"Balk: Mary, how on earth could anyone leave New York? And b) Why does everyone who leaves New York have to write about it?
MHKC: I love New York but sometimes New York is so mean to you. And I needed a level up. Los Angeles is a decent level up because they pay you lots and lots of money for whatever you’re verbing for them. The thing about leaving New York is that you can come back. This way you don’t have to tread water and cry and feel a low-grade panic attack the whole time. I think this last winter broke my fucking brain.
b) Because we’re all assholes and because it’s the craziest feeling to leave New York. It does absolutely feel like capitulation because you didn’t WIN at New York to where you own a million dollar brownstone that now costs 4 million or whatever. But it also feels like breaking up with everyone you’ve ever loved all at the same time. It feels like you’re going on the spaceship to colonize another planet or something. It feels completely fucked up and scary and incorrect to leave this place. and some of us just gotta workshop that shit plus, also, it’s this THING to where if you don’t win; you age out. I wanted a car and a house and a washer and dryer. and it’s #basic as fuck to want those things but I got too old to care about how it seems. I have made a huge mistake. Probably.
Balk: Okay, I can see that. I can even MAYBE A LITTLE SOMETIMES (but particularly after this winter, which was brutal) think that possibly New York might not be the best place to grow old and die in. At one point during this HORRIBLE winter I was talking to a friend who was trying to decide whether she should stay here or go to California and I was like, “You know what? If you’re not FROM HERE there’s no reason you have to stay here.” Like, for me, I don’t think there is any other choice, if I’m being realistic. What am I gonna do in America, say “hi” to my neighbors? Drive around with a smile on my face and wait for the good movies to come to me three months after they get released? Go eat at Chili’s? Let someone finish their sentence? I’m stuck. But people like you and my friend, who did not grow up knowing that this is the pinnacle of civilization, have options. Still, LOS ANGELES? I cannot even comprehend. We’re not kids anymore, isn’t it a little late in life to have to learn, like, when to avoid Wilshire Blvd, or what the different degrees of plasticity mean, or a whole new language of how people are actually saying “fuck you”?
MHKC: Here’s the LA hack: my friend calls it “rehab.” You’re living your life as an avatar. I keep calling it purgatory or a fugue state because NOTHING YOU DO THERE MATTERS. Nobody gives a single solitary shit about you. Do you know what it feels like to live your life NOT conjuring clever observational little things to say?”
Escape Artist Tells All
"Have you ever lost the hunger? You seem like someone who consumes everything and delights in it all. But have you ever lost it, for even a period of time? If so, how did you get it back? Is the hunger of discovery and experience something that can be taught or practiced without being born with it?"
"I lose the hunger all the time. Right now, for instance. August left my body sore and my soul polluted. I’m spiritually exhausted, and the strength it takes to recover borrows from the hunger.
It’s not all that unpleasant. It’s not much of anything really, a sort of constant state of anhedonia. Nothing tastes. Nothing touches. Words come out of me, but I don’t recognize them. I’m just here, making a bunch of gestures and signs, interacting with a world I can’t feel.
It’s okay, though. I’ve done this many times. I’m comfortable with the ebb and flow of my emotional well-being. It’s a delicate sine wave, the amplitude and frequency of which I’ve learned to observe from a distance without needing to control it in the moment.
I have enough perspective to recognize the balance. I know better than to course correct with chemicals or consumerism. I don’t wanna fuck up my curve, because I know the hunger comes back.
It’s not up to me, but it always comes back. The trick is in giving up that control, in fully accepting that it’s not up to me, in knowing that nothing is or ever was up to me in the first place, and that it’s all gonna be okay, even if it’s not.
I’ll let you know when I’m hungry again.”
“The older I get, the more I see how women are described as having gone mad, when what they’ve actually become is knowledgeable and powerful and fucking furious.”