I look for trouble. 

In the heat of desire, there it is

in sight, like the bullet of a gun 

sweeping down its path, 

nothing in its way. 

There is beauty in trouble. 

When you find it, 

it never leaves you

and the basic animal instincts of trouble

are just more. 

I go looking for trouble. 

When I find it, then I can be

the happy troublemaker. 

I have this vision that the older I get, the happier I’ll be. The stigma for aging women doesn’t bother me, but the stigma for young women does. When my looks go, I’ll be free to be whoever I want to be. They won’t say I’m ugly or fat, or if they do, what will I care? I will read books all day. And write down my thoughts in a little journal with flowers on it. When I’m old, I’ll be happy just to feel the sun on my face, and not worry about what I look like in a bathing suit. Maybe the people who love me will finally respect me, instead of treating me as “that kid with money” “that kid who thinks she owns everything.” I don’t see myself that way, but when I’m old, I will see myself any way I want to, and fuck everyone else. 

Kristen and I are traveling, meeting interesting people. Bucharest ‘s nights hare wonderful, and it makes me feel introspective, and I like that sort of feeling. In fact, Kristen admonishes me because I’ve become quieter here- she wants to know my thoughts, but there aren’t really to know unless you just feel them in the air. We have been drinking a lot of plum liquor. The season is a bit early, but it is still very good. Very strong. 

Sometimes when my mind is blank, and I need a new idea- something to bring me out of my own perspective and give me theories, choices, common objects to think about, I turn to literature. I turn to literature a lot, actually. The classics are my favorite, though there are amazing modern works out there. I have notebooks filled with favorite quotes from the books I’ve read. And like the OCD reader I am, all of the books I’ve ever read are written down with the date and a little review. This is mostly because it is hard for me to remember everything I’ve read and whether I liked the book or not and for what reasons. Honestly, it’s almost just a chronicle of book memories. 

Today, I wanted to be enlightened so I was flipping through the quotes. I found this one in a book I recently read called The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Have any of you ever read it? There are just little tidbits in the book which are expertly clever and theoretical, and it was perfect for me today. For example, take this idea: (The narrator is discussing how the appearances of love are keeping him from noticing the most beautiful and intimate aspects of nature).

“Those whose lives are most exclusively passed amid the ever-changing wonders of sea and land are also those who are most universally insensible to every aspect of Nature not directly associated with the human interest of their calling. Our capacity of appreciating the beauties of the earth we live on is, in truth, one of the civilised accomplishments which we all learn as Art; and, more, that our very capacity is rarely practiced by any of us except when our minds are most indolent and most unoccupied.”

This is such an interesting concept from a novel that was written in the mid nineteenth century. Like Dickens (who comes a little bit before this work), Collins is interested in the evolving relationship between humans and their environment. How are “educated” peoples romanticizing the idea of nature, while still keeping themselves separate from it? Previous literature- romanticism, itself- was focused on the pristine environment- Nature is much cleaner, much friendlier, much more ideological than Human. If something is wrong in nature, there will be a shift, and Nature will balance itself out. I think Collins questions this ideal. And, of course as science progressed, the idea of the romanticized natural world became different for us. 

We now realize that nature can be catastrophic, and that many natural occurrences are random (even in time and space- think particle physics- there are tons of random anomalies. randomness in the natural world is incredibly common.) There isn’t a precise equilibrium in nature. So Collins questioning such an ideal is quite ahead of his time. 

Of course, this passage isn’t really only about romanticism- it’s mostly about the separateness of man from his environment- a combination of how Man takes beauty for granted, lives inside his own head, follows one whimsy to the next, sometimes blindly. Especially in the case of infatuation. Love? 

It got me thinking about the modern idea of love and Nature. In my opinion, we have come closer to nature through love than in the eighteen-hundreds. For example, we find love through physical love. What could be more naturalistic than sex? (some of us) have no expectations of Nature being faultless, and so find the real beauty in its flaws, or, at least, we seek out Nature to find something deeper and instinctual within ourselves. As Collins says, in his time, they were taught that Nature is art. In our times, I find we are taught that nature is science, art, and living all in one. 

As a person living in a big city, mostly apart from nature, I find these ideas fascinating. Everyone interacts with their environment differently. But the next time you experience Nature, ask yourself whether you feel like an observer or a participator. I don’t think either is wrong. It is just an interesting thing to notice. 

No one guessed where I am going! Shame on you 😉 I’m going to Romania- there are a lot of organizations there associated with my charity. They also happen to have one of my favorite dishes ever- polenta with fresh cheese and a soft boiled egg on top. Weird, I know. But when you’ve been drinking beer, it’s lovely. 

I miss all of you, but I’ve been caught up in love. In frowns and bedtime romps and the sweet idea of convincing someone they are your world. Kristen is. She finds me in different moods every day and reacts the same. She kisses me shyly still. She likes to touch my elbow when I’ve been drinking too much. When we are together in public, she always asks me if it’s okay to be my girlfriend. As if I wasn’t open about being bisexual. In response, I usually pull her closer. 

I love the way she is both confident and unsure. The way I feel as if I can control her and never control her. In a way, I am dominant- in a way, she could make me do anything she wanted. 

When I mentioned this trip to her, she smiled (a beautiful occurrence). and said of course. I told her we would be visiting and staying with my friend Mikal and might have to share a room with his sister. She said wonderful. Every time I visit, I take them shopping, take them to every restaurant they’ve ever wanted to frequent, and in exchange their mother cooks me food sometimes, kisses me on both cheeks and gives me distilled plum liquor. Sometimes we visit their aunt’s farm. Once in awhile they come with me to set up my organizations and speak fluent Romanian to the beautiful women who run the charities. 

Mikal loves to dance. We often frequent clubs where I buy drinks for everyone there. I want Kristen to experience the club life- the idea that every man and woman wants to be with you for the sheer pleasure of finding someone different. I love the feeling. 

In a way my love is selfish. I hold her tight to know she wants me. I kiss her to show that no one else can have her. I keep her busy to keep her away from men. I teach her new sexual pleasure to prove to her that she has always like women. And she does. I can feel it. Sometimes sex is a chore. Not with her. I feel as if I always want her, always want her to be with me in general. 

I love her shape. Her skinniness, her flailing limbs and smudged makeup. I love the way her back looks when she bends forward, and the shine her hair takes on when it’s dirty. There’s something special about the way she looks down when she is fearful. 

I will protect her. No matter who else I fall in love with- she will be the one I protect. The one I want. She will be mine until she doesn’t love me anymore. 

Going on a trip! (I must be psychic). Will let you know more later. 

Gotta do some work while I’m there though…..

If you guess where I’m going I’ll send you something!

Here’s a hint: There are many old factories here. The castles are usually plain and in the mountains. It is not a place one usually goes for business. 

There will be thunderstorms tonight. Large pulses from the sky, shooting fire, like Hephaestus or an angry Zeus. I love the way thunderstorms inspire me to reflect; sometimes they gently rock me to sleep. Either way, I prefer rain and distant thunder to muggy summers in the city. Usually I go on vacations, travel away from all of the lagging citizens, all of the half-clad, drenched workers which make me feel even soggier as I walk the street. But this summer, there was just too much to do. I felt the need to create and languish and suffer the heat like others do- I felt the need to work through the sun, almost break it, let it know it couldn’t win.

Although, I feel a bit guilty for Kristen. I don’t think she knows much about summer houses or summer vacations or plans expressly made for the summer. But she sure has heard about them from the few friends of mine who have started trickling back into the city. “The ocean was amazing.” “Italy was inspiring.” “You just have to experience Spetses in the summer.” Such societal assumptions make me cringe. 

Kristen has only seen the ocean once, she confided in me- and it was turbid and dark- dirty-looking almost. She had saved up some money to go with friends, but it was during the off-season, and they mostly drank in their hotel room to escape bad weather. She had put her feet in the water, but it was ice cold, and the brown foam at the edge disgusted her and stained her jeans. 

It is pretty amazing that it has been months since I left NY. Usually, I am all over the place, either trying to collect research for my dissertation or conducting business away from the city. For a while, I was going to California every month and leaving the country every two. If Kristen had been with me during that time, she would have seen the oddity of my life.

Sometimes I was spending five weeks wearing the same dirty clothing and living in a tin shack with a host family; I usually shared a small room with many women.  They constantly made fun of my ineptitude with learning other languages, and we conveyed our humor through gestures and pointing. I ate from a communal bowl with my hands, I was put to work (back-breaking, in my opinion), and I did a lot of solitary reading and writing at night. I hardly slept. 

Other times, I was taking private planes or first class trips to luxury hotels- sometimes bringing along Steven or Emma (one of my stylists) or an employee. We went to meetings in large, modern buildings during the day, discussing profits or products, the changing market/technology or social media (lots of discussing damn social media). On our days off, we sat by the pool or went to the spa and visited fancy restaurants and clubs at night. We met people who I wish I could mention, we went to parties I had only imagined at thirteen years old- most I couldn’t have imagined. We drank too much, we ate too much, we smoked weed, bought everything we had our eyes on, visited historical sites (much of this I did alone- most of the people I know from NYC aren’t really into archaeological sites). 

To be honest, I don’t remember being home at much last year. 

But this year, I am in a very heavy writing stage of my dissertation, and am going through a steady period of growth of my for-profit business. It requires gallons of coffee, soft electronic music, access to a television 24/7 (I have to have distractions while I work- for some reason it helps my creative process), a reliable shelter with reliable meals, and a short distance from my office to home. Although, I am starting a new charity, it is based out of the city and much of my research can be done by taking the subway or getting into my car. Most of my meetings are with people who are based in the city, but won’t be back until summer is over. 

The traveling has had to take a back seat to work most productively done from home. But maybe since Kristen is here, I won’t travel for work any more- maybe I’ll start traveling strictly for pleasure. She has expressed her interest to travel once or twice, but has never really asked to go anywhere. I would take her away for Christmas, but there is nothing like Christmas in the city, especially if you’ve grown up here, and I think her special Christmas can only be had from home. 

I think our first traveling adventure will be a surprise. But I’m not quite sure when. 

As I sit here, typing, welcoming a low humidity and the chance of showers, I am excited to be feeling happy again. It’s important to feel as if one could do anything. 

I recently went to the bookstore and decided I deserved to blow a bunch of money on one of the things I love the best: books. If bookstores had carts, I would have filled one up. The store threw in free packaging and same day delivery since I bought so many. 67. 67 books. It changed my whole attitude towards the Blake and Kristen situation. In fact, I was so happy when I came  home that they decided to be happy with me. After all, it was Blake’s last day here today and I want her to know I still love her. I think the three of us are all tired of the drama, and so we all relaxed tonight. I basically spent the last couple of days drinking in my room, alone, waiting for one of them to come apologize to me for behaving so poorly. (Which they did there at the end- Blake baited Kristen and Kristen took the bait which might even be worse.) In the end, after a series of stupid arguments, I won. What I say in my house, goes. And maybe Kristen and my relationship is better for all of this. At least she knows I am completely open and honest with her. She should see that. Ah, fuck it. We love each other. We really do. 

But, honestly, I really am just putting up this post so you can see the list of the books I can’t wait to read. I tried to get a whole bunch of different genres. Even though I will never read all of the books I have, I want to have a legacy of knowledge and study for my children. Reading got me through a lot of rough times, and even though I never want my kids to go through the things I went through, I want them to have that option of escape. Reading is the best medicine. 

Genevieve’s List of New Books

1. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
2. Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane
3. Gracefully Insane: Life and Death Inside America’s Premier Mental Hospital by Alex Beam
4. Elephants on Acid and Other Bizarre Experiments by Alex Boese
5. Rules of the Sociological Method by Emile Durkheim
6. Language and Symbolic Power by Bourdieu
7. The Legends of King Arthur and his Knights by Sir James Knowles
8. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
9. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
10. Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned: Stories by Wells Tower
11. Bailout by Neil Barofsky
12. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
13. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
14. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
15. The All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness
16. Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
17. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
18. The Swerve by Stephen Greenblat
19. Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman
20. Otherwise Known as the Human Condition by Geoff Dyer
21. Full Body Burden by Kristen Iverson
22. Across Atlantic Ice: Clovis Culture by Dennis Stanford
23. True Believers by Kurt Anderson
24. The Red Chamber by Pauline Chen
25. Year Zero by Rob Reid
26. Agent Garbo by Steven Talty
27. The Psychology of Wealth by Charles Richards
28. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
29. Drift by Rachel Maddow
30. Thinking Fast…Slow by Daniel Kahneman
31. Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith
32. The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
33. The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom
34. The Time in Between by Maria Duenas
35. Bossypants by Tina Fey
36. Self by Yann Martel
37. A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
38. Invitation to a Beheading by Vladmir Nabakov
39. Seeds of Wealth: Five Plants that Made Men Rich by Henry Hobhouse
40. A History of the World in 6 Glasses by Tom Standage
41. Migraine by Oliver Sacks
42. The Power of Sound: How to be Healthy and Productive Using Music and Sound by Joshua Leeds
43. The Book of Five Rings by Thomas Cleary
44. Existentialism is a Humanism by Satre
45. The Crusades Through Arab Eyes by Amin Maalouf
46. 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology by Scott Lilienfeld
47. Hippo Eats Dwarf by Alex Boese
48. Contraband by Taryn Simon
49. The Lexus and the Olive Tree by Thomas Friedman
50. Patterns of Culture by Ruth Benedict
51. A History of Modern Iran by Ervand Abrahamian
52. The Great Influenza by John Barry
53. Spice: The History of a Temptation by Jack Turner
54. Wild by Cheryl Strayed
55. Quiet by Susan Cain
56. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
57. Imagine: How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
58. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
59. Yes, Chef: A Memoir by Marcus Samuelsson
60. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
61. Shadow Country by Peter Mathiesson
62. The First Americans by Jake Page
63. The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins
64. Natural Capitalism by Paul Hawken
65. The Story of Sushi by Trevor Corson
66. The Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson
67. Provenance by Laney Salisbury

Blake and Kristen have been just staying away from each other. We eat breakfasts together and smile randomly at each other over eggs and coffee. Sometimes one of them holds my gaze for a second, but I feel myself pulling away. It’s not that I things are particularly horrible..I think I mentioned it…but there is this air about the house that I can’t shake. I almost feel as if I’m cloaked in some bad luck aura. Some juju gone wrong. 

My South African friends would say that my ancestors are not approving of my lifestyle and they are making it known by forcing bad luck upon me. Perhaps that is true. I just can’t seem to pinpoint what it is exactly they wouldn’t approve of. Maybe I fell in love with Kristen too easily. Maybe I just looked for an excuse to have someone to be my own. But, does it matter?

I am honestly being too dramatic about everything. Blake will go home on Sunday and all will be normal again- except- there is a ghost here. A heaviness in my head. I can feel an unknown trouble weighing on my chest, making it hard for me to breathe, making it hard for me to continue on as if everything was normal. I still can’t pinpoint where the distress is coming from. 

Kristen sleeps with me at nights again, but I don’t hold her as tightly. 

I am having one of those days. Just completely under the weather mentally, even though my problems are minuscule. In the past, I had problems with anxiety and depression and with the aid of philosophical counseling and some medication, it is almost a thing of the past. Sometimes, though, I still get int the mood where I refuse to eat or go to sleep, the mood where all I can focus on are my inadequacies, the inadequacies of everyone really.

It’s not flattering, I know, to be sharing this information. I am an incredibly introspective person and sometimes it makes me come across as cold, arrogant, or apathetic. I don’t mean to do it, but I just get caught up in my own head. My thoughts become slow, as if they were working against a river of glue. And my mood becomes…dark? I don’t know if that really captures it. More like restless, cloudy, confused.

It’s a disease full of contrasts: My mind races, wishing it could accomplish anything as fast as possible, but my body doesn’t have the energy to get off the couch. My heart feels heavy, but I’m physically lightheaded, my body feels cold and closed even though I seek a warmer environment.

The fact that Kristen and Blake are going through periods of wanting to spend time with me to not wanting to talk to me, isn’t making me feel better. I actually took a half day of work today even though I shouldn’t have. I came home and sat in my bed and stared at the wall. I know I haven’t told the rest of the story from my last post yet, but spoiler alert, I showed Kristen Blake’s letter.

She was so angry and hurt, convinced I hadn’t told her about a romantic past Blake and I had. I’ve been so lonely today, so utterly unable to form cohesive, productive thoughts that when she came into my room to talk to me all I could say was, “All I’ve ever told you is the truth, and I don’t have the energy to talk about this problem right now.” She was sweet enough to understand that I was having an anxiety attack, so she lay beside me and napped.

I guess Blake was in her room the whole time. But later on, when Kristen was painting, she came into my room as well. She pretended she was incredibly happy, and in a way this made me more depressed. It sounds strange but I looked her in the eyes and said, “Fishsticks.” When we were going through tough times together and we were having a rough time, but we were in public and didn’t want to say anything out loud, “fishsticks” was our code word to get the fuck out of wherever we were.

She hugged me and kissed my cheek. “If you need anything, I’m here,” she said. “I can leave tomorrow.”

“Please don’t,” I said, and she left the room.

It’s two o’clock in the morning already and I’ve been writing this blog post and doing work. I don’t see myself sleeping all night. Kristen stayed in her room tonight and it’s made me upset even though I’m sure she’s just trying to give me space.

My thoughts won’t stop racing. Not even about current problems. I’m being self-conscious about the dumbest shit. About my looks- I keep obsessing over my ugliness, my heaviness, the way I am not nearly as pretty as everyone around me. I’m obsessing about not being smart or artistic- the way I can’t paint or write well enough or finish my thesis in a timely manner. I know these are completely irrational thoughts, but I am still having them. It’s a curse of anxiety to know perfectly well you should be fine, but can’t be. 

I didn’t kick Blake out. No matter what the problems are, no matter who is in the wrong or right, there is no reason things shouldn’t be talked out like adults. So, when I came home from work, I sat down with Kristen and Blake together and told each of them how important they were to me. 

“Kristen, I love you. We’ve only been together three months, and when I look at you, I know we will be together for a long time. You’ve had a tough life sometimes, and I know this can skew your perspective. [She tried to intercede and argue, but I interrupted her]. You will get your time to talk, but listen to me right now. I know this stuff because I’ve been through tough times too. It’s easier to be passive aggressive and it’s easier to believe everyone is out to get you. But I’m not going anywhere, I’m here to protect you, not hurt you. No matter what Blake told you or what she says to you in the future, you have to trust that my word is the truth. And I am telling you now, Blake and I are not romantically involved nor were we in the past. Whatever feelings Blake has or does not have for me, do not directly affect our relationship unless you let them.”

I gave her a moment to gather her thoughts, and asked her if she wanted to say anything. She shook her head no and squeezed my hand. Her frown was trembling. 

“Now, saying that, you have to know, Blake is one of the best friends I have ever had in my life. When I’ve been in trouble, she never failed me. She was always here for me, no matter what my problem was. I knew that as long as she was my friend, I would not be alone. As a person who has experienced the pain of complete solitude, you have to understand what kind of bond this forged between us.” I turned my attention to Blake and saw she was teary-eyed. This sweet girl cries a bit easily. 

“Blake, as much as I love you, you know your own personality can be your own worst enemy. (We both laughed a little). Like you said, sometimes you are competitive and rash and you don’t mean the things you say. Especially with some alcohol in you. You and I are family, we have been through more together than I could write in a book. And believe me when I say I would do anything for you. I don’t know what your feelings are for me- I don’t want to belittle your feelings if you truly have them- but I believe you just said those things last night without thinking. I don’t think you feel romantically about me in any way. You’re just you, and it’s what you said. However, no matter what the case is, Kristen is the best thing to happen to me. I’m in love with her. This does not make our relationship less special, it just means that I have a different sort of relationship with another person who requires my time and attention as well. You should be happy for me. You should want to get to know her, to love her.” 

Blake smiled. “I feel like a child getting reprimanded.”

Kristen looked at her and said, “Me too. And, honestly, I feel stupid as fuck now.” 

We all laughed, and I felt much better about the situation. They were talking like regular people now, and Kristen was touching me and looking at me. She even came to sleep in my bed tonight, and is curled up beside me at me right now. 

The reason I decided to write this post tonight was because I thought this shit was over. I thought I took the high road and did the right thing, and now it is still coming to bite me in the ass. When I went to brush my teeth, I saw a note that was slipped under my door. 

Mama Bird-

I wasn’t lying about loving you. When we kissed, I thought I would ask you to be my girlfriend, but I was afraid. I am glad I didn’t ask that night because you wouldn’t have remembered it and I would have made more of a fool of myself than I already have. Besides, I don’t know anything about dating girls, you are probably the first lesbian person I ever met who was so comfortable with their sexuality and I thought you might laugh at me if I asked. Actually, I know you would never do that, but I was still afraid.

I thought you should know the boyfriend in India is something I made up. I thought it would cover for the fact that I was devastated when I heard you were dating someone- a girl nonetheless. I always thought if I lost out to someone, it would be a man.

It has taken me a lot of courage to write this letter. In fact, one of the reasons I came home was to ask how you felt about me. I know it’s not the best timing…but our kiss wasn’t so long ago. Right before I left for India. Maybe a month before. Anyway, I thought you were in love with me too. I had this fantasy of us as the two bad bitches in Manhattan, becoming important, making money, travelling, living some sort of dream life. Now, I realize I’m just a bimbo with a trust fund and looks that will fade and no one will ever love me because they won’t know me. Besides Anna [Blake’s sister] you are the only one who can actually understand me. You know my personality and how it can make people turn away from me and you are the only person who has ever seen past my looks. I know I use them as a weapon sometimes and I’m not proud of it. Sometimes I think it is the only good part about myself and so I use them to hurt others. But you know me better than that.

Please don’t tell Kristen any of this. I promise I am not writing to hurt her. This letter has taken an hour to write, and I still feel like I haven’t said anything that I want to. I will leave tomorrow if you want me to. But don’t hate me, ok? I can’t help it.

-Baby Bird

[The letter above is true to her wording, except where I fixed some spelling errors and put sentences together to make them understandable.]

Well, what the fuck now? I’m angry, not at her, but just at….shit. Here I am with the woman of my dreams and I thought everything was going amazingly. But now I have to either a) show her this letter and just deal with her reaction or b) keep it from her and feel as if I’m deceiving her for the rest of our relationship. 

I can’t lose either one of these girls. Blake isn’t just a friend…the things she’s done for me…she basically saved me from being homeless, she was with me when I was tracking down my brother, she was with me when my cousin died, she has been supportive ever since she’s known me. She is such a good person, so beautiful at heart, I can’t just pretend none of these things happened. And obviously, Kristen…I have to tell her, show her the letter and try to make things right….again. FUCK. Sorry, I am just super frustrated right now. And the worst part is that it’s no one’s fault but mine.