31 January 2014

0 january: a revue

"not even candelight can make this better."

'what is wrong with men?!'
'i don't know... that's why we have to date boys.'

'i don't have to go to therapy to learn how to love an asshole.'

'otherwise today my life was very good it's just my hair wouldn't cooperate.'

'the dead people thing made no sense, you are correct. also, the sex workers seemingly came out of nowhere!'

'i had a wonderful day working by myself in my house. i could eat what i wanted, fart when i wanted to, and pump breastmilk right in front of the computer.'

"i feel like it's just downhill from there unless he can convince them to let him be baby jesus next year."

'you were the first person i knew who ever ate at a chipotle.'

'i really do miss my days of leisure.'

'i will say a prayer for your nose and your butt.'

''YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO ZEN!!!! boom. i’m practically a doctor.'

'steven with the ipad and the butler in the car!'
'my god, it's like clue!'

'that's chivalry at its coldest.'

'it was this really fucked up muppet babies situation...'

'the skirt that makes everyone ask "how much?"'

'you can't look up at the limbs and down at the poop at the same time.'

'that is the biggest gun i've ever seen and i'm from chicago: land of guns.'

'this new information that we have woven together from old facts has cast things in an illuminating new light...'

'coco et henri!'
'it sounds like a fucked up dish.'
'we are a fucked up dish.'
'yeah, we're definitely dessert before supper.'

0 three days

so tuesday night thru friday morning is over. mission = accomplished. proposal to random prize i only heard about three days before the due date (because isn't that always the way?! why? WHY???) = submitted.

now it's on to friday afternoon thru monday morning. which isn't so much work as an endless glut of movies (inside llewyn davis and 12 years a slave) plus assorted wackadoo randoms (tribute to the music of world war one, anybody?) and maybe a return to the isabella blow exhibition (because it's cheaper on mondays and i NEED to go). then it's lectures and NBB interviews (the latest here), lectures and NBB interviews, lectures and NBB interviews all next week whilst i chip away at the work i thought i would be doing all this week, namely getting ready to submit for the upgrade, which i'll sit for in spring.

the other day, lindear asked what the upgrade was. it has a formalized academic function but, to be honest, i can only ever think of it as hillary at the benghazi hearings.

except there won't be a sign. and i certainly won't be an honorable. 

there will, however, presumably be a lot of this: 

while my heart is doing this:

and the work i'm preparing now will accompany me in a huge binder through which i can flip whilst collecting my thoughts...

fun times ahead!!!

30 January 2014

0 FJ: on my continuing love affair with the swedish royals

it’s been a serious couple of months around here, what with all the j.tim analysis and the whatever the heck is going on with the first lady of france stuff and my existential crisis on life narrative excited by the isabella blow exhibition. remember when everything was all easy and light and fluffy? well, guess what? HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN.
the swedish royals, ya’ll…
Victoria o Daniel
they’re in düsseldorf!!!!!! Continue reading 

29 January 2014

0 the follies

S and i have this new thing where i'm calling him before going to bed and he's calling me when i wake up. this is possible because he keeps crazy hours. how there's anything to talk about in the latter conversation, i'm not entirely sure as all i've done is sleep. the result, however, is that my sleeping process is now book-ended with a therapy session and a creative brainstorming session, which is- given how much i've managed to accomplish this week- a quite conducive way to work.

things that are true: i've been writing long enough that you'd think i'd have a better understanding of my writing process. that i'd know what works and what doesn't and how i work. alas, no.

is this the curse of writers? that we think we know ourselves so well, we're endlessly fascinated by the workings of how our work works, and yet it possesses unfathomable mysteries that will, periodically, surface to astound us and convince us we barely begin to know anything about ourselves?

slowly i'm realizing i can take things best in three day increments. for example, working from sunday to tuesday on one thing, briefly heaving a sigh of relief, only to have something that will consume wednesday to friday abruptly fall in my lap.

an annoyance, yes. and one which required a whiney call to my mother of the 'MUMMY, but no, REALLY, can i REALLY do this? is it all folly??? AM I WASTING MY LIFE?!?!' who, standing in the middle of visiting a friend in the hospital and surrounded by a cacophony that sounded like a garden party, patiently said- perhaps knowing my way of working better than i know it myself- 'just give it your all for a day and see where you are.'

wise words. and ones i need to remember. because somehow things never seem so difficult once you're actually in the process of doing them. once the gears are going and the pen is in your hand and the words are appearing on the page. it's in the agony of gearing up, the summoning of the nerve, that it's so easy to lose courage, to throw up your hands and say 'that's not for me', because it's easier to walk away than to try.

this is maybe why three day increments are appealing. you can bear anything for three days. and three days don't seem like such a great deal to have lost if it doesn't pan out, if the work leads nowhere, if it is, in fact, folly, at least you kept the muscle active, the gears moving. at least an act of courage was completed even if the work wasn't.

i used to have a little policy of 'love, not fear.' remember that? it's been awhile, but it holds up, i find, in most things. in writing perhaps most of all.

0 wednesday

27 January 2014

0 dude.

my dissertation now has a due date. A DUE DATE. as though it were an impending child.

i happened upon this horrible fact when blithely filing my progress report for second term. up there by the start date in what had previously been a blank box, there is now this absolutely horrifying due date.

which, in all honestly, is doable.

but that doesn't mean i want to see it. and it doesn't mean that i'm prepared to know it exists.

2 this is where we are

24 January 2014

0 ouch

my family re-uses christmas tags. both by saving the bags with the tags on them (so i get the 'faith' bag every year and it always contains a gift from my mother, because sometime in the mid-2000s my mother first gave me a gift in the 'faith' bag because she thought that was funny) and by saving the tags themselves.

so when you go to wrap a present, you go poking through this pile of 'from: deborah, to: gary', 'from: caroline, to: burvil', etc. to find the tag left over from the other time where you gave a gift to the person you're wrapping a gift for now.

it only just last night occurred to me that prior to this christmas someone had to go through all those tags and get rid of the ones that read to/from joe.

22 January 2014

21 January 2014

4 back to the future

i feel like i'm back. which sounds preposterous, i know, because technically i've been back for two full weeks tomorrow. but i don't mean back in england. what i mean is that, after a shaky year, 365 days spent trying to learn how to function in a foreign country, learning how to live with the various ways in which i broke my own heart in leaving, and staring down the fact that i have now irrevocably chosen to do this, this slightly loon thing at the heart of which is the writing of a book i'm still not 100% sure i have the nerve/guts/talent/ability to write in such a way that the words i put on the page for you will mirror the story that has existed in my head all along. it was a long year. with a lot of this...

and this... 

and even, at times, this...

so that happened. but it feels like a page has turned. like i'm back. like i'm here. it's as though in the last two weeks, with this last supervision, a new plan has fallen into place and, after a year of so much slipperiness, the next five months look crystal clear. not just that, they look doable. maybe even triumphable.

and so I AM HERE. in london. and it feels just like tonya landing her triple axel...

the goal then is to survive the process of upgrading, blaze into boston in may with a guerilla warfare approach to getting jackie published, score a certain interview with a certain someone in new york, and then wind up the month- and the age of 32- in paris with the best falafel in the whole fucking world.

that is the plan. let's do this. and let's call it: five months to falafel.

20 January 2014

0 the sex lives of dead people (ie. the ‘jackie slept with nureyev! bobby slept with nureyev! everybody slept with nureyev!’ brouhaha caused by a book not yet published which i’ve not yet read)

so there was a little article in the daily mail last week about how everyone who was anyone in the 1960s slept with the danzatore rudolph nureyev. as we all know, pretty much everyone who was anyone in the ’60s was a kennedy. and so: nureyev made it with the whole clan!!! Continue reading 

0 deep thoughts on my adult on-set lemon allergy

so i'm suddenly violently allergic to lemon scented things.

true story. 

which kind of makes no sense as i've always loved lemon scented things with no problem and all of a sudden it is like snot/sneezing explosion at the mere suggestion. 

have they recently re-atomized the lemon? is the lemon scent of today somehow different from the lemon scent of yesteryear? 

the difficulty with this is that it has taken months for me to pin it down and in the meantime i invested in lemon-scented laundry detergent in which i washed everything i own. 

and so on friday night i fell asleep in a bed of freshly laundered poisons. and subsequently spent the weekend re-poisoning myself by blowing my nose on handkerchiefs that were a cesspool of allergic scent. 

not smart.

though it has been an excuse to wear my christmas pajamas for days on end (as though i needed one). 

this is all very evocative of that time when i spilled the vanilla infuser in my bed and it soaked into the pillows amd mattress and i suffered from a vanilla over-inhalation enduced hangover for a week and a half. which maybe only proves that i've an unusual talent for poisoning myself in extremely stupid ways. 

16 January 2014

0 dramaz

S and i tag off on our dramaz. some days we'll do him, some days me.

this week, his was tuesday and mine was wednesday. usually they're not in such close proximity.

however, because they were in close proximity this go-round, there were new breakthroughs in our understanding of ourselves and how our friendship works. (a subject we find endlessly fascinating [how have we known each other for 15 years and not noticed this?!?!?!] that is likely of interest to absolutely no one else.)

during dramaz, for instance, S will nod and smile and whole-heartedly agree and umm-hmmmm his consent to every single suggestion i make in such a thoughtful manner that i can only imagine he is thinking, even as we're speaking, of how he's going to weave my truth-bombs into his daily life for the lasting betterment of it. only later- days, months sometimes, when we're having the exact same conversation again- will it become clear that he listened to my advice and took none of it.

in contrast, before he has barely even drawn a breath after dispensing his advice to me, i will breezily discard it, overwriting it with a subtly revised version of what i've already said ten time previously in our conversation. because, just as he is looking to hear the alternatives he will not take, in processing problems with someone else, i'm not so much looking for resolutions from them as an ear to listen as i work my way towards wording it right.

you helping me is so very different from me helping you, he observed.

which is something so obvious that it was surprising how much this revelation stunned us both.

also stunning? that it was a full hour and 15 minutes into our 2-hour conversation of wednesday night before it occurred to me that the problem we were engaged in solving and the means by which we were solving it was DEEPLY NEUROTIC. and the realization that there is absolutely no one else in the world with whom i could get that deep into such a conversation before that realization hit.

15 January 2014

0 FJ: a smattering of commentary re: valerie trierweiler, françois hollande, and the french first family’s current clusterwhoops

do you know about this? is this being bandied about elsewhere or is it only capturing the interest of those of us who click on the ‘world news’ tab of the new york times?
so, in quick… france’s president in this guy:
françois hollande. and the woman shown with him there is valerie trierweiler. Continue reading 

0 why, hello

longest week EVAH, ya'll. omg. and it's only wednesday. fortunately, the bits that made it long (supervision and a seminar i was in charge of and about which i created much needless anxiety and emotional turmoil but which, ultimately, went quite well in spite of a fire on the picadilly line [things you never want to hear whilst on the underground: 'it appears we've smoldering on the tracks...']that necessitated the taking of my first london taxi) have been weathered so now it's just a matter of percolating thoughts from monday's supervision and turning mine eyes back to jackie after a two week break away from her.

have you read this? i'm kind of obsessed with it. particularly this bit:

'It is, perhaps, essential to life to think that we know where we’re going when we set out—our politics and plans alike depend on the illusion that someone knows where we’re going. The cold-water truth that the past provides, though, may be that we can’t. To be a passenger in history is to be unsure until we get to port—or the lifeboats—and, looking back at the prow of our ship, discover the name, invisible to our deck-bound eyes, that it possessed all along.'

this article on figure skating dramaz is also amaze. as k.nord pointed out, for a sport where the emphasis is always on being perceived as dainty, skating sure does rock a street vibe.

speaking of figure skating, how does one watch the olympics in a foreign country? i ask that from the practical side of someone who has no TV but also from the emotional aspect of 'how can i know who to root for without NBC's heart-warming team USA bios???!' presumably the british broadcasts will not be limited to team USA, obligatory shots of competitors from the host country, and a smattering of people of other nationalities who are top in their field. presumably the british broadcasts will feature an unusual number of british people doing things. as though the olympics weren't primarily a showcase of american talent. can you even imagine?!?!


my one consolation here is that maybe they screen the olympics in pubs. in which case there is the possibility that my consumption of the figure skating competition could go down over pints with a pub crowd, which somewhat makes up for the fact that johnny weir won't be commentating the whole thing.

13 January 2014

0 so this is interesting

0 beguiling thing

so i watched this video wherein hermione lee says that we can all agree that lives don't have shapes. by which she means the people living their lives don't perceive them as having shapes and then biographers come along and impose shapes upon them.

which... well, do you agree with this? i don't. and what i've been wracking my brain over is why that might be. why i indignantly thought 'oh yes they do!' when she seemed to take it for granted that we all would agree with her that they don't.

what influences the way we see/read lives. do i think this way because i'm an american? a woman? a writer? a biographer? a person born in the 80s? overly educated in the humanities and, therefore, overly influenced by the idea that lives can be art? or is it really just so easy as i think this way because i am me?

0 FJ: there are celebrities i cannot stand and justin timberlake is #1 (a personal meditation [the last])

true story: this is the part at which i suck. because i can do curation… pulling together a lot of tangential stuff and saying ISN’T THIS SO NEAT?! where i do not excel is the question of WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?!?!?!  Continue reading 

10 January 2014

2 yesterday

london was GORGEOUS. around 2/2:30, when the clouds came down and the sun came through and there was a wind whipping up but not so much so that it would blow the contacts out of your eyes. gorgeous. 

and so, because it was beginning to feel like i'd not stretched my legs for a month, i went out for the long long stroll from hammersmith up to kensington high street through kensington gardens and hyde park and up bond street into soho and bloomsbury to senate house. a stroll punctuated by a sighting of duchess kate avec le bébé royal (the shininess of her hair is for real, ya'll), a brief wading through a bog which got pond water up to my knees, a nearly overwhelming feeling that i am so terribly lucky to be where i am, and concluding with an enormous macaron at paul over tea with SZH. 

a friend of a friend recently moved to london and her facebook page yesterday was all about the sun. the surprise that there was sun in england and that everyone who'd told her there wasn't any had been wrong. is this the fundamental delusion that americans have about england? that it is the darkest, grimmest place on earth? 

over holidays, mr. lindear asked me what my favorite thing about living in london was and, in all honesty, the thing i first thought to say was the light. because it's different here. the clouds hang lower. the blue is of a different hue. and the sun gets through at angles i've never seen anywhere else. this coming from someone who pays an inordinate attention to skies and clouds and looking up, and so i know of what i speak. 

it's a surprise. to english people apparently too because whenever i mention how much i love the light of their land, they're often vair vair what huh? and i'm all floaty flower child sounding trying to win converts to my belief that their own country has some of the most interesting skies on earth. 

09 January 2014

2 three things

1) i've come back to london. it's weird how hard it is to be present. KBG and i lay awake on a mattress in lindear's playroom last week discussing this in the wee hours of the night. how i was homesick for memphis since november and then like the very minute the plane landed, all i wanted was to be in the UK. now i am in the UK again. and it's not that i want to be back in memphis but there's a tension, the same tension that was so tedious those first few days of christmas. and i'm not sure how to explain it. all i know is that it's there and that it has something to do with being present and that, in a few days, it'll fade and i'll maybe be better at being where i am. but, in the meantime, it's awkward. hey. here. how about this: it is the feeling of no longer being where you were and not quite yet being where you are. which is total bunk if we follow the mary engelbreit/eaton family dictate of 'whatever you go, there you are.' but then maybe that slogan we ironed on to all those sweatshirts years ago was aspirational rather than true.

 2) brutus came back with me. the degree of happiness i've extracted from this has only further enforced the fact that brutus is my patron saint, a fact about which i am deeply uneasy.

3) lastly, i read five days at memorial on the plane ride home. (because a family guilted me into giving up my window seat and taking the middle in a different row so they could all sit together [which is fine though i think there should be a general acknowledgement of IS THAT EVEN A CHOICE??! would any person traveling alone want to spend an 8-hour flight trapped by a window fielding evil glances from the parents they've kept apart??] and so there was no sleep and my fool-proof plan for conquering jetlag was fooled and i read a good book instead.) the thing that's been rolling over in my mind ever since is the idea that, in the wake of katrina, new orleans wasn't america. it's a defense used to justify the fact that people did morally questionable things, but removing that reason for the statement from the guts of the statement itself, what do you make of that? i can't figure out if the term 'america' is being used as an idea or as in 'the united states.' a small difference that it seems would either make a large difference or none at all. but, aside from that, isn't the point of the united states that we are the united states and indivisible? the notion that a city could be, regardless of how deplorable the circumstances, ever be seen as being outside of america strikes me as downright bizarre.

06 January 2014

1 required reading

THIS via k.nord.

'She had spent her entire life struggling to deliver the performance that was expected of her. Now, expected to do the easiest thing there was—to fall apart on the ice, to be weak, punished, and ashamed—she rebelled, and did the hardest thing that not just she but any woman performing that night could have: she skated the way she wanted to. She finished the Games in eighth place, but in her own way, and on her own terms, she had won.'

02 January 2014

1 burvil's bday

0 ORD -> LHR

a year ago today, i left for london. which feels both like a zillion eons and a thousand therapy sessions ago, and yet also like barely a blink. what i remember is the emotional intensity of the episode of househunters international my parents and i watched before i left. the taxi driver telling me that it was lunacy to move to london and wise to live in new york. how badly i burned the yellow lentils i'd brought for dinner. and how, the day after i arrived, i went for a long walk with a map that was missing half the streets and wound up wandering alongside westminster abbey, remembering the version of myself that had been there with partner ten years before, a version of myself that never ever could've had the imaginative powers to dream up where i was now.

3 january 2013

01 January 2014

0 the old year

365- columbine (cullen)
1024- gone with the wind (mitchell)
403- prep (sittenfeld)
558- american wife (sittenfeld)
190- jackie & ari (david)
945- voice of the heart (barbara taylor bradford)
444- chanel: an intimate life (chaney)
131- writing a woman's life (heilbrun)
350- jackie oh! (kelley)
320- kennedy imprisonment (wills)
350- and the show went on (riding)
217- lilly (livingston)
329- diana vreeland: empress of fashion (stuart)
345- the immortal life of henrietta lacks (skloot)
820- forever amber (winsor)
331- the feminine mystique (friendan)
197- a strange stirring (coontz)
298- mary and lou and rhoda and ted (armstrong)
208- the silent woman (malcolm)
350- reflections on biography (backsheider)
407- vita (glendinning)
212- sexy feminism (armstrong/rudulph)
477- the group (mccarthy)
433- the best of everything (jaffe)
337- beautiful ruins (walter)
505- past imperfect (fellowes)
456- for the thrill of it (baatz)
252- parties, pain, work (winder)
270- women on ice (baughman)
227- the year of magical thinking (didion)
188- blue nights (didion)
156- the great gatsby (fitzgerald)
191- murder in the metro (brunelle and finley-croswhite)
672- a woman named jackie (heymann)
375- jackie oh! (kelley)
416- a widow's story (oates)
421- mrs. kennedy (leaming)
246- between poverty and the pyre: moments in the history of widowhood (bremmer)
245- sex and the city (bushnell)
597- america's queen (bradford)
191- bobby and jackie (heymann)
363- jfk's last hundred days (clarke)
662- the other mrs. kennedy (oppenheimer)
236- what maisie knew (james)
195- once upon a secret (alford)
241- fairytale interrupted (terenzio)
267- sex and the single girl (brown)
270- come to the edge (haag)
464- jackie, ethel, joan: women of camelot (taraborrelli)
341- the spy who loved (mulley)
450- diana: in search of herself (smith)
1024- gone with the wind (mitchell)
444- the rape of europa (nicholas)
376- jackie oh! (kelley)
223- at wit's end (bombeck)
256- slouching towards belthlehem (didion)
450- diana: in search of herself (smith)
600- jim henson: the biography (jones)
600- the pike: gabriele d'annunzio, poet, seducer and preacher of war (hughes- hallett)
200- the politics of the president's wife (borelli)
359- lookaway, lookaway (barnhardt)
245- the new mind of the south (thompson)