Que Sera Sera

Girls With Glasses

I am reading this Saturday night at the Girls With Glasses Spextravaganza, "a spec-tacular evening of words and music," in honor of Marissa Walsh’s new book, Girl With Glasses: My Optic History.

I’ve never done a reading that wasn’t Cringe or WYSIWYG, so I can’t promise I’ll be funny or charming, but I will wear my glasses and be in fine company.

Saturday, March 31st, 7 pm
Bluestockings Bookstore, 172 Allen St. at Stanton St.
(F, V to Second Ave.)

Featuring: Marissa Walsh, Tara Emelye of The Reverse, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Siobhan Adcock, and more

Be there and be square.

Quick note

Have you read To Cut A Long Story Short, the six-word stories? My favorite:

Thought love must fade: but no.

—George Saunders

(via Newman)

Read Me

I’ve said this before, but I rarely update or even click on my own links page. Some of that stuff is great, but I’m pretty sure some of it doesn’t even exist anymore. I wouldn’t know because I never check it. But here are some sites I do check on a regular basis, and would add to my links page were we not having a stand off that will continue until my links page finally folds and takes itself down:

Orange Bottles/Silver Cans – Formerly known as Hookers on Stilts. Once ate cupcakes on my couch. Twice puked in my bathroom. Always heartbreakingly nasty.

Damn Kids, Get Off My Lawn! - This lady and I have had some serious FBorFW emails in the past year, mostly about Liz/Warren/Granthony, but I just realized I have no idea what her name actually is. But her email name is Your Mom. I love that.

Third Armpit – I used to read Erin’s Nerve blog, which is sort of funny because I am the only person I know in New York who has never had a Nerve profile. Anyway, she’s a hilarious storyteller, the sort of person who’s probably really fun to sit with at the big corner table at the bar. Also good, also by Erin: Miss Information.

Sweet Juniper – This is hardly news to anyone, as I’m sure the entire internet joins me in my family crush on these people, but man do I enjoy them. They are both funny and smart and their kid is cute as hell, plus this rules.

Dear Diary – This girl is one of my favorite Cringe readers, and aside from being funny, always stylin’ so damn hard. I ran into her on the train one day, just doing nothing, and she made me wish I was dressed better. Sort of like how Jack Nicholson says to that shrewish broomstick in that movie, “You make me want to be a better man,” only with pants and accessories.

goodreads – #1 way I procrastinated last week. Thanks a lot, Kate.

The last link isn’t to a blog, but to a story. Last Sunday night, I had a long phone conversation with my friend Josh in Olympia, and we started talking about how cool it would be to be a folklorist. This led to a discussion of our favorite creepy books as kids, and I told him about the creepiest story I’d ever read. It was in one of those Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, actually, which really weren’t all that scary at all, drawings aside. But I read this story when I was in college, to kids I was babysitting, in broad daylight, a summer afternoon, all of us in their sunny bedroom in damp bathing suits, and the kids were completely uninterested, but the last line of the story freaked me out so badly the hair on the back of my neck stood on end and I was like, “SO! Who wants to close this book right now and go swimming?!” So Josh and I found the story online, and he read it to himself while we were still on the phone, and when he got to the end, he went, “Whoa!” and I jumped and yelled, “I KNOW!” because just him saying whoa made the hair on the back of my neck stand up again. I present to you: The Gypsy Girl and The Drum.

I bet St. Augustine didn't wash his hair every day either.

So I’m still trying to nail down my new daily routine. Before I started working from home, I had some fancy ideas about the schedule I’d set for myself, the rules I would honor. “I’ll make myself get out of bed everyday by nine,” I’d say. “Then I’ll shower. Every day!”

Yeahhhhhhhh. That’s not really how this is playing out so far. When I made those grand claims, I seem to have forgotten that I am me, and the only thing I love more than ignoring at my own rules is sleeping. Not to say that I’m not working. I’m actually getting a lot of writing done, just not exactly in the manner that I’d envisioned.

I can’t say what I do in a typical day, because I have yet to have a typical day. That part is nice. That part is also making me nervous for some reason. Maybe it’s hard to shake my sort of midwestern, vaguely Protestant upbringing. I’m working, just not during the same time period as everyone else, and that is weirding me out a little.

Like today: I actually woke up early, worked for a few hours, and then took a nap from 11-1. Then I worked some more, but I also ate several ice cream sandwiches, organized some old photographs, and took a bubble bath. I did not put on pants until moments before my roommates were due home. And even though I crossed off all the items on my daily to-do list, I still feel aimless and sort of guilty. I’ve determined this is from the nap and the lack of pants. But those were also my favorite parts of the day! Oh lord, grant me pants, just not yet.

The best part of this new lifestyle is that I can finally keep the hours I’ve always wanted to keep. I can write during the part of the day I’ve always felt most inclined to write: 11 pm – 2 am, sleeping until 10 am. I’ve never been one of those people who wake up before their alarm goes off in order to do extravagant things like read the newspaper or drink coffee before leaving the house. Why would I do that? I also don’t sleep on mink sheets or brush my teeth with orphan tears. I am the type of person who will sleep until the last possible second and then leave the house with wet hair, fifteen minutes late, everyday. But now I don’t have to be that person! And I don’t have to pretend to feel guilty about it! But I still do, a little bit! Hopefully I can tie a string around that tightly enough and eventually it will atrophy.

I recently sent out a few emails to people on my wish list for the Cringe book, some famous, some nerd-famous, all awesome. Today I got a reply from one of my favorite authors in the world. She wrote a very nice email, saying she was sorry, she didn’t have any of her old teenage writing anymore, but thanks for thinking of her. That sucked, but the best part of this was she wrote me back about fifteen minutes after I sent my email. I like to think this means that she was also sitting in front of her computer all day, not wearing pants. I just might make it after all.

Are we having fun yet?

Last weekend I was in Chicago to celebrate my friend Tony’s 30th birthday. Tony is officially my oldest friend, not because he’s thirty, but because I’ve known him since we were eight years old and are still currently BFF. Tony once dressed as a piece of pizza for my going away party. This is only one of the many things to love about Tony. Tony is also married to my best friend Emily, which is great for me, in terms of friend locale and convenience. Emily organized a super secret weekend of awesome for Tony, arranging for all of his friends to fly in and surprise him for his birthday. Sort of like the Superfriends, but with more drinking and bruises.

We got Tony really, really good, each of us surprising him separately throughout a 24 hour period, usually by jumping out of somewhere and tackling him. Thankfully he didn’t succumb to any heart attacks, and lived to spend his birthday weekend snapping into Slim Jims and ramming his best friends repeatedly with bumper cars. We had the best sushi of my life, courtesy of a wizard named Sushi Mike, and were introduced to my new favorite thing, Whirlyball, which Brian Byrne aptly described as “sort of like lacrosse, but without the rape.” Ohh, the search strings this paragraph alone will generate.

Anyway, it was a really fun weekend. I like Chicago a lot. It has all of the perks of living in a major city (great restaurants, charming walking neighborhoods, public transportation), combined with all of the perks of living in the suburbs (big homes, driving a car without wanting to kill yourself). I’m sure I somehow managed to insult some Chicagoan with that remark, but I mean it as a compliment. Chicago is my #1 city for my friends to move to, if they can’t move to New York. Like when you’re in a relationship and you meet someone cool, so you set your best friend up with them. I’m glad people are out there dating Chicago for me, because I got my hands full with New York for a long time coming.

Cringe in Paste

paste inside full
Originally uploaded by Sarah Brown.

There’s a great article about Cringe written by Evie Nagy in this month’s Paste magazine, the one with Modest Mouse underwater on the cover. My good friend Jay got his issue in the mail yesterday and sent me these pictures. I’m so pleased for an article about Cringe to have finally gotten it all right, but slightly more pleased to have my name in the same article as Christian Bale, even if it came from my own quote. Do you think he has like a press secretary who does nothing but search for mentions of him all day and then brings him the findings in a giant scrapbook which Christian leafs through while eating a turkey leg and drinking mead? And maybe he’s wearing some sort of leather jerkin.

Anyway. There are also several great quotes from John Oliver of The Daily Show, as well as many of the awesome regular Cringe readers. You can read the article if you view the photos in the larger size.

Cringe: Night of A Thousand Showalters

Last week’s Cringe was my favorite yet. Our special guest reader, Michael Showalter, totally killed. He read a faux-beatnik poem he wrote for his high school literary journal, The Cheshire Cat (those in the know just call it “The Cat”), titled “The Apartment.” This baby would have made Jack Kerouac bite his fist. It was a gritty look at dirty cynical city life, written from Showalter’s cushy teenage bedroom in suburban New Jersey. He prefaced his reading with, “I mean, I’d been to New York City several times at this point, but mostly to see musicals.” The poem was full of gems like, “I smoked a reefer with two unemployed actors across the hall of my apartment building. They don’t know shit about fuck,” and “In my room is a 6-string guitar. It only has 3 strings.”

I was a huge fan of The State in high school. The summer I was seventeen, on a family vacation at the beach, I stayed up all night because MTV was running a State marathon. I remember thinking, “Eh, what do I have to do tomorrow but lie by the ocean?”, so I watched them all, finally passing out around 5 am, when my dad woke up to go for his morning run. Later, I was so glad I’d done this, once The State was over and unavailable on tape or DVD. I downloaded the entire first season from iTunes a few months ago and watch it every time I’m on an airplane. It’s still funny.

Anyway, my whole point is, Cringe is not about the readers, it’s about the material—no auditions, no editing, straight readings—no way to make yourself look cool. Having famous readers won’t become a regular thing; I don’t ever go looking for aspiring actors or anything like that, unless they can just relax and read their old journal. I’ve been so lucky to always have awesome hilarious readers with awesome hilarious material, but this time, it was a nice little treat to have someone I’ve always admired read. And even nicer that he was just as hilarious as I’d hoped he would be.

Pictures live here.

Night of a Thousand OMGs

This month’s Cringe is going to be even awesomer than usual. I know what you’re thinking: Sarah, how is that even possible?! Well, we have a few special guest readers, including one that I’ve been a fan of since I was in high school. No naming names, but if you’re a fan of Wet Hot American Summer or The State, you’re in luck.

I’ve already said too much; I have to go. See you Wednesday!


I like being called darlin, by almost anyone—old people, friends, strangers, men. I’ve always wanted to date someone who’d call me darlin. Of course, you can’t force that. The term of endearment has to happen organically. I dated a guy once who called me sugar, in an exaggerated Southern accent. Shuh-gurr. He wasn’t from the south. Not even close. I acted like I liked it, and at first I even thought maybe I did, but inside I’d cringe whenever he said it. He wasn’t comfortable around me. He wasn’t comfortable with himself. One day he just decided that would be my pet name. Sometimes he forgot. In conversation, or arguments, or at bedtime, he called me baby, and that was always so much sweeter, because it came out naturally, unaffected. Baby is nice, if a little generic. But darlin, that one I like. Maybe it comes from growing up where I did. Or maybe it comes from my family. My dad had a pet name for me, and a pet name for my brother, but my mom never did. When you were close to being in trouble, though, she’d call you “little darlin,” as a warning, jaw set, eyebrow lifted. Maybe that’s why I like it. Darlin says, “I love you. Now watch yourself.” You want to be made to walk that line.

Miss Havisham Presents

I don’t know about you, but I’m on the fence about getting married. Well, no, that’s not true: I’m all for falling in love and sharing my life with someone awesome, mostly for the guaranteed sex and scalp massages and bill sharing. But the idea of having a wedding has always freaked me out. I mean, I like people, I like parties, I like looking hot in a pretty dress, and I’m a big sap who couldn’t resist having every single person I love in the same place at the same time, but I just can’t get it up for all the other crap traditionally involved, like trying on diamonds, or registering for flatware, or turning into a fucking shrew who fights with her mother every day for nine months or however long it takes to grow one of those things. Give me a sea monkey wedding: instant party, no discussions with my mother about anything that goes on a table for a purely decorative purpose; no updos, lots of sneaking off to the sideroom for unofficial sealing of the deal, and at least one high school marching band. Even then, I’d still be tempted to elope.

However, the one voice of snarky reason that might sway me back towards the white would be Ariel Meadow Stallings’ new book, Offbeat Bride. I’ve been a reader of Ariel’s blog Electrolicious since late 2001, and in late 2005 I gave her my blessing and some how-to tips to start a Cringe-like night in Seattle called Salon of Shame. Girl is funny and smart and has half-pink hair. I feel that if anyone could find a way to spin this potential cookie-cutter ordeal into something fun and original, it would be Ariel.

Last week, my bosom friend Laura got engaged, and asked me to be her maid of honor. Of course I said yes, but we both realized right away that there are no bridal magazines with a section for girls whose mothers forced them to go through sorority rush and so they went but spent the whole time hiding in their rooms, eating vending machine food and listening to the Pogues. Laura clearly needs this book. Laura, you also need to check out the website, specifically this post, featuring a picture of a confused bride standing next to a vagina sculpture.

If you live in New York, you should come out to the Offbeat Bride book party on Saturday, 8 pm, at The Lucky Cat in Williamsburg. I hear there’s a bachelorette party theme, but if you catch anyone wearing one of those suck-a-lifesaver-for-a-dollar T-shirts, I’ll buy you a drink.

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