31 March 2014

0 today

was my inaugural visit to the BL. actually it was just a visit to the BL's conference centre, though i did walk into the BL lobby and ask: where am i supposed to be???! 

which seems about right.

so i spent the day at the BL conference centre at a storytelling workshop producing a story that totally doesn't translate outside of that workshop because the stories we write on twitter don't produce a coherent narrative, only noise.

but it was good to go, good to do, good to get away from the RFK assassination which i am now- per my last supervision- supposed 'to fondle.'


in good things: i am no longer in a place where narratively fondling the details of an assassination sounds fun.

in bad things: i have to narratively fondle the details of this assassination in spite of that.

tomorrow is the last night of the victorian fashion lecture series i've been going to all winter. the one where, last time, they turned out all the lights and we were forced to take notes in the dark (true story: i anticipate that college ruled lines are way smaller than they are).

and tomorrow is the first day of april.

mothering's sunday has passed. british summer time is here. so it feels like the end of many things and the beginning of something, though- really- nothing's ending and i don't know what may begin.

may is for america. june is for conferences. april is for i don't know what.

lindear has proclaimed it the month that i shall remain drama-free. we'll see about that...

yesterday, the elderly lady with alzheimer's who i'm walking to church, about half-way up kensington church walk towards notting hill gate, looked me dead in the eye and said, out of nowhere, so have you sorted out a future for yourself yet? 

and i said, no, but i'm working on that. 

30 March 2014

0 hmm

i've been hibernating and watching episodes of dr. quinn. because there's a thing i wanna write about it and because it's mothering sunday and because it just seemed like a good day to sit in the dark.


(1) i really want to do the trapeze again.

(2) my entire aesthetic of today probably comes from the queen of hearts in the dr. quinn circus episode and jan's aunt jenny.

the queen of hearts in the dr. quinn circus episode

jan's aunt jenny on the brady bunch

28 March 2014

0 FJ: now that mila kunis is engaged, macaulay’s abandoned the burritos to race to the altar

and where were we, before zac efron interrupted… oh yeah. mac.
New York Comic Con 2013 - Day 2if you’ve been around here with any regularity in the last year, you know i’m rather taken with the daily mail‘s accounts of macaulay culkin’s love life. rightfully so, because they are amaze. predictably, given mila kunis’s recent engagement to that man who dumped demi moore, the DM decided to check in and see how mac’s doing. he was not, as it turns out, drowning his sorrows in ‘sad’ ‘by himself’ ‘on his own’ ‘lunch for one’ burritos from taco bellContinue reading 

27 March 2014

0 so

this article on chicago is great.

and yet the most chicago thing about it is the first comment at the end...

0 FJ: BREAKING NEWS: the daily mail’s report on zac efron’s sunday in skid row

so i was winding down the writing of an update on macaulay culkin’s love life when…

0 peer pressure

fyi, this is what you get when you google 'woman editor'

i'm doing a peer review for a journal. it's double-blind, so they'll never know who i am and i'll never know who they are.

it's the first time i've edited the writing of someone who wasn't my BFF since word got round the campus of mississippi state that i was a good reader and random people in random comp classes would solicit my editorial help. so it's been awhile.

and i'd forgotten how weird it is. the strange relationship that arises as you engage with the work of someone you do not and likely will not know.

because, in many ways, it's an intimate act. editing. an undressing of the work. a peering into the interior of the ways in which it operates and an examination of the ways in which it's going wrong.

or, to be more precise, the ways in which it's not doing what you think the person who wrote it wants it to do and what readers who read it will want it to do.

ok, maybe it's more like a genealogical exam, but there's still an intimacy at play.

i've read this particular essay 10 times now. first, to read it as a normal reader. second, to determine whether it was worthy of revision or warranted rejection. and then all the subsequent other times to do the actual editing.

and that was all on the hard copy. only this morning did i move to the file.

at this point, i'm totally rooting for the work of this person i do not know. i want it to be better, yes, but i want them to persevere. it is my new great fear that he/she will back away in horror from all the pink balloons i've blown up in the margins and entirely give up.

but maybe, hopefully, they'll do as i do when croftie returns something similarly littered with comment bubbles. they'll give up only to come back to it, realizing that if someone took the time to have so many thoughts about the work, they must've found value therein.

and this is what you get when you google 'lady editor'

26 March 2014

0 makeup frightens me

because if people with actual artists committed to their makeup can wind up with makeup this bad...
what hope do the rest of us have???

0 yesterday

so yesterday was THE TEA OF TERROR. in the end, not so terrifying, despite its requiring a morning of mental anesthetizing via caroline in the city and a solid half hour to coax myself out of the door. but out of the door i went and into the living room and onto the couch of the last jackie biographer, who liked my boots that were bought at tj maxx.    

i, as you probably know by now, am always looking for narrative serendipity. the ways that stories come together so that you're like omg, but OF COURSE.  

i'm often asked why i've come to london to write about jackie and the answer, thus far, has been that i had no idea but that it has wound up giving me an enormously valuable perspective- that of being someone outside of america- from which to write. 

which isn't an entirely an explanation so much as a benefit. 

and which reveals absolutely nothing about why i actually came to london.

that is because, a year in, i still do not know why i have come to london. 

how funny then, how clever of the organizers of our universe, if it was for this. this tea. this person. this high priestess of jackie whose ring i have now- metaphorically- kissed. 

she lived in the neighborhood where i briefly lived when i first moved here. a neighborhood to which i've not really been back since february of last year. 

when these things are over- these heinously dreadful anxiety-inducing research/social situations that have all, to date, gone outrageously well despite the terror then evoke- i usually take a massive walk. across the national mall or along the coast in newport or all the way back to the train station in chatham. 

it's a time to be present. to process what has just happened and to sort of emotionally file it alongside all the other things that have happened in the last five/ten/twenty years of my life of writing about this woman. 

yesterday, i walked through brompton cemetery, which was in full bloom and beautiful, and along earl's court road through kensington. and then i walked home, grinning like an idiot as the sun set.

25 March 2014

0 blurgh

i've a daunting thing this afternoon. we'll just call it The Tea of Terror and leave it at that for now. to prepare, i've been binging on youtubed episodes of caroline in the city, a show i never really watched despite its being the inspiration for this blog's title. so this seems a rather appropriate thing to be doing 8 years in...

24 March 2014

0 FJ: a meditation on VOGUE, kanye, kim, covers, sarah michelle gellar, and the american dream

so do you know about this? given the number of friends who have asked me for an explanation, it seems the majority of us are at least reading headlines and sarah michelle geller’s tweet.
Screen shot 2014-03-24 at 9.01.17 AM

21 March 2014

20 March 2014

0 lest you miss a thing...

i'm over here writing about piracy and jackie...

0 oh holy moses

remember miranda's awkward phone call to steve from SATC? um... THIS:

yeah, so i pretty much just did the professional equivalent of that.

in a phone call that an american biographer friend went to some great lengths to arrange, i called a fancy british biographer to arrange a tea at which we would talk about jackie.

and, though i had a script, still i called our mutual friend 'will smith' rather than his name- which is, in my defense, very close to that of the fresh prince.

in a 1 minute and 32 second conversation, the fancy biographer told me no less than ten times that i should read her book, to which i finally replied i have read your book at least ten times. (because IT IS A FOUNDATIONAL TEXT!)

after which she told me i need to be sure to read the reprinted edition and agreed to have tea.

it took me three days to work up the nerve to make the phone call, which was, in the end, like a car crash. now i've days to reread the reprint and anticipate tea. fun times, people. fun times.

19 March 2014

0 a random appreciation of iris apfel and an accidental continuation of the discourse on fashion exhibits

do you know iris apfel?
iris-apfelyou should, because she is amaze. Continue reading 

btw... how amaze is it that this is the header?

1 assorted things

it's british spring, ya'll. bizarre that it can be dated precisely to last wednesday, when all of a sudden there were daffodils everywhere and all the trees were in bloom and it was 65 degrees. 65 degrees. glory!

i've three deadlines on friday. which seems a bit much, right?

meggie's informed me that she's been appointed a crossing guard at the school where she works. may this hilarifying image will sustain us all for weeks to come.

steven's review of the dallas buyer's club: 'you're watching matthew mcconaughey be skinny and act...'

that is, i think, all of the gossip for now.

16 March 2014

0 in 2008

my mother posted on fb a photograph of our dear old dog (who was the subject of the second thing i ever wrote for this blog). today, someone liked it. and lo! from out of nowhere loads of other people have liked it. to the point that...

in that spirit, never forget!!!

15 March 2014

0 when i realized the dash should be a dash and not a backslash

there were actual tears. for real. a full-out joy-weep.

because sometimes things come together so easily that it's like, MY GOD, why can it not always be so effortless? and why have i not been thinking this way all along??? 

sometimes you wake up in the morning, and on the tube on the way to pilates the story you're writing fuses with the fact that everything you did last week involved 80 year-olds and you have a REVELATION, find a grant that's due in a week, and have a project proposal by 4 p.m., a fact that sinks in with the changing of that backslash to a dash.


i've been doing this for ten years, staring at the story for twenty. i've known it was important to me, but not known how to tell the story of the importance it held for others. essentially, i've not known how to get burvil in.

this morning, on the tube, staring off into space because i only had manuscripts and no book, it pulled together. the way opened up. i can get burvil in.

two things:

(1) trains are amazingly inspirational.

(2) it's rather a consolation then that it took jackie ten years to get to watts. we are all of us slow sometimes.

14 March 2014

0 "a lady" responds to a gender reveal/debo = done proud

0 :)

0 story-telling

i’m slowly coming around to the idea that every problem in academia, writing, biography, life, etc. is, in the end, a problem with story-telling. either we’re telling stories or we’re telling them badly or we don’t know how to tell them or we think we’re not allowed to. Continue reading 

13 March 2014

0 hilair


0 more and more

i'm appreciating the fact that 2011-2012oline was an effing genius. for reals. that whole three year plan? the one that's over and so easy to forget about because jackie renewed it for another three years so it's kind of not really over at all, it just went up a notch? that plan. yeah. that turns out to have been rather smart. and that time that i spent cooling my heels was rather more like an investment that would pay huge dividends later on.

chapter two is sloooooooooooooowly coming around. meaning, whilst the existential crisis (how can we tell a coherent story about a life when there are limitless ways of reading each incident and so many opposing things to believe???) continues and seems unlike to ever relent, i'm wading through just enough to hand in a readable chapter next friday afternoon.

as these things tend to do, one step leads to another, so now that i've the ambassadorial interview not only in my pocket but transcribed, i kinda want more.

so often, the experience of writing biography feels like reaching out a window and, instead, finding it shut, banging against glass.

it's undignified. but so worth it when the window's open.

which brings us to why 2011-2012oline was an effing genius. for it's thanks to 2011-2012oline that, upon realizing that jackie's close friend whom i want to interview is totally unfindable online but that she once knew the nabokovs, i can email the writer of mrs. nabokov and ask if she can put me in touch.

and while she may not be able to do that, it's rather extraordinary, the possibility in the ask.

12 March 2014

0 present

it's been different. being here, since i got back. in ways i've recognized but not been able to articulate or allow.

i'm standing on a side street just outside earl's court tube talking to KBG, who's lying in the grass in south carolina under the sun. and i'm telling her all that's happened in this last totally ridiculous month. telling her how every tree i've planted in the last ten years has simultaneously borne fruit and how it's as though i've an abundance and it's almost too much to take in.

like being force-fed a zillion peaches. except these are blessings. i've been fois gras-ed with blessings.

this isn't a bad thing. it's a damn good thing. i'm not complaining. i'm just saying, is all.

it's been different and i've been wrestling with how. and then last week the pieces fell in and the moon came out and, walking home from earl's court, i finally got it.

twice recently i've read something to the effect of how, in writers, ambition often outpaces ability. robert frost was one. the other may've just been a general observation, but the notion stuck with me. not because it applied to me but because i thought it was interesting.

the thing about the things we think are interesting is that they usually do apply to us.

i've been restless all my life. remember chicago? remember how i spent pretty much all my time in chicago trying to leave it? yeah. i thought that was because i was restless and that was just who i was. much as how during that decade where i was taking too strong a prescription of zyrtec i thought i was just someone who got dizzy every time she stood up.

what i'm only just realizing is that was maybe not restlessness at all. it was ambition. tarted up as a slightly more respectable, slightly more feminine emotion. but, regardless of the terminology, it brought me here.

the thing that changed? the piece that fell in as i walked home gawking at the moon, touching random plants and fenceposts, trying to accrue as many physical sensations to attach to the moment that was then unfolding, that piece was this:

in writers, ambition sometimes outpaces ability.

i've spent the last ten years waiting to tell a story i've had for twenty.

and whilst my ability may not be quite caught up, it's coming. it is close.

10 March 2014

0 crisis management

i've an existential crisis in chapter 2 and an ethical crisis in chapter 3.

which isn't so bad as it sounds. i'm surprisingly unpanicked for a person with crises on two fronts.

because what it comes down to is that chapter one set things up really fucking well. which was the hard part. until it was done. and now the real hard part begins. now that readers care about the character i've created (and it is a character and i have created her because it's my jackie. increasingly i think that if we are to think about biography or think about lives, we must consider it/them our versions of a truth rather than the real unvarnished thing... so there's some theory for you... back to business...), now that i've got them through the door, sat them down with a lemonade, now... NOW... it's time to fuck them up.

by which i mean basically that i think i'm maybe pulling a biographical equivalent of alice in wonderland?

(with what conviction i write that!)

part of my various crises is that i'm trying to suss out just how very far my own interrogation of my own narrative can be pushed. trying to determine whether this is just me who wants this, if i'm imposing this nonsense onto the story or if it is endemic to the story i'm here to tell.

given that i've been talking like this, writing like this since 2003, i'mma say it's here to stay.

but how far can it go? as a reader, if i give you a story then give you the stories about that stories then show you how the story i gave you is unstable- in fact, interrogate my own telling of it- are you going to want to kick me in the head?

or are you going to think holy fucking god, that is AMAZE?

i need you to think holy fucking god, that is AMAZE. 

it is my great fear that- should this ever be a book, should anyone ever read it- there will be many many kicks to the head.

which i need to get over. because this is how it's meant to be written, how it's coming out. it's an element i'd shunted to the side, only to have it emerge without my even realizing it.

it wants to happen. not entirely against my wishes but not wholly with them.

this is where i miss therapy. because there's a chance that this would've all come out in therapy. (which was, in the end, helpful as an exercise in story-telling, helping me learn how to re-tell my own story, how to distill elements from it, how to put back in the pieces that had fallen out.) a chance that i would've had a session where i talked about the things we believe we know and yet cannot, and then another where i ferreted out the reality that i no longer believe in such a thing as fact.

two sessions. two problems solved. and then i would have no need of putting 'the unknown known and refusal of fact' under my research interests on my academic profile.

there's also a chance these are things that would've come up in my work regardless. but it's that risk that concerns me. the risk that this is self-indulgent, that it's something i'm imposing on the story that is not there.

i did that interview tonight. and, as they always do, it was perfectly fine. it didn't fall apart (despite the fact that i slaughtered the ambassador's last name to his secretary when telling her who i was).

and, just as did the conversation with the nun, it reaffirmed that my jackie isn't entirely wrong. (which is my backhanded way of admitting that there's a high likelihood that my jackie is better the prior jackie's, if not entirely right.)

things that are amazing: after months of mental wrangling with my existential crisis (which regards portrayals of jackie and RFK as lovers) and my ethical crisis (which regards the standard biographical portrayal of onassis as a pirate), i picked up the phone (well, actually, i plugged my enormo microphone into the laptop, logged into some audio hijacking software, and initiated a skype call) and asked someone who knew her what he thought.

which is such an extraordinarily precious gift. that there are still people on the corners of this story, people who remember, people who claim pieces of this story as their own.

because in big moments, it's better to be outside, i went for a walk after the interview and gazed stupidly up at the moon, grinning like an idiot, and wondering: there's no way speaking to people who know tonya harding will ever feel so good as this.

0 the living

so's all of a sudden it's like i have street cred and can just write people who knew jackie at their gmail accounts. and yeah, they may turn me down, but i can still do it. which is beyond weird.

the upside of this is that the inside joke where my father reads aloud a review of a biography written by someone who interviewed 500 people and i respond that my review will read and she interviewed three people may come to naught.

because there's hope of two more and tonight is #3.

which means my response will now have to be and she interviewed FIVE people.

which also means i spent the early afternoon anesthetizing myself with house of cards.

because this is the part i HATE.

not the actual talking to the actual people, but the run up. the dialing. the waiting.

waiting sucks. waiting makes me anxious. waiting makes me worry that the skype connection will be rotten and i'll sound like i'm on the moon and, as everyone i deal with is 80, they'll not be able to hear me or there'll be a language barrier or they'll have dementia or my brain won't be working and i'll seem like i have dementia.

there are so many ways in which to embarrass one's self on the phone. it's deeply hilarifying that, in boxing myself in to write about this woman, i have also boxed myself in to having to regularly talk to people on the phone, whether that be through the podcasts or through interviews.

the discovery that there are living people is amazing. it can only help.

the reality that i have to talk to said living people is harrowing.

but this is how we tell stories. this is how we get stories to tell. and we do all of this because stories are important, stories are essential.

today i went with my vicar friend to help do a church service at a nursing home. one of the women was there to see one of the elderly men. after the service, she and another woman with us were talking about him.

he was a hero, said one of them, the one with the rose lipstick and the green eyeshadow. and, as i looked across the room into the blue eyes now so vacant, the other woman, the one wearing a wooden crucifix round her neck, unspooled the story of how, in the early 1980s, before it was an understood thing, this man, this priest, had helped gay men in his parish suffering from AIDS. he was a hero, she repeated.

stories, people. they are essential to life. because they are life. and they are what's left after it.

06 March 2014

1 so meggie sent this

and i got this...

which probably says more about my deductive reasoning and ability to read context clues 
than my ability to not get lost in the city where i live. 

05 March 2014

2 PM

tonight i went to a meeting for an organization i'm slowly becoming a volunteer for and which will, on 4 april, be holding a fundraiser at the place where i go to church. 

caroline goes to church there, said the volunteer coordinator. so does david cameron. 

this is, presumably, the only time in my life i'll recieve top billing over the prime minister. 

0 21.52

lucky charms. 
4 books. 

adulthood is nice.