31 October 2013

0 last night

i crawled into vienna at 10 pm and had the foresight to pick up a baked treat at the airport. as it turns out, it was THE WORLD'S LARGEST FIG NEWTON. which was definitely a win.

29 October 2013

0 tuesday

0 i don't know why, but it feels like we should revisit

15 OCTOBER 2009

first person singular

my grandparents used to have this preacher. he repeated every thing three times. so it would go like this: 

in today's sermon, i will be making three main points. three main points will be made in today's sermon. in conclusion, i have three main points and i will be making them today in this sermon.

and that was just the opener. you can imagine the length of the actual sermon.

that said, i have three main points. 

and i'm going to start with a story that has nothing to do with any of them. 

kara beautiful gold is the bravest girl i know. hands down. the woman got hitched at a pool party for christ's sake. that takes balls. 

but it's more complicated than that. it is kara beautiful gold who, in perhaps the greatest flannerian slip of all time, uttered the profound truth that a hard man is good to find. she's one of the six people i've kissed. we've rolled down hillsides. i've appropriated her laugh. she's survived tough shit. 

there's a moment in every relationship when you know you're in it for good. in june 2001, kara came to see me at summer school. that night, we drove around the darkened campus blasting u2's "discotheque" and what i remember is the bass, the stadium, the stars, and her bare feet dangling out the window of my mazda. and i remember feeling for the first time in a long time that i was truly home. 

we went two years without talking, kara beautiful gold and i. then she showed up in my mailbox in hyde park then again on my doorstep in memphis. she has always, always shown up for me. 

i'm the realist. she's the romantic. one lazy mississippi winter afternoon, we watched shakespeare in love three times in a row and scribbled The Quote on a poster board that's hung in every house i've had since. 

in wigs, we look like twins. 

i have three main points. 

1: i don't listen to u2 when i'm happy. 

in fact, it's when i'm happy that they annoy me most. with their intrusive earnestness, their political bombast, their cloying neediness. yes, bono. you're the biggest band in the world, so shut the fuck up. 

i can barely bear them when i'm happy. i do not need them then. 

no, u2 are for other times. for that september morning when the leaves first start to fall. for that day in may when it seems like summer should be upon us but the radiator's still on. they're for long farewells and rainy nights and new year's day.

much as i love and adore them, they are not the main event. they're the after-party. when it's 34 degrees out and i'm on a train in open-toed gold shoes. when everyone else has gone home and the room is dark save the remnants of half-empty bottles. then i turn to the boys.

this seems counterintuitive. that an all-consuming love affair should have such limits. and though when the young men of my youth bought the entire discography and faked fandom and blasted "ultraviolet" to woo me, i never had the heart to say, no, no, that's music for the dark nights of the soul, it truly is. 

because u2 feels like home. not as in the full-colored, four collie dream or memphis bbq or arlington place, but in the sense of capturing something i seem to carry around with me always, tucked into the corners of my soul. it's not a place i can go every day. but when the time is right, when the night is long, when the ache is there, i'm ready to listen.

there is a general sense in my family that my grandfather is going to die soon. if not this year, then the next. my father is the only one to have explicitly said that, but it's there. if you go looking for it, it's everywhere. in my aunt's defiant declaration atop the tour montparnasse-- as we clung to each other, arms entwined-- that we would have a thanksgiving "last hurrah." it's in the glittering in my mum's eyes. in the tiny cracks in my grandmother's voice. everywhere, there is a palpable anticipation of a grief that has not yet come. we all of us know we are running on borrowed time. which is both a burden and a very great gift.

2: love (not fear).

it always seemed somehow important that my first name was "faith," that my parents chose to put that first though they never called me by it. like maybe that extra shot of "faith" might get me into heaven should i ever misplace mine. but i don't think it works that way. 

i'm kind of pissed at god right now. i said this to my most die-hard atheist friend, which might seem disingenuous but i figured who better to confess a lack of faith to than someone who has none.

good girls probably don't get pissed at god and, if they do, they've got the decency to hide it. but because i am often indecent and not a good girl, i repeated this pronouncement to my parents a few days later. the gasp of horror echoed all the way down the phone line from memphis to put a chicago chill into my bones. 

but there are stories we must tell. things that, no matter how difficult, we must say. 

i tried to handle this on my own. a woman of action, i had gone and stood out on the beach with my bible to do battle with god. in my heart, i knew i looked like a total loon, a sacrifice of personal pride that netted me little more than a wicked case of windburn and an ever-increasing uneasy sense of betrayal. 

we don't talk about faith much around here. because i abhor even the slightest sheen of proselytization, but also because if there's anything we hate it's bad writing and, to be decidedly unchristian, generally speaking, there is nothing worse than "christian" writing. (exempting, you know, the bible and whatnot.)

this started awhile ago. it's been unfolding for maybe a year, but it began in earnest when i reread my high school journals. because back then i was in the bizarre habit of writing prayers alongside my entries and upon unearthing these journals this past july i was confronted with my silly sad little 17-year-old self asking to see where i was going and to trust that i would get there. which would be pretty much the same question 28-year-old oline was asking every day. 

which seemed to imply that maybe this was something i would struggle with the whole entire rest of my life. that i would someday be sitting around at 202 with kara beautiful gold one wheelchair over still thinking, dear god, where am i going and why can't i get there? all of which came together to make me really fucking mad and brought me to a point where i told my parents i was pissed at God. 

i honestly don't know what was more scandalous-- that i was mad at Our Almighty Lord or that i said the word "pissed" to my parents.

my entire belief system is built around one thing. that same fundamental truth kara beautiful gold and i penned on poster board all those years ago. it is the idea that life is generally difficult and inconvenient and scary as hell, but that everything works out as it should. by which i do not mean you sit around and wait for it to work out, but that you act with the assurance that it will. in the end, as i've said before, that boils down to this: love (not fear). 

because there are times when you have to risk everything. when you have to say fuck it and take a ginormous scary leap that may make you look like the biggest, unlovable, awful idiot the world has ever known. 

i told my parents i was pissed at god. a month later, i wound up sitting in a parisian hotel room having the most honest and brutal and wonderful conversation i've ever had with my father. a conversation i've been waiting pretty much my whole adult life to have. 

3: there's no place like home.

it's funny how quickly life can change, how fast a world you've been steadily packing away can suddenly spring open, like a jack-in-the-box or a murphy bed, into an unexpected adventure. 

i do not have the words for my love of this city. it is my home, it is my heart. it is here, on chicago's streets, in its rhythms, on its riverbanks, that i always find myself. 

and it was on one such riverbank that i was sitting when kara beautiful gold said her latest greatest most profound thing: there's a very great freedom to be found in the fact that we are always us. what she was saying was that no matter how circumstances change, you are always you. not just your weaknesses but also your strengths. 

this brings to mind an eaton family favorite saying from our mary englebreit iron-on decal days:wherever you go, there you are. a truth so simple i wonder now what compelled us to emblazon it on half a dozen pastel sweatshirts. where you are, you are. simple, yes, but i'll be the first to admit, i am very very bad about forgetting where i am.

it's probably a wee bit melodramatic to say that seeing u2 in chicago on september 12th was like spending three hours looking upon the face of god, but in all honesty that is how it felt. for the first time in a long time, i was where i was.

the next morning, staring at a deep forehead wrinkle that had seemingly entrenched overnight, i briefly entertained the idea that i'd been marked for my fervency, much as after talking to god on the mountain top, charleton heston returned with silvered hair. turns out it was a sheet print, but nonetheless. i went up the mountain. i got my answer. 

fear not. love, love, love. 

i had three main points. my conclusion is this:

winter's coming. i have no idea what it will hold and i don't much care. because life is difficult and inconvenient and scary as hell. the natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. and sometimes you have to take a risk, take your restless self out and shout at god or the page or the moon or whatever it is that you need to shout at so you can finally be still. so you can find a profound loveliness right where you are and sit on the riverbank, the gold shoes beside you in the grass, and watch the boats go by as the sun sets into the water. 

28 October 2013


0 PS90210: “it’s gotta be rough getting your car jacked”/”naked is good”

So season 4′s gotten pretty intense pretty fast, non? problems? out the wazoo. brenda’s dating a guy named stuart (enough said). ahhhhhhhhndrea’s in a secret relationship where she can’t even hold hands in public. steve’s making B’s (wha?!) whilst brandon’s sucking up to the teach. david has a simmering drug problem that isn’t even being discussed and dylan? omg, dylan. dumped AND carjacked, all in one night. so yeah, whoever told these kids college was going to be the time of their lives = total vicious liars. in fact, their problems are so numerous, they’ve barely got time for class.

1 happy monday

26 October 2013

0 i'm going to say something rather revolutionary, so bear with me

but elvis's dance in 'viva las vegas' could maybe be the most thorough ultra-low-impact aerobic exercise routine of all time. i know, i know, RIDIC. but seriously. watch it through the lens of aerobic choreography and you'll see what i mean (or else you'll see that i'm a raving loon, and that's ok too)...


25 October 2013

0 fear not!

london and i are no longer on the outs. today, i walked from notting hill down campden hill through kensington, passed a house with a blue button saying ford maddox ford had once lived there, enjoyed the blue sky and the sun, and successfully kept my mini from flying up and revealing all for the whole walk home. good times. 

0 friday!!!

24 October 2013

0 for weeks like this liz lemon invented the word 'blurgh'

i feel like the city's been after me this week. what with the harassment on the tube, a brutal therapy session, the utter disappointment that accompanies every bite of a british apple, and my continuing inability to figure out how to turn on the heat in my flat. and the rain. omg, the rain.

this is all silly stuff. frills. well, not the therapy or the harassment. those are quite big. but the rest of it, i need to get over, and yet i can feel myself digging in my heels. pouting at the whole city. as though that will do anything.

i'm off to vienna next week. the paper's not done. i can't find the button on the airline's website to submit the travel documentation they keep emailing and saying they need and they've not responded to the email i sent because they don't have a listed phone number for customer help.

which doesn't really even matter because i've completely lost faith in customer helplines after two thirty-minute conversations with united the other day trying to straighten out my christmas ticket which they totally bungled.

ultimately, it was resolved. i am no longer flying from london to memphis for christmas on an itinerary that begins in newark, connects in memphis to a flight originating in london and flying to newark. the ticket has been fixed. teleportation is no longer required. so that's good.

why is it that there are just some weeks? weeks that leave one so whiney, so complainy? i can barely tolerate my own company at present, i've become such a miser. when i spoke to steven the other evening, the tone was decidedly shrill with tinges of hysterical laughter. listening to myself, i wondered, 'dear god, who is this loon?!'

so i've decided that i'll give london this week. for this week only, i'll refrain from making any impulsive travel plans (i cannot count how many times in the last two days i've come THISCLOSE to buying tickets to paris for thanksgiving) because i NEED TO GET OUT and the city can kick my ass all over town. and then next week we'll be back on speaking terms. next week we'll be back to business and there'll be none of this shit.

that's reasonable, non? to expect a kinder, warmer london?

and then i'll leave for vienna.


eternal thanks to k.clen...

0 precious things

there are all these little moments. moments that comprise a life. and maybe you weren't there and maybe you didn't even see it, but the narrative, it is with us always.

i'd forgotten (or maybe i buried it... there's so very much i've buried in the last year) about the moment last december, when i drove the rental car and all my crap home to memphis and then my mother accompanied me to the rental car return in memphis and, as i rode behind her on poplar pike, we passed the man in our neighborhood who dresses up as santa claus every december and drives around wishing the kids a merry christmas.

i was behind her when we passed him and saw her wave at him, completely uninhibited, so friendly, far more friendly than i could ever be to a stranger because i was raised in a darker, more security-conscious time, wherein i was convinced all the strangers i might ever encounter would offer me stickers laced with PCP.

i saw that. and i loved her so much that i thought my heart would burst, so much i almost couldn't bear to leave her and move to london.

i did, ultimately, move to london. but i remember.

something recently reminded me of that and i was just awash with pride. i thought THAT IS MY MOTHER. i come from that woman.

it feels like a good heritage, a good lineage from which to descend. a woman that tough and yet also that kind.

i am debo's daughter.

and there are all these little moments. the little moments that comprise a life, a history, a whole person in our heart.

my father and i were talking the other day and he told me of how she had been waiting for burvil at the doctor's and this woman came out who couldn't pay. and the woman tried to sell the receptionist some doilies, but there was nothing the receptionist could do to ease the burden of the bill.

and so the woman left.

and my mother chased after her.

and caught up with her in the parking lot.

and bought some doilies.

and another woman passing them in the parking lot stopped to see what was happening and bought some doilies too.

and so this woman who couldn't pay her bill walked away with $35.

because my mother is a woman who loves in a way i fear i never will.

because she is a woman who waves at the man who dresses up as santa.

whilst i am the frightened little girl driving the car behind her, watching, in awe.

22 October 2013

0 incredibly smart things KBG said many moons ago which has subsequently resurfaced again

"make every  moment, even the seemingly mundane, an opportunity for adventure, for discovery and exploration. the key is the approach, the everyday attitude of awe and wonder."

0 i remember this conversation from october 2011.

the thing you have to know is that i don't remember much. it's like whole pieces of my history have somehow gone missing. slowly, i'm trying to lure them back but, for the most part, they are not there.

but i remember this conversation from october 2011.

i was in new york. i'd handed in the levy that morning and just given the horrible awful talk on social media where i said 'things like that' twelve times. i had just left a fancy dinner where other people picked up the bill.

walking back to the west village in the rain, i felt like- on an incredibly small scale- i had arrived. (i was staying in a room the size of a ship's steerage cabin and sharing a unisex bathroom, so my arrival was miniature at best.)

i called him. he answered. and we talked.

i think this was the first time we talked since he'd told me he was ill. i remember none of the details of the conversation beyond the fact that i said multiple times that i was walking down fifth avenue in the rain and that he had just gotten an ipad and he recommended a pile of books he'd gotten from a borders close-out sale that i neither read nor remember.

what i remember very distinctly from this conversation is the sense of freedom i felt whilst having it. the wildness of being in new york and walking in the rain. the feeling that the world i was trying to pry open was finally starting to give.

what i know now, what i did not know then, what makes that sensation of freedom more vivid, is that he had less than a year to live.

21 October 2013

1 unacceptable.

i was harassed on the tube the other night.

this guy kept trying to engage me in conversation and touching me whilst i told him repeatedly that i was busy and trying to work. and, finally, he said something suspiciously like the lyrics of robin thicke and then, regardless of the fact that it wasn't my stop, i bolted from the train.

0 oh the horrors of going international...

18 October 2013

1 did you know?

i have a weekly newsletter? and i'm not talking about the OitC daily emails, but a whole separate other thing. because OitC and 90210 and finding jackie aren't entirely readable by friends of my parents and so there's a weekly newsletter tailored specifically for them.

increasingly i'm realizing i maybe need to tamp down on my creationary impulses. the solution to every problem can't be to create an entirely new writing venue, right?

but oh well, that's what has happened, it is maybe who i am, so i'mma stick it out.

i write all of this because my parents friends recently ganged up on me and forced me to move house to an actual legit mailing service that will host these newsletters (people really NEED archives as it turns out), a service for which i must pay, which i am BEGRUDGINGLY going to do. but which has also spurred me to coerce every available soul to subscribe to it so i'm not just throwing money to the wind.

yes, if you read OitC, some weeks there'll be some overlap, but most weeks there won't (next week: DATING ABROAD!). and yes, some of you have already been forcibly signed up, which i will hereby apologize for now.

but, if you're interested and game and want to help me get my £'s worth, do sign up.

you can do that by clicking on this silly button that inexplicably asks you to sign up to 'our' newsletter, which makes me sound like a corporate entity, when really i'm just me and the spirit of the vieve...

17 October 2013

0 for the record

i really really do not want to write today. and i'mma have to because i even know what i need to write and there's a chance that if i write it i'll wind up being a month ahead in my whole 12-month plan of full draft completion. but still. even knowing that, even knowing that i could probably sit down right now and spend the next four hours with jackie and have it feel like approximately 20 minutes, that is absolutely the last thing i have the motivation to do.

and, no, there is no point to this post beyond a slight delay of the inevitable.

computer photo 13086218.gif
(brilliance via the dane)

0 a.m.

this morning i slept late, because there's been entirely too many academic wine/pub wine late night events this week and it's starting to look like bruises have permanently taken up residence under my eyes. and so i slept late and woke up to an early american phone call from KBG taken with an enormous cup of coffee. which is kind of the perfect way to start a day. at 10 a.m., with a chill in the air and snuggled under blankets because the heat hasn't yet turned on and it is still raining, rambling on about the injustices of southern girlhoods and the quirks of god...

16 October 2013

0 here we go again

school has started again. which is weird because it kind of felt like it didn't stop. except it obviously did because there's a distinct feeling of 'whoa, so we're doing this' that has picked up in the last week with the advent of seminars and discussion groups and whatnots. 

i'm still growing out my pixie. it is a continuing nightmare. after posing alongside the wax figure of justin beiber at madame tussaud's and realizing we really do have the same hair, i went home and hacked off my bangs- a decision that may or may not have been wise. still not sure.

if this is fall in london, it is not ideal. because we've had rain now for EIGHT DAYS. eight days, ya'll. that's seven days too much, non?

it's something like less than sixty days until i go to america for christmas, which is absolutely bizarre. because it feels at once like a long ways off and also entirely too soon. there is a sense that every time i get settled, there's a disruption. i can't decide wether this is life abroad or life in general or maybe just both. maybe it's adulthood? except i'm in school, which is maybe the most un-adult thing ever.

this is a rambling post pointing to nothing except the fact that i felt the need to write something here lest it languish whilst i'm writing everywhere else.

there are things i think i can safely conclude now... the feelings of this post will resurface every fall. fall will always feel weird and neither travel nor school will ever do anything to solve that. and while i'm not sure why that is, i'm coming to accept that it's who i am. which has nothing to do with the wax figure of justin beiber at madame tussaud's, but there you go.

15 October 2013

0 FJ: there are celebrities i cannot stand and justin timberlake is #1 (a personal meditation [part 2])

so, hey we’re back, with my multi-part series devoted to parsing the meanings behind my dislike of this man:
JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE. whom i cannot stand. Continue reading 

0 my father has resurfaced this picture

which brings up...

(1) fond memories of the year my mother let me dress myself and i woke up every morning and put on this pink bathing suit (seriously not exaggerating: when ruth [seen here in a kick-ass red muumuu] died and i inherited all the photographs my father had sent her over the years, 1984 was all this swimsuit, all the time).


(2) the fact that i'm pretty sure this still my resting face.

14 October 2013

0 “whoever said college was the best years of our lives… vicious liars.”

So here we are at ‘strangers in the night’- which only ever makes me thing of murray slaughter putting the moves on georgette franklin’s recently divorced friend when he takes her a piano and plays/sings ‘strangers in the night’ on the mary tyler moore show. don’t know it? you should!!! anyways, that’s where we are. season 4, ‘strangers in the night’. please appreciate with me that this episode originally aired on 13 october 1993, and we are now reconsidering it on 14 october 2013, exactly 20 years and 1 day later. huzzah. for some reason that fills me with a sense of accomplishment.
so, problems… yeah, we got ‘em. what to do when your car dies? what to do when your girlfriend wants to see other people? what to do when you’re the girlfriend who wants to see other people and your boyfriend just wants to have sex? what to do when you’ve just had sex and you’re a woman now? what to do when the guy you’ve just had sex with wears truly horrible pants? what to do when all of your friends have college lives and you’re all by your lonesome? what if you get to college and turn into a horrible slob? what if your boyfriend is said person who’s turned into a horrible slob? and, lastly, what if your dad sets you up with a guy named stuart? all this and more this week on PS90210…

11 October 2013

1 FJ: there are celebrities i cannot stand and justin timberlake is #1 (a personal meditation [part 1])

i cannot stand justin timberlake.

0 expectations

so's i've been working on this jackie book for forevers, yeah?

which might lead one to conclude that i have some idea what i'm doing, except... um... no.

the funny thing is that i'm allegedly all about suspending expectations. i get up on my high horse and am all 'oh but really it's so much more exciting when you don't know the endpoint you're aiming for and you're open to experiencing anything', which is maybe, in the end, total bullshit.

if not bullshit, at least a work-in-progress. a belief i believe and yet do not fully psychologically accept. or can we even accept such things? are we hardwired to work in a certain way, seeking a known quantity? so that, no matter how much i spout off about suspension of expectations, my heart of hearts will always push forward with a plan over which it will later be disappointed?

i've been working on this jackie book for forevers. for the last two years, i've been saying i'm out to do something radically new. so why am i surprised that it has turned into something unexpected? that the direction it has gone in is radically new? and why am i knocked off-kilter by the fact that, in going there, it has done something i did not intend to do?

because isn't that the amazing aspect of writing? that, in writing, we often do things, say things, that wind up assuming other meanings for other people. one cannot guarantee that what one writes will resonate at all, much less that it will hit someone else's center in the same manner it came bursting forth from yours, though sometimes it does.

but even more than that, isn't the most amazing aspect of writing when we do things, say things, we do not intend to do or say? do not, in fact, even know how to do or say, and yet there they are. done. said. and so i can look back on a sentence or a paragraph or a whole page and maybe- one day- a whole book and think 'my god, that's good' and have it truly feel as though these words that came from me are not of me but something altogether else. something better.

that is the moment i write for. that moment where something i have done reads like the work of someone better.

i have, i believe, in the last few months produced the best work of my life.

lest that seem dreadful braggy let me qualify it with the fact that i am also deeply, abjectly insecure about this work that i've produced, often to the point of nauseousness.

because it has gone in directions i didn't intend. why am i surprised? well, the thing is that i thought i was writing a story of joy and light. which, knowing me, knowing my love of cemeteries and taxidermy and dead things and shooting stuff and macabre stories, it's maybe not surprising that i wouldn't wind up producing the biographical equivalent of a precious moments doll. but still.

i am surprised. i have taken myself aback, if one can even do such a thing.

because i'm doing the best writing of my life. and what i'm writing, albeit beautifully, is a little ugly open wound of a thing.

i thought i was writing a story of joy and light. it isn't. it is dark, sometimes terribly so.

which is, i guess, what it needs to be now, as that's what's coming out. and that's what feels right. and for all its not living up to the expectations of what i thought i'd be writing, what i am writing is right. finally, at long last, after all these years, i'm telling this story in the way i want to tell it.

i just didn't know this was how it would be when i got what i wanted. i thought it would be prettier. a prettiness beyond the prose itself. i thought there would be a prettiness within the story. this story i know so well and have lived with and lived by. i thought it was pretty. and so it may be yet.

but thus far it isn't. and slowly, ever so slowly, i'm reconciling myself to the idea that it may never be. that maybe the story i'm writing- the story i know so well and have lived with and lived by- isn't pretty after all. maybe it wasn't the light but the dark that i've been chasing all along.

09 October 2013

2 classy

2 prejudice

hey, remember 1995?

remember watching the 6-hour 6 VHS set during college?

remember the excitement when it was re-released in a far more portable 2-disc set of DVDs?

remember him?

and him?


yes, well, this walk down memory lane has been brought to you by lizzie bennett, who's now starring in the movie adaptation of 50 shades of grey.

08 October 2013

0 O.M.G.

just know that in 5+ months...


is worth a read. 

which reminded me that i once wrote this... (which i mention now to buy myself some time of having to write about the south again)

also, speaking of southerners, austin sensei is over at the chicago reader being awesome and you should read that too.