Everybody wants to tell me something. Something that is wrong with me. While I know they are often right, I admit I am tired of being a fuckup. I am so tired of not making sense. I have so many people telling me what they think I should do, or feel, or say, or think, and I know they're only telling me because I asked for their opinions. I asked for their opinions because I felt that I couldn't make the decision on my own.

"You know, every time you talk to this one person, you start being a dick to your other friends, and you just lose it. You didn't act like this until he started talking to you at his convenience."

No, that's not it. You don't understand....

"I think you're making sense about your decisions regarding you and I."

Well, that's one vote for me. Go me.

Hell is other people, when they're in the room I'm in. And what's funny is I told them to go into that room.

Dear Marlene,

If you or anybody else wanted an explanation, here it is.

I woud like to say I am angry with these men because they pulled power trips, because they treated me like a four-year-old with below-average mental capacity, because they turned the painful pieces of my history into cause for ego tripping and manipulation.

Though in the last year I have involved myself with men who were guilty of each of the above, I have to admit that these are merely excuses. The truth is I am angry with these men because I did not love any of them and did not have enough to give any of them.

Yes, it's also true that I felt guilty, just because I had so little to give. It's true that I am stingy with my attention, my laughter, with everything good about me. It's just as true that I have no business feeling guilty about any of this, nor did these men have any business making guilt-inducing, puppy-dog eyes at me.

About J., the one who did not think he knew everything and who was curteous enough to ask what I wanted on my waffles, it's more complicated. And this is where I am really having trouble, Marlene. About J.:

1. He could hold up his end of a conversation without foundering like R. and without patronizing me like M. and N. used to do, before I stopped talking to them.

2. Freckles. There. I said it. I have a freckle thing. Now shut the hell up.

3. Did not throw me out like he should have when I played "Crazy" (the Patsy Cline one, not the Britney Spears one) three times on the jukebox, in a row.

4. I already said about the waffles.

5. Besides that he was a good talker, he knew when not to talk. We could sit like a beautiful blue-haired couple (which, thanks to Manic Panic, we were for a while) already through with talking and sex (though neither was out of the question just yet). It was like this within a couple days of dating.

Conclusion: I hit the jackpot. And after a month I decide to pick up and flee. I really don't get it either, Marlene.

Here is one hypothesis: as a kid, I thought Say Anything was the perfect movie. No one would expect this of tiny, black ice-hearted Charlotte, but I still do. But even when I was 13 and full with longing, I thought I would like to see the same kind of movie with the same perfect couple being ripped apart and staying ripped apart for the rest of the film.

I figured at the time that that was Reality, and you see so little of that in teen films. In retrospect I think was just a sick asolescent fantasy, like surviving the apocalypse or one's parents or becoming an assassin. I was kind of a fucked-up kid.

I spent most of today on a bus, down the coast, and I was going to write you about that instead of my teen angst bullshit, which, to paraphrase a great film, has a body count. I love buses. As a true white, middle-class, insular American I was raised to be wary of them and to prefer cars, but I am even more negligent of my car than I am of most of my boyfriends, so fuck that. The bus crowd was your usual assortment of drowsy old people and 15-year-old, strung-out runaways and icky leering men. I wanted to write about them but instead I am drinking tequila on a patio on the beach. And now that it's hit me, I can barely hold a pen. So I'll save it for my return.

Night night.

Charlotte

The park has a small artificial lake, a stop-off for migrating Canada geese and flirting ducks, and a tiny artificial island at its center. Both of these serve to provide a fitting atmosphere for the obelisk.

Marble and copper. Modest as far as monuments go, but a stark contrast to the suburban sprawl that lives around it. It rises from the island in the lake like a chiding index finger, the angel at its peak tsk-tsking the dog-walkers who had managed to go a whole day without thinking about World War II, the selfish bastards.

The island is connected to the shore by way of a small, gated bridge. The only time people are seen on the island is Memorial Day (giving speeches and laying wreaths) the last day of summer (dredging foul balls from the lake) and, apparently, tonight.

There's a guy sitting cross-legged, his back against the monument; wholly visible from the road but, because nothing ever happens on this island and because he's not exactly jumping up and down to attract attention, invisible. He watches the third police cruiser in an hour go speeding down the road without so much as slowing down and smiles, briefly, before resuming his contemplation.

Tipping his head back, he looks up at the angel projecting from the marble. From the road she looks conciliatory and pained, a mourner, but from here he can see the sword in her hand and the look of righteous indignation in her eyes. He lights a cigarette, blue smoke intersecting the beams from the floodlights that keep her in perpetual day - Normandy meets the Pink Floyd laser show at the Hayden Planetarium. One of the slow numbers; Comfortably Numb seems to fit.

A car approaches down one of the side streets, its lights off and its engine barely ticking over like it was coasting in with the tides. It stops.

She climbs out, all legs and elbows and messy pony tails, barely dressed for the outside world - flannel and yet more flannel. She stands directly across the lake from him, a plastic shopping bag hanging easily from her hand, admiring the tableau he and his guardian angel make in the shadowy half-night. It's hard to argue that his placement was unintentional; he knew she'd be along sooner or later, he just didn't expect her to be so obviously observant.

She circumscribes the lake and vaults the fence in a surprising moment of grace. Settling next to him, she leans across him to the bag, removing a bottle of wine and two chipped mugs, a fresh pack of smokes, pretzel rods, cupcakes...and a pinwheel, surreptitiously borrowed from their neighbor's fence, blinding silver in the floodlights. She sticks it into the ground between them and the lake and lets the breeze do its thing.

He is here to think; she is here to let him. She lights two cigarettes and hands him one.

He accepts her apology.

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