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I wonder if I am a good writer, or if I have ever been a good writer, or what a good writer is, or if they have ever existed, or if they can exist.

Maybe I used to be good. Maybe I just used to think I was good. Maybe I’ve always been chasing some past version of myself that never actually existed. Maybe we all are doing that, right now.

The wooden bookshelf in my room has absorbed the scent of the frankincense incense I burn almost daily, becoming one large incense stick itself, one sure to burn down your entire apartment complex if lit, since it can’t fit inside the small vintage incense burner your dad gave to you or you stole from him, one or the other, one and the same.

I pick up one of the few books I have here, philosophy of happiness, read a page, put it back down, wonder what Athens looked like covered in thinkers.

The shades are often drawn, blocking out most of the sunlight. Summer has ended, over, finished, until the next one, if any of us live that long. Autumn began a few days ago, of course nothing really feels any different other than the change in the weather and in necessary outdoor wear. I wonder if I’ve changed in the year I’ve been in Europe. Surely. Maybe. Is it human to think so or human to think I’m exactly the same?

His crazy rambles make me crazy. I want to scream right back at him – SHUT THE FUCK UP! STOP TALKING TO YOURSELF! I DON’T WANT TO HEAR YOU ANYMORE! FUCKING FUCK!

It’s raining today. That makes it different than yesterday. Life just slips by, one day into another, season by season, long pants by short pants.

We are animals – it’s important to remember that. We’ve created all of this – thought it up, dreamed it out, built it up. It’s not real. Is it?

I can’t keep sitting here listening to the rain, I’ve got things to do. We all have things to do. We made them up.

I think I will sit here by the window in the sunshine with my plants a bit longer and listen to the rain with them. I’ll light an incense cone and watch the smoke crawl up towards the ceiling.

This isn’t meant to be anything. Maybe one day – one season, one summer, one year – I’ll make something more.

It’s due to rain straight through until morning. I’ll be here, at the window.

 

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1. How dare you flirt with my fake boyfriend!

2. It’s super reassuring/terrifying when cool successful people also admit that they have no idea what they’re doing with their lives. Wait, what?! Nooo! Help!

3. When was the last time you used sidewalk chalk? Not recently enough!

4. Maybe you’ve known someone for a really long time and you think you know all about them. But I’m sure there’s a lot you still don’t know. And people change. Keep getting to know them.

5. Compliment someone today.

6. Winter is coming! Halloween is coming! Tomorrow is coming!

7. Why are pen pals not that much of a thing anymore?! Getting mail/letters is awesome. Come on, people. Get with it.

8. You’re not going to get Ebola. I mean, probably. OMG WHY did I read that one book that one time about exploding Ebola-monkeys?! But really, what’s worse: staying in your house all the time and avoiding all contact with people/the outside world or getting Ebola? Exactly. Also, on a totally separate note, who wants to play Pandemic?? It’s a classic!

9. Listen to what it is you’re saying, especially if you expect others to. Pay attention to yourself.

10. Why are we paying so much attention/money to people with so little talent?! Because they’re on the radio?! That doesn’t mean they deserve your time! Because they’re on T.V?? Because whatever it is they create is everywhere and so easy to see?? That does not mean it’s good, or useful, or interesting, or worthwhile. It’s all self-perpetuating and gross. Turn it off. Find something better. It’s not that hard.

I see two women walking together on the side of the road as I drive past, and I wonder if the woman waving her hands is talking and talking and talking too much, and if the other woman is regretting inviting her friend to exercise with her on this chilly late summer afternoon, since that’s what she really wanted to do, exercise, not walk slower than she normally would and listen to all of her friend’s  updated life struggles. “My cat just won’t stop staring out the window,” I imagine her saying, waving her arms as she walks, pretending that she wants to exercise, too.

And now the women are in my rearview mirror, I can look back and see them, and see the leaves turning orange or brown on the trees they walk under.

People are already complaining about the cold, about how it’s almost fall and the weather is colder than it was a month ago, and I think about how this always happens, every year, everything. Hot in the summer, cool in the fall, cold in the winter, with snow, and the same fetching of the dusty snow shovel from the basement.

I look in my rearview mirror at the beautiful orange leaves and I think about how I’ve seen this all before, seen those women before, or women like them, had those same experiences, talked about that same cat, seen those same leaves change from green to orange to brown, raked them into piles and jumped in them, or left the piles to rot. Again and again, year after year.

“It’s so cold!” she says, another faceless woman in my mind, pulling on the sweater she hasn’t worn in nine months.

Winter will come. Snow will fall. Salt trucks will melt it away, or try, or make ice patches that are worse than the snow was.

Again, again, of course. And of course the people will go on, dealing with seeing their breath in the air on cold winter mornings, plowing through snow drifts and piles of paperwork and gallons of hot coffee. What else can they do?

1. When I go to pass you on the expressway because you are annoyingly going 3 under the speed limit, why do you immediately speed up when you see me get into the fast lane to go around you?

2. Sure, those signs say “No Smoking” – but I’m sure they didn’t mean you couldn’t smoke there!

3. If you’re standing in the front row at a concert, do not turn around and stare at all of the people behind you! It’s so awkward – especially if you’re all packed in so tightly that no one can escape your piercing gaze! Don’t you know the unspoken concert rules?!

4. Don’t go to Mcdonalds. Just don’t do it. You know you’re going to regret it as soon as you swallow that last bite of greasy “beef”!

5. Who are these people buying $500 boots? Mine cost $20 from Target, thank you – and they’re fine!

6. You know that awkward moment after someone sneezes and no one says “Bless You”? Yeah.

7. When is the appropriate time during class to pull out a juice box?

8. I don’t care what the law says, if you ride a motorcycle without a helmet, you are an idiot. Fact.

9. I want someone to make me a mix tape. Do people even make mix tapes anymore?

10. Have you ever seen those infomercials that pretend they are very important breaking news? Yeah.

1. Gas prices will always go down the minute/hour/day after you fill up your gas tank at the higher price!

2. Guys: Even if you’re ugly, dressing well, being intelligent, and/or having self-confidence will make you attractive.

3. Focus on the good in your life, not the bad. Surround yourself with interesting, happy people and you will become interesting and happy, too!

4. Never say that your life is meaningless. Well, duh! Welcome to reality! Now, shut up and go do something. Anything!

5. Even if you can’t force yourself to be a coffee person, you can still be a cappuccino person! If you can’t do that, try tea.

6. Don’t be an afraid or lazy or weak person – you’ll never become the person you want to be if you’re not brave, strong, and/or a go-getter. Beat what scares you, do what makes you nervous. Become who you want to be!

7. It may suck, but late Summer/early Fall is a beautiful time of year! Don’t forget to examine the world around you (always!) and take in the beauty of it all – quick, before winter hits!

8. A loud voice is not always a wise voice.

9. It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Be nice to everyone, talk to everyone, be a citizen of the world! Your life will be better for it, and you’ll know people who know people.

10. Did you just say gnarly?