Slouching Towards Bethlehem
It’s the kind of slightly drizzly day in New York that made me first get all sprung on this city, and want to be here forever. The streets in SoHo are silent except for the sound of rain, and cars driving slowly through puddles, and people are wearing jeans rolled up at the cuff, with shoes that slide on,and none of the streets are thronged with three-abreast waddlers, and the smells of rain and women’s perfume drown out the garbage and the sewage and the exhaust. People have a certain peace going on because of the rain, and it all feels very nice and good. Just when I had just been starting to feel like really it was time to get the f out of here.
After 7 years split between Manhattan and Williamsburg, it was definitely, like of all the times it’s ever felt like time to leave the city, starting to REALLY feel like some kind of last chance, like REALLY the time to leave, right now, or never.
I don’t know if this feeling comes from being 27, and still having desires to do or be something other than what I already am, and the worry that somehow I am stalling, or wasting my time when I could be driving up the California coast, or interning at a woodworking studio in Oregon, or learning to farm.
Unlike what I thought 8 years ago, not all of my life’s dreams have been realized in New York City, and they may never be. I may never achieve the idea of happiness I once had in my head, since that idea includes having a yard, and never having to take my dirty laundry outside. But then, those things are not that special anyway.
Even so, my feelings that it was time to leave New York were insanely palpable like, a week ago. I was going to bed at night and tossing and turning thinking about the coast. Last week there was a shitty day when the weather was so bad, so cold and rainy and miserable, and some kid was throwing a tantrum on the train, and I kept thinking about California and how free I used to feel driving across the Grapevine with the windows down, and how nothing at all seemed wrong with life out there then, even though there were lots of things wrong with it. For a day I legitimately thought how if I did live in LA, I could probably even land a job with the companies I really wanted to work for, like Refinery29, because there would be less competition. I was starting to get really antsy, so I started re-reading Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem.This book is brilliant, but it happens to be extra meaningful for a person who spent a year by herself in Central California - not just LA, but Bakersfield, Sacramento, all those little dusty towns Didion describes in her essays, the towns with disappearing light and relentless heat; towns where Cesar Chavez used to fight for migrant workers and where you imagine they got the idea for the show Breaking Bad. I lived there, alone, next to a murderer, in a yellow house. I almost got a neck tattoo.
Anyway, I avoided reading that last essay in Slouching Towards Bethlehem, which is called Goodbye to All That, for as long as I could, because it’s the one where she talks about New York being a place that’s only for the very rich and the very poor, and how she was always so much happier in California, et al. I didn’t want to feel TOO much, I just wanted enough California story to sate me, to give me a dreamy west coast fix without sending me over the edge. But by the third or fourth day of taking the book with me on the subway, I had gotten through all the other essays, so I read the last essay standing up in the middle of the J train on my way home on this shitty weather day, and my eyes teared up, and when I finished I closed the book and held it against me with my other hand, and looked out across the East River and then closed my eyes so I wouldn’t cry. And then as the train was pulling into Marcy Avenue, I looked down and the girl sitting nearest to me, a regular girl who could have been any number of 27 year olds from a Northeastern state, was also reading the same book, which has never happened to me once in all the years I’ve ridden the subway in New York, so it felt monumental. I of course leaned over and said to her “It’s so funny, I’m reading the same book,” and she said “I know, Did you read the last essay?” And I nodded, and said “it made me cry, again.” And she said, “My god, it makes me wonder what I’m doing here,” and for a minute we had an exchange. That girl and I were the same, and we were the same as every 20-something girl who moves to New York from somewhere else, and tries to be a writer, and ends up working for some ridiculous celebrity rag or doing social media for some random company, or becoming like, a dog walker or a yoga teacher. And then we just parted. We connected, and we were the same, and then we just kept going - she in one direction, I in another. We’d either leave or we wouldn’t leave the city, would find our way back or wouldn’t, would weigh or not weigh the pros and cons of why we stayed or left, and realize, in the end, it all mattered way less than we used to think.
I am not moving to Los Angeles, not today. If I learned anything in my twenties it’s that all the things I used to want don’t have to be what I want anymore. And even in a city I haven’t yet accepted as my actual home, which I haven’t allowed to be the place where I think I may actually live forever because there’s so much about it that still bugs me, everything is just as I want it.
3:27 pm • 1 August 2013 • 4 notes
No time to waste. You’ve got an insane amount of Mexican food to crush on top of a luxury trailer.
No time to waste. You’ve got a crazy amount of Mexican food to crush while situated on top of a luxury trailer. That’s right. The sweetest new Mexican joint to hit East Williamsburg is opening July 24th, and it’s on the previously boarded up corner across from Bagelsmith, on top of a vintage Airstream. Sitting up there looking down over Metropolitan Ave., you’ll imbibe in tamarind and watermelon margaritas and eat your face off with delicious tacos served on tri-tiered platters. You might as well call this summer a staycation, since all the luxury villas in the world pretty much compare to this. Try the pit barbecued Barbacoa, fish quesadillas and tamales inspired by Mexican street food - from Oaxaca, Venezuela, and Guadalajara. The owners you know - they also run Mesa Coyoacan around the corner, so you can expect their specialty tequilas to be in the regularly-changing cocktail rotation. A word of caution: the food’s so good, and the margis so easy to throw back, don’t be surprised if the next day you experience your very own dia de muertos. -Cass Daubenspeck
571 Lorimer Street
2:32 pm • 22 July 2013 • 2 notes
My boyfriend calls me a redneck. He’s from the same town as me, but ironically where he’s from there are even more chickens, more straw hats, more beer cans in the yard. Anyway, he calls me a redneck, because I do household chores topless. Which, he says, is the ultimate hillbilly act. (I guess he would know!)
Every year for 25 years, my “redneck” family has been reunited together in the same location because my aunt and uncle have thrown a party. They’ve thrown it every year since I was born, and for a lot of years when we were little, until all the cousins turned 18, it was a really big deal. They would hire a band, and roast this enormous pig, and the family from New Hampshire and Vermont would come down, and us cousins would get reacquainted for a whole day and a night, because they would stay over. As we got older, It became the only opportunity to really get to know each other and hang out together. The only way we could keep up with each other’s lives. For the past five years, attendance dwindled. A LOT. Cousins grew up, moved far away, became friends on social media. Some of us would appear on Facebook with husbands or new jobs and totally different stories than we realized, and we’d have a short exchange on FB Messenger. This year, as many of us that could came to the reunion, because my uncle, the one who usually throws the parties, got sick,. That’s what it took - but it brought us all together again.
I had the terrifying revelation today, sleeping on the train on the way back to Brooklyn from Pennsylvania, that one day, the people who used to throw the party and make it happen will be dead. They will. And it will be up to someone - someone else, perhaps me - to take that responsibility, to keep the reunions going. This thought alone, this notion of legacy, and responsibility, and “keeping the family together” are things I literally NEVER think about. But this weekend with my family, I thought about them. And the fact alone made me want to procreate.
9:35 pm • 16 July 2013 • 2 notes
Sunday Routine: Tao Lin
He’s been called “possibly the most irritating person we’ve ever had to deal with” by Gawker, “boring” by Keith Gessen, and “almost autistic” by at least seventy bloggers, but I think Tao Lin is a genius.
Tao has written a lot, founded a publishing house, and garnered a social media fandom that puts Stephen Elliott to shame. I’ve followed his work since 2006 when he was still publishing short stories in unknown literary magazines, and since all the press he’s gotten lately has been some regurgitated commentary about his drug habits, it behooved me to try and publish a story about him that said something other than “Adderall” “Macbook” “vegan” or even “Taipei.” Though I’m not sure this interview ends up being it.
Read more: http://sundayroutine.com/home/2013/7/7/tao-lin
1:26 pm • 7 July 2013 • 21 notes
“I nominate J. D. Salinger as the least likely tweeter in literary history. A tweet is, by definition, a violation of one’s privacy—in the sense of making public thoughts that would otherwise be private—and Salinger was, for much of his life, fiercely private and seemed to want only the kind of applause that is made by one hand clapping. This wasn’t due to bashfulness—when he was young he went out to parties and to the dance clubs of his day. But for him the creative act of writing was deeply entwined with the nourishing condition of privacy, even secrecy. This privacy, in turn, not only surrounded his work but was embedded in it. His writing seems to be to be spoken in confidence directly to the reader, singular. That is why so many Salinger fans feel that their relationship with his books, especially to “Catcher in the Rye,” is like an intimacy shared.”
On Twitter and writing.
Susan Sontag would’ve been in Salinger’s camp, as she famously loathed aphorisms and proclaimed that "one can never be alone enough to write."
(Source: , via explore-blog)
8:22 pm • 3 July 2013 • 183 notes
A New Author to Love
There are few joys in life as simply and obviously great as finding a new author to love.
I felt that way when I read Claire Messud for the first time, and Margaret Atwood when I was in college. I felt that way about Tom McCarthy, and John Haskell. And now I feel that way about Jack Cheng.
The only reason I heard of the novel These Days is because Brian helped fund the Kickstarter by which the book was published. It’s a story about a guy who designs fake computer screens for furniture displays (like in IKEA), and a girl who doesn’t own a cell phone named “K.” The two characters represent the worlds of technology and the past, and as they develop a relationship, they act out what happens as these worlds try to co-exist. It’s “the human side of technology,” is how Jack described it.
There are so many reasons why this novel should be reviewed and talked about, and yet, I have had trouble trying to publish my article, my review, and my interview with Jack. My editor at Bookslut told me he can’t publish anything about a self-published book. “Mainly we exclude self-published books from review for ethical reasons,” he said. “The intermediary of publisher or publicist with whom we’d arrange the review gives us a distance from the work and author necessary in order to remain objective and critical (and to be perceived as such). There’s also, to my mind, the issue of distribution, or lack thereof.”
Makes sense. I get it - at least a little bit. But it still seems a shame. It’s not like I asked to review some chapbook written by a 12 year old. Jack’s a really interesting guy, a prolific blogger, an entrepreneur, and he had a lot of smart things to say about self-publishing/going the Kickstarter route. I’d love suggestions for book or tech blogs that might be interested in publishing an interview with this guy. Here was the Kickstarter for his book: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/jackcheng/these-days-a-novel.
If you can get your hands on a copy of These Days on Amazon, you totally should.
9:36 am • 3 July 2013 • 2 notes
For when the muse comes.
I have become increasingly unfun and boring in my old age. In the past two years, I’ve really struggled to write, and keep to a regular, consistent schedule of writing, because it has been such a struggle to find something interesting to write about. When I kept journals, all those years, I did not give a shit. I wrote about the thing that came naturally to me - myself - with brio, filling notebook after notebook of random emotion. The most mundane things. Everywhere I went: This is what I’m eating. This is who I’m looking at. This is what I feel. It is raining. Blah blah blah.
I could be wrong, but I distinctly remember during the time of superfluous writing I was also a minimal speaker. I remember talking less. A lot less. I remember liking people way, way less. I remember caring much less for friends, or if I had any. I spent a lot of time alone, or crying.
This attempt of mine now, on a Monday night, covered halfway by sheets and with Brian on the bed to my right reading his book and stopping occasionally to write something on his notecards, I am making a small observation about this transition - from writing everything to being suddenly disinterested in all the things I knew how to write. I relate it to spending more hours among humans (I really do love people right now). Becoming more interested in people has taken away from my writing, my interest in the mundane things that I’m doing, sequestered from everyone else. Isn’t that interesting?
It is now a critical time. It is a time when a writer, aware of herself, aware of her changing interests, has to do the work to develop at the next level. In order to stop talking about what’s for dinner, a person has to start writing about the world.
It’s necessary to write more - to blog - each day, even if it’s just a short bit of writing, even if it has no point. Because, as Brian said, “you don’t write every day to be profound. You write every day so you’re sharp when the muse comes.”
10:12 pm • 1 July 2013 • 6 notes
km-funfun-mercantile: 15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy
Here is a list of 15 things which, if you give up on them, will make your life a lot easier and much, much happier. We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering – and instead of letting them all go, instead of allowing ourselves to be stress free and happy…
9:52 pm • 5 June 2013 • 3 notes