It’s 8:30 in the morning, I’ve been up since a little after six. The baby was sleeping between us and he started kicking and grumbling, I opened my eyes — in a panic, always now — and he had his eyes open, too. He smiled at me. This is a very bad sign, to see his eyeballs so early in the morning.
We keep staying up too late. My friend came over last night after she was done with work. She brought him these adorable little bibs. We ordered sushi, talked about our lives a little bit in between trying to make the baby laugh. Eventually he fell asleep in my arms, on my boob. We kept talking, me on the couch and my friend sitting across the room, on the floor. We were half-whispering, trying not too laugh too loud, talking about weddings and all the drama they create, retelling stories about different friends. Dustin came in from a reading with his bike. He said it sucked. He took the baby from me and put him in his bed then went back out to get a slice of pizza. We all opened a beer. I got a little drunk. Dustin sat next to where the baby was asleep, reading the internet on his phone and putting the pacifier back in the baby’s mouth whenever it fell out and he started crying. I would tense up, over in the kitchen, whenever I heard him stir, but tried to ignore it. My friend and I stayed around the table talking, about her family, and ambition, and then Dustin came back in and we talked about Chernobyl for a long time. Chernobyl is one of many things that we talked about when I was a kid — I lived in Germany when it happened, my mom had thyroid cancer — but have not looked back on now that I’m an adult. I realized everything I thought I knew had been filtered through my parents and my child’s mind. Could radiation even have reached Germany? My mom said you weren’t supposed to let your dog out. When she said this I pictured the radiation it like dew on the grass.
We went to bed a little before midnight. I think we woke up once in the night, I’m never sure. Dustin probably woke up more. The baby crying, sadly or terrifically, does not wake me up. I am not sure what this says about what kind of mother I am. He is in a bassinet thing right next to my side of the bed. Dustin has to crawl over me to get to him. He paces the apartment with him, sighing, and I keep on sleeping. He tries to slyly tell me about it the next morning, in a way that won’t seem passive aggressive.
When the baby needs to eat in the middle of the night sometimes Dustin puts his crying face next to my ear. Even this takes a minute. Often my boobs will wake up before I do, hearing their siren call. I wake up and my shirt is soaked, my breasts rock hard, like they’re going to crumble and break off.
8:58 am • 19 September 2014 • 63 notes
We know when you happened, too. We were at a bed and breakfast in Vermont, he had proposed to me that day, hours before. That day. I was terrified and at peace all at once. It really did feel different. All my second guessing gave way to profound peace. Like, oh, you will be the one. Oh we will have children together. Oh, I’ll see you get old. It will really be you! And it felt so wonderful. It was the night after that, that same day. We had hiked for hours and driven through the mountains for hours and had maple ice cream on a Great Lake and had a flight of beers at a brewery and a dinner somewhere, seated at the bar. We didn’t tell anyone though I wondered if we should have ordered champagne, if we were doing engagement correctly.
We got to the B&B late and they left out tea and cookies for us and we tiptoed around the house in the dark, looking at prints of whales and family photos, all the while eating our ginger snaps. Back in our room I took a bath in the dark and then got into bed. We laughed at the teddy bear in a chair, I think I texted Anna a picture of it. We had, it must be said, and I’m sorry to tell you this, life-affirming sex. Near the end I think I might have been crying tears of joy and love and peace. Which is when, fortunately or unfortunately, which is the question of the hour, of the year, of your lifetime and ours, I said, “it’s fine, just go ahead” and your dad said no no and I said, IT’S FINE! And then there you were. Or you know, the start of you. Don’t mean to get political here.
The first day you existed we ate breakfast over candlelight. The door to the dining room was open and it was pouring rain. You could feel the rain, not the wet of it but the air, the feel of rain, in the room. Or was it just foggy? Was it just dark? We ate a big Vermont dutch baby type of pancake with syrup and berries and then something else, I don’t remember, just that we had told them we were vegetarians but they served us sausages and we debated either eating them or saying something (this is one thing I hate about b&b’s) but we cowered out and back to our room and when we met the mom of the place in the kitchen she apologized, saying she forget we were vegetarians and we had to do a big dance of self-immolation and “no, no“‘s and then we drove into town and went to a bookshop and then drove for an hour to a farm in the middle of nowhere and helped herd goats from the barn out to pasture. I teared up seeing the baby goats in a pen all their own, separated from their moms. The goat farmers were the nicest people ever and we asked them a million questions and felt so magical out there, stepping in the mud.
That was your first day.
4:22 pm • 31 August 2014 • 231 notes
I fuck this button up every time. I hit the “Cancel” button to close out this post, and then this modal (modal within a modal, oof) pops up and the question is “Cancel editing this post?” and I’m like YES so I hit the “Cancel” button, which really is Canceling the Cancel. I should be hitting Okay, I have learned (after doing this no less than…MANY TIMES). But my brain moves toward Cancel every time. Make the buttons say “Yes, Cancel” and “No, Nevermind.” Or something like that.
Is this just because I use Firefox? Sorryyyyy.
4:11 pm • 31 August 2014 • 17 notes
Concern-trolling the entire media
I was thinking in the shower about the Buzzfeed cash injection from Andreessen Horowitz.
I do think this signals that Buzzfeed is a competitor to Medium, that they see themselves as a platform/ad network. And like Medium, they pay an editorial team as a way to ‘bring people in’ / ‘establish their brand’ and so on.
I think about them both a lot with regard to Tumblr, partially because in early days the idea that Tumblr was really a media company was tossed around. Now media companies are really platforms/startups/disruptors/whatever.
Re: Tumblr being a media company, I have always cringed a little observing technology companies searching for the validation that they are meant to “disrupt.”
Anyway my concern —- am I concern-trolling media companies, now? — is that if your model is paid editorial team as a way to build a user base of people willing to create content for free on your platform, who will then use distributed social networks to bring in traffic which you will then serve ads against — vs say, building an a product that is its own social network (like Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook) and building the user base “organically” and then turning on ads (which: god ads are so BORING but no one has come up with something better unfortunately — no one WANTS to use ads as their business model and they kind of assume they will come up with something better and then they don’t) — well my CONCERN is you bring in this editorial team and pretend for awhile to be this upstanding media company and then you get the UGC you wanted in the first place, people doing the labor of content production for you for free. And then what? What does Andreessen Horowitz say then? Now that Buzzfeed has hired away all of New York media and there are no other publications left? (I don’t think this will happen — building a huge ass editorial team when they are “engineering heavy” or whatever Chris Dixon said, I assume they have other plans for that 50 mil. Plans that will inevitably end in “revolutionize ads” or something.)
[And of course every freelancer who refused to go work at Buzzfeed because they’re snobs now writes for Medium because at least they don’t have the WOW buttons and they fucking PAY, nevermind that it’s with VC money that is no real reflection of the work’s potential to make any money whatsoever, and it’s just as unsustainable. ]
Venture capital, as opposed to the rich philanthropists that typically fund publications, are interested in this little thing called A RETURN ON THEIR INVESTMENT. They aren’t going to be like, “Oh keep spending the money to keep these 500 reporters on the ground because it’s a value to society.” I mean I certainly hope they would but I don’t really think capitalism dictates that they would. Hubris will take you far, but how far?
This is my concern. Like the book industry handing their asses to Amazon and then wondering why their “friends” have betrayed them (such naivete!), the media industry is so starry-eyed at the possibility at all.this.money and hiring these amazing teams of people who, if they succeed, will render themselves irrelevant.
My only hope is that advertisers for some reason demand quality journalism to put their ads next to? Really great longform shit to pop their videos out on top of?
God that would be great. Unfortunately instead I am sitting here wondering how soon it will be before USER-GENERATED BRANDED CONTENT is a thing, if it isn’t already. Don’t we all already have friends from high school Liking things like Lysol on Facebook and acting as one-woman native advertising distribution networks? I fucking cried at a Japanese Pampers ad last night, that my friend voluntarily shared on her newsfeed. SHE PASTED IN THE EMBED. I WATCHED IT. I almost — almost — made my boyfriend watch it, too.
9:39 am • 13 August 2014 • 62 notes
from January 2013
Yesterday was a good day, and I suppose that bears celebrating.
I woke up late, made coffee, ate my leftover thank you muffin, wrote my 750words, and headed to yoga. Yoga was the longer than usual class (an hour and a half) and I really liked it. It was the same amount of intensity, but more fun stuff, and more stretching. More quiet moments. That is more the type of yoga I need. And I do need yoga. It’s indoors and makes me sane.
Then I walked in the cold sun to Saltie, had lunch with H, talked about how we will each be “doubling down” on life — taking more risk, even though we’re here in New York so we can’t do that move to new york with a dollar and a dream thing. Her thing is she wants to do a one-woman show about her adolescence and how it’s shaped her — ie, dorkiness, Catholicism, virginity. It sounds great to me, and everyone loves her, and I think it could be a big hit if she nails it. Halfway into our conversations she says, “How are you going to double down, Meg?” And I say I don’t know, and shake my head, and stare into space.
But I did go home, and make vegetable stock, and sweep and swiff the kitchen floor, and read a cookbook, then finish a book review I started the week before. Finishing the book review was obviously the important one, and everything else was just leading up to that.
Halfway into writing it I found my groove, which goes to show you get rewarded for just showing up. People say this and I know it to be true but I also know it takes great patience and frustration. In her email newsletter this morning, Diana said, “epiphanies belong to the rummagers.” She was talking about the crossword puzzle but also the blank page. That moment of finding the exact right word after minutes of racking your brain. It is all the more rewarding, but I know I have to walk through shit to get there. And I’m lazy and unwilling and afraid.
When I finished and published my blog post — after briefly considering submitting it to the rumpus, then reviewing and seeing it was dotted with expletives and trailing off ideas, and “Dustin” too much — it was 9ish at night and I was hungry. Dustin was still playing FTL, which he’d been doing all day. He’d eaten whole sleeves of Ritz crackers so he was fine, but I dragged us out to dinner, spent way too much on it, and that was that. Dinner was nice, though. To be held captive together at a table for an hour or so is good for us, sometimes. When the mood is right. When I spent the day doing things that are good for me and I don’t feel miserable about it. We talked a lot about omens, and how they presuppose some outside force (or, to me, impose narrativity and some sense of predetermination on our lives), or call into being some thread. Declaring something an omen is performative, creating meaning and some kind of “moment” (or forward-lookingness to one) where there wasn’t any or one before. It was interesting. He says he’s been thinking about it a lot. I went there with him and it was fun. He is so much like me but not at all. Sometimes I wonder if that is who I’d be if I were a man. Thinking about omens in my head in the shower, and talking about them in this grandiose, definitive way. As if there is true knowledge to be wrested from the world, that no one has ever thought of before. And that you could be right.
I just don’t think like that.
This is where I come up at odds with my bosses, too. P thinks there is an absolute right way and wrong way, and their differences are measurable. “How do we know this revision is any clearer?” he asks us, when it’s indisputably clearer. One passage is legal mumbo-jumbo and the next is made up of short, declarative sentences. I know it’s clearer because I live in the world, and speak to other people, and have a good sense of what people understand. I don’t think I have stumbled on the precise correct answer, because I don’t believe there is one. I know this will be the issue again and again with us. I want to tell Y that I see where this is going. And it’s nowhere good.
2:45 pm • 27 July 2014 • 45 notes
"How to hold all these ideas in your head, in your hands, at once?"
This is a beautiful, funny piece of writing by meaghano with amazing illustrations by Liz Prince, so you already love it. Just find out for yourself.
This is particularly good if you are an atheistic adult of a large Catholic family and have divorced parents, or if you are just a person who likes to read a good story.
Caragh we are the same person.
…I wrote a thing!
12:53 pm • 26 June 2014 • 61 notes
“In general I end my stories before I get a chance do something more aesthetically pleasing to me. But I’ve thrown whole stories away when all I lacked was a last line. Often.”
Ann Beattie (via theparisreview)
11:38 am • 4 December 2013 • 353 notes
A few months ago I finished, or so I thought, an essay I’d been writing for months — years now. All of the time references are completely out of date. I shift some and forget others.
This essay was one of the first things I started working on after I left my job, the thing I had in mind before I left. I spent so many early afternoons in May and June and July half-ecstatic, messing with every word. It has been futzed with and cut and shuffled around half to death and it shows, I know that now. It just never really comes together and shines in the way I want it to, no matter how much I try. Something was lost somewhere, or was never found.
What I’ve loved about writing it despite all this is that it’s about something banal that still felt very profound to me and I couldn’t figure out why. I feel in genuine pursuit of something, so close to figuring it out. Unfortunately I still haven’t, and haven’t given up either. Whether I am being stubborn or just reveling the writing process, the part of it I want to keep close to me and experience again and again, I still don’t know.
Even now months later I open this document and start switching the order of it and hoping something will emerge. I know I have to go deeper but I am afraid of misleading myself. Or worse, truer, I’m afraid there’s nothing there.
Anyway, a few months ago I submitted this half-working essay to a handful of places and it has been rejected everywhere, an unloved child that instead of defending I look at, too, and say, “Yeah, okay, fair.”
Submitting it was good for me, even if it was premature. I want to learn rejection, to learn to laugh at it and keep going. I don’t want to live in potential. Also, and more honestly, I wanted to be done with it, this stupid nowhere essay. Submitting it was a way to get it out of my face and out of my brain and off of my to-do list.
But now it keeps coming back, insisting that I’m not done with it, even if finishing means giving up once and for all. This ugly child. I sent it into the world though I knew it wasn’t ready because I wanted to turn its bedroom into an office. Now it’s back and living in my basement.
I am trying to look at this in the most detached, bemused, grateful way possible, that is in the time between bouts of hopelessness and despair about how I will ever get anywhere in life. I know, or suspect, this is part of the process, if I want to partake in the process. (My notebooks have “Make this a zine?” next to almost every little thing I plot out.)
I will shelve it and come back to it later. Give it time. Start something else. Problem is, or the challenge is, I’ve done that with EVERYTHING this year so far. Nothing is finished, or figured out. It’s a good lesson in patience, fortitude, work for its own sake. It’s how it is. It’s where I am now. It’s how I learn to make good work. It makes me miss blogging. And having a job. And a paycheck. And an ego.
Anyway a few weeks ago I got an email from one of the literary magazines I submitted my orphan child essay to — a rejection, but one with a note so strange and amazing it made me wonder if I wrote the essay just so I could receive this rejection:
The staccato nature of this was off-putting to me at first, but grew in its appeal. The story’s underbelly was there but not enough for me at the end. The essay kind of trailed off. Because you’re a good writer, you can find an image or scene to hang your hat on and call it a day, but really, this is serious business, isn’t it? I don’t think you’ve figured it out yet, meaning, you’re still wrestling with this incident. It doesn’t go to the next level for me, but I think you can still get this published somewhere as is. I’m sorry to disappoint. Good luck.
I definitely said “What the fuckkkk” out loud when I read it. I definitely forwarded it to a handful of friends to ask if it was normal. I definitely agree with a lot of it, especially her point that I haven’t really “figured it out” yet. I may never!
But I also laughed so hard and with such awe at this. I loved it so much, even though I wanted people to tell me this was not normal. I paced excited around the house. I walked to yoga and laughed out loud, thinking of it. My joy at the strange honesty and offhandedness of it is possibly equivalent to what it would be if she’d accepted it (not that I know that feeling, yet). A stranger read my work! She resisted its staccato nature (with apologies to Lydia Davis) but ended up appreciating it. She thinks it “kind of trailed off.” (It really did!) She thinks that even though she didn’t think it was finished, or great, I could still get it published somewhere else as-is.
[I know I am a perfectionist because my first reaction was, Hell no, why would I want it out in the world as-is, when ONE SINGLE PERSON wasn’t completely won over by it?]
She doesn’t know me. She owes me nothing. She didn’t have to face me when she said it. She was, I can assume, perfectly honest in her assessment. What a thrill!
Anyway all this to say that I am thinking maybe publishing things, having a wide audience, an intimate connection with readers, being part of the conversation, is no longer my end game. Maybe my end game is to submit everything I write to this woman, and have her send me little psychoanalyzing messages in reply.
4:16 pm • 24 November 2013 • 87 notes
Anonymous said: What does it look like, the taking a risk on someone if you like them?
Well, see I think there’s usually that moment when you’re like oh god fuck what no ahh what if i am imagining everything oh shit oh god and your vision gets kind of blurry and you usually turn around or keep walking or throw your phone across the room and lie face down on your bed—that? that facedown bed lying or sad sack park bench sitting? Instead of that you hit call or send or ring the bell or keep going even though like, your eyes aren’t focused and you’re sweating and dizzy and don’t know why anyone would take you seriously as a human being but you don’t care, because you know the worst thing that could happen is you feel stupid, which is actually pretty awful and will happen again and again, but what else can you do?
Which is kind of cool I think, because you get to say implicitly basically that, Hey, I like you enough that I am willing to traverse this awful frightening confusing time OH GOD I CAN’T BREATHE, etc. And then later laugh about it and be like Hey remember when I couldn’t breathe? And they’ll be like, Ha ha yeah that was hilarious because I didn’t even like you like that. And you’ll be like, goddammit, this again? And then you blame yourself, as you should, and then you hesitate more the next time, which is fair—more sweating, less articulation. Or maybe some people get better at it as they go. Maybe they storm in with a hand on their hip or a good Lean and they don’t pace and their mouths don’t get dry and they always fall in love or they always think what the other person is thinking too and there is no like, parsing of the connotations or what have you. But whatever fuck that. BE AN IDIOT FOR PEOPLE.
Ha, this is making the rounds a little over three years later. When I wrote it I had just met Dustin / was losing my mind. But I still think it’s true (if I understand my self correctly).
10:54 am • 19 November 2013 • 195 notes