Thursday, July 24, 2014
I have been sick for most of my life. This is both incredibly simple and incredibly complicated. Here is the short version: my immune system does not know how to protect me. My body attacks itself and I become inflamed. I am always in some type of pain.
I was 14 when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel disease with no known cure. Countless medications, several surgeries, a handful boyfriends, and a few periods of remission later, I was unexpectedly thrust into a new kind of sickness. At 27, without warning, I experienced crippling lower back and hip pain. After months of failed treatments and tests, I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis, a type of autoimmune spinal arthritis common in people with bowel diseases. From then on, my fate as a very slow-moving person in constant need of a restroom was sealed. I cope with my disabilities by perpetuating two possibly false facts: one, that there is humor in illness; two, that one day I will no longer be ill. I have learned that while there is no appropriate time to tell someone that your spine would love nothing more than to fuse with your pelvis, there is definitely a joke in there somewhere.
Before I fell indefinitely ill, I experienced two blissful years of love as a healthy person. Derek kissed me in the music closet on Valentine’s Day in sixth grade. Marcus told me I was beautiful and held my hand at a winter dance. There was a sordid encounter during a matinee screening of Titanic with a boy from another school.
After nearly 15 years of practice, I can assure you that there is a specific look reserved for the moment someone realizes you are fragile. I used to prep prospective partners for this when first dating them. “I have this illness,” I’d explain. “I may look okay now. This is the fun part. We are drinking gin and laughing and my hair smells nice and we’re telling each other our greatest hits stories but one day I will inevitably drop off the radar or my medication will fail. I’ll find myself in need of a gastroenterologist, a rheumatologist, and a steady hand.” My hair does not smell nice at the hospital. They do not serve gin there, but most of the time there’s morphine.
Men my age, single men, have not mastered the art of concealing their reactions when faced with the prospect of a breakable me. It’s more delicate than horror, slight enough that I’ve had to see it again and again to notice. And even then only after looking backwards to figure out what went wrong. READ MORE
Melissa Hunter, who you may remember from Adult Wednesday Addams, brings our attention to the tragic and ongoing social epidemic of men who fail to meet even their most basic human needs. Will you be an angel for a fully grown, yet utterly helpless man?
Eyebrow Wax, $9
"Hello," I said to the owner of the sewing shop. A beautiful tulle-and-satin creation hung from a hook by the cash register. "Here’s my dress! I love it so much!"
"This is your dress?" she asked from behind a wall, around the corner of which I could see a huge wooden table covered in lace and pins. "Oh, good. It’ll be ready tomorrow."
This was the Monday before my wedding.
I had intended to come to pick up the dress on Saturday, but had been told then by this very shop owner not to come. That day, I took a five-minute breather in my car alone (which would actually have been TLC gold) before arranging to leave work early to retrieve it on Monday afternoon.
"No it won’t," I said. "I already took off work today."
Giving orders this way was out of the ordinary for me. I am not an Assertive Person, but I am an impatient one who is running very low on PTO due to having a wedding this year. Twenty minutes later, I found myself wandering around the neighborhood where I had attended high school years before, waiting for the last touches to be put on my dress and feeling entirely too much like a Bruce Springsteen song. The nostalgia got to be too much so I ducked into an eyebrow place to numb it with searing pain. READ MORE
What’s in your handbag, Freyja, Norse goddess of love, sexuality, beauty, fertility, gold, seiðr, war, and death?
Gold eyeliner that a friend gave me because she’s a mortal and she wasn’t sure she could pull it off, empty containers of skyr, that strained Icelandic yogurt that I’m super addicted to, an overdue Comcast bill, Garnier bb cream and SO many treats for the nine magical grey cats who pull my chariot, (gluten-free ones for Helga who has a sensitive tummy). I love these creatures, but they’re useless when they have low blood sugar.
What’s in your handbag, Louka, female Tapir recently relocated to a French wildlife park to pair up with male Tapir Thakeray?
Oof, way too much, I always overpack when I travel! I mean, the usual fruit, berries, and leaves, particularly young, tender growth, since I eat like 40 kg of vegetation a day and I wasn’t sure what they’d have on offer here in France. Plus, some calcium chewables which are super important to keep my chisel-shaped incisors healthy so they can process all the leaves I eat. Also, a little Pantene pro-V since I tend to get split ends in hot weather—I leave it on while I’m checking email over coffee and then hop back in the shower to rinse it off. Works like a charm! READ MORE
Jessie Ware follows up her new album's sublime lead single "Tough Love" (and its two excellent remixes) with "Share It All," co-written with Romy Madley-Croft, the XX's female frontwoman; it's a lovely collaboration, with Romy's slight, iterative sense of melody and neatly picked guitar fuzzed over and opened up by Ware's eighties synth and generous, weightless voice.
Grayson and Tina, pro-choice husband and wife team from Raleigh: we salute your Saturday chores.
Mary Poppins Quits Because She's Only Making Federal Minimum Wage: A Revised Musical, Starring Kristen Bell
♪♫ Just a three-dollar increase can make a living wage/ I don't get these birds for freeeee ♫♪
MNEK, a 19-year-old singer-songwriter from the UK, continues to quietly challenge the new Sam Smith order. Here's the video for "Wrote A Song About You," which Kaytranada already flipped into understated techno. The video treatment is one-part Saved By The Bell, one-part "Rude Boy."
My first date after moving to Paris was at a cemetery. I had been messaging a girl on OkCupid from New Zealand who was looking for people with whom to knock must-visits off her Parisian bucket list; her name was Ruby, and she suggested we meet up at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. Ruby from New Zealand had only one OKC profile picture, and it was of a small, distant, short-haired figure sitting in a kayak. I had no idea how I’d recognize her in a crowd unless she brought the kayak along with her. But that didn’t end up mattering, since outside the Gambetta metro stop on a sunny spring day, she was the one who found me.
Ruby was pretty: tall, reddish-blonde pixie cut, luminous skin. Her prettiness surprised me. Because I am (like most people on online dating sites, I presume) a bit of a shallow asshole, I didn’t think someone who forewent advertising what she looks like on her profile was someone from whom I could realistically expect sparks. But here she now was, and she was pretty, and sparks sidled into the realm of possibility.
I’m shallow, but not that shallow; Ruby was smart, too, which I’d guessed from her profile and gradually confirmed as we made our way to Oscar Wilde’s grave. She had a law degree from New Zealand and was in Paris on semester exchange for a second degree in literature. We talked about public policy differences between our two countries, and some of the books we loved. It took us an hour of wandering the hilly graveside pathways to happen upon Wilde’s lipstick-kissed tomb long after we’d stopped actively searching for it. We never did find Jim Morrison.
This was not only my first date in Paris, where I was volunteering at a film festival and blowing most of my savings on fine cheeses, but also my first date with a stranger. Before Paris, I’d dated people from my classes and extracurriculars. Now, in the heady flux of postgrad, in a city where I didn’t speak the language and knew next to no one, I’d thought, fuck it. I spent a Sunday drinking two-euro supermarket wine in my broom closet of a studio apartment, filling out online questionnaires. It’s hard enough finding queer women out in the wild, let alone the wilds of a place very far from home.
When we got tired of walking, Ruby and I stopped for coffee. Inside the cafe, she took off her sweater. I drank my espresso and tried not to stare for too long at her bare arms. This stranger, who was no longer too much of a stranger anymore, in her perfect plain black T-shirt, was talking about the representations of women in sci-fi blockbusters and smiling across our table at me. I thought, it really isn’t so bad, all of this.
We dated with relative regularity over the next couple months. Ruby’s kayak profile picture seemed to reveal itself as a side-effect of extreme shyness. Without any personal precedent of being the one to make the move, I became, out of sheer necessity, the one to make the move. It was our third time seeing each other. We’d had wine on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower at sunset, an embarrassingly sentimental date, though we made enough jokes about the cliche to claw our way out of it more or less unscathed. We walked home to her apartment, where we sat on her couch drinking milky tea. I psyched myself up and put down my mug, tried to play it suave, but ended up blundering through a pause in conversation by saying, “I’m gonna do something and you just tell me if I end up doing something you don’t wanna do, okay?” She nodded, and I kissed her.
Before she left Paris for a six-month solo traveling trip around the world, I’d occasionally wake in Ruby’s loft bed, where I felt like we were two overgrown kids in a fort we’d dreamed up, and where I always tried to leave her resting in the mornings. Usually she insisted on walking me to the metro. We parted, always, gracelessly: kissing each other’s cheeks, two awkward momentary expats playing at a culture that wasn’t ours. READ MORE
As detailed in this BuzzFeed piece, Lululemon has patented 31 items in its line of insidious business-casual yoga gear, and is currently taking Hanes/Champion/Target to task for a tank top: Hanes, asserting that the design patent shouldn't have been issued to begin with, is filing suit. Here's a snippet from Lululemon's cease-and-desist letter.
I know absolutely nothing about patents that I didn't learn from Shark Tank, and I am admittedly deeply biased against Lululemon on the grounds that their fearful-in-the-guise-of-flattering, show-off-your-collarbones-but-shield-that-tummy aesthetic is offensive to the objective truth that everything would be easier if we just let a woman live for one second—but to me it doesn't seem sensible in any way for the fashion industry to start filing design patents on fairly basic articles of clothing. [BuzzFeed]
First of all, let me assure you, I feel like a huge asshole just for asking this, but I've been chewing on this question on and off for more than a year without any real resolution, so I thought I'd turn to you. Here's the deal: I'm wondering whether I'm abusing feminist ideology in order to justify a natural shyness around women and, if so, whether you could find me a new narrative that would help me feel less bad about acknowledging and acting on attractions.
I've always been seriously shy about any aspect of dating, sex, hooking up, whatever. It's not that I have trouble interacting with women—indeed, my female friends greatly outnumber my male friends. I have no problem making friends with women and, in general, I feel I am generally more comfortable in mostly female environments (this probably came from being thirteen and being constantly made fun of by the other boys in my class, as well as growing up with two older sisters). While I'd hesitate to call myself a feminist, mainly due to my concerns about being appropriative, I would say that I have an enduring interest in gender politics that I do my best to express through my actions.
This interest began to manifest after unrequited crush no. 4,523, around my mid-twenties (I'm in early thirties now) when I began to wonder whether the reason I was so unhappy about my lack of meaningful romantic relationships was because of my attitudes towards women. It has, I believe, helped a lot internally: by working to change a lot of my problematic behaviors and mindsets, I'm not nearly as hung up about sex and relationships as I used to be, and overall I do feel like I approach thoughts about women in a much more healthy way than I used to, helping me get out from being the seething ball of bitterness and anxiety that I was when I was younger. READ MORE
The Romans were good at a lot of things. Building amphitheaters and aqueducts; social bathing, lounging around, inventing wine; praying to gods and goddesses and creating the kinds of myths that survived centuries.
This is an empire that gave us Caesar, Nero, and a lot of old-timey epic films based on their adventures. But forget that—let’s get to the important stuff. The stuff that really matters. How good was their food?
To investigate, I consulted one of the oldest recipe books of all time: a compilation of the greatest Roman culinary hits known as Apicius, named after a Roman foodie from the 1st century AD. I decided to spare myself (and you, of course) the task of looking for hard-to-find ingredients like flamingo, as well as the task of ingesting hard-to-eat ingredients like dormice. So instead, we’re going to bake a Roman nut tart.
Unfortunately, this nut tart is made out of sheep’s milk and fish sauce, but we only live once, so why not? Carpe Diem! READ MORE
So, a few months ago I wrote a short story about a pop star who decides to install herself in a glass box in a museum in order that she might die in public before her hotness starts to: if you're interested, you can read this grotesque flight of fancy through the Offline Magazine app for 99 centavos, or read about it in this brief interview, in which I talk about my love of Britney and distrust of relatability, and give "advice" to budding writers like "Do what you feel" and also "I have a hard time with advice."