yeah yeah chloe



At 12:30 I boarded the bus to my grandparents' house with an overnight bag and a small snack. I was the only passenger. The driver put on a country radio station at maximum volume, and then we set off. The music made me think of the phrase "easy listening" and for those two hours I was completely content, as I often am during long car rides but rarely am otherwise. We passed snow banks and lone houses and so many geese, and also Giggles Why Not, a cryptically-windowed store on Route 9 (lingerie, gag gifts), which is either a joke shop or a sex shop, I can never decide which. Around 3:00 the driver pulled to the side of the highway and opened the door. 

"Miss," he said, in a flat voice, until I heard him over the music. "Miss. Your stop. Miss."

In my grandparents' house I ate guacamole on crackers and tried to decompress from the events of the past few weeks. Usually talking is a good way to do this, and so is being with my grandmother, but it was hard to shake that feeling of unease. At night I got into bed and began to watch men's curling, but the game was slow-moving and obscure, so I walked down to the office. Along the walls are hundreds of old photographs and sometimes looking at them is a kind of balm. There is a lot of stuff that came before this, you realize, and a lot that's coming after it. 

Almost twenty years ago: me and Dad.



At nine o'clock I woke up and finished the story. The sky was gloomy and unmorninglike--my favorite kind of sky--and I looked at it through the downstairs windows while printing the story, which took ten minutes, because the computer has a virus. I put a paperclip around the stack of paper, turned it over and sandwiched it between the coffee table books in the living room so I would not be tempted to edit it. Then I went for a brisk walk outside while listening to Bonnie Raitt. Later, in the bath, I read an article about Lorrie Moore in which she joked that writers should ideally have month-long stretches when they can sit around in their bathrobes and write, which made me laugh until I realized that this is exactly what I have been doing. 



Christmas has always been my favorite time of year, probably because I am age-inappropriately attached to my family and prone to nostalgia. And, isn't it incredible and so strange, when you think about it, to have a tree in your house, an enormous just-cut one, the breadth and the smell of it? The other night I babysat Ty (who, at twelve, let's be honest, doesn't really need babysitting--it was more an excuse to make holiday crafts and watch Elf. The main character is Christmas-obsessed and Ty teases that it is really a documentary about me.) 

Every year we set up the creche and arrange all of the little creche figures so that there is some sort of narrative, which over the years has become entirely unbiblical. We do, however, get pretty competitive when unwrapping the figures: everyone wants to get the baby jesus, though any of the other main players (Mary, Joseph, Gabriel, the three Kings) are secondarily desirable. This tradition did not strike me as odd until I told Ali about it, who immediately thought we were Christian fundamendalists. 

Ty got the baby! He's been on a four-year streak. Mom unwrapped the bandit, a one-armed lone wolf with a dagger and a red cape, who is all of our next-favorite. I got a few miscellaneous barn animals, the single mother and two-thirds of the Kings. 

Ty with the Jesus figure (and me, jealous but trying to be supportive):

Hm, what else? Tonight I am going to a belated birthday dinner. I chose the restaurant because they've got nice lighting and really good mac and cheese. 




Doesn't everything feel more effortful at this time of year? Reading, writing, walking long distances, now that the weather here has dipped low into the forties. Even the challah we baked didn't turn out right--something about the yeast--and, instead of expanding, remained dense pretzel-like miniatures. 

But a week from today I go home to so many good things! Today I am compiling a mix for my yoga class which is 90% Christmas songs. I will apologize beforehand to students who are not holiday people. 



Woke up this morning with a very bad headache, so I took a walk to the Vassar farm with the hope that fresh air would banish it. (It did.) I had never been to the farm before; it was vast and grayish and spindly, as November usually tends to be.

At first I listened to music, but that began to feel like sensory overload. There was something calm and simple about the sight of so many bare trees,

and the crunch of gravel under clogs. 

At one point I heard a rustling behind me and thought someone else was there, but it was only a leaf, following along.

Mostly the walk affirmed to me how much I like to be alone; it is never really a lonely feeling. This might change as I get older, but probably not.



Last week Ali and I had friends over to celebrate our twenty-first birthdays. We asked everyone to bring a dish of food and dress like their favorite literary character. Hester Prynne came with eggplant moussaka, Hamlet brought plantains, and Kira, as the momma from The Namesake, arrived with a big pot of pea soup. Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway went in on a roast chicken; the boys next door baked muffins and claimed to be assorted characters from 1984. Ali went as Oliver Twist, and I was Lolita. I was not sure whether this was appropriate but it gave me an excuse to wear an old pair of heart-shaped glasses and attempt a complicated braided hairstyle.