Friday, August 12, 2016

yep, i still hate weather.

i moved last weekend. out of my dangerous neighborhood, out of my slightly below average quality crib, out of the state of my birth. i am a central time zone girl to my core: i like my potatoes with meat, my winters ominous and tundra-like, and my late local news promptly at 10pm. other than a brief and unsuccessful attempt at college in the late 90s, i have never lived anywhere other than the city of chicago and the bracketed suburbs to its north. not only that, but until last saturday i lived in the same apartment since 2005. TWO THOUSAND FIVE, MY DUDE. george w. bush was still smirking uncomfortably through his second term, michael jackson was still alive and moonwalking, and i was still making actual phone calls on a knockoff razr homeboy at radio shack swore looked just like the real thing. i was 25 years old the day i wheeled that granny cart filled with books over the freshly-installed threshold. i knew it was home depot fresh because when she showed the place to me the landlord let it slip that the previous tenant had died in there surrounded by half a dozen cats. as we stepped over window fixtures and ripped up teal kitchen tiles circa 1973, she told me to "use my imagination" but i was like "i don't give a shit what the backsplash is made of or who got murdered in here, the rent is five hundred eighty-what now!?"

i'd had lots of apartments prior to it but this was my first real live grownup crib. no terrifying craigslist roommate, no ill-advised spare closet with a bed shoved in it in some shady boarding house, no living out of a backpack while sleeping in my high school friends' old bedrooms: HAND ME MY CHECKBOOK, I AM PURCHASING WINDOW TREATMENTS. i got all the shit an adult-type person needs to have in their crib so they never have to leave it: a toaster that can hold four (four!!!) slices of bread, lightning-speed internet and cable television with premium channels, toilet paper that won't leave microscopic cuts all over your asshole every time you use it. i loved my place. and it didn't matter that i rarely invited anyone in to see all of the things i wasted money on at cb2, it was still dope. and i never had to worry about things like "grout" or "energy efficient appliances."

i was thinking that mavis and i could maybe pioneer a new type of marriage situation some relationship expert would eventually dissect in the new yorker, the kind of marriage where she could continue to hang laundry on a line and churn her own butter in rural michigan while i spent the days counting down to my early death in my dark, refrigerated apartment in chicago scowling out of my peep hole at my neighbors who made too much noise getting their groceries off the elevator. she could keep withering under the blazing sun while picking her own blueberries to make jam and knitting socks to sell at the christmas bazaar while i ordered $17 cocktails at rooftop bars waited four hour for a table at fat rice, and we'd meet up occasionally to talk about married stuff (uh, property taxes? which big box retailer has the best deal on economy-sized containers of soup!?) and pretend we're still interested in having sex. sounds like a dream, right. but oh no fam, apparently marriage involves a little thing called compromise, a concept of which i'd been previously unaware, which for her meant having to wake up to a framed photo of ice cube on her bedroom wall but for me meant GIVING UP EVERYTHING I EVER LOVED.

i've spent such a long time living my old life that instead of being excited at the prospect of this new one i'm almost paralyzed with fear. i've lived in the same hood for twenty years and worked at the same job for fifteen. WHO AM I EVEN WITHOUT THESE HALLMARKS. i have a very limited set of life skills:
-working in one specific dog hospital.
-navigating the best side streets to get home from work in under 7 minutes.
-somehow always having clean underwear in a building that has 60 units and only 3 washing machines.

-maximizing the free drink wristband.
-ignoring panhandlers on the train without getting murdered.
-spotting a com ed disconnect notice with one eye closed from the back of the envelope.

-knowing when to go to big star if i actually want a seat.
-stretching the last of the dish soap because i keep forgetting to buy more.
-tricking racist cab drivers into picking my black ass up.
-turning a box of triscuits and some margarine into "dinner."

how is any of that going to translate to living in a place that has: roving deer who will just walk right into your yard but doesn't have: streetlights!? i get nervous being places that are too dark. remember last time i let this hoe coax me out into the wilderness for her amusement? the time i drove a rented minivan with new mexico plates into the woods on unpaved roads and my gps was like LOL YEAH RIGHT BITCH and i almost hit a cow!? this is kind of like that, except i live here now. gas is 37 cents a gallon. you can buy shoes at the grocery store. the farmers market is full of actual farmers instead of bearded hipsters in distressed flannel bloviating at you about peak asparagus season. i am living in a literal nightmare.

a week ago i was on the front lawn trying to estimate whether or not i would survive the fall (i hope not) if i jumped off the roof and a man walking his dog actually stopped to talk to me. i was flabbergasted. i just stood there, mute, staring at his mouth and wondering what the fuck was going on. he encouraged me to touch the dog (LOL SORRY CHLOE BUT NAH) and attempted some pleasant conversation about the weather (hot, muggy, unremarkable) before extending his hand and welcoming me to the neighborhood. WHAT. WHY. how did he know i was new? could he smell the lingering stench of unreliable public transportation on me? could he see in my eyes that i couldn't really tell the difference between a cucumber and a zucchini without cutting it open? did he register my smooth, uncalloused hands and instinctively know i had never driven a tractor!? what kind of sorcery is this? HOW DID THIS RETIRED MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL KNOW MY SECRETS.

you know what i miss most about chicago!? overpriced appetizers? yes. the african scented oil dude at the morse train station? double yes. being able to get practically anything delivered on any day at any time by someone muscular and attractive!? yes yes a thousand times yes! but what i miss most is the anonymity. sure the barista at starbucks knew to get my black iced tea started the minute i hit the line, but he never got weird about it. we didn't have to, like, talk about it. i was at the doctor and this woman asked me to remove my headphones to ask what i was listening to (why not inquire about the state of my bloodwork since we're being sociable), so i told her. which prompted a follow up question about who beach house is and what kind of music they make and how many albums they have and how did i hear about them and yo i really want to blow your mind ma'am but i'm just here trying to get a pap smear and brood to some moody jams.

i hate nature. birds are terrifying flying rats and the sun will fry you and give you cancer and large bodies of water are made up of mostly garbage and human excrement. THIS IS WHY I AM AN INSIDE PERSON. everything here is dangerous and/or irritating: mosquitos the size of a fist biting me through my sweater (i will never change) and leaving itchy egg-sized welts in their wake; loud-ass frogs in our backyard pond with their deafening croaks all goddamned night; bats hysterically flapping their leathery wings while trapped in the woodstove; the maniacal squirrels aloft in the branches over the deck hurling walnuts at our heads as we mind our human business grilling farmstand corn for lunch. sick raccoons falling out of our trees, fat groundhogs busting through the fence to eat the okra and tomatoes i refuse to help harvest, field mice in the basement that the young cats disembowel in the middle of the dining room at dawn. americana horror story.

yesterday i was trying to be a contributing member of this household so, after watching the garbagemen wave to children on the street while hoisting bags of trash that belonged neither in the recycling (kill me) nor in the compost (kill me harder), i put on my sunglasses and went outside to drag the garbage can up the driveway to its proper place beside the house. i checked to make sure no one was close enough to ask "aren't you hot?" while nodding at my full pants and long sleeves, and started up the driveway, when all of a sudden a snake shot out from under the can and flicked its forked tongue at me. we stood in a standoff for several seconds as i decided what to do. should i:
1 scream, thus inviting intervention from some neighbor whose name i don't wanna know,
2 throw the garbage can to the ground in an effort to distract it and try to beat it to the house, whose door i left sitting wide open, or

"are you poisonous?" i asked voldemort, pushing up my sleeve and offering my supple city wrists to his waiting fangs. "because i cannot live like this and if you kill me i can sail guilt-free right into heaven." helen appeared on the steps, eating from a bag of organic popping corn she'd made on the stove because that's how we do things here (sobs) and he spotted her then quickly slid up the driveway along the side of the house, the same place i needed to go. ordinarily i would be like FUCK THIS TRASH CAN and lock myself in the house but i know there's some old lady across the street peeking through her curtains just waiting to call andy griffith to report that the uppity new colored girl on the block who likes to go to restaurants that take ~reservations~ left her trash can in the middle of the sidewalk, so i screamed a few expletives in my mind and tiptoed up the drive lugging that mobile snake shelter behind me. i spotted him slithering toward the hose and sighed in relief that i'd remembered to include the "i will never water plants" clause in our prenup. he stared at me, i stared back at him, then the mailman clomped up on his horse and buggy, scaring the daylights out of us both.

i don't know how i'm going to survive here. i mean, i'm a nice person and everything but talking to friendly people is excruciating. especially when they don't hate the same things you hate, like talking to people. and living in a place where people just roll up uninvited and knock on your door even though you aren't fully awake and don't yet have on a bra is straight up terrorism, especially when they can look through the front window and see that yes, you are home. this happened a couple days ago and i just shrugged at dude like "yeah i know but i can't" until he got frustrated and left, and now i have to die without knowing about whatever gun lobby legislation or anti-abortion group he was shilling for. i thought my old place was cursed because the ceiling fell in twice and one time my neighbor's water started bubbling up from my sink, but here i gotta worry about snakes coming up out of the toilet and biting my tongue and smiling while chloe shits all over my front lawn. i have to worry about having a goddamned lawn! i'm sure that in time i will get accustomed to it, or maybe i'll just renew my lease so i have a place to stay when i need to go to a bar that doesn't play hair metal all night. or when i miss the ghosts of all those dead cats.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

bitches gotta read: dear fang, with love.

hello summer, you miserable bastard. i just had a full blood workup at the doctor last week because i had to be outside at dusk for more than twenty seconds and accumulated 137 mosquito bites in the process, and all my labs are basically perfect except i am deficient in both vitamin b and vitamin d. vitamin d, as you probably guessed, is because of a lack of dick. and possibly sunshine. ugh so now my plan to spend the summer locked in a dark room with the air conditioner blowing directly on me while reading all these books i downloaded and listening to ludacris seems like an especially irresponsible idea. but that's what supplements are for, right? don't mind me, just over here living on the edge.

the rules
1 we are never going to meet in person. that would require a bra and zippered pants and probably an expensive uber and no one is doing that that. you don't have to worry about robin's dairy allergy or that elena doesn't like malbec. no cleaning the cat box or vacuuming the drapes or hiding the dirty laundry in the oven so your company doesn't realize what a huge slob you are. just you in your house glasses and gravy pants sobbing into your six pack of beer, the way john green intended. getting together with people you don't live next door to is hella stressful. plus, a bunch of old bitches sitting around talking about fictional teenage romance is lame. OR IS IT THO.
2 we are never going to discuss this, ever. i mean seriously. i'm going to derive pleasure from knowing that people i might possibly enjoy spending time with if i ever could bring myself to meet new people and i are falling asleep and drooling on the same book we'll probably never finish. maybe we'll talk about it on twitter or something. but even thinking about organizing that is a daunting task and i'm already exhausted. mariyam suggested making a facebook group, but is that dumb? the internet is so hard sometimes. (ETA: there is a group! it's called bitches gotta read! and it is full of rad people who aren't irritating! come find us!)
3 we are never going to shame each other about not reading the fucking book. this is the beauty of never having to meet or talk about it: i ain't gotta come up with "thoughtful questions" and you ain't gotta pretend to remember what happened at the end of chapter seven while a bunch of wine-drunk bitches you don't even like that much wait expectantly for your answer. i'll read the books for sure, but that's only in case i run into one of you at the bagel shop and you decide to ask how much the ending moved me.

brief internet synopsis:
Lucas and Katya were boarding school seniors when, blindingly in love, they decided to have a baby. Seventeen years later, after a decade of absence, Lucas is a weekend dad, newly involved in his daughter Vera's life. But after Vera suffers a terrifying psychotic break at a high school party, Lucas takes her to Lithuania, his grandmother's homeland, for the summer. Here, in the city of Vilnius, Lucas hopes to save Vera from the sorrow of her diagnosis. As he uncovers a secret about his grandmother, a Home Army rebel who escaped Stutthof, Vera searches for answers of her own. Why did Lucas abandon her as a baby? What really happened the night of her breakdown? And who can she trust with the truth? Skillfully weaving family mythology and Lithuanian history with a story of mental illness, inheritance, young love, and adventure, Rufi Thorpe has written a breathtakingly intelligent, emotionally enthralling book.

sounds like a jam, right!? i have a giant stack of "books to read this summer" packed in a box to take with me to michigan in a couple weeks and this is now at the top of that stack. i also have a note taped to my calendar of "movies i should probably rent" and another called "new lipsticks i want to try" and sure that maybe sounds dumb in comparison to your summer schedule filled with healthy outdoor activity but i see your kayaking in a hot, smelly lake teeming with garbage and raise you a spending an hour in the a/c at ulta testing those new urban decay vice lipsticks on the back of my hand while letting some vitamin b12 supplements dissolve under my tongue. SOME OF US DO SUMMER DIFFERENTLY, OKAY. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

the trouble with getting married when you are already old.

this looks nice, right. those cucumbers look fresh and delicious, the slices v healthy and organic-looking. and that kitchen looks delightfully and adorably cluttered! not so messy that you'd confuse it for a hoarder's home, and clearly not belonging to the type of person whose homemade preserves would send you to your grave with a nasty case of botulism, rather gently and lovingly disheveled. you can really tell that a person who loves herself enough to wipe down the food processor after every use lives in that sunshiny kitchen. that's the kind of kitchen you want to sit in and gossip about what mallory was wearing at the pta meeting last night while sneaking bourbon into your pour-over coffee. so a thing about me is that i am basically forty, and you know what i have been doing for many of the horrifying years i have spent waiting to die on this planet? acquiring items that make me look and feel like a functioning adult, even if i do not put them to regular use. i already have:

a grownup blender. while my toaster probably definitely came from the dollar store, i have the kind of blender that is heavy and expensive and never gets shoved in a cabinet because it is 1 heavy and 2 expensive. if i spent a third of a paycheck on a vitamix then you are going to look at it. every time you wash your hands or refill your bourbon that gleaming master work is gonna be looking at you like "hi." that is not a tool for grinding up frozen berries, bruh. THAT IS A SHOWPIECE.

flatware. a full set, heavyweight, essential for making takeout food feel like an actual meal, especially if you put it on an actual plate. i hate those flimsy sporks that come with your lo mein, so i invested in some quality silverware ages ago. i do not need any more goddamned forks.

plates and glasses. sets of dishes are ridiculous to me, as i have only ever been one person inhabiting one small space who rarely, if ever, invited the kind of company over for whom matching soup plates and salad mugs from sur la table were a prerequisite. but then the thought of living with one plate and one glass felt too dickensian to me so i gradually accumulated a full set of intentionally mismatched plates and bowls from anthropologie, and i am telling you that because i am more proud of my yellow patterned cereal bowl than i am of every single paper i wrote in college.

the good kind of knives. you know the kind, the ones with the tang that goes all the way to the butt. the sturdy kind that won't bend when you're trying to cut up a carrot (lol what is that). i spent more years than i am proud to admit using sizzler-style steak knives to do my actual cutting and chopping in the kitchen. dudes, i was trying to make ~complicated meals~ with what was essentially a box cutter from the grocery store. IT TOOK THIRTY-SEVEN MINUTES TO CUT UP AN ONION. *cringes to death at the thought of all of the disproportionate stew chunks in my past*

bath towels. remember in your first apartment when you used a faded old beach towel after getting out of the shower and all your dishrags were cut-up t-shirts you wore in high school? YEAH ME NEITHER. i drove my beat up '88 escort to marshalls and got some calvin klein towels with weird stitching or whatever makes an otherwise decent-looking washcloth unfit for sale in a department store and a pack of kitchen towels the day i signed my first lease. i grew up very, very poor, and one of the things that nagged at me the most was never having absorbent towels. i decided that the minute i got a real paycheck i would get all luxuries i couldn't have as a kid, starting with 1 boxes and boxes of name brand cereal and 2 towels that would actually dry you well enough after a bath so it's not a struggle to get into your jeans.

if i want to do something, i just do it. i don't have to clear it with anyone or worry about making anybody look bad, once i decide a thing is happening? then i just make it happen. being an orphan is 9/10 amazing!
cons: no one to constantly borrow zero-interest loans from.
so when i was like, "let's just spend an intimate afternoon at the courthouse, bride," mavis, at first, was cool with it. why waste money on white dresses and an open bar when we could just hit the drive-thru and maybe go to a movie after? i hate smiling and pretending i can tell a whole bunch of cousins and uncles apart. at every wedding i've ever been to the happy couple can't even pause for a bite of rubbery $75/plate chicken because they have to run laps around the room shaking hands and thanking people whose envelope on the money tree might only have twenty bucks in it, which they won't find out until the next week. i am not doing that. all i wanted to do was swear my fidelity in front of an officer of the court before driving over to the nearest blue cross blue shield office so i can upgrade my insurance and start planning a bunch of dental cleanings and surgeries.

but then this hoe started telling people, and their collective response was "GREAT CAN'T WAIT TO JOIN YOU." three weeks ago i'm in chicago, blissfully unaware, daydreaming about how cheap my ativan is gonna be, and she's in michigan arranging a processional to the tiny municipal building. i was just going to bribe a dude hanging out at the bus station with a pizza to come bear witness to this unholy matrimony, meanwhile she's on the phone with the one judge in town asking if he might be able to set up folding chairs and a concession stand before we get there. MAVIS WYD.

so we switched gears and decided to have a party at the house because it was too late to book the kind of venue i'd actually want to host a wedding in and here is another thing about me: i understand that no one, not anyone, ever really wants to be in another person's home. let's talk about why:
1 it's a home, but it's not your home, so you can't really relax. i mean undo your belt and spend twenty minutes in the bathroom relax, which makes you feel cheated.
2 it is unreasonable to expect a normal person with a regular budget to have all of the things you might want to eat or drink or dance to. and i say this as an irritating sometimes-vegan whose favorite cocktail is campari with soda. i am perfectly happy to eat those cocktail weenies wrapped in flaky biscuit dough and drink a can of coors light on the porch but you know and i know we'd both rather be in some air conditioning eating little sandwiches being carried around the room on silver trays.
3 no waitstaff.

at this very moment homegirl is loudly vacuuming the stairs nobody is even supposed to be inside to use while i hide my pills in drawers nobody is supposed to open and then i should probably dust the chandelier nobody will probably look at but can't i just call mcdonald's to see if anyone has booked the playplace for this afternoon instead!? i mean, who doesn't like nuggets. this evening there are 70+ women, men, and children coming to listen to me recite some vows (i haven't even written yet) while visibly sweating under the summer sun (and worrying about whether or not my feet look ashy) before warning everyone in attendance that helen is to be seen and not touched, and every single one of them (well, maybe not the kids) texted/emailed/called asking HEY WHAT CAN WE GET YOU when we sent out invitations. because that's the sweet thing about getting hitched, right? the presents!? but between the two of our rapidly decomposing asses we already have a lot of the kind of grownup home stuff people typically ask for:
kitchenaid stand mixer check
cuisinart check
immersion blender check
quality non-ikea couch check
le creuset cookware check
not to mention hampers and rugs and stemware and sheets and SUPER ABSORBENT LUXURY TOWELS check check check check check. but everyone i know was all, "who cares! make a registry!" you know what i really wish i could put on a bed bath and beyond list is my fucking cable bill. i got cinemax, showtime, HBO, and starz, hoe. the level of entertainment i require is hella expensive. so i went on amazon and made one, but i am a child, so i basically filled it with garbage. things i fear are gauche but i put on the registry anyway: flonase, chuckles jelly candy, a badminton set for the back yard, a bluetooth speaker, the new nick jonas cd, five unscented sticks of dove deodorant, some iphone chargers, and a jar of first aid beauty repair cream. mavis got embarrassed about people from her job seeing that she was marrying a dumbass so we made a crate & barrel one full of adult stuff like shower curtains and a mandoline, but i just got an email that someone just got that see's peanut brittle i wanted so i am already a winner.

it is not lost on me that we are having a big gay wedding days after a hundred of our brothers and sisters were gunned down in a nightclub while just trying to celebrate and love each other. i will never not proudly be who i am, in the face of whatever opposition may present itself. hug your people close today and every day. maybe wrap them up in a luxurious towel first.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

bitches gotta read: shrill.

look at the four shining stars +1 absolute dummy lindy west got blurbs from for her incredible new book. when she asked me if i'd be willing to do it i screamed bitch are you nuts of course i will and read the entire pdf she sent me in a matter of hours, then immediately emailed my editor like "LOL I QUIT MY BOOK GOODBYE." seriously, i put my ipad down after i finished the first essay and thought long and hard about whether or not breaching my contract was something i could afford to do because how can i put out this trash i'm writing with a book like hers coming out this year. luvvie ajayi, kiese laymon, and roxane gay all have new books coming out in 2016, too. and i love these dudes: they are all magical, they are all extremely talented, and they are all very dear friends. wow o wow that's intimidating company.

so i read the collection but then had no idea what to say about it because really, who cares what i think about anything. especially when it comes to smart things. and if you do care, i'm much more of an expert on hot dog varietals and squeezy cheez than i am classic works of literature. any question other than "who has the hottest butt?" posed to me gets answered with a blank, unblinking stare. whenever i am asked to contribute words to a thing my auto-reply is "LOL DID YOU FORGET I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING" and then refuse to open the subsequent emails. i sent my blurb to lindy (hey girl, can i really write "jealous-ass feelings" in an actual book more than fourteen people are going to see?) and waited for a polite response telling me thanks but no thanks. when i heard nothing back from the publisher i poured out a little vodka soda in honor of our brief friendship and cursed myself for not paying more attention in that literary criticism course i dropped out of in 1998. months later when my advanced copy showed up in the mail i flipped it over and died on the spot. MY GHOST IS WRITING THIS.

the rules

1 we are never going to meet in person. that would require a bra and zippered pants and probably an expensive uber and no one is doing that that. you don't have to worry about robin's dairy allergy or that elena doesn't like malbec. no cleaning the cat box or vacuuming the drapes or hiding the dirty laundry in the oven so your company doesn't realize what a huge slob you are. just you in your house glasses and gravy pants sobbing into your six pack of beer, the way john green intended. getting together with people you don't live next door to is hella stressful. plus, a bunch of old bitches sitting around talking about fictional teenage romance is lame. OR IS IT THO.
2 we are never going to discuss this, ever. i mean seriously. i'm going to derive pleasure from knowing that people i might possibly enjoy spending time with if i ever could bring myself to meet new people and i are falling asleep and drooling on the same book we'll probably never finish. maybe we'll talk about it on twitter or something. but even thinking about organizing that is a daunting task and i'm already exhausted. mariyam suggested making a facebook group, but is that dumb? the internet is so hard sometimes. (ETA: there is a group! it's called bitches gotta read! and it is full of rad people who aren't irritating! come find us!)
3 we are never going to shame each other about not reading the fucking book. this is the beauty of never having to meet or talk about it: i ain't gotta come up with "thoughtful questions" and you ain't gotta pretend to remember what happened at the end of chapter seven while a bunch of wine-drunk bitches you don't even like that much wait expectantly for your answer. i'll read the books for sure, but that's only in case i run into one of you at the bagel shop and you decide to ask how much the ending moved me.

brief internet synopsis:

West has rocked readers in work published everywhere from The Guardian to GQ to This American Life. She is a catalyst for a national conversation in a world where not all stories are created equal and not every body is treated with equal respect. SHRILL is comprised of a series of essays that bravely shares her life, including her transition from quiet to feminist-out-loud, coming of age in a popular culture that is hostile to women (especially fat, funny women) and how keeping quiet is not an option for any of us.

ugh dude i was so jealous reading this book. i'm never too proud to admit that reading someone else's brilliant writing makes me push my laptop aside like "not today, satan" before hurling myself out of the window face-first into the shattered glass in the alley below. and shrill is a collection of essays, not young adult fiction, but listen: we are mature and open enough to handle a little variety. also how can i get you to buy a book with my stupid name on the back if i'm not allowed to assign it to the group. i only have 37 people in my phone, man. it's not like i can text you dudes to get the word out. anyway, lindy gets a lot of unnecessary heat for having the audacity to be loud and honest and push back at her critics but goddamn is she smart and so hilarious. we talked a lot while working on our books, so i got some rare insight into her creative process, and we hung out a couple times IRL and she is as dope as you think she is. needless to say, I LOVE SHRILL SO MUCH. and my dumb book is pushed back to spring 2017 because i'm not a total idiot.

Friday, June 10, 2016

how to enjoy a fun summer party when you hate fun and you absolutely loathe going outside.

LOOK AT THESE HIP, MULTICULTURAL SINGLES ENJOYING THE RIP-ROARING TIME OF THEIR YOUNG LIVES. first of all, you know marcus needs to get his ass on that grill, otherwise the chicken is going to dry out and the hot links are gonna be all fucked up. what's so funny, amy? did jace get mauled by a dog or did he buy those pants like that? is that a beer in kelly's glass, what about the baby!??!? i have been to approximately seven outdoor parties in my adult life and never at any of them has a group of people stood chatting and laughing next to a raging fire as the one poor slob who got stuck manually laboring over actively-burning charcoal on a blazing hot and sunny day dripped sweat onto our cheeseburgers. mostly people just loitered in one spot in the yard aggravated that the food wasn't done when they made a point to arrive late before retreating to the house to get drunk and play dominoes.
here are some of the ways outside parties quickly get terrible, in no particular order:

-the people who volunteered to bring the most food items are super late.
-it's been raining all day but these fools refuse to cancel the party and/or move it inside.
-not enough food.
-too much food but not the right kind, like, lots of chicken wings but no sides.
-the person who brings nine unexpected other people.
-nobody thought to stop for a bag of ice?
-two or three precariously constructed chairs you're terrified to sit in.
-cheap ass plates that collapse under the weight of your potato salad.
-bad tunes.
-the "family recipe dry rub" the host insists on using that tastes like trash.
-sweating while eating charred meats and standing on uneven grass making small talk with people you mostly hate while trying not to spill is horrifying.
-mayonnaise based salads growing bacteria under the hot sun.
-one toilet, thirty people.
-that one dude with all the food restrictions who should've brought black bean burgers instead of half a handle of vodka if he was so worried about eating.

mavis and i are throwing a wedding party in our michigan backyard in a couple weeks and i'm not gonna lie, i have never been more anxious about anything in my life. and not the good kind of anxious, the "if i don't wake up tomorrow i'll never have to worry about providing an adequate selection of gluten-free appetizers" anxious. i would rather chew shards of glass while watching the local news on an endless loop than spend two hours meticulously folding and artfully arranging all of our prettiest dish towels for display and pretending it is important to me that there be fresh flowers in the guest bathroom all the time. i'm grown now, which means i have an actual receptacle for my dirty clothes and all of my cups match, but i never invite anyone over because the stress of trying to anticipate where in my tiny apartment your eyes might land so that i can thoroughly wipe it down prior to your arrival makes me want to pull out my fingernails. are the miniblinds clean? have i scrubbed the baseboards recently!? what if you fall down in the kitchen and roll over only to come face to face with all those cheerios i dropped under there three years ago. this is the kind of madness that lurks at the edges of my nightmares, which is why none of my friends has seen more than the outside of my building. but this new place has a yard and a fire pit and a propane grill, which i am just fine ignoring from the enclosed safety of the sunroom while recording videos of helen angrily grooming her hindquarters. apparently that's just me.

it's only june and already i have an inbox full of paperless post invitations to summer soirees and backyard luaus and my finger cannot click that will not attend button fast enough. i just can't make it, fam. i'm sick, i broke my leg, my head hurts, i need to spend the entire afternoon re-reading girls on fire, and omg wow is this one of those free HBO weekends!? no matter how gorgeous the weather there will be no going outside for me, i will SEE YOU NEXT TUESDAY. anyway, you know it was not my idea to invite 70+ people over to scrutinize how badly the lawn needs to be mowed and silently judge our stereo equipment, but here we are. the invitations have been sent, the catering order has been placed, and the playlist i agonized over for hours has almost enough too short on it to get the party started. i'm already tired, and i haven't even had to listen to anyone criticizing the upholstery on the couch yet. ugh i think this is what well-adjusted people would call "compromising." well so far, i hate it. since i'm listed as co-host (please let the earth swallow us all whole before next weekend) i can't get out of potentially being attacked by a sick raccoon for a bite of the three bean salad someone will inevitably bring, but here are some tricks i've used to make other people's picnics more tolerable for me. spoiler alert: they all involve leaving.

1 park far away and keep forgetting stuff in your car. it's a cloudless 82 degrees: birds are chirping, the hum of neighborhood lawnmowers drones in the distance, and mark and laura are hosting a party for their cat's birthday at their house at 2pm sharp. you circle your sensible, fuel-efficient vehicle leisurely around their block a few times after your first driveby revealed that you indeed were the first person to arrive to a cat party, then park around the corner and pretend to be texting someone interesting until you see at least three other people arrive, arms heavily laden with scratching posts and catnip mice. get out, making a point to leave the shiny bags of meow mix party mix you got 2-for1 at target nestled safely in the back seat. as soon as they try to usher you out to the kiddie pool filled with melting ice and cans of coors light, bang the heel of your palm against your forehead the way people in the movies do when suddenly struck by a memory and conveniently excuse yourself to fetch the treats from the car. twenty minutes later, same goes for the boxes of wine. an hour after that: oh yeah, that jumbo tray of cheese cubes! you'll either spend so much time rifling through your trunk that they'll forget you were ever there to begin with or be so irritated that on your fourth trip out they'll put you out of your misery and lock the door behind you. and, if all that doesn't work, forget everything you offered to bring at the store, which will give you an excuse to actually get in your car and drive it away.

2 offer to help in the kitchen. i don't know anything about making sangria but if you invite me to the yard party happening between little piles of petrified dog turds behind your house that is exactly what i am bringing. i will be in cool, air conditioned comfort for at least 97% of the fiesta, "chopping apples" and "slicing oranges" in the kitchen as slowly as humanly possible. i will put myself in charge of keeping the condiment bottles full and the pickle slices uniform, smiling internally as all the suckers roasting like shriveled hot dogs on the counter at 7-eleven commend my selflessness from their spots on the yellowing grass outside. "you want to switch places for a bit?" they'll yell with mock concern in the general direction of the kitchen, slapping at the mosquito bites swelling on their bare arms and legs. "no, i got it!" i'll coo sweetly in response, placing each chip individually into the serving bowl. i will take painstaking care of each kaiser roll and place each baked bean meticulously in its dish, anything at all i can do to prolong staying quietly inside with oversized sunglasses on which makes it look like i'm ready to dash out to refill every empty lemonade cup at a moment's notice but are really just perched on my nose to disguise the fact that i am watching tv.

3 go to the bathroom a lot. this might be easier for me with the crohns and all, but listen: anyone can get the "stomach flu." i'll set the scene: you roll up to courtney's crib with some impressive beer you overpaid for to make a good impression. she informs you that the casual dinner you thought would be served on the west elm table that was the only thing left on her registry (because you waited until the last minute wtf is wrong with you) inside the gigantic new apartment you're wondering how she and her new husband can possibly afford is actually going to happen outside their back door on the landing she is pretending is a deck. but what about my arthritic knees? you think drearily, imagining all of the splinters you will inevitably be removing from your backside since there's only one outdoor chair and you are going to have to sit folded into yourself on her gross stairs. as she leads you to your makeshift seat next to the garbage can, trailing your fingertips across that beautiful table you had to eat noodles for six months to pay off, linger near the bathroom as she waits expectantly at the back door. now sit in there for a long time. read the back of the hand soap, play a round of scrabble on your phone, do whatever you can to kill ten agonizing minutes which, trust me, will be excruciating for everyone involved. before you dislocate your hip as you squat to eat whatever blue apron meal she threw together off your laptable go back to the bathroom for another ten minutes. when you finally emerge, she will want nothing more than for you to get out of her house.

4 schedule an important call. now this might be tricky if you're going to a thing where everybody knows all of your business, but if most of the people at the party are previously unknown to you then they have no goddamned idea that "excuse me, my editor is calling" is not a real thing in your actual life. i went to a networking event (god why am i even still alive) a few weeks ago that was on this little stretch of patio i had to walk through an blessedly covered, delightfully cooled restaurant to get to, then as i stood there trying to remember if i'd written anything offensive on my linked in this guy came over eating a little, like, spinach tart or something real wet and green that got all over his teeth and asked, without swallowing, "what kind of job are you looking for!?" i watched a bead of sweat run down his temple at the same pace as the one trickling down the center of my back and was like "i already have a job." he was just about to soldier bravely into a description of the analytics company advertised on the card he forced into my hand when i pointed to my phone and shrugged then walked back inside for some privacy. anyone who knows me IRL knows that my phone is on do not disturb 99.9% of the time and i never answer it because honestly, in my 36 years of suffering through life on this earth i cannot remember a call that i was ever truly happy was not an email or a text. sure, i have had some excellent phone calls, but they definitely occurred when i could've been otherwise watching an intense blackhead extraction video or sleeping fully clothed in the middle of the day. which is why YO I GOTTA TAKE THIS CALL is such a dream, because people assume that if you're actually answering your phone then it must be an important call. do not disabuse them of this notion. no one has to know it's a bill collector.

i know it's supposed to be 95 degrees this weekend, and if it's fun for you to stand in the yawning dog mouth that is your friend's sweltering backyard then cool. i'm jealous of people who enjoy making small talk while wearing shorts, i honestly am. but for those of us who know there is nothing other than misery to be found atop the sparse gravel puncturing the soles of our feet through our arch-murdering rubber sandals while we fumble a half-empty drink and full ear of corn next to tony's trash-filled garage, i will see you in the guest bathroom.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

bitches gotta read: we love you, charlie freeman.

look at these stupid kittens mavis brought home from the shelter. i tried to upload a hilarious video of helen fighting the grey one while also lying down on her throne/chair but i don't have patience for figuring out that sort of thing, so please use your imagination. i could watch that shit all day. it's been a minute, guys. i've missed my internet friends. i trust that you are well, still reading books and getting wasted and ignoring your responsibilities and i'm totally with you. in spirit though, because i still haven't turned my book in (WHAT THE FUCK) and i'm working on some other cool stuff for you but mannnnn i got a perfectly lovely email a few weeks ago thanking me for writing the blog yet expressing some sadness that i'm a happy person now and had ended bitchesgottaeat for good and i was like, "omg what am i even doing." because i'm still here, still got a dozen half-written posts just chilling waiting for me to finish them, i'm just tired and busy and lol who cares about these excuses. but soon all these projects will be done (done-ish?) and i can get back to irregularly whining about important stuff like why i switched to unscented deodorant and which lean cuisines taste better when you cook them in the oven. i have been reading a lot, though. so here's the next late as hell installment in our little book club.

the rules
1 we are never going to meet in person. that would require a bra and zippered pants and probably an expensive uber and motherfuck that. you don't have to worry about jamie's gluten allergy or that bridget doesn't like gin. no cleaning the cat box or vacuuming the drapes or hiding the dirty laundry in the oven so your company doesn't realize what a huge slob you are. just you in your house glasses and gravy pants sobbing into your six pack of beer, the way john green intended. getting together with people you don't live next door to is hella stressful. plus, a bunch of old bitches sitting around talking about fictional teenage romance is lame. OR IS IT THO.
2 we are never going to discuss this, ever. i mean seriously. i'm going to derive pleasure from knowing that people i might possibly enjoy spending time with if i ever could bring myself to meet new people and i are falling asleep and drooling on the same book we'll probably never finish. maybe we'll talk about it on twitter or something. but even thinking about organizing that is a daunting task and i'm already exhausted. mariyam suggested making a facebook group, but is that dumb? the internet is so hard sometimes. (ETA: there is a group! it's called bitches gotta read! and it is full of rad people who aren't irritating!)
3 we are never going to shame each other about not reading the fucking book. this is the beauty of never having to meet or talk about it: i ain't gotta come up with "thoughtful questions" and you ain't gotta pretend to remember what happened at the end of chapter seven while a bunch of wine-drunk bitches you don't even like that much wait expectantly for your answer. i'll read them, but that's only in case i run into you at the farmer's market and you decide to pop quiz my ass.

so i picked this book because i read about it on one of those "best books of the spring!" lists and i liked kaitlyn's face so i tweeted her (gross) and then she very graciously wrote me back and thus our tenuous grasp on a digital friendship began. it's not technically YA but it's about young kids and rules are made to be broken. an excerpt from the review of the book in the NEW YORK TIMES, what:

Kaitlyn Greenidge’s terrifically auspicious debut novel, “We Love You, Charlie Freeman,” begins with a deceptively high-concept premise. The four members of the black Freeman family are about to become fish out of water. The year is 1990. They have agreed to move from their home in Dorchester, Mass. — with its predominantly black schools, where the toilet paper is rationed — to a mansion in an all-white part of the Berkshires.

Why? Because Laurel Freeman, the headstrong mother, has agreed to make herself, her husband and their two daughters part of a research project. All they have to do is get used to living with a fifth family member, who happens to be a chimpanzee. (They are well qualified to communicate with the chimp because they are fluent in sign language.) In the book’s first scene, the Freeman daughters, 9-year-old Callie and 14-year-old Charlotte, do a little wailing about this relocation. But Callie draws a greeting card of the newly configured Freeman family that features four humans and one hairy hominid with a tail. “We Love You, Charlie Freeman” takes its title from the wildly optimistic words that go with the picture.

Things get less bubbly in a hurry. The Freemans arrive at their forbidding new home, a large gated pile with a plaque reading “The Toneybee Institute for Ape Research, established 1929.” They quickly realize that all the hostile and creepily solicitous employees of the place are white. (One bald guard has “veins of his scalp glowing through the gloom.”) The kids’ alarm bells go off on the very first night, when their parents go to bed and then turn out to have Charlie sleeping with them. When Charlie swats Callie in the face, her (their?) mother says soothingly: “It’s O.K. You scared him, that’s all.”

And thus the familial and racial nightmares begin for the Freemans, who have never let themselves feel all that black before. Ms. Greenidge has charted an ambitious course for a book that begins so mock-innocently. And she lets the suspicion and outrage mount as the Freemans’ true situation unfolds. This author is also a historian, and she makes the “1929” on Toneybee plaque tell another, equally gripping story that strongly parallels the Freemans’ 1990 experience. A question that hovers over this book is whether the Freemans will learn from past horrors or become so dysfunctional that they merely relive them.

...the absurd detail with which the Freemans are watched can’t help being funny. Callie remarks that her favorite book is The Phantom Tollbooth,” and two researchers nod gravely. Video cameras follow family members relentlessly. Charlie never turns into much of a presence, which is a good thing; Ms. Greenidge isn’t interested in distracting her readers with the personal quirks of a chimp. But he acts like a needy, opinionated animal just often enough to enliven the story. When Charlie takes a bite out of a guest’s sleeve because he likes its smell, she cries, “It’s like he didn’t really care about me at all.”

Sex and comedy combine when Charlotte falls for Adia Breitling, a black student from Courtland who actually cherishes being black. At first Adia, who wears purple feather earrings, purple Dr. Martens and a fade haircut with lightning bolts above her left ear, can’t believe Charlotte’s stick-straight bangs, white sneakers and braids, but she decides to try to help this hopeless specimen. (Beware the word “specimen” in this book. Every black person around a white scientist should.) Adia and her mother seem wonderfully free and open-minded to Charlotte, but there’s one area in which Adia has her own cultural bias. Even when things become physical between the two girls, Adia insists that women need men. “We don’t want to go queer like white girls do.”

The ultimate white girl in this attention-getting novel is its grande dame, the heiress Julia Toneybee-Leroy, who was 18 when the institute was founded. Her portrait hangs prominently there, and the zealous eyes scare Charlotte at first sight. Julia is still alive and well enough to have Thanksgiving dinner with the Freemans, Charlie included, in 1990. And still imperious enough to pre-empt Mrs. Freeman’s attempt to feed the chimp lettuce.

This grand visitation prompts the story of who Julia is and how she got that way. It explains why her portrait features the bones of a beloved chimp with a stick through its skull. And it brings forth a remarkable letter, one of the book’s sardonic highlights, in which Julia purports to apologize to “You, African-Americans” for any grievances that might be held against her. It’s a God-awful apology but a wonderful piece of writing. And it beautifully illustrates the sure-handed way Ms. Greenidge deals with even the most grievous racist stupidity, just as she does when the Freemans are patronizingly told by a white “expert” how black they are. “It’s a descriptor of your family who is participating in this experiment,” says the expert, apparently no grammarian. “Not an identity,” they’re informed.

i know you hoes didn't read all that and fine whatever it's cool. JUST GO GET THIS BOOK. unlike myself, who spent all of her meager royalties on jelly beans and magazines, kaitlyn is trying to buy her mama a house. even though she sent me a copy i downloaded another on my kindle which is obviously gonna make her v rich and successful, duh. i'm already 140 pages in and it is so good and i'm so proud of her. have fun!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

an open letter to my nieces, who are currently fighting over a dude.

you need to give it up, because i've had about enough. okay you little assholes, court is in session. i have reviewed all of the documents submitted into evidence; read all of the texts, carefully studied every screenshot, scrolled past all of the instagrams, and sat through 137 tutorials on how to understand snapchat because listen i don't have room for another fucking thing on my phone what with my heartwise blood pressure tracker and all of my large print books, and i have come to this decision: you guys have to kiss and make up because this is dumb and group texting you is much more convenient for me than trying to maintain two separate conversation threads so please get over this silly nonsense: I'M OLD. *bangs gavel*

i was only 6 when you were born niece 1 and i was incredibly skeptical of the dubious reasons for your existence. they didn't need another baby, i was already alive! and amazing! you grew on me though, like mold on the most exquisite french cheese, and eventually became almost tolerable. by the time niece 2 came along a couple years  later i was a cool and confident miniature adult, fully prepared to take on the responsibilities of irregular feedings and pee-only diaper changes provided that they exclusively occurred during the daytime and when i wasn't 1 halfheartedly doing my homework 2 napping fully clothed in the bathtub to hide from my chores 3 eating little debbie oatmeal pies or 4 reenacting scenes from the television show hunter with my barbies. now that i am 142 i can fully appreciate your collective worth, especially since you're both old enough to do useful things like drive me to the airport and introduce me to drug dealers who might get me some celebrex.

i have never been embroiled in emotional combat with one of my homegirls over a dude because LOL WHAT IS THE PRIZE. have you dated a man before!? that's like arguing over who gets to fistfight a possum inside a dumpster or who gets to sleep with a dude so heartless that he actively pursued two cousins at the same time. what is even the point? THERE CLEARLY IS NO WINNER. besides, you queens are both shining beams of light, women who are bright and capable and have an encyclopedic knowledge of drake's back catalog. you are better than this.

some okay things the niece who bagged ol' boy got from this brief courtship:
1 someone to shower for.
2 lots of time to think about her choices and the consequences of her actions during the hours spent in her car driving back and forth from his house.
3 a perfectly steady instagram-stalking trigger finger.

and some pretty nifty things the other one missed out on:
1 thinking about leg hair.
2 not getting enough sleep and/or keeping a change of clothes on hand at all times.

listen, i don't get disappointed in things because life is trash and happiness is for people with higher credit scores than i have, but i am something resembling disappointed in you both. how are you still not speaking even though that relationship ran its course and homeboy has moved on to the girl he never stopped seeing in the first place!? i know i'm oversimplifying it (um am i really tho) but this cold war has gone on for, like, three months longer than even the most petty among us (ie: me) deem acceptable. which is also three months longer than this courtship even lasted. and fine, one of you got breakfast in bed and the other one didn't but so what? say the word and i'll come over and make you a pancake before ignoring you to play video games in the other room with my friends. see!? it's just like i'm your almost-boyfriend, except you ain't gotta act all weird at the pharmacy when you go in to pick up your plan b after i kick you out. feeling lonely? don't call that dead-behind-the-eyes placeholder with the curly hair! i am always available to red box and chill, if you understand "chill" to mean falling asleep upright at the dinner table and returning the dvd so late it overdrafts your bank account. i'm sorry not sorry that this is over but neither of you was going to marry a dude who spells something "summ'n" anyway.

remember that time i stopped talking to my oldest sister for two years because she made a joke about the back of my black-ass neck and everyone said i was ~immature~ but listen hoe hyperpigmentation is a real thing that is totally not my fault? well this is kind of like that, except i put my foot down and demanded an apology and hey! i eventually got one! and we don't really talk all that much now but at least i can die knowing my refusal to acknowledge her birthdays prompted 160 penitent characters.

SO MAYBE ONE OF YOU COULD JUST APOLOGIZE. can we talk about how lucky we are that neither of you is pregnant? and that you kids these days fight with tweets instead of fists!? one time i kicked jane in the stomach during one of our many inexplicable altercations and she went flying off the bed into a wall, taking down several of my new kids on the block posters with her, then played like she was dead for sixty real seconds and i was too scared to tell mom i'd killed her so i just put on my shoes and walked out the fucking door for two days? BE GLAD FOR A COUPLE SHITTY FACEBOOK MEMES, YOU ANIMALS. back in 1987, omg why am i still alive, this could've been over for you. (also my sister is a demon i mean who tf does that to someone!?)

remember when the three of us used to hang out? that was so much fun! i can picture it like it was yesterday: your eyes dancing mischievously as we accidentally tugged at the same greasy strand of bloomin' onion, steaks as tough as elephant bacon shimmering with gristle on the dishwasher-spotted plates below us, our soundtrack the sweet sweet serenade of several 2007 honda odysseys stuck in traffic on the nearby expressway, their horns a lively staccato tapped out by roadraged north suburban soccer moms. oh, the halcyon days of our fading youth! what i wouldn't give to transport us all back to that place, to that dimly-lit too-small booth at outback steakhouse, where we created so many happy memories. how can i continue living in this misery? without you two i wouldn't know how to hit the dab or correctly use the word "sus" in a sentence. WE COULD CAPTURE THAT MAGIC AGAIN, GUYS. and we should. especially since hanging out with you separately is both time-consuming and incredibly expensive.

if you jerks don't talk soon then the terrorists win. we are for real about to have donald trump as president and you clowns are subtweeting at each other!? WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HE TRIES TO SHIP US BACK TO AFRICA, LADIES. you are going to need every ally you can scrounge up, especially since i know for a fact you bitches can't swim. explain to me why this young man, whom neither of you is with at the moment and never will be again, was worth the loss of your relationship. better yet, please make me understand why despite his noticeable absence you guys still aren't talking. oh, i know: complicated feelings fleek disrespectful low-key turnt selfish lit basic apology squad or however you young people talk to each other. and i get it. KIND OF. but like i said, i've never fought with any of my friends over a boy. and yeah okay they're all pretty and kind and talented and i'm mean and look like someone shoved a bag of wet gym towels in a trash bag so i would never stand a chance anyway, but even if i did i'd never go there bc feminism. anyway let's not stray too far from my point: sisters before misters.