Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Readers

July 15, 2016

Standing in an airport security line, amidst the stumbling iPhone zombies, is a boy, about nine or ten, intently reading Matilda.  At one point, he closes the book, clutches it to his chest, and begins almost stroking it.  “This book,” he says to his mother,”is the best book.”  G-d should bless me with a child like this!

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Grieving in Paris

May 27, 2016

Yesterday, an old friend of mine died.  Katie Anne was not chronologically old––in fact, she was only 28––but she was a friend I hadn’t seen in years.  We knew each other during a stay at a medical hospital in Long Island, fourteen years ago.  We were both in for anorexia, and while I got better a few years down the line, she never did.  I harbor a little guilt over my relationship with her, because at one point, back in the days when AIM was a thing, she used to message me out of the blue to tell me how bad off she was, and it sparked a lot of negative feelings in me (typical eating disordered combo of jealousy and threat and hopelessness, for herself and for me and for everyone I knew from the hospital) so I told her I couldn’t talk to her until she was doing better.  One second later, I unceremoniously blocked her.  And that was that for a few years.

And then after my book came out, she emailed me to ask if I remembered her and to say she had read and liked it, particularly because she recognized so many of the people in it.  We emailed often, after that.  She was totally adorable, peppering her emails with a million emojis, which was an endearing habit coming from her.  She was so quick to prop me up if I wrote something even the smallest bit self-deprecating, which I took to come from an acute sensitivity to another person’s suffering, honed after years of suffering herself, and being surrounded by young women quick to point out their many perceived flaws.  I knew she had struggled a lot and gone through many rounds of treatment in many different institutions––she even had a stint in a Christian facility that she said attempted to exorcise girls of their issues/demons––but she was always trying to be optimistic about it.  “It’s been rough but I’m finally on the right path!”  I guess I had convinced myself that though she wasn’t totally well, she was probably just on the edge of fine, at least health-wise.  We were supposed to meet up for lunch once, but scheduling got in the way: she was moving to Florida, where things would be better, she was sure.  She had fond memories of Florida, having spent some productive time in treatment there.  And the weather!  That was enough to make anyone want to move, she thought.

And then yesterday, my friend texted to tell me Katie Anne was dead.

I was just sitting down to get my eyebrows waxed, and I started to cry slightly and the aesthetician thought it was because of the pain, so I told her no, someone had passed away, and she hugged me.  It would have been funny if it hadn’t been so depressing.  When I got back to my house (er, flat), I just sat there screaming inside my head for a while.  What bullshit.  What absolute fucking bullshit that kind of death is.  I made the mistake of mentioning it to a professional acquaintance I was emailing with, and she wrote back that she had her own battle with anorexia too and so she “understood” and could help if I needed it.  Perhaps unfairly, I found it patronizing.  I don’t need anyone to explain this to me.  I know all about this.

I’ve written and thought a lot about the strange, inevitable machinations of grief, and how sometimes the things we say and do in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy can look weird and self-serving.  I probably spent a good fifteen minutes staring through blurry eyes at the funeral home guestbook yesterday, trying to decide what I could write there that wouldn’t sound like I was thinking about this in terms of me, rather than in terms of her.  It was a regressive instinct, actually, because I used to think the only appropriate way to grieve, unless it was for a close family member or a best friend, was to be silent, but now I know better.  Now I know that if you are human, and you have lost someone, even if it wasn’t your spouse or your kid or your parent, doing nothing is really not an option.  And so saying something, even if it sounds awkward, even if it is about your pain more than the person who is gone––that’s okay.  Because we’re all hurting, and it has to get out, somehow.

Last night before I went to sleep I scrolled through some old emails Katie Anne and I exchanged, and I came across one in which she talked about all the things she wanted to do once she was really and truly better: have a family (that hurt like hell to read), finish school, and travel. I told her a few of the places I’d been, and she responded:

“I want to go to all those places! And more!!!! I actually have cousins in the south of Spain (costa del sol?) so I figure that would be a great excuse to visit and not have to worry about hotel expenses! You wanna come?!😉
I also want to go to San Fran, San Diego, Napa valley, Big Sur……and Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Florida….I love the Carolina’s!  I’ve never been out of the county yet though:( except for Bahamas. I know it sounds so cliche but I want to travel all over Europe! Swiss alps, Italy, Ireland. And South Africa looks amazing as well!
Better start saving huh?!  Adventure and traveling are the two things that keep me going when I’m having a rough time…”

This morning I woke up at the crack of dawn and flew to Paris with my husband for the long weekend.  We took the train into the city from the airport, and I stopped off at a cafe near Notre Dame to have a coffee and eat some baguette.  Morning was breaking––the air was warming up, commuters were rushing to catch the Metro, and those discordant European ambulance sirens could be heard over the low drone of traffic.  I finished my coffee and looked out across the Seine toward the Right Bank.  Seems pretty unfair that I am here and not her, but if it has to be that way, then: Katie Anne, this adventure is for you.

 

Embarrassing

May 5, 2016

My husband pointed out to me that probably what I was thinking of (re: two posts down) was the song “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones.  Um, yeah.  That was it.  Very hard to remember.  But also he suggested it was reminiscent of a shitty late nineties horror flick called Fallen, starring Denzel Washington and John Goodman.  Let’s say it was that.

Knew Her When

March 30, 2016

Back in 2007, a friend of mine dragged me to see a play at a converted school half a block away from my East Village apartment.  The play was called Matt & Ben, and was about Damon and Affleck dealing with the aftermath of a script (Good Will Hunting) falling from the sky and into their laps.  It was hilarious, which isn’t terribly surprising, because it was co-written by Mindy Kaling, who also played Ben (I think.  I don’t really remember which one she was.)  She was a fairly recent Dartmouth grad at the time, and not at all famous.  This, I suppose, is the one time in my life I caught someone before they made it big.

Or perhaps the first time of two.  Recently, I attended the Goldsmith University Writing Program’s graduation reading, and heard a young writer named EJ Harris read from her short story entitled “Bitch Blood.”  It was just perfect: polished, anxiety-provoking (in a good way), eerie, plausible,  yet exciting.  Below, an excerpt; you can read the whole thing here.

Now I am anticipating the day in which Harris reads to large crowds at Daunt Books and I awkwardly shuffle up after the event and say, “Hey, remember me?  I’m that American friend of LH’s who was at the Goldsmith’s thing and I drunkenly told you your story was, like, uh-may-zing.”  And she’ll smile and nod and pretend to remember, but won’t.

(Side note: my friend LH organized the event and read there, but because I know her already and have always been sure she’s going to get famous, I didn’t put her on my list of revelations.)

***

You’re not supposed to swerve a car to avoid small animals in the road. Swerving, Emily’s driving instructor had told her, is very dangerous, and can cause accidents.

“If you can, slow to a stop,” he said.

“And if you can’t?” Emily asked.

“Well, then you just have to hit it.”

“Right.”

“If you kill a small animal it’s, you know, sad.”

“But if you kill a small human it’s, you know, illegal?”

“Exactly.”

Her driving instructor used to lean across to the steering wheel and correct her positioning on the road without ever touching her. They shared a similar sense of humour, and Emily had looked forward to the hour they spent together each week. When she passed her test, Emily had texted to thank him, and had been unable to think of any feasible reason to stay in touch.

When Emily hit the dog, then, she told herself that she had done nothing wrong, that she should not feel guilty. She was wearing sensible footwear, and she had not been drinking. She just didn’t see the dog until it was too late. It was dark, and the animal came out of nowhere.

After the bump, Emily pulled the car over and sat heavily for a moment. The dark huddle of the dog on the road multiplied in her mirrors. It is true that she considered restarting the car and driving away; that the street was residential and anonymity impossible featured high on the list of reasons she did not.

In moments, two shadowy figures raced through the darkness towards her. She opened the door, shaking, and heard a man’s voice swear loudly.

“I’m so sorry,” said Emily, hurrying over.

“Fuck,” said the man, crouched over the dog which, Emily realised with horror, was alive, and whimpering pathetically.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show Drinking Game

February 15, 2016

Starting tonight, New York’s Madison Square Garden will host everyone’s favorite annual competitive event: the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Launched in 1877 by a group of “sporting gentleman,” the show is a two-night long competition in which canine entrants are judged on everything from the luster of their coats to the floppiness of their ears. Even if you happen to be more of a cat lady (like me), watching perfectly-coiffed pooches strut down the turf in hopes of being dubbed best in show is the best antidote to mid-winter blues. In honor of the WKC’s 140th birthday, we’ve written a drinking game to help you celebrate. Unless otherwise noted, take one drink for each. Those of you watching from home can enjoy a single malt and the witty banter of the USA Network-appointed panelists; those of us attending the event will get lukewarm Bud Light in jumbo cups, and the heady satisfaction that comes with a Maslow-ian peak experience.

The sequin rule: If you’ve watched the show a few times, you’ll have noticed that dog handlers, for whatever reason, are really into their sequins. Sometimes they sport a splash across their shoulders, whereas other times they’ll model an entire outfit after Michael Jackson’s famous shiny glove. Take a drink if there are any sequins at all, two for an entirely sequined outfit, and three if the handler wearing an entirely sequined outfit is male.

<> on February 15, 2011 in New York City.

Shine bright like a diamond.

Owner/dog doppelgangers: The “canine mini-me” effect is real, although not universally applicable. Take two drinks if the handler, owner, and dog all look alike.

When the dog is from New York City: Everyone loves a hometown dog.

If you would have sex with the handler: Self-explanatory. If you actually have had sex with a particular handler, finish your drink.

The breed is new to Westminster: In 2015, two new breeds were admitted to Westminster: the wirehaired vizsla, a hunting dog from Hungary, and the coton du tulear, the national dog of Madagascar. This year, somewhere between five and ten new breeds will be introduced. We won’t tell you the exact number, so as to keep you on your toes. Fun fact: one of the new breeds is primarily known for hunting truffles.

When the dog has a human name: Most of the dogs at Westminster have elaborate, nonsensical names like “Roundtown Mercedes of Maryscot,” best in show 2009, or “Whisperwind on a Carousel,” the winning poodle from 1991. And then there’s Garth, a six-year-old bloodhound from New Hampshire, competing at Westminster for the fifth and final time this year. If the dog is entered under a banal human name like Jim or Stephanie, take a drink.

Handler tattoos: This is like spotting the chupacabra. Take two drinks for a full sleeve.

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They do exist!

 

Direct fingering of the anus: As aforementioned, the dogs are judged based on different aspects of their physicality: width of shoulders, shape of head, pertness of tail, and certain rectal features, or so it would seem from watching some judges.

When the announcer says something vaguely sexual or racist: For the twenty-sixth year in a row, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show will be narrated by David Frei, a former public relations guy with a voice like toasted and buttered heaven. We’d never suggest the lovely Frei would say anything actually offensive; this is more of a “that’s what she said” interpretive situation.

Breeder/Owner/Handler: More often than not, a show dog is shepherded through life by three important people: its breeder, owner and handler. But some uber-passionate people take it upon themselves to do it all. Breeder-owner-handlers are rare, and have only been part of a winning human-dog duo eight times in the show’s history. If a breeder-owner-handler takes the cup this year, finish your drink.

When you can’t see the dog’s eyes: Certain breeds, like all varieties of poodles, are made to wear elaborate fur-styles, whilst others, like the shaggy, huggable English sheepdogs, go au naturel, sometimes to the point where you have to wonder how it is they know where they’re going when they’re not being led on a leash by a bedazzled dog choreographer.

westminster_01

The winning dog is deemed an “underdog” by the announcers: When this is said, it is almost always unironically.

 

 

Intern Life

January 23, 2016

A few months ago (or so) I went to the Cosmopolitan Magazine ULTIMATE WOMEN Awards, which I just love to say because it’s hilarious to be called an ULTIMATE WOMAN.  Anyway, long story short, I was enjoying my free Bailey’s cocktails when I noticed a young hipster crouching down behind the table next to me frantically Tweeting fluff with the appropriate hashtag attached (wording?) and I thought, “Man, it’s good to not be an intern anymore.”

cosmo

THE FIRST STEP IS ADMITTING YOU HAVE A PROBLEM

January 13, 2016

I have found Petite Meller’s publicist’s email, and am thinking of writing him to ask if he could let me know when her album comes out so I can write a profile piece on her I plan to title “Weird for the Jews.”  Because apparently her real name is Sivan, and she spent much of her teen years in Tel Aviv, although she likes to play up the French aspect of her persona (in the very Greek sense of the word) and basically ignore the Jewish part.  Self-hating?  Another connection to Freud?  WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING TO ME?

petite_3

I would just bypass the publicist and sign up for her mailing list, but that would mean being part of her self-titled “little empire” (echoes of Lady Gaga here?)  Maybe for the profile, she and I can go hat-shopping together in London and she can tell me whether her hair at the end of the video for Barbaric was supposed to resemble payot or if that was just coincidental?

Change of Heart

December 16, 2015

LB:  i’m so sleepy and i have to stay at work an extra hour for a holiday party.  not excited.

ID: are you working the party or partying the party?

LB: i’m bailing after 20 mins
partying

ID: so that’s slightly better

LB: yeah
but i’m with work people all day, i don’t really want to hang out with them on a social level
at least not most of them
ID: yeah totally
i remember that

LB: and now i’m bored. 2 more hours with nothing to do

ID: i was going to shower but
meh

LB: so in an interesting turn of events, my co-worker just brought in a flame thrower

ID: okay well now you have to stay

LB: i know, right?

Is Tennessee Williams a Good Poet?

December 9, 2015

“Morgenlied”

I saw a white dove in a tree.

The tree was white, the leaves were three.

 

These leaves, I noticed as I passed,

were shaped as bells of crimson glass

 

And azure glass and emerald glass:

I felt them tremble as I passed.

 

The dove stood in the tree alone

and in her beak she clutched a bone.

 

This was my love, I heard her cry,

I drank his blood and watched him die.

 

I drank his blood, the dove confessed,

because I loved him to excess.

 

Then as I passed my body thinned,

it lifted on a gust of wind,

 

And I was high above the hill,

the universe was white and still

 

And there was neither tree nor bird

and no bell struck and no leaf stirred.

Please check one:  Yes  ­Δ

No   Δ

(Okay so that’s a Delta, not a box, but you can make it work.)

 

 

 

Resolved

December 1, 2015

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity is the new Morgellon’s Disease.  Go!