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The Fiction Issue 2009

Reading List

I read the milk container while drinking orange juice out of the bottle, holding the refrigerator door open with my body. A better thing to read about while drinking orange juice would be oranges, or sunshine, or even lemons.
December 2, 2009, 12:00am

By Miranda July

I read the milk container while drinking orange juice out of the bottle, holding the refrigerator door open with my body. A better thing to read about while drinking orange juice would be oranges, or sunshine, or even lemons. Not milk. I read my to-do list for the day. First thing on it: “Print out script.” Last thing on it: “Dog things.” Meaning, buy balls and food for the dog. Not something I ended up doing. I slowly read the first 30 pages of a script, entitled The Future, stopping every few minutes to add to a list entitled, “The Future: questions and answers from a directorial point of view.” First thing on the list: “Look at cat pictures.” Last thing on the list: “Climb him often.” I reread the last page of In the Aeroplane Over the Sea by Kim Cooper. It’s a book about the making of the Neutral Milk Hotel album of the same name. There’s a long, inspiring quote on the last page, which ends, “And that’s what we need: We desperately need you.”  I read the name on the box the mailman delivered: “Mike Mills.” The mailman is shaking and sweating and says “Shit” out loud, because he’s afraid of the (very sweet) dog. We went through this yesterday. His fear is one of the highlights of my day, it’s so out of control, physical, not something you see all the time. And I too have a dog phobia, so I can relate.  I read about 50 emails, over the course of the day, most of them from the same people repeatedly. Top emailer: assistant Alf Seccombe. Subject of one of his emails: “Re: I am the Authentic Representative of the Entity that my Page Represents.” This email contains his correspondence with Facebook. I also read, skimmed, the emails I wrote, as I wrote them. Last sentence to Brigitte Sire: “i hope all is going well with you. i am either totally paralyzed with no idea what to do next, or else i’m busy.
xo,
mj” I read pages 164–170 of Varieties of Disturbance, by Lydia Davis, while eating lunch. The last two sentences read: “How could you do that to your mother? Aren’t you shamed?” I read a text from Kitty: “How’s it going?” While stopped at a red light, I read the Vista Theater marquee, Men Who Stare at Goats, and the names of each of the men in the movie. I have various thoughts about the male actors, most of them ranging from slightly to very critical. I have one thought about one man that is admiring.  
I read the words “Lil Joe” on a small tapestry at Kitty’s house.
 
I read the words “Thelma and Louise” off a video box; the movie is playing in the background as we talk. We pause in our conversation to watch the part where they drive over the cliff. “I think I’m gonna cry,” says Kitty. But a moment later she says, “No, I guess I’m not going to cry.” I read the title of the Jeremy Deller book Marlon Brando, Pocahontas, and Me, and many pages inside. I squint to read the photo caption, “Sacheen Littlefeather Refuses Marlon Brando’s Academy Award, March 27, 1973.” Brief daydream about who I would get to refuse my Academy Award. I read song titles for Antony and the Johnsons songs, while listening to Antony and the Johnsons, while throwing the ball for the dog. “For Today I Am a Boy,” “Man Is the Baby.” By the time I get to “Bird Gehrl” her tongue is hanging out, and I yell out, “Game over! Good job!” and we go inside. I read an email from Jesse Pearson, editor of Vice. It ends, “i’m also sad that you aren’t represented in the fiction issue like at all. maybe even a reading list from you or something?
xo
jp” I struggle to read Mark Borthwick’s handwriting at his art show, but give up and decide to appreciate the writing on a visual level, which isn’t hard. Like an annoying child I read all the signs and billboards we pass while driving across LA at night. I try not to say them out loud, but accidently whisper, “Voyeur.” Mike says, “What?” “Voyeur,” I say, pointing to the sign on a building. We are stopped at a red light.  I plan on reading before bed but the lamp is in the other room and I’m too tired to get it. I lie on Mike’s shoulder and try to read the book he’s reading, Rilke poems. Lament Everything is far
and long gone by.
I think that the star glittering above me
has been dead for a million years.
I think there were tears 
in the car I heard pass
and something terrible was said. That’s not the end of the poem, but Mike was reading more quickly than me and turned the page.