27 May 2014

0 there are highs and lows

tonight, an agent turned down my proposal by saying it was a story all older women know and younger women don't buy books and editors won't want it.

fortunately the email containing this psychological blow came on the train ride home after an evening where i randomly wound up out to a dinner where my supervisor's crashing of jeremy irons's dinner table was narrated by one of britain's premier literary biographers. a meal spent with a bunch of literary men who, every time i told one of them i was writing about jackie onassis, he would say now, THERE'S an interesting story. 

when i was working at a dead-end job, lindear used to always remind me: these people are not your future. this is maybe the most valuable advice ever for anything. trying to get your life's work published probably most of all.

0 FJ: an update on what macaulay culkin has been up to this past fortnight

so i leave england for a hot second and this happens…

25 May 2014

0 i'mma be real

i interviewed GS.

beforehand, i had explosive diahrrea. 

the twenty minutes prior to our interview- when i stood on the east side of park avenue clutching a bouquet of hydrangeas and talking on the phone to partner- are the closest i've ever come to feeling i might die. 

and she isn't even my jackie. 

praise be to god that jackie is not alive to be interviewed. i could not bear the terror that would excite in my bowels. 

for some people, GS is their jackie. i have jackie and so she wasn't and yet still this was the single most nervewracking experinece of my life. 

still, i saw my life flash before my eyes. 

still, i was grateful my mother was in town and hugged her as though i were leaving for war. 

so that happened. and, truth be told, i don't really remember it's happening. 

what i remember is the handle of the mug into which she poured my coffee. how there was nothing but soy milk in her refrigerator. how i leaned forward when i asked my questions (the questions i'd woken up early that morning to write).

how after it was over i called my father and told him how, as she hugged me goodbye, she'd said "i'm sure that, if someone had to write this, she would've been glad it was you."

22 May 2014


i've recently become fascinated by the idea of "trauma tourism" and the 9/11 is certainly a good example. this whole article is amazing, but especially this:

"I think now of every war memorial I ever yawned through on a class trip, how someone else’s past horror was my vacant diversion and maybe I learned something but I didn’t feel anything. Everyone should have a museum dedicated to the worst day of their life and be forced to attend it with a bunch of tourists from Denmark. Annotated divorce papers blown up and mounted, interactive exhibits detailing how your mom’s last round of chemo didn’t take, souvenir T-shirts emblazoned with your best friend’s last words before the car crash. And you should have to see for yourself how little your pain matters to a family of five who need to get some food before the kids melt down. Or maybe worse, watch it be co-opted by people who want, for whatever reason, to feel that connection so acutely."

0 20 years ago today

i wrote my first bit of biography...

19 May 2014

0 my life with jackie

i’ve recently been writing about mary barrelli gallagher’s 1969 memoir, entitled my life with jacqueline kennedy. really, that could be the subtitle of every biographer’s life, non?
my life with X.

05 May 2014

0 FJ: macaulay culkin: “healthier and happier”

mac 2
as you may or may not know, i am OBSESSED with the way the daily mail reports about macaulay culkin. well, actually, i’m obsessed with the way the daily mail writes about anyone but i am particularly OBSESSED with the way they have written about mac, beginning with what i’mma call “The Sad, Solitary, Alone Taco Bell Incident” and onward.

02 May 2014

0 there are details i do not remember

there are details i do not remember and it feels like a betrayal.

a song comes on the iphone and i remember driving behind him and i remember this song was playing and i remember straining to remember the moment, even at the time.

but i do not remember when it was.

just that i was 21 and it was spring and summer was coming and i was about to graduate and so many things seemed to be converging and placebo had just released a new album.

the song was "centrefolds." i've not listened to it in at least eight years.

the other night it came up at random. that song. and then suddenly the little that i do remember surfaced.

and what i remember, the all too tiny bit that i do remember, is that i was driving behind him. in my four-door gold 1997 mazda with the cigarette burns on the ceiling that my parents and i'd not noticed because we bought it in the dark. driving down whatever that main strip of starkville is (which i also cannot remember), past the stadium, on to campus.

it must've been the first night. it couldn't have been anything other than the first night.

except that wasn't what we called it. it didn't have a name.

The First Night was the first time we hung out. the evening of the afternoon when he asked me to help him study for the english class we were both in. even at the time, even in the three years where we were "just friends", we referred to that as The First Night. as though it were something that, even in that spring of 2000, were somehow historic.

this wasn't that night. i wonder if it was maybe the night that we went to see view from the top and wound up sitting in the cinema parking lot on the back of my mazda's trunk, talking for hours. did we stay out all night? did we go to walmart? did i drive home behind him and then go directly to class?

it was march, that i know. but i remember very little else except for a comment about how he would be sending me mail in chicago with hearts on the envelope. and the fact that i broke up with my boyfriend the following day.

and we didn't get together on april 1st because that was our "sonic anniversary" (in commemoration of the first time we went to sonic together as friends in that spring of 2000). we waited until the following night to become official, for the sheer convenience of staggering the anniversaries.

it's a problem of story-telling. this loss. this death. it is a story i still do not know how to tell.

what we were. what we became. him. his absence.

i tell stories. and yet there is within that a dependence upon other people to remember their half. in relationships, we instinctively delegate details. and so, as a writer, i experience loss as a robbing of sorts. through his death, i've been robbed of half of my own story. and of him.

he was supposed to remember.

he is no longer here.

there are things i will now never know for certain.

placebo's "centrefolds" means something terribly important to only me. it was playing. i was driving behind him. the sun was coming up. and, even at the time, i was aware, i must remember this. this is special. this is key. this is a story i will later need to tell. 

that is all i know. there is no more to remember.

it's a story i'm telling now lest i forget the little i know.

loss isn't easy. it goes on and on. even if you're just an ex-girlfriend, just a friend who kept a friend company as he drove from denver to jackson. there are still moments, songs, half-forgotten things, jokes no one else will ever get that rise to the surface to evoke an ache that will, likely never be relieved.

i do not know what to do with that. only that it is.

2 so that happened

01 May 2014

0 debo and i are talking about "the muppet babies"

like you do. and all we can remember is the first bit of the theme music. where they go "muppet BAYbies..."

and i ask, "why is it we don't remember the rest of that song?"

and she says, "because that's the point at which we'd go running to the television to watch it."

she says this and from somewhere way back in the deep forest of memory, i kind of almost can remember it. how, in our house on harbert, the one with the den off their bedroom, we'd leave the tv on and wander into the bedroom to do i know not what, keeping our ears perked for that music, for those opening words, upon hearing which we would- as she said- go running to the television, plop on the saggy green couch and curl up under a grandma ruth blanket with a box of nilla wafers.

she posted it on fb a few weeks ago, this theme song, and- i kid you not- i cried.

like i did on the tube when reading the preface to brian's book on jim henson.

so apparently there's something about the muppets that is the key to my childhood heart- the childhood heart usually locked deep within the one i expose and exploit in writing on a fairly regular basis. the childhood heart the contents of which even i am uncertain.

in there, the muppets are evidently somehow so important they hurt. i wonder if it's something to do with the line "we make our dreams come true"...


0 well that's delightful