3 things for today

1. I realized today my brain is melting. I read and write every day and walk and talk to people but I am bored out of my gourd. Lord! Endless free time is a bane, brother.

2. I've been reading a lot of poetry since Donald Hall died (it soothes the nerves), and I just came upon this one thanks to Austin Kleon. Following his lead, I printed it out and tacked it to the refrigerator:

"The Voice of God" by Mary Karr

Ninety percent of what’s wrong with you
    could be cured with a hot bath,
says God from the bowels of the subway.
    but we want magic, to win
the lottery we never bought a ticket for.
    (Tenderly, the monks chant, embrace
the suffering.) The voice of God does not pander,
    offers no five year plan, no long-term
solution, nary an edict. It is small & fond & local.
    Don’t look for your initials in the geese
honking overhead or to see thru the glass even
    darkly. It says the most obvious crap—
put down that gun, you need a sandwich.

3. My kickass tee arrived today from a retailer of teen clothing: 


4. I may also have ordered a microwave egg poacher from a Russian bot:


Notes from inside

I watched Shadowlands last night. It's a very Writerly, Actorly movie: earnest and rich but hog-tied to its message of "love can only be processed through pain," which is repeated approximately (by my count) 8,000 times. I adore it. I stand squarely on the side of big emotions in movies, especially when I can process them in the dark privacy of my own living room, although I'm willing to cry anywhere.

Towards the end, as they wait out a rainstorm from the safety of an empty barn, Anthony Hopkins, as C. S. Lewis, tells his wife Joy (Debra Winger), "I don't want to be somewhere else anymore. I'm not waiting for anything new to happen. I'm not looking around the next corner, or over the next hill. I'm here now, and that's enough." And she says, "That's your kind of happy, isn't it?"

When I first moved down here from Madison, I knew eventually I would move to New York, and when I moved to New York I knew eventually I would move back. Both of those things were always in my mind, so I felt temporary in both places, always. There was always something else waiting out there for me, a reason to hold myself in check, a reason to not settle. For over 20 years of my life I lived with that in my head.

This morning the salesperson at J.Crew updated the address on my account when I checked out ("Did you used to live in New York?"). I was hot and tired and in no mood to justify my personal choices to strangers, so when he asked me why I moved back here to the suburbs, all I could think to say was, it's home. And it is, finally. It's only July but it has already been a very long and exhausting year, and although it's strange to say it, and even stranger to feel it sink in, I'm here now, at home, and I'm ready to stay. And that is my kind of happy.

Things I’m a fan of

1. This video falls under an umbrella I think of as "the small internet," (self-contained, non-commercial, existing only for pleasure or wonder or boredom, a danger to no one) which, like dumb blogging, I am a fan of:

2. The Rod Stewart song "Maggie May":

Years ago my dad had to drive down and pick me up at O'Hare when my connecting flight to WI was canceled, and on the way home we listened to his favorite Rod Stewart CD. (He went through a Rod Stewart phase in his seventies.) I remember that he paused in the middle of a sentence to say "She kicks him in the head!" when that line came up, but my favorite line is "The morning sun when it's in your face really shows your age." Lyrically it's meant to be a burn on the cougar-type mature lady who robbed him of his innocence (what an unholy conglomeration of ugly words!), but as someone who's finally owning her own status as a fully adult human woman, I like it.

3. Mixed olives from the olive bar eaten w/ peasant bread, olive oil, cherry tomatoes and sharp cheddar cheese, rinse, repeat

4. Relaxing Radio WBDK from Green Bay. I listen to this when I'm making dinner; it's mostly '70s and '80s soft rock/adult contemporary, which is 100% my vibe this summer/always.

5. "What's the best thing that happened today?"

Around the horn

IMG_0996 (1).JPG

It’s 88 degrees outside, and I can hear the freeway from this upstairs room, cars speeding through the inky hot night. It will be 101 degrees today, and as my daughter said last night, the heat feels oppressive and strange and scary. “I almost wish I were in school,” she said, “because summer feels weird and bad.” That was always how I felt about summer, too, at her age. I didn’t have enough to do, and my neurotic brain took over and drove me crazy. The heat was stifling and lonely.

I assumed I was the only person who felt this way about summer, which was naive. There's no way to be the only person on this planet who does or feels anything, is there? And yet since we're all unique and special starfish, the opposite must also be true. As usual I have not taken the time to develop these theories in any serious detail, so I'll just stuff them in the same box as "literally everything is easier said than done," which also sounds right but is equally unproven.

My standard summer sad issues (flashback 2015 or any other year) have not been aided by these days of sloth and unemployment. Every year I try to steel myself against it, but this weather is so demanding! So pleased with itself, so 5:27-a.m.-to-8:26-p.m.-in-your-face nosy. Take a break already! Nobody needs that much daylight. The only good thing about summer is not wearing socks, and if it comes down to a choice between July and socks, believe me I'll take the socks.

3 things for today

1. I bought $14.69 worth of pork loin at the grocery store today (0.98 lb @ $14.99 / lb). This seemed extravagant and stupid (is it? it is) but I had no basis for comparison, not being a regular purchaser of loin, nor of any flesh-based products (I don't like cooking meat). But I've had this Real Simple recipe sitting on my coffee table since I moved in and that seemed like a sad way to lead a life. Stupid loin for everybody! Long live the loin!

2. Thanks to a tip from a friend I just procured a ticket for an encore showing of Eugene Onegin at the cinema on Wednesday. It was the very first production I saw at the Met when I moved to New York (Feb 07, yo) and it is burned into my best memories forevermore. If you're smart, you'll join me (in spirit; no stalkers!). p.s. I will be crying, which is not unusual vis-à-vis me and this opera. Or any opera. They really hit me in the hambone.

3. From a Talk of the Town piece by Nicolas Niarchos on pirate radio stations in the New Yorker: "Between 87.9 and 92.1 FM, Goren counted eleven illegal stations, whose hosts mainly spoke Creole or accented English. Pirates, he said, 'offer a kind of programming that their audiences depend on. Spiritual sustenance, news, immigration information, music created at home or in the new home, here.' "

The human condition! Like wildfires, or wild flowers, people will poke through no matter what.

4. From Donald Hall's The Best Day the Worst Day, another kind of community:

Bob Thornly, who owned the store four hundred yards away around a curve, dispensed not only gas and food and hardware and stovepipe and New Hampshire ashtrays, but also facilitations. I told him I needed a typist and he thought of Lois Fierro, half a mile farther down the road, who handled my letters and manuscript for two decades. At the store I picked up the Globe every morning. We shopped there for milk and sundries. Jane bought crockery there that sits in the pantry still. In November I found felt-lined boots for winter. We dropped in at Thornly's a couple of times a day, chatted with Bob, gossiped with neighbors, and heard new jokes. My cousin Ansel told us it got so cold he saw a fox putting jumper cables on a jackrabbit. Jane called Thornly's store a continual party.

Up north

How it works is, every time you stand up from a chair, someone else sits in it.

Happy birthday, SarahB!

Thanks for many years of domestic partnership and international travel!

Somebody said, What do you want on a desert island for the rest of your life? No contest. A bar! An open bar. — Elaine Stritch

One more thing before I go

I took surreptitious pix of this lady at the Musée Rodin back in 2010, as we were both staring up at that Thinker. I loved her jacket but really appreciated her whole vibe: German, it seemed (I'm an expert at making snap judgments based on zero intel). She looked stylish and comfortable: her dressing was fit for the day and her ventures, and she wasn't busy hiding anything. That was the key. Here are my comfortable shoes, here's my face, here's my waistline. She looked strong, and I admired that.

I think about her whenever I adhere to my own personal aesthetic in the public sphere, which as I've noted previously can best be described as campfire lazy (all allegiance to the preppies notwithstanding), whenever I leave the house without makeup wearing my deeply unflattering Birkenstocks, terrible shorts, and a wrinkled button-down shirt. My stomach's gotten flabby, my thighs have that cellulite look & feel. And I pay attention to the way people notice me, or don't, and the way I carry myself, which is cockier than usual. I feel free. There's much talk about how women of a certain age (that would be anything over 30) become invisible, but I like to think we become more visible to ourselves. There's power in choosing how you'll be seen, in deciding what you'll reject and what you'll say yes to. I apologize to this poor woman for the stalking, but I thank her for the rest.

“I have some updates”

I'll be honest: my favorite kind of blogging is dumb blogging. Not dumb as in "idiot" (although I enjoy that, too), or silent, but dumb as in...nonessential, I guess. I'm crafting my own definition to suit my needs, but it falls somewhere along the lines of this entry I just stumbled across in my trusty Merriam-Webster app:

5 : lacking some usual attribute or accompaniment ; especially : having no means of self-propulsion • a dumb barge

Interesting formatting and punctuation choices employed in that app, by the way.

"Dumb blogging" as I mean it is best demonstrated by these two tweets from Matt Jacobs (@capndesign), who I do not know but have followed for a very long time, probably because I enjoy tweets like these (and what are tweets but v, v short blog posts without titles?):

To me those are perfect tweets, and the best, most tolerable kind of social media interaction; i.e., "having no means of self-propulsion." They do nothing to advance any dialogue; he's having a conversation with himself. Again, I don't know this man personally but I do know X, Y, and Z about him, and it doesn't matter whether I share any of his interests or opinions (although I do, which is also why I follow him on Twitter). But that's not really what it's about, either: it's just about opening the channel, and keeping it open. I can mark it and draw from it what I will, and move on.

All of this harks back to the good olde days, when blogging was still A Thing and Twitter was young and unafraid, although to some people it has always been anathema. Navel gazing. Worse than death! (I am too tired to search for examples of those sad opinions so please self-google if you care to learn any more about this important topic.)

But it also reminds me of this old post on "phatic communication" by danah boyd, which I have handily bookmarked for my eternal reference:

I vote that we stop dismissing Twitter just because the majority of people who are joining its ranks are there to be social. We like the fact that humans are social. It's good for society. And what they're doing online is fundamentally a mix of social grooming and maintaining peripheral social awareness. They want to know what the people around them are thinking and doing and feeling, even when co-presence isn't viable. They want to share their state of mind and status so that others who care about them feel connected. It's a back-and-forth that makes sense if only we didn't look down at it from outer space. Of course it looks alien. Walk into any typical social encounter between people you don't know and it's bound to look a wee bit alien, especially if those people are demographically different than you.

I've heard from so many friends lately who are despairing at the state of the world (as am I, for the love of Christ!!!!!), but small, brief glimpses like these, from total strangers, are still something I look to for hope and encouragement. They're lightweight and frictionless and only as large as they need to be, and sometimes that's enough to help speed the way, bit by bit, just a little bit, on any given day.

One of my favorite things to do when I lived in New York was to take the M10 bus home in the evening and look up into the apartments lining Central Park West as we passed, and just...get a peek at what lives other people were leading. They were strangers, too, and separate from me in many unfathomable ways, but also not; we were sharing the same street and the same city with each other in our own private/public fashion. That is its own form of community. And opening up a window here is what I love, still, about this dumb blog.

I can imagine a few reasons why

I haven't been shy about hating 90% of women's fashion, have I? I'd hate to give the impression that I approve of skinny jeans, thong underwear, any kind of shapewear, heels, cold-shoulder tops, or ruffles. I'd positively die of embarrassment if any of these products thought they had earned my endorsement by virtue of my silence. For the record, then, they can all fuck right off.

[ insert caffeine break ]

Anyway, over the weekend I bought men's boxer shorts to sleep in, because women's pajama shorts have let me down. Have you ever seen these things? As a general rule they are 3 millimeters long, covered in either tiny animal prints, florals, or (obviously) ruffles, and they tend to come in any combination of the following colors: pink. This is wrong! This is all wrong! Also they are always sold out in my sizes.

Says a person at Quora:

Women can and do wear men’s underwear and all other clothes all the time. Right now, men’s boxer shorts are the rage among women. Men’s clothes are cut a little bigger and allow women to relax, stretch out, and be comfortable. The women’s fashion industry exploits and colludes against women by dictating a very tight fashion fit for all women’s fashion products. You get a little thing and pay big bucks for just about everything in women’s fashion. High heels are just one example. They are the most uncomfortable shoes on earth.

My experience with men's boxers is seeing them on women like Sandra Bullock or Kate Hudson in breezy romantic comedies, where they are mostly used to convey sexiness, which is fine for romantic comedy but tedious for life. How have we, as a species, allowed ourselves to be backed into this corner? How have we agreed that yes, sexy is the only way I want to present myself to the world or my own personal apartment, which I alone occupy, pay rent for, and am forced to clean every other goddamn week or, if I'm honest, maybe once a month? I don't want to look sexy, I want to sleep in shorts. Case closed!

Says another person at Quora:

No, it will make a woman way too uncomfortable because men underwear are designed in such a way that some extra spacing is left for the reproduction organ.

Oh! I've also seen them on men. And they seem to be doing okay.