Like my copy of Manguso’s 300 Arguments, nearly every page in this slim book is dog-eared; Ongoingness is full of passages I want to return to and sentences that bring on all the feels. In it, Manguso, an avid diarist, writes about the act of keeping a diary. For her, the diary is not only a record of life, but the proof of every day. In an attempt to live with complete awareness, to ward off death, she actively archives experience, builds a document that leaves a trace and pins down memory. This is not the diary itself, but a series of meditations on the act of writing daily, on the formation of identity and how it changes, on parenthood and aging, love and loss, and ultimately the ongoingness of time.
Manguso’s passages about being a new mother, nursing, and the body as vessel struck me at the core:
“In my experience nursing is waiting. The mother becomes the background against which the baby lives, becomes time.
I used to exist against the continuity of time. Then I became the baby’s continuity, a background of ongoing time for him to live against. I was the warmth and milk that was always there for him, the agent of comfort that was always there for him.
My body, my life, became the landscape of my son’s life. I am no longer merely a thing living in the world; I am a world.”
It’s so good.
So many dog-eared pages in this little book, so many bite-sized gems.
“The first beautiful songs you hear tend to stay beautiful because better than beauty, which is everywhere, is the memory of first discovering beauty.”
“I don’t love writing; I love having a problem I believe I might someday write my way out of.”
“I used to avoid people when I was afraid I loved them too much. Ten years, in one case. Then, after I had been married long enough that I was married even in my dreams, I became able to go to those people, to feel that desire, and to know that it would stay a feeling.”
“Like a vase, a heart breaks once. After that, it just yields to its flaws.”
I loved this book so much I went out and bought Manguso’s Ongoingness: The End of A Diary.
As someone whose inevitable monthly mood swings impact not only myself but those around me, I was interested in reading Ayelet Waldman’s A Really Good Day. Part diary, part experiment, part drug history lesson, the book exposes Waldman’s ongoing battle with severe mood imbalances and details her experiences taking minuscule doses of LSD in an attempt to find balance in her life. In it, she candidly reveals her insights on microdosing, from the discovery of what it is to “microdose,” to finding a dealer, setting up a dosing calendar, tracking the results, all while researching the history and cultural conceptions/misconceptions of the drug.
Overall the read was a fairly interesting one, though I felt the book could have been edited down a good 100 pages; I found myself wanting more of Waldman’s personal life and less LSD history and cultural positioning.