hey hi hello
I am so tired. I know I say this almost every week but I AM NEVER NOT EXHAUSTED!!!! Part of this week's extreme "I could pass out at my desk right now" vibes are my own fault, in that I have an exceedingly difficult time saying no to things (like work), so I'm currently basically doing someone else's full time job on top of my own for the next two weeks. I made this mess for myself and I still churned this unasked for email out because my brain is screaming at me to keep all balls in the air at the same time (so please forgive whatever typos/grammatical wtfs happen this week). WOW, I can't wait to talk about why this is a problem for me with my therapist next week!!! But first, CONTENT!
You know the drill. There are words that I wrote below and you will either read them or promptly drag this to your trash. I'm fine with either.
k thanks love you sorry bye,
SOME THOUGHTS I HAVE BEEN THINKING
what is this, a sex and the city monologue?
I like looking at New York from outside. I thought this last week, the sentence leaving my lips quietly in the way that some simple, childlike internal thoughts can’t help but fill up space outside your body, as I sat in the backseat of a cab speeding up the BQE. It was the second time in two weeks Google Maps claimed driving from Lower Manhattan to Williamsburg would be faster than taking the subway and precisely the second time I ended up having to navigate the journey, somehow being the one who knew the landscape better, despite it still being so foreign to me. The nearsighted leading the blind. I was annoyed and I was running late (really, when am I not) and I was trying to answer missed Slacks from dipping out of work early and edit a piece I was working on at the same time, all while shouting out directions to someone I hired based on a presumption that he’d know how to make the simple trip. But somewhere around Brooklyn Heights, I gave up, sighed, and looked out the window as if I had nothing else to do.
There it was, this city of glass sparkling across the river in the golden hour light. It looked so small and fragile from far away, yet simultaneously triumphant and magnificent at the same time and it struck me that I always think this when I’m looking at the city through the vantage point of outside rather than from within. No matter how many years I’ve been here or how many times I’ve seen this view, I’ll always feel a little bit like a kid craning my neck again, temporarily blinded in awe.
I couldn’t help but think about that opening scene from Working Girl, the swell of that kind-of-dumb-but-still-somehow-moving Carly Simon power ballad so emblematic of the late ‘80s playing in my brain. You know the one — let the river run, let all the dreamers wake the nation. Ugh. It’s going to be stuck in my head for the next hour or two, now, but, you know what, it’s fine. Sometimes when I’m sad, when I’m feeling defeated and depleted and hating New York and contemplating what the fuck I’m doing here for the 187th time in the span of what feels like both too many and not enough years, I queue up that opening scene on YouTube and am instantly reminded of all the reasons I came here and all the reasons to stay. Is it a little naive and youthful to still believe — even if not at all times, anymore — in the infinite possibilities I thought New York held when I was younger? Maybe. But it sure keeps me holding out for something — anything — to happen for one more day. Because if anything will happen, it will happen here. Right?
I can’t help but think about the oft-referenced Joan Didion essay, the one of maybe three that the basic millennial girls — the ones carry tote bags printed with her likeness that turn a complex writer into a flattened status symbol for faux-intellectual privileged white girls — have actually read. (ed note: I love and worship Joan Didion and am deeply bothered by this, both as someone who loves treating complicated figures like the multifaceted people that they are and as someone who loathes gets lumped into this group by millennial association only. Anyway. Carry on.)
“[I] knew that I had come out out of the West and reached the mirage,” she wrote, adding: “I knew that it would cost something sooner or later—because I did not belong there, did not come from there—but when you are twenty-two or twenty-three, you figure that later you will have a high emotional balance, and be able to pay whatever it costs.”
I think about Didion’s New York essay every spring like clockwork. Partly because spring is when I’m most foolishly in love with New York, and thus, will read anything about New York, good or bad. Partly it’s because spring is a time of change — the new beginnings it promises have to come at the expense of something else ending. And partly, because it’s not just about New York, but about growing up and getting older, and I can’t help but dwell on that as the days inch closer to me completing another year on this planet.
I’ve been thinking about what it means to belong somewhere lately, especially when that somewhere is somewhere that constantly changes. Places and people that once existed in the flesh now only exist in memory and that’s not stopping anytime soon. Each year I grow older than the 22 and 23 year olds who Didion mused could afford the high emotional cost of this place, yet here I remain. I don’t know if that’s because of my own ignorance or my own stubborn refusal to change. All I know is that I have started to notice that I’m no longer always the youngest one in the room, that I have started to notice how my friends and I now remark with a mix of surprise, disdain, and anxiety in certain bars or cafés or restaurants that the place was packed full with “fucking 24 year olds,” as if that small three or four year difference was an entire generation.
Growing up means our conversations have turned more serious and deep — even new friendships formed now seem to skip straight to the kind of intimacy where we feel free to talk about our shared anxieties. Lately, those conversations start to bring up what or where is next, talking about New York like a place that is only meant to be a temporary home and not a forever one, this place too demanding, the struggle too great and the return not nearly enough for it to be anything more than a bullet on a list of things we can say we tried before we turn 30. The talk of other people leaving fills me with panic. From the time I was 12, my list only ever had New York. I don’t know where else I’d go.
I went for a long, winding run down Riverside Drive last Sunday, trying to relax into a more leisurely pace to take my time notice the subtle ways the scenery changes as the street winds south from Washington Heights to Harlem, Morningside Heights through Upper West Side proper. When I first moved to New York, I stopped running outside altogether for six months, the sheer magnitude of the city and its many tightly-packed streets overwhelming me. I later realized that the size of this place wasn’t a threat at all, but something to take advantage of, plotting new paths day by day, using a run as an excuse to explore. These routes have become like friends over time, changing as I relocate over the years. Moving neighborhoods in New York can be like moving to different continents all together. Friends you spent excessive amounts of time with are now two trains and a cab away and your visits get fewer and farther between — but that doesn’t mean you’re done with them just yet.
On Sunday, I cut in to Riverside Park and itched my eyes after running through cherry and crabapple trees in full bloom, smiled and thought of Nora Ephron when I passed the 91st Street Garden, darted through oncoming traffic where the park splits at 79th and thought that I have not had nearly enough time here to be finished.
STUFF I LISTENED TO
To Chan Marshall: A Letter to Cat Power - Hanif Abdurraqib
Jessica Hopper — the brilliant and trailblazing music journalist (and one of my favorite writers) — is hosting and producing the second season of KCRW’s “excuse me, how dare you, this is extremely my shit” Lost Notes podcast. Here, she’s joined by poet and critic Hanif Abdurraqib (another favorite writer) to talk about how an album can worm its way into your heart and life forever.
“People talk about how a band or a record can save your life. But some records go further; they can teach you how to survive,” Hopper says. Speaking to it, Abdurraqib delivers a spectacular gut punch of a piece of a love letter to artist Cat Power. Maybe you love her. Maybe you only know her heart-wrenching “The Greatest.” Maybe you aren’t even familiar with her at all. Regardless, if Abdurraqib’s piece doesn’t fill your heart with ~feels~ or make your breath catch in your throat when you take a sharp intake of air at the beauty of it all… you probably have a condition that you should probably get checked out.
STUFF I READ
How Bikini Kill Got Back Together - Jenn Pelly
Lately, when I’m sad, I remind myself that I’m seeing Bikini Kill soon in the year 2019. Jenn Pelly ruminating on their reunion and first show in 22 years touches upon so, so many things — the cross-generational power (inspired by the still-performing Raincoats) of seeing feminist punk rockers “of a certain age” declare that they were still here, the continued need for Bikini Kill in 2019, the surreal feeling of being in a massive audience screaming along for the first time to songs that have quite literally gotten you through life — that it’s impossible for me to capture the magic in one blurb. Just go read it.
STUFF I WATCHED
I Think You Should Leave
When I say I had to use my inhaler approximately four times in the span of 30 minutes, I’m truly not exaggerating. I Think You Should Leave had me laughing so hard without reprieve that it *literally* gave me an asthma attack. Absurd, irreverent comedy without a context is, of course, a certain acquired taste — not everyone is going to find this funny. (Here is where I can clearly picture myself doubled over, insisting to my mother “you HAVE to watch this one thing! You HAVE to watch this!” and her reaction being extremely straight faced and unimpressed.) Alas, this sketch taking girls’ unspoken rule of Instagram that “when you post a pic of yourself where you look really cute, you have to say something a little self-deprecating so it doesn’t look like you’re just bragging” to the extreme fully dragged me. If you need any more incentive: It’s on Netflix, it’s only six episodes, and they’re all, like, 15 minutes long. Go forth and laugh so hard you almost throw up, my friends.
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