Xmas reading: My essay for narrative.ly about getting to know a millionaire/socialite

Illustration by Sophie Butcher for narrative.ly
Illustration by Sophie Butcher for narrative.ly

Some leisurely reading for your week off: a story about the time I chased an Upper East Side socialite for the sake of journalism. I wrote this for narrative.ly, a cool new site producing unique stories about New York City (say it three times: unique New York…)

Happy holidays and thanks for reading!

“Suddenly it occurred to me that someone would need to pay for this meal. Someone…meaning me? The freelance writer with $42,000 in student loan debt, wearing socks with holes in them? The writer who barely ever took herself out to lunch, much less some wealthy lady who probably did coke off Andy Warhol’s forearm when she should have been going to college? I panicked at the idea of having to pick up a $300 lunch bill and wrote to Cornelia’s publicist to ‘clarify’ the terms of the meeting. Alas, we would not be ladies who lunch. Instead, we would be ladies having black coffee and green tea, at—per Cornelia’s suggestion—the lowbrow Three Guys Diner on Madison.”



Announcing Nomadic Sojourns: “We are composed of movement”

Dear readers, I applaud my friend and fellow New School for Social Research alumnus, J.K. Fowler, for creating a very interesting and unique journal, Nomadic Sojourns, which takes the subject of movement as its inspiration and overall theme. The first issue came out in September and contains a memoir about my first foray into ethnographic research in Guyana as a 20-year-old college student, as well as pieces of nonfiction and fiction by writers of every shape and size. There will be readings (at which I suspect I will, at some point, read something from my piece), so stay tuned for those–but in the meantime, please take a look at the journal on McNally Jackson’s website, or walk right into their Prince Street shop and admire it on their shelves. Below is an excerpt from my piece, to tease you into shelling out the very nominal $17.99 for the beautifully-designed and one-of-a-kind journal.

“The next morning, the shaman was expecting me. Again his family joined Milton and me inside the hut. Malcolm performed the washcloth ritual once more, and then instructed me to return after lunch.

The same people were there when I came back. There were also a couple of tiny, scrappy puppies flailing about on the dirt floor, so young that they hadn’t even opened their eyes. Malcolm and Mavis were resting in hammocks, having a post-lunch nap. Malcolm’s daughter, who looked to be about five, appeared with a stick Read more

On Jeff Sharlet’s Syllabus: My Essay “Mic Checked”

I received a pleasant surprise today when I opened my “Google Alert” (which lets me know when my name appears somewhere online): I learned that author and Harper’s editor Jeff Sharlet includes my essay, “Mic Checked,” on a syllabus for a writing course he teaches at Dartmouth. I’m there alongside Joan Didion’s Slouching Toward Bethlehem and James Baldwin’s “Down at the Cross.” OMG!

Sharlet told Neiman Lab’s Story Board:

“I thought this was the best piece I read on the experience of the Occupy movement. I like it because it’s more or less topical, by a writer breaking radically from her usual style, and because it’s in the second person. I normally forbid the second person for the duration of the term, but I start with this piece to remind students to break my rules when they need to.”

My essay: “What We Talk About When We Talk About ‘Girls'”

a.k.a. “what I learned from Lena Dunham and a few dates with a rich Manhattan lawyer.”

a.k.a. (the real title) “Girls of the Millennials.”

My essay in Construction Magazine:

“My dates with the lawyer got me thinking about my situation, and why I’m putting myself through years of scraping by to be, ultimately, a writer—someone who will most likely never earn as much as a lawyer. At first, going out with him and hearing about his high-end lifestyle made me self-conscious about our class differences. But then I remembered something I often think whenever Read more

My Personal Essay/Op-Ed Writing Workshop: August 8 and 15

I am teaching a 2-session workshop on Personal Essay/Op-Ed writing at my loft in DUMBO on August 8 and 15, from 7-9pm (both Wednesdays). It will be fun and productive with all, and participants will be plied with just enough wine to get them to open up.

Sign up here, and until Monday use the discount code “AUGUST” for $10 off.

Class description: “Personal essay writing is a form of expression, a means of telling a story, a way of arguing a point, and a therapeutic exercise. It can be any or all of those things, depending on the author’s intentions. In this course, participants will learn about what makes a personal essay successful and interesting to readers, based on sample essays that will be provided in the first meeting. Additionally, the first meeting will include in-class exercises that will prepare people to work on a personal essay at home. Each participant will craft a personal essay according to the topic of his or her choice and bring it in for a structured critique session in the second meeting. The instructor will also impart advice on working with editors and getting published. All are welcome in this course, whether you see yourself as a career writer, have an op-ed you want to polish and get published, or seek a creative outlet or hobby.”

My Essay: “On Bed-Stuy And Brownstones”

Thought Catalog, an online magazine that I love for their simple, clean aesthetic and provocative content, has published my essay on living in Bed-Stuy and working there as a journalist for Patch.com.

“Someone once told me that New York City itself is a temporary condition: it dons and sheds costumes like a stage performer, shifting its shape as it fills with the various cacophonies of groups coming in to make the city their home, for a short time or forever. Many come to pursue something — to be near to their ‘giants,’ as EB White wrote in his 1949 essay, ‘Here Is New York’: ‘This excitation (nearness of giants) is a continuing thing. The city is always full of young worshipful beginners — young actors, young aspiring poets, ballerinas, painters, reporters, singers — each depending on his own brand of tonic to stay alive, each with his own stable of giants.'” Read more

The Awl: Women Writing About Real Shit (take note, The Atlantic)

I love this

“My parents had the same struggles, maybe worse, as twenty-somethings starting a family and a business in the ’80s, facing a recession and a bleaker economy in the mining towns of northern Minnesota. What is new is the myth of the educated middle class as automatic recipients of middle class incomes. What’s new is the assumption that college is some great equalizer (was it ever?), that  family-of-origin, economic backgrounds, and old-fashioned connections are just extras. These seem to be the same general assumptions that sweep all young, urban, PBR-sipping kids like me into sitcom caricatures of “poor people,” or, with the right zip code and cocktail preferences, aspiring Carrie Bradshaws or Hannah Horvaths.”

and this

“Wool cheerleader skirt from Opening Ceremony, more than $100.  Because a wool cheerleader skirt is a totally appropriate thing for an adult to own.  ”Simple Basics for Winter: A Wool Cheerleader Skirt,” Lucky magazine does not ever say. I blame this one on going shopping with rich enablers, lovely but irresponsible people who also encouraged me, during the same shopping trip, to purchase a 3.1 Philip Lim cashmere sweater-blouse that was adorable and genuinely luxurious and which I left hanging in an inadequately defended closet, the result being that it was consumed almost 100% by moths.  The moths refused to eat this skirt. We can only assume that they held it in contempt.”

and this

“As the children age (and multiply), the moms are burdened by the responsibility—to work, hold onto their homes, watch over their kids’ social and academic lives. The boredom turns to terror. You can almost clock the moment it begins, past preschool but before kindergarten. The childbearing is over, the breastfeeding in the past, the sling donated to Housing Works. It’s the moment when a mom dresses as a Harajuku girl for Halloween, or there’s a full bar at a four-year-old’s birthday party, or two ladies step out of book group to smoke on the stoop. It’s blowjob gestures at cocktail parties followed by a-little-too hysterical laughter. It’s the mother who says, “Mommy needs an Advil because she stayed up too late last night.” It’s fortieth birthday parties at karaoke bars.”