dispatch of nothing

A post about nothing.

dispatch of nothing

When I start to feel really bad I read Jenny Offill’s Dept. of Speculation. It’s a story of almost divorce and of motherhood and infidelity and the horrible feeling of failing yourself and those around you. The parts about inadequacy are the parts I read the most.

I bought the book the first time I lived in West Philadelphia after a friend saw it in the periphery of a photo I took inside the volunteer staffed bookstore and recommended it. Over that first year I purchased lit mags and poetry collections and a copy of Cometbus Post Mortem that went missing. I went back to the bookstore and bought another copy that also went missing. I went back and bought a third. 

Copy #3 sits on my shelf now and I never went to that bookstore again.

I read personal essays that went viral online last week and I read essays about personal essays. I think back to my intro to these sorts of things— a woman oversharing online in pursuit of career, whatever that means. To me, it seemed glamorous to be someone writing about yourself. As a teen, I allowed myself to obsess over the self destruction of Cat Marnell and the youth success of Tavi Gevinson. 

I don’t know that I wanted to be them, necessarily, but they fueled my obnoxious, bulimia fueled teenage love-hate with women I viewed as intrinsically interesting. Tavi was unattainably successful— beloved for the novelty of her youth. Cat was aspirationally gross and seemingly always failing upward— exploited for the very messiness I found so gripping as a girl who was scared of drugs but not of vomit. 

Now I think exposing too much of yourself is morally neutral. A compulsion of the overly self interested, maybe, but that’s true of most writing.

Recently my therapist asked me what I want out of writing and making anything— this blog, a magazine, any zine. I told her I just want to make something cool. I think that’s the truth. To aspire to more feels foolish. I’m not sure what more there is to aspire to.

I put cash from my corporate paychecks in unlabeled envelopes. They’re bookmarked for payment of writers I send emails back and forth with. $200 here, $125 there. $150 for him, $200 for her. I barely think about the money. 

I texted my friend Matt not too long ago about money and making the stuff you want. 

compelled to Create and Do, forced to Spend. 

Yesterday I went to a bar that doubles as a coffee shop and replied to a lot of emails. A writer and editor employed by a website I’ve read for a long time sent me a message of support about my new venture. I write and rewrite a thank you back to her, but I click away every time. 

Back to more pressing matters away from my embarrassment.

The bartenders asked me if I took milk with my coffee each time I went up for a refill— $3 for one cup, $5 for free refills. I said no each time. It’s not true, I do take coffee with milk, but I drank four cups of black coffee anyway before having a beer once the sun was down.  

I walked north after that beer and instead of going home I had dinner at a bar across the street from an old apartment of mine. I had cried about this bar mere days before— in my memory, it is the last place I was the person I was before I became someone that had something horrible happen to them. In reality it’s just a bar. 

I ate a cheeseburger and replied to another email while I listened to the bartender talk to the regulars. 

I walked back to my apartment. I fed my cat. I went to sleep. I woke up late. I replied to emails. I drank a cortado. I saw a man who looked like my friend Matt. I listened to Guided by Voices. I read Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill.