An Archive of Reckless Touch

What is created in my collection of touch and loss? Philosopher Jean Luc Nancy believed that writing is a form of touching. Through each page readers touch the writer, writers touch readers. As I write my archive I grasp for the ones I love. I pour every word with heat. I’ve always believed scholar of language Athur Quinn when he wrote “Language has all the suppleness of human flesh, and something of its warmth.” I savor the warmth or writing while yearning for another. I wrote a memory of holding my mother’s hand in prayer. I wrote the memory with my own hands now with skin thin, pliable, raised light blue veins. My own hands are aging, and I can’t remember when I last held my mother’s hand in mine.

Patricia Fancher

Higher Education

I’m a hindsight junky. I’m always flipping through old journals and sketchbooks, trying to find a narrative through-line that I can string up and hang insights on like so much laundry. The weird contemplative timelessness of Quarantine—not to mention the exhaustive self-reflection that tends to accompany a breakup—has only encouraged this behavior. But it’s not recriminatory! I love making sense of my life this way; seeing how the seeds of everything dear to me took root far earlier than I could’ve known.

2016 to 2020: a period bookended by two formative talks. The first wrestling with the paradox of gaining professional recognition faster than my financial situation was improving, the second realizing what I wanted to do with my time once that discrepancy had evened out.

Those four years also held a presidential term of unprecedented dreadfulness, a deeply formative relationship, profound shifts in my creative practice, and the growing realization that the systems underpinning this country are deeply broken. My undergraduate degree also took this amount of time, albeit from 2009-2012, which has had me thinking about the last four years as an education of its own. What do I hold a degree in now?

I asked people this question on Twitter, and the responses were predictably fascinating and funny in equal measure, but I wasn’t sure how to bring the conversation to this venue. And THEN the other day I saw Robin Sloan playing with inline response forms via his newsletter/blog and everything clicked into place. The invitation to contribute creates a bit of interactive magic without the bloat of a comments section—just a quick way to remind the reader that this is a collaborative experiment.1 I thought implementing something like this was out of my technical reach, but it turns out I have a plugin for contact forms already installed, so LET’S TRY:

    (If you’re reading this via RSS, the contact form doesn’t carry over. Beyond my skill to heal, I’m afraid, so just open this post in your browser if you’re dying to play.)

    Maybe I’ll update this post with some of your impressive new diploma titles? But then again, maybe not.

    1. I know I’ve said that I like how private this space feels right now, and this could break that illusion by inviting people to get in touch, but I also really like tiny emails as a form of call and response—and I’m not asking for anyone’s name or email address, so I literally can’t respond.

    2020 in Reading: The Big List

    The landing outside our bedrooms is tiny—barely big enough for one person to stand alongside the single floor vent that’s supposed to heat the entire upstairs. But! There’s enough wall space for two tall pieces of paper, so that’s where Zina and I have kept our reading lists since 2015.

    I’ve never really gotten into tracking my reading online, so this practice has served as my visual archive of books devoured. It’s a lovely way to remind myself of when influential authors first appeared in my life, and to lend shape to the years. I used to keep the old ones pinned up in my room for easy access, but my impending move has meant getting rid of a lot of papery ephemera, so here they all are for posterity:

    A collection of six tall, thin pieces of paper with lists of books written on them. They're dated from 2015 to 2020 and have the name Lucy at the top of each one.

    Since I’m trying to keep more of myself on my own site, I figured I’d upload the whole catalogue from 2020 as a blog post. I’ll do a followup with a little more about my absolute favorites, but for now: here’s everything.

    LegendRough Guide to Ratings
    🎭 – Plays
    📝 – Poetry
    📖 – Books (Fiction)
    📓 – Books (Nonfiction)
    💬 – Graphic Novels
    ❤︎ = Yes
    ❤︎❤︎ = Oh Yes
    ❤︎❤︎❤︎ = Hell Yes
    1. 📖 The Starless Sea – Erin Morgenstern ❤︎
    2. 📓 All About Love – bell hooks
    3. 📓 Trick Mirror – Jia Tolentino ❤︎❤︎
    4. 📓 Atomic Habits – James Clear
    5. 📓 The Way of Zen – Alan Watts
    6. 💬 Unversed – Ed. Jonathan Hill
    7. 💬 Uncomfortably Happily – Yeon-Sik Hong
    8. 💬 The Chancellor and The Citadel – Maria Frantz
    9. 💬 The Northwest Passage (Vol. 1) – Scott Chantler
    10. 💬 The Hunting Accident – David L. Carlson & Landis Blair ❤︎
    11. 💬 Delilah Dirk and the Pillars of Hercules – Tony Cliff ❤︎❤︎
    12. 📓 Deviced – doreen dodgen-magee
    13. 📝/📓 Letters from Max – Sarah Ruhl & Max Ritvo ❤︎❤︎❤︎
    14. 📓 Van Gogh – Steven Naifeh & Gregory White Smith ❤︎
    15. 💬 Gaugin: The Other World – Fabrizio Dori
    16. 📖 The Ten Thousand Doors of January – Alix E. Harrow
    17. 📓 Madness, Rack, and Honey – Mary Ruefle ❤︎
    18. 📖 Axiomatic – Maria Turmakin
    19. 📓 The Crying Book – Heather Christle ❤︎❤︎
    20. 📖 Looking for Jake – China Miéville
    21. 🎭 Macbeth – William Shakespeare
    22. 📖 The Bird King – G. Willow Wilson ❤︎
    23. 📖 Steel Crow Saga – Paul Krueger
    24. 📖 On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous – Ocean Vuong ❤︎
    25. 📓 The Salt Path – Raynor Wynn
    26. 💬 Displacement – Kiku Hughes
    27. 📓 Time is a Thing the Body Moves Through – T. Fleischmann
    28. 📖 The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book – Kate Milford
    29. 📓 Pleasure Activism – adrienne maree brown ❤︎
    30. 📖 Tales from 1001 Nights – Trans. Malcolm & Ursula Lyons
    31. 📖 The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemesin
    32. 📖 The Mermaid, The Witch, and The Sea – Maggie Tokuda-Hall
    33. 📓 Constellations – Sinead Gleeson
    34. 📖 The Reapers are The Angels – Alden Bell
    35. 📓 The Weight of Glory – C.S. Lewis
    36. 📖 Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir
    37. 📖 You Are the Friction – Ed. Jez Burrows & Anna Hurley
    38. 💬 The Golden Age – Cyril Pedrosa & Roxanne Moreil ❤︎
    39. 📖 Flights – Olga Tokarczuk
    40. 📖 Annabel Scheme and The New Golden Gate – Robin Sloan ❤︎
    41. 📖 How to Be Both – Ali Smith ❤︎❤︎❤︎
    42. 📖 A Burning – Megha Majumdar
    43. 📖 If Beale Street Could Talk – James Baldwin
    44. 📖 Blandings Castle – P.G. Wodehouse
    45. 📖 Summer Lightning – P.G. Wodehouse
    46. 📖 Heavy Weather – P.G. Wodehouse
    47. 📓 Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency – Olivia Laing ❤︎❤︎
    48. 📝 Citizen: An Americal Lyric – Claudia Rankine
    49. 📖 A Room with A View – E.M. Forster ❤︎
    50. 📓 Close to the Machine – Ellen Ullman ❤︎
    51. 📓 The Power of Ritual – Casper ter Kuile
    52. 📖 Artful – Ali Smith ❤︎❤︎❤︎
    53. 📓 Coming to Writing and Other Essays – Hélène Cixous ❤︎
    54. 📖 Attrib. – Eley Williams ❤︎❤︎❤︎
    55. 💬 Go With The Flow – Lily Williams & Karen Schneemann
    56. 💬 Knight and Beard (Vol. 1) – Tara Kurtzhals & Sarah Bollinger
    57. 📓 The Heroine’s Journey – Maureen Murdock
    58. 📖 Each of Us a Desert – Mark Oshiro ❤︎
    59. 📖 Self Care – Leigh Stein
    60. 💬 Syllabus – Lynda Barry ❤︎❤︎❤︎
    61. 💬 Grass – Keum Suk Gendry-Kim
    62. 📝 Handwriting – Michael Ondaatje
    63. 📓 Letters from Tove – Tove Jansson ❤︎❤︎❤︎
    64. 📝/📓 Rilke on Love and Other Difficulties – Trans. John J.L. Mood
    65. 🎭 The Tempest – William Shakespeare
    66. 💬 The Best We Could Do – Thi Bui ❤︎
    67. 📝 Beowulf – Maria Dahvana Headley ❤︎❤︎
    68. 📝 The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    69. 📖 Piranesi – Susanna Clarke ❤︎❤︎
    70. 📓 A Reading Life – C.S. Lewis
    71. 📓 Better than IRL – Ed. Katie West & Jasmine Elliott ❤︎
    72. 📓 Split – Ed. Katie West & Jasmine Elliott
    73. 📖 The Waves – Virginia Woolf ❤︎❤︎

    In the Beginning

    “I miss possibility,” she says.

    It’s March 29th and we’re walking home through falling blossoms, couples edging off the sidewalk to avoid coming within contagion distance as we pass. We point at the rippling edges of tulips, paint jobs on houses we’ve never seen before. I look for sequences of color in the world—a car (orange) parked in front of a stop sign (red), and behind them both: a glass recycling bin (yellow).

    This is one of my favorite games.

    “I could take a dance class, I could go to a coffee shop, I could go out with friends and buy flowers and try things on at Goodwill.” We sidestep a Russian family gathered around a call on speakerphone.

    God I miss Goodwill.”

    I keep my mouth shut, feeling traitorous because this absence of choice is precisely the thing that’s granted me a giddy sense of freedom over the past week. I am no longer paralyzed by lost opportunities, choosing incorrectly, disappointing those around me. Something is coming to the fore that hasn’t previously been heard over the din of expectation and activity.

    Maybe the thing that’s emerging in this space is me.