What I’m reading

“A friend once told me that it is impossible to be embarrassed about something if no one else is in the room with you, but I find I can embarrass myself all by myself, and do it best that way, and in fact would prefer to do it that way always. There are lots of memories from college which produce a keen, almost dizzying chagrin which, translated into the physical world, might be compared to being locked for twenty-four hours in a brightly lit Finnish steam bath walled with unsteamable mirrors. I am embarrassed by the pleasure I took in my hair, the violence with which I trembled at an audition for Midsummer, the ease with which I decided to ‘skip over’ the readings for a course in political philosophy (something very important in my life must have been going on). . . .

I’m also embarrassed by the economic fraudulence of those years, the fact that I lived in an apartment with a dishwasher — at that age! a dishwasher! when I only had six dishes to my name — and ate two dinners if I felt like it, if two dinner parties were going on, and loaned Becky Kellum ten dollars and then sat around and stewed about the number of days, hours, seconds, milliseconds, it took her to pay it back. I don’t think I needed that ten dollars. I think I needed the moral high ground and needed Becky to owe me, loved that she owed me, loved that something to me was due. Could somebody dim the lights, please?”

— Sara Levine, “The Essayist is Sorry for Your Loss”


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