Took the dog to the vet this morning and somewhere during the visit began to take obscure satisfaction when the techs (who were great) would say in a knowledgeable, off-hand way things like “she’s a bleeder” and “she always has a reaction to shots” and “wow, it’s been a few months since we saw you!” It’s like having custodianship of a 7-pound hemophiliac Russian princeling.
I met my friend Lori tonight to see the new Duran Duran concert film directed by David Lynch (one night, one showing only!). She told me that she kept getting confused this week and telling people that it was directed by Werner Herzog, which is, it turns out, really easy to construct. “Here is master vocalist Simon LeBon” and “Duranies come from near and far” and “like a volf, we are hungry.” Also, at one point, Werner’d maybe track down bitter Andy Taylor at his village pub and make him listen to anecdotes about Klaus Kinski.
It was a lot of fun. There were only 20 or so people in the theater besides us, and Lori pointed out how like junior high it felt—to be slouched in a seat eating Junior Mints with one of your friends, watching Duran Duran videos, while the rest of the world’s off doing something else.
My stepdaughter had a baby on Thursday, her first. It was big, weird, and great, and I’m still (to borrow from Lauren) getting my wig back on. The hospital had tags for visitors that they used to scan you in and out of the room, and there was a point when three of us, along with her husband, went out to grab some lunch and we all had these tags on our shirts, sitting in a restaurant—and it was like wearing a badge that marks you as part of a strange cult or sect, one where you all have to eat together and don’t mix much with the outside world.
Later in the afternoon I was sitting by my stepdaughter, on a little chair next to the monitor with the baby’s heartbeat. It sounded like a washing machine filling up—if the sound of a washing machine filling up became unexpectedly moving. It was still going to be a few hours till go time so everyone in the room was just chatting about dumb stuff—like Instagram and video games—and when she’d have a contraction—every three minutes or so—she’d do a sharp intake of breath and be quiet and inward-looking for a second and then keep chatting. Someone looked at their phone and said, “Joan Rivers died.” Just then my stepdaughter had a contraction; she was quiet and then said, in a lament, “… and before awards season too.”
"There’s nothing wrong," I said. "It’s just that, as an individual, I’ve failed in life."
"So have we all," he said, "you, I, all the people here in the station buffet. We are every one of us failures. The secret of life is to recognise the fact early on, and become reconciled. Then it no longer matters."
"It does matter," i said, "and I am not reconciled."
— Reading Daphne du Maurier’s The Scapegoat and hit a Pema Chodron patch in it.
Lately a friend of mine’s four year old is into saying, “I don’t like your good idea.” (I assume this is a contraction of some preschool-learned politeness along the lines of “That’s a good idea, but…”)
Just putting it out there in case you’ve been looking for a new way to express displeasure/ issue a veto/ rebut a think piece.
When Jane was working on this story on the history of Seventeen, we did a lot of emailing back and forth about Back to School magazine issues and how much we loved them. In junior high I read the hell out of every September issue of Seventeen, and the memory is all caught up with the anticipation of seeing people again after the summer and the belief that Everything Was Going To Be Different This Year.
One year, one of the pieces of editorial advice was to soak cotton balls with perfume and lay them on your next day’s outfit so that the outfit would become pleasantly layered with scent. I did this DILIGENTLY for at least a month. Four or five cotton balls each night. So that’s what September always feels like to me, like the time of year that you believe that you can soak some cotton balls in Jean Nate, tuck them in your clothes overnight, and become magically alluring the next day.
One of my favorite things in Sylvia Plath’s diaries are the entries that swing from “I need to start having people over for dinner more often! What a pleasure to cook for people!” to “I need to stop having people over for dinner all the time, they’re assholes and I need more time to write.” (Loose paraphrase!)
I think of this whenever I get in a burst of sociability.
A couple of years ago we were in San Francisco visiting my stepson, and one night we were walking back from dinner and there was this nice grenadine-ish smell in the air, and I said, “It smells like cherries.” My stepson paused, sniffed, and said, “That’s urinal cakes, Carrie.” (Except he’s very deadpan, so it was more like, “That’s. urinal. cakes.”) Anyway, I was writing well this morning so I was late getting to the woods for a walk. It was already hot out and there were lots of thick gnarly spider webs everywhere with dime-sized spiders in them. None of the guys I passed were wearing shirts. And once in a while when the breeze picked up it smelled a lot like urinal cakes (not unpleasantly!).
“My stylist went out hunting for red leather pants and you would think that in 1981, in New York City, you would have been able to find red leather pants everywhere, but we could only find one pair,” he says over the phone from New Mexico. “So she brought the pants back and they didn’t fit anybody in the band.”
Wow. This is an incredible story of a man who lived in the woods of Maine for nearly three decades, surviving almost entirely on things he stole from summer homes. He was finally caught, and reporter Micheal Finkel struck up a sort of friendship with him, visiting him in prison and learning about the years he spent silent and alone.
Here is a list of donations, protests, and petitions that you can do to help the people in #Ferguson and to assist #MikeBrown and #EzellFord all others who have been killed by the hands of the police. I will try to update as much as possible.
I’ve been thinking about this Jezebel piece tonight, while scrolling through the coverage of the atrocities happening in Ferguson. The piece, “Why Would I Ever Want to Bring a Child Into this Fucked Up World?”, was written less than a month ago. Over the past couple of days, everything has…
You write, "It’s like I keep figuring this shit out, and then forgetting it immediately." That's not your strange little personal problem. That's not what makes you uniquely fucked. That's a universal truth, a fundamental dimension of the human condition. You know who feels that way? You, me and everyone we know. Fucking OPRAH feels that way, or she'd have fallen asleep while interviewing Deepak Chopra a long, long time ago.
— From an ‘Ask Polly' a couple weeks back that I keep thinking about because a. it's true and b. enjoyment of imagining Oprah zonking out across from Deepak.
From a note from one of my cousins, who’s home for the summer: “I’ve enjoyed going over to your mom’s and playing bridge with the three sisters lately. They are so kind and gentle, yet when they start playing bridge, they turn fierce and are quick to scold for sloppy play. Wild nights in Auburn, Indiana.”
(It’s like a fairy tale except instead of three Fates or three Furies or a Mrs. Whatsis, Mrs. Who, and a Mrs. Which, there are Three Very Particular Bridge Players.)
But what all these issues, no matter how gigantically separated an Esquire puff piece and a Tennessee mother’s jailing for meth may seem, reflect back at us: How, in this country, every barometer by which female worth is measured—from the superficial to the life-altering, the appreciative to the punitive—has long been calibrated to “dude,” whether or not those measurements are actually being taken by dudes. Men still run, or at bare minimum have shaped and codified the attitudes of, the churches, the courts, the universities, the police departments, the corporations that so freely determine women’s worth. As Beyoncé observed last year, “Money gives men power to run the show. It gives men the power to define value. They define what’s sexy. And men define what’s feminine. It’s ridiculous.”
It is ridiculous, and I wish we could all tell them how little it matters what they think. Except that of course most women, those who bear the brunt of these assessments, aren’t Beyoncé or Amy Poehler—who, not coincidentally, was on Junod’s list of newly un-tragic 42-year-olds. Instead, they are women who may not be able to pay for Pilates, let alone for day care or contraceptives, who may need but not be able to afford drug treatment, who Esquire would likely still rate as not-hot or more likely not rate at all, but whose fates nonetheless rest in the hands of empowered committees on the general value and status of womanhood in America.
I wish it were different. I wish that every woman whose actions and worth are parsed and restricted, congratulated and condemned in this country might just once get to wheel around—on the committee that doesn’t believe their medically corroborated story of assault, or on the protesters who tell them that termination is a sin they will regret, or on the boss who tells them he doesn’t believe in their sexual choices, or on the mid-fifties man who congratulates them, or himself, on finding them appealing deep into their dotage—and go black in the eyes and say, “I don’t fucking care if you like it.”
“Tampons were packed with their strings connecting them, like a strip of sausages, so they wouldn’t float away. Engineers asked Ride, “Is 100 the right number?” She would be in space for a week. “That would not be the right number,” she told them. At every turn, her difference was made clear to her. When it was announced Ride had been named to a space flight mission, her shuttle commander, Bob Crippen, who became a lifelong friend and colleague, introduced her as “undoubtedly the prettiest member of the crew.” At another press event, a reporter asked Ride how she would react to a problem on the shuttle: “Do you weep?””—
“Permit me to warn reckless young women: seeing the trap does not prevent you from getting caught in it - and that doubles the pleasure.”—Claude Cahun, Aveux non avenus (Disavowals), translation by Susan de Muth (via frenchtwist)