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Mia Nguyen
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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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Friday
Apr032015

In Which Our Mind Already Feels Considerably Sharper

painting by Roxann Poppe Leibenhaut

My Life As An Object

by DAN CARVILLE

It was as stupid a piece of advice as I ever received when someone told me to do what I love.

You know those old cartoons where the eyelashes of women are so carefully managed they appear to twinkle, extend and shine? That is what I felt like in the world.

Seeing anyone more than once was either too often or not enough.

+

I did not want to give her something to do. I knew that if she did well at anything writing, fashion, her relationships with friends and it went sour, it could come back on me. I might be blamed for it. When I told this to my therapist, a grim look came over his face. He said, "That is not very loving."

We argued a lot. I have heard that is not a good sign. We constantly went back and forth about sleeping arrangements. She was not comfortable at rest. She was lactose intolerant, but always drank milk in her coffee. It took her a month for her to say that she sometimes left our bed out of embarrassment. I bought her a dairy free creamer but she never used it.

+

In Portland the shapes of the others changed, becoming more ethereal. I could stand on one corner and see something completely desirable, so much so that I felt like crossing the street, but never did. There is a politeness that restricts me from making a fool out of myself, and it constitutes a retaining wall impervious to anything except for lust and coincidence.

Waking leaves me in this same body again. So many have taken it in, pressed against it for one reason or another. Even if the number were only a few, the sensation it gives me now is inexhaustible.

Everyone that I know is thinking of another place to be other than the one they are.

+

She had moved in with me on a Friday with the thought we'd have the entire weekend to ourselves. She only took the drug when she was alone, and she did not use at all until I came home from work on Monday. She was watching Adventure Time with a glassy smile. Under the influence of the drug her features became more refined, her body assumed an enticing flow. Of course she was more detached, I had to keep telling myself. Watching her, it felt like one part bled into another.

To write of this when I had not lived before with someone in this way still strikes me as bracingly familiar.

+

I read Susan's story, and it seemed like a nightmare and heaven in equal parts. She makes a kind of sense, but only a kind, like seven slices out of a pizza. I read Tropic of Cancer and felt like a scarecrow. In these last months I have learned to accept the wandering mindset, even let it infect me for a time. But I cannot imagine, even for a moment, their fantasies.

The words which trigger the onset of understanding are all the first ones I learned, and the last.

+

The last time I saw her she met me after a salon appointment. The fact that when her hair was viewed from the correct angle it substantially improved her countenance only added to the trauma. She looked bored. But then she said, "How's work?" and for a gripping second I thought that something more important hinged on the small talk.

After that, I knew the only reason she had come was because she did not know how to tell me no. She said, "Can you ask your mother something for me?" A moment later, she received a phone call from her friend. I never did find out what it was she wanted.

+

When I talk to someone on the internet, I try not to construe them as a virtual, a computer program designed to respond to me and only me. I am shocked all I say will not be remembered.

I drove from Omaha to Austin with a wedding present in my backseat. I went from San Jose to San Diego; even up close the cars seemed like ants. Sensing the presence of another hinted at a prelude to intimacy, but in fact the reverse was true, or as true.

Do you like the poetry of Dr. Williams? Do you think that any of it is a lie?

+

The drug would put her to sleep. I will not say what it was, not out of respect for her, but for myself. Whether that is loving or not, I don't truly know.

+

In New York things speed up or slow down completely. Now, in the darkness, the others sit or stand. I can make nothing of strangers and to try to know them is a losing battle. I want them to know me, not the other way around. It's easier.

Whatever I did, I take it back.

When I go online, there is a reminder written in ink on my hand, twisted into a circle, but many-sided. The green icon, percolating like water on a stove. To step faster, per diem, and allow the change to render itself completely. Available.

+

Two months before she left, when things felt like they had reached some kind of pleasant equilibrium, I bought a kitten. I know that's a dumb fucking thing to do. My therapist told me that I did not do this for her at all, but for myself as a reaction to the change.

She would use in the morning and fall asleep. By the time I walked in the door she was happy to see me. She wanted nothing more than for it to be the weekend. I came home one night and she'd prepared dinner, a task she had never shown interest in before. 

+

In San Francisco, where even the wind blows mild in comparison, someone once told me that the way you could tell between a human and an automaton was the manner in which they held a book. I asked the man who said this what would happen if books disappeared and he said, "Do you have a Kindle?"

Running in place. Everybody does it. I hate that word, everybody.

+

My therapist told me that there is nothing wrong with a personality shift if it is conscious. The only unintended personality shift that is positive comes from conditioning, whether it be in a military setting or a prison.

The cat died the third week we had her. First she went blind, and then she died. 

+

My mind feels sharper and I know that I am myself more educated, due to an increase of neurons firing in the brain. On one level I find this invigorating, filling me with the thought I have changed and the process by which others notice will, at the end of any given moment, start to begin.

When I do carry a book, I struggle to figure out how I should hold it.

Dan Carville is the senior contributor to This Recording. He is a writer living in New York. You can find an archive of his writing on This Recording here. He last wrote in these pages about the moon.

"Can You Blame Me?" - Matt & Kim (mp3)

"Hoodie On" - Matt & Kim (mp3)

 

Thursday
Apr022015

In Which We Cover Ourselves In A Glorious Sheen

A Flytrap But For Happiness

by KARA VANDERBIJL

On a cold day in early March, during work hours, the Lincoln Park conservatory is mostly empty. Its few visitors pause in the palm house, where it's warm. We shed scarves and sweaters and tie up our hair. We're covered in a glorious sheen of sweat. 

"Are you getting dripped on?" I ask my friend. She's burying her face in a plant at toe level. Her laughter comes through a veil of humidity. I'm lightheaded from sudden muscle relaxation and birthday breakfast mimosas, champagne with a drop of orange juice. Everything's so lush and slow, it's seductive. It smells sexy in here. 

I wonder:

Do flowers smell different to different people? 

Why are the undersides of so many leaves purple? 

Why is that man talking so loudly on his cell phone? 

How old are these koi? 

Mimosa pudica, sensitive plant: Where have I seen that name before?


Mimosa — obviously, we giggled it while my friend fried bacon and stirred a chocolate gravy for biscuits out of a can. I poured champagne into tilted mason jar goblets. We were up early because we went to see the sunrise, read Mary Oliver on the banks of Lake Michigan and watch Chicago twinkling on the horizon. I was drunk before 9 a.m., because I turned 27 and Chicago turned 178.

Pudica sounds dirty, like pute, a word we shouted at girls we didn't like in French high school. I'm telling my friend about this article I read in the New Yorker about plant consciousness, and when I go to email her the link, l see this: 

Mimosa pudica, also called "sensitive plant," is that rare plant species with a behavior so speedy and visible that animals can observe it; the Venus flytrap is another. When the fernlike leaves of the mimosa are touched, they instantly fold up, presumably to frighten insects. 

+

In a hot bath oolong unfurls its fists, relaxes into the steam. The second cup is best. After three, the leaves' liquor weakens. I sip even the sediment. I wear a green sweater. Everything's growing. My razor is rusted. My windows yawn, jaws cracking.

Conservatory: The interior of a tea salon in a dicey neighborhood in Marseilles, France. Monsieur Kim, its owner, employed his stepdaughter to whisper to patrons about green, black, and white varieties while chocolate tarts heated in a concealed microwave. The tarts were the only thing manufactured about the place, and even they probably came from some neighborhood patisserie. M. Kim brought tea back from trips to China and Japan, which he then stored in giant tins behind the counter. We'd come in twice, three times a week to sit in the dark basement of his shop, hung with gauzy drapes, and we'd sip tea and get high on incense. I was new to tea and drowned cubes of sugar in it. We ordered teas with fancy names: In the Mood for Love, Imperial Jasmine, Thousand and One Nights. 


We invited boys, but they didn't come. Just as well. It was a place for teenage girls and people in love. It was a sacred space that, like us, would have crumbled if criticized. Here we talked about the boys who — we were convinced — just needed more time to steep. We fell asleep on each other's shoulders after the caffeine wore off and the sugar dipped low. We waited for our futures to brew. 

The store shuttered not long after I left France, and I lost the heart to visit its gated front on subsequent visits. Were we the ones keeping it alive? Where do teenage girls in Marseilles go now to eat microwaved chocolate tarts and drink Imperial Jasmine and sigh about boys?

Kara VanderBijl is the managing editor of This Recording. You can subscribe to her Tinyletters here.

 

"Another Night On Mars" - The Maine (mp3)

"English Girls" - The Maine (mp3)

Wednesday
Apr012015

In Which Disparaging These Individuals Remains Wrong

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to justhardtosay@gmail.com or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.

Hi,

My cousin Artis has been dating a woman named Jessica for around a year. We have some older family members who from time to time will say things that are less than politically correct. Jessica seems to go out of her way to lecture them about what they have said or criticize my grandmother, great-aunt and her husband, letting everyone know what she thinks is wrong about their point of view.

I understand expressing your beliefs, but at some point don't you just have to back off? The individuals involved are in their 80s, and in one case, 94.

Jared R.

Dear Jared,

It depends on exactly what kind of faux pas we are talking about here. I myself use what I call the Pat Buchanan test. People became so immune to the horrendous things that Pat Buchanan says on the McLaughlin Group that after he would make his usual disgusting statement, Eleanor Clift would just be like "I don't think so" and resume her explanation of how ovaries work.

Every once and awhile Pat would be like, "I blame Harvey Weinstein for this," and although he was occasionally right, he was sometimes wrong and the motivation for the comment was suspect.

If your elders are saying something about gays or Asians that is one thing. The ABC network has proved it is okay to disparage these groups publicly, especially if that critique takes the form of a televised sitcom.

If, on the other hand, your great aunt's husband is going after Patricia Arquette or Brianna Wu, call the police. It should never be wrong to tell the truth or set someone straight, and I fail to see how advanced age plays into it. We don't lose our ability to act like human beings just because we were born before the Civil Rights Act.

Hi,

With the upcoming return of Game of Thrones, my roommate Jamie will be hosting his weekly Winterfell gatherings in our apartment. Since I host similar events from time to time not based on HBO fantasy series, I have no problem with these groupings.

My issue is with a particular friend of Jamie's who insists on explaining the backstory of every single character who comes onscreen for the new viewers who may be casually watching this week's episode or are just not able to follow all the action that happens when a Lannister pays his debts. I understand this friend is trying to be helpful, but his behavior is not only super-annoying, but it turns the hour-long show into a ninety-minute feature with not-director commentary. How can I prevent him from ever recounting the particulars of Littlefinger's childhood in front of my loved ones again?

 

Brad C.

Dear Brad,

Sounds like you need to bring a Game of Thrones ringer into the picture. Someone who can see an expression on Tyrion Lannister's face and ascribe it to a particular prostitute that his father might have procured for him on the mean streets of King's Landing.

With this even bigger know-it-all shouting loudly over the far more prosaic, simple, rudimentary background information of your friend Jamie's friend, all your problems will be solved. Or maybe just plan a night out and watch it later. It's important to make Game of Thrones last; there is only so much of it that George R.R. Martin can write between his monologues about how much he hates fan fiction.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording's mobile site at thisrecording.wordpress.com.

 

"Not Just Anything" - I'm From Barcelona (mp3)

"Sirens" - I'm From Barcelona (mp3)