I like to type about things that I like. I like music.

I think I need to type 250 words before I can post a link. That is how this site works. I don’t know. I’ll type about food that I like. I like acorn squash. I like acorn squash in olive oil and sesame seed salt substitute. I like mallomars from Pure Food and Wine. I like coconut water. I like mashed potatos from Angelica Kitchen. I like the desserts at Angelica Kitchen. I like figs. I like bananas.

Here are some links to songs that I like. I like Blacktop Cadence. I like Defiance, Ohio. Blacktop Cadence to me is like an animal. Many animals are pretty. A fish is pretty. A bird is pretty. They are efficient. They seem clean. Blacktop Cadence to me seems beautiful and clean and efficient. The universe is like that. It is efficient and beautiful. Maybe not. I talk about being surrounded by endless shit a lot. I just like these songs.

Last Night… After I Bought The Wine by Blacktop Cadence

Oh, Susquehanna by Defiance, Ohio

Response to Griot by Defiance, Ohio

I want to try cocaine. It will never happen.

me: lets do cocaine

we can buy some

Mallory: okay

me: and do it together

just once

Mallory: its easy

okay

i think i would freak out

me: bring some when you come

we’ll do it at pure food and wine

Mallory: no i dont want the responsibility of buying it

what if it has like detergent in it

and i kill us

you buy it

me: im afraid, i dont know how

ill buy detergernt

Mallory: okay lets do detergent

me: will it hurt

we can’t get cocaine

Mallory: yes

cocaine

i know someone who does lots of cocaine

i hung out with him tonight

me: ask for some

Mallory: he would get it for us for cheap

me: do it

im bored

Mallory: we are drug addicts&nsbp;

Don’t comment saying you can get me cocaine. I don’t want to do cocaine. I like to gmail chat about wanting to do cocaine.

What else do I like? I don’t know. So far I like gmail chatting about wanting to do cocaine and I like music. I like those three songs.

I like this music video. It is Diagnosis by The Weakerthans.



I am bored. I like this poem by Ben Lerner. I like the way that I like it. I like it like I like eating food or being in sunlight after being in air-conditioning for a long time. Or drinking cold things when I feel hot or hearing someone say something playful and interesting and being playful with me in a way that is not boring to me.

I like boring people if they are nice. Boring people who are considerate. I like them. Boredom isn’t bad. Boring people aren’t boring to me. This makes sense to me. Big words make me feel sarcastic. If someone doesn’t talk I like them. I like people.

I drew this. I don’t know what they are. I like them.

Idontknowwhatthisis_2


Why are they blurry. I don’t like that.

This post took me twenty minutes or something to format. I got pissed at the computer and this site and typepad. I feel frustration. I am finished now. I navigated the tools and fixed on my problems. I like that.

I am going to do something else now.

Mum

By Zoe Brock

Memoir

The greatest gift my mother ever gave me was the gift of knowing I was loved.
In a cruel and often scary world this one fact gives me peace.

Perhaps I am biased, but I think my mama is beautiful, even in a plastic garbage bag.

Bb_old_enough_to_kn13747b

My family was not dysfunctional in the most literal sense of the word, but we were never “normal” either. Instead we were an artistic, eccentric lot. My mother was glamorous and beautiful, and my father was… an interesting and rebellious cat. I used to dream of a mother who stayed home and baked scones instead of being in the pages of magazines, and a father who did just about anything rather than wear pigtails and glitter nail polish.

Zb_wb_7_yrs

But they are what I got, and I am grateful for them.

Parents.

Such funny creatures.

There was a time when they must have been happy, for they were together seven years before I was born.

Brigidwarwick

In those early days they looked wonderful together.

But times change, and so do we.

By the time I came along things were different.

There was divorce, physical separation, financial worries and solutions, arguments between adults, forced smiles, dashed dreams, survival and the ever present over-imaginative childish fears of sinister Bogeymen such as “The Goat Man”, a skull headed, cloven-footed half-man who roamed the hills behind my house eating the heads of little children who stayed out after dark; a ghoul known only to me as “Ronald Reagan” and his nuclear-face-melting-button-of-destruction;”The Terrible Terrifying Toilet Monster“, a creature so sinister and stealthy that I was forced to come up with something I refer to as “the flush and run” (I suppose it was less a “run” than a sprint for dear life, but that’s just nitpicking).

Oh the horrors.

In my fantastical and often fearsome world there was one absolute constant, the love of my mum.

There was never a morning before I turned five and went off to school that I didn’t wake up to a special note left beside my bed, in cryptic code or abstract silliness, a poem, a song, a scribble. Small expressions of love and humor and creativity that doubled as a bribe to keep myself occupied and allow her an extra hour or two of precious sleep.

There was never a birthday party thrown that wasn’t ludicrous, over the top, mad and explosive.

Miss_patriotic

Yet somehow, sometimes, I doubted being loved.

When I was very little I frequently ran away to the cherry tree at the bottom of the driveway. I packed a tiny suitcase and filled it with essentials.

1zb_21_months

Inside the case went Owlie, some clean undies and a book, which I would march down the pathway with curious focus and hoist up into the gnarled, misshapen tree, where I would perch my strange, stubborn self and eat it’s cherries, pouting, acting all the while like a miniature diva in purple overalls and red rubber boots. After a few hours I would stomp back to the house and demand to know if the reason why my mum hadn’t called the police was because she didn’t love me. My mother would suppress a smile and very seriously tell me that she was about to call the police but that she had seen me in the tree and figured I was just playing.

Ah, the wicked, weird and wily ways of an only child.

And still, there was never a time when my mama traveled, and she traveled often,
that I did not receive a postcard, letter or parcel on every day that
she was gone, including the day she left and those shortly thereafter.

For years I thought postboxes were magical things for which rational scientific theories did not apply – if a human put a postcard in a mailbox in Tokyo it simply popped out five minutes later in Christchurch, New Zealand. Easy. Did my mother know how to circumvent time and space? Was her mailbox the Tardis? Of course not. She simply mailed her missives before she left so that I would never imagine that I wasn’t being thought of or missed.

When I think of the care and love that went into that sort of planning I cry.

I cry because I am lucky. I cry because I wish that every child could feel so special. I cry because I took it for granted. I cry because for many years I showed my mother a sub-par love. I cry because I think I have made her unhappy and pushed her away. I cry because my mother deserves the world. I cry because today is her birthday and I cannot wrap my arms around her. I cry because I inherited her damn emo gene and it makes me fucking cry at everything. Even this, although perhaps in this case the tears are a bit different. I cry because I wish I was little again and that we could do it all over and I could really appreciate how beautiful my childhood was, while it was happening, and how very much I was loved.

Zb_7_mths

I cry because I’m not sure if my mother knows how grateful I am for all the ways she has saved me, adored me and inspired me, in my childhood and as a woman.

Perhaps this little blog will help her understand.

Thank you mama. I love you.

Bb_18_yrs

Happy Birthday.

PARIS, FRANCE-

California is fairly notorious for having really aggressive drivers and a lot of traffic.

But after three weeks of driving in Paris I have to say, Californians are sissy drivers by comparison.

Our problem: We’re too law-abiding.

It’s not so much a problem really. I rather enjoyed the comparably chaos-free driving I experienced in California. There weren’t horns honking at 6 a.m., waking up the entire neighborhood because a moving van is double-parked in the middle of an already barely wide enough one way street.

You never have to worry that if you go down a street you’ll find it blocked and be forced to drive in reverse down the entire length of the street and look for another route to your desired destination.

But in Paris these things happen more often than anyone would believe.

Emergency lights here are not used for real emergencies. They’re used instead as the “Hi, I know I’m not supposed to park here, but I’m going to anyway so please don’t give me a ticket” lights.

I asked a French friend about all the cars double parked on the streets, telling them that it’s illegal in the U.S. to double park like that because it causes too many traffic problems. Not only that, but it blocks in whoever you’re parked next to.

She said it’s illegal here too, just nobody cares. And, when getting my official Paris driving lessons, I was instructed to double park if I can’t find other parking.

So, what I guess I’m saying is that the French, or at least Parisians, don’t take Traffic Laws to heart really. They look at them more as a kind of loose guideline, only to be followed in exemplary driving conditions, or when they aren’t in a hurry.

To illustrate, here’s a diagram of the street in front of the school I have to go to each day:

Diagram

A. The no parking sign.
B. The “We’re serious, don’t park here or we’ll tow you sign.”
C. The car illegally parked in front of the no parking sign, with emergency lights on of course.
D. My car, also illegally parked with emergency lights flashing.
E. The guy who parked legally and paid for parking, but is now blocked in by cars C and D.
F. A school bus parked in the middle of the street, now blocking all oncoming traffic, because the whole row of cars in front of me have parked illegally in front of the school.


Since I’ve been here I’ve double parked nearly every day, I’ve blocked intersections regularly, I’ve purposely driven the wrong way down a one-way street, and I’ve driven in reverse down an entire street after the moving van guy told me he’d be there for at least another half an hour and had no intention of moving.

I’ve also seen quite a few accidents involving cars and motorcycles. Because if cars have no traffic laws, motorcycles really don’t have any traffic laws here.

I think another part of the problem is the lack of dividing lines. There are lines right at the stop light to kind of divide up the traffic, but they disappear as you begin driving up the road. This means people are left to decide whether they want to have two lanes or three. And they will make their own lane whether you like it or not.

They will also park dangerously close to your car, so that you’re stuck in a reverse-forward-reverse-forward mess for about fifteen minutes trying to get out of the space.

Look_at_how_close_they_park

I don’t know how they do it. It’s almost as though Parisian cars are an extension of the driver. Somehow they’re able to park as close as possible to anything without actually hitting it. I don’t think I’ll ever master this though. I’m constantly driving in circles looking for a larger parking space.

I was looking forward to continuing my car-free lifestyle here in Paris, but I’m getting used to the idea of driving here now. It’s unfortunate because I feel like it takes away from my experience of the city. Suddenly Paris doesn’t seem quite so huge. And I’m learning my way around much quicker than I did before.

But one thing to be said about it is that driving makes me feel more at home here. It’s making Paris familiar in a way it never was before. I have a routine of taking the children to school and picking them up from school everyday, which includes a dangerous trek through the Charles de Gaulle Etoile, famous for car accidents and having L’Arc de Triomphe at its center. But this week I went through it without even holding my breath or saying, “We made it,” to the boys afterward.

I haven’t decided whether I’m glad or disappointed about this development. It’s growing on me though.

My name is Rebecca Schiffman.  This summer I spent a month in Paris.  In the third week, my Zagat.com subscription was due to expire and I wrote down the names of all the restaurants I still wanted to try.  The first was Le Petit Marché.  One night, after seeing The Simpsons Movie (in English) at The Forum des Halles, I walked over to Rue de Béarn and found a well-lit, very small and very packed restaurant.  The host saw me and yelled pityingly “Vous êtes toute seule!” and  seated me at a small two-person table practically connected to the next table where a young couple sat.  The host said to them “She’s alone.  She’s American.”

While trying to decipher the menu and assess what I could afford, I interrupted the couple to ask if the restaurant accepted credit cards (yes) and from there they began enthusiastically recommending certain dishes.  They had eaten there several times in the past few weeks.  We got into a long conversation that lasted through their aperitifs and I was very pleased to meet these friendly and intelligent strangers.

I didn’t mention that I had come to Paris with my boyfriend (it was a very serious relationship) and that after the first week, a very tense and depressing week, we broke up and parted ways.  This day I was in an open and eerie mood, still feeling high from The Simpsons.

Eventually I learned the couple’s names: Brad (Listi) and Kari.  They told me about their wedding plans and about Brad’s book and Kari showing LeBron James around New York.  I probably told them that I’m from New York, 25, still living with my parents, went to Cooper Union, have a painting studio, am a singer-songwriter, and write a zine about The Upper East Side, where I live, called The U.E.S. Journal.

Brad and Kari also told me about The Nervous Breakdown and at one point I jokingly said (I was nervous it would be imposing and awkward) that maybe I would submit something.  To my relief they both responded enthusiastically.  The plan was for me to check out the website and e-mail the contact there with links to my work.  A few weeks later, back in The United States, we began the process of setting me up to write for this very website.

That was one memorable evening from my summer which still reaches out into the present.  Going backwards, I want to describe the strange sensations I experienced in the hours before meeting Brad and Kari.

I am one of those people for whom The Simpsons is a very important part of life.  ‘Nough said.  I had pretty much given up hope that a movie would ever be released and I was delightfully surprised when I saw the first trailer on the Internet.  When the movie came out I had heard it wasn’t incredible- not as good as good as the South Park movie, etc…  I was determined to like it, though.

The Simpsons has gotten me through some very tough times.  During my first serious breakup I would lie half asleep watching the DVDs all day (only seasons one and two had been released), sometimes playing one episode three times in a row (Bart Gets Hit by a Car).  I could just listen with my eyes closed and remember which noises referred to which sight gags.  Alternatively, I could mute the tv and watch, remembering the dialog.  I would drift in and out of dreams where I was Homer, Marge, and Bart, and I started confusing my ex-boyfriend’s name with the name, Homer, when speaking to friends on the phone.

So now, in Paris, after another breakup, I was trying to be good to myself and have a good time.  Naturally, I took myself to see The Simpsons Movie.  It took me 30 minutes to find the theater because I was not familiar with The Forum des Halles and didn’t know that it was an underground mall.  The theater was one of the nicest I have visited- a huge screen, comfortable seats, and the rows going back at such a steep incline that it was nearly impossible for someone’s head or hair to block your view.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.  I won’t attempt to review it.  I barely judge The Simpsons these days.  I accept it as a reality, a part of life that cannot be questioned.  I am happy it still exists, like a beloved relative.

I found the movie strangely dark.  Much of the movie has to do with living in a dome.  If you stay through the entire credits there is a little scene with Mr. Burns and Smithers, and after the Green Day song finishes a very dramatic version of the Spider Pig song begins, maybe similar to a James Bond theme, with voices in the background warning “Look out!”.

Leaving the theater with that song in my mind, I followed everyone up an escalator that emerged onto street level in the middle of a park.  It was dark out, there were no tall buildings close by, the sky was a single matte cloud grey, and I had the feeling of coming out from underground to find myself in a dome.  I tried to trick my eyes into seeing the sky as if I were in a planetarium.  A few blocks into my journey to Le Petit Marché I passed a sign for a restaurant which read “Dome du Marais”.

It was one of those nights when the world around you seems made just for you.  I noticed objects left and right, patterns in the pavement, store names, people’s expressions.  Everything was an omen, but a good omen, and I felt that wherever I walked I would continue to find signs that made sense in the story of my life—like a foreshadowing, as if I lived in the world of a well-constructed novel.  Then I arrived at the restaurant.

I will list some comics that I like and then write descriptions of them in the style of 9th grade AP American History definition lists.

Clumsy by Jeffrey Brown – It is about a person in his second relationship of his life with another person, a girl. The person is in his mid-20s. It shows many scenes from their relationship, not in order. In the last scene the person is happy. In the second-to-last it shows the person crying on the phone and then it shows the person crying alone sitting on his bed. I cried a little standing in the subway station when I finished reading this.

Igorscheck

I received an email Monday from Igor Anatsko.

I was at work and found it just sitting there, four emails deep in my inbox and sandwiched between identical responses about how the Cleveland Browns just dumped their hometown quarterback.