I looked at other couples and wondered how they could be so calm about it. They held hands as if they weren't even holding hands. When Steve and I held hands, I had to keep looking down to marvel at it. There was my hand, the same hand I've always had - oh, but look! What is it holding? It's holding Steve's hand! Who is Steve? My three-dimensional boyfriend. Each day I wondered what would happen next. What happens when you stop wanting, when you are happy. I supposed I would go on being happy forever. I knew I would not mess things up by growing bored. I had done that once before.
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Some may say that such a girl is not ready for a relationship with a man, especially a man in his late sixties. But to that I say: We don't know anything. We don't know how to cure a cold or what dogs are thinking. We do terrible things, we make wars, we kill people out of greed. So who are we to say how to love. I wouldn't force her. I wouldn't have to. She would want me. We would be in love. What do you know. You don't know anything. Call me when you've cured AIDS, give me a ring then and I'll listen.
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I made orange juice from concentrate and showed her the trick of squeezing the juice of one real orange into it. It removes the taste of being frozen. She marveled at this, and I laughed and said, Life is easy. What I meant was, Life is easy with you here, and when you leave, it will be hard again.
Most of life is offline, and I think it always will be; eating and aching and sleeping and loving happen in the body. But it's not impossible to imagine losing my appetite for those things; they aren't always easy, and they take so much time. In twenty years I'd be interviewing air and water and heat just to remember they mattered.
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The idea that you might end up in a job that doesn't allow you to be who you are, over the course of a lifetime, is still one of the most chilling nightmares to me. It's a good metaphor for fears I have about losing my soul in some accidental, mundane way. So, to me, these jobs that my characters have are very loaded. They immediately suggest a complex character to me, a woman who is, say, a secretary, but also a vigilante on behalf of her own soul.
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I walked down the hall and saw that [she] was sitting on the floor next to a chair. This is always a bad sign. It's a slippery slope, and it's best just to sit in chairs, to eat when hungry, to sleep and rise and work. But we have all been there. Chairs are for people, and you're not sure if you are one.
The funny thing about my procrastination was that I was almost done with the screenplay. I was like a person who had fought dragons and lost limbs and crawled through swamps and now, finally, the castle was visible. I could see tiny children waving flags on the balcony; all I had to do was walk across a field to get to them. But all of a sudden I was very, very sleepy. And the children couldn't believe their eyes as I folded down to my knees and fell to the ground face-first, with my eyes open. Motionless, I watched ants hurry in and out of a hole and I knew that standing up again would be a thousand times harder than the dragon or the swamp and so I did not even try. I just clicked on one thing after another after another.
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This person has hoped and dreamed and now it is really happening and this person can hardly believe it. But believing is not an issue here, the time for faith and fantasy is over, it is really really happening. It involves stepping forward and bowing. Possibly there is some kneeling, such as when one is knighted. One is almost never knighted. But this person may kneel and receive a tap on each shoulder with a sword. Or, more likely, this person will be in a car or a store or under a vinyl canopy when it happens. Or online or on the phone. It could be an e-mail re: your knighthood. Or a long, laughing, rambling phone message in which every person this person has ever known is talking on a speakerphone and they are all saying, You have passed the test, it was all just a test, we were only kidding, real life is so much better than that.
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Are you angry? Punch a pillow. Was it satisfying? Not hardly. These days people are too angry for punching. What you might try is stabbing. Take an old pillow and lay it on the front lawn. Stab it with a big pointy knife. Again and again and again. Stab hard enough for the point of the knife to go into the ground. Stab until the pillow is gone and you are just stabbing the earth again and again, as if you want to kill it for continuing to spin, as if you are getting revenge for having to live on this planet day after day, alone.
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In the weeks that followed, we amazed ourselves. Our habits slid apart easily... And our very few intimacies were simply discontinued. Where did they go, those things we did? Were they recycled? Did some new couple in China do them? Were a Swedish man and woman foot to foot at this very moment?
In the recurring dream everything has already fallen down, and I'm underneath. I'm crawling, sometimes for days, under the rubble. And as I crawl I realize that this one was the Big One. It was the earthquake that shook the whole world, and every single thing was destroyed. But this isn't the scary part. That part always comes right before I wake up. I am crawling and then suddenly I remember: the earthquake happened years ago. This pain, this dying, this is just normal. This is how life is. In fact, I realize, there never was an earthquake. Life is just this way, broken, and I am crazy for dreaming something else.
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As if I feared that the scope of what I could feel and imagine was being quietly limited by the world within a world, the internet. The things outside of the web were becoming further from me, and everything inside it seemed piercingly relevant. The blogs of strangers had to be read daily, and people nearby who had no web presence were becoming almost cartoonlike, as if they were missing a dimension. It was just happening, like time, like geography. The web seemed so inherently endless that it didn't occur to me what wasn't there. My appetite for pictures and videos and news and music was so gigantic now that if something was shrinking, something immesurable, how would I notice?... Most of life is offline, and I think it always will be; eating and aching and sleeping and loving happen in the body. But it's not impossible to imagine loosing my appetite for those things; they aren't always easy, and they take so much time.
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Was she terrifyingly beautiful? Was she so ignorant she didn't deserve the truth? Was she also a liar and thus it was something they did together? I don't believe in psychology; which says everything you do is because of yourself. That is so untrue. We are social animals, and everything we do is because of other people, because we love them, or because we don't.
So the recordings were these immersive landscapes, and yet, unlike the performances that almost no one would see, I had a sense that these could live forever. I was just starting to get my head around the democratic aspect of art; I didn't want to make rarefied things that were either alienatingly obscure or elite and art-worldy, so a recording that anyone could buy was a great medium.
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Sometimes I would make left turns all the way around a block, and when I returned to the original intersection, I would feel disappointed to find all the drivers were new. It wasn't like a square dance, where you miraculously end up with your original partner, laughing and feeling giddily relieved to find him after dancing with everyone else in the world. Instead, they swung around and kept on going, some people were at work by now, or halfway to the airport. In fact, driving might be the thing most opposite of dancing.
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The whole thing of working in all these different mediums, it's just so that I can always be playing hooky from one of them. I can always be rebelling against my boss. Like, I'm supposed to be writing this book, but - heh heh heh - I'm writing a movie, secretly. I'm procrastinating, and in my off-hours I'm working on this movie that I'm not allowed to do, because I'm supposed to be writing a book!
Most great filmmakers are good at place. Like how people say, like, "The city itself is a character in the movie," you know? I'm so interior. I always forget there's such a thing as an exterior wide shot, where you can see where someone is. As opposed to just: how can we show what this person is thinking, in an abstract way that is felt?
... it wasn't pretend, I wasn't in a fairytale or a fable. I shut my eyes and absorbed the silent whoomp that always accompanies this revelation. It's the sound of the real world, gigantic and impossible, replacing the smaller version of reality that I wear like a bonnet, clutched tightly under my chin.
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I guess like any writer or screenwriter I'm alone in my own world so much of the time that I'm often trying to force myself out of my world. Into more risk. A less controlled kind of inspiration. I'm so keenly aware of how easy it's getting to not leave the house, with Amazon, especially.
If you are sad, ask yourself why you are sad. Then pick up the phone and call someone and tell him the answer to the question. If you don't know anyone, call the operator and tell him. Most people don't know that the operator has to listen, it is a law. Also, the postman is not allowed to go inside your house, but you can talk to him on public property for up to four minutes or until he wants to go, whichever comes first.
LA isn't a walking city, or a subway city, so if someone isn't in my house or my car we'll never be together, not even for a moment. And just to be absolutely sure of that, when I leave my car my iPhone escorts me, letting everyone else in the post office know that I'm not really with them, I'm with my own people, who are so hilarious that I can't help smiling to myself as I text them back.
In the weeks that followed, we amazed ourselves. Our habits slid apart easily...And our very few intimacies were simply discontinued. Where did they go, those things we did? Were they recycled? Did some new couple in China do them? Were a Swedish man and woman foot to foot at this very moment?
I'm always just trying to get the work done so that I can be free - like, with the sense that, like, the real me has no interest in this? I just gotta do it for my boss. But the catch is that I'm never free, I never finish the work, so I don't know who this freewheeling employee with extracurricular interests is.
Somewhat predictably, I'm much more comfortable in front of an audience - and a big audience is even better - than faced with one stranger. This always seems like a bit of a failing on my part, as a human. I think that's also why I put myself situations where I'm forced to engage in other ways.
Do you have doubts about life? Are you unsure if it's worth the trouble? Look at the sky: that is for you. Look at each person's face as you pass on the street: those faces are for you. And the street itself, and the ground under the street and the ball of fire underneath the ground: all these things are for you. They are as much for you as they are for other people. Remember this when you wake up in the morning and think you have nothing. Stand up and face the east. Now praise the sky and praise the light within each person under the sky. It's okay to be unsure. But praise, praise, praise.
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When you're not doing fiction, there's a limit to how much illustrating you can do with your work. I mean, you can do fine. There are great non-fiction writers, but people aren't necessarily going to say anything that reveals them as much as a picture might. Even their surroundings, in lot of cases, the things that meant the most to me were the things I noticed in their houses. I was always looking, as much as I was listening to them. I was looking around for clues as to why I was there.
Very few women have become famous for being who they actually are, nuanced and imperfect. When honesty happens, it's usually couched in self-ridicule or self-help. Dunham doesn't apologize like that-she simply tells her story as if it might be interesting. The result is shocking and radical because it is utterly familiar. Not That Kind of Girl is hilarious, artful, and staggeringly intimate; I read it shivering with recognition.
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I asked myself if I would kill my parents to save his life, a question I had been posing since I was fifteen. The answer always used to be yes. But in time, all those boys had faded away, and my parents were still there. I was now less and less willing to kill them for anyone; in fact, I worried for their health. In this case, however, I had to say yes. Yes, I would.