novice Buddhist, expert neurotic. writer. aspiring adult.
sophcw at gmail dot com
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Ok, the only thing I really thought about the Emily Gould piece was WHY WOULD YOU PAY $1700 FOR AN APARTMENT IF YOU’RE A BROKE WRITER???
This shit is giving NYC a bad name. If you come to live here as a broke writer maybe you should take a $600 room in a shared apartment in (perfectly nice) Sunset Park or something?
Also I’m pretty sure that if I got $200k I wouldn’t blow it in like six months or whatever. But who knows, not criticizing her choices, just saying I don’t think it’s representative of what has to happen if you are a broke writer living in NYC who gets a break.
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I can clearly remember as a high schooler downloading St. Vincent’s first album, Marry Me, and struggling to understand what all the fuss was about. At that point, her music was too strange for my developing tastes. The songs threatened to go in one direction and then suddenly did a 180, as if backing out of a promise. The themes were obscure, as was her sincerity. There wasn’t a single song I felt I really understood. Foryears after, I remained unmoved by St. Vincent’s stranger music, while obsessing over the poppier tracks that dotted her albums. Something changed with the release of Strange Mercy. Though I initially cared mostly for the anthemic “Cheerleader” and sugary yet stinging “Cruel,” eventually, the songs in between began to speak to me in stronger voices than I’d ever imagined. I returned to her first album and I found compelling arrangements with lyrics I could easily relate to. They felt, somehow, like me. Upon my first few listens to St. Vincent, I noticed a similar phenomenon. I was drawn not to the “singles” like the stomping opener “Rattlesnake” which shouted to be noticed, but instead to those slithering in between, like “Huey Newton,” whose intentions are more obscure. The obvious explanation for my change of taste would be my exposure to a much wider variety of music in the years between Marry Me and St. Vincent. But I think there’s more to it thank that. I think it’s also because I’m getting older.
When I was in high school I liked music that was as dramatic as my teenaged feelings, and catchy enough that I immediately understood its appeal. Songs that could be screamed along to as I drove aimlessly around my hometown, or soundtracked my Livejournal entries as I lay in my childhood bed illuminated by the glow of my laptop when I couldn’t sleep. Now that I am grand old age of 24, I am slightly more patient, and a lot less certain. Over the last few years, as my life has sped up dangerously, crashed fantastically and shrank back cyclically into the state of constant upheaval I now exist in, my sense of self has become less easily defined. I no longer look to sweeping sentiments and sweet pop numbers, at least most of the time. Instead, I listen mostly to women whose feelings are as complicated and confused as mine: whether it’s Fiona Apple’s current weary wisdom or her youthful angst, Waxahatchee’s sociopathic self-flagellation, Laura Marling’s enigmatic woundedness or Joanna Newsom’s epic soulful poetics. And now, listening to Annie Clark’s fantastic new album, I don’t merely scan for the memorable hooks; I flow along with her unpredictable melodies and cryptic lyrics that seem to always leave you with a sense of incompleteness. Because that’s how I feel now; that’s who I am. An unresolved melody, going everywhere and nowhere simultaneously, drifting unknowingly between clarity and darkness.
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I watched The Hours for the first time on the flight back from Australia. It’s been a long time since a movie has impacted me so deeply. Aside from the brilliant cinematography, plotting and fantastic acting from all of the leads, it was amazing to see a film entirely focused on women dealing with mental illness. It wasn’t overdramatized - there were no hospitals or violence. They were all still trying to lead their lives as normally as possible, despite what was happening to them. Looking into Nicole Kidman’s eyes as Virginia Woolf I felt a sense of recognition with an actress I am not sure I’ve ever felt before: to see someone portray what it feels like when reality and sanity are slipping away from you and you are powerless to stop it. I have never read Mrs. Dalloway nor the book the movie is based on so I found the whole thing very suspenseful. The end of the movie was optimistic and satisfying, but I couldn’t help feeling unsettled and somber after seeing something that hit so close to home. Now it’s one of my favorite movies.
Today is my birthday. My 23rd year of life was definitely the hardest so far. I am proud of myself for working hard enough that I feel hopeful about what is to come.
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I haven’t been writing much on here recently. I’m in Australia. It’s a “vacation” but it’s hard to not feel guilty for relaxing when I don’t have a “real job” at home to go back to. Every second I’m not working towards the obscure goal of “creative success” or at least of making enough money to live feels like a waste of time. But I am really enjoying myself, and I’m not really looking forward to being back inside the icy claws of New York. It’s been very up and down for the last few weeks. Some days I feel like I’m on the verge freedom from worry, and other times I am weighted with total certainty of failure.
I went to a wedding yesterday. It wasn’t as warm as we thought it’d be. There’s still a lot of salt in my hair. I haven’t swam in the ocean yet.
i’ve received a few requests for recommendations on feminist theory and feminist fiction. i’m going to post this publicly because i love when people make lists.
i did this post over a year ago, and i still stand by it as a good starting point. my 2014 advice: start with hooks and work your way up to butler.
keep in mind i’m coming from the art historical/visual culture side of things so a lot of this is pretty interdisciplinary and other people you consult might be better for Theory (capital “t”…. …. you get it). the important thing, i think, is that everything on this list made me think a lot. i believe that theory is supposed to make you kind of frustrated, but it’s also supposed to LIGHT A FIRE. lighting fires is what i had in mind with these:
wendy kolmar & frances bartkowski’s feminist theory: a reader (2009)
beverly tatum’s why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria (2003)
cynthia enloe’s bananas, beaches and bases: making feminist sense of international politics (2000)
cherríe moraga and gloria e. anzaldúa’s this bridge called my back: writings by radical women of color (1981)
ariel levy’s female chauvinist pigs: women and the rise of raunch culture (2006)
amelia jones’ the feminism and visual culture reader (2002)
maura reilly’s global feminisms: new directions in contemporary art (2007)
john berger’s ways of seeing (1972)
norma broude’s power of feminist art: the american movement of the 1970’s history and impact (1994)
linda nochlin’s representing women (1999) and women, art and power and other essays (1988)
whitney chadwick’s women, art and society (1990)
lucy lippard’s the pink glass swan: selected essays on feminist art (1995)
jose munoz’s disidentifications: queers of color and the performance of politics (1999)
coco fusco’s only skin deep: changing visions of the american self (2003)
julia kristeva’s powers of horror: an essay on abjection (1982)
louise bourgeois’ destruction of the father / reconstruction of the father (1998)
donna haraway’s simians cyborgs and women: the reinvention of nature (1991)
i’m not sure that these would all fall into Feminist Fiction, but these are all good ones with strong characters and plotlines + they’re all written by people i love. they were all a well-spent 100-300 pages of my lifetime. i’m trying to read more fiction. i need recommendations too.
zadie smith’s on beauty (2005)
joan didion’s run river (1963) play it as it lays (1970), the year of magical thinking (2006)
james baldwin’s giovanni’s room (1956)
dorothy parker’s complete stories (2002)
masha tupitsyn’s love dog (2013)
kate millet’s sita (1977)
jeanette winterson’s written on the body (1992)
shout out john berger
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I want to stop being addicted to negativity. I want to be able to keep perspective, and I want to know how to stop talking when I need to step away. Most of all, I want to know how to see people as people first — not gladiators, not targets, not characters. Even the people I don’t like! And that’s very hard. But I do it with the people that I like, too … I see them as superheroes, I elevate them, and then if they disappoint me or can’t fight back as I want them to, I feel like they’ve let me down. That’s crap. That is a crap thing for me to do.
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I found you on the sidewalk outside my old loft. You were chipped, but otherwise looked alright. I carried you inside with a bunch of other kitchen supplies. We used you for almost a year and you served us well - you were the only bowl we had that was the right size for microwaving. We imagined what your life was before we found you and wondered why someone would discard you so easily.
Two days ago our kitchen was a giant mess and while moving some pots my roommate dropped you on the ground and broke you. Now we only have some ugly brown and white ceramic bowls from Salvation Army which are too shallow to use for much, and one larger glass bowl that’s a little too big to eat out of without feeling stupid. But it’s all we have, so until we get ourselves back to a thrift store, it will have to do. You will be missed.
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If you’re automatically sure that you know what reality is and who and what is really important — if you want to operate on your default setting — then you, like me, will probably not consider possibilities that aren’t pointless and annoying. But if you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will actually be within your power to consider a crowded, hot, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful, but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars — compassion, love, the subsurface unity of all things. Not that that mystical stuff is necessarily true: The only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re going to try to see it. This, I submit, is the freedom of real education, of learning how to be well-adjusted: You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t.
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