Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Todd Terje, "Alfonso Muskedunder"

One thing I believe that not everyone believes is that new people are getting better and better. Like, the physical world is getting worse, but the people in it are smarter and probably more empathetic. This latest generation is way better than my generation! People just four years younger than me belong here way more than I ever will, for obvious reasons. (They were born the year Mariah Carey debuted).

Evidence: cool, weird musical blips from the '60s and '70s (White Noise, United States of America, Wendy and Bonnie, a prillion library recordings I can't name), some of them more ideas than projects, re-purposed into amazingly listenable and prolific pop bands in the '90s and beyond (Broadcast, Stereolab). Todd Terje comes out of a different context, but he does something similar, I think, making cohesive and more permanent music out of great ideas that never got to the "thing" stage.

Which is NOT to suggest that Todd Terje is better than Laetitia Sadier or Trish Fucking Keenan. Just, isn't it great that we get to enjoy more old ephemera than ever.

Anyway !


A Woman On The Margins


Much of both The Odd Woman and the City and Fierce Attachments take place on your long walks throughout New York City. Can you describe your walking style?
For many years I did a twenty-minute mile.

Do you put on sneakers?
Yeah, yeah. I’ve never strolled. I never set out to encounter, I set out to walk. I set out to dispel daily depression. Every afternoon I get low-spirited, and one day I discovered the walk. I had some place to go on the Upper East Side, and I lived downtown on 12th Street. I decided to walk on impulse and it was three miles and it took an hour and I thought, “Oh, this is great, I feel so much better.” Lots of people know this, but I never knew it until I just stumbled on it. And then I began to make deliberate use of it. So I am always walking somewhere. I set myself a destination, and then things happen in the street.

Do you pity the person who walks around with headphones in?
I don’t pity, but I dislike intensely what’s happened, that everyone is walking around with a cell phone or texting or using earplugs. It’s really so shocking to me because they don’t hear anything. It seems very dangerous.

There are some particularly good points in this interview with Vivian Gornick—I like the part where she says that she "didn't give a shit about women's sexuality" because she "had orgasms easily" because, like, girl, get it—but I am mostly thinking about how much I'm trying to walk before it gets really, really hot out. Today is nice and cool and I'm going to take advantage with a long walk to the bookstore to get a copy of The Odd Woman and the City! Wish I had worn sneakers and will absolutely be blasting music over the bridge but besides that I will really do anything Vivian Gornick tells me to do.

How To Be Spiritual

You don’t need to pick a god, but it might make things less awkward. For those of us who are used to working or playing with a goal in mind, the action of being spiritual can feel corny if it happens in a vacuum, and so choosing a god will help you to ground things a bit.

If you already have a god, you can go ahead and use that one. If you don’t, you might become comfortable with the idea of a benevolent or neutral higher power by working backwards from a place of evil. Perhaps you have experienced a sense of powerlessness before, maybe at the whim of opaque bureaucracy, arbitrary-seeming rules, faceless systemic injustice, or the impenetrable press-one maze of a toll-free number. If you can accept your inability to access meaning in these cases, you might try playing with a positive variation on that theme. Begin by appreciating the mundane or profane rhythms of daily life—the improvised jazz of cars merging on a highway, the decentralized flow of global currency, the invisible overlapping maps drawn by people moving between work and home and school. Search out intersections of rhythm and pattern and randomness and force, and there you might find for yourself a suitable deity.

If you aren’t afraid to skew granola, you can build your god from nature, with its relentless risings and settings and sprouts and decay. You might find comfort in rolling with the tides of the zeitgeist, a perfectly suitable god, controlled by the diverse and mysterious moons of trend and cool and corporate interest. Dress yourself in the fashions of the era and pray to the holy spirit of the times. You can even be your own god, so long as you can access a version of yourself capable of transcending the sum of your parts. Do not feel pressed to choose the same god or gods for all occasions. The purpose of the god is to give an object to your spiritual practice in the exact moment you want to try to be spiritual. If it makes you feel better, you can contextualize your god as an exercise or tool or functional delusion meant to help you explore and consider the possibility of a spiritual self. The is no reason to be dogmatic, emotional, or sentimental about the god you choose, unless of course you find this satisfying, in which case go ahead.

Once you have selected a god, a good thing to try is praying to it or engaging with it in some other meaningful way. For the same reason many people find letter writing easier than journaling, prayer should feel less corny or arbitrary with your god(s) of choice as an audience. If you are unsure what to pray about, consider the sorts of things you might stop yourself from posting to social media. In the privacy of your own god, there is no such thing as narcissism or selfishness or oversharing. Prayer is a good place to articulate goals, admit shortcomings, complain, or brag openly. Nothing is too dumb or too big to pray about. READ MORE


How To Buy & Wear A Bra: A Guide For The Truly Ample-Bosomed

If you think that double D is a generous helping of boobage, look away now: these words are for the truly ample-bosomed. We all have equally loveable mamms, but some of us would be sloppily intoxicated if we drank champagne out of glasses sized anything like our breasts.

My current cup is a cheerful F, meaning there are about six inches difference between the circumference of my ribcage and that of my perkiest point. As such, when it comes to bras, I am very demanding: it must have Herculean strength to protect me from neck ache, combined with wires or seaming that stamp out the dreaded uniboob. I’d prefer the thing to look like lingerie, not a support bandage, and I want to be able to afford it. Hahahahaha, what a good joke I just told!

I don’t understand why it’s so hard to make a useful, stylish, well-priced over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder. The cheapest bra I’ve ever bought was $30 and it gave me a shoulder ache in about four days. I’ve accepted that I’ll have to spend at least $80 to get something that lasts a season, a bra free of cheap lace that causes B.O. or underwires that pierce my soft underboobs. Please don’t tell me to go to Victoria’s Secret or I may pull out such an underwire and stab you.

To solve this mystery, I decided to ask some experts. Frederika Zappe is the Dr. Seuss-monikered, extremely enthusiastic U.S. fit consultant for Eveden, a British company that makes the brands Freya and Fantasie. Both get an honest endorsement for both fit and style from me, someone who last saw double D in the rearview mirror over a decade ago. And /r/ABraThatFits is an insane underwearpalooza of a subreddit that’s frequented by over 36,000 obsessive breast owners. Luckily for all of them, the three friendly moderators are very, very helpful.

Start here
A good bra begins with the all-important frame: the adjustable bottom band and outlines of the cups. As Oprah taught us back in 2005, the shoulder straps are not there to hold the weight—that’s the job of the workhorse bottom band. “Tiny filaments around the spine kick in when the breast tissue isn’t supported,” says Zappe, transferring the weight to your neck, shoulders, or lower back. A good bottom band means good posture.

There are two basic cup designs: three-panel balcony cups with seaming, which help achieve a rounder shape, and four-panel full cups, which keep the truly voluptuous from splaying sidewards. “Even the simplest bra has at least 15 or so different pieces,” says the Reddit moderator known as Otterhugs. “You have to be exact when sewing it too—if it’s off by even 1/16th of an inch, that can affect the shape.” READ MORE


32 Competent Things Men Do That We Find Sexual, Ranked

32. Wears an analog watch.
31. Changes a light bulb.
30. Knows the wattage.
29. Poaches an egg.
28. Peels an orange, hands you a slice.
27. Legible handwriting.
26. Takes groceries out of shopping bags.
25. Knows the words to disco songs.
24. Knows the names of two of your friends (first names only are fine).
23. Kicks your feet, propped up on coffee table, out of the way so he can walk around you.
22. Flips book over to read back copy.
21. Pours you coffee, hands it to you.
20. Sips a glass of water, bedside, late at night. READ MORE


Nao, "Inhale Exhale"

I got a few texts and emails today from my Canadian friends: is it a long weekend in New York? No, you monarchical bastards, it is just a normal Monday, and I for one am glad. I had a great Monday. I found a dark chocolate bar in the fridge and broke off a teeny tiny piece and ate it before I had my Greek yogurt and granola because I am an adult and can do what I want.

Long weekends are a state of mind, you know what I mean?

Anyway, this is a nice song, thanks to Anupa for bringing it to my attention.


A Personal Essay That People Want To Read

An Online Skillshare Class by Emily Gould

Hi! I taught a Skillshare class about personal essay writing and you might recall that Hairpin readers were invited to join the class, and that I promised to pick one of the essays to be featured here "at the end of March," by which I meant "May." You can still take the class — and I think you should. It's fun, you can do it at your own pace, and the feedback students give each other turned out to be so thoughtful and helpful. Here is the winner: READ MORE

An Interview With @SoSadToday

Geniuses is a series where we interview geniuses from all walks of life. For our first installment of Geniuses, we’re talking to Twitter sensation and sad girl @sosadtoday. 

Do you consider yourself a genius?

When I see the word 'genius', what first comes to mind is the word 'tortured.' Someone who is ahead of his or her time, or operating in a different dimension, and this dimension is painful or difficult as a result. Like, I see Van Gogh alone in his room and the room is spinning and he's like 'help!' I don't want to say that you have to suffer to be a genius, but that's what comes to mind. But I guess people who are good at reality are also geniuses. I don't think I'm a genius. I think I'm verbally gifted. Do you think I'm a genius?

I do think you're a genius. I don't think every genius is tortured but I like your definition. When did you first notice you were verbally gifted and what did you to hone that 'gift'?

A teacher in elementary school saw how uncomfortable I was in my body and in reality. She saw potential in my writing, so she gave me a special blank book in which to put everything I wrote. It was a hardcover book and it made me feel special. Ever since then, the act of writing down words, and then sharing some of them, has helped me feel a little less uncomfortable. Or at least, it makes me feel like the discomfort isn't its own end. It can be transformed into something beautiful or funny. Later in life my mom told me that my childhood verbal IQ test came back very high. But I think the other part of my IQ was normcore. READ MORE


Being "The Straight One," The Basics Of Butt Stuff, And Talking To Your Kids

For a long time, the majority of my closest friends have been lesbians or queer-identified. From high school to college to now in my twenties, in every city I've lived, my closest friends have always been queer. I've always been "the straight one." My friends and I have made jokes about my short hair and how there was a time when I got more attention from ladies than from dudes, and that's all cool. Recently, I've made friends with a group of awesome ladies who all identify as lesbians or bi. Again, all cool. The issue is that I made friends with them through one of my queer-identified friends who immediately introduced me with my name and "Can you believe she's straight?!" I don't want to complain about being identified as straight in a group of lesbians because I'm aware that it would silly be to complain about feeling like the minority in a group of people who have been singled out as the minority by the rest of society. It's more that I'm afraid I'm imposing myself as the straight one in queer spaces.

Or, maybe I'm just complicating this situation by making this about me in the context of queer spaces. Maybe the real reason I don't want to be introduced as "the straight one" is because I don't think I'm entirely straight. I've never had a sexual/romantic interaction with anyone but hetero cis dudes, but I'm a late bloomer, so my sexual/romantic life only began about a year ago. I guess I've just always identified myself as straight because that seemed like the default for someone who liked dudes and never felt like they "just knew" anything about their sexuality, or like my sexuality was a defining aspect of my personal identity. I don't really feel like the words "queer" or "bisexual" apply to me at this point (maybe later on in life that will change, who knows) but right now I basically just don't think I'm straight. I guess I'm a little bit afraid of expressing this to my queer friends without it coming across like I've been lying to them by letting them think I'm just straight. I tried casually mentioning it to one friend and she responding by essentially saying that if I were really into girls I would have "just known." I guess my question is how to be a part of queer communities without seeming like I'm an interloping straight person, but also without having to explain my complicated un-straightness/queerness/Ihavenoideawhatyouwouldcallit-ness to my new friends? And how do I start to come out to my old friends without feeling like I've been lying to them?

Only you can ultimately decide what your orientation is, but I’m going to go ahead and say that if you don’t identify as straight, you’re totally, fully, 100% and for all time allowed to call yourself queer. You don’t have to, but queer is here for you if you want it—that’s why I love the word so much. You don’t have to have slept with girls to use it. You don’t necessarily have to WANT to sleep with girls, or with any girl in particular. Queer might mean gay, bisexual, fluid, asexual, or any of a thousand shades of orientation and identity in between. Queer has room for “I’m not exactly sure yet” and “It’s too complicated to explain.” If you’re pretty sure you’re not straight, queer has room for you too. READ MORE


On Writing In Books


From H.J. Jackson's excellent Marginalia: Readers Writing in Books:

Pride of ownership, which leads readers initially to write their names in their books, carries through for some of them into marginalia, further acts of self-assertive appropriation. Others, however, admit only the ownership or presentation inscription and reject marginalia as desecration. They consider it their responsibility to keep the book intact and unaltered. For most of the twentieth century, these two groups—call them A for Annotator and B for Bibliophile—have existed in a state of mutual incomprehension. (A thinks that B might as well stand for Bore, and B that A is for Anarchist.) B as a matter of course considers A to be slovenly, irresponsible, and self-indulgent... The essayist Anne Fadiman, speaking up recently for the As, tries to collapse the distinction by arguing that As are book lovers too, only in a different way. Bs, she suggests, are 'courtly' lovers who approach a book with 'Platonic adoration, a noble but doomed attempt to conserve forever the state of perfect chastity in which it had left the bookseller.' For them marginalia are anathema: 'The most permanent, and thus to a courtly lover the most terrible, thing one can leave in a book is one's own words.' The uninhibited As, on the other hand, are 'carnal' lovers to whom 'a book's words were holy, but the paper, cloth, cardboard, glue, thread, and ink that contained it were a mere vessel, and it was no sacrilege to treat them as wantonly as desire and pragmatism dictated. Hard use was a sign not of disrespect but of intimacy.'"

So: are you an A or a B? Do you mark up your books or do you foolscap like a good literary citizen? (I am 110% an A.)

Consider these comments the blankest of margins.


Weekend Roundup / Open Thread

What a sexy sex week this has been! Well, I suppose that depends on your definition of "week." And "sex." We read The Least Sexy Sex Poem and learned to differentiate between the common slang term for an orgasm and the name of a common spice, which, sure. On the other end of the emotional arousal spectrum, we started our first Hairpin Q&A with our fears: fun!! If you haven't added yours yet, please do, and also take the time to read through the other answers. It's like a database of new terrors.

Speaking of terrors, Olds better watch out: Jamie's millennial revenge fantasy could become a reality at any moment. The Snapchat Day of Judgment is at hand. Our beauty tips inspired by Millennium is basically the most horrifying thing ever but also I do want eyebrows that radiate sexual competence so. I'll probably never sleep again. Luckily we already discussed how to cover up undereye circles and Natalie's cleaning tips will disperse any dusty spirits hanging around. Or we could just sail around the world as the only passenger on a cargo freight ship and leave our fears behind us, just a thought.

We also had some really productive conversations this week! Hazel and Gabby told us how to extreme selfie (hint: maybe don't?) and Kerensa spoke with the producers of the new documentary Iris. Anupa spoke with Jessica Hopper about her (wonderful) new book, and Fariha talked to Ana Cecilia Alvarez about her personal definition of self-care.

Wow. That was a lot of emotions. I think I'm going to need an entire weekend just to process all of these feelings. What are YOU doing this weekend? What have you been feeling this week? As always, please share in the comments, and bring all your feelings back here on Monday.


The Least Sexy Sex Poem

Suck my dick.
No, really, can you please suck my dick?
I’m gonna fuck you up.
Ooooh yeah, fuck you up and down.
Wait, before you stick your hand so far into my vagina
that you’ll need a new wristwatch,
let me lick that leftover saag paneer off them fingers.
Mmm mmm. Spicy. OK, go.
Want you to pull my hair like I’m that little schoolgirl,
and toss me around like I’m her brother’s football. READ MORE

The Academic Behind the Media's 'Transgender Tipping Point'

Screen Shot 2015-05-13 at 4.16.40 PM

While Bruce Jenner often looked like the pushover of the Kardashian clan, in reality, he told Diane Sawyer last month, “I had the story.” Over four hundred and twenty-five episodes of reality TV, “the one thing that could really make a difference in people’s lives was right here, in my soul,” Jenner said. “And I could not tell that story.” Until he did. In a moment that Time magazine has dubbed the “transgender tipping point,” the Jenner interview is only the most recent and high-profile example of the media’s growing fascination with the stories of transgender people.

Behind the scenes for the Jenner interview, the show Transparent, and the Time magazine article is Susan Stryker, a professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Arizona, and the author of several books on transgender history, who has been giving interviews about trans issues for twenty years. These days, she asks journalists why they’re approaching trans stories “as some weird thing you've never heard of,” when according to one survey, nearly ninety-one percent of people in the United States are familiar with the term "transgender" and three-quarters of them can define it correctly.

The other day, I talked with Stryker about consulting on the Jenner interview, how media attention to trans stories has changed in recent years, and what all this visibility means for the future of trans rights.

There has been a remarkable surge in media interest when it comes to trans people and their stories. Why do you think this is happening?

First, there has been a persistent drumbeat of activism on this topic since the early nineteen nineties, like a trickle of water running across a plain that eventually carves a canyon. Second, the landscape really changed in the United States after the repeal of the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy on gay and lesbian military service and the Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality. Transgender issues were suddenly positioned as the "next big thing" in a civil rights progress narrative.

Third, thanks to our contemporary biomedical and communications environments, it's simply not as difficult for most people to accept that our bodies and selves are radically transformable over time. Fourth, higher rates of migration, as well as higher levels of global media exposure, have made it easier for more people to see how sex, gender, sexuality, embodiment, and identity vary from place to place. Finally, kids today, ya know? Many of the so-called millennial and post-millennial generations accept that transgender phenomena are simply present in their world. No big.



Beauty Tips Inspired By The 1996-1999 Television Show "Millennium"

Banish zits for all eternity
By starting a cult. Operate out of a call centre and have your followers sell hair products. If a follower’s sales rates begin to stagnate, have the others administer several hits of LSD and drive him to an abandoned lot. They should eject him from the car and encircle him in their vehicles while blaring Cypress Hill’s “Insane in the Brain.” Emerge in a plague mask and throw him into a human-sized microwave. Make a paste from his ashes by adding water. Apply to problem areas after your regular cleansing routine.

Dewy, dumpling-soft skin
Gag, blindfold, and tie your victim to a chair. Paint a number on the wall behind them. Start a cam feed trained on their struggling body. Include a site counter. When the number of visitors to your website matches the number on the wall, step before the camera in an executioner’s hood and slit your victim’s throat. Dab the hood’s interior with aloe, chamomile extract, and argan oil to lock in moisture.

Show-stopping eyebrows that radiate sexual competence
Attend open houses and hide inside the dwelling until the family returns. Murder the parents in front of the child. Stuff the child into an air vent and leave her for the police to find. Draw an arch that follows the brow bone and peaks at the border of your iris. Flatten hairs with lotion before plucking.



Characters In Literotica Stories Who Are Cumin

Jane, after a good night