It starts with a few swipes of lipstick.

Actually, that’s not true. It usually starts with some other nagging feeling of inactivity, of laziness. I feel a little down on myself, a little out of shape, a little less strong than I want to be. And so after Max has walked out the door and I’ve watched him walk to his car and drive away, I put on a tshirt I love, I do my makeup, I crank some music, and I dance and jump around until I feel better. Sometimes the dancing and jumping is interspersed with more workout-like activities, like squats or lunges or push ups or whatever. But I also spend a lot of time sitting down to take a break, scan Tumblr or Instagram, look up something I just remembered…

Because it’s never so much about actually working out as it is about feeling pretty. Feeling strong and powerful and tough and cool, being vulnerable and parsing my version of “feminine” while asserting myself, while using my body. These are, in a way, some of the only private rituals really available to me through culture – makeup, light exercise, pop music – but somehow embracing them when I’m alone in my own way feels like embracing myself. 

After watching the new documentary about Kathleen Hanna, I feel more strongly than ever (and it’s been growing for a while now) that I need to step outside of the very safe little cocoon I’ve spun for myself over the last few years and be as big as I really feel. My self-imposed reclusiveness and unambitiousness was primarily self-protective; after being hurt and sad and expected to hold up so much for so many other people, all I wanted to do was retreat into a little nest with the one person I know loves me the most, and take some time to reshape my dented armor. 

It’s worked, in a way – my life has been intellectually low-maintenance, with far fewer external demands and expectations from others than I was being crushed by my last year of school. But it’s been its own struggle, too: the ugliness of 20-something job hunting for jobs that I have to do the most impressive carnival program of mental backflips to convince myself I even want or am qualified for, all for the privilege of making less money than I did when I was 18; financial crises one after the other after another after another, seemingly forever, preventing me from traveling or going out or eating or having dignity. And it’s also made me a little too sedentary and a little too unadventurous – actually, I guess that might be the broke-ness more than my own hibernation. 

But! I want to bring more of what I feel when I am alone dancing Beyonce and wearing an adventurous shade of lipcolor out into the world now and then. The private, protected self that I keep tucked away in behind closed curtains on weekday nights, the more confident, less inhibited, girl power loving, maybe even a little bit of a diva self – my better self, probably.

Maybe this will be a Patti Smith and PJ Harvey week. Feeling I’m having.

Compulsory Post

About how I have the most exasperating, exhausting, stubborn adviser whom I love so dearly that all he needs to do to make my day is stop by my table in the coffee shop and, with no introduction, explain that he had a student present a bad poem about “daddy love” and therefore wanted to show her what a good poem about the same thing looks like. It was a verbal, one-week-late response to an email I sent him, saying that I spotted him walking across campus with Sylvia Plath’s Ariel under his arm and wondering what he was doing with it. 

“So what else have I missed?” I asked. “How are you?”
“Not good,” he replied, “But muddling through.”
I managed to squeak out a cautious “Okay? Well enough…” before he slowly turned on his heel, no goodbye, and plodded away and out the door into the cold (with no coat on). 

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I am supposed to be figuring out a short lesson plan for Tuesday on topic sentences and paragraph organization while writing profiles, and find myself perusing old New Yorkers, which brings me inevitably to Janet Flanner, which brings me unavoidably to her story about Picasso in the introduction to Paris Was Yesterday. I don’t know how I can use it for anything related to my internship, but since I’m already crying while reading the story I feel like I just have to post it here:

About fifteen years ago I happened to be in Cannes, where, on the Croisette, I met the young artist son of an old New York friend of mine, who spoke to me and gave me his news. He was married, and newly a father, and as a favor Picasso, whom he knew, had drawn a vague sketch of the young artist’s infant son, which he had promised to sign and dedicate if the father would go to Picasso’s villa, La Californie, that very day at noon. Did I want to drive up with him? I stipulated I would like to take the drive but would not get our of the car. When we arrived at the gate of La Californie, the young father went inside with his invaluable drawing, a moment later emerging to say, “Picasso says to come in,” which I did not wish to do, as an intrusion was the last thing I had intended. When Picasso sent a second pressing demand, I was forced to accept. As I walked into the salon, which was as crowded with vaaried art works as an auction room, Picasso turned to me with his hand outstretched in greeting, and then, with a loud cry of astonishment, shouted, “You! Why didn’t you ever speak to me in the old days at the Flore? For years we saw each other and never spoke, until now. Are you just the same as you were? You look it!” By this time he had his arms around me and was thumping me enthusiastically on the shoulders. “You look fine; not a day older,” and I said, “Nor do you,” and he said, “That’s true; that’s the way you and I are. We don’t get older, we just get riper. Do you still love life the way you used to, and love people the way you did? I watched you and always wanted to know what you were thinking … Tell me, do you still love the human race, especially your best friends? Do you still love love?” “I do,” I said, astonished at the turn the monologue was taking. “And so do I!” he shouted, laughing. “Oh, we’re great ones for that, you and I. Isn’t love the greatest refreshment in life?” And he embraced me with his strong arms, in farewell.

Janet Flanner and Picasso Disturb My Homework Plans

Sometimes it makes me feel boring that I still rely so much on music I found out I love when I was 16

But usually it just makes me feel good about always having had great taste.

A post I wrote almost a year ago, which is weird to acknowledge, and will finish here soon.

Originally saved as draft on March 21st, 2012.

I’ve made it to Dublin! Exactly a year after my first time reading Ulysses, I’m here. It felt like I waited forever, but no; my relationship to this city, however fictional, has been brief, but I am desperately happy to have made it nonetheless.

But first: I don’t know how much I can say right now about my final time in Scotland, since it feels as if there’s too much to justify my writing/your reading on what should be a pretty casual blog. In briefest possible summation, it was beautiful, I loved it, and I was sad to leave. Oban, though tiny and quiet this time of year, was a treat. I was happy to be met with so many opportunities to read and to journal while settling my body into the pebbles on the beach, listening to the sound they make as they get pulled back with the tide; something that I think I can now call a habit, having done it in two different countries. My time in Oban also included what may end up being the most exciting episode of my entire trip: nearly getting trapped in an ancient castle. That’s right! Here’s a photo of the Dunollie Castle ruins just outside of Oban, which I went out to visit on my second sunny day in town:

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More of that story later.

Sometimes I feel like it’s too bad that I seem to rely on dudes to prompt me to think about why I love music and why it’s important to me – to introduce me to new bands or turn me back towards old favorites, to tell me about shows, to lend me books and show me documentaries, to help me get on the radio or behind the record store’s counter. Maybe (definitely?) I just need more weird brilliant punk rock ladies in my life, but they always seem Too Cool for me or they’re not into the same stuff or they’re harder for me to approach for some reason or another. I never just stumble across them like I do with the boys. When I do, it doesn’t feel the same.

So maybe it’s too bad. But lately I’ve felt removed from the ideas and the sounds that have shaped me, and somehow it seems that dudes in my world are nudging me back to where I want to be. They’re good about that. Thanks, awkward punk rock loving book reading young men of the universe. You keep me honest. You remind me.

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