Thora Siemsen is a freelance writer living in New York. Some of her work is aggregated here.
Wake up alone, at home. Slept above the covers because it was warm. My bed is next to a north-facing window which overlooks an alley where people park their cars and junk. There are sunflowers growing next to a tree called, perfectly, a spring snow flowering crab. Fell asleep with the window open so I could smell and hear the rain. I’m due at work in an hour and a half.
Documenting today, having resisted my competing urges to pre-write or cancel. Resisted intervening against the unremarkable for grist. I’m a bit embarrassed to be writing this while heartsick, but embarrassment can be benchmarking. This will be a document of a day when I saw a certain type of love as a sentence. A document full of sentences I’ll certainly grow not to love. Decide on book divination for a hint as to what my paranoia about privacy is trying to teach me. My finger lands on a line in a copy of Fanny Howe’s Selected Poems: “Sex is made on a bed which is too loose.”
Shaving. I didn’t make time for a laser session this week. I’ll go on Tuesday. I take a shower, don’t wash my hair. Put it up in a ponytail. Put on a white shirt and black jeans and black shoes which immediately get soaked when I go outside.
A white and grey cat ducks from the storm on my stoop. My neighbor says, “Hey Thora,” then, “have a good day man.” It’s coming down hard now. I see a flash of lightning and mistake the sound of the J train above for thunder.
8:11am, J train
Listening to Barbara Cook’s version of “Glad to Be Unhappy” on headphones. About the unrequited. I try to remember how long Barbara Cook has been gone from us. I look it up. One year to the week.
Clock in and help set up the restaurant for brunch. The ceiling is playing “A Horse with No Name” by America. I bring in the newspapers before the rain soaks through the plastic. I read my horoscope, by astrologer Sally Brompton, in The New York Post:
June 21 – July 22
If you are unhappy with your current role then this is the time to change it. On a material level in particular you won’t lack for opportunities over the next few days, so be ready for them and don’t let fear of the unknown hold you back.
I drink black coffee, eat a zucchini muffin and feel like a summer rain flowering crab.
10:22am, work office
I can’t steal away much while I’m working. Taking breakfast now, eating a salmon bagel and a halved grapefruit. Missed texts from Nic (“My meteorite! How are you!?”) and La Cava (“Morning angel.”) Nic mentions the rain, and Stephanie today’s partial solar eclipse.
3:33pm, bar at work
Just clocked out. Having a fruit salad, the best part being honey-drenched golden raspberries with mint stuck to them. It’s stopped raining so I’ve decided to walk home like I do most days. Google describes it as a 1 hr 31 min, 4.4 mile, mostly flat walk.
4:14pm, Williamsburg Bridge
“Glitch” by Okay Kaya comes on just as I reach the bridge. It’s raining again. I’m thinking of you, but part of the charm of your amnestic love is that nothing feels like ours. Every time your long black hair became a canopy over my face while you kissed me felt like the only time.
5:11pm, Better Read Than Dead bookstore
First cigarette of the day, with my friend Dave. He owns and operates a bookstore called Better Read Than Dead from an alleyway made out of four serried shipping containers, represented as eight individual store fronts. True to his store’s name––and this detail can surely only drive business––Dave once gave me a cigarette from the pack of a recently dead woman whose books he’d just inherited. When I told him that accepting it felt like a subterranean match between superstition and abandon, he told me to leave behind something that I still wanted. And this time I think I have.
Crossing the street I see a deck of playing cards scattered on the wet asphalt. I find the ace and two of hearts facing up, stuck together.
5:40pm, a few blocks from home
Look up to realize I overshot my walk by thinking too much about my life and not enough about where I live.
Nair my armpits and shave the rest of my body. Every time I use Nair I vow to start earning enough money to get waxes instead.
Put away my laundry from yesterday. Decide to use my pill organizer and get rid of some of the bottles on my bedside. Swallow seven pills with a swig of yesterday’s seltzer. Have to shoot estrogen using a vial I got from a friend who detransitioned since mine is backed up. I’m proud of myself for how swiftly I self-administer now. It’s funny that it’s become a point of pride, this brief feeling of needing no one. Especially when you consider that I’m making my body into an expression of all my need laid bare.
Hungry but can’t decide what I want. Get a Clif Bar and a fresh-pressed juice, one loosie. Think about Kay’s poems for Candy, especially my favorite lines from “Prehensile Clit Club”:
“flirt with the cashier
while my baby breasts do all the work
& miss nothing I mean
not even the shuttle bus”
9:30pm, living room
My roommate is making plans with a man we’ve both slept with. Bag packed. I’m leaving to stay the night with Amy Rose at Jia’s.
9:45pm, bus stop
Wait for the bus before I remember I didn’t put money on my Metrocard. A 48 min, 2.4 mi, mostly flat walk then. The phrase mostly flat is dogging me as I think about the spoils of a day spent mostly not exerting my will to capture what happens naturally. Don’t know what the reaction to keep moving my body is moving me towards exactly. I think about a Fiona Apple interview where she spoke about needing to climb a hill in her neighborhood for eight hours a day: “I had to walk out all that stuff, and I knew it was stupid, and I kept on walking.”
Just being near a loved one’s stuff can steady. I watch Amy Rose absorb the life of a person she loves and calm. She runs out for more smokes while I order us a pizza. We stalk into the green of the yard we can’t see in the dark, mud caking our heels. I’m breathlessly telling her that I’m done. She squeezes my hand. She reminds me how a friend’s presence can become a rally against the conclusive, against having to know how things will end.