Instant Oatmeal Love

“Still I could feel this thing between us, not just lust but a kind of immediate love, the sort that, like instant oatmeal, can be realized in a matter of minutes and is just as nutritious as the real thing”-David Sedaris, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls.

I was having a bad case of writer’s block when someone suggested picking my favorite David Sedaris quote and beginning a post with that. I bought the new Sedaris book in Brookline at a store called Booksmith with Cousin Ellen and Dad.

Last night I dreamt I went to Brookline again. Screw Manderley! This place has got it all: a Tudor-style Walgreen’s, an ice cream parlor–many ice cream parlors, an Indian restaurant that is almost as good as the Indian restaurant back home, and lots more. The streets are upbeat. The people are jovial. It’s hip and it’s hopp’n.

Sometimes, however, the ugly is what we must live for.

Maybe we will return to Manderley or some equivalent shithole mansion Valley of Ashes pre-Clinton Harlem and so forth. The polar opposite of downtown D.C., which resembles a post-dishwasher plate …clean. The near cousin of Trenton or the Newark Train Station. Not to bash on Jersey, the second home to me.

A lot of people will give you a lot of shit when you say you’re visiting Jersey, living in Jersey, vacationing in Jersey, or flying over Jersey. Jersey, despite its notorious hard-core rep, has its finer parts. Just ask my cousins.

I guess that was a weird line, the whole “Just ask my cousins.” For one you don’t know me. For two you don’t know my cousins. And they’re mine so back off!

The truth is, there is good and there is bad. Even Maine ain’t perfect. I realize I am saying this right as I am heading off to a university that, well, isn’t in the best neighborhood. But it has flare. It has attitude. It has style.

My point being, you can be reared in the Bronx Zoo. You can be reared in Boston and conceived in Bangor. Or, you can be educated at a fancy prep school in D.C. and befriend the Obama girls. No matter where it is, you’ve got a story. No matter where you are, you’ve got a paper and pen, so write the fucking personal essay, why don’t you?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the happy stuff sucks and that misery is fuel. Take, for example, the popular ‘90s sitcom Friends. It’s an upbeat program with of course, friends, Central Perk, Ross and Rachel. But the stuff we like, the stuff we laugh at (or at least I do), is the pain. Chandler is terrible with interviews. Laugh at his pain. Be sadistic. Ross is a klutz. Enjoy his awkwardness. For, if life gave you lemonade, there’d be nothing to write about.

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