Breakdancing robot says everything is going to be okay
Breakdancing robot says everything is going to be okay
Emma Straub, Other People We Married. This book, this book! I went to a really awesome event thanks to my job where Jennifer Egan and this wonderful writer both read and a giant, decorate-it-yourself cookie was passed around and the cocktails were free. Sometimes I wonder how I end up places and last night I was just glad to be there. (via flewinto)
Stomachey Friday nights lead to me creepin’ in my archives and finding the post from Sept. 2011 where Mira invited us all to her reading series and I met Alison and Lindsay suggested we keep going back. It is really unbelievable to think that I’ve only known Pete’s for two and a half years, that my name would end up on the website I linked to here. Only in this town, ya feel.
Some happy productive hands! A crop from a larger piece for Flow.
Sometimes I send my family things just to make me giggle.
This morning I realized that I’ve owned my hair dryer for over ten years at this point. I probably bought it in high school when I got straight-across bangs and suddenly needed to make an attempt at morning grooming so as not to look like the complete mess that I felt I was regardless. What sort of thing lasts that long these days, anyway? Writing this most likely means the hair dryer will combust by tomorrow, but at least now it knows it was appreciated.
Thanks, hair dryer, for preventing me from numerous colds by not letting me go outside with a wet head. Some other things have been key in this wild ride of a season:
The H&M boots that were $35 and that I knew I shouldn’t buy since I already had a pair of a similar ankle-length style. I’ve worn these to work 90% of the time because they make me look like a business-casual stormtrooper, and require no zipping, buttoning, or tying.
The H&M scarf (I really don’t shop there all that often, so this H&M theme is weird) that I also knew I shouldn’t buy because I have so many freaking scarves, but has proved its worth by being large and warm and just ubiquitous enough that I ran into a girl wearing one in a work elevator and said the only thing there is to say when you’re accidental twins: “hey, nice scarf.”
The Jefferson Market library, which has a winding stone staircase as you’re walking up to the library holds section that makes you feel like you’re in a castle of sorts, for making me feel like I had a “thing” (the thing being taking out lots of books) even in the weird months of January and February where you just trudge through and hope you come out unscathed.
You know that song by Billy Joel called “Vienna”? It was on the 13 Going on 30 soundtrack or probably playing from your family’s station wagon during Long Island summers, when the seat buckles got so hot they’d scorch any exposed skin between tank top and short. Billy is as much about where I’m from as eating sauerkraut-water hot dogs on top of historical canons, as asking your parents for money for a pay-one-price bracelet at the fair. I realize all the memories I’m choosing to pull are from the summer, but that tends to be when the North Shore, and I’d wager all of Long Island, is the best.
And that’s the Long Island he evokes best: the land of the good ol’ boys, the drives around the seaside towns just to get a look at the water, barbecues and neighborhood gossips and hard work that’ll eventually earn you a house and a spot coaching little league. I know nostalgia is dangerous territory, but sometimes, only sometimes, its a good place for a rest stop.
"Vienna" had simmered in the background for most of my youth and adolescence. It wasn’t "Uptown Girl" or "It’s Still Rock ‘N Roll to Me" or even "Only the Good Die Young," those earworms that Lite fm would find any excuse to play. It wasn’t "Pianoman," which I really heard for the first time when I was thirteen and sat at my stereo imagining adulthood to be a dark and mysterious place where you hung out at bars and regularly shared Loneliness drinks."Vienna" came on my friend’s iPod mini on a drive to the beach, the summer after we graduated high school. We had flexible schedules at part-time jobs and enough money for gas and coffees on the way.
Slow down, you crazy child. You’re so ambitious for a juvenile. Like everyone on this bizarre strip of land, I’d inevitably heard the song before but wondered, then, why I never realized how true the lyrics felt. How did Billy know? We were on the tail end of a year where we were overwhelmed with the promise of our whole lives still ahead of us. I’d been obsessed with the decisions that seemed so crucial then: where I’d go to college, what I’d study, what I would do afterwards. People said our whole lives were just starting then, which made me wonder if the last 18 years had simply been a drawn-out preliminary round. It was exciting and terrifying in equal parts, and hearing Long Island’s unofficial spokes-pop star sing it out of the car speakers made me feel understood. And when when he sang you can get what you want or you can just get old and I thought to myself, You are right! I want to get what I want, Billy! I won’t just get old!
I sipped my iced coffee.
"What do you think it means when he says ‘Vienna waits for you?’ I asked my friend. That was one part I didn’t get, one bit of confusion in a song I was certain had somehow been written for me, in the way that only teenagers can feel.
"Maybe he’s singing it to someone."
"Maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s from Vienna, right?"
"I don’t know. Maybe Vienna fingers? You know, the cookies?"
We decided it definitely had to be about one of those, or maybe even both. Either way, imagining Arnold (who IS from Austria, just not the capital, thanks Wikipedia) flying home to find a box of cookies and Billy Joel tickling the ivories for him was infinitely better than grappling with the question of our whole future. So we chose that.
Chad Harbach at Housing Works Bookstore, 2/25/14
freekeewee asked: Just read "North Country" in The Best American Short Stories" and loved it so I googled you! I'm curious about your writing experience submitting to journals. I've mostly gotten rejections even when they seem impressed. Hope to hear from you! -Kesia
Thank you! When I first started submitting to journals, I was rejected quite a lot. I even called my blog, “I have become accustomed to rejection.” Part of the publishing game is learning to accept rejection. Sometimes, I got salty about it and sulked. Sometimes, I took another look at the rejected work to see if it was them or me. Sometimes, I trusted in my writing and was persistent like a motherfucker and just kept sending that story out. I still get rejected and I continue to handle it in one of these three ways.
I signed up for a synchronized swimming class that starts tonight. I’ve been feeling draggy and listless and I am scared to follow that path, so this is my hail-mary tactic for making me believe I am an interesting person capable of Things. This is probably a lot of pressure to put on a weekly class at the Y, but pressure I am going to put on it regardless. See you in my swimsuit.