This is the only way I’ve ever known how to make friends, molding myself to fit an image of the person I admire. Luckily, the best friends I’ve ever had have been able to tease out the real me with relative ease. I learned that I didn’t need to try to impress them. These friends are few and they are precious. They’re small, quiet friendships, without many grand or epic moments. Thelma and Louise begins with such a friendship, as far as we can tell...
For my thirteenth birthday, I hosted my first-ever sleepover. I printed paper invitations in curlicued fonts and slipped them into the letterboxes of my girlfriends’ houses, inviting them for pizza and a trip to the movies for the opening day of Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown. A rom-com starring Orlando Bloom–what could possibly be better for a group of thirteen-year-old girls?
I read the first few pages of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life on Sunday afternoon. I remember the day being overcast, but that may be just an after-effect of reading the novel. The cover beckoned me over to the “staff picks” table – was the man about to cry from pain or from having an orgasm? Will this book really be as wonderful as everyone says it is?
The reasons that people choose to live where they do never fail to interest me. Often, it can be about growing out of one place and into a new one. Perhaps even more often, people think that a change of scenery is absolution — that escaping a place is as simple as leaving it.
I’ve never owned a Polaroid camera. At thirteen or fourteen, I briefly toyed with the idea of buying one and pursuing what I thought would be “authentic” photography until I got an iPhone. I snapped a few photos of standard things — the tops of buildings and trees against clear blue skies, myself posed in mirrors and outdoors — and made them dusky and hazy, with vague lines and muted colors. Naturally, they looked even more amateurish than they already were.
If, in conversation, I don’t understand a reference, I have this habit (one that I’m trying really hard to break) of going along with it anyway, thinking that the risk of looking uninformed or stupid is diminished if I only appear to understand it. I can get away with this sometimes. But it’s also landed me in trouble, if not with others, then with myself. I’ll feel as though I betrayed the both of us during discourse long after it’s over.
I am reluctant to write about Harper Lee’s new release, Go Set a Watchman. I’m not calling this a “new novel” because, though it may be new to us, it’s been hidden away for over fifty years in a safety deposit box. Watchman was Lee’s first attempt at writing a novel, and her publisher at the time advised her to rewrite the story with Jean Louise Finch as a child. To Kill a Mockingbird was born.
When we think of Paris, we think of a place where our lives come together like a romance. Paris is a place of fresh baguettes, rain on cobblestone streets, Brigitte Bardot. Of good coffee and better wine. Some go to Paris for bragging rights; others venture there to find an excuse to fall in love, to discover themselves. Paris is presented to us as an emotional necessity–as a place where we can flourish.
Celebrities are treated as fictional characters in the real world – the stuff of myth and stories that just happen to be alive. We forget that they are actual people. For me, musicians hold a more significant place than, say, an actor or celebrity chef. They expose themselves the most through their work, through their words, and at the same time, like other celebrities, are subject to media attention. I will only pry into their lives as far as interviews and biographies will allow me. However, when they lay emotions out in their songs, or stories, or anecdotes, it’s incredibly hard not to want to know more: Are they inviting us to figure out what they’re saying about themselves, or about ourselves?
When I initially began to think about my relationship to Cat Power’s music, and where it started, I determined that it was with an album review (of her second covers record, Jukebox) I read in Rolling Stone when I was about fifteen and had first discovered music magazines. My father worked downtown and would drop me off at school early, usually around sunrise, and I would kill time by going to the nearby 7-Eleven for a cup of coffee and an accompanying magazine.
When I was seventeen, I found a pre-viewed copy of An Education at a Blockbuster closeout sale. I had recently reconnected with a boy I had been in love with for years. Every time we got in touch, it was the same, though I desperately hoped it would be different: he’d tell me he still loved and cared about me, and admit that he couldn’t believe he’d let me go again. I was seventeen, and in love with an idea. I just didn’t know it yet.
Jackson Browne hasn’t changed his hairstyle since the 1960s. It’s remained roughly shoulder-length, parted in the middle, and has retained the slightest wave. The farther back in time you go, the more gentle, carefree, and innocent his countenance becomes; he sometimes looks like he’s forcing seriousness. But he probably isn’t.