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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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Entries in new york (32)


In Which We Let In The Man From The Past

Last Week


Let's talk about this. You were outside my apartment on a bench, reading a book. You said you had to tell me something. Two years earlier you begged me to stay with you. You asked what you would do without me. So what have you been doing all that time?

The instant you realize you can't depend on someone. You made eggs with lime. It wasn't fully a lime. They crossed a lime with a kumquat. Do you know how angry that makes me, to think that I am eating some white guy's idea of a fruit?

It reminds me that I saw you with a guy, first. Your boyfriend was a PhD student at Columbia, and you lied to him, too. I hate this idea that the only people left in my life are the ones desperate enough to stick around. Everyone in the world has more self-respect than I do, but everyone in the world has less self-control than I do.

This week New York is empty of residents. Even the tourists remain silent, quiescent. Old friends in town to see their families make half-hearted, awkward attempts at reunion. Seeing you outside my apartment, with a copy of Heart of a Dog in your lap, it didn't feel like New York anymore.

There is a difference in the way that people are educated. Some people see knowledge, information as an additive, something you put into it. Once you treat the most important thing in the universe as extraneous, the warning shot across the bow has taken place. Anything is disposable so everything is, and if desolation can be deposited, it could realistically be extracted, right? You are the Benjamin Button of loneliness.

While I waited for you, It Happened One Night was on television. Clark Gable cooks a hasty breakfast for Claudette Colbert: it's one fried egg, a bacon-glazed donut, and black coffee. It looks like warm sewage and I honestly don't know why he stayed with her after that.

I met up with an old friend, Kate. She was the author of Scenes From My Life In College. She was completely different then, and I find the disjunction heartening, almost real. I almost believe this new Kate is the real Kate. This Kate has a husband and a daughter, but I know that her family is simply an improvisation. She will return to being the person I knew, any minute now. This transition will occur on the drive from New York to Columbus. She can change a third, interim time. Maybe other people can always go back.

You invite yourself in. You were always so gentle I can't begrudge you that. It was hard to keep you in a locked apartment and when you stayed it felt like such a gift. I had a boyfriend a few months ago. I thought it was going to work out – he said he wanted to meet my family at the holidays. You know how it goes, but I expect it at this point. I know it is my fault for believing the lie.

I have all my resolutions ready for next year.

I don't want to have that moment where I wish I knew then what I know now. I don't want to waste all the time I did on him – writing letters so he would talk to me, love me again. It is always such a waste of time to hope someone will treat me better than he currently does. And when I realize the only thing I wanted was to be seen as a human being it is even more pathetic.

I bought gifts. I thought of the ways two people can be together. Wishes are immaterial; the only people who return were those I never think about. By not being considered, they become drawn to you. In my apartment, you wrapped yourself in a blanket. I asked where you had been, and you said you had been traveling, but you were starting a new job. This year - 2017 - you would be in New York. I felt like I was floating on air, and then I hated myself for being so hopeful. We talked about your accent. It has changed over the years, you know.

The rest is a straight line. High-hearted fucking; and thank God. The instant I thought I could never get warm, I was, and all over your right hand. Standing and sitting, rasping at the pyrotechnics. Love is so abandoned here, in these glacial days before the restart. Delimiting time in this way is juvenile, self-regarding and opaque. Afterwards, I just wanted you gone.

Linda Eddings is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New York.

Paintings by Ashlynn Browning.


In Which We Sought Solace On A Weekday

Port Authority


She was my best friend. She became my best friend after her boyfriend, who she had loved, died. Mine who I had thought I loved had nearly died. Someone suggested we meet in a punk bar. We did. She was outraged that someone suggested her tragedy was wholesale, exploitable and enough to recommend her to me. I was nonplussed, admiring of her pissed-offedness.

We didn’t get too drunk that night. Just a little drunk. Drunk enough for me to bring her back to my preppy roommates with pizza. We made gin and tonics and they looked at us like weekday drunks. We were weekday drunks then.

We had both been models in times before. Worse times when we both were skinny. I guess we were still skinny but not enough to be paid for it.

To the outside world we looked like drug fiends. I did not find out until later that she actually was a drug fiend. Until after she had stolen thousands of dollars from me and left me in the middle of the night too many times. She also welcomed me in the middle of the night many times so I don’t mind about the money. Minding would mean nothing here to either of us.

I do not know if she really believed that the pharmacist in the old Italian Brooklyn neighborhood she lived in would not check that the refill was not due yet. From the prescription I picked up from the doorman of the wizened Freudian Jew who treated her on her parents’ dime on the Upper West Side. The pharmacist checked the date on the scrip. He always did. We made soup that afternoon and drank coconut rum in coffee that we bought from the downstairs deli where Puerto-Rican shop boys would drink giant Coronas as a way to ​cool​ their hands.

I could never tell that she was addicted to opiates. I thought she was just a sad-writer trope type like me. Bored by not writing. Writing about being bored. She was an actor but from what I understood the gig was similar in its boredoms.

She had to leave one night. I had gotten a magazine job and went to the office. She’d been asking me to come over to the place she was living with the guy who she’d slept with who happened to be the best friend of the man who died. She’d been asking me to come over for a couple of months but would never meet me anywhere in between. It had turned out that I liked working really hard and was at the magazine for 16 hours a day and never wanted to take the bus to an Alphabet City crackhouse when I was done.

She disappeared for three months. I sought solace in that if she had died I would have heard about it. She had not died.

I’m still waiting for that call, though, telling me that she has died. I think she is waiting for it too. I think when it comes it will not be a surprise, and I’ll still think of her in the same way, in the long dark subway tunnels we walked down together. When I was joyous just for having a friend I loved so very much. ​

Annabella Hochschild is a contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in New York. This is her first appearance in these pages.


In Which Our Mind Already Feels Considerably Sharper

painting by Roxann Poppe Leibenhaut

My Life As An Object


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.

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