They had put quite some effort into claiming their sunny spots in one of the few gazebos overlooking the little lake in the middle of Quinnsbury Park. For an hour they had been lurking around it, waiting for an elderly couple to leave together with their slightly obese dachshund, to run inside and sprinkle as much of their belongings around the place as possible to avoid the invasion of exhausted park runners, pensioners and school classes on trips with their overly eager biology teachers. They did so giggling and breathless like two primary schoolers who just snuck out of class a heroic half an hour early. A group of middle aged nordic walkers graced them with long, disgruntled looks before moving on to find an empty gazebo, or at least a bench without someone already feeding pigeons on it.
His contribution to the artifical chaos was an old, brown leather bag, two enormous bottles of soda and a stack of library paperbacks that was rather impressive considering the fact that he'd carried them outside his bag, balancing a tower of old, stained paper beings around crowded park walkways. She had brought several large sheets of thick cardboard, acrylic paints, water, a set of brushes and a museum guide of a Monet exhibition that was almost a decade old. She leaned on the rail figuring out a good spot in the park landscape to turn into a painting, while he picked up one of the book, only to place it in his lap and let the fading autumn sunlight wash over his features with his eyes closed. She was enthusiastically skimming the guide.
"I really can't wait to get started, even though I have a premonition that I will fail spectacularly," she said, propping up a cardboard sheet against a pillar and laying out her colours and whatnots. His mouth twitched into something akin to a half-smile. "You're like a preschooler right now, all buzzing and eager, and in an hour you'll cry noisily about how it turned out completely different from what you expected." She ignored his teasing, knowing he'd probably turn out to be right - again - and started painting. "I gotta start some day, I mean I wanted to try impressionism for ages now, and I think that's one type of painting I could actually master. It's more mellow than, say, expressionism and it's oddly satisfying to keep dotting the paper. My goal is to forge van Gogh's sunflowers one day."
He chuckled. "Keep that criminal energy coming, it suits you." She threw him a dismissive, albeit still good-humoured look and started painting, but he didn't see it - his eyes were still closed, and he was so completely still in the sun that if the breeze didn't move his hair a little he'd resemble a wax figure. The book in his lap remained untouched for at least an hour, and she only looked up from her cardboard and the landscape every now and then as if checking whether he was still there. She wondered whether his back didn't hurt as he seemed to arch against a pillar of their shared gazebo in a rather unnatural fashion, and whether he was actually asleep, even though she didn't think he was. This was of enormous interest as she kept allowing herself to indulge in the contrast of jet black hair and porcelain skin he happened to display on himself, and she wanted to avoid him catching her staring at all costs.
The painting was turning out weird. She placed careful brushstrokes side by side trying to create texture, but if at all, the trees and the lake looked like an awkward, sloppy kind of pointillism, rather than the swirling dynamic of an early impressionist she was trying so desperately to go for. Her annoyance started to show on the cardboard, resulting in even more misplaced strokes, until she angrily put the brush aside and let out an exasperated little noise. "Well, I definitely see something happen there. The artist started their work conscientiously, carefully, until their temper got the better of them," she heard him say. "Not quite what the goal was, but true art nevertheless." The irony wasn't appreciated. "Oh, you're impossible! Seriously, sometimes I wish someone would punch you for your self-righteousness, and I hope to God it won't have to be me, with my tiny bicepses," she almost hissed. But he only smirked at that, because just as he took the freedom to be cruelly insensitive, he didn't mind people being insensitive to him. "I sense outright aggression! Don't restrain yourself, the cardboard is your playground!" he exclaimed theatrically, moving out of the way of leg aimed at kicking him in the shin. "You suck," she grumbled, turning away from him.
He watched her back with a grin. "I'll buy you ice cream," he suggested amiably. There was no response. He took on more comfortable position to sit and watch her trying to save what could be saved. "You know," he said after half an hour of silence, "that's what people are," nodding at the painting. "What, passive aggressive failures?" she asked, still slightly peeved. "Nah," he replied, looking at the little dots and smears of colour, "impressionist paintings. You don't ever get what you see, if you start looking closer. It's just dots, and dots, and between the dots, there's nothing." They sat in grave silence for a minute, the only noise being the swoosh of the brush. "Aren't you the optimist," she said finally. He sighed. "Come on," said, running his hand through his hair and standing up. "Pack up your stuff. Let's have De Daumier-Smith have his blue period and give it a rest for today. I'll buy you ice cream." She crinkled her nose. "Who's De Daumier-Smith?" she asked. He didn't reply.
She knew by the first bite of baked sweetcorn and the shiver she woke up with in the morning after sleeping with an open window. When clouds had quietly changed their shapes from cotton balls to feathers, and when the scent of the air at dusk had begun to tug at something in her chest - that's when she knew that summer was over, and even if it hadn't brought her particular cheer she would be missing, a mellow sadness crept into every inch of her as soon as the sky changed its promise of bright and harsh sunlight to that of sparse, apologetic and farewell-bidding rays. As she did some modifications to her wardrobe, getting out a few sweaters, she figured it wasn't so much the summer fun she'd be missing - she didn't harbour any romantisised notion of a Summer Dream as teen culture and western capitalism had established it firmly over the course of decades - but the distinct taste of passing time that suddenly became more palpable and alarming. However quietly this feeling dispersed, breathing became more difficult nevertheless and as ever so often, just sinking into the ground, crumbling after an unnoticed petrification, seemed so much more convenient and sweet that coming to terms with the fact that yes, time has passed again.
Dear Mr. Salinger,
you probably wouldn't be particularly dying to read anything like the following, but since you made Holden love the idea of just talking to the author of an appreciated book, I will be bold and write anyway - it's not like you can do much to stop me or just shake your head in disapproval of such an irrational endeavour since this letter is either six years or a lifetime too late.
As embarrassing as this is, Mr. Salinger, the point of writing this escapes me since the recipient is eternally unavailable and the content of the letter in question is thoroughly chaotic, albeit as sincere as can be. After spending yet another several days with the Glass family instead of everything else I should be doing, I am harbouring a vague necessity to tell you something - what exactly, I do not know. Yet, I intend to keep typing until all the peculiar little thoughts I had whilst watching Buddy Glass's belletristic home movie return to me.
I am deeply impressed, Mr. Salinger. It may delight you to know that, in my excitement about your writing, I had decided immediately to dedicate my MA thesis to your protagonists as examples of American existentialism, but I withdrew from this plan in horror after researching secondary literature on your short stories and discovering that critics are oh so stupid. Why are they so stupid, Bessie? To have someone I have never met, driven by scholarly narcissism and normed education, ruin a thing that struck me like thunder in its honesty and accuracy? Nay, Mr. Salinger. No academic paper shall ever be written by me on the subject of the Glasses, since doing the opposite would result in estrangement of newly found - who, in fact? Soulmates? Best case scenario. Role models? Flawed ones, but yes.
It's very funny you should mention people thinking they're "a bunch of insufferably 'superior' little bastards" because even if you shove it in some critics' faces, that they are, in fact, not; some won't listen and bemoan literally this alleged insufferable superiority as the major flaw in character design. In the first decade of the 21st century, mind you, well over fifty years after you've proven them wrong through your story, if only they had read it with an open mind. At least that is my opinion. I am, however, perfectly aware that this opinion is dismissable for various reasons.
I just need to tell you, Mr. Salinger, that I found it refreshing as hell that someone dared to create characters whose troubles lie deeper than the average man's, and chose not to focus on those who modestly hold up a credible level of naivite and false compassion whilst still giving lessons, thus appeasing the common, nervous reader: no, my friend, relax: I am not above your level in any way. No, Mr. Salinger, you dared to create brilliance without a deus ex machina scent, you made Seymour and Buddy and Zooey, who are ideal and restless, nevertheless, and too aware of the snares of self-absorption and narcissism to display any of the two without self-reflexivity. Once upon a time - just hear me out - I made up someone not quite far from Zooey in his properties, for a story of mine, and a lecturer thought I should give him more to worry about - "how about some trouble with a woman?", he suggested. I couldn't comprehend how he could miss the point of this character not having such a problem at that particular point in fictional time, of not dealing with anything that could be easily resolved by me, the writer. I am, unlike you, probably just not as talented a wordsmith to convey someone like that unmistakably.
I am absolutely certain you would object to a comparison of Zooey and this character of mine, and you'd be right - so far, I am just admiring, not quite comprehending what fell into my hands with your stories. Ideally, I will, someday, but for now, let me just thank you, Mr. Salinger, for providing perspective, solace, hope and rest. For yet uncharted reasons, I felt quite at home in that East Seventies appartement, and reassured by the words of wisdom coming from a certain Zachary Michael Glass.
He looked around the room with a sigh, as if to assess the situation. She was sitting on her bed wrapped in a tartan blanket and side-eyeing him like a dog who chewed up a carpet when their human hasn't been watching. It was a sunny day, and the pastel colours of her place could suggest serenity if it hadn't been for the shadows around her eyes and a puffiness he was already familiar with from previous encounters. There were children's books scattered on her bed, her laptop rested right next to them displaying several tabs of football match moments on YouTube and "Mrs. Robinson" was blaring out of small speakers in a corner. Apparently, the player was put on loop because the song ended and began again right away. Dust particles were dancing in the air to the music.
He drew a deep breath and she watched him with the same guilty expression. "So?" he finally said with a huff, crossing his arms and leaning against a shelf. She shuffled in her tartan. "I'm fine," she replied and it sounded very much like a threatened porcupine raising its quills. His mouth twitched a little to almost show a half-smile, almost. "Yeah, sure you are. Determined, working on your life, focused on all the great things to come, aren't you." He knew he sounded harsh, but he also knew that it was exactly what she needed - anything more pitiful and compassionate would have her throw a fit, probably, or worse - burst into several minutes of crying she'd be utterly embarrassed by at the end of the day.
"I am." she said, almost offended. "Well, I'm getting there." He did not bother to keep a straight face anymore, raising his eyebrows and grinning widely. "Interesting, I'm just at a loss a little here - what could anyone possibly be up to with a bunch of kid's books, football and late 60s folk rock..? Is that film script inspo, or performance art..." She rolled her eyes, and he mentally ticked the situation as a point past any imminent moments of hysteria. He was a master of his art. Any art actually, and he knew that she knew. "It's therapeutic," she said. "I'm having a bit of a... I'm... You know. Life, and shit." He picked up one of the books, and turned it to read the summary. "You're blanking everything out again, aren't you." She looked out the window.
And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know.
"Yeah. I need it. It's getting too much again. I need a break. I've felt out of place again, and so alone. I need it." He nodded absently. She watched him. The otherworldliness would never leave him, whatever exactly it was. He put the book back where it was.
Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.
"What's up with the football videos?" He sat down on the bed, too, and cautiously picked up her slim, small laptop, clicking through the tabs. "I had no idea you were into that?" She shrugged. "I'm not. Not really, at least. I like some aspects of it. These people dedicate their entire lives to it. It's a physical thing, and this physical thing extends to a mental thing. They're so upset when they lose. They're literally children. It's like watching children react to something, and they're so happy when they win. Just look at that." On the screen, the national team just scored the first goal three minutes before the final match would be over. The boys were beaming already - exhausted, sweating, barely able to run, but so, so happy. "It's so untainted. Primal, almost, because they're too drained to pretend, too weary, and too emotionally invested. So I'm borrowing some of that happiness." Their eyes met briefly and she felt a dizziness return, as always when that happened. She gave up on trying to understand why. "And the books are a time travel, aren't they." A sad nod from her. He looked at her for a minute or two, like someone conducting an experiment, waiting for two chemicals to react. They didn't.
Hide it in the hiding place where no one ever goes.
"And the song?" he asked finally, playing around with the hem of the tartan blanket. Her reaction was a barely noticable shrug. "Though there's a funny story to it," she said, "years ago my sister bought a CD from some buskers in Italy, and they had covered that song. I was only 12 or so, and I absolutely loved it. I had no idea it wasn't theirs, and the most hilarious thing is that it said 'amplification prohibited' on the disc, and I didn't know English well enough back then to understand what it means, so I had absolutely no doubts that it was the band's name. I literally only realised why they wrote it on there years later, when I stumbled across that CD again." He beamed at the thought, and she at the memory. "You can file that under time travel, too, I guess." Her features hardened.
Look around you all you see are sympathetic eyes, stroll around the grounds until you feel at home.
He didn't say anything, still looking ahead pensively and now she looked him up and down. Quite the sight, frankly. "You know," she nudged him in the shoulder, "I wish I could paint. You'd make a superb subject." He looked her right in the eyes, and there it was again, the vertigo. "A friend of mine is a painter, I think I will pay him to track you down and follow you around for a week, and make a series of portraits without you noticing." He smiled. "So much effort." "So worth it," she replied. The song went into the chorus for a billionth time that day. He got up, took her hand and almost dragged her off the bed, so unexpectedly that she lost her blanket and almost fell over her slippers on the ground. "Come on," he said, swirling her around, dancing a few steps. In her vision, the room started swirling too, again.
Koo-koo-ka-choo, Mrs. Robinson, Jesus loves you more than you will know.
God bless you, please, Mrs. Robinson. Heaven holds a place for those who pray.
Hey, hey, heyHey, hey, hey
~Me to myself~
1. Okay, okay, I get it - life is hard. It's a goddamn bloody chaotic mess most of the time but 7 billion people around the planet are somehow coping and you should, too.
2. Remember how shitty things were some time ago? See, you made it past it, so why not get to grips with life in its harmless stage?
3. You had the opportunity to intern at a magnificent place, the people were wonderful, they didn't hate you and you have actual WRITTEN WORK published in an actual PRINT MAGAZINE, you gathered experience, you realised it's exactly what you had always hoped it would be. And of course it's a tough job area, it's not easy to actually get employed and not work your skin off as a poorly paid freelancer, but you MADE A START and that's something big enough for now.
4. There's not much uni work left. 1 1/2 term papers, an exam and your master thesis. That's doable. Go kick some academic ass, gurrrl.
5. You bought new running shoes, you're gonna enjoy going out for a workout once in a while. You can do this, you fat piece of lazy ass. (just kidding. you couch potato)
6. The quicker you get all of your uni work done, the faster you can go and actually do what you found out you like. Right? RIGHT?
7. WRITE THIS FUCKING BOOK. You've got the characters. You've got the story. You made seven zillion notes about random ideas and side characters and quirky shit to incorporate, you've got this. YOU CAN DO IT.
8. Your cat likes you.
I fucking ADORE this song and I hope this illustration/ animation does my feelings justice.
Future: I gotta pace up my uni game, do some things and finish post-grad lyf. I'm also quietly brooding over a zine. I really am.
Present: My art needs some recalibration, I feel horrible about the amount of short-haired girls I've produced during the last couple months.
Past: There is a stack of To-Do-lists from pre-internship times flying around that eagerly await treatment.
This song makes me dreamy, and Grimes in general just makes me dreamy, and Haruka and Michiru make me dreamy as heck, so here you go.
They were several people sitting around in the living room and sipping beer on a fairly lighthearted, early evening. Giggles and jokes, very layed back. Afterwards, she couldn't quite recall what everyone has been talking about because she was trying to watch him as inconspiciously as possible. He hadn't noticed, or so she hoped. She had no particular plans, and even lesser hopes, none, actually - she was comfortable as she was, just an innocent bystander where he happened to exist, to smile at lame jokes and to seem quite content. Watching everything from a short distance, in an elvish manner even, or so she sweet-talked it to herself. The view was quite the enjoyment though - he looked so soft, the idea of what the skin on his face would feel like if you just touched it passed through her mind momentarily - and she was surprised to notice that, even at this thought, nothing stirred inside. She was imagining it pragmatically, and she drew great joy from it. Better not let it get out of hand. Behold, but do not touch. Best not to get invested into something that will be a certain bankruptcy.
A brief moment of her negligence and his glance catches her eyes. Her gaze in turn drifts away as if he had never been the subject. He's not that easily fooled though, and there are several almost-eye-meetings. She looks around, waiting for a moment to retreat from the party. Of course, he preempts her and ruins her nonchalance-emergency-leave. When she thinks he's out the door and gone off, she bows out and heads for the exit. He is still there, but leaving- really leaving, this time, and they look at each other in a way she does her best not to interpret as mutual understanding of what just occured in a fraction of a moment back in the living room. They only share about three seconds though, as awkward as can be, and she walks into the chilled evening air feeling thoroughly uncomfortable for potentially having been defeated in this game of pretending that there's nothing to pretend.
it's all about jglfhsfjkshf
You know what's problematic? When you feel like you're expected to figure out what you can do best. I swear I don't know. I won't even try. I'm a bit scared. A tiny bit hopeful, too, but way more scared and insecure.
PS: I did stalk your girlfriend on Facebook and she really isn't pretty. Your loss tho, I guess.
The good thing about developing a light crush and being conscious about it is that you can use it as a beautiful excuse for a slight loss of focus and sprinkles of daydreamy blank outs to brighten your day and the fact that you don't get lost in overwhelming emotions whilst still enjoying the benefits of paying attention to someone. You also have an excuse to indulge in the creation of kitschy playlists. The bad thing about knowing that said crush is very probably not paying the same attention to you in the slightest is that it can be perceived as frustrating at times, but thankfully just a little bit. This is entertainment, mind you. It always is.
it's all about nothing in particular