One sentence from each book I read in 2019, in the order I finished them.

 

It must have been horrible for him to create me and then lose control of the narrative in this way. In these investigations of why and how, I am hoping to uncover an origin story. It had happened, but not the way I told it in the book. Let’s see here, let’s see. Now that I was looking at them full on, I could see something coming out of their chests, from their hearts, like glow-in-the-dark string. People should just wear glass with electric lights inside. I crack my knuckles and open up my emails. Call me when you’re tired of wasting this life. You guys are from an effed-up time. It was as though she volunteered to become an adult before she was ready, and something was sucked away from her, and suddenly she could be sad at any moment without ever knowing why. Comedy for me is watching someone perform open heart surgery on themselves because no one else will. Anyway, there’s some writing on sex addiction for you, darling sister. That’s not the right question. Peace, peace, peace, happiness, happiness, happiness. Cringe denotes embarrassment, fleeting shame. People like us are often herded together slowly by the invisible will of the damned, fake-happy. He went into seizures. He was Goth when he felt like it. He hates his job and what he really wants to do is make art and be happy. I guard my memories and love them, but I don’t get in them and lie down. I, wretched, was there, sitting in this office, and I was to tell my wretched story. The book goes on even if it’s closed. Life was the only thing. We’re so much in our minds, waiting for something to happen, acting it out, that the body and the outer world almost might as well not exist, for all it concerns us. There is a constitution that some have, and I had it—to which everything foreign is wondrous, and all that is domestic, tiresome. I wanted to embrace being the villain. A full scale emotional collapse is the minimum required to justify letting everyone down. There are added, unnecessary movements to his gait because a body in motion craves more motion. I looked away; I looked away. Life is gonna dick me around time and again. Who is to say that an object does not come with its own agenda? In the centuries that Western fiction has taken to arise, it’s evolved to do many things, especially in the most cannibalistic form, the novel. I’m writing; I invite you to my life. Maybe it’s an almost happy earth. We don’t have much time left. If I could take a break from work I could read all my books, contact everyone, clean everything, learn to play the drums, drive to Quebec, Canada, and I would try to come back right away. And it feels like a terribly short walk from onboarding a new employee to waterboarding one. Something inside us always made us stop to pick up dead things. We need to be able to think across different time scales when the mediascape would have us think in twenty-four-hour (or shorter) cycles, to pause for consideration when clickbait would have us click, to risk unpopularity by searching for context when our Facebook feed is an outpouring of unchecked outrage and scapegoating, to closely study the ways that media and advertising play upon our emotions, to understand the algorithmic versions of ourselves that such forces have learned to manipulate, and to know when we are being guilted, threatened, and gaslighted into reactions that come not from will and reflection but from fear and anxiety. I was about to sign off. When I first came here I wanted the world to look at me and now I might prefer to be the eye instead. I could’ve bent him backwards over a chair and drip-fed him sour bulletins of the true one-hour dying of his wife. But what if it’s in my blood? Even amongst minorities, I was a minority. I, on the other hand, am desperate for something to say. I never wanted to build a “body of work,” but to preserve these, our bodies, breathing and unaccounted for, inside the work. But writing makes everything clearer and worse at once, that is, when it wasn’t making everything appear worse without clarifying it. If the events of it all hadn’t been so awkward, I think I would have been having a good time. His favorite color is silver. I am making terrible things up to entertain people. We had been family once, and now we would be again. People think people are in charge, but they’re wrong; it’s the trees. Immediately after setting to work on something we choke on the huge amount of information that’s available in all fields, that’s the truth, he said, I thought. The freedom is nice, but it’s boring. If you didn’t grow up in the American suburbs, or in any place that’s designed to be a model of what is proper and wholesome and happy, then you might not understand what living here can do to a person like me, a person who doesn’t want to go in the straight line of a paved and lighted path. And all I can think is that neither of them understands love. I had all the what-if words and fuck-yous in my heart, but they didn’t ever come out. I’m regenerating with every single click and clack of the wheels on the rail. And in the midst of our great wondering, we wonder why some of us are given faith to trust without question, while the rest of us are left to eat out our life’s vitals with asking.

 

Kristen Felicetti lives in Brooklyn and works in tech. She is the founder/editor of The Bushwick Review and tweets @kris10felicetti.

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