Non Fiction #2: Email to Nora by Adeline Manson



September 30th, 2014

Subject: Final Resort Internet Essay Idea – Terrible

Dear beautiful, legal-to-gamble, Nora,

Communicating through email feels so inconsequential. But it seems we’re both too incompetent to pick up the phone.

I’ve spent at least twenty-one hours in front of my computer trying to write an essay about “the Internet” for one of my classes. This is Document29. At first I thought I would try to write about graffiti and Instagram, or about “graffiti hoes”, or Cat Marnell. Instead, I’ve been trying to write about Colorado for the past six hours. Can’t do it. This summer my professor taught us to write letters in order to open up a stream of honest ideas and emotions, so I’ll start by writing to you.

I haven’t written about Colorado yet, and it feels strange to do it before I’m ready. But today I was sitting in class and the idea came to me that maybe I could write about the weather, and how it was sunny on September 30th, 2013. I scribbled ‘weather in CO Springs, facebook photos, gloomy September’, into the margins of a piece of paper. Soon after, I thought about this passage from Jamaica Kincaid’s novel Lucy.


Manson 2I know it’s not relevant to anything in particular, but I always remember Lucy when weather and mood come to me in the same thought[i].

Today was a gloomy day here and the sky was cadet grey[ii]. This time last year it was sunny outside. I don’t know what it was like in New York, but a yearago, it was 84 degrees in Colorado Springs[iii]. A year ago I was in such a different place. What was it like in LA today? Sunny and 75? If only we could say our disposition had to do with seasons, right?

A year ago at 4:15pm Mountain Standard Time, I posted a video of you to InstagramUntitled3. In your hands you squeeze a tube, slowly drawing it closer to your mouth. From the tube a black slime in the shape of an ‘s’ expels onto your tongue. Cut to your lips, teeth, and tongue, all blackened, as you smile. I captioned the eight-second video, “tryna escape purgatory”, because the tube looked more like oil paint or cleaning supplies than thick icing. When I recorded it, we were sitting in my car, in that enormous parking lot outside the Wal-Mart Super Store. We went there sometimes for fun. Do you remember the video? Do you remember that day? It was our first day of Aesthetics, with the visiting professor Mike Kim. Two days after your birthday and one day after mine. As I’m writing this, I can remember how much we did together. It was just you and me out there, killing time in those parking lots so vast their edges appeared to curve up, as if wrapping the base of the mountains in the distance. In reality, fast food chains and shopping malls lined the lots. Endless highways fenced us off from mountains, bright green ‘JESUS’ billboards hovered overhead.

Untitled4One year ago at 10:42pm Colorado time, we were in the radio room doing our weekly segment on the Colorado College radio station. Playing Suicidal Fantasy by Biggie and getting drunk off Rolling Rock. Speaking of getting drunk, did you have a drink to celebrate the other day?

I was just looking through that Facebook album I made last year with all the film photos from that semester. I know you hated how I was always photographing you, but I’m glad I have the pictures.

I still think of our second semester at CC as ‘last semester,’ although a year has gone by. It’s as if the semester I took off from school never happened, as if I didn’t get a place in the city, Cyrus didn’t move in with me, I didn’t adopt a cat, I didn’t gain back the twelve pounds I lost, didn’t intern, take a class and start therapy. It’s almost as if I’m still not really a student at The New School. Part of me feel so stuck.

Other than my mom, Cyrus was only person I was spending time with outside of work. I didn’t shoot any rolls of him because all the photos would have been the same, only the weather would have changed. I wasn’t acutely depressed anymore, and I hadn’t – maybe still haven’t and maybe never will – become un-depressed. I wasn’t feeling artistically inspired. Maybe this sounds stupid to someone who doesn’t have Facebook, but because I’m not tagged in any pictures from that time it almost feels as if it didn’t exist.

The description of the album from last autumn is a link to Frank Ocean’s music video for “Novacane” – you showed me Untitled5that song[iv]. I took the photos in Kodak 200 Color; they’re soft, the good ones are surreal. The photos from the beginning of the semester have warmer colors: the pink tile of my shower, the maple color of your room’s floorboards, bright red Dixie cups. The ones from December are mostly of us bundled up in three jackets each, smoking cigarettes in my room, our faces pale. I scan through the pictures way too often, only focusing on my body, reminding myself what I looked when I was thinner, but I don’t try to connect to them anymore. For months after I took them I felt they spoke to the deafening muffle of life on a small college campus where everyone is the same: insignificant and seemingly happy, white and upper middle class. The only thing I feel about them now is that they fail to capture how truly dark that time was, but then again, it’s not easy to capture the complexities of despondence. If I could take a photo or write an essay so good that it could protect me from tapering back towards the alluring taint of depression, maybe I’d be in the MoMA. The insufficiency of art, it makes me think of the presentation we gave on Rancière and “The Paradoxes of Political Art”. I could write my Internet essay on that, but it would be embarrassingly awful; I barely remember Rancière at all, probably because we read his pieces and prepared the power point in the nine hours leading up to class, staying up all night, frantically tapping our keyboards and ashing our cigarettes.

I’m sorry I talk – write – about myself so much. I know this email is probably trivial, didn’t say much in the end. I miss you. No form of communication beats being together. Here’s hoping that one day we’ll be able to talk about Colorado and not just use the name of the place as a euphemism for the places we went, alone and together, while we were there. You’re my best friend, Nora, I hope you know how much I care. I know shit’s still really bad for you, and I know there is nothing I can say to make it less bad, except remind you I’m here all the time and if you want to talk I will listen. I know we play phone tag not out of incompetence, but because our conversations have an inevitable heaviness. Please know I still feel fastened to you, not only in that heavy way, but also through the bonds we share aside from our depression. It’s easier for me to say all this still evasive, but sentimental crap over email than the phone, but I’m sorry if it’s frustrating to read. To a better year – happy birthday.








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