The Most Incredible Shoes Ever

April 16, 2021

Butterscotch yellow quilted satin mini-pumps with a buckle and fur. Amazing! From the 1995 movie A Little Princess. Yes, I re-watched it recently; yes, I thought about the plot through the lens of contemporary issues (“Just because you’re nice to the slave at boarding school doesn’t mean you get off the hook for being a colonizer in India, Sarah!”); yes, I am fine with being a capitalist POS if it means I can have these shoes.

gah amazing

The Perfect Pandemic Book

March 16, 2021

Earlier in the pandemic I wanted to write a poem that would sort of mimic the structure of Patricia Lockwood’s “Rape Joke,” except it would be called “The Perfect Pandemic Book” and then would subsequently replace “book” with “TV show” or “movie” or whatever and involve a lot of evocative (but humorous!) imagery about loneliness, fear, germs, escapism, nightmares, and so forth, but then I realized I’m not a great poet so someone please take this off my hands, thanks so much.

Schools of Therapy

March 1, 2021

One of these days I promise I will get around to writing my essay titled “Against Therapy,” but until then, here are two satirical (but possibly very effective!) modalities of therapy I’ve invented. Feel free to practice them on yourselves!

1. Radical Death Therapy

This therapy involves a patient speaking continuously for forty-five minutes in a manner typical to normal psychoanalysis/therapy. At the end of the session, the therapist smacks the patient with a rolled up newspaper and yells, “Don’t you realize you’re going to die some day?!”

2. Internal Rock Therapy

This is a kind of mindfulness-based therapy that involves the therapist encouraging the patient at every turn to imagine a large, immovable rock inside of them, that cannot be hurt by any external force. Problems in your love life? Think about the rock. Boss treating you poorly? His taunts can’t hurt the rock. Feeling like a piece of driftwood at the mercy of the forceful river of life? You are the rock. You see where I’m going with this.

A Tweet

February 9, 2021

How many critics called Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation A Rebours for the 21st century? Probably a lot, right?

Fashion Inspo

February 7, 2021

Recent fashion inspiration includes:

Claire Nivola’s illustrations in The Friday Nights of Nana (would seriously wear every dress in this book).

Florence Pugh’s outfits in Lady Macbeth. You can’t really get a good feel for it in this picture but she wears the most ridiculously amazing salmon-colored dressing gown thing.

Two Lists

January 27, 2021

The foods the Israelites pined for in the desert after fleeing Egypt:

Meat

Cucumbers

Melons

Leeks

Onions

Garlic

Fish

The names/nicknames T.S. Eliot’s childhood friends:

Dago Parker

Chicken Gilbert

Doodle Page

Butch Wagner, Pat Sullivan

Snowball Wolfpert

Elephant-mouth Hellman

Gander Giesecke

The Most Romantic Promise

December 28, 2020
Til social ostracism do we part

A New Disorder

December 17, 2020

A friend of mine sent me a link to a thread on therapist-dedicated subreddit, in which the original poster asked if anyone else who worked with offenders felt uncomfortable with the concept of cancel culture. A few interesting anecdotes and ideas came up, that led to lots of questions (in my head, that is) about cancel culture, but the most interesting thing to come out of it was this:

I work primarily with OCD and anxiety disorders and I’ve seen [fear of being canceled] popping up more and more in OCD content in the form of moral scrupulosity. Compulsions are often checking and re-checking accounts to make sure they didn’t accidentally say or post something homophobic, racist, or otherwise offensive.

This is so fascinating to me! It’s like, the newest version of Truman Show Delusion! If the person who is to Internet Scrupulosity what Marc Feldman is to Munchausen’s by Internet is out there, please get in touch so I can write a long form piece about your attempt to get this into the DSM!

Twelve Foreign Concepts With No American Equivalent

November 17, 2020

Coming soon to a self-help-inflected Netflix documentary!

Jutpälvirsaippy (Finnish): A warm, fuzzy feeling induced by thinking of your nation’s robust social services

Zzxjoanw (Maori): A secondhand embarrassment one gets when watching foreign political leaders behave poorly  

Voirepergne (French):  The miraculous ability of some women to eat high fat diets and remain slim (alternative, archaic: the miraculous ability of some women to look stylish even when wearing rags, or, the miraculous ability of some women to somehow be pretty even when hideous)

Schnitzengruben (German): a friendliness that nevertheless grates or disgusts the recipient

卞工几と 日ヨ工几呂 (Japanese): the sense of mental well-being that comes from knowing one has the exactly ideal number of possessions

Kamelåså (Danish): a cozy aesthetic that should be easily achieved with purchases from large Scandinavian chain stores yet somehow looks stupid and cheap if you live outside the Arctic Circle 

Dututebatti (Luxembourgish): a fluency with myriad languages, acquired early in life and seemingly with ease

쟁반 받쳐줄게요 (Korean): the ability to blend in to or be embraced by a wide variety of societies and cultures; alt. impeccable social skills (useful idiom: “polite tourist in a china shop”)

Schulleilis (Gaelic): a soft and universally pleasing tone of voice

Darajuiwolo (Yoruba): a combination of perseverance, strength, and optimism, all of which are readily understandable to English speakers, and yet none are able to harness the power of darajuiwolo without purchasing a book or listening to between six and eleven Ted talks on the subject

“Ornamental Eremitism”

October 28, 2020

What hermits were and how they lived, once quite familiar, now became shrouded in the kind of mist that fostered romantic images that persist to this day. Peter France, in his book Hermits: The Insights of Solitude, noted a practice, which sprang up in England in the early 1700s and lasted almost until the 1900s, of wealthy families establishing a hermit in their formal gardens as an ornamental fixture for the edification and entertainment of guests. He quotes from an architectural guide published in 1767 which featured detailed suggestions for housing these hermits appropriately, ranging from the simple hut “ten feet, nine inches square made of trees and lined with moss” right up to the top of the line, the “Gothic Grotto, made of six rooms lined with shells.” A Miss Cynthia Aldburgham remembered that as a child, visitors to her family home could tour the grounds and “be shown a hermit who sat in a cave fondling a skull.” Presumably, he was given advance warning when his presence at the cave entrance would be required!

A Mr. Powys of March advertised for a hermit to live in an underground grotto for seven years. The apartments provided were commodious including a cold bath, a chamber organ (!), and as many books as the hermit desired. If he needed any convenience beyond the food provided daily from Mr. Powys’ own table, he was to ring a bell and his needs would be met. Ideal as this might sound, no one lasted more than four years. The most long-lasting of these ornamental hermits appears to have been one who “for fourteen years was Hermit to Lord Hill’s father; and sat in a cave in that worthy baronet’s grounds with an hourglass in one hand and wearing a beard once belonging to an old goat from sunrise to sunset.” The romantic image of the melancholy hermit appeared to have little to do with spiritual motivation, even if provided with an organ, presumably to play religious music to enhance the atmosphere!

~Consider the Ravens: On Contemporary Hermit Life by Paul A. Fredette and Karen Karper Fredette