Install Theme

Your web-browser is very outdated, and as such, this website may not display properly. Please consider upgrading to a modern, faster and more secure browser. Click here to do so.

Blogs don't burn

Emily · In the words of Jason Mraz, "I'm all about the wordplay, and also Russian and East European Studies"
Oct 1 '14
I just finished The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, Hilary Mantel’s collection of short stories. I do not what to say to convey how much I love the way Mantel thinks, and empathizes, and how beautifully she is able to convey that thought and empathy into writing in the form of powerful prose that feels like poetry. 
And so instead I will say this: In my second year of undergrad, I briefly dated a guy who was not a reader. And we went out to lunch one day at the time that I was reading Mantel’s masterful Wolf Hall, and I showed him the book, and he said that everybody should be more of a reader like me. And while I am not sure he really meant this—we broke up a week later—he was, in a certain sense, right. Hilary Mantel’s writing, on display beautifully in The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, haunts and deepens and breaks apart and brings back together. Everybody should be a reader of it.

I just finished The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, Hilary Mantel’s collection of short stories. I do not what to say to convey how much I love the way Mantel thinks, and empathizes, and how beautifully she is able to convey that thought and empathy into writing in the form of powerful prose that feels like poetry. 

And so instead I will say this: In my second year of undergrad, I briefly dated a guy who was not a reader. And we went out to lunch one day at the time that I was reading Mantel’s masterful Wolf Hall, and I showed him the book, and he said that everybody should be more of a reader like me. And while I am not sure he really meant this—we broke up a week later—he was, in a certain sense, right. Hilary Mantel’s writing, on display beautifully in The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, haunts and deepens and breaks apart and brings back together. Everybody should be a reader of it.

Oct 1 '14
"I notice how easily, in most cases, committees agree the minutes, but when we are singular and living our separate lives we dispute—don’t we?—each second we believe we won. It’s not generally agreed, it’s not much appreciated, that people are divided by all sorts of things, and that, frankly, death is the least of them. When lights are blossoming out across the boulevards and parks, and the town assumes its Victorian sagesse, I shall be moving on again. I see that both the living and the dead commute, riding their familiar trains. I am not, as you will have gathered, a person who needs false excitement, or simulated innovation. I am willing, though, to tear up the timetable and take some new routes; and I know I shall find, at some unlikely terminus, a hand that is meant to rest in mind."
Hilary Mantel, “Terminus”
Sep 30 '14
"What a good thing, that time does that for us. Sprinkles us with mercies like fairy dust."
Hilary Mantel, “Comma”
Sep 30 '14
These things all go together, even if they do not go together.
I am in New York for the week. On Saturday I will head back, to Heathrow by plane and then Oxford by bus, but for now I am here. 
I met my friend for dinner at a Georgian restaurant—Old Tbilisi, it is called—on Bleecker Street. I walked in and saw here and also, sitting out on the restaurant’s garden patio, a Georgian boy (now man, I guess) I knew in undergrad. We hugged hello. “I see all of your Facebook posts,” he said. “Then you know that I’m here because I’m a wannabe Georgian,” I replied. “You would run into someone at a Georgian restaurant,” my friend offered. And she and I then took to our table, and had good Georgian food and good Georgian wine and better non-Georgian conversation, because she is genuine and smart and lovely, this friend of mine, and it was so good to see her. Then we took the subway to 7th Avenue and headed to MOMA to see a movie that was playing as part of a film exhibition on Georgian cinema. The movie, Tsisperi mtebi aka Daujerebeli ambavli (Blue Mountains aka An Unbelievable Story), was a 1980s satire of Soviet Georgian bureaucracy and the stifling of art and writing at a publishing house. And it was a clever, sharp satire, but mostly it was very, very funny.    It is something, surely, to live like that and manage to turn around and laugh.
It was something, too, to see this movie after this dinner with this friend. To, for one week, just be where I am. 

These things all go together, even if they do not go together.

I am in New York for the week. On Saturday I will head back, to Heathrow by plane and then Oxford by bus, but for now I am here. 

I met my friend for dinner at a Georgian restaurant—Old Tbilisi, it is called—on Bleecker Street. I walked in and saw here and also, sitting out on the restaurant’s garden patio, a Georgian boy (now man, I guess) I knew in undergrad. We hugged hello. “I see all of your Facebook posts,” he said. “Then you know that I’m here because I’m a wannabe Georgian,” I replied. “You would run into someone at a Georgian restaurant,” my friend offered. And she and I then took to our table, and had good Georgian food and good Georgian wine and better non-Georgian conversation, because she is genuine and smart and lovely, this friend of mine, and it was so good to see her. Then we took the subway to 7th Avenue and headed to MOMA to see a movie that was playing as part of a film exhibition on Georgian cinema. The movie, Tsisperi mtebi aka Daujerebeli ambavli (Blue Mountains aka An Unbelievable Story), was a 1980s satire of Soviet Georgian bureaucracy and the stifling of art and writing at a publishing house. And it was a clever, sharp satire, but mostly it was very, very funny.    It is something, surely, to live like that and manage to turn around and laugh.

It was something, too, to see this movie after this dinner with this friend. To, for one week, just be where I am. 

Sep 28 '14
There is a bizarre-ness to Margaret Atwood and her writing, be it in the form of novels or tweets or, as is the case of Stone Mattress, her latest work, short stories (or, as she calls them, “tales”). An element of the fantastical, of the mysterious, of the parallel, of the other worldly, of the dark.
But it’s in that bizarre-ness that Margaret Atwood, through her wit and wisdom and words, nestles truths so fundamental that they could only reveal themselves in the word woven out of nothing and everything by Margaret Atwood.
That’s what I thought after reading Stone Mattress, anyway.

There is a bizarre-ness to Margaret Atwood and her writing, be it in the form of novels or tweets or, as is the case of Stone Mattress, her latest work, short stories (or, as she calls them, “tales”). An element of the fantastical, of the mysterious, of the parallel, of the other worldly, of the dark.

But it’s in that bizarre-ness that Margaret Atwood, through her wit and wisdom and words, nestles truths so fundamental that they could only reveal themselves in the word woven out of nothing and everything by Margaret Atwood.

That’s what I thought after reading Stone Mattress, anyway.

Sep 26 '14

To Do List: Some Things I Wrote at WERK (Summer/Autumn 2014 Edition)

I did not write much on my blog that much this summer. Or, if I did, I didn’t feel like I did. But I did write a lot at Slate, where, until this evening, I interned.

Before I started interning there, I said that I thought it would be a nice antidote to the sort of academic writing I do in grad school. And it was that. But it was nice on its own merits, too. 

Anyway. Here are some of the things I wrote of which I’m particularly proud.

All of which is, I think, another way of saying: I had wanted to intern at Slate for a long time (this was, embarrassingly, but also proudly, the fourth consecutive year that I’d applied for the position), and now I have, and I met some great people and did some neat things and learned a lot and wrote a bunch and have my name next to words that say something at this very particular publication.

Sep 26 '14
I wasn’t expecting to find the truest words ever written on a Chipotle bag, but there they were.

I wasn’t expecting to find the truest words ever written on a Chipotle bag, but there they were.

Sep 23 '14
annfriedman:

"He always made me feel like I was better than I thought I was. He was so confident in his own ability that he never regarded me as any kind of threat." Ruth & Marty forever.

Look at that look.

annfriedman:

"He always made me feel like I was better than I thought I was. He was so confident in his own ability that he never regarded me as any kind of threat." Ruth & Marty forever.

Look at that look.

Sep 22 '14
"In fact, says Charis, maybe Zenia’s intentions were benevolent all along. Maybe she stole Billy to protect Charis from such a bad apple as him. Maybe she stole West to teach Tony a life lesson about, well, music appreciation or something, and maybe she stole Mitch to clear the way for Roz’s much better husband, Sam. Maybe Zenia was, like, the secret alter ego of each of them, acting out stuff for them they didn’t have the strength to act out by themselves. When you looked at it that way…"
Margaret Atwood, “I Dream of Zenia with the Bright Red Teeth.” Or, Margaret Atwood, offering her interpretation of that Marcus Aurelius quote I love.
Sep 21 '14

Written wisdom: On summer in DC

This time next week, I will not be in DC anymore, but back in New York. This time in two weeks, I will not be back in New York, but back in England. But right now I am, for one more week, in DC.

This is the second summer in a row that I have spent in DC. This is the second summer in a row that DC has been good to and for me. And while there were points at which I wasn’t totally happy—and was, in fact, quite sad—that was never DC’s fault. (I include the day that I cried on the street and couldn’t get to the metro stop because two women were involved in a physical altercation involving the throwing of a cane by the entrance in this.)

Last summer, I came to the conclusion that DC is, yes, a swamp of douchebaggery, but that that is, in its way, a good thing, because it makes you cherish the good people, when you find them (and you will find them, because there are, contrary to popular belief, a lot of them here). And I still stand by that, but that is not my conclusion about this city from this summer, which is this:

People insult DC all the time. It is acceptable—even encouraged!—to insult DC, particularly if you are from certain places (i.e. New York). It’s not that DC doesn’t know what you think about it. It’s that it doesn’t care. Because people are still going to flock here, for however long or short a time. And it’s still going to be the place to be for politics and policy. And none of the hate and insulting and belief in tired stereotypes can change that. And there is more than that here, too. There is also green space, and integration, and there are houses—houses!—in the city centre, and farmer’s markets and mixed, bizarre bar scenes and cultural sites and cute coffee shops and a gentler way of life than there is in some other places and also, by the way, an eagerness and a keenness that is, for some, stupid reason, frowned upon elsewhere. It’s not cool, but it’s not trying to be cool. It’s just DC.

Or, to put it another way: Last night I went with a friend to a concert (the second of three concerts I’ll have gone to in, like, two weeks, because they’re so cheap and convenient) and the crowd was weird and mixed and earnest and into it. And then we went to a bar to which I’d never been before that felt like every bar I’ve ever been to. And then we took a cab to a house party thrown by a friend of a friend by Capitol Hill and drank and danced and met the most eclectic group of house partiers I ever did meet, and I spoke of the future of Ukraine with a Russian expat and made a Nigerian grad student promise me that, though he felt intimidated by his peers (specifically, his white, male, American peers), he wouldn’t let them condescend to him, because his opinions are just as worthy as theirs, if not worthier (he did promise), and we looked out on the balcony to the Supreme Court building, and then my friend and I left and caught a cab back by the Congressional office buildings, and then today I walked around my leafy neighborhood and got some work done in a coffee shop where the coffee was well-priced and excellent.

And it’s not that I’ll miss any of that, per se. It’s just that I appreciate it very, very much. And that I think that that is this city’s secret—to be appreciated by those who bother, and to not care about the opinions of those who don’t.

And maybe I’ll be back next summer, or next year, in DC. Maybe I’ll live and work here one day. But maybe I won’t. Maybe this summer, with its interesting work and quirky characters and good friends who live here and whom I’ve seen come into their own and back to themselves here (especially the aforementioned, and this girl, too) and concerts and coffee and walking everywhere and also, yes, crying on the street and worrying about everything and nothing but knowing that it all turns out okay, in the end, and often better than okay, because how could it not be, because you’re here, and you are who you are in this city that doesn’t try to be anything more and isn’t anything less than what it is—maybe this will be my last summer in DC. Maybe I have this next week, and that’s it.

It is already so much.