I just ate soy pudding absent-mindedly and smeared it all over my face, like I am some-child. I am in bed with cream sheets. I am supposed to sleep but instead I am looking at mentions of myself on the Internet and forgetting that I am eating pudding.
The fatigue is so momentous, I want to weep but I cannot because I am too tired and I want to tell someone I want to weep but I am too tired and all that happens is that the words form inside of me, somewhere in that silence: I am so tired I want to weep. And now I have rallied myself to type it. But why?
I am so tired I am forgetting who is dead and who is not dead and think I might be dreaming.
Last night the first class of the graduate workshop I'm teaching in Pittsburgh. I got home after midnight and had to wake six hours later to teach a workshop in Cleveland. I asked students to write their own manifestoes. I read my own that I wrote in between classes that was too long and I think I bored them. I wrote about the URGE. I wrote about getting past the URGE. Writing through the URGE.
I quoted from Anon who commented on my Millions interview: "Cultural criticism masquerading as literature is boring." I told them that I admired at least the direct statement, that this Anon was so certain of what he wanted literature to perform. Of course a he. A MANifesto.
I asked them. I pleaded with them: Above all don't be boring.
Above all don't be boring.
Above all. Don't be boring.
You might be reading a lot of writing about and through writing this semester, as I think I will only have time to write lectures, to essay on the essay, and maybe to start rewriting the essay collection. I DO UNDO I REDO. I am undone.
Write long I told them. Write short. Above all write your longing.
At some point you will have to think about who you are and what your place is in all of this.
The essayist should be the shy one at the orgy. Sometimes the essayist participates in the orgy, but then the essayist goes and writes about it.
Where did you get your graduate training to teach creative writing again?
I am thinking about these informal informal essaying that Angela Simione is doing and Bhanu Kapil is doing and Roz Ito is doing and Repat Blues and Ariana Reines and Kate Durbin and what's going on on Montevidayo and the like. These informal informal essays. What do we do with them? Are they there as raw material? A form all their own? On Tuesday in my creative nonfiction workshop I will teach Was Jack Keraouc a Punjabi along with George Orwell.
Today I had students meditate on a memory, a hallway of rooms like the Renaissance concept of memory. How hippie-dippie of you John says, so proud.
But so much coffee as I sat there cross-legged I felt surrounded by an electric periphery.
In Googling myself I see that my Green Girl was listed as an "Honorable Mention" in the Starcherone innovative fiction prize, that was just announced, so like top 8 or something. Whether it was #8 or #4 remains to be seen and does it matter. It's the second time this novel has been a finalist in something. I want so badly for my Ruth to travel the world. Also this makes the second time in the past like six months or something a manuscript of mine has been a finalist for a prize, and not won it or maybe even been #2 or #3 (Graywolf told me I was in the top four so I could have been #2, #3, or #4). Of course O Fallen Angel won a contest but I guess in a way Book of Mutter and Green Girl mean more to me. O Fallen Angel always the popular blonde child.
I feel picked last in gym. But not last. No not last. Maybe towards the beginning. It's conflicting. It's very horseshoes.
Oh! I forgot! The aim of me telling this story in such a meandering way is that I did not realize I had actually entered the contest. I had forgotten. And even when I heard about the winner and that Stacey Levine judged it maybe a couple of weeks ago, I thought to myself, You should have entered Green Girl. I guess I already did.
I remind myself I am supposed to be an editor, a curator, too this semester. I am still looking for beautiful monsters to publish at Nightboat. If you read me here and you know my aesthetic, my obsession with the uncategorizable text-thing, for the between genres, for the dirty and excessive, email me.
It is now evening. I have spent all day coming home from teaching watching celebrities being interviewed on the red carpet at the Emmy's on the computer. I don't care about the Emmy's. I have just collapsed into a heap of weepingness at the table, because I am tired, and then curled myself under the dining room table fetal as John plays Joy Division's "Atrocity Exhibition." Katie are you doing an interpretative dance, John gently pulls me up, puts me back in the chair, in front of the screen. Red red rimmed eyes. Dead dead me.
I am boring. Today is boring. That was a video shop I went to in London when I lived on Brick Lane. I would rent Godard videos and watch them on my tiny laptop while the callers shouted downstairs outside of the curry shops 50% off! 40% off! 50% off for you fine ladies tonight! I write about the callers in Green Girl and movies, yes movies. And for a while I still received their emails and I didn't unsubscribe because I like getting letters.
The essayist's favorite material is THE PAST.