29 April 2016

0 perfection

when i presented at my first conference (the giant conference in texas where my panel was attended by three people), i was so concerned about perfection.

the perfect paper, perfect delivery, perfect outfit, perfect hair, perfect jaunty lean against the desk as i presented. i carried my talk in a folder in a briefcase.

today, nearly five years to the day, i am presenting at a conference.

the paper is wacky, folded in half, and shoved in a bag. my tights are ripped, and my primary concern is whether there will be enough coffee in the day and what i will be having for dinner. 

26 April 2016

0 the expert

on the occasion of my 33rd birthday, a man asked me to continue his line.

this man is the expert on an author. we'd only met once but he'd gotten me the podcasting gig. he'd written recommendation letters. i considered him a mentor. and then he suggested i have his child.

it was my 33rd birthday.

i was in paris. alone, in polka dot pajamas, eating all of the pasta and all of the cake, drinking champagne, taking baths, and watching the group. and then, amid the standard slew of birthday texts from beloved friends, just after i got off the phone with steven, i received a facebook message from the expert.

we'd had no prior facebook communication. now, he asked if i wanted to have children. he asked, he told me, because one of his kids had died and he was estranged from the other and, he wrote, "i do not want my line to die with me."

this made me want to take a hundred thousand baths plus a hundred thousand more.

because he was married. because he was in his sixties. because he was someone i considered a mentor. because, for all of those reasons and common decency, i should never have been compelled to think about continuing his line. much less in terms of my self.

it was a message to which i did not reply because i could find no way to frame a reply without apologizing.

i am sorry about your son. 

i am sorry about your daughter. 

i am sorry about your life. 

i am sorry but please do not imply that you want my womb. 

i refused to apologize and so sent no reply.

a year passed.

it seemed obvious enough what he was asking, but it was hard not to give him the benefit of the doubt. because it seemed a horrible thing to get wrong and because i so seldom trust myself as a narrator.

i imagined i might have  misunderstood.

imagining this didn't make it better. it maybe made it just slightly more bearable.

when the author on whom he was the expert published a somewhat controversial book a year later, the expert was  suddenly everywhere: talking about the author, hawking his own book on the author, vindicated by the existence of an unpublished manuscript whose existence he'd discovered years before.

in literary circles, it was a big deal. it was something N wanted to discuss. and i would brush her off and say i didn't have time to read all the articles about it, didn't have time to think about it, didn't particularly find it interesting. only later did i tell her why.

because it seemed such a small thing, really. and it felt like, in feeling violated by it, i was making it bigger than it was. (still, it feels i am making it bigger than it is.)

i told N and she said, holy shit. 

he was the expert. he was everywhere. this is, i would argue, a reason for not befriending experts, particularly experts whose subjects are still alive. when your friendship goes awry, when it devolves into sexual harassment, they'll be all over creation talking about their subject and be totally unavoidable, try as you might.

debo would see him on tv. she wouldn't tell me she saw him. for all my efforts of avoidance, i'd see him in some article i'd accidentally glanced at and i'd tell her. i'd say i was trying to avoid all the controversy around the book because he was all over it and i'd rather not think about him because it made me think of that one time he asked to borrow my body. i'd say that and only then would debo tell me she saw him on tv.

debo doesn't get angry. but when she said his name, there was a knife-sharp edge to her voice.

maybe it was his vindication, his televised glory, his return to media prominence, maybe he was drunk on his newfound renown, i don't know. but, for some reason, he realized he'd never heard back from me and he felt he owed me an explanation and so he wrote.

abandoning facebook, he chose to explain himself in an email, through what i would characterize as a "celebrity apology." meaning it wasn't so much an "i'm sorry" as an "i'm sorry if you were..." which really isn't an apology at all.

he worried i was confused or upset. he was sorry if i felt surprised or frightened. he was sorry if i had misunderstood.

in this email, entitled "an explanation," he explained: "I was thinking about giving a child to someone who might let it carry on my name— or at least the memory of me."

because this is a memory i would want?

there had been a part of me that truly did believe i had misunderstood. that i had read his initial message wrong. that i had jumped to conclusions and assumed i'd been propositioned when really he'd been saying something altogether else, something more nuanced, and just communicated it very badly.

why i would make so many excuses of poor communication for a writer, i have no idea. but i did.

but it seems i was wrong to do so. it seems i had not misunderstood. at all. his explanation made that clear.

again, i did not reply.

later that year, the author on whom he is an expert died and, again, there was media coverage galore.

again, debo saw him on tv.

again, N saw him in articles and the pair of us sat together at lunch shaking our heads, trying to fathom the disconnect.

i told jmills this story and she said, my god, oline, but he's fucking everywhere! 

but time rolls on, the story passes, and he recedes again. and, again, i wonder if i've made it up, made it bigger than it was, because the possibility always exists that maybe it was nothing. it is always possible that, somehow, the responsibility lies with me. i am sorry if you...

a few weeks ago, after a glorious dinner party with much wine, i walked home in sequins and turned on my phone, only to discover a facebook message from this man. a message with a link to a jackie article and no other comment.

no apology for his repeated entreaties regarding my reproductive system.

no further explanations.

no i'm sorry for having sexually harassed you. 


just a link to an article on jackie's style. just under the last facebook message he sent me: the one where he asked me to continue his line.

immediately, i replied, told him to never contact me again, and blocked him from contacting me on the internet in every possible way i could find.

and i thought, there. now we're done here.

except not really, because the internet and the media and life don't work that way.

the expert's updated book on the author is being released today.

22 April 2016

0 nice rack.

this is the compliment i give debo about which she is the least enthusiastic.

this is, of course, why i repeat it sincerely and often.

unlike me, debo's face isn't emotionally incontinent. debo's natural facial register is one i would characterize as defaulting to "sweet." garebear and i can rock a pretty mean thunder-face, but i honestly cannot say that i've ever seen my mother do so. even her angry face is essentially sweetly sad, as though, when she is angry with me, she's assured of my eternal goodness and just temporarily saddened that it is not on full display.

i mention this because it is connected to my complimenting her rack.

i don't remember when this started, only that i'm pretty sure the first time was on skype and it felt a natural enough thing to say.

her rack was looking nice. i felt she needed to know. and so i told her. and the array of emotions that flashed across her face was astounding. a cocktail of confusion, pleasure, horror.

confusion that such a word would be uttered in her presence. pleasure at such a compliment. and horror that a daughter of hers would ever say such a rude thing.

(for the record, garebear is more appalled by all this than my mother, which is a bit rich coming from the man responsible for the "wouldn't want to lose them" group text incident after her 2014 mammogram.)

remember: i grew up in a household where it was impolite to sing at the dinner table. (a circumstance for which my mother was wholly responsible and which she is now constantly reminded of whenever i am in residence and we are at the dinner table and she reaches for her incessantly dinging phone.) there were very clear cut ways to be. compliments were encouraged, absolutely, but within a realm of propriety that resolutely excluded the subjects of breasts.

having complimented my mother's rack once, however, i felt the need to do it again. and again.

always sincerely, mind you. i was not loose with my praise. on certain days her rack did look better than on others and my compliments were withheld until such time.

but i noticed and, in noticing, i felt she should know.

having birthed me, it seemed she was owed this kindness.

whether she considers it a kindness i'm not so sure. every time i say it- which is more infrequent than it is perhaps appearing here- the array of emotions still flies across her face. confusion, pleasure, horror, and also, i've now noticed, a small slightly flirtatious giggle, as though she's pleased i've taken the time to notice, proud that i should think so, and yet cannot bring herself to verbally admit as much.

i've recently begun to wonder what would happen if i switched up my words. what would happen, for example, if i said, nice tits...? would debo disown me? would i see her thunder-face? or would this be an exciting new frontier in the ongoing adventure of discovering the things i can and cannot get away with saying to my mother now that i am grown up?

i imagine someone would have to have died. and that we would have to be drinking. rack will suffice for now.

20 April 2016

0 the 36 questions

many moons and a thousand lifetimes ago, AT LEAST- ok, well, 14 january 2015, to be exact- k.clen and i, afraid that- given the miles and ocean between us- we were drifting apart, embarked upon an emotional journey together.

the emotional journey of falling in love.

i'm not entirely sure whose idea this was. most probably mine, but only because it seems likely it was me who read the 9 january 2015 NYT's "modern love" column about the 36 questions. and hey, there's this article saying you can ask 36 questions to get to know someone and know if you're compatible, we should do it! seems like the type of thing i would suggest to a girlfriend.

and, from there, it makes sense that k.clen- being k.clen- would've been massively gung-ho.

the first message in the thread of messages in the conversation entitled "36 questions." gives us no clues at to the origins of this idea. only evidence that k.clen was "antsy" and thought this was "a super fun idea" and wanted to "get the ball rolling" right away.

in the intervening months, our relationship with the 36 questions has been much like a long-term relationship with anyone. we have veered from excitement about the 36 questions, annoyance, disdain, enthusiasm, extreme dislike, contrariness, and resignation.

in the beginning, we were SUPER KEEN, responding quickly, revising our answers, providing multiple answers, giving feedback on answers.

we completed the first ten questions by 12 march 2015.

we arrived at question 20 on 26 october 2015.

because, as in any long-term relationship, there were periods of silence, stretches of questions we hated, things we could not bring ourselves to confront. the middle of question set II, in particular, seems to have been our waterloo.

in hindsight, our decision to take question 22 in back-and-forth answers reveals a hilarious lack of self-awareness, given we were people- by that point- who'd already taken eleven months to answer 22 questions via email. doubling the number of emails required to answer this one wouldn't appear the height of wisdom.

our decision to take this approach AGAIN with the "true 'we'" statements of question 25 is even less explicable.

this is, as you might've realized now, an exercise perhaps best pursued in a bar. in conducting the 36 questions over email, we have undertaken them with a doggedness and degree of deliberation their creators probably did not intend.

drinking also would've helped. for the questions that weren't a variation on the theme of "what do you like about this person?"

technically, we are not done. i await k.clen's advice and reflections re: the problem i shared with her for question 36. but we're nearly there, and i find i'm strangely bereft at the thought of being done.

because even when we took months to answer them, k.clen and i had the 36 questions. it was a project in progress- a reality that did, in fact, make the miles and the ocean feel less significant. for 16 months, k.clen and i were together on the emotional journey of falling in love.

but, really, in truth, we'd probably done that years ago. you don't get to this point:

without some serious and substantial emotional commitment and trust.

19 April 2016

0 little do we know...

exactly four years ago, i sent k.clen this email... 

one thing in a long line of things to which my first thought was oh, i want to do that, and my second thought was oh, but i couldn't

in my memory, all of this took an absolute age to come together, unfurling over a period of weeks.  
there was the night when i sat in a bar with a MAPHer friend of a friend and, upon his asking if i ever thought i'd do a phd, announced defiantly that the one thing i knew i'd never do in my life was to get a phd. 

then, the next day, there was the email from the program head. to which i thought, oooooooh... but no

i imagine i deliberated long and hard about this for days. first sending k.clen the oh, if only email, and then gradually racking up the nerve to send the program head an inquiry. 

turns out, i imagine wrong. it was literally five minutes after emailing k.clen that i emailed the program head and said that i'd long been interested in the program at king's (which i had only just heard of) and would like to know more about doing a phd (which, only the night before, i’d said i’d never do).

in preparing for the viva, because i was absolutely certain they were going to ask me this (they didn’t), i spent hours constructing and memorizing a concise response to the question of what brought me to this topic, so i wouldn’t accidentally tell them the story of my whole life. specifically, so i wouldn’t start that response at the point where i’m sitting in a bar and defiantly declare i will never get a phd. a detail that, according to N, would work well in my memoir and less effectively in a setting where i was meant to be convincing as a thinker. 

but it did make me wonder where that certainty that i would never get a phd came from. had i been secretly thinking about it for years? i don’t remember googling phd programs, but then nearly every detail i remember from this story has turned out to be other than i recalled, so perhaps the thought was nascent. perhaps that i denied it so vehemently is an indicator the possibility had already emerged. 

it was a wednesday night: the night i said i’d never get a phd. the program head’s email came mid-day thursday. i was going to write "a few weeks later, when debo was in town..." but, having just consulted a calendar, i realize debo must've come to chicago the very next day. 

seriously, in my memory, this took weeks filled with angst and confusion. in reality, it seems it took three days and involved total (if occasionally delusional) certainty. 

on saturday, 21 april 2012, debo and i went for a walk through lincoln park. she was in town with her girlfriends and i had given her the dreaded: WE NEED TO TALK. she feared i was going to join the circus. given i’d not yet done trapeze, i don't know what prompted this specific fear, but her relief was palpable when i said i was merely thinking of moving to london and getting a phd. 

one of my big selling points on this idea was that king's college london was a part of cambridge. it is not, so one of my biggest selling points on this idea was a point made in total ignorance.

one of my other big selling points was that the program head, in his reply, wrote this: "we'd certainly like to encourage you to apply, as long as you understand that it would be in something of a pioneering capacity!"

in forwarding this reply to debo later that day, i noted that it was “interesting,” and concluded, "i do like pioneering…”

i now know i had no understanding of what this might mean. 

i now also know the small mercies of ignorance because it seems highly unlikely, had i any conception of the practicalities involved in being a pioneer, that i would have been bold (or mad) enough to imagine myself one. 

i wonder if this is why "the oregon trail" is such an effective and engaging game. its mimicry of this aspect of life. 

because you think: yeah, i’ll go to oregon. the whole game, in fact, is premised upon your doing so. in order to play, you must set out. you must decide to go to there. in "the oregon trail," going to oregon seems the most obvious- it is actually the only- option. 

but you’re largely ignorant of the investment you’re making at the outset. nor do you know its costs. 

it’s only after you fjord the river and lose your wagon and the buffalo you shot ten turns ago which was supposed to sustain you and your twenty companions all through the brutal winter. 

it’s only after claudia gets dysentary and dies, and dawn falls on the rocky terrain and breaks her leg and you have to give all your rice and beans to the indians to have their medicine man set it, only to bid them farewell and have mallory fall on the same rocky terrain and break her leg, so that you've no option but to leave her behind or carry her in your arms through the mountains, thus triggering a myocardial infarction.

it is only after all of that- after, having lost all your provisions, forty pounds, an arm and everyone you love- that you arrive (supposing you do).

and it is only then, from the position of having arrived, the position of being in oregon, that you have the luxury of wondering whether it was worth it, whether it wasn’t madness to have set out at all. 

four years later, i’m far less certain of the charms of pioneering. and that isn't necessarily a bad thing. maybe it's just a sign that, 400 pages and countless cries of "yes, no, but, really, this has value" later, battered about and weary, i have at long last gotten somewhere. time has passed, my astigmatism has worsened and, weakened by books, my wrists are no longer what they once were, but my sentences are stronger. 

for whatever reasons- and, to this day, i'm not entirely clear on what those reasons were- i wanted to do this. i wanted to go to there and so i did. given it all to do over? yeah, i'd play the game again. 

17 April 2016

0 good cooking, good looking

last holidays, trying to get away from it all whilst the womenfolk were cooking on christmas eve afternoon, garebear and i did our annual trek to the antique malls of tupelo, wherein i found a GEM.

Good Cooking, Good Looking: Recipes from Atlanta's Bachelors. by bonnie irvine. (c) 2003.

which was, of course, immediately purchased because $2 (!!!!) and because, looking at the cover, i thought, omg, what an amazing christmas present for N. it was only upon actually reading it that i thought, omg, i am never parting with this majestical thing.

i come from a family of fierce and intense enthusiasms. so it was surprising how totally unenthused garebear was as i read aloud special selections from this life-writing/cultures of dating masterpiece the whole way back to the farm.

"the best way in which a woman caught jason's eye was 'by looking into my eyes...'" jason's "ideal woman is a country girl that is both cute and sexy at the same time."

"for fun, you will find michael playing the board game LIFE." michael's "ideal woman 'is independent, funny, sexy, outgoing, she has a taste for adventure and she has dark hair and light eyes.'" (dark eyed blonde women apparently need not apply.)

i giggled. garebear was having none of it. stop reading that stupid thing! he bellowed. it seems 21st century-style dating- where people "surf the net" and publicly admit to loving phantom of the opera- does not amuse him.

my cousins were a different story, as they immediately saw the appeal. quickly, it was dubbed "The Bachelors." as in: where are The Bachelors? go get The Bachelors... i miss looking at The Bachelors.... ooooooooh, we're looking at The Bachelors again. 

as we sat at the kitchen table poring over this book for the next four days, garebear would wander through, shaking his head, and exclaim, you're STILL looking at that thing? like its charms had limitations.

believe you me: its charms have no limitations. and its possibilities seem endless.

steven claimed "any woman in home depot with a glittering eye is a target of my love." we wondered: has he spent all the intervening years trolling home depot looking for women with glittering eyes?

willie's "ideal woman is about 5'2" to 5'7", 110 to 140 pounds, pretty legs, and likes shopping at Victoria's Secrets." did he find her? we asked.

ditto for jim, whose "ideal woman" has "red hair, green eyes, if 5 feet 8 inches tall, 120 pounds, and being successful in her career is important to her." (so, save that one inch, me! [sorry jim, all of your recipes feature fish so no.])

what made joe decide to match his tie to his apron? we wanted to know. in a cookbook full of glamor shots, posing all matchy-matchy whilst actually cooking appeared a bold choice.

jerald's ideal date was a date he already had when he "met a girl in atlanta at a bar who was on a business trip" and "they spent several hours talking"- "a magical experience" that reminded jerald "there is beauty in the world." jerald, we wanted to ask did you ever get over that girl?

we were devastated to discover that the website goodcooking-atlanta.com no longer did, so we could "find more information about the bachelors and more photos," as bonnie irvine promised.

garebear did not understand our sadness. when he saw The Bachelors going into my bag to bring back to london, there were eyebrows of disapproval and an audible intake of breath. you're taking THAT back with you? he asked, in a tone he might also have used were i trying to sneak in crystal meth.

the charms of this volume are not limited to my family. upon hearing about it, N was keen to see and so, post-new year, the pair of us sprawled out in a booth at dirty martini, poring over The Bachelors and their recipes.

if i had more time and a bigger kitchen, i'd suggest we do a series of dinner parties featuring the work of The Bachelors, i said, two martinis later. but at some point we'd arrive at jason m.'s barbequed baby beef ribs and red, white and blue parfait, and i just don't know if i can go there. 

N nodded knowingly, then furrowed her brow. is it because it's meat? she asked. or because his favorite song is bette midler's "from a distance" and "being a republican and being a protestant are two very important aspects of jason's life"?

then she paused. and she said, no. i know. it's because jason m. is looking for a woman who is "sweet, smart, healthy with child bearing hips or extra large heart with medium jeans."

15 April 2016

0 the funeral of claude pascale

it's never as good when i tell it as when you do, debo tells me the other day, recounting the story that ultimately led to her recent demand that it was my responsibility to pick up the fallen gauntlet as the family scribe.

(a demand that has obviously had its intended effect so hello debo's birthday present!)

k.smartt was in town a few weeks ago and, during our dinner date, i regaled her with vintage tales of my family's ongoing ridiculousness.

the story of the one time vieve crawled into the box springs of the hotel mattress and i had to rip it open to free her.

the story of the one time vieve shat in the car and debo, attempting to collect the shit, instead threw it on the floor beneath the heater, instantly cooking the poo and filling the car with the most offensive smell to have ever been produced in the history of the world, a smell she and i then inhaled for TWENTY-FOUR MILES while we awaited the next rest stop because debo thought it inappropriate to throw cooked cat shit out the window onto the highway lest it hit the windshield of a car behind us and lead to the driver's fiery death.

the story of the one time debo and my aunt crashed a french funeral.

i had to consult debo on this one because i'd forgotten claude pascale's name, which is a rather essential component of the story of the funeral of claude pascale.

it's never as good when i tell it as when you do, debo complains, and she isn't wrong. it doesn't work when she tells it because she was there. when someone recounts to you how they crashed a funeral, it's irreverent, disrespectful. when someone recounts to you how their mother crashed a funeral in a foreign country, it is awesome.

my telling of the story of the funeral of claude pascale works precisely and only because i was not at the funeral of claude pascale.

which, well, THANK GOD, because ain't no way my emotionally incontinent face or my uncontrollable giggles or any part of my being would have survived this experience with a tatter of dignity still attached.

we'd been in paris a week. this was in 2009, the trip after that awful break-up, where i wandered melancholically around cemeteries and was all woe is me, staring moodily out train windows thinking no one could comprehend my pain, and was suddenly aware of temporality in a new way that prompted me to, at every available opportunity, dramatically remind everyone, IT WILL NEVER BE EXACTLY LIKE THIS AGAIN! 

so, in other words, i was a treat. added to my plentiful post-breakup charms, this was also the trip during which i came down with a horrible cold and was a snot monster for the last three days, trooping all over versailles hopped up on french decongestants.

debo, of course, caught the same cold upon our return and took to her bed for a week, and so whenever she tells the story of this trip, she always shakes her head in wonder and says, you were such a trooper with those french drugs. (given, on our next trip, her french facilitated the purchase of conditioner rather than shampoo, i have reason to wonder what exactly the french drugs i took were actually for.)

anyway, it was our last day in paris and i stayed in the hotel, blowing my nose and watching the news to see if chicago was going to get the 2016 olympic games (spoiler alert: no). meanwhile, aunt p and debo wandered the streets and alleys of montparnasse.

in my memory, when debo returned, hours later, she was unusually subdued. but it may be that i'm projecting this knowing what came next. maybe she said something to me, maybe not. either way, she lay on the bed, her eyes shut, for at least twenty minutes.

and then, breaking the silence, she said, so we kind of crashed a funeral.

this entire trip we'd been in the habit of going into churches and sitting down for a few minutes if there were a service on at the time. so it wasn't out of character for debo and her sister to have done this. the difference here being that it was rather a larger crowd than would be the norm for a service occurring at mid-day.

evidently, they assumed it was a military service. which, in a way, it was.

as she recounted it, they sat there for awhile. her sister on the outside, debo on the inside, as various people took to the lectern, nearly all of them gesturing towards something in the center of the aisle.

i do not know at what point they realized this was a casket.

perhaps it was when my aunt leaned ever so slightly out to her left.

perhaps it was when one of the speakers repeatedly used the phrase mon père and confessed that he was désolé.

but there came a moment when it dawned on them both where they were. that this was neither a standard mass nor a military service. it was the funeral of claude pascale.

we could not bear to look at one another, debo told me, as she lay there on the bed. her demeanor: calm, serene, the bearing of someone in shock from a breach of etiquette felt to be awful, unrecoverable and hilarifyingly profound.

i do not know how they extracted themselves from this situation. if, with the telepathy of sisterhood, they rose as one to exit. or if it was discussed, with a strict refusal to make eye contact. but leave they did. together.

and there was this guy coming in, she told me, the timbre of her voice changing ever so slightly to indicate that what she was about to say carried a significance different from all that came before. there was this guy coming in, she repeated, as we were leaving and he had one of those suitcases with the wheels. and we held the door open for him as he went in.

i had been sitting on the other side of the room, silent this whole time. snotty and drugged and mesmerized by this awkwardness my incredibly well-mannered mother had gotten herself into in my absence.

you let him go in?! i exclaimed, because of all that she had told me, this struck me as the most awful thing. you let a man with luggage go into a funeral? 

and she looked at me, for the first time in the telling of this story, she looked at me, and her expression was that of rose dewitt bukater after she shoved jack dawson off that raft, as she said, you don't understand. we had to save ourselves.

14 April 2016

0 we are all bouncing into graceland

or so paul simon once sang. which, well, yeah. because aren't we all always trying to get to graceland? (a declaration at once completely ridiculous and utterly profound, because probably no, but also... yes? yes.)

i am going to memphis in a little over a month and already i am plotting ways to get away.

is this angst, i wonder, only because i live on an island now and it feels like there is no getting away? like my life- which was once measured in trips of 200+ miles has somehow been hemmed in.

paris is 234 miles from my flat. three miles less than the distance from memphis to nashville.

can't we go to vicksburg, i asked garebear when we skyped yesterday and all he wanted to talk about was gravity's rainbow and the nose job scene in V.

or new orleans? i persisted. or jackson? can't we go elsewhere? can't we go anywhere? 

and garebear looks at me like, daughter, wtf? then he looks at me like he remembers that this is who i am.

because much as i love that ridiculous city i come from it seems i cannot bear to be in it. it is, i tell anyone who asks me, a good two day trip.

you know you won't be able to take the cat with you, garebear reminds me and for a brief moment my heart contracts, because i really really really love that cat. but the rhythm of the muddy water against the muddy bluffs, the screams of the trains in the night as i lie awake waiting for that cat to come leap onto the bed, the heat, the cars, the guns, the sprawl, the church, all those abandoned best buys.

in the abstract, it is unbearable. in reality, it is bearable, but only slightly.

about 50% of the time i call it home, but it always feels like a lie.

13 April 2016

0 but then

but then you always knew exactly what you wanted to be, burvil says.

i'm watching an orange cat on an adjacent roof top stretching out in a patch of sunshine while another cat, a black one- who obviously likes the orange one more than the orange one likes it- tries to insinuate itself into the periphery of the spot of sunshine in which the orange cat is lying when i hear her say this. when she drops this revelation that i've always had my whole life figured out.

and i say, shut the front door. 

something i have never thought, much less said aloud, in my life and certainly not to my grandmother.

but it was inconceivable that there could be any amnesia regarding how completely clueless i have been about how i wanted my life to look, how it took me, like, DECADES to convince myself that what i write has value and that my life could and should be the strangely impossible wonderfully weird thing that it has become.

apparently burvil had this idea that everyone else knows what they're doing with their lives and she's the only one who made it up as she went along.

and i say, gran, gran, really, NO. remember how i was going to be a veterinarian because i wrote that on a blue star in fifth grade? i didn't know what i was doing. i just kept doing it. 

i'm so relieved, she says, that you're like me. 

and i think, i am too, burvil. i am too. 

12 April 2016

0 storied

you never write us stories anymore, debo tells me the other day.

i'm reluctant to point out that i am engaged in The Great Story Telling Project Of Our Time and, therefore, have a limited fund of words from which to draw the words required for the writing of assorted other things.

she wants more melly marvel. i wish jackie were done. these desires are, it seems to me, presently opposed. 

well, maybe if you'd dye your hair purple, i'd have something to write about again, i reply. disingenuously because this is, obviously, most why i want her to dye her hair purple. 

because girl power and yolo and all that but, also, i'm pretty sure there's a damn good story to be had here.

that one time debo dyed her hair purple.

a small but powerful personal drama on par with that one time my parents cancelled their landline (and our lives were RUINED). a story in which we will all find ourselves and learn something about the human condition.

i do wonder if this is why she's biding her time.

because, at this point, i'm 76% certain she's going to do it. primarily because she's telling other people.

the circle of people who know debo is contemplating dying her hair has expanded beyond the circle of friends to whom i've blabbed about it and into the people she encounters in her everyday life. women at church are cheering her on.

there comes a tipping point in the doing of a thing- when you've told so many people that you're thinking of doing it that you, ultimately, must if you're to continue thinking you're the person you think you are. i've always thought that is precisely the reason for telling them you're thinking of doing it- because this is an integral stage in the summoning of the nerve.

i'm 76% certain she will do this and 99.9% certain that, if she does, it'll be when i'm in town.

not just because we have a standing date to go to the beauty parlor when i arrive or because i'm a wonderful daughter and will go with her and make her laugh while she gets it done. or even because she knows how much i want to see the stylist's face when she makes this request.

i think she will do this because she knows we need stories and she knows dying her hair purple is one.

but i wonder if she doesn't also share my addiction. if, like me also, she covets the sensation that comes from knowing that what she's living, what she's doing, will later be written down. 

11 April 2016

0 FJ: patty duke has died…

hey. it’s me. (hey-o, is matchbox twenty’s “long day” in your head now too?? [and did you remember rob thomas rocking the double-hoops?!? which OF COURSE sends me down memory lane right back to david silver’s lady earring…
can it be that david silver was really on trend? or, THE HORROR, ahead of the curve?!?]).
i feel like patty duke- whom this post is actually about- would really appreciate that digression.
(Ryan Miller/Invision/AP)
(Ryan Miller/Invision/AP)
you know what i think she would not appreciate? the guardian‘s obituary. let’s take a look…

06 April 2016

0 FJ: some thoughts on kim kardashian’s selfish (emotions via britney)

please know: in my efforts to find photos from the launch of selfish to illustrate what i’m about to write about selfish, i just saw SO.MUCH.KIM.KARDASHIAN. her instagram is A LOT, yo. so i’mma call on my emotionally incontinent face celebrity double britney to ease us all in.
brit 36

04 April 2016

0 FJ: jackie o: la collection de fashionz

now we know: if i hadn’t been doing a dissertation all this time, i apparently could have been producing ground-breaking albeit random celebrity/gossip/history/culture content every freaking day.
so, hmmmmmm….
(via US Weekly)
(via US Weekly)

01 April 2016

0 FJ: tweets from kanye

as a biographer, i often wonder how we’re going to factor twitter into future biographical accounts. as a human being, i sooooooooooo want to read the book that kanye west’s future biographer is going to produce.