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Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Senior Editor
Brittany Julious

This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

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In Which We Entertain The Opinion Of The Inventor

Lone Female at Home


In 2009, William Banning Vail III, from Bothell, Washington, won a United States Patent for a device called the Personal Pelvic Viewer, or PPV. It's basically a camera that you stick up your vagina to see what's going on in there – the same thing that happens at a gynecological exam. Except the operative principle of the PPV is that you shouldn't count on your gynecologist. You shouldn't trust anyone until you've seen it for yourself.

The invention is meant to provide “methods and apparatus for the lone female at home” to detect any number of gynecological aberrations: infection, cervical cancer, menstrual irregularities, foreign objects. The camera hooks up to a television, so you can watch the inside of your vagina on your high-definition flat screen, alone, at home. The phrase “lone female at home” recurs fifteen times in Vail's fifty-one page patent. Self-knowledge is important, you can't argue with that, but how did we get here, lying on the floor, legs splayed, staring at our vaginal walls on a TV screen? The lone female at home.

a clumsy pre-PPV camera

Vail has a pretty good explanation, which he includes in his patent documents because, why not? As a casual peruser of patents, I found his sudden vehemence unexpected.

On page five, under the heading, “Description of the Preferred Embodiments,” he points to a grisly photograph of a woman's infected cervix. “Just look at the photograph,” he implores. “It is the opinion of the inventor that if the woman had been able to inspect her own uterus, that she could have spotted infection turning a healthy-looking uterus into what is observed.” The infection in this photograph was caused by the Dalkon Shield, an ill-conceived intrauterine device from the 1970s, notorious for its deadly side-effects. The Personal Pelvic Viewer patent is from 2009, though. What beef does Vail have with the Dalkon Shield, long-ago discredited and consigned to medicine's hall of infamous failures?

Vail goes on to recite what sounds like the standard Dalkon Shield horror story. It's 1975 and a male doctor inserts a Dalkon Shield into a patient; the doctor refuses to remove it when the woman complains of severe pain. Finally the woman seeks a different, female doctor who removes the device, but by that time it's too late. The damage to the woman's uterus causes endometriosis, and the same male doctor who refused to remove the Shield performs a hysterectomy to cure her debilitating pain. The woman is named Marilyn L. Vail. William Banning Vail III offers no hints as to his relationship with Marilyn L. Vail; maybe that would be too personal for a patent application, but it's already gotten pretty personal by this point and surely the people at the patent office want to know as badly as I do whether Marilyn is William's wife, and whether his deep concern for women's gynecological empowerment came from witnessing her ordeal firsthand.

the Personal Pelvic Viewer

I couldn't help but prowl the patent records to see if they reveal as much about William Banning Vail III, the man as they do about William Banning Vail III the inventor. Would all his inventions be dedicated to righting the wrongs of the Dalkon Shield and empowering women in the privacy of their homes? What's the difference between Vail and Hugh Davis, the inventor of the Dalkon Shield, a man who never apologized for the harm that his creation caused? For one thing, Marilyn Vail is listed as a co-inventor on many of William's patents – they speak as “the inventors,” plural. An actual female collaborator counts for a lot when you're talking about foreign objects hanging out in the uterus.

It turns out that Vail holds twenty-eight patents, most of which are for oil and gas drilling processes. He is listed as the owner of a “cut stone and stone product manufacturing” business in Bothell. He has a bunch of outlier patents, though, things that have nothing to do with mineral extraction, and the oddness of this assortment kept me digging.

pre-PPV television viewing, by Laurie Simmons

Based on his eloquent case for the PPV, I want to imagine that Vail is a sympathetic inventor: when something is wrong with a person he cares about, he invents a device to make it better. Mixed in with patents for electric well-pumping systems and self-sharpening drill bits are an inhaler to prevent infections in people with cystic fibrosis, a treatment for chemotherapy-induced nausea, and “Methods and Apparatus to Synthesize Primordial Life from Inanimate Materials.” Does Marilyn have cystic fibrosis and cancer? Has William decided to create artificial life because her hysterectomy left them childless? Getting to know someone from their patents is a dubious thing. But the picture that I was assembling was one of scrappy, well-meaning invention.

a simple plan for artificial life

As a reality check, I imagined an extremely cynical scenario in which William Banning Vail III and his pelvic viewer are yet another scam targeting women perhaps overly concerned with their health. Is this a useful product or does it exploit the anxiety that many women feel about seeking medical care?

Today the Dalkon Shield is a distant memory, but it marked the beginning of an era of informed consumerism in medicine – a model in which maximum information leads to optimal decision-making. This is probably an improvement over the previous era, when you could wake up from what you thought was a routine breast biopsy to find that the surgeon had performed a full mastectomy on the spot. But it doesn't mean that the field has been leveled – information, signs and symptoms, and diagnostic criteria still need to be interpreted. Many products rushed into the vacuum created by widespread loss of faith in professional medicine – self-diagnosis, self-treatment, alternative healing – some useful and others not so much.

Vail's pelvic viewer plays both sides of this game: he spins it as a tool for extracting the best service from your doctor by gathering data yourself, recording that data on the objective medium of digital film, and presenting this evidence to the professionals when they try to dismiss your concerns. It's a weird defensive dance, but maybe Vail has the gift of sympathetic insight into the mind of the modern medical consumer. Even if the doctor tells me that I'm fine, part of me won't believe it; part of me won't trust the doctor; part of me will go home and search my symptoms for hours on the internet. Vail isn't saying that we should ignore the professionals and trust him; he's saying that all any of us has to go on is what we see through the lens.

maximum informationYears before he invented the infamous Dalkon Shield, Hugh Davis invented a test for cervical cancer. Only fifteen percent of American women in the 1960s got their recommended annual Pap smear. Since so many were unable or unwilling to visit a gynecologist, Davis invented the first at-home test, known as the Davis pipette irrigation smear. A lone female at home could swab her cervix, drop the swab in a test tube, and mail it to the lab.

This is a very sympathetic invention: it seems to acknowledge the fear, poverty, and mistrust that kept many women away from the doctor's office. Probably, from Hugh Davis' perspective, it was just another brilliant problem-solving job by Hugh Davis. He hurried on to his next project, not even bothering to see the irrigation smear through to its clinical application, which never materialized. Soon enough his life was engulfed by the Dalkon Shield scandal, and his prior work on women's health appeared tainted by recklessness and misogyny.

So when William Banning Vail III, whoever he may be, cries out in a patent application, “this ongoing situation is simply unacceptable, and something needs to be done now,” I want to believe that he's a different kind of inventor. His salvos at the retreating shade of Hugh Davis suggest that people invent things for a lot of complicated reasons. An invention codes abstract relations of power between doctors and patients, women and men – but it also tells a very specific story about how particular, flawed people navigate those relations. There's a certain level of anxiety and mistrust encapsulated in the PPV. Vail says, not incorrectly, that women have been victimized by arrogant, dismissive, condescending doctors. “With scientific evidence and knowledge in her own hands,” he argues, “the female would have the power to demand immediate attention to her medical problems.” Which is to say, even if medicine has wronged you and lost your trust, the only way to win is by speaking its language. This apparently requires sticking a video camera up your vagina.

Alicia Puglionesi is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Baltimore. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here. She last wrote in these pages about Hugh Davis. She tumbls here.

"Example #22" - Laurie Anderson (mp3)

"Big Science" - Laurie Anderson (mp3)

"Excellent Birds" - Laurie Anderson (mp3)



In Which When I'm Alive I'll Be Online

In Pixels and In Health  


We got married, and then, immediately, my husband moved to Illinois, where he slept on an air mattress and tried to describe to me the aroma of the soy factory. It smells delicious, and then it smells like burnt dog food. I moved to Texas, where I developed a fascination with roadkill and with the geckos that lived inside the walls of my house. We’d just finished graduate school, and we wanted to be professors, wanted to teach at universities. We had wanted these things longer than we had wanted to be married. 

In Texas, I worked from early in the morning until late at night, and every flat surface disappeared under layers of books and paper. While I discussed sonnets and citation with my students, my cell phone buzzed with my husband’s voicemail messages. We whispered phone intimacies in hallways outside of department meetings, or while rushing from the parking lot to office hours. My students’ essays accompanied me to airports and across state lines. I returned them ringed with the condensation from plastic airplane cups, dusted with the salt of complimentary peanuts. 

My husband and I spent evenings watching the same television program in different states, phones pressed to our cheeks, the keypads indenting themselves onto our faces. My husband described the essays his students wrote about World of Warcraft, and I tried to imagine it, a world where you could gather together the virtual selves of everyone you’d ever met.

We’d both grown up with Atari and Nintendo, and I can still recite, like a poem, the locations of every Super Mario Brothers warp zone. But our interest in online gaming grew out of frustration, out of the simultaneous laugh tracks that were never quite synchronized over our cell phones. People called it WoW — an exclamation.  When we bought the game, the sales clerks at Walmart scribbled their realm names on scraps of paper, offered us their virtual gold. 

My husband chose to play a rogue; he wanted to be fierce and to steal things. I finally settled on a druid, which could turn into a panther, a bear, a tree, a cheetah, or a moonkin, and thus offered the reassurance of further choices. The first night, we met in Teldrassil forest, surrounded by tall, stately trees with purple leaves. Outside, our worlds smelled of soy and dead animals, but on our computers, we could hike through the forest without ever seeing a single sheet of paper. 

In the game, we did many things that we’d never done together in real life. We spent evenings fishing on the beach at sunset. We learned to make spice bread and basted boar ribs, to weave bandages and tend to each other’s wounds. We battled kobolds and outlaws; we brought ruin to entire colonies of iridescent murlocs.  

In the beginning, I think we were as intimidated by the game as we were by the concept of marriage. We were afraid of the auction house, and consequently, we were poor. We were afraid of joining a guild, and consequently we had no one to explain the game to us. We were afraid of grouping with other players, and consequently we spent a lot of time wandering the landscape as dead spirits searching for our bodies. We spent hours trying to beat five-player bosses with only two of us, and those rare successes — the pirates, the hydra — are some of my favorite stories from our marriage.  

When I finally moved to Illinois, I wondered if that would be the end of our virtual life together. Suddenly we could spend our free time watching reruns of 21 Jump Street; we could argue, in person, about whether to make dinner or just go out. We could try to improve our watercolor painting skills, and clear the paper from the table to make room for Settlers of Catan. In our Illinois town, “For Sale” signs hung like flags in front of rows of empty houses; winter came and the wind blew garbage cans down the streets.  

I was surprised at the way our new togetherness made us braver. In the real world, we compiled our bank accounts, and presented one another with honest tallies of our own frightening debts. In our game, volcanoes erupted, lands flooded, but rather than end our monthly subscriptions, we took on the auction house and the dungeon-finder.  I watched my husband poison enemies, and I learned to harness the spells of the moon and the sun. We found we were reluctant to give up those parts of one another, to relinquish those elements of ourselves.  

We joined a guild, and our game-world erupted with people. A warlock and a mage led our raids, and explained about add-ons and gear enchantments. A warrior and a shadow priest mocked my damage-per-second, while a death knight encouraged me to “just chuckle at the drama.” I began to recognize the voices of the strangers on our headsets, learned which California burger chain the paladin preferred, heard the Canadian shaman’s opinions on Deadliest Catch. We spoke to these people weekly, more often than to our own families. 

I began to see, too, how the faces of our co-workers, the other professors at our university, were simply mirages, disguises for avatars: draenei, worgen, orcs. I learned that I could whisper the names of dungeons, and people would reveal themselves. Inspired by only a few carefully-chosen phrases, our co-workers would divulge, in addition to their academic research on Mark Twain or youth voting processes, a dedication to another kind of scholarship, a deeper self-definition, perhaps a priest, perhaps a warrior.  

Now, at dinners with friends, I pick at my shrimp salad and talk about books, or the things I’m writing. We all discuss the articles we’re working on and the conferences we’re attending, but inevitably the evenings grow toward a discussion of weapon tiers, toward revelations of past servers and past guilds. At last year’s faculty Christmas party, I found myself in the middle of a heated debate, not about the promise of raises or the embarrassing campus technology, but about the upcoming game expansion, and the challenges of competing with the young incoming players who feel about their game controllers the way we feel about our own hands. 

My husband was recently awarded a grant to teach abroad, and as he posted the news on Facebook, he told me, “What I really want to post about is how I finally assassinated Creed the Dragonkin last night, alone, after three hours of trying.”

Sometimes when my husband folds laundry, I am struck by the flicker of pixels, the snap in his wrists that betrays his rogue penchant for backstabbing and disemboweling. Sometimes I imagine myself calling down burning stars from the sky.  

I am, admittedly, new to marriage, but I am not new to imagination. We parade our dog in the same circular loops through the neighborhood; we labor over our predictable grocery lists. We’ve made no vows about the mouse and the keyboard, but we anticipate, as fearlessly as we can, the illusions of who we are and what we will become. Now when my husband and I look to the white of the winter Illinois sky, we both sometimes imagine the dwarven snowfields of Dun Morogh. We flicker in and out of our pixilated world, even as a train whistles, low and long, and the neighbors wave from their windows. The fragrance of soy wafts over all of us.

Julialicia Case is a contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Decatur. This is her first appearance in these pages.

"Give Me Something (demo)" - Scars on 45 (mp3)

"Loudest Alarm" - Scars on 45 (mp3)

"Heart on Fire" - Scars on 45 (mp3)


In Which A Slight Breeze Starts To Blow In

When You Live Alone


For many months, here in New York, we lived each day like it was the last week of summer. I trust you know the kind: the late August nights when you stay up until dawn, as though – all knowledge to the contrary – it is the last time you will ever do so, cradling a glass in your hand as though you will never hold a drink like it again, and confiding to your friends like it’s the last chance to get it all out before winter arrives. Only winter did not come. Yes, the days got shorter. I stood some lone, dark evenings in the flashing lights of First Avenue Indian restaurants, pretending they were the full-spectrum lamps used to treat seasonal depression, but it was by no means wool coat weather.

In late November, against all better judgment, I found myself steering someone home through Houston Street’s aisles of Christmas trees. But the branches were snowless, and I took this as a sign that I could act without consequence: even nature doesn’t know what’s happening tonight. Suspended as we were in perpetual autumn, no ice in sight, it all seemed slightly intangible, like some Hollywood director's vision of winter – delirious on beer and promise, I told myself we were touring a movie set, not my own neighborhood.

Our sense of summer had never quite ended. I wondered if maybe it never would.


I was in no rush for summer to end, because it had been a constructive one for me. The apartment I had moved into with my older brother was finally complete after months of renovations. The walls were a pristine white, for at least a few weeks before bikes and boxes and daily life scuffed them up. The floors were so shiny I felt actually, deceptively, rich in a way I had not thought possible––considering my account balance.

Fixtures and furniture started to arrive. A crew from P.C. Richard came to cart the thirty-year-old stove away and, a few hours later, another team arrived with the new one. I greeted a locksmith late one night when our front door surrendered to age and humidity and simply refused to open. If I had been in another kind of mental space, the kind I’d been in for much of the preceding year, this might have seemed like a metaphor. But, I was finding, something happens when you are genuinely content: you spend less time thinking in figurative language. The literal suffices.

By the end of May, I had an apartment where I was happy to wake up, a room where I was thankful to fall asleep. I wondered how just having my own bed might have altered the last few years. The majority of that time had been spent living in the homes of boyfriends. I phrase it that way because I mean that I moved into their lives with heaps of boxes and duffels. The homes were not mine to make, but ones to try to make my own. This was not a task I ever accomplished, perhaps because I was never quite confident that the payoff would be worth the inconvenience of packing it all up again. That I was right to be hesitant about digging in – to hang onto my dingy college-era sheets, to keep my books on separate shelves, to hold onto the boxes I came with – does not bring me the same satisfaction that intuition proven correct usually does. When I left – and I always did – I had no furniture to take with me.

The last delivery that arrived was a new bed. It was the first one that I could say belonged strictly to me. The first night I slept in it, I thought it was the most restful sleep I’d ever had.


At the same time as I settled into my new apartment, I returned to my office translation job after months of telecommuting from other cities. It took just a few weeks of long days ticked away in a windowless room while summer erupted outside to convince me I had to quit. Something had changed: it seemed that this was no longer what I wanted. It was still months before Zuccotti, when the sentiment appeared in op-eds and Times Square protests and tents in the park, but it had begun to dawn on me that there might be some alternative to spending the majority of my waking hours helping other people get rich.

Living especially frugally seemed like a reasonable tradeoff for being in control of my own time. I was acutely aware that this is a privilege of my age, a privilege of someone without real responsibility but with the reckless conviction that one day I will be able to make up for what I am deficient in now: for a lack of sleep and unbalanced diet and utter absence of savings.

But as it turned out, I picked up one freelance client, and then another, and still one more, until I could afford greens and happy hour drinks again. The sense of poise and control I felt perched at my living room desk with Cyrillic texts on my screen, even as early summer sweat dripped down the crevices of my back, was one I had never before experienced. No relationship I’d ever been in had brought me the same sense of command.

You see, I had for some time been using my youth and the presumed shortsightedness that accompanied it as an excuse for dubious relationship decisions: I’m twenty-two was the fundamental justification for everything I did in 2010 and then, even when I was no longer in fact twenty-two, for much of 2011. Although little of it was productive, the pursuit of romance above all else was, to my constant surprise, accepted by almost everyone around me. The common narrative is that doing anything for love is okay, provided that it works out, even if it doesn’t last forever.

I was realizing, in my own slow way, that if you are going to use age as a pretext at all, it might as well be for more interesting risks than dramatic, costly gestures and the kind of absurd late night declarations you make just to see if you can. To my surprise, waking up to a job I love is on the whole much more satisfying than waking up next to someone I loved once was. When you are young, it can be alarmingly easy and not even especially scarring to forget someone with whom you once spent every night. But I can say now with some minor authority that it is significantly more wrenching to forget, even just for a little while, what it is you want to do, and who it is you want to be.


Working from home changed everything, including my schedule. I awoke not to a succession of alarms that ensured I make the train, but to emails from courteous clients in Moscow whose faces I had never seen, whom I came to know only through pleasantries and requests and invoices. I adjusted to daily deadlines not of 5 PM but of 1 AM, the hour at which Russia starts waking up. I began to live eight hours ahead of myself. But rather than feeling rushed, as I had in my old, harried office life, time started to seem open and infinite. There was my entire New York day, and then there was my Russian day, too, if I wanted it. And I often did, because in the daytime it was too hot to do much of anything besides work.

Our apartment had one ancient air conditioning unit left behind by former tenants, but its very hum made me anxious, a constant reminder of an escalating ConEd bill, so I refused to turn it on. When it got too hot to think, I shut my eyes for a while. When it got too hot to sleep, I slipped on my shoes, stuck three $1 bills in the waistband of the boxers I slept in, and went to Ray’s on Avenue A for frozen yogurt. “I’m going to have to order more chocolate just for you,”  ancient Ray himself told me late one night, but his lopsided grin told me that he didn’t mind. During the day here, when the heat is pressing in from all sides, the actions of every fellow inhabitant feel like a personal affront. But at nighttime, when a slight breeze starts to blow in from the water around us, a kind of broad generosity returns: you remember that nobody really minds much of anything when it is night and it is summer and it is New York.

In those moments, weaving gingerly, cone in hand, between towers of trash bags and tipsy, tottering women, I could see how different things can be when you live alone. In the presence of someone else, a two am ice cream run might have seemed at best indulgent; at worst, embarrassing. But now I could come and go at any hour I pleased. I wasn’t obligated to text anyone my whereabouts. I no longer experienced that tug to leave the party early, to go home to whomever was waiting. No boyfriend had ever explicitly asked this of me — it was no fault of theirs — but like many people, and perhaps women in particular, I had for a long time been unable to distinguish between habit or expectation and actual desire. As is also common, I had not felt the weight of this unvoiced obligation until it was lifted.


Lying on my bed reading with the windows open to the roar of St. Marks Place, on winding late night walks home alone through Greenwich Village, on jogs along the East River and standing still in the rush of a cold shower afterward, my mind kept returning to a piece of a poem in Eileen Myles’ Inferno. I turned it over in my head and lobbed it in emails to friends scattered around the world, recited it aloud to an audience of just myself:

I don't think

I can afford the time to not sit right down &

write a poem

I don’t write poetry, but I was beginning to spend the hours I no longer wasted commuting writing instead. Something unexpected was happening: in the relative absence of men, who had staked out space in my brain for so long, there was new mental real estate opening up. It was as though when I had moved my belongings out, I had cleared way for the psychic space to think seriously about writing the poem––in my case, a metaphorical poem –to which Myles referred.

I hauled my laptop to Think Coffee on Fourth Avenue, where the conversation of the NYU summer school students around me proved sufficiently uninteresting as not to distract me. I couldn’t begrudge them their revelatory undergrad discoveries of Foucault and Marx: I, too, was undergoing internal transformations, and like them I wanted to espouse it to everyone I encountered. I wanted to tell the friends holed up at home with their boyfriends, the ones who still left the party early, to resist the impulse, to stay out just a little longer, to see what might be available if they did – a bevy of rooftops, new people, glimpses into other apartments and psyches and lives that, too, could be theirs, if only they allowed for it.

Aware that this would make me the most insufferable kind of friend, I said nothing, just as they had said nothing to me when I had been doing the same as them. I recalled that there was a hedonism to living with someone you loved: whiling away Saturdays in bed, goading each other into take-out, succumbing to the lazy pleasure of not even having to leave the house to see your favorite person. Meandering my own neighborhood paths on weekend afternoons, I spotted these couples: ice coffees in hand, limbs intertwined on the benches of Tompkins Square Park, adrift on planets of two. I readily recognized their happiness. But with a clarity that startled me, I recognized, too, that this was no longer – or at least for now – the kind of happiness I wanted.


Without a live-in companion, and after a day of working in the solitude of my apartment, I found that I was newly outgoing. I had my whole life identified as shy, perhaps even socially anxious in a clinical sense, but now I wondered if my sociability had simply been a gene late to come to fruition, much in the way my hair abruptly turned curly at age twelve.

When I met my daily deadlines, I closed my computer and went out. I walked to my budget gym, where East Village girls in harem pants and Converse sweated on treadmills. I came home and cooked collards in a partial state of undress, sweaty but aware that a chill was now in the air, that eating warm meals was again an option. I went out again after dinner for drinks, to readings, on walks around Alphabet City. “Headlines” and “I’m On One” were blaring on car stereos. I thought I might break into a sprint at any moment. It did not seem inconceivable that nobody would notice, and that in itself was comforting, a confirmation of the liberties of being alone.

What I felt for my friends, which had always been somewhat romantic in its profundity and complexity, was suddenly unconfined by the pressures of loving someone else.  I went for evening beers with new friends and afternoon coffee with ones I hadn’t seen in years. With the serious friends, the ones I thought of essentially as long-term partners, the mutual infatuation was limitless: when we went home for the night, we texted; from our desks the next day, we emailed. It was unambiguously pants weather now, and I kept expecting the real cold to come and hibernation season to set in. But it never quite happened. We kept venturing out.

Many evenings I would go to Brooklyn and hours later careen myself home on the L, barely conscious of my own itinerary. On these subway nights alone, my awareness of where I was extended just far enough to know that I was glad to be there alone. I had been feeling some appreciation for this late night solitude for a while, six or seven months now at least, the knowledge that I had for a long time been by far my favorite person to go home with and wake up to and cook breakfast for.

I recalled a time when I lived with a boyfriend, and the subway rides home to the life and house we shared felt excruciatingly long, an MTA-contrived plot to delay the pleasure of his company, our shared dinner, a movie on the couch. Now the ride itself was its own pleasure. Each time I got on the train, I wondered how far it could take me.


Eventually, in barely perceptible ways, independent of the weather and the spirit in the air––that summer commitment to no consequences, that sense of urban invincibility––a real seasonal change began to manifest. The tomatoes at the farmers market gave way to squash, to Brussels sprouts; the greens I’d hauled home in tote bags all summer began to dwindle, the potatoes appeared. One by one, I took fans out of windows. The temperatures were in the fifties on Thanksgiving Day, but there were sweet potatoes all the same. The seasons had changed in spite of themselves; no matter how late we stayed out sharing our secrets, there was nothing we could do to halt the cycle entirely.

The morning I awoke with the guy I’d led home through the Lower East Side, I was hit with a sense of something new: this was what it meant to bring someone home. It was not that I was new to the practice, exactly, it was just that I had never before had the sense of having a home, Tolstoy prints on the wall, all my shoes, all my books, all my thoughts in one place.

There were already emails on my phone from the Russians. I walked the guy to the train and then I continued on alone, no destination in mind. With a gratitude that originated deep in my chest and swelled upwards, out into a wide smile, I felt the limitless promise that I had begun to sense when I woke up every day in that bed of my own: the promise of Lower Manhattan streets stretched out around me and a pocket full of songs to guide the way, of croissants and morning conversation with a friend at a café on Avenue A, of hours of translating – that special retreat into the world of words that both pleased me immensely and paid the rent on the place that I liked so much. The sun was pulling up into the sky over the East River, which I had come to think of, selfishly but in a mental effort to distinguish it from the Hudson, as my river. I had my river. I had a new book to read.

Lucy Morris is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer and translator living in Brooklyn. She last wrote in these pages about the truth in letters. She tumbls here. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.

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"Parted Ways" - Heartless Bastards (mp3)