// she's only happy in the sun.
Mar 11

remembering that i used to read.

lately i’ve been mourning the fact that i no longer read. sure, i read emails and chats, and text messages – although lately those are more about deciphering emoticons. i read menus, 140 character tweets, and optimistic, though grammatically flawed, fortune cookie messages. i read some blogs but many of those are just one-liners with a bunch of images. so the point is, i read very few actual words. i don’t get lost in reading. and i guess that’s what i miss the most.

so today i actually made a point of reading something and i’m so glad i did. and now i want to share it with you. it will take 2 minutes and i promise to reward you with imagery when it’s done so you don’t feel like you had to work too hard. just kidding! wow touché, internet.

this essay that demetri martin wrote for the new yorker is a great example of why demetri (i like to think we’re on a first name basis since i’ve watched him on netflix many a time) is one of my all time favorite people in the world. in the essay dem (too short? too soon?) answers the question “who am i”.

Who am I? That is a simple question, yet it is one without a simple answer. I am many things—and I am one thing. But I am not a thing that is just lying around somewhere, like a pen, or a toaster, or a housewife. That is for sure. I am much more than that. I am a living, breathing thing, a thing that can draw with a pen and toast with a toaster and chat with a housewife, who is sitting on a couch eating toast. And still, I am much more.

I am a man.

And I am a former baby and a future skeleton, and I am a distant future pile of dust. I am also a Gemini, who is on the cusp.

I am “brother” and I am “son” and I am “father” (but just according to one person, who does not have any proof but still won’t seem to let it go). Either way, I am moving very soon and not letting her know about it. I am asking you to keep that between us.

I am trustworthy and loyal, but at the same time I am no Boy Scout. No, I am certainly not. I am quite the opposite, in fact. And by opposite I do not mean Girl Scout. No. I mean Man Scout. And by that I do not mean Scout Leader. In fact, I am not affiliated with the Scouts at all. Let’s just forget about the Scouts and Scouting altogether, O.K.?

I am concepts and thoughts and feelings and outfits. And I am each of these all at once, unless I am in the shower. Then I am not outfits, because that would be uncomfortable.

To some I am known as Chief. And these are usually people who work in Radio Shack or try to sell me shoes. To others I am known as Buddy. These are people who dwell in bars and wonder if I’ve got a problem or what it is that I am “looking at.” And to still others, who are in that same bar, standing just off to the side, I am “Get Him!”

I am he and I am him. I am this and I am that. And I am, from time to time, Roberta, if I am in a chat room.

People have known me by many titles. In high school, I was Student and Key Club Vice-President and Queer Bait. In college, I was Pledge and then Disappointed and then Transfer Student. I am still amazed at how picky certain so-called “brotherly” organizations can be. And I am actually glad that they didn’t choose me for their stupid fraternity.

To some I am fantasy, and to others I am Frank, mostly because I have told them that this is my name—even though it is not even close to my name. I am a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a pita. Why the pita? That counts as another mystery.

I am everything and I am nothing. I am just kidding; I am not everything and nothing. That would be ridiculous. I am just everything.

I am what I eat. And I am this especially when I bite my nails.

I have been called Hey, You! and Get Out of the Way! and Look Out! And then, some time later, Plaintiff.

I am my own worst critic. I am going to give you an example. “That’s not me enough” is the kind of thing I am prone to say about myself. See what I mean? I am sure you do.

I am the silent majority.

I am a loud minority.

I am not talking about Puerto Ricans when I say that, because I am not a racist. I am just clearing that up. In fact, I am pretty sure I have at least one friend from each of the races (Hi, Guillermo).

I am friend. I am foe. I am fo’ sho’. What up, y’all?

I am sorry about that. I was just talking to one of my race friends, a black one. I am white and I am black. And I am both of these when I am dressed as a mime. And then I am sh-h-h.

I am Batman, but only on Halloween. And then I am not invited to many parties. But I am fine with that, because that just makes me an even more accurate Batman (because Batman does not go to parties as Batman but only as Bruce Wayne). I am right about this.

I am someone who likes to go to the park. But I am not the guy with the Labrador retriever and the tennis ball and the tattered book under his arm, who is wearing fleece and is kind of tan. No. I am not that guy. I am sick of that guy and all the women who talk to him.

I am the Walrus, but not the one you’re probably thinking of. I am the Other Walrus, the one who is less the Walrus in the sense of legendary music and more the Walrus in the sense of his tendency to lie around on a beach for too long.

I am bravery. I am courage. I am valor. I am daring. I am holding a thesaurus.

I am the sun. I am the moon. I am the rain, I am the earth. I am these when I am taking mushrooms with Kevin. I am good friends with Kevin. I am not sure what Kevin’s last name is.

I am sometimes referred to as Excuse Me in an annoyed tone of voice, because apparently I am in the way. I am so sorry. I am supposed to be some sort of mind reader, I guess. I am moving out of the way now as slowly as I possibly can. I am doing this and there’s nothing you can do about it.

I am often the one they call You but I am no more You than you. I am me. And I am more Me than you are or can ever be. And one time I was Corey for almost five minutes while I was talking with a stranger, until she realized that I was not her friend Corey.

I am neither here nor there, but there—a little to the left. Yeah. That’s me.

I am waving at you. I am waving right at you now.

I am looking right at you.

I am sensing that you don’t know me. I am starting to feel awkward.

I am getting out of here. ♦

this makes me want to write my own ‘who am i’ essay. it also makes me want to challenge some of my favorite writers to write their versions. Q, i’m looking at you. directly. i know you’re studying but i’m still going to ask.
while i’m waiting on Q’s essay, i’d love it if the rest of you could send me recommendations of the next book i should read.
now a dose of imagery as promised. today’s theme: holga meets stripes!
photo credit: richard partridge
photo credit: lower darnley
photo credit: monica forss
i finally finished a roll of medium format film and i’m pretty happy with the results. here’s one of my favorites from the batch (i like the hues of blue purple meeting the green hills in the background):
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10 comments on “remembering that i used to read.”

  1. Mary Says:

    Amazing! I think I just fell in love.
    As for reading, good for you! Please please please blog more stuff like this,

  2. Sholeh Says:

    I don’t know what you have and haven’t read, but here are some suggestions (a mix of Baha’i and other books):

    -You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto, by Jaron Lanier
    -The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
    -Summon Up Remembrance & Arches of the Years, by Marzieh Gail (these are some of my FAVE books of all time)
    -Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets, by Sudhir Venkatesh
    -Leaves of the Twin Divine Trees by Baharieh Rouhani Ma’ani (only looked at it, its expensive but it is about the women in the families of the Bab & Baha’u’llah)

    My local library is one of my favorite places in the world. :-)

  3. Santa Says:

    I graduated from university last summer, I thought that at last no theoretical literature, at last I can read everything I want. I have read only three books since then :(
    My latest favourite is ‘The Solitude of Prime Numbers’ by Paolo Giordano
    Good luck!

  4. amber Says:

    “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss. A. mazing.

  5. golriz Says:

    i haven’t read any of these books that you all have suggested! i feel like i’m about to embark on a grand adventure.

    please keep the suggestions coming! i’m ready to re-embrace reading back into my life!

  6. Leah Says:

    I think these are good but not too taxing reads to ease you back in when you haven’t read for awhile…
    The Life of Pi – Yann Martel
    The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency – Alexander McCall Smith
    The Ninth Life of Louis Drax – Liz Jensen


  7. Q Says:

    i am as dusty as the Hague Regulations,

    and ramble on for 1620 pages like the commentary to the Additional Protocols,

    i’m around, always willing to kick it like common article 3 to the Geneva Conventions, and as infrequently applied,

    i’m as frustrating as the UN document numbering system

    as revered as long dead professors of military ethics

    and still can’t structure my damn paper into a coherent mass that goes from start to finish.

    my girlfriend has declared a no-fly zone in my life.

    good. i could do with the quiet.

    (my coffee table’s legs buckle and shake with the weight of books and papers on their shoulders; i sleep at night terrified there will be a loud bang).

    * * *
    proper essay forthcoming.

    <3 & love

  8. Kayla Says:

    love this post!

    my most recent favorite is Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer. it’ll break your heart and make you laugh — my favorite kind of books. :)

  9. Tesh Says:

    Great post! I’m now officially in love with your blog. And itching to write my own ‘who am i’ essay. Thanks for your spirited, thought-provoking words! :-)

  10. Alsion Says:

    The Sparrow- Mary Doria Russel. Best book you will ever read.

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