Hello and welcome to

My greatest blessing and my greatest curse is that I have a very stupid sense of humor (“very”). A blessing in that it’s easily triggered and a curse in that it makes me a not very serious person; i.e., I have trouble taking most things very seriously (“very”).

e.g., I was going about my usual business and having a terrible work day until I read Joe Veix’s e-scooter escape story at lunchtime, which is ridiculous and earnest in equal measure, and lo all was magically cured just because it made me laugh (h/t Kaitlyn Tiffany):

At the bottom of the hill, I stopped to have a sip of water. As I screwed the top back on my bottle, I noticed a coyote watching me. We quietly watched each other for a few minutes. It was possibly the first e-scooter he had ever seen. What did he think about “ride-sharing 2.0”?

+ I also re-read this piece by Amanda Mull on the follicular maintenance rituals of the rich & famous and those who pretend to the throne (scammers), which is remarkably insightful and, sad to say, 100% true. Hair does not lie.

+ This Jia Tolentino profile of athleisure hawker Outdoor Voices and its founder was equally smart (tho not so funny), nodding at its appeal even as she questions the relentless onslaught of a self-improvement culture. It made me wonder what would happen if I just decided nothing about me needed fixing. What global entities would be destroyed if I didn’t spend time, money, and agony trying to subtract 25 years from my skin, hair, and hips (which, by the way, naturally and almost admirably resist those efforts)? What if healthy and reasonably happy were my only goals? Who would be harmed by this?

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You come out ahead if

I watched that Theranos thing on HBO last night and until the day I die I’ll be thinking, at least I never scammed a handful of billionaires out of their billions and multiple thousands out of their blood. Jesus. It was depressing on so many levels—how ready we are to believe in miracles, how eager we are for messiahs. And what a horrible way to live, playing this massive shell game, all these people just lying to each other every day, and for what? For a little bit of money.

But it also reminded me why I keep coming back here, to this small dumb blog. I love writing stories. I suppose I need to. And here I can put something out into the world that has nothing standing in front of it: no cover charge, no login, no registration, no selling before or after or in between. I’m not planning some great endgame, there’s no massive payday in the pot of some grifter’s rainbow. Don’t get me wrong; I understand why some writers put up paywalls or ads; i.e., writing is their job. For me it’s just another way to breathe. It’s all right here, and it’s free, and it’s whatever I want it to be.

p.s. Free for you, I mean. I fork over actual clams for this nonsense. But I do it with love! And money.

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This group is for people who

I dialed up my 2016ish playlist in the car yesterday morning, on the way to Trader Joe’s. It kicks off with the first song I played in 2016, a song I’ve listened to a thousand times over the years (“Tuna! Are you kidding me!?”), only yesterday I hit rewind and rewind and rewind (the path to Trader Joe’s is paved with stoplights) over these lines:

Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable,
and lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.

It was pathetic, yes. Seeking solace in lyrics is the province of youthful romantics and fans of Brainpickings, and also lovers of soap operas.

All my conversations with friends these days touch on anxiety, on expectations and disappointments and changes we’re struggling to understand. We really have reached a point where we’re looking around and wondering, this is it? I mean it’s not over, but honestly: this is everything? It’s all just…adulthood? And mostly it’s a weird, unbalancing feeling, but also (and I say this as I finally embark on a search for a therapist): it’s nice to share it with the same people who knew you when you were 12 and 22 and 32 and 42 and…

Find some good friends and talk to them, is what I’m saying.

+ This video is such a pure and epic distillation of its time:

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An adventure you won’t soon forget

Well I’m back already. To be honest, I got bored.

I drove up to Madison last weekend to see my good friend Kris and my brother Todd, who just had surgery to remove a basal cell carcinoma from his nose, and his wife Darcy and my cousin Tim and Tim’s daughter Lily. Nobody who reads this knows any of these people but it’s important to set a scene. They’re all good people, btw, and funny and fun to be around. You’d like them a lot. Kris and I had lunch and then went shopping at REI and stopped for coffee at a little French bakery in a strip mall where the gray, bearded proprietor conversed with friends in French and a lady stood behind a small folding table next to the front counter making crepes.

On Wednesday I flew to Portland, Ore, for training. I volunteered to go because I enjoy field trips and had never been to Portland before. It was a beautiful city and I got to shop at Powell’s, which was a long-time goal finally achieved (purchases: Beloved [used], Angle of Repose [used], Don’t Save Anything [new]). We were treated well everywhere we went, although I had to switch both flights from United to Alaska Airlines for reasons I will not elaborate, and ended up getting approximately zero hours of sleep over three days. An exciting failed experiment in mental preparedness and knowledge retention. I’m 90% confident on any given day I’ll get fired from this job, and this trip did not improve those odds, but I’m hanging on til the bitter end. What else do I have to do with my time.

Things I’ve been thinking about:

+ In addition to my brother Todd, my dad is having cataract surgery next month, my uncle is recovering from open heart surgery, and my aunt is recovering from spinal surgery. With the exception of Todd these are all people over the age of 80, but still. Every time I see an especially fit individual going about their daily business, feeling good and free and proud, I think to myself, keep going. Do your best. Just know even your body will betray you in the end.

+ Vanitas.

+ On Being / Elizabeth Gilbert: “And curiosity is an impulse that just taps you on the shoulder very lightly, and invites you to turn your head a quarter of an inch and look a little closer at something that has intrigued you.”

+ On Being / Pico Iyer: “The ultimate luxury now might be just a blank space in the calendar."

+ On Being / Helen Fisher: “I happen to be an atheist, and I always have been. I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at the Hubble Telescope site on the internet, but when you take a look at what’s out there, it’s so staggering — reality is so staggering. The real meanings of life, for me, are in reality, I guess.”

+ My new blog inspiration: Spencer Tweedy. I’m going to follow his idea of keeping regular notes, of checking in, of simply observing and recording without worrying about hooking it to some larger idea.

+ According to the liturgy of liberal dogma or whatever I’m not supposed to read Bret Stephens, but I thought this piece on Neil Armstrong was wonderful.

+ The worst thing in the world is ventriloquists. At the low end of the worst-things-in-the-world spectrum, I mean.

+ I took the red-eye back from Portland on Friday and had a layover in Seattle. We left Seattle at about 12:45 a.m., which for me was nearly three o’clock in the morning. I was wedged into the window seat at the back of the plane, wild-eyed with exhaustion, and I pressed my forehead against the window and watched as we swung out wide over Puget Sound and then back again over the city, a blanket of lights and motion winking back up at us. I understand that flying is a miserable experience, especially now and especially after last week, and yet…I can’t lift into the sky in the dark without thinking a not insignificant part of it is still magic.

+ At the end of The West Wing episode “He Shall, From Time to Time,” Jed Bartlet explains the logic of restocking the government in the event of an emergency to the secretary of agriculture—played by the same dude who played the mayor who turned into a giant snake on Buffy and was going to eat all those kids at graduation—and his very last lines are, “You’ll do fine. People have phenomenal capacity.” And it’s so good! This show was fiction even at the time, lord knows, but do you remember what it felt like to feel that way and not have it seem like a miracle? My god.

I don’t know, man. Life is shitty and sad and hard a lot of the time, even if you’re lucky. Grab whatever makes you laugh or think and run for the hills. You’ll do fine. People have phenomenal capacity.

Kari G Comments
It's all I have to bring today

Holy shit, it’s been 15 goddamn years. And it all started so auspiciously, too.

Is this blog important? Lord no. Is it necessary? Not at all. Does it matter? Oh, it does to me. It’s a record of who I am, or was, of what I think, or thought, of what I remember.

It’s the story of my whole time in New York, of friends and family, of trips and joys and tremendous losses, of great adventures and small defeats, of enduring obsessions and the most insignificant of thoughts. Of what my life has been.

Vive le dumb blog, et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum.

HOWEVER.

15 years is a long time to talk about yourself. I’d like to know that I still have something to say and a reason to keep saying it, because I’ve been phoning it in for a while now. I’m going to take some time to think about where I want this blog to go next and what I want it to be when it learns how to drive. Heh topical humor, nobody drives anymore. Anyway, be cool & let’s hope I’ll see you soon but till then good night & good luck.

xoxo,
kg

3 things for today

1. I’m doing a lot of thinking lately about what work means to me, or more accurately what “success” means to me. If I have to care quite so much about reaching some nebulous goal or set point—if there is a set point—or if it’s okay just to make “learn something” a goal, and then how to get there. How to make sure my goals are mine and not something I’m borrowing from other people, which is a habit I have. Thinking what other people want is what I should want. Or maybe I’m trying to justify laziness. From the New York Times:

But how about just giving up? What about wasting time? Giving up or perhaps giving over. To what? Perhaps what an earlier age called “the life of the mind,” the phrase that describes the sovereign self at ease, at home in the world. This isn’t the mind of rational thought, but the lost music of wondering, the sheer value of looking out the window, letting the world float along. It’s nothing, really, this wasted time, which is how it becomes, paradoxically, charged with “everything,” liberated into the blessed loss of ambition.

2. From Jeff Tweedy’s book Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back):

Sometimes I think it's my job to be inspired. That's what I do that most resembles work. It seems to me that the only wrong thing I could do with whatever gifts I've been given as a musician or an artist would be to let curiosity die. So I try to keep up with other people's craetive output. I read and I listen. I'm lucky that's what I get to do with my time—keeping myself excited about the world and not being discouraged when it loses its spark. By now I've been doing it long enough to say with some confidence that if you can remain open to it and you're not afraid to call it work sometimes, inspiration is limitless.

3. Let’s Go Rain:

+ I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night for the past couple of weeks, which is really fucking with my head. Usually I just lie there and baste in anxiety over the fact that I’ll never fall asleep again which as you can imagine is very effective. But last night I got out of bed and came into the living room and laid on the sofa and read Mary Oliver for a while. It didn’t immediately put me to sleep but it was calming. It was nice to have a companion.

We do one thing or another; we stay the same, or we
change.
Congratulations, if
you have changed.

personalKari GComment
Things to report

1. I’ve waited my entire life for this “Throwing Out My CDs” post on EVITA at Broadway World; it’s smart and delightful and the series is a prime example of loving what you love with your whole good heart. When I was first introduced to EVITA, via cassette tape on a spring break road trip to Florida at the fine age of 17 (shows you the kind of crowd I ran with), I had neither the resources nor the inclination to follow it down as many rabbit holes as Ben Rimalower does, but I appreciate the effort and the passion. For me EVITA is Patti and Patti alone (“So share my glo-ry/So share my coff-ffin”). And Mandy, obviously.

2. Tonight’s agenda: MAMMA MIA! live on stage

3. Tomorrow night’s agenda: SCHITT’S CREEK! up close and personal and live on stage!

4. Bob’s Burgers: I’m sorry/grateful that it took me so long to discover this show (“You son of a snitch! What’s your favorite movie, Squeal Magnolias?”). What a tragic waste of many years of my life, not knowing Bob and Linda and Gene and Tina and Louise. Last night it led me to this Vulture interview with Eugene Mirman, where he answers the silly question “are there too many podcasts?” in the best possible way: “Probably not. In the same way that there aren’t too many TV shows or too many places making french fries. It would be funny if a new band came out and people were like, ‘This is really good, but there’s enough music in the world.’ I don’t know, it’s a medium. No one has to listen to it.” Too many places making french fries! Can you imagine? (cf. so many books)

5. Indie bookstores in DC. Indie bookstores in general! I released my Amazon death grip and am rolling back to days of yore: ordering, anticipating, and collecting goods from my local indie bookstore and my local library. Better ways. The deeper breath. The longer view.

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