Kicker of Pigeons

Tonight I was reminded of a short story I read a few – maybe four or five – years ago and I remembered that there was a passage or a line in it toward the end that I’d underlined on account of its profundity. I then realized that I couldn’t remember who wrote the story or what exactly it was about. I think it was about an old man living in the future who is trying to get in touch with his son who lives on another planet. But I don’t trust my memory enough to say for sure. Anyway, I started thinking about other short stories or books with lines I’ve underlined because they resonated with me at the time I was reading them. (Aside: This is kind of a rare thing for me. I don’t like to mark up my books.) The first book that came to mind was The Golden Notebook.

I was trying to remember which passages or lines I’d been so taken by that I had to underline them when I read it five years ago. I knew that I’d written down a few passages from the book in one of my old journals, but I felt an urge to get the book from my bookshelf and skim the pages until I found what I was looking for. Page after page went by and there was no sign of underlining. Not even the faintest pen mark. Finally, I got to page 394. One sentence was underlined:

“We all look with disapproval at this hardened kicker of pigeons.”

Then I remembered that this was the only line I’d underlined in the whole book. The passages I’d written down in my notebook actually came from a few novels I was reading that summer, one of which I know was The Death of the Heart. I wrote them all down because I felt very earnestly that they spoke to me regarding a painful situation I was experiencing with a guy. (Aside: I feel weird calling him “a man” because I was 22 and “men” weren’t a thing yet. I also feel weird calling him “a boy” because he definitely wasn’t that.) I know that I felt very strongly about this one sentence. I sullied a book for it. I wrote it down in my journal.

But reading it again, I don’t feel that same connection. I’m not that person any longer. I think that, basically, I felt this guy was the “kicker of pigeons” and I was one of the pigeons and I wanted everyone to judge him for kicking me? This sentence that once seemed so important is now just a strange reminder that I identified as a victim.

I really need to reread The Golden Notebook. Or, actually, read the whole thing. I put it down not too long after that line I underlined and never finished it.

Aside

Beginnings

My history of publishing things on the internet is spotty at best. I was very dedicated to updating my AOL Hometown page, which I recall prominently featured a picture of Sailor Jupiter (of Sailor Moon fame), when I was in middle school. It was all downhill from there. I tried to start a movie quotes website in 7th grade – even though my parents still wouldn’t let me watch Rated R films – but never got around to actually putting any movie quotes on it. I have no idea if either of those sites still exists, but I hope that they don’t and I don’t plan on finding out if they do.

Honestly, I’ve never been that good at updating personal websites or internet profiles. (For evidence, please see here and here. However, I’ve more or less stayed on top of Twitter.)

I’ve had the same journal since my senior year of college, which I only feel like writing in after I’ve seen an ex-boyfriend or am annoyed by my parents because my emotional age is somewhere between 16 and 22. I also make a lot of lists in that journal. Of things I need to do, things I want to do, books I need to read, places I should travel, stories I should write. And then I never do anything on the list. Or like, I do one thing and then I forget about the list and when I come back to it weeks or months later I think ugh whyyyyy did I ever write this I knew I was never going to do anything. The one exception to this is my list of Time’s 100 Best Novels 1923-2005 (in 2009). My list only because I wrote it out in cursive and have (very neatly) crossed off each of the books I’ve finished since. I’m too lazy to go find it now but I’ve definitely read at least 20 of those books since the time I wrote it out. And I regularly consult it when I’m trying to decide what book to read next. However, I almost never end up reading anything on it now because I’m still upset/embarrassed about failing to finish The Golden Notebook.

And I guess that list is sort of related to the point of this first post. I think a mixture of laziness and self-consciousness has prevented me from starting and keeping a blog of any kind. BUT I don’t want to get too serious right away on here. (I’ll be honest, I was totally sober when I wrote the first sentence of this paragraph but I’ve had a couple glasses of prosecco now so I’m feeling less like public self-analysis?) I just want to state that I’m trying to make a change and would like commit to writing here consistently – for a while at least. And that’s mostly because I paid for emphatichands.com and I don’t like to waste things I pay for. (I do go to the gym a lot more now that I pay for it.)

Here’s to hoping that the middle and end of this blog are as good – in the sense that I’ve already written a lot here – as the beginning.