31 October 2014

0 halloweened

halloween is SUPER lame in london. like, they do not know how to do it. for about two weeks there have been random people in costume and now that it's the day there's been nary a sign of it. england, get with the program!!!

so, in lieu of thrilling halloweeny things here, let's remember the last of my chicagoweens...




0 FJ: the jian ghomeshi sexual assault scandal: 2 seemingly unrelated anecdotes about jfk + elvis, + a few thoughts

i wanted to write about this, but i’m not sure how i want to write about this so bear with me…
jian ghomeshi.
Jian Ghomeshi

28 October 2014

0 two (three? three.) things

(1) i'm in paris to do an interview with one of jackie's friends tomorrow. TERROR. not, like, steinem level TERROR mind you, which was basically OH SHIT SWEET JESUS LORD HAVE MERCY CODE PURPLE levels of TERROR (and, fingers crossed, my TERROR peak). but, still. you know, NERVES. (as my inability to clearly articulate the state of my nerves probably indicates there.)

(2) today on this day in history today, i actually worked this incredibly horrifying headline...


in its entirety, into an academic article. something i didn't realize needed to be a life goal until it happened so life goal = done. 

(3) a huge part of my excitement in coming to paris now is buying the olive pasta sauce from the market and making french macaroni with olive pasta sauce, paired with beaujolais. for reals. 

yeah, i'm here for an interview, but just as i made sure to borrow a flat with a bathtub for my mental well-being so i made sure they had a hob and i beelined, not for the pastries, but for the 1.75€ spaghetti sauce at the carrefour. because that is apparently now the comfort food with which i associate france. 

which is, i realize, a sign of tremendous privilege. we seldom get to go to foreign cities so often that we're familiar with the flavors of pasta sauce in their markets, so often that we have a comfort food there so it feels like you've gone home. 

27 October 2014

0 reading week

i never went to a school that had a fall break. so i keep calling this week in the middle of term where we don't have to teach "spring break", and debo keeps correcting me and saying, exasperated, but it's not spring. 

my run-up to reading week, ie. this week, was last week, which looked like this:

wednesday, i talked extemporaneously to a room full of people about how, in writing about jackie, my politics are combined with my practice. (i'm a big advocate for taking moments to recognize progress, so let's all- because you are in this with me- take a moment and appreciate the fact that we have, the whole lot of us, come a hell of a long way since this.)

thursday, i had lecture and seminar prep and supervision, where i was diagnosed as having "tonal problems."

friday, i discovered that my access to ££££ ends pretty much THE VERY MOMENT i hand in my dissertation and i taught a class that was evaluated by the overseer of teaching assistants AND i went to an information on post-docs, which was like treading water amid a herd of sharks in a ocean full of bleeding people.

saturday, i got a flu shot and took to my bed. and all the anxiety of those last three days siphoned off into this wacko hypochondria.

suddenly, everything meant i must be dying.

that pain in my chest? HEART ATTACK. (ie. too much plank in friday's yoga practice.)

that inexplicable cut on my foot? SPONTANEOUS EXTERNAL BLEEDING. (ie. wtf?)

that four day tension headache? BRAIN TUMOR. (ie. stress.)

because somehow all of that seemed more manageable than my one day, in a future that with the revelation that my access to ££££ ends pretty much THE VERY MOMENT i hand in my dissertation suddenly zoomed about five to six months closer, having to leave london.

the brain is weird. how it deflects. how it goes to all these contortions, actively manipulates itself to avoid hard truths. and how that translates into far more ludicrous, less real worries, like this cut on my ankle that i don't know how i got must totally signify some fatal blood eruption... my blood is breaching the boundaries of my body! a self-diagnosis that is clearly ridiculous, and yet somehow strangely soothing in the present in the face of a greater, far-off unknown.

the unknowns are a can of worms, pulling out one pulls out another and they all look really gross.

it is a good time to go to paris.

i mean, it is never not a good time to go to paris, but it is especially good that i am going to paris tomorrow. where there is a balcony and a bathtub and the best falafel in europe. paris is where i decide to do things.

i actually work well with endpoints, with deadlines, with the threat that everything i love will ultimately be taken away. it can be paralyzing, but it can also focus the mind in ways everyday life cannot.

21 september 2013. look how well that turned out.

we do not know what is coming. we do not know what is next.

reminder: here's how you fly on a trapeze:

you climb a freakishly skinny ladder.
you get buckled into a harness.
you stand at the edge of a platform.
you grip a bar with your two hands.
you bend your two knees.
you take one hop into nothingness.
you swing through the air.
you put your knees back over the bar.
you let go.

you fling yourself into the future. and you let go.

5 january 2016.

25 October 2014

1 and LO! i have transitioned

remember how i had that benghazi hearing type drama last june? and it was HORRID? (apparently so HORRID that my only discussion of it at the time was this.) 

and i spent the whole summer at the british library reworking everything for my resubmission so that the benghazi hearing type drama wouldn't have all been for naught? 

well, i resubmitted at the end of last month, and quickly received a benign looking email saying everything was ok and that several people other than me were responsible for signing things and filing forms and then i would be upgraded. 

apparently all those people signed those things and filed their forms, for today's mail brought a letter confirming that i have indeed been upgraded. 

i am no longer an MPhil, but am now something which up to this point has only ever been referred to as DPhil but which is also called, according to this letter, "PHD MASTER". 

which, let's be honest, is TOTALLY BADASS, right?! RIGHT?!?!? 

the badassness of this new title is a massive consolation for the fact that it feels the future just moved a whole hell of a lot closer. 



22 October 2014

0 ghosts

there's this fascinating dialogue across time that happens that i cannot explain and yet which i will attempt to describe, because it feels that important.

this exists on two planes.

one is the moment where you realize a person you read about and write about is real.

as a biographer, you live with the intellectual fact of this. but the feeling of it is an altogether different thing. to write the story of jackie's life, i need- to some extent, if i'm to feel at all qualified to do such an audacious thing- pretend that the story of jackie's life is actually something one can do. in order to do that, one needs to detach to some degree. (aren't we all detached to some degree?)

but there are moments where the feeling comes in. today, in looking through rose kennedy's notes on the opening of the kennedy center in 1971, i came across a paragraph that had meant enough to rose kennedy that she copied it into her notes. a paragraph jackie wrote on pg. 29 of the opening night program, where she mentioned the importance of having reduced price tickets for old people and students and people who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford to hear opera or see dance or take in whatever was being performed on a given night.

the layers of preservation involved there... i don't know. for some reason it was profoundly moving. i teared up there, looking at this image file of a page from rose kennedy's notes where she quoted her former daughter-in-law's comments from a commemorative program.

something about that... it brings you a closeness. to the words, to the people, to the story.

that is what i want to get in, which is still not something i'm entirely certain how to do, outside of finding as many of jackie's own words as i can.

my father is my mailbox for things from archives that cannot be scanned and for which hard copies must be sent. and he admitted to feeling a similarly mystical connection through jackie's letters to gore vidal. not necessarily when he did a dramatic reading of them to me over skype. but when he opened that envelope, took in her handwriting, saw her words.

it makes it real. really real.

that's not all that makes it real though. there's the moment you realize the real person you're writing about it real, but there's this other moment where you see just how closely we are all connected across time.

that sounds very new age. it isn't.

because i'm writing about a story and how that story was consumed as it was being written in the media and how it has changed over time, my writing process basically involves total saturation in the newspaper articles on jackie. a ferreting out of all of the things said and then the working of them into a story. and then i turn to the archival stuff i've amassed throughout all this and see if the story i just built is bunk.

which is the point at which rose kennedy chimed in today to tell me that eunice shriver read that same article that i just read about ari giving jackie a yacht for her 41st birthday, and eunice told her mother and her mother asked jackie and jackie laughed and jackie said, no, no, don't believe everything you read.

which, i guess, boils down to jackie laughing at me down the ages through all those people.

no, no, don't believe everything you read, she told her former mother-in-law, who wrote that in the notes for the memoir she was writing, which i saw in her archive and- without really even letting the content register before my eyes- photographed back on that one afternoon at the JFKL in may, on the off-chance it might one day be useful.

there is an element of magic to all of this.

21 October 2014

0 FJ: i do not want to write about renée zellweger

but sometimes we have to do things we do not want to do because those are the things that make us think.
renée zellweger is trending today because she went to an event last night.
some headlines:

0 hurricanes!

we had a hurricane today. hurricane gonzalo. which i keep misreading as gonzo. which would be AMAZING.

i'm always surprised (as in, this time and the one other time this happened) by how zen the british press is about the hurricanes. like, this morning the BBC forecast was for rain and squally winds. the only thing mildly unusual about the weather graphic was that it had two droplets instead of three.

i don't have a television so i don't watch the TV news. so i'm wholly ignorant of that side of a british life. i wonder: does hurricane gonzalo have a theme song? you know it would in the US. but does it have one here?

the only thing that makes me think the weather might have a soundtrack here as well is the daily mail, whose weather reports are always apocalyptic. but then, the daily mail is most widely read in america, so maybe that's more for the US than for us???

20 October 2014

0 FJ: totally random gossip nostalgia trip: gwyneth paltrow + brad pitt edition

YOU GUYS. remember when this was the height of cool?
gwyneth_paltrow_brad_pitt_1600_900
pitt and paltrow hooked up during the filming of se7en in 1995 and were engaged for a quick bit in 1997. then paltrow moved on to the batfleck and pitt moved on to jennifer “america’s sweetheart” aniston and that was that. but for awhile there things were pretty and shiny and matchy… my god, were they matchy. let’s look back.

18 October 2014

0 FJ: OBSESSION: tippi hedren’s lion

tippi hedren has recently come out and said ‘We were stupid beyond belief to have that lion in our house’, which is how i found out about this. BUT, yes, it’s true, once upon a time, tippi hedren and her family had a pet lion. something that would really only make sense in the 70s because the 70s were amazing. and which also means, yes, melanie griffith grew up in a lion’s den.  let’s look back…
065-tippi-hedren-theredlist

17 October 2014

0 are you listening???

YOU GUYS. are you listening to serial?  i am obsessed with serial. and i say that as someone who doesn't even like podcasts (never mind that i'm someone who produces podcasts), so you know it must be really really compelling. GO! listen to serial.

 

14 October 2014

0 FJ: martha, gwynnie, conscious (un)coupling + cat fights

FFN_RIJ_HALLOWEEN_BASH_102013_51239481
so’s i was casting about today on the daily mail looking for something to write about and i stumbled upon news of the brewing cat fight between martha stewart and gwyneth paltrow.
and i thought YES. i will write about the brewing “cat fight” between martha stewart and gwyneth paltrow. but the problem with writing about the brewing cat fight between martha stewart and gwyneth paltrow is that you have to practice what you preach. and if i were to write about the brewing “cat fight” between martha stewart and gwyneth paltrow, i wouldn’t be practicing what i preach (feminism! female narratives! LOVE!) so much as just be towing the narrative line of the daily mail.
which ain’t cool.

12 October 2014

0 so it happened


you guys.

i have seen li.lo.

on The Stage.

at the THEATAH.

in the west end.

(+, y'know, toby from the west wing.)


that looks like some sort of amazingly improbable surrealist haiku, non? and yet. AND YET.

it happened.

i was there. she was there. toby from the west wing was there.

david mamet's play was a serious, SERIOUS snore. but, mercifully, a short one. never have i ever been in and out of a theatre so quickly. (we'd been wondering why li.lo picked this play. upon seeing it, my friend nina suggested perhaps it is because it was the shortest option.)

but, truth time: probably the highlight of all of this-- li.lo, toby, theatah-- was finally partaking in the interval ice cream, a british tradition, and scoring a tiny cup of strawberry.

remember those ice creams from when we were kids? the ones with the lid with the tab you'd pull up on and the spoon included? the one's that came in a pack of 6 in a bag similar to what newspapers came in?

it was like that ice cream, grown-up. and organic. and gourmet.

seeing li.lo at the theatah has taught me that i may never again fully enjoy the theatah without interval ice cream. lesson learned.

09 October 2014

0 i would direct your attention

to this. because this:

"Nobody tells you about failure," Davis argues. "People always talk about winning, vision boards, getting what you want. People also don't talk about fear. It's always keeping fear at bay. Squelching it. Throwing it away. I've embraced fear and failure as a part of my success. I understand that it's part of the grand continuum of life. I've been through it all. Breakups, heartache, and I've lost a parent already. So now I get it at this age, I get that that is it. That life literally is what you make it."

07 October 2014

0 well, that's different

0 it is so deeply weird

to read other people writing about you.

and i say that as someone who spends pretty much all day writing about other people so it probably sounds pretty disingenuous, but it's true.

a website linked to a post i wrote about the phrase "marilyn monroe reading" on finding jackie. the shout-out on that website was unexpected and nice.

someone commented on that post with this:


which isn't terrible, but it is weird.

to be called "Eaton" for one. and to have someone i don't know saying i'm protesting too much (which- due to the tone of the comment, the fact that my "rant" is about men's fetishization of a woman's literacy, and the reality that it's a dude writing this comment- feels a bit condescending). in the end, to me anyway, his argument essentially backs up mine, but still. it's easy to forget that, in blogging, you're making arguments, which makes it even weirder when- 8 months after you wrote something- people engage with the argument you forgot you made.

01 October 2014

0 you guys

i would never have thought that a cereal could evoke the taste of do-si-dos girl scout cookies but this one does.