I can run fast, forever, et cetera, but when it comes to any other kind of physical activity (except golf, tennis, beer pong, shuffleboard, skiing, spinning, driving a jet-ski, doing donuts in a golf cart, and shoe-shopping), I pretty much suck. Thus, ever since signing up for the Can Lake 50, I have struggled to find a cross-training method that will challenge my body but not my bank account. (Sayonara, Physique 57.) The spinning classes at my gym pale in comparison to Flywheel; I can’t even walk into the studio without feeling depressed. Weight training is boring. 30-60-90? I’d rather do a 180 in the opposite direction. And while I love to swim, chlorine turns my hair green.
This brings me to yesterday’s yoga class. I signed up for Vinyasa at Equinox, thinking it would be like the only other yoga session I have ever taken, which was packed with patchouli and feel-good Mother Earth worship and not much physical stress. I needed that after a six-mile run. But this class was nothing like that. Fifteen minutes in, I wanted to die and cry (not in that order). I was sweating; I ached. I could not perform a proper downward-facing dog. I could not hop from child’s pose to plank in one swift kick, unlike everyone else in the studio. Following a half bow (a.k.a. backbend) , my back hurt so badly that I couldn’t breathe without shuddering and gasping. (That was probably a major red flag.)
But afterward! So light and long and lean! So relaxed! I grabbed a latte at the new Coffee Bean on 14th Street and practically skipped home. I felt like a cross between Gwyneth Paltrow and Sloan on Entourage (which I am watching religiously lately, having never seen it before, and oh my God, Jeremy Piven, please marry me.) And today, all the muscle aches are good, like I did something right (except maybe that backbend). I’m going back tonight. I will master the downward dog.
"The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that doesn’t require his attention."
As a teenager I hated the description of my zodiac sign. Cancers are homebodies. They feel most comfortable in their own little dens, snuggled up and protected from all the crazy shit in the world that might crack their sensitive shells. Why couldn’t I have been a Leo, I asked my mother. Why couldn’t she have waited just three more weeks before having me so I could be a limelight-loving lion? Dad is a Leo, and everything he was then, I wanted to be too. So I made up excuses to crash their parties when my friends weren’t throwing their own. I cut pictures out of Vogue and pretended I had somewhere fabulous to go and that my astrological symbol wasn’t also a horrible disease.
Almost fifteen years later, something has happened. I make the plans, I get dressed up and go to the events, the parties, the things we call them, and the instant I step into the hall, it’s like little tendrils of smoke seep out from under the apartment door and wrap around me, and a voice says, Come back inside. My favorite phrase in the world: I’m so sorry, I won’t be able to make it. My second-favorite phrase: I’m just gonna stay in and get stuff done. Translation: I’m going to go home and get nothing done. And the happiest place in the world is my sofa with all my books and magazines and my sisters on the phone and something yummy in the fridge to eat later. And sweatpants. And a face mask. Game of Thrones on my iPad. Housewives queued up in the DVR. A candle burning. An early bedtime. Tomorrow, I promise my boyfriend. We’ll do something tomorrow.
All those years, and the astrologers were right! The astrologers and Dorothy, post-Oz. But home isn’t some sentimental place from my youth that I visit twice a year; it’s a two-bedroom shoebox in the Meat Packing District. It’s clean and bright and cool, and I’m going there right now, and I never want to leave.
"One of the many puzzling aspects of yesterday’s attacks was the question of what, exactly, the perpetrators thought they’d accomplish by targeting what basically amounts to a celebration of human tenacity. If anything, the tragedy in Boston will further solidify the bond between runner and spectator. And when the Chicago marathon happens this October, I’ll show up to run harder, and they’ll show up to cheer louder. If anyone thought this attack would discourage the runners or the watchers, they’ve clearly never been to a marathon."
Erin Gloria Ryan, “The People Who Watch Marathons,” Jezebel, April 16, 2013.
Mom came to town this past weekend. We ate dinner at De Santos, Bakehouse (where she met and approved of a certain man friend), and Blue Ginger; ran the Central Park loop, toured the Brooklyn Flea (she bought me a silver Revere bowl), shared a bloody Mary at No. 7, slammed pickle backs at the Rusty Knot, wandered through the Cloisters, unearthed some great party blouses at Michael Kors, and watched the Game of Thrones pilot on my sofa. By the time she left this morning, we were both sore from head to toe and thoroughly exhausted. I miss her already.
Jane turned 26 last Thursday. Happy birthday, little bunny!
Work owns my life. It is a pain in the ass to march in there every day and give 200 percent but so rewarding to see my blood/sweat/tears come to life. I co-edited the April issue of RL Magazine, and you can view it here. My story about Newport even made the cover!
Ditto my first exclusive shoot for the Style Guide.
Ultramarathon training kicks off this week, and for the first time in a long time, running is scary. It’s scary to think that in six months these little eight-mile slogs will turn into 50. It’s scary to give my life to something so entirely, to be on the precipice of something that is going to test me in ways I don’t yet understand, and it’s scary to think that that test will last six months. I must be out of my mind.
Edit: Billie is safe and sound. Thanks to all who checked in. These acts of terror on our soil are horrifying, and I am heartbroken for all who were present in Boston today.
I went to church on Saturday night—the vigil service at Saint James’. After an afternoon of shopping and drinking, it felt like a tonic, like a day at the spa, to just sit in my pew (a little more than halfway back on the left side) and watch the vestry prepare the altar and the churchgoers filter in. The nave was quiet but for the sounds of footsteps and bells. At 7:30, the rector turned down all the lights and the procession began in candlelight, and it was eerie and beautiful.
Growing up in the Episcopalian church, I was taught to respect ritual, discretion, the opinions of my elders, and polite conversation about religion, thus virtually glossing over any deeper talk about spirituality. Church was where we went to see friends, eat doughnuts and dress up. Then adolescence, junior high youth group, reading lists full of philosophers—I stopped believing in God—or, rather, I realized that I had never believed in anything.
A few years later, the evangelical teachings of Methodist youth group (where my parents sent me at gunpoint) and Young Life turned me off entirely. The idea of a public rebirth, of a declaration of faith in front of a room full of strangers, was horrifying. They instilled in me disdain for any sort of overt affirmation of faith, confirming my belief that the concept of a Christian God and all the pageantry associated—from swinging the incense at St. Philip’s on Christmas Eve to “accepting Jesus Christ into my heart” at Camp Galilee—was a steaming load of bullshit. For the next fifteen years, I rolled my eyes or worse. I still am rolling them, in fact.
But I am also growing up. And I am realizing that while the rituals of the Episcopalian church don’t equal faith, they do create an environment that is ideal for inward reflection. And I am discovering that in the moments when I sit still and am very quiet—like I was on Easter Eve—I do believe in God. This can happen anywhere: lying in bed on a weekday morning before the alarm goes off, stopping halfway through a run to touch my toes and hang there for a few extra beats, closing a book at the end of the last page and staring not quite at but through the back cover. I don’t yet have that enviable faith of the saints, and I likely never will. But what is faith without doubt?
This is what I do have: certainty that God gave us reason so that we would doubt Him and then, overcome with the suffering of this world and the hope that He might really have a good thing coming, just give up and believe and dump our burdens on His shoulders. I have spent my whole life doubting, and I’ll keep doing it. On Saturday night, however, finally, I was absolutely positive that there was something more powerful than me in that church, and that even if I didn’t know what it was, simply knowing it was there was more important than anything else. And I don’t need to stand up in front of a bunch of kids and wave my arms around and faint, and I don’t need to stop swearing or drinking or fucking, and I don’t need to wear my best dress. I just need to go to Saint James’ more often and sit in the back and listen.
It was only a dream.
Last night, three in the morning: I woke up from a nightmare. We were staying in a cabin on the Chesapeake—my family and me, and news reports announced that Christ had just come again. I accidentally wiped my office’s server clean and lost my last novel chapter in the fallout. It’s not even worth naming all the ex-boyfriends who made cameos or the Deliverance-style ride we took down some creepy creek in search of the lost computer files or the radioactive raindrops that fell—apparently a precursor of the coming Apocalypse. And when I woke up with a start (alligator fight), the first thought I had was—well, there were two first thoughts. I must start going to church again, and it’s time to buy an external drive.
Anonymous asked: I know you're writing a novel right now, but will we still see some creative writing on FrED? I hope this isn't rude! I just think your introspective/slice-of-life entries are wonderful, and I hope they don't go away.
Thank you! I have been neglecting FrED lately, and not because I don’t love to write here or write those short little bursts. The novel (which has a title! and characters! and a subplot involving prostitution!) demands so much creative energy that even when I think of something good to put here, I end up saving it. Until that changes, here’s a little piece from the book to tide you over:
“[He] is telling [her] a story that must be hilarious because she is covering her mouth, and her eyes are squinted in little half-moons; she’s laughing. I make a note to look up later: Who said that thing about making a girl laugh. [The heroine] said it once. ‘If you can make a girl laugh, you can make her do anything,’ so I told a joke, I stood on my head, I did whatever I could to make her laugh. And then six months later, I didn’t care if she laughed or not.”
Click here to read my essay on the parallel lives and enduring friendship of icons Ava Gardner and Ernest Hemingway. “The two pursued and personified a hedonistic, jet-setting bella vida, but after all the wine was drunk and the lovers had gone back to their families, little was left but his fiction and her beauty that no longer bloomed. They could never escape their own long shadows.”
How Hemingway wrote anything in the Keys is beyond me.
"Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public."
Anonymous asked: Do you have any suggestions for someone wanting to get back into writing and, hopefully, turning it into a career? I let my parent's nagging get the better of me in college and I reluctantly switched from an English major to something more "secure." A degree and 3 years of mind-numbing office work later, I desperately want to get back to what makes me happy, but I feel so out of the game that I don't know where to begin.
Create a portfolio of your published work. (Here’s mine as an example.) Don’t have any? Start contributing. Start a blog. Keep the focus tight, the writing clear and clean, and don’t fill it with your personal drama. Enter writing contests. Send samples everywhere. Contact an editor at your local newspaper. Write for blogs. Write for free. Start a novel. Wake up an hour earlier each morning than you usually do and don’t even rub the sleep out of your eyes first; just fire up your computer and write. Write after you’ve come home from a night out, and you’re still a little loaded. Write in the shower. (I turn the recorder on my phone, perch it on the windowsill, and then dictate.) Write at work (stealthily). Just write. Write. Write. And perhaps most importantly, call yourself a writer. When people ask what you do, say, “I’m a writer.” Sure, you have a day job, but that’s not your vocation. As long as you write, call yourself a writer.