Mark Rothko, 1969

Is absolutely Chicago

The long walk from O'Hare to the Blue Line ended in a strange, subterranean, humid hall, kind of a mass transit cavern. It was clogged with tourists waving dollars at a woman designated to help by her municipal green CTA vest. I asked her: can you use coins? She said sure. She meant, to get a ticket to ride. I'd meant, can you use coins to ride. There are a dozen ways to miscommunicate at any given moment, which is certainyl something I writer about. Or try to.

Tonight's reading at the Hopleaf with Peter Ho Davies and Aaron Belz should be fun. Why? I admit that it will be fun for me partially because there is an entire page in TimeOutChicago about the book, and its writer. I knew Jonathan Messinger was going to make something of it when I objected to his calling the characters in RL&OS damaged. And he did, but in a journalist's never-miss-an-in way, half astute and half along for the happy ride. I cannot blame him--at all-- for not missing a beat. It's true that the connection he stitches (between my writing about women who've gone to extreme lengths with their bodies and women going to extreme lengths in their lives, but he writes it far more elegantly) is one I'd never make myself. But Jonathan, gracias. Merci. I see it. Even if the chronology isn't exact, I see it. I'd been writing some of these stories, in different forms, years before I was assigned to write My Body and What it's Been Through for some years back. But that's okay. I could have, at that point, begun to write about un-marred, unaffected women. But that has never interested me.

Adrenaline is a kind of caffeine, really. I drink it daily. Need it, really. The adrenaline of a narrator's voice speeding up in my head.

Who knows why a sensibility forms? I'd never thought of my characters as damaged, but I guess they are. They do drugs, they have boyfriends who use them and spend their money, they have incurable diseases, they do not always practice safe sex. But they make no excuses. And some have tremendous vocabularies. So I suppose they are redeemed by their brains and their spirits and their nerve. Or I hope they are. But it doesn't mean they don't do bad things. Rothko, having painted all these astounding wonders, killed himself after all. I would call that a form of damage. An enduring damage.

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