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“La Vita Nuova” explained how to become a great poet. The secret was to fall in love with a perfect girl but never speak to her. You should weep instead. You should pretend that you love someone else. You should write sonnets in three parts. Your perfect girl should die.

Amanda’s mother said, “You have your whole life ahead of you.”
-La Vita Nuova by Allegra Goodman

There is something about the absence of a thing. When you have been living without cigarettes, for example, six months, maybe a year or longer smoke-free. Maybe you have gained weight but have come to accept it, think your lungs are worth it. And then, one day, you start again. Maybe an old friend came back, the one who got you started in the first place, with her infectious smile and the silhouette of her lips blowing a cloud of smoke into the air. Maybe Parliments were on sale, and they were just exactly as good as you remembered.

But the next time you quit will be just as hard, worse than all the inbetween time, all the no-cigarette time, all the time of real breakfasts and smoke-free lungs.

I drove back from the airport alone, my passenger seat empty for the return half of the round trip. And it had been raining in New Orleans, and the interstate was wet, there were rainbows of oil in the puddles. I pulled onto I-10 and that is when I saw it: a break in the clouds, a rainbow in the sky, always paler and more fragile-looking than you think it should be. I was listening to Florence & the Machine and gripping the steering wheel very tightly with both hands, sobbing alone in my great-aunt's car at 65 miles an hour and feeling the ache again. It is just as hard the second time, the third time, the fourthfifthsixthseventhtwelfthfifteenth every time. How many does it take to learn?


I went on a walk with Leah today, after we walked out of a lecture. "I've been seeing a psychologist," she told me. "She keeps giving me articles by the Dali Lama. I'm the only person I know who thinks Tibet is better under the Chinese. I don't care about the Dali Lama."

"I don't know anything about Tibet," I told her. She told me about walking around Tel Aviv, drunk in high heels. She's the president of the Akido club and walking back to my house she told me how someday she hopes someone tries to mug her so she can teach them who's boss.


I've lost track of the day of the week every day this week. Evian bought me a brown vest and I was pleasantly surprised. I have molecular biology I should be doing, but tomorrow is friday, I know.


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March 2013


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