Thursday, November 13, 2014

I wish I wasn't so infuriated.

You guys. If you stop posting about her, and clicking on every article about her, her butt, or her fame-mongering family, and buying her app, and hashtagging her  - she will go away, eventually. Your clicks drive advertising dollars which drive the generation of content on sites that post about her which drives her publicist to keep cranking out the nonsense. Just... slowly back away and let us not speak of her again so we don't have to see her bare ass all over every single (formerly reputable) news site in the world so we can get back to the important stuff like how badly it's snowing in Portland, or who's leaving Spotify or...the risk of Ebola in suburban Iowa or... uhh... nevermind.
Where do I get an issue of Paper?

Monday, July 14, 2014

We are at Edgefield in August.  I'm wearing that yellow dress I bought when I was alone in Madrid for a day.  We're listening to The Decemberists cover a Fleetwood Mac song.  I could die happy, right now.
I'm glad I didn't.  But I could have.  There's a picture of the three of us and now we're scattered around the world and I miss you both so much every day.

I bought that yellow dress during the summer rebajas while Samantha was stuck on a ferry in Strait of Gibraltar and I was tired of feeling ugly in my thick travel sandals, of being sweaty in the same skirts I'd worn all summer in Morocco.  Every tile and flag and wrought-iron rod was regal and formidable, every woman with a feline mane and a sexy lisp and I with my backpack, those terrible sandals.

A yellow dress with a woven rainbow belt, a red sweatshirt dress with an opossum pouch, a yellow tank top made of less fabric than some underwear.  I'm too old to wear any of them anymore, but I keep them and their tiny holes-at-seams in my closet here, in Austin.  When I see pictures of myself wearing them from that summer - my tan back, exposed in that tank top waiting at an ATM, posing in that yellow dress all over Paris, hands happily stuffed in the front pocket of the red dress in Sorrento drunk on limoncello and white wine- I feel so centered, so sure of myself.  I feel that way listening to The Decemberists.  I miss that print I bought in New York at The Decemberists show I went to by myself at the Beacon Theatre.  I spent money I hardly had on getting it matted and framed so that it would feel at home in my tiny morning-sun facing Upper East Side bedroom, so that I'd feel like an adult having some framed art when I stumbled home alone night after night at 4 AM with dollar pizza slice grease on my fingers.  The print is of a doe wearing a dress and it specifies the date and location of the concert, commemorating my date with myself.
It's wrapped in brown paper waiting for me in Buffalo.

The days I don't feel like myself I want to gather all these things up in a pile on top of my body and lie under it and draw the past out of them into me.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Goodbye to All That. Again.

I took a train from one end of New York to the other last week, starting in the west and working my way towards a city I hadn't seen in 9 months.  For me, trains evoke something romantic and sad, so it was the ideal form of transportation to get to this place I've left and since put on a pedestal.

The fact that the city can still smell so strongly of urine after all those days was a weird comfort to me.  It changes all the time and I was so relieved that, of course, it hadn't changed at all.  A favorite restaurant on Bowery had closed, but I knew that, from my obsessive NY news stalking.  Since moving away, I keep all the local news outlets in my social feeds, to feel any tremor or vibration of the life of that place from afar.

Once, in college, my high school boyfriend made a visit to my campus during his fall break.  I was eager to see him, to see if our breakup was the right choice after all, to see how he'd grown without me, for him to recognize that I was doing well without him.  I am sure I fidgeted with my outfit, nervously provided all the necessary background information to my roommate, changed my shoes a few times.
It was great to sit in the sun by my dorm for a little bit, introduce him to my new friends, see him in a new light  and enjoy his company.
It was also clear, that despite a hint of his lingering interest, we were a sealed enveloped. All of his pencil drawings of small monsters, the notes we'd leave on one another's windshields in the student parking lot, both our junior and senior prom photos - it was all in that envelope, and time had taped it shut and it was just better that way.  But it was still nice to sit by him to remember it all.

You can see where I'm going with this.

Being back felt like I had never left the best version of it. The weather was unfairly perfect, all of my friends’ apartments impossibly cool. I spent afternoons on rooftops overlooking Central Park, mornings walking through Chelsea to get doughnuts. I worked from a coffee shop in Fort Greene, cheered for the USA’s world cup chances in Williamsburg, and spent 7 hours drinking wine with an adoptive book club in Park Slope. It was like everything was conspiring to break my heart for leaving.
I’d never lived there as an artist, but finally got it, in my joints, in my tendons, in my blood pumping veins, what it means to pursue art in a place that full of energy and story. Every sign, every face, every menu - each stroke of graffiti and conversation overhead. I wanted to make stuff and learn. I wanted to sit and absorb. And then I wanted to push it of me, with my own mark on it.
Part of me wishes I’d given myself that chance, to create a life of creating there. The other parts of me know I was not convinced nor dedicated enough to this cause until I left. I still don’t even believe I’d be able to make it there, doing what I do now. I’d be distracted, discouraged, dismissed.
It all worked out. It’s all working out. And I can always go back for perfect visits with my perfect friends. 
I just wish it was a shorter train ride from Texas.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Time is A Flat Circle

Nostalgia is a real, powerful drug.

This resurgence of all things nineties lately has felt in some ways like a wave of vomit that you can feel rising with horror - a feeling I am sure my parents felt when they witnessed the revival of bell bottoms during my middle school years.   First the Spice Girls reunite, there's a Boy Meets World spin off coming, now eyebrows and scoop back one piece swimsuits are back.

And thank god for all that, amirite?

Right now I am wearing my favorite outfit from 3rd grade: black suede ankle boots, long floral print dress, giant sweater.  I've got a bouncy new haircut to go with it - it's almost summer, everything feels like popsicles and brown paper bag crafts.  I just ordered a pair (my second) of Saltwater sandals.  Maybe it's my recent return to art that's revived my own inner nineties human.   Nothing makes me feel more like myself these days than when I look up and realize I've been drawing for a few hours, oblivious to the minutes that have ticked by.

Nostalgia is "everything was better then."  Except we know it wasn't necessarily, or, it was, and while it was happening I wasn't old enough to know it, but now I get amazing technology AND I'm old enough to live with my awesome boyfriend and wear Cindy Crawford-red lipstick.  Nostalgia is great when you get to pick the best old parts to pair with the best new parts.  Nostalgia for me these days is taking the form of, "man, now I'm 27 and I wish it were 1996 again."  But I don't want to be ten years old again.  I want it to be 1996 so I could be 27 during 1996.  Just for a little while!  To see what it would be like to listen to Toni Braxton for the first time, as an adult.  To watch Friends for the first time as someone who was looking back on her early twenties, not forward to them.

Last night I watched Dave Chappelle's Block Party - which is now eight years old, but documents the party he threw in Bed Stuy about ten years ago.  And the musicians who participate were so powerful at the time of that party because they were already a little bit past their peak of popularity (except for you, Kanye). Their performances felt like a way to bring a neighborhood together over a shared love of music they already knew well and loved well.
Here's a way to put this in perspective for my peers:  this concert was so long ago that The Fugees had a REUNION to be in it.  

One of the things that struck me the most about this block party was that when Lauryn Hill joined Wyclef Jean and Praz on stage at the end of the night, you could count the number of cell phones raised high in the crowd on one hand.  People were present.  That almost made me more jealous than the fact that they got to see The Fugees live.

Have you ever actually heard Lauryn Hill sing?

You guys,  don't tell her I wrote this because she has made it pretty clear that she doesn't want me to love her music the way that I do, but I can't help it.  When I was about ten years old I discovered pop and R+B music, as you do.  And The Fugees' "Killing Me Softly" was. My. Jam. 
I remember vehemently fighting with my mother when she told me it was a cover.  I had no room in my pop culture worldview for it to include an old woman named Roberta Flack, nor could I fathom that my mother had heard and loved this song first.
It was my song, it was my generation's song, and NO ONE NOT NO ONE could have an afterschool dance party in their bedroom with their friends to this song like we could.  I remember my mother and her friend walking in on us, bangs plastered to sweaty foreheads - we hadn't heard them calling for my friend from the front door over our wailing the "LAAAA LA LAAA"s with help from the boombox I'd gotten for Christmas.

I thought about that moment last night during the movie.  I thought about The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, and how fervently I listened to it at the bus stop in the mornings on my Discman.  I thought about the first time that "Ex-Factor" broke my heart, after my heart broke for the first time.  I look forward to "To Zion" breaking it again when I have a kid.  I thought about "Get Out" - the MTV Unplugged version when Ms. Hill gets so choked up in the middle that she has to take a second to gather herself, listening to that in my dorm room, windows wide open, heart and mind open wider for the first time.  

I heard "FU-GEE-LA" the other day and it started all of this thinking - how I wanted so badly to unzip my past, and walk into it at a different age.  To hear that song for the first time as a teenager while I got really high in a parked car with friends after school.  

That's all, really.  I'm glad it's not 1996, and even more glad that it's having a little resurgence right now so that those of us who missed some of the more grown-up opportunities at the time (including fashion not intended for little chubby bodies) can relive it, and think about the good old days.  

Saturday, January 18, 2014

2013 - A Year for the Books

Subway rides, cozy apartment time, and almost two months in Costa Rica turned out to be highly conducive situations for knocking out a bunch of reading.   The final count was somewhere around 30 -   it's hard for me to always finish nonfiction titles- even as much as I tried to emphasize quality over quantity in my reading this past year.

The final 2013 list, with favorites listed first - and then in no particular order:

East of Eden - John Steinbeck
The Orphan Master's Son- Adam Johnson
Cloud Atlas- David Mitchell
Let the Great World Spin - Colum McCann
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - Barbara Kingsolver
The Goldfinch - Donna Tartt
Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard - Chip Heath
Thirteen Moons- Charles Frazier
Wild- Cheryl Strayed
Slouching Towards Bethlehem- Joan Didion
The Sun Also Rises- Ernest Hemingway
The Year of Magical Thinking- Joan Didion
A Dance with Dragons (#5)- George RR Martin
Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas - Tom Robbins
Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World- Haruki Murakami
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle- Haruki Murakami
Dance, Dance, Dance- Haruki Murakami
Slaughterhouse-Five - Kurt Vonnegut
Oryx and Crake - Margaret Atwood
The Year of the Flood- Margaret Atwood
Paula- Isabel Allende
The Cat's Table - Michael Ondaatje
Hell's Angels- Hunter S. Thompson
Hate List - Jennifer Brown
Alcatraz from Inside: The Hard Years - Jim Quillen

Bossypants- Tina Fey
Just Kids- Patti Smith

Nonfiction started and still intend to finish:
The Worst Hard Time- Timothy Egan
Stuffed and Starved - Raj Patel
Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health - Marion Nestle

    Fiction started, abandoned, with no intention of finishing:
    War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy

    To much and more in 2014!