31 July 2011

0 july: a revue (truncated by travels)

"this is like an amalgam. i've seen enough depictions of mole people to have an amalgam."

"dante still has the last word on hell. think of everything in recent memory- can you think of anyone who has done hell better?"

"i'm not down on the sartorial choices of mole people."

"the hand motions were inconclusive."

"i appear to be dating his family."

"in case you read on facebook that my parents have died and you cannot get a hold of me here are his phone numbers."
"let us hope that your parents do not post about their own deaths."

"what is great about that young oline picture is that you would so make that same face and pose now after a few adult beverages."

"i don't know- don't screw around with an alaskan."

"clearly the internets is responsible for the douchiness in my life."

"i am going for maximum scaritude."
"i know – i’m glad the baby will be elsewhere."

"i expect to arrive in london and be regaled."

"i think the beer is the crucial thing, here."

"in case one day i email and mention that i'm going to be reading my journals on a stage..."

"i applaud you, your twitter, and your desktop machine."

"the concept of a free-for-all sounds lovely."

"so, what will you WEAR?"

"have you ever seen someone smirk while cutting an avocado?"

"i think it was massively formative for cutters."

"americans only care about soccer when the country where they studied abroad is doing well."

"i am too tired to turn tightly."

"let's be honest. caroline really pulls off wack-a-doo."

30 July 2011


2 smarts

i am not wise, but i'm slowly learning some things.

this is the sum total of what i know, listed in absolutely no order of importance...

* buy the most beautiful business cards in all the world. because even if they're an outrageous extravagance and you have to eat leaves and grass for the whole week after to pay them off- do it. the look of amazement and the exclamation of THAT is a NICE card that comes out of the mouth of each person to whom you give one will make it well worth the expense.

* ASK. if people are looking for contributors. if they need an editor. if they want to look at your stuff. even better, just send it to them. (croftie is the master of this, the queen of bold moves.)

* throw out the word becoming. it's totally unnecessary when describing something you already are.

29 July 2011

1 :)

the essay in its entirety is worth reading, but here's the crux:

"You want to know the meaning of life? This is your highest calling: You are called into the dynamic co-creation of the cosmos. This breath is your canvas and your brush. These are the raw materials for your art, for the life you are making. Nothing is off limits. Your backyard, your piano, your paintbrush, your conversation, Rwanda, New Orleans, Iraq, your marriage, your soul. You're making a living with every step you take. So when you make a living, do not merely make money. Why settle for cash when joy is on the line? You feel a thrill when you dance, when you sing, when you finish your poem; even when you sweep the room you see order pressing back against the chaos. So when you create, never settle for making a living -- at least not the way that the world might define that phrase. When you make a living, you are speaking a new world into existence. You are creating grace within the confines, you are co-signing God's blank checks."

1 blast

after reading a bit of his fiction, i thought i'd been cured of this, but no.
because then i read THIS, and now i'm all in love again.

my favorite:

"I imagined going to elegant parties arm in arm with my handsome, intellectual man. I thought about calling him James. How novel the name sounded on its own! Not James Franco, actor. James, my James. We’d show each other drafts of our work, and he’d read me Wallace Stevens under a tree in Central Park. We’d fly to California for Chanukah together. He’d look at me with those beautiful eyes as we’d plan a trip to Portugal—small towns only, to avoid the paparazzi. When we finally did meet, in real life, it turned out not to be my sister who brought me closer to him. It was my roommate’s friend’s cousin. Oddly enough, another Jew from L.A."

4 remember the jackie kennedy cookie jar?

(because you are neither biographically involved with jackie kennedy as i am nor endowed with my freakish memory, i'm assuming you don't- go HERE.)

now that a really good photograph has been located, i just want to state: 
if you see this, you are authorized- nay! ordered!- to buy. 

28 July 2011

0 oops

in things that happened that i totally didn't realize,
apparently THIS was posted. 
like, a week ago. 
so please read it and like it and then read the book and then tell everyone you know they should read the book because it's SOOOOOO good.

5 "what happens in paris"

"what happens in paris" is the new "my father had this girlfriend." it's nothing to do with any of the eight things i'm supposed to be writing but it came tumbling out on my flight home from london and, as the title might've led you to believe, it is about what happened in paris.

it's the first thing i've written in longer than i can remember that's come out fully cooked. it was done from the get-go and the words just fell in. now they need to go out and get themselves published.

i do not like this part. well, that's not entirely true because i like pieces of this part. the bit between when you send something out and when you receive the notice that it's been rejected- y'know, the part where you assume it's been accepted and mentally award yourself every literary prize known to man- is actually quite nice but then comes the rejection and you're robbed of both the imaginary awards and the pleasure of having your words read by actual other people.

"what happens in paris" has been strutting her stuff for five days and has already earned four rejections. though a trifle annoying, i try to see it as a good thing. because, much as the whole world of indie lit mags knew my father had this girlfriend so too will the whole world of indie lit mags know what happened in paris. they may not care, but they will know. and maybe that is enough for now.

5 sigh.


27 July 2011

0 cheeky time

so was anyone else obsessed with the 1989 made-for-tv-movie polly? it was an adaptation of pollyanna as told from the african american perspective, starring both rudy AND claire cosby. and yeah, i LOVED it.

i mention this because butterfly mcqueen was apparently also in polly somewhere (though i don't remember her at all) and she is the subject of today's column on cheeky chicks in history, which you can read and like and comment on over HERE.

6 and it's like they never left

le crepe.

2 hey

remember how i went to newport and it was super exciting and everybody wondered why?

mosey over HERE and read why.

25 July 2011

2 are we there yet?

[and yes, i will be back to writing actual words of my own shortly, just as soon as my camera's usb connector has been located and/or replaced and i'm back from a quick jaunt to winnipeg for my real job. then, there will be words.]

6 my canadian penpal's friend's irish friend mary is amazing.

read THIS and see for yourself.

23 July 2011

4 the pretzel bun

kantor's working in the loop so we met for lunch yesterday. we went to hannah's bretzel, where i ate a little something that looked a lot like this:

and oh. my. god.

for maybe a solid year k.clen has been obsessed with the pretzel bun and i've teased her accordingly. dear k.clen, i get it and will make fun no more.

22 July 2011

2 sex tips for girls

i've a few surprises in store for fall, one of which is an ode to all things helen gurley brown.

given that, at the time i decided to compose said ode to helen gurley brown, i knew nothing of helen gurley brown, the composition of said ode to helen gurley brown has involved a lot of reading of helen gurley brown.

which brings us to this possibly obvious yet understated factual tidbit: reading sex & the single girl on the subway will garner a girl a lot of male interest.

just so's you know.

2 elsewhere

if you wanna take a gander...

2 coming attractions

sensei has written this thing. it is good.

by which i mean it is really fucking omg good and, when it leaves the naked lady bar and lands in an important magazine, you're going to have the privilege of reading it. and on that day you get to read it, the end is going to make your skin crawl so you sit back in your chair or on your couch or your bus seat or whatever it is you're sitting on at the time you're reading it and you'll exhale and say, damn.

audibly. likely, loudly. because it is good. really fucking omg good.

i just wanted to let you know you have that to look forward to. because this is the year we get published. croftie said it. it must be so.

21 July 2011

0 i swear OitC is not becoming a news service...

that said, you should totally read THIS.
rick perlstein!
betty ford!

the excerpt for those who won't...

"America had been a nation of shame-faced secrecy in so many of its intimate domestic affairs. The 1970s was when that began to change. Betty Ford was that transformation’s Joan of Arc.

It made her a threat to some. The Christian right was especially cruel. In 1976, when a rabbi collapsed of a heart attack beside her at a ceremonial dinner, she courageously took the lectern to lead a prayer for his life. The rabbi 'was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital a short time later,' Christianity Today mocked in its next issue.

But that was the same year Christianity Today was advertising a book entitled 'The Act of Marriage: The Beauty of Sexual Love,' by Tim and Beverly LaHaye, which argued that Christian wives should want sex as often as possible, and even demand more orgasms.

Betty Ford always seemed to be vindicated in the controversial things she kept doing."

3 ugh

so i don't really have anything to say about THIS
except that it's been bothering me.
because if none of it's true, then it's annoying that it won't go away, 
if it is true, it is deeply horrid.

5 28 years later, this pretty accurately captures how i feel today

20 July 2011

4 at 30?

7 t-minus 2 hours

going to paris was part of the story. if not jackie's then mine. i knew that as far back as march, when the light in new york was not enough and i decided- practicality be damned- i was going to paris.

i didn't know if someone was going to go with me or what the hell was going to happen when i got there or what i was going to do, but i had to go. that was non-negotiable.

and so i was in paris for twelve hours last monday. i wandered and walked, knowing i was right where i was supposed to be and wondering what i was supposed to be doing there.

i need a purpose. a reason. i find it hard to simply be.

so for those first ten hours in paris i was on the hunt. systematically, i hit all the high points of that city i love, all the while eyes peeled for whatever it was that had brought me there and whatever it was i would be bringing back with me.

and i got nothing.

the fries were gone. jackie's houses were uninspiring and my travels uneventful. at one point, desperate, i picked up a rock from a walkway by the eiffel tower because at least then, if i returned without a tale, without words, i'd at least have something tangible from this trip that i could hold in my hand.

with two hours left- annoyed, tired and with terribly sore feet- i collapsed on a bench in the back garden of notre dame.  half an hour later, my story sat down on the opposite bench.

this is a useful metaphor. or at least i choose to see it as such because it is evidence that i am not crazy. paris was part of the story. and the story is always there, whether it looks as we imagined or not.

19 July 2011

7 if you have a minute

i suggest you read THIS

if you have no minutes, this is the crux...

"I believe the stories generated were worth it—but I couldn't undertake a similar adventure again. Literary cannibalism is at best a fetish; eventually, life must come before art, and there’s a point where the writer must tell herself, No, I don’t need to jet somewhere, gamble with my bank account, or fraternize with questionable individuals in order to gain great material."

my question is this:
do you agree?

0 a sort of homecoming

the problem with going away is that you have to come back.

it is eleven hundred million degrees in chicago and a solid month before i've another biographical trip. i've five books to read, four to write. it is hard not to be restless.

18 July 2011

0 it's my mother's birthday

by which i mean it really is my mother's birthday. not my father's ex-girlfriend's but my mother's. for the first time ever in the history of ever, i actually got this right. yes, it helped that i had written a whole story about this and that i was out of the country on the day my father's ex-girlfriend was born, but still, this seems progress.

i called my mother this morning to brag about my unprecedented brilliance.

her response was tepid at best, and even over the phone i knew what face she was making. the exact same face caught in a photograph my dad took of her twenty years ago.

3 ?

7 done

so...um...yeah. these are not THE FRIES OF OUR LIVES for which i kind of sort of went to paris. these are the fries from the greek restaurant down the street where i met k.clen for lunch on sunday afternoon.  and while it may be a stretch to say that i have "done" the french fries, i returned from france badly sunburned, so i myself have been french fried. 

and i did ascertain that THE FRIES OF OUR LIVES are no longer in paris. i went to paris in search of them. i found the restaurant where they should have been and queried my waitress on their whereabouts in english spoken with an inexplicable british accent. alas, THE FRIES OF OUR LIVES were removed from the menu in fall 2010. the croque monsieur did little to assuage my sadness. the love affair that unfolded later in the day, however, did...

14 July 2011

3 macabre

my family has a knack for gravitating toward the macabre when we are in foreign lands.

on a trip to paris a few years back, we bookended the journey by visiting the cimetière du montparnasse and crashing claude pascale's funeral.

thus, on my first day in london, it wasn't at all surprising that upon leaving the lovely little park into which i had stumbled, i realized that the bench on which i had been stretched out was, in fact, a tomb and the lovely little park was a cemetery.

11 July 2011

2 people you may know

through the implementation of the 20.09.13 plan (t-minus 806) an amazing thing has happened to my facebook "people you may know."

it began with jennifer egan.

because i know two people who apparently know jennifer egan, facebook thought i might know her too. i do not know her, outside of the fact that she won the pulitzer three days before facebook thought we might be friends.

next there was erica jong.

i do not know erica jong. facebook thinks i maybe do. so i laughed and found this both flattering and an unwelcome reminder of how under-read i am in the area of feminist thought.

but then there was nick hornby.


NICK freaking HORNBY.

whom i have read. who facebook thinks i may know. who i would like to know and to whom, if i had any less dignity, i would write a gushing fan letter on how about a boy totally changed my eighteen-year-old life.

yes. it's true. i am facebook friends with people who are facebook friends with NICK freaking HORNBY.

i'm well aware that this should mean absolutely nothing. that, in reality, it does mean nothing. and yet it feels momentous.

and while i'm horrified to think what it says about my biographical career that i am, at present, charting its development through the increasing famousness of the people facebook thinks i may know, this does represent tangible progress.

because, when i look at them over there in the right margin and read that statement with a slightly different inflection, it rings entirely true. these are people i may know. someday.

10 July 2011

0 :)

"and if i failed to mention this detail in its proper place, it is because you cannot mention everything in its proper place, you must choose, between the things not worth mentioning and those even less so. for if you set out to mention everything you would never be done, and that’s what counts, to be done, to have done. oh i know, even when you mention only a few of the things there are, you do not get done either, i know, i know. but it’s a change of muck. and if all muck is the same muck that doesn’t matter, it’s good to have a change of muck, to move from one heap to another a little further on, from time to time, fluttering you might say, like a butterfly, as if you were ephemeral."
— samuel beckett, molloy, 1951

07 July 2011

3 balls up

i am a biographer.

i've been working up the nerve to say that for months. literally. i confessed this to another biographer over ethiopian the other night. about how, prior to now, "becoming" has always crept into this statement because it seemed too ballsy to state that i was, in fact, what i already am.

but a biographer is not a butterfly. it is something you are, not something you become.

every biographer i've met takes a different view of what it means to be a biographer and of how to best go about that. they're all interesting and witty and well-read and absolutely certain that the way they have been a biographer is the only way one can be a biographer.

i listen to them and take in their advice and smile and nod, knowing that- ultimately- i'm already a biographer and i'm going to be one in my own way. likely, in a way that will look like utter insanity and not make a lick of sense.

in that, i keep coming back to these two things:

the sacrifice of expectations and the suspension of disbelief.

i think these are key if you're going to actually be what, deep down, you already are. because you can't create something new unless you give up your plans for how it's going to look and you can't dream big unless you accept that anything can be.

4 and now for some random insight on effective saving strategies

(the oline takes to her soapbox)

i'm not good with money. mostly because i've never had any. but last fall, a column on money-managing tips crept into my google reader and i stumbled across this piece of advice...

best. advice. ever.

because while people will look at you funny when you're staring down a wallet stuffed with fives and claiming no cash, this is The Greatest Savings Strategy Of All Time. by which i mean it is the only one that has ever worked.

i've been actively pocketing fives since the end of february. accordingly, i'm heading to london with 90 five dollar bills.

seriously, people. save your fives! do it! now!

(soapboxoline steps down)

06 July 2011

7 20 hours on the road, 3 days in memphis

12 a.m.
mantachie, mississippi
the car museum

the meditation garden, self-portrait (part 1)

the meditation garden, self-portrait (part 2)


0 cheeky time!

priestly love? 
carnal sex?
australian topography?
read the thorn birds.