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Location: California

I love paper. Books printed on acid-free paper and bound in cloth turn me on. I'm crazy about bookmarks, and I buy too many stickers. I could spend hours in the build-your-own-greeting card section of my neighborhood craft store. My favorite thing to eat is bread, and my second favorite is fruit. (Mm, pineapple.) I read too much and too fast, and I watch too many food shows (two ways of looking at gluttony). Gloomy, rainy weather calms me and so I can't wait to move out of California, which will happen, sadly, too many years from now to count. I'm vegan, though I haven't managed to eliminate honey from my diet yet. I practice yoga; it's the only way I can keep fit. I have a better life than I ever imagined I would (or deserve to) have, but I do my best to enjoy it rather than feel guilty about it. That's my daily struggle -- and also to be thoughtful and observant and honest with myself.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


For me, it isn't green, the color of leaves and of water, but deep orange, hot and all-enveloping like a fire. A sort of spontaneous combustion, that is how it comes to me, and it completely disorients me.

I might be reading a really good story a friend has shared with me, or looking at a beautiful mother holding a beautiful child in her arms, or catching a glimpse of an old couple kissing lightly on a park bench by the lake, all things that ordinarily give me a deep and innocent pleasure. And suddenly it strikes me: an intense sadness and nauseating dislike for these other people's talent and intelligence, happiness and affection for one another. I think about my own life and how miserable it seems to me to be and, instead of wondering, like I usually, and wrongly, do, why I can't be more like other people, I ask myself, equally wrongly, why can't other people be like me, stupid and hateful and struggling with failure and with doubt as I am.

What puzzles me the most is that I realized, after some soul searching, that when I'm in the grip of envy I don't want to have these other people's lives, no matter how wonderful they appear. I don't covet; I simply and vehemently and shamefacedly envy. That is to say, what I want is negative: for these other people not to have their own lives, for their talent and happiness to be taken away from them. The universe shifts and I'm in the middle of it and everything has to bear a relationship to me or else it's not worth existing. It's not a matter of my benefiting or suffering in a practical way from this happiness outside of myself. I simply don't want it to exist because I don't want it to exist. Because it's inconvenient to my own sense of myself.

After the fire has spent itself, and I know again who I am, I think: this is the answer. I often ask myself how people can allow themselves to commit acts of irrational and useless cruelty; where does the deep thirst for violence and chaos come from? I am the answer to it, my own capacity for hatred. It knocks the wind out of me to come face to face with it, not in theory, not in the comfortable space of rational thought, but on the battlefield, with swords drawn and mud squelching between bare toes. Nothing civilized about this encounter, and nothing really that can be resolved. I can't imagine any way to train myself not to feel this emotion, and I'm not sure that I want to be able not to feel it. I've become curious about it lately, and that seems to work. Work to accomplish what? I don't quite know. Except that it doesn't hurt and terrify me quite so much as the feeling of envy alone.


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