Category Archives: Cathartic Reads

The Day You Read This

What a splendid book. The perfect blend of photography and the obscure meaning behind words and pictures. This passage particularly stood out for me.

On this day, you read something that moved you and made you realise there were no more fears to fear. No tears to cry. No head to hang in shame. That every time you thought you’d offended someone, it was all just in your head and really, they love you with all their heart and nothing will ever change that. That everyone and everything lives on inside you. That that doesn’t make any of it any less real.

That soft touches will change you and stay with you longer than hard ones.

That being alone means you’re free. That old lovers miss you and new lovers want you and the one you’re with is the one you’re meant to be with. That the tingles running down your arms are angel feathers and they whisper in your ear, constantly, if you choose to hear them. That everything you want to happen, will happen, if you decide you want it enough. That every time you think a sad thought, you can think a happy one instead.

That you control that completely.

That the people who make you laugh are more beautiful than beautiful people. That you laugh more than you cry. That crying is good for you. That the people you hate wish you would stop and you do too.

That your friends are reflections of the best parts of you. That you are more than the sum total of the things you know and how you react to them. That dancing is sometimes more important than listening to the music.

That the most embarrassing, awkward moments of your life are only remembered by you and no one else. That no one judges you when you walk into a room and all they really want to know, is if you’re judging them. That what you make and what you do with your time is more important than you’ll ever fathom and should be treated as such. That the difference between a job and art is passion. That neither defines who you are. That talking to strangers is how you make friends.

That bad days end but a smile can go around the world. That life contradicts itself, constantly. That that’s why it’s worth living.

That the difference between pain and love is time. That love is only as real as you want it to be. That if you feel good, you look good but it doesn’t always work the other way around.

That the sun will rise each day and it’s up to you each day if you match it. That nothing matters up until this point. That what you decide now, in this moment, will change the future. Forever. That rain is beautiful.

And so are you.

– I Wrote This For You by Iain S. Thomas (The Day You Read This, Page 486)


Where Should A Person Be?

Courtesy: Thought Catalog

Lucy turned to me, looking at the space beyond my body, down past different groups of people that had aggregated on the grassy side of the hill, just like the groups of people that were also above and beside us. “I don’t want to live anywhere,” she said.

The grass was drier underneath us, compared to what we had been walking through (wading through, pulling our knees at high arcs through the mud to be able to place our feet inches from where they were before), as we sat listening to Yeasayer play from the direction of the festival stages. I looked back at Lucy, my eyes focusing on her dark hair sitting above her reddening shoulders, thinking of my own hair—frizzing, dry, and out of control—and thinking back to earlier in the day when Lucy had held her arm out against mine saying in mock disbelief, “I’m so pale.” I nodded sympathetically. “Why am I moving to New York?”

Lucy had recently packed what she could fit into a single suitcase, taken a plane from London to New York then a bus to Baltimore (where she would be staying for 2 months), and then a bus back to New York to meet up with me to see Kanye West perform at The Governor’s Ball. I am currently trying to negotiate a move to New York and have been back and forth, from Woodbridge, Virginia to New York, twice within one week in order to organize job interviews, apartment hunting, and trying to spend time with the people that I would hopefully turn into friends. Though I’m moving to New York, I’ll still be the same person that I am in Virginia. I have to make a concentrated effort to change myself, or at least my everyday habits and actions that manifest as “myself” to an outside observer. Being alone in New York is the same as being alone anywhere else, though ostensibly more expensive. Everywhere I go I try to make the people there into my people. One day I hope to find my person. Lucy is my person, more than anyone, and it’s sad that she is most often far away. And it’s sad that we love boys. For some reason we love stupid boys. I thought, then said aloud, more to myself than to Lucy, “I like when I just have one or two people that I can just be unselfconscious around and just have them be the extent of all my social interactions.” This manifested as a warm feeling moving through me, suddenly feeling grateful for Lucy, and wanting to extend my skin around us both. “I wish we could be neighbors.”

“Liam messaged me the other day and said my story, the one that was just published, was ‘pleasant to read.’” Lucy said.

I looked at Lucy conspiratorially and said, “Pleasant to read… What the hell does that mean?”

“Pleasant to read is like… “ Lucy paused, as if searching carefully through every composition of phrases she could choose from and said, “going to a fucking English garden and eating a slice of cake.”

“Oh, I see. So like, a fucking tea party,” I said, smiling widely.

“He doesn’t get that I’m an art bitch,” Lucy said, matching my smile.

“He doesn’t understand us arty bitches.”

“Oh my god,” Lucy interjected, “I just had a flashback to New Years Eve, I don’t know if this actually happened, but we were on the stairs with Susie, talking about Liam or something related to him, and I just looked at you and said, completely incredulous, ‘Liam thinks language is FUNCTIONAL.’ Just with complete disgust.”

I started laughing, not remembering Lucy having said that but imagining the event and watching it slowly warp and attach itself to my memory of that night. “Oh god, I hope you said that.”

Me: My thing is that I hate when I can feel a guy trying to seem smarter than me or trying to teach me things.

Lucy: Yeah, I get that. The fucked up thing is that I KNOW Liam is an idiot but he’s a way more talented artist than anyone else on the internet, in my opinion. He just… needs to focus.

Me: Yeah, that makes sense but I feel like he would be your Basquiat, like, you would be supporting him so he could just do art things. You don’t want to sacrifice yourself for him.

Lucy: Oh god, no. Absolutely not. The thing is like, I’m not a fucking girlfriend of an artist. I am the artist. So he can stick around but I will be doing my shit. My main focus is my work. No. Our work. As in, you and me.

Me: Exactly.

Lucy: It seems clear that we’re… completely ridiculous.

Me: Yeah, that much is clear.

Laughing, I realized, with an uncertain degree of sarcasm, we were struggling with the condition of being artists, writers in fact — poets, worst of all. Women, even worse.

I remembered the nights we stayed up late on gchat—10pm for me, in Virginia, and 3am for her, in the UK¬—talking seriously, and not so seriously, about our future:

Me: I just read someone’s author bio and thought, “he’s like a fucking famous poet rockstar.”

Lucy: Who?

Me: I want people to think that of me.

Lucy: lol

Me: Alex Dimitrov. He just has like a whole paragraph of awards and prizes.

Lucy: Jesus. My bio is simply: LK Shaw is a lil bitch.

Me: Fucking famous poet rockstar. Let’s win a prize.

Lucy: We’re only eligible for… the bad bitch contest 😦

Me: lol. We’re in first place tho.

Lucy: Tru.

Me: “I’ve also always been intrigued and attracted to characters with really obsessive personalities, or an obsessive nature. This idea that if you’re dissatisfied with the world around you, you can in some way change your environment — that you can go somewhere and create your own world. It’s interesting for me to watch these characters because they can sometimes go so far out and become so isolated they begin to lose themselves… they can disintegrate very quickly or strange things can happen.”

Lucy: Oh. That’s us.

Me: Yeah.

That night we stood for 2 hours — after we watched Grizzly Bear play the main stage — packed against stranger’s bodies in the heat, to watch Kanye West perform. This is what we came for. We watched as they dismantled Grizzly Bear’s meager set up to add more lights and screens. They even covered up the official Governor’s Ball sign, per Kanye’s request. We could hear our friend Peter, who was separated from us by one or two bodies, encourage a girl not to leave to go to the bathroom because “Kanye would change her life.” And he did. We were 5 feet from where he stood, screaming with every intensity, “Assholes deserve to be lonely,” an ad-lib that Kanye repeated over the beat to “Runaway.” When Kanye asked, “Where the bad bitches at? Where ya hidin’?” Lucy and I looked to each other: here we are.

The next day Lucy and I sat on our respective buses back to Baltimore, I was taking “Vamoose” and she “Bolt Bus,” texting the entire way. I had missed my original bus at 5:00 pm so now our bus schedules were almost in sync. She left New York at 6:30 and I left at 7:00.

Me: Jacob went to see a place in Crown Heights that he loves. I haven’t seen it but it seems ideal. We’re probably going to go for it.

Lucy: Sweet.

Me: My new life…

Lucy: That seems good.

Me: Seems funny how I just keep making decisions that further commit myself to this while thinking ‘what am I doing?’ more amused than earnestly trying to figure it out.

We had both stopped at a rest-stop somewhere after traveling for a few hours. I walked inside and noticed mine had a sign that said “Baltimore.” I asked Lucy if she happened to be at the Baltimore rest stop but she was in Delaware. My bus had somehow pulled drastically ahead of hers.

I got back on the bus and fell asleep, waking up to a road sign that said “Welcome to Baltimore” and a text from Lucy that said she was just arriving in Baltimore. I was confused until I remembered what the signing on the rest-stop had actually said, having stopped their multiple times coming up and back from New York. Over one set of doors it reads, “To Baltimore” and over the other it reads, “To New York,” depending on which way you pulled into the rest stop, in Delaware. We had both been at the same rest stop via different buses at the same time, just missing each other.

The next morning in bed I felt sad about all the people in my life that I missed and all the people that I’m trying to put in my life to replace them. I felt sad about not having a reason to be in any one place in particular, with any one person in particular, but it wasn’t a glamorous sadness and I didn’t want to indulge in it. I cried in an ugly, private way and went to work.

-Gabby Bess

I Had A Dream About You – Richard Siken

Everyone can do with more of Siken in their life. There’s no one who even comes close to Siken’s style of poetry. Yes, you are my favourite, and your words are everything to me. This one is for me and my Person.

I Had A Dream About You

All the cows were falling out of the sky and landing in the mud.
You were drinking sangria and I was throwing oranges at you,
but it didn’t matter.
I said my arms are very long and your head’s on fire.
I said kiss me here and here and here
And you did.
Then you wanted pasta,
so we trampled out into the tomatoes and rolled around to make the sauce.
You were very beautiful.
We were in the Safeway parking lot. I couldn’t find my cigarettes.
You said Hurry up! but I was worried there would be a holdup
And we would be stuck in a hostage situation, hiding behind
the frozen meats, with nothing to smoke for hours.
You said Don’t be silly,
so I followed you into the store.
We were thumping the melons when I heard somebody say Nobody move!
I leaned over and whispered in your ear I told you so.
There was a show on the television about buried treasure.
You were trying to convince me that we should buy shovels
and go out into the yard
and I was trying to convince you that I was a vampire.
On the way to the hardware store I kept biting your arm
and you said if I really was a vampire I would be biting your neck,
so I started biting your neck
and you said Cut it out!
and you bought me an ice cream, and then we saw the UFO.
These are the dreams we should be having. I shouldn’t have to
clean them up like this.
You were lying in the middle of the empty highway.
The sky was red and the sand was red and you were wearing a brown coat.
There were flecks of foam in the corners of your mouth.
The birds were watching you.
Your eyes were closed and you were listening to the road and I could
hear your breathing, I could hear your heart beating.
I carried you to the car and drove you home but you
weren’t making any sense

I took a shower and tried to catch my breath.
You were lying on top of the bedspread
in boxer shorts, watching cartoons and laughing but not making any sound.
Your skin looked blue in the television light.
Your teeth looked yellow.
Still wet, I lay down next to you. Your arms, your legs, your naked chest,
your ribs delineated like a junkyard dogs.
There’s nowhere to go, I thought. There’s nowhere to go.
You were sitting in a bathtub at the hospital and you were crying.
You said it hurt.
I mean the buildings that were not the hospital.
I shouldn’t have mentioned the hospital.
I don’t think I can take this much longer.
In the dream I don’t tell anyone, you put your head in my lap.
Let’s say you’re driving down the road with your eyes closed
but my eyes are also closed.
You’re by the side of the road.
You’re by the side of the road and you’re doing all the talking
while I stare at my shoes.
They’re nice shoes, brown and comfortable, and I like your voice.
In the dream I don’t tell anyone, I’m afraid to wake you up.
In these dreams it’s always you:
The boy in the sweatshirt,
The boy on the bridge, the boy who always keeps me
from jumping off the bridge.
Oh, the things we invent when we are scared
and want to be rescued.
Your jeep. Your teeth. The coffee that you bought me.
The sandwich cut in half on the plate.
I woke up and ate ice cream in the dark,
hunched over on the wooden chair in the kitchen,
listening to the rain.
I borrowed your shoes and didn’t put them away.
You were crying and eating rice.
The surface of the water was still and bright.
Your feet were burning so I put my hands on them, but my hands
were burning too.
You had a bottle of pills but I wouldn’t let you swallow them.
You said Will you love me even more when Im dead?
And I said No, and I threw the pills on the sand.
Look at them, you said. They look like emeralds.
I put you in a cage with the ocelots. I was trying to fatten you up
with sausages and bacon.

Somehow you escaped and climbed up the branches of a pear tree.
I chopped it down but there was nobody in it.
I went to the riverbed to wait for you to show up.
You didn’t show up.
I kept waiting.

-Richard Siken

Date A Girl Who Reads

Having a tumblr isn’t so bad. Sometimes you’ll read something as wonderful as this and you’ll not be able to stop yourself from sharing it with everyone.

“Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag.She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas and for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry, in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who understand that all things will come to end. That you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”

–Rosemary Urquico