30 September 2013
'this is an authentic experience!'
'just because there's mud and donkeys?'
'that should be my stripper name.'
'i can't believe you just said that to your mother.'
'what? don't play coy. you know what a stripper is.'
'i know, i know you're embarrassed by my vera bradley, but this is camouflage in bloomington.'
'it's one thing to get married at chatsworth. it's an entirely different other thing to get married at the cafeteria at chatsworth.'
'i woke up and saw her standing there holding something...'
'well, yes, but i thought she was an official come to collect our tickets.'
'your sense of what constitutes an official is frighteningly slim.'
'i worry that makes us very southern... that two out of three of our favorite foods come from a gas station.'
filed under: soundbites
26 September 2013
25 September 2013
24 September 2013
some days i get it right. balance. this is so rare i can't even... but it happens. some days. some nights.
yesterday, for instance, it happened. i did laundry. and went to the store. and watched several episodes of sex and the city in between HOURS of editing and re-writing and researching and re-writing. whole hours mired in jackie and violence and murders of the mid-1960s. hours that, dare i even say it?, felt as minutes. it was that good.
it was exhausting, mind you. but good. in a way it hasn't been in awhile. because things tend to happen in fits and starts. god knows, i'll probably live off this one day of productivity for awhile, using it as an excuse to goof off for weeks.
but there was this one day. and it was good.
and it was followed by a nice square meal of the kind i so seldom have because i'm given to eating the same thing over and over and, when i have my wine, having it with cheerios. and... wait for it... THE PREMIER OF DOWNTON ABBEY SEASON 4!!!!! something, i'll admit i'm far more excited about seeing because i can then lord it over people back in the u.s. than i am about seeing it because i actually want to see it. which, well, my bad. (do not worry. debo has evoked THE CONE OF SILENCE. there won't be any spoilers.)
the lesson to be learned here is, i guess, that maybe writing has to be tempered with liberal quantities of tv...
23 September 2013
i'm not good at goodbyes. this has come up before. usually it's manifested in my physically pushing away the person i'm saying goodbye to, as happened with my parents when i bid them farewell on the corner of diversey and clark last january.
and, yet, in the pantheon of goodbyes, i wouldn't place that one particularly high.
the two most arduous goodbyes i've ever had were as follows:
(1) the aforementioned saying goodbye to steven on the morning of the day we thought i was leaving for college. as it turns out, i didn't leave for college that day because my mother called administration for something and learned that it was the day for athletes to arrive at college. normal people weren't supposed to show until the next week. and so steven and i had sat at the park sobbing and snotting profusely (srsly, to find that post i used the search term 'snot sleeve') for hours as though we were about to die, only to learn that we had another week to live.
(2) the second most arduous (and i'm not sure these are in an order of importance, as this might have, in reality, been the worst) was bidding farewell to the philosopher in the denver airport short-term parking lot. a half hour of agony that, upon paying the $1 for the time we stayed there, made the philosopher remark that the price didn't come close to reflecting the emotional cost of those thirty minutes.
these are, not coincidentally, the two times i've actually expressed the emotions i've felt upon saying goodbye. they are also, not coincidentally, two times where the emotions i expressed were entirely out of proportion to what was actually going on and two times where i've been accompanied by an individual experiencing emotions equally inexplicably intense.
in high school, senior year, partner and i had this phrase we'd tell each other: HOLD TIGHT. i think we thought we were just holding tight for that one year but, slowly it dawned on us, we'd pretty much be holding tight for life.
i mention that because these two goodbyes can be pinpointed as, for whatever reason, the only two times in my life where it has felt acceptable to stop holding tight, to let go.
debo and i did well at the airport the other day. i mean, yes, i was openly weeping for a couple of minutes on the train there, but we did well. well enough that, when it was all over, we texted one another going on about how well we did.
but the fact that we did so well didn't mean it was easy. the actual saying goodbye. and so we stood, for a few minutes, in a corner of the departures hall of heathrow clinging to one another for dear life. then we pulled apart and walked away down different corridors which, unbeknownst to us, later converged so we got to do it all again.
it wasn't easy but it was a victory of sorts. i didn't push her away and there was minimal snot.
So, in contemplating our two weeks at college, i’ve noticed a trend… there’s been a party every week. and whilst a know two times does not make a trend, this would prove steve’s assertion that we’re at ‘party USA.’ it would also suggest that this is the point at which 90210 turned into gossip girl. just saying. let’s keep our peepers peeled and see if my theory holds up: that- much like season 3 was like season 3 of mad men- season 4 is like every episode ever of gossip girl.
where are we? CLASSES, ya’ll. i mean, we’ve been here a month so that seems about right, non? that our characters should finally be getting some education after all those placement tests and all that socializing.
problems to be solved: what to do when your early morning radio show that no one listens to is totally destroying your life? when a totally creepy guy is really into you, what is the absolute worst possible way to respond to his advances? what if your RA is your english teacher and he totally doesn’t get you and you have a thing for older guys? what if your best friend writes a lame essay everybody loves whilst yours sounds stilted and like you have no soul? what if you really really need a job? what if you really really can’t find one? what if your high school relationship just isn’t doing it for you anymore and you’re feeling really tied down? all that and more plus a dose of david silver’s dancing, this week on 90210…
20 September 2013
do you remember the story? k.clen did, which is fortunate because otherwise- thanks to an inability to keep track of dates this month- i might've let it pass. which is a horrid way to celebrate a day one's been counting down to for three years!
so yeah. the story: early early in the morning of 20 september 2010, in a cab on my way back from midway, i followed the example of jim carey in this possibly apocryphal story and wrote on a post-it a date three years distant.
the point of that date, even as it passes, remains somewhat nebulous. the original intent was that, by 20 september 2013, my work should no longer be connected to living in a particular place. the key to doing that was, to my mind, biography. and all of this, collectively, was meant to do wonders for my love life.
it has, so far, done bunk for my love life.
which is why somewhere around the end of year one the point of the post-it was revised to being that i would be able to support myself on my writing by the end of those three years.
the post-it has, so far, also done bunk on this front. my writing has netted a grand total of $25.
so what has the post-it accomplished?
ambition and expectation.
having a deadline, even if it's a deadline centered around a terribly nebulous accomplishment, spurns accomplishment nonetheless. it gives you something towards which you're aiming and it makes you do things- random things, silly things, things for which the connection to your nebulous goals may be even more nebulous. but you do them because it's a step in a direction leading to something.
i think our culture puts entirely too much emphasis on highly specific, clearly defined end-goals. in contrast, i see ambition as steps in directions leading to something. your job is to keep moving forward. which direction and what step will fill itself in.
that's a pretty good working summary of what life is.
and maybe you're headed towards something you don't have the creativity to yet imagine. like how i've been writing a book about jackie onassis for ten years and yet which i'm only just now- now that i'm living in london writing about america- gaining the skill with prose to produce as it's been in my head all this time.
this is all linked to expectations. sometimes you need to suspend them. if you have the ambition that you will be an astronaut, you likely have the expectation that you will go to the moon. but who's to say you're not also meant to run a marathon and learn mandarin and memorize select scenes from mad men and that that's not all tied together with your becoming an astronaut?
i have the ambition to be a biographer and assume that, one day (please god!), that will result in a book that- at the very least- i will expensively print on my own. which is all well and good. but the difficulty i have here is that there's a general expectation for how to get those things done. if i'm going to be a biographer then i need to write a book, but maybe i also need to take a trapeze lesson and fly a plane and go to greece and get a PhD i'm not entirely sure what i want to do with.
how terribly limiting to think there's only one way to get somewhere, particularly in your career or, even worse, your whole life.
when i wrote 9/20/13- and i cannot stress to you enough how distant a date that seemed in 2010- on a post-it note, it was a primitive stab at stating an ambition. what ambition? really, i think it was as simple as wanting to write. for a living, maybe. on a regular basis, definitely. to be read by a larger audience, absolutely.
has it done wonders for my love life? no. am i rolling in gobs of money? no. have i published a book? not yet.
but everything, all of it- even the smallest most random bits- has been a step in a direction. and it's all leading to something started three years ago today. in the end, the post-it probably had nothing to do with my love life. it was about being present, about trying to live.
19 September 2013
And what was it like, living in America then? Speaking in November 1964, after an election interpreted as a landslide victory for liberalism, President Lyndon Johnson had declared, ‘These are the most hopeful times since Christ was born.’[i] He said that and, almost immediately, everything went to shit.
Nine months later, as reported by Los Angeles television station KTLA: ‘with the suddenness of a lightening bolt and all the fury of an infernal holocaust, there was HELL in the City of Angels!’[ii] Summer is always a disproportionately violent season in urban areas—tempers rise with the temperatures. In L.A. that August of 1965, a 21-year-old black man had been pulled over by a white cop who suspected him of driving drunk. Matters escalated. Rumors spread. Word on the streets was that police had kicked a pregnant woman. Watts went up in flames.
For six days, this predominantly black and cripplingly poor neighborhood was terrorized by rioting. 12,242 National Guardsmen were brought in to subdue the crowds. The LAPD announced that they were unable to guarantee the safety of anyone within 45 square miles.[iii] The rioting, the looting, the police brutality, all of it, was aired on national TV. TRANSITION
The following summer, with the specter of Watts looming large, John Lindsay, mayor of New York City, paced Harlem trying to keep the peace simply by being present and visible and by playing with kids.[iv] Rumors flew; there were terrors both real and imagined. In Chicago, with rioting downtown and in the neighborhoods to the west, the tenements along the tracks of the el suddenly loomed sinister, sanctuaries for snipers. Commuters were reportedly crouching on the floors of trains as they passed.[v] By summer’s end, when Congress passed a referendum instituting the bussing of ghetto children into wealthier neighborhoods in an effort to integrate the schools, it provoked, in the words of historian Rick Perlstein, a new national panic: ‘that the federal government would deliver the chaos of rioting urban slums to your own quiet, bucolic neighborhood via yellow bus.’[vi]
The menacing journalistic cliché ‘roving bands of Negroes’ entered the lexicon, casting in racial terms a spreading violence that, in actuality, knew no race.[vii] In August 1966, Charles Whitman-- white, of a good family, and a former marine-- murdered his wife and mother before climbing to the top of the Main Building on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin and opening fire on passersby in the quad below. 16 killed, 33 wounded. Random violence was the order of the day.
And it didn’t get better. The following summer, rioting in Newark sparked a wave of police brutality that a historian likened to ‘a turkey shoot of grandparents and ten—year-olds.’[viii] All of this. In America, land of the free.
Increasingly, the war in the jungle was felt at home. 1965 saw a rash of self-immolations: 82-year old Alice Herz set herself on fire on a Detroit street corner in March; on 2 November, Norman Morrison, a Quaker, followed suit under the office window of Robert McNamara, the Secretary of Defense; eight days later, 22-year-old Roger LaPorte doused himself in gasoline in front of the U.N. and lit a match. 1,863 Americans were killed in Vietnam that year. Ladies Home Journal, WHEN?? a mild-mannered magazine targeting women interested in cooking, fashion, home décor and the hairstyles of the Kennedys, ran a graphic letter to the editor from a reader recently returned from the war-zone: ‘Before I went to Saigon, I had heard and read that napalm melts the flesh, and I thought that’s nonsense, because I can put a roast in the oven and the fat will melt but the meat stays there. Well, I went and saw these children burned by napalm and it is absolutely true.’[ix]
‘I thought that’s nonsense’… but ‘it is absolutely true.’ [x] Dr. Benjamin Spock—the nation’s leading expert on parenting, who’d written the book by which all the Baby Boomers had been raised— led an anti-war march, wearing a three-piece suit and carrying a sign that read: CHILDREN ARE NOT BORN TO BURN.[xi]
Joan Didion’s essay, ‘Slouching Towards Bethlehem’, published in the _____ issue of Esquire, seemed to indicate an impending moral apocalypse: ‘The centre was not holding. It was a country of bankruptcy notices and public-auction announcements and commonplace reports of casual killings and misplaced children and abandoned homes and vandals who misspelled even the four-letter words they scrawled […] Adolescents drifted from city to torn city, sloughing off both the past and the future as snakes shed their skins, children who were never taught and would never now learn the games that held society together. People were missing. Children were missing. Parents were missing. Those left behind filed desultory missing persons reports, then moved on themselves.’[xii]
Testifying at a Senate hearing ((for what??)), Truman Capote—who’s chilling masterpiece, In Cold Blood, had recently been published— said of the country as it was then, ‘It’s almost like Alice in Wonderland…’[xiii]
There was a war in the jungle and a war at home and America seemed to be losing both. The police were shooting up old people, politicians were lying, blacks were rioting, and whites were just plain old pissed as hell. And it was on the evening news every night.
It looked bad. Even Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., usually such a voice of hope, thought disaster imminent. ‘They’ll treat us like they did our Japanese brothers and sisters in World War II,’ he worried in March 1968. ‘They’ll throw us into concentration camps.’[xiv] A columnist in the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote, ‘The country doesn’t work anymore.’[xv]For all the songs about flowers and San Francisco, all the talk of peace and free love and LSD, America, as it was then, looked totally fucked.
When a friend asked Jackie whether she’d been scared during her trip to Cambodia, she replied: ‘It’s safer there than here.’[xvi]
filed under: dissertating
18 September 2013
17 September 2013
1 because of croftie and because this has been shared on fb thousands of times yet never here and because OHMYGOD (and hopefully, after that build-up, geoblocking won't prevent you from seeing it)
filed under: Movies You Really Should've Seen By Now If You Want To Consider Yourself A Grown Person
'If you can do anything else, I tell my students now, if you can do anything other than pursue this literary fiction thing and still sleep at night and wake joyful in the morning and know that the hours of your days have been well spent, then you should do that — that other thing. The beauty of the advice, of course, is how quickly it clarifies, for some of us, what we’ve always known: we can’t. We can’t.'
filed under: writing in the UK
remember how i put off buying the mattress topper until debo came? and then it turned out to be THE BEST THING EVER to sleep without coils winding in my back.
for six months i've been putting trash in a grocery bag kept on the floor. given that my unrelenting consumption of fruit results in a zillion fruit rinds and, therefore, a zillion fruit flies, this has been less than ideal. but i didn't want to buy a trash can. because to buy a trash can would be to spend good money on a stupid essential thing rather than a luxury. and i far prefer luxuries.
still. fruit flies are gross. last week, when i went to hunt down the mattress topper i was finally giving in and buying, i happened upon a trash can. it was pink. it was beautiful. it was £24.99. which is kinda ridic.
so i began steeling myself to spend a small fortune on a garbage can. and then... MIRACLE. when debo and i went to fetch the garbage can, it had gone on sale. ££s were saved, ya'll.
this is such a non-story, i know. except there are two reasons that it is: (1) lindear's waking up in the middle of the night to feed a baby and has requested a middle of the night blog post. et voilà! and, (2) since i'm rather unlikely to be ushering local people here into my home and showing them the glories of my garbage can, this seems quite a nice place to get that impulse out. so, hey, you guys, look at my glorious garbage can!
please also appreciate that it perfectly matches ruth's lipstick in this print:
filed under: essentials in the UK