Wednesday, February 16, 2011


This post started out as a list of my favorite things but it was becoming way too long and so a list of favorite things will come later.

But actually, I'll list one of my favorite things: Bumble and Bumble's Brilliantine.

This stuff is oil-based and you can’t slather it all over your hair or you’ll look like a rat and you’ll cry. Here’s how it describes itself: “Gives hair polish and a sort of languid, slept-in, sexy look.”

I am ready to run out of this stuff and I’m freaking out. How will my hair look sort of languid, slept-in, and sexy?!

I wish someone would make a perfume out of Brilliantine. (And the B & B Gentle Shampoo). I wish Elisa would smell this and write a column about it. I can’t begin to tell you how it smells. But I love it anyway.

In general, I do not like anything I can’t describe. It makes me uneasy. A friend of mine wrote a poem with a line in it "[. . .] description/all I ever wanted." Actually, I don't know if those are the exact words or the line break and I'm too lazy to look, but that's the gist and I am thumping my chest in agreement. Description is all I ever wanted too.

I really don’t like when I can’t describe the food I’m eating. I cannot fully enjoy any food I’m incapable of describing. When I’m eating it, I can only focus on classifying it, linking it to some like thing. I remember biting into an avocado when I was really young and trying to assign it to something. I remember thinking something equivalent to There is no making sense of this, this food right here in my mouth. How would you describe the taste of avocado? Nutty with a spritz of citrus? That’s what I’ve settled on, and I feel comfortable with that.

Tamarind is still indescribable for me.

I eat it, not because I like it, but because I cannot figure it out. And each time I eat it I think, This time will be different. This is the time my tongue is totally going to get to the bottom of this tamarind. But that never happens.

I just read a book--I’m not going to mention its title because it really doesn’t matter--and what was strange about it was that it was a memoir, and the subject matter of the book was implicitly emotional and charged, but the book itself was not. It had no voice whatsoever. It had no style that you could recognize. It seems nearly impossible to write a book with NO VOICE and NO STYLE but yet it has been done because I just read it.

This author is successful, too. She has several books of poetry published by a major house and a book of fiction by a major house. My friend who’s a journalist read it and she said the same thing, “It’s just so . . . bland. It’s like reporting.” I said, “Not even.” She said, “Yeah, not even. You’re right. The most remarkable thing about the book is how moving it should be, yet how unmoving and dull it is.”

Maybe because the author is first and foremost an important editor, she edited out her own style and voice? Or maybe she had to keep her voice agonizingly neutral to get through the subject matter? I have no idea. It was odd.

Another thing about the book is you couldn’t classify the people in it. In good books of fiction and non-fiction, the people/characters being described draw to mind real people or real kinds of people for the reader. Or they call up a composite of several real people or kinds of people. But that did not happen in this book. It wasn’t for lack of description. There was a ton of description. You knew the sister's hair was “blonde” and she had “skinny legs” because that was in the book and maybe she was “helpful” or “quiet” or whatever but you couldn’t FEEL any of that and you definitely couldn’t classify her, like Oh, just like my friend Jane. Well, I guess you could throw her into a pile of skinny-legged people, but . . . why?

Also the characters/people were discrepant. Their actions did not go with their emotions and in fact their actions did not go with their actions. That could make for a really interesting character, like “She’s quiet homebody who loves knitting. But she also loved surfing and really tying one on every Friday night! She was quirky like that.”

That’s not what was happening. It was like you kept trying to sniff out the scent of the person, and you couldn’t put your finger (nose) on it, but every once in a while, you’d get a faint whiff of something that MIGHT be a scent and later you’d get another faint whiff of something that MIGHT be a scent, but it was so faint you couldn’t be sure and anyway, the two things you thought were scents were so far from each other. It was like smelling cleaning fluid and hot dogs.

My friend always used to say about people, “She/he dresses with humor.” I knew immediately what she was talking about. Not like an “I’m with stupid” T-shirt or a beer can hat with hoses.

But just . . . with humor. *After just being asked for an example, I said: my sister. I hope she doesn't mind but I'm going to post a pic of her. She has it on Facebook anyway.

Here's another:

Note the kitty earrings? Are those kitties? Maybe robots? Oh, speaking of. Here's her Halloween costume:

This same friend who noted that people dressed with humor could not like people if she could not classify their clothes. She did not TRUST people if she couldn’t classify their clothes. She said (suspiciously), “It’s like you’re looking at his clothes thinking, 'Where did he even BUY that?'”

Again, we’re not talking about somebody wearing some pants made out of cellophane or a dress made out of dollar bills. We’re talking about somebody wearing pants that looked like they might have been from the 50s or something, something a math teacher might wear in the 50s, but they were never stylish then and they’re not stylish now, they don’t exemplify “50s style,” so there’s no way he got them from a vintage store and there’s no way he got them from a contemporary store because everything about them is dated and wrong for this century. So where did he get them?

Maybe this guy's uncle was a math teacher in the fifties and now the uncle is dead and this guy has him stored in his attic and every day he removes his decomposed uncle's pants and wears them? Then puts them back on his uncle at night? I suppose that is the most reasonable explanation.


  1. Oh, come on, what's the book? Email me if you don't want to name it here, in public.

  2. I too must know. Maybe you could whisper it in our collective ear?

  3. I feel so bad. I can't. I know it must have taken so much to write a book that had such personal heartbreaking subject matter. Maybe that's where the robotic-ness comes from. It just was so unexpectedly flat. I think part of my disappointment comes from expecting something so emotionally searing because all the reviews of the book have been like, "This book not only teaches you about X, it teaches you how to live." It was praised everywhere. This is why if I ever get a book review and somebody gives it a bad review, I am going to remind myself, "Think of all those reviews that you felt were unnecessarily inflated because the author was hooked up." Also, I'm not going to post the name of the book because the author will crush me with her big literary thumb. She won't because I'm such a little ant, she won't be able to see me--but she could, if she had it out for little ants. Anyway, the book was not what I expected. Maybe it's for someone else. It felt detached and research-y. It WAS research-y (which I usually like), with personal narrative woven in. K, I'll email you. :)

  4. I just posted pics of my sister to give examples of humor in clothing. A little nostalgic and I want to say a little ironic. And I suppose irony is the right word. But if you look at my sis's FB pics, she's been wearing those giant black glasses since college. That's like, almost 20 years. The joke is pretty old by now, which makes me think, at least in her case, those glasses are not being worn ironically. She is not praising and scorning simultaneously. She sincerely likes them for their never-ending high style. I like them too. You wear them well, sissy.

  5. Like Rivers Cuomo and his golf cardigan. Like the Brooklyn hipsters and their big 70's pedophile glasses and their "Virginia is for Lovers" t-shirts. Like Gaga if she wasn't taking herself so damn seriusly. And baby, she wasn't born that way.

  6. What are pedophile glasses? Like the wire frame Jeffrey Dahmer ones?

  7. Love your sister's style, and the fact that she's okay w/ you posting pics of here here. And thanks for telling me the name of the book.

  8. I hope she's okay with it. I will hear if she isn't. In which case, I will remove them. :)

    I know. Such cute style! AND she has a giant wall o' purses and accessories; she changes jewelry and bags for every outfit. Even her keychains are cute. Even her razors and soap dispensers are cute. I've never been much for purses and accessories b/c I'm not organized. It's all I can do to make sure all of my clothes are on and not inside out before leaving the house.

  9. As the Fonz says, "Exactamundo!"

  10. > Thank you very much. I will take my bow. It's a compliment. I do dress with humor a bit every day... right now, at work, I am wearing earrings that are the floating head of a Japanese girl smiling with her hands together as if to say "Konichiwa!"
    Only Japanese people would probably get it, but I guess that's the point.

    Much love... your sister.

    Oh, by the way... the plastic glasses aren't real. We bought them from a Halloween store that afternoon and wore them to the bar all afternoon. We just felt like wearing glasses that day. They were $1.49. I'm definitely not cool enough to be a hipster, yo. :)