Tuesday, December 22, 2015

ho-ho-horrible.

¡feliz navidad! because of [sam and helen's] continued commitment to environmental stewardship (not the hippie kind), they've decided to make their first-ever christmas letter a digital version. this has nothing to do with the fact that they are [last-minute ne'er-do-wells] putting sam through her final year of [working for slave wages while teetering on the brink of suicide], resulting in a lack of funding for the hundreds of stamps required to send an actual paper letter to [the four people who would open an envelope with our return address on them]. [sam] has been [scouring the internet for holiday letters to use as a blueprint], however [helen and sam] are lacking two major christmas-letter components: kids and pets [that aren't helen]. [helen] no longer enjoyed [living in a tiny apartment on the north side of chicago] so she packed up and [moved her ass to michigan with mavis]. [sam] has kept herself very busy, filling her days with [complaining, taking psychotropic drugs, and not missing her mean-ass hateful-ass garbage-ass cat even one bit]. we are thankful for time spent [alone in a dark room in front of the television with our phones on silent] and hope you also enjoy time with your loved ones. [inoffensive generalized holiday salutation] to you, and we're [not praying, are you kidding me?] for you as the new year begins!

IT'S THE MOST TERRIBLE TIME OF THE YEAR. listen, i'm not mad if you and yours like to gather around a brightly-lit tree dripping with homemade ornaments and tinsel or a fired-up menorah dripping wax all over your ikea particleboard furniture, but some of us just want a lifetime movie marathon and a carton of store-bought eggnog to drink in our stained pajamas and to never have to pretend that thing you wrapped in newspaper that you picked up next to the register at walgreens is an acceptable gift as you demand to watch me open it. just buy me a beer sometime, janice. OR DON'T. when i was a kid i knew that while my friends were waking up to new bikes and nintendos on christmas morning that i would be lucky to find one of the modest toys i'd circled as i painstakingly scoured the sears catalog under our raggedy tree, and man that shit sticks with you. that's why now that i have credit cards and paychecks with commas in them i treat every day like christmas. if i want it i get it. and pay for expedited shipping. and i don't feel bad about it because santa never brought me that kid sister doll i wanted even though i dutifully ate all my carrots at dinner every night and i fucking hate carrots. 

i'm over all this holiday garbage. again. bring on the new year so i can make a list of unattainable goals that will likely not make it to valentine's day. it is december fucking 22 and i have no idea what to get for anyone in my life who doesn't want a pair of socks with a collage of drake faces on them. wanna know how old i am? my recent search history is full of shit like "loose-fitting socks" and my amazon wishlist is nothing but medicated skin creams and scented candles. i went out partying the other night and let me tell you how that looked: i 1 practically sobbed while putting on real clothes at 8pm on a motherfucking saturday 2 got in the back of some stranger's car because i thought it was my uber 3 forgot to eat some bread before i left the house to soak up the entire bottle of champagne we ended up drinking 4 watched helpless as a toddler in a bebe dress spilled whiskey sour on my $400 custom orthopedic shoes 5 went to the club wearing $400 custom orthopedic shoes 6 tried to still feel cool when the bartender called me "ma'am" 137 times 7 plugged my ears because the music was too loud :-/ and 8 woke up the next afternoon swollen and dehydrated and smelling like your nephew. WHY CAN'T I JUST DIE ALREADY.

thank god i have hating my job as a distraction, otherwise i'd be sitting at home clutching a tear-stained pillow to my bosom while lolcrying because none of my kisses begin with kay. it's the commercials that really fuck you up, right? every year there wasn't a red ribboned jeep double parked at the hydrant outside my crib (who tf has a driveway, this is the goddamn city) i would punch a hole in my stupid tv. christmas is the pits, especially when you're not rich slash not fucking anybody rich. even if you have good taste and buy the best gifts it's still kind of a letdown; last year i bought mavis the fanciest record player money can buy and after she opened it we both were like "oh okay now what." the most exciting thing in my stocking was a bag of cantaloupe jelly bellies. why are we doing this to ourselves!? let's just do a salt scrub and sleep for three days straight, cool?

2015 HOLIDAY SURVIVAL GUIDE.


make some snacks. special occasion menu time! so first i was like "let me just find some regular recipes because fuck it it's the fucking holidays" but then i was all "IF I GOTTA EAT THIS TRASH THESE NERDS SHOULD, TOO." the first thing people always ask me, after "how is it possible for a person to be covered in nervous sweat 23+ hours a day?" is "what on earth could you possibly eat now that delicious dairy and animal products are no longer a part of your daily life?" and the truth is: NOT THAT FUCKING MUCH. i easily have 17 vegan cookbooks stacked in my tiny kitchen, because ordering cookbooks off the internet is fucking easy. you know what isn't? navigating all the health aisles at whole foods trying to locate nutritional yeast and textured vegetable product then trying to find room to fit my dignity next to them in my reusable recyclable bag. i'm not interested in fake bacon and chicken nuggets made out of soy, so i mostly just eat rice that i cook with vegetable bouillon and vegetarian refried beans for every meal. this year i'm not cooking a goddamned thing because we booked a room at a fancy hotel downtown, so i'm going to spend the savior's birthday trying to find suitable foods on an overpriced room service menu LOL JK I'M GOING TO SEVEN LIONS THEN GETTING A HANGOVER PIZZA. but here are some dips i will guiltily make next week and shame-eat on a treadmill:

hot corn dip (from vegan coach)
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
3 1/2 cups corn kernels (4 ears fresh white or yellow corn)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup finely chopped organic red bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped green onions (green and white parts)
1/2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (1/2 to 1 cup, to taste)
4 ounces vegan monterey jack cheese, shredded
4 ounces vegan cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
tortilla chips, for maxing


1 oven at 450.
2 heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. add the corn, salt, and pepper. cook, stirring occasionally, until the kernels turn deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. transfer to a bowl.
3 add the remaining teaspoon of olive oil to the skillet. add the onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring often, until the onions are wilted, about 2 minutes. add the green onions, jalapeno, and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the vegetables are softened. transfer to the bowl with the corn.
4 add the mayo, the cheeses, and the cayenne and mix well. pour into an 8-inch square baking dish. cover with foil. bake until bubbly and golden brown, 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted.
5 serve hot with the chips. i would never do this but to make tortilla chips you just place tortillas in a 400 degree oven directly on the rack until crispy. remove, cool slightly, and break into bite-sized chips.


buffalo hummus (from oh she glows)
1 can or 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup jarred roasted red pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
cayenne pepper, to taste, for serving

1 combine all the ingredients except the oil and cayenne in a food processor. pulse a few times to combine and then scrape down the sides. with the motor running, stream in the oil through the feed tube. i have a cuisinart but i hate cleaning it. so i make this in the nutribullet and it's fine. don't let all this talk of pulsing and scraping deter you.
2 continue to run the motor until you reach the desired consistency;  i like to get it rul silky smooth.
3 add more salt, lemon juice, or hot sauce, to taste, and then sprinkle with cayenne pepper before serving.


simple vegan chocolate cake (from joy the baker)
i don't fuck with a lot of vegan desserts because they're gross. i don't miss cheeseburgers or sausage nearly as much as it breaks my fucking heart in half to walk past a plate of brownies or a bowl of pistachio ice cream. mavis is pretty good about not being a jerk about it but sometimes that bitch will be eating a slice of cheesecake all out in the open (fucking savage) and it takes all of the strength i have not to disgustingly lick out the inside of her mouth hoping to at least get a little taste of some cream cheese. anyway, this sad substitute for delicious dessert:
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm coffee
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. grease a 9-inch bundt pan with vegetable shortening and dust with cocoa powder. set aside.
2 in a large bowl whisk together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. in a medium bowl whisk together coffee, oil, and vanilla.
3 add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined.
4 pour the batter into your waiting bundt pan; it will be relatively thick. bake for 30-35 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. who tf owns a real cake tester!? use a piece of dry spaghetti or something, sheesh.
5 remove from oven and allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely. sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve. sam's note for dummies: the prettiest way to do this without your cake ending up with mismatched clumps all over it is to push the powdered sugar through a sieve (i only know this and have one because i worked in a bakery for forever). take a teaspoon, dump the sugar in the sieve, then use your little sausage fingers to push the sugar through the mesh, leaving your cake delicately dusted with snow rather than splattered with inconsistent chunks of bird shit. look at you, all ready for the great british baking show and whatnot.


buy some shit. real talk, how poor are you rn? naughty, nice, whatever: i'm not buying anyone anything. two things happen to me around the holidays, i 1 wait until the absolute last minute and am so overwhelmed by the sheer number of people i want to buy things for that i am crippled into inertia and 2 see a whole bunch of shit on sale (with free two-day shipping!) i want for my fucking self and cannot stop my clicking finger from getting it. here is a list of bullshit i have purchased for samantha irby since last wednesday:
-a sequin dress t-shirt (HOW DO THOSE WORDS EVEN GO TOGETHER)
-cream colored tuxedo pants that will probably look like garbage tbqh
-two coloured raine lipsticks
-three bottles of wine and a bag of salad from instacart
-a bar of zinc soap for the gnarly rash covering 75% of my face
-some make up forever lip glosses i will likely never wear out of the house
-a bunch of cases of la croix
-one of those sticks of activated charcoal to put in a pitcher of water
-a moleskine planner i will write one appointment in before abandoning forever
-flonase
-a box of handmade greeting cards on etsy
-some asos clearance stuff i bought so hastily i can't even remember what i ordered anymore
and it's not even christmas eve yet! there's still plenty of time to scroll-click-scroll and fill my virtual shopping carts with heavily-discounted boring shit for myself i'd never expect anyone else to get for me! but i'm not a fucking monster. i gave to a lot of kickstarters and gofundmes this year, plus i spent a lot of cocktail money on coat drives and toy donations. my attitude is not going to get me into heaven. if there really is such a place, i'ma have to show saint peter these target child-sized jacket receipts.

watch some shows. i just watched the season finale of the affair last night and if you are not watching that show WTF, BRUH. i got to the party late, right after the first season ended, and now i'm all caught up and fucking sick over it. mavis doesn't care about tv (BYE) and was facetiming me about the durability of her wrapping paper (WHAT) or knitting matching christmas stockings for the cats (PLEASE KILL ME) or some other shit i don't give a shit about while i was trying to watch my jam and i wasn't even distracted enough by my horrific reflection in the webcam to tear my eyes away from noah and allison and cole's fine ass. i need a support group every goddamned sunday night. this shit is fucking riveting. i watch each episode then i watch it again because a lot of stuff gets lost on me and then the next day i read the vulture recap first thing in the morning while weeping into my mason jar of overnight oats. so thank god it's over for now.

BUT WHAT WILL FILL THE GAPING VOID AND GIVE MY LIFE SOME MEANING. i haven't watched jessica jones yet, so maybe that? also everyone i know is talking about that making a murderer show and i can't usually stomach stuff like that but i hate not knowing what people are talking about. like, i don't want to talk about it with them? i just wanna know and judge them silently if it it's stupid. i've been watching all of the old seasons of top chef on hulu but it's not the same. i never watched the sopranos. nor have i seen even one episode of breaking bad. or watched more than one season of the wire. oh, i know: you're disappointed. i gotta die. and probably, but they just didn't hook me. too busy watching america's next top model, i guess. i fell off mad men after the first season so i could try to get back into that. or luther because duh idris. both house of cards and game of thrones are coming back in the spring and i need to finish the last few episodes of those so i don't feel like an asshole when they come back and i don't remember who the fuck anyone is. so basically what i'm trying to say is don't text me until early march and i won't text you.

bang some dudes off craigslist. i don't particularly enjoy unnecessary human contact, but if you need some then shit: BY ALL MEANS. maybe you gotta get with that one dude from high school who still comes home to sleep in his old bedroom for two weeks even though you guys are thirty-seven now. or maybe you get a little too lit at the company holiday party and karen's opaque nude knee-hi stockings start looking real good to you as they peek out from under her sensible skirt and you cop a feel in the front seat of her taurus in the parking lot behind the office. i ain't mad at cha. whatever keeps you from driving your car into a brick wall. you get a free pass for jingling indiscriminate balls so swipe right and get your stocking stuffed. if you get bummed out by the empty space under your tree and anonymous canoodling under the mistletoe isn't your thing, just remember that everyone is terrible and the only people who get good gifts are either dating p diddy or going broke buying shit for themselves. good luck, everybody. BAH HUMBUG.

Monday, December 14, 2015

bitches gotta read: grownup books to tackle over break.

this is kind of a lot. it's too fucking much. but i'm trying to make up for being so late by choking you with this stack of my "sooner rather than later" books. just looking at it is making my palms sweat because this is just stupid. we're never talking about it again okay bye. just choose a couple that sound good to you and get back to that eggnog.

abbreviated book club rules:
1 read what you want. OR DON'T.
2 talk about it with no one. OR EVERYONE.
3 maybe have some wine while you're reading. or eat a whole cake. whatever works.

white girls by hilton als. brief internet synopsis: In pieces that hairpin between critique and meditation, fiction and nonfiction, high culture and low, the theoretical and the deeply personal, Als presents a stunning portrait of a writer by way of his subjects, and an invaluable guide to the culture of our time.
(i mean duh)

station eleven by emily st. john mandel. brief internet synopsis: Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end. Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.
(everyone i know read this and loved it so fuck it i'm taking the plunge)

the sasquatch hunter's almanac by sharma shields. brief internet synopsis: Eli Roebuck was nine years old when his mother walked off into the woods with "Mr. Krantz," a large, strange, hairy man who may or may not be a sasquatch. What Eli knows for certain is that his mother went willingly, leaving her only son behind. For the rest of his life, Eli is obsessed with the hunt for the bizarre creature his mother chose over him, and we watch it affect every relationship he has in his long life--with his father, with both of his wives, his children, grandchildren, and colleagues.

we are not ourselves by matthew thomas. brief internet synopsis: Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on how much alcohol has been consumed. From an early age, Eileen wished that she lived somewhere else. She sets her sights on upper class Bronxville, New York, and an American Dream is born. Driven by this longing, Eileen places her stock and love in Ed Leary, a handsome young scientist, and with him begins a family. Over the years Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house. It slowly becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper, more incomprehensive psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.

bellweather rhapsody by kate racculia. brief internet synopsis: Fifteen years ago, a murder-suicide in room 712 rocked the grand old Bellweather Hotel and the young bridesmaid who witnessed it, Minnie Graves. Now hundreds of high school musicians have gathered at the Bellweather for the annual Statewide festival; Minnie has returned to face her demons; and a blizzard is threatening to trap them all inside. When a young prodigy disappears from infamous room 712, the search for her entwines an eccentric cast of conductors and caretakers, teenagers on the verge and adults haunted by memories. A genre-bending page-turner, full of playful nods to pop-culture classics from The Shining to Agatha Christie to Glee, Bellweather Rhapsody is a winning new novel from a writer to watch.
(i got this at word bookstore in brooklyn i have no idea why but i'm game)

the animals by christian kiefer. brief internet synopsis: Bill Reed manages a wildlife sanctuary in rural Idaho, caring for injured animals―raptors, a wolf, and his beloved bear, Majer, among them―that are unable to survive in the wild. Seemingly rid of his troubled past, Bill hopes to marry the local veterinarian and live a quiet life together, the promise of which is threatened when a childhood friend is released from prison. Suddenly forced to confront the secrets of his criminal youth, Bill battles fiercely to preserve the shelter that protects these wounded animals and to keep hidden his turbulent, even dangerous, history.
(bring me all the wild animal books)

the star side of bird hill by naomi jackson. brief internet synopsis: Two sisters, ages ten and sixteen, are exiled from Brooklyn to Bird Hill in Barbados after their mother can no longer care for them. The young Phaedra and her older sister, Dionne, live for the summer of 1989 with their grandmother Hyacinth, a midwife and practitioner of the local spiritual practice of obeah. Dionne spends the summer in search of love, testing her grandmother’s limits, and wanting to go home. Phaedra explores Bird Hill, where her family has lived for generations, accompanies her grandmother in her role as a midwife, and investigates their mother’s mysterious life.
(phaedra!!!)

above by isla morley. brief internet synopsis: Blythe Hallowell is sixteen when she is abducted by a survivalist and locked away in an abandoned missile silo in Eudora, Kansas. At first, she focuses frantically on finding a way out, until the harrowing truth of her new existence settles in—the crushing loneliness, the terrifying madness of a captor who believes he is saving her from the end of the world, and the persistent temptation to give up. But nothing prepares Blythe for the burden of raising a child in confinement. Determined to give the boy everything she has lost, she pushes aside the truth about a world he may never see for a myth that just might give meaning to their lives below ground. Years later, their lives are ambushed by an event at once promising and devastating. As Blythe’s dream of going home hangs in the balance, she faces the ultimate choice—between survival and freedom.
(i bought this at city lit because it was on a table in the window but my claustrophobia is like BITCH ARE YOU SURE so we'll see)

the orchardist by amanda coplin. brief internet synopsis: In her stunningly original and haunting debut novel, Amanda Coplin evokes a powerful sense of place, mixing tenderness and violence as she spins an engrossing tale of a solitary orchardist who provides shelter to two runaway teenage girls in the untamed American West, and the dramatic consequences of his actions. 

chomp by carl hiaasen. OUR LONE YA BOOK WHAT WHAT. brief internet synopsis: Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he's grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, and snappers in his backyard. The critters, he can handle. His father is the unpredictable one. When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called Expedition Survival!, Wahoo figures he'll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show's inept and egotistical star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger foolishly believes his own PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo's acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who's sporting a shiner courtesy of her father and needs a place to hide out. They've only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna's dad shows up with a gun...
(i have read all of carl hiaasen's books, judge me if you must)

negroland by margo jefferson. brief internet synopsis: Born in upper-crust black Chicago—her father was for years head of pediatrics at Provident, at the time the nation’s oldest black hospital; her mother was a socialite—Margo Jefferson has spent most of her life among (call them what you will) the colored aristocracy, the colored elite, the blue-vein society. Since the nineteenth century they have stood apart, these inhabitants of Negroland, “a small region of Negro America where residents were sheltered by a certain amount of privilege and plenty.” Reckoning with the strictures and demands of Negroland at crucial historical moments—the civil rights movement, the dawn of feminism, the fallacy of postracial America—Jefferson brilliantly charts the twists and turns of a life informed by psychological and moral contradictions. Aware as it is of heart-wrenching despair and depression, this book is a triumphant paean to the grace of perseverance.
(full disclosure: i read this already and it is so so excellent)

rails under my back by jeffery raynard allen. brief internet synopsis: Rails Under My Back is an epic that tracks the interwoven lives of two brothers, Lucius and John Jones, who are married to two sisters, Gracie and Sheila McShan. For them, their parents, and their children, life is always full of departures; someone is always fleeing town and leaving the remaining family to suffer the often dramatic, sometimes tragic consequences. The multiple effects of the comings and goings are devastating: These are the almost mythic expression of the African American experience in the half century that followed the Second World War.
(LOOKS LIKE A JAM)

the invaders by karolina waclawiak. brief internet synopsis: Cheryl has never been the right kind of country-club wife. She's always felt like an outsider, and now, in her mid-forties--facing the harsh realities of aging while her marriage disintegrates and her troubled stepson, Teddy, is kicked out of college; she feels cast adrift by the sparkling seaside community of Little Neck Cove, Connecticut. So when Teddy shows up at home just as a storm brewing off the coast threatens to destroy the precarious safe haven of the cove, she joins him in an epic downward spiral.
(p sure i bought this because i liked the cover)

we only know so much by elizabeth crane. brief internet synopsis: A funny and moving debut novel that follows four generations of a singularly weird American family, all living under one roof, as each member confronts a moment of crisis in a narrative told through a uniquely quirky, charming, and unforgettable voice.
(betsy crane is my homie)

the mare by mary gaitskill. brief internet synopsis. Velveteen Vargas is eleven years old, a Fresh Air Fund kid from Brooklyn. Her host family is a couple in upstate New York: Ginger, a failed artist and shakily recovered alcoholic, and her academic husband, Paul, who wonder what it will mean to “make a difference” in such a contrived situation. Gaitskill illuminates their shifting relationship with Velvet over several years, as well as Velvet’s  encounter with the horses at the stable down the road—especially with an abused, unruly mare called Fugly Girl. With strong supporting characters—Velvet’s abusive mother, an eccentric horse trainer, a charismatic older boy who awakens Velvet’s nascent passion—The Mare traces Velvet’s journey between the vital, violent world of the inner city and the world of the small-town stable.

the leftovers by tom perrotta. brief internet synopsis: What if―whoosh, right now, with no explanation―a number of us simply vanished? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down? That's what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened―not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children. Kevin Garvey, Mapleton's new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin's own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne. Only Kevin's teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she's definitely not the sweet "A" student she used to be. Kevin wants to help her, but he's distracted by his growing relationship with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on October 14th and is still reeling from the tragedy, even as she struggles to move beyond it and make a new start.
(yo i looooove tom perrotta and am also that asshole that reads the book before watching the show)

loving day by mat johnson. brief internet synopsis: Warren Duffy has returned to America for all the worst reasons: His marriage to a beautiful Welsh woman has come apart; his comics shop in Cardiff has failed; and his Irish American father has died, bequeathing to Warren his last possession, a roofless, half-renovated mansion in the heart of black Philadelphia. On his first night in his new home, Warren spies two figures outside in the grass. When he screws up the nerve to confront them, they disappear. The next day he encounters ghosts of a different kind: In the face of a teenage girl he meets at a comics convention he sees the mingled features of his white father and his black mother, both now dead. The girl, Tal, is his daughter, and she’s been raised to think she’s white. Spinning from these revelations, Warren sets off to remake his life with a reluctant daughter he’s never known, in a haunted house with a history he knows too well. In their search for a new life, he and Tal struggle with ghosts, fall in with a utopian mixed-race cult, and ignite a riot on Loving Day, the unsung holiday for interracial lovers.
(mavis read this and i got jealous so now i wanna read it, shit)

the scamp by jennifer pashley. brief internet synopsis: Rayelle Reed can’t escape in her small town, where everyone knows everything and not enough: All the guys she slept with, but not the ones she loved. The baby she had out of wedlock with the pastor’s son, and how the baby died, but not the grief and guilt that consume her. At a motel bar, Rayelle meets Couper Gale, a freelance detective on a mission to investigate a rash of missing girls, and she tags along as an excuse to cross the state line. But when Couper’s investigation leads them to the mystery surrounding Rayelle’s runaway cousin Khaki, she finds she is heading straight back into everything she was hoping to leave behind.
(my girl lindsay hunter, whose book ugly girls you should totally read, recommended this one)

local girls by caroline zancan. brief internet synopsis: Maggie, Lindsey, and Nina have been friends for most of their lives. The girls grew up together in a dead-end Florida town on the outskirts of Orlando, and the love and loyalty they have for one another have been their only constants. Now nineteen and restless, the girls spend empty summer days bouncing between unfulfilling jobs, the beach, and their favorite local bar, The Shamrock. It’s there that a chance encounter with a movie star on the last night of his life changes everything.
(i went to a reading at women and children first and this was on a display table and i liked the cover so there you have it)

during the holidays i like to read in my pajamas while watching those lexus oversized-red-bow-surprising-my-wife-who-obviously-doesn't-check-the-bank-statements commercials on a loop, but i have many many television shows to watch plus a full time job so who even knows how this is all going to go. i will say that i've read at least the first couple of pages in each of these, which is a dumb thing to fucking do. i basically have no idea what's going on at any time. every other page i'm like, "who is this now?" it's ridiculous. amy made us a facebook group that you can join if that feels right to you by clicking here.
see you next month, when i'm still slogging through the first book on this goddamned list. sigh.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

do black girls even get to be depressed?

when i was young i was frequently described as "moody." or dismissed as "angry." according to the social worker who routinely pulled me out of class i was intellectually bright but "quietly hostile." nevermind that i was basically living in squalor with a half-dead corpse, subsisting on the kind of cereal that comes in a five pound bag and whatever nutrient-rich meals were being served for free hot lunch; i was diagnosed as having "an attitude problem." so i rocked with that. when you're a kid it's sometimes just easier to go along with other people's definitions of who you are. they're adults, right? so they're smarter? i would listen to this faith no more tape on my walkman (DO YOUNG PEOPLE UNDERSTAND WHAT THOSE WORDS EVEN MEAN) over and over while sulking and looking morose or whatever it is poor kids get to do when we have no access to semiautomatic firearms or prescription drugs. it was the only thing i could do to make it to the next goddamned day.

no one in my house was talking about depression. that's something that happened to white people on television, not a thing that could take down a Strong Black Woman. which also fucked with me on the "why are you listening to smashing pumpkins instead of [insert name of popular early 90s r+b artist]? are you even black!?" level. siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh. so i was 1 super fucking depressed 2 super fucking depressed with no one to talk to about it who wasn't going to immediately suggest child services remove me from my home and 3 super fucking depressed while clocking in on the low end of my skinfolk's negrometers because i identified hard with courtney love and read sassy magazine because essence wasn't really speaking to me yet so wasn't this whole thing yet another way i was desperately trying to be white?

i tried to take my own life in 1993 and the general response when it failed was basically LOL TOUGHEN UP.
first semester freshman report card:
english C
history C

gym D
band B+
algebra A (because kate lewis helped me do my homework i love you kate)
suicide F
i just slept straight through the rest of the weekend and went back to school the next monday and kept doing the same shit i'd always been doing and figured that if i wanted to try again i needed to wait until i was old enough to get a car and drive it off one of suburban chicago's many cliffs. i think my mom started watching me a little more closely? but what was she really going to do. she was severely disabled and my being hopeless all the time was trumped by "you know i can't walk, right?" and i get that. i was a kid, it was my job to go to school, so i did my job. i would deal with it when i was off medicare and making enough money to pay for therapy myself. BAHAHAHAHAHA *choke sob* AHAHAHAHAHA!

even when my fucking parents died five years later when i was eighteen, and i had an actual thing i could point to as a source of my unrelenting depression, a cause to substantiate the effect of my simmering hatred, i played it off. i don't know if it feels like this for anyone else, but i definitely come from the kind of people whose response to "hey man, i'm pretty bummed out" is "shut up, there's nothing wrong with you." or how about "you just sleep all of the time because you're lazy." like, if it isn't broken or hemorrhaging you need to bury it under these dollar store snack foods and work it out by your fucking self. OH OKAY COOL. so then i developed very glamorous coping mechanisms like covering myself with grisly death tattoos and eating food out of the trash. and then, because i wasn't actively trying to kill myself and could keep a job and make friends and pay my rent and not do heroin, i made peace with it. this is just how i am. I'M FINE. for as long as i can remember i've had this undercurrent of sadness that, if i'm being honest, i don't totally mind. it was easy to ignore because it doesn't bother me that much. and i don't want to be some shiny, happy idiot. this is gritty, this is real.

i am just an old garbage bag full of blood patiently waiting for death to rescue me, but sometimes when i tell people that their immediate response is HOW CAN YOU BE SAD YOU'RE HILARIOUS!!!!! and then for five seconds i'm like "this asshole who has never met me before is correct i'm so funny i should stop thinking life is a trash can." until five seconds after that some human roadkill yells at the grocery store bagger or pulls his scrotum out on the train and i get the insatiable urge to peel my skin off like the layers of an onion and jam my thumbs into my eye sockets while hoping that i'll just disappear down the garbage disposal of human existence straight into hell. then it's easy to just write the depression off as an irritation at the dummies i have to share the planet with. "i'm not depressed, dudes who ride unicycles in rush hour traffic are fucking idiots" or "nothing is wrong with me, the real problem is all these people mindlessly texting while their dogs shit in the middle of the gd sidewalk."

two things happened that forced me to finally have the "sometimes i have a disproportionately rage-filled response to otherwise harmless shit" talk with my doctor. 1 i was at work and the worst person in the world came in to buy dog food, the kind of person who asks an unending stream of questions that i as an unfamiliar customer service representative couldn't possibly answer as she emptied the entire contents of her handbag onto the counter in front of me. i hate that, the "please don't write a negative yelp review of this business" trap that requires i stand there trying to look engaged while this woman uses me as a sounding board for questions like, "is [redacted] going to eat three cans or maybe should i just get one?" she's not asking me, but she's not not asking me?  i mean, we're making eye contact but how in the fuck could i know!? and i have to wait there held hostage because one of these questions pouring like vomit from her toothless maw might be one i can actually answer. "can i really carry a seventeen pound bag up my stairs?" (well, not that one.) "i wonder if the dog really wants me to switch back to his old food." (yeah, not that one either.) i could feel the familiar rageheat start in my shoulders and claw its way slowly up my neck and into my jaw before finally scratching at the backs of my eyeballs. and as she kept rambling nonsensically to herself while pretending she needed my help for five minutes in real time i calmly raised my hands to my ears and used my forefingers to hold them closed and said, "you have to get the fuck out of here or i will destroy you." SO MUCH FOR THAT STELLAR YELP REVIEW.

then 2 i had the kind of anxiety attack that makes you feel like you’re going to die on the spot as i was standing next to stephanie’s car in the parking lot of a combination gas station and subway. i tossed my sandwich (tuna, plain, whole wheat because duh i’m a health nut) onto the passenger seat and pawed at my chest while trying to catch my breath. WHAT A DEPRESSING PLACE TO DIE, i thought. i assumed i was having a heart attack because i had been in line at subway behind three black people, each of whom had a long list of explicit, complicated instructions for the sandwich artist tasked with preparing six inches of squishy yoga mat bread to your uncle tony's exact specifications. “i want provolone cheese and cucumbers and spinach and lettuce and red onions and tomatoes, olives and banana peppers and giardiniera, i need the chipotle southwest sauce and the ranch, extra meat but i don’t want you to charge me for it, also let me get the green bell peppers and the herbs and spices, oil and vinegar too on the italian herbs and cheese bread, then i want you to toast that shit but don’t, like, toast it toast it. don't let my fucking lettuce wilt, man.” and yes his sandwich should be exactly as he fucking wants it but as an innocent bystander who never gets more than two toppings that shit is fucking nerve-wracking, please just let me get my plain scoops of tuna on wheat bread before i sweat through my clothes with anxiety over this transaction not turning out the way homeboy intended because most of those things don’t even go with meatballs but what the fuck do i know please god just let me leave. i went straight to the hospital, smelling like old-ass subway tuna fish.

when i have a panic attack my throat closes up like someone is wrapping their fingers around it and my chest hurts and i can't breathe and i am 100% certain i am going to die. i know when you feel it coming on you're supposed to relax and do your breathing exercises but it feels like if in that moment i lie down and close my eyes for even a second i will never open them again. and most of the time i'm down with that but this shit always happens when my sheets need changing or my garbage can is full of freezer-burned hot pockets i tried to salvage and i get even more stressed out at the thought of whomever finds my corpse discovering the last thing i googled was "shark tank bonus clips." not being able to deal with your life is humiliating. it makes you feel weak. and if you're african-american and female not only are you expected to be resilient enough to just take the hits and keep going, if you can't you're a black bitch with an attitude. *rolls eyes for sarcastic effect* you're not mentally ill, you're ghetto. sitting in that hospital bed with a 23-year-old dude who looked like he was playing doctor with his father's stethoscope looped around his neck i was so fucking embarrassed, ashamed to be talking to him about being so mad and so sad as he dumped a syringe full of ativan into my arm. letting rosa parks and harriet tubman down by talking about my silly little feelings.

all this might be easier if i could punch shit, but i'm not a punch shit person. i'm a sit in the dark in the bathroom with a package of sharp cheddar cheese slices person. except i don't even really eat cheese anymore. plus i can't fucking fight. if a bitch wanted to whoop my ass right now my only hope would be to challenge her to a sudoku battle or some shit. I'M SOFT, MAN. and i don't have any answers. the world is scary and terrible and motherfuckers out here don't want obamacare to fix a paper cut let alone offer some discounted mental health care, so what can we do. talk about it? stop being afraid of it? shut down dudes who want to dismiss us as fragile or crazy!? i went on lexapro but after three weeks stopped sleeping and fuck that. maybe it doesn't work that way for everyone but i'd rather be angry and well-rested than tired and happy. or "happy," i guess. i have generic klonopin and ativan and i learned how to do this 478 breathing technique that's supposed to switch your body from fight-or-flight to a passive response but come on, bro. seriously the only time it even occurs to me to do it is when i'm sweating and trying to dry swallow some of these benzos. if i ever have more than $37 in my pocket i'm going to open a school for girls with bad attitudes where we basically talk to therapists all day while wearing soft pants and occasionally taking a field trip to the nearest elote cart. and if that doesn't work i'll just tell some jokes. good thing i'm hilarious.