By Alex Molotkow.
10:48am – Wake up later than I expected, to Mom calling just to say hi. No matter how long we talk, or how pleasant or unpleasant the conversation, I can never not feel a little heartbroken when I get off the phone with her.
My apartment is a mess. It usually is, and usually that isn’t an issue, but I know it’s time to clean when I wake up and need a moment to remember who I am.
Saturdays are generally days that I spend with myself, which makes this annotation feel little bit intimate, but I’m more worried about boring anyone who happens to read it. H and I talked about this last night in the cab to N’s birthday party: the rule of thumb for writing about yourself is to always be asking why anyone else would give a shit. If you can’t answer that, you should try talking to yourself out loud. I find it helps.
When I’m alone, I think more like two people, one responsible and one completely inept. This is an oversimplification — I figure that all of us are at least 100 people at any moment, each of them angling for representation. The older I get, the less I think of myself as one unit, and the more I think of myself as the superintendent of an apartment complex. Some tenants are decent, some batshit horrifying. A few weeks ago I interviewed Walter Scott, who at one point referred to people as “weird, shifting weather systems of influences and moods.” I’ve been thinking about that since.
Dory Previn would take dictation from the voices in her head. (She was diagnosed as having schizophrenia, which she was very open about — I don’t mean to compare my mental environment to hers, I just want to talk about Dory Previn.) She wrote her book Midnight Baby by locking herself in her apartment with the 12-year-old version of herself, who’d been following her around everywhere she went. She admitted to having edited afterward.
I meant to factcheck this, but I lent my copy to N.
10:57am – Washing dishes. A knife falls into the wrong sink. I tend to anthropomorphize the objects in my apartment — as well as the insects, particularly the daddies long leg, who are quiet roommates but have no concept of personal space — and I take it personally when they don’t do what I want them to. Many times a day, I yell, “Why are you doing this to me?!” — it comes out involuntarily, and more often than any other expression, including “hello” and “sorry.”
11:24am – Thinking about a conversation from last night, about orgasmic meditation, which apparently requires your partner to stare into your vagina for minutes-long stretches. This makes me think about intimacy, which makes me think that transitional states are the absolute worst. Even if your destination state is awful. Even if your destination state is fantastic. The difference between flirting, or even making out with someone, to facing down their crotch is a radical transformation. There is a pants-on world and a pants-off world. Things that are disgusting in the pants-on world are perfect in the pants-off world, but getting there is agonizing.
“I found that moment when you’re about to have sex so difficult, always have,” Marianne Faithfull wrote, in Faithfull. “It’s just excruciating for me.” Her first night with Mick Jagger, they got stoned and watched Repulsion, and then, to stall having to have sex with him, she made him take a walk with her and answer a bunch of questions about King Arthur.
(Meant to fact-check this but I lent it to H. Different H.)
11:37am – Listening to “Sunday” by the Cranberries, wishing so hard it were 1995. Followed by The Dramatics, “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get”; Erykah Badu, “I Want You”; Roy Davis, Jr., “Gabriel” — but can’t get through this last one, for some reason it feels wrong.
12:27pm – My task today is to mark up a book about marginalia — called Marginalia — by H. J. Jackson. So as I annotate my day, I am annotating a book about annotation.
In the 18th century, writers would annotate books for each other as a means of correspondence. “There is always a third party tacitly present at the writing of marginalia,” Jackson writes. “When the reader takes on the role of a writer and leaves traces in the book, the communication between reader and text necessarily involves not only their two speaking parts but also the silent audience that will sooner or later witness the performance. It becomes a semipublic occasion on which annotators have an opportunity to show what they can do.”
I feel like I’m addressing these thoughts to at least three people, but I’ll sort out what’s appropriate for whom after the fact.
2:15pm – Remembering last night. The party felt like one organism of many parts — everyone knew everyone, everyone liked everyone, everyone distinguished everyone from everyone else. No power plays, no destructive tension. Everyone blobbed around easily. I know it won’t always be like this, but I feel very grateful.
I was never a Leonard Cohen fan, until I learned more about Leonard Cohen the guy. In the 1965 documentary Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. Leonard Cohen, there’s a scene in which he says, during a televised discussion:
“When I get up in the morning, my real concern is to discover whether or not I’m in a state of grace. And if I make that investigation and I discover that I’m not in a state of grace, I try to go to bed… A state of grace is that kind of balance with which you ride the chaos that you find around you. It’s not a matter of resolving the chaos, because there’s something arrogant and warlike about putting the world in order. But having that kind of uh, like an escape ski. Down over a hill. Just going through the contours…”
At the time I thought he was full of it, but it makes more and more sense to me all the time. I guess partly the goal is alignment, so that your feelings are appropriate for the world you’ve made for yourself.
2:43pm – Breakfast. Kefir and granola with honey, every day. I have a hard time waking up without it.
3:33pm – N calls, light of my life. I talk to her on speaker phone. It’s strange to feel your attention split-screen over the course of a long conversation, and I don’t remember it always doing so. I read in some report on Millennials that our brains are probably evolving. Seems likely. If I were a little older I’d be worried, instead I’m just in awe of younger people, who are better than us.
5:20pm – Preparing to leave the apartment. It always takes me a long time to leave the apartment. I leave, come back, and change coats at least three times before it takes. Listening to Marquee Moon. There’s a lot of dust on the needle by the end of side one.
5:45pm – On the street, feeling furious about the wind, while absentmindedly singing “Windy” by the Association. Stop to blow my nose, a car honks at me. Like how people always yell at people running for the bus. I think it’s the latent predatory instinct, calling attention to someone else’s vulnerability.
6:10pm – Walking up Euclid Ave, realize Marcos Valle’s “Crickets Sing for Anamaria” is not in my iPod, resolve to upload Samba ’68 when I get home.
6:15pm – Walking along College Street to “Maybe” by Emma Bunton, who was definitely the second hottest Spice Girl.
6:30pm – Turning down Augusta Ave to Gilberto Gil’s “Marginalia ii,” followed by Os Mutantes, realize I listened to this song in this spot a decade ago. Eighteen was one of the worst years of my life, not because it was hard for me, but because I was a terrible person.
6:34pm – Get to to the cafe, order a coffee and a glass of wine. They’re playing “Perfect Day.” I never connected with Lou Reed but I like this song. I know it’s about heroin or whatever but it can also be about, like, yourself.
Thinking about a voice I like, which is mild with a sticky, deliberate pace. It gives me a pang. I think I would take a great voice over a great face.
6:36pm – Every time I think about Sam Smith’s voice I get angry.
7:08pm – T. Rex is playing now. I think the reason they’re sexy isn’t Marc Bolan (who was more cute than sexy) but the fact that the guitar and bass grind together so close.
I’ve become a better dancer since I quit smoking, because when I get antsy I just find a rhythm.
Fixating on the person across from me, the way you do when you’re in public, on transit or whatever, and you identify one person as your silent confidante and basically perform your gestures for them.
8:15pm – A man asks me what I’m reading. I tell him, and ask him what he’s reading. He is reading about Hindu gods, and he has a lot to say about that, but I won’t get into it here. The next hour is a special moment between him and himself, with me as the conduit.
This happens to me fairly often with strangers, probably because I don’t mind, up to a point, and because I’m usually interested, up to a point. I also hate to disappoint people. I like talking to people on different wavelengths, but you have to be careful — you never know when someone’s going to turn a sharp corner onto something hateful and scary. He doesn’t, although there are tense moments.
I thought this man had bad breath at first, then I realized he had good breath. It’s a smell I have smelled before on men I’m attracted to, even though this man is neutral to me. It reminds me of this one brand of veggie burger, which came freeze-dried, best veggie burger I ever had but you can’t get it anymore. I smelled it on my first boyfriend, when I was 17 — we had a very beautiful summer romance, and then he moved to Miramichi, New Brunswick to go to video game school. He came to visit that October, picked me up at my high school having bleached his hair and dyed it bright pink. He was wearing one of those godawful anarchist wool pullovers, and I found him repugnant until I got close enough to smell him.
As this man talks, I try to decide whether to tell him that I’m annotating my day, and that he’s part of it. I figure if he asks me anything about myself, I will find a way to bring it up, but he gets up and leaves abruptly at 9:16.
9:18pm – A raccoon passes by the back door of the bar.
9:45pm – I wonder whether to drink a tequila soda or the single-serving champagne bottle I bought yesterday. I stop at 7-11 for soda.
10:18pm – Put on Elton John, make ramen noodles with broccoli, spinach, tofu and avocado, sing “Tiny Dancer” while they boil.
11:00pm – Put on Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only the Piano Player, and feel lucky to be sad the way I’m currently sad.
Alexandra Molotkow is a writer and arts columnist for the Globe and Mail. Her twitter is @alexmolotkow.