Before mercury, my blood used to fill thermometers.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

We're in the night kitchen.

Drug idylls make me sad, in that hopeless way of rain and dropped ice cream, because of addict friends and friends whose otherwise harmless times were compromised by their fundamental illegality. That said, I would rather see a broader range of narratives about drugs than the after school special kind, and this contributes to that.

Also, I watched this and the next episode in tandem, so some thoughts begun here will be finished there. Onward!

Girls, Episode Thirteen, "Bad Friend"

Hannah has a career breakthrough! I like the fact that the audience sees this interview, like they saw the one she had last season with Mike Birbiglia. That was a job she really wanted, as opposed to the one in Rich the Lawyer's office, into which she whispered. But from this scene's presence alone, viewers know Hannah wants to work with JazzHate.com. Which is distinct from wanting to work at Birbiglia's nameless trade publication. Naming the entity enables the viewer to empathize with Hannah more directly. "It's only the internet," disclaims the editor, whose name as I understand it is Jame, like Buffalo Bill in Silence of the Lambs. I have not been as keen as others to count the horror film references, but those references are stacking. Hannah really is more scared than anybody.

Two hundred dollars an article could pay my rent, by the way. I wonder what kind of dent that makes in Hannah's finances. I don't wonder about that as deeply as I do about the threesome article idea as Jame* pitches it to Hannah. The fact that Hannah opts for the other idea - doing a bunch of coke - seems to me like she does not quite know where her comfort zone really is. That is very Hannah, to not know how to locate comfort. An aside: I hate that term and employers who can only parrot the cliche associated with it. Such people do not have the equipment to determine and capitalize on their employee's strengths. But Hannah knows more than this woman. I am not worried. I am just projecting intensely personal feelings onto this TV show.

* - oh I just got it right now as I wrote it. Is this supposed to be, you know, who Val was based on in Daria? The only remark I intend to make here is: what a legacy.

Wow, also, adults. This is my oversight, they've been in every episode, but the adults this season are making more of an impression on me. There is a difference: by and large, last season, although there was tension between the titulars and the adults, the adults also did not seem incapable of being on the same page as them for lack of sanity. Jeff was deluding himself, Hannah's parents lacked objectivity, Rich was a pig - but they were all painted very soberly. So far this season there's been Marnie's psychotic mom, Laurie Simmons who miromanages her three-minute scene to death (beautifully - I really enjoy watching her), and now Jame, who doesn't know what she's talking about.

I will wait until the season wraps to judge the next scene. Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna have a flash vintage boutique - the name of which is anticipated by Adam at the end of the previous episode - erected outside Marnie and Shoshanna's apartment, on the stoop. The conception of this idea and why all three are roped into it, I can only wonder. While Shoshanna's claustrophobic behavior is illumined in the next episode, Marnie's involvement in this enterprise would have more of a context after the events of the next episode. But la! Maybe Marnie takes her get-up-and-go for granted. After all, the end of this episode is pretty obliterating.

Hannah's purpose in dropping by is to see if she can get cocaine from a friend. None of them have any suggestions except for Marnie, who of course was on cordial terms with everyone in their building, all of whom Hannah probably never looks in the eye. One of these creatures is Laird, who is a junkie. "How do you know?" "He told me," Marnie says, in much the same tone of voice as Jessa in episode eleven when she admonishes Hannah for her unawareness. "You'd know that if you read a newspaper. Just read one newspaper." This Jessa/Marnie twinning - I will get there.

Laird, as played by Parks and Recreation's councilman Jamm, demonstrates straight away that he is a Hannah fan of stalkery proportions. The line he treads between being so worth it to be around - like when he says, of his turtle, "he can be a real asshole sometimes" - and absolutely unnerving - "I don't know if you can hear me up there but I can hear you" - that once he reveals that he is clean and Hannah still inquires after the whereabouts of some cocaine, they break weirdly even. The scene is ultimately the episode's least sinister involving a man and woman alone. Laird's whole way with Hannah reminds me a lot of her old boss, Rich, except for the fact that Laird is vehemently, comprehensively into her and makes no physical overtures. They are very alike, though, in that they keep enough ambiguous that Hannah's reciprocation in any way they can pick up and call consent and an understanding of the situation. Something I didn't go into much detail on in episode eleven for all the feelings it endowed was the scene when Hannah locked Rich (another batshit adult) out of the party. He tells her she is not a sweet girl and she takes substantial offense. In season one, when Marnie told Hannah, going home, to be nice to her parents, Hannah shouted, "I'm the nicest!" That willingness to judge things on their own terms is an important part of Hannah's self-concept. That woman should prioritize being "nice" so highly - as opposed to aware, safe, and free to react appropriately to situations where rage and hurt are felt - is gross and real. I'm glad it's a problem Hannah has and one that Dunham, for all her seriously keen nuances, would do well to go a little heavy-handed on if she ever wanted to blare that point to people who don't read Girls episodes as closely as others do.

Marnie, however, winds up in the claws of Booth! Jonathan! He of the bathroom-whack-off fantasy is back, carousing at Marnie's new place of employ. She takes the observation about her new job to a pessimistic, grumbly place where he can celebrate her surrender in the face of poor prospects for aspiring curators. She responds by taking him down a peg as an artist, which he likes. Her argument strikes this reviewer as sound and correct as far as an opinion goes. This reviewer remains sad that instead of being derivative of Damien Hirst, Booth is not derivative of Jeff Koons, York, PA native.

Elijah joins Hannah on her coke adventure. His every line in this scene is inspired, and the way he builds the picture of a suburban high - I wonder if his character is not also meant to have studied writing at Oberlin. His desire for this to be the kind of night where they punch Disney show stars is part of a chorus of characters getting aggressive with their past through tokens of it - the "children's death games" of which Booth speaks when he shows Marnie a dollhouse version of the Shining. The high begins with Hannah and Elijah in their living room, Elijah rubbing Hannah's shoulders, both of them talking - in that classic way indicative of amphetamine use - about what they want in terms of aspirations. Elijah's desire seems a little played for laughs and inspired by Christopher Guest. Hannah's seem to be genuine and associated with a thoroughly branded adulthood. When it comes to her writing their ramblings down, she writes Elijah's desires but not her own. There is a realm beyond her comfort zone.

In Booth's studio, Marnie is no longer critical of him. I am curious as to how sincere her praise is that she delivers after being locked in a chamber of TVs playing macabre loops while Duncan Sheik's one hit plays. Booth leaves her - going full on Bowie in the Man Who Fell to Earth - which, it doesn't come to that, but I hoped - and her appraisal seems a little strategic and hopeful, not as sharp as the judgments she passes on Hannah. I think Marnie is channeling Hannah's willingness to say yes here, to see what happens if she gives into the bad art and judges something on its own terms.


Hannah has said yes - yes to power clashing, yes to switching shirts, yes to more coke, yes to Icona Pop, yes to jerky at points unspecified. Something about Hannah dancing that I love is the way that in those moments I see how great it is that Dunham can metabolize her present and use it now instead of waiting until it crystallizes and distorts into nostalgia. For all the references to the past, in this episode, it is not driven by nostalgia: it's haunted. I like that this isn't a dissection or romanticization (not a word, do not make it one) of another time. Since December I've been reading books like the Receptionist and the Best of Everything and just finished another round of Mad Men re-views (AHHHHH) - I enjoy a good measure of old New York romanticism. I also love feeling like now is good, and there are many moments like this one when the characters' location is not at the forefront of my mind.

The cut from Elijah and Hannah's euphoric dance to the next scene made me scream! Every time I watched it it made me scream! Elijah and Marnie's episode eleven encounter was called awkward by other critics. I do not agree with that in the first place, but compared to this sex, that sex was exciting. When I took French for the last time after studying it for over a decade, finally a professor alerted me that my use of "excitement" was excessive and creepy since, en Francaise, it has an exclusively sexual meaning. Because he was so afraid to address that with me - he was small and polite and gave me a free pass on a quiz when I couldn't take it because I was crying so much because my brain was so diminished that I could not think of the word yellow (to which he said "well, Kari, sometimes the sun is red," which I loved) SO NOW when I say something is exciting, it never means anything else.

Booth has Marnie in the starfish position. He did say when they met that the first time they had sex, he might scare her - way to call it, BJ. I am enraptured by what he says, what he asks her to do, his whole attitude. I'm not going to tell you! I'm going to make you see it! Afterwards Marnie dissolves into such appropriate cackles. Every moment she's with Booth is closely cut with Hannah and Elijah's escapades. With a Grease allusion, Elijah unleashes the information about his encounter with Marnie. Their storylines are primed to converge as Marnie informs Hannah via text that she is at Booth's place.

Elijah bebops down a pharmacy aisle and declares, "We're in the night kitchen," and a sound comes out of me that isn't human. They bust Laird for his not so stealthy stalking and, as if this really were a jovial adventure - of the Don Bluth variety maybe more than Maurice Sendak - they tell him to come along to Booth's if he's following them anyway (also, Laird gives Elijah heroin - hang onto the fact because - not here, but later - it will make a Chekhovian reappearance, at least in spirit). I enjoy the detail that Hannah drops about Marnie making her walk back and forth in front of Booth's house when earlier in the episode, Marnie walked past his house without knowing what it was. She's not such a skilled stalker either.

First: I love the fact that Booth does not intervene or have any qualms about the drug-addles kids and Laird in his house. Second: Hannah and Marnie have a sequel to their season one fight in the home of an artist, calling back to the staged quality of that fight. "We can keep being friends as long as you know you're the bad one." This seems like the drugs until Hannah lucidly informs Elijah that he is no longer welcome in their apartment. She accuses Marnie of lying to her with her eyes, lying by saying nothing about having sex with Elijah. Just like their other one, this is a fight about non-communication. This is so subtle. But Marnie and Hannah really don't speak the same language. Here, though, they are both aware of it, and their non-communication is both the occasion and the content of their fight. Although the "you are the wound" element is here, Marnie's conceding to the title might give way for them to realize that's not what they're fighting about.

Laird, who has probably seen "children's death games," urges Hannah out of Booth's house. Back at the apartment building, Hannah lays into Laird "just for tonight, for work." Elijah's gone, and he was her way of hanging onto that feeling of being worshiped - recall that Elijah, in the wake of their college breakup, was both the instigator and inconsolable. Laird actually worships her, which is a little too much for Hannah, but it is great material - and my gosh, she won't have to write any of it down. He'll remember it all in detail.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Meet my small business, Résumé Therapy.

www.resume-therapy.com / askresumetherapy at gmail dot com

Meet my small business! It's called Résumé Therapy, and it's there to provide some relief to the arduous task of applying for jobs.

Some things about Résumé Therapy:
  • Adrienne Wolter, videographer extraordinaire, named it, and on our next visit to Earth, we're going to shoot a commercial for it.
  • For those whose browsers do not jive with the accents, Resume Therapy is the name. The accents, you see, are necessary.
  • I'm putting my biography and qualifications up on the site this week, but I must add: I would not pursue this if my going success rate did not merit it.
  • To wit, my rates reflect the needs of my clientele:
    • $3 Consultation: I will review your preexisting résumé and/or cover letter and provide notations and suggestions.
    • $6 Optimization: I will take your preexisting résumé and/or cover letter and, instead of making suggestions, will fix it manually and return it to you fully re-energized.
    • $11 Creation: I will take the raw material you submit (unwieldy work history, rambling skills list, the coveted job listing) and make you a résumé and/or cover letter!
    • I can't stress the cover letter portion enough - my skills shine here. While I'm doing these things, you can read or nap or skip rope or whatever you need to do to work off the tension created by scrutinizing applications.
  • I am also a mock interview commander. That might be the next step.
The decision to launch Résumé Therapy came from a few places:
  • Everywhere I've worked, I've met smart, articulate, talented people who were in the same sad, weird jobs as me and too vulnerable to think about what they had going for themselves in terms of skills and experience to present that in a meaningful way to potential employers. Most of the best friends I've made since college, I've made by helping them with their résumés. These are educated people in fields like education, marketing, government, arts administration, commercial art - and these people have jobs.
  • I'm so happy they have jobs! But I could not find one that I fell in love with. I had a windfall and a chance to figure out what that might be. This is it.
  • There are a lot of job-seeking resources that emphasize integration into the workplace, which is very good and many people need to understand it is a different culture. But it is a culture that is prone to perpetuating a feeling of alienation. For those who understand what the workplace entails, Résumé Therapy is there to reassure that they are still a person with unique qualifications and merit unto themselves. I am not judging anyone's readiness for the reality of the workplace, I am supporting their dreams that have everything to do with the kind of person they are.
  • I hate scams. I don't have any special certificates and I am not a career expert. I really love talking to people about what they want. I spend all my time professionally and most of my time personally determining if the text that I and others write fulfills its purpose as concisely and effectively as possible. I think of what is presented to me from as many angles as possible. I want to help people, not seem like I know things and am a step ahead of them. I want to support people.
  • I want to do it. I am exhausted from not doing what I want. I know there are many other people who are, also. Those are the people for whom Résumé Therapy exists.
It is brand new, it is noteworthy, but this space is not one for constant infomercials about my business. I'll remark on highlights and milestones, though, particularly because of the fact that Résumé Therapy is, at its Helvetica-condensed-bold heart, about how résumés are representative of real people, and I am the person behind this professional entity. And I have very fun ideas for it.

"You are an entrepreneur." - my best friend's step-dad on Facebook. That is one for the business card.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Paradise wife.

This season, only two episodes in - sweeping pronouncements two episodes in are not my thing, which is why television-recapping itself is not my thing - that is, I cannot consider every new development to be the definitive development, I am overwhelmingly aware of how I'm seeing only links on a chain - there has been talk among those I respect at Dear Television of a heavy shift towards bleakness. In the last season, Hannah got a wake-up call from her internship at a publishing house. This fantasy of living in New York and working in publishing in which she'd been immersed for two years collapsed, and she plunged into the arms of her friends. Because relying on people like Marnie for emotional support is not sustainable, and because she made some headway with Adam and with work at Cafe Grumpy, Hannah was just getting her footing when Marnie reached her breaking point and she shied away from Adam's intensity. Hannah is all-in, and right now her reserves of venom for those who claim to be there for her, even if they aren't cartoon-villainy obvious, are absolutely front and center.

Girls, Episode Twelve, "I Get Ideas"

Elijah's and Marnie's tryst is a terrible secret they must keep from Hannah at all costs, but Elijah does tell George, who seems to sever their relationship. Since George financially supports Elijah, Elijah is poised to retaliate socially just like Hannah has. I have no doubt he will do so with aplomb.

Adam sends Hannah what is later revealed to be an album of songs recorded on video during which he looks - presumably for the length of the album - directly into the camera, devastated. "Standing outside, not making a sound, creeping around, you destroyed my heart. Thanks." Elijah watches the videos with her and in an attempt to be reassuring prompts Hannah to accuse him of believing that Adam did not love her enough to murder her for destroying his heart. So far, Elijah and Hannah's relationship has demonstrated an artificiality that represents the hope that there is a person there to still meet and that they both could turn out to mean other things to each other, which is a very human thing to do. It just happens that these humans are very toxic, and here Hannah is projecting Marnie onto Elijah. I wonder if the sleeping bag she's wearing as an outfit is an attempt to bait a critique of her appearance out of him.

Lena Dunham's mother makes a cameo appearance as an art world persona interviewing Marnie. Two things: 1) I enjoy Laurie Simmons like crazy - her cadence, her observations, everything about her reminds me of my best friend's mother, and 2) I have been in this job interview, and watching this was visceral. Simmons' character knows she's from New Jersey - I wonder if this is on Marnie's resume. I wonder if she has her home address listed in lieu of her own real apartment. These are the details that I prioritize. I am very interested in the job interview as a form or genre. Since I don't believe Simmons' character will recur, I'm sorry the audience won't get to observe whether her stunt - putting her assistant on the spot in front of Marnie for over-steeping her tea - was purely one of establishing dominance or honestly a characteristic of her personality, apart from pretense. But since this is probably the last we'll see of her, I will call it and say she's a crazy person and I'm glad Marnie - even Marnie - won't be in her hands. She acknowledges Marnie's qualifications, how bright she is, her swank Ann Taylor suit, but she "does not see [her] in the art world."

Marnie has words about this that coast over Shoshanna and Ray, who are the picture of postcoital enrapturement. If Shoshanna's pronouncement to Ray that she wishes he could have gone to camp with her was met with anything but the transcendent smile that Ray wears here, I would have reacted with unquantifiable negativity. The subject of their conversation is bathing pigs. Small though it is, this scene, like the others between Ray and Shoshanna, depict a quality of relationship no one else on the show has. Although this is the first moment of them as a genuine couple, they are not talking strictly about one another - they're not projecting or treating each other like other people - they're talking about doing something together. So this decision to bathe pigs is made, of course, as Marnie walks in to extinguish the rapture. She is crushed by the insidious extinction of her dream job. Ray's observation about the number of curators in the world and Shoshanna's counter-observation about the number of pop stars in the world made my heart soar. Shoshanna, I surmise, has caught onto Marnie's Marnie-ing ways just as Audrey now is wise to Charlie's terminal clinginess. This scene recalls the pilot dinner party where Ray sounded off about student loan debt and how Hannah should work at McDonald's. He is not so punishing here, tempered by love, but does take a moment to celebrate the asset that is Marnie's bachelor's degree. I have to confess a personal weakness about those who study art history - that is, I have prepped a dear friend and art historian for jobs, and her overqualification for them went way beyond the degrees she held. It is this impulse that makes me want - way, way more than I ever feel for Hannah - to take Marnie and coach her at interviews and get her a job. This is delirium. It will go away. "I'm not attracted to you at all because I know you," Ray says, bringing me back to my senses. I can't believe I just wrote that.

Jessa and Thomas-John populate the screen at last - she at her easel, he shirtless in a fedora. They have matching tattoos and a view out of Sex and the City. Thomas-John negs Hannah who runs away with his neg until he leaves. He does not leave before giving Jessa a present: three wee puppies named Garbage, Fucker, and Hanukkah. I have all the faith that the sublimity of this arrangement will implode with appropriate grandeur. For now I enjoy Jessa lounging, proclaiming this to be "what it's like when the hunt is over." I think when Hannah listens to Jessa, she really wants Jessa to be right. I think when Jessa listens to herself, she really wants to be right, and feels being right begins with pronouncements. She gives credence to willing things into being - like love - and does not trust what she does not implement - like love. One time a good friend of mine went on a quality, morning-traffic spiel about how she did not trust fate and felt very compelled to give it a hand. This reminds me of Jessa, even though the character goes to such lengths to say you only have to be concerned with the compatibility of your rising signs, I don't have to worry because a fortune teller told me I'll live to be a hundred and five. These sorts of tensions are real concerns for those who've had something befall them, and they have two choices: it happened because of forces beyond my control, or I made it happen. Sometimes one is preferable to the other. Where to place the blame is always the focus.

Jessa makes an allusion to only painting (until now) what she hates, like her mother. She mentioned last season that she would lie as a child to strangers and describe a positive relationship with her mother that doesn't exist. How this manifests in her relationships now is so rich and effectively woven, and I say so in order to express my appreciation for how the characters have been rendered, what details have been revealed and how so much is proven instead of expositioned and how characters' exposition is used to demonstrate their distrust or dysfunction about themselves and their relationships. I take this moment before examining the next scene.

Earlier in the episode, Hannah and Sandy shared another gentle rom com interlude, this one crashed by Elijah and his distaste for Sandy's conservative ethical and political leanings. The audience gets all of this information from Hannah and Elijah, including Sandy's stance on gun control and gay marriage. Nothing is proven onscreen by Sandy that his beliefs compromise Hannah's ability to enjoy their relationship at the stage it's in, but when they sit in his apartment later, blithely making out, she makes a deal-breaking to-do about his politics through which she makes a b-line for the issue of race. This is painstakingly obvious in its function, this assertion that his political and ethical values are antithetical to the plight of the black man - see last season's boss-capades with Rich the lawyer.

What provokes this behavior is Sandy's failure to be impressed by Hannah's essay. A quick digression: when Hannah and Jessa were cuddling puppies, Jessa galvanized Hannah by saying Sandy not reading her essay is intolerably disrespectful. She says, "Thomas-John looks at my paintings the moment I show them to him." Dunham knows the art world, and growing up around an art that is immersive and immediate with gifts that require the time, patience, and an appreciation for cause-and-effect - I don't assume to know what Dunham thinks about, but this is something I trust has crossed her mind where Girls reviews are concerned. Critiques such as this demonstrate what a different thing it is to critically evaluate a television show - as opposed to a painting - that is a story-in-progress that. Until very recently, on an episode-by-episode basis, things were more consistent with episodes created with a mind to continuously accommodate potential first-time viewers. Fearing the show is "about" a liberal airhead is reflective of TV's past when decisions and characteristics were catalysts for hijinks at best. The trappings of Girls are all red-herrings - their cash-strapped-ness, their uncommodifiable BAs - because the cards are stacked in their favor. The tension comes from within. The titulars belonging to the race and class they belong to show that this is the insurmountable obstacle in sharpest relief - while their coping mechanisms and impulses transcend socioeconomics, they can afford to have themselves be the central conflict. See: Mad Men. But Don Draper is a man who demonstrates a range from proficiency to brilliance in certain aspects of his professional life. There are things at risk for Don that are external and sympathetic: the agency, his family. Hannah only has herself, and she is not a mature adult who has achieved something to risk yet, and she is female.

Right now, her actions reveal not much in the way of concern for whether or not she is imperiled. In behavior that is perfectly characteristic of Hannah, her inability to confess how wounded she is that Sandy did not find her essay a reason to be with her - which is what I would argue the problem is, as opposed to how he is not thrilled by the essay - compels her to divert those feelings full-steam towards the worst and most concretely devastating places possible. His politics are an easy target, but referring to his race is her deeply twisted way of acknowledging that that is the kind of base, merciless territory his refusal to love her as an artist has dragged them into. This is probably the first time, I believe, Hannah is seeing herself go to a place like this over feelings about her art. All ready she's found herself with no money in a merciless city as she prioritizes being a writer. Now she sees what else she'll do where that's concerned, and I'm not shocked by what force is exposed in her when her artistic ability is challenged. Adam is greatly diminished in her mind for his behavior in episode nine. I anticipate that as Hannah gets breaks, the reactions of others will provoke even bigger responses from her.

Lines of her squabble with Sandy have been singled out for their meta-relationship to Girls and its critics. Acquiescing to critics' wish lists would be deadening and produce nothing in the way of what the medium requires. Like Sandy, I remain steadfast: I continue the feel the way that I did when I wrote the Girls Gestalt Review of Season One about how the accusations of racism were handled. I feel that where Girls innovates, especially as a comedy, makes it worthy of that scrutiny. I believe the substance of this implosion was Hannah's woundedness over the essay and that Sandy's politics and how they relate to his race constitutes a red herring. But at the same time, they are not red herrings: Hannah does not have the equipment to manage them. She punctuates the outburst by asking Sandy, whose race, ethics, politics, and emotional intelligence she has just insulted, if he wants to continue their sexual relationship. He says no, and she says good, because blue balls is just another concept she gives no credence to, just like the rest of his beliefs. The scene is effectively appalling. As of the next scene, she includes Sandy's stand on women's rights as a factor in their breakup. Imagine if the person in Sandy's position was female and the person in Hannah's position was male.

Lots is being said about how dour this season has begun, how particularly grim or sad it all is, how unfriendly. Regarding the protagonist, Hannah is suffering full-on double rainbow all the way across the sky a case of the kind of thing for which, were she real and a friend, I'd refer her to a professional. Not because of the magnitude of the trauma but her reactions that measure the extent of the wound. I'm not into evaluating what one thing sucks more than another and do not qualify trauma. Like Adam told her, "Don't minimize." But unlike Marnie's breakup with Charlie, it isn't the injury Adam incurred yelling at her and his subsequent behavior. I think that probably comes as a kind of relief to Hannah because she can justify the way taking care of Adam consumes her life, when what she has on her mind does not seem like it justifies the extent of her bad feelings. It's the end of her relationship with Marnie that has twisted all the other relationships to fill a void that was not wholly good. Marnie is a toxic, abusive friend. Hannah's playing that out across her other relationships, and this is evident when Marnie tries to step back into Hannah's life.

Marnie drops by in her uniform - she is now a hostess at a club - of the country variety, I gather, not the "you'll find me in the" variety - and Hannah does not congratulate her. She shuts her down with the same kind of criticism Marnie practices on her. It's undercut by a joke made by Hannah about her appearance versus Marnie's, although not exactly of the stripe observed in the pilot. Where Hannah once bemoaned the tragedy that she was always naked and Marnie was never naked, here Hannah asserts while eating whipped cream that she, unlike Marnie, low-paying job aside, has never cashed in on her sexuality. Even though she's right there - just like Hannah said in the last episode to Marnie's accusations about distance, "I'm right here," - Marnie is gone. She's in Hannah's place now, her dreams seeming unattainable and her skill set uninspiring. Hannah still needs a Marnie, and so she will be one.

A distinction that interests me is Hannah's failure versus Marnie's. Hannah hasn't made it as a writer, but her qualifications are gloriously dubious. Marnie, on the other hand, demonstrates a confidence in her ability as a professional that I believe comes from the tangible. She did have a gallery job where she excelled. Both of them are in pursuit of difficult fields, but Marnie is posited to blame the state of Art more squarely than Hannah can chalk up the insularity of writing and publishing to her failures when it seems like she might not write so well. I love the fact that the audience does not definitively know if her writing is good or not. I hope we don't find out or have to judge. I feel that way now, anyway. I am open to change.

The ending concerns Adam's infiltration of Hannah's apartment. Adam Driver delivers a monologue that includes the phrase "my man-life" and acts with heretofore unseen playfulness complicated by his very typical disrespect for Hannah's space. When she chases him, when he refuses to leave, Hannah stumbles over something - a chair, I think, or a trashcan, and Adam slows down in order to warn her to watch out. It's an assertion of dominance, the way he can slow down and tell her to watch out, like he is coaching her on how to fight. The chase ends with him at the door and Hannah has to jump against him, pushing him, yelling "go away!" It reminds me of the scene with Marnie. Not for any sophisticated reason, but I do think that the exorcism of feeling isn't completely focused on Adam. If it was, I think the way the scene ends would have been as woeful as the season one finale. I wonder how much I'm projecting here. When I watched this I thought Hannah would be the kind of person who, given the chance, especially with someone who once perceived her as cute, who persists in doing so, would prove herself to be a harsh fighter. But she bounces against him in a very feeble, childish way, and the effect made me very upset. I've been that diminished and felt that helpless. I don't want to fight, I just want to be heard.

I am interested, also, in Adam calling her "milk maid" when this is one of the shots that have circulated in this season's promotion:

Look at the sign.

This episode has the distinction of being the first not written by Lena Dunham. It was written by executive producer Jenni Konner, who had the distinction, as a script doctor specializing in the fleshing out of female characters, of going to work on Transformers 4.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's just like, I watched Midnight in Paris, and I thought, I was like, I could do that.

The airing of Girls' first season coincided with alarming shifts in my own life, and engaging with the show - critically and otherwise - mostly otherwise - was a positive aspect of that. Things got markedly worse after the finale aired. I didn't believe there was any kind of causal relationship there, but I have been looking forward to the second season with more than the usual verve. I couldn't access the Golden Globes, but that did not keep me from going fifty shades of bananas over both wins for Lena Dunham and Girls. I'm glad to have this thing that is pure fun back in my life.

Girls, Episode Eleven, "It's About Time"

It is.

The opening shot echoes the pilot, when Marnie and Hannah woke up together, spooning, grumbling awake and inarticulately groping for the alarm. That kind of sub-psychic, pre-verbal exchange was very appropriate for Marnie and Hannah, but here Hannah wakes up, and she is little spoon to Elijah's big spoon. She was Marnie's big spoon before. That's no coincidence.

Her exchange with Elijah - her college boyfriend who has since come out as gay - is in complete sentences. Last season, they reunited under deceptivly civil pretences that disintegrated around her accusing him of giving her HPV and his admission that their relationship had been founded on his denial of his homosexuality. Now they're getting to know each other again. There is still a little politeness left, at least in as far as there is still a chance for one to make the other think they are a certain way - better, an improvement upon their college selves. He says, "I'm sorry I have a boner. It's not for you." I'll touch on this (pun intended?) more with regards to Adam, but after last season - with Hannah adventuring into her relationship with Adam while her friendship with Marnie was reduced to such rote "you're this way, I'm that way"-ness that their arguments transcended verbal transactions and became pure "I can't even" (it's been so dismissed, but there is a lot going on in their final fight scene, especially when Marnie talks about Hannah's "shameful secret" - it doesn't land because it doesn't make sense because they don't communicate anymore, they just press each other's buttons) - this episode forecasts the prioritization of honesty and plainness. Hannah would rather his boner not be for her, that's why she can enjoy being his little spoon - as opposed to last season, she knows where she stands.

Shoshanna ritually cleanses her apartment - which, perhaps for new roommate Marnie's influence, is still hyper-feminine but a touch more realized as a living space. It's still mostly a bedroom, but now I understand how it's an apartment and not just a bedroom, specifically a bedroom in a Delia's catalog. Lena Dunham made reference to the Delia's catalog in the season one, episode six commentary and I thought that was a sharp detail. The scene in this episode, with Shoshanna waving some kind of smoke-emitting wand around her bed, is dreamy, her movements are very dancerly, and from casual viewing distance, I could not tell if she was speaking her lines or if they were a voice-over. Shoshanna thanks the universe for the gifts she has "all ready received," including "a keen mathematical mind." This is occasion to wonder something I wonder about anyone I know who is or was a student: what does Shoshanna study? Is she an aspiring engineer? I hope.

At least part of the reason she performs her ritual is to request that the universe, in addition to illuminating the path best suited for her, might destroy Ray. It's great - I don't feel like I have to catch up. Shoshanna's prayer is perfectly in context with her approach to the journey to sexual maturity. I feel caught up. I love Shoshanna-logic.

The first sight of Marnie this season is of her being laid off. Laid off as it is distinct from being fired* - Marnie can be safely let go by her boss - who last season called her a "power house" and "Jackie O." - because Marnie will land on her feet. Since her boss had sex with the other employee, who was glimpsed and established as inept in a blink last season, she can't risk a lawsuit. This rhymes humorously with Hannah's last-season attempt to manage her boss' sexual harassment so that it might work to her advantage. Hannah's boss did not want to let go of Hannah because, despite her madness, she demonstrated the potential to be a good worker. Marnie's boss is comfortable letting her go because Marnie has demonstrated that she is a good worker.

Marnie's boss then asks her into a boutique so she can try on scuba-fabric pants that Marnie can appraise as crazy or otherwise. This is bad. Anything as bad as this could drive Marnie back into the arms of her estranged best friend, but the fact that Hannah maintained a sense of control and accountability over her employment-fiasco now looks enviable to Marnie, and Marnie does not wear envy well. She would be wise to acknowledge that Hannah is equipped to deal with this kind of setback and therefore accept that she needs Hannah's help, but Marnie is not wise. She is the kind of person who has let someone think she doesn't have to be worried about to the extent that her take on scuba-pants is asked for and expected moments after she is rendered unemployed.

* - I understand Marnie's conflation of being laid off versus being fired because she's hurt, and I don't know how it differs across states, but in my experience, those are not things to actively confuse. To wit, many reviewers of this episode took for granted that Marnie's boss was herself sugar-coating a firing, which is not quite a thing. If there were just cause to fire Marnie - if she spilled Yoohoo on a print, even a lesser print - I don't believe her boss would have spared a second in firing her.

Before that, Donald Glover ("I was like 25 when I found out that my name was Donglover! I was a grown man...I paid bills. I was surprised no bullies ever put two and two together.") has arrived! "You've wanted it and now you're getting it," he says. A canny observation! Many reviewers have stated how much of his appearance in this episode comes off as meta. Within the context of the episode and its titular reference to time, Hannah could not have been waiting for long for him, specifically, but she was aware mid-first-season of the necessity of a man who was interested in her and respected her, and for all the sensibility she espouses, I can't imagine Hannah not leaping into the physical side of things with abandon enough to feel, in that moment, here he is, I have been waiting.

Re: that sensibility. Glover's character, Sandy, pursues Hannah through Spoonbill & Sugartown Booksellers in a rom-com inspired vision of a nerd date. "I'm so glad I ran into you at Grumpy's," he tells her. She says, "I'm so glad you accepted that thing that I claimed was a macchiato but was really three kinds of syrup and SODA WATER." He loves, he says, how weird she is, and she shuts him down for saying love. She vows that she will not be the person she was with Adam with him, adding a telling, stray detail. Although she says she won't show up at his house in the middle of the night, which was something Hannah despaired of doing with Adam, as it exposed so much weakness and willingness to be taken for granted, she also says she won't throw a party and introduce him to her friends. She told Adam she didn't want him to meet her friends, either. She has not wholly changed as a result of Adam, although she wants to enjoy thinking that that is the case exactly. Sandy points out that none of her initiatives are about who she is, though - they are about who Adam is. Hannah does not fully agree with him until later in a hopeful moment. Still, before that, there is much more!

The jovial scene with Sandy, lit with the storefront window, is juxtaposed with the dark of Adam's room, lit by a TV he is ignoring. Hannah is rapt, looking unguarded. So far, this episode levels-up her scantily-clad-ness significantly, nudity not-even-withstanding. Hannah is not dressing in the interest of anybody but herself. Even though her clothes have been mismatched and ill-fitting, her outfits have at least looked considered, very likely with the intent to avoid remarks from Marnie. Now Hannah doesn't have to worry about that. She doesn't have to worry about appealing to Adam. She isn't worried about being sized-up by others for work right at this moment. As fleetingly as that might change, all the more reason to say whatever and wear short-shorts and loafers.

Hannah is a fan of musicals. My mom watches the show because Hannah reminds her of me. Any resemblance that may be observed, henceforth, will dwell in the shadow of this. She knows I have a phobia of musicals. I'm going to pivot a disclaimer on this revelation and say that if I'm wrong about everything, it's because this quality in a person (loving musicals) is one that I lack the equipment to comprehend and maybe I'm missing or wrong about every point ever in regard to Girls.

Hannah is still hanging out with Adam because she feels responsible for the leg that he broke - femur and all, it seems - when he was hit by a car while screaming at her, an occasion sparked by Hannah's blithe dismissal of the deep well of his love and commitment. She acknowledges plainly that they are no longer boyfriend and girlfriend, a status she once coveted beyond her ability to articulate it. She did not think that she was headed toward a relationship with him and was constantly embarrassed and ashamed with the force of her desire for him, but after forcing the issue of his remoteness when they saw each other at the Buschwick party, it did not take long for Adam's desire to overwhelm Hannah. Now when she points out they are no longer boyfriend and girlfriend, he says he doesn't care about labels. "You're here all the time. You're my main hang. If you need to not have the title for a while I'm not going to freak out." When Hannah tries to say it's not about the title, Adam defends their well-documented, voracious sex life. He says he's never known someone so well and assumes she has not either. In this respect, I think he is underestimating the reserve of knowledge of humans Hannah has as a result of her years with Marnie.

An aside: in any scene where Hannah watches Marnie while she talks, I think about the remark - I can't remember where I read it - about how when Nietzsche wrote about the human condition, he overwhelmingly had Wagner in mind because their every interaction - to use the parlance of our times - was so WTF.

I would have a hard time believing that in this scene, Hannah isn't thinking about the time Marnie said Hannah's never been loved "this much" compared to the way Marnie herself was loved by her ex, Charlie. The only person who ever loved Hannah that much, Marnie is quick to amend, is her. "I came. You came hard. We all laughed. What's the issue?" Adam asks. She says he isn't nice to her. "When you love someone," he says, "you don't have to be nice all the time."

It is a quack remark, but it is Adam's most vulnerable moment yet. Not treating Hannah with respect is wrong, but he is a person for whom the ability to be emotionally honest - which may never have been the case ever in his life - is vital. He has a good reason to be angry with her, but his inability to confront that is caught up in this sentiment. She hurt him and he can tell her that, and the freedom he has to tell her she's messed up and the fact that she can take it and demonstrate some resilience, makes the issue of parting ways not so cut and dry as it might be for other people. Hannah gets back on the bed, but she does not get comfortable. She was honest with him, and it didn't get her anywhere. After so much going along in order to see what happens, speaking up might seem like magic, but it's not.

The next scene reinforces their communication breakdown. Unfortunately, it is only for the sake of a pee-gag. Maybe this is cracked, but even though it was his anger with Hannah that compelled Adam into the street where the truck hit him, I do not fully buy that Hannah is moved purely by guilt for Adam's injuries as much as she is moved by the tectonic force of how personally he took her shrug at their romance. She can't quit this adventure. When she dismisses the chance to talk after her moans about how much pain he's in and misses his refuse-pot, I think she's less guilt-ridden and more fascinated.

Back to Marnie. Marnie needs to see Matt Weiner's therapist. In the commentaries for Mad Men, Weiner makes frequent references to his therapist and cites that he stole a line of Trudy's from one of their sessions. Specifically, in reference to his mother, Weiner's therapist said, "Don't go to the well. There's no water there." So Marnie has done a thing she has clearly done an unquantifiable number of times, each time believing the results will be genuinely beneficial if not at least just maybe different, and they never are: Marnie goes to her mom for love and support.

Marnie's mom is everything I could have dreamed and more. The first thing she goes for is Marnie's appearance, specifically how her weight loss has aged her. Marnie defends herself and identifies where this impulse comes from. She also points out how her mom isn't eating the lunch she's ordered. Her mom has, since the start of the scene, demonstrated that she is aware that Marnie has lost her job. She demands Marnie look at it a different way - as a transition - instead of validating any bad feelings she might have, recognize what a blow it is, or ask her if she's thought of a solution before offering any potential ones. She is also aware of Marnie's break-up and says nothing about it, despite Marnie's openness about how it is a factor in her stress. Her mom airs a few choice hints at how her relationship with a cater-waiter is going. Marnie is in no mood. Her mom dismissively concludes that Marnie is not ready to be friends with her. I have such conviction that this is not a new thing, how she wants to be "friends" with Marnie. She has, I am certain, gifted Marnie complex on top of complex about how she is not a good friend, hence the monster she is today. But Marnie's mom says if they were really friends, Marnie wouldn't hurt her, because surely Marnie doesn't talk to her friends like this. "I talk to my friends way worse than this," Marnie says. This is ammunition. Marnie is reinforcing exactly what her mom thinks about her. Her mom has no sense of boundaries between them, leaving Marnie with no choice but to be all-or-nothing with others: either she puts up a wall or treats people like her own limbs.

The banter between Hannah and Elijah comes off as a riff on the sitcom format but works as a reference to the mediated ideal they have about being in a good friendship. Elijah's toxicity has been glimpsed cumulatively, and the viewers know Hannah well enough. In order to try being friends and make the best of their situation, they're going to try what they've learned, and they are both people who have learned a lot from media. This scene's reference to Midnight in Paris, therefore, is apt ("It's just like, I watched Midnight in Paris, and I thought, I was like, I could do that." - YES). They both observe the places they've found themselves in here. Elijah is willing to embrace being a kept guy to see how it goes. Hannah is prioritizing her independence over Sandy. But Elijah is very much into the idea of playing with his identity, more so than Hannah who takes the idea of a salon to the extrapolation of the Manson family, pre-murder.

Her unfamiliarity with the French salon - as she initially confuses it with a hair salon - has been the subject of contention. I maintain that regardless of whether or not someone could have made it through a writing-focused liberal arts education without encountering the salon, people let things like that slide all the time until it's too late. I was absent the day my class watched the hygiene film on our changing bodies. Since my parents took it for granted that I would have been alerted of coming events in school, my period was an absolute surprise. Hannah is also clearly adept at cultivating an air of comprehensive understanding with no basis in real knowledge, and that is something all English majors definitely learn.

Shoshanna's "Hello. Goodbye." to Ray, how scorned she is, so seriously and with such flare - I have never had such affection for a character. She might get overwhelmed with her emotions, she might analyze them though an encyclopedic-in-scope lens of self-help cliches, but she respects how she feels and it looks like that is only increasing.

In one great move, Charlie is back and still the same person Marnie parted ways with only to fall apart upon discovering he rebounded. His new girlfriend, Audrey, is feeling the quicksand-squeeze of Charlie's trademark "smothering love." Audrey's unhappiness over Marnie's presence is a double boon for Marnie after catching Charlie up to the very behavior that caused their relationship to crash. This is her high point. This might be her high point for a while.

Shoshanna does all sorts of things alone that make it difficult not to want to cross the room and be with her. She is shot through a row of heads karaokeing to Sean Paul. Before the cut, she clears her throat. Although I am excited to find out what Marnie has to say to Hannah, I suspect that Shoshanna's throat-clearing was an overture to some light shaming over the crowd's inability to respect her science.

Hannah, feeling like "a stupid sailor nun," disrobes with Marnie, seeking her approval of the dress she changes into, just like her boss wanted Marnie's eye on her scuba pants. Marnie is the one with the rules. Marnie asks about their closeness during this scene, which is so much like their more typical moments together - if not according to the series, necessarily, according to Hannah's pilot-lament about how Marnie always sees her naked and Hannah never sees Marnie naked. Hannah balks that there is a genuine, from-within difference in their closeness. Tangibly, she's busy,  they don't live together. I think when Marnie asks whether or not they're okay, Hannah's reaction is genuine surprise and a little bit of pleasure. Marnie takes Hannah's accessibility for granted. It's not a shining moment for Hannah, but she is in such a position of power with regards to Marnie and Adam now, she must feel pretty alive.

Elijah's George could have been more poetic about his discontent. He hates the party and bemoans the passing of Studio 54 days, but I would have been up for a full-on paint-me-a-picture of the Last Days of Disco. I love those halcyon visions of New York. An aside: my boyfriend and I recently watched Vampire's Kiss, where Nicolas Cage plays a literary agent who suffers a psychotic break and believes he's a vampire. It is like a horror movie parody of a Whit Stillman film. I can't believe it's real.

I love the way Lena Dunham will flourish a scene with a physical comedy Easter egg sometimes. The scene where she escorts George down the street only to ricochet back to her apartment is such a pleasure because she does it with such abandon.

No words for this, just respect:




Marnie's experienced a high, and now she will scrounge and debase herself for another. She bates sad Charlie, whose Audrey has stamped out of the boring party, only to reexperience Charlie's tedium. She does her classic big-gulp of white whine last seen at Jessa's wedding.

The confrontation between Shoshanna and Ray would have been worth a wait of years. Shoshanna perfectly defines how his dismissal of her is not what she wants in someone in her life. I wonder what she did mean by sending Ray the emoji sequence of a panda next to a gun next to a wrapped gift. I love that Shoshanna had so much spilling over inside of her it came out in that form, in texts to him, and he didn't understand it, so it was easy for him to shrug. She shoots down his attempt to be clever. I think if Shoshanna says something is not funny, Ray might bristle, but he will take that to heart. He's seen how all by herself, she'll pick up a solo cup and air-spin for nobody's entertainment but her own. He acknowledges how irresistible and magnetic and sincere she is, how he recognizes it instantly when he's around her, but that does nothing for Shoshanna. She is resolute. And the kiss for which Ray spins her around and spills beer on all the bags is everything Shoshanna deserves in her visions of movie romance.

Hannah pops into Adam's to deposit supplies and uses Elijah's fascist sass campaign (that she made up) as an excuse to not watch Bagger Vance. Or Bagger Vance extras. If the musical was Hannah's choice, I wonder if Bagger Vance was Adam's. He has dark recesses that are as yet unexplored and I expect the worst of these might be movies. Hear me out: viewers are led to assume he is well-read. I would wager that Adam's background as a reader is extensive, but his viewing habits are all sentimental and awful and made all the more strange by his demonstrated appreciation for dealing with serious subjects dramatically.

Adam tells Hannah he'll die without her. I love that this stirring admission - albeit tempered by his craziness - that she is the best thing in his life would have been the logical, satisfactory conclusion to the fantasies that compelled Hannah to continue being with him. I love that she perceives her behavior heretofore as selfless. I think it is a case of defense mechanisms clouding one's ability to rationally deal with situations. I do not drink the kool-aid of "self-absorption." Hannah knows when all she has is a quip, but much of what she says is to keep the other person away from a rhythm that might lead their conversation to viscerally wound her. No way to function, but I find "doesn't care about anyone but herself" to be hopelessly reductive under any circumstance.

Elijah and Marnie karaoke, brutally smashed. Despite their coziness, Marnie maintains her way of dealing with Elijah as she has always - she is brittle and smarmy all at once. He considers being aroused by Marnie and their exchange is remarkable. She rebuffs him sharply, there's a lot of name-calling, and the tension escalates into them both getting Hannah-level naked. I love how feral and cold and grabby they got so abruptly, and that it ends in mutual accusations of bitchiness. When she consoles him for his fallen erection, advising him that he doesn't have to be anything he's not, he warns her not to pretend she is what she isn't, either.

Cut to the grandiose self-delusion that one Thomas-John, shell necklace and all, is wafting through while speaking some grossly absurd fake insult Spanish and shepherding new wife Jessa to a cab. The cab was actually called by somebody else, but Thomas-John explains their impertinence with the excuse that he and Jessa are Mexican, so they don't understand the rules. "No have-o." I screamed. What a tramp! Jessa tries to direct the cabbie to their residence, but she doesn't know their address. She pushes his hand off her as they kiss but does not stop laughing. She has a boner but it's not for him. I wonder how honesty will assert itself in that relationship.

This glimpse into Jessa's new life is quick, but she was in the cab in the pilot, too. Asleep, she woke up and was surprised to have reached her destination so fast and said so with some weariness. Here, she looks delighted to be back in pursuit, with no destination in mind.

Now, about time: the events depicted in this episode, far from representing potentially disparate moments in a real chronology (strictly speaking: Hannah's tryst with Sandy, Marnie's layoff, Jessa's honeymoon, Shoshanna's ritual cleanse), are happening fairly concurrently. But instead of "that time Charlie performed an entry from Hannah's diary onstage" or "that time Jessa had a surprise wedding," the four main characters are not sharing any of these experiences. In the future, when Shoshanna retrieves this time anecdotally, Marnie might not know what she's referring to until she realizes that was the week she lost her job. If there are any "standing in a line" moments this season, with Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, and Shoshanna all observing something together, I can see them being endowed with much self-aware nostalgia, at which point one of them might realize it's a time they are nostalgic for, maybe not a person, and considering who those people are with whom they spent that time, it comes down then to this person in this new time, and do they fit? Who will seem extraneous? Does the clip from the commercial - a dinner party where Hannah has to chose between the presence of Marnie and Audrey - foreshadow anything?


While Marnie crawls into bed with Charlie under the pretense of being sad - she was rejected by Hannah, after all, which is a mighty blow for her - Hannah turns up at Sandy's, just like she said she would not. But he is happy to see her. He retrieves the copy of the Fountainhead she has asked for - a pretense I hope he saw through after the scene cut out - while she waits, disrobed, on his bed.

And now the viewer waits.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Exploding eggs and renegade Sriracha.

j/j hastain reviewed the Black Telephone at Big Other and melted my heart! And she loved Liz Latty's SPLIT which I love, too. j/j's mimetic shameless is coming in February, joining Latty and I on Unthinkable Creatures. Kristen Stone's little press gets more and more radiant all the time.

Speaking of the radiance -

Haley Harned's photograph of Amanda Owens' studio at the MakeSpace

I am interviewing everybody with a studio at the MakeSpace, but first I wrote about the MakeSpace itself at Harrisburg Magazine. As far as I know, the article has made three people cry, including myself, who was up late on it. All the glory to Haley Harned's photography and to the subject matter.

Some outtake notes I forgot I made during my first visit to the MakeSpace in October:
  • all area food service employees who I want to be my friends are here
  • 2 BATHROOMS (underlined as many times)
  • she's dancing like she's going to murder someone
  • white boys can't get with it
  • say 5 times: puking cartoon chat noir
  • how is it I smell birthday cake
I did not think today was going to be so grand - in scale or quality - I was so blotted out with exhaustion. Then I made another heroic copy editing save! These days are the best days.

The second season of Girls' inaugural review goes live tomorrow!

Friday, January 11, 2013

My whole life is like a picture of a sunny day.

This week, for the first time, I got to be in an office full of writers and editors. On this day, I heard more sports talk than I ever have in any office in my life. I also - later, elsewhere - made an ironic joke to someone wearing clashing plaids and listening to Neutral Milk Hotel that did not land. These are not judgments, I see that I've just been wrong about everything. Also after a week of doing nothing but watching Louie, it was unsettling - but everything was unsettling.

2013 has been kind. It feels old for its age. I interviewed Hope Adela Pasztor and now that I get to hang out in the MakeSpace - about which I am finishing an article and a series of interviews - I've gotten everything transcribed and am enjoying a level of productivity that is really exciting. Hope was an ideal interviewee. The MakeSpace is an ideal office. I'm by no means ahead of myself on my work, see previous paragraph and its reference to Louie.

I'm so happy Kate Durbin enjoyed my review of her chapbook, Kept Women. I'd say BUY IT but all the copies have homes. Maybe reading my review at Anobium will ease the ambient disappointment, but no guarantees. I loved the book and it's one of my favorite things I've read lately. I get really into form and I know it. I love how much Kept Women let me in and enabled me to go to all these weird places in a small, self-contained text. Also loved: the language of sales to a character that is all ready sold. The marketing in this book is so sharp and illumines what is so weird and at work when one is facilitating the fulfillment of another's fantasies and making way for something that is potentially evil.


Girls, season two, premiers on Sunday. See post title.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Fog chaser.

First of all, it's my best friend Clare's birthday. I've known her since 2003, making this February our first decade together.

I got called out on deeming 2012 a bad year. Considering all the negative things that did occur, I owe it to myself to not let them obscure the good, because what was good was brilliant.

My chapbook, Say you're a fiction, came out from Dancing Girl Press and the cover was designed by my best friend, Kara Sheaffer.


Throughout 2012, Dancing Girl editor Kristy Bowen saw sixty titles by female poets into the world. Dancing Girl is nine years old this year and has released chapbooks by Kate Durbin, Leigh Stein, Erin Bertram, Gina Abelkop, and many other writers who are doing what I think are the best things right now. The beauty of Kristy, Gina (editor of Birds of Lace), and Blood Pudding Press' awesome Juliet Cook's respective work was recognized at the ModCloth blog last January. After that, each of them proceeded to out-fancy themselves. I got the news that Say you're a fiction was accepted in the summer of 2011, before I went to &Now and got to tell Carole Maso I had a chapbook coming out and she told me how wonderful it was and how I am just beginning. I don't know about others - college is rough and the economy is unforgiving, but I am very comforted in this being a beginning and not a "now what after all that." And for a beginning, I am so proud of Say you're a fiction that I regularly hold my copy to my chest and slow dance to the Eyes Wide Shut soundtrack. I wrote such an amazing narrative sequence with these poems. I loved being in the text and forming it and it is so strong and ready and happy in the arms of others now. Gina named it as one of her favorite things of 2012 along with Andrea Quinlan's We Speak Girl - which will inaugurate my 2013 reading - and I hold her opinion in intense esteem. And one of my top two extreme best friends forever did the cover art. This is the best of all possible worlds.

My chapbook-length essay, the Black Telephone, came out from Unthinkable Creatures but as importantly, editor Kristen Stone and I became friends.


Unthinkable Creatures was hatched this year by Kristen Stone whose friendship and email-voice was one of the things that made 2012, at its molten core, warm and comforting instead of a scorching hellscape deathtrap. She did such tender, beautiful things with a text that alarmed me to write and then enabled me to finally talk to my mom about some things, and now I enjoy such an improved and enormously supportive relationship with her. I am overwhelmed with gratefulness at the responses of others to the Black Telephone and I still feel the cheer-riven impact of the early-in-our-friendship compliment that Kristen Stone paid me when she read my short story, "Cellar Holler," on Spork. I never write for someone to come back and inform me what I wrote was beautiful, and when they do, it never stops being the kind of thing that can turn around months derailed by horror. This is to say that that glory notwithstanding, working with Kristen Stone reasserted to me that it is the process of production - working with a caring, visionary co-conspirator - to bring something into the world that will inform others they can bring or help bring other things into the world.

This was what I tried to tell the audience during the panel I was on at the Third Annual Harrisburg Book Festival when asked why publish if you're not going to get a heavy advance/a New York Times Literary Supplement review/so forth, but I think all they heard was how happy I was to be there.

I was on a panel at the Third Annual Harrisburg Book Festival and not only that I was asked to be there by the owner of the Midtown Scholar.


I didn't get to the first one because I was depressed and still living way out in the country. I attended the second one in order to write an article about it. When Catherine Lawrence asked me to be a part of it, I responded out loud to her Twitter direct message. Like I said, I'm not in the business of writing for accolades, but since so much of what I do is remote, online, read by Wayfaring Googlers and people in lobbies and waiting rooms, getting to talk about what I do to a crowd that I never would have anticipated would be as engaged and responsive and adoring - that was a dream come true and so much fun and I still feel so good. Catherine Lawrence is so eloquent that her compliments are like blissful firecrackers going off all over your nervous system. I love Harrisburg and I love the Midtown Scholar being in it. Now when I transact business in "the Classroom," where the panel was held, I get that extra oomph since it's the site of my glory.


I had a short story in Two Serious Ladies.


I can't even deal with that roster and the fact that I'm on it still gives me next-level feelings about what I'm capable of. I am absolutely ravenous for anything Lauren Spohrer features on Two Serious Ladies and its every update has been an event for me. I don't send anything of mine anywhere if I'm not going to be turning every second I get alone into private dance parties upon acceptance or cry as often about rejection. BUT this acceptance was special. This was like Courtney Love, Jessicka Addams, Katie Jane Garside, Amanda Palmer, and Zoe Boekbinder singing a song I wrote on my birthday while sliding me a cake with icing-written lines from Sylvia Plath poems. This was exactly like that.

I became friends with Liz Laribee.

The first time I went to the Scholar, Liz was working. I used to take the bus there from my parents' house, which is an hour's bus ride even though if one is driving, it is not quite a half-hour. That was right after I graduated when I was pretty dour, but Liz always had something crackling to say about my purchases. Last year I saw her cardboard portraits hanging at the Midtown Cinema and they knocked me out.


This is more talent than I suspect any old acquaintance to have. I interviewed Liz and she honored me by naming her business after the title of the article ("Recovering/Uncovering"). The rest of 2012, for me, had so many emotional sinkholes that, by comparison it made the roads of this state look pretty smooth. But Liz got empowered and organized and started the MakeSpace. This really inspired me, and I took the initiative to fill those emotional sinkholes. Thanks to her support and kind words and a really wonderful breakfast the week before Christmas, the foundation I am moving forward on is a lot more solid. I'm looking forward to talking more about the MakeSpace soon. There is so much and it's wonderful because it's coming.

That's five, although only very roughly a top five since everything good this year made an evenly positive impact on my health and wellbeing.
  • My fiction chapbook, Come as Your Madness, was accepted by Birds of Lace for publication this year.
  • My hero told me my twitter is her favorite twitter (well, this happened in December of 2011, but it was 2012's entirety that I spent basking in this fact).
  • I was honored by the electronic attention I got from a lot of writers I admire like crazy.
  • My name is in Heroines twice and my copy arrived the night before the worst night I've ever had in my life, so I got to hold it until it was over.
  • The Francesca Woodman exhibit at the Guggenheim, the Gertrude Stein exhibit at the Met, and the Cindy Sherman exhibit at the MoMA were all going on on my birthday.
  • My ongoing Girls review was read and enjoyed by what I consider to be an impressive amount of people.
  • Lena Dunham favorited one of my tweets.
  • Laura Albert tweeted at me.
  • I got paid to write.
  • I got to spend the entire year basking in the glow of my acceptance to Caketrain vol. 10.
  • Harrisburg Magazine continued to be outrageously kind and supportive of me.
  • Elan Lafontaine asked me to contribute to NNATAN and he was so kind and NNATAN is astonishing.
  • I became Anobium's web editor.
  • I continued to enjoy my relationship with my significant otter with whom I shared many squeezes, sloth videos, and naps.
  • I went to Little Amps almost every weekend.
  • #RealTalk from Your Editor happened to me.
  • I made the sharpest, smartest set of friends, got closer to some of the brilliant people I went to school with, and celebrated nine years of friendship with my high school friends. The big three have each been in my apartment.
  • Oh yes - I moved into my apartment by the river! And it's still the greatest.

So far this year, I received a request to submit to a journal and found out Eraserhead is coming to Criterion. I'm all ready sold on you, 2013.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

George Plimpton's Video Falconry.



Happy 2013. Like John Hodgman did when he made up George Plimpton's Video Falconry, create the world in which you want to live, even if it's not real. Eventually someone will believe it and create a false memory wherein it becomes a strange and wondrous part of their own life.