That’s Entertainment Friday and The Aquamusical

It’s Friday! Watch this! It will make your life better. It has giant plumes of colored smoke, and seahorses.

That’s Entertainment is a big giant love letter to the musical, from Hollywood, to Hollywood. I had the original VHS of it, and watched it, oh, about a thousand times.  This clip came up because I watched Esther Williams’ first aquamusical, Bathing Beauty, and was getting itchy sitting through two hours and to wait for only 1 scene of actual aquamusicality. That one scene does satisfy, but I recommend just fast forwarding to the end to see all the fire, water, and women in large chartreuse hats.

The other really quite astounding moment in Bathing Beauty is this, which you should watch for the shoes alone:

By the way, there is more organ (heh) in this movie than swimming.  There is more everything in this movie than swimming. But, maybe Hollywood hadn’t figured Esther out yet.  I forgive them. They made up for it eventually.

And the movie does start with this charming card, which I would like as a bookplate on my one day bestselling, scandalous autobiography (ghostwritten, of course): Cheap Seats: Who Says Sequins Aren’t a Girl’s Best Friend!:


May you dive from a trapeze swinging out of purple smoke into a small ring surrounded by smiling couples this Labor Day weekend,





On the Unacknowledged, Virtuosic Mess of Julie Powell’s Cleaving

Dear CF,

Does an author have the right to be a bad person? Particularly if it’s precisely their “badness” that makes their story compelling (Cheever be damned)?

I finished reading Julie Powell’s book Cleaving today. A dark read. Not because of the one scene of anonymous sex (which the entire internet seems to have fixated on, and which was totally forgettable), but because of the ugly and insanely raw emotional territory it occupies, and how fiercely it decimates the Julie Powell persona of Julie and Julie. You rarely see a nonfiction author assassinate her own character, and it’s fascinating to watch.

I wrote this post about the internet response to the book (and to female selfishness generally) back in March 2010. Here’s what I said then, back before I’d read the book, concerning the charges lodged against Powell that she was a Selfish Narcissist who Overshares:

Some qualify that assessment. They say Julie Powell seems to think that self-awareness means calling herself all the names she knows people will call her first. If she labels herself a whore before anyone else does, she vaccinates herself against judgment by being the first to confess herself guilty as charged. This set of critics complain that this is pure defensiveness; she doesn’t really think she’s a whore. Therefore, she doesn’t really feel guilty. To admit guilt without doing anything about it, this set of critics feels, is, well, it’s downright Catholic! It’s as if she expects absolution just because she says something that’s true without feeling, in her heart of hearts, its truth and changing accordingly.

This latter charge strikes me as probably true. It’s also what Woody Allen (for example) built an entire career on. [/snip] Nobody would deny that Woody Allen is a selfish, unregenerate narcissist whose every project is a paean to his own ego. But neither is anyone suggesting that his career should end because of it. Narcissism does not necessarily make for bad art. In fact, to my everlasting despair, it seems like great artists almost have to be Firecrackers—it might be the case that great artists are constitutionally shitty people. Most writers are narcissists, most artists are egomaniacs, and most memoirs are fake. The sooner we reconcile ourselves to that, the better. Memoirs are faker than (for example) Facebook profiles, and if you think your Facebook profile is in any way a representation of the real you, well—the deposed King of Nigeria desperately needs your help.

This is one many reasons why it’s so damn hard to write—how absolutely great, but also how absolutely selfish it feels. That’s the wrong word. “Selfish” is really the wrong category. We’re all selfish in different ways all the time, and most of those ways should be worked on.  They can hurt the people around us who we genuinely care for and have reason to treat well. But this kind of selfishness, the writing kind, is strange in that it’s basically victimless but feels especially objectionable. It feels (and I speak only for myself here) like a HUGE taboo.

While narcissism in male artists gets painted as brilliantly iconoclastic or even excused—Diego Rivera and Pablo Picasso were just raw, sacrificing convention (read: their partners) for the sake of great art, Roman Polanski anally raped and drugged children but made great movies—women are severely punished when their desires or demands cross the line of the reasonable and prudent. (My God!!! Julie Powell cheated on her husband!!!)

Now that I’ve read the book, I want to point out a few things. The first is that I’m not actually minimizing the final reaction I’ve noted above—it is genuinely shocking that Julie Powell cheated on her husband. The reason it’s shocking is that Julie Powell made her husband such an immensely likable character, and their marriage so impossibly charming. Eric, that figure for whom reviewers have advocated with so much compassion, and on whose behalf they’ve eviscerated his creator, is a literary creation. Our experience of him is mediated by Powell herself. We see him through her eyes. We have no direct experience of him. Or them.

I’m emphasizing that because many reviewers have criticized Powell for a lack of authorial control. They’re wrong. Eric may or may not be a saint, but anyone who has ever been written about—including Julie Powell herself—knows that the written version of a person bears (at best) a sibling relationship to the real thing. The reason we love Eric is because Powell made us love him. That’s the same reason we dislike her. In a way, watching the internet attack Powell for her book is watching a creation butcher its creator.

Here’s how Linda Holmes (of NPR) anatomizes the shortcomings of Cleaving:

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not that you can’t do regrettable or dishonest things and write about them in a good memoir. But for me to enjoy it, that takes reflection. It requires that you not appear to be bragging about the worst things you did and how exciting they were, while insisting that really, you feel terrible. In fact, you could write a memoir in which you explain why you do not feel bad about your affair, and if that seemed to be your authentic perspective, maybe that would be interesting. But when your internal struggles seem to be the ones you think you’re supposed to be having more than ones you are actually having, then the book feels inauthentic and dull.

While I agree with Holmes in principle, Powell’s internal struggles aren’t the one she thinks she’s supposed to be having. This, I would argue, IS the memoir in which she explains why she doesn’t feel bad about her affair, even as she has the intelligence to recognize her own ugliness. Powell seems to believe that feelings are animal things that refuse to be dictated to. You can’t lecture a feeling away; you can sit with it or you can push it underground. What we do on the basis of those feelings is a whole different question, of course. But in a marriage like the one Powell describes, where there is no privacy because you essentially share a brain (and e-mail passwords), the feeling is the real sin. Not the infidelity. That’s not how we narrate the ideal marriage, it’s not how we understand what a “sainted husband” should have to put up with, but it is interesting. We’ve certainly seen versions of the same story before, wherein husbands anatomize their personal journeys, complete with marital infidelities, without seeing (or writing) their spouses as anything nearly so human as Eric Powell. Not having read Elizabeth Gilbert, I nevertheless suspect that Julie Powell’s depiction of an ideal union and its decline is far more real than anything she’s done.

As far as the claim that Powell lacks self-awareness goes, I challenge anyone to claim that the following is anything other than the naked and ugly admission it is:

Eric and I haven’t had sex in months. And though D is gone, hasn’t exchanged a word with me in weeks, despite or because of the desperate, pleading texts that our horrid at-last-real breakup didn’t succeed in deterring me from, still he’s there, of course, living in our apartment. Eric doesn’t touch me. And I can’t touch him either. The truth is that Eric’s love, his very dearness, is excruciating to me, a constant stabbing.

or the sheer, nightmarish discomfort of this sequence, which offers a ruthlessly honest portrait of what people are really thinking even as they go about offering what seem like the “correct” performances:

“Eric, of course, knows I’m fucking someone else, has known for almost the entire period of my affair with D. He even knows that, in distressing point of fact, I’m in love with this other man. I don’t have to tell him this. We basically share the same mind, after all. Once, I was proud of and comforted by this nearly paranormal connection. That my husband knew me so well, and I him, seemed proof of a love superior in all ways to all others. Then D happened. We fought about it when Eric first found out, of course, or rather I cried and Eric yelled and marched out of the house into the night for a few hours. But after that, there was only exhaustion, and quiet, and in all the months since we’ve barely spoken about it at all. Sometimes, even most of the time, everything seems fine this way. But then, this talent we share emerges and proves itself the stealthiest, most vicious weapon in our arsenals. We can delve into each other’s heart and deftly pull out the scraps of filthy hidden longing and unhappiness and shame. With a look or a word, we can deftly rub these into the other’s face as we’d push a dog’s nose into its mess on the living room rug.

“We’ll be sitting in front of the TV, say, into our second bottle of wine, watching some Netflix DVD. I always have my phone on silent when we’re together, so Eric doesn’t hear the trill or feel the buzz against the sofa cushions. But still I’m tense, glancing at the BlackBerry screen whenever Eric gets up to go to the bathroom or stir the soup. When he gets back to the couch and sits, I’ll press the soles of my feet up against his thigh in a gesture of affection intended to make me seem comfortable and happy. But eventually, unconsciously, the nervous energy builds, and I’m tapping my bare feet against his pants leg. “What’s the matter?” Eric will say, grabbing my feet to still them, not taking his eyes from the TV screen. “He not paying enough attention to you tonight?” I’ll freeze, stop breathing, and say nothing, waiting to see if there will be more, but there won’t be. There doesn’t need to be. We’ll stare at the television as if nothing at all has been said; when D does send me a message, if he does, I’ll be afraid to answer it.

“I can do the same to him. Some night my husband will go out. “Drinks with work buddies,” he will say. “Back by nine.” Nine o’clock and then ten will, inevitable, come and go. The first time this happened, a month or two after he discovered I was sleeping with D, I was surprised and worried. He came home that morning at two thirty and woke me up to confess, remorsefully, that he’d been on a date with another woman, that it wouldn’t happen again, though I told him—ah, the pleasure of being the sainted one for once—that he deserved to be able to see anyone he wanted. By now I’m used to it; I don’t expect him home, probably until dawn. I can instantly tell, from the tone of voice when he calls or the phrasing of his e-mail, that he’s going to be the woman he’s been seeing off and on for nearly as long as I’ve been fucking D. I’m not even angry; I’m pleased. The text I send him a little after eleven is always more than gracious: Sweetie, can you let me know if you’ll be home tonight? I totally understand if you won’t be. I just don’t want to worry. 

“It might take him twenty minutes to write back, or an hour, or three. But he’ll always write the same thing. I’ll be home soon. I know I’m fucking up everything. 

“No, I’ll write, all sweetness and light, you’re not fucking anything up. Have fun. Come home whenever you like. When I hear the lock in the door I’ll initially feign sleep while he undresses and cuddles up guiltily beside me in bed, but I’ll make sure I give his hand a reassuring squeeze so he knows. In the morning I’ll pretend not to see his wish that I’d scream or cry, show my hurt and thus my love. I’ll poach an egg for breakfast, smiling. Nothing will be said. This is how I punish him.”

The person who comes out of that claustrophobically dark domestic portrait looking bad is not Eric. And it could have been. There was a way to tell that story that made Julie Powell look good, or at least not horrifically bad—there were problems with the relationship, she had noticed an attraction between Eric and this other woman, there were fissures. She doesn’t. That first sentence—Eric, of course, knows that I’m fucking someone else—beats you over the head with her culpability. She doesn’t make excuses, she doesn’t psychologize her own behavior. She owns the intense ugliness of her actions, which are predicated on the fused intimacy she spent the first book creating, and strips the cloying sweetness of all the passivity that would make it passive aggression.

That could be sociopathic, as some have suggested. It could also be one of the most honest things I’ve ever read. Plenty of people go through their whole lives manipulating decent codes for indecent ends. The vicious private languages couples develop, the misunderstandings they cultivate, which to outsiders can look innocent, even sweet, are an incredible phenomenon that seldom gets tapped in memoir (for obvious reasons). Julie Powell translating her cheerful morning egg-poaching into the brutal and unfair indictment of Eric that it is? That’s many things, but it isn’t sociopathic. Would that it were. It’s deeply human, and we’ve all done something like it, and never spoken of it, and even forgotten about the motives ourselves.

There’s plenty not to like. The food metaphors frequently drift into the domain of maudlin punning. This one, for instance:

In an ideal world, this recipe would yield about two dozen four-inch links of sausage. However, all boiled sausages are delicate, especially blood sausage, due to the liquid filling. You will lose many lengths to burst casings…. but the ones that do turn out are lovely—spicy and rich, with the mint providing an unexpectedly refreshing note. You’ll find that you can live with the few links you have and not mourn too much over your mistakes.


Still, it’s a memoir where the author refuses to see either her lover or her husband as anything less than fully human, and that’s remarkable. It would have been so easy to make “D.” villainous or manipulative or bad—a bad man, taking advantage of her weakness, her newfound fame. Powell doesn’t do that. She isn’t a victim, and D. isn’t a villain, and that’s awful to have to read, because we want Eric to get the happy ending he deserves. We want her to have an epiphany, and there is one, but it isn’t that D. is horrible: it’s that he isn’t a god granting sexual favors, and that he’s been badly damaged by all the demands she’s placed on him.

I don’t know if that’s generosity. Perhaps it would have been more generous to sacrifice D. on the altar of narrative catharsis. More artful too—if art is about wrapping up the ugliness of infidelity in a CryoVac package so it stops contaminating. But the alternative Powell offers, while flawed, gives one (in the words of Hercule Poirot) “furiously to think.”



Carla Fran and Millicent Elsewhere on the Internet

Read Carla Fran on Poldark, a Netflix Treasure or utterly surreal “Cornish Maxiseries,”  over at The Hairpin.

Millicent’s latest “Stuff in Art” segment is also up at The Hairpin, and it is about bras. An overview of how 17th century drunkenness and how it expressed your loyalty to the King is up at The Awl.

Would You Like Some Breasts With Your Breasts?

Hogarth’s “Boys Peeping at Nature” shows us the world through the eyes of lads. The results are unsurprising:



Chile Student Protests Links, Background and Images–El Cacerolazo

If you’re lost as to what’s going on in Chile, I’m going to be writing a post for New APPS soon, but in the meantime, I’m posting useful links as I find them (updating periodically). The idea here is to provide a wide range of news sources to expose the range of responses in Chile. Links are not endorsements:

The Ministry of Education’s official site, which is currently down thanks to Anonymous. If you visit the site, you’ll find a hilarious cardboard .jpg version of it which Mineduc put up in the meantime. (After all, all you need for a Ministry of Education is a photo of what looks like, but isn’t, a functional site!)

@anonops has announced Operation #opchile for Saturday, Aug. 6, with targets including,,,, and You might want to check those periodically to see how they’re doing. As of this writing, is down.

Back in the day

Overview of the 2006 student protests (Revolución de los pingüinos), involving penguin costumes, that gave rise to their “penguin” moniker which you might encounter in the course of reading up on this. [Wikipedia]

  • The “Thriller” zombie-protest the students put on back in June 2011:
  • Footage of June 16 protest in Chillán–around 4500 people (via portalnet):

August 4

Slideshows of the student protests on August 4 are available from La Cuarta here and here. A slideshow of the Plaza Italia encounters between carabineros and students on August 4 are here and here.

An English-language article (in the Santiago Times) on why the law requiring “permits” for marches is unconstitutional is here.

Minister Hinzpeter on why he won’t authorize more marches: “The time for marches, in our judgment, has run out.”

A beautifully written satire by a medical student on the University of Chile anatomizing the very particular character of Chilean impatience and pragmatism (that explains the cultural underpinnings of Hinzpeter’s “the time for marches has run out”—a pronouncement that has nothing to do with principles or issues). It’s here (in Spanish–El Mostrador).

An article on the new proposal by the new Minister of Education, Felipe Bulnes, with full copies of Joaquin Lavin’s G.A.N.E. plan and the new version at the bottom (The Clinic).

An explanation of why those government proposals fall short of what the students want is here.

A brief explanation of the privatization of education in Chile is here.

Here is a video of the students confronting a TVN journalist about the one-sidedness of news coverage of the protests. They object that a few vandals are getting all the coverage, and no one is actually talking to or interviewing the students. It’s a fascinating exchange (Spanish):


Here you’ll find footage of tear gas and “guanacos” clearing out public park–watch at the end when they direct a huge stream of teargas at a lone person walking on the sidewalk.

A truly Kafkaesque video wherein students outside the Metro explain to a reporter that they’re being turned away from the subway. Explanation offered: it has “collapsed.” Even as subway officials allow commuters who aren’t dressed in student uniforms through. (Obviously an effort to keep students from marching—by keeping ALL STUDENTS off the subway.)

Coverage of the “cacerolazos” on August 5 (emol).

President of the RN  Carlos Larraín’s declaration that “his hand will not be forced by a crew of useless subversives” (La Nacion).

Subsecretary Ubillo’s condemnation of the violence in the Plaza Italia, declaration that the Cacerolazo (pot-banging) protests are understandable (La Nacion).

Assessments of the damage to public property as a result of the protests: La Tercera. A slideshow of the damage at is here.

Video of Jaime Gajardo, the President of the “Colegio de Profesores” announcing a new strike for Tuesday, August 9.

Hinzpeter’s response after the students rejected his warmed-over version of Lavin’s G.A.N.E. plan (La Segunda).

Here is the AnonOps video on #opchile:


Hola, lovers!

Lovely people visiting thanks to the fabulous Fug Girls: Salutations!

We’re tickled pink you’re here. Get comfy! Want some tea? If you’re feeling adventurous and want more, may we refer you to our “Best of Millicent and Carla Fran” section?

(We also write for Splitsider about funny ladies on TV before Bridesmaids,  at The Hairpin on Things Overheard When Colin Firth Got His Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and about 17th Century Boob-Wrangling Practices, and for The Awl about 17th century advice columns.)


M and CF

Real Men Smell Like Deer in Heat

Dear CF,

I was recently in a gun shop in Proctorville, Ohio, going up the stairs from the shooting-range in the basement after deciding that this was not the place from which to steal a chocolate doughnut. Even though there they were—unguarded, free for the taking—just in front of a couple of “3-D targets” (a.k.a. plastic animal statues):

Judging from the educational material on the projector and the abandoned notes on the conference table, an NRA meeting on gun safety had just concluded. Anyway, like I said, I was leaving, doughnut-hungry, when I saw this:

The picture isn’t in great focus because two guys in the basement gave us weird looks as we were leaving, and I was worried they would catch me taking shots. So I snapped two quick pictures and decided to look at them later. Here is the close-up:

Given world enough and time, here’s what I’ve gathered: the ultimate one-two hunting combination consists in masking your man-smell with Scent Killer and then dousing yourself in Special Golden Estrus (deer urine), so that you smell so much like a fetching lady-deer such that the stags will come flocking to you.

Other mottoes they may have contemplated to go with the steroid-man pictured: Real men wear deer-drag. Be the Best Doe-Bro You Can Be. Golden Showers Bring Male Powers.




Word whimsy for the weekend:


Dear Millicent,

Migraines are such an intimate issue. One time I told a friend I had them and he just hugged me, I thought, in the form of a brother-in-arms. But he was not a fellow migraineur, he was just really, really sorry for those who were.  It’s a few other places in my life where I have received such unfiltered compassion. And, since I always link migraines to Didion, the whole act is always slightly bristly. A migraine is something with blunt bangs, not ready to be held, that has a blunt charge with words. Blunt is a key word for me, and for how I think about the precision of Didion’s writing (not that her precision is dulled, as much as it is so idiosyncratically precise that it will hit your stomach and heart hard, like a bag of grapefruits (let’s make it oranges, for California)).

I’m guessing describing headaches is like describing dreams, but here’s what mine are like: I feel all of my blood thicken (when it feels like hot wine soup, I know I have a migraine), all I want is a dark room, and even sleeping sucks.  I can’t focus on words very well, and just the static underhum of television (my balm for all pains) is one more weight on my brain and everything has to go away.  Hot baths help, sex helps, and the brief moments when I am swallowing hot tea.  But the migraine is mighty, and likes to return after the nerves have gotten over their little interruption of heat or pleasure.  I’m also very hot when I’ve got a good one going. My hands and feet feel swollen. One time, at a dinner party, I did that thing I’ve always read about, and lay down on the cool tiles of the bathroom floor.  My pulse becomes most of what I can concentrate on.

I don’t believe that red wine triggers it, or chocolate, or fancy cheese. It can’t be that simple. I do believe that stress and a bunch of other things start a cocktail going, and if all is ready, then that cocktail goes to town (which is why I get migraines more after I finish a project, right when I’m about to celebrate).  I have had years with 2 migraines, and then one a week for a long stretch.

I haven’t had one since November, when I started seeing an acupuncturist who told me that all of me was inflamed.  Her reasoning for the headaches is that everything gets hotted up on one level or another, and when you reach a certain level of RED ALERT, you are prone to the headaches. Like, fruit flies can invade your kitchen whenever, but when it’s hot out and you don’t put the banana peel away, WATCH OUT. Her theory is not based on triggers as much as accumulation, and that when you get enough heat accumulated, you are ready for a little tornado in your head (our head as Pepsi Bottle cyclone?).  In my case, this made sense. I had been drinking hard and not moving except from bed to computer for about 15 years. I thought I ate well, but I also ate a lot of pizzas at midnight.  She also diagnosed my inflamed liver by pressing on my shin, which had become so sensitive that sometimes a bedsheet felt too heavy on it, and when she hit that one tiny spot, I said “ow,” and she said “ah.” She also told me I was puffy, and anxious.  I wouldn’t have chosen those words, but she was right.

Her path to getting un-inflamed was brutal. She wanted me to replace alcohol with exercise (who does that?), and stop eating everything I like to eat (the list is boring, but trust me, it’s everything good).  She told me to do it for a month, and to exercise twice a day.  She’s also part witch, so I did everything she said.

I’m not preaching this path.  It worked for me, but I got inflamed in my own particular way, and had to get deflamed in the same manner.  I do think you sound HOT, hot in the queasy-no-more-please sense. The sensory overload, the intolerance for demanding or new things, it sounds as if your nerves are already filled to the gill.  I’m guessing there were times in your life where you could absorb everything you wanted, which sounds like your accumulation is simply maxed out right now. It might be stress, salt, tomatoes–anything that makes our tiniest linings (both physical and emotional) poof out instead of in.  And maybe you’re super-poofed.

The brain, in this version of migrainery, is a world of credit cards, jelly fishes, and ball gowns.  We have to pay down the debt, and trade in the debutante meringue for a nice mermaid cut.

It isn’t forever (I really believe this), and it isn’t an eternal judgement on your character.

Forgive my spray of advice. I just found out about Dear Sugar, and have been reading her archive so happy to find the internet saving some lives.

But with all of that, I do hope your head feels better today,





Dear CF,

The summer never really showed up here. This morning I took the bus to work with an umbrella, one of my eighteen winter coats, and a migraine. I met with students. They’re kind, gentle, busy, and their share in our meetings involves trying not to let me know that they’re too busy for my class. My share is showing them how much busier they need to be to make it. That’s what summer school is.

I’m tired.

I don’t know where the migraines come from. Stress, exercise, lack of exercise, too much sleep, too much dopamine, not enough lipid in the blood. Menstrual cycles. Mood cycles. Low potassium. High blood pressure. Dehydration. Eating. Forgetting to eat. To say “I don’t know where the migraines come from” is such a stupidly obvious thing to say, but God, it’s awful. When I have a cold, I know it’s a virus. When my muscles are sore, I can decide whether to tear and build them or let them relapse. Cramps are fine. They’re here for a bit, then they’ll go away. When they’re particularly bad, I feel pleased that I’m not having that particular child. because I associate pain level with personality. But every migraine is different. Each one has its own snowflake fingerprint, and it always wears gloves.

Sometimes, like today, when I’m worn out from the feeling of being in one, I have an awful Eureka moment where I decide that art triggers the headaches. These days I’ve been getting them four days a week. Possible cause: I went and saw Anna Deveare Smith’s one-woman show Let Me Down Easy, built on a series of interviews she did with people who have or treat cancer or have somehow been caught up in the net of our health care. It was a show about death, and how we don’t think about it, and how the world is dealing with every single day. The luxury of not dealing with it cripples you by the time you leave. I left a broken tower of unearned health.

That was the same day I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. reading Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go.

In retrospect, it was a bad combination. Since then, I’ve been getting migraines almost daily.

Like I’ve said before, mine are mild, as migraines go. They’re not the awful nausea-inducing ones. I don’t get the auras. My vision gets a little lazy, but no spots, no passing out, no barfing. Just a reluctance for my brain to understand what my eyes are seeing. Sometimes (not always) my mouth tastes sweet. My muscles swell up, my sinuses get inflamed, and for the next few hours I can either shut down entirely and wake up periodically with a spike behind my eye, or I walk around in a shimmery puddle of hurt where it takes superhuman effort to look at someone and smile.

Smile, and suddenly I’m eight feet deeper in headache. Be a real friend to someone the way you do, you know, listening to them, feeling with them, and I’m eight hours deeper in headache. Paradise Lost measures the distance Satan and the rebel angels fall in units of time. (They fell nine days.) That’s the shift: eight feet deep for a smile, eight hours deep for a real talk.

It means it’s hard to be a good friend. I have so many good friends. I owe so many friendship debts. I’m always, always behind. And the more behind I get, the worse the headache will be.

Sometimes I avoid people because I don’t want a headache. I have the choice to feel good enough to work and think or be a good friend. They’re mutually exclusive. Sometimes I make the selfish choice.

I barely have enough for friends and teaching. I’m coming up short. And since I’ve got such a shallow supply of whatever that is—generosity? energy? soul? electrolytes? I don’t know what the word is for the thing that gets used up and brings the headaches on—I’ve cut out art.

I don’t listen to music, because it will make me feel things intensely, and give me a headache.

I don’t watch any new movies or television shows, because they will make me feel things intensely and give me a headache.

I don’t even read any new books anymore, because they will make me feel things intensely and give me headache.

Instead I rewatch and reread things so that I don’t need to deal with surprise. I read the internet, which won’t threaten that part of me. It’s all a variation on a theme I already know. So I spend my days always a little bored. And the hours trickle away and I’ve done nothing new, and experienced nothing that makes me really feel, and written nothing that makes me thrill, because I might start swelling up on the inside, and that headache might be the one that never stops. That’s what they feel like–they distort your sense of time and you feel like you’re going to have them forever.

I hate this.

Last night I watched Mary and Max. Have you seen it? It’s a claymation film. It won awards.

Today I had a headache.

I don’t know what to do.