Making Things


Jenny Offill’s Department of Speculation is written in prose fragments, but don’t let that turn you off. They are the most accessible prose fragments you’ll ever read. She writes,

“My plan was to never get married. I was going to be an art monster instead. Women almost never become art monsters because art monsters only concern themselves with art, never mundane things. Nabokov didn’t even fold his own umbrella. Vera licked his stamps for him.”

The novel, which I highly recommend, considers the relationship of family and art.

I think she might have just needed Susan Sontag’s amazing writing suit (see above).

A bear suit is kind of like a room of one’s own.

Anyways, I finished my dissertation this month and I bring up Offill and Sontag because all the cliched metaphors for this experience are birthing metaphors. I made a thing that no one understands but me and now I have to live with its exterior roaming autonomy. But that is not right. Art isn’t a baby. Art monsters don’t make babies instead of art and artists don’t make art instead of babies.

I like this Susan Sontag photo because it makes me feel less possessive of my completed project and more excited about inhabiting the suit of a writer and a scholar. It’s a suit I keep putting on whether the project is over or just beginning.


Becoming Us

If “Becoming US” is the only thing we get out of the “trans moment,” well I guess we’ve all won. Put that stupid white cis-gendered “feminist” think piece down, and enjoy the truly radical “Becoming Us” on ABC Family. First of all, I toast to the network that preaches intersectionality to the masses with a little splash of teenage soap opera. This week on “The Fosters” Jude the pre-teen foster kid claimed his own sexuality while rejecting identitarian labels, while at the same time totally honoring his boyfriend’s desire to identify as gay. Maybe, he muses, this has something to do with foster system that has stripped him down to identities like “state-ward” his whole life. OMG structures of power have something to do with sex and gender?! Preach!

And because ABC Family has apparently been endowed with a special grant to do God’s Work, we also get “Becoming Us,” in which two sweet teenage lovers bond over their transparents. One transparent, Daniel, wants to be called Dad, requests male pronouns, and is super uncomfortable in dresses, while the other transparent Carly stares down gawking waiters, prefers female pronouns, and has totally mastered bespoke bra fittings. This is not presented as a spectrum. Carly is not the good trans and Daniel the bad. As Daniel’s daughter Daniela points out, her dad is kind of “butch.”

And like “Transparent,” the trans people are part of networks. Sometimes they suck up energy, sometimes they are shitty parents, sometimes they insensitively show off their awesome hair to their ex-wives.

Unlike “Transparent,” the kids are younger. Daniela has known about her dad since she was seven, and she has grown up with a heart breaking awareness of his isolation. Even though Ben, Carly’s son, only learned about Carly’s transition recently, he exists in this totally different universe where you can find other kids with transparents, and his friends are all delightfully fluid in their reception and expression of gender. If “Transparent” flexes its premium tv muscles by positing that the next generation is actually more repressed than the olds, “Becoming Us” explores the much more likely possibility that sixteen year olds are a million times smarter about gender and identity.


I wish I had thought of this

The Cut has an amazing feature called “I Like This Bitch’s Life,” based on the premise that “Lifestyle writing is all about aspiration, which is code for making people envy you and shop accordingly. In our series I Like This Bitch’s Life, the Cut bitterly admits that it’s working.”

I applaud this effort and would like to add my own little edition of “I Like This Bitch’s Life: CrumbBums”

Who is CrumbBums? CrumbBums is Lauren, “a freelance writer, blogger, and stay-at-home mama who enjoys photography, gardening, aerial arts, cooking and eating good food, and exploring nature through the eyes of our children. Andrew, my amazing and handsome husband, is a professor who enjoys playing music, flying through the air on the flying trapeze, and exploring the great outdoors. He is my best friend and my better half! Together we are raising three rambunctious, sweet little boys: Milo, Oliver, and Emil.”

Lauren posts beautiful images of her children.

From CrumbBums

From CrumbBums

Lauren’s children are independent, curious, and ALL THE BROTHERS ARE NICE TO EACH OTHER.

She is incredibly, annoyingly, attractive.

From CrumbBums

From CrumbBums

Lauren is also so above the economics of mommy blogging that she neither sells you homemade soap through an etsy shop, nor subjects you to banner ads. And worst of all, she often doesn’t even link to the items of clothing she wears! So how am I supposed to shop like her?

I wish my family would let me post images of them all over the internet, I wish my shoes were all Rachel Comey, and I could really take one of those classic CrumbBums trips to a beautiful lake where we all swim in the sparkling sunlight.


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