Headstand (or... Why the mind has no idea what it's talking about)

This morning, I was doing some thinking and here are some of the thoughts I had: “I’m not a brave person. I’m afraid of trying new things. I’m lazy and I have no discipline.”

At the time I noticed these thoughts, I was standing on my head. Like, literally standing on my head, which is not, you know, something I was born doing, but rather something I learned how to do by trying something new and scary and then practicing some version of it approximately five times a week for over a decade.

The mind is good at so many things. 

Telling you what you are or are not is not one of those things.

On Alex Ross's excellent New Yorker piece on the Frankfurt School

I wish I had read Alex Ross' excellent essay when I was 18 and first learned that "theory" was a thing--a thing that was often over my head, but gave me my first bright flashes of concepts I knew I'd be able to grasp once I decided to not be stoned all the time. I wish I had read this essay when I was 22 and had just begun working at a publishing house that published both Man Booker winners and books about winning a good man. I wish I had read this essay when I was 29 and was publishing my first novel, one that was certainly about Corey Hart and Geto Boys songs, but was also about drug addiction, depression and the inner lives of a generation that was taught we could download nostalgia and hang it up on our walls but never learned that it was okay to, like, feel things.

But I'm glad I just read it now, and I'll plan to reread it anytime I need to remind myself why I "do" pop culture, and what exactly, if anything, can be done with it. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/09/15/naysayers

These are the lyrics to Jennifer Lopez’s song "Booty" with every instance of the word “booty” replaced with the word "knee"

Big, big knee
What you got a big knee
Big, big knee
What you got a big knee
Big, big knee
What you got a big knee
Big, big knee
What you
(Ain't that a freak)
Big, big knee
What you got a big knee
(My baby, you're gorgeous
I mean you're fine, you're sexy
But most of all you are just absolutely knee-full)

[Verse 1: Jennifer Lopez]
Have you seen her on the dance floor
She got the boom, shake the room
That's the lightning and the thunder
You wanna meet her, you wanna touch her
See the light in her eyes, and it starts to make you wonder

[Pre-Hook: Jennifer Lopez]
All the sexy girls in the party
Go and grab a man, bring him to the dance floor
Go on let them jeans touch you while you're dancing
It's his birthday, give him what he ask for
(Let me show you how to do it)

Big, big knee
What you got a big knee
Big, big knee
What you got a big knee
(Shake that)
Big, big knee
What you got a big knee
(Go to work)
Big, big knee
What you

[Verse 2: Jennifer Lopez]
The way she moves
I know you want her
She like the fire, get you right
That's the lightning and the thunder
You wanna meet her, you gotta touch her
Hold on tight for the ride
Cause you know you wanna love her



[Verse 3: Pitbull]
Knee, knee, knee, knee, knee everywhere
Look at her knee, stop, stare
They love that knee, hell yeah
The way she twerk it, not fair
She got a knee, that'll swallow a thong
And if you do it better do it dirty all night long
Knee, toot it, boot it, you know the plan
So much knee, she could supply the demand
I wanna take that big 'ol knee shopping at the mall
I wanna pick it up and put that knee in my car
Baby your knee is a movie star
Oscar award winner of them all
Now give me that

[Verse 4: Jennifer Lopez]
Mesmerized by the size of it
You can fight it if you like take your time
I can guarantee you'll have the time of your life
Throw up your hands if you love a big knee

[Outro: Jennifer Lopez]
Big big big big big big knee
What you
Big big big big big big knee
What you
Big big big big big big
(Let me show you how to do it)
(Shake that)
(Go to work)


Campfire come-ons

Is that a can of Deep Woods Off in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Hey baby, can I check you for ticks?

We don't need pills to turn the rain into potable drinking water. You're all I need to quench my thirst.

9 out of 10 park rangers agree the best way to fend off a bear attack is by making out with me.

I only need one stick to start a fire.

No, I actually didn't bring any water bottles because I just want to drink you in.

Were you just making some S'mores, or are you always this hot?

Do you know where the trailhead is? Because I just got lost in your eyes.

You're so beautiful that I feel dizzy. Also, I'm pretty dehydrated.

I'm afraid to go hiking on a really steep trail with you, because I'm already falling for you.

Do you hear a buzzing sound? No? Must just be my heart.

No, no, I'm just going to lie down for a while and close my eyes and think of your smile and the angels are talking to me now and they confirmed that you fell from heaven and now they're telling me everything is going to be okay and that our love will live on forever OH HELLO LIBERACE I LOVE YOUR HARP AND YOUR PANTS ARE THEY GLITTERY FLANNEL WHY ARE YOU EATING ME BEEEEESSS NO BEEES I'LL TAKE POTENT POTABLES FOR $400 ALEX WHAT IS DRY MOUTH, HEART PALPITATIONS AND GENERAL CONFUSION? 

it's dark

because all the light is shining on you

so so dark



10 things I learned on my summer vacation by Sarah E. Rainone

  1. The world is a beautiful place and we should do what we can to protect it.
  2. We don’t need as much as we think we need.
  3. Make-up is stupid, if you think about it.
  4. Daddy long legs are not spiders, but they are arachnids. When they are attacked, they can drop a leg and run away on their remaining legs. But because their legs are also their nerve centers, if you pull off one of their legs, according to about.com, "you are limiting its ability to make sense of its world." They also go by the name "harvestmen" which I think is a more dignified and even slightly ominous name that suits them better. Unlike spiders, harvestmen have penises.
  5. According to a magazine I read on vacation (I think it was O?), if you encounter a bear while hiking, you should “talk reasonably" to the bear. I believe “reasonable” is too subjective a word for me to feel confident about this piece of advice.
  6. There is not and never will be a song that’s more fun to dance to than this one. Erasure is made of magic.
  7. If it doesn’t taste like candy or sparkles, Taylor Swift doesn’t drink it.
  8. The Rock loves love and he loves loving.
  9. This is my favorite song.
  10. If you don’t think you have enough time to do something, slow down. Time will follow your lead.

I am no longer on vacation.

Turning off my vacation responder is the closest I'll ever come to feeling like a world-weary cop who was enjoying retirement (well... as much as I could enjoy anything knowing that the worst murderer who ever existed is still at large) until she gets called in for one last big case that will probably culminate in her murder... and my murder will be sad and everything but also bittersweet because this job was in my blood and I can't imagine going out any other way and at least I was able to share my wisdom with that rookie punk who does things in a way I don't approve of, but I can't deny that we each learned something from one another CLUTCHES CHEST BLOOD POURS OUT FROM BULLET WOUND MY LITTLE FINGERS ARE NOT ENOUGH TO HOLD IN ALL THE BLOOD DIES. (PS my job is editing books and I was on vacation for three days.)

You were always a runner

"You were always a runner," said my aunt to me.

We were in the kitchen of my cousin's beach house celebrating the 4th of July the way my family celebrates every holiday: with lots of appetizers. Each year, the appetizers get a little greener, which works for me because I can't eat anything anymore.

My cousins, T and K, were training for a marathon and a half-, respectively. T, a trainer, was glowing and K looked a decade younger than the last time I'd seen him.

I felt, by comparison, fine--if a little sluggish. I'd gotten up for the train to Rhode Island before 5, and had been traveling for a big chunk of the day. I did not feel like someone who had ever been a runner.

"Nah," I told my aunt. "I was more into team sports than cross-country."

"But you used to go running everyday at the old house," she insisted. "You were always on your way out the door!"

"Yeah, well, that," I said, scooping up more guacamole, "was so I could get out of the house." 

A week and a half later, I went for my first real run in years.

My legs ached at first, the kind of ache that in recent years has seemed like a sign I should go slower, but I wondered what would happen if I tried the opposite approach. I asked my muscles to help me out. "You'll like this," I promised. They obliged. 

I alternated between a moderate jog and all-out sprints.

It's been perhaps a decade since I gave myself permission to sprint, really sprint. I can't remember the last time I ran without worrying about my bad ankle or the longterm stability of my knees. I just trusted that since my body seemed to want to sprint that it needed to sprint.

I realized what I'd told my aunt was only partially true. I had never liked racing the way I liked team sports. But this--running with no purpose other than to let my body to determine its own limits, its own start and finish--this, I loved. 

I ran partially into the park, then turned back to head for home. "It takes a muscle to fall in love" in my ears. My heart, lungs, legs: muscles, all.  

I ran where my muscles wanted to go, then I stopped at the local basketball court where some middle-school kids were playing. They were so much better than I had ever been or will ever be. I didn't mind.

The announcer had a cool and buzzy voice. "NOTHING," he'd say, every time someone missed a shot.

Earlier that week, I'd walked out of a yoga class because the air was so thick I couldn't breathe. We've been working with muscle for months now, meditating on muscle, contemplating what it did and how we used it.

When my muscle was asked to speak, it thought that was a stupid idea. "NO," it said.

As it turns out, my muscles don't want to explain themselves. 

They want to move.

They always have.

When I'm awake, I mostly move in circles. But when I dream, it's of the evenings I went further. When the light had begun to fade and I kept going anyway, just picked up the pace.

I ran under trees that formed a mile-long canopy, past the courts where no one played but me, where I kissed him, and him, and him, but mostly him. That's the difference between where I live now and where I lived then. Where I used to run, it was just me and the trees, and sometimes him. Now, it's me, the trees and everything else in the world.

But it's there I became a runner.

My feet ran a groove in the ground that could tell you how long I lived there, and how old I was when I left.




One story behind this website

After wading through six years of material in the process of creating a new website, I noticed something interesting: a disconnect between how I've been spending my time and what I've been telling myself about how I've been spending my time.

Because I haven't published a new book in years, because I've been doing a lot of work behind-the-scenes on my clients' books, I've been telling myself that I haven't done enough, that I've been holding myself back, that I've been hiding.

And, on some level, this is all true.

But something else has been going on, too. I've been working quietly and patiently to become a better performer. 

And it shows. 

My first performances were rocky. I broke character. I rambled. I bailed on my choices too quickly. 

Compare that to today. I still have off-days and rough shows. It still takes me time to process new things. I still have a lot to learn.

I still live to hear those magic words: "You're funny."

But I also know what I think is funny. I know when to sit in the silence. I know how to give gifts to my scene partners and receive them. I know when I've got the audience... really got them.

Maybe I have been holding back on putting something new and big into the world. Maybe I've put a few projects on hold because they didn't feel quite ready. Maybe I've said "yes" to some fun projects only to bail a few months later when I forced myself to look at my bank statements.

But maybe I was also waiting for my performance abilities to catch up with my writing abilities. When I signed up for my first improv class, all I wanted was to do book readings that didn't put people to sleep. But I soon realized being comfortable on stage wasn't enough; I wanted to be a great performer.

We don't notice the changes in ourselves from one day to the next. Some days when we look back, it seems as if we've been coasting--when really we've been wading through rocky waters (or whatever nature metaphor works for you).

We don't remember every turn. We don't remember that the thing we can do well today was challenging last year, just out of reach two years ago and impossible three years before that.

Of course, changes can be rapid, too. I mean, I'll probably hate this blog post tomorrow. I'll be someone else by then, someone who doesn't think there's a point in sharing what she's learned, someone who thinks that's not "cool," someone who can't see the value of anything and would rather just break shit or make fun of it.

It's cool. Today, I've got the reigns, and I'm someone who likes to make sense of things.

For some time, I wanted a website that showcased my performance work, as well as my writing. But I couldn't bring myself to look up old youtube passwords or upload things from flash drives hidden away in dusty boxes. I didn't want to watch old videos that I knew could have been better if I was the one who made them instead of her.

For six years, I was not a person who could deal with that task. 

Today, however, I was that person.

This is my website.