There are questions you find after you have the answers. What is the best one-two successive combination of songs on an album that aren’t the first or last songs? I’m listening to Built to Spill’s There’s Nothing Wrong With Love and for me, right now, that question’s answer is “Big Dipper” and then “Car”. Midnight drives home over the West Seattle Bridge, up 35th with the street lights spilling down the hill in the rain. Those songs remind me of home. Of night love. Of laughing with windows open, alone on the street.
I am halfway through Chloe Caldwell’s collection of essays called Legs Get Led Astray put out by Future Tense. I say Chloe read at bookthugnation in a Williamsburg I’m sure she said something about it being way different than when she lived there before. She read “That Was Called Love” and I fell a little bit in love with her that night. The story finishes on a fire escape, but in Seattle, Chloe on the phone with her New York life living outside her but not without her. I was going to try and talk to her about Seattle, but then my friends left and she had a lot of her New York friends around her and why would she want to talk to me. I am reading her stories now in the morning, listening to Built to Spill and these essays, fuck. They’re here. Read them:
“But. This was life. And I preferred hurt to ignorance. And it definitely hurt like a smack in the face to see my mother’s annoyances with me and her hardships and unhappiness. But it also made me feel less alone. And I simply loved the words. I saw beauty in them. I saw beauty in truth. Truthful words moved me. Choked me up. I cried each time I read a new entry. In my gut I always knew I wanted to be a writer. But sometimes it takes people along time to admit the truest things about themselves.”
Chloe Caldwell and Elizabeth Ellen went on a book tour together. If I were to pair two books right now, I would pair Legs Get Led Astray and Fast Machine.
I want to see movies of my dreams.
There is a Excel spreadsheet somewhere in my computer that lists every story in Fast Machine (Short Flight/Long Drive), and then in the following columns, different aspects or classifiable elements: age of narrator, age of other characters, animals (?), themes, locations, happy/sad (?), types of sex, etc. See, I wanted to do a book report, but instead make different mix-tapes using 15-20 stories. See, I sent a message to Hobart promising that I’d write a review if they sent me a copy. I never wrote that review. Until now, kind of, maybe. See, when I read Elizabeth Ellen for the first time, it wasn’t really my first time. She came out with a chapbook on Future Tense called Before You She Was A Pit Bull. Many of the stories in the chapbook are in the big book. I was rereading a part of my life when I was happy, ensconced in a Seattle forbidden to me previously but now/then open and bleeding like warm concrete in summer. Elizabeth’s stories dance with each other. I was reminded of William Gay and Sugarbaby. My idea of making mix-tapes of the stories was almost more for me to figure out who these people were. Like Chloe, like herself, Elizabeth writes truths.
“Adam would say this was what I sought out: the uncertainty of the situation. I had a hard-on for it. Also it kept me from facing long-term goals, like writing a novel (or getting married). My focus was much more myopic. It was one-day-at-a-time mentality. It was at-9 o’clock-when-my-daughter-goes-to-bed-I’ll-drink-and-smoke-and-listen-to-sad-songs-on-my-iPod-in-the-basement-until-I-passout mentality. It was ever-happy-person-is-the-same-and-boring-and-every-miserable-person-is-miserable-in-an-interesting-way logic. (Except miserable people are boring, too).
Bottoms up and this time/ Won’t you let me be?
I didn’t finish Fast Machine twice. Too many notes. Life. The Atlantic Ocean getting inside my computer. But I would. Especially after reading Chloe. Because sometimes two separate things vibrate harder when they’re next to each other.
“A small truth in all of this is that I’ve always wanted someone to invade my privacy. I guess that’s another essay in itself—one that I am not sure I’m capable of writing yet. I am sorry, Lover, and sorry, Mother, for ruining our trust and straining our relationships.
I can accept that all I’ve ever wanted is not very special—all I’ve ever wanted, liked most people, is proof of love.”