Happy to be stuck with you

This song was playing in our elevator lobby today when I left for lunch. It's a nice song, you should take 4:29 out of your harried schedule and listen to it. I mean really l-i-s-t-e-n to it, and then ask yourself: does anyone have a friendlier voice than Huey Lewis? Could there be a sweeter, more sensible, more grounded-in-reality sentiment on which to base both a relationship and a catchy mass-market mid-80s pop tune; i.e., sometimes success in love and life comes down to laziness? No. There couldn't. People should learn from Huey Lewis and his non-"news" News. Thanks.

News

The blogs are gone. And those who blogged the blogs are gone. (fyi: nerd check)

Why blog? Nobody knows. There is no reason. Who blogs? Nobody. Read all of this, though. A fine era is ending.

+ Magic 8 Ball says I'll come up with something blog-ish or blog-like or at least tangentially blog-adjacent sooner or later. Blog-sensitive, even, in order to maintain my highly respected blog cred. In the meantime, here are some interesting takes on recent news!

From trusted internet writer Kaitlyn Tiffany at The Verge: The Aziz Ansari story is a mess, but so are the arguments against it:

But as the Babe story has demonstrated, there’s also been an uncomfortable collision between that democratizing force and the traditional media gatekeepers who seem to resent it, or resent their inability to control it. They do a disservice to the truth when they are willing to call a woman a liar because her choice of platform seems unsavory or unserious, despite its careful vetting of the facts. And it’s problematic that they would choose not to believe she was harmed because she was able to speak of a complicated and painful experience with some candor and humor.

In a perfect world, Grace would have walked out the door. But women are so strongly socialized to put others’ comfort ahead of our own that even when we are furiously uncomfortable, it feels paralyzing to assert ourselves. This is especially true when we are young.

When feminists do try to talk about this sexual imbalance, we get written off as anti-sex prudes. This is strange, because what we actually want is a norm of good sex for everyone involved, instead of the status quo of sex as a male-led endeavor, centered on male pleasure. Women seem to have two sexual possibilities: yes or no. Note that men never have to say “no means no” or even “yes means yes”. They’re the ones posing the question, not answering it.

Men aren’t morons, and they know as well as anyone that a woman who is silent, physically stiff, or pulling away is not exactly aflame with desire. But they also know that we are collectively invested in a social script wherein men push to get sex until women acquiesce. And so they push, even when they know it’s unwelcome, because they can.

Both of these pieces helped me examine my own initial reactions to this story, and that's the end of what I can handle vis-à-vis "news" news these days. I read the news, I share the news, I support the news, but maybe—maybe?—there's too much of it. News for thought.

Instead there's this:

Take time to celebrate everything about today, because what we know now is that whatever happens it won’t be as bad as tomorrow.

And also this!

There is no God, obviously. But Dolly bless us, everyone.

48.

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1. It looks like my head compressed and expanded simultaneously, but I've come too far to go back now.

2. On Wednesday I went to the dermatologist for my annual mole patrol, and as always in the midst of all the poking and prodding she said "those are just age spots" about the age spots on my left cheekbone and we both shrugged, because we both know age spots are the best possible outcome of this exercise.

3. This random astrology site that showed up as the #1 googlet for CAPRICORN confirms the following:

  • Strengths: Responsible, disciplined, self-control, good managers
  • Weaknesses: Know-it-all, unforgiving, condescending, expecting the worst
  • Capricorn likes: Family, tradition, music, understated status, quality craftsmanship
  • Capricorn dislikes: Almost everything at some point

4. All true!

5. It also calls us "the Goat of Fear."

Hello! etc.

So, here we are. I read a tweet this week by someone responding to another tweet who was deeply offended by the tweeter of origin starting their original tweet with "So," and I tried real hard to imagine a world in which I would care about such a thing. You can see which side of the fence I finally came down on.

Then I read this bit about the em dash yesterday and thought well yes, that's me:

You can get along without it and most people do. I don’t remember being taught to use it in elementary, middle, or high school English classes; I’m not even sure I was aware of it then, and I have no clear recollection of when or why I began to rely on it, yet it has become an indispensable component of my writing.

I went back through all the business emails I sent yesterday—it was a lot of emails because I'm very important, as you can imagine—and there wasn't one that didn't include an em dash. Probably the people with whom I work feel I'm addled in some very specific yet harmless way, which is fine and maybe even accurate. I write how I write, man, and I dig punctuation! No harm/no foul. Real talk, though: how do you get along without em dashes? How do you write long sentences without wanting to take a breath? Do you stick to commas (newsflash: I also love commas, parentheses, ampersands & colons), or do you just barrel right through? I'm genuinely curious about this.

/cf. why using periods in texts makes you a monster/

This week was also the first time in many moons that I've been forced to wear actual boots built for snow, rather than my sad battered workaday five-year-old Blundstones, which are fine for almost anything other than a deeply freezing clime. My tip for you: get insulated! I yanked these snow boots from the top shelf at the back of my closet and was lucky they still fit, although my left ankle bone did not agree. Last night after work I had to pick up a 3-lb Amazon package from a locker at D'Agostino, which is five blocks from my apartment, and then an 11-lb sack of laundry from the laundry, which is two blocks away, and by the time I got home I was limping from severe ankle bone trauma. If I were a Civil War-era soldier they likely would have to amputate, due to potential gangrene, but I keep a lot of Polysporin and Band-Aids on hand for just such pedestrian emergencies. I'll live, is what I'm saying. But I will give these boots away.

2018 resolve

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This Yves Klein image is one of my favorites (even knowing it was faked), and it's a yearly reminder—this year more than ever: Go. Do. Open your arms. Open your eyes. Lift your head and jump. Also never ever read another article where skinny bloggers tell you what to eat.

So let's lift a glass to 2018: may it be the year I no longer have to wash my own socks in the bathtub. Forever & ever amen.

Welcome to New York

I came to New York City alone, to live, 11 years ago today. I knew two people here. I had a four-month sublet in an apartment I shared with two graduate students on 89th St. just off Broadway. The man who owned it lived in LA during the winter and for some reason had all the windows boarded up, so it looked like a cave inside a dungeon buried in a basement, but I loved it. It was New York City! I was living the dream!

It was about 50 degrees the day I arrived, and foggy and humid. The first thing I did was walk to the Food Emporium around the corner to buy milk and cereal. I needed to feel like I was home.

I went for a long walk on New Year's Day—this is the first picture I took, with my Canon PowerShot A710, of the reservoir in Central Park. I didn't know how familiar it would be to me one day, how many times I would circle it on a run, how many miles of sweat I would leave behind me.

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And this, on Fifth Avenue:

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And this on Sixth Avenue, which I now pass every day on my way to work:

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And this, which I work right next to:

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I've learned an awful lot since that day—mostly for the better, although I remain naive about many worldly things. And it's been grand, you know? It really has. But it's also time to move the fuck on.

All Shall Be Restored by Kay Ryan

The grains shall be collected
from the thousand shores
to which they found their way,
and the boulder restored,
and the boulder itself replaced
in the cliff, and likewise
the cliff shall rise
or subside until the plate of earth
is without fissure. Restoration
knows no half measure. It will
not stop when the treasured and lost
bronze horse remounts the steps.
Even this horse will founder backward
to coin, cannon, and domestic pots,
which themselves shall bubble and
drain back to green veins in stone.
And every word written shall lift off
letter by letter, the backward text
read ever briefer, ever more antic
in its effort to insist that nothing
shall be lost.

— Kay Ryan

Getting over everything

I was washing my hands in the bathroom at work today and I glanced in the mirror, which I usually avoid because the lighting is terrible and I always look tired. I never look the way I expect to, somehow. The way I used to. The way I feel. But I glanced at myself anyway and then I looked closer and then I wondered if I should wear more makeup. Or less makeup. If my hair was too short. If I looked tired (I looked tired). And then I wondered if or why any of that mattered.

Then I remembered this picture of director Guillermo del Toro speaking at an event earlier this month, which struck me because of how comfortable he looks. This is not a man who's thinking he needs to suck in his stomach because he's sitting in front of an audience. This is just a man sitting.

And tonight I read this article on Laura Dern in New York Magazine:

Ladd and Dern separated when Laura was 2 years old, and she grew up surrounded by outspoken, independent women — her mother’s friends from her Actors Studio days in New York City: Maureen Stapleton, Jean Stapleton, Gena Rowlands, and Geraldine Page. “They never cared about being glamorous, and that was what made them so glamorous to me — and sexy! They were just like men. I didn’t see a difference. They all wanted to be in the mud.” Dern has a vivid recollection of attending the premiere of Superman in 1978, when she was 11. She and her mother were the guests of one of the stars, another Actors Studio grad, Marlon Brando. Also in attendance: the actress Shelley Winters, Dern’s godmother.

“I remember getting out of the car,” says Dern, “and the red carpet was filled with glitz and glamour, women in gowns and high heels. And there was Shelley, wearing jeans with Tretorn sneakers and a gray sweatshirt, a full-length mink coat balanced on her shoulders. No makeup, her hair kind of messy. It was so fierce. And I remember thinking, I want to be that kind of woman.”

Have I ever gotten a job because of the way I look? No. Have I ever lost one? No. But I also haven't netted any husbands, which is surprising when I'm perfectly flawless in every way. Yet I'll remain clean, clothed, and groomed, which is all the world should expect from me from now on.

this quote I love from writer Erin McKean:

You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked “female”.

I would get a tattoo of that on my arm, if I had longer arms.

Xmas 2017

This kid really cracks me up. Somebody gave him a farm set with a bunch of little plastic animals and he crowed like a rooster for 15 minutes.

My best things: 2017

A working list...

The best thing I did for myself in 2017 was cut off all my hair. It made me 1,000 years younger and lighter and happier. I recommend it to anyone with a head.

The best things I read in 2017: Lincoln in the Bardo and This Is Just My Face: Try Not to Stare. I didn't read many books this year, which I regret, but these are difficult times and in difficult times I crave a steady brain-numbing diet of The Big Bang Theory. Sorry man. I know it's the flamin' hot Cheetos of network TV.

The best thing I watched in 2017: The Leftovers. Also The Big Sick. Both are warm and generous and funny and sad and smart as hell. Other best things, on Netflix (thumbs up Netflix): Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King, Mike Birbiglia: Thank God for Jokes.

The best thing I consumed in 2017: afternoon tea service at Janam Tea, which is a cozy, slightly fussy little spot tucked away above a burger joint on the Lower East Side and which at night becomes a speakeasy. I swallowed 65 finger foods and a billion pots of tea in two hours but still I wanted more.

The best thing I replaced in 2017: my microwave. Now I can eat Amy's cheddar cheese burritos at least 10 times a week, the way the lord intended.

The best thing I dropped on the bathroom floor in 2017: a whole bottle of Chanel COCO. Very expensive accidental room fragrance and an exercise not likely to be repeated.

The best twitter account I followed in 2017: it's a tie between We Rate Dogs and  Cute Emergency (both oldies but still goodies). When in doubt, go to the dogs.

The best tweet I faved in 2017 was this one. A close second was this one from Kevin Biegel, a TV producer who keeps a life-sized cutout of Dame Judi Dench in his stairwell, known (naturally) as the Stairwell Dench.

The best Instagram account I followed in 2017: Westiegram (see above re the dogs). + my favorite New York City account ++ my favorite Chicago account

The best thing I bought from Amazon in 2017 was without a doubt this Hypoallergenic Pillow – ADJUSTABLE THICKNESS Bamboo Shredded Memory Foam Pillow - Kool-Flow Micro-Vented Bamboo Cover, Dust Mite Resistant & Machine Washable - Premium Quality - MADE IN USA - QUEEN — which is to say "a pillow." It saved my life. (I also did a tally on all my Amazon purchases for the year and let's just say I finally figured out where all my money goes.)

The best thing I realized in 2017 was that I don't have to care about everything. Last week I listened to a Too Embarrassed to Ask podcast on teens & fake news and the hosts kept asking this kid why he's not freaking out about the state of the world and finally he said "My English paper is more important than collusion." And I thought, yes. It is. Just as the fate of the world does not rest upon my public participation in every moral or social outrage or idiotic miscarriage of justice. It's not lost on me that every new day reveals a new horror, but I can no longer operate at a level of anxiety that dials every single emotion up to 100. Not if I expect to see 2018.

On faith & choices

TV shows reflect the people who make them, but few shows make you feel the creator’s sensibility as palpably as Sherman-Palladino’s. She is a woman of specific tastes: She likes pink, sparkles, and Dorothy Parker, whom her production company is named after, Minnie Mouse (obviously), hats, energy, movement, and using lots of words, except when expressing love, which one should express with deeds, lest things get “schmaltzy.” She writes to delight us by delighting herself, and sometimes, as with the residents of Stars Hollow, the bowler hat in Lorelai’s wedding wardrobe, or the way men unfailingly swoon at her series’ charming but self-centered heroines, she is delighted by things we may not be but that are part of the viewing experience, part of watching something made by someone who has an implacable faith in her own preferences.

The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is delightful in every way.

Working while female

Documentary producer Sheila Nevins at the New York Times:

“If women want to parade as pinups, that has nothing to do with harassment,” Ms. Nevins says. “If I look at a delicious ad for ice cream, I don’t have to devour it or slobber it down. If women sell a product by being provocative, that’s not an invitation to be harassed or abused as professionals in a workplace. There are many faces of Eve. No presentation she chooses says, ‘Abuse me.’”

Pipes of peace

Enjoy these photos from yesterday's Pipes of Peace celebration, an annual event centered around bagpipes, a drum corps, a foxy Scottish reader, a Presbyterian church on Madison Avenue, cocktails at the Carlyle, and dinner at Bistro Chat Noir. Too many cocktails, maybe. But zero regrets.

My favorite exchange of the day, re plans for Christmas:

Byrne to Sarah: "Are you going home?"

Sarah: "No, I'm going to Star Wars."

George Saunders on “A Christmas Carol”

On the occasion of my annual viewing of A Muppet Christmas Carol, here's George Saunders on the book he wishes he'd written:

I love the book’s boldness, how willing it is to throw an arm around the reader and say: This concerns you too. Near the end, Scrooge stands looking at what everyone in the world except Scrooge must by now know is Scrooge’s own grave. The reader can’t help imagining his or her own grave, and to have the same reaction Scrooge is having: That grave is similar to mine, but it is not mine, since mine will never exist, since I am not going to die. Then that bony finger juts out, urging Scrooge to look, and he gets the message, and so do we: death is real, time is short – yes, even for us. But for now, the world exists (it still exists!) and is seen, correctly, as a kind of joyous field of potential play: a place to learn to love.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/1...

Internet writers you should read

On the first day of school there was a woman who was in charge of welcoming new parents, and she was wearing a tennis outfit. “I play every day,” she told me when I asked her about it, and I thought, America!

Female internet writers, that is (some of many! and by no means exclusive to the internet):

First snow

Trip to nowhere

I'm still alive! It's been a hard couple of weeks, work-wise, and I am only just starting to remember it probably won't kill me. Although for a few days there I was hoping it would.

+ my friend Cindy sent me this Friday Puppy video yesterday (we celebrate puppies on Fridays). I watched it fullscreen five or six times right at my desk and it was like all my dreams come true, until it turned maudlin at the end. Still: God bless friends, puppies, Fridays, etc. And naps. And beer. A lot of beer.

The day after Thanksgiving

I walked across the park to the Met this morning for a Rodin–Hockney twofer. Rodin was a bust—heh—unless I somehow overlooked 3/4 of the exhibit, but Hockney was fab. Afterwards I strolled slowly down Fifth Avenue—as one should, especially in autumn—had a croissant at the Plaza, stopped at the Time Warner Center for the loo, and then walked down to see Hello, Dolly! (starring Donna Murphy!).

Lessons learned: 

  1. My favorite thing at any museum is watching people look at art. It makes everyone seem small and vulnerable, the way they inadvertently show their whole open selves.
  2. My favorite photographic subject isn't people or landscapes or architecture, it's things in front of other things.
  3. Lotta hot dogs in this town.
  4. I love the light at the end of any tunnel.