sleepless in seattle is a real thing.

Dear Diary,

I can’t remember why I moved to Seattle. I know I must have made the decision at some point, but I don’t know what prompted it. Why Seattle specifically, I mean. Nevertheless. I’ve been here since January 2nd. Jesse and I broke up right after Halloween, but we kept living together and behaving as a unit, so it didn’t seem worth mentioning. It was probably shortly after he threatened to kill my dog if I went to the movies that I started to think I should leave the state for good.  I took my plants with me, which was a mistake, because they died in transit. Jesse had already started eating the chickens–there were six when I left, but then an animal came in and murdered four more, leaving only crooked-toe and Dorothy. (Or is it Sylvia? I’m not sure.) It feels like the deaths are my fault. I still love Jesse and I miss him like a drug, but whatever. Nothing ever works out. It’s fine. Sometimes you have to just say “fuck this shit” and move to Washington.

I live in a shoebox-shaped room set off from a house with four other roommates. They have eight chickens and a pitbull mix named Manny. I’m working for my cousin’s organic cleaning business, which is both okay and soul crushing. It hurts to be so close to other people’s nice things. First of all, the houses are often already clean when we get there. Secondly, they have all these neat paintings and statues and figurines all over the place. Their appliances are modern. It all reminds me of a moment from Jennifer Egan’s great novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad. It goes:

“Finally Bennie came out. He looked trim. He looked fit. He wore black trousers and a white shirt buttoned at the neck but no tie. I understood something for the very first time when I looked at that shirt: I understood that expensive shirts looked better than cheap shirts. The fabric wasn’t shiny, no—shiny would be cheap. But it glowed, like there was light coming through from the inside. It was a fucking beautiful shirt, is what I’m saying.”

That’s how I feel about cleaning other people’s nice things. I’m sure I’ll get over it.

The honest truth is that I don’t feel very good, but please don’t worry about me, because I’m going to be okay. Right now I am soulsick and listless. The mayans were right: Breaking up with Jesse was the end of the world. But here’s the thing about the end of the world–it isn’t an end at all. You just keep going on with all the color drained out of everything.

It hurts to be around people for very long, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in my room reading and trying to teach myself art history. I like the renaissance era religious paintings because they’re filled with magic, mysteries and secrets. I think my favorite painter is Botticelli. I got drunk and ordered a shitload of art posters, but I should have thought it through. They’re all dark and horrifying. You can’t hang The Garden of Earthly Delights where you sleep and expect to lead a happy life. I need to find pretty paintings to protect me but there’s the rub because I used up all my amazon money and I don’t like the pretty paintings as much. To me, a good painting looks like hell.

I prefer paintings to people, because I can’t hurt them and they can’t hurt me. I don’t have anything to say to anyone, and I don’t care much what other people have to say. I’m lonely but not at all interested in a cure.

The last few days in Seattle have been hopelessly foggy. It seems that I’m living in a long, boring dream that I can’t wake up from. The legend is true about the rain and Nirvana. They play a lot of 90s rock on the radio, which is comforting but maybe not representative of the overall milieu. I only know the one station right now.

The crows! People here are so stupid, they have no idea that crows are running the entire city. Every afternoon you can look up and see hundreds of them flying overhead in a northeast direction. Last week in a parking lot I watched a man watching them, and I thought, what a great man. Great because that’s what I was doing, and I think I’m great.

What I need right now is a writing project. I need to start working on something and see it through to its completion. It’s the most important thing. But I just don’t know what I want to write yet. I know I talked about writing a novel, serially, in blog format, and some of you in fact signed up to watch me fumble through that, but I’m just not sure. What if I did personal essays/memoir instead? What if I quit writing forever and started a hotel for dogs?

It’s 2013, and here we are, all of us, alive. Presently, it feels to me like anything could happen.

7 thoughts on “sleepless in seattle is a real thing.

  1. How horrible. After my big heartbreak I moved to Portland where I lived with a beautiful family, who were friends with many other beautiful families, and we all had beautiful Easter brunches together etc. All that beauty was so painful that I went to Arizona instead. Maybe you should stay away from nice things for a while? I don’t know. It took me a long time to recover. These things take TIME. Everyone will say it, but it’s true. I’m fine now! Honestly, you will be too.

    I love your writing. Be strong, little friend.

  2. That’s two votes for nonfiction. It is on.

    I think David Gates is the only person who thinks I should write a novel. and he’s a miserable old man who hates success.

  3. It seems to me that you can write a novel any time, but your potential in nonfiction isn’t something you’ve fully explored yet… like as a primary pursuit rather than a side thing

  4. My first job when I got to Missoula was doing enviro-cleaning, meaning I used Simple Green instead of Comet cleanser in the sinks. I cleaned for the Harringtons and wrote a poem about dusting with Hank’s underwear as a rag. He turned red when I read it at Second Wind or something. So that’s not true about all of us being here, alive. Hank and Nancy died on Flathead Lake in the winter, crossing from Wild Horse Island with their dogs in a canoe. Something happened and they all went in. The dogs made it to shore — they did not. Hank used to cry when he read Finnegan’s Wake out loud in class. I never got it, but I cried when I heard about them, dead. I’m voting for fiction. I still want the novel parsed out to me in email or blog format, like a regular Charles Dickens serial.

  5. Greg Luther told me that story about the couple in the canoe with the dog when we drove by that lake after camping. I didn’t know who they were but the story stuck with me, because it involved a dog, probably.

    Dude. Missoula, Montana is still the coolest place on earth. Where else is small enough where you know everyone’s stories but big enough not to be too lame?

    Who knows. Maybe I’ll go crazy and do both at the same time.

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