Friday, January 13, 2012


I sleep in a converted attic. It’s the biggest bedroom, but has the lowest ceiling; I am five feet tall, and even I can’t walk from one end of the room to the other without hitting my head. My housemates are both much taller than I am, and didn’t fight me for the room. When I wake up in the middle of the night, the light from my room makes a path down the stairs and into the bathroom. I like the way my light looks from the bottom of the stairs.

I grew up in a single story ranch house with soil-colored shag carpet and soft, lumpy, ceilings. When I slept on the top of my bunk bed, I could reach up and brush off bits of ceiling onto my blankets like dandruff.

The next two houses I lived in had two floors, and when I left my second story bedroom for a third floor dorm, and started writing fiction, I could never conceive of a bedroom that did not begin and end with stairs. One comes down from ones bed. It is simply the way of things.

When my brother tried to kill himself, he was going to jump off the roof from his second floor bedroom. I realize now that this would probably not have killed him, but I'm sure it didn't seem so obvious at the time. I wasn't there. And when I examine my memory of my mother telling me, in the car on my way home from college for the summer, I don't really remember what she said. I don't remember her saying it. And I wonder if I'm wrong, if I’m remembering everything wrong, if my brother tried to kill himself while I was away at college, and I don't even know how he was going to do it.

It all makes sense now.  All the scattered things I've been trying to make that I can't finish because I don't know what they're about—the story about Sheila, the story about Caboose, the photos with Chinese restaurants and my father's living room and the lions in front of that movie theater in Keokuk—they're all the same thing.  I am filling a shoebox with all of these things, which are connected, and not.  It's not about any one thing, it's about all of them.

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