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350 Best Conversations with Friends Quotes by Sally Rooney

1. “It’s weird knowing someone just casually, he said, and then later finding out they’re observing things all the time. It’s like, God, what has this person noticed about me?”


2. “Was I kind to others? It was hard to nail down an answer. I worried that if I did turn out to have a personality, it would be one the unkind ones.”


3. “For a while I stood there just looking at myself and feeling my repulsion get deeper and deeper, as if I was experimenting to see how much I could feel.”


4. “They took her radical politics as a kind of bourgeois self-deprecation, nothing very serious, and talked to her about restaurants or where to stay in Rome.”


5. “He touched me cautiously like a deer touches things with its face”


6. “I liked Sunny. I liked the idea of books and reading. I didn't know why I couldn't enjoy things like other people did.”


7. “I thought he was funny, I said. He hardly opened his mouth. Yeah, he had a humorous silence about him.”


8. “We can sleep together if you want, but you should know I’m only doing it ironically.


9. “We shouldn't she said. Obviously. But you are very loveable when you're self righteous.”


10. “Everyone's always going through something, aren't they? That's life, basically.”


11. “I wasn't sad, I didn't know why I was crying. I'd had this problem before, with Bobbi, who believed it was an expression of my repressed feelings. I couldn't stop the tears so I just laughed self-effacingly instead, to show that I wasn't invested in the crying.”


12. “I was a very autonomous and independent person with an inner life that nobody else had ever touched or perceived.”


13. “I wanted to be my house. I wanted your whole life. Maybe I did shitty things to try and get it, but I'm poor and you're rich. I wasn't trying to trash your life. I was trying to steal it.”


14. “... even in the depths of my indignity I craved something worse.”


15. “You think everyone you like is special, she said. I’m just a normal person. When you get to like someone, you make them feel like they’re different from everyone else. You’re doing it with Nick, you did it with me once.”


16. “Do you ever feel like you don’t know what you’re doing with your life?”


17. “It was easy to write to Nick, but also competitive and thrilling, like a game of table tennis”


18. “My favourite part of the gospels was in Matthew, when Jesus said: love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. I shared in this desire for moral superiority over my enemies. Jesus always wanted to be the better person, and so did I. I underlined this passage in red pencil several times, to illustrate that I understood the Christian way of life.”


19. “He's always looking at you to check if you're laughing at his jokes.”


20. “I need to be fun and likeable, I thought. A fun person would send a thank-you email.”


21. “miscarriage. I wondered if the clots of tissue were making them think that. A searing anxiety developed inside me at this thought, in the same form it always took no matter what external stimulus triggered it: first the realization that I would die, then that everyone else would die, and then that the universe itself would eventually experience heat death, a kind of thought sequence that expanded outward endlessly in forms too huge to be contained inside my body.”


22. “I was like an empty cup, which Nick had emptied out, and now I had to look at what had spilled out of me: all my delusional beliefs about my own value and my pretensions to being a kind of person I wasn’t. While I was full of these things I couldn’t see them. Now that I was nothing, only an empty glass, I could see everything about myself.”


23. “Of course it’s really about power, Bobbi agreed. But it’s harder to work out who has the power, so instead we rely on ‘niceness’ as a kind of stand-in. I mean this is an issue in public discourse. We end up asking like, is Israel ‘nicer’ than Palestine. You know what I’m saying.”


24. “Thing and people moved around me, taking positions in obscure hierarchies, participating in systems I didn't know about and never would.”


25. “You underestimate your own power so you don’t have to blame yourself for treating other people badly. You tell yourself stories about it. Oh well, Bobbi’s rich, Nick’s a man, I can’t hurt these people. If anything they’re out to hurt me and I’m defending myself.”


26. “You underestimate your own power so you don't have to blame yourself for treating other people badly.”


27. “He told me he thought helplessness was often a way of exercising power.”


28. “I laughed to myself although there was no one there to see me, I loved when he was available to me like this, when our relationship was like a Word document that we were writing and editing together, or a long private joke that nobody else could understand. I liked to feel that he was my collaborator. I liked to tink of him waking up at night and thinking of me.”


29. “Well, it depends whether you believe in some kind of transhistorical concept of romantic love consistent across diverse cultures, said Bobbi. But I guess we all believe silly things, don’t we?”


30. “I wrote a sample message, and then deleted the draft in case I might accidentally hit send. Then I wrote the same thing over again. I sat staring at my laptop screen until it went black. Things matter to me more than they do to normal people, I thought. I need to relax and let things go. I should experiment with drugs. These thoughts were not unusual for me.”


31. “He didn't call me the next day, or the day after that. Nobody did. Gradually the waiting began to feel less like waiting and more like this was simply what life was: the distracting tasks undertaken while the thing you are waiting for continues not to happen.”


32. “She had an expressive, conspiratorial smile, which I thought she probably gave to all of her subjects, as if to say: you’re no ordinary subject to me, you’re a special favorite. I knew I would enviously practice this smile later in a mirror.”


33. “At any time I felt I could do or say anything at all, and only afterward think: oh, so that’s the kind of person I am.”


34. “I felt excited, ready for the challenge of visiting a stranger’s home, already preparing compliments and certain facial expressions to make myself seem charming.”


35. “I know you don’t like to see upset by things. But it’s not a sign of weakness to have feelings.”


36. “It had been obvious to me from a young age that my parents didn’t like one another. Couples in films and on television performed household tasks together and talked fondly about their shared memories. I couldn’t remember seeing my mother and father in the same room unless they were eating. My father had “moods.” Sometimes during his moods my mother would take me to stay with her sister Bernie in Clontarf, and they would sit in the kitchen talking and shaking their heads while I watched my cousin Alan play Ocarina of Time. I was aware that alcohol played a role in these incidents, but its precise workings remained mysterious to me. I enjoyed our visits to Bernie’s house. While we were there I was allowed to eat as many digestive biscuits as I wanted, and when we returned, my father was either gone out or else feeling very contrite. I liked it when he was gone out. During his periods of contrition he tried to make conversation with me about school and I had to choose between humoring and ignoring him. Humoring him made me feel dishonest and weak, a soft target. Ignoring him made my heart beat very hard and afterward I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror. Also it made my mother cry. It was hard to be specific about what my father’s moods consisted of. Sometimes he would go out for a couple of days and when he came back in we’d find him taking money out of my Bank of Ireland savings jar, or our television would be gone. Other times he would bump into a piece of furniture and then lose his temper. He hurled one of my school shoes right at my face once after he tripped on it. It missed and went in the fireplace and I watched it smoldering like it was my own face smoldering. I learned not to display fear, it only provoked him. I was cold like a fish. Afterward my mother said: why didn’t you lift it out of the fire? Can’t you at least make an effort? I shrugged. I would have let my real face burn in the fire too. When he came home from work in the evening I used to freeze entirely still, and after a few seconds I would know with complete certainty if he was in one of the moods or not. Something about the way he closed the door or handled his keys would let me know, as clearly as if he yelled the house down. I’d say to my mother: he’s in a mood now. And she’d say: stop that. But she knew as well as I did. One day, when I was twelve, he turned up unexpectedly after school to pick me up. Instead of going home, we drove away from town, toward Blackrock. The DART went past on our left and I could see the Poolbeg towers out the car window. Your mother wants to break up our family, my father said. Instantly I replied: please let me out of the car. This remark later became evidence in my father’s theory that my mother had poisoned me against him.”


37. “By refusing to admit that I was sick, I felt I could keep the sickness outside time and space, something only in my own head. If other people knew about it, the sickness would become real and I would have to spend my life being a sick person. This could only interfere with my other ambitions, such as achieving enlightenment and being a fun girl. I used internet forums to assess if this was a problem for anyone else. I searched ‘can’t tell people I’m’ and Google suggested: ‘gay’ and ‘pregnant’.”


38. “He already knew I was twenty-one. Maybe what he really wanted to communicate was an exaggerated awareness of our age difference, or a mild disapproval or disappointment about it. I”


39. “She related to me as a person, maybe the only person, who understood her ferocious and frightening power over circumstances and people. What she wanted, she could have, I knew that.”


40. “At twenty-one, I had no achievements or possessions that proved I was a serious person.”


41. “According to you the only way to love someone is to let them treat you like shit”


42. “On dry days, Bobbi and I walked along underused paths, kicking leaves and talking about things like the idea of landscape painting. Bobbi thought the fetishization of untouched nature was intrinsically patriarchal and nationalistic. "I like like houses better than fields," I observed. "They're more poetic, because they have people in them.”


43. “You know, I still have that impulse to be available to you.”


44. “BOBBI: I don't think "unemotional" is a quality someone can have. That's like claiming not to have thoughts.


45. “Suffering wouldn't make me special, and pretending not to suffer wouldn't make me special. Talking about it, or even writing about it, would not transform the suffering into something useful. Nothing would.”


46. “I had the sense that something in my life had ended, my image of myself as a whole or normal person maybe. I realised my life would be full of mundane physical suffering, and that there was nothing special about it. Suffering wouldn’t make me special, and pretending not to suffer wouldn’t make me special. Talking about it, or even writing about it, would not transform the suffering into something useful. Nothing would. I thanked my mother for the lift to the station and got out of the car.”


47. “I loved them both so much in this moment that I wanted to appear in front of them like a benevolent ghost and sprinkle blessings into their lives. Thank you, I wanted to say. Thank you both. You are my family now.”


48. “I felt as if I’d glimpsed the possibility of an alternative life, the possibility of accumulating income just by writing and talking and taking an interest in things. By the time my story was accepted for publication, I even felt like I’d entered that world myself, like I’d folded my old life up behind me and put it away. I was ashamed at the idea that Bobbi might come into the sandwich shop and see for herself how deluded I had been.”


49. “I sat staring at my laptop screen until it went black. Things matter to me more than they do to normal people, I thought. I need to relax and let things go.”


50. “I'm glad my ancestral homeland could help nourish your class identity.”


51. “Hi Frances, said Melissa’s voice. I said hello, though what I meant was: I hope you haven’t found out about me sleeping with your husband.”


52. “I closed my eyes. Things and people moved around me, taking positions in obscure hierarchies, participating in systems I didn’t know about and never would. A complex network of objects and concepts. You live through certain things before you understand them. You can’t always take the analytical position.”


53. “I hung up the phone. After that I put some cold water on my face and dried it, the same face I had always had, the one I would have until I died.”


54. “She made us all laugh a lot, but in the same way you might make someone eat something when they don’t fully want to eat it.”


55. “Real writers, and also painters, had to keep on looking at the ugly things they had done for good. I hated that everything I did was so ugly, but also that I lacked the courage to confront how ugly it was.”


56. “At best they're very morally ambiguous.


57. “I lay there in the bath not thinking, not doing anything. After a few seconds, I heard her open the front door, and then her voice saying: she's had a really rough day, so just be nice to her. And Nick said: I know, I will. I loved them both so much in this moment that I wanted to appear in front of them like a benevolent ghost and sprinkle blessings into their lives. Thank you, I wanted to say. Thank you both. You are my family now.”


58. “Remember the first time we kissed? he said. At the party. And I said I didn’t think the utility room was a good place to be kissing and we left. You know I went up to my room and waited for you, right? I mean for hours. And at first I really thought you would come. It was probably the most wretched I ever felt in my life, this kind of ecstatic wretchedness that in a way I was practically enjoying. Because even if you did come upstairs, what then? The house was full of people, it’s not like anything was going to happen. But every time I thought of going back down again I would imagine hearing you on the stairs, and I couldn’t leave, I mean I physically couldn’t. Anyway, how I felt then, knowing that you were close by and feeling completely paralyzed by it, this phone call was similar. If I told you where my car was right now, I don’t think I’d be able to leave, I think I would have to stay here just in case you changed your mind about everything. You know, I still have that impulse to be available to you. You'll notice I didn't buy anything in the supermarket.”


59. “Over the summer I missed the periods of intense academic concentration that helped to relax me during term time. I liked to sit in the library to write essays, allowing my sense of time and personal identity to dissolve as the light dimmed outside the windows.”


60. “I wanted things for myself because I thought they existed.”


61. “Instead of thinking gigantic thoughts, I tried to focus on something small, the smallest thing I could think of. Someone once made this pew I’m sitting on, I thought. Someone sanded the wood and varnished it. Someone carried it into the church. Someone laid the tiles on the floor, someone fitted the windows. Each brick was placed by human hands, each hinge fitted on each door, every road surface outside, every bulb in every streetlight. And even things built by machines were really built by human beings, who built the machines initially. And human beings themselves, made by other humans, struggling to create happy children and families. Me, all the clothing I wear, all the language I know. Who put me here in this church, thinking these thoughts? Other people, some I know very well and others I have never met. Am I myself, or am I them? Is this me, Frances? No, it is not me. It is the others. Do I sometimes hurt and harm myself, do I abuse the unearned cultural privilege of whiteness, do I take the labor of others for granted, have I sometimes exploited a reductive iteration of gender theory to avoid serious moral engagement, do I have a troubled relationship with my body, yes. Do I want to be free of pain and therefore demand that others also live free of pain, the pain that is mine and therefore also theirs, yes, yes.”


62. “I realized my life would be full of mundane physical suffering, and that there was nothing special about it. Suffering wouldn’t make me special, and pretending not to suffer wouldn’t make me special. Talking about it, or even writing about it, would not transform the suffering into something useful. Nothing would.”


63. “I looked out the window at the station. I had the sense that something in my life had ended, my image of myself as a whole or normal person maybe. I realized my life would be full of mundane physical suffering, and that there was nothing special about it. Suffering wouldn’t make me special, and pretending not to suffer wouldn’t make me special. Talking about it, or even writing about it, would not transform the suffering into something useful. Nothing would. I thanked my mother for the lift to the station and got out of the car.”


64. “I had started reading long interviews with famous writers and noticing how unlike them I was.” (Does every aspiring writer do this?)


65. “I was like an empty cup, which Nick had emptied out, and now I had to look at what had spilled out of me: all my delusional beliefs about my own value and my pretensions to being a kind of person I wasn’t. When I was full of these things I couldn’t see them. Now that I was nothing, only an empty glass, I could see everything about myself.”


66. “You could die, I thought, and it was a nice relaxing thought at the time. I imagined death like a switch, switching off all the pain and noise, cancelling everything.”


67. “A school of taxis and cars swam past”


68. “Gradually the waiting began to feel less like waiting and more like simply what life was: the distracting tasks undertaken while the thing you are waiting for continues not to happen.”


69. “As far as I knew she had never written creatively at all. She liked to perform dramatic monologues and sing antiwar ballads. Onstage she was the superior performer and I often glanced at her anxiously to remind myself what to do.”


70. “Since when have you loved me? I said. Since I met you, I would think. If I wanted to be very philosophical about it, I'd say I loved you before then.”


71. “But I recognized that the only thing he had done to hurt me was to withdraw his affection, which he had every right to do. In every other way he had been courteous and thoughtful. At times I thought this was the worst misery I had experienced in my life, but it was also very shallow misery, which at any time could have been relieved completely by a word from him and transformed into idiotic happiness.”


72. “Not that God existed in any material way but as a shared cultural practice so widespread that it came to seem materially real, like language or gender.”


73. “Of course it's really about power, Bobbi agreed, But it's harder to work out who has the power, so instead we rely on 'niceness' as a kind of stand-in. I mean this is an issue in public discourse. We end up asking like, is Israel 'nicer' than Palestine. You know what I'm saying.”


74. “My body felt completely disposable, like a placeholder for something more valuable. I fantasized about taking it apart and lining my limbs up side by side to compare them.”


75. “I had the sense that something in my life had ended, my image of myself as a whole or normal person maybe. I realized my life would be full of mundane physical suffering, and that there was nothing special about it. Suffering wouldn’t make me special, and pretending not to suffer wouldn’t make me special. Talking about it, or even writing about it, would not transform the suffering into something useful. Nothing would.”


76. “Afterward I lay on my side with A Critique of Postcolonial Reason propped half-open on the pillow beside me. Occasionally I lifted a finger to turn the page and allowed the heavy and confusing syntax to drift down through my eyes and into my brain like fluid. I’m bettering myself, I thought. I’m going to become so smart that no one will understand me.”


77. “The sky was soft like cloth and the birds ran over it in long threads,”


78. “You live through certain things before you understand them.”


79. “this was simply what life was: the distracting tasks undertaken while the thing you are waiting for continues not to happen.”


80. “I had no achievements or possessions that proved I was a serious person.”


81. “I like getting compliments where I don’t have to make eye contact with the person”


82. “Louisa? Oh, you know. She was nice. I didn't dream about her at night.”


83. “I started to feel better then, as if my privacy extended all around me like a barrier protecting my body. I was a very autonomous and independent person with an inner life that nobody else had ever touched or perceived.”


84. “Bobbi: i don’t think ‘unemotional’ is a quality someone can have


85. “I sat staring at my laptop screen until it went black. Things matter to me more than they do to normal people, I thought. I need to relax and let things go. I should experiment with drugs. These thoughts were not unusual for me.”


86. “couldn’t explain what made me feel that furious, consuming misery,”


87. “Things matter to me more than they do to normal people, I thought.”


88. “I didn’t exactly start praying that weekend after the book launch, but I did look up online how to meditate. It mainly involved closing my eyes and breathing, while also calmly letting go of passing thoughts. I focused on my breathing, you were allowed to do that. You could even count the breaths. And then at the end you could just think about anything, anything you wanted, but after five minutes of counting my breath, I didn’t want to think. My mind felt empty, like the inside of a glass jar. I was appropriating my fear of total disappearance as a spiritual practice. I was inhabiting disappearance as something that could reveal and inform, rather than totalize and annihilate.”


89. “You underestimate your own power so you don’t have to blame yourself for treating other people badly.”


90. “When we came out of the theater it was raining again. I felt pure and tiny like a newborn baby. Philip put up his umbrella and we walked toward his bus stop while I sort of grinned manically at nothing and touched my own hair a lot.”


91. “I laughed to myself although there was no one there to see me. I loved when he was available to me like this, when our relationship was like a Word document that we were writing and editing together, or a long private joke that nobody else could understand. I liked to feel that he was my collaborator. I liked to think of him waking up at night and thinking of me.”


92. “He doesn't love you. That's what it hurts.”


93. “When I let him in we looked at one another for a couple of seconds and it felt like drinking cold water.”


94. “Everyone’s always going through something, aren’t they? That’s life, basically. It’s just more and more things to go through.”


95. “We developed a joke about it, which was meaningless to everyone including ourselves: what is a friend? we would say humorously. What is a conversation?”


96. “Suffering wouldn't make me special, and pretending not to suffer wouldn't make me special. Talking about it, or even writing about it, would not transform the suffering into something useful”


97. “Sapevo che Melissa preferiva Bobbi a me, e non sapevo come inserirmi in quella nuova amicizia senza svilirmi per ottenere la loro attenzione.”


98. “Bu noktada tuhaf bir şekilde kendimi tanıyamadığımı, kendi yüzümü ya da bedenimi aklımda canlandıramadığımı fark ettim. Birisi görünmez bir kalemin ucunu kaldırıp yavaşça tüm görünüşümü silmiş gibiydi adeta.”


99. “No one who likes Yeats is capable of human intimacy”


100. “My ego had always been an issue.”


101. “Everyone’s always going through something, aren’t they? That’s life, basically. It’s just more and more things to go through.” (This seems especially true this year.)


102. “Things and people moved around me, taking positions in obscure hierarchies, participating in systems I didn’t know about and never would. A complex network of objects and concepts. You live through certain things before you understand them. You can’t always take the analytical position.”


103. “Oh, that’s nice. I like getting compliments where I don’t have to make eye contact with the person.”


104. “You live through certain things before you understand them. You can’t always take the analytical position.”


105. “He didn’t call me the next day, or the day after that. Nobody did. Gradually the waiting began to feel less like waiting and more like this was simply what life was: the distracting tasks undertaken while the thing you are waiting for continues not to happen. I applied for jobs and turned up for seminars. Things went on.”


106. “At any time I felt I could do or say anything at all, and only afterward think: oh so that's the kind of person I am”


107. “Things matter to me more than they do normal people, I thought. I need to relax and let things go.”


108. “Jesus, he said. That sounds traumatic.”


109. “He only looked handsome because he was handsome, though Bobbi wasn't sensitive to the effects of beauty like I was.”


110. “I was like an empty cup, which Nick had emptied out, and now I had to look at what has spilled out of me: all my delusional beliefs about my own value and pretensions to being a kind of person I wasn’t. When I was full of these things I couldn’t see them. Now that I was nothing, only an empty glass, I could see everything about myself.”


111. “Standing in this house was like watching someone familiar smile at me, but with missing teeth.”


112. “Now I was afraid that Nick was right: I isolated myself from criticism so I could behave badly without losing my sense of righteousness.”


113. “She started to laugh and I laughed too, from the joy of being alone with her. She lit both our cigarettes and then exhaled, a white cloud, and coughed with laughter.”


114. “I sat on the floor of my room bleeding into a rolled-up piece of tissue paper and thinking about my own death. I was like an empty cup, which Nick had emptied out, and now I had to look at what had spilled out of me: all my delusional beliefs about my own value”


115. “You think everyone you like is special, she said.


116. “start with Mark and then read the other gospels in this order: Matthew, then John, then Luke. I got through Mark pretty quickly. It”


117. “I isolated myself from criticism so I could behave badly without losing my sense of righteousness.”


118. “I was lonely and felt unworthy of real friendship. I made lists of the things I had to improve about myself.”


119. “I’m going to become so smart that no one will understand me.”


120. “Beside her,”


121. “The idea of making images of a uterus that had nothing in it struck me as sad, like photographing an abandoned house.”


122. “In bed we talked for hours, conversations that spiralled out from observations into grand, abstract theories and back again. (...) I didn't feel with her, like I did with many other people, that while I was talking she was just preparing the next thing she wanted to say.”


123. “Was I kind to others? It was hard to nail down an answer. I worried that if I did turn out to have a personality, it would be one of the unkind ones. Did I only worry about this question because as a woman I felt required to put the needs of others before my own? Was “kindness” just another term for submission in the face of conflict? These were the kind of things I wrote about in my diary as a teenager: as a feminist I have the right not to love anyone.”


124. “We hated each other energetically, I could see that.


125. “It's not a sign of weakness to have feelings.”


126. “That sounds like a recipe for disastrous unhappiness, I said. You’re twenty-one, said Melissa. You should be disastrously unhappy.”


127. “He had a gentle tone in his voice and I wanted to climb into it, like something hollow I could be suspended inside.”


128. “At any time I felt like I could do or say anything at all, and only afterward think: oh so, that's the kind of person I am.”


129. “I loved when he was available to me like this, when our relationship was like a Word document that we were writing and editing together, or a long private joke that nobody else could understand.”


130. “He was the first person I had met since Bobbi who made me enjoy conversation, in the same irrational and sensuous way I enjoyed coffee or loud music.”


131. “At any time I felt I could do or say anything at all, and only afterwards think: oh, so that’s the kind of person I am.”


132. “At a certain level of abstraction, anyone could have written the poem, but that didn’t feel true either. It seemed as though what he was really saying was: there’s something beautiful about the way you think and feel, or the way you experience the world is beautiful in some way.”


133. “I certainly couldn´t tell her what I found most endearing about him, which was that he was attracted to plain and emotionally cold women like me.”


134. “We both paused then, like we had just raced each other up a set of stairs and we were out of breath and thinking about how foolish it was.”


135. “Gradually the waiting began to feel less like waiting and more like this was simply what life was: the distracting tasks undertaken while the thing you are waiting for continues not to happen”


136. “No one who likes Yeats is capable of human intimacy.”


137. “What you’re doing now is deceiving her just for the illusion of control, which probably isn’t worth it.”


138. “Birisini üstünkörü tanıyıp sonradan her şeyi gözlemlediğini öğrenmek tuhaf bir şey, dedi Nick. İnsan, oha, benimle ilgili neler fark etti acaba diyor.”


139. “I was glad the poems were only ever performed and never published. They floated away ethereally to the sound of applause. Real writers, and also painters, had to keep on looking at the ugly things they had done for good. I hated that everything I did was so ugly, but also that I lacked the courage to confront how ugly it was.”


140. “Sometimes this felt like a failure to take an interest in my own life, which depressed me. On the other hand, I felt that my disinterest in wealth was ideologically healthy.”


141. “My ego had always been an issue. I knew that intellectual attainment was morally neutral at best, but when bad things happened to me I made myself feel better by thinking about how smart I was.”


142. “it is just so stereotypically homophobic to accuse a gay woman of being secretly jealous of men, which i know you know. but even more than that it's really devaluing to our friendship to make out like i'm competing with a man for your attention.”


143. “I tried to reach out of the bed to shake her shoulder, but I couldn’t, and I felt exhausted by the effort. At the same time I was exhilarated by the seriousness of my pain, like it might change my life in an unforeseen way.”


144. “I thought about all the things I had never told Nick about myself, and I started to feel better then, as if my privacy extended all around me like a barrier protecting my body.”


145. “I think I only appear smart by staying quiet as often as possible.”


146. “Instead I just felt a lot of things I didn't know how to identify.”


147. “We can sleep together if you want, but you should know I’m only doing it ironically.”


148. “His lips parted like he was about to say something, but he just seemed to swallow. Neither of us gestured or waved, we just looked at one another, as if we were already having a private conversation that couldn't be over heard.”


149. “You think everyone you like is special, she said. I'm just a normal person. When you get to like someone, you make them feel like they're different from everyone else. You're doing it with Nick, you did it with me once.”


150. “Occasionally I lifted a finger to turn the page and allowed the heavy and confusing syntax to drift down through my eyes and into my brain like fluid. I’m bettering myself, I thought. I’m going to become so smart that no one will understand me.”


151. “You can love more than one person, she said. That's arguable. Why is it any different from having more than one friend? You're friends with me and you also have other friends, does that mean you don't really value me? I don't have other friends, I said.”


152. “Well, but what does it mean for a relationship to 'work out'? He said. It was never going to be something conventional. If two people make each other happy then it's working.”


153. “I'm bettering myself, I thought. I'm going to become so smart that no one will understand me.”


154. “A searing anxiety developed inside me at this thought, in the same form it always took no matter what external stimulus triggered it: first the realization that I would die, then that everyone else would die, and then that the universe itself would eventually experience heat death, a kind of thought sequence that expanded outward endlessly in forms too huge to be contained inside my body.”


155. “I kept laughing at nothing on my own.”


156. “I was aware of the fact that he could pretend to be anyone he wanted to be, and I wondered if he also lacked a "real personality" the same way I did.”


157. “It was more that Nick's sympathy seemed unconditional, like he rooted for me regardless of how I acted, wheras Bobbi had strong principles that she applied to everyone, me included. I didn't fear Nick's bad judgement like I did Bobbi's. He was happy to listen to me even when my thoughts were inconclusive, even when I told stories about my own behavior that showed me in an unflattering light.”


158. “I got out of bed after I read that exchange and stripped my clothes off to look in the mirror. Periodically I found myself doing this out of a kind of compulsion, though nothing about me ever seemed to change. My hip bones still jutted out unattractively on either side of my pelvis, and my abdomen was still hard and round to the touch. I looked like something that had dropped off a spoon too quickly, before it had time to set. My shoulders were freckled with broken, violet coloured capillaries. For a while I stood there just looking at myself and feeling my repulsion get deeper and deeper, as if I was experimenting to see how much I could feel. Eventually I heard a ringing noise in my bag and went to try and find it.”


159. “I have to laugh now or I’m going to start crying.”


160. “Even if I had any faith, it wasn’t going to make me whole. There was no use thinking about it.”


161. “I loved when he was available to me like this, when our relationship was like a Word document wich we were writing and editing together, or a long private joke which nobody else could understand. I liked to feel that he was my collaborator.”


162. “I was reminded of her wildness, her tendency to get inside things and break them open.”


163. “I sat on the campus cricket pitch on my own and smoked two cigarettes, one after another. I had a headache, I hadn't eaten. My body felt used up and worthless to me. I didn't want to put any food or medicine into it anymore.”


164. “I loved when he was available to me like this, when our relationship was like a Word document which we were writing and editing together, or a long private joke which nobody else could understand. I liked to feel that he was my collaborator. I liked to think of him waking up at night and thinking of me.”


165. “Remember the first time we kissed? he said. At the party. And I said I didn’t think the utility room was a good place to be kissing and we left. You know I went up to my room and waited for you, right? I mean for hours. And at first I really thought you would come. It was probably the most wretched I ever felt in my life, this kind of ecstatic wretchedness that in a way I was practically enjoying. Because even if you did come upstairs, what then? The house was full of people, it’s not like anything was going to happen. But every time I thought of going back down again I would imagine hearing you on the stairs, and I couldn’t leave, I mean I physically couldn’t. Anyway, how I felt then, knowing that you were close by and feeling completely paralyzed by it, this phone call was similar. If I fold you were my car was right now, I don’t think I’d be able to leave, I think I would have to stay here just in case you changed your mind about everything. You know, I still have that impulse to be available to you. You'll notice I didn't buy anything in the supermarket.”


166. “You’re twenty-one, said Melissa. You should be disastrously unhappy.”


167. “I was going through a second upbringing: learning a new set of assumptions, and feigning a greater level of understanding than I really possessed.”


168. “Afterward I lay on my side with A Critique of Postcolonial Reason propped half-open on the pillow beside me. Occasionally I lifted a finger to turn the page and allowed the heavy and confusing syntax to drift down through my eyes and into my brain like fluid. I'm bettering myself, I thought. I'm going to become so smart that no one will understand me.”


169. “On the way to the station that evening my mother kept glancing at me, as if something about my behavior was off-putting, and she wanted to reprimand me for it but couldn’t decide what it was. Eventually she told me to take my feet off the dashboard, which I did.”


170. “It seemed as though what he was really saying was: there’s something beautiful about the way you think and feel, or the way that you experience the world is beautiful in some way.”


171. “It comforted me to know that my friendship with Bobbi wasn’t confined to memory alone, and that textual evidence of her past fondness for me would survive her actual fondness if necessary.”


172. “This could only interfere with my other ambitions, such as achieving enlightenment and being a fun girl.”


173. “I hated them both, with the intensity of passionate love.”


174. “...our relationship was like a Word document that we were writing and editing together, or a long private joke which nobody else could understand.”


175. “A certain peace had come to me and I wondered if it was God’s doing after all. Not that God existed in any material way but as a shared cultural practice so widespread that it came to seem materially real, like language or gender.”


176. “Was lonely and felt unworthy of real friendship.”


177. “it seemed clear that no matter how unsubtly I fished for his reassurance he wasn’t going to provide it.”


178. “I enjoyed playing this kind of character, the smiling girl who remembered things. Bobbi told me she thought I didn’t have a ‘real personality’, but she said she meant it as a compliment. Mostly I agreed with her assessment. At any time I felt I could do or say anything at all, and only afterwards think: oh, so that’s the kind of person I am.”


179. “Bobbi could be abrasive and unrestrained in a way that made people uncomfortable,”


180. “Who even gets married? said Bobbi. It's sinister. Who wants state apparatuses sustaining their relationship?


181. “Things matter to me more than they do to normal people, I thought. I need to relax and let things go. I should experiment with drugs. These thoughts were not unusual for me.”


182. “Things and people moved around me, taking positions in obscure hierarchies, participating in systems I didn't know about and never would. A complex network of objects and concepts. You live through certain things before you understand them. You can't always take the analytical position.”


183. “I thought you'd forgotten all about me. The idea of forgetting anything about you is kind of horrifying.”


184. “I love poetry, he said. I love Yeats. Yeah, I said. If there’s one thing you can say for fascism, it had some good poets.”


185. “Things matter to me more than they do to normal people, I thought. I need to relax and let things go. I should experiment with drugs.”


186. “never fantasized about a radiant future where I was paid to perform an economic rule.”


187. “Do I sometimes hurt and harm myself, do I abuse the unearned cultural privilege of whiteness, do I take the labor of others for granted, have I sometimes exploited a reductive iteration of gender theory to avoid serious moral engagement, do I have a troubled relationship with my body, yes. Do I want to be free of pain and therefore demand that others also live free of pain, the pain that is mine and therefore also theirs, yes, yes.”


188. “Bobbi: i don’t think ‘unemotional’ is a quality someone can have”


189. “Nick had sent me an email that day containing a link to a Joanna Newsom song. I sent back a link to the Billie Holiday recording of ‘I’m a Fool to Want You’, but he didn’t reply.”


190. “I feel like shit lately, she said … You think you’re the kind of person who can deal with something and then it happens and you realise you can’t.”


191. “She pronounced Liese's name without any particular love or hatred, just a girl she had known, and for months afterwards, maybe forever afterwards, I was afraid that someday she would say my name that way too.”


192. “Sometimes this felt like a failure to take an interest in my own life, which depressed me.”


193. “After that I put some cold water on my face and dried it, the same face I have always had, the one I would have until I died.”


194. “Things that are over aren’t the same as things that never happened.”


195. “I’m sorry, he said. I’m just finding you kind of hostile. You’re interpreting your failure to hurt me as hostility on my part, I said. That’s interesting.”


196. “People were always wanting me to show some weakness so they could reassure me. It made them feel worthy, I knew all about that.”


197. “She said she found religious occasions, like funerals or weddings, ‘comforting in a kind of sedative way’. They’re communal, she said. There’s something nice about that for the neurotic individualist.”


198. “didn’t know how to join in their new friendship without debasing myself for their attention.”


199. “I had left myself no one to confine in, no one who would feel any sympathy for what I'd done. And after all that, he was in love with someone else. I screwed my eyes shut and presses my head down hard into the pillow. I thought of the night before, when he told me that he wanted me, how it felt then. Just admit it, I thought. He doesn't love you. That's what hurts.”


200. “Physically I felt almost nothing, just a mild discomfort. I let myself become rigid and silent, waiting for Rossa to notice my rigidity and stop what he was doing, but he didn’t. I considered asking him to stop, but the idea that he might ignore me felt more serious than the situation needed to be. Don’t get yourself into a big legal thing, I thought. I lay there and let him continue.”


201. “Though I knew that I would eventually have to enter full-time employment, I certainly never fantasized about a radiant future where I was paid to perform an economic role. Sometimes this felt like a failure to take an interest in my own life, which depressed me.”


202. “I like getting compliments where I don't have to make eye contact with the person”


203. “I laughed again, on my own this time. The phone seemed to be transmitting some weird radioactive energy into my body, making me walk very fast and laugh about nothing.”


204. “Lights sparkled on the river and buses ran past like boxes of light, carrying faces in the windows.”


205. “Is it possible we could develop an alternative model of loving each other?”


206. “My ego had always been an issue. I knew that intellectual attainment was morally neutral at best, but when bad things happened to me I made myself feel better by thinking about how smart I was. When I couldn’t make friends as a child, I fantasised that I was smarter than all my teachers, smarter than any other student who had been in the school before, a genius hidden among normal people.”


207. “I had wanted Melissa to take an interest in me and I was't even sure I liked her. I didn't have the option not to take her seriously, because she had published a book, which proved that lots of other people took her seriously even if I didn't. At twenty-one, I had no achievements or possessions that proved I was a serious person.”


208. “I seemed to have no power any longer over what was happening, or what was going to happen. It felt as if a long fever had broken and I simply had to lie there and wait for the illness to pass.”


209. “she just said: sex with men, how weird”


210. “I was like an empty cup, which Nick has emptied out, and now I had to look at what has spilled out of me: all my delusional beliefs about my own value and pretensions to being a kind of person I wasn’t. When I was full of these things I couldn’t see them. Now that I was nothing, only an empty glass, I could see everything about myself.”


211. “We looked at it together- our two little faces peering back at us like ancestors or perhaps our own children.”


212. “Gradually the waiting began to feel less like waiting and more like this was simply what life was: the distracting tasks undertaken while the thing you are waiting for continues not to happen.”


213. “I usually speculated in advance whether she or Nick might attend a particular thing, because I liked them, and I liked having other people observe their warmth toward me.”


214. “Non mi ha chiamata il giorno dopo, né quello dopo ancora. Non mi ha chiamata nessuno. Progressivamente l'attesa ha iniziato a sembrare meno un'attesa e più come se la vita non fosse altro che questo: il diversivo delle incombenze da assolvere mentre la cosa che aspetti continua a non succedere. Rispondevo ad annunci di lavoro e mi presentavo ai seminari. Le cose andavano avanti.”


215. “She got temporarily suspended once for writing 'fuck the patriarchy' on the wall beside a plaster cast of the crucifixion”


216. “some kinds of reality have an unrealistic effect”


217. “I was happy he said that, because it was what I wanted him to think, and because I thought he really knew that and was just kidding around.”


218. “Is that all I get? he said. I thought you liked my personality.


219. “My discovery that I was in love with Nick, not just infatuated but deeply personally attached to him in a way that would have lasting consequences for my happiness, had prompted me to feel a new kind of jealousy toward Melissa. I”


220. “People were always wanting me to show some weakness so they could reassure me. It made them feel worthy.”


221. “I concluded that some kinds of reality have an unrealistic effect, which made me think of the theorist Jean Baudrillard, though I had never read his books and these were probably not the issues his writing addressed.”


222. “I realised my life would be full of mundane physical suffering, and that there was nothing special about it. Suffering wouldn’t make me special, and pretending not to suffer wouldn’t make me special. Talking about it, or even writing about it, would not transform the suffering into something useful.”


223. “In the message he'd promised to send about my work, he described a particular image as "beautiful." It was probably true to say that I had found Nick's performance in the play "beautiful," though I wouldn't have written that in an e-mail. Then again, his performance was related to the physicality of his existence in a way that a poem, types in a standard font and forwarded on by someone else, was not.”


224. “Now that I was nothing, only an empty glass, I could see everything about myself.”


225. “You can love more than one person, she said. That’s arguable. Why is it any different from having more than one friend? You’re friends with me and you also have other friends, does that mean you don’t really value me? I don’t have other friends, I said.”


226. “I was aware of the fact that he could pretend to be anyone he wanted to be, and I wondered if he also lacked a “real personality” the same way I did.”


227. “I seemed to have no power over what was happening, or what was gong to happen. It felt as if a long fever had broken and I simply had to lie there and wait for the illness to pass.”


228. “It's possible to feel so grateful that you can't get to sleep at night”


229. “Philip was plainly pretty enthused about working for the agency, and though I didn’t judge him for making life plans, I felt like I was more discerning with my enthusiasms.”


230. “Eventually, at three or four in the afternoon, I got out of bed. I didn’t feel like writing anything. In fact I felt that if I tried to write, what I produced would be ugly and pretentious. I wasn’t the kind of person I pretended to be. I thought of myself trying to be witty in front of Nick’s friends in the utility room and felt sick. I didn’t belong in rich people’s houses. I was only ever invited to places like that because of Bobbi, who belonged everywhere and had a quality about her that made me invisible by comparison.”


231. “I liked to sit in the library to write essays, allowing my sense of time and personal identity to dissolve as the light dimmed outside the windows.”


232. “But the acclaim also felt like part of the performance itself, the best part, and the most pure expression of what I was trying to do, which was to make myself into this kind of person: someone worthy of praise, worthy of love.”


233. “Curled up in bed with my arms folded I thought bitterly: he has all the power and I have none. This wasn't exactly true, but that night it was clear to me for the first time how badly I'd underestimated my vulnerability,”


234. “Maybe niceness is the wrong metric, I said. Of course it’s really about power, Bobbi agreed. But it’s harder to work out who has the power, so instead we rely on ‘niceness’ as a kind of stand-in. I mean this is an issue in public discourse. We end up asking like, is Israel ‘nicer’ than Palestine.”


235. “Just because I have a beautiful face doesn’t mean I’m a narcissist.”


236. “That's intense, he said. Thank you for saying that. I have to laugh now or I'm going to start crying.”


237. “Non mi ha chiamata il dopo, né quello dopo ancora. Non mi ha chiamata nessuno. Progressivamente l'attesa ha iniziato a sembrare meno un'attesa e più come se la vita non fosse altro che questo: il diversivo delle incombenze da assolvere mentre la cosa che aspetti continua a non succedere. Rispondevo ad annunci di lavoro e mi presentavo ai seminari. Le cose andavano avanti.”


238. “Gradually the waiting began to feel less like waiting and more like this was simply what life was: the distracting tasks undertaken while the thing you are waiting for continues not to happen. I applied for jobs and turned up for seminars. Things went on.”


239. “She hung up on me. Afterwards I lay on my bed feeling like a light had been switched off.”


240. “Something being over is not the same as something never having happened.”


241. “To love someone under capitalism you have to love everyone. Is that theory or just theology?”


242. “I realised my life would be full of mundane physical suffering, and that there was nothing special about it. Suffering wouldn’t make me special, and pretending not to suffer wouldn’t make me special. Talking about it, or even writing about it, would not transform the suffering into something useful. Nothing would.”


243. “I had the sense that something in my life had ended, my image of myself as a whole or normal person maybe.”


244. “At a certain level of abstraction, anyone could have written the poem, but that didn't feel true either. It seemed as though what he was really saying was: there's something beautiful about the way you think and feel, or the way you experience the world is beautiful in some way.”


245. “I wasn’t used to being attacked like this and it was frightening. I thought of myself as an independent person, so independent that the opinions of others were irrelevant to me. Now I was afraid that Nick was right. I isolated myself from criticism so I could behave badly without losing my sense of righteousness.”


246. “If two people make each other happy then it's working.”


247. “In every other way he had been courteous and thoughtful. At times I thought this was the worst misery I had experienced in my life, but it was also a very shallow misery, which at any time could have been relieved completely by a word from him and transformed into idiotic”


248. “I ran my finger along his collarbone and said: I can't remember if I thought about this at the beginning. How it was doomed to end unhappily.


249. “By refusing to admit that I was sick, I felt I could keep the sickness outside time and space, something only in my own head. If other people knew about it, the sickness would become real and I would have to spend my life being a sick person. This could only interfere with my other ambitions, such as achieving enlightenment and being a fun girl.”


250. “Who even gets married? said Bobbi. It’s sinister. Who wants state apparatuses sustaining their relationship?”


251. “Maybe niceness is the wrong metric, I said. Of course it's really about power, Bobbi agreed. But it's harder to work out who has the power, so instead we rely on 'niceness' as a kind of stand-in. I mean this is an issue in public discourse. We end up asking like, is Israel 'nicer' than Palestine.”


252. “I tried to make myself think about things logically. Anxiety was just a chemical phenomenon producing bad feelings. Feelings were just feelings, they had no material reality.”


253. “I explained that I wanted to destroy capitalism and that I considered masculinity personally oppressive. Nick told me he was 'basically' a Marxist, and he didn't want me to judge him for owning a house. It's this or paying rent forever, he said. But I acknowledge it's troubling.”


254. “You’re not keeping it, he said.


255. “You really do have these sudden bursts of aggression, don't you she said. Like with Valerie. Are you threatened by other women?”


256. “It’s possible to feel so grateful that you can’t get to sleep at night.”


257. “By refusing to admit that I was sick, I felt I could keep the sickness outside time and space, something only in my own head. If other people knew about it, the sickness would become real and I would have to spend my life being a sick person.”


258. “Was I kind to others? It was hard to nail down an answer. I worried that if I did turn out to have a personality, it would be one of the unkind ones.”


259. “A certain peace had come to me and I wondered if it was God's doing after all. No that God existed in any material way but as a shared cultural practice so widespread that i came to seem materially real, like language or gender”


260. “Linda told me mochas were ‘complicated”


261. “Apartmanıma girerken, Nick'in herkesin alkışları eşliğinde odaya girişini düşündüm. O an şimdi bana mükemmel görünüyordu, o kadar mükemmeldi ki performansımızı kaçırdığına memnundum. Belki de Nick'in, onun beğenisini kazanmak için hiçbir riske girmem gerekmeksizin başkalarının beni ne kadar beğendiğine tanık olması, onunla yeniden konuşabileceğimi hissetmemi sağlamıştı, sanki ben de tıpkı onun gibi, birçok hayranı olan önemli bir insanmışım ve ondan aşağı kalır bir yanım yokmuş gibi. Fakar alkışlar aynı zamanda performansın bizzat bir parçası gibi de gelmişti, hatta en iyi parçası ve kendimi belli bir tür insana dönüştürme çabamın en saf ifadesiydiler: övgüye ve sevgiye layık bir insana.”


262. “She got out of her dress and stood there in a white slip, like Elizabeth Taylor’s white slip in the film, though this actress looked both less artificial and also somehow less convincing. I could see a care label bunched inside the seam of the slip she was wearing, which destroyed the effect of reality for me, although the slip and its care label were undoubtedly themselves real. I concluded that some kinds of reality have an unrealistic effect, which made me think of the theorist Jean Baudrillard, though I had never read his books and these were probably not the issues his writing addressed.”


263. “What does that mean? said Bobbi. Don’t let them in unless they’ve got a medical degree?”


264. “When I read the Bible I picture you as Jesus, so maybe fainting in a church was a metaphor after all.”


265. “When I read the bible I picture you as Jesus”


266. “This is how privilege gets perpetuated, Philip told me in the office one day. Rich assholes like us taking unpaid internships and getting jobs off the back of them.”


267. “suffering wouldn't make me special, and pretending not to suffer wouldn't make me special”


268. “I was relieved he had put the whole thing in lower case like he always did. It would have been dramatic to introduce capitalization at such a moment of tension.”


269. “It's weird knowing someone just casually, he said, and then later finding out they're observing things all the time. Its like, God, what has this person noticed about me?”


270. “I didn’t feel with her, like I did with many other people, that while I was talking she was just preparing the next thing she wanted to say.”


271. “I liked the other girls, I let them copy my homework, but I was lonely and felt unworthy of real friendship. I made lists of the things I had to improve about myself.”


272. “At times I thought this was the worst misery I had experienced in my life, but it was also a very shallow misery, which at any time could have been relieved completely by a word from him and transformed into idiotic happiness.”


273. “It seemed as though what he was really saying was: there's something beautiful about the way you think and feel, or the way you experience the world is beautiful in some way.”


274. “I thought about all the things I had never told Nick about myself, and I started to feel better.”


275. “I told him I thought he was such an appealing love object partly because he was so curiously passive. I knew I would have to be the one to kiss you, I said. And that you would never kiss me, which made me feel vulnerable. But I also felt this terrible power, like, you’re going to let me kiss you, what else will you let me do? It was sort of intoxicating. I couldn’t decide if I had complete control over you or no control at all.”


276. “I ran my finger along his collarbone and said: I can’t remember if I thought about this at the beginning. How it was doomed to end unhappily. He nodded, looking at me. I did, he said. I just thought it would be worth it.”


277. “The pretense was so real to me that when I accidentally caught sight of my reflection and saw my own appearance, I felt a strange depersonalizing shock”


278. “I thought about all the things I had never told Nick about myself, and I started to feel better then, as if my privacy extended all around me like a barrier protecting my body. I was a very autonomous and independent person with an inner life that nobody else had ever touched or perceived.”


279. “Was I kind to others? It was hard to nail down an answer. I worried that if I did turn out to have a personality, it would be one of the unkind ones. Did I only worry about this question because as a woman I felt required to put the needs of others before my own? Was ´kindness´ just another term for submission in the face of conflict? These were the kind of things I wrote about in my diary as a teenager: as a feminist I have the right not to love anyone.”


280. “I realised my life would be full of mundane physical suffering, and that there was nothing special about it. Suffering wouldn't make me special, and pretending not to suffer wouldn't make me special. Talking about it, or even writing about it, would not transform the suffering into something useful.”


281. “Sometimes when I was doing something dull, like walking home from work or hanging up laundry, I liked to imagine that I looked like Bobbi. She had better posture than I did, and a memorably beautiful face. The pretence was so real to me that when I accidentally caught sight of my reflection and saw my own appearance, I felt a strange, depersonalising shock.”


282. “I worried that if I did turn out to have a personality, it would be one of the unkind ones. Did I only worry about this question because as a woman I felt required to put the needs of others before my own? Was "kindness" just another term for submission in the face of conflict? These were the kind of things I wrote about in my diary as a teenager: as a feminist I have the right not to love anyone.”


283. “A certain peace had come to me and I wondered if it was God’s doing after all. Not that God existed in any material way but as a shared cultural practice so widespread that it came to seem materially real, like language or gender.” (Conversations with Friends Quotes)


284. “You underestimate your own power so you don’t have to blame yourself for treating other people badly. You tell yourself stories about it. Oh”


285. “Even though I had known Nick didn’t love me, I had continued to let him have sex with me whenever he wanted, out of desperation and a naive hope that he didn’t understand what he was inflicting on me. Now even that hope was gone. He knew that I loved him, that he was exploiting my tender feelings for him, and he didn’t care. There was nothing to be done. On the bus home I chewed the inside of my cheek and stared out the black window until I tasted blood.”


286. “I want that coat, I said.


287. “These were the kind of things I wrote about in my diary as a teenager: as a feminist I have the right to not love anyone.”


288. “She slipped out of my grasp like a thought.”


289. “Yeah, I said. If there's one thing you can say for fascism, it had some good poets.”


290. “If we were both going to die in a burning building and he could only save one of us, wouldn’t he certainly save Melissa and not me? It seemed practically evil to have so much sex with someone who you would later allow to burn to death.”


291. “To love under capitalism, you have to love everyone.”


292. “You live through certain things before you understand them. You can't always take the analytical position.”


293. “I seemed to have no power over what was happening, or what was going to happen. It felt as if a long fever had broken and I simply had to lie there and wait for the illness to pass.”


294. “Was I kind to others? It was hard to nail down an answer. I worried that if I did turn out to have a personality, it would be one of the unkind ones. Did I only worry about this question because as a woman I felt required to put the needs of others before my own? Was ‘kindness’ just another term for submission in the face of conflict? These were the kind of things I wrote about in my diary as a teenager: as a feminist I have the right not to love anyone.”


295. “I’m bettering myself, I thought. I’m going to become so smart that no one will understand me.”


296. “I ran my finger along his collarbone and said: I can’t remember if I thought about this at the beginning. How it was doomed to end unhappily.


297. “While I let myself into the apartment I thought about Nick entering the room while everybody applauded. This now felt perfect to me, so perfect that I was glad he had missed the performance. Maybe having him witness how much others approved of me, without taking any of the risks necessary to earn Nick’s personal approval, made me feel capable of speaking to him again, as if I also was an important person with lots of admirers like he was, as if there was nothing inferior about me. But the acclaim also felt like part of the performance itself, the best part, and the most pure expression of what I was trying to do, which was to make myself into this kind of person: someone worthy of praise, worthy of love.”


298. “For most of the call he was just nodding and moving saucepans around on the hob while saying: mm, I know. This was the role that seemed to appeal to him more than anything, listening to things and asking intelligent questions that showed he had been listening. It made him feel needed.”


299. “Things matter to me more than they do to normal people, I thought. I need to relax and let things go.”


300. “But the acclaim also felt like part of the performance itself, the best part, and the most pure expression of what I was trying to do, which was make myself into this kind of person: someone worthy of praise, worthy of love.”


301. “At this point I felt a weird lack of self-recognition, and I realised that I couldn't visualise my own face and body at all. It was like someone had lifted the end of an invisible pencil and just gently erased my entire appearance”


302. “Even if I had any faith, it wasn't going to make me whole. There was no use thinking about it.”


303. “I like houses better than fields, I observed. They're more poetic, because they have people in them.”


304. “Who even gets married? said Bobbi. It’s sinister. Who wants state apparatuses sustaining their relationship?


305. “The idea of forgetting anything about you is kind of horrifying to me.”


306. “Little tears had started slipping out of my eyes and down onto the pillow. I wasn’t sad, I didn’t know why I was crying. I’d had this problem before, with Bobbi, who believed it was an expression of my repressed feelings. I couldn’t stop the tears so I just laughed self-effacingly instead, to show that I wasn’t invested in the crying. I knew I was embarrassing myself badly, but there was nothing I could do about it.”


307. “If two people make each other happy then it’s working.”


308. “Maybe he just likes to act passive so he didn't have to take the blame for anything”


309. “I didn't know what caused this process, but I was glad the poems were only ever performed and never published. They floated away ethereally to the sound of applause. Real writers, and also painters, had to keep on looking at the ugly things they had done for good. I hated that everything I did was so ugly, but also that I lacked the courage to confront how ugly it was. I had explained that theory to Philip but he'd just said: don't be down on yourself, you're a real writer.”


310. “Something seemed to close up over my body, like a hand held hard over my mouth or my eyes. couldn't begin to phrase the explanation of what the doctor had told me, because there were so many parts to it, and it would take so long, and involve so many individual words and sentences. The thought of saying so many words about it made me feel physically sick.”


311. “We had always used condoms before and this felt different to me,”


312. “He looked at me for a moment and then he smiled, an ambivalent smile, which I liked so much that I became very conscious of my own mouth. It was open slightly.”


313. “In bed we talked for hours, conversations that spiralled out from observations into grand, abstract theories and back again. I didn’t feel with her, like I did with many other people, that while I was talking she was just preparing the next thing she wanted to say.”


314. “She got temporarily suspended once for writing “fuck the patriarchy” on the wall beside a plaster cast of the crucifixion”


315. “I looked at her like she was something very far away from me, a friend I used to have, or someone whose name I didn't remember.”


316. “For a second he looked at me like he thought I was kidding, eyes widened, eyebrows raised, and then he shook his head. Actors learn to communicate things without feeling them, I thought.”


317. “You think you’re the kind of person who can deal with something and then it happens and you realize you can’t.”


318. “If two people make each other happy then it’s working.


319. “I was appropriating my fear of total disappearance as a spiritual practice. I was inhabiting disappearance as something that could reveal and inform, rather than totalise and annihilate.”


320. “The girl wriggled around to get his attention, so her light-up sneakers pushed against my handbag and then my arm. When her father finally turned around he said: Rebecca, look what you’re doing! You’re kicking that woman’s arm! I tried to catch his eye and say: it’s fine, it’s no problem. But he didn’t look at me. To him, my arm was not important. He was only concerned with making his child feel bad, making her feel ashamed.”


321. “I had the sense that something in my life had ended, my image of myself as a whole or normal person maybe. I realised my life would be full of mundane physical suffering, and that there was nothing special about it. Suffering wouldn’t make me special, and pretending not to suffer wouldn’t make me special. Talking about it, or even writing about it, would not transform the suffering into something useful. Nothing would.”


322. “Bobbi thinks depression is a humane response to the conditions of late capitalism.”


323. “The worlds was like a crumpled ball of newspaper for me, something to kick around.”


324. “He had been in psychiatric hospital, which was news to me. I wasn't repelled as such; I had read books, I was familiar with the idea that capitalism was the really crazy thing. But I had thought people who were hospitalised for psychiatric problems were different from the people I knew. I could see I had entered a new social setting now, where severe mental illness no longer had unfashionable connotations.”


325. “It was a relationship, and also not a relationship. Each of our gestures felt spontaneous, and if from the outside we resembled a couple, that was an interesting coincidence for us.”


326. “I could see that he was trying to catch my eye and that if I returned his gaze he would give me a kind of apologetic expression. I found this idea too intense to think about, like the glare of a bare lightbulb.”


327. “Do I sometimes hurt and harm myself, do I abuse the unearned cultural privilege of whiteness, do I take the labour of others for granted, have I sometimes exploited a reductive iteration of gender theory to avoid serious moral engagement, do I have a troubled relationship with my body, yes. Do I want to be free of pain and therefore demand that others also live free of pain, the pain which is mine and therefore also theirs, yes, yes, yes.”


328. “Never get married, Frances, she said.


329. “In times of crisis, we must all decide again and again whom we love. —FRANK O’HARA”


330. “...the Frances glove, she said. And the Bobbi glove. Then she mimed them talking to each other like puppets. On and on and on, she said.”


331. “It was a relationship, and also not a relationship. Each of our gestures felt spontaneous, and if from the outside we resembled a couple, that was an interesting coincidence for us. We developed a joke about it, which was meaningless to everyone including ourselves: what is a friend? we would say humorously. What is a conversation?”


332. “It seemed practically evil to have so much sex with someone who you would later allow to burn to death.”


333. “The roses had huge, sensuous petals and tight, unrevealing centres, like some kind of sexual nightmare.”


334. “Since when have you loved me? I said. Since I met you, I would think. If I wanted to be very philosophical about it, I’d say I loved you before then.”


335. “He looked at me for a moment and then he smiled, an ambivalent smile, which I liked so much that I became very conscious of my own mouth. It was open slightly.”


336. “I didn't know what caused this process, but I was glad the poems were only ever performed and never published. They floated away ethereally to the sound of applause. Real writers, and also painters, had to keep on looking at the ugly things they had done for good. I hated that everything I did was so ugly, but also that I lacked the courage to confront how ugly it was. I had explained that theory to Philip but he'd just said: don't be down on yourself, you're a real writer.”


337. “I was like an empty cup, which Nick had emptied out, and now I had to look at what has spilled out of me: all my delusional beliefs about my own value and pretensions to being a kind of person I wasn’t. When I was full of these things I couldn’t see them. Now that I was nothing, only an empty glass, I could see everything about myself.”


338. “Is it possible we could develop an alternative model of loving each other?”


339. “Eventually, at three or four in the afternoon, I got out of bed. I didn’t feel like writing anything. In fact I felt that if I tried to write, what I produced would be ugly and pretentious. I wasn’t the kind of person I pretended to be. I thought of myself trying to be witty in front of Nick’s friends in the utility room and felt sick. I didn’t belong in rich people’s houses. I was only ever invited to places like that because of Bobbi, who belonged everywhere and had a quality about her that made me invisible by comparison.”


340. “It comforted me to know that my friendship with Bobbi wasn’t confined to memory alone, and that textual evidence of her past fondness for me would survive her actual fondness if necessary.”


341. “Now I was afraid that Nick was right: I isolated myself from criticism so I could behave badly without losing my sense of righteousness.”


342. “I worried that if I did turn out to have a personality, it would be one of the unkind ones. Did I only worry about this question because as a woman I felt required to put the needs of others before my own? Was "kindness" just another term for submission in the face of conflict? These were the kind of things I wrote about in my diary as a teenager: as a feminist I have the right not to love anyone.”


343. “Occasionally I lifted a finger to turn the page and allowed the heavy and confusing syntax to drift down through my eyes and into my brain like fluid. I’m bettering myself, I thought. I’m going to become so smart that no one will understand me.”


344. “Over the summer I missed the periods of intense academic concentration that helped to relax me during term time. I liked to sit in the library to write essays, allowing my sense of time and personal identity to dissolve as the light dimmed outside the windows.”


345. “Things matter to me more than they do to normal people, I thought. I need to relax and let things go.”


346. “You underestimate your own power so you don’t have to blame yourself for treating other people badly. You tell yourself stories about it. Oh”


347. “I tried to make myself think about things logically. Anxiety was just a chemical phenomenon producing bad feelings. Feelings were just feelings, they had no material reality.”


348. “it seemed clear that no matter how unsubtly I fished for his reassurance he wasn’t going to provide it.”


349. “I didn’t exactly start praying that weekend after the book launch, but I did look up online how to meditate. It mainly involved closing my eyes and breathing, while also calmly letting go of passing thoughts. I focused on my breathing, you were allowed to do that. You could even count the breaths. And then at the end you could just think about anything, anything you wanted, but after five minutes of counting my breath, I didn’t want to think. My mind felt empty, like the inside of a glass jar. I was appropriating my fear of total disappearance as a spiritual practice. I was inhabiting disappearance as something that could reveal and inform, rather than totalize and annihilate.”


350. “You can love more than one person, she said. That’s arguable. Why is it any different from having more than one friend? You’re friends with me and you also have other friends, does that mean you don’t really value me? I don’t have other friends, I said.”

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