Friends In Relation

I had the most amazing writing group this afternoon, with 12 of the bravest, coolest, most loving and honest people. They were so scared, because the work they are doing is scary, but they went on anyway, lifting one another up, wondering aloud. Every time I think I can’t stand one more ounce of bureaucratic bs, I have a group like this and then I’m like, Okay, let’s go. The call to this work is bigger than my desire for simplicity.

I just finished reading She Matters by Susanna Sonnenberg. The book is a detailing of various women in her life–the friendships that shaped her expectations of womanhood, her life of healing from being un-mothered. The scenes and characters are written richly. The story of each friend exists separately in compartments. I imagined organizing my friends like this–each character contained–and couldn’t quite wrap my mind around how I’d do it. I have very few friendships that exist in isolation, uninformed by my other friendships, by the overlaps. I want people to know one another, to love one another as I love them. I know people better when I see them relate to others, and try to make as much of that happen as possible. I have a new poem up,in the phenomenal second issue of Hematopoeisis, “A Letter to My Coffin,” (best viewed on a computer, the magazine isn’t great on mobile phones) borne of the National Gallery of Art writing exercise Even that poem, about my body being received at the end of its use, is about its relationship to others.

A friend I don’t know too well, but who I think is so great from a distance and from our occasional overlaps at writerly events, posted the poem below on Facebook today (be friends with poets on Facebook, your life will be improved) and it killed me. It is so so so good. We will use one of his poems next week, you’ll love it so much, I’m sure.

Monica
by Hera Lindsay Bird

Monica

Monica

Monica

Monica

Monica Geller off popular sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S

Is one of the worst characters in the history of television

She makes me want to wash my hands with hand sanitizer

She makes me want to stand in an abandoned Ukrainian parking lot

And scream her name at a bunch of dead crows

Nobody liked her, except for Chandler

He married her, and that brings me to my second point

What kind of a name for a show was F.R.I.E.N.D.S

When two of them were related

And the rest of them just fucked for ten seasons?

Maybe their fucking was secondary to their friendship

Or they all had enough emotional equilibrium

To be able to maintain a constant state of mutual-respect

Despite the fucking

Or conspicuous nonfucking

That was occurring in their lives

But I have to say

It just doesn’t seem emotionally realistic

Especially considering that

They were not the most self-aware of people

And to be able to maintain a friendship

Through the various complications of heterosexual monogamy

Is enormously difficult

Especially when you take into consideration

What cunts they all were

 

I fell in love with a friend once

And we liked to congratulate each other what good friends we were

And how it was great that we could be such good friends, and still fuck

Until we stopped fucking

And then we weren’t such good friends anymore

 

I had a dream the other night

About this friend, and how we were walking

Through sunlight, many years ago

Dragged up from the vaults, like

Old military propaganda

You know the kind; young women leaving a factory

Arm in arm, while their fiancées

Are being handsomely shot to death in Prague

And even though this friend doesn’t love me anymore

And I don’t love them

At least, not in a romantic sense

The memory of what it had been like not to want

To strap concrete blocks to my head

And drown myself in a public fountain rather than spend another day

With them not talking to me

Came back, and I remembered the world

For a moment, as it had been

When we had just met, and love seemed possible

And neither of us resented the other one

And it made me sad

Not just because things ended badly

But more broadly

Because my sadness had less to do with the emotional specifics of that situation

And more to do with the transitory nature of romantic love

Which is becoming relevant to me once again

Because I just met someone new

And this dream reminded me

That, although I believe that there are ways that love can endure

It’s just that statistically, or

Based on personal experience

It’s unlikely that things are going to go well for long

There is such a narrow window

For happiness in this life

And if the past is anything to go by

Everything is about to go slowly but inevitably wrong

In a non-confrontational, but ultimately disappointing way

 

Monica

Monica

Monica

Monica Geller from popular sitcom F.R.I.E.N.D.S

Was the favourite character of the Uber driver

Who drove me home the other day

And is the main reason for this poem

Because I remember thinking Monica???

Maybe he doesn’t remember who she is

Because when I asked him specifically

Which character he liked best off F.R.I.E.N.D.S

He said ‘the woman’

And when I listed their names for him

Phoebe, Rachel and Monica

He said Monica

But he said it with a kind of question mark at the end

Like……. Monica?

Which led me to believe

Either, he was ashamed of liking her

Or he didn’t know who he was talking about

And had got her confused with one of the other

Less objectively terrible characters.

I think the driver meant to say Phoebe

Because Phoebe is everyone’s favourite

She once stabbed a police officer

She once gave birth to her brother’s triplets

She doesn’t give a shit what anyone thinks about her

Monica gives a shit what everyone thinks about her

Monica’s parents didn’t treat her very well

And that’s probably where a lot of her underlying insecurities come from

That have since manifested themselves in controlling

And manipulative behaviour

It’s not that I think Monica is unredeemable

I can recognize that her personality has been shaped

By a desire to succeed

And that even when she did succeed, it was never enough

Particularly for her mother, who made her feel like her dreams were stupid

And a waste of time

And that kind of constant belittlement can do fucked up things to a person

So maybe, getting really upset when people don’t use coasters

Is an understandable, or at least comparatively sane response

To the psychic baggage

Of your parents never having believed in you

Often I look at the world

And I am dumbfounded that anyone can function at all

Given the kind of violence that

So many people have inherited from the past

But that’s still no excuse to throw

A dinner plate at your friends, during a quiet game of Pictionary

And even if that was an isolated incident

And she was able to move on from it

It still doesn’t make me want to watch her on TV

I am falling in love and I don’t know what to do about it

Throw me in a haunted wheelbarrow and set me on fire

And don’t even get me started on Ross

Right? It seems just stream of consciousness at first glance. She’s chattering on about Monica and then dropping her actual truths and fears into the poem in these little bites. Argh. So your prompt: write about a character from a sitcom you feel strongly about. Maybe someone who shaped your understanding of life or love, someone you thought you’d grow up to be like. Just go, one line after the other. Why do you feel so strongly about them? It’s never really about them, is it? You could also go in the direction of writing about your “enemy celebrity.” What do they symbolize? Set a timer, 20 minutes. Write and write and write. Send me your writing if you’re so inclined.

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