The Last Walkman
What kinds of reward can failure offer us? Perhaps most obviously, failure allows us to escape the punishing norms that discipline behavior and manage human development with the goal of delivering us from unruly childhoods to orderly and predictable adulthoods. Failure preserves some of the wondrous anarchy of childhood and disturbs the supposedly clean boundaries between adults and children, winners and losers. And while failure certainly comes accompanied by a host of negative affect such as disappointment, disillusionment and despair, it also provides the opportunity to use these negative affect to poke holes in the toxic positivity of everyday life.
The Queer Art of Failure by Jack Halberstam (via pablo-neurotic)


1) “I had never had any desire to be a writer. I wanted to be a reader.”

2) “One thing you discover in psychoanalytic treatment is the limits of what you can change about yourself or your life. We are children for a very long time.”

3) “Fortunately, I never recovered from my…

Bastille Day.

Yesterday after work I went with a group of mostly new-ish friends to a Bastille Day street fair in Tribeca.  Sand had been poured into the middle of the street to create a makeshift pétanque court, upon which several men in neckerchiefs were throwing silver balls. I don’t know how many of the people at the fair were actually French but a lot of the women wore bright matte lipstick with little other makeup, which made the whole thing feel more authentic. The crowd also seemed heavy on dogs in a Gallic sort of way. I spotted a sleek black bulldog puppy, another puppy that looked like a cross between an Australian shepherd and a miniature Greyhound, a curly-haired poodle mix trotting around without a leash.

While we were waiting in line to buy wine and beer a red-cheeked man with a Panama hat came up to us and gave us all raffle tickets that he said we could exchange for free drinks. This seemed improbable—why so lucky??—but when we gave the people behind the counter the tickets, they gave each of us drinks plus of us a dollar back, which was even more confusing, and then we used the dollars to tip. I had Lillet, which tasted sweeter than I’d imagined, like a hip grandmother’s orange grove.

Earlier in the evening one of the new-ish friends, K., and I were talking about how living in New York and being a journalist seem like mutually exclusive options, money-wise, yet we are currently doing both of those things. How is it going for each of us? The answer is: okay, but not super-sustainably. Then I said that if I eventually have to pick, I’ll choose writing over New York, which is something I hadn’t realized was true until I said it. K. said she’d choose the same thing.


For your summer grooving pleasure from Marlys!

"I like it with no clothes."

Celebrate Brooklyn.

One of the pleasures of getting older is that I’m no longer self-conscious about going by myself to places I want to be. 

Yesterday I went to see Valerie June play in Prospect Park. I paid $8 for a plastic cup of what the woman behind the counter promised was a “mediocre Sauvignon Blanc,” filled to the brim.

"Now I’ve told you ahead of time, and you’re gonna drink it, and you’re gonna think, ‘Hey, that’s okay," she said with a grin. She also told me the wine was in a magic cup, for unexplained reasons.

Then I weaved through trios and quartets of Brooklynites floating on their islands of picnic blankets until I found a little clearing in the grass. On my left side a man with glasses and a short-sleeved button-down shirt was lying down on his stomach, showing a girl he didn’t seem to know very well pictures of his students’ high school graduation. He seemed to be trying to impress her. She was polite but hard to read.

On my right side a pair of women who looked to be in their twenties were eating paper cones of thick-cut french fries, burgers and cups of steamed broccoli from The Farm on Adderley's stand. This reminded me that I was hungry, so I took out the artichoke and hearts of palm salad I'd brought from Trader Joe's.

Around this time Valerie June came on. She was a tiny woman in a white dress; her hair was loosely piled on top of her head. In a rich, piercing twang she began to sang about Tennessee and the working woman’s blues.

The crowd around me kept up a steady murmur, so I had to listen a little harder than usual to follow along with the music, squinting with my ears. It wasn’t at all like Tanglewood, where there’s so much space out on the big lawn that any neighboring conversation is easily canceled out. In New York you have to be vigilant about what you pay attention to. We’re past the summer solstice now, our days are only getting shorter. I’m choosing not to mind.

Bad Boyfriends and “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.”

"Men, Waldman’s novel makes clear, are only able to get away with treating women poorly because we live in a culture that dismisses close scrutiny of their behavior. Dating is seen as a trivial subject, the territory of light romantic comedies and books with tropical-colored covers. Who cares if a guy starts snapping at his girlfriend when she asks if he’s tired or whether he’d like eggs for breakfast? What’s the big deal if a dude pursues a woman for weeks only to do the fear-of-commitment dance when she finally agrees to go out with him?

The big deal, of course, is that misogyny often both underlies and excuses these kinds of romantic misdemeanors. And while Love Affairs is often funny, Waldman takes the patriarchal mores guiding the bad behavior of her titular character quite seriously. By peering into the moleskin-bound heart of the liberal chauvinist, she takes away his power.”

- thinking about bad boyfriends, sexism, dating and “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.” over at Girls Like Giants

Defending a position by citing free speech is sort of the ultimate concession; you’re saying that the most compelling thing you can say for your position is that it’s not literally illegal to express.
xkcd: Free Speech (alt text)

"Esteem and gratitude are the proper motives to love, as youth and beauty are to desire, and, therefore, though such desire may naturally cease, when age or sickness overtakes its object, yet these can have no effect on Love, nor ever shake or remove, from a good mind, that sensation or passion which hath gratitude and esteem for its basis." - Henry Fielding

Tweets concerning UCSB shooting, misogyny, and masculinity by Imran Siddiquee, Director of Communications for The Representation Project, the organization behind Miss Represenation and the soon-to-be-released documentary The Mask You Live In

"Let’s repeat that. The New York Times just published a review of No Place to Hide that expressly argues on the question of what should and should not get reported: “that decision must ultimately be made by the government.” Moreover, those who do that reporting against the government’s wishes are not journalists but “perpetrators,” and whether they should be imprisoned “is not a straightforward or easy question.”
I was trying to figure out who I was and what might be possible for me. I was trying to write toward a space where I could reveal my most authentic self to the people who knew me but did not.
Song, by Adrienne Rich

You’re wondering if I’m lonely:
OK then, yes, I’m lonely
as a plane rides lonely and level
on its radio beam, aiming
across the Rockies
for the blue-strung aisles
of an airfield on the ocean.

You want to ask, am I lonely?
Well, of course, lonely
as a woman driving across country
day after day, leaving behind
mile after mile
little towns she might have stopped
and lived and died in, lonely

If I’m lonely
it must be the loneliness
of waking first, of breathing
dawns’ first cold breath on the city
of being the one awake
in a house wrapped in sleep

If I’m lonely
it’s with the rowboat ice-fast on the shore
in the last red light of the year
that knows what it is, that knows it’s neither
ice nor mud nor winter light
but wood, with a gift for burning

"Desiring without being desired in return is a kind of temporary fix — not a good one, only one with advantages — for the problem of being desired as a woman, or as a racialized person. When I think about the difficulty of accepting oneself as an object of desire in those mutually desiring relationships we’re all supposed to have, I think about how blackness or queerness or even being gendered female in a white male supremacist world can make it hard to accept love because you are encouraged from childhood to hate yourself. Meanwhile, despite all efforts to construct the political institution of heterosexuality as a form of mutual tenderness between people, men (as a group) have yet to learn to love women (as a group), and despite the irrepressible persistence of desire between women, women (as a group) still struggle to love themselves."

- This whole essay is so good read it now please: Hannah Black on what the Over-Attached Girlfriend means in a sexist, racist, homophobic, late-capitalist world

Snuggling Up to Failure

I’m taking a poetry class right now and I’m not very good at it. Other people’s poems are much better! They’re experimenting with form and inventing fierce futuristic slang. I’m struggling just to get some words on a page in a way that feels honest and not-boring, and it shows.

This isn’t faux self-deprecation. Once, I think, I was pretty good at poems. Now I am less so. I think I can get better again, by reading writers who make me feel like I’ve just flown through a car window and dedicating a certain amount of time each week to staring at blank Word documents. I’ve got to put the work in. I couldn’t expect to magically perform a pas de deux after years spent out of the ballet studio, and the same logic applies here.

But it’s also been liberating to realize that it’s okay to be a flop at poetry—even though writing it well was a talent that I prided myself on (perhaps misguidedly!) for a number of years. I mean, first of all: what’s good and bad anyway, it’s pointless and paternalistic to try to categorize art that way. But moreover, getting down with being bad is giving me courage to go out and fail at even more stuff. Breakups make me feel this way too. The more heartbreak I have the better I get at bouncing back. I know just what to do: cut off contact, go for long walks, eat vegetables even if I don’t feel like it, text my friends, volunteer, immerse myself in Laura Mvula songs and feminist theory and planning trips to places I haven’t been and a decent amount of TV shows featuring strong female leads on Netflix.

I’ve spent a lot of time in my adult life beating myself up for not achieving certain markers of success within some ideal timeline, but when I really stop to think about it I don’t remember ever deciding for myself that I wanted those things in the first place.

Today after the poetry class where I wasn’t good, again, I went to a nearby Italian restaurant called Cent’Anni. It was just starting to rain when I ducked inside to sit at the bar. They were playing Michael Jackson and Lil’ Kim. I ordered a glass of Trebbiano. The restaurant lets you mix and match your house-made pasta of choice with a sauce: ricotta cavatelli with pesto, tagliatelle al limone. I got the butternut squash gnocchi with pomodoro sauce. (It turns out that being a vegetarian is not necessarily a strong defense against high cholesterol, so these days butter- and cheese-based items and I are mostly on the outs.)

While I was waiting for my main dish the bartender brought out slices of crusty bread and a little dish of olive oil with a few Kalamatas nestled in the bottom. The restaurant manager was sitting beside me slurping up some pasta and they were talking about a New York Times round-up of the neighborhood that had once again neglected to mention the restaurant. “We’re flying below the radar,” the manager said. The bartender nodded. “The radar’s overrated anyway.”