Monday, April 13, 2015

How to Optimize Your Flesh Prison

2015-04-13_10_16_37Begin by finding your face shape. Hold a pencil against your nose to calculate the arch of your brow, then add a statement necklace to transition your look effortlessly from day to night. What is your dress size? Your inseam? What is the name of the doctor who did your cousin’s nose? Squat over a hand mirror to examine your cervical mucus. Are you pear shaped? Apple shaped? Do you have your mother's breasts and your father’s eyes, or vice versa? Are you classic? Wild? Flirty? Ethnic? A Samantha? A Shoshanna? An Abbi cusp, Ilana rising? Multiply your BMI by the cost of your foundation, then subtract the number of times in 1990 you never read Naomi Wolf. Turn this magazine upside down to tabulate your score, record the number in a softcover Moleskine, then throw it in the trash.

Welcome to the golden age of expressing yourself. Forget everything you’ve ever been taught about assembling your human for public consumption, because where we’re going, we don’t need “investment pieces” or beachy waves. This is 2015, and getting dressed isn’t just about looking good anymore—it’s about communicating an elaborate and complex theory of self grounded in reflexive post-post-structuralist ideals. In the fifties, your grandma wooed your grandpa from across the dancehall with her slender waist and shapely gams. Today, we dress to recruit other genderless entities into our polyamorous sex pentagrams so we can network with them and monetize our personal brands. Pretty is an insult used by men on the street who tell you to smile, and people just don’t accessorize with dogs like they used to—they identify as them. Log on to Tumblr and you’ll find fourteen-year-olds who can problematize Foucault under the bus. Our current cultural moment is a perverse Disneyland of subcultural weirdness, and to say that I’m over the moon about living on the frontier of identity politics would be an understatement. The constant negotiation of ethics and aesthetics gives my existence an arbitrary sense of meaning, and the rapidly expanding menu of available self-presentations makes getting dressed every morning an acid trip into a terrifying and thrilling abyss. Put down the neutral eyeshadow palette and step away from the neatly folded stack of basics. Now is the time to live your weirdest fantasy of self. READ MORE


The Best Time I Had Alopecia

Screen Shot 2015-04-02 at 5.21.20 PM“Baby, I think you’re balding.”

The rare hubris of being an Asian woman born into a family of shampoo-commercial-grade manes had granted me a misplaced confidence: I did not expect to hear these words in my lifetime. But as we all know, or will soon find out, life loves a good joke. And so, on a trip to Mexico in December—the sole purpose of which was to evade stress—it caught up with me in the form of a gaping bald spot.

“Maybe it’s the way your hair is parted when it’s wet,” my boyfriend offered unconvincingly, his tone revealing that he regretted any participation in this discovery. I’d just come out of the shower after an arduous day of oceanside loafing. “It’s really not that noticeable.”

But ever the contrarian, I reached back and gingerly probed the tender, hairless skin, a foreign texture and alienating landscape that seemed to go on forever. For a second, I felt a strange sense of comfort: knowing you’re being lied to can sometimes make you feel loved.

As I poked at the back of my skull, my boyfriend reached for my phone—mostly so that I wouldn’t start Googling different iterations of ‘bald circle’ + ‘am I dying.’ “I’m going to take some pictures,” he said. “You’ll want them later.” I silently admired his instincts. For a size reference, he fished a shiny loonie out of his wallet and placed it next to, then on top of, my hairless patch. In another time and mental space, I would have been delighted by how perfectly it fit.

Over an unreliable Skype connection, my doctor friend in Montreal reassured me that it was not what I thought. “You don’t have brain cancer, Tracy,” she said impatiently, familiar with the overdramatic neuroticism central to my personal brand. “That’s not how it works.” After a few questions, she ruled out lupus and syphilis. Unofficially and likely unprofessionally, she diagnosed me with what I would later confirm in-clinic: alopecia areata. I spent the rest of the trip trying not to think about it. We all know how that goes. READ MORE


"It’s perfectly possible that she will react badly."

A man writes into The Guardian asking for advice about whether to tell his bride to be that a) he is bisexual and b) he has had sex with her dad before. Let's just trust that this incredible coincidence is real, and get into it. I feel like the author spends far too much time encouraging him to reveal his bisexuality (which, yes! Be honest with your future spouse about your sexual identity whenever possible!) and not nearly enough addressing the fact that HE HAD SEX WITH HER DAD.

If she can come to terms with your admission, then you’ve chosen the right person for you. If not, she probably isn’t your “dream woman” after all.

Um, no, that is not true. I do not care how perfect you are for each other and how much work you've put into your relationship and how accepting you are of varying sexual preferences, what marriage could possibly survive one person having sex with the others' dad? I mean, please tell me if your relationship has survived this. But also, dude, I think you gotta let this one go.


Your Liquid Liner Is Crooked, Let Me Fix It For You

The liquid liner I'm using is Makeup For Ever Aqua Liner in #13, the necklace is something I bought at a mall, my weird makeup faces are now on the Internet, also the real lesson is that you don't need a man for anything, hi it's first thing Monday morning and we're already learning so much about each other! Hope you had a good weekend.


Weekend Roundup / Open Thread

Whoa the week is done already! Very cool how time keeps going forward, IMO.

We learned a lot of things this week! We learned that Haley hates this fancy moisturizer (but loves Chris Kraus), I hate the return of the Brontosaurus, and Marie and Lola love the Fast and the Furious. These Google searches messed us up, and we may have cried at Huda Hussan's essay. We learned Salman Rushdie is a total dad when it comes to the internet, and that it's okay to not want to be constantly ultraseriously shouting about things.

Elsewhere, Hazel Cills asks if TV only likes female killers when they're campy, Hannah Giorgis talks about the radicalness of Rihanna and the "carefree black girl," and I wrote about some space suits made in Brooklyn because that's a thing now. Also Ryan Sartor interviewed some weirdo named Jazmine Hughes who I think is famous for not showering?? Like, literally who? No we don't miss Jazmine every single day and cry ourselves to sleep because she abandoned us, why do you ask?

What are you up to this weekend? If you're reading this, I'm currently on a plane to Utah. Are you in Utah? What's it like? Is it like SLC Punk? I saw that movie when I was like 14 and never since, does it hold up?


Things I Want To Happen in Season 3 of "Orange is the New Black"

1. Backstories for Flaca and Maritza already.

2. A new inmate comes to Litchfield and she is quiet and mysterious about her past and at first nobody likes her but then they find out she is there because she killed Larry and the other inmates make her their queen, even the ones who didn't know Larry.

3. That's it, really.

4. Well, 800% more Poussey, but that one's obvious.

The show returns June 12 for a third season on Netflix.

Thoughts That Run Through Your Mind While You’re Stuck In A Subway Tunnel For Over An Hour

April 6, 2015, 7 train to Grand Central, 8:37am

Whoa, that seemed like a sudden stop.

Was that the emergency brake?

Hey random passenger: Thanks, we know it’s the emergency brake.

Smells like smoke.

Hey same random passenger: Yeah, we know there’s smoke.

Where’s the smoke coming from?

Am I safer in the train or outside of it?

This tunnel is super narrow and there’s nowhere to escape to even if we do have to leave the car.

Hey MTA announcer: Don’t you know calling it a “smoke condition” doesn’t make it sound less scary?

What if we have to stay on this train for hours? Will people pee in their Starbucks cups?

Am I going to die in a subway tunnel?

Is this smoke condition serious?

I don’t want to die in a subway tunnel.

Of course I’m going to die right after the first good first date I’ve had in months.

Would someone give me their Starbucks cup to pee in if I asked nicely?

Hey MTA announcer: you already told us you’re investigating the smoke condition. What I need to know is whether I should be panicking.

If this really is a life-or-death situation, will I feel foolish for not letting myself fully panic? Or will I not care either way since I’ll be dead?

Should I write a text that says, “I love you all,” so my family will know I was thinking about them when I died?

My mom’s going to be pretty mad if I die in a subway tunnel.

No one else seems to be panicking.

Maybe this isn’t that serious.

Is “when there’s smoke, there’s fire” scientifically accurate?

What if someone other than my family finds the “I love you all” text and mistakenly thinks it means I love everyone in the world? READ MORE



The autistic savants, disabled geniuses, and feel-bad narratives fill our screens and influence our lives. We live in a culture that simultaneously pushes the narratives “I wish I was special like you” and “I would kill myself if I was like you.”

Both statements speak of an othering—specific to that strange, imagined idea of disability constructed by an able-bodied imagination: something special, magical, tragic. The common freak show rhetoric (the kind painted in big bold letters on faux vintage posters) refers to disabled bodies in fantastical terms: as mermaids and monsters. Empathy is difficult if the person in question is a fairytale creature or imaginary friend. READ MORE


"...saying she was single when she was maintaining nine husbands."

The government believes this woman, who is accused of having ten husbands at the same time, was doing it to get guys legal residency in the country, and that "potentially an Al Qaeda plant could come in, marry this woman and be in this country illegally." Which, really, is always a risk no matter how many husbands you have. I prefer to think that she just plumb forgot. Who among us hasn't forgotten about a husband or two?


We Love Chris Kraus, I Think

243991 Sometimes when I'm pressed to name exactly what I like and why, my mind goes entirely blank, does that ever happen to you? Like oh shit, what are my interests? Someone who has a little bit of distance from my brain has a better chance of answering that question—duh, you like Kanye. You like Drake. You like seeing movies by yourself on Saturday afternoons. You like makeup. You REALLY like Chris Kraus.

Oh right!! There I am. Yes, that's me, and that's why I was so pleased to get the same emails yesterday, almost all starting the same way: "I know you've probably already seen this, but..."

For years before I read it, I kept hearing about Chris Kraus’s “I Love Dick.” I mainly heard about it from smart women who liked to talk about their feelings. I heard about it once on a bus in Philadelphia; I still remember the gray city rolling by. I didn’t understand exactly what it was, but it had an allure, like whispers about a dance club that only opened under the full moon, or an underground bar you needed a password to get into. It was a book that carried the sense of being in the know. And it was apparently about loving dick.

Then I read it. I was nearly two decades late to the party—“I Love Dick” came out in 1997—but I loved the party anyway. I was finally part of it, and it made me feel even more part of it—part of something—to have men making asinine comments on the 4 train, pointing at the cover: Good to know what you like! I knew I was holding white-hot text in my hands, written by a woman who had theorized what these guys were doing—with me, with their dick jokes—even before they’d done it.

Leslie Jamison writing about I Love Dick and Chris Kraus in The New Yorker. That's a sentence composed of pretty much all of my interests, I think!

Sometimes I lazily assume that everyone has read or at least heard of Chris Kraus because in my immediate circle that's largely true; it's one of those prophetic statements that produce the effect you're looking for, because when I and other people like me talk about Chris Kraus as though we don't have to explain anything, there are two possible outcomes. The other person knows what I'm talking about and we both get to bask in the smug self-righteousness of being in the know, or the other person doesn't know what I'm talking about but smiles and nods politely until I stop talking. And so Chris Kraus remains this special bonding thing with some people and this alienating thing with others, and sometimes when I try to talk about it or I see other people try to talk about it, there's this immediate nervous reaction like, no she's mine! There are two directly competing feelings: I want everyone to know what I know, and also I want nobody to know so I can keep this special small thing. READ MORE


My Requisite Muppet Post

I know I said my tenure here wouldn't be all posts about The Muppet Show but guys, it has been a week (not because of The Hairpin I love it here I've chained myself to the CMS and am never leaving!!) and about the only thing that makes me feel better is this video. It's simple and utterly delightful and a perfect encapsulation of everything muppet.

Last year a museum near me had an entire retrospective of Jim Henson's work, and in the part about creating The Muppet Show he said that whenever they couldn't figure out a way to end the sketch, they'd either have one muppet eat the other, or have everything explode. In my opinion, all the best Muppet sketches end one of these two ways, so please take this as an extended metaphor for whatever you want.


"Let Me Drake That For You"



How to Form a Knitting Circle

1. Consider who you want to join your circle.
Do you have a group of friends who are interested in learning about knitting? Or are you planning on starting a group with people who you haven't met before? Because so much of what you’ll learn in your knitting circle is oathbound, a knitting circle is a lot like a second family. Try to invite people who seek camaraderie and support and also possess an interest in the magic of knitting. Typically any number up to about seven or eight works well.

2. Determine when and where you’ll meet.
Coffee shops, bookstores and the woods are all great options. Be sure to get permission first, though, particularly if you’re going to be performing rituals. Also, coordinate what day and time you’ll meet and during which moon phases. READ MORE

KonMarie and Me

OrganizedThe first week of 2015, I decided to KonMarie my life. The concept of spring cleaning never made much sense to me. Spring brings flowers, allergies, sunny weather and a sun that doesn’t really set until at least 7 p.m. Spring is made for being enjoyed outdoors with the sun on your shoulders, not in your musty apartment, marveling at moths and finding new and inventive ways to store the scarves you stress-knit or the sweaters you bought when you were sick of everything else. It was decidedly winter out—cold, blustery, with traces of snow still on the ground. I decided that the new year was the best time.

The central tenet of KonMarie is joy. Every item that you purchase and choose to surround yourself with should bring you immeasurable amounts of joy. The boots you put on when it’s snowing for the tenth time should bring you joy, as should the toothbrush you got from your dentist for free. Each joyful, delightful thing, she says, has a spirit. Treat each item with respect, by putting it in its right place, and you will find the peace you’ve been craving. By wrestling your physical possessions into control, you will also soothe the mind.

What is it like to live in a house where every item in it brings you joy? Do you walk into your bedroom suffused with a sense of well-being, spreading your arms wide and feeling the good vibes emanate off the five things you have left? Are you no longer soothed by material things? Do clean corners and white walls suddenly provide peace when before they produced a nibbling anxiety? I was going to find out. READ MORE


Retroactive Heartbreaks, Above-Board Romances, and Constant Ultraserious Shouting About Things

A-Queer-Chick11111 I'm a twenty-five year old woman who is thinking about trying to date women. I've always had what I'm realizing were crushes on women, but have never talked about or acted on them.
Do you have suggestions for the most respectful way to go about this, on say, OkCupid? I don't want to make anyone feel like a test subject or safari ride. For the record, I'm looking to date women and men casually, not try somebody out and ghost, but I totally understand why it would make someone feel uneasy.

As I mention pretty regularly, it’s okay to begin dating somebody without being sure whether you’ll end up with them long-term—it is, in fact, the whole reason we came up with dating in the first place. It’s the way to test out whether your attraction translates into something more sustainable. You don’t need to preface your dating attempts with “Just so you know, I may or may not still want to make out with you ten years from now,” because it goes without saying. So the easy answer to your question about how to approach women you’re interested in, whether online or in person, is “pretty much the same way you’d approach a guy.” Let her know you think she’s cute and would like to get to know her better—that’s really all there is to it. You don’t owe anyone an explanation of your dating history, queer or straight, before you can play mini golf with her. READ MORE