So it's December.
When I ask myself, "What stands out from 2013?" I honestly have no answer.
It's like I don't remember the year.
I suppose I can tell myself that it's only December and anything could happen. And several months from now I may have some perspective that will tell me: Ah, yes, that is the thing that stands out above the rest, from last year. But right now, all I have is sadness.
If I were to try and explain this sadness, I would fail.
I think I would like to try anyway.
First, I've been feeling sorry for myself about my head. Like, OK, I hit it, two years ago! I want to get over it, to move on, to be me again, the old me who could think and write and process a simple conversation a lot faster, but instead I'm just going to have to accept that there are lasting effects that will probably never go away. I am brain damaged. But my God, I hate feeling sorry for myself. It makes me the worst me. It makes me hate myself for being weak. It makes me want to end it.
Second, I've been thinking a lot about death. I'm writing about bodies of water, bodies imprisoned, and dead bodies as sites of enclosure for a final paper that could go either way, quality-wise. I've been thinking about friends and acquaintances who have lost loved ones this past year. I just sent my publisher the finished manuscript for Desire, about a ghost, or about being haunted, or about being dead. Maybe it's all of these things. It's been with me since early 2013, these ghosts/bodies. Really it's about loneliness, about being unable to access the world. It's a hell of a depressing book. But people who have read it say it's lighter than We Take Me Apart. They may be right.
Third, there is no third.
I feel like, if certain people read this post, they'll call me up and worry over me. Let me say to these people now, don't worry over me. I love you, I know you love me. Everything will be all right, just let me be sad. It's OK to be sad. You probably get sad, too, sometimes. And it's OK.
Christmas is coming. I like Christmas, usually, I think. It puts me in a jolly mood. But this year it feels different. I'm over it already. Probably because I'm not going home. Now that I think about it, the standout event from 2013 is the roadtrip I took with my dad this summer. I'm glad we did that.
It's almost 4 AM and I can't sleep. I should turn out the lights and try. I don't want to turn out the lights. It seems easier to just be awake. I can't remember the last time I just turned out the lights and went to sleep at night. Every night I watch television reruns on Netflix and eventually, at some point, I fall asleep. This feels like the old me, actually. Except that the old me, who couldn't sleep at night, could think at night. I can't think much past the first few hours after I wake up now, and it's all downhill from there. I used to write at night. I wrote WTMA at night. In a room I rented in Philly. It's been three years since WTMA came out. Now, because of my brain, I write first thing in the morning, if I write at all. This isn't a self-criticism. I don't feel bad if I'm not writing, I don't beat myself up about it. But when a book comes, I believe in attending. Write it. Finish it. Marguerite Duras says a book will scream at you until it is finished. I believe that. It took a year to finish Desire. It feels good to have sent it off. But of course I worry fans of WTMA will hate it. I worry WTMA was better. I worry nothing will ever be as good as WTMA, and I worry WTMA wasn't that good to begin with.
Duras says that after a book, there is emptiness.
Maybe that's what this is.
But what does one fill it with?
* * *
before the first soft light of day I am undressed and in the water
with every stroke
pull toward my chest
and push away
some memory of you
how you love to have the tea house trimmed and twinkling with yellow lights all winter long
how you light a candle in every window as if to say OH COME ALL YE FAITHFUL
but I am not joyful
and my only triumph today is that I have risen before the sun and forced myself into the water where there is nothing to feel but the water
* * *
The next book in the series is called Fit Into Me. Here is a sneak peek. It is going to be much different, structurally and formally, than WTMA and Desire. I can't start it just yet, because of these final papers and pre-AWP Lit Pub responsibilities, but 2014 will certainly be the year of Fit. I guess that makes 2013 the year of Desire (or "Ogie," for those who know the ms. by its working title instead).
Not so bad, then, 2013. Not so bad at all, really. I must remember to keep telling myself this.