Monday, March 30, 2015
Welcome. I see you’ve clicked on the link about weird body hair. Is it because you’re looking for ways to get rid of yours? Is it because you have some and want to make sure it’s normal? Is it because you were also betrayed by health class and were more prepared to grow black hair on your tongue from smoking a cigarette than grow nipple hairs or tiny chin hairs or the occasional single chest hair?
It’s okay. You’re in a safe space. Let’s address a few questions about some of the lesser-discussed body hairs. READ MORE
Ester: Good afternoon, Nicole! Is it ever okay to lie about your salary history when applying for a job? Conversely, is it expected that you should or already do?
Nicole: Wow, that’s a big question for a Friday afternoon! I’m going to say no, no, and no. I don’t think it’s okay to lie, and I don’t think that it’s “expected” that people will lie. Do you?
Ester: I was rather surprised when a friend brought this question to me yesterday, because my default, if perhaps naive, assumption is that of course it’s not okay to lie and of course it’s not assumed I will lie if I am engaged in negotiations.
However, perhaps everyone else is lying and we are getting left out in the cold! FWIW, my friend, also a nice writer-type woman, had been told that “of course” she should lie in an upcoming salary negotiation, and she was surprised to receive this advice. Then again, she, my friend, is a bit on the honest/naive spectrum herself too. Perhaps we should ask someone more worldly-wise?
Nicole: We absolutely should. I do think, by the way, that there is room for—what’s the right word—a range of truth around your salary history, in that it is appropriate to give a previous salary range, a la “My previous salary was in the $70,000-80,000 range” even if you only made $72,000.
Ester: Definitely. There’s room in honesty for both tact and spin. READ MORE
A few weeks ago, Emma got in touch with me to say that she wanted to write about the new Semiotext(e) book I'm Very Into You but she wasn't entirely sure what she wanted to say. At the time, I had just finished reading the book for the second time and had four different Word documents open, each with their own failed attempt to write even just a small thing about I'm Very Into You, about the way Kathy Acker and McKenzie Wark had almost accidentally written the entire story of their relationship through email, saying almost nothing about what transpired between them but almost everything else: television, books, magazines, travel, motorcycles, distance, space, work, sex.
We decided that instead of staying locked inside our own heads we would try to write to each other about why this very small book was something we couldn't stop thinking about. Weirdly, in the process we found ourselves somewhat unconsciously mimicking the trajectory of Acker and Wark's correspondence, something that probably says more about email as a medium than it does about either relationship. Emma and I accidentally bumped into each other halfway through this process and while we were standing in our mutual friend's kitchen, surrounded by other people having their own conversations, she called it the "Universal Grammar of the Romantic Email." I think that sums it up perfectly. Below are our emails.
March 18, 2015
from: Haley Mlotek
to: Emma Healey
Emma: hi!! I was so happy to get your email last night, because first I was away and you've been away and we keep missing each other, and I've really wanted to talk to you for awhile about a lot of different things. And when we realized we were reading the same book and we were both trying to write about it and were both struggling with what we wanted to say I thought that this was the perfect time for us to talk about, I guess, all of the above.
For context: the book I'm referring to is I'm Very Into You, a collection of email correspondence between Kathy Acker and McKenzie Wark from 1995 to 1996. They met and hooked up when Kathy was in Australia and then emailed each other frequently, eventually spending another weekend together in New York, before the communications faded.
I read this book in, like, a minute; and then I went back and I read it again, and I'm kind of on my third re-read now, although I'm really just going back to Matias Venieger's intro and certain select passages, thinking a lot about how much I enjoy the book and how hypocritical I am for said enjoyment.
How do you feel about reading the emails and journals of deceased writers? I’m fairly evenly split when I consider the concept objectively—I’d say 49% guilty, 51% put it in my eyes immediately I need to know all the secrets—but I know I’m a hypocrite because I already have a standing deal with multiple people to burn my laptop and all my notebooks should I ever die, heavy emphasis on “should.” I have sought out all my most trustworthy friends and husbands and had them swear to me that they would never, ever publish my emails, journals, or heaven forbid, my tweets; future generations have done nothing to deserve that garbage.
I am, probably for the exact same reasons, so drawn to books and collections that do what I’m most afraid of: share writing that was never supposed to be shared. READ MORE
I don't believe in "rules," because like, what am I, your mom? We're all Grown Woman™! We can do whatever we want! I have a particular distaste for fashion rules (don't mix patterns, don't wear white after Labor Day, don't don't don't), because they only exist to force people into these totally arbitrary categories of completely meaningless concepts like "taste" and "class" and "beauty," all of which are based in subjective and constantly shifting priorities that have more to do with enforcing a status quo than actually encouraging people to look and dress in a way that feels best for them. Oof. I just tried reading that sentence out loud and ran out of breath. But you know what I mean.
HOWEVER. On Saturday I spent a good six hours by myself, wandering around Toronto and completing various errands I had been putting off; I knew I wasn't going to be able to sit in front of my computer all day because I could feel a very real burnout coming on, but I also couldn't do nothing, like oh my god perish the thought, so I went to Toronto's fanciest department store to pick up some skincare stuff I "needed" to replace, and while I was there I was like, fuck it, I'm going to the floor with all the Agent Provocateur bras and buying something ridiculous. Pictured, left: one of the bad decisions I made while I was there. It's called the Alina Bra and I will probably never take it off. I also bought this bra because I was in a MOOD for making BAD DECISIONS.
Afterwards I kept waiting for the guilt or regret to creep in because, like, I don't know if you clicked on those links, but those bras cost money. Money I've been saving (hoarding, really), for important life things. But you know what? The guilt didn't happen. It STILL hasn't happened. And that's because of one of the only fashion rules I do follow, one that has many practical applications and iterations but I'm choosing to simplify it, is: "cheap sunglasses, expensive lingerie."
I once bought a pair of really beautiful, very expensive Karen Walker sunglasses; this was back when I worked as a legal secretary and was just rolling in disposable income for the very first time in my adult life. I still have them! They're great! But I almost never wear them. They feel a little too...heavy, maybe? Too much. Which is strange, because I almost always wear sunglasses when I'm outside, my eyes are extremely sensitive to light and even indirect sunlight makes me tear up almost immediately, plus they just make me look cool. I prefer the sunglasses I get from this cute store around the corner from my apartment. They have a whole wall of sunglasses for $10 each and I'll buy one or two, wear them to death (you should've seen what happened to the sunglasses I brought with me to Cuba, R.I.P. those beautiful reflective aviators, they were too pure for this world), and then replace them as necessary.
Sunglasses bounce around in your pockets and bump up against your keys and get jammed into your purses. More than that, they're right in front of your face all the time!! Everyone sees them! They're not special. That's my point. They're common. Like, who cares about sunglasses.
Lingerie, on the other hand. I expected to feel guilty because, like, how could I spend so much money on something that I was going to show to so few people? I mean, I'm not some kind of lingerie purist who is like "this is for my husband's eyes only" because like lol as if. You better believe I sent about a million texts and Instagram DMs of my tits in those bras when I was in the Agent Provocateur change room, I looked amazing and I knew it and I wanted all my friends and loved ones to simultaneously know it and share in my narcissism. But if you're someone who wears bras and enjoys wearing bras, you know how it feels to find a really, truly great one. I once had a friend who described the way her tits looked when she held them in her hands guided into exactly the right height and shape and said her life's mission was to find a bra that did exactly that, a comparison I loved because I knew what she was talking about but also because a really good bra should feel like someone is lovingly propping your breasts up to the height and shape you feel your best in. Sunglasses can't do anything even remotely comparable to that kind of emotional and physically flattering support. I mean, apparently they make your face look more symmetrical? Who cares.
Once I started thinking about this I realized I have so many other similar rules that I'd been secretly holding on to, guiding all my purchases and beauty priorities. This has been a very longwinded preamble to sharing those with you. They are, more or less in order, the following: READ MORE
TODAY IN CLUELESS NEWS: I just realized that Murray wears a Superman necklace throughout the movie, and then my multiple viewings of Scrubs throughout the years made me go, "Wait, Turk had a Superman tattoo!!!" And now I'm going to spend the rest of my weekend trying to figure out Donald Faison's affection for Superman. Please feel free to leave all theories in the comments.
Haley started this week with a meditation on a small fashion magazine, then we... put on some poison dresses, wrote a poem in Dutch, figured out if he was into us, watched some Bollywood videos of Helen, recast The First Wives Club, wondered if God ever spoke to us through cats (probably not), named our plants, quenched our thirst, wrote a letter to Jenna Lyons, talked to Baba Yaga, wrote some neurotica, praised Uncovered Classics and all our piles of books, repeated a word, and interpreted some dreams.
As always, here are some women who gave us life (load up your Instapaper): Arabelle Sicardi on Fresh Off the Boat and her mother, Kathleen Hale interviewed Fran Lebowitz, Kristin Russo, Nicolette Mason, Arabelle Sicardi, and Rae Tutera on fashion and the queer identity, ">too many women we love named the funniest women on Twitter by Playboy, and a small-town steel worker, Kim Kardashian impersonator and beverage enthusiast wrote about gel manicures in the New York Times magazine.
In other weird/sad/exciting/weeeeird news: next week is my last week at the Hairpin. * please insert every emoji ever created here * You'll hear more on that from me soon, but LET'S MAKE THIS LAST WEEK A GOOD ONE, EH?????? See you Monday. Let's do it big.
The National Geographic has a piece on how swarming bats avoid crashing into each other:
A new study finds that the nocturnal creatures follow a few simple "traffic rules" to avoid midair collisions: The bats first home in on the positions of other bats using their built-in sonar, then follow the flight path of a leader bat—or wingman, as it were.
And, oh my god, the idea of little creepy bats following traffic rules is so adorable to me. I am imaging little bats staying in their own little bat lanes and stopping at their little bat four-way intersections to give the other little bats the right of way, and they all have little bat bumper stickers that say things like, "My other vehicle is the Batmobile" and "Bela Lugosi on Board" and "Honk if you love echolocation" and wait a second I think I just invented a kids' TV show.
From Sunset to Sun Valley, here are eleven of the city's finest free coffee establishments.
1. Milt and Edie’s Drycleaners, Burbank
Milt and Edie's, which has been open twenty-four hours a day since 1962, offers far more than just coffee: they have free cookies, free hot dogs and popcorn, free treats for your dog, free flag-cleaning, and on their website, a page of free fashion tips with confident headings like, “How Long Pants Legs Should Be.” The free coffee comes out of an automated machine set beside a plate of Hydrox cookies, both types, and under a bulletin board advertising local businesses, mostly dog walkers and dialect coaches.
2. Sunset Car Wash, West Hollywood
There was nothing I loved more when I was a little girl than going with my father to Sunset Car Wash on Sunset Boulevard, a low-slung Brutalist monument with an interior viewing window through which I'd watch our red Mercury Topaz slowly trundle through suds-covered tentacles. We referred to our car as “The Sharkmobile” because it would instantly overheat if you tried to stop or slow down. Then we'd have to pull over and my father would lift the hood and bang at the radiator with an old espadrille that we kept in the trunk specifically for that purpose. My father would pour himself a free coffee from a Mr. Coffee set into an alcove alongside an uncovered pitcher of cream and an open box of sugar cubes. I always begged for a sugar cube but my mother had forbidden my father to give me one because she'd heard somewhere that fiends would dose unattended sugar cubes with LSD just for kicks.
3. Emergency Room, Providence St. Joseph Medical Center, Burbank
I went to Providence St. Joseph Medical Center Emergency Room after my eight-month-old tumbled face-first off the kitchen counter and landed on his fortunately pliable eight-month-old nose, chipping his front tooth and severing the frenulum that once connected his upper lip to his gums. The free coffee is not located in the main emergency room waiting room with the vending machines and the TVs playing soap operas, nor in the triage area to which you will later be assigned to sit and chat about infant head trauma with a man who looks like Sting, but in a smaller subsequent waiting room in an area called, without apparent irony, Rapid Care. While drinking your coffee you can try to avoid eye contact with a room full of people who look perfectly fine to you and one person who definitely doesn't, a gardener who sliced through his forearm on the job and is now standing with his arm wrapped in a jacket, his demeanor calm and slightly apologetic, like a man sorry for getting blood all over your perfectly nice waiting room.
Three and a half hours later the cheerful doctor assured me it's all but impossible to break a baby's nose (“at this stage it's all cartilage”) and that most healthy American boys have torn their frenulums by the age of six; she should know, having two young sons of her own. The baby had no signs of brain injury, though she did recommendI check in on him every two hours overnight “to make sure he's still breathing.” READ MORE
I often ask clients if they've had any dreams. I ask them because, to a Jungian psychotherapist, dreams are what an X-Ray is to a medical doctor: a look below what is visible to the naked eye, a peek into what is happening beyond what a person consciously knows or believes.
I took a nap and I dreamed about my father passing away. He was laying in a coffin, but in real life he is still alive. This dream was a nightmare for me; I was crying and very afraid.
I'm so sorry! Those dreams are awful. You wake up confused about who's dead and who's alive, and maybe worried that the dream is a premonition of an actual event. As you've adjusted to daily living, you've probably come to find that your father is alive and not in literal danger. So what does this dream mean for you?
Without having spoken with you, I would gander a couple of strong possibilities: your father complex is dying due to some new events or awareness in your life, and/or you have an unconscious and confusing death wish for your father. Let me explain.
If you're anything like anyone alive, your relationship with your father is complicated. In your own particular blend of feelings that all children share, you love your father and are angry with him. You are hurt from past events and also grateful for things. Unconsciously, you balance out all of your conscious beliefs about him with their opposites. For instance, a woman may dream of her father all the time but in therapy will proclaim to have had a very good childhood with him, with nothing more to say. After months pass, however, she may begin to have conscious memories of his angry episodes or feeling his cold tone filter throughout the house. Consciously, she liked her dad. Unconsciously, things were much more complicated. READ MORE
OK remember that CRAZY New York mag profile of Martine Rothblatt, the trans-everything CEO? (Here is a moment of silence for that weird cover line, ugh.) I remember it well, because it was my first week at the Hairpin and I was also still working at New York magazine and it was FASHION WEEK and I kept forgetting to eat and I was running on like three hours of sleep every night, LOL!!!!
ANYWAY: In the article, we learn that Rothblatt commissioned an AI robot that looks like her wife, named Bina48. Commissioned. Robot. Wife. WHAT.
Sitting on a computer table in the converted garage that serves as Terasem headquarters, and molded in “frubber” to resemble skin, is a head-and-shoulders bust of Bina, loaded with 20 hours of interviews with Bina, familiar with Bina’s favorite songs and movies, programmed to mimic Bina’s verbal tics, so that in the event that Bina expires, as humans always do, Martine and their children and friends will always have Bina48.
WHAAAAAAAAAAT. READ MORE
I am not supposed to say the same thing twice
i was born twice READ MORE
I 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!
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.
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.