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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.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Diary of Idleness


I thought I should keep a diary. It would have to be the diary of a flaneuse -- I am indebted to Djuna Barnes both for the feminine form of flaneur and for this drawing of three harlequins -- of someone who has no significant worth in the world economy, who is a free agent in the broadest and most unsettling sense of the word (because when you find yourself up in the air, wings or no wings, the first and most pressing thought is that of falling), with no sense of responsibility except for herself, her own moral life. She has opted out of the usual roles of career woman, parent, upright citizen. In all the ways that matter to the outside world she is nobody.

Why shouldn't she/I take up this name -- Nobody with a capital N -- for her own, consciously and not without a tiny bit of the trickster spirit of Odysseus when he's battling the Cyclops? Why not laugh at myself? It's the easiest way to be honest, doing it tongue-in-cheek.

Here's the first entry for her/my diary of idleness: (My parents wonder. They say to me, in airy asides when we talk on the phone during the week: we didn't call you until noon because we weren't sure you were awake. Well, I was. I am.): the many faces of nothing.

Read: about chromosomes and genetic inheritance (biology textbook); about the end of the war as we (used to) know it, plagiarism (scandalous tidbit: sentences from Ian McEwan's novel Atonement were plagiarized from a woman's diaries), urban sprawl, the mathematician Euler (a rare embodiment of the genius as a kind, untortured, generous human being), Henry James' dependence on the sound of his typewriter in the creative process, and the fact that the word "ye" as in "Ye Old Donut Shoppe," is an old spelling of "the" (Wilson Quarterly); another fifty out of the fifteen hundred pages of Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy.

Watched television: Nigella Bites (or Feasts, forget which) with a silly grin on my face, mesmerized by her beauty, disappointed (but not disappointed that I was disappointed) by the food; and two episodes of Northern Exposure on DVD, which started me thinking about Nobody in the first place, about the protean quality of identity, and uncertainty, and the meaning of my everyday life.

Stared out of window. Thought. Meditated. Ran out to the grocery store for kale, squash, rose water, green onions, basil, yeast, mustard seeds.

Cooked dinner, which is a special pleasure especially when I get out a bunch of my cookbooks and scatter them, open and propped against one another, on half of all the available surfaces in the kitchen. While cutting basil into chiffonade for the pasta salad (whole wheat fusilli, sun-dried tomato pesto), I sliced off the tip of my left thumb. There it was, on the cutting board, a pinkish-gray flake of flesh, a bit of myself. That freaked me out more than the blood, of which there was plenty. Ate dinner. Couldn't resist finishing off the lemon cookies -- sweet and sour and salty and crisp -- that I had baked on Saturday morning.

Well, there it is. I've come clean, made my confession, given proof of my utter uselessness, my lack of ambition to make the world a better place for my passing through it. Is there anything wrong with that?

2 Comments:

Anonymous kameleon said...

you don't know how dependent i am on your writing. i was completely in panic when the rss-feed didn't show your blog for some days. i am a big fan of your thoughts/writing.

in a way many people are in the same situation as you - only they don't stop daily routine to ask questions. or if they do there are no easy answers.

what you do is very difficult and you feel the weight of it.

looking forward to your next blog.

April 17, 2007  
Blogger Green Whale said...

Thank you for posting such an encouraging comment. Knowing that my writing matters gives me great and much needed courage to go forward.

You are one of the very few people who recognize the difficulty of thinking deeply and writing honestly and well. I myself am not one of these few, at least not as often as I should be.

April 17, 2007  

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