The other week, one of my oldest friends in this life (16 years!) mentioned to my other friend (of equal oldness) how she gauges how things are going by how often I go between new posts. She was casual about it; I laughed sheepishly and was just north of mortified.
Stan’s* telling me they need to get a better gauge, but ehhhhhhhh Stan’s not altogether the problem here; going full hermit the past x months/years, however… well.
1. I’m still here, though my posting habits suggest otherwise! After many months of tolerating my ancient laptop’s final hitching coughs to its end, I finally have a new computer–I’d forgotten what it was like for pages to load at normal speeds! Not to mention the lack of the fan’s desperate wheezing! And no more spontaneous restarts! So I am back in more certain terms–you’ll know explicitly if I decide not to be.
2. Last week I had the giddy pleasure of seeing Trevor Noah with my own eyeballs at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel in Downtown L.A., where he sat down with a L.A. Times staff writer to chat about his debut collection of essays, Born a Crime. I wasn’t clear at first whether it would be stand-up or a more open discussion; I’m very glad it went the way of the latter. I had no doubts about the clip his brain operates at, but to see that cutting brilliance and sincerity in real time was remarkable–a pinprick of light shining through the post-election grief of this past month.
(If you’re wondering what Harry Potter house he’s in? Gryffindor, naturally!)
And his favourite Roald Dahl book? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (‘Poor kid gets a golden opportunity to visit a magical factory and the owner ends up giving it to him — that’s what Jon Stewart did for me.’)
3. Moana soundtrack. On loop ever since I spent last Sunday crying through 75% of the film. “We Know the Way” digs into my heart the most (and not just because they kept Lin-Manuel’s vocal for it!). That Lin & Company: you’d think I was related to them, how ridiculously proud I am of all they have achieved since way back when.
4. Asking for my favourite book is a Bad Idea that gets nowhere. It’s such a bad idea I think I explicitly mention not to do it on my About Me page (hold on lemme check… I did!), but… hold onto your bums because I think I might just have
an answer. A single title answer.
I haven’t actually finished reading my possible new favourite book–I have about 200-something pages to go–but goodness. Just… w o w. Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. I want everyone to read it; I need everyone to read it. But I can tell you from distressing experience that maybe not everyone can read it. I’ve been chipping away at this story for the last five months and had to hit pause on it for about three of them because it kicked some things loose in me I didn’t think were even available to be kicked loose (slash I thought I had tucked away deep enough for them not to be a problem). I don’t think I’ve ever been moved so deeply, but the means of that movement have been some of the most harrowing moments I’ve ever had to process. True to the title, there is also an unparalleled amount of beauty there, twin to the unnerving truths:
He thought, and then sang. He was surprised to hear what he chose–Mahler’s “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen”–both because he didn’t even really like Mahler that much and because the lied was a difficult one to perform, slow and mournful and subtle and not meant for a tenor. And yet he liked the poem itself, which his voice teacher in college had dismissed as “second-rate romanticism,” but which he had always thought suffered unfairly from a poor translation. The standard interpretation of the first line was “I am lost to the world,” but he read it as “I have become lost to the world,” which, he believed, was less self-pitying, less melodramatic, and more resigned, more confused. I have become lost to the world / In which I otherwise wasted so much time. The lied was about the life of an artist, which he was definitely not. But he understood, primally almost, the concept of losing, of loosing oneself from the world, of disappearing into a different place, one of retreat and safety, of the twinned yearnings of escape and discovery. It means nothing to me / Whether the world believes me dead / I can hardly say anything to refute it / For truly, I am no longer a part of the world.
5. Thank you, as always, Junot Díaz.
* That niggling voice in our heads we all have? I named mine Stan (no offense to Stans; I know some good Stans out there in the world!) and it encapsulates all sorts of… words–ones that have come into my vocabulary all prickly, smacking of misplaced shame. Maybe I’ll talk about them one day. Stan’s belligerent by nature and having it to point to makes all the “They don’t…” and “What if you can’t”s loooooads easier:
“You know you’re not going to be able t–“
“Oh, shut up, Stan, you don’t know what you’re talking about.”