My negotiated self thinks you don’t exist–wanna make something of it? (Week 15: Priorities and Opportunity)

in brief

Monday I spent in bed with a sick Ender, break for walk in the sunshine, reflections, the question—what do I want?

Tuesday, like a bolt of lightning on a bright sunny, a reward for kindness, I suppose—a chance to peer into my father’s soul 30 years ago. OMFG, what a gift, what a surprise.

What a price.

Worth it.

Wednesday, torture. Tequila.

Thursday, no sun, no spring, no hope, cruel clarity. But I worked.

Friday, I prepared the balcony for spring. It’s coming, it was in the air today, yes! I cooked love. I got love. Then missiles over Damascus; frantic texts to family. Everything’s different when you watch it from up close—nothing’s black and white.

Saturday, writer tribe, a cop who may or not be a sociopath—the question, really, was he born like this or did his job make him like that? I teeter on the edge of asking the question, come close. A few hours with my love and Frida. Then, an old friend in the sunshine; I think about buying a cigar. No. Instead, Japanese scotch—or do I mean whiskey? Sushi. Reflections on how we aged; how we changed… not at all.

Sunday… I think Sunday is going to be full of surprises. It’s not over yet.

knock, knock

Jane: Who’s there?

X: Opportunity.


Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!


Radical prioritization.


But today? YES.

negotiated self

William James (brother of Henry, the novelist, and Alice, the diarist, who would have been a novelist had she had a penis or been born even 50 years later) posited that in any interaction between two individuals, there were six persons present (six men, actually—not his fault, I asuppose, as Ursula K. Le Guin so sharply observed, women hadn’t been invented yet… anyway… I’m paraphrasing him to be more inclusive, because now I exist and so do you).

And so when we are together, you and I:

  1. You as you think you are
  2. You as I think you are
  3. You as you really are
  4. I as I think I am
  5. I as you think I am
  6. I as I really am

Currently, in the theory of the negotiated self, psychologists argue that there is no such thing as the self as it really is—that the self is always constantly negotiated in social interactions. Always negotiated. Never absolute.

I think they’ve just told us we don’t really exist.

Pinch me.

Kiss me.

Am I here?

turkish delight

I have a friend named Fatih, and there’s a neighbourhood called Fatih in Istanbul that’s now Syria away from Syria—and I’m writing about a woman named Matilda, and I give her an ex-husband called Fatih.

My friend is not impressed. Fatih the fictional character is not… well. He’s short, for one. And has many other flaws (and possibly, a very small penis, although we haven’t gotten to that part in the story yet).

Fatih: If you give Fatih a very small penis, our friendship is over.

Jane: Well, he’s comic relief.

Fatih: A small penis is not funny. Just change his fucking name!

But I have to call him Fatih, because, you see, Matilda is very fat, and there’s a scene with in a little convenience store in which the clerk calls her Fatih’s Fat Matilda, and OMFG, do you hear that cadence?

My friend is not impressed.

I shouldn’t have told him anything. Sigh.

(the above story, by the way, isn’t actually true, not exactly)

(but it’s a good story, and I will keep on telling it, until everyone believes it’s true)

unschooling looks like this

Jane: Ender-love-of-mine, please understand this. I have no desire to teach you to read until you really, really, really want to learn. When you are ready, when you want it—I will sit here with you for hours. But if you just want to go play Minecraft—go. I have nothing vested in this: I will not fight, make you, force you.

(I’m paraphrasing myself.)

Ender: I want to learn!

Jane: Then you have to look at the fucking letters and not make faces at the mirror.

Ender: How do you spell fucking?


Parenting fail, again.

Unschooling win. (This was on Thursday. In case you care. I don’t.)

why natives hate tourists

I’m reading Natalie Goldberg still—Thunder and Lightning: Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft this time—and still arguing with her in my head (in this book, she really admits to me her novel as shit, a thinly disguised memoir that took her nine years to write and that her New York editors, despite the phenomenal success of Writing Down the Bones, pushed to revise and revise, and kinda sounded reluctant to publish, and to be honest, I’m kind of gleefuly here, I whisper to her, “Ha, Natalie, //I//  know the difference between fiction and memoir, //I// know how to write a story that’s not about me and my neurosis, //I// know how to keep the reader up all night with events I’ve never experienced—only imagined… and I can take that from idea to clean draft in weeks not years, ha, ha, ha—okay, yes, I’m arguing with the Goddess of North American Freefall Writing, sorry, but despite all the voices in my head, sometimes it gets a little lonely inside the work…)

Anyway. I’m reading Natalie Goldberg and she’s quoting Jamaica Kincaid:

That the native does not like the tourist is not hard to explain. For every native of every place is a potential tourist, and every tourist is a native of somewhere. Every native everywhere lives a life of overwhelming and crushing banality and boredom and desperation and depression, and every deed, good and bad, is an attempt to forget this. Every native would like to find a way out, every native would like a rest, every native would like a tour. But some natives—most natives in the world—cannot go anywhere. They are too poor. They are too poor to go anywhere. They are too poor to escape the reality of their lives; and they are too poor to live properly in the places where they live, which is the very place you, the tourist, want to go—so when they natives see you, the tourist, they envy you, they envy your ability to turn their own banality and boredom into a source of pleasure for yourself.

Jamaica Kincaid, A Small Place

A few thoughts: I have spent much of this terrible winter wishing to be back in Cuba, occupying the responsibility-free role of tourist, not-native, not-of-this place person. Now I remember the shame and guilt that came along with the pleasure. Right.

And I remember how important it is for me to have a life, build a life from which I don’t want to escape—from which I don’t need a vacation.

(Can you think of anything worse—more banal, to use Kincaid’s word—than living your life FOR your vacation? Ugh. No, no, no. Not me.)

I also think—I must read everything Jamaica Kincaid has ever written. This is what I do when I suddenly, violently fall in love with a writer, a voice. I drink her, drown in her, until I’m sick of her. And then I leave her—but she never leaves me.

(This is  why we read, why I write. Why musicians compose and play, why artists create. It’s the only everlasting, unconditional love there is—falling in love with, using up art—giving yourself up to be loved, to be used.)

(That was either a profoundly deep thought, or a stupidly pretentious one, but I’ll let it stand.)

canadian spring

…is here. I think it’s here.

But I’m afraid to take the winter tires off my car just yet.

…good thing I didn’t…

and also, this

How I spent Sunday night. Existential angst notwithstanding, life is good.




The year started with a Monday; so does every week (Week 1: Transitions and Intentions)

Easier than you think, harder than I expected: a week in eleven stanzas (Week 2: Goodness and Selfishness)

A moody story (Week 3: Ebb and Flow)

Do it full out (Week 4: Passions and Outcomes)

The Buddha was a psychopath and other heresies (Week 5: No Cohesion)

A good week (Week 6: Execute, Regroup)

Killing it (Week 7: Exhaustion and Adrenaline)

Tired, petty, tired, unimportant (Week 8: Disappointment and Perseverance)

Professionals do it like this: [insert key scene here] (Week 9: Battle, Fatigue, Reward)

Reading Nabokov, crying, whining, regrouping (Week 10: Tears and Dreams)

Shake the Disease (Week 11: Sickness and Health… well, mostly sickness)

Cremation, not embalming, but I think I might live after all (Week 12: Angst and Gratitude)

Let’s pretend it all does have meaning (Week 13: Convalescence and Rebirth)

The cage is will, the lock is discipline (Week 14: Up and Down)

My negotiated self thinks you don’t exist–wanna make something of it? (Week 15: Priorities and Opportunity)


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41 thoughts on “My negotiated self thinks you don’t exist–wanna make something of it? (Week 15: Priorities and Opportunity)

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