Thing of the Week: The Country Girls Trilogy, Cher in Moonstruck, Liz's List Of Best Things From When She Was 15

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: The Country Girls Trilogy by Edna O'Brien

On Saturday afternoon I decided to take myself out for ramen because the ramen place on Bloor Street is the only restaurant in my neighbourhood I'd never been to, not counting the sushi place named "Sushi Couture," but I will never eat at Sushi Couture. Sorry world, but I just can't bring myself to eat food at restaurants whose names are Juicy Couture puns. I think that's fair. 

Before ramen, which wasn't very exciting (why do I ever try new things), I stopped into a used bookstore to buy a new book. I had no plan for book-buying but had a very strong feeling that, once I arrived, a book in the bookstore would call out to me and I would feel spiritually connected to that book and care about it a lot and it would do many great things for me as a writer. Then when I got there I started freaking out that maybe it wasn't going to happen and I spent a long time wandering around holding On Beauty and using it to smack myself on the other palm but I was just like "Nope, nope, nope," there is no way in the world I could ever feel spiritually, or even non-spiritually, connected to Zadie Smith. We are like oil and water we are. 

Then I found The Country Girls Trilogy, which is three books in one volume, and read the back and it said "ambitious Irish country girls" and "a whirl of comic and touching misadventures" and "the pain and joy of youth" and then I checked what years they were written in and they were total best case scenario years- 1960! 1962! 1964! And also in my head I'd thought "I need to buy a book by a person who lives in London" (I'm aiming to move to London in January 2014) and then Edna O'Brien's author bio included the sentence "She lives in London." So, you know, DING DING DING. I bought it. 

I ate my shitty ramen (I only liked the egg) and fell immediately in love (with the book not the egg). Edna O'Brien writes like a more luxurious Ernest Hemingway and there's a sentence that kills me on every page. For instance: 

-But he did go, my new god, with a face carved out of pale marble and eyes that made me sad for every woman who hadn't known him. 
-The moment I heard him speak and the moment I looked at his eyes, my heart always fluttered. His eyes were tired or sad or something.
-Somehow she was more dead than anyone I had ever heard of. 

And there's a lot of honey and cream and lilac and Alsatians, a place called The Greyhound Hotel, lemonade, foals, one part that goes the pink trifle with a slice of peach, a glace cherry, a cut banana, and uneven lumps of sponge cake, the smell of hay, blossoms, etc. It's the kind of writing that makes me really excited to write and be a writer. I've had a weird year about writing, really grew to resent it for awhile there, but now I'm back in love and chiller than ever. I know these books are going to be huge for this new era of my voice.

At work last night I was saying something about being a writer and the new line cook said "You're a writer?!?" and I laughed because he sounded so impressed. "Yes," I said, "Are you impressed?" and he nodded very enthusiastically. I shrugged, "Yeah, I'm impressed too" and everyone laughed. I hadn't meant it to be funny though I see how it was and I laughed too, but really I think we all- all us writers, and artists, and everybody- let's just take this moment to be impressed with ourselves. 

JEN'S THING OF THE WEEK: Cher in Moonstruck

On Wednesday night I had a horrendous headache. I could not stand. Maybe it was a migraine? I'm not sure. I feel like I get migraines but i don't know officially so I never say things like, "I had a migraine". Either way, I felt awful and could not stand. I could only lay on my couch and watch Moonstruck with my cat Spock. I think if I tried to watch anything else I may have died (not true). Moonstruck, specifically Cher, was the perfect and only medication I could get. This is what I love about Cher in Moonstruck: everything. This is what I extra love about Cher in Moonstruck: her Italian accent. Oh my god. I love it. Also, did you see the real life moon on Wednesday? It was magnificent and Jupiter was hanging out next to it.

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: My List Of Best Things From When I Was 15

On Monday, at home, I found a notebook from when I was 15-years-old. Inside the front cover there's lots of motivational quotes from people like Henry David Thoreau, J.D. Salinger, Kurt Cobain, Eddie Vedder, Billy Corgan, Robyn Hitchcock, Camper Van Beethoven, etc.; inside the back cover there's a list of my favorite things, which includes:

-black roses
-Jane's Addiction
-Sonic Youth
-"names like 'Poppy Z. Brite'"
-Chinese food
-Sassy magazine
-Tanya Donelly
-The Lemonheads
-Juliana Hatfield
-Evan Dando
-Johnny Depp
-Keanu Reeves
-Sylvia Plath

And that's "pyromania" as in the "the uncontrollable impulse and practice of setting things on fire," and not the Def Leppard record. I am not a pyromaniac and I don't remember ever being really into pyromania, although I do remember writing a story about a sexy arsonist who loved The Clash and was way spiritual, which was possibly around the same time that I wrote this list. I was really hoping to find the notebook whose cover I graffiti'd with the words "WITHDRAWAL IN DISGUST IS NOT THE SAME AS APATHY," but this one's probably the next best thing.


My Heart Is Like A Wheel


This story is a secret, so I have to dance around the crux of it. Writing about it's like eating a cremeless creme egg, and more than anything I'm living for the day it's not a secret anymore. I can't believe I actually respect a person enough not to relentlessly blab his shit all over the Internet, to the detriment of no less than my own narrative voice- I don't even know what I'm waiting for! The day when I stop loving him? I guess I can say that, at least, that it's a love secret. That's my deal. I love someone. 

And I can tell you all about the part of it I'm telling you about. It happened yesterday and took place on my bedroom floor. None of it's a secret except for why I started crying; I'd never keep anything me alone in my bedroom-related a secret from the alphabet. Or the Internet. And I guess it's not out of line to say the barest bones of it:

I am in love with someone who, for a very strange and interesting reason (which is a secret), I can never be with, unless something even stranger happens, which it won't- but it might. Probably not, though. 


The Only Personality Quiz Worth Anything


The other day I was checking Twitter and saw that a person named Sam had Tweeted, The only personality quiz in this life that is worth anything is ranking the months 1-12, which knocked the wind out of me it was so fucking brilliant. I fav'ed it, and was about to retweet it, but then decided I'd rather co-opt it. I immediately emailed Liz and Jen asking them if they'd be into doing a blog post where we ranked the months from fav to least-fav and then after I sent it I kind of freaked out and was like "Is that an INSANE idea? Are they going to be like WTF Laura Jane you've pushed it too far this time???" but as it turned out they were totally into it, which was when I knew, for the hundred thousandth time, that Elizabeth Barker and Jen May are my soulmates. So here we go! 

PS: We urge you to comment with your own list of best-to-worst months, since really there is nothing in the world more interesting to read. (PPS: Go June!)  


1. June
2. May
3. September
4. October
5. December
6. July
7. November 
8. April
9. August
10. March
11. February
12. January


1. December
2. July
3. August
4. June
5. October
6. September
7. May
8. November 
9. February
10. April
11. March
12. January


1. October
2. November
3. December
4. September
5. May
6. January
7. June
8. April
9. February
10. July
11. March
12. August


13 Nirvana Songs That Make Me Feel Happy & Free & Full of Light


I used to do this thing of referring to typical November weather as "Nirvana weather"; I thought that gray snowless skies and bitter-cold air that could rip your skin off amounted to the meteorological equivalent of the more brutal Nirvana songs. But sometime in the past year or so I realized that Nirvana mostly makes me feel really good -- partly due to the shitty-glorious effect I wrote about in my Replacements post, but mostly because they were an amazing band that made lots of great and fucked-up and wonderful songs that I'm happy to have my skin ripped off by, metaphysically speaking.
        It's also got to do with how, the older I get, the more thankful I am to have Nirvana be a part of my history. They were the first band to ever break my heart and also the hearts of at least a few people around me, including some of the first exceptionally cool boys I was ever friends with. Like this boy Mike whom I met when I was 16 -- in high school I worked at an Italian bakery in Mike's neighborhood, and some afternoons Mike would come in after school and sit at the bar to eat cake and smoke cigarettes. He went to Catholic school and was two years younger than me but I thought he was about 25, on account of the fact that he was eight-feet-tall (6'4") and had wild hair and intense facial hair and generally appeared more experienced and dangerous than I could ever be. Mike's the only person I've ever known who possibly loved Nirvana even more than I did. I tend to admire anyone who can outshine me when it comes to loving a band, and so I admired Mike and still do.
         There was also Dave, who went to Catholic school too. Dave and I were the same age and I knew him first but eventually he and Mike got to be deep pals and play in a band together. Of the two of them, Dave had the more Kurt Cobain-y vibe, both personality-wise (he was often sardonic and/or sullen) and physically (he was slightly waifish and frequently wore cardigans). My favorite story about Mike and Dave is the time they went to play bingo at some church and Dave had grown his hair long and a nice little old lady gave Mike a dollar and told him to buy his girlfriend a Pepsi, the girlfriend being Dave.

You go through life trying to find people who love the shit out of the same shit you love and the three of us loved Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. That connection was intensified by what happened to Kurt, so there's something a little tragic about it -- but I also remember having so much fun, sitting on basement floors and drinking gross beer and watching the boys play Nirvana songs and Bad Company songs and their own songs. We ate a lot of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese straight out of the pan late at the night and they smoked a shitload of cigarettes and we drove around a lot with the radio on and sometimes went up to the airport to watch the planes take off -- normal shit teenagers do. Life was just medium-cool but it was usually exciting enough, and in a lot of ways I think that's the ideal.
         So these are the 13 Nirvana songs that make me happiest, largely because of the memories tied to them. Incesticide's the most heavily represented here because that's the party/fun-times record. Play it during your Thanksgiving dinner.


Mike had this great coat. My memory of it is all mixed up with a coat I had around the same time, plus the coat Mary Lou Lord wears on the cover to her EP with "He'd Be a Diamond" and "Lights are Changing," and also Jordan Catalano's coat on the Christmas episode of My So-Called Life and Penny Lane's coat in Almost Famous -- but I'm pretty sure Mike's was brown suede, hip-length, with cream-colored wool cuffs and collar. It's a winter coat but one night we were at Denny's in the middle of the hot hot summer and Mike was wearing it with shorts -- it was a cool move and I ripped it off for my book and I'm really proud of that part. Anyway, Mike was wearing a winter coat in July and we were at Denny's and the boys were arguing over what Kurt's saying at 3:35 of "Hairspray Queen." Mike's point was that Kurt's singing "At night, her mouth full of omelets" and everyone poked fun but listening today, that really does sound like what he's saying.
          Nowadays I still love "Hairspray Queen" mainly for being this big weird song that sounds exactly the sort of thing I assumed degenerate teenagers always listened to, back when I was a little kid. It's screechy and scrapey and it gets all pukey and death-metal-y at the end, and I guess it made me proud to finally be a degenerate teenager too.

ii. "RADIO FRIENDLY UNIT SHIFTER." On their last tour Nirvana always opened with "Radio Friendly Unit Shifter." Or at least they did when I saw them, which was 19 years and eight days ago today. Last week I found a YouTube clip with the complete recording of the Nirvana show that I went to when I was 15 and had braces and wore purple floral tights with jean shorts and an off-white thermal and used combat boots bought at an army/navy store on Martha's Vineyard -- but I started to listen and it was too spooky; I bugged out and shut it off. I'll probably listen at some point but for now I'm down with watching this video of the Nirvana show that played on MTV on New Year's Eve in 1993:

That night I was babysitting my brother and sister and I called Gina (who went to the Nirvana show with me -- the whole reason I saw Nirvana in the first place was I ran into Gina in the library one morning before school sophomore year and she said to me, super-seriously, "LIZ WE ARE GOING TO SEE NIRVANA," and then her dad got his tickets at the mall that Saturday while we were taking the PSATs) and we talked on the phone for like three hours and watched the concert together.
       It was a good and fulfilling new year's. The lyrics "Hate your enemies, save your friends, find your place, speak the truth" are so empowering and sincere.

iii. "ENDLESS, NAMELESS." The secret song! There are two kinds of people in this world: those who believe the inclusion of "Endless, Nameless" as a hidden track on Nevermind to be superfluous, and those who are good at life.
         Here is another clip from the Nirvana show that played on MTV on New Year's 1993:

There's hardly even any "Endless, Nameless" to it but I wanted to share it anyway because it's beautiful. Look at all those kids! They're so excited and there's totally some purity to it. I love when Kurt tries to help that one boy over the barrier but he's not strong enough. I love his "C'mon!" face, when he's waving all the kids onto the stage. And I love when he spits in the camera, smiles, and then erases the smile just as quickly: it's saying he hates us, but he also doesn't hate us. I think at this point in loving Nirvana I could accept that Kurt hated us sometimes, but I also really basked in the moments when he didn't hate us at all.

iv. "SCENTLESS APPRENTICE (REHEARSAL)." This version, I mean. The first time I heard it was a rough November night about seven years ago when I was "in a bad place" and visiting home for Thanksgiving and I went to Best Buy and bought With The Lights Out and got to this song and it destroyed me right away. It was really encouraging to know that I could still be destroyed by a Nirvana song, despite the fact that Nirvana didn't exist anymore and hadn't existed in a very long time. There are times when getting destroyed is the best thing, like when you're in the ocean and a big monster wave knocks you down and it takes so long to get back up and for a second or two you're not sure if you're gonna make it but then you do and you feel all adrenaliney and alive and at one with the ocean -- and also like when you're listening to a Nirvana song that's transcendentally scary.
         BTW in researching this post I found this awesome YouTube clip titled "‪Kurt Cobain goes Crazy (Interesting video)":

The video truly is interesting; I'd even go so far as to say it's fascinating. It's basically this ten-minute-long version of "Scentless Apprentice" in which Kurt bullshits his way through the actual verses and chorus, then spends a long time sort of wandering around the stage and doing weird shit with his guitar and spitting in the camera and humping the camera and dancing with the camera -- it seems like he's just doing whatever the hell he wants for a little while, in a very childlike way that's serene and dangerous at the same time. I like how he's totally under a spell, but you can also see he's really enjoying all the power he has for those few moments. It's hypnotic and arrogant and I'm into it.


Thing of the Week: My Great-Grandmother's Black Sapphire Ring, Claiming Golden Retrievers As My Lifestyle Gurus, An Agoraphobic Owl

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: My Great-Grandmother's Black Sapphire Ring

A few days ago I was digging through a shoebox looking for a shimmery white NARS eyeshadow thing. About twice a year I misguidedly attempt to execute a "snow princess"-y eye makeup look, which I fuck up, because I don't know how to do eye makeup. So I wash it off. 

I found the ring in the shoebox. I vaguely remembered having seen it before. I could tell it was expensive and didn't understand how it ended up in my shoebox full of literally the worst shit I own but I was happy to have rescued it. The stones are black sapphires, I love that, the idea of a black gemstone. So macabre! I love the idea of wearing a black sapphire ring in place of a mourning band. 

I assumed the ring had something to do with my mother, so I emailed her a photograph and asked her if there were any good stories behind it. She wrote me back saying that it belonged to my great-grandmother, my grandfather's mother, who died when my mom was a little girl. It's one of only two pieces of her jewelry my mom owned- the other, a brooch, was lost. When my grandfather went into the hospital for heart surgery ten years ago, my mother gave him this ring to hold onto. He lived. 

My grandfather died one year ago last week, but I didn't have much time to reflect on it because I've been working so much. He would have been happy to know how hard I'm working, how much I finally love working hard. He cared so much about work. I was unemployed for most of my early twenties because of anorexia and he didn't understand it and honestly why should he have. I wish I believed that dead people can see you from heaven because I know if he could he'd be so proud of me- I even sweep the floor! I don't believe that finding his mother's ring so close to the anniversary of his death is anything cosmic or a message but I am grateful I happened to find it at the moment I needed it most. My fam is big into jewelry as heirlooms and I've never really cared that much but now I understand it. I never knew my great-grandmother and she never knew me but she knew I would exist and I know that she existed. The ring I am wearing is the same ring she wore when she was wearing this same ring, and it's black. She didn't choose a basic old diamond or ruby or emerald, she went for the black sapphire. From this we can infer that she was not a dull woman. 

I relate to her morbid gemstone choice and I'm thankful her ring fits at all. I have terrible stocky peasant hands and rings are always too small for me. When he was alive my grandfather would often tell me that my hands were beautiful (which I thought was weird; my hands are pretty much the least-beautiful thing about me), and now I understand it. My great-grandmother's ring fits me. I have his mother's hands.  

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: Claiming Golden Retrievers As My New Lifestyle Gurus

Last Sunday I went to Goodwill to get stuff for my new house and ended up with a nightstand, a cute trash can, a glass bowl in which to store/display my makeup, and an adorable book titled Love of Goldens. It's all about golden retrievers and it was an impulse buy; I mostly got it as a goof. But then on Monday morning, while having my eggs and tea, I opened the book up and started reading.

Love of Goldens is such a treasure*! It's full of such amazing sentences as "With the temperament of a teddy bear and looks as stunning as the latest Hollywood starlet, what's not to like [about golden retrievers]?" It's also very educational. For instance, I learned that a nineteenth-century Scottish lord named Lord Tweedmouth played an integral role in the development of the golden retriever breed, and that the first golden registered by the American Kennel Club was a Minnesota pup by the name of Speedwell Pluto.

My housemate John came into the kitchen while I was breakfast-reading Love of Goldens on Monday, and I shared with him the info on Speedwell Pluto and Lord Tweedmouth. 

"Are golden retrievers the most popular breed in the United States?" asked John, humoring me.

"Well, they're certainly the most beloved, John!" I seriously replied.

And then later on I decided that I'm going to claim golden retrievers as my new lifestyle gurus, since they're so happy and generous and always ready for fun. It's going halfway decent so far. BTW, my fave golden retriever is our old buddy Baxter. One time when I was hanging out with Baxter he knocked something over with his tail and I cried out "Baxter, what have you done?" and then my friend Tim sang "You made a fool of everyone..." a la "Sexy Sadie" and then I changed Baxter's name to Sexy Baxter. Which I guess makes Baxter the Maharishi, which brings the whole guru thing full circle.

*Speaking of treasures, yesterday LJ emailed me to ask if I was going to mention Treasure Buddies in my golden retrievers post. Treasure Buddies is a live-action movie starring actual golden retrievers; LJ and I found out about it when she was visiting in March and we went to Ralph's to buy Dunkin Donuts coffee and cigarettes. I think later on we watched part of Treasure Buddies on YouTube and I was annoyed that the Buddies were voiced by little kids instead of by grown-ups. I think it'd be at least five times cuter if the Buddies had grown-up voices. So based on the YouTube clip I possibly watched for about 30 seconds eight months ago, I give Treasure Buddies two and a half stars.

JEN'S THING OF THE WEEK: An Agoraphobic Owl

Meet Gandalf, he's an agoraphobic owl. I actually found out and fell in love with him last week, but I have continued to think about him everyday. I've always been totally into the concept of spirit animals but truly had no idea what mine was. A cat? No way - I have a lot of trouble sleeping. Um, uh. I don't know! I've seen humans I considered spirit animals, like this one woman I saw eating popcorn with no hands just her mouth sitting front row at a Twilight movie. Love you girlfriend. After finding out an agoraphobic owl is a thing that exists I realized he is my spirit animal. An agoraphobic owl!!! It's absolutely truly my soul in animal form. Love you Gandalf. 


My Demented Relationship with David Lynch


I can’t wait until my inevitable collaboration with David Lynch. We’re going to make a terrifying feminist film about the lives of women who work at jobs that are boring. We’ll have meetings and drink so much coffee. We’ll spend a lot of time talking about our feelings and laughing.  We’d meditate for a while. Often we would be video chatting because he’s in love with the light in LA and I’m in love with New York and bagels. He g-chats me while I’m at work.


I wanted to write this to explore my “demented relationship” with David Lynch. I started a few months ago but it never went anywhere.  I felt like we had this really important struggle going on where I wasn’t totally with him, but also, I was and he was supporting me in this completely made up way.  That isn’t real. I realized I am just a fan! I mean, clearly I understand his work on a way deeper and more intimate level than anyone else even if I’ve only watched stuff once. Our relationship is actually quite healthy.

I need to let you know that I hated David Lynch for a long time. Dismissing his art was one of my favorite things to do – it would make people so mad. I didn’t need to waste my time watching spooky misogynist movies, watching women getting tortured or murdered. Had I seen any David Lynch movies at this point besides The Elephant Man? Uh, NO. Of course not, I didn’t need that shit weighing me down. I loved The Elephant Man. It made me cry hysterically for two solid hours after the movie was finished. I still hated him. The film started with an image of a woman getting kicked by an elephant- he was proving my point. The man was obsessed with producing images of violence inflicted on women and I was obsessed with dissing him.

Eventually 2012 happened and I got really into David Lynch.  I mean, really.

The thing is, he’s beyond the beyond.
Beyond the beyond good.
You know this already.  Even if you hate him (I get it), you know he’s incredibly talented. He has powers. If you read his book on Transcendental Meditation and creativity you also know that he says “beyond the beyond” and “beyond good” constantly.

He endorses these $40.00 vitamins. I think I need them? I wonder if he likes popcorn? I need to try his Signature Blend Coffee. (Update: I was given this coffee for my birthday! Have not tried it yet).

Remember how when Twin Peaks was first available on Netflix Instant Watch people starting talking about it and referencing it even more than they already always do? I watched it to be part of The National Conversation and I loved it. There was no avoiding it - the music, the coffee, the donuts, the characters, the shots of trees in the wind! I have a pulse so I felt in love with Special Agent Dale Cooper instantly. I still hated David Lynch and felt like Mark Frost was probably the real brains behind the show.

This spring I had a stomach virus and laid on my couch for days only getting up to barf.  My hair looked exactly like David Lynch’s. It didn’t really but it had the vibe down for sure. I still hated him at this point, even if I didn’t. I was googling “David Lynch hair” and that led me to a page about his meditation. HE MEDITATES!!? (I know everyone else on earth knew this but I had been purposefully ignoring him for years so this was news to me). I had already been thinking pretty often about my inevitable Meditation Phase so this was like striking gold. Learning about DL’s deep commitment somehow validated my future and also my entire life. OH MY GOD I AM DAVID LYNCH. Kind of! You know?

I still had only seen The Elephant Man & Twin Peaks. It’s almost like I was a poser only I wasn’t. My love was real. I took his meditation book out from the library. I felt like he was giving me really good art/life advice. He became sort of this Uncle David, my best friend supporting me through life and telling me to stop scheduling short bursts of studio time, it never works. That’s true.  He was forcing me to take my art seriously and also to drink a lot of coffee. He told me about catching ideas, which is how I made the banner for this here blog. I caught it while walking from the 6 train to the E train on my way home from work.  When I made it and it looked exactly like the idea I caught I knew David was right about everything.

I became obsessed with his song "Good Day Today" and his persona in general. I love how sweet, sometimes child-like, hilarious, devoted and kind he is. Or seems.

 I was truly terrified by the final episode of Twin Peaks. I could not sleep. I stayed up all night asking my boyfriend why does David Lynch do this- these images? Why do we have to see them? Does he hate women? No, right? Why is he making us see this stuff? He’s very talented. If he wasn’t so talented I would have fell asleep. How is he so talented? It was exactly like that part in Blue Velvet where Kyle MacLachlan is like, “Why are there people like Frank?”, Except it was in a bed and not a car and it lasted for like 4 hours. We were asking the same question and feeling the same feelings only he exists in a 2 hour movie so his needed to be condensed.

If you are at all an aware human being you know about the deep darkness of this world. It’s really sad and heavy and real. It’s hard to accept. Part of some meditation is accepting that. Sometimes I meditate now. I'm going to learn the Transcendental Meditation technique in 2 weeks.  I’ve also watched most of his movies (even INLAND EMPIRE you guys - and I loved it).

David understands this darkness on another level. His relationship with evil is grotesque and powerful. For years I didn’t want it to see it because I already knew it. It’s clear to me now I was avoiding any and all things Lynch because I did not want to accept the soul crushing darkness that exists in the world. I had this unconscious idea that to show it was to support it, which is really stupid.  Is it really misogynist to show in extreme, emotional, visceral detail the hell women go through? Or is it, like, totally radically feminist? Or maybe it’s neither, it’s just a dark reality.

It’s frustrating to me that in general his work tends to be regarded as outrageously absurd and purposefully confusing. Is that not exactly the way the world is? I mean, really. The need many people feel to try and pin his movies down and find symbolism and a clear message is unnecessary. You just need to feel them. You’ll know exactly what he is saying.

I don’t really need to watch a David Lynch movie to understand there are people like Frank. As a woman I’m constantly aware that someone would like to sexually objectify, humiliate, hurt, rape or kill me every minute of the day. I know this at all times.  I think his movies make everyone feel that.  I think that’s really important. That awful, anxious feeling of dread you get from watching these movies? That makes them cool? THAT IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE. That is what it feels like to be walking home alone and having some asshole say disgusting shit to you the entire way. My instinct was to avoid it but avoiding something doesn’t make it go away.


How Bret Easton Ellis Made Me Love Led Zeppelin More Than I Ever Would Have Loved Led Zeppelin On My Own


This is my copy of Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. I've had it for at least 22 years and I'm pretty sure I bought it at the Waldenbooks at the Auburn Mall. When I was in ninth grade I babysat for a little boy whose parents were total drips and kept terrible snacks, the most appealing option being these super-shriveled dried apricots that completely lacked the plump sweetness of normal dried apricots; after-school I'd walk up Pleasant Street to their house with Megan Cole and Sara Goldstein, who lived nearby. One winter day we had a snowball fight on the way home and a snowball landed in my bag and melted all over my copy of Less Than Zero -- so now it's tie-dyed, because of that. I don't know where the blue and yellow came from but I'm guessing from markers, or maybe a pen and a highlighter.


My first memory of "Stairway to Heaven" is from my birthdaytime when I was maybe nine or ten. My older brother's birthday's really close to mine (we're both Capricorns) and that year my dad got him a guitar. We were all at my dad's apartment, me and my dad and my brother and some of my cousins and my aunt and uncle, and my brother had also gotten the sheet music to "Stairway to Heaven." But one of the pages of the sheet music was missing and the lyrics ended up reading "And she's buying a stairway/to roll," which everyone thought was so funny. I didn't get it. I didn't get "Stairway to Heaven" at all. Led Zeppelin were really scary-looking to me and I was basically like, "Ewww WTF these guys are so ugly* and obviously satanists, please let us put on some Madonna or some Michael Jackson." Led Zeppelin is not a band made for little girls.

I probably didn't think about "Stairway to Heaven" again until I read Less Than Zero for the first time -- but maybe not even then, since I'm not sure I recognized "There's a feeling I get when I look to the west" as a "Stairway to Heaven" lyric. But I loved that line, just as a sentence, just as an epigraph. It seemed really deep and mystical and full of dark secrets and I wanted to know all those secrets. I figured the kids from Less Than Zero must know the secrets, since they were so glamorously fucked-up and full of drugs and they never knew where their parents were and they came from Los Angeles, which was this beautiful evil place. I believed those kids to be so exciting and tragic and I despised them and I wanted them; they obsessed me. I read Less Than Zero a zillion times and the kids never got any less fascinating. It's so strange to me, that I could love a book so much even though it's got almost no romance at all.**


Two weeks ago I moved into a new house and before I moved I had a minor spiritual crisis about how my new place faced east and how the lyric "There's a feeling I get when I look to the west" would no longer be the truth about my standing on the front deck. That lyric means more to me today than it did when I was 13 and obsessed with Less Than Zero -- partly because I ended up living in Los Angeles, partly because I eventually started loving Led Zeppelin, partly because I'm writing a book whose two main characters love Led Zeppelin too. Every time I hear that line now I get a weird thrill and everything feels sort of spooky and lit-up and electric, like time and the air are warping for just those six seconds. It still feels deep and mystical and full of dark secrets, but now that I'm older I like knowing that I'm never going to know those secrets. They're just not for me to know. They're for my older brother to know, and the kids in my book, and maybe the kids in Less Than Zero: I'm really into the idea of forever being mystified by the lyrics to certain songs and leaving it up to the older kids to understand everything about rock-and-roll and the universe and evil and love. "Mystified child in endless thrall to the older kids" is such a good part to play. 


Last night I read Less Than Zero again and it still fascinates me but I don't hate or love those kids anymore; the only character I care all that much about is the city. The kids in my book are way better at getting what "There's a feeling I get when I look to the west" means than the kids in Less Than Zero, and that's what matters most to me now. But I think it's cool that, as a writer of books, Bret Easton Ellis took a line from a Led Zeppelin song and twisted it into something even more powerful than it ever would have been for me on its own. I think it's so cool that writers can have that much power.

*No! Jimmy Page is beautiful. But I remain deeply unattracted to Robert Plant.

**I think there's romance in the parts in italics (Clay's memories of going to the beach with Blair and to the desert with his family), and maybe in the way Clay's so attuned to the weather and to the spirit and the energy of the freeways and the hills. 


The 20 Most Beautiful Flags In All The Land


I started thinking about how positively I respond to the concept of "flags" this summer, when it was the Olympics and I had to look at them all the time. The concept of "countries," on the other hand, baffles me- I don't get why we have to have them. I'm pretty disinterested in politics, which confuses people who aren't, but I'm just like, "Listen, guys. I don't think countries should exist. You don't want me to be political." And now shit is about to get even worse because I'm going to start amping up that argument ("argument') with "The only thing I like about countries is flags." And all my friends will roll their eyes and think "Oh my god Laura Jane is an idiot" and I'll be like "Flags are so adorable!"- because flags are so adorable. An adorable concept, all in all: "Let's draw this snappy little picture on some fabric and then waggle it around all over the place and show it to the rest of the world to tell them how much we arbitrarily love the area of land we happened to be born in! And also let's make patches out of it! It's such a cute little picture!" I love it; it's like sticker books, only on a scale too large for me to fully fathom but I'm doing my best. It's like crafts. Is there glitter glue on flags? There may as well be, considering how CUTE flags are.

I'm from Canada, seen above is my flag. The major thing about flags the Olympics helped me realize is how particularly adorable my country's flag is! It has a leaf on it! How spiritually evolved we all are, we Canadians, at one with nature like Siddhartha. That's like the number two thing that has ever made me proud to be Canadian ever after Neil Young. Some countries did a better job of making their flags cute than others. Booyah #canada

Anyway, I've made my "It's cute how the Canadian flag has a leaf on it" point a bunch of times in post-Olympics social situations, because I'm a real fuckin charmer I'll have you know. I was telling my friend Jenn about it a few weeks ago (and she was ENTHRALLED), and the backstory here is that Jenn and I often have this thing happen to us where our hang-outs spiral into out of control Google Image Search seshes where we look up the names of obscure international cities + "downtown" to find out what the cities actually look like; it's great. So that impulse mixed with my mentioning of the word "flag" unsurprisingly took us down a really cool road of Google Image Searching different flags of whichever countries we happened to think of, because that's just the kind of woman I am, the kind of woman I like to pal around with. Women who go out to bars and get drunk and e-research flags on their iPhones. This is why iPhones exist. 

"I should totally blog a list of all the most beautiful flags in the world!" I exclaimed, and then when I got home I found a VERY helpful website entitled "List of countries by population" (It's a Wikipedia page, guys), which was when I learned that there are so many countries! Like, 242. I mean, not like 242, just 242. There are 242 countries in the world, including one called Liechtenstein. This all is mind-blowing! I thought there were 167! I actually thought that, exactly. I thought that was information that I knew for sure. 167 countries. 

I've spent the past couple weeks looking at every single one of the 242 flags that exist and have whittled that list down to a really tight group of 20. (A DISCLAIMER:  I actually had the thought, while writing this post, "Ughhhh some dumbass is SO going to leave me a comment that's all, like, "What about the Swiss flag?", like, trying to impress me with their flag knowledge," but listen up, dumbasses: I left out the Swiss flag for a reason- because it's PLAYED. I'm trying to expose you people to new flags. Everyone in the world loves the Swiss flag. It's yesterday's papers. If you want to look at a picture of the Swiss flag on the Internet, go look at the Swiss Army Knife website. (Hahahaha cool how I'm a "flag snob" now)) I arranged my list in descending order to create a ton of tension for the big reveal of what some weird girl on the Internet's favorite flag is. 

PS: The worst flag in the world belongs to American Samoa. Just so we're all clear about that.


The lil note I wrote down about the Croatian flag during my initial bout of flag e-research reads "FAST & FURIOUS!!!!", which calls a lot of attention to what a weird person I am. Like imagine if when my parents were expecting a baby someone had told them that their daughter would one day grow up to describe the Croatian flag as being "FAST & FURIOUS!!!!"? They'd be like "Oh. Maybe let's give her away." 

What I meant, though, is that this flag reminds me of Fast & Furious the movie. Is Fast & Furious about "motocross"? Sort of? This flag also reminds me of motocross. It looks like a racecar driver's jacket, or like some sort of logo that would be on the side of a plastic cup that someone got for free at a NASCAR event in the late 1980s. Only it's cuter, because it's a flag! I like the little pictures inside the five points of the checkerboard's crown. What is the middle point? Is it little stars or dust bunnies with faces? And then next to it is a cute goat? Well that's fucking AWESOME. Fucking awesome fucking job, Croatia. 


Oooooohhhhhh that cute THING in the middle!!!! It's an opticalllll illuuuuuuussssionnnnn!!!


Thing of the Week: Feeling Feelings, All the Wonderful Movies I Threw Away in the Middle of the Night Last Weekend, Laura Jane's "Rooftop Everybody" Coat

JEN'S THING OF THE WEEK: Feeling Feelings
I’ve been feeling a lot of feelings this last week. REALLY FEELING THEM. My studio flooded in the hurricane. I lost a good portion of everything I’ve ever made. Cleaning up the studio made me feel really exhausted. I’m still tired. Obviously, things were a lot worse for other people. It’s so sad. Homes  and possessions are gone. Art is gone too. A lot of it. People are really cold. Some people are still without power. I had a feelings meeting (aka dinner and a lot of coffee) with Rachel on Wednesday. We’ve both been feeling a lot of similar feelings and we frantically discussed them while eating a lot. We split this vegan peanut butter banana whoopee pie - it was delicious. It feels really good to have your feelings acknowledged and justified. We’re making a book together on feelings, actually. It’s started and is somewhere under a pile of paper in my studio. Anyway, I came home and felt gross. I ate too much. I went to sleep. I think I started grinding my teeth in my sleep. A physical manifestation of feelings!

Oh, the election! I felt a lot there too. I am very anxious in general so I was really nervous Mitt Romney could have won. HE DID NOT HOW GREAT IS THAT! Marriage Equality won all over the damn place! There is now a Lesbian & a Buddhist in the Senate. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Excitement and relief.

It’s my birthday on Saturday. I’m not a huge ~*BIRTHDAY!*~ person but I have been feeling some feelings about that too. So many feelings to feel.

LIZ'S THING OF THE WEEK: All the Wonderful Movies I Threw Away in the Middle of the Night Last Weekend

Last weekend I moved into a new house; it's so beautiful and I love it intensely. Moving was hell, as moving always is, and just when I thought it was all over and done I found a secret stash of all my VHS tapes in some stupid corner of the living room that I swear I never even knew existed before Saturday night. It was very late. I was very tired, and very, very hungry. I'd been packing and moving all day and I couldn't bear to pack and/or move one more goddamn thing -- and so I tossed the tapes into a plastic bag and threw them all away, in the hugely overflowing trash bin on the sidewalk. It instantly broke my heart; I knew it wasn't a smart move. But we do foolish things when we're fatigued and really that's my only excuse. So goodbye to all my favorite movies in the world, these movies that are so truly my friends. We had a good run and I'll never forget you. I miss you too much already.

LJ'S THING OF THE WEEK: My "Rooftop Everybody" Coat

Here is a picture of me in my black faux-fur coat while going through caffeine withdrawal and feeling very woozy on the first day I quit coffee. Reflected in the third panel of my mirrored armoire is the ghost of George Harrison watching over me. 

Here is a picture of Rooftop John and Rooftop George on Beatles Rooftop Concert Day. They are wearing beautiful coats and how cute are George Harrison's sneakers. 

I hated summer this year. I got really sick during a heatwave and breathing the air felt like choking to death on soup and it just kinda killed the whole thing for me. In summer I made up stories about gross grey November, which seemed like the thing to romanticize (I was hella depressed), and I imagined myself wearing a made-up winter coat that was the exact midpoint between Rooftop John's rooftop coat and Rooftop George's rooftop coat. Then my entire life fell into perfect focus and I found that exact coat at Value Village at the end of August.

I wore my Rooftop Everybody coat for the first time on November 2nd, the day I quit coffee. I wore it with my peach sari minidress, grey cable-knit stockings, dirty hair, no makeup and Beatle boots. It was the George Harrisoniest outfit I have ever seen a person who isn't George Harrison wear. I was so proud of myself for fashioning such a nuanced homage to George and it put me in the chillest George Harrisony frame of mind. 

I had eaten all my peanut butter stoned and deciding to quit coffee on my bedroom floor the previous night at 3 AM so when I woke up at 1 in the afternoon, after getting dressed in my George clothes, I walked down to Royal Thai and ate a plate of ginger chicken with some cute mushrooms that were not chanterelles but closest to chanterelles and looked like something a woodland elf would eat. I drank a cup of green tea and thought "Welcome to your beautiful new life of being a person who drinks green tea instead of coffee, you beautiful human." It was a very George Harrisony meal. Everything about that scene really dictated the tone of my November so far. I feel very calm all the time. My coat feels like a hug from a wombat and it's warm, I'm warm. I'm in love with this month of my life. The air smells like burning branches and glitter made of peppermint.