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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

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I routinely happen upon men who are perplexed when I eventually declare that I want to know where we stand. Indecision is not a noble virtue. If a man is in “Not really feeling this becoming more than what it is,” territory, I should be made aware in no uncertain terms. If a man is in “I am waiting for someone else to be my girlfriend but I’ll keep you around till I find her” territory, I ought to know that too. My feelings, and the feelings of many people I know, are more hurt by the prolonged waiting for a concrete answer while we sit quietly with our feigned Chill. It is as if I’ve broken some unwritten law when I ask what they are looking for and am dissatisfied with the answer “I don’t really like to put labels on things.” But putting labels on things are how people find the exit during a fire and make sure they’re adding vanilla extract to the cake instead of arsenic.

Alana Massey on the prevalence of chill— a lack of care so pervasive that it renders all emotions both obsolete and passé— is something I wish I'd read when I was 14, or 17, or 20, or even, occasionally, now, times when I've stuffed my feelings deep down in order to make myself more palatable. Recently, my boyfriend told me I have zero chill; I responded in the only way I know how. I've come so far!

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The Prosperity Gospel of Rihanna

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Money is unclean. Cash flows; as it slips constantly out of debtor’s hands into creditor’s, fingerprints, stains, emotional and moral significations muck up the paper—over time, cash even builds up its own scent. That musk rarely transfers onto polite women anymore, who rarely touch dollar bills in the age of Venmo and sugar baby feminism. Rihanna still wants it in cash. Bad Gal, unmoored and uninspired by American dichotomies of cleanliness and defilement as she is, prefers her payment liquid and solid to the touch.

This is the first paragraph from Doreen St. Felix's piece on Rihanna's prosperity gospel, and it only gets better and better with each following sentence. Read it, watch the video for "Pour It Up" on repeat for the rest of the day, bye.

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Excerpts from the April 2015 Vogue, Presented Without Commentary

You sound pretty healthy

Benedict might not have won the Oscar—but he certainly won the absolutely perfect girl.

[Ansel] Elgort has swiftly proved to be multifariously talented as both an EDM DJ (last month, he played Ultra Music Festival in Miami under the sobriquet Ansolo) and, particularly, as a social-media sensation.

Turns out there is such a thing as an ambitious bohemian.

I’m never one to shy away from a challenge, especially when it comes to dressing etiquette: a big gown worn with messy hair, a red lip with a pair of beat-up jeans, a twinset paired with leather pants.
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What I Want

I spend a lot of time reading articles written by parents who list specific desires for their children’s futures, and I listen to a lot of my friends who have children describe, with a lot of specificity, what they’d like their child’s life to be: what kind of schools, where they might like them to grow up, and how they might turn out in the end. It’s usually pretty straightforward: financial stability, emotional health, safe drinking water, for them to be feminists, or to go to Harvard. And much of the time, it’s a reflection of whatever that parent values—or lacks. If you grew up with an alcoholic parent, you desperately want for your child to not have one of those to deal with (or become one). If you didn’t go to a great college, well, maybe you’ll want desperately for your kid to claw into the Ivy League. This makes sense; it’s a rational response to your own upbringing.

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Friendships with Men, Jokes about Men, and Spiderwebs for Catching Men

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How would you describe your friendships with other men, and do you wish they were different?
Hah! Ugh. This is a timely question, because I am currently making a concerted effort to develop more male friendships. Not an easy thing for me! I'm not really sure why that is? I mean, I have theories. Among them: men are mostly terrible. The only thing worse than a man is a group of men. I should know! I am a man, and I've been a man in a group of men, and I'm sure I've been a terrible man in a group of terrible men. It happens! Anyway, the point is—I have a difficult time relating to other men. That is not to say that I am not close with any men at all—just the opposite, in fact. But I've had a much easier time befriending women than men.

(If I want to be more cynical in my self-analysis, it could even be suggested that I've found more validation from the attention of women than from the attention of men—and, frankly, as a tall, good-looking, apparently pleasant person, that attention has usually been pretty forthcoming. I'M A MONSTER, LOL. It's fine, though. I'll get my comeuppance when I'm old and fat and nobody will flirt with me anymore.) READ MORE

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Partying felt less loaded than sex or friendship or family and it surprised me how people never seemed to mind as you went from knowing them to adoring them and then unknowing them, all within a six-to-eight-hour span. With ecstasy there is no serotonergic choice but for everyone to love everyone and then stop. It silenced social math. It’s only when those dials in my head go dark that I can have a good time.

I adored Hairpin pal Mary H. K. Choi's thrilling, honest, funny portrayal of her relationship with ecstasy on Matter. I don't do drugs, what no of course not, but if I DID do drugs I'd probably do something like cry about the series finale of 30 Rock two years after it ended, eat half of a lasagna, then vacillate between delight and irritability about my altered state, yelling, "I HATE THIS. I HAVE STUFF TO DO!!!" I promise I am very fun at parties.

But since I am way too type-A to seriously enter the world of drugs (me: what is the etiquette of this particular drug exchange? Should I send a thank you to note my dealer? Am I obligated to share? Can we all track the puffs/injections/snorts we each took and then split it evenly so that no one feels ripped off?) but continue to be endlessly fascinated by it, I remain on its outskirts, occasionally peeking in. This is an excellent glimpse.

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How Do I Do All My To-Dos?

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I am not an organized person. This is not one of those self-effacing comments I make about myself where I'm expecting you guys to all jump in and be like "nooo you're sooooo organized omg I love your organizational skills" or whatever. No. If you were to look at my Google Calendars, or my Evernote "system," or my email inbox, you'd be like, shit, that's fucking organized, and yes, you'd be right, but that is something I force myself to do. Like what is the equivalent of kicking and screaming when it's your own brain that's dragging you to do something you don't want to do? Basically my interior monologue is consistently bitching about how, first, she doesn't want to sit still and make a to-do list, and then secondly, how she better make a to-do list or all of this third-person-talking-to-ourselves is going to get us committed.

I started honing this really intense—some might say "absurd" but shut up—system when I started working, lol, three jobs, because that was a thing I did for awhile. At first it was a kind of normal amount of three jobs, if that's even a reasonable statement to make?! Like, I worked a day job for a buyer at a very nice clothing store, and the hours were more or less 10am to 7pm, and then I was just starting to volunteer for WORN as the Promotions Director, and I was doing some very, very light freelance writing. So I'd get up around 6am, work out with a Jillian Michaels DVD (I KNOW I KNOW BUT LET ME FINISH), shower, work on WORN stuff from 7:30 to 9:30, go to work, come home, eat, and work on writing from like 8pm to 11pm or so. And then I did a shift at the WORN office on Saturday afternoons. And I loved it. That's when I got into very loose to-do lists, just like "here's what needs to get done today."

But THEN. When I left my job at the store I replaced it with a slightly more flexible day job—as a virtual assistant for Jennifer Dziura, what's up Jen—and that's when having three jobs became...well, I guess more like what you would expect having three jobs to be like. Like, just constant, crushing, overwhelming amounts of Things To Do in any given day, but for the most part they were all pretty easily defined, easily completed tasks. For example: email this person. Call that person. Write this form. Finish the budget for that grant. And so on and so forth. And that's when I was like, if I don't force myself to pretend to be the most organized person on the face of this dumb Earth my head will explode and I will die and then none of these emails will get sent and I will be even more garbage than I currently am, a fate worse than death, duh.

So that's when my to-do lists became My Everything and I started getting really intense about them. They were organized by date, blocks of time, and location; like, today at 12pm I'll be at the WORN office, so here's everything I need to do in that location. I even included all the non-work stuff like: Exercise. Eat. Shower. See Friends. And I would do it and check off the little box and that lizard part of my brain that needs constant validation would be temporarily satisfied I had proven my worth and could continue to exist on this dumb planet. READ MORE

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Easter is "Coming" (Get It? You Get It)

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On the one hand, lol. On the other hand, the press release I received from Lelo this morning actually taught me a lot about Easter. It turns out it's the perfect holiday for vibrator shopping, who knew!

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Is this true? Can anyone confirm? Related: I don't care, I'm just going to choose to believe it.

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The Best Time I Went To E.R. Without Insurance While Attending A Conference Inspired By A Facebook Group I Started


I am in the lobby of UCLA’s Carnesale’s Commons building, having snuck out of the main conference room for the sixth time that hour to pee, only to be distracted by a very nice spread of sandwiches. At that moment my biggest concern is wondering how many sandwiches would it be polite to steal before anyone else gets to the table.

There is movement out of the corner of my eye. Francesca Lia Block, author of the cult young adult fantasy novel Weetzie Bat has just entered the room, looking exactly like she did in her author photo twenty-five years ago. I strut up to her with the false confidence of somebody who is on prescription painkillers and has been made to feel like she owns the place.

“Hey youuuu,” I say to her, extending my hand to shake hers. I am woozy, but in my defence, she looks woozier. “I am a children’s book critic and,” here I lean in to whisper, conspiratorially, “I started this.” She smiles politely and asks if I would like to be on her mailing list.

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It was last summer, mid-June, and a friend of mine was going on tour to promote her new novel. Would I like to stay at her place in Brooklyn and feed her cats while she was away? I would like that very much. I brought my fellow Canadian down with me, a little lady you might know by the name of…HALEY MLOTEK. Haley and I both had day jobs at that point—I was working full-time in a children’s bookstore in Toronto, she was the virtual assistant for an American writer, but we were ambitious and very excited about having a free place to stay in New York for a week.

Our first night there we went to a party with a group of women writers of varying experience levels. The vibes, as they say, were good. We took a cab home together, discussing how lucky we were to be part of a supportive creative community.

The next morning, we were working side-by-side on our computers while Blue Crush played on the background on TV.

“What if I made something for writers to connect with each other?” I asked Haley. “Something where we can ask questions and learn from each other. We’ll invite our friends, and let them invite their friends. It might be helpful for people who don’t like, live in New York or Toronto or whatever, to network.”

“Yeah, that sounds nice,” she said.

I clicked “Create group” on Facebook, then paused. “Is ‘Binders Full of Women Writers’ a funny name?”

“Eh,” Haley said. “You can always change it later.” READ MORE

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"Zayn Malik puts strain on UK economy as hundreds of workers demand compassionate leave"

Nearly one week ago, the only member of One Direction worth caring about abruptly left the "band"—in order to be a band you have to play instruments but WHATEVER, I'll let them have this one—and America nearly fell apart. Buzzfeed hosted a vigil. Teens freaked out. Even Mitt Romney weighed in (he is not looking well).

But that's nothing compared to the reaction in the United Kingdom. From The Independent:

More than 220 calls were made to employment law experts by workers asking for compassionate leave following the news that Zayn Malik had quit One Direction.

Guys.

“If employees feel strongly about the issue then request that they take days off as a holiday, but compassionate leave is what you allow if a close relative dies, unless the employer is unaware of family ties with Zayn Malik then I hardly think that this qualifies.

Guys.

He went on to draw comparisons between the event and that of the big parting of ways of Robbie Williams from Take That in 1996, where they again experienced a huge spike in calls from concerned bosses.

GUYS. It's just a "band." Zayn will still be around!!! He isn't even that CUTE I mean—

o-ZAYNMALIK-facebook

Haley. Um. I think I need to take the day off.

Eat the Mango (No, Not That One)

maaaango

The end of March is still a dead zone for produce here in the Northeast, but in Mexico and further south to Peru, one of the world’s most diverse and most popular fruits, the mango, is beginning to enter one of its two seasons (the other is in early fall). Even though our neighbor to the south is one of the world’s biggest producers of mangoes—and Florida grows a pretty respectable number and hosts what looks like a delightful festival focused on the fruit—the mango is underappreciated and underused in the United States. This should be a crime! We should all be arrested!

If you live in a place without a substantial Indian or Mexican population, there’s a pretty fair chance the only mango you’ve ever seen is the Tommy Atkins: a large, red-green mango with a giant pit and a fibrous interior that gets stuck in your teeth. The Tommy Atkins is one of those accursed fruit varieties, like the Red Delicious apple, that is an insult to its brothers and should be banished from the planet. The Tommy Atkins is the worst possible example of the wonders of the mango: weak in flavor, egregious in texture, and popular exclusively because it is large, easy to grow, and tough enough to withstand transit.

The Tommy Atkins mango was created by Thomas Atkins in Broward County, Florida from a tree planted in 1922. Atkins was very pleased with his shit mango; he thought it would sell well because it is large and pretty and does not bruise easily. He was right, although it took awhile for the variety to catch on. Throughout the early nineteen fifties, Atkins kept trying to get the Florida Mango Forum to approve it; they did not, citing its subpar flavor and texture, but eventually the growers, rather than the tasters, won out. The Tommy Atkins today is by far the most common variety in the U.S., which is embarrassing as heck.

There are thousands of varieties of mangoes, ranging from giant grapefruit-sized mangoes to tiny plum-sized mangoes, dark purple mangoes to delicate golden mangoes, and flat oblong mangoes to nearly spherical mangoes. The textures range from so creamy you need to use a spoon to so crunchy you need to use a fork (or chopsticks), the flavors from crisp and vegetal to heavy and sweet. Most mango varieties do not travel well, unfortunately, and there’s not much of a market in shipping some of the weirder ones all the way from, say, the south of India, where mangoes are as beloved as apples in New York. That said, if you live in a city, or in a place with a healthy representation of certain immigrant groups, there’s a pretty good chance you can find a mango that’ll totally change the way you think about them.

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My Queer-oes: On Young Queer Characters in Comics

LUMBERJANES coverRecently, comics creator and champion of women comic book shop employees, Kate Leth, tweeted her gratitude that her publisher, BOOM! Studios, allows her to "push her gay agenda a lil." A couple months prior to that, she'd written in her biweekly comics column about the pushback creators often get from their publishers and editors, nixing queer characters for fear of losing money, or simply out of a personal belief that queer stories are too adult or inappropriate for young readers.

Leth argues that if the straight romances densely populating youth media aren't inherently sexual or inappropriate, neither are queer ones; furthermore, queer youth have the right to see and recognize representations of themselves in their media, to know that they're not alone, and that it's okay and normal and even great to be who they are. I know from experience that she's right, that it is important for young queer kids to see these representations, not simply for affirmation of a confirmed, existing identity, but also, occasionally, to bring that identity to light.

I'm bisexual. I've always been bisexual, but I've only identified privately as such in some form or another—bouncing between labels like queer and pansexual until recently settling on bi, for reasons that I'll save for another day—for about three years. (At the time I'm presently writing this, I still haven't come out to my parents. Hopefully that will no longer be true by the time this is published.)

Why did it take me so long to figure it out? There are the cliché reasons, of course: growing up Catholic, with its attendant guilt and shame over even the most mundane human experiences, sure didn't help. Subtle homophobic attitudes dispensed by family members, and not-so-subtle bi-antagonistic myths dispensed by straight and gay peers alike regarding girls who are confused, fake, attention-seeking, experimenting, or simply slutty, are certainly just as likely contributing factors. I was honestly afraid of sex for most, if not all, of my adolescence, and so never had the seemingly universal experience of surreptitiously seeking out and exploring the landscape of my desire through pornography. But there is also the significant fact that my attraction to boys was supported, confirmed, and described by literally every form of media I voraciously consumed, for as long as I can remember. My particular flavor of queerness, on the other hand, simply did not exist, as far as the makers of the worlds I inhabited were concerned. READ MORE

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The Beastie Men

Are the Beastie Boys done?

"We're done. Oh yeah. Adam Yauch started the band. It's not like a thing where we could continue without him."

Never contemplated it?

"No."

Does that require a psychological adjustment? The band that you were in your entire life no longer exists.

"It's a huge deal. And so, you know, it's probably just taken me time to sit and think and try to figure out what I do next or who I am now or, you know, all of that stuff. Because since high school, I was in this band. And you know, it's one thing when you're in a band in high school, but then to have it last for so long—that's who I am and what I did forever. And so now I'm just trying to figure it out.

I have a running list of Acceptable White Men in my email drafts, just in case I die and someone tries to smear me as a racist: thus far, it's Bill de Blasio, Art Garfunkel, my boyfriend (subject to change), and, always, the two remaining Beastie Boys. Here's an interview in GQ with Adam Horovitz talking about his real life—taking care of his wife, Kathleen Hanna, returning items to hardware stores, and dealing with the loss of MCA, who died in 2012. I've always loved the Beastie Boys but felt guilty about praising their destructive, careless, often misogynist lifestyle that established the genesis of their careers—but they do too: "Being a straight white guy in his, like, early twenties—there's some sort of thing about it. A sort of privilege, a sort of anger or something. You just say some really stupid things."

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Renata Adler, "Irreparable Harm"

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Not infrequently, an event so radical that it alters everything appears for a time to have had no effect, or even not to have occurred. This is true in personal as in public life. A loss, a flood, a medical diagnosis, a rolling of tanks towards the statehouse—life goes on apparently as usual. Nothing is changed. It is particularly true of events that are irremediable. When there is nothing to be done, people go to work, eat their lunch, sleep, awaken to a vastly altered world, in ways that seem uncanny in their ordinariness.

Last week I mentioned, that I was reading the new collection of Renata Adler essays, and now I'm going to mention it again, because the entire book is so fucking good. You have to read it.

The above passage is from one of the last essays in the collection and is, hilariously, about Bush v. Gore. Remember that?! What a time in our shared heritage. READ MORE

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Tei Shi, "Verde"


I am sure that "Can't Be Sure" is my new favorite song.

Listen to Tei Shi's new EP here, then listen to it all night, come back tomorrow morning prepared to discuss all the different ways it makes you feel.