Kenny Loggins: “Heart to Heart” (1982)

“Halfway” is relative ’round here. If you broke in right now, you’d note, firstly, that I must have run out of the house halfway through doing my laundry. I did. And this and that are halfway from one place to another, but I don’t want to leave them in my car overnight, or just forgot them, and so I’m sitting beside a Casio keyboard from around 1992. I know this is true because I used it in 5th grade during show and tell to teach the class how simple it was to play Ace of Base. Pre-programmed drum beat. Pre-recorded backing track controlled by left hand. Melody on the right. Everything but the history as a neo-nazi.

But it was just a toy. It wasn’t at all like my piano. Until 1996, which, while only four years later, is about a million years when you’re that age. What happened was I decided to start my first band, based on John Lennon’s comment that the Beatles “were just four guys who decided to start a band.” What he didn’t mention was that they also knew how to play instruments. No matter. I got the neighborhood kids together and Doug wrote the first song, “Playing With My Puppy” — entirely literal — about how all the time he spends with his girlfriend is taking him away from time with his dog. There’s a lot of wisdom in that concept.

I was talking with my girl. Drinking coffee with my girl. But the only thing I was not doing was playing with my puppy. I see her sad eyes every day. I want to be with her night and day. I don’t have a choice between my job and my girl, I want to live in a dream world. Playing with my puppy.

There’s more lyrics than that, but those are all I can remember offhand. It should be noted that Doug was 9 years old when he wrote these. But since his parents let him watch R movies he had a better grasp on reality than the rest of us. Anyway, we recorded it and it completely sucked. I spent some days reconsidering the whole plan…we didn’t sound anything like the Beatles! And then I brought the group together again for a second try, and had a revelation. This time I produced the track myself, changing the structure, adding multiple vocal parts, drums, guitar…it was brilliant. Mostly it was brilliant because without knowing anything about songwriting I knew to add the middle eight. And even if the song sucks, anyone would listen to it and recognize that it’s structurally perfect.

Anyway, the drums were played on this keyboard. And a year later, much more mature, I’d taught Brian how to play drums, we were now a duo, I’d accidentally scratched the paint off Doug’s guitar when he let me borrow it one night, so I quickly sold it on eBay for twice the amount he’d paid for it and “bought” it off him, pocketing the difference. Business! But no guitarist anymore. Those were, in retrospect, perhaps the happiest days of my life. Because everything was simple, and everything felt possible, and all life was ahead of us, all our dreams might still come true.

Fast forward a few years and you know that your next relationship is probably the one during which you need to pop a few kids out because you’re already slated to be the oldest father in the kindergarten class.

But, back then we didn’t even know we could catch flying tits on the scrambled porn channels.

I was at a bar mitzvah party and won some contest, the prize being the single “Character Zero” by the band Phish. I remember sitting at one of the long tables, feeling very grown up, clutching my prize, wondering what in the world it might sound like…CD’s were very hard to come by…well, money was hard to come by. I’d selected it because Emily Eaton, my first real crush on a woman, a 12 year old woman whose passions included the film Clueless, “going out” with boys, and the Beatles, had told me about drugs and Phish. I wanted to impress her. So, Phish.

The song begins with some acoustic bit, and then a bum-bum-bum-bum bum-bum-bum-bum leading into the main song. My mind was blown. I’d never heard anything like this intro before. It doesn’t take much.

Zipping across the bridge on the way to the studio, this Kenny Loggins song began to play. I knew I owned a copy of his hits, but I hadn’t listened to much of them except the ones I’d known in the first place. But it blew my mind. Here’s what goes through my mind:

That initial bass/piano run. What the fuck is that? How can the drums be so sparse and hi-hat do so much since bossa nova? The pre-chorus, still sparse, what’s the pad under his vocals? The chorus…what the fuck! the bass doesn’t even play anything but accents! And is that Michael what’s-his-face singing harmony? No. Way. Kenny can sing soulful like this? Oh shit! In the pre-chorus listen to how he’s using the divisions between vocal registers artfully! I’ve gotta hear that again. Brilliant. And what’s that chord progression of the last four chords before the chorus? A 2-5-1’s dropped in there, hot damn! First note of sax solo–is Kenny growling underneath it? The sax is too smooth to make that sound. “For-ev-er” phrasing while moving down the melody is really tough! 

And then I hit repeat. About ten times.

At the studio for the first time in ages to actually work on music. Not to be creative. But to force myself there for my new schedule. Just to be there. As far as creativity goes, Nathalie asked me to write an English “story” to go along with her new photograph. I wrote it over the course of an hour and…surprised myself. I’ve still got my style. I can still hold command over my language. She may or may not use it, translating it to the French may prove impossible, though I learned how to use commas from Proust. But I never explained what I was getting at. She takes a photograph of a woman and all I can focus on is the wallpaper. An hour practicing something I’d seen a drummer doing–keeping the rhythm of the high-hat with his foot the moment his hand isn’t there anymore. And then monkeying with strange chords on a Wurli, chords that are mostly great for color, a la Kenny Loggins, but useless to put a melody over. Hours developing some tracks that lead me to believe I’ve gotten better with time, tracks that will inevitably sound muddy next time I sit down there, and fall apart when I try to make them better. But, Kenny Loggins drove me home, everyone is standing at the Chinatown bus station, just like they did before all the Chinatown bus accidents, and I bought some new milk.

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A perfect word: immure

Immure: to confine within walls.

I first encountered the word “mur” at the site of Jeanne d’Arc’s death. This is a perfect example of a perfect English word, and I love when they are made like this. A word that says what it means. The beauty is that it takes a word from the French and gives it extra meaning for which we don’t really have a common word, which can then be extended, as in Proust,

[he] found himself immured for life in a caste…

If you want to know what I think is gorgeous. This is. Gorgeous.

Miller: The Colossus of Maroussi (1941)

835241602I have one of the most remarkably poor memories of anyone I’ve ever met. Perhaps the very worst. What I can handle, though, is something a lot of people have told me is not only strange, but also difficult: I’m generally reading between 20 and 30 books at a time, and I stretch out reading them sometimes over years. It’s a bit foolish, but I seem very able to compartmentalize many parts of my life that way, so they exist in their own worlds uninterrupted. That’s characterized as a coping device as part of some disorders. How fascinating. So, judging by the book’s price, which was written in British pounds, I’ve been reading this book for two years. It’s a little over 200 pages. From the moment I began it I was enthralled in that way only Henry Miller and Anais Nin have ever done me. It’s essentially a travel book recounting Miller’s year-long vacation in Greece, and a remarkable account in that there’s nothing in vaguely erotic, which is usually Miller’s big draw. The emphasis is on Miller’s own experiences, his own transformation, and he makes clear that he does take some artistic license–and then the book isn’t really about Greece at all; it’s about Miller and his friends. His travels, the people, the sights, all are generally used to illustrate larger points–the sort of explanations that leave me breathless, unable to continue, always visualizing myself lost in space, but floating with determination.

Of course his Greece is much like his Paris, pre-War, and though he speaks in a recognizably modern voice, he lives in a world very much lost to us, I’m quite sure, as we all come to look the same and live electronically. In the book everyone loves Americans and America. They cheer us for saving them, and hope that we will save Europe from the war. I’m thankful that there was a Henry Miller writing during those years that I’m so fascinated by, and I wonder if perhaps he could have existed at any other time, if Henry Miller invented those years or they invented him.

I’ve decided it’s time to begin with Proust, who’s one of those writers everyone seems to throw the name around, whose work everyone has apparently read, though not me. So, it’s time to begin. july 5 07

Proust: Swann’s Way: ‘Combray’ (1913)

I don’t want to pit Proust against Lawrence, but they simply beg to be tried, and how particularly funny, that it is a Frenchman being pitted against a Brit, and losing, for the time being, in terms of passion. I would not have considered comparing the two except that in Lady Chatterley, Clifford Chatterley is reading “a French book” and the following argument begins thus:

‘Have you ever read Proust?’ he asked her.
‘I’ve tried, but he bores me.’
‘He’s really very extraordinary.’
‘Possibly! But he bores me: all that sophistication! He doesn’t have feelings, he only has streams of words about feelings. I’m tired of self-important mentalities.’
‘Would you prefer self-important animalities?’
‘Perhaps! But one might possibly get something that wasn’t self-important.’
‘Well, I like Proust’s subtlety and his well-bred anarchy.’
‘It makes you very dead, really.’
‘There speaks my evangelical little wife.’

Anarchy and Bolshevism are the two political systems thrown around by characters in Lady Chatterley. I’ve always thought of anarchy as something idealized by rebellious teenagers, rich teenagers, and if all I knew of it was the definition given by the OED, I’d suppose it was simply the central tenet of the Republican party, “absolute freedom of the individual.” The catch, of course, being fairly Christian in nature, that everyone has an immutable position in society, that there will be the happy, and there will be the unhappy. And, of course, without a ruler, the happy may flourish by suppressing the unhappy by whatever means are necessary. Bolshevism, in this case, means that the miners, people who Lawrence suggests were born with the mines (though, reports on BBC lately insist that the death of the mines in the 1980s did not bring about the death of all the miners) deserve much more than Clifford Chatterley, with his nothing legs and nothing penis. Even Mellors rose through his own hard work, language abilities, and eventually through his service in the military. Making it through Proust’s “Combray” only shows the world through the eyes of a child, at least Proust as a child, which doesn’t particularly say much, as I’ve seen the questionnaire he filled out as a little boy, and he was an adult even then. But perhaps the most we can say is that he is raised in a house filled with people who don’t seem to work, whose lives consist of “enjoying themselves” as Connie might call it. Are they dead?

I’m not quite sure how old I was when I began reading Anais Nin’s first diary, but at the time I was firmly opposed to consumption of alcohol and drugs, and it was Nin who gave me the best argument I’d ever heard. I’m a writer, she said, and she has to have her wits about her at all times because she must later write all that she experiences, and alcohol or drugs would hinder that. Well, I considered myself a writer, so it seemed a good enough argument, though I don’t think I ever had to use it. I think I felt betrayed later, when she and June were a bit drunk together. It was Nin who led me to both Lawrence and Proust.  Connie says, ‘he doesn’t have feelings, he only has streams of words about feelings,’ and ever since she commented thus, I’ve been reading him through her eyes. Because, when it comes down to it, what would I rather be: the creator of something beautiful? or something beautiful myself? No contest: I’d rather be beautiful. I’d rather live a work of art.

But I think Proust dodges the question quite gracefully in showing something else, that there’s a third possible answer to that question: can one’s memory be a work of art, even if the reality was not. Indeed. And perhaps that’s what his work is, not meant to be engaged in so much as to be imbibed, we’re back to Shelley’s ravine. I find myself not caring about whether or not the narrator is reliable, because somehow this is a work about memory, and memory is allowed to be grandiose. Is it passionate? I find myself unable to recall the moments of the most heightened passion in my life, perhaps it is then that I become entirely an animal, and when I am in the moment, I am truly in the moment, unable to do what I usually do, to figure out what words I will later use to describe this, to be writing and editing while living, periodically disappearing to write down conversations and descriptions and then popping back into life, perhaps when there is no past, and there is no future, one simply loses the ability to recall that moment. I’ve always hoped there would be somebody else with me who would write down our experiences together, so that I didn’t have to be the only one, so that the memory could be more colorful, but nobody ever has, it’s a sad thing.

Perhaps, then, it’s worth noting that the sex scenes in Lady Chatterley begin very explicit, when she’s not particularly involved in the moment. And as she becomes increasingly involved as the novel continues, they become more metaphoric, more symbolistic, and if arousing, then arousing on such a deep physical level as to be almost spiritual, and then finally, the sex is not described at all, and everything surrounding it is, the ripped nighties, the flowers woven into her maidenhair, and her observations of others and their sexuality.

One night when I was sleeping on H’s sofa, he was sitting very close to me in a wooden chair, smoking pot and talking me, not caring if I was listening or sleeping, and he said “I don’t know what you think of my girlfriend, but I’ve slept with a lot of girls, I’ve seen a lot of girls naked, and it’s come to the point where I don’t even need to see them naked anymore to know precisely what they look like without their clothes on. And perhaps you can’t tell just by looking at her, but my girlfriend is perfect, there is nobody in the world more beautiful than she is.” As one gets older the more one understands any given person’s carriage, all that it indicates. At one time I thought it was all guesswork, but now, like H., and like Connie, I begin to understand. A little.

Proust, on the novel.

Après cette croyance centrale qui, pendant ma lecture, exécutait d’incessants mouvements du dedans au dehors, vers la découverte de la vérité, venaient les émotions que me donnait l’action à laquelle je prenais part, car ces après-midi-là étaient plus remplis d’événements dramatiques que ne l’est souvent toute une vie. C’était les événements qui survenaient dans le livre que je lisais; il est vrai que les personnages qu’ils affectaient n’étaient pas «Réels», comme disait Françoise. Mais tous les sentiments que nous font éprouver la joie ou l’infortune d’un personnage réel ne se produisent en nous que par l’intermédiaire d’une image de cette joie ou de cette infortune; l’ingéniosité du premier romancier consista à comprendre que dans l’appareil de nos émotions, l’image étant le seul élément essentiel, la simplification qui consisterait à supprimer purement et simplement les personnages réels serait un perfectionnement décisif. Un être réel, si profondément que nous sympathisions avec lui, pour une grande part est perçu par nos sens, c’est-à-dire nous reste opaque, offre un poids mort que notre sensibilité ne peut soulever. Qu’un malheur le frappe, ce n’est qu’en une petite partie de la notion totale que nous avons de lui, que nous pourrons en être émus; bien plus, ce n’est qu’en une partie de la notion totale qu’il a de soi qu’il pourra l’être lui-même. La trouvaille du romancier a été d’avoir l’idée de remplacer ces parties impénétrables à l’âme par une quantité égale de parties immatérielles, c’est-à-dire que notre âme peut s’assimiler. Qu’importe dès lors que les actions, les émotions de ces êtres d’un nouveau genre nous apparaissent comme vraies, puisque nous les avons faites nôtres, puisque c’est en nous qu’elles se produisent, qu’elles tiennent sous leur dépendance, tandis que nous tournons fiévreusement les pages du livre, la rapidité de notre respiration et l’intensité de notre regard. Et une fois que le romancier nous a mis dans cet état, où comme dans tous les états purement intérieurs, toute émotion est décuplée, où son livre va nous troubler à la façon d’un rêve mais d’un rêve plus clair que ceux que nous avons en dormant et dont le souvenir durera davantage, alors, voici qu’il déchaîne en nous pendant une heure tous les bonheurs et tous les malheurs possibles dont nous mettrions dans la vie des années à connaître quelques-uns, et dont les plus intenses ne nous seraient jamais révélés parce que la lenteur avec laquelle ils se produisent nous en ôte la perception; (ainsi notre cœur change, dans la vie, et c’est la pire douleur; mais nous ne la connaissons que dans la lecture, en imagination: dans la réalité il change, comme certains phénomènes de la nature se produisent, assez lentement pour que, si nous pouvons constater successivement chacun de ses états différents, en revanche la sensation même du changement nous soit épargnée).

Next to this central belief, which, while I was reading, would be constantly a motion from my inner self to the outer world, towards the discovery of Truth, came the emotions aroused in me by the action in which I would be taking part, for these afternoons were crammed with more dramatic and sensational events than occur, often, in a whole lifetime. These were the events which took place in the book I was reading. It is true that the people concerned in them were not what Françoise would have called ‘real people.’ But none of the feelings which the joys or misfortunes of a ‘real’ person awaken in us can be awakened except through a mental picture of those joys or misfortunes; and the ingenuity of the first novelist lay in his understanding that, as the picture was the one essential element in the complicated structure of our emotions, so that simplification of it which consisted in the suppression, pure and simple, of ‘real’ people would be a decided improvement. A’real’ person, profoundly as we may sympathise with him, is in a great measure perceptible only through our senses, that is to say, he remains opaque, offers a dead weight which our sensibilities have not the strength to lift. If some misfortune comes to him, it is only in one small section of the complete idea we have of him that we are capable of feeling any emotion; indeed it is only in one small section of the complete idea he has of himself that he is capable of feeling any emotion either. The novelist’s happy discovery was to think of substituting for those opaque sections, impenetrable by the human spirit, their equivalent in immaterial sections, things, that is, which the spirit can assimilate to itself. After which it matters not that the actions, the feelings of this new order of creatures appear to us in the guise of truth, since we have made them our own, since it is in ourselves that they are happening, that they are holding in thrall, while we turn over, feverishly, the pages of the book, our quickened breath and staring eyes. And once the novelist has brought us to that state, in which, as in all purely mental states, every emotion is multiplied ten-fold, into which his book comes to disturb us as might a dream, but a dream more lucid, and of a more lasting impression than those which come to us in sleep; why, then, for the space of an hour he sets free within us all the joys and sorrows in the world, a few of which, only, we should have to spend years of our actual life in getting to know, and the keenest, the most intense of which would never have been revealed to us because the slow course of their development stops our perception of them. It is the same in life; the heart changes, and that is our worst misfortune; but we learn of it only from reading or by imagination; for in reality its alteration, like that of certain natural phenomena, is so gradual that, even if we are able to distinguish, successively, each of its different states, we are still spared the actual sensation of change.

Proust: Swann’s Way: ‘Overture’ (1913)

Clearly, I’ve decided to go with a translation (Moncrieff/Kilmartin), what seems to be considered the driest and most accurate translation available, as the new ones seem to carry the prose into something more contemporary. I never found an argument concerning that with which I particularly agree, even when modernizing Shakespeare, I think it should be done only with an emphasis on finding his likeliest original words and removing whatever adulteration printers added and propagated throughout the centuries. Well, so, here I am reading a translation. Fuck me, but I can’t wait any longer, and truth be known, I’m only making my halting way through Le Petit Prince in French and if I don’t get Proust started now, why, by the time I finish it I’ll be old enough to appreciate it.

It was probably Céline’s putting him back in my head as we snuck around the pathways between tombstones and stared at his own, somewhat austere. Nathalie suggested we touch it, we all wiped our noses, and Whitney finally choked out, “well, who is he?” It was Céline who answered, and I think she gave a better answer than Nathalie or I could have given, because she said something that made a lot of sense, and she didn’t stumble, and she made Proust almost sound interesting. “There is a phrase in French, the madeleine of Proust, which you use when something reminds you of a story from long ago, because he wrote a very long novel, very long and famous, and it all begins because he tastes a madeleine, which is a type of cookie.” Well, so there you have it.

I almost fear the taste of madeleines, and of clementines, I cannot recall their flavors now, but I know one taste will send me back to the dark streets of Paris, to the early morning snows, to sitting on the stones before the cathedral in Rouen and seeing all the clementine peels on the ground wherever I went, cigarettes, bottles, thinking about what a good American I was being by cleaning up my own messes.

Initial reaction? Not quite the same immediate joy I feel when reading Lawrence or Nin or Miller, but yet beautiful, and yes, he does go quickly, the first fifty pages are criticized because nothing happens–yet, it’s the sort of nothingness that we come to appreciate, it’s thoughtful nothingness, and it’s a compelling prelude to the work we’re about to embark upon.  It’s not only the obsessive attention to detail I love, but the insistence on resisting vulgarity, quite the opposite of Lawrence, actually, whose vulgarity is yet somehow an aesthetically cogent illustration of how beauty integrates itself within the animal, or perhaps vice versa, how it is that our instincts can be delicious. So far, Proust takes a higher road, one built of suggestions rather than directness, telling us things we already know, not how it could be, but how it is, not in the secret world between two people, not in the secret world of one’s heart, but in the secret world of the mind, of language, of the expressible, of art, of memory, all the things that Connie Chatterley is so far grown opposed to as she comes to need her lover.

Bayeux

Bayeux was a tragedy from the start. Every day for a week I would wake up early in the morning, trudge down to Gare St Lazare, sitting at the front of the metro with all the old women, and ask where the train to Bayeux is, nobody ever understanding my pronunciation. And each day the train would not get there in time for me to get inside the museum to see the famed tapestry. I would use these days to go shopping and visit all the little things in Paris I otherwise would not have seen, perhaps, although I didn’t want to leave Paris at all. Ligne 14 seems to be the furthest underground, it takes four escalators to reach, I think, and as it approaches its final stop at Olympiades, everyone who’s familiar walks to the front car of the train and then runs out to be first up the escalator. The last of the escalators is very long, and at the top are old women handing out newspapers, they may be communists, I’m not sure, I never took one, and in the evenings a large tent is set up and candy is sold, life-size candy bananas and all the colors and shapes and smells to make me feel like a child. I never bought any, on Celine’s advice, because she says it’s all filthy from chemicals floating around in the streets, and I suspect children touch it all. But when Celine took me to a Christmas market I did buy a macaron flavored with bergamot, how many chances does one have to taste bergamot outside a teacup? And also I bought a dried banana and a dried kiwi. I was in heaven, and it was while I was enthralled by my purchases that Celine and her mother sneakily found out what sort of scarf I was hoping to find, I pointed to a bunch of men, anything with stripes, I want to be French! And they bought it for me for Christmas!
Finally, I left early enough in the morning to make it to Bayeux, and its train station is not inside the town itself, but rather far outside it. I was on a schedule, and I heard the sound of English, so I broke my rules to ask a man if he spoke English, and he was stereotypically Irish. ‘Do you know how to get to the tapestry?’
‘Don’t bother, mate, it’s closed.’
‘What do you mean it’s closed? Are you sure?’
‘Trust me. It’s closed until tomorrow.’
‘Is there…anything else to do here?’
‘There’s a pub across the way.’
I had 20 minutes to eat and then catch the next train to Paris. I left the train station and went to the hotel, a grimy place decorated with American and Canadian and British flags and signs saying ‘we welcome our liberators!’ They didn’t have any food at the bar, so I figured I’d walk to the town and see if maybe this Irish guy was wrong, I mean, it’s Bayeux, it has no reason to exist anymore except the tapestry, there’s nothing else in it, how could they close the tapestry? But they had. Some unimpressive doors held a small paper sign with a messy handwritten note that they’ve decided to close for a few days. I walked into the town, up and down the streets, all their shops marked ‘SOLDES!’ just like in Paris, but already the Paris mindset had poisoned me, nothing was chic enough. They’ve tried to give some history to the city by marking every old building and explaining its construction, how the upper floors extend over the lower floors, for instance, to help prevent rain from getting on the ground floor. The oldest building in town still has a fleur-de-lis carved in it, though you cannot see it, it’s so faded, the building boarded up and for sale, an inn that royalty may have stayed once, maybe, or nobody really knows what the hell happened there, but it’s old, the other buildings have computer classes inside, they look modern and lack character. Water flows through the city, stone restaurants, water-wheels, tunnels and iron grates. I couldn’t find a bank anywhere–somebody directed me inside a smelly food store where I found an ATM, and went up and down the streets determined, now that I’d missed my train and would have to spend the whole afternoon here, to find some food to make me happy.
I wanted a mozzerella sandwich, fuck French food, and I found a tiny place that served them, I knew I’d made a mistake as soon as I walked in the door, but the fat woman who owned the place had already seen me, and I felt like it would break her heart if I left. She had an enourmous menu and almost no food, a few pastries scattered in a glass case, a few sandwiches in the window. I ordered a mozerella sandwich, and a small plastic baggie she’d made up herself of haribo candies. Food prices were about half of what they were in Paris, and I was delighted although a bit nervous–it didn’t seem right, are they okay to eat? It wasn’t mozzerella, it was chevre, which even by this point was beginning to make me gag a little, and I threw it away, this goddam skimpy sandwich, I won’t miss the tapestry and reward myself with a shitty sandwich, and went to a larger bakery and bought one of those, I wish I remembered its name, a common French sandwich that they have two types, one for men and one for women, and it’s a piece of bread with some meat on top of it and some melted cheese, very messy and greasy and not especially enjoyable, but…well, it was enough, and I had my candy, and then, when I’d exhausted the town and its narrow sidewalks covered in old people and hipster teenagers,
I went to a bakerie filled with mirrors, one of these places in which there’s barely enough room to walk, so they put in two doors so you can just be forced through like goats, but I loved that it was filled with mirrors so that I couldn’t figure out where it began or ended, I bought a bag of madeleines and something that looked like a baguette but the woman told me was sweet. Sweet is a meaningless term in France because sweet may mean something that is only sweet in your imagination it’s so subtle, like eating a piece of bread while looking at a sugarcube, or something so sweet that your blood congeals before your tongue even knows what’s going on. I prefer the subtle sweetnesses, they remind me of the taste of love. I was running out of money, I continued back to the train station, stopped at the hotel and spent two hours working on translations and drinking chocolates and coffees because they were so unbelievably cheap, some obnoxious old men came in and sat behind me talking loudly to everyone, they seemed to know the bartender, and an old black man came in and sat and watched everyone with a silly grin on his face that one would never see in America, he kept adding comments here and there and everyone treated him very well, and a young woman, perhaps my age, but with eyes that said she had two or three kids, and a short and fetid old woman who shuffled around chewing on her lips, and when I asked where the toilets were and if I had to pay, I went to them and she followed me in, and I closed the door, turned on the dim orange light and stared out the window, and didn’t even undo my belt, just stood there, knowing this horrible smelly woman was on the other side of the door waiting for me, staring, and I finally opened the door, and there she was, staring at the me as I knew she would be, and I stalked out, still having to piss. I had had a brilliant idea, to take the chocolate they gave me and put it in my coffee and it would turn into a chocolate coffee. It didn’t work, once I’d finished the coffee it looked like someone shat in my cup. I tried to eat the horrible stuff to save me from shame, brought my dishes to the bar, paid my obscenely small bill…
and then I caught my train, after taking my pills I fell asleep and a man woke me up fifteen minutes later to let me know we had to change trains. So I followed him out, and he led me to the parking lot where he got in a car and drove away, so I went back underground and found my way to the station, figured out what train I would need to Paris, and spent a while in convenience store looking at erotic novels and debating what the conditions would be for me to have to buy one–I think I promised myself that if I could find a magazine about weight-loss I would buy some erotica. I couldn’t find the magazine, so I just left when my train arrived. I probably ended the evening by picking up a pizza and sharing it with Nathalie, we would drink tea and listen to Keren Ann, and she told me how wonderful it is that I take trains to nowhere and see nothing, because it gives me something to write about. And then I don’t write about it until today, when she knows I’m miserable, she calls and reminds me of these things that we could sit around and laugh at and our wonderful evenings, and she tells me to write about this.

‘You have your music, and your writing, and I have my photography. You need to write, you need to write, and do it now, because you need to use this powerful energy for something or you will lose it for nothing. You are part of a chain.’
‘I don’t like being this part of the chain.’
‘But it’s what you are. Other people depend on you, because when they hurt, maybe it will be something you wrote that will make them feel better.’
‘I don’t care about how other people feel. I don’t care for them, I only care about me and how I feel.’
‘But just think, so many people will suffer like you, so  many people will be hurting, and most of them do not know how to create music or write beautiful things or take photographs, they just have to suffer in silence, and when they are through suffering, they have nothing to show for it. ‘
‘Then I want you to write me about things we did together.’
‘I don’t understand. Like what?’
‘Oh, I don’t know, like ending up in the Luxembourg garden and the cafe being closed and sitting in those green chairs in the cold eating our desserts for breakfast, or that bitch with the hot chocolate–we had a lot of hot chocolate episodes, or going out on New Years and being unable to find a bar!’
‘Or going out on my birthday and walking for hours trying to find a bar and finally you got annoyed and demanded that I choose any bar!’
‘I didn’t get annoyed, but they were all going to close soon and we Had to get a drink.’
‘And afterwards we spent a whole hour in the fucking cold trying to find a cab!’
‘I need you to write all these stories, all the stories you can think of.’
‘Yes, I will, and I will send you the recipe for flan and you will impress your parents with your cooking.’