- One guy I hadn’t seen in years and I said “Hey,” and he said, “Hi,” and did an actual blinky doubletake and said, “I know you, right?” Dude. Yes. You have seen me naked. We endured an incredibly awkward bus ride from Eugene to Portland. You made fried rice in my mother’s kitchen. I gave you a hand job while in bed next to five sleeping people. It was my first hand job! We watched Blazing Saddles together. We saw A Christmas Carol together at Portland Center Stage, the day after Christmas. I feel I must reiterate: you have seen me naked. I know it was 5 years ago but come on. Dude.
- "Do these brownies have weed in them?" "I was hoping not. I don’t know." "Hey, Ariel, who made the brownies?" "I think Isaac." "Hey, Isaac is there weed in these? You made them, right?" "Yeah I made them. They are gluten free is that what you’re asking about?" "No, do they have weed in them." "Oh, no. No wheat, either."
- Dude. Is it because your girlfriend was there? ’Cause, like, we’re cool.
HI I AM EMPLOYED BYE
In the three weeks I’ve been working at the Public Broadcasting building, with NPR on in the background for half the day, my general conversation has become at least, like 17 percent more interesting.
I refused the job. I suppose we all knew that I was going to refuse the job when I asked the question. I left out some crucial facts in my summary:
- It isn’t a field I’m interested in or want to advance in.
- People stay at that company for a long time, which speaks to it being a good workplace, but not to it being a good place for me to chill while I look for something else.
- I had already asked my mom’s advice, as I do for all life situations, because I know if I make the decision and then she disagrees I’ll feel uneasy and if she agrees before I make it I’ll feel surer, and in either case I can cry hysterically in front of her while hashing it out and she won’t think less of me and she’ll send me home with a little French Press and a Ziploc baggie full of ground coffee.
- I don’t experience tiredness like a lot of people. It isn’t incidental. When I’m tired, I feel the yawning abyss of the anarchic cosmos opening up before me. I despair.
But I thank you all for answering, because I guess that I needed to know you’re out there, and we’re all out there, making similar choices and living with them, and ourselves.
I left my trainers at my downtown bus stop this morning. I carry them with me, knotted together by the laces, when I want to go running after work, and this morning I left them there, sitting under the cold metal seat, and didn’t realize it until we were miles away.
When my mom came to visit me in New York, she lost her Metrocard somewhere in MoMA, and got really flustered when she realized it, sitting in some nondescript salad bar in Midtown. When I asked her why she was so upset over a Metrocard with maybe $1.65 left on it (they always give you weird bonus cents on your card so you’re always left with weird fraction-of-a-fare amounts) and she said, voice wavering, “It just reminds me of all the things I’ve lost in my life. Like when I was in London, I bought a really nice umbrella for Charlie—my first husband—and then I left it in the bathroom at Heathrow.”
I started the day off by running for the bus anyhow, and missing it, running ungracefully down the slope of the icy sidewalk near my house. Every time I take the bus, I think that I might hate this city. Not that I might grow to hate this city, that I do loathe its inconvenience and lack of urgency and the aboveground transit stops in the bitter cold. I took the next bus out to a job interview that was inconveniently far, with unreasonable hours, and by the time I got there had worked myself into a tizzy of angry near-tears with the thought of the injustice of everything ever always, but especially the injustice of a more than an hour bus ride to a job that starts at 7:00 am.
I don’t have an answer for this. I’m still mildly fuming over the general thingness of everything. Instead of going to the gym after work—shoeless, my own fault—I’ll go to my mom’s and return her coat and dig an old pair of trainers out of a box in her storage unit. They’re muddy and worn out but I’ll use them on the elliptical.
Last night I went for a walk in the cold. The same walk I used to take at nights when I was a teenager. Up to the deserted playground next to the water tower. Swing as high as I can go until the chains start to wiggle at the top of my arc, until I start to feel sick. An old friend of mine just got back in to town. We slept together the last time I saw him, years ago, and it was before I knew that, “So we had sex. Discuss,” was a valid and important conversation opener, so we never discussed, so now we are friends, but shakily, because on shaky premises.
I’m very tired and moderately lonely. New York looks an awful lot like home from this distance.
I forgot to tell you, it was the most beautiful thing, the other night at a gas station I used the “For Customers Only” bathroom in the Subway restaurant, even though I wasn’t a customer. I’m usually a rule follower—not out of respect, out of the vague ominous omnipresent fear of What Might Happen. But I had to pee and I realized the following things:
a) The dudes working the counter are probably paid like $8/hour they could care literally no less.
b) Even if they did, I could duck in, lock the door, pee, and leave without them stopping me.
c) EVEN IF THEY STOPPED ME they COULDN’T PUT MY PEE BACK IN MY BLADDER. It would be done.
So I ran in and used the For Customer’s Only bathroom and I didn’t buy anything and nothing happened and for a minute I conquered my pointless irrational exhausting anxiety and it was BEAUTIFUL.
Also I didn’t have to pee anymore which was also nice.
wislim asked: Just wanted to say that im glad you came over to the west coast. big fan of your blog, if you ever head south of Portland, you have a friend in San Francisco. Good luck with everything!!! Sam
Ok, first of all, this was a really great message to wake up to this sunny cold morning, so thank you! And I hope you don’t mind me posting it publicly, because it contributes to something I want to say: people are so nice to me! I mean it. Last night Marie gave me a ride home from her work, and my friend Evan’s undefined significant other lady friend—who I’m just going to go ahead and call my friend now—gave me a bunch of her really nice hand me down clothes, which is something Caroline used to do, too. People go out of their way to take me to group runs and drive me home after them. Yesterday at work someone brought me a piece of cake from a party upstairs. My mom is driving me to IKEA today. My sister let me stay with her for 3 weeks. 3 weeks! I slept in Eleanor’s bed for about the last month I was in New York. Marie’s boyfriend helped me get a part time catering job where he works. My other sister, Gen, saved her old comforter for me until I got here. Yesterday I looked so cold at the bus stop that a stranger offered me his hat! I can’t tell you how many couches I’ve crashed on, interviews I’ve been recommended for, rides home I’ve gotten, hand-me-downs I’ve been given, drinks people have bought me, deadlines that have been fudged for me, nice messages I’ve gotten on the internet, warm smiles people have smiled at me in the moments I needed them most. It’s insane. People are so fucking kind to me and I don’t know why! But I’m immensely grateful and I want to say, with everything I have: thank you, and I’ll try to be as kind to the world in turn as I can.
— Zadie Smith, NW
Always comforting to know your mom was a babe—is still a babe—that you got the babe gene along with the jawline.
This is her first wedding day, lookin’ impossibly young but somehow still just like her.
Ugh, it’s barely above freezing today, and Sweater Guy is wearing a pullover worn-out-looking hoodie GOD this is even WORSE.
Ok, possible conversation starters:
—“Hey [come over here for a sec gesture]” hey, hi, I’m Lily. What’s your name? I’ve been calling you “Sweater Guy” or “my sweater-wearing imaginary boyfriend” on my blog and your name would be more concise.”
—“Went with the stripes today? That’s my favorite. Of your sweaters. Hi, I’m Lily.”
—“So, come here often? Just kidding, I know you work here.”
—“Where else do you like to wear your super cozy looking wardrobe? A bar perhaps? Wanna get a beer sometime?”
I’ve found a routine that makes me feel good about my body and myself: get home from work, go for a (short!) run, eat a decadent amount of ice cream mixed with whatever homemade baked goods are around (sugar cookies, chocolate cake, pumpkin pie), clean my mom’s kitchen, dance around the bathroom in my underwear, make my lunch for the next day, go to bed a little too late.
It makes me feel like my thighs are big but still beautiful, my heart is big but joyful, my life is small but important maybe.
Ugh my sweater wearing imaginary boyfriend also has plaid shirts and he won’t stop to say anything any of the five times he passes by my desk each day, just smiles enigmatically, so that I can’t tell if it’s a “Hey new weird receptionist girl I’ve noticed you surreptitiously staring at me like you want to rub your face on my sweaters” smile, or a “Hey new receptionist girl you’re cute and I like your sweater, it would look good with mine—on my bedroom floor” smile.
It’s probably the less exciting, “Hi person there I’m a polite human who makes eye contact and smiles, as people do,” smile.
The acupuncturist today told me that my Chi Is Stagnated and people with Stagnated Chi can seek out running, alcohol, sex, spicy foods, and chocolate because these things all cause Chi to move, although they ultimately Deplete The Chi, and I’ve never been super clear on what Chi is, but oof.
For my last day at this temp job, I’m all about the polka-dot-on-polka-dot professionalism.
To the Hiring Manager at Literally Anywhere,
I write to you cross-legged on my mother’s bed, eating leftover stuffing and listening to Buddy Holly. Hiring Manager, can I tell you something? My family is happy to have me here. Genuinely happy. So happy. They keep hugging me tightly and telling me so. Hiring Manager, yesterday I found a room to rent in a house that I love. The other roommates are nice and funny and like to dance and are into the third season of a Buffy the Vampire Slayer viewing series. The house is three blocks from the little orange house I grew up in. Hiring Manager, it broke my heart when my mom had to sell that house, I don’t mind telling you that it broke my damn heart. I don’t swear at work. I’m very professional.
I can type really fast, too. 71 words per minute, adjusted for errors. If you don’t mind typos, even faster, but I do, I do mind typos, I’m very detail oriented. At my last job I once called every grocery store in Manhattan looking for a specific kind of salt for a former Spice Girl. I can’t tell you which one. I’m also very discreet in addition to professional, FYI. I learn things really fast. Faster than I type! I dress appropriately. I almost never have runs in my stockings that are visible below my hemline. I leave people smiling, because they can tell I’m happy to be alive and it makes them happy. You might think the FedEx guy can’t tell that in the thirty seconds it takes me to sign for a package, but he can. I’m always on time. Sometimes I’m like an hour early, it’s pretty obnoxious. You’ll see me sitting in the breakroom with a book and a cup of coffee about half an hour before my shift starts.
I always remember everyone’s favorite foods and allergies. That’s in my nature, and also from my previous experience in customer service, which I have a lot of, did I mention?
Hiring Manager, the other day, my intensely competent, self-assured, sparkling 19-year-old sister cried and said, “I’m glad you’re here. I’m sorry we aren’t closer,” and I could only kiss the top of her head and say I was sorry, too. I’m here now, Hiring Manager, and I really want to stay. I really want to stay and get to know my sisters and get cozy in the house near where I grew up and watch Buffy with my new roommates and walk to my mom’s apartment for dinner. I need a job to do that, Hiring Manager. Hiring Manager, if you hire me, I will be the best employee you ever had, I will show up every day so fucking radiantly joyful to be there it’ll hurt your eyes, I will work so fucking hard for you, because it means I can stay.
I have attached for your consideration my resume. Thank you for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon!
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