in which the worst part about anonymous messages is not knowing if they are about you or just for you, some kind of comfortable space to tuck things
What is your favorite piece of writing?
100% this piece by Richard Siken
What do you do when you’re in a relationship and then someone else comes along and completely changes your life and you can’t stop thinking about them?
Let me be upfront—this is one of the exact reasons why so many of my “serious” relationships have failed in the past. I find it tremendously difficult not to stray toward the next thing that causes me to catch my breath. There are so many people out there who have the ability to trigger the small part inside of me that feels stagnant, uncertain. It’s so simple for me to lean into the idea of: but wait, look at the other things I could be doing or seeing or trying or just fucking loving.
I’d be bullshitting too if I said I’m not experiencing a small degree of this right now. It’s tricky territory—the words you weave, the lines you tiptoe along, the lies you tell yourself to justify what you are (or aren’t) doing.
How are you supposed to explain any of it? Without trying, you stumble into the potential of something and then begin to get caught up in the fantastic ideas you can foster when someone carries a spark you forgot existed. Quietly, you build worlds between you—places where you coexist without repercussions, conversations which leave you studying the cartography of the future with a fervor you haven’t experienced before. You ignore the flaws, push aside reality. While daydreaming, you shift the blame to fate, to the inexplicable connection you felt threading you together despite your current entanglements. Does anyone really mean to sit a Kansas coffee shop listening to the most adventurous stories, or to allow a voice to keep you crawling inside it each night? Do we want buzzed circular drives to distract us, each diner coffee refill to propel us into temptation? Hardly. Never once have I sought out the opportunity to linger some place else when I’m with someone, and yet.
Yet while part of you feels the anxious knot twist tighter in your stomach with each blush evoking comment, each time you know you are wrong, the other part is begging to be utterly swept up in the very idea of something more, something better. How easily one can lead separate lives when you are weaving your way through boundaries and conversations without consideration for others. Somehow, the allure of someone else trumps any guilt you expected would persuade you in a different direction.
By this point, I know I dig my own graves. I stake full claim to my failings. I am always proclaiming them boldly instead of changing my ways—warning signs to those daring to get close. I’ve got sweet talk down to a science. Apologies have become an art form. I know I’m not the one who should be giving advice on this (or any matter) because I only know how to deal with things the messy way.
But, whoever you are, asking this means something. Hesitation means something.
Because it is easy to get dizzyingly drunk, steadying myself on train rides back to my apartment, and feel the romance of it all—the forbidden, the uncertain, the promise. But in the morning, when you wake up feeling hungover in the heaviness of your heart, the sliver of imperfect shines through. Sometimes it is easy to forget when someone’s nails aren’t digging into your back consistently. And when they do, you’ll be pulled back into the heart of the matter—that you are with the person you are with for a reason.
I think the best way to figure anything out is to throw yourself right in the middle of it. Don’t give yourself the option of skirting around the issue. Put yourself in emotional jeopardy. Up the stakes.
Ask yourself the tough questions. Figure out the answer to why.
Sometimes the people who make you rearrange everything are meant to be totally platonic. Sometimes they end up being much more than that. But it takes time. Please be patient. Realize you can be captivated by someone who shows you something new, but it doesn’t mean you are meant to sacrifice what is making you happy.
Most of all, it takes being really goddamn honest with yourself, with the person you are with, and the person you are swooning over. Otherwise, you’ll be bruising more hearts than you expect.
But like I said, I don’t really know what the hell I’m doing half the time.
all hail drunk giles
Chimichanga died today and I don’t think I’ve ever been this sad. Rest in peace, lil dude. You were the best.
We wake up in your apartment for the first time shivering. I am smiling at your freckles in the grocery store aisles. The kitchen gets crowded easily as we make matching sandwiches side-by-side, as we try to piece together Ikea furniture. I am observing you more lately, learning your strange cartography. In the passenger seat of your car, I let all my stubbornness show as I pull away from you. I forget to kiss you good morning, doubtful from last night’s fitful dreams. Darkness makes everything a question, my voice curved upward. My hands are shoved in my pockets on the walk home to my apartment alone, twisting in my lap on the train as I catch myself wondering if maybe we shouldn’t be doing any of this at all.
I have wondered when it might get easier to let things fold into themselves. Some people stick, stubbornly, without apology. If it weren’t for the swell of rush hour passengers, I would have remaining planted in the train platform when I thought he was inside the opened door; how silly I felt upon realizing they looked nothing alike. The sound of a voice, a particular wording, the promise of a return: these are the things that leave my edges fraying. It is peculiar to be in this season without an overwhelming sense of longing.
But I still am, I suppose. It’s no secret I’m still hunting down the contradictions, just as the leaves outside my window are beginning to glow against the grey sky. I know soon I will be bundling against the cold, wrapping my hands around mugs as I try to mull over some Important Truth about Us. In the coffee shop window with coats still on, I told him I’d never been one for promises. We both knew that isn’t true, but I’m still trying to find comfort in the present. To find solace in knowing this is my home, these are my people, I am growing my roots.
Yet it still comes down to the same question I’ve been turning over in my mind for the past year. Where am I going? I made the decision to stay in Chicago, but I can’t pretend I was thrilled about it. In the past few months though, I think that is slowly changing to something that sounds more like, “Where are we going and will it be together?” I can’t imagine it now, a vague impossibility of conquering some new space between us. I don’t know how I tried before, how easily I romanticized the idea of missing someone. I have never been patient enough, and I know that is still the case as I fumble into you over and over again.
Tonight when I left work, I pulled my sweater tighter around me. The drizzly fog clouded my view of how far the buildings stretched into the sky. A man on the street said hello, how was your day as I ogled his dog. And as I walked past apartment buildings, I caught the faint whiff of pizza and it somehow took me directly back to the nights I spent answering phones after school. Autumn is going to show up before we know it, like every year, and it is going to leave me scrambling.
I took the train to Milwaukee last week, and the entire time, all I could think about is how this is the last season we have to conquer together. We shoveled snow together in the winter, drank the hot chocolate your mother made us and pulled all the blankets up over our heads as we got acquainted. Enjoyed the gentle thaw of spring, how difficult it was to be in the limbo of a relationship punctuated by distance, by pauses. Took a chance by finding the heat of it all in the summer, learning what it means to fall in love without reservations. But now, with the slow shiver of leaves and limbs and the quiet way we are forced to pay attention to what bloomed in the warmer months as it begins to disappear. Anticipation is a word I kept coming back to last year and it has started to ring in my head again.
I don’t know what it means to say that I find I’m the absolute happiest when you are pulling my body closer to yours in slumber. How I have begun to stop cringing when I am being honest because it feels so good to let someone else come inside, stay for awhile. Where do you place all of that? All the little bits of love that keep welling up within me that occur simply because I have found someone who intuitively knows things about me. Who can recognize my flaws, my excuses, and force me to be better than that. Who knows it is as simple as milkshakes and encouraging me to be proud of my accomplishments. And what about when you forgot there were things you always wanted to find in someone, and there they are. Without presentation, just as if they have been there all along and you were just lucky enough to uncover them. I watched him prepare for the party on Saturday and I was just in awe the entire time. Like, “Look at you delicately arranging cheese on a pizza tray I covered in tinfoil! You are a perfect human being! Please hold me!”
I didn’t mean for this to happen, I didn’t. When I first received an email saying my writing was tremendous, or when I started counting all the things we had in common (he likes rap music!), or when I sat in his car for the first time and surely rambled. Or even when he came home for winter break and things sort of happened for the first time and he took me out for a cheeseburger after and we high-fived when I finished the whole thing. I just didn’t know. But I’m not going to stop being thankful for finding someone so good for me—someone who has changed me and treats me well and is willing to grow with me. It is insane to me that two people can even do that, you know? We just collided, and we will continue to collide. I don’t know anything better.
Things certainly aren’t perfect, but I’m still the happiest with you.
I’ve been cleaning through old things and missing all the little secrets and romantic letters and stories that used to arrive in my email inbox. If you ever want to say hi, you can: firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW TO SUBMIT:
POWERPOINT ZINE EDITION
- no theme (!)
- 2 slides per person
- anything you want, including but not limited to:
- writing, art, etc (same old)
- go crazy
We are keeping the presentation at the standard aspect ratio of 4:3.
We’ll arrange things in an order of some sort.
Haven’t decided about distribution but it will definitely be free online once it’s complete.
1. Google Drive Version: create a Google Presentation inside your Drive. Do yo thang. When you’re finished, click the blue Share button. Make sure you switch the Visibility access to “Anyone with the link” and the Access to anyone “can edit” so we can copy it over to the master.
2. Microsoft Powerpoint Version: export as a powerpoint file from Powerpoint. From here you can either just email us the presentation and we can download/edit it in, or you can upload it to your drive and then follow the other version.
E-MAIL/SHARE YOUR SLIDES: email@example.com
DEADLINE IS SEPT 19.
RELEASE DATE IS SEPT 20.
Send any questions via email or as a message.
I’ve been admittedly absent from creating things, but (finally) jumping back into On the Cusp has me itching to get messy again.
I’ll save the ~inspired~ speech about how you should submit to this, and simply demand it instead. Send us something that makes us all roll on the ground and have to look at pictures of happy puppies to recover.
Hi, I’m trying to fall in love with books again, but I’m in need of recommendations. Help?