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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 (33)


In Which We Leave Our Loved Ones In An Enviable Position

Red Dust


Office hours begin at three. Who knows how long they'll last?

I run into my therapist at the opening of a local juice bar. She does not see me, but I notice that her hair is done in a completely different fashion than what I have come to expect. I am so shaken I have to sit down.

On a bus downtown, a man carries a thousand little parcels and packages, attached to each other by string, cord and tape. A teenager asks him if it is an exhibit or something. The man opens one of the packages and inside is a business card.

My friend Stacy is a major theme of this essay. She has a very useful test that I have sort of made my own. If she meets a new person, she has these two restaurants that are very easy to confuse and not far from each other. She shows up at one, and if he doesn't, well that's just too bad.

Instead of finding out what someone is like when they are really, truly angry, make them a little angry.

My therapist recently discovered some of the things I had written about her. She says, "Your depiction portrays me as sounding weird." She says, "Self-expression is the most innocent form of flattery," and then she rotates a mug in her hands upwards of ten times. I say, "Your hero is Kafka? Your summer palace is on the Rhine? You say you have questions for me?"

In Agata & Valentina, Emmy Rossum asks an employee for aspargus. My dad called to tell me to watch the full moon tonight. "Did you ever think there were so many types of lettuce?" he says. His version of being retired is like a bird who has had a wing repaired, but doesn't know it.

My brother is getting married in the fall. I am very happy for him, the way you go to one store in a strip mall, and another store is celebrating their grand opening. You wish and don't wish the attention was elsewhere. I am so tired of the concept of attention. It seems like a modern conceit, maybe the only modern conceit. One that demands we be observed or acknowledged.

Stacy has a boyfriend now. When she tried the restaurant trick on him, he said he doesn't like to meet women at restaurants. Stacy says that it's because he feels uncomfortable eating in front of other people, like he is a pig at the trough. Do you see the connection between this anecdote and the line about attention? Would you even notice if the moon in the sky was upside down.

Lately I have been doing a lot of whispering. Nattering quietly to myself is the function of living alone, in the apartment I am renting. It was just built, and so no one in the building expects anything to break. I'd like to own a place, but not in New York City. Maybe somewhere upstate.

My therapist wants to know my evaluation of her. "I love how available you make yourself," I begin. "Once I saw you in a juice bar... Never mind, never mind! I think that you are great at staying internally consistent. Sometimes I wonder if you are remembering what I said or remembering what you said. Then I think, what's the difference? If you hear one side of the conversation, you can probably reconstruct the other! It will be as if one person is there, and the second participant exists only as a shadow of the initial act." She says, "I'm not a shadow of you, Linda," and sips Tropicana.

Last night I walked along 60th at the bottom of Central Park. Rats sprang out of the greenery to feast upon all the leftover horse feed. They are mad to be satiated, wild with abandon. In order to start a new thought, it takes more than simply matching the taste to the palate.

Stacy thinks she is in love with her boyfriend. "He's kind of a weird guy," she confesses. I ask if it something other than his apparent eating issues. She says that when they went to the movies the other night, she found herself massaging his temples and touching his dick. I ask if he told her to do that. "It seemed implied," she says, cutting celery into the smallest possible pieces.

I want you to know that standing there is no more than an affectation.

My dad asks me to choose a color. He's painting my old room. "What goes on in there now?" I ask. "Mostly the same stuff as when you were here," he says, even though that was very long ago now. "Self-loathing. Pride. Catnaps. Sometimes I come in here when your mother is snoring." I say, "Imagine being invisible only at night." Half the shades he forces me to compare I can't manage to see any difference. I imagine that for a god, the variation between the worst human being and the best would be this kind of tiny shift in color.

For example, have you looked at the Periodic Table of the Elements lately? Has there ever been a more outright obvious scam?

I ask my therapist about Stacy's boyfriend. "They were in line at Starbucks," I say, "and someone stepped in front of them. He got all up in the guy's face and smacked down his coffee cup." She says, "So?" I say, "Isn't that kind of reckless and unwarranted?" She lets out a sigh that could inflate a balloon.

Full moon tonight. I whisper it and text everyone I know (the list is not long – as I get older it is more difficult to meet new people, and even when I find someone I like, the context is always wrong). In my text I detail how much more fun it will be when we are all wolves. Imagine the licking alone! I crow and cackle. Feeling like I could run up the face of a mountain, I start crumpling up all the useless pieces of paper I keep around here. Everything made or unmade was with my hands.

Linda Eddings is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer living in Brooklyn. You can find an archive of her writing on This Recording here.


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.