February is the loneliest month. The shortest month. The most miserable month, if we get down to it. All the hope of January abandoned in an apparently endless slog of cold winter days. If you don’t live in more temperate climates, I mean. (Looking at you, California.) I’m fine with this. I’m so fine with this that I’m posting seventeen songs to show you how fine with this I am.
For people who have followed this blog for awhile, you may remember that year when I made mixes every month. (That year was 2012.) Well, I’m doing it again. Finding strength, healing, and discovery through music has always been something I’ve enjoyed and having a monthly structure to the process has been something that I’ve missed over the past year. So let’s start again. Hey January. Hey 2014. Let’s go.
“Some people are good at being in love. Some people are good at love. Two very different things, I think. Being in love is the romantic part—sex all the time, midday naps in the sheets, the jokes, the laughs, the fun, long conversations with no pauses, overwhelming separation anxiety … Just the best sides of both people, you know? But love begins when the excitement of being in love starts to fade: the stress of life sets in, the butterflies disappear, the sex becomes a chore, the tears, the sadness, the arguments, the cattiness … The worst parts of both people. But if you still want that person by your side through all of those things … that’s when you know—that’s when you know you’re good at love.”—Matthew Healy (via ittybitty-world)
It is so easy to lounge on the couch, sink into it, let it envelop you entirely as you lazily click forward onto another episode of whatever show you’ve been meaning to catch up on. Somehow, the invent of instant streaming makes you feel more productive because this is something you have been meaning to do, as opposed to before, when you would be actively disinterested in whatever show was on the television, whatever rerun you stumbled upon, whatever Investigation Discovery reenactment appeared on the screen. But now it’s purposeful, you want to watch this show, you want to be there on that couch, sipping your tea, your wine, your lukewarm Fresca. And it will all happen later, of course, of course you’ll submit those stories and write that book. Of course you will wake up one day invigorated and happy and productive and attending all the yoga you want and writing all those things you’ve always wanted to write. But first you must (of course) buy stuff, of course, and you must make that recipe you found on that blog because that’s something people do, and those people are of course loved and happy and all that, and it’s absolutely imperative that you sit on your couch and watch that show you’ve been meaning to watch. It’s as if there’s a creature on your shoulder just watching you out of sight, saying, “Yes, yes, please doooo, please do nothing, sit here and be complacent because you’re happy, it’s nice here, isn’t it? so nice here, so very nice to just sit and do nothing, it’s like you’re in a dream, a dream where you’re staring off into space and there’s nothing to think about because there’s nothing there, nothing to worry about, you have a job and you don’t have to worry, isn’t this what you wanted? and besides, isn’t it so hard? isn’t it so hard to put in the work? why do the work when you can just sit here and relax and be content? it’s so nice here, isn’t it?”
It’s only when somebody looks at you from the outside, someone that you love, and they say, “Is this the real you?” that the creature hisses and retreats, its soft black edges receding into the folds of the couch that you have to say, “No, this is not what I intended. This is not what I intended at all.” No matter what happens, you are alive, you are free, you are going to do exactly what you’ve always said you will do. It will happen because it must. You must fight against the creature. You must be the person you are going to be.
“You’re not a kid anymore. You have the right to choose your own life. You can start again. If you want a cat, all you have to do is choose a life in which you can have a cat. It’s simple. It’s your right.”—Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (via theriverjordyn)
Googling, “YA book where kid gets a tattoo that says Mom with a rose on it against father’s advice and then it gets infected and deformed and he tries to hide it but at the end he finds out his father has basically the same deformed tattoo.”
This is how you examine wine: tilt it to its side and check for color, clarity, and the weight of the liquid as it drips down the sides of the glass. A white wine will react differently from a red wine. A port will react differently from a…
Have I mentioned that fall is my favorite season? Oh, just like a million billion times since I started this blog? Well, good. So you know. Fall is the best! The air this morning contained this really wonderful brisk chill and it just made me so irrationally happy that I felt like I had to post this mix immediately. So here it is! Fall sweaters and warm cider and crunchy leaves. Fall is the ultimate season for sensory sensations and I love sensory sensations! Fall! Yay! Fall!
Haim - The Wire
The National - Don’t Swallow the Cap
Motopony - Seer
The Rolling Stones - Street Fighting Man
Warren G feat. Nate Dogg - Regulate
The Velvet Underground - There She Goes Again
Yellow Ostrich - WHALE
Genesis - Invisible Touch
Islands - Switched On
Morrissey - The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get
“Think of two people, living together day after day, year after year, in this small space, standing elbow to elbow cooking at the same small stove, squeezing past each other on the narrow stairs, shaving in front of the same small bathroom mirror, constantly jogging, jostling, bumping against each other’s bodies by mistake or on purpose, sensually, aggressively, awkwardly, impatiently, in rage or in love – think what deep though invisible tracks they must leave, everywhere, behind them!”—Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man (via hauntee)
I lived in Manhattan for four years. Now I am living in Brooklyn. I still haven’t really accepted it yet. Every time I walk down the street and see some reference to my new borough, I bristle a little bit. “Brooklyn?” some side of myself says. “Really?”
Which is strange, because I did want to live here. On a certain level, I sought it out. I wanted more space, for one thing. And then there’s the neighborhood itself. There is something so beautiful about life here, something that was inherently missing in the neighborhoods where I lived in Manhattan. It feels more like somewhere you could have a real home, instead of some walk-up where the rent is too high and your landlord doesn’t care about you at all. My new landlady lives in South Carolina and calls me on the phone to tell me that she’s so pleased that we have decided to move in. She has an old school Brooklyn accent, and in my fantasies, she grew up here.
Our bedroom is in the front of the building. The first night we spent in the apartment, the light streamed in and I saw blue skies and green trees. I couldn’t remember the last time I had that view outside of my window. Probably in Dublin, probably in another lifetime. It felt so novel to me. I usually loathe sunlight in the mornings (a conspiracy to wake me up before I’m ready), but that day, despite being spent and aching from our move, I loved it with all my heart.
Not to say that there is no difficulty here. Our first Saturday, we became locked inside when the doorknob, weathered and worn after too many years of use, decided that it had simply had enough of our shenanigans as its new owners and would no longer be of service to us. It was, in other words, the Kreacher of doorknobs.
Here are other things: it takes longer to get to work, it takes longer to get home from work, I don’t know where the best place is to get groceries and I wonder if I will miss my friends in other neighborhoods. And, the answer is, yes, of course. I will miss my friends. But they are only a ride away, thanks to the wonder of New York’s transportation system. Once you get on the train, what’s the difference of a few more stops, really? And not to mention the tremendous amount of people who live in Brooklyn, too.
I will miss Bagel Works on the Upper East Side. That much is certain.
I made my first dinner tonight in the new kitchen — some sort of bacon-y, spinach-y, garlicky pasta creation. It was good. I went to get a bottle of pinot noir to accompany it and I lucked into a free baguette. “You want it?” the guy behind the counter said. “It’s yours.”
We still don’t have a couch, or a dresser, or a wardrobe. We don’t have a TV and we don’t have a coffee table. It feels weird to get to this stage of life and not have those already in my possession, but, then again, I almost feel like I’ve never had a home before. I’ve lived with other people, roommates, who were more aware of how a possession could make a home, and I always just went along for the ride or took whatever the leaving roommate left behind.
But here, we have the whole floor to ourselves. Here, there is only one bed, but there is a lot of room.
At the store tonight, buying the groceries for my impending supper, I spied a basil plant in the produce section. It was $2 for an entire potted basil plant. “Keep it in sunlight,” it instructed. “Make sure it is not too wet or too dry.”
I bought that plant and I took it home. I think we will be very happy.
It was a terrible war. We’ve been quietly living in this tiny space for a year. It has been peaceful. But now we are moving. I mean, not together. I am selling the bed. Not yet, though, are you crazy? I need a place to sleep. But soon. Soon I will sell it.
But before I sell the bed, this Swedish bed, born of Ikea, I must sell other things, like my dresser and my wardrobe. The bed takes up approximately 95% of my tiny Manhattan bedroom, which would make it impossible for me to negotiate my dresser’s escape. So that was that. It had to move. The bed,
however, was having none of this.
That’s when things got violent. I slammed myself into its creaky wood and thumbed the sides of it forcefully into places it has never been before. I am bloodied and bruised. My muscles are weary and stiff. Who knows how the bed is feeling now? But goddammit, I won. My bed is no longer facing the door. It now faces the wall. And the dresser is free to leave.
The impetus for this was a Craigslist jerkwad who never showed up to pick up the dresser anyway, but whatever. Victory is mine.
Summer is quite possibly my least favorite season. It’s too hot and inhospitable almost all of the time. Plus, my birthday is in August, and that’s a terrible time to have a birthday. But I like the excuse to go on vacation. So I’ll take it.
Icona Pop – I Love It (feat Charli XCX)
Lush – Ladykillers
The Notorious B.I.G. - Going Back To Cali (Amended Version)
Beck – Girl
Guided By Voices – Game of Pricks
Handsome Furs – Memories of the Future
Animotion – Obsession
Daft Punk (feat. Julian Casablancas) - Instant Crush
Carousel – Another Day
Goldroom – Fifteen
Vampire Weekend – Unbelievers
Joni Mitchell – Carey
The Cranberries – Linger
TV On the Radio – Staring at the Sun
Nina Simone – Feeling Good
Jay-Z and Kanye West – Otis
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. - If You Didn’t See Me [Then You Weren’t On The Dancefloor]
Bombay Bicycle Club – How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep
When I was younger, my mother kept an American Medical Guide to Your Family’s Symptoms in the house. It looked like this: a sturdy red hardcover book that had lots of fun graphs and charts. I often pulled it out and examined it, over and over and over again, thinking up new ways that I might, possibly, die. For the most part, it would slum in my room, taking needless joyrides with my adolescent anxiety. In that way, it was the pre-cursor to Web MD — glaring flow charts that would tell you when, exactly, symptoms that had revealed themselves meant that you should SEE A DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY, or if you were simply suffering from a case of gas. I think about that book every so often when I’m mindlessly flipping through online forums that are somehow even more alarmist than Web MD (let me tell you about that time I was convinced I had an extremely rare cancer), and miss the gentle, curated reassurance of that trusty red book. Even though it probably told me to eat 10 bagels a day. For, uh, the food pyramid.
AMONG THE WHISPERINGS AND THE CHAMPAGNE AND THE STARS.
by Chad Perman
I can’t handle how quickly modern culture moves. Mostly, I’m simply ill-equipped—needing time to think and reflect and sort out one’s thoughts feels dangerously close to being a handicap in the digital age. But at the same time, I’m in no way immune to the seductive pull of an ever-happening right now, with all the excitement and escapism that provides. I feel the tug of it, but also the need to pull back, Which in the end only leaves me with a kind of free-floating anxiety, an indecisiveness that effectively manages to keep a thing like contentment forever off my menu.
When I saw The Great Gatsby with my mother on Saturday, as part of our early Mother’s Day date, I had an experience with the film that was interesting to me, and I wanted to write about that: how the film I saw was in no way the film I had expected to see, and about how that happens; how I had ended up at a place in my thinking where I had basically already decided I would hate the film before I’d ever seen it; how I had ended up getting the whole thing so completely wrong and how nice that felt, but then, also, how quickly I started to distrust my own judgement on the thing I’d just seen— seemingly because of how I’d felt about it before I’d seen it—and how I started being defensive in my liking almost immediately, despite the fact that there is absolutely nothing wrong with going to a movie on a Saturday afternoon, being swept up in it and marvelously entertained, and that just being that.
But first, before I wrote, I wanted a little time to think more deeply about all of this, to reflect and explore various threads of my experience before trying to pull together an entire essay on The Great Gatsby.
Yet, less than an hour later, I was at the computer trying to write it. And not because I was ready to write about it—I absolutely wasn’t, and have the internet equivalent of a trashcan full of crumpled up paper to prove just that—but rather because I felt I was up against some kind of cultural deadline, and had to get my oh-so-important ideas out into the world, immediately, or risk missing out on the Gatsby conversation altogether. Because the conversation was already going on, all around me. Within 24 hours of the film’s release, it had already been through both critical attacks and then a backlash to those attacks; within 48 hours several insightful thought pieces about the film were already out, and soon after, the weekend box office reports were released, which kicked off another round of debate and conversation about what the film was and if it had succeeded or not. And then the film opened the Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday. For about five days, the internet was obsessed with The Great Gatsby. But soon, signs of Gatsby-fatigue began to set in; people were getting tired of hearing about it. Clearly, the time to have a relevant opinion about the film has just about passed (I mean, James Franco has even written a review of it at this point). As always, there are new things to talk about—Is the new Star Trek movie any good?—and the internet is ready to move on. But the internet is always ready to move on, and that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Wolf-Meyer refers to the practice of going to bed at around eleven o’clock at night and staying there until about seven in the morning as sleeping “in a consolidated fashion.” Nowadays, adults are expected to sleep in this manner; anything else—sleeping during the day, sleeping in bursts, waking up in the middle of the night—is taken to be unsound, even deviant. This didn’t use to be the case. Until a century and a half or so ago, Wolf-Meyer observes, “Americans, like other people around the world, used to sleep in an unconsolidated fashion, that is, in two or more periods throughout the day.” They went to bed not long after the sun went down. Four or five hours later, they woke from their “first sleep” and rattled around—praying, chatting, smoking, or making love. (Benjamin Franklin reportedly liked to spend this time reading naked in a chair.) Eventually, they went back to bed for their “second sleep.”
Wolf-Meyer blames capitalism in general and American capitalism in particular for transforming once perfectly ordinary behavior into conduct worthy of medication. “The consolidated model of sleep is predicated upon the solidification of other institutional times in American society, foremost among them work time,” he writes. It is “largely the by-product of the industrial workday, which began as a dawn-to-dusk twelve-to-sixteen hour stretch and shrank to an eight-hour period only at the turn of the twentieth century.” So many people have trouble getting enough sleep between eleven at night and seven in the morning because sleeping from eleven to seven isn’t what people were designed to do.
“Up All Night”, Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker (via cityography)