Lena Singer is a story editor for Rookie, a website for teenage girls.
top of my foot itches from sunburn ingot in Miami
Mouth tastes like sunrhetic ababa, more “yellow” than like a fruiy
Thought of jazz fest in Hude park and taking den Md I there
Can smell pepper w
Can smell peppermint
See empire and it’s porch light orange with glint of green. Chrysler is white as ever
Today I’ve been asked to pay attention to what I’m doing, consuming, thinking, and feeling; how I’m interacting. I’m just home from the bar Baby’s All Right. My clothes are wadded up on the corner of my desk like I turned them in a week late and forgot to put my name on them. I have rye toast mush stuck in my molars, and I think, by taking these notes, that I’m doing an OK job so far.
The alarm goes off at I’m not sure when—10:30? I’ve just been dreaming that I was challenged to some sort of contentious winter-sporting duel with a handsome man whose face I already forget. I find his supplies—a knit cap, rope and carabiner, insulated gloves—left unattended on a chair and sense that I should throw them away to sabotage him. Instead I gather them in my arms and return them to him. The man seems confused, and looks at me like I’m not very smart.
Through a crack in the curtains, I see a sky that is so clear, so cloudless, so Wedgwood blue that I could be surrounded by the Atlantic, on a tradition-bound island for the upper class, in someone else’s family’s house; or in a cabin somewhere in the remotest part of northern Michigan. I’m in Greenpoint. There’s an inky star stamp on the inside of my right wrist. I can tell my roommate’s dog is blocking the door to my room with his enormous body because his claws click on the hardwood as he shifts his weight. I have to pee, but I don’t want to move from this cottony spot. I’m mildly hungover and my toes, which I rarely pay attention to, are unusually (I think?) sweaty.
Have you heard of dog whistling, in a social context? It’s when you say something, ostensibly for the group to hear, but it has a dual, secret meaning that you know only one other person will pick up on. Usually it’s not a very nice thing to do. I’ve been dog whistled once that I know of, near a restaurant’s bathroom, by a woman who was then engaged to my close friend’s ex-fiancé. It threw me off balance, then made me furious.
From bed I read my email on my phone; writers and photographers are asking for deadline extensions, and I reply “Totally OK!” because I almost always do. I notice that it’s 11:11, a time that, as recently as a year ago, seemed to have synchronistic weight. I remind myself that actually it’s meaningless, aside from being a twice-daily moment. Now my feet are really sweating; what the heck.
My roommate, Christie, is listening to The History of the Left Banke on the stereo she saved for for months and bought last weekend, and for the first time in years I hear a supremely dippy song that I loved enough in high school to put on several mix tapes. Christie offers me some of the coffee she just made. I fry myself two eggs and toast another piece of rye bread from Syrena Bakery down the street.
In the shower, I use Aesop’s geranium leaf body cleanser. It was a birthday gift from a friend who spoils the people she loves. It’s made with two types of rinds and some flowers, and it’s one of the most luxurious things I own.
Last night I walked from Big Bar in the East Village to the L train with an ex Chicagoan I’d just met. He was 43 but looked 33, and was wearing a perfectly ironed white polo shirt. We talked about L.A., which is where he’d recently moved to Harlem from, and for me is the final fantasy. Knowing almost nothing about me other than that, like him, I’m a Midwestern introvert, he recommended that I move there as soon as possible. He’s going to. We talked about California’s drought, and he cited a statistic that’s going around about how a hamburger takes the equivalent of 16 showers’ worth of water to produce. Neither of us thinks we’ll go back to Chicago, and his reason is that his parents’ neighborhood is now so dangerous that they ask him not to visit.
My parents live in a rural town three hours south of Chicago. I think about the screencap of a Facebook post my childhood best friend, who now lives in New York, emailed yesterday: Her brother’s friend wanted to announce to the guests of his wedding, happening in our hometown today, that even though the church is a “gun-free zone”—a “silly rule” imposed by the insurance company—they are encouraged to “discreetly carry.” The groom will be, because “there are no security or metal detectors” in the chapel. He also brings up ISIS in earnest, but for reasons I flatly don’t understand and therefore cannot explain. My friend’s and my parents do not carry.
I towel off and try to figure out how much hamburger that shower equaled. I see that the skin on my back is still peeling off in gummy, Black Hole–style strips because of that “sunburn ingot in Miami” last weekend. From a tiny sample vial, I dab on Byredo’s Rose Noir, a perfume that is so primitively floral and appealingly powdery that it gives me the urge to gnaw my own wrist off. Christie is listening to “Lies” by Nancy Sinatra.
I walk down Franklin to Ovenly, where I spend $13 on two savory scones and two chocolate chip cookies. I pray that the IRS doesn’t cash my tax check until after I get paid Tuesday. Except for one cookie, these pricey baked goods are for Chanel. Her friends are throwing her a party at their apartment on St. Mark’s for her birthday, which was in early February.
Have you ever noticed that the ding-dong that goes off when the G train doors close sounds a whole lot like the first two notes in this song that, now that I think about it, I don’t even like because it’s about as flaccid as “Pretty Ballerina”?
At Court Square, I stop by the turnstile just long enough to get internet to play “California.” I admit that it still triggers palpable, bounce-around excitement 10 years after The O.C. I have heard and sung along to these lyrics at least 100 times: “We’ve been on the run, driving in the sun, looking out for number one.” Here comes the E train, and I feel compelled to hurl my phone at it.
On the walk to St. Mark’s, I call my dad and he’s laughing about how my mom, who is an endlessly curious and deeply serious person, cannot understand why I would have made the MyIdol cartoon of myself throwing a flower bouquet and a roll of toilet paper with wings that I texted them last night. But what’s it for? Did you make it for work?
Chanel’s friends and their red cups are sprawled out on the roof. She’s wearing a long, grassy green skirt and poppy-pink lipstick and looks like a spring flower. Someone carries in four heavy boxes of steak and cheese nachos. I call the place downstairs and order a large pepperoni pizza, then drink two cups of jammy, syrupy red wine that tastes like wedding receptions and the kind of drowsy, contented day-long party that I’m at right now.
Because the L isn’t running, and Estelle is also headed downtown on 1st, I decide to walk home. I admire her freshly bobbed hair, she observes that even blooming trees in New York smell like semen, and we talk about how a neighbor from the apartment I moved out of last spring emailed me on Wednesday. The subject line said “Surprise,” and it aptly described how I felt about the message, and its timing.
Estelle and I say goodbye on Delancey—we’ll see each other later, at our friend Rose’s birthday party. I check out the skaters at Suffolk: A boy in a bucket hat says, “I like your shades, miss,” and I am thoroughly flattered in a way that is so embarrassingly specific to being in my early 30s that this might as well be a Diet Coke commercial.
At the bridge’s halfway point to Williamsburg, I admire the boxy, anomalous brick-steel-and-glass Giando Ristorante sunning by the river in the orange late-day light. From the outside, it seems representative of a time when people were throwing back to nothing at all, and had opportunities to make good lives for themselves that included their own kind of subtly glamorous fun. I watch dressed-up people mill around on a concrete patio, which appears to have views across the East River of a gravel pile and the Statue of Liberty, and realize that I’m projecting memories of my grandfather inside a building I’ve never set foot in.
I pick up a bottle of cheap white wine and a cheaper bottle of rosé. I open the rosé when I get home and pour myself a full glass with an ice cube. The walk was four miles. Christie is making spaghetti and meatballs, and she insists on sharing (I haven’t known her long, but she is one of the most genuinely kind and generous people I have ever met). Jinnie comes over, we drink more rosé, and I describe the “Surprise” email and the history behind why it delighted me—“delight” being a word that I do not use often, but it’s the one that just fits this time.
The three of us make the short walk to Rose’s, picking up Maura, who also has a fresh new bob, on the way. We can hear the third-floor party from the sidewalk. It’s 11:30, and the apartment is crowded and buzzy. I fix myself a tall cup of white wine with a tiny splash of seltzer. There is a very tiny dachshund being passed around. For the third time this week, I find myself in a conversation about Scientology and Going Clear and admitting how ripe I am for cult recruitment (i.e., ready for someone to take care of me, despite risks or obvious drawbacks). I congratulate a woman I haven’t seen in a couple years on her baby. A half hour later, her husband arrives and soon after I see them casually, kind of goofily grinding to a Top 40 rap song from about 10 years ago. It’s a comfortable, special world I recognize, and as sweet as it is, I don’t look again.
I drink more white wine but they’re out of seltzer. Maura, then Christie and Jinnie, say goodbye. I use a Cheez-It to scrape fancy, gooey cheese out of a hollowed-out rind. I make a dumb speech to my friend and her boyfriend about how much I love Nelly, and then I take it upon myself to change the song to “Country Grammar.” It’s after 2 AM, and it’s time to kiss the birthday girl and go home.
Walking back down Franklin, I make “If X happens, then Y”–style bets with myself. I don’t remember climbing the three flights of stairs, peeling off my jeans and socks, or crawling under the duvet, but I know that I cried because as soon as I wear myself out, what wells up first is love.