10 richer every month), which means I’ll be doing all my running outside this winter. The catch here is that I live in Alaska, a place not exactly known for its mild winters, snow-free streets, or, you know, daylight.

It’s not impossible to run on ice-covered sidewalks in fifteen-degree temperatures, but it does take an investment, especially when up until now my entire running wardrobe consisted of stretch capris from Target and “free” T-shirts that I’ve technically bought with race entry fees over the last couple years.

When you run in the summer, you can just throw on any old thing and hit the road. When you run in the winter, you realize your lightweight shoes possess exactly zero insulating properties. The snot dripping from your nose freezes to your face, and you’re essentially invisible to UPS trucks doing forty through your neighborhood. You’ve got to plan a little more in the winter, is what I’m saying, and you’ve got to spend a little green before you hit the pavement.

“‘I’m saying to myself, Jesus, they’re not going to do it if they don’t get preferential treatment,’ Johnson said. ‘So we decided to step up and do it ourselves.’ Melville House will publish the [Torture Report] in paperback and e-book editions on December 30th. Copies will go for $16.95, available everywhere books are sold.”#

51 Minutes in a Revolving Door

Mid-turn, and the whole thing stopped moving. With a sighhhhh. And a click. The person in front of me (hair scraped into a bun and brown coat) was able to squeeze out. As was the person behind me (heavy boots and red scarf). But I was trapped. By three walls of glass. After much pushing and shrugging on my part, the security guard approached holding up a note written on the back of a ticket stub. Are you ok? Door stuck? His name tag said “Bill” and he could not have been older than 19. “I can hear you,” I said. “Yes it is. And yes, I’m fine.” Good, Bill wrote on his hand before, subsequently, transforming these words into a thumbs up. He turned to another security guard: “I think the door’s stuck,” he said. Bill’s Friend looks at the door. And then at me: “Christ.”

10:15 AM: Bill and his Friend start to pull the door. And like any self-respecting young woman living in a post-Liam-Neeson-Taken era, I decided to call… my father. “Dad. I’m trapped in a revolving door.” There followed a crunch of cornflakes. “Is this a metaphor?” My father asked. “Did you want to speak to your mother? You know I’m no good at these sorts of problems.” I tell him it’s real. I tell him it’s happening. I tell him to feed my fish if I don’t make it out. “Honey, [cornflake crunch/ swallow] have you actually tried pushing the door. Push the door. See what happens.” This whole time, museum patrons are trying to use the revolving door/my new glass prison. Puzzled when nothing happens, they look at me. And then exit through the side door to the left. Some of them shake their heads or roll their eyes. I have, they presume, broken the door. Children are crying: they wanted to go through “the spinning” door: “What did the lady do?” A small girl asks her mother. “I can hear you,” I say.

10:20 AM: After five minutes of unsuccessful pushing and pulling, Bill’s Friend approaches the glass with a note: Facilities are coming. I nod: “Good stuff.” Bill’s friend raises his eyebrows, blinks and writes back: How’s your air? Asthma?  Oh. Right. Ok. Right. Because *could I* suffocate in here? I shake my head. He smiles and writes: Ok. Stay Calm. Stay still.  “I”ll try,” I say as he walks away. So, like they tell you in those high-socked Primary School fire drills, I sat down. In order to avoid the non-existent smoke. All the air is at the bottom of the revolving door, right? Right. Ok. Good. Knees to chin.

Sisters, Ranked

sistersWe are five: always, five, the five of us, the group of us, the lot. “You guys,” “the girls,” “the sisters.” Once, when I was young, someone asked me how many sisters I had and I answered, quickly, without giving it a thought, “five,” as if I couldn’t extricate myself from the larger being, the group, that we made up. I was one of them and they were one of me.

We are a tribe: each loud, brassy, strong, in her own way, each of us born about two years apart so that my parents, presumably, could catch their breath. I was first: curious, playful, shy, quickly carving out my old space in the world, trying, though I didn’t know, to fill the void of a miscarriage two years prior. My next sister didn’t wait much longer—she, born eleven months after my first birthday, arrived with a vengenance. With something to prove. When it was just the two of us, me walking around in a t-shirt, a leaky diaper, and a Band-Aid I affixed to my head because I liked the look, she was still immobile, reduced to sitting in a carriage or crib. I’d reach in and try to play with her. I was three, so I probably tried to eat her: nibbled on her toes, smooched her face, slobbered on her ears. She hated it, my mother would tell us later, and she didn’t stand for it. She’d attack, in the vicious way that babies do, grasping at my eyes and ears to try to get rid of me.

The next two came all at once: twins, which was weird for me, because one day I had one little sister and the next day I had three. They are identical but roundly different, and after a while, even you couldn’t fall for their identical twin switcheraoo. They both called each other “sissy” and carried mismatched stuffed animals around everywhere they went—a matted tiger and a purple bear, called “Tiger” and “Purple.”

Two years later, our youngest sister arrived. We’d all been spoon-fed femininity by then; We had scores of photos of us in matching dresses and hats, each of us looking like discarded swatches in a fabric store, and we were all enrolled in ballet and tap dancing classes at a local studio. Barbies and doll babies littered our rooms, but finally: here was a baby come to life.

We attacked her, relentlessly. We tried to feed her and wash her and poke her and play with her and dress her up and fuck with her and boss her around and protect her. She, now, is the strongest of us all; some of her first words were “Get away from me!” and “Leave me alone!” I am pretty sure she can beat me up.

Illusions Shuffled

Business Insider, December 10th:

Instagram has announced that it has officially reached 300 million active users, making it larger than Twitter.

Business Insider, December 16th:

Data provided to Business Insider from social media analytics company Socialbakers shows Instagram is not only gaining traction in sheer numbers of users, but posts from the biggest brands on the photo app are receiving almost 50 times more engagement (at the highest level) too. More users and more engagement? It’s easy to guess which medium advertisers will prefer.

Business Insider, December 18th:

As Instagram’s crackdown on spam begins, distraught users have been begging the company to stop eliminating accounts.
Meanwhile, celebrity accounts have taken the biggest hit.

Popular Instagrammers like Kendall and Kylie Jenner have lost hundreds of thousands of followers, and many celebs have lost millions.

Business Insider, December 19th:

Instagram is a $35 billion business, according to Citi analyst Mark May.

Mark Zuckerberg gained wide attention for paying what now seems to be a paltry sum of $1 billion for the service back in April 2012.

A Poem by Joyelle McSweeney

Hellebore

1.
run it again
double the charge
what’s the damage
sign for it
the universe wheels around in its dishevelment
like an afternoon drunk
rolls a wild eye which is a loophole
everything crawls out or goes in after it
this endtime’s gonna last awhile
a cartoon toucan flies through the chemo suite
dripping sugar loops from its beak
it’s on life support, on repeat
its ink flows antigravitational
flinks from its flank
both a ballpoint pen and a butane lighter
also useful for tracheostomy
an astronaut writes a cheque
a digital door swings open
debt falls out like breasts from the cargo bay

Miguel, "Coffee"

SURPRISE, a Miguel EP materialized, without warning, at some point in the early hours of the morning. It is excellent; my favorite song is embedded above, and the whole thing is streaming here.

"The Fall"

New York City, December 17, 2014

weather review sky 121714★★★★ Puffy white-and-gray clouds were gathering in the west and moving eastward against a gentle blue sky. The sun shone up Broadway onto the taxis and the taxi-colored cases of the crosswalk signals. It was possible to remember that the steel drum playing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” was capable of signifying the tropics and not merely the subway platform. Overhead, downtown, the clouds bridged the rooftops; off above Lower Manhattan they were dense, with an intense glow seeping between them. Red roses and other spilled garbage lay crushed in the gutter. The breeze put a gentle chill on the jaw hinge and earlobes. There couldn’t be a whole day’s worth of this, and there wasn’t: the clouds closed over the afternoon, shutting the light off even earlier than early. The cold after dark had a pinch to it, leaving fingers and thumb tips feeling raw.