in recent years

   

   

an overlong ode to disneyland

I am missing Disneyland today.*

22609 -- disneyland resort

Well, to be fair, I am never not missing Disneyland, but today is wielding a particularly powerful ache for it around my ribs. Sort of haunting and cold and sad.

This is partially because I spent a couple of hours last night reading posts about Disney projects that never came to fruition in their original forms — Port Disney, WESTCOT Center, Disney’s America, and The SS Disney — and partially because I am just a person who is subject to flights of whimsy, nostalgia, and misery.


» more: an overlong ode to disneyland

back to school with judy blume: then again, maybe i won’t

Dear Judy Blume,

First, let me say that I’m sorry to hear about your recent bout with breast cancer and that I’m terribly glad that you were on the mend so quickly! And also thank you for writing about it with your usual honesty and good humor. You are as wonderful as ever.

Second, I read Then Again, Maybe I Won’t this week and it was nearly as enjoyable as Margaret. Granted, it is Margaret except with Tony’s boners, and wet dreams for Margaret’s periods and bras. And the central struggle with religion replaced with sudden wealth. Tony even moves to an unfamiliar suburb! Though for entirely different reasons than the Simon’s do.

Had I read this when I read Margaret, I would’ve been obsessed with boners and peeping on the neighbor girl and wet dreams because I was obsessed with boy things as a tween and teen. I know what periods and bras are like! I’ve been wearing a bra since I was, like, ten. But I’ve never had a boner! (I do remember the first boner I saw. I was in sixth grade. In high school I heard that he had three testicles. Three!)

As an adult though, I really loved the stuff about Joel constantly shoplifting and how much it upset Tony. When I was twelve or thirteen, one of my best friends shoplifted a bracelet from the dollar store at the mall and when she showed it to me I made her take it back! Because I too was completely outraged. She took it back and unlike Tony, it didn’t occur to me that I might look uncool or that she might be mad at me. I was just so shocked she’d take something! I was totally not cool. And I’m okay with that, I think.

I was also particularly interested in/upset about Joel’s mother changing their maid’s name because she couldn’t pronounce it. I was actually aghast and gasped out loud. And then when she did it to Tony’s mother! I would’ve been even more outraged than Tony was if someone had done that to my mother and especially to have her accept it so readily in the name of fitting in. I know that lots of versions of this have happened and likely continue to happen. I know that changing a servant’s name is an act of subjugating and othering them, alienating them from their identity and self. I know all of this historically and logically, but damn does fiction bring stuff home. Thanks, Judy. Bless.

The Kirkus review on the back of the book talks about Tony’s problems not being “magically resolved” but I was sort of aching for that by the end. Tony goes to therapy! And starts to learn to deal with his anxiety and stress, which was great and also kind of refreshing! Joel gets busted for stealing, which is also great. But the one problem I wanted to see a happy ending to was Tony’s grandmother. I was so angry at Mrs. Miglione for not standing up to Maxine and getting her mother back in the kitchen where she was happy. Infuriating to my bones! But Kirkus isn’t wrong, it’s not a bad thing that some of Tony’s issues go unresolved. That’s what life is like, right? Even when it’s frustrating as hell.

I might not have had this one as a kid, but thanks for it anyway, Judy.

– Ash

ABOUT THIS PROJECT

back to school with judy blume: are you there, god? it’s me, margaret.

It’s not my original, but it’s the exact edition. It even feels the same. Gawd bless the internet. Gawd bless compulsive vintage buyers. Gawd bless Etsy.

Dear Judy Blume,

I don’t remember a time before Margaret. This isn’t saying much, really, since I can’t really remember much of anything from any period of my life, regardless of age or importance. I remember getting high for the first time and the first boner I ever saw, though, so I guess there are some things that last. Regardless, I don’t remember a time before Margaret and even if it isn’t saying much, it’s saying something.

I must’ve read it for the first time around eight or nine, maybe even younger, and I have the vague feeling that my paternal grandmother gave me that mythical first copy that I was so intent on owning again. I have the vaguest memories — as ethereal as smoke or steam, impossible to grasp — of reading about Margaret on the patio of my grandparents’ vacation home in San Diego. They’re insubstantial memories, but what little I can grasp makes me very warm and very glad.

Part of that quest to own this very particular copy was because I knew they’d changed the book from belted pads to the adhesive strips of the modern era and though the change was made and approved by you, the thought of rereading it with the wrong kind of period supplies unsettled and alarmed me. I grew up on adhesive pads. I’ve heard stories from my very enthusiastic and delighted mother that as a little kid, desperate to emulate my much older sister, I used to put those adhesive pads on upside down. I still use adhesive pads! They’re terrible! But still better than the hooked belt that I desperately feared before my own period finally came. I needed to reread those belted Teenage Softies. I needed to cringe and remember.

And, lord, Ms. Blume, did I remember. What I remembered about Margaret was plentiful: the Teenage Softies and the Learning About Your Body movie that was really an ad for sanitary supplies (the Private Lady of Margaret’s New Jersey was the Always of my Los Angeles suburb), the party at Norman Fishbein’s and loafers with no socks, the weird anticipatory terror of waiting for your first period and how badly you wanted it to happen already.

I got my first period in sixth grade on March 12, 1997. I was at school and had just been abandoned by my friends during lunch recess because they were being dicks for whatever reason that twelve year old girls are often dicks. I walked into our classroom where they were sitting, threw my jacket down, and huffed out of the room. Gawd bless me for this adolescent drama because one of my friends followed me into the bathroom to see if I was okay. I had just sat down to discover bloody underwear. I had just turned twelve. And, thankfully, that friend was able to save me because my wonderful sixth grade teacher (Mrs. Hoeger! One of my biggest life heroes.) had stashed a box of pads in our Earthquake Preparedness Trash Barrel. She covertly stashed it in her jean shorts and returned with four other girls who were so excited. I learned I was one of the last. This still gives me weird flashbacks of adolescent anxiety. Ms. Blume, you really, really nailed that one.

I remembered, vividly, “I must, I must, I must increase my bust.” I remembered it from my childhood reading of Margaret and I remembered it from my week of hazing/induction to the Alcyonians, the girls service club at my high school. I remembered, acutely, standing on the stage outside of my gym adjacent to the quad, a sign around my neck declaring my name and things I liked alongside a glittery butterfly and screaming at the top of my lungs with a dozen or so other girls, “I MUST, I MUST, I MUST INCREASE MY BUST. THE BIGGER THE BETTER, THE TIGHTER THE SWEATER, THE MORE THE BOYS WILL LIKE ME.” Some things are enduring. The horror of adolescence is one of them. Margaret is proof of that, I think.

The things I didn’t remember before rereading are the things that I now realize were probably the most important to me — simmering low, just under the surface, and shaping me while I was identifying with Margaret’s waiting-for-her-period woes: the religion stuff.

I honestly actively remembered nothing about the premise of the book. I’d long ago forgotten that Margaret’s story begins with her exile from New York City and into suburban New Jersey and with that, I’d also forgotten about her family’s lack of religion and her distress over whether she’d join the Y or the Jewish Community Center.

I was pretty confused religiously as a kid. Well, less confused and more apathetic. I was raised areligiously. I hung out at the Methodist church with my best friend and watched her get baptized and took communion once — it was pita bread dipped in grapeseed oil and that shit was delicious — and was mostly there for the teen group activities — broom ball! watching the grunion run! madcap scavenger hunts through two counties! — but I never had that Moment, the one that Margaret was looking for, the one that I think a lot of people go to church in search of. Margaret’s relationship with God is one that I empathized with as a kid and I respect as an adult, even though I was never able to form something similar. I became an atheist at 13, but Margaret’s relationship with God is one I’d wish on anyone. It’s so healthy. And I remember, now, her religious identity being very comforting to me as a youth — I wasn’t anything either! And neither was my family. And the Simons helped to let me know that nothing was a perfectly okay thing to be, no matter the pressures exerted on you for it.

Lest you think this letter is all about me, Ms. Blume, I want to tell you that I felt as much pleasure reading this book as an adult as I did as a kid. It was warm and it was refreshing and it was honest. It brought back so many familiar heartaches — the first time you realize a friend has lied to you! the first time you do something terrible and realize it immediately! the desperate desire to not seem weird! — and it reminded me of how much being a voracious reader in my youth made me want to write. A reminder I really and truly needed.

So thank you from the bottom of my heart for this one, Ms. Blume — Judy! We must be friends by this point, yes? You know all about my period! — because it helped me so much back then and it’s made me feel so much again now. Young girls and young women are reading this book still and finding a truth they desperately need: you are not alone.

– Ash

ABOUT THIS PROJECT

our house at the south end of our street

There are a lot of complicated feelings in moving somewhere, even if you’re not moving far away, even if you’ve only lived somewhere for a little while or you never really liked the place anyway or you’ve been trying to escape since you were born.

my grandparents had these done for our families by some friend or other and i’ve always kind of loved ours

The house I’m moving out of — the place — is my home and my hometown. It’s the house my parents brought me home to after I was born and it’s got 27 years and almost five months of history for me. I learned to walk here and to talk and to read and write. I’ve made a lot of terrible decisions in these walls and a lot of good ones. The bedroom I’m typing this in right now has been mine since my sister moved out at 18. I was nine. It’s seen all my milestones.

I’ve cried and laughed a lot. I’ve spent days in this room, unable to leave, because I was too sad or angry or anxious. I’ve shared a bed with my friends and my fiancĂ©e and some people I hadn’t know that long and once there were literally 18 people crammed on it in pursuit of a picture.

I wrote my first novel in this room. I’ve written every piece of my own writing I’ve considered tolerable in this room. I have learned the most important things I know in this room. I fell in love in this room. And I shared it with the love of my life. I got engaged in this room. I’ve broken things in anger in this room and screamed in joy and fought and yelled with so many of the most important people in my life. I’ve thought about suicide in this room. I’ve come beyond wishing I was dead in this room. I spent three entire months watching Daria: Is It Fall Yet? on loop in this room because I was too depressed to do anything else. I can still effortlessly recite it word for word. I have had slumber parties in here and drunken sleepovers. I’ve stayed up for 72 hours in here and slept for 24. Where I painted and let my friends paint all over my walls, regardless of skill or intent or design.

This house is where I broke both my arms, where I’ve gotten hundreds of bruises and scratches. Where I figured out the person that I was and learned to love and appreciate her. It’s the house where I always thought I knew exactly what I wanted to do and be and had it turned on its head a dozen times over. Where I figured out that I don’t ever have to know what I want to be when I grow up, that it’s okay to just keep trying things that make me happy and interested.

This is the house where I had parties that lived in legend even though no one ever drank or did drugs, where inside jokes formed and flourished and crushes got the least inventive nicknames. Where I had the “cool parents” and never had a bedtime and learned how to make good decisions because I was given the freedom to make the stupid ones. Where I smoked my first cigarette and had my first kiss… and a bunch of other firsts that I won’t mention because this is a post I know my dad will read aloud to my mom and that’s too awkward even for me.

This is the house where I nourished the three friendships that have kept me alive for the last 10+ (and 19, this September) years, where I sometimes tried to destroy them. Where I turned the newest, fastest friendship I’d ever had into a my first real, important, lasting romantic relationship. (Don’t worry, I’ve spent plenty of time trying to wreck that one too.)

This house is where high school happened.

Including those 18 people and the aforementioned artwork (courtesy of the very talented Bryce and his signature ASB writing and Miriam’s lovely portraits).

This house is where friendship happened.

Where a majority of our TEN annual Christmas parties have happened, including number one, five, and ten.

Where drunkenness happened.

And where I was a baby and a child and an adolescent and an adult. Where I was part of the best family I could’ve ever asked for.

I am going to miss this house, this place where I put my heart for the last 27 years. I’ve lived in other places, but they’ve never been what this house has been to me, what this city has been to me, what this whole place is. I spent my formative years wishing I was anywhere else on Earth and now I’m going to spend the next few wishing I could get back. And that seems fitting somehow. But I know it’ll never be this house again and I know that the people who live in it next will destroy some of the things I have learned to love most about it — the creaking floors and the dated kitchen, the green bathtub, and the 1952 original windows that are a bitch and a half to open — but they’ll make their own memories in it and I think that makes it okay.

It’s in my nature to want to destroy what I can’t have though, so I’ll probably spend the next three weeks fighting every urge in my body to just start smashing things, to upperdeck the toilets, and steal the house down to the studs. But I’ll resist and try to remember it as well as I can instead because it’ll always be the first place I think of when I hear “home,” the first place I ever lived and probably always the longest. It’ll always be, in some significant way, home.

of band-aids and bonsai

I have all of my best ideas while driving or in the shower and I start all my best projects around two or three in the morning. Granted, “best” is really up for debate here, since most of those ideas are just poop or dick jokes and the projects are just Google image searched images with transparent Helvetica slapped over them in Photoshop. THEY MAKE ME LAUGH ALRIGHT? I am my most important audience, for now and forever.

So, I was in the shower a couple of weeks ago thinking about Jesse Eisenberg, like I do, and I was like, DAMN, that kid’s like… a RAPSCALLION or some shit. Because he is! Google that face and tell me it doesn’t scream old-timey adjectives at you! If you can, you are LYING.

And so it kind of began with this dumb shit:

jesse oldwordenberg

SCAMP, guys. Jesse Eisenberg is a SCAMP. He is ruined for me forever in the BEST WAY because I cannot look at him without thinking something Old Timey. RASCAL! RAPSCALLION! He’s like the sort of handsy son of a really wealthy southern oil baron guy who is charming and good looking and also RICH who is at least a little hesitant about groping you against your will, so he doesn’t really seem like a bad guy, just like maybe he had a drink or two too many and got REAL FRIENDLY so you just brush it off and giggle and say shit like, “Oh, dear, I had heard those rumors that you were QUITE the rapscallion and I do believe they’re true!” but really it sounds sort of sexy and delightful. And then he gropes you under your petticoats in a hallway. Something like that. OR WHATEVER.

I think this Old Timey Thing applies to Donald Glover too, but I have a harder time looking at pictures of him because they are like lightning directly to my genitals. SO ATTRACTIVE. I can’t deal with it. I just can’t.

But anyway, that dumb shit rapidly escalates into this dumb shit:

i can see forever

PARTY LIKE A ROCK STAR

Kittens are a point of no return, right? I mean, really. There is no coming back from slapping text over the top of adorable kittens. There just isn’t. And then it just turns into transcribing your dumb tweets on pictures snagged from NASA and it’s over. It’s just all over.

ZETA OPH

SO: sometimes when I am having those brilliant thoughts late at night, my brain says, “YO BITCH SUBMIT SOME OF YOUR WRITING YO” and because it’s two in the fucking morning, I am like, “YEAH ALRIIIIIGHT.” And whatever, I’m hitting 50/50 acceptance to rejection at this point (because I don’t write almost ever unless it’s for fun, which means I have nothing to submit, which is a great excuse not to put yourself out there. FOOLPROOF.) so I don’t really care about the process. I come across a place that seems like they might take me, I submit, no big.

SO ANYWAY. I was reading a submission to the lit mag I work on at school and she mentioned another lit mag that I was unfamiliar with (This happens a lot. Generally, if someone mentions one, I haven’t heard of it.) so I checked it out, saw they had a nice selection of flash fiction and threw something their way. I logged it in my little submissions file (anal retentive, what what!) and put it in my calendar (redundancy!) and went about watching BBC comedies (Miranda) and forgot about it.

Guys, I am pretty sure I won the speed award for rejection turnaround tonight. Seriously. One hour and four minutes. ONE HOUR AND FOUR MINUTES. IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. I submitted the story AFTER MIDNIGHT and had a rejection shortly after one. THAT IS SOME EFFICIENT LIT MAGGING.

Holy shit. I didn’t even have time to worry! I didn’t even have time to obsess and then forget about it entirely, which is my usual submission coping mechanism. And let me tell you, this was a much more awesome way to get rejected. I know the longer someone keeps your work, the closer you are to getting in. And that’s great! But instant gratification is always SO SATISFYING and it turns out it actually kind of applies to rejection!

I know part of my cavalier attitude is because I just didn’t care too much, you know? I have extremely low expectations when it comes to anything having to do with my writing (greeting cards and hilarious poop twitters aside) but there was something about that rapid response — like ripping off a band-aid maybe — that I don’t think I will soon forget.

Aaaaaaanyway, it turns out this is all just a long way to say that if you don’t remember Bonsai Kitties, you have not been on the internet long enough.

BONSAAAAAAAAI

PS: For the like… two of you who read this BLAHG, would cutting my insanely long and stupid posts be helpful or irritating? I HATE cut posts because I read everything on GReader and am also incredibly lazy, but I am down to do whatevah whatevah because I live to serve, guys. I live to serve.