Thursday, November 30, 2017

what the fuck is "art."

art is boring! i do not understand surrealism, performance art makes me uncomfortable, and nuance is lost on me. what is a triptych? abstract art mostly doesn't make sense? when was the neoclassical period? are these things it might actually benefit my life to know!? probably not! i mean, ART is for pretentious assholes. but listen, i also used to call a quiche a kweesh so who the fuck even cares what i have to say about a painting.

when i was pretending to be a cool twentysomething in the city i used to lie to people i was interested in having sex with and say i was curious about art, but that's an easy thing to say that is nearly impossible to disprove. if you say you know about art and then someone asks you a serious question about it and all you can do in response is stammer, "um, duh, frida kahlo?" then THAT SUCKS. but if you claim to be "curious" the very definition of that shit is literally "idk but i might want to?" i mean i'm curious about a lot of things:
-lion cubs
-heart surgery
but that doesn't mean i could carry on an intelligent conversation about any of those subjects. (and if i'm being honest i don't care enough about any of them to do more than skim an article or two.) here's the thing: i don't know anything. okay that's not true, i know a handful of super specific things that i will likely never be tested on, plus if there ever was an impromptu general knowledge exam i could probably fake my way through at least 3/4 of it, but i don't really know anything i could ever speak confidently about to anyone else, especially if they are more than nine years old. people are always asking me to speak at things where audience members will have clipboards and recording devices hoping to use whatever i'm saying practically in their own lives and my response every time is ARE YOU KIDDING ME. listen, i would love to speak at your university's gastrointestinal conference, sir in my inbox, but i don't even know which one my pancreas is. call up someone who actually knows what bile does.

when the producer of this podcast "a piece of work" that was in development and emailed to ask if i would be interested in going to a museum in new york and looking at art with my pal abbi i was like "haha yeah right girl what is a podcast." every week i listen to the read while cleaning the bathroom but other than that i can't be bothered. and okay, i listened to serial the first time around and became heavily invested in adnan's fate and when i remember it exists i can sometimes find this american life on public radio in the car but seriously podcasts are overwhelming to me so i mostly just steer clear of them. 1 there are a lot of them, and i don't know how to decide which one to listen to, and even if i could narrow them all down to just a couple is it fair to start with the most recent or do i have to go all the way back to the beginning and if the shit's been on since 2013 how am i ever gonna catch up? that's a lot of pressure! 2 also how do you listen to a podcast while doing anything else, please tell me. i have to sit still and focus like i'm in a classroom, with absolutely zero distractions in my line of vision, otherwise ten minutes into it i have no idea what the fuck i just heard. i tried to listen to dirty john a few weeks ago during a road trip and i missed the directions because siri sort of sounds like debra and i wasn't paying attention and long story short i still have no idea how it ends. 3 i listened to a joel osteen podcast ONE LOUSY TIME and now every time i check my podcasts there are his crinkly eyes asking "are you living a life of peace?" and you know what i don't need that kind of inquisition, reverend.

i took an art history class the one semester i paid attention in my scattered college career twenty years ago and honestly the only thing i remember was that the dude who always just happened to find the seat in front of mine in the middle of a crowded fucking auditorium would fall into a deep, comfortable sleep as soon as the professor dimmed the lights and i marveled that a person could relax that much anywhere, let alone in an auditorium full of rowdy nineteen-year-olds. i'm pretty sure i got a good grade in the class and i could not tell you how, because i have retained precisely 0% of all of the information i learned from those endless slideshows. but i agreed to do it despite my raging impostor syndrome and i went to new york and met abbi at the MoMA PS1 in queens, mostly because i had no idea when in the history of earth my name would be listed in the same sentence with rupaul or questlove ever the fuck again and turning down this opportunity felt ridiculous even for me. after i climbed to the top of the fucking building (why nyc just why) abbi greeted me in some fashion clothes with fashion hair and fashion electric blue eyeliner and let me tell you what it's like to have exactly one super-famous friend: on the one hand you'll be wide-eyed and mystified by their doing some dumb regular-ass shit like "whoa girl, you use the same stupid fucking google i use?!??!!!?!" and then on the other you'll meet up with them on a random thursday afternoon and they're still in makeup from being shot for THE COVER OF A FUCKING MAGAZINE. i was trying to discreetly wring out my soaking wet foundation garments because no matter what new york is always hot and you always have to scale the face of a mountain to get wherever you're trying to go while this bitch breezed in looking like a spring day on some "oh hey, i'm a model today." lol just fucking murder me already.

first they showed us this piece of text art (is that even a thing) that i looked at and, for the life of me, was rendered speechless because it just looked like a bunch of messy words that i could have made with five minutes and an inkpad but that is such a ridiculous thing to think and i was embarrassed because WHAT IF THESE PEOPLE CAN READ MY MIND and they know that in my head i am downplaying what is surely an impressive artwork too great for my tiny little cat brain to understand?! i was staring at it waiting for something brilliant to come out of my mouth but all i could formulate was "how much did this dude get paid to make this?" and listen i know the answer is either "one million dollars" or "they paid him in soup" because art is a mystery but i honestly wanted to know. what if i am wasting my time stringing my own words together and hoping they are funny and make sense when the real money is in quoting someone else's words and making them look cool on a canvas?

see, don't take me anywhere nice! or show me anything good! i'm the guy who puts ketchup on the steak like "durrr what's the big deal?" and you should absolutely know better than to take me to a place with cloth napkins! abbi was super cool about it and said "dude this is the reaction we want" and rachel the producer was laughing in a way that was definitely with me and not at me but all i could imagine was hannibal burress having some secret knowledge of color theory and scale while i was embarrassing myself slack-jawed in front of these paintings like "WOW, PRETTY."

next we went into a special room to look at a light installation, and all of the words that follow this sentence have been lifted verbatim from MoMA's description of the piece because my brain is literally a cake that fell in: one of artist james turrell’s celebrated skyspaces, meeting is a site-specific installation that invites viewers to gaze upwards toward an unobstructed view of the sky. a key representative of the “light and space” movement centered in los angeles during the 1960s, james turrell creates works of art that consist primarily of light, exploring fundamental questions about the nature of human perception by rendering tangible the act of vision. SOUNDS FUCKING DOPE, RIGHT. so the deal is you have to view the installation at sunset, and the best way to view it is to lie down on the floor in this room and stare at this hole that has been cut into the ceiling while a series of colored lights manipulates what you think you're seeing. so we (me, abbi, the sound guy who was very nice despite having to contort into many uncomfortable-looking yoga positions to record two idiots lying on their backs on the floor) all got down on the floor (i'm pretty sure i haven't been on a floor since my early 20s before all this joint disease started ruining my life and it definitely was a three-step process) and into prime viewing position (my left boob immediately rolled into my armpit and have you ever been in a super serious situation, like a thing you really can't afford to mess up, and right in the middle of it you feel a fart coming and you have to shift all of your attention to your butthole? because yes you need to nail this job interview but there's no way to do that if you release rotten broccoli wind in to your potential new boss's cramped office?) then the lightshow started as the sun began its descent (one half of my brain froze, existing only to monitor the incremental movements of whatever was happening on my chest while also tracking the various cell phone cameras circling the room, and the other tried to make the word "magenta" sound natural while coming out of my mouth and wondering just how goddamn long it takes the sun to go all the way the fuck down) and granted i grew up poor and didn't leave the midwest until my friends moved out of state and their parents flew me out to see them but wow it was the most amazing thing i've ever seen. i don't even know what i said to describe the optical illusion i was looking at but i do know now that test driving a bra you bought off the internet in front of people you want to impress is a horrible fucking idea. 

it was the most breathtakingly beautiful thing i have ever seen and i really did almost cry but also halfway through i was like "is my foot asleep?" and i couldn't stop thinking about what a terrible choice wearing a loose garbage bag dress had been. anyway if you like podcasts, or you are willing to suffer through some because you want to hear what i sound like lying on a carpet sounding like i'm buzzed on shrooms while dying internally of humiliation and trying to think of synonyms for the word "awesome" that sound convincingly like i'd say them, you can find all of the episodes of abbi's podcast "a piece of work" here. you'll like it even if you don't give a shit about art. at the very least, you can talk to someone you might want to have sex with about it.

click here and buy this thing i made!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

bitches gotta read: i am not your perfect mexican daughter.

happy belated thanksgiving, i guess. you know what i'm thankful for? the dubious, ever-shifting number of days during which we have to fumble around wishing people various forms of holiday cheer while squirming on the inside because whatever people's plans are they are definitely more exciting than yours and all you wanted to do was run into target for some sale-priced cake mix and whoops that dude you hate from high school just happens to be contemplating frosting choices and you didn't bother to put on a decent bra because who can even tell you have a body under the pile of gas station rags you fashioned into a winter coat this year but he is clearly staring at where your nipples are grazing the drawstring holding your gravy pants up while pretending he doesn't notice the pillowcase creases in your cheek.
him: "hey sam! you look great! got any big plans for christmas this year?!"
me, a collection of random dead body parts frankensteined together with ultra-absorbent maxi pads and old cheese: "i was just planning to build a shrine to my dead cat and mail something under $15 to a stranger from my internet gift exchange. and you, person who never had an ugly phase and hasn't aged a day (specifically to spite me)?"
him: "wow! that sounds interesting! i somehow can afford to fly twenty of my closest friends to aspen even though we're the exact same age and you have just enough cash to pay for that one box of brownie mix i can't believe you got a cart to push around!"
end scene.

so i have this new gig writing book recommendations for marie claire (GET A DAMN SUBSCRIPTION ALREADY) which is fun and weird because i am not very good at brevity and summing up a whole ass book in 75 words that both accurately detail the plot while also  explain why you should read it is really fucking hard. have you ever tried to convince someone to read your favorite book and ended up sounding like a total asshole? every month i'm like "i liked this book but how do i make other people like what i like without being irritating or boring them to death." i read little fires everywhere and i loved it so much and i wrote this passionate and funny recommendation that i thought perfectly encapsulated it and then i did a count and had to trim 212 words to 75 and all i ever wanted as a kid was super short assignments and now that i've got them i can't stop having diarrhea all over my keyboard. anyway all my beloved thrillers and YA novels are piling up because 1 i love tv and 2 no one is paying me to read them, but don't worry i'm getting my shit back together slowly but surely for this book club.

the rules
1 we are never going to meet in real life. that would require a bra and zippered pants and probably an expensive uber and no one is doing that. you don't have to worry about megan's dairy allergy or that vanessa doesn't like champagne. 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 rainbow rowell 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 hilarious mostly-women people who aren't irritating! come find us!!) i also have a bunch of friends on goodreads but lesbihonest: i'm not, like, putting all these john grishams i read on there because i don't need you guys clowning me in public.
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 co-op and you decide to ask how shocked i was by the twist no one saw coming at the end.

brief internet synopsis:
Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family. But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role. Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed. But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

i got an early copy of this book before it came out and i tore through it in a day. first of all, it's set in chicago but, more important than that, it features a character from evanston. i.e. the place where both lena waithe and i went to high school. the book is so funny and so great and i met erika a few weeks ago at the texas book festival and she is a total joy and let me awkwardly hug her even though it was 90 actual degrees outside and everyone was damp to the touch. since i'm playing catch up and haven't given you a list of shit to read in a minute, here are some books i've read in real life on my own dime from other people i got to press my sweaty flesh against in the oppressive austin heat:
made for love by alissa nutting, a genius.
the floating world by morgan bapst, a champion.
eat only when you're hungry by lindsay hunter, a sorceror. (and my homie from way back)
all grown up by jami attenberg, a virtuoso.
goodbye, vitamin by rachel khong, a wizard.
okay whew now my guilt is assuaged for dropping the ball, especially since i went to the trouble to hyperlink all of this shit which i never ever fucking do. these should keep you occupied, depending on your reading speed and/or your penchant for cheesy hallmark holiday movies, for at least a few weeks of hiding from all the people who bought you hanukkah socks or whatever other garbage you didn't ask for.


Friday, October 20, 2017

how i spent my summer vacation.

the first day of school is always bullshit. in theory, i always loved the dawning of a new school year because there was always a slim chance that over the summer my classmates would forget how poor and fat i was and i could reinvent myself as someone who owned cool clothes and deserved to get invited to parties. in reality my mom would leave the kmart back to school circular on my bed in august with a note that said something like "circle three things on sale" and then the day before school started my wildly impractical choices would be laid out on my bed when i returned home from wandering the neighborhood for hours pretending to be enjoying the fresh air adults are always telling you to get, and i'd realize that a snap crotch bodysuit and two pairs of rainbow-striped novelty socks maybe weren't the wisest choice to get me through until santa and his crew swept through the husky section at jcpenny en route to our crib december 24th. why has it never once occurred to me to yearn for sensible, practical shit.

you don't really get that kind of do over as an adult and i miss it. or, i guess, i miss the illusion that the possibility exists. i mean january 1 might be a contender if you got a month off before the new year rolled around to reinvent your music tastes or attempt to grow some semblance of a beard, but that's not really a thing once you age out of having to care about standardized tests and diploma requirements. i like the idea of resolutions, because in my mind i am the kind of person who can reshuffle the deck and approach my life in a new way but after many years of halfhearted trying i've just come to accept that i'm just gonna be the way i fucking am, and if i happen to accidentally drink a glass of alkaline water or glance inside an art gallery as i walk past it then fine but i'm not writing shit down anymore. no more buying a fresh notebook at the end of the year and pretending that i have intentions. it's embarrassing.

okay so here's what i did this summer:

1 i got sick in every city i went to on my book tour. and i know what you're thinking: "you can't just put any old street hotdog in your mouth, you fucking idiot." and yes that is true but i swear that i am too paranoid about ever having to take a shit on a plane to be careless about my diet on the road. i also don't want to have to pee a million times in a city whose quality public bathroom map isn't imprinted on my tiny brain so i didn't really drink enough either, which wasn't really a major problem in NYC but guess who should've figured out some sort of intravenous fluid contraption before going to motherfucking texas?! i was like a piece of boiled leather who had a fever for two days because i was thirsty. i spent nine days withering under the unrelenting sun while everyone's taco recommendations turned to dust inside my phone. also i had nervous diarrhea in the bathroom at the four seasons in beverly hills before a breakfast meeting (hollywood people love food meetings but i get real anxious eating in front of people) and a tv person with a fancy blowout that i recognized from us weekly whom i'd just seen exit an actual bentley offered me the name of her "b12 guy" when i came out of the stall and all i could think about was how more places need soundproof bathrooms so unsuspecting celebrities don't have to listen to regular people shit.

2 i bought a couch from your grandfather because i felt bad that he had to listen to young people's pop radio at value city furniture. on a whim, after being reasonably delighted watching baby driver even though i really wanted to take that young woman by the shoulders and firmly explain to her you don't wait for a man to get out of prison when you don't even know whether or not he has a quality insurance plan, mavis and i were cruising through the movie theater strip mall daydreaming of nail shops and bland frozen yogurt when i decided i needed a new couch. first of all, one of these days i need someone to explain to me why we have two living rooms but only one of them has a tv. i mean, i read as many books as the next dumb asshole but there is not a day that goes by that i don't plop down on the couch in the front room and think "what am i supposed to sit and look at?" okay anyway the "wine drinking room" slash "piano playing room" slash "wow i really wish this fucking room had a tv in it room" had one of those awful low couches that people who don't care about being comfortable at all times own to trick people into thinking they have watercress or some shit in the fridge, and I CAN'T LIVE LIKE THAT. i mean, i don't have an opinion one way or another about edible aquatic plants but i do know i don't want my fucking spine aligned every time i sit down to not watch tv. it was like the couch at your mean grandma's house, the one you had to sit real still on while being seen and not heard.

there was a value city furniture in the mall and i don't care what anyone says, if you grew up a certain way there are things that will stick with you no matter where you go or who you're with or how much you have. let's put it like this: if there had been a goddamn rent-a-center in that mall i would have at least gone in to take a look. i grew up with a knockoff la-z-boy so who am i to start acting saditty now? i wanted a couch, so i'm getting a couch from the kind of place that accepts coupons. anyway we go in and the overhead speakers are pumping out some unintelligible diet club track and this gaunt man in an oversized suit shuffles slowly over to us, a "tablet" with a broken screen tucked into his armpit, and i turned to mavis like "welp i guess we're just gonna have to buy everything in this fucking store!" he cupped his hand around his bristly ear and asked me to repeat my request to be shown to the cozy couch section before shouting "HAHA I CAN'T HEAR ANYTHING OVER THIS DANG MUSIC" and i knew right then that ron was gonna get the biggest commission of his life outta me and i was fine with it. and maybe it's a well-orchestrated scam but that hapless hangdog expression coupled with the fumbling of the tablet (he kept calling it a "tablet," so many times, and it took him approximately half an hour to use it to look up whether or not a chair we didn't even buy came in multiple colors because his hands were shaking and the keyboard was too small and oh nevermind me i'm just over here sobbing into these carpet swatches, FUCK) were so endearing that i was prepared to buy whatever soft and cuddly thing he wanted to hustle me even if he was really a kid dressed up in an ed asner costume. the couch we ended up with is the size of a canoe and feels like a teddy bear and is perfect in every way. maybe i can invite ron over to not watch tv with me on it.

3 i spent $1400 on our cat's urethra. i don't even like this tiny dude that much and i'm not sure he's even cured but if i never had to think about a cat penis ever again it would be too soon, ugh.

4 i wrote one episode of a potential television program. at the end of july i packed a backpack full of laptops and the kind of clothes that reasonably disguise me as the kind of breezy person who just floats through LA buying crystals and oils and dragged my ass to california to rewrite the pilot for this television program jessi klein and abbi jacobson and i are making out of my first book. everyone is always asking me "hey dude what's up with your show" and the short answer is BITCH I DON'T KNOW. but here's a longer one: we wrote one draft of a pilot, i dry-heaved into a plastic bag as quietly as possible during several conference calls with studio executives who get to decide what goes on tv (!!) as they dissected my actual dumb life, then i went to LA and sat in a conference room at the glitzy agency that reps the three of us and we broke a new story and i wrote half the script in my friend marina's basement while drinking a lot of expensive juice and shitting my brains out and then i came back home, a comfortable place where people order salads that already have the dressing on it and wear shoes they bought at the grocery store. and now i'm just waiting. i think people feel like i'm withholding some big hollywood secret from them but for real, in my brief experience you 1 make a thing and then you 2 send it to a person and then they 3 send it to another higher up person and then they 4 send it to more people and then 5 you just in your house for days/weeks/months waiting for someone to tell you if they're going to give you a million dollars to make a real thing people can watch out of some stupid idea you came up with in a dream. (or lived through, in my case.) and who cares it's fine it's just not sexy. people are hitting me up all "yo when can we all kick it in the valley with jon hamm" annnnnnd LOL NEVER HOE I CAN'T EVEN GET YOU A FREE HAM SANDWICH. what do you think is happening over here?! i gotta DM bitches on instagram just like you do!! i tried to have my agent send some signed books to janeane garofalo who i already fucking know to thank her and her people were like "UMM, WHY." i'm a fucking garbage can and i'm sorry but i cannot (yet) get you laid by any hot celebrities. this is probably a good place to stop and say that THE MOST FAMOUS PERSON I MET IRL THIS SUMMER WAS ART FUCKING GARFUNKEL. stop texting me about michael b jordan, you cruel-ass binch!

5 i got some new fake jobs! i have spent the majority of my life doing work that felt like work. y'all know, the kind of work that has a punch clock you stick a time card into every time you need to stop and take a deep breath. and that's cool, because if you need gas station groceries somebody has to be there to swipe the card; someone has to answer the phones at the doctor's office; someone has to wipe down the cafeteria tables. and i've always been perfectly happy being an hourly drone because 1 it's not on me and 2 no goddamn student loan. i haven't had a day job in over a year and that's a weird thing to say and also it's surprisingly boring. i miss going to a place every day and scowling at people, daring them to tell me good morning. there's a lot of netflix i haven't watched and while it would be cute to get up and get dressed just to watch riverdale it's not enough so now i've got some other creative shit in the mix. i'm writing book recommendations for marie claire magazine and you should get a subscription just to see how much wild shit they let me sneak into the list. my first issue was september 2017 and i think this technically means that nina garcia and i are coworkers so i can't wait to make "gravy pants" a trend this spring. also shondaland dot com is live and they're letting me write an advice column of all things? it's called ask aunt agony (i still can't believe they let me get away with this shit?) and it's pretty fucking funny and no i don't know shonda either i write my columns at the kitchen table there is literally no way for me to tell her who you think olivia should fuck this season i'm so sorry.

6 i went to a dealership and actually left with a new car. never in my 37+ years of life have i ever purchased a quality car from a reputable salesperson. i have owned many cars, but i bought them all from shady dudes with hidden lots who couldn't account for the previous life of the car i was paying $1700 (cash, always cash) for. sometimes i could guess things about the previous owners of my vehicles based on the various smells and stains lurking within, but it was never like "oh yes ma'am in 1989 the engine fell out of this escort on the highway and i replaced it with one from a fucking lawn mower." so i would drive these pieces of shit with windows that wouldn't go down (or roll back up) with balding tires (or worse: 4 donuts) that forced me to learn very early in life what a goddamn alternator does and how your car will die in the middle of a one-way street on a rainy sunday afternoon if yours is broken. anyway i went to the closest honda dealer to our house and walked in like i deserved to be there and i knew my credit was good enough to get a decent rate on a car loan and after making a lot of uncomfortable jokes while the finance guy waited for bank approval on a car i'd already programmed my phone numbers into during the test drive, dude came back with approximately 72 pieces of paper that needed to be initialed and signed plus a phlebotomist to take a pint of my blood just in case. i've never felt more like a capable adult human being. i have a car with air conditioning that actually gets cold and a warranty that will replace the whole thing if i crash while trying to do my eyebrows on the highway and a button i can press while driving and say "call carl" and his stupid voice will just come over the car speakers like magic. is this the upside of "getting your shit together," or whatever parental people are always telling us to do? growing up is the greatest. i mean, sure, i have to take 3 aleve every day and i have to stare at people's mouths when they talk to me but wow this bluetooth is worth it!

7 i learned to enjoy coffee. KIND OF. i still don't fucking care about it, and i'm not ever going to study where the beans come from or try to describe the difference between varietals, but i can now drink it without wanting to immediately die. so that's something.

this summer i went to:
-austin (blisteringly, brain-meltingly hot)
-new york (dirty, still)
-ann arbor (adorable)
-los angeles (you wouldn't think so, but it's my favorite)
-chicago (the place where all my friends live)

my favorite summertime activity is:

being fully dressed, including sleeves and socks and probably a hood, inside an air conditioned building.

my favorite summertime foods are:

some books i read this summer were:
1 red clocks by leni zumas
2 sing unburied sing by jesmyn ward
3 this will be my undoing by morgan jerkins
4 electric arches by eve ewing
5 the floating world by c morgan bapst
6 the talented ribkins by ladee hubbard
7 the misfortune of marion palm by emily culliton
8 her body and other parties by carmen machado
9 pachinko by min jin lee

i love the summertime because:
i do not.

here's my carefully-curated autumn spotify playlist if you're interested in listening to what i cry to while running errands. happy fall, y'all.

Monday, September 25, 2017

bitches gotta read: we are never meeting in real life.

hello hi, do you remember me it's been a minute. you look great. is that a new haircut? did you recently hem that pair of pants!? GAH i'm sorry i wish i had a good excuse for falling behind on this book club and on this dumb blog in general but let's just pretend it was intentional and i was giving everyone the summer off from butt jokes so i don't have to make something up and risk looking ridiculous. that said, sorry not sorry for this shameless plug but if you didn't read my book over the summer it's all good because we're gonna read it together this month. like homework, with more swearing. and don't worry, i use small words in my writing because my brain can't compute big ones but do not let that gross wet cat on the cover fool you: this isn't for children. just like my first book wasn't about farming, but since it had a chicken on the front of it a number of people registered complaints with their local librarians due to their confusion from the cover. did it never occur to you to flip the goddamn thing over before filling out your comment card, martha? people are trash cans.

i don't remember much about writing MEATY other than spending two months taking many breaks to try and decipher what justin bobby was saying on the hills as i watched it on a continuous loop and making a lot of toast. i didn't have cable or internet at the time, so i propped my phone against a stack of ten year old issues of jane magazine i purchased off ebay in a fit of nostalgia and burned up all my anytime minutes watching lauren conrad cry, and i don't regret a second of it. this one was a little different. i wrote half of it while annoying my long suffering boss james on my lunch breaks at the animal hospital and the other half deep in the michigan woods that felt like i was in a horror movie, especially because i had to sleep on a futon. i did all the edits, plus the shit i pitched late and turned in at the last second, in my new house with some bose noise-cancelling headphones because living with other people is terrible.

my "i swear i'm not looking at this ipad i'm just listening to it while i'm writing" watchlist and sources of diversionary entertainment:
-any old seasons of mtv's the challenge that prominently feature wes and/or CT
-the "source awards" episode of 30 rock, at least 200x
-every episode of black-ish
-reading other people's essays and getting discouraged because mine are garbage
-various NBA playoff games
-youtube videos of people drawing on winged eyeliner
-the movie arbitrage
-youtube clips of people winning huge prizes on various game shows
-ordering cardigans from forever 57
-making gin cocktails
-poring over best of book lists while reminding myself i should quit
-mailing cards to the three people in my address book
-the entire jeff daniels movie canon

the rules
1 we are never going to meet in real life. that would require a bra and zippered pants and probably an expensive uber and no one is doing that. you don't have to worry about megan's dairy allergy or that vanessa doesn't like champagne. 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 rainbow rowell 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 hilarious mostly-women people who aren't irritating! come find us!!) i also have a bunch of friends on goodreads but lesbihonest: i'm not, like, putting all these john grishams i read on there because i don't need you guys clowning me in public.
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 co-op and you decide to ask how shocked i was by the twist no one saw coming at the end.

brief synopsis from my diary: whenever the uninitiated ask me to, like, elevator pitch them my book the first thing i say is GROSS PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME. why do you want to watch me melt like an ice cream cone while trying to make "stories about my butt" sound both palatable and worth $15?! every time i have ever met a real person who has a book i usually promise to just buy it rather then feign interest in the explanation of the post-apocalyptic young adult alien romance they've spent five years writing, mostly because i hate to humiliate people when i have to witness what that reduces them to but also what if i ever see them again? i mean, i want to be able to say "wow! that book was so shocking!" and actually mean it or have an answer when their follow up question is "which part?" explaining a thing you wrote to a person who doesn't know you or really care is embarrassing. and if you tell them it's about your life or your stupid thoughts then while they are smiling politely and halfheartedly exclaiming how "interesting" that sounds they are definitely thinking "who the fuck wants to know what you fucking think?" and, okay, point taken. i used to try to sell myself but now i either just deadpan "it's funny" while holding eye contact for six beats too long until they slowly back away from me or, if they look like they read the new york times, i'll blurt "roxane gay likes it!" and register the light of recognition turning on behind their eyes then watch their face immediately contort in well-meaning liberal horror because all this time they were talking to me they thought i actually was roxane gay.

listen there are a lot of good books coming out this fall. and maybe you don't want anyone to see you reading a cat book on the bus. i feel you. but if you were thinking about not reading my dumb book here are some compelling reasons you should reconsider:

1 it's a new york times bestseller. yo, that surprised me as much as anyone, that a book about explosive diarrhea that explores virtually every romantic and financial mistake i've made as an actual adult who should be smarter than this would sell more than the ten copies. it's a miracle for real, and tangible proof that millions of people can't be wrong.
1a okay so millions of people can be wrong about a lot of shit. look at this wild ass election. and the prevalence of so many ~cold shoulder~ sweaters. also, "millions" is very generous and not at all accurate but just roll with it this stuff is so confusing.
2 roxane gay likes it!


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

summer beauty tips for the exhausted and situationally impoverished.

pinnae are we for real off shea moisture forever? because i'm nearing the end of my bottle of african black soap shampoo ($9) and i need to know if i gotta switch to something else before i run all the way out. i mean i'm down for the revolution or whatever but not if it means my scalp is gonna be all dry and disgusting in the meantime. i can't just be mindlessly scratching at the side of my head all the time. when i'm feeling fancy i buy malin+goetz dandruff shampoo, but at $26 a bottle it doesn't do anything special like folding your laundry or scrubbing that sticky grey dust from under your oven, so i would only spring for that if you just got paid and are feeling reckless. and that is how i feel every single time i get paid. i forget every promise i made to myself to "put a little something aside" because wow have you ever tried the laura mercier gloss sticks!? THEY ARE VERY PRETTY AND GLOSSY AND SMOOTH. but i'm putting the designer cart before the drugstore brand horse. anyway, someone at head and shoulders got the heads up that black people have flaky scalps too and released a line for textured hair, which is super cheap and smells good and you can get it at the same time you're grabbing wonder woman from the redbox. i like the moisture care co-wash ($5), and it's easy to know which one is for us because there's a brown stripe and some coconuts on it as if the words "co-wash" and "textured" weren't obvious enough.

snout i'm wild boring when it comes to face washes because as soon as i cruised effortlessly into my late 30s my face was like "nah, bruh" every time i put something new on it. also it started getting all patchy and dry and i don't especially care about that but i'm a picker with nothing better to do than flake off large pieces of the dry skin on my nose while watching star trek: tng and that's fucking disgusting. the relatively-cheap routine that has worked for the last few months is: cleanse with dove bar soap ($2), tone with thayer's cucumber toner ($8), moisturize with first aid beauty ultra repair cream ($12) after a thin layer of regular-ass coconut oil (i buy louana at the health food spot because carla hall is on the jar and i love her, plus it's $14 for a 30oz jar and that is an incredible value bc you literally just touch the oil and the residue is enough to cover your whole face). 

my eyebrows are wiiiiiiiiiiiiiild and it's just too much work to do anything with them so i stopped. threading hurts wax hurts tweezing hurts, oh my! so instead of ripping the hairs out of my face i just brush some soap and glory archery brow gel ($12) through them and convince myself that they look good. i used to use benefit brow zings ($32) until i lost the tiny brushes that came with the kit and threw a tantrum, but even though it looked decent it was more work than i ever wanted to do anyway. i think when this tube runs out (ie when i get bored and impatient) i'm gonna order the boy brow from glossier ($16) but also who cares because this is what oversized glasses are for!

i could write ad nauseam about lipsticks but i will try to contain myself so i don't bore you to death and limit my scope to just a few summer-specific beauties: 1 nars velvet matte lip pencils are my all-time number one fave (today) and at $27 apiece they ain't cheap but they are like the most perfect formula. smooth and creamy but dry to the touch and longish-lasting. dragon girl is my main jam but i also wear the shit out of walkyrie and bahama, too. and i know that matte lips aren't a summer thing but these aren't chalky and gross and whatever rules are for suckers. 2 colourpop blotted lip lipsticks are the moderately-priced dream of my life, because they're essentially the same texture and look of the nars except a little less dry and they cost $5 which means you could get five of them for the price of one of the nars and it wouldn't be a national emergency if you, like, left one in a cab or some shit. 3 idk what the fuck is up with maybelline ($7) but their color sensational lipsticks are so good now and i have a few of the loaded bolds and the creamy mattes and yes i looked like a dead body when i experimented with the ~greige~ shade but so what it felt really nice and the kid at the mcdonald's window could care less about ol' corpse lips in the mom car. 4 wet n' wild megaslicks balm stains ($3) are actually pretty good? but the caps cracked on the two i had and i tossed them out in a blind rage so i can't really tell you about the wear and whatnot. ps the nivea moisture lip care ($3) with the dark blue cap is the only lip balm you will ever need and that's real. *bangs gavel*

jowls face makeup is complicated for me because i hate the feel of liquid foundation and i don't really need it anyway so why go to all the trouble? and this isn't a humblebrag about my tight, youthfully glowing skin, i have pores you can wash your goddamn feet in, i just don't do enough things that warrant all the trouble that a proper makeup application requires. like i'm not blending a cream contour to go to the starbucks kiosk inside the grocery store. squeeze the beauty blender a few times under the faucet, apply and blend both up into the hairline and down onto the neck, highlight/conceal, set with powder: the high school senior shaking my iced green tea doesn't give a shit about all that. plus i came of age in the 90s, when your eyebrows were supposed to be thin enough to slice deli meats (i don't groom mine anymore whatsoever) and your skin was supposed to be powdered dry as the desert. and "creating a dewy canvas" is just not as easy as "leaving my face as shiny as it would be naturally" so that's just what i do. when i want to trick someone into believing i tried i'll use a little glossier perfecting skin tint ($26) or that old standby, and favorite of beyonce if the commercials are to be believed, l'oreal true match ($7). which are both JUST FINE, especially if you are a lazy person who doesn't have time for believeable full coverage. when i do get dressed up (lol what do those words even mean) i like to dab helplessly at my T-zone with a little make up forever pro finish powder ($37) in a vain attempt to look pulled together in case someone whips out a camera, but that shit is expensive so i mostly rely on milani pressed powder ($7) to keep me from blinding innocent passersby when my forehead catches the light from the sun on the rare occasion i am caught out of doors.

cheeks blush is the beating heart of my desire and thank u lord because you only need a little each time so the shit lasts foreverrrrrrrrrr. i prefer tubes of cream and bottles of liquid to powder blush because i'm trash and morally opposed to cleaning my brushes after every use, but i do keep one compact of nars taj mahal ($30) around because it is the silkiest burnt orange beauty you'll ever lay your eyes on and if i stretch it out for five years it's only $.0164 per day so it's actually kind of a steal. (oh the limits to which i will go to justify my ridiculous expenditures!) glossier cloud paint in haze and beam ($18/ea) is my shit and it spreads easily and dries perfectly and is basically everything you ever want in a cream blush, but don't sleep on sephora cheek gel in lotus, water lily, and plumeria ($7/ea) if you want something cheaper. i haven't done a thorough investigation but i do have a couple nyx cheek souffles ($6) sitting in the cart i keep adding shit to and one day i'm gonna click that checkout button and as soon as i do i'll report back.

as cool as they look when you post selfies of yours on insta, i don't use sheet masks because i'm too busy reading the yelp reviews of people i used to be cool with to spend twenty minutes just sitting around hoping my blackheads are dissolving. and also because i feel like each zone of my face has its own climate and weather system. my nose and my chin have entirely different needs, and no need to risk overhydrating one while drying out the other and then spending three days trying to recover. but i love a good ritual, especially if it involves sitting very still in front of the television without talking for an hour, so every now and again i'll use this queen helene avocado & grapefruit masque ($3) that i found under the sink but if there's a difference in my skin no one told my eyeballs.

loin since i don't have to interact with many people who have to smell me i've been experimenting with natural deodorants. i tried: le stick natural deodorant in sandalwood ($5), which smells like the back of a fat dude's delicious neck; tarte clean queen vegan deodorant ($14); meow meow tweet deodorant stick in lemon eucalyptus ($22); tom's of maine long lasting deodorant in maine woodspice ($4); kiss my face natural active life deodorant stick in lavender ($5). then i just went into the bathroom and flushed fistfuls of dollar bills down the toilet while sweating my shirts sheer, bc SAME FUCKING THING. dove dry spray antiperspirant in sensitive ($7) is my jam bc it doesn't leave white marks and you can spray it on even if you already put on your shirt and/or bra.

rump i was watching judge mathis the other day and one of those "call the ____ law group if you got cervical cancer from talcum powder" and, like, WHAT. i know life is hell and happiness is a lie but does everything have to be deadly!? i was rolled in ammen's medicated powder ($8) every summer day of my childhood, and the thought of not being able to sprinkle a palmful of shower to shower ($5) on all my damp places because i need my cervix to stay healthy fills me with a legitimate panic. lush silky underwear ($10) is okay but it comes in a tiny bottle with the kind of top that makes it hard to be as liberal as i'd like with my dusting; pussy powder antimicrobial bajo dusting powder ($9) from firme arte, my new fave place for candles/oils/smudge wands and other witchy stuff, and it smells like a dream and comes in a tub you can dab a powder puff into if you're dainty like that. body glide ($7) is a pretty good chafe balm, gold bond friction defense ($6) is real good too, and naughty bits and pits anti-chafing balm ($2) is the jam, especially when it's too hot for bike shorts or footless tights or however you keep your tender meat from catching fire under your dress. 

i enjoy having at minimum half a dozen bodywash bottles in various stages of use lining the tub to keep my showers spicy. i've spent 37 years in this rotting meatsuit so sometimes i gotta surprise her to shake things up. aveeno skin relief body wash ($7), kiehl's bath and shower liquid cleanser in coriander ($20), kiss my face bath and body wash in early to bed ($9) are in current rotation, but i just got some dove shower foam ($6) that is 100% a marketing gimmick but that's fine with me and also a bottle of plant apothecary bodywash in GET HAPPY ($20) that despite its price tag i ordered mostly because it's a lot cheaper than therapy.

hock body oils are still my thing and i know that you're not trying to be all greased up in the middle of july and risk sizzling like a kielbasa that's about to split open from the heat BUT i still use them anyway because i wear sleeves no matter what so who cares. i don't like feeling tight and dry all the time and what the fuck am i supposed to do, drink water? yeah right. neutrogena body oil ($8) is super light and smells very glamorous for a product you can buy at the grocery store. i'm also really into life-flo cocoa butter oil ($15) which is a teeny bit stickier but has a nice lemony scent and feels like it won't stain your clothes. but let's be real i only wear black and everything i own is like really nice pajamas so a couple conspicuous grease spots really aren't gonna be a problem.

i don't even really wear perfume that often because i can't wear it anymore without walking around with a runny nose and gross, boogery eyes all day. but i am a glutton for punishment, so i buy it anyway. my faves: kiehls musk essence oil ($35/.5oz), jo malone french lime blossom ($65/30mL), le labo 33 ($180/1.7oz), but mostly i just wear those $2 rollerball oils you buy from african shops and/or the beauty supply. as magazines often suggest i like to layer my perfume for maximum effect, and usually a base layer of generic zyrtec ($13) followed by a double nasal spritz of the new flonase sensimist ($17) keeps my fragrance lasting from the office to the dancefloor!

dewclaw i don't get manicures anymore because 1 who are we kidding and 2 i live in the kind of place now where i have to do shit like "carry logs inside to burn in the wood stove" so LOL NOPE NOT PAYING FOR NAILS. also can we just be real and admit that unless you are living the kind of glamorous life of someone who never has to type on a keyboard or pump gas or open your own bottle of aldi wine then your nails are definitely gonna get fucked up? i keep my nails baby short because i hate looking at them when they're dirty and the sound of nails clicking against things fills me with existential dread, and the only polish i use now is sally hansen insta-dri ($4). okay okay, now hear me out: do they chip within days? yes. are the colors sometimes a little streaky? also yes, but that could easily be blamed on my poor application techniques. but you could literally put it on then play the guitar thirty seconds later. no base coat, no top coat, nothing. PUT THAT ON MY HEADSTONE.

i'm also trying to do shit like stay hydrated and take vitamins and find a sunscreen that doesn't make me look ashy but i probably won't? ALL THAT SHIT IS SO TIRING. and who is trying to think about topical magnesium absorption when other people on the bus are literally adhering to your actively sweating flesh!? i did just order two bottles of fancy potassium capsules though, and clicking the checkout button is half the battle so i'm feeling like i got a pretty good head start. but really, how can i possibly find time to drink a gallon of water when there's so much tv i gotta catch up on? i just finished the first two seasons of fargo and am only behind a couple episodes of the handmaid's tale and as soon as i write this i'm gonna exfoliate my heels and watch the last bachelorette because thank god that whaboom dude finally got cut. good luck out there in this revolting swelter, and remember: a travel-size bottle of cornstarch in your purse can really fucking come in handy.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

i'm going on tour.

please come see me. mannnn i'm taking this show on the road. i just finished packing a bag that is 70% chargers 20% underwear and 10% toiletries i'm not 100% sure the TSA won't throw away, so i'm already off to a pretty sam start? can't wait to spend $47 on magazines i definitely won't be able to dig out from under the seat in front of mine! i haven't even gotten to the airport yet and i'm wondering which of my carryon items i will inconveniently forget!! who has two thumbs and can't ever figure out how to make the tray table work without disturbing the rightfully irritated businessman sitting next to her? this guy!!! wow o wow this is gonna be a breeze!

may 30 word bookstore at housing works 7pm, NYC. gotta pump the brakes on this gross-ass self-promotion for just a second to say that i am always super excited to go to new york and take many gorgeously filtered photographs of mountainous street trash and battle rats in the street for a cab because i'm terrified of the subway. anyway i'm still in wide-eyed disbelief that this is actually happening? but somehow we convinced my hero crissle from the podcast the read (if you don't know you fucking need to) to (host? moderate? hang out with me for two hours talking about the real housewives in front of a confused audience!?) join me for the launch, which i'm doing in new york even though your pizza is gross and i still don't have any idea how many brooklyns there are. buy tickets here for $20, which includes both a copy of my book and exposure to whatever communicable disease i pick up at laguardia.

june 6 bookbug, kalamazoo MI. this is gonna be a dream because all i gotta do is crawl out of bed and lint roll the cat hair off my pajamas and BLAMMO i'm good to go. i imagine the event will be real loose and casual and filled with people i coerced into friendship after i moved here; i'll read an essay or two and sign some books probably? and mavis will be there, so you can ogle her impressive upper arm definition while asking her intrusive shit like "so what's sam really like?" which is hilarious because the answer is definitely "TERRIBLE." anyway, it isn't ticketed but here is the bookbug events page which includes a handy link to enter it into your google calendar, a thing which i honestly don't know how to do or use.

june 8 women & children first at wilson abbey 7pm, CHICAGO. "country road, take me home, to the place i belong..." if you ever wanted to cram yourself in a sweaty room with all my friends and exes this is your chance. mel and i are gonna spend half an hour arguing about how annoying i was as a teenager, i'm gonna read something gross and short, and we'll probably field questions? plus i'll write something graphic in your book if you feel like hanging around for that part. get tickets here, which will also include a copy of the book. while i'm in town i'm also doing a panel at printer's row called "wise and witty" (lol what wisdom) but it's at 1030 on saturday morning and are you really coming to the south loop that early on the weekend? if yes, admission is free and you can find out more about it here you nerd. please pick me up a buttermilk bar at stan's on your way down.

june 13 literati bookstore, 7pm ann arbor MI. i'm hitching my wagon to my pal scaachi koul's book train and we're going to tag-team a bunch of college kids and their earnest professors. i'm pretty sure that it's free but i'm not wearing my glasses right now so please read the event page here in case i'm wrong. 

june 20 book people 7pm, AUSTIN. i remember being young and optimistic and thinking that one day i would move to austin and be a free spirit after reading about it in seventeen or wherever but FUCK THAT IT'S SO HOT. also, poverty robs you of your dreams. so now that i'm no longer a teen with hope in my heart i'm coming down for a couple days to pretend i live there and am actually cool enough to be seen in an austin bar. oh yeah and talk to a bunch of texans about my book. this chat is gonna be with my homegirl the bloggess herself, one jenny lawson, and even if you hate me you gotta suffer through my shtick to get to her so maybe i'll win you over? pretty sure this event is free too but there's more info here so read carefully. ps, please write down all the best air-conditioned taco spots and bring them with you i hate taking notes on my busted-ass iphone.

okay okay, i know: wtf are you gonna do if i'm not coming to your city!? first thing, understand that shaking my sweaty hand is definitely overrated so you aren't missing much. second, you might still have a chance bc i'm gonna swing through the west coast in september. so far i'm slated to come to SEATTLE, PORTLAND, and LOS ANGELES. and i know that's not enough, but despite the number of times someone has breathlessly rushed up to me squealing, "omg i looooooooved bad feminist!!1!1!" i am not roxane gay. i don't sell out auditoriums. I HAVE DONE READINGS SO SMALL THAT WE ALL WENT TO SUBWAY AFTERWARD AND THERE WAS STILL ROOM FOR A LOT MORE PEOPLE. and that was delicious but also kind of embarrassing? so if you want me to come to philly or atlanta or dc (or wherever you live) you and your moms gotta buy enough books to justify a hotel and a plane ticket. once we've got some dates and times nailed down i'll let y'all know, and after all this i am never leaving my house again!

omg just fucking buy it already:

barnes and noble