Thursday, March 26, 2015


A Post About Books, Sort Of

HEATHCLIFFFFFFFFI am completely charmed by Uncovered Classics, a project by writer and designer Amy Collier to celebrate 20th century novels by women. (The project was created in response to Modern Library's dude heavy list on the same topic.) Uncovered Classics both revisits and rediscovers old titles as kind of an ongoing book club, and Collier is recruiting different artists to design new covers, because let's be real, that's the best way to judge a book.

I am a sucker for books as tactile objects. I am actually trying to be less precious about them! I own, ahem, a metric fuckton of books, and I've gotten a lot of them for free. I have spent years working as a bookseller, publishing house intern, literary critic, columnist, etc, that at any given time I have enough galleys to build a sizeable fort. I also spend most of my disposable income on books (second only to roti), constantly buying new ones just because I like the way they look at my shelf. Last year I discovered I own three different editions of Wuthering Heights. I do not need three different editions of Wuthering Heights!


A Loss For Words

There are approximately seven billion inhabitants of earth. They conduct their lives in one or several of about seven thousand languages—multilingualism is a global norm. Linguists acknowledge that the data are inexact, but by the end of this century perhaps as many as fifty per cent of the world’s languages will, at best, exist only in archives and on recordings. According to the calculations of the Catalogue of Endangered Languages (ELCat)—a joint effort of linguists at the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and at the University of Eastern Michigan—nearly thirty language families have disappeared since 1960. If the historical rate of loss is averaged, a language dies about every four months.

The mother tongue of more than three billion people is one of twenty, which are, in order of their current predominance: Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, English, Hindi, Arabic, Portuguese, Bengali, Russian, Japanese, Javanese, German, Wu Chinese, Korean, French, Telugu, Marathi, Turkish, Tamil, Vietnamese, and Urdu. English is the lingua franca of the digital age, and those who use it as a second language may outnumber its native speakers by hundreds of millions. On every continent, people are forsaking their ancestral tongues for the dominant language of their region’s majority. Assimilation confers inarguable benefits, especially as Internet use proliferates and rural youth gravitate to cities. But the loss of languages passed down for millennia, along with their unique arts and cosmologies, may have consequences that won’t be understood until it is too late to reverse them.

Guys, I'm telling you, language is cool and we should all think about words and what they mean all the time.


Happy Birthday to the Moonwalk

Yesterday was a national holiday: 32 years and one day ago, Michael Jackson debuted the Moonwalk while performing "Billie Jean." (GOD, I know, how could I forget???) Jackson didn't originate the move, but catapulted it to the mainstream and started a national craze. Soul Train's website (everybody text your mom: did you know Soul Train had a website?) has a really charming backstory:

The audience thought they had already seen a dynamite performance, but they had not seen anything yet. During the bridge, Michael proceeded to demonstrate on television for the very first time the Backslide, which caused screams throughout the entire audience. He did the move again towards the end of the song and he recalls seeing a sea of people standing up and applauding him at the end of his performance.

Everyone backstage–from his brothers, Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops and the special’s host comedian Richard Pryor–congratulated Michael on a fantastic performance. He did not feel totally elated about his performance since he wanted to stay suspended on his toes during one part of his performance; he didn’t feel better about his performance until a little kid came up to him and told him, “You are amazing! Who taught you how to dance like that?” “Practice, I guess,” Michael told the star-struck kid.

"Practice, I guess" is now the only acceptable response to being fly. Thank you, Michael.


The Word I Hate This Week

Do you know what is the most garbage word in the English language? Harmless.



Neurotica: Erotica For the Slightly Anxious

He pulled me close to him, his hips grinding up against my own. "I promise you," he said. "I'm not into you because you remind me of my mother who was emotionally distant after my father died." I kissed him, my heart pumping furiously now that he had answered one question that had been plaguing me all along.

"Are you sure?" I asked. "You're not just saying that because you know it's what I want to hear? If you are, just tell me. I'll be fine with it. But honesty is really important to me." He stopped my ramblings by covering my mouth with his hand. "I'm not just saying that," he said, then dropped his hand to my waist. Before I could say anything, he added, his hot breath against my neck, "I washed my hands with soap and hot water just before this. Don't worry." I sighed, relieved that I hadn't just been exposed to a handful of New York City germs. Did he use brand soap or generic? I should have checked his bathroom more closely when I had gone in earlier, but I had been too busy examining the mold-less shower curtain. "Brand," he whispered as if he could read my mind. "Mrs. Meyers' Clean Day." He was sanitary and eco-friendly. My knees weakened and he pulled me towards him again, this time with more force. READ MORE

The Car Seat

Screen Shot 2015-03-25 at 4.59.42 PMIf I had to choose the single worst aspect of parenting in the first year of a baby’s life, I have a very simple answer: the fucking car seat. Every aspect of it—choosing one, buying it, installing it, removing it, putting it into another car, strapping a screaming baby into it—is totally maddening and utterly exhausting.

The first challenge you will face, alone as parents, just unleashed from the hospital, will be getting your baby home. If, like me, your baby was born at the tail end of a blizzard in Manhattan and if, like me, you live in Brooklyn, well, getting home will possibly be worse than the delivery.

We planned in advance: We researched the best and safest infant car seat (which it turns out is, unsurprisingly, probably the most expensive), and we bought it. We installed the base into our tiny car weeks before Zelda’s planned escape from my womb. We hauled the little seat into the hospital, where a nurse showed us how to strap her little body into the seat. She sat there, strapped in, surrounded by sausage-rolled blankets, seemingly gasping for each breath. We threw the seat into the base which, we’d read, shouldn’t budge “more than an inch” in its position. It budged. We white-knuckled it all the way home. We made it.

We didn’t drive that much after the baby was born, so she never really got a car groove going. She threw up in the car sometimes, she yelled, and I wrestled, often, with the sneaking suspicion that the car seat was improperly installed. Finally, I hired a professional car seat installer, and paid the best seventy-five dollars of my life to find that I was correct: The car seat wasn’t situated correctly. The installer showed me how to get it in and out of the car in seconds flat: You need to move seats and get your entire body into the back seat of the car. You push on the seat with your body, you tug harder than you’ve ever tugged on the seat belt which will be all that stands between your baby and the outside should an impact occur. You struggle and huff and puff. You turn red. And you get that fucker installed properly. And then, before you know it, the little rat has outgrown her first car seat and needs an upgrade. READ MORE


Ask Baba Yaga: What's the Difference Between Adventure and Destruction?

baba ill bird
Transcript after the jump. READ MORE


An interview with Dayna Tortorici, the self-professed "angriest woman of them all," is exactly what we need today. Listen to this, good night, see you back here tomorrow.


An Open Letter to Jenna Lyons


I saw a girl my age sneak her two brothers up to her room; a staff member appeared on the eighth floor to kick them out within 30 seconds. While brushing my teeth in the shared bathroom, I’ll often hear the slow clacking of a metal cane inching down our hallway, announcing the arrival of an elderly neighbor in her nightgown; she’ll shuffle up to the sink for her nightly beauty routine. Every week, a maintenance man arrives on each floor to make repairs: “Man on the floor!” he’ll say, and then go about his business. At dinner, after we file through a cafeteria-style serving line, I see more camaraderie among the foreign girls, who share a language, and among the older women, who sit together in small groups and banter about a friend’s new pacemaker, or echo one another’s complaints about the food. The twentysomething Americans more often sit alone, hunched over their phones. Perhaps these girls are like me, recalling middle-school lunchroom woes and adapting to solitude while dining among strangers. Refrigerators aren’t allowed, so during the winter I placed food up against my window; in summer, I’ll buy a small cooler and get ice from the machine downstairs.

Why I Live in an All-Women Boardinghouse in New York City, or How to Make A Certain Ladyblogger Appreciate Her Pantsless Life. | March 25, 2015

Toward a Theory of Normcore Food


Small-batch pickles, Greek yogurt, and quinoa are all high-stakes trendy foods with loads of moral and aesthetic baggage. We ingest them to prove to ourselves that we are ethical by way of being health-conscious, multicultural, hard workers. Of course, the labor required to produce and consume a pickle won’t have any measurable effect on the health of your body, the quality of your soul, or the degree of your authenticity. This constellation of foods, which might be crudely labeled “hipster food,” are the means by which our sense of goodness is outsourced through our gut.



Beverages I Have Loved

The best blogger is a well-hydrated blogger.

Pictured: Marlo Yarlo "Just Relax" cup, Art Metropole. Tap water.



What Should I Name My Plant?

keep-calm-and-love-plants-15Last night, I decided to leave my blogging cave and enjoy a nice walk around my neighborhood. Like an idiot, I "just stopped in" to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden's gift shop, and went into a fugue state that only slightly cleared when I arrived 30 minutes later (the gift shop is TINY but if you don't touch every single plant in there did you really go???) at the cash register. "Errmmm, oh yeah, I am a member...did you...need to know that?" I stammered to the employee, exhausted from my hours of dutiful blogging and singing jazz standards in my empty house.

"Only if you want a discount!" she chirped back. Dang, I thought. If I knew that, I would've bought another plant.

My recent and more serious interest in plants (in college, I had two: Miles, who jumped from a ledge, and a cactus I named Orenthal while trying to subversive) is for a few reasons: one, they look cool. I mostly own succulents and the corner of my bedroom in which they live could definitely get at least 1,000 notes if photographed for Tumblr. Two, I feel like I can take care of something, aware of the privilege that comes with taking care of a life but feeling relatively chill about the potential for failure. A friend who works at a Greenmarket gave me my first adult plant; I was leaving her apartment one night and she mentioned a woman had given it to her at work, trading nature for nature. It was brown and scraggly, sort of withered; I took it home in a plastic bag and had my boyfriend teach me how to pot it. Within days, it perked up; weeks, it turned fully green; after a few months, flowers bloomed. I look at it and I think, I did that, and I relish the tangibility of my power and my care.

Three, I really like giving them stupid names. I don't have any real rules, just that I try to make the names unexpected and sort of funny. So, back to the point: last night I bought two new succulents, which you'll see below. I decided to name one Chirlane McCray, New York's First Lady and my tier supreme, but her sister-in-soil remains unnamed! So I decided to turn this into a celebrity contest, only instead of flying you and three of your closest friends out to New York for a dinner, an all-expenses paid luxury suite, and a chance to meet your favorite blogger, I'm just letting you name my plant.

I might've had a lot of wine around 6 o'clock last night and decided to embark on a very casual photo shoot with all my plants that wasn't styled at all no what I just always have a leopard-print snuggie casually hanging on my kitchen counter!!!!!!! Below are the plants I own, which I photographed because I want to know about yours too (and in the event that you are a plant scientist and you can tell me what I'm doing wrong)! My plants are my babies— let's make like some Park Slope moms and brag about them! READ MORE


Only eighteen?!?!!? | March 25, 2015


Totally Official, Very Earnest, Not-Joking Book Recommendations for the Next Hairpin Book Club


tumblr_nk2y09KLiN1uorx89o1_1280 READ MORE