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.