Things I Ate That I Love: Walk into the mirror
If you find the words “my yoga practice” offputting, bye!
In late December I decided to take a break from teaching yoga in favor of finding work that paid well enough for me to pay my bills and start putting a dent in the debt I’d accumulated while writing my book. I was lucky to find one, but…
I did Bikram for four years, and hot yoga for two; this says some things about me as a person and more things about the seven years I spent in New Haven, where my yoga options were limited. Suffice it to say that at this point I am basically immune to hot, cramped, dark rooms and terrible smells and sweating in a way that makes you excruciatingly aware that like, every single inch of your body has pores on it. Every inch, you guys. I mean, there’s sweat and then there’s sweat.
The same day that Emily was in Los Angeles staring herself down in the mirror my friend A. and I decided to try SoulCycle for the first time. It is, first of all, ludicrously fucking expensive: $25 for a class, $3 for shoes, and, because it’s LA, $3 to park. We also paid $2 for water bottles, which, at that point, what-fucking-ever. Our class included my least favorite high school classmate, whose most recent project was starring in a too-terrible-to-be-funny webseries, and one of the actresses from Glee. I said hello to neither.
SoulCycle is basically just spinning with a spiritual/motivational twist; our instructor turned off the lights played loud music and screamed at us over her headset, asking us if we were ready to take on the responsibility of being an inspiration. She told us we needed to be ready to let go of our past selves, to shed our fear and our fat and climb the hills on our path to purity. I mean, don’t get me wrong: it was a fantastic workout.
But it was just— there’s something so incredibly, deeply perverse about needing to take 45 minutes and pay $30 to go somewhere dark and loud and crowded and have someone yell at you that things are going to be okay. Yoga gets a lot of flack for its touchy-feely surrender to your breath talk; SoulCycle and hot yoga and Bikram just mask that by making the physical experience miserable, so that you’re too broken and exhausted to shut it out, someone telling you over and over and over again that you’re okay, that things are going to be okay.
There’s also the flipside of it, that you can’t possibly believe that you are okay if you’re shut into a dark room on a pretty LA day, sweating and trying to break yourself down, get so tired that you’ll believe anything someone yells at you over a headset. Baudrillard has my favorite description of American exercise as spiritual bulimia, the belief that having energy to spare is embarrassing and almost disgusting. You have to purge yourself of it to find purity and peace. So much of our homegrown spiritual culture is about loss. It’s so crazy, the idea that we need to suffer in order to be happy, that we need to make ourselves smaller, in order to be better.
4:05 pm • 16 March 2013 • 75 notes
In college M & I went through a period where we had so many dumb conversations about relationships that we eventually made a game out of it, trying to turn our half-baked observations about love into SATC voiceover monologue-worthy gems. Our best effort was an extended metaphor about the fiscal crash (2009, what’s up): diversifying your emotional investment portfolio, staying away from subprime properties, knowing when to accept the sunk costs and just cut your fucking losses, already.
6:40 pm • 13 March 2013 • 5 notes
Under the Sea (Farm)
When I went to visit Bren Smith’s Thimble Island Oyster Company to learn about the sad shape of the sea for the Apocalypse issue, I met all kinds of unexpected animals out there on the water.
Good old days, cont’d.
1:48 pm • 12 March 2013 • 45 notes
Ever year we face a conundrum: one of the most important tenets of Harvest is that it’s a break from the plugged-in technological world, and no one wants to bring a fancy digital camera along to dig in the dirt, but we need pictures of the trips! For our 2012 session we experimented by giving leaders and support crew disposable cameras and asking them to document what they did and saw. The results are hilarious and gorgeous and make us miss summer all over again. Above are some highlights— you can check out the rest on our Flickr page.
Good old days.
7:38 pm • 11 March 2013 • 18 notes
Like all Los Angeles stories, this one starts with freeways.
The route I take to writing class now starts out the same as the one I took to therapy, when I was going in the fall and spring of 2009, 2010. Then as now I get on the 101 south at Melrose, take it to the 110 north where it used to be the Arroyo Seco Parkway. Now I get off just after the split with the 5; I used to take it out ‘til the freeway ended in Pasadena, to the Jesuit university where my therapist worked.
There’s something almost too easily analogous about the experiences: the tension and anxiety beforehand, the fear that today is the day I’ll be exposed as a fool and a liar and a fraud, the release afterwards, the way that both trips make me want nothing more than to speed and listen to loud music and change lanes over and over and over again. How badly I need to feel like I’m moving and moving quickly, on the way to and from.
There are a series of tunnels on the 110, three or four in a row, brief enough that I can hold my breath through them. I always did this on the way to therapy, a childish holdover, so that I could make a wish. I was miserable; I wished that I’d be happy. Some days, the days when I was gripping the wheel and thinking up excuses before I even got there, ways to evade all of the things I didn’t want to talk about, I just wished that I would get through it, whatever it was. The hour and the day and the drive.
These days I hold my breath out of habit; I wish idly, not because there aren’t things to wish for but because the wishes never did me any real good. What mattered was that I made the drive, even and especially when I didn’t want to. I went to therapy even though I was convinced it wasn’t helping. I gritted my teeth and got through it; I asked for and accepted help even when I couldn’t believe that I deserved it at all.
I was sitting on the interchange tonight, stuck in traffic, mid-level on one of those complicated flyovers where the city’s arteries are starkly visible, when I discovered that I’ve managed to teach myself all of the lyrics to Drake’s verse on Fucking Problem, my current favorite dumb rap song. It was possibly the stupidest victory. That’s the best part of staying somewhere, though: getting to write over it, whatever it was, the bad part. Getting to retrace the freeways until they say what you want them to say. Learning the lyrics so well that it’s effortless, singing along.
11:50 am • 7 March 2013 • 10 notes
nzle: The Story of the Jowl
So about a month ago, my friend Will bought a half pig from Flying Pigs Farm for his birthday and then sold off the individual cuts. I got a huge rolled and tied skin-on shoulder, some ground pork, a little skirt steak off the ribs, and a cheek. The shoulder is in the freezer awaiting a massive…
I always wondered what it was like to read NSH’s posts from afar, as a person unable to open her pork-scented closets and eat what is almost certainly going to be the best carbonara ever made. Now I know, and I really wish I didn’t.
1:05 pm • 26 February 2013 • 28 notes
Me & dad pre-red carpet, approx. 3 years ago today.
I have been to the Oscars twice: once when I was sixteen and again when I was twenty two. My father is a voting member of the Academy; the dirty secret is that the carpet is fun and the drinking martinis and staring at famous people part is fun and then the actual awards ceremony is bo-ring, like, you know at home how you get up and get snacks and walk around and talk to people and check your email? Can’t do that in the Kodak. You just sit there and watch and sit and watch some more.
Today I’m sitting on my parents’ couch, watching Ryan Seacrest and Kelly Osbourne on E!, drinking beer, trying to get some writing done during the commercial breaks. Life in LA: more and less glamorous, depending on the day, the year.
6:10 pm • 24 February 2013 • 6 notes
This is a photo of the first time I met Meghan Daum! The second time will be tonight and no one will be styling us like fierce vampires, un/fortunately.
I feel like I’m in some ways less and in some other ways more of an idiot than I was in the joint interview that accompanied this photo, and in the book that prompted it. I wonder if Meghan feels the same way about the essay collection she published near the end of her 20s? Tonight, I will ask her that, live onstage.
I am going to be at this thing tonight. If you’re in LA (what is up with this wind, right?) you should probably come, too.
Also, related: things I posted on my Tumblr when I was 23.
4:50 pm • 20 February 2013 • 32 notes
Here’s the cover of the next issue. It’ll be arriving in mailboxes and bookstores over the next couple weeks. Inside you’ll find a massive interview with a little-known writer named Michael Pollan, a comic collaboration from Tony Bourdain and Tim Lane, stories of werebeavers, and all manner of strangeness and grossness you expect from us taken to apocalyptic extremes.
Issues will be available at all your favorite stores that sell printed things. Or you could cop a copy direct from us here.
Oh, yeah, I guess I should note: we’re gonna try to tumblr here regularly, so feel free to follow. We’re also on instagram and twitter. And facebook, but seriously, I do not have any idea how that thing works.
I have it on good authority that there will also be a picture of my face in this one (illustrating a piece about my dear friend Bren Smith!)— just in case you needed the extra incentive.
12:58 pm • 8 February 2013 • 472 notes
Used the six things I know about Los Angeles to decorate the wall of my friend’s “I’m moving away!” party.
*if we DON’T take the 405, as it is a terrible freeway to nowhere. (Nowhere good, anyway. Looking at you, west LA.)
5:34 pm • 7 February 2013 • 66 notes