Li’l Thinks - Friends by Kate Carraway
Illustration by Penelope Gazin
I pushed him into a snow bank on the way home from the bar. He was drunk and had to pee and went down, soft like a wool mitten, and then got up, and then I pushed him down again. I hadn’t—this should be “haven’t”—seen this dude in, like, three years, but that—the “pfooo” of a grown-up man falling slow and landing facedown in the fresh snow, the 2 AM winter-empty side-street echo of us scream-laughing, hard—repeats, for me, as something like an advertisement, not for friendship exactly, but more specifically for the corny, syrupy-sweet juvenilia that is what I liked so much about how and who we were when we were together.
Friendship is a constantly self-renewing frontier of human relationships, a Wild West of emotional and temporal adventure times. Without the common and commonly necessary strictures that the lamer side of biology and collective culture and whoever else is set up to dictate sexual, romantic relationships, and without the near-eternal nature of literal families, friendship is expansive and truly wild. It’s the only type of relationship that can run steadily for months or years or ever-afters, without sliding down an emotional valley or being punctured by another person’s need or someone else’s betrayal. Of all the ways for two people to be together, and be in some kind of love, it’s the way that is most defined by genuine, wanted, cohesive closeness—the kind that can only be created by making a choice that isn’t required by law or money or blood or boners, and least of all by obligation. The stuff of great friendships applies to shy kindergarteners sharing a snack as much as it does to Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks watching movies together after dinner.
Classism – Li’l Thinks by Kate Carraway
Illustration by Penelope Gazin.
Fun fact: when you don’t know what you’re talking about, you’re probably talking about class. I mean, maybe, maybe not… but probably. Classism expressed from and about any point on the socioeconomic spectrum, is implicitly part of almost everything interesting and useful and real to talk about. The prejudices themselves aren’t invisible, but classism in action is sometimes quiet, or tucked into other ways of diagramming and demeaning the human experience; class is ever mutating, floating like a gas, present when it’s not there, and not there when it seems to be. If I were to take a wild swing at it, I’d say maybe half of what seems at first to be casually racist and sexist and generally xenophobic is classist (it’s not as if racism and sexism aren’t inextricably part of class) and basically allowed to be because nobody gets into it (at least, not outside of the broadest us-versus-them stuff of party politics, and mostly abstract economic debates), and nobody wants to.
Considering the finer, lived, human details of class, though, is so weirdly verboten. Money, status, “class”—both specific and temporal (what the middle class “is,” for instance, has changed along with its numbers)—are among the most determining and influencing aspects of how a life is felt and experienced, but addressing them directly—in conversation, in criticism—will have the effect of narrowing and nullifying instead of working to contextualize, expand, and be real with whatever. Some of this is that it’s “rude” (guh) to talk about what you have or don’t have. Some of this is that when people talk about class, which is largely outside of social sanctioning, there are more ways to be wrong, to offend. (Like, if you’re a huge racist, you’ve probably at least been told you are, at some point.) Classism is also mostly sanctioned: “white trash” should be a suuuuper fucking embarrassing thing to say (so should “rich bitch” and “trust-fund kid” and anything else that presupposes a character or quality based on economic status, or an imagined one), but it’s not.
LIMITED CHAOS - LI’L THINKS - By Kate Carraway
Illustration by Penelope Gazin
I have two recurring dreams. One is none of your business until I make it your business and the other you’re going to hear about even if you don’t want to: It’s about a familiar-since-forever kind of weekend beach party cum bacchanal, a performance of chaos.
It always takes place at dusk or later, and there is either a lingering supernatural streak of hot yellow, like the horizon’s take on Joseph Beuys, or just the noncommittal graying black of summer nighttime. Through dreamy static dust I see me wearing some apple-meat-white cotton-eyelet summer-dress item—this part doesn’t matter to you but it feels so right—and a coalition of people I’ve funned out with since the pre-dawn of my party consciousness are with me, storming the breaks fully clothed, carrying what I guess are bottles in brown paper bags, sort of endlessly entering the water and screaming and then stopping and then going again, pause-rewind-play, again and again. This contained, primal undoing—dreamed or otherwise—is probably spring break.
Fashion in the 90s - Kate Carraway’s Li’l Thinks
Illustration by Penelope Gazin
The 90s were perfect. That’s objective. Not even “the 90s,” really, but particular neon-gilded chambers of time within the 90s (like, super-ur-90s Sassy magazine before it began its slow death in 1995-ish) were perfect. This isn’t to privilege one set of nostalgics over another; the 1990s reverence felt by three small, semidiscrete generations (X, Y, Millennial) is, of course, no different from anyone else’s nostalgia for what came before, but seriously, the 90s were good for us. They were great sometimes.
I don’t even care about “better.” What’s better? Does better matter, is better relevant, is better possible? But one particular aspect of the culture that is definitely not better right now, and will be no better, is the translation of fashion to film, to video, to TV, to the internet.
I guess I mean this in an abstract and personal sense of “better”: There are a zillion dedicated segments and shows about fashion, on real TV and online, on blogs and the rest of it, that are doing what they set out to do, achieving everything they want to achieve. Every website I’ve ever been to (ever? Ever!) has featured a closet tour with some emerging or expiring It girl. Like the 90s, this is good and even great sometimes. And the epitome of 90s-fashion television, MTV’s House of Style, was revived last year, with ace model hosts and the familiar and correct cross-genre/high-low/daydreamy approach.
Obseshes - Feminist Fatigue
Oooooh la la, you guys, it’s Nike Sky High City Pack “Tokyo” Dunks release month! I put it on my iCal. How are you? How is your heart? Can I hold your teacup face in my hands, just for a second, or a second too long? Let’s make this all about feelings, OK? Or mostly, anyway. I’m Pre-Monster-Screaming or whatever that’s called.
I mean, aaaaaahhhh. This girl! I like when she hops around in her sports bra in that movie I haven’t seen yet. Except, as my fashion-professional bestie pointed out, she was wearing an actual wedding dress to the Oscars which is, at first pass, “Whoah/gross” but one beat later is maaaaaybe who-gives-a-shit-ish and cool? I am still waiting for a Juliette Lewis/Bjork/Amanda de Cadenet-and-Courtney Love-in-1995 figure to arrive on the red carpet (now actually a more TV-appropriate, “carbohydrate, sequined-jumpsuit, young-girls-in-white-cotton-panties, waking-up-in-a-pool-of-your-own-vomit, bloated-purple-dead-on-a-toilet phase”-purple-red-carpet) with a fashion-commentary-stakes-defying dress and some baditude, but in the meantime, I’m down with this girl. OK, so this isn’t about feelings. (Also, that’s from Wayne’s World, of course.)
Turns out I was right about necks, at least according to my recent shoppings. See you soon, transition toward wide and densely fabricated necklines! This isn’t about feelings either.
GIRL NEWS: FEMINIST FATIGUE
This is, though. To square away an important through-line of current feminist discussion, which is a strawberry-sweet way of saying “internet dry-heaving”: feminist fatigue, the kind of philosophical sleepiness that sweeps through me/you/everyone when there is too much to say no to (covered by Lindy West at Jezebel andJessica Valenti at the Nation and by other women in other places that I didn’t see/can’t care about because ZzzQuil) is something I feel, have felt, for years and years, in waves. Not nice warm ocean waves like in Florida but, like, The French Lieutenant’s Woman waves.
Kate Carraway’s Obseshes
In the hierarchy of meat, chicken dekes in and out of position in this counterintuitive and culturally unresolved way. Like, everyone wants to give you chicken in everything all the time; it is the basis for every dumb meal at a restaurant; it is what you are supposed to know how to make, I guess, but chicken is also the grossest and full of gristly knobs and the skin and what I think of as pinkish diseaseyness. How is it that on the road from queasy vegetarian to blood, chicken is so close to the beginning? I feel like a rare steak is easier to make sense of than a fucking leg of something.
SELF-CARE / SELF-CRUELTY:
I wrote a thing about “self-care” for a magazine and then started doing it all the time. (My version is refusing to listen to my friends talk about their crushes unless they are in a relationship or life context that supports having crushes, and also I now refuse to come within 20 feet of boys who are hunkered down at Fort Asshole even if it’s fun there.) It felt amazing when I was doing self-care “at” people, removing myself, creating boundaries, and thinking of a less corny way to be like “I’m creating boundaries,” and stuff like that.
Unfortunately, a lot of the doing of self-care “at” yourself can bend backward like a summer-time backyard gymnastics performance and turn into the most vicious kind of self-hatred, which, in action, I’m calling “self-cruelty.” An example: My problem with self-care is feeling as though I don’t, in a macro sense, actually deserve it, because my profession and workday is already devoted to thinking about myself and my ideas and my feelings, and the closest I come to having any limitations on my workday freedom is, like, too many text messages, or planning my coffee schedule poorly, or how starfish formation feels better than sitting up, even though in a micro work sense I experience a lot of total fucking bullshit. So being all “Unnnnngh” about work and being like “Now I will ‘self-care’ and think about sunsets” becomes this straight, dirt road lined with mean witches that leads to exponential, counterproductive self-cruelty. Working at home makes you so weird.
Why do guys make plans within two texts and a couple of hours and girls make plans with 30 emails and several weeks and two cancellations? Boys are like this, and girls are like this. Boys are dogs, and girls are cats.
Obseshes: Let’s All Stop Complaining About High School
“Peaked in high school” is a sound concept: a lot of people do. (A lot, a lot, a lot.) The adult lives of many high school mob bosses are just sad as all fuck, not sad like “I’m judging you for your social affiliations and entertainment choices” sad, because that’s mean, but sad like “You seem sad.” I mean, by now “high school” is more of a myth-factory (in fact, the most successful and productive myth-factory ever) than a singular institution, so maybe this is beside the point, but I’ve been hearing this party line for WEEKS which I blame on various articles about how school is jail for children and how you can never escape your high school self and how people who “peaked in high school” are not allowed to be cool as adults and let’s just HOLD THE PHONE A MINUTE. I loved high school. I was good at everything about it except for acting normal (and I plugged all my anxieties into stupid tattoo ideas and the kind of happenstansical afternoon drug use, the sticky-gross time-wastedness of which would give me three consecutive coronaries now, so……….) but STILL I understood how it worked and had a lot of friends and was “successful” at it and consider it to be an important foundation for learning how to be around people and have relationships and manage emotions and egos. Being too/very good at the “life” of high school indicates post-college loserishness, I guess, but it doesn’t necessitate post-college loserishnes—correlation is not causation—and this is an objective fact that seems to have been lost on whatever version of hive-mind is currently populating my internet, one that wants so badly to, what, find a direct and appealing narrative line from one era of their life to another? Let’s get a new thing to be weirdly identity-proud of (OR NOT AT ALL?) because “nerd” and “outcast” are bbbbnnnnnnooorrrzzzzzzz.
Selfies - Kate Carraway’s Li’l Thinks
Illustration by Penelope Gazin
Anything that is commonly understood as the province of teenage girls or their proxies—any girl, really, with hair that has something to do and patented Dreamskin—is understood to be something dumb. A “selfie” is understood to be dumb, and it really is, but it’s also the ordering feature of the internet, or rather, of the individual internets we create and re-create daily in our own images. A selfie is a photograph taken by a person of themselves for use as an avatar, maybe, or more often for the kind of portraiture that seems gray and naked but is really a conceptually sophisticated, self-adjudicated pose and articulation; selfies are more exposing and exposed than whatever random angle another photographer might find on their or the eventual viewer’s behalf. (If that even happens anymore; if it’s even possible to have a photo taken without its subject demanding to see and approve it.)
“Selfie” is a conscious, natural pejorative; an anxious cutening of what is, essentially, a humiliation of Instagrammed self-regard. Contained in any selfie is an embrace of this type of embarrassment, or rather, an incorporation of it, where it is folded into an emboldened, satisfied who-gives-a-shitness (notably, this is also seen in the anarchic mien of barfing, smiling socialites who leave their heels stuck in sewer grates as velvety memento mori; they do good selfies). As the internet pervades even the littlest pockets of personal experience, so too has the idea that ever more specific, ever more aesthetically controlled visions of an individual—of a teenage girl with That Hair or otherwise—are virtually expected, almost required, and sort of appealing, despite the thing where everyone in a selfie is doing a Photo Booth face of smug, though adopted, insouciance, or wide-mouthed sex, or a grainy iPhone simulacrum of something approaching captured shame.
Kate Carraway’s Obseshes - Obseshes ≠ Endorsements
My actual obsesh this week was rolling out of bed and onto the hard floor before the clock striked (Stroked? Struck? Struck!) six, because I was bizzzeeeee and sick and am doing this thing where I am trying to conceive of hateful snow-times as somehow insular and cozymaking and early bedtimes and work work work but instead I’m just kind of bored and sad and my roots are at Threat Level Infinity? Anyway here are some competing obsessions of the week.
The tidy neckline, buttoned up and arranged just-so-ishly with a necklace of Chiclet-gemstones or ironic pearls, has been a definitively nice/solid neck-look for a little while. I’m not mad. But, now it has all my style-attention on the neck (well, actually, my style attention for the month of January has been about whether or not it’s OK to clash pajama separates if it’s just you and a cup of coffee all day long) (it’s not OK). So, what can we expect next, neck-wise (Haaaa, EXPECT YOUR NECK! My matching pajama separates liked that one a lot) in the approaching months? I’m guesstimating a wide-but-not-so-wide-it-compromises-your-bra-strap kind of neckline, not as limited as a boat neck or as 90210-slutty as a tight scoop, but open and flowing and without an underlayer, in a serious fabric like thick cashmere or a rough linen, all the better for the mysteries of the post-winter clavicle to be reveaaaled. Wait for it, this is happeninginginging.
I have this new Philips-brand “Wake-Up Light,” which is a Max Headroom-shaped clock radio-cum-quasiorb that you can set to chirp bird sounds at you. So, instead of waking up by sleep-chasing after a slippery iPhone and its tinny melodics you wake up to a butter-warm glow and pre-dawn summertime sounds that you will think, at first, only existed in an ancient fever dream that you had once. It’s rilly, rilly cool.
My Obseshes - by Kate Carraway
OK you guys this is going to be a tough read because I did it while I was bent over at the waist—or like between being bent over, but not for long because sitting up is real, real hard—because I ate some chocolate really quickly before a meeting (it’s like having lunch AND a coffee!), and it’s just all been very heave-ish and whatever adult moves I like to think I’ve made lately have shrunk in the face of midday self-imposed chocolate poisoning.
SAINT LAURENT PARIS LOGO
Is there anything more erotic than the original Yves Saint Laurent logo? The tilted “Y” and “L,” the all-caps, the threatening haunted-house-y-ness of the font, the getting-skins touchy-touch of the letters, all up on each other. And then, and then! The secondary logo where the “Y” “S” and “L” are threesomeing around like gross snakes? Just, magnifico.
So what do we think of the new logo? I feel no less rhapsodic about SAINT LAURENT PARIS, black-on-white, all-caps-y and brilliantly spaced, a held breath instead of sexual deliverance, but without the “Y” does it achieve that same level of immediate textual gratification? I dunno. I do like how un-t-shirt-able it is, that’s for sure.
I don’t know if this is directly Cat Marnell-related or indirectly Cat Marnell-related (in no world is it unrelated to Cat Marnell), but I read some random shits this week about the potential and relative value of writing from inside an experience, rather than, I guess, from around it or past it. And every person on my Twitter feed was very “What’s yr deal, Elizabeth Wurtzel?” even though she had just explained her deal, in detail! And then sometimes also parsing, in quick bits, the ego and intentions of Lena Dunham, there less “What’s yr deal” and more “Let me tell you about yr deal” which is the diff between 26 or whatever and 40 or whatever.
I like this in a HAHAHAHAHAHA kind of way because what it presumes, that anyone with some distance from the particular horrors or whatever is being publicly metabolized by these women (I don’t do it, but I know it’s hard) is somehow and necessarily in a better position to reflect on the meaning of transgression (than the currently transgressing! HOW?!), is both incorrect (which is no big deal) and ungenerous and self-important (bigger deals).
Coming from a place, in memoir or whatever else, of I-don’t-know!-ness, of vulnerability and conflict and nuance, is so much more interesting and important and legitimate, and should be important to people who front as arbiters of authenticity. Right?! Like, Not Knowing. I Don’t Know. “How could I know?” You can’t. I like that line, or I guess “those lines” in that W.S. Merwin poem like “I asked how can you ever be sure / that what you write is really / any good at all and he said you can’t / you can’t you can never be sure / you die without knowing / whether anything you wrote was any good / if you have to be sure don’t write” and the truly mean and judgey mania demonstrated by people who have to be sure, not just about the writing itself but by the experience, what it was and what it should have been – if you have to be sure! – is TOO WEIRD for me to even synthesize, is TOO MEAN to agree to. See?