Can you find all the ghosts hidden in this picture? Hint: The first one is at bottom right.
GREETINGS, EARTHLINGS! (God, do any of you still have, like, some uncle that says that? You have to have a talk with him about this behavior.)
I’m writing to you from the heaven of my bed in Greenpoint, having just returned yesterday from the psychic used car lot/dirtbag Valhalla/dream factory that is my ancestral homeland, aka suburban New Jersey. I was there for a great many days, during which time I made a Christmas sojourn with my family to our favorite abandoned insane asylum (I totally pretended to see a poltergeist, see above), fucked up my nascent only-fish-and-cheeseburgers vegetarianism by eating ham almost exclusively during my stay, and tried to divine sorta-correct answers to when my little sister repeatedly asked me, “What’s trending in Miami right now?” I don’t know what’s trending in Miami, Madeline. Actually, you know what, now that I think of it? If you’re asking me, fibbing about the supernatural is really hot this season. That, or maybe neon. Pass the ham.
So! Now that I’m settled back in, I’d like to present this freshly-butchered MUST LIST for your perusal. I GOT SO MUCH I WANT TO LOB YOUR WAY, DARLING EARTHLINGS, so here are all the things that are totally trending in my brain right now:
1. Iron-on letters
I bought tons of these deadstock rainbow iron-on letters from the 1970s so that I can gussy up all my gross old denims ‘n’ such with whatever ill-advised slogans my heart desires. Some ideas:
– BRUISER, the nickname I asked my friends to give me as my 18th birthday gift while knowing full well that you can’t ASK for a nickname and not even caring one whit
– IF YOU HEAR ANY NOISE / IT’S JUST ME AND THE BOYS / BOPPIN
– BILL THE CAT 2014 (Sidenote: Did you know there are two bona-fide recorded tracks credited to Billy and the Boingers? They were included on a record that came with a Bloom County book in 1987. Objectively, they’re not the most polished examples of songwriting or musical ability, but fuck a drooling cartoon feline if I don’t totally love them with all of me. Also, it’s looking like my daily struggle against getting a Bill the Cat tattoo is going to persist into the next calendar year. At this point, the best we can do is hope that I don’t opt for one that includes barf.)
I eagerly welcome further advice on this very pressing press-on matter.
2. Kat Von D Lock-It Tattoo Foundation
This is the best foundation in the world, although I understand if, after buying it, you hide the bottle when you have people over lest they think you’re super down with her aesthetic and are tryna become a similarly styled TAT-TOTALLY ROCKIN’ ROCK ‘N’ ROLL BITCH BABE-GUITAR. Personally, I welcome any gritty changes to my image, however hackneyed, that might help corrode the irrepressible wimpitude I unwittingly beam into the world at all times. Please, call me Bruiser.
This BADASS ROCK FACE SLUDGE is truly the most matte, long-wearing, and uniform in its coverage of any I’ve ever worn, so I’m attached to it for good now. In keeping with this new style direction, I guess I have to put off the Bill tattoo and get one of, like, a dumb old winged heart that’s somehow on fire. Or maybe one of those cultural-appropriation koi fish…that’s also somehow on fire. I’m gonna look so rock ‘n’ roll, I can’t even wait.
3. This playlist I made the other night when I was pretending to be a bulldozer pining for its unrequited object of desire (see last post for more context)
I’m still enjoying this mindset, so this one goes out to all the soft-hearted lummoxes who don’t know their own strength except for the strength of their lonesomeness. The Lennies of the world who can’t help but stay petting rabbits far too hard. The King Kongs who lie awake all night dreaming of how to look cool in front of Fay Wray. The heavy-handed true of heart and clumsy of limb. This is my ham-fisted beast-Valentine to you. Hope you like Abba and Gang of Four.
4. This Sheila Heti essay about what constitutes fiction and how that affects a reader (and whether God is dead)
I haven’t read the book that serves as the nominal subject of this essay, Karl Ove Knausgaard’s second volume of the serialized autobiography My Struggle, but I care deeply about the topics Sheila Heti covers in thinking about his work: the inherent impossibility of trying to truthfully commit the past to text, the “false distance” of nostalgia, the romanticism of presenting something as fiction vs. the supposed admirable frankness of framing the same work as nonfiction, and the differing degrees of power over the material that result from the outcome of a writer’s making that decision. Here, see for yourself, then get to reading the rest of this beauty:
Knausgaard has said that while he forgets painful stories told to him in confidence by the people he loves, and plots of novels he’s read, he vividly remembers landscapes and rooms. Writing, for him, involves filling these rooms. But before that could happen in the way it did here, he had to encounter the rooms and landscape of his childhood and past as auraless, ‘small and ugly’. Nostalgia is a false distance, we feel it everywhere, its ‘sameness’. The aura of nostalgia is akin to the aura of ‘the novel’. It brings life close but makes that life unreal. It turns the past into something it was not, the way conventional novels make of life something it is not. When nostalgia dies, our romantic stories about our lives die, our impressions of who our parents were die, and novelistic conventions also die. Also dead is the consensual safety that fiction brings with it, the presumably ethical veil behind which writers protect themselves from their family and friends: it’s not you, that’s not your name, your hair is not red, it’s made up.