Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Self Portrait as Miranda July

Oct. 23rd,

4:15 am

Wake up early and am confused. What is it that makes me do this? My girlfriend is asleep, my apartment is asleep. The wind from the open window smells like subway steam. I seem to have found myself on the dark side of the world, not the sinister dark side, but the unseen side, the “tail” part of a two-headed coin.

Coffee, thick, which I make by hand. I find, to my surprise, that I have no idea how to make coffee. I put too many beans into the grinder and then too little water in the French press: the result is a sludge that I could only be drinking for the caffeine. So why am I making it?

I stare at the coffee-grinder; I imagine that it is not a coffee grinder at all, but one of those centrifugal amusement park rides. Exiting, the grounds feel both more and less themselves.

5:30 am

Still no one up, except for the ginkgo trees. Luckily I am Miranda July.

6:15 am

I come across a quote in a book that I pull randomly off of the bookshelf. Books! Why do I have so many…The underlining is so heavy that you can feel it, like braille, on the other side of the page.

“ ‘I trust people who get up early,’ admits a young woman.

There are poets who do not concern themselves with the material of sleep. There are those who are concerned with it, but they are fighters against sleep, sleep-fighters.”

Earlier in this same book, another, equally-interesting idea has gone un-underlined:

“He has nothing to do with sleep. As another poet put it, he knows only a ‘great insomnia.’”

7:30 am

Staring at the ceiling, that last undiscovered country. I think one of the experiences I want to create in my work is the one you get when you stick your head in the corner of an old sofa. I would advise you to do this too, but I know you already have.

Everything in there is amazing, like being on the moon.

It’s like, I’m in life, but I’m not in life. I’m waiting to be born.

Being Miranda July, I allow myself to observe that, though we will be dead forever (there is forever in front of us), we were not born forever too (the forever behind us). I greet the dawn by covering two of my three windows with peach-colored post-it notes, and the third one with yellow ones. I feel like I am in the belly of an enormous tropical fish, whose scales are soft as feathers and flutter in patches when my rotary fan passes over them. October: however, it is for some reason still 80 degrees outside, with the sun just coming up.

9:30 am

A sea of Chinese people: “Good morning teacher!” they say. Appreciating this, I love them as Miranda July. But they do not love me back as Miranda July.

During the break, I get in a long discussion about the difference between a whiteboard and a blackboard. How is this difficult to understand? I tell a middle-aged woman in a purple track suit that, if it is helpful, she can think of our whiteboard as the long-lost cousin of a blackboard that is out there, in the world, tramping from town to town and cameo to celebrity cameo, like Big Bird in “Follow That Bird.” I remind her of the horrifying “blue bird” sequence. “Each blackboard searches for its whiteboard,” I say. “Blame Zeus.”

She nods, of course: my students, apparently are always nodding. But her eyes look at me as if I have a sunflower growing out of my forehead.

12:00 pm

Class gets out. I sit for a few minutes in the empty classroom. Actually, it is a conference room hidden deep within the bowels of a YMCA.

12:15 pm

I walk home over the Brooklyn Bridge. The naval yards like a prehistoric swamp.
Take a minute, oh my people, to imagine what it would be like to actually see a dinosaur. I honestly think very few people are capable of imagining this more than once, or at most twice in their life, myself included.

1:00 pm

Home. Have you seen my eyes? I look at them in the mirror. Seriously, I could be Bette Davis over here.

2:00 pm

Where is lunch? My refrigerator is empty but I still open it and stand staring. I am a big starer – at lease I assume with eyes like these I spend a lot of time staring.

5:00 pm

More quotes from the sleep book (maybe this is my favorite book? Maybe it is one I am planning to throw out? Give away?):

“And so the truth of poetry gradually disappears from public places – it retreats into the separate lives of separate individuals.

The reader changes – now he is not occupied with faceless ‘common affairs,’ now he experiences his life in the light of the problematic phenomenon of Existence. This must not be thought of as his own selfish ‘affair’ – his experience of existence can be exemplary, can show the way – a model of human life. The reader needs a poet who speaks only for him, only with him. The poet in such a case is the only companion he can trust.

The ‘shape’ of the connection between poet and reader is changing. Now it is not from stage to auditorium, to the ear, but from paper (often not even from print) to person, to the eye. The reader is led, not summoned; he is conversed with as an equal.”

7:00 pm

Quiche for dinner. I used to hate it. But now I can’t get enough of the stuff.
How could this have happened? My five-year old self would be horrified. He would not even recognize me.

8:12 pm

Halloween coming soon according to this month’s calendar.

9:18 pm

“Well?” I shout.

10:00 pm

Beds, which like many people I have always imagined as plummeting through an endless sky. Interesting that the term “escape velocity” has come to mean something moving very fast. Escape, for me, moves as slowly as a moon rock. It stares and stares, until finally its heartbeat stops.

I’ll tell you what. You try it.

Sleep like a door in the middle of a river.


Seth said...

I just put my head in the couch, just to remind myself of who I was: Josh Billings.

Seth said...

We might need to re-name the blog "Miranda July"...

Did you want am & pm in front of your times? For some times I saw am or pm, for some not. I made them all nice and neat and am and pm. I'm thinking your lack of am & pm was not a stylistic choice, but rather a total and complete display of sloppiness. Don't worry, I have fixed them, and now everything is perfect. I can fall asleep and I can wake up. I can live the same day I live, day after day, everyday! I love when everything's perfect!

My response will be minute, full of seconds, not even minutes.

Josh said...

As a general rule of thumb, all ideosyncracies in my writing, whether interesting or not, should be considered typos.

Sarah said...

I love this post.

Seth said...


It is clear you are stalking Josh, in the guise of Sarah. Shame on you.


Steve said...

I think Miranda July needs to know that she has a bona-fide stalker. Seriously.

No. Seriously.

Seriously, I liked this post. I'm serious.

It seems to be somewhat of stylistic depature for you Seth? Maybe I'm wrong. Seriously. But this prose seems to a bit more sparse, pared down, elemental. I like.

Disregard everything I just said. I wasn't serious. Seriously.

Seth said...


Of course, it's a departure for me. It's so much a departure I didn't even write it. Josh did. Or Miranda-Josh. Or whomever.


Josh said...

Ignore "Seth": there is no "Josh" either. This entire blog is just an elaborate excuse on Miranda July's part to talk about putting her hand on Seth's wife's ass.

As a follow up, let me ask you this: which name sounds more made up...

or Miranda July?

Steve said...

silly me. i didn't even bother to look who wrote it. i just figured it was seth.