this one is called things to boost your mood in the face of a global pandemic

it's scary out there!

Greetings from day two of ~officially working from home until April 1~ and the absolute hell that is my anxiety brain flitting between refreshing the New York Times and Twitter every 15 minutes to read more about coronavirus and Amazon dot com to continue to panic order more “provisions” for quarantine even though I have more than enough. (Yes, I absolutely did purchase multiple bags of Twizzlers, they are ESSENTIAL to my sanity.)

Things are very bad right now and I would like for you to know that it’s okay to say that things are very bad. Our healthcare system is on the brink of collapse and no, it is not just like the flu; any sane person should be a little bit concerned right now! The past 48 hours could make up an entire new version of “We Didn’t Start The Fire”, okay? TOM HANKS!? (And, just while we’re here, Chet Hanks.) Keep calm and carry on but wash your hands more, I think the fuck not.

It’s not that I’m so much fearful of getting sick myself (except I do have asthmar, so maybe I am a little) so much as I am stomach-churningly anxious about, to an extreme level, New York City going into apocalyptic movie-style quarantine chaos or, to a more plausible one, my friends getting sick. (I told my therapist covid was making me anxious and she said “You’re young and healthy! You don’t hang out with old people–oh...” the day after I hung out with my 92 year old friend, so I have that going for me.)

Point being: It’s rough out here, and we could all use some distraction, and since we’re all social distancing and can’t really commiserate together, why not find some relief on the internet. Here, a short list of content that always pulls me away from a bad/sad/anxious mood. Take what you need and pass it on, and absolutely chime in with some of your own picks. 

thanks sorry love you bye
carrie


This video of Christine McVie and Stevie Nicks (absolutely plastered) trying to film a happy 21st birthday greeting to Warner Brothers

When Harry Met Sally is on Hulu, as is the entirety of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Birdcage (a truly perfect film) is on YouTube for FREE.

Here’s Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda getting their birth charts read.

Mike Nichols and Elaine May cracking each other up for 4+ minutes forever and ever amen.

This TikTok

I think about Lauren Wilford’s “every woman in a ‘70s movie” every single day.

This 2 year old playing with Animojis….wheezing.

Martin Scorcese talking to his parents about sauce. That’s it, that’s the tweet.

Eve Babitz calling into C-SPAN to describe Joan Didion as “the only sensible person in the whole world in [the ‘70s]” and share that her dinner parties were the first time she ever saw Spode china.

Susan Sontag cooly eviscerating Norman Mailer at Town Bloody Hall. [insert long chilly exhale of a cigarette here]

Laura Dern’s pure episode of Vogue Beauty Secrets (honestly all of the Beauty Secrets series is oddly soothing???)

This bizarre Jeff Goldblum appearance on Pitchfork’s Over/Under

Big Business--->I Zimbra” from Stop Making Sense (a thing you all should know about me is that my phone autocaps I ZIMBRA, so!)

Haim’s Valentine short (I have yet to make it through “Nothing’s Wrong” [starts around ~8:27] without wanting to buy a drum kit)

Here’s a supercut of Jessica Lange saying “Jesus H. Christ” you absolutely LOVE to see it.

Susan Lucci’s Instagram. Candice Bergen’s Instagram. Laura Dern’s Instagram. Honestly, any boomer/middle aged person’s Instagram that falls into the “Mom On The Internet” category brings me great joy. 

This blog post by Jane Fonda about the time she mistook her dead dog’s ashes for bath salts.

Moira Rose’s commercial for fruit wine.

Anywayyyyyy I know there are more but my brain is short-circuiting now. Wash your hands and send some recs!

###

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this one is called sorry to bother you

if this goes to your spam i stfg

well well well if it isn’t me with some sad boring ass shit yet again!

here i am in your inbox:

here are some thoughts i wrote about TALKING on the PHONE and FRIENDSHIP and just general *gestures broadly* lonely winter blues. wild that i’m dropping this on a sunny 55º day but what can you do ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

there are no media recs because honestly (a) does anyone care and (b) just writing this took me awhile (i recently wrote this long read on 2018’s Book Club (absolutely utilizing a parenthetical inside a parenthetical to say: lol) and also a SCREENPLAY thank you very much) because my brain is a little FRIED but still clings to an idea that i must publicly show productivity on a regular basis lest people think i’m a fraud but that’s for me and my therapist to talk about!!! anyway i DIGRESS. if you want me to recommend music or movies or television or articles or books to you, like, i’m happy to. you know where to find me.


sorry to bother you 

It is the middle of the afternoon on a Tuesday and I am pacing in an empty conference room as I talk on the phone with an old friend, and by old I don’t mean longtime, I mean just that: old. I like her for myriad reasons, among which are that she is bluntly opinionated and she calls everyone “honey” (“baby,” by virtue of comparable youth, mixes its way in, too) and uses words like “delicious” to describe things and experiences and people but never food.

She is having a shitty day and says just that, offering an explanation that begins with the words “I’m sorry” but isn’t an apology; she is simply too old to care enough to offer a faux-cheerful “I’m well! How are you!!!” anymore. I say I always seem to call at the wrong time, when dinner is almost ready or family is visiting or closets are being cleaned, my voice the opposite of her gravelly decisiveness: high and uncertain and apologetic. She insists on staying on the line anyway and she animatedly tells me the details of the disaster I have caught her in the middle of and soon I’m not so nervous after all and we are laughing about the misadventure we had the last time we saw each other and when we hang up I feel a strange sort of emptiness I can’t explain. Like a balloon that had steadily filled during those scant five delightful minutes, I can feel myself suddenly deflating. I just want to float in that carefree conversation a little bit longer. I just want that warmth to burn a little bit more and not leave me so fast. I just want to keep on pretending that I am not in a sad, empty conference room, fluorescent lit and situated high enough above the West Side Highway that traffic below looks not so much real as it does a game, cars small as Hot Wheels, pretending that I am not right back where I was. 

*

When I was young, I could talk on the phone for hours. Late at night, I would climb up into the small square storage space that sat high in my bedroom wall, cordless landline in hand, and dial my best friend’s number. For the rest of the night, we would talk about everything and nothing until battery began to beep out its death or my mother yelled “What could you be laughing about!? It’s 2 a.m.! People are SLEEPING!” Whichever came first.

I don’t know when I started to wince at the sound of my own disembodied voice, so strange, obnoxious, and grating to my ears. I don’t know when I began to silently beg “don’t pick up, don’t pick up, don’t pick up” as soon as the number I had spent the past twenty minutes working myself up to call began to ring. I don’t know when I felt the intense need to follow up every opening hello immediately with the word sorry.

I am trying to be better. 

*

It’s a Wednesday afternoon and I am thinking about another friend, the one who always either misses your call entirely and never calls you back or picks up immediately and keeps you on the line for what feels like hours and sometimes actually is. I like these conversations best, like hearing the way she segues, the shifting gears never making themselves known as we coast from current events to why you should stay away from heroin (aside from the obvious reasons, you’ll gain a lot of weight when you finally quit) to ancient Greek philosophy. Sometimes getting a word in is a challenge, but I don’t mind. I imagine myself a sponge, perfectly content to sit and absorb and absorb and absorb to the point of excess. Elaine May once said of Mike Nichols’ films: “I have no idea where they’re gonna go and then when they get there, I go, ‘Oh, well, yeah of course.’” I never know where these meandering calls will take me, and when they finally reach their end, I am exhausted. I am happy, but it doesn’t take long for an inexplicable wistfulness to fill my chest with a dull sort of achy tightness.

It’s not a good feeling but it’s not a bad one either, and at any rate, it certainly is one I miss having. I miss it so much that I don’t realize I miss it until I’m already in the middle of missing it, a small snippet of conversation re-entering my brain at random, on the subway or in a meeting or lying in bed. It has been many months since I have sat with my iPhone pressed tightly to my cheek, jotting down some remark I will want to save for inevitable future bad days, needing to pee yet not daring to even want to end the conversation just yet. It has been some time since the last one of these marathons, and I can’t shake this feeling that lately life is just an Instagram Story on autoplay, flicking from frame to frame and never staying long enough on the good ones.

*

The thing about phones is that few of us — particularly those of us who belong to a certain generation — are rarely without them anymore. I got my first cell phone at 13, a blue Nokia 6100 barely bigger than the palm of my child size hand. It was for emergencies only, and I had to share it with my two younger sisters. We were not, under any circumstances, allowed to text, lest we wanted to incur the wrath of our father, who would sternly remind us ad nauseum that texting wasn’t in our plan, and our paltry babysitting funds would cover any charges we racked up. It was yet another shared object the three of us would fight viciously over; we couldn’t agree on what case to buy from the accessory stand in the mall, whose activity was demanding enough to get custody for the day, even whose room it would stay in at night. 

As the shared Nokia became a hot pink Razr of my own, then an enV3, and finally version after version of iPhones, its ubiquitous presence has stretched to its limit but I’m not sure if it’s doing me any good. 

Because the other thing about phones is that few of us — particularly those of us who belong to a certain generation — rarely use them to actually make calls anymore. Gradually, then suddenly, the phone became not a lifeline to other people’s voices, but a lifeline to breaking news and group texts, a constant source of likes, comments, shares, and retweets. It became a toy, a sleek glass and aluminum portal to instant gratification, external validation, and existential dread in equal endless measure, all of which I can access whenever I want to. Sometimes even when I don’t. 

*

I read something once that said there’s no greater comfort for humans than the sound of our own mother’s voice, that it raises our serotonin levels or something. I don’t know, I’m paraphrasing here. The gist of it, though, was specific on the fact that another person’s voice held a seemingly cosmic and almost unfathomable yet actually very scientifically provable ability to make us feel better. The joke, of course, is that when I feel like I am floundering, or when I feel a little bit lonely and a little bit sad — even just a little bit bored — and I know I need the voice of someone else to fill up some space but I am not entirely sure why, one of the last ones I want to hear belongs to my mother. When we are on the same line for longer than five minutes, all I can seem to hear is exhaustion and disappointment, both mine and hers, and though there are times still I go to the proverbial hardware store looking for orange juice, more and more, it has become easier for me to just avoid doing it at all.

You should always pick up the phone when you’re thinking about someone, this I know to be true. But it’s so easy to avoid it, so easy to talk myself out of sitting with the awkward silences I know will dissipate with time and the on-the-spot vulnerability from which there is no place to hide. It’s easy to spiral into the trappings of my own mind, to calculate the frequency with which I contact people with a careful but cool precision, to develop and follow arbitrary rules in an effort to mitigate any risk that the people I love will find me clingy and desperate, a pushy annoyance, and suddenly stop loving me back. It’s much easier to sit and marinate in a loneliness of my own making. And so I let things go unsaid, left to loop endlessly in the liminal space of what ifs.

*

It’s a Thursday night and my aunt calls me and she sounds drunk — I think she is drunk — and it’s cold and misty out but I’m out walking around anyway. It’s that time of year when I feel a broad but shallow sort of sadness and I don’t know why. I walk for blocks after work in search of some imprecise sense of warmth or maybe just a temporary cure for my boredom, keeping company with my music and wondering how so many things could be going right and I could still feel so stagnant and wrong. The winter has not been as cold as last but it sure feels a lot more muted and grey. 

My aunt says she misses me, says she misses the little girl who would call her crying into her smuggled cell phone, asking her to pick her up on the street corner every time my dad got mad at me and threw me out of the house. I do my best to laugh and say I miss her too and try to push out of my mind that I do not miss that little girl at all. And I can’t help but zone out a little as she talks, my vague sadness now given a reason to turn into actual sadness. I listen to her tell stories and recount memories that she tries to make sound funny but really are not as I watch apartment lights flick on in buildings I walk by, admire the built-in bookshelves in one living room, practically hear the dinner party chatter as it forms in another, imagine the body heat of strangers sitting tight together as I pass by packed bars. It is often too easy for me to envision these people’s lives — who they are, what they do, how they came to find themselves in this West Village townhouse — as well as my own — who would I be if I lived there? Still me or someone different? The joy in dreaming up a fictionalized version of reality is fun until it isn’t, until it just leaves me feeling empty and longing in the cold air, uncertain that these things I have in my dream life will ever be achievable in my real one. For a week after we talk I keep a bottle of wine in my refrigerator but refuse to open it. 

*

And I don’t really know if there’s a point to any of this other than to say that saying hello first is hard for me but I hate goodbyes even more so if I ring you up sometime, or even if I don’t, please just know that I am very sorry to bother you.

###

friendly reminder that if you missed any previous emails, you can read the archive here.

if you like getting content and supporting content makers, there’s something around here to click if you look where you can become a paid subscriber and throw some dollars my way

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okay that's it that's the end thanks bye

another year in review list

sorry to be THAT person but also i'm not!

I’m back.

WELL, kind of. Sort of. In a shrugging “no one missed this but I feel obligated to update it anyway and also I do love the attention kind of way.”

This is the last newsletter for 2019 (unless I’m struck with some sort of enormous revelation I must must must get out but even still, idk), and it’s not even really a real newsletter, not like the others. My brain is fully fried, a sentiment I have expressed approximately 87 times a day for the past two months.

Instead of being a newsletter-y newsletter, this is going to be a bunch of lists. People love lists this time of year, but they stress me out! (I am not even going to start on the decade-in-review thing because that is too overwhelming and my memory is not that good.) Ranking things? No thank you. But sometimes it’s nice to list things — in no particular order — that I have done or learned or enjoyed, nice to think about the concrete accomplishments and joys of the recent past rather than focus on all the still things I feel are missing and yet to be found in the vague future.

This is that. A little in case you missed it, a little maybe read it again, a little maybe just be curious and click this link. It’s fun. It’s whatever.

okay thanks sorry love you happy honda-days merry crisis bye,
carrie


things i wrote in 2019 that i’m proud of, a few of which i’m lowkey shook i had the privilege to do:

~ I wrote and hosted season 3 of The Opus podcast, all about Jeff Buckley’s Grace. Episode one of three is here.

~ Wrote a lot on my blog and/or this newsletter in the early half of this year, which was terrifying and liberating at the same time. A few favorites: (1) On Jenny Lewis’s On The Line (an album that — from an artist whose work has always been part of my bloodstream — got especially under my skin this year), (2) on climate change and anxiety, and (3) on being one of the youngest in the audience for a Mott the Hoople concert.

~ I wrote and gave a reading of a piece about Buckingham Nicks and youth and mortality that made people in the audience cry lol

~ Talked to Slack Dad Stephen Malkmus about his swerve of an electro album for Flood Magazine.

~ I wrote my first essay for a book (you! love! to! see! it!) on the — very good, actually!! — Liz Phair (2003).

~ Flood let me write about Jessica Lange’s new photography collection (ya, that Jessica Lange) and wax about a disappearing part of America a little.

~ An enormous holy shit moment: I had a wine lunch (and got carded lmaO) with one of my musical and feminist heroes, Kim! Fucking! Gordon, and wrote about her brilliant solo debut for Garage. BONUS: Here’s a big chunk of our transcript that didn’t make it in.

~ I wrote about the patron saint of “difficult” girls everywhere, my queen, Elaine May, for Bright Wall/Dark Room.

~ And I spent the summer reporting — which included ya girl going to the Tonys and making A COLD CALL TO ELAINE MAY (okay so the number was out of service, but still, it was scary!) — this profile of Elaine May, who arguably had the best 2019 of us all, for Glamour. Might fuck around and do something more with the penultimate draft, which had grown to 4K+ words, stay tuned.

~ I talked about Honey Boy with the brilliant director Alma Ha’rel for Flood.

~ Got a Vanity Fair byline writing about grifters, which was tight.

~Flood also let me write about my favorite albums/songs of the year: Norman Fucking Rockwell! and Better Oblivion Community Center, and, again, Jenny.

~ Anddddd, I spent the most wonderful afternoon getting called “honey” a lot by Lee Grant, two-time Oscar winning actor, director, and bad bitch blacklist survivor, for Bright Wall/Dark Room.


20 albums i enjoyed and listened to often in 2019:

On The Line - Jenny Lewis // Norman Fucking Rockwell! - Lana Del Rey // Heard It In A Past Life - Maggie Rogers // Better Oblivion Community Center - “” // The Hours soundtrack - Philip Glass // When I Get Home - Solange // Homecoming - Beyoncé // Rather Ripped - Sonic Youth // Groove Denied - Stephen Malkmus // No Home Record - Kim Gordon // Hello, I’m Doing My Best - Ali Barter // Big Science - Laurie Anderson // Le Tigre - “” // Remind Me Tomorrow - Sharon Van Etten // i,i - Bon Iver // Transportation - Chandra // Titanic Rising - Weyes Blood // Anak Ko - Jay Som // All Mirrors - Angel Olsen // GIRL - Marren Morris // Reward - Cate le Bon

15 movies i watched for the first time and enjoyed in 2019:

Hustlers (2019) // Knives Out (2019) // Gloria Bell (2019) // Marriage Story (2019) // Booksmart (2019) // Little Women* (2019) // Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice (2019) // Honey Boy (2019) // Margaret (2011) // Ishtar (1987) // Down and Out in America** (1986) // Frances (1982) // Downtown ‘81 (1981) // Girlfriends (1978) // A New Leaf (1971)

*i am seeing greta gerwig’s little women tonight and preemptively including it because i already know i will love it
**i saw this freshman year of college in a film crit class and since that was 10 years ago, i’m absolutely counting my second viewing of it as the first because hoooooboy it hits harder now.

you should google all of those; i highly recommend.

###

friendly reminder that if you missed any previous emails, you can read the archive here.

okay that's it that's the end thanks see y’all in the screaming ‘20s bye

back at it* again at krispy kreme**

*writing newsletters / **substack

hellO

Dropped the ball on this weekly-not-so-weekly-but-at-least-kinda-regular newsletter thing, BUT in my defense, I was very busy writing things for places that actually pay me (more about that below) and practically brain dead when it came to writing anything else.

Anyway, happy SAD season! Might fuck around and actually buy a light therapy lamp this year because, honestly, it’s only November and this month has been more grey and dreary and unbearably windy (every time a huge gust blows lately, I want to yell “okay, we GET IT, stop showing off!”) than not. Four to five more months of this? I think the fuck not. Please hit me up if you have any recommendations. 

Also, happy Listen To River By Joni Mitchell On Repeat season! I’m so glad Ryan Murphy’s “The Politician” brought the classic to the forefront of pop culture discussion to remind us that it’s that time of year again. (Also grateful that it’s responsible for this spectacularly/depressingly/horrifically stupid Cosmopolitan headline’s existence.) You have five more weeks to listen to the world’s saddest unintentional Christmas song as much as you want before your friends, family members, and coworkers are like “um, are you okay?” Go forth.

Anyway. Content is below. A lot of it was obviously started a few weeks ago (see: mention of the first really cold weekend of fall) but I do not care enough to change it because I am TIRED! 

okay thanks sorry love u bye,

carrie


SOME THOUGHTS I HAVE BEEN THINKING
nora ephron invented fall, change my mind

Every year when the air starts to turn crisp and clothing store windows begin to fill with long sleeves and full-length pants in varying shades of rich reds and oranges and browns and baby pumpkins decorate stoops, I swear that this will be the year I buy my Sally Albright Outfit. Every year I fail. Suddenly, it’s November and there are no loose-but-sharp slacks (I love the word “slacks” and how charmingly dated it sounds) hanging in my closet, no quirky printed turtlenecks, and it’s become too cold to stroll through Central Park in nothing heavier than a tweed blazer.

Nora Ephron invented fall, or, at least, invented fall in New York, and I am always spending the season searching the city for her. It’s fitting that the season seemingly belongs to Nora; it’s one of the few times of year New York still feels aspirational. It shows its old bones to you; the egg yolk yellow light glowing from the windows of old brownstone apartments once night starts to come early encourages a nostalgia and longing for another time, yes, but also an acceptance of the now. It is possible to be reconcile your inner Frank Navasky who rails against the ever-corporatization of New York with your inner aspiring Kathleen Kelly who, despite all evidence to the contrary, sees New York as still good. I walk through the Upper West Side and play “Dreams” by the Cranberries with the volume as high as it will go (I often joke that it is illegal not to), my strides purposeful and confident, my body suddenly filled with inexplicable euphoria and hopefulness. Life seems a little more romantic when viewed through Nora Ephron’s lens. For four minutes and 32 seconds, I can forget how much this world, and this city, feels — quite literally — like a burning building. Instead, for four minutes and 32 seconds, New York feels like a movie in which I am the protagonist, and nothing really bad could happen to me there. 

Because nothing truly bad, nothing truly awful happens to a Nora Ephron protagonist. That’s not to say nothing bad happens — things do indeed get rotten. She might have a crisis of confidence over whether or not she’s in love with her best friend, or a stranger who lives across the country, or a rival bookseller — but it’s all survivable. Even the worst of crises, like when Kathleen Kelly’s bookstore — the bookstore that had been her mother’s before her — goes under, come with silver linings. She will be sad for the appropriate amount of time, and then she will become a children’s book author, and the audience will think it’s all for the best, that it was meant to be; there was more in life for Kathleen Kelly than simply running a book shop day in and day out. Nora Ephron’s women are never victims; they are heroines, and we know that our heroine will be alright in the end, know that our brief glimpse into her life will fade out happily, more often than not on a kiss.  

I miss Nora Ephron. I know it’s such a silly thing to say about someone I never even met, much less knew personally, and I know I’ve said this often since her death in 2012, but it’s true and I feel it more acutely as the years go by and the world seems to grow increasingly crueler. As the years pass, I miss Nora Ephron even more, and I find myself craving the safety and warmth that mixes with the occasional bite of her universe. In Nora’s version of the world, the trains run on time and our leaders aren’t corrupt predators and media companies thrive. There are no empty storefronts and the corporate brick and mortar banks are not yet ubiquitous and no one, not one single person, is terrified about climate change.

It’s the first truly cold weekend of fall, the temperatures free-falling from one unseasonable extreme to the other, 70° on Monday, 30° by Saturday. The first cold days of fall always comes as a shock, a brutal slap of freezing air across the face. Residents of the Upper West Side are reacting appropriately: peacoats and topcoats in somber blacks and camels are out in full buttoned-up force; nearly every other woman you pass on the sidewalk sports a tasteful beret. One of them got on the 1 train with me last night at 72nd Street, an unusual bright spot of energy at 11 p.m. in a car full of overtired people packed in tight and grudgingly defrosting together.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” the old woman called out, clearing her throat and waiting for a response. People groaned, expecting maybe a performance or perhaps, despite her poise and polished outward appearance, an overlong story about her plight before she’d ask for our spare change. 

“Tomorrow,” she continued, letting the word hang with anticipation in the air for a moment, “Lincoln Center is giving away free tickets to the Jessye Norman memorial at the Metropolitan Opera on Sunday!” A few cheered. Most were silent. She added, not without some spice, “It seems some of you are too young to know.”

She continued on like this, gleefully yelling, in that sort of indiscernibly coastal-with-an-aftertaste-of-vaguely-European accent that only rich, white women of a certain age still have, all the details of the giveaway and her love for the Met through the car of tired people who had lost interest and I couldn’t help but laugh. It felt like a scene in a comedy, maybe not exactly like one Nora would pen, but certainly one I would. I guess that has to be enough for now.


LISTEN
At Weddings - Tomberlin

Look, I know all the ways Spotify is bad and screws over artists and is making music even more scarily corporatized, but all that excessive personal data they’ve probably got stored on me does do the trick in that my Discover Weekly recommends rarely fail to be on point. Recently, it led me to this haunting, pared down acoustic album from last year that I would have missed otherwise. Its cozy fall vibes are like a choose your own adventure: listen to just the lyrics, which often reach into the gut punch territory (“To be a woman is to be in pain” is a killer), or just the stunning guitar work, which is an entire mood and ambience itself, or pair the two together. It’s an album that’s easy to get lost in, to look at the clock and realize you’d been playing it on repeat for the past three hours and not once was it grating — not many albums are capable of that.

READ
Can a Woman Who Is an Artist Ever Just Be an Artist? - Rachel Cusk

Through the stories of two painters, Celia Paul and Cecily Brown, Rachel Cusk paints two starkly different portraits (pun not intended, sorry) about how women thrive in mediums historically dominated by men. It took me awhile to read the first time, and I had to read it at least two more to fully process, and each pass gutted me more than the last. 

WATCH
Honey Boy

It… messed me up, and I say that with love. See below!

THINGS I WROTE OR DID

When it rains it POURS my friends! Here are some reasons why I have been slacking on this part of my writing game, in case you missed anything. (Or want to reread? I don’t know your life.)

Decades Later, the World is Catching Up to Elaine May

Glamour let me spend the summer reporting out this profile of Elaine May, which included going to the Tonys, personally reaching out to (and getting radio silence, of course) Elaine for a comment, and talking to Natasha goddamn Lyonne and Joan Allen (among others) for a solid half hour each about how much we love our fave. Might fuck around and share the full version (which at one edit stage ballooned up to 4K words, oops) with those here who want it sometime.

Jessica Lange’s Highway 61 Explores America the Beautiful, Lonely, and Fading

Flood Magazine let me write about Jessica Lange’s newest book of photography (yes, that Jessica Lange), America, and loneliness. 

Kim Gordon’s Ready to See You Now

I went to lunch with Kim Gordon (!!!) and I got carded when we ordered wine and wanted to crawl out of my skin but then we talked for an hour and a half about New York and LA, the way media mythologizes people, her new (first) solo album, and more. Also might fuck around and share the whole transcript here at some point, because it was — and this is more to toot her horn and not my own — a really great interview that obviously had to be cut down for space. 

Director Alma Har’el on the Therapeutic Nature of Honey Boy

Flood Magazine had me talk to Alma Har’el about trauma and gender equality in film-making and this absolutely stunning narrative feature debut.

Liz Phair the Poptimist
I wrote about Liz Phair’s much-maligned 2003 pop album (which was my — and many other millennials' — entrypoint to her canon) and all the gross, misogynistic ways music bros at the time reacted to it. And, like, okay, this one is one you’ll have to buy a whole book for but, folks, ya girl got an essay in a book! Hello, let’s celebrate that

friendly reminder that if you missed any previous emails, you can read the archive here.

okay that's it that's the end thanks bye

thoughts you have about beauty and aging in the locker room of an UWS gym

hiiiiii everybody!

Happy fall (lol it was 90º this week) to everyone, but most importantly to the inventor of the season itself, Nora Ephron. If you find yourself on the Upper West Side one crisp day these next few months — particularly if the leaves have begun to change and there are pumpkins sitting alongside bodega flowers that you may or may not happen to buy and you are drinking a piping hot coffee (a normal kind, not pumpkin spice caramel apple pie diabetes explosion with a hint of coffee somewhere in there) — a reminder that you are legally required to play “Dreams” by The Cranberries at least once. I’m so sorry, I don’t make the rules and I don’t usually trust cops but I will have no choice but to snitch in this situation!!!

Anyway! Below are some words about growing old and my fleeting youth, which I am honestly never not thinking about but am absolutely thinking about more thanks to the changing season reminding us all about, uh, death. Cool! Enjoy!!!

okay thanks sorry love u bye,

carrie


SOME THOUGHTS I HAVE BEEN THINKING
thoughts you have about beauty and aging in the locker room of an UWS gym

The Upper West Side gym I go to on weekends’ clientele swings mostly towards the 60+ age demographic. Maybe sprinkle a few middle aged parents in there — the ones squeezing in their one (1) hour of fitness for the week after they’ve dropped their kids in the babysitting room, the ones who, like me, can afford something a few levels above Planet Fitness with group classes and new equipment but definitely aren’t bougie enough for Equinox —  to lower the median age a little, but more often than not, I am wildly out of place. I kind of like it like this. 

In the locker room after class I doddle, taking my time getting dressed, listening in as the older women chitchat among themselves and wondering how long they’ve been friendly and how many life phases and body changes they have seen each other through. They know the names of each other’s husbands (or, quite often, ex-husbands) and they gossip about their shitty grown children and the not-so-great work their mutual friends have had done and their mutual friends’ shitty grown children (Sharon’s son Lincoln hasn’t brought his girlfriend home once in the two years they’ve been dating and at least three women are convinced that it isn’t just because she can’t get time off work) and what movies they’re going to see later that Saturday (many of them loved Green Book and found “Viggo Morten and Mahalo Ali” to be “just charming”, thank you). They call each other sweetheart and beautiful in gratuitous measure: “Hi, sweetheart!” “How are you beautiful?!” they exclaim when another walks in.

I usually keep quiet; once, last year, the one other 20-something in the room piped into a conversation about the recent Women’s March to say that she believed “men and women are very different, actually. I just don’t understand this obsession with gender equality.” I sat in my towel and watched one of them lecture her about the wage gap, gendered violence, global gender poverty, and more for 10 minutes and silently screamed, in awe of such calm yet savage power. 

I always avert my eyes, though I still can’t help but see glimpses of whisper thin sun-spotted skin, skin that sags and hangs limply on even the thinnest and fittest of them, the kind of skin that can be camouflaged behind beautifully tailored clothing that makes them seem every bit the chic and smart women I know them to be but reveals itself in these intimate spaces. It’s hard not to notice it. I think about how much I pick myself apart now, how I exist in a body I have hated with varying degrees of intensity since I was 14, and feel guilty about my comparative youth and wonder how I will feel about it when I’m their age. Maybe I’ll grow tired of feeling badly about the way I look, the way I think many of them have, the way they unabashedly strip naked in the middle of the room, walk around in their underwear and nothing else, stand in the mirror to blow dry their hair while topless, as I huddle shyly in the corner and wrap a towel around me as I peel off my sports bra. Or maybe I’ll just find more things to loathe about it.

I always thought I couldn’t wait to look as old as I often think myself to be on the inside. I often wonder if, once I get to that age where I have lost my muscle mass, I’ll become all skin and bones, reedlike the way I used to be but without as much effort, and have a body that looks as fragile as I sometimes feel. I long for the day to come when I have a mature, wizened air about me, all hollow cheeks and crows feet and a line beveled into my flesh where I furrow my left eyebrow when I’m focusing, a look that definitively states that I have earned my right to be taken seriously. I keep waiting for all the lives I have not yet lived, and perhaps never will, to etch their way across my face. I always thought maybe I’d be beautiful, or something close to it, when I got older. Older women are always more beautiful. Young women are just cute.

At least, that’s how I feel now, a rough approximation of cute — on my best days — but realistically often erring closer to a strange child playing dress up. Anytime I put on lipstick brighter or darker than a virginal pink, I feel like those poor babies you see in viral videos their parents post on Facebook — those which they cannot yet consent to and will perhaps begrudge years from now — the ones scribbling magic marker across their faces before flashing big gummy smiles and exclaiming “I’m big!” This face — all baby fat cheeks and random errant patches of acne and Kewpie doll eyes — is either my biggest asset or greatest liability, depending who you ask; it’s the thing I resent and revel in at the same time. With this face, I can hold onto my inexplicable desire to be seen as a scrappy wunderkind a little longer, past its expiration date, past the time I have to resign myself to being just an ordinary, subpar grownup and not a gifted teen. With this face, I can get away with stupid, perhaps irresponsible, playful shit like buying a skateboard or Razor scooter (both of which spend more time in my hallway than in use) or throw out slang words and phrases in gratuitous measure or go out and get a little too drunk with friends and laugh a little too loudly on the subway home. Sure. With this face, I can delay real adulthood a little longer, but at what cost? For every moment I feel like the smartest and youngest in the room, there are times I feel like I’m just a teenager whose summer internship has ended, whose head adults no longer feel required to pat and smile at and say “good job,” but rather, the kid they’d just like to go home. 

“When I was in my 20s, I refused to go above 14th Street. Now that I’m an old lady, I refuse to go below 42nd Street,” Lynn, one of the locker room ladies once told me as she reflected on what the city was like when she was my age, beginning the kind of story I don’t think I will ever be able to resist greedily gobbling up like candy. Her voice still held onto a lilt of Southern belle charm, a reminder that despite the many years she has been a New Yorker, she didn’t come from here; she was once a something else. Lynn is thin and bony and birdlike, barely making up the same five feet and two inches as me, with a choppy jet black bob she almost certainly dyes that somehow looks freshly blown out and skin that always sports that post-workout glow pretty women get (I am not one of those women; I look like a drowned 12 year old boy after I exercise) even when she’s just walking in. Later, she called me baby faced and told me that would serve me years from now when I am her age, along with her potent, not-so-secret regimen of “lots of water, exercise, no taking the subway, and a good plastic surgeon.”

I watch Lynn and her friends, whose names I don’t all know although their faces have become warmly familiar, each week with delighted curiosity. The world favors the young, this city especially so; you can’t help but be reminded of it every time you see a hunched, grey-haired woman slowly shuffling her folding shopping cart down the street or a crinkley man cautiously ascending the subway stairs one by one. These women seem happy. They seem sure of themselves. They seem, at least, to be doing the best they can, and okay with that.

It’s then that I feel guilty, suddenly acutely aware of the glaring fact of my young age and all the ways it sets me apart from them on a deeper level than just hollow cheeked looks. I’m suddenly cautious of the way my body still bends and twists itself the way it always has, for the most part, which is to say it’s more effortlessly agile than any of theirs. I have the good fortune, at 28, of not quite yet knowing what it’s like to not have this much stamina. Some days I wonder if the reason why I’m tired is because I haven’t slept enough or had enough water or because I worked out too hard, or if it’s just that I’m getting to the point where tired is my baseline. Most of the time, I have a reason. But still, I wonder if aging is one of those things that happens all at once, that one day you wake up and can no longer touch your toes or run a mile without your lungs straining against your ribcage, or if it’s a gradual sort of thing, so incremental over time that you’ve been adapting to each minute change unknowingly, deceived into thinking you’re fine until one day you’re just not. 

I could ask one of them, but I think I should probably just wait and find out for myself, just like everybody else.


LISTEN
Idk? I’ve been listening to mostly The Hours soundtrack this week because it’s truly the best music to write to (thank u Philip Glass) and Norman Fucking Rockwell! (still) so, uh, maybe smash the reply button and give me some recos for a change. 

READ
The Grand Dames of Succession Are Powerful—And All Over 60 - Samantha Leach
Look, I could go on forever about my deep, aggressive, obsessive love for Succession here, but I’ll save you several hours of me waxing about it. Short story: so many things about this show are perfect and stannable, down to the radical depiction of women — older women! (only 3 percent of women on TV last year were over 60; on Succession they’re like 40 percent of the cast) — in power. Cyd Peach hive…. Rise up. Gerri stans? You know there’s something for you here. And I’m sorry but I have no choice but to believe Succession and Broadcast News exist in the same universe and that Holly Hunter’s scary brilliant Rhea Jarrell is really just the wholesome brilliant Jane Craig after she got over the two bozo men whose careers she had been doing on top of her own and became sufficiently jaded enough by the changing media landscape to go full bad media bitch. Thank you for coming to my deranged Ted Talk.

WATCH
Hustlers
Look, if you haven’t already, then I’m sorry, I don’t know how to help you. If you have, this is to say please go see it again. I have already watched this two hour long portrait of mid-2000s female antihero strippers told via a non-pervy female gaze so powerful it makes me feel powerful twice and I will absolutely be seeing it again. Alexa, play “Criminal” by Fiona Apple!!!

friendly reminder that if you missed any previous emails, you can read the archive here.

okay that's it that's the end thanks bye

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