“I like the idea of writers not seeking to explain, but opening, revealing, uncovering, laying vulnerable.” (Shira Erlichman)

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august (over)


B says that the way we feel now, frustrated and narrow and impotent, is because summer is the time for expansion. We are ruminating, we are kicking at doors, we are imagining how things could be different, but fall is the time to put  newness in place. They say this while we are standing in the garden, which is wet because we have watered it, not because it has rained.


In the lobby of a Korean spa in New Jersey, I buy a tiny cup of coffee for 50 cents. The machine delivers it politely, no splattering, and it tastes exactly how I want all coffee to taste: sweet, and light but assuredly caffeinated. We walk up the hill from the spa to catch the bus back to the city, and it arrives before we do, so we run to catch it. The coffee swishes out of the cup, and I throw the whole thing into the street before I reach the bus. On the way home, I think about how being in the saunas was the opposite of what I expected – restorative instead of maddening, how for a little while I wasn’t sure if what was coming from my eyes was sweat or tears, and it was okay not being able to tell the difference.


My grandmother said I was screaming before I was even born, that you could hear me from inside the birth canal. I don’t know if this is an insult, a fact, or both.  


In Jerusalem, many years ago, I lost a USB drive with a large document on it, along with several pens. I  rode a bike down a mountain. I went with a girl to urgent care, Terem, it’s called, after she spent the whole night throwing up and hoping it would pass. They rehydrated her  intravenously.  I waited with her, I asked her questions about her family, and what she liked to read. She didn’t need me there. She already had what she needed. Fluids.


I grew up in a loud house, where when I thought I heard yelling, I was usually right. We had a television in every room, but the sounds of slamming doors and breaking dishes always came from a person who was real, breathing, occupying space.


H owns a house in a small town upstate, with wooden beams and long hallways and a kitchen full of lemons and light. She did her time, she said, in New York City, and now she’s here, making this house over into another version of itself.


I live in a noisy city now. I’ve chosen it, again and again, over places others might consider easier and kinder.  The noise is part of the city’s appeal. Here, when there is noise, I know it’s coming from the street, from cars, from humans who aren’t looking for me.


In August, I drink water from mason jars packed with ice and slices of cucumber and lime. Good for metabolism, I hear, but also, it’s the only way I’ll drink enough water.  I wear shorts I cut from jeans, covered in splotches of white paint from when we changed the colors of the kitchen cabinets from dark to light, opening the whole room. I water the garden. I think about summers in my loud house, when I’d sit behind my grandmother’s enormous tapestry rocking chair all day, writing stories in spiral notebooks, dripping sweat and waiting out the heat.


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edited taco

There are two parts of me writing this book: the one who spends an hour trying to make a paragraph, and the one who writes text messages for imaginary people, and the whole trick is knowing that I need both.


the give up kid


In Brooklyn, our hair is piled on our heads in sweaty knots, and all our clothes used to be other clothes – jeans, corduroy pants, long sleeved shirts. They have ragged edges and threads that remind us of who they once were. We paint the kitchen cabinets white, then spend the next three days picking paint off our skin. We sweep the floor, we drag tables and chairs around the backyard, we hang lights on the trees. We sweat, and we shower, and we sweat again. We drink iced tea and water with lemons and cucumbers and let our coffee get cold.

We open the document. We close it. We retreat. We wonder if there could be a life without this, if we really need it, if things would be easier if we thanked it for its time and walked away. We contemplate painting the door. We change the cats’ water. We open the document. We do laundry. We consider making soup.

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