Sarah Nicole Prickett
New York, April 2017

From: Sarah Nicole Prickett
Date: Mon, Apr 17, 2017 at 11:01 PM
Subject: Re: hi Daniel
To: 100discs1

Hi I'm half asleep. Can we talk tomorrow? What do you mean, "would you leave a note" - a suicide note? Yes, I would, but it would be hard to write a note good enough to justify suicide.

Ariana Reines
New York, October 2018

Dear Pati,

I've been writing this in my head for more than 2 weeks, but I haven't been able to decide on a style, or to determine what to describe to you. I just got back from Buenos Aires. The first few days I was there I still had the migraine I'd gotten from the Kavanaugh hearings, and I was also tormented by guilt and internal conflict about taking this amazing trip while my psychotic mother languished at Bellevue that qualities of the sunlight started affecting me strangely. I honestly thought I could feel the weight of the recent past shining in the strange coppery sunlight as it slid down the broad avenues and through the rough neighborhoods and shantytowns at the close of day. The women I saw looked like they were hard on themselves in every possible sense: their hair had been treated with severe chemicals, they obviously smoked a lot, they were uncomfortable shoes, their eyes looked tired from the strain of intellectual work, while around their mouths hung the peculiar, invisible gravity of disappointed sensuality. The week before I left I leaned hard on Yale and Artforum to pay me what they owed me so I'd have enough money for food and enough money to kick my little brother $100, which I had to do in order to assuage my guilt about not having been able to face visiting my mom in Bellevue before I left, and also in order to assuage my lack of guilt, my sense that I had suffered enough, and that willfully walking into an arena in which nothing but suffering is promised is nothing but an ancient form of stupidity disguised as virtue, and an ancient form of weakness masquerading as strength.

The sun hits the earth at a different angle in Buenos Aires. And I think I fell in love. I mean, I would have easily called what I fell into love a few years ago, but now I'm more circumspect, and I know I won't die if I don't see them again. But yesterday I was longing for them in a way I have every right to hide-this is my letter after all-but I don't want to hide it. I liked the way his thighs looked inside his jeans and held me the way that I like it. I loved the way she looked at me. Her eyes were like wellwater at night. She was difficult. He was easy.

Yesterday morning I lay on the floor crying and hyperventilating. I had a few free hours and this was how I was using them. My mother has been an untreated paranoid schizophrenic my entire life, and intermittently homeless since I was 18, but I just found out that she has just started psychiatric medication, which is something I never ever thought would happen. This sudden change made the weight of her catastrophe on my own existence suddenly seem even heavier because of the prospect of its removal. And while I was sobbing on the floor I was thinking about love, and how much I loved love, how I couldn't live without it, and about suffering, which is basically Judaism, though few people practice the religion correctly. I like that old time religion.

In Buenos Aires you'd be sitting around a table with ten or eleven artists and three or four of them at least, their parents were disappeared, or were somehow involved in fighting the dictatorship. I met a lesbian pornographer both of whose parents were murdered-but first tortured-- when she was a child. And the guy who runs the best publishing house in Argentina, both of his parents were murdered too. He is surrounded by brilliant and tragic musicians and writers and visual artists, all of them running to the bathroom every half hour to huff coke, or cutting their elegant lines on hardcover books. Cocaine is extremely cheap down there rite now. I'm just glad it's not heroin. It made me remember doing drugs to be close to people, the way I used to, which gradually morphed into doing drugs so I could get some privacy, and then once I had some privacy, so I could stand being alone. I'm done with drugs now. I'm high on life, and the exhileration of the yawning abyss offers itself to me freely, when sex with someone I can really love arrives.

You are not like any American I have ever met, Juliana said, you know how to talk with your eyes. And she said, Congratulations, you have learned how to swim. You are swimming, she said, you know how to swim. And then she said something I didn't really understand. I am a cousin, she said, but you are a daughter.

Last night I read at Rutgers with Javier Zamora and the night before that I went to Eileen's debate with Masha Gessen. I wouldn't have known about it except I half started using Instagram, in a pathetic sort of way, my account still protected and I can't even bring myself to post a selfie yet. The whole thing still freaks me out, because my consciousness is maybe too liquid, and I've had to protect it in order to finish the book I just finished, which took me seven years. I'm a weird combination of disciplined and private and open and free. I wound up hanging out with Jill Soloway and Eileen and Masha and Emily Nussbaum after the show, and one of the things we did was go around the table describing our first sexual experiences. Mine started at 3, when I learned to masturbate and taught every other child I knew how to do it. I'd tell you the rest but it seems strange to do in a letter, a bit too incriminating. I came out as gay in high school, and we used to have, I guess they were orgies? That's the word for it, in by-the-hour motels off the Lynnway. I didn't know anything about consent. I was in love with this one girl and she was fucking someone else right next to me, which split my consciousness in two and left a yawning gash at the center of my brain. Then she stopped for a second and took my hand and inserted it into a third girl, and she was kissing me now, and when I told a friend of mine about it afterward, we were Juniors in high school, she told me I had raped the person into

whose body I had inserted my hand without permission. Oh god, why am I telling you this.

I was falling for these two people in a way that I knew went beyond them, that had something to do with the fact that my parents hate each other and their hatred of one another meant I was condemned to the loneliness of their failure to love, and I was terrified of projecting this onto them. I haven't been involved with a couple since I was 23, which was a very happy affair. It's partly that like to be near people who love one another because it's a feeling I didn't get to enjoy as a child. It's also this yearning to restore balance between the two poles of my personhood, or the universe, between mother and father, and create conjugal harmony where there is none, to make something sweet and sustaining out of the moment his sperm hit her egg and ruined everything. I wanted to disappear into them, and that made me afraid.

But now it's a couple of weeks later and I've forgotten to keep thinking about them. It's a relief. Other crushes and new catastrophes have intervened. So many shootings. There are shreds of my heart all over the place. But I feel strangely strong.

Love Ariana

Kaveh Akbar
Somewhere in the air, 2018

Spoiling the average / Letter to Lydia

you looked so good
when you were liquid-
crystal your electrons
popcorning around
like little moons
    childhood was
over I was picking blood
oranges in January safe
as a lifejacket floating in
             your secrets
have stayed secrets with
me not because I'm honest
but because I forgot
them immediately though
I do remember once
you told me the human race
implies a finish line

                            it's lovely
how easy it still is to feel
lovely in this specific
   it's been
            days since
I've kept my mouth shut
about anything
you would've hated
seeing me like this
I say disappoints either
my family or my
corporate sponsors
it's getting harder
by the hour to tell
the difference
       immortal soul
spoils the average
for everyone it reminds
us the whole game
is rigged
             I pacify myself
with my sounds my stories
you liked the one
about the horse
breaking free from
his chariot then starving
in the cold
washing paint from
your brushes in
the pond near my
brother's house you left
before all the fish
died I'm not saying
it was your paints but
good luck trying to prove
it wasn't from where
you are now

Audrey Wollen
New York, 2018

Dear Mama,

I'm so glad you are feeling a bit better, glad the therapist is good. Please promise me you won't do any more "magical rituals," like over the phone reiki or whatever is the miracle du jour. Let's stick to our usual placebos: acupuncture and pilates for you, SSRI's for me, etc. You always tell me, take care of myself like you would take care of me, and now I get to say it back to you, take care of yourself like you would take care of me. Or like I would take care of you, or like we would take care of each other, or something.

I've been thinking a lot about divine visions and instant cures, for obvious reasons. I feel like being young and sick is the same sensation as seeing your crush across the room at a really crowded party, and watching them like a magnet, but not being able to maneuver the distance, not ever being able to get to them, just watching them laughing or whatever from afar. I had a dream about a fleet of cyborgian nuns, skimming the low air, floating in strict formation as they pass through town after town, looking for their sanctuary.

In Lourdes, there's a wall of crutches abandoned by those miraculously healed by the grotto's divine waters. People travel from all over the world to find this restless cure. They crawl their way there, and they float away. The sanctuary is a stream, where a fourteen-year-old girl once pointed and said, there is a woman, she is made of the sun. She was led to the grotto by wind and roses. The girl's name was Bernadette, she was sickly and destitute, she lived in a basement room with her eight siblings and her parents, a room that used to be a dungeon. After seeing the body of light in the mouth of the grotto, she told her parents and her town, and it was the townspeople who decided it must have been the Virgin Mary. At first, Bernadette had only one word for what she had seen: "aquero" which means "that" in the mountain dialect of Gascon Occitan. That! It's sometimes translated more specifically as 'that which I saw.' I saw that which I saw. Can you describe what you saw? It was that. I saw what I saw, the that-ness of it.

I love that: The divine tautology of teenage girlhood-- a self-affirming reality that slips through the strongholds of language.

Pilgrims have a strange relationship with border patrols. Most countries that receive a lot of pilgrims have special religious visas that lift travel restrictions over certain holidays. It's generally one of the more lenient border processes. Saudi Arabia, overwhelmed by visitors performing the Hajj, has implemented a five-year rule: if you have done the pilgrimage any time in the past five years, you won't be approved for a return. (No hoarding of divinity! Make room for the rest of us.) Before national borders existed as we know them, traveling on foot across long stretches of foreign land was dangerous; religious pilgrims in Medieval Europe wore special outfits to alert people of their intentions, broad wing-like hats with small strips of reflective metal pinned on, pilgrim badges, glinting in the sun. Nations, by and large, didn't interfere.

I generally think that American freedom of religion is grossly under-utilized by the Left: the conservative right does so much political organizing under the tax-haven of various churches, why can't we??? I've looked up the legal process of declaring yourself a religious institution, its actually pretty easy. All you need is a constituency (roughly five or more people), a text (holy), a system of ritual (worship, as you choose to conceive it), and a place of gathering; the state is not legally permitted to judge the content of any of these things, only the structure. It is essentially a genre distinction, and once you're in, you're in. We could invent a pilgrimage, hand out visas to anyone who wanted one.

What do you think? Live streaming nuns, with pockets full of passports. Fourteen-year-old girls, listening to roses, monosyllabic. House parties every Sunday that only play 90s house music, reverent river swims. A love interest, across the room, as a kind of prayer.

I miss you.
Sending love, stacks and stacks,
Buckets and buckets,

Charlie Fox
London, November 2018

Ranbir Sidhu
Chania, Crete, October 2018

Dear J-,

Things to be thankful for: the tourists are leaving. I've never wanted to be a tourist, and the more I meet, the less I even want to travel. Do people learn anything anymore when they go abroad, or is everything just an excuse to brag-dream on Instagram? I have learned one thing, about myself. I never realized how prejudiced I was until I had my back to a tableful of drunk Swedes celebrating their own good fortune at being drunk and Swedish with enough money for a charter flight to a cheap Greek island. That's Sweden off the list.

But let's face it, there are too many people, and now that Greece is once again being rediscovered, they all want to come here. I think that about myself, one of the too many, a surplus human. I'm not much for suicide anymore, but most days I still play with the idea. A gun, a noose, the sea. This summer, two acquaintances here killed themselves. One by a noose, the other by the sea, at the beach at K-. The latter was an artist, the former a hotel manager who lost his job, both were my age. My old landlord also drowned himself at the beach at K-. He too was an artist, but considerably older. Life just got to him, one of his friends told me. His wife gave me his hat, a battered gray leather hat. I keep it on a shelf and it stares down at me as I eat dinner. Sometimes I try it on and walk around the house. D- thinks it looks good on me. She thinks everything looks good on me. We should all be in love with someone who thinks everything looks good on us. It makes choosing clothes easier. Besides, in this halfway house of a town, it's okay to wear an ensemble of sandals, white knee socks, turned up Wranglers and a ratty Iron Maiden t-shirt hugging a half-moon beer belly. If I stay here, I'll end up like that. One life is as good as any other.

Did I tell you I solved the problem of suicide? Rather than killing myself, I'll kill "me." Change my name, change my identity. I already have a new one ready to go: Robi Gill. He's a bit of a go-getter is Robi Gill, he wakes early, goes to the gym or for a swim, he plays guitar, not banjo, he writes books people actually want to buy, good books, not airport potboilers, and while not exactly a bon vivant, he knows how to throw a party. I used to know how to throw a party. I remember one you were at. You got into an argument with K- about Roman Polanski. You almost came to blows, and in the end I think you stormed out, but maybe that was K-. Like I said, I used to know how to throw a party.

Remember that drunk British painter I told you about. He called as I was writing this. He's fled for the mountains, but refuses to tell me where. "It must remain an undisclosed location," he told me. He has that old British public school way of talking, and I can never tell if he's condescending or secretly laughing at me. There was "something evil in the air this summer," he said, that's why he's run away to the hills. He broke his foot in the spring, and discovered that not everyone was going to jump and help him for free, so he's become disillusioned with the locals. Before they were happy-go-lucky, drinking, dancing, the usual story, now they're backstabbers, ingrates, two-faced, etc. He was hunting down a friend of mine, a filmmaker from New Zealand who's making a movie about the Battle of Crete. "If you see him," he said to me, "tell him the Cretans are all cowards, tell him I bet not one of them died in that battle. They've been lying for decades about their courage. Tell him that's what he's got to make his movie about, the dirty, lying Cretans. Someone needs to tell the truth." He kept talking, as he always does, so I lied and said I had a deadline and had to go. I doubt the Cretans are all cowards, but if they are, that's their business, not mine.

With love, R
Hermione Hoby
New York, October 2018

Dear E,

Last week, late on a Tuesday, I was waiting for the G train to take me home and this actuality - by which I mean: staring down a dark tunnel peering for the lights of the approaching train - struck me like some groaning sophomore metaphor. Disconsolation came in round my edges, like soft paper dipped in ink, and I missed you.

I get a text from M, who spells his name with a "y". He once accidentally sneezed on the other M, who'd recoiled in such an egregious way that it was more of a faux pas than having sneezed on someone in the first place. M with a y is drunk and life is hard, he says. His girlfriend is sad and far away and he can't bear hearing her crying when he can't do anything. And I try to explain that being a loving voice on the phone while your girlfriend cries is doing something, and I don't even mind that I've explained this same thing to so many straight men over the years, men who want to jump up and fix the thing, instead of listening to the thing that can't be fixed.

I'm thinking, as I text M on the G train, and again as I write this to you, E, of how I'd taught a workshop class that day, and it had been two startlingly good stories of female sexuality, the difficult complicity with male desire and how, afterwards, one of the other women had lingered behind. She'd lingered, so I'd smiled. "All of the women in class are so angry," she said meekly. And I responded, with that friendly-despairing-coping tone that mocks its own glibness, that tone that comes to all of us living in these times: "Aren't you angry?" She covered her face quickly with her hands, the gesture of a child, and for a second I thought she was laughing or performing shame, until I realized she was crying. Through shoulder shaking sobs, she said, "I thought I'd be the angriest in the room..." I told her to come sit and I got tissues and she wept in waves and told me she was going through a court case with a man who'd assaulted her. The other students' stories were hitting her in a raw place, she said. She kept talking and crying and eventually I asked whether she had something really good to read, as in, whether she could arm herself with rock solid companionship right now, and she looked up and answered with sudden conviction in her voice: Toni Morrison and Margaret Atwood, she said. "I need truth tellers," she said.

When she left I was alone in the empty office with its lights on and in that moment what just happened seemed like something I very much wanted to tell someone about. And I thought huh, here's a thing about being single - you no longer have that daily repository of the person to whom you tell and are expected to tell these small things that hurt. You, E, wisest interpreter, have often been that person, but you and I are and our friendship-marriage are in one of these hiatuses that we go through every seven years or so.

So much happened this past summer, didn't it. We ripped our skins off or had them ripped from us, grew new ones, ripped those off too. Sometimes it was the wildest trip to be roaming the world unskinned and raw, feeling it all, and other times we just wanted our stinky old skins back, to crawl into and tug around ourselves and huddle in. With all this skinning going on were too much for each other. A few days from now I'll text you a picture of the small ceramic bird I bought in Maine, and you'll text back a picture of the small ceramic rabbit you bought at the same place at the same time - we bought them together, a pair, and this is our love language: my bird, your bunny, communing for us when actual human words are difficult. And in a few weeks' time we'll have found our way back to each other, and it will be better, or at least different, which is the same thing.

Now though, I'm on the G train and M with a y is apologizing for being, "all drunk and emosh up in your texts." I'm not drunk; I'm rarely drunk, I haven't been drunk since I was 27, but I am emosh because I'm always emosh, so I tell him about the angry woman and her sudden tears after workshop, my shock and shame for not being more attuned to my students while this blood-boiling farce takes place on our screens, the man bawling and lying and yelling about beer on national TV. And then, finally, I tell M what I just told you E, that feeling of to whom do you tell these things. These decisions of intimacy. And he says damn. He texts it twice: "Damn. Damn." And then he says "sending love to her, but more to you."

A few nights ago I did a reading from the new thing in the East Village and there was this in-love feeling in the room like honey. Maybe something about a sunny Sunday evening on the last day of September, everyone infused with the harvest moon. I moved to New York with J eight years ago this month and the weather was just like it was that day. When I stood up to read I said, "hi, friends and strangers" and now I cringe at the line, what a corny salutation, but in the moment I was pure love so there could be no cringing. Everyone there was honest and beautiful, as though I was on the best MDMA in the world. This, I think, is the feeling other people often have for children, that abstract human love, but I strongly dislike children in the abstract and usually in the actual, too. Monica and R were there and he asked a question about teaching, whether my students had informed the novel's young character. Which is why, the next day, I thought of his band. I'd taught four stories about consent that day and I'd told the students that if it became too much, if anyone needed to leave the room at any point, they should feel free. No one did of course. They were bemused by this little speech of mine, like I was the snowflake. They were fine, ready to casually extol Mary Gaitskill and disparage "Cat Person" and I left the class feeling old and wondering if any of them have been in love yet.

Before all this, I'd been listening to a lot of funk and soul. I needed music that sounded like the tilt of Angela Davis' chin because I was walking down streets feeling I might actually take off with elation. But that day, a bit sick, very tired, leaving that class in which I was the snowflake, I just needed music to huddle to, an old skin to be in. So I get on the 1 train downtown and I open Spotify and I type the name of R's band and the first thing that comes up is a new release, 2018. I press play, ready to hear something new, but then I'm ambushed. Because it's not new, it's old. It's a reissue. A B-side from a decade ago, and it's a song he used to play to me and I'm capsized. He loved that song, it was his love song to me. And when R had asked that question the night before, I'd thought, in a revoltingly self-congratulatory way, about how you can be watching a band at the Shepherd's Bush Empire with your first love, and then, ten years later it's another city and another life, past loves, and the singer of that band you admired is your friend's boyfriend and he's asking you a question about your book and here you are. Except on the 1 train with this song in my ears I'm no longer 'here', I'm ten years ago, listening to these words, "Everyone stares when you walk in the room/ They stare when you go/ You've got so much control/ How could anyone say no?/ They rarely do, that's why you're you" and I can see his 22-year-old face with no heartbreak written anywhere, because we're still five years away from me breaking his heart. And for all this summer and decade of change there's this small, unfading thing, a permanent bruise. The person changes around the bruise, but the bruise doesn't, it's always the same, and, like all good consolation, it hurts. I sit on the 1 train so fine with tears falling down my face, allowing them, because for a moment I have no control and, because this is New York, no one stares when I go.


Tausif Noor
Philadelphia, 2018

Dear -

The chipped nailpolish on your right toe. Your stack of bracelets. The hummus platter at the pub. Giovanni's Room. Wouldn't want to be greener or faster than now if you were with me . The house on Catherine Street. I liked walking alone across the bridge in the morning past the children's hospital, through the campus, all the early morning joggers. I still don't drink coffee in the morning, but I want to start. Smoking outside the apartment in Petworth. I felt like I got better at choosing wine, even though we always had too much of it. When we go to the airport, you tell me not to be sad when you leave. I want to learn about whiskey, even though I hate it. Want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees. The way you looked then, in someone else's sheets.

The thing is that I looked up what objective correlative meant, just to be sure, before I started writing to you. Every distance feels insurmountable, though I can imagine myself there with you, standing somewhere unfamiliar in the midwestern wind. Or maybe we're where it's warmer, and the water is blue and there's Europop faintly in the background. You'll be there and here I am, biting my cheek, scanning my memory for the right words to fit the moment.



Carissa Rodriguez
Berlin, December 2004

Dear x,

I was out on a perfect stroll and wandered into Brecht's house. It was his first and last home after returning from exile, always opened to friends, buzzing with activity. In his little bedroom was a cherished wall hanging - a Chinese scroll rolled up and hidden in a bamboo case. Whenever he and his wife Helli, his close collaborator, would come up against a question in their work, they would pull on the scroll's string and unravel the ink rendering of an old Chinese sage sitting rather sadly. To this image Brecht composed a poem and transcribed it by hand on the back of the scroll. I couldn't read it while there but I read it later in the brochure while riding the tram at night. It was a jolt of pure joy and I thought of you.

The Doubter

Whenever we seemed To have found the answer to a question One of us untied the string of the old rolled-up Chinese scroll on the wall, so that it fell down and Revealed to us the man on the bench who Doubted so much.

I, he said to us Am the doubter. I am doubtful whether The work was well done that devoured your days. Whether what you said would still have value for anyone if it were less well said. Whether you said it well but perhaps Were not convinced of the truth of what you said. Whether it is not ambiguous; each possible misunderstanding Is your responsibility. Or it can be unambiguous And take the contradictions out of things; is it too unambiguous? If so, what you say is useless. Your thing has no life in it. Are you truly in the stream of happening? Do you accept All that develops? Are you developing? Who are you? To whom Do you speak? Who finds what you say useful? And, by the way: Is it sobering? Can it be read in the morning? Is it also linked to what is already there? Are the sentences that were Spoken before you made use of, or at least refuted? Is everything verifiable? By experience? By which one? But above all Always above all else: how does one act If one believes what you say? Above all: how does one act?

Reflectively, curiously, we studied the doubting Blue man on the scroll, looked at each other and Made a fresh start.

xo C

Diana Hamilton
New York, 2018

"Shit does not only communicate love," I told you in my last column.

I write now to correct this mistake.

Dear Shit Advice Columnist:

I write to you about someone else's shit-not because I am so confident in my ability to interpret my own, but because mine have not been so interesting lately.
And, in fact, I'm nightly plagued by others', so my deferral to some other is, in a rare example of this sort of letter, a more honest approach. Proof: I keep "waking up" in my office's bathroom, grateful for only needing to pee, only to find that every toilet has some else's shit in it, someone else's shame. I should leave, but wait too long, by which I mean that I stay long enough to realize that anyone who enters after me will assume at least one of these shits belongs to me. So I do the only reasonable thing: I flush each toilet in as rapid succession as possible, hoping to leave the bathroom with no evidence of the possibility of any of these others' shits seeming to be my own. Instead of refilling with water, though, each toilet refills with an even more impressive pile of shit, and worse still, they refill with these shits continuously.
There: I've grounded my claim that it's reasonable to write regarding someone else's bowels, since those other bowels so often threaten to become my own. But let me be equally clear that I still write on my own behalf: I'm worried, and the shit that truly prompted my writing was shat by one loved enough by me that the shit could considered, by messy extension, my own:
My boyfriend is convinced his shits are meaningless.
Just like his refusal to mop, he thinks his bowel movements reveal nothing about his love for me. At most, he'll concede that they register his food intake. If we've been tense recently, and he then spends the evening noticeably struggling in the bathroom-an easy way to communicate that we can't fuck-he only requests we make a simple salad since his "tummy's been a bit off." He believes there's nothing to talk about. I've put up with this as long as I can. I've come upon the last shit-straw, though, in a form I can only imagine was so watery that "straw" would be offering it too-generous solidity.
You see: my boyfriend's been sleeping with another woman.
This isn't the problem; it's fine; we agreed to it; whatever: that's not exactly your purview.
But now he's shitting with another woman, and there I draw the fucking line. I'm enclosing an email he wrote me this morning:

"Dear Woman,
"I wanted to write to you as soon as I got home, both to make you feel reassured that I was thinking of you, and to experience the pleasure of typing before my hands have been cleaned of the vaginal excretions of my other lover. You will understand. I hope you had a good night in, and that our landlord resolved that issue with the electricity.
"I had a pretty good night myself, but a rather embarrassing thing happened: I became very sick to my stomach. Luckily, it was after we had already gone to bed, so it didn't prevent my having a fabulous time (I wish you were here to smell my hands, truly), but I awoke with that fever-craze you get when you're sick, so much so that I didn't even realize I was sick. You remember how you felt when you woke up to the stomach flu that made you shit constantly for 48 hours last year; it was like that: I woke up thinking of death or, more precisely, terrified of death, imagining my various decapitations and incurable cancers and accidental consumptions of too much Tylenol.
"At first, I was worried this must be a sign I was feeling guilty about sleeping with someone else, or that something emotional was wrong with me. Ha. You can imagine, then, that I was almost relieved to discover I had simply gotten food poisoning from the fondue Alice and I shared earlier that night! But it was an unfortunately noisy stomach bug, so there was that, too.
"Anyway, I went back to bed and slept in late, so that's why the time-stamp is later than when I suggested I'd be home! I love you, and will get off thinking of you now that I'm feeling a bit better. But I'm glad it was just food poisoning, and not the more sudden onset of fear of death!

I leave the matter in your capable hands.


Dear Woman,

Better in my hands than in his unwashed ones, I suppose, although I'm not sure you'll like what my hands have to say:

Walk away.

A man who can acknowledge his shit's meaningful in the same breath he insists it's only food poisoning is unpersuadable. He's already considered all counterclaims before firmly defending his unfaithful diarrhea. As you clearly know, it is in the bathroom, rather than in dialogue, that he'll work this out. Worse still, his story is at least partially made up; he clearly only sent it as an excuse for staying at her place through the morning, by which time, as he suggests, he was already "feeling better"-he's lying to you about love, one way or another, and his runny shit will tell on him.

Now that we've gotten that out of the way, let's return to your own absent shit: to get over this man, and to get over your recurring dreams, you need to start shitting in public bathrooms. If your dream didn't already make it clear you're unable to shit at work, all of your focus on interpreting others' shit would give it away.

Speaking from experience, truly,
Your Shit Advice Columnist

Marfa, Texas, October 2018

Dear Eileen, your orange window is a portal, not a beacon. Last night I went to sleep thinking how much I liked that round orange window as a beacon. I just woke thinking NO, not a beacon, but a PORTAL, it is an entrance (and hopefully an exit) for this intensely generative and gratifying Marfa writing dimension.

I am going to take Honey out to watch the sunrise at Judd's sculpture in the desert. How is YOUR sleep here? I only get 4 and a half hours but never need more when in Marfa. Somebody told me once that they think it is the lithium in the water, and that sounded interesting, but I am still not convinced of the long theory they gave me by the Food Shark truck. Is Food Shark even here anymore?

Carrie is GREAT, I am very excited about her Taco Tuesday later today at the Lost Horse!

Whatever the reason I do not need sleep here is, is fine with me as I prefer being wide awake. Someone in Denmark last month told me there is a Louise Nevelson piece in Judd's collection. I do not think this is true any more than I believe lithium in the water is what keeps me awake. Seems to be mostly men's art in Judd's collection, like the white man's art oasis or something. But I was told this when looking at the Nevelson sculpture in the Danish museum, and it was the first time I saw one of her pieces outside the states.

Smaller than some I have seen, but no less captivating; small black boxes set inside a large black box with a multitude of landscape and atmospheric information inside each of the smaller inlaid frames. She reminds me of an Audre Lorde quote, "There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives."

Nevelson holds such political space like this, at least for me. I am going to apply for a grant to visit all of her sculptures in the United States. There has to be such a grant. And this is NOT to write ekphrastic poems, which I do not like AT ALL, but instead TO GO TO HER WORK LIKE A MEDIEVAL PILGRIM in a woolen cloak with my venison pie. No, the cloak sounds too itchy, and the venison pie must be vegan. In writing my vegan cookbook I am trying to find the CURE for vegan venison pie. It is impossible, that flavor without killing a deer, which I will never do again in this lifetime.

That reminds me, did I tell you about the dog ritual? I just gave a talk at Sandberg in Amsterdam and I wanted it to be something new I was doing instead of talking in general about (Soma)tic poetry rituals. This one is about a beloved pet who passed away. I chose my hunting dog Whisper. She was my best friend in 1975, FAR MORE interesting than the stupid kids I grew up with in their Ku Klux Klan households. When I got my first hunting rifle at 9 she and I would go through the woods and meadows together looking for small game, mostly squirrels. I would shoot the squirrel and Whisper would bring him back, eagerly hovering, waiting for me to toss her his heart while I cleaned his body in the stream.

After she would eat a squirrel heart she would run these large spiraling circles around me, the leaves under her feet the only sound widening with her speed. Was Whisper taking the vital energy of that little animal and flying with it? It makes sense now, but as a kid, I just thought squirrel hearts made her happy.

Then I would spread his little squirrel body out and tie him onto sticks, a little too much like a crucifix, and cook him over a small fire. Whisper was my Lord of the Flies companion. In Amsterdam, I accidentally said Lord of the Rings, which got an unexpected laugh. Unexpected in that way of realizing HEY THESE PEOPLE REALLY ARE LISTENING.

It made me so happy to talk in a room of strangers about my dear friend Whisper. As a vegan these past thirty plus years it feels important to discuss the animals I ate. So many animals are eaten with total disregard for the lives they lived. I am not saying I was any better, just trying to catch up now with a little reverie for death.

For the ritual, I made a silhouette drawing of Whisper after inducing a time travel trance. This drawing was then glued to a kite I made with string, paper, glue, and young saplings. At first, I considered dead branches, but they are incapable of holding up to the wind. That delicious smelling green wood aroma covered in linen paper and Whisper's silhouette glued to the front, the part facing the sun and sky.

On the other side, the side that TAKES the wind, I put a secret note, mostly words she knew for running through the woods with me and some of our hunting calls. Then I slept with the drawing under my pillow. I am still working on the poem from that ritual and am excited how it is shaping itself day by day.

Are you reading today or tomorrow in Philadelphia? Frank Sherlock is looking forward to it, and I wish I could be there. Are you going to be reading from EVOLUTION? Do you ever read that poem "Harp" from the new collection? I LOVE THAT FUCKING POEM SO MUCH, the whole idea of SLATHERING YOURSELF in a day where you had celebrated your freedom, all lit up with pink lights (were they twinkling pink lights? I keep seeing twinkling pink lights when I read it), the slathering the baptism to owning your own space is so inspiring and everyone breaking up with someone should tape it to every door of their home until the exorcism is complete!! It is a magic spell!! EVOLUTION is a book of spells!! Really wish I could hear your reading, especially after rapist Kavanaugh's appointment. The Christine Blasey Ford witch hunt 27 years after Anita Hill. THAT pig Senator Howell Heflin huffing and puffing while interrogating Anita Hill, asking her if she was a scorned woman! Wow, asking her in front of millions of people if her reactions to the sexual harassment forced upon her was due to her being a scorned woman, WHAT THE FUCK and Clarence Thomas STILL got appointed. According to Vandana Shiva (have you ever read her genius book SOIL NOT OIL?) the real reason for getting Clarence Thomas on the Supreme Court was because he had been the head lawyer for Monsanto.

Not Anita Hill or anyone was going to keep Monsanto from getting their big shot lawyer in there to write the legal language for patenting life. Vandana Shiva also says that 200,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997 because of the failed GMO seeds.

How is the United States EVER going to cease the chaos and murder we spread and instead BEGIN TO repair this damaged, polluted planet?

I hear Honey waiting for our sunrise walk. With Love from magical Marfa, C
Amy Lien
Berlin, 2018

Dear Shiu-yun,

When I heard that you died, I sat down and tried to think about you. That's when I realized that I did not know you very well. You were my NaiNai, and from the beginning of my life, you were an inseparable and unquestioned part of the landscape. You were the atmosphere, a regularized flow of nourishment and gentle discipline. When I was younger, I didn't think about you as a person because I took your nurturing for granted. As I grew older, you started to become more childlike, and we reversed roles. There is a chasm between us which words can't cross. We always met in a kind of quiet, mushy space, between the bedclothes and the kitchen, where I tucked my noisy half out of site, and we generated warmth between us. Nothing else really happened.

Where is Jianyang? I didn't even bother to look it up on the map when I was little. Chinese was the language my parents used to scream at each other. It was the culture that further isolated my upbringing in the suburbs of Tucson, Arizona.

When I was little you taught me how to paint. Tony and I learned guo-hua from you, but it was not like the kind we learned later in Chinese school, where each lesson consists of bamboo, a bird, or some other standard repertoire with the sequential order of strokes. We painted from colorful photographs of animals that we found in a children's wildlife magazine. One night we chose an Amazonian tree frog, followed the next night by an Alaskan Grizzly bear catching a wild salmon in its mouth. You would translate the image into the vocabulary of guo-hua and patiently teach it to us. Learning from this act of translation formed the foundation of aesthetic thinking for me. Even now when I look at these paintings I find them fabulous. But the paint would bleed so easily on the rice paper. A little mouse eye would suddenly bloom into a giant black bruise, and I would cry out of frustration. You would just laugh at me without pity.

After your funeral our family gathered at a cowboy steakhouse to celebrate your life. I left the "kids table" and sat down with my aunt and uncles with an almost manic determination to find out who you were. What happened in your childhood? Why did you and your sister move to Taiwan, leaving your father and little brother behind? What happened to them in China? What did you know about it? Out of my uncles tumbled a bunch of chaotic and confusing stories, often violent and heavy with misery.

Bandits kidnapped her father...pawned the emerald her mother gave her when she died in order to save his life...mother in law tortured by putting a bag over her head and setting it on fire...they knew about secret guns stashed in a pond by the KMT...removed the sister's feet bindings at age three so not too deformed...first daughter died of dysentery...wrestled your baby dad from a ghost who tried to steal him away...father drowned himself in the river so not to get ostracized by village and had to marry an illiterate witch doctor...left her baby daughter with a sugarcane vendor because she had to rush to school to teach...the witch doctor aunty couldn't adjust to the city...bad luck and drowned in the river...

When I returned to my table, my cousins asked me, "How was your survey? Did you find out where the secret treasure was buried?" My head was spinning that night, and many nights later. I had wanted to attempt to enter your head. But no interiority had been passed down, only ruptures. These stories were so incommensurable with the rest of our lives. They had been rendered, however choppily, into some kind of horror genre.

Now at least I have some understanding of why you might have fenced the pain and volatility of your past out of the sanctum of your happy family empire. You were as much a formidable matriarch as you were a cute little granny. At your core was a steely capacity to control the lives of those around you, to steer your brood along an unwavering course of stability and prosperity, from out of the scars and scraps that were given to you.

The last time we spent time together, you were grumpy and tired. I tried to make you smile. While you were napping, I made a basket out of vines to show to you. You patted it with a look of wonder.

"Amy made a basket!" you said. "When I was little the mountain girls would make baskets like this one."

A few minutes later, you said, "Amy made a basket! When I was little the mountain girls would make baskets like this one."

A few minutes later, "Amy made a basket! When I was little the mountain girls would make baskets like this one."

And again, "Amy made a basket! When I was little the mountain girls would make baskets like this one."

I keep thinking about your dementia-induced loop; that cycling movement between the fresh basket, your gaze of recognition, and your memory of watching the peasant girls of Jianyang bounding down the mountain paths on hoof-like bound feet, carrying baskets just like mine. I wonder how close I have or will come to those feelings that you felt then. I like to imagine this moment as a stuttering ghost you left with me, encouraged to haunt my future.

I miss you. I hope you rest well.


Sable Elyse Smith
New York, 2018

Dear blue,

I've been trying to find the inside of you for so long. Trying to climb in and push against the lushness. Trying to place my side right up near the crack of you. Let you vibrate bone marrow-ask you why you're so fucking slick. Like, I slide in and out of you without knowing sometimes; or knowing, before that thing we think is knowing: registers.

Because it is a register, like a dog whistle. A language before language that's just the body and movement and sound and all the ways the body becomes damp in this friction. A puddle giving to something else, a puddle risking something, and I've found lately that you don't risk anything anymore. And how fucking devastating it is for you to know-for you to sit in the register of knowing-to see the shell clamping down around you wishing you could take a voice swells a room size thicket around us. Wishing someone would just come lift the pressure for one moment. Wishing you could see yourself again, blue and vibrant. Have you thought about how it feels to be swallowed? Hot mouth trying to contain everything. And fucking failing... spilling all its contents, sloppily, in a fumble. Blues, have you worked your way up to yourself?

As a child, nose filled with the sting of curling and flat iron heat, I'd walk into a tiny room and sit at a stool across from one man with a guitar. The door would shut and I'd demand that he shares with me a music that is in my body. A music after scales and instruction and beginner songs, a music after skill, a music after learning and thinking and processing, a music outside of process. A risk. I ask him will he risk it with me. Can we struggle toward this note together...Can you be my guide. Is this my only mode of possession. There is a music to steel sliding across concrete. There is a music to the drip of perspiration, can you teach me to hold it. So that when I lay down at night alone I have a new opening in the world. I rely on you, the moan across a field, to take me somewhere.


Anna Khachiyan

This following is an excerpt of a text-slash-DM exchange between Anna, a hostess-turned-podcaster living in New York, and "Daddy," a self-described "pleb artist" in town from Berlin. The exchange begins shortly after Anna and Daddy meet for the first time at 169 Bar in Dimes Square and embark on a journey of abjection, debauchery and neoliberal critique. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Saturday, January 13

Ugh, nothing like waking up digging through the pockets looking for a single for The Post and they're all crumpled up or rolled into tubes

Who reads newspapers in 2018 lol

Post is great. Never really considered it a newspaper tho More like train ride entertainment plus funny signifier to have peeking out of coat pocket

I've fallen and I can't get out of bed DADDY:
Two parental lineages of genocidal trauma... I'm back in bed thinking about dying + your mouth

I can't really think rn except as to exactly how I want you to take me first

I could just make out for hours, you're the first one for me who makes making out seem like a tragedy of generational historical proportions, and even four years of analysis at three days a week ultimately can't keep me from finding that highly arousing

Saturday, January 19

ANNA:The problem with all these overgrown manboy skate wiggers is not so much that they have an age-inappropriate aesthetic or lack discipline, but that they habitually, as a matter of course, default on their duties

Anyway, to be bound by duty is basically démodé now, in our age of vacant, ironic nihilism and craven, unseemly individualism, but (1) it's the only way to live ethically, more or less and (2) it's the only way to be truly radical anymore.

You have a point with the immigration trauma -- it binds me to so many things, psychologically and geographically, that are at total odds with my social experience here in New York, or the experience of friends who come here as glorified art tourists and have no relation to this place outside of a professional one. In our time, it does indeed seem bizarre to many to be a man whose obligations are not entirely dictated by selfish desires and career. But it touches me deeply that we understand each other on this point as it is one that is the source of many anxieties and internal conflicts for me. I am old school, and have an ingrained welfare mentality -- from those days when our furniture came from the dump, and my dad worked that gaming job. Meaning that in my formative years, speaking from a Freudian perspective, the only thing to hold your head high about was how you treated those around you... plus that communal obligation -- don't know if you experienced it yourself -- but that inter-community friendship and support among us Russians was where it was at.

The way to be radically at peace with yourself, in my mind, is to resurrect those old school communitarian values that are spit upon by the whole neoliberal consensus but for which everyone desperately yearns, while obviously discarding the obsolete, oppressive remnants of the old way.

But this, of course, this is much easier said than done.

Wednesday, January 24

Riga is beautiful. If you want, we can go to the Jewish cemetery there

Wow, I am so aroused

I would genuinely want to pull down your panties and slide into you from behind in a Jewish cemetery in Riga. It would be triumphant and life-affirming

Friday, February 16

You know, It finally dawned on me why I hate my boss. She abides by etiquette but has no manners. Which is to say, she panders to even the most repugnant of customers because her livelihood depends on it, but she's routinely rude and dismissive to the staff because it makes her feel powerful and in control.

That's where the matter of our shared heritage bugs me. As an immigrant, you should've been raised to understand the following fact: real power is extending the same courtesies to everyone regardless of their stature unless they show you otherwise. In other words, it's saying yes when you can say no, not saying no when you can say yes.

I would agree except to say that I think this is the difference between a benevolent relationship to power and a narcissistic one. Your boss is weak and acts like a petit bourgeois, haranguing those below her because she is above them by such a narrow margin that her power rests on constantly asserting it.

Benevolence implies a certain standing created through true class distinction -- it means you are not embroiled in the petty differences between yourself and your neighbor or your colleague or your friend, as you are floating in those lofty heights above them.

Friday, March 9

I was at Clando ln, thought of you

While I was taking a leak in the bathroom where we did the nose beers

Oh man I wish I could teleport back to that time

Start making out right then and there

Although you puking before you blew me was a really nice touch

Friday, April 20

I mean, are the Balenciaga people smart?

I was asking myself this question earlier

See, I'm not sure. I also don't think that whole paradigm is particularly long-lasting

I don't know what smart is but I think it's different from being able to trend forecast or get ahead of the curve in terms of playing the weak spots off of existing models

Which is essentially what Balenciaga does, at least to some extent -- cause as far as I can tell with my limited fashion ed, the clothes themselves are not revolutionary

But the way they throw into stark relief what's wack in existing models is interesting

What they are doing is not so much telling you what to want but how to want

So, in that sense, it's "revolutionary"

But in a material sense -- and my weakness is that I mainly understand the world in material rather than conceptual terms -- they are merely the middleman that has inserted himself into an existing transaction to collect a rent, which I guess is peak neoliberalism, so in that sense, there is nothing revolutionary about them

And they basically lay bare the abstractions of finance and administration -- pardon the media theory-speak -- for the consumer in this flattering but also sadistic way

Previously, the sadism was (mostly gay) designers humiliating the female form

Today, the sadism is (mostly gay) designers humiliating the feminine or effeminate psyche of both genders

That's what I mean, it's like one of those brilliant, insightful, lucky -- whatever you want to call it -- moments when one catches the glitch in the system and lays it bare, full of contradictions and all... but that just so quickly slides into bad parody or trolling if one is not careful...

Maybe by that I just mean it's not weird enough

I look at these people and think they get it -- they share the same disgust and contempt for human folly

But then I think nah, you are probably giving them too much credit

Wednesday, April 18

First thing's first, as promised, the porn

Naomi Russell, nice Jewish girl from a rabbinical family, great ass, sucks dick and takes it up the ass like a real champ, my new fav

I realize not only have I seen that particular porn you sent but I am also very familiar with her work

Right up my alley bb

Thursday, April 19

I'm in a real getaway mood, want to get my knob slobbed and drink on the beach

Want to go to Majorca?

This text exchange makes me think of that scene when Tony Soprano is driving around and he hears this song on WCBS FM, the oldies station... Oh Girl by the Chi-Lites... And then he gets all nostalgic for his Russian girlfriend and goes over to see her and she's fucking that loser congressman or senator or whatever and he beats him with a belt

I love that scene!

Lol I am in the mood to beat someone with a belt right now

Sunday, May 6

The art was wack.

And everyone was like, you know, a Eurostyle clubland sex pervert in tiny glasses or one of these identity politics trauma cases

Naturally, I hate myself for the feelings of ire they elicit in me

I hear you three hundred percent, I always have the same reaction and then the same counter-reaction -- to hate myself for reacting in the first place and for being weak

But I think the key is to not take it seriously

Most of these people cycle through the art world like trends and in five years they are gone and replaced by a younger crop. And the ones who stick around really stick around and are then kind of interesting by default.

Saturday, May 5

I miss you a lot today. I think I have too much work to do and also I'm a bit of an irresponsible and immature prick when it comes to handling it so I'm just tired and kind of fucked up, plus all the emotional stuff, which I am not good at discussing.

You are my person.

Your holes belong to me.

I never miss you more than when I'm hanging out with other people, especially art people, or as it were, people we now have in common

I hate their shamelessness and wish we could eviscerate them together

'Tis true. Nothing would make me happier and filled with more cheer than taking the piss and then having a good violent fuck

Taking the piss, then taking my ass

Fill your ass with cum and make you lick it up Naomi-style

I should've said, when this loser asked how I knew you, that I am Property of Daddy

And then be like "wink wink" lol

I narcissistically identify with her beautifully abject selflessness in worshipping the cock

It makes me violently aroused to imagine you calmly letting those words out of your mouth in the face of these wankers


You are my Naomi. But better.

Not infected with the bug lol

Everything Naomi does in the movies I want to do with you

That's the plan. You will be lapping up cum out of a glass bowl before you know it

Monday, May 7

I realize that on some fundamental level my severe immigrant trauma has made me infinitely attracted to mundane social spaces where the less fortunate congregate to consume


Elevating the mundane

This is my interest too -- neorealism

Moyra Davey
Mary Shelley to Thomas Jefferson Hogg
"Shelley and His Circle" collection at the New York Public Library

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