(a stream-of-consciousness from 2018, written in the library during Notebook Club)

Hopeless diamond. It makes me think of that thing where you tape off a square of floor, and supposedly your cat can't resist sitting inside the shape. I don't know. I've never tried it, despite having a suitably feline test subject and a small collection of tape.

In our house we have a joke that our cat, like Chuck Norris, does not sleep. She waits. I don't know what Chuck is waiting for, but the cat is waiting for dinner (or breakfast, depending on when she last ate).

How does that Rilke poem go? "Everything is close to my face, and everything close to my face is stone" He's writing about grief: the heaviness of it, the sense of being trapped in the dark and unable to move.

Hopeless diamond, lost and forgotten in the pipes under the sink. It's more like drain sludge today than solid rock. Dark, but not so dense. Not quite where you wanted to be, but there's a sense that things might start moving. And you can hear people muttering to themselves as they tweeze and brush and trim and shave and fart, because of course it's the bathroom sink drain.

What color diamond was it? When did you lose it? What were you doing? Did you take the ring off while you were washing the dishes? Did it slide off on its own when you lost 50 pounds? Did you forget to check the bezels or prongs for twenty years, until they wore out and dropped the diamond in the supermarket parking lot? Hopeless diamond, lost in the gravel, then packed into the treads of someone's tire and later deposited in a parking lot 50 miles away.

A diamond, like Chuck Norris, does not sleep. It waits.

On the flight back from New York, my seatmate's diamond catches the sun, turns it to confetti, and scatters it on the ceiling of the plane. She is oblivious, busily shushing her small dog. The dog's name is Penny, and it is the color of copper.

The plane begins its descent, and she pulls out a paper towel and holds it near Penny's mouth, just in case. She tells me that the first time she and Penny flew together, Penny threw up all over her. So she had to do that girls' party trick of putting on a new shirt, and then taking off the old one underneath it. She says the pilot clapped when she finished.

God forbid anyone know that a woman has nipples. God forbid there be evidence of that. Last time I went bra shopping, I saw a sign that said "Headlights are for cars." All the bras had padding, not to make breasts look larger but to hide nipples. Fuck that. I have nipples, and we are all just going to have to deal with it.

"Toes knees nipples," my ex used to mutter sometimes. "Toes knees nipples knuckles wrinkles dimples pimples." Sometimes he would end these mutterings by exclaiming, "I don't like Frank Sinatra or his children!" I think he was quoting Zippy the Pinhead. I think at some point he heard the words "Stop making sense" and interpreted them as useful advice instead of the title of a Talking Heads concert film.

What would he have said, if he could have said what he really meant? After all these years, it's hard for me to guess.

To say what you mean, you have to know what you mean. You have to get out the wrench and open the pipe under the sink and find the diamond in the sludge, even if it is only a tiny little two millimeter thing.

Or you have to sit still and listen to that voice in the base of your skull shouting things you don't want to hear. Your marriage is over. Your career is over. Your life as you know it is over. You can never go home again. The end of the world has already arrived, some assembly required.

But hopelessness is the beginning of something. Hopelessness is the taproot of deep change. Hopelessness would like you to shut up about wrinkles, and Frank Sinatra, and everything else. Hopelessness would like you to sit in the dark with it, and wait.

hopeless diamond