The only thing you need to read about the royal wedding

Actually I have read many, many things, but as a general life rule I'll follow Caity Weaver anywhere she goes:

“Why do you care?” is a question that has been slapped against me like a cold, slimy haddock carcass many times since the royal wedding became a topic of conversation last fall. The answer is: I don’t care at all, and yet I must know every detail or I will die. Do I love “Suits,” the show on which Meghan Markle portrayed a former paralegal? Yes. Have I ever seen “Suits”? Absolutely not. Do I have plans to watch it? No, no offense. Am I addicted to Meghan Markle? One hundred percent. What is the cure? More Meghan. Am I Meghan? Unclear. Am I not not Meghan? Almost certainly. What would I do if Meghan attempted to install herself as a monarch ruling over the United States? Strike her down. Do the inner workings of the British monarchy affect me in any way? Meghan loves cross-body bags.


In the bedroom

My bedroom is unfinished, a subtle parlance for "ran out of money to spend on furniture because I'll be unemployed soon." You can see it here, in this crappy mobile photo:


You can also see the shirt I cast aside after work because I live free now, the way god intended, and the folding patio chair I bought for $24 the first day I came to town so I'd have something to sit on while I watched three hours of The Big Bang Theory on an enormous TV in an otherwise empty living room. I keep it here for the pillows, not an imaginary friend.

This looks sad, I know. I shot it at an angle so you could gauge the size of the room, somewhat, which is large and aside from the bed mostly empty. I failed, obviously; instead it looks like I'm suspended from the ceiling, like a spider woman or a bat woman or even an ant woman, I suppose, and there's a whole chunk of room to the left that's cropped out. You'll have to trust me that it's a large space and mostly empty, and be impressed that I bothered to make the bed. Jk, I always make the bed. I'm not sure how the universe would survive if I didn't.

Anyway, we've come here today to talk about this bed: the Chapman bed, from Room & Board, which has a steel frame that weighs approximately 8,000 lbs., and a detachable headboard upholstered and stocked in "Sumner charcoal," whatever that means. It smelled a bit, for a couple of weeks, that headboard. Some reviewers have commented about this on their website ("The makers need to sort this out!" insists "Keen to sleep" in the Chicago area), and the delivery guy mentioned it, but the paint and the carpet were also new so the apartment smelled regardless. At a certain point, what's one more smell. Buy some air freshener, Keen. Dig deep.

It's a beautiful bed, though: sturdy and soundless. It's so heavy I'm afraid sometimes it'll drop through the floor, but so far {knock on wood}. The room itself is very dark, with a low ceiling that opens to a huge fanlight dormer window on the south side, which at first I found charming but soon had to cover over with a flimsy paper shade from Home Depot because I was rising with the sun. Not what the lord intended. Now it's like sleeping in a Holiday Inn, on the ground floor just off the pool, or like a bunker inside a cave inside the mouth of a dragon, or whatever that thing is that swallows the Millennium Falcon in Episode V; i.e.; it is tremendous. There's a tree right outside the window and just beyond that a small man-made pond with a fountain that runs during the day, and altogether this too-large, very dark room is a haven of peace and tranquility, truly. (This morning, a text from CV: "You do love the sleeping and the naps!")

But what I've actually come here to talk about today is the mattress, this mattress, which is as they say - Firm. Too much, maybe, I said to myself at first, when it arrived with the bed. And I am A Sleeper who likes a firm mattress! But there's firm and then there's cement. 

Which leads me to the thing I've honestly come here to talk about today, which is that I finally realized the secret to sleeping successfully on a very firm mattress, which is that you must sleep on sheets that are soft in equal yet antipodal measure. That is, the sheets should be as soft as the bed is hard. Do you get me? There is no other way. In the beginning I tried a set of cheap sheets from Target, which were scratchy and angry, as if rest were the enemy and I a mere pawn in some thread count tug-of-war I had never agreed to play. So I ordered these Brooklinen luxe sheets instead, which cost an insane small fortune, I'm aware. Who am I, King Louis the XVI? Yes, yes I am. Meet your small dead ruler of France. I paid the price, though, since the sly weavers who shipped them to me then proceeded to email and fax approximately 65 times a day, requesting my review, which naturally I refused to give before I finally blocked them for good. Ask and ye shall never receive.

Yet here it is now: try these sheets. And if you want to, this very firm mattress. And while you're at it, this two-ton bed. You will lose your job and your livelihood and eventually your home, I expect, because you'll never get out of this bed in the morning, and in the end you’ll just dissolve there, but it's worth it. I promise.

p.s. This is not a sponsored post. Who would pay for this garbage?

Summer reading

It's no lie to say this is the greatest video I've ever seen, nor even an exaggeration, and special bonus points for George Saunders. Go Dog Lincoln! He looks so humbled by the weighty mantle history has placed upon his haunches. Rest well, olde fellow.

Words, recently

We haven't checked in on my list of favorite words lately, which is a shame. Everyone should keep a favorite list of something. What else do people love in the world, if not random words? Flowers, I suppose. Birds. Somebody has to love the birds. You may love superheroes or hoagies, I don't care. It doesn't matter—just love something stupid and frivolous with your whole great heart. 1980s soap operas! It can be something that means something to you and you alone, or something you only share with a blog. Just fave your life away.

p.s. I got a new phone last winter / surprise surprise / and had to re-download the Merriam-Webster app, which wiped the slate clean vis-à-vis my old list of favorite words. Life careth not, nor I: there are always new words to like. Thus is the magic of renewable resources! Somebody tell Scott Pruitt.

Also props to the adjectives, clearly. Every writing lesson I've ever sat through/read/thought about has been crystal fucking clear on the directive to KILL THE ADJECTIVES ("they encourage lazy writing," eschew surplusage, etc.) but alas. Adjectives (and exclams! & parentheses!) are the lifeblood in my vampire veins. I love them the way an artist loves paint, or clay, or light. Why would you cast away a tool, when sometimes it’s the only tool you need?

In order of "Newest," as of this a.m.:

redolent. adjective :: exuding fragrance; aromatic

sacrosanct. adjective :: most sacred or holy; inviolable

replete. adjective :: fully or abundantly provided or filled; complete [NOTE: I watched Four Weddings and a Funeral last weekend, and John Hannah describes Simon Callow as "replete" in his eulogy. M-D says the word also means "fat and stout," but I like to believe he means "complete" when he uses it. There is no better description for that character, who has relatively little screentime but is rich and fully drawn.]

fungible. adjective :: being something (such as money or a commodity) of such a nature that one part or quantity may be replaced by another equal part or quantity in paying a debt or settling an account [NOTE: this feels like a needlessly complicated definition]

axiomatic. adjective :: taken for granted; self-evident

redoubtable. adjective :: formidable; worthy of respect

shipwright. noun :: a carpenter skilled in ship construction and repair

stygian. adjective :: of or relating to the river Styx; extremely dark, gloomy, or forbidding

protean. adjective :: displaying great diversity or variety

catholic. adjective :: comprehensive, universal; broad in sympathies, tastes or interests [NOTE: see Sondheim, Stephen]

spiv. noun :: a man who lives by his wits without regular employment; slacker

riffraff. noun :: disreputable persons; rabble

flinty. adjective :: stern, unyielding [NOTE: see Something's Gotta Give]

revenant. noun :: one that returns after death or a long absence [NOTE: ick, like "The Monkey's Paw"]

elide. transitive verb :: to suppress or alter something by elision; to strike out; to leave out of consideration

rum: ??? [NOTE: I have zero memory of looking up this word]

Summer starts now


First: quasi-nautical dressing is my favorite kind of dressing, if you can carry it off. Please know who you are, or we all will pay the price.

Second: I don't care if Book Club is terrible. Mamma Mia! (mandatory exclam) is deeply terrible, yet I love it in any form and will be at the head of the line for Mamma Mia 2, 4evermore!! And here's Hunter Harris at NY Mag with a timely query: "Are you ready for the summer of Andy Garcia?":

Here are things I would like to do with Andy Garcia–as-Mitchell, in no particular order: Read a trashy YA romance on a lawn chair next to his pool (that’s not an innuendo for something — I don’t have access to a pool in New York, so that would be really cool and fun). Drink white wine on his pool’s inflatable swan. Speed walk through his (no doubt cavernous home’s) hallways, holding a Nokia 511, and flipping through leather folder full of “important papers,” like Andy Garcia-as–Terry Benedict did in the Ocean’s movies. This is not an exhaustive list.

Jesus christ, yes.

Most things in life are terrible. Most people are terrible, which you will know if you've ever met any, or stood in line behind them at a pharmacy on a Saturday afternoon. Which is why it's incumbent upon us, I feel, to gather ye rosebuds & Andy Garcias while we may. As Tim Carmody puts it in today's NOTICING newsletter, "The whole country is broken. Fun is harder to find all over. Yet somehow, we do what we can."

Harris again:

Andy Garcia gets at what’s best about Book Club, a movie about having fun and getting laid: He was hot back in the ’80s and then in the ’90s and then again in the 2000s, but he’s even hotter now in a more casual, “Yes, I actually can’t wait to turn 60 and drink wine with you” way.

Every movie should be about having fun and getting laid and drinking wine with 60-year-olds, as far as I'm concerned. Or dogs solving crimes. That's it. We need no other movies.

10 things for today

1. Sometimes when you start blogging you don't want to stop. I don't, that is. I'm guessing this has to do with the vast amount of time I spend alone these days, talking to myself.

2. At the end of every work day (4:30 pm CST) I walk down the stairs and tell myself "Take a nap, man," and then I do. It’s fucking glorious.

3. The worst song in the history of the world is "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones. Every time I hear it I want to rip my ears right off my head and FedEx them to Mick Jagger. Probably he'd think it was a compliment, though. Probably he'd think it was some crazy come-on. The last thing in the world I need is Mick Jagger showing up on my doorstep carrying my ears in a box. "Are these yours, mate?" Although how would I even know what he was saying. The second worst song is anything by that band that plays the flute. You know the one I mean.

4. One odd thing about my enormous apartment complex is that the buildings all have the same apartment numbers; only the building number is different. This means that frequently the Amazon person will leave a package for me outside the building next door, where I'll stumble across it three days later than expected, after calling the other Amazon people to ask repeatedly where is my package. Let's hope any shady characters I've crossed in the past who still have axes to grind make this same mistake.

5. In junior high and high school band, I played the flute. I was okay and all—1st chair!—but it's a deeply unpleasant instrument for anything other than carrying in a parade or easily stuffing into a backpack. I chose it because the pipes sat in front, orchestra-wise. My own particular patented brand of passive-aggressive narcissism runs bone deep.

6. The best instrument would be the violin or the cello or the oboe, imho, or anything that is the star of an Air Supply song. So what would that be? Piano? Fog horn? Balloons? Fax if you know the answer.

7. I've decided from this day forward I'm only going to read romance fiction. Everything else is garbage. (I kid, obviously, except for the part where I'm dedicating the remainder of my life to reading romance fiction.)

8. If someone wants to pay me to do nothing but describe the plots of old soap operas in blog form, I would be the happiest person alive. 

9. This post

10. These pictures

11. This twete

12. Nick Miller, Nick Miller. My secret pet theory is that Jake Johnson is the greatest actor who ever lived, based solely on the weird, specific, note-perfect character choices he made for the portrayal of this sweet, mad fool. One day I shall make my case to the public and we will all rejoice.

13. This new movie Book Club, I suspect, was made especially for me. Please, god, don't let Diane Keaton crap it up. Amen, Proust, Voltaire!

On voluntary aloneness

From Linda Holmes at NPR, "The luxury of solitude":

We have a certain cultural mistrust of solitude, I think. It is for weirdos and lost souls, spinsters and misfits. But in truth, I can't tell you what a luxury I think it is to be entitled to it. Most of the time, I want good company, like most people do. But the experience of earned, voluntary aloneness is, among other things, instructive. I don't think you can really understand how accustomed you are to being scheduled and operating off an internal to-do list at almost all times until you think to yourself, "My goal will be to get to Providence by 4," and then you think, "Why is there a goal?"

+ see also: "Everything you make is an engine," flagged in Laura Olin's weekly newsletter, which you should subscribe to

Ship it

I got scolded the other day, at the post office, by a postal worker. I used a free Priority Mail envelope to ship a postage-paid package when what I was supposed to do was buy a damn box. "I'll let it go this time," she told me, the weight of the world clearly on her shoulders. As if my single $1.59 oversight were the cause of all their billions of dollars and decades worth of difficulties.

I apologized and offered to buy a box anyway, just to make things square, but she brushed me off and I bolted without waiting for the tracking slip, fully expecting the return of my regrettable Eileen Fisher purchase would fail to reach its destination—would, in fact, somehow live to haunt me through the rest of my days—but there was an email from Eileen herself waiting in my inbox by the time I got home, letting me know it was already being processed. Thanks America! Vive la poste!

The reason I recount this riveting anecdote is that I've been watching old General Hospital clips of Alan and Monica Quartermaine on YouTube lately, because the world is too much with us, and I realized for the first time what a profound impact those characters had on my mental and emotional development as a tween (early '80s, natch).

I've talked about the soaps and my love of epic soap love stories and general soap idiocy before, but it hit me that this pair in particular really made an impression, relative to my long obsession with terrible marriages and people who love each other in spite of the fact that they also deeply loathe each other and should never even occupy the same room. On some very literal level I fear their constant bickering and cheating and splitting up and making up actually may have made me think that's what a marriage was supposed to be, and that anything less dramatic wouldn't even be worth it. Which is a huge bummer and probably something I should investigate in detail one day soon, after I finish all the napping.

But they were also very sexy together, and very together together: rich and smart and snarky and beautiful, and resolutely grown up. They were doctors who lived in the mansion he bought her for their wedding (?), along with the rest of his insanely wealthy and constantly meddling extended family (??). Alan was possessive and wildly jealous and once tried to kill Monica and her dumb lover Rick Webber by dropping the roof of the mansion on them (only to injure his own hand in the process, thereby destroying his career as a surgeon), and later in life he faked amnesia and once got addicted to pain pills before tragically dying of a heart attack during a hostage situation. Monica had a fling with Alan's nephew at a spa and survived breast cancer and menopause and multiple hostage situations, and she was confident and conniving and would never, ever have felt bad about using the wrong envelope at the post office.

Anyway, that's it. As I pulled out of the post office parking lot I said to myself, "Monica Quartermaine would never apologize for this!" I offered to buy the stupid box! The end.

Branson, MO

From my friends at the New York Times, "How to Maintain Sibling Relationships":

The quality of sibling relationships is one of the most important predictors of mental health in old age, according to The American Journal of Psychiatry. Research shows that people who are emotionally close to their siblings have higher life satisfaction and lower rates of depression later in life. In times of stress or trauma, siblings can provide essential emotional and monetary support.

I read that aloud to my brothers while we sat on the porch drinking beer, and then I asked for some money.


"The importance of you"

Nobody has the friends you have. Very few people live on your particular street or go to your particular coffee shop or bike along the same path as you. Nobody has your dog, your backyard, your weird toys or odd books. As it turns out, the most enduring form of originality is happening at the extremely local level. And this truth is changing the landscape of originality in photography. So, while drone images, travel photography, urban photography and celebrity portraits all feel cliché at this point, the individuality of one’s own private world of thoughts, values and passions are as fresh as ever.