hey hi how are ya.
This letter is super long. I didn't plan for that. It just happened that way. So I'll leave this part short! You're welcome! Have a good weekend! Hydrate! Eat some fresh fruit! Get your greens! Use sunscreen!
thanks sorry love u bye,
SOME THOUGHTS I HAVE BEEN THINKING
alexa, play all my friends by lcd soundsystem
The onset of summer always hits us, without fail, like that Hemingway line from A Sun Also Rises, the one where Mike Campbell describes losing all his money — “gradually, then suddenly.” Such a funny thing, the way a classic line of literature has transcended its succinct poignancy to become a cliché reference in countless personal essays, many by people who have never even read it in its original context. If only it were on a tote bag, too.
Anyway, it seems like a good way to describe this summer. Or any summer, for that matter. No matter how many summers we live through, we’re never quite ready when it comes back around. Spring is temperamental without fail; when we’ll switch into full-time warmth is anyone’s guess. Earlier this month, I wore my heavy wool overcoat and a pair of jorts in the span of days. On Monday, I dug through my drawers in a desperate attempt to find my swimsuits, the knowledge of where I stashed them once the days started to grow crisp last year replaced in my brain with fuzzy TV static. It was then that I realized we were really doing this. It was really summer, and I had thought I still had plenty of time left to resole my Birkenstocks and buy a new bikini top before my choices were limited to the cast off clearance pieces and add some artificial warmth to my pale-but-not-in-a-tragically-beautiful-way skin before so much of it would be exposed that I did none of those things. And here I was, utterly unprepared.
No, we’re never ready for this, for the languid afternoons that bleed into never-ending nights, the golden blush transitional light between the two stretching out longer than just its namesake hour. I’m never ready to spend the weekdays shivering in an over-air conditioned office, surprised to walk out on the World Trade Center’s plaza for a brief warming in the sun to see that the usual scattered smattering of tourists seemed to turn overnight into a densely packed herd, their backpacks sitting on their bellies, sweat beading on their foreheads, all gawking and taking selfies, like they don’t even know they’re at a memorial for a fucking terrorist attack.
I’m old enough now to have grown used to months-long summer vacations being a thing of my past but young enough to still long for the allure of adventure and excitement and freedom. I’m still young enough to foolishly buy into the false promise all the bildungsromans in the world seek to make us believe: that summer is a transformational time full of infinite possibilities, none of which are anything bad happening to you. This year feels different, though, like I can feel myself slipping across the line between youth and adulthood. Like I’m a little too old and weighed down by the memories of summers past spent unsuccessfully chasing undefined ideas — of luck, success, adventure, love, happiness — to fall under this summer’s seductive shimmer. The air feels thicker this year, stuffed full of expectations, deadlines, disappointments, boredom, unanswered texts, uneasy silences.
I spent the inauguration of summer — that last Sunday in May, the one you live like a repeat of Saturday, delaying the usual Sunday Sads until the following evening after Memorial Day celebrations have ended — at a going away party for my friend Hannah* in Red Hook, though I’m not sure if you could call it a party so much as a loose collective hang. There’s got to be some sort of metaphor in there, ushering in the new season by watching someone leave, but I just can’t bring myself to look for it.
It’s backyard season again; at Brooklyn Crab, you have to weave through a maze of table umbrella-speckled concrete up front, a partially-enclosed bar, a patio, and a corridor of port-a-potties before you reach theirs. By the time I arrived, the early afternoon sky had turned from blinding cloudless blue to a gunmetal grey threatening rain at any moment. Hannah and her friends were clumped together on picnic tables, already buzzed on pitchers of beer and $15 cocktails and looking a little out of place in their thot-y Urban Outfitters sundresses, their unironic windbreakers and their ironic unbuttoned silk shirts with chains, their collective insufferable stereotypical Brooklyn millennial-ness. All around them were real grown-ups: Gen X dads in that J. Crew gingham shirt and khaki shorts chatted with beers in one hand and cornhole beanbags (when did everyone decide cornhole was a thing) in the other. Their wives all had perfect hair that refused to wilt under their sensible hats to block the sun and they all wore sensible Anthropologie maxi dresses with sensible Jack Rogers sandals and sensibly picked their toddlers out of the questionable sandboxes with their enviable string bean arms over and over again. Watching the contrast between the two groups over my drink felt like watching a nature documentary. My table was full of millennials in a state of arrested development, all in their mid-20s, pushing 30, maybe some of them past that, who still fill every weekend up hopping from bar to bar, today no different, predictably reckless and careless enough to exclaim “let’s get some coke!” at 3 in the afternoon loud enough for everyone in that decidedly un-coke vicinity to hear. I cringed.
The rain came. Of course it came because all our weather apps showed a 70% chance that it would but there was a 0% chance that anyone made a plan of what to do when it did. No one could pick a second location. The bar next door was deemed too empty, too kid friendly. The barbecue place down the block had a line. We huddled under its awning and tried to plot our next move, the names of potential bars flying back and forth over one another, each name more ridiculous than the last, as if they were straight out of an SNL sketch — “How about Camp? We could take a couple Ubers” “Maybe Zombie Hut?” “Pig Beach is in the same neighborhood.” — until eventually everyone gave up and settled on going back to one girl’s apartment in Park Slope to sit around and drink her liquor and get the aforementioned coke and plan something more fun.
By then the heat had broken and I sat on the floor in my torn jorts and pulled my still-morning shower damp hair back and silently watched everyone else hanging out. I had lost interest in the whole thing; I was an outsider in the group, but I didn’t mind the free booze and didn’t feel like leaving before the rain let up. Bags of chips were passed around — we were all starving but no one considered getting real food — and the boy next to me ate a ghost pepper one, shrugged and said he didn’t get that this was supposed to be the world’s hottest chip because it was just fine. I followed his lead and smiled and made a “what, this?” face, wanting to be a Cool Girl, even though I could feel my throat closing up and the heat flooding my ears. It’s times like these where I realize I stop being a participant, but manage to make myself small enough to slip into the background and observe it all with no one really paying any attention to how egregiously out of place I am.
“Where’s my copy of Girlboss?” the hostess called out. “Let’s do coke on that.”
“Is that the Tina Fey book?” one of the boys replied earnestly.
I stifled a laugh and typed the exchange into my notes app because, god, it was just too good to forget. No one even noticed.
“Do you want some blow?” someone asked me. I looked up at them from where I sat folded up on the floor like a child, tugged at my shorts, my body being the first thing I turned my discomfort towards. It was the kind of hot summer day where the heat feels less oppressive and more like an invitation to be sexy but suddenly I was feeling like my shorts were maybe too short, my tank top a little too tight. I flashed a chipper smile and said “no thanks!” in my girlish head voice I use when I’m nervous and hate myself for. I felt both childish and immature — the baby who took DARE classes seriously — and like the only grownup in the room — feeling like that ship had sailed and I was a little too old to get on it now.
I’m not judging them. At least, I’m not trying to. They all seem like they’re having fun. They have their inside jokes and genuine comradery and have a vault of stories they’ll be able to start with “when I was you’re age…” when they’re older. It all makes me feel like they have some secret playbook for how to live your 20something life to the fullest, how to dance upon the line of living life with speed and recklessness without ever crossing it. It’s a playbook I never got for a game I’m too scared to play, so I sit on the bench and can’t help but wonder if I’m missing out.
I relocated to the tiny cramped kitchen, stared out across the rooftops of Park Slope and thought how funny this city could be, that a scene like this could exist in a neighborhood I had previously perceived to be Stroller Land.
“You’re Hannah’s music writer friend, right?” a guy said, breaking the silence as he dug in the fridge for another beer. I had met him earlier in the afternoon, remembered he knew Hannah from work and, like me, didn’t really know her other friends but showed up anyway. He couldn’t remember my name and I couldn’t remember his and, honestly, I didn’t care to. He had worn a smugly bemused smile on his face the whole day, like he thought he was so much cuter and smarter than everyone there. With his ‘90s butt cut hair and his baggy jeans, he reminded me of the annoying big brother character (or his equally obnoxious best friend) from the movies of my youth and I could tell he’d have the attitude to match. We were the only two transients, though; I figured it couldn’t hurt to shoot the shit with him for awhile.
Of course, I regretted the decision to make conversation as soon as it became one sided, which is to say, right away. He shared his opinions incessantly, throwing out obscure bands and references to bootleg 7 inches and live recordings one after the other. He started to sound like the Peanuts teacher, all incoherent yapping I just nodded politely along to until he brought up Sonic Youth and I felt like I could step back in.
He grew up in Massachusetts, he told me, he knew that scene. He was best friends as a kid with Thurston Moore’s nephew, he said, stressing how monumental that seemingly was, like it made him close personal friends with Thurston Moore by association.
“Fuck Thurston Moore,” I said, my buzzed enough to be bold and bluntly over his shit, but sober enough to see the precise lines with which I’d exactingly run my scalpel across his pretentious facade.
“What?” he laughed, incredulous. “Thurston’s the man!”
“Thurston Moore is a monumental asshole.”
“Kim is the one who sucks. When they split up it was like not a surprise to anyone but her. I know. Everyone in that town knew. My friend — his nephew — knew.” By this point he had mentioned his nephew more times than are worth repeating here but it was so spectacularly obnoxious I began to take a sip every time he did so. “They were so unhappy for so long.”
“Uh, still don’t think that makes it okay to fuck around on the side,” I said, noticing how emphatic he was becoming and meeting it with continued cool indifference.
“Well, you know, Thurston always said ‘hey, what’s up buddy?’ to me when he saw me. Always. Kim never talked to me.”
“So,” I said, taking another sip of my drink and smirking. “What I’m hearing is that you don’t like Kim Gordon because she didn’t want to always make small talk with a 14 year old boy.”
He mentioned something about Thurston being a genius for the seventh time — I’m so fucking tired of men declaring other men to be geniuses, my god that word is so overused — said something about their daughter Coco being “a crazy bitch” and I raised my eyebrows.
“I don’t think you’re really in the position to call any woman a crazy bitch,” I said. “But I will say, having a shitty dad, especially one who lets his mistress’s kid sleep in your bed when you’re not home, might do that to a girl. So. I don’t know. Kinda seems like she has a right to be a bitch.”
The fun in watching him flop around under my minimal pressure had died down with the rain and the bottom of my drink. I’m so sick of boys like that trying to impress me with their knowledge or perceived insider information, pretending they’re just having a fun and friendly debate while their eyes look just like Scrooge McDuck’s when they look at me. I don’t want to spend another summer wanting guys like that to like me just because I’m convinced that maybe they’re the best I can do. I’d rather be alone.
It was only 8; the sky was still light out, but I was over it. I thought about all those times as a kid when my parents would tell me it was bedtime and I would scream that it couldn’t be because it was still daylight and I wasn’t tired yet. And now here I was 20 years later just wanting to go home and go to sleep.
I found my friend, hugged her goodbye and listened to her tear up for a moment about leaving and I said it’s only for a year and I left. I took the long way to the subway, plugging in my airpods and queuing up Pink Moon, because it was just the perfect kind of night for Pink Moon, the air all clammy and smelling inexplicably like the expensive sandalwood incense I had gotten in a small holistic shop in Westport and saturating my skin.
Waiting on the platform, I felt a sort of sadness wash over me and remembered that every summer has more quiet disappointments the older I get. No summer has the spirited plot of a coming of age movie I think it will at its start. This was just the annual remembering.
*name has been changed
summer edition, vol. iv
My annual summer playlist, themed to be a soundtrack for a wild but eventually poignant coming of age film. AKA: five hours of meticulously sequenced synthpop, nostalgic new wave, rap bangers, and mid-tempo indie rock this way.
At 25, Bikini Kill’s ‘Pussy Whipped’ Reminds Us We Still Have a Right To Be Hostile
I’M SEEING BIKINI KILL TONIGHT SO HERE’S SOMETHING I WROTE ONCE I HAVE ZERO CHILL.
Please sprint to see this fucking perfect delightful film. Somehow the spectacularly terrible and uncanny valley Will Smith live action Aladdin remake is pummeling it at the box office and that’s NOT COOL. Support female filmmakers; box office returns — not critical cred — are what allow them to keep making movies. If we allow Olivia Wilde to be Ishtar’d in the year of our lordt 2019, I fucking quit. I’d go longer on it here but I already went way too long above. Just go see it.
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