How is it?


Is it rough?


Well....... I imagine myself wealthy sometimes. I know, that's awful, right? But I do. A large apartment, in Chelsea, enormous and overlooking the Hudson. I must've done something great, been great at something, to receive it, this apartment with this view of the water...like a streak, of ink, on stone, around midnight. I must've been a prima ballerina and starved my life away and rubbed my toes to nubs with all that en pointe—or maybe I was born rich and I am living off my shares of Nabisco, or some more banal—most dynasties are so banal, wealth from distributing doorknobs, and then you marry someone whose family has cornered the trade in linoleum. And I am looking out into New Jersey, from my window, thanking God that I don't live in that town, that I live here in the land of culture and what's happening; and suddenly I am at a dinner party, mine maybe, in my apartment, and I am telling my guests how much I love Roland Barthes. "Oh my God, I fucking love Roland Barthes," I say. "Oh my fucking God, I fucking love Roland Barthes, too," Timothy says. And James says, "I love Roland Barthes along with both of you." "He really is something, ole Bar-tay," I say. "I love Roland Barthes. I love him and I love...Christ...Shelley. Christ Shelley. Do you like him—have you heard of him, the poet? Who lived like a thousand years ago as England was getting the steam engine? Percy Christ Shelley." Romantic. He was a Communist I think. He wrote a poem about Islam. I don't know if he was criticizing it or allowing its arrival. He slept with his sister and went blind, or his boyfriend Byron did, the one who died in Greece professing health and vigor. But he had and gave the other soldiers dysentery and yellow fever all the while. That hysterical, Saxon furioso. Did you hear that? That sound? That breath? That sounded like a kid in the room next door. My kid. I feel like the next step, I feel like the next step up, after starting these dinner parties, is to have a kid so I can seclude it, in its room, during these dinner parties. I'll put it to bed early, and go, "Oh shit, did you hear that? Sounds like fucking Shelley is up. Fuck. Not again. I'm gonna beat the tar...don't have a kid, you guys. Trust me, don't have a kid. Me and Tod did"—my husband's name is "Tod," for "death," so—"Tod and I had a kid and named it Shelley because Percy Christ Shelley is our favorite playwright and ever since Tod entered the picture, with his flatulence and eczema and inexorable body odor, and the little hairs he leaves on the toilet bowl and the rim of the bathtub and all around the sink, and now that we never sleep, the only voice I hear in my head is the sing-songy one that tells me that my child is awake and it's ten-fucking-thirty p.m. and we have a MAJOR ballet audition tomorrow so she better get a good night's sleep or its time to teach her how to fill her days with baking and tidying and occupying space." Ballet is civilized. Ballet will bore the shit out of you if you can't harness it, if you don't learn something about it. Ballet is hard. God's sake I say that I like it on Facebook, ballet, it's one of my likes, I have season passes to the New York City Ballet, I got that history of ballet book for Christmas and my feet hurt constantly, I FEEL like a ballerina...but my kid, Shelley, what with her poor balancing and love for McDonald's, her shit work-ethic and her lust after television, SHE is destroying the ballet; she is turning it into a form