THE RUMPUS: the definition of success

(Nicole McFeely)

We all stumble, don’t we?

Sometimes, there are things we can’t say, can’t do, can’t… feel?

But what if we could? What if we did? What if?

Perhaps, we would try to waste time better. We would write a book, a real book, about all of our little traits that make people cringe. Reality.

And what if what we wrote was interesting—worth closer study—to other people? What if what we wrote was other people?

Perhaps, we would write The Adderall Diaries and start sending out overly personal emails under the authority of our circumstantial child, The Daily Rumpus. What if?

What if we were Stephen Elliott?

And we are, aren’t we? As we root for him, which we do, even if he isn’t in the room. We root for him, and we smile when he succeeds even in his absence, though we know that it’s impossible for everybody to be that successful. It is impossible for everybody to have an Isaac:

One night, Evan and I were talking about the spirit of Quiet Lightning and its connection to Litseen. We were talking about success and what that might mean. He stared into the table next to my drink, smiled and said, “you know, Nicole, really, what success is, to me, is to know that my project can run without me, successfully, and I can watch it from some other city, doing some other thing, and smile, knowing that it’s true to me still. That is success.”

I heard a number of people say that this Rumpus was one of the best they had seen despite Stephen’s absence, and I agree. The performers killed it—absolutely knocked the crowd off its feet (many pairs of which had waited in line patiently with prepaid tickets for upwards of a half hour to see the show).


Dylan Landis

Lidia Yuknavitch

Paul Madonna

Jim Shepard

Cheryl Strayed

Music by the Slow Motion Cowboys

Cheers Stephen. I hope you found what you were looking for in LA. We all look forward to seeing whatever comes next. We’re rooting for you.