This essay is a testament to the idea that our most insistent themes are determined in childhood.
I read this at night, alone, in the basement studio in which I live alone. It only took me a second to know for certain which themes tattood themselves on me way back when I was doing something very similar to this but in a basement far far away from this one.
Do you have any coping mechanisms for when you can sense an intensely close, years-long (i.e. teens into 20's-long) friendship starting to fade/erode? Do you let it fade? Try and salvage? I realize any sort of answer to this question really depends on each situation, but just want to get your thoughts. Thank you.
It’s hard in your teens, and in your twenties, to maintain the same rate of change as the person next to you. One person always stays more the same, and more in love, than the other. Or almost always. This is true of romantic and semi-romantic and not-romantic relationships alike (although is any great friendship not-at-all-romantic?).
Often those with high rates of change (and I am one of them, I know) abandon relationships because they do not want to remember the self they were in those years. I have a loyalty to people I loved, especially girls and women; I will forever speak well of them and call back if they call. But I won’t call first. I’m slack at that. For such a constant memoirist I am very very bad at the past.
Sometimes when a friendship ends it is not a breakup, but a slowwww slow molting. You will become as good (or as bad, you choose) a friend to someone else. I don’t know if this is an answer, though, or a comfort with any real temperature. x
Written Ages Ago & Parsed Now: My Nipples are Not For You
I woke up to her text.
The muppet is interested.
It all came back. Her birthday in a dive bar that somehow also specialized in sake cocktails. Lots of beer and four borrowed cigarettes. A small television playing, for some reason, Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, which I had watched and provided commentary on all night with The Muppet. He had come over to me just as Leatherface was stimulating a woman’s clitoris with a chainsaw, which was off. She was pretending to enjoy this, presumably to ensure that the chainsaw stay quiet. I was not pretending to enjoy any of it but still, I could not look away. The Muppet found my transfixed horror entertaining (read: adorable, as boys are want to find this kind of squirming in girls) and so, for the duration, I had him.
I would count the evening as pretty standard first-time meeting flirtation, living even just South of promising. As you’d expect from a man who certain women call The Muppet in secret, he was nice, a generous laugher and cute; a cartoon everyman.
His interest was obvious to me not because of some kind of personal arrogance but more to do with my having a cursory understanding of adult sexual behavior. Or rather, I know the meaning of things. He sat at my side all night; his eye contact had been steady and meaningful. He had watched me walk away when I’d left him at the bar at the end of my night. So I had simply known.
He was interested but I was still not sure how interested I was in his interest.
I’d responded to her text coyly, in case I decided that this was information I had a use for. Before, this kind of information had been essential.
For a long time preceding this exchange, I was sexually impulsive. I tended to view men as adventures; confusing curiosity with desire, though I remain unconvinced that they are so different. I liked the beginnings of things so much that I collected them. I discovered, that beginnings age poorly, especially for someone as ungraceful at endings and subsequently cowardly as I am. A full calendar year of dragging myself around the city after boys, sitting across bar tables; the prickliness of loneliness and boredom and uncollaborative sex and seeing a version of yourself that you wouldn’t have chosen reflected back at you through eyes you never liked enough to begin with.
It had gotten so that my heart felt like a dry mouth.
That I had left the bar last night alone, without the assurance of “progress” was a dramatic shift made even more significant by the fact that I hadn’t made myself leave alone because of some self-care resolution. I had wanted, nay desired, to leave without him; without ever having touched him.
That gray morning, I rolled around alone on my futon, thinking that a season of change had found me after a solid year of beds and mouths, imagining myself now spit out the other side a steadier and more self-possessed woman, I swelled with pride. And then my friend sent another text.
Just keep dressing well and you’re golden.
My moment of reverie was punctured with indignation. My friend was referring to the fact that, the night before, I had worn a thin black sweater vest, with an outrageously plunging v-neck, stretched over my braless, flat chest. That the night before, to stand above me or simply be taller was to look down and thoroughly see the contours of my meagre breasts. To face me was to face two prominently alerted nipples and to see me from a distance was to see a whole lot of exposed pale flesh.
En route to her birthday I had texted.
Tonight I am celebrating your birth
as well as the fact that I never did grow those breasts.
Of course, I’d known all about the outfit. I had been the one to draw attention to it even. The night before, when I had unzipped my brown leather jacket and perched on a bar stool beside her, my friend had complimented me genuinely and she was not shaming me in any way by mentioning it now. But still I was bristled by the insinuation that I had dressed the way I had for attention from The Muppet, etc. That the interest and the attention paid to me was connected to the outfit. That I had employed a trick I considered the territory of lesser women, which I didn’t need to reduce myself to, because I had intelligence and charm and, and, and…
In my mind I saw The Muppet’s permanently smiley face. I imagined what he’d thought of my outfit. It concerned me that he might think I’d worn it for him or them; that their attention was the goal, not merely a pleasant product of wearing such a shirt.
“People who like to be in control of things can have a hard time with intimacy. Intimacy is anarchic and mutual and definitionally incompatible with control. You seek to control things because you are afraid.”—Jonathan Franzen in his eulogy of David Foster Wallace.
“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery - celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said: “It’s not where you take things from - it’s where you take them to.”—
James Blake cites the hum at the beginning of Sam Cooke’s “Trouble Blues” as a major inspiration. Absorb this, listen to “Retrograde”, feel inspired to steal tonight or tomorrow at the latest.
The Scarecrow and Dorothy Wanted to Have Sex, I Think
"Did anyone else pick up on the sexual tension between The Scarecrow and Dorothy."
Resoundingly nobody had. A debate ensued.
"That would be interracial, wouldn’t it”
"Common, man, no. Interspecies absolutely. Scarecrow is not a race."
"Well, in The Wiz-"
"We’re not talking about the Wiz. Can we all agree we’re not bringing The Wiz into this?"
Everyone agreed, though one more reluctantly than the others.
“Is James Franco the Scarecrow?”
“Libby, weren’t you born in 1994?”
“That’s no excuse. Nobody here was alive when the Wizard of Oz came out in 1960 or whatever.”
“The Wizard of Oz came out in 1939.”
“Exactly. Libby, maybe you sit this one out.”
“Can we get back on topic please?”
All agreed, except one who stomped off in the direction of the mirror surrounded by the most flattering lighting.
"You know, every time she said she was going home, he fell down. Like he didn’t want her to go."
"He didn’t want her to go because they were very close friends. That’s not sexual."
"At the end when she was leaving she did, like, touch his face and say she’d miss him most of all. That kind of clinches it for me."
"Nah, for me their relationship was all paternal. He was like a dad to her in Oz."
"What makes you think that and sexual tension are mutually exclusive?"
"Yeah, like a sexy kind of dad."
"Some women actually look for those kinds of relationships," this from the one who would have preferred to discuss The Wiz and said as if these women were rare near-mystical creatures, not someone standing beside him folding men’s dress shirts.
For her, the sexual tension between those two had been no question. She recognized it instinctively even at four years old when she’d first seen The Wizard of Oz. Since then, she seen the movie countless times and that they wanted each other never seemed any less relevant or true. Nor had the particular way they wanted each other.
When she was a kid, she’d had a set of dolls from the Wizard of Oz: Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man and The Cowardly Lion. Even though she had a sister, she’d play alone most of the time. She would spend hours creating scenarios where Scarecrow and Dorothy would seek out clandestine moments to touch or hold each other, briefly. It was always discreet. Something to keep from the other guys. Unprofessional.
She also had them take turns drowning and performing CPR on one another but that was better if the others were looking on, thinking it had nothing to do with hot feelings and everything to do with rescue.
As a child, my body did not enjoy the feeling of clothing. It also hated the feeling of being naked. From an evolutionary standpoint, I probably shouldn’t exist if something so fundamental proved a hardship.
There is a thing that my brain does that I don’t love, to put it lightly. And when it does this thing, the person who has seen it happen most often puts me under a blanket with a book and tells me to read, that it’s fine just to read, that I’m not any of the things I think I am and a lot of things that aren’t clear to me at that moment. And then he goes into the kitchen and cooks vegetables and meat and rice and feeds them to me and reminds me that this happens to me and to a lot of people. And then I make a list of all the things that keep my brain from feeling this way and he lets me read it out loud to him even though I’m sure it overlaps with the other lists I’ve read to him over the years. There are other things he does too but-
Sarah Nicole Prickett explains to Tao Lin what smart means to her by explaining that Marie Calloway is not it
I liked this stretch of the conversation a lot because I have the smart vs. not smart conversation often and it’s an incredibly difficult thing to articulate and almost always makes everyone sound like an asshole except for the one person who says that they judge people based not on their intelligence but on their capacity for kindness and warmth, which I can’t even fathom, think is kind of horseshit and is a real asshole thing to say.
Regardless I think Sarah explained it here in the way I’ve always understood it.
It’s a quickness or a quickness that’s lacking.
Sarah: I don’t know. She [Marie Calloway] just doesn’t seem that smart to me, but I can’t tell if it’s a willful—naiveté is often confused with stupidity, and I’m not saying she’s stupid, but I’m not saying she’s smart, either. She does not seem smart but sometimes I think it’s a willful naiveté.
Tao: [raised voice] What do you mean smart, like her IQ?
Sarah: No, of course I wouldn’t mean that.
Tao: Well what do you mean? Like how much she’s read, or what?
Sarah: [slowly] Noo, I mean [pause] I’m trying to answer this smartly now, this is sort of a trick. [pause] It seems like—do you know what I mean, smart? There’s a quickness that’s lacking. She doesn’t seem like you would have a conversation with her and she would be quick, like she would be able to connect things. She doesn’t seem to live in a very big world, for one thing, and she seems to lack some essential—I don’t even want to say curiosity.
Tao: That’s—that all would apply to Jean Rhys, I feel like.
Sarah: But Jean Rhys was an outsider for other reasons. I’m not sure what Marie Calloway’s big excuse is.
Tao: What do you mean? ‘She is outside for other reasons.’
Sarah: I feel like we have much more access now. You can be smarter if you want to be. And I don’t mean—it’s not necessarily about knowing things, knowing things is all too easy. She never seems to get to anything very important. And I have a lot of tolerance for very diaristic girl’s writing. I’ve done a lot of it myself.
Moments with Lorrie Moore's "How to become a Writer" that made me feel known last night
"Decide that you like college life. In your dorm you meet many nice people. Some are smarter than you. And some, you notice, are dumber than you. You will continue, unfortunately, to view the world in exactly these terms for the rest of your life."
"Your only happiness is writing something new, in the middle of the night, armpits damp, heart pounding, something no one has yet seen. You have only those brief, fragile, untested moments of exhilaration when you know: you are a genius."
"Later on in life you will learn that writers are merely open, helpless texts with no real understanding of what they have written and therefore must half-believe anything and everything that is said of them."
My Introduction post for the WORN Fashion Journal blog.
As a child I was obsessed with Marilyn Monroe, Scarlett O’Hara, and JonBenet Ramsey. All I wanted to be when I grew up was one of these uncomfortable glamorous feminine figures. Itâs no surprise that, instead, I grew up weird and with a dark sense of humour, fashion obsessed, and ultimately a writer…
My deep love of clothes emerged when I was just a tiny girl, brazenly begging my mother to buy me a fluffy, white flower girl dress without having anywhere in particular to wear it. To my mother’s chagrin, I insisted on wearing it to kindergarten, the delicate layers of tulle rustling audibly as
My connection to the image is perhaps the most explainable reason for my posting it here but what my friend has written below it is definitely the best one. Martina writes gorgeous prose/has a lovely brain.
And to be reminded of something I so easily forget:
“She knew that for her the greatest sin now and in the future was to delude herself. It had been a long lesson but she had learned it. Either you think- or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.”—Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald