WILD GEESE IN THE AGE OF LATE CAPITALISM

By: Laura Jean Moore and Tye Pemberton

You do not have to be call-your-wife-mom good.
You do not have to walk on your knees in Guantanamo or
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting (as Weezer’s Africa cover
plays on repeat.)
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what Madison Avenue tells it to love.
Tell me about political despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on in a climate-denying march towards human extinction.
Meanwhile the sun and the acid pebbles of the rain
are moving across the dying landscapes,
over the fracked up prairies and the lost deep trees,
the mined mountains and the polluted rivers.
Meanwhile the last wild geese, high in the unclean, blue-ish air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how very lonely,
the ad world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like those last wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your temporary place
in the family of things.

Hang in There

This is a repost of a facebook status I shared with my friends and peers. Sharing here for the rest of my online community. —LJ

Little known fact: after I had applied to grad school, I found a little art deco theater for sale in Blackwell, Oklahoma for just $10K and I was considering purchasing it, renovating it, and running it. Dave was in on the idea. It would have been a small town, big art dream kind of thing. Then I found out I had been admitted to two of my top choice graduate schools for writing. I chose Columbia and my life took a very different turn.

I got divorced. I built a life in the Big Apple.

I keep thinking about how the last few years in New York gave me so much space to settle into my skin and get to know myself in a way I hadn’t previously been able. I chased another dream–starting StoryWoolf–and while that dream hasn’t died (if you could only see how far we’ve come!), it has attenuated to the point of my not being able to count on it launching on a specific timeline. I wrote a book that wasn’t very good. I’m working on another one that may or may not be very good. Victoria Davis and I started a podcast about love and sex and dating in the city and a bunch of people thought it was awesome. I fell in love with a lot of amazing people. I lived intensely and with great verve.

And then I left the city, because I no longer felt like I was using the city to achieve my goals. I felt like the city was using me. The end result of those years was not a culmination to great achievement, but the accumulation of a great deal of debt. I am living in a place now where I am working to pay down my financial obligations, while daily feeling like I have to navigate giving up everything I learned about myself, just so the wheels will grind a little easier.

It is hard. It is hard to stand on the other side of a decade and know, personally, that you have so much to show for it, but also know, superficially, it looks like you made all the wrong decisions. None of the things I began are what you could call “done.” I am still in media res. Whether those seeds I planted in StoryWoolf, in my writing, in the people I adore/adored, come to any fruition, won’t be evident for another ten years. I think some people in my life feel like I am back on track because I have a steady day job again, because I look more “settled” than I have in a while. But I feel very much like I am living a lie. Those things I do that look settled are an ill-fitting costume I wear so I can keep doing everything else I’ve already been doing.

It’s a long, slow grind. I have committed to my work and ambitions the way that I suspect other people commit to a person. I’m in this writing life, this wanting-to-create-something-that-never-existed life for the long haul. I have fellow travelers. Kevin is seeing StoryWoolf through. Tye is similarly oriented towards the long-game when it comes to art, writing, the creative life. The numerous women in my life (THERE ARE SO MANY OF YOU I CAN’T NAME YOU ALL — if you suspect you are one of these, know that you are) who are also grinding it out, building something new and great without recognition or thanks, are constant inspirations to me.

The point of this whole thing is that I wake up some mornings and I want to scream because I hate the costume I have to wear to get by SO MUCH. I feel disgusting. I feel demoralized. I feel like a drowning bird. I know there are a lot of people who feel similarly.

Facebook is a lot about milestones and excitement around happy news, but the reality is closer to this daily up and down. Everyone I know in comedy, in film, in writing, in acting, in any of the creative arts, has to endure years and decades of other people thinking they are a fuck-up, just so someday someone will finally acknowledge what they’ve been all along. It is weird. It’s like the longest hazing ritual of all time. Our culture only loves non-conformists after they’ve been brutalized and endured constant rejection and have the scars to show for it. Granted: years of constant brutalization and rejection will do something to you. Sometimes it makes you better, but sometimes it makes you worse. I am of the belief that going off and thinking hard, taking time outs and working on your craft with only select input from your mentors, is much more productive to getting “better” than going through all this hard-knock hurting. I dislike the way our cultural romanticizes abuse in the service of [name X goal]. That’s just a shill to keep the kids who aren’t rich or privileged from giving up. And so we don’t give up. But it doesn’t mean we like abuse.

Anyway, shout-out to everyone else who is first, and foremost, in love with their dreams. I see you. I see you succeeding and I am so happy for you. And I see you reaching for more. I am preaching to myself as much as anyone. This is not the end. This is probably not even the middle. I have a feeling most of us are still at the beginning, and I am telling myself as much as you: that’s okay.

Image credit = Yvonne Woon (cropped out for privacy!) took this picture of me/us.
Pro-tip: email subscribers click headline for pic of me winking and generally trying to convey a sentiment of “you got this.”

CULTURAL LITERACY

RACE SALIENCE
How to choose a non-racist Halloween costume
The racist and sexist history of keeping birth control side effects a secret
AFROPUNK’s White person’s guide to Black neighborhoods

AMERICA
Cahokia: the enormous, pre-Columbian city you’ve never heard of
This lake in Montana is full of colored pebbles
Ansel Adams’ photos of life in American internment camps for Japanese-American citizens and immigrants
Body ritual among the Nacirema

CLEAR EYES, FULL HEARTS
Artemisia Gentileschi: more savage than Caravaggio
How to suppress women’s criticism
What Rich Cohen learned from his 3 a.m. calls with Marlon Brando
“Jesus Hasn’t Saved Us:” young black women returning to ancestral religions
When the art department takes over your Citgo commercial

HAPPY PLACE
KATE MCKINNON GHOSTBUSTERS OUTTAKES
An elephant comes to the rescue
Lin-Manuel Miranda sings Hedwig to his dog

PARENTING WINS
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘Feminist Manifesto’ on how to raise a child
A mom sticks up for her daughter at school

Image Credit
Pro-tip: email subscribers click title for HAWT GIF of KATE MCKINNON WINKING

LIVE YOUR TRUTH

AUTHENTIC BEHAVIOR
An inspirational collection of photographs showing Rihanna leaving restaurants with her wine in-hand
Kate McKinnon talking about her cat
The subtle art of not giving a fuck
Chico, the cat, living his truth

EMPATHY REPORT
Dr. Rabbi Abraham Twerski on responding to stress, what stress is, and how lobsters deal
Alicia Keys made a short film of what it would be like if Americans were refugees
Brené Brown on empathy versus sympathy
Misrepresenting the working class: what the narrating class gets wrong
The abuse of ‘feel good’ cop videos

CINEMA OBSCURA
The Man Who Wasn’t There, full movie streaming on youtube
List of films directed by women streaming on Netflix 2016
30 best LGBT films of all time?
BOUND, full movie streaming on youtube

Image credit
(Pro tip: Email recipients, click title for hot Kate McKinnon pic)

That’s a Wrap

VOYEUR FRIDAY
LJ email, Circa 2010
Subject: exchange of possessions

I would like to figure out when I can get my stuff back from you. I will return your shirt and jeans and boxers. I hope you found my underwear and argyle tights? My hat? Are any of the above items still missing?

If so, I will live, unless my hat has disappeared, in which case I will have a conniption fit.    ―LJ

POLITIK
How shade is done
Hillary Clinton dressed as Dolly Parton
Herblock Collection of Political Cartoons at the Library of Congress

‘MERICA
19 Maps that will help you put the United States in perspective
Money art, aka defaced Presidents

CINEMA OBSCURA
Classic cinema online
La maman et la putain

LADY LOVE
Podcast: On being lesbian in a straight marriage
Lesbian pulp book covers 1935-1965

MOMENT OF SUBLIMITY
Otters chase a butterfly

Image credit

The Truth is Out There

Monday mornings are like the moment the hot water runs out in a long shower: real, expected, and nonetheless unwelcome. Because it takes a monumental effort for me to enter the week dressed in a simulacrum of normal personhood, I like to spend the first part of the day distracting myself with ideas that make me feel new and engaged and alive. Now that I am doing these posts / emails, it is my pleasure to share some of today’s with you.  —LJ

ASS OUT OF ME AND U
The class politics of decluttering
Problems we don’t really want to solve

PLACES
North Korea looks like a Wes Anderson movie, or Wes Anderson movies look like North Korea
A curated journey through Atlanta’s history
Explore the Cincinnati panorama of 1848
Turkmenistan: where the cities are beautiful and empty and the neighborhoods are crowded and cluttered

LITERATURE MAKES IT POSSIBLE FOR ME TO WAKE UP IN THE MORNING
Essays by poet Kenneth Rexroth
The teeny-tiny writing of Charlotte Brontë

HI-LOW
Make fancy cocktails using Hi-C EctoCooler
When Henry Cotton of Moze (in Essex) was reported in 1592 for not attending church, he came before the local churchwardens, and ‘very unreverently and contemptuously farted unto them and said, “Present that to the court”’.
Taylor Swift swallows the world (and it ain’t a good thing)

GNOTHI SEAUTON
Grief Magic
Hallucinatory voices shaped by local culture
Paris Review interview with Adam Phillips:

“There are a number of people whom you might think of as casualties of the myth of the artist. They really should have done something else. Of course some people get lucky and find that art works for them, but for so many people it doesn’t. I think that needs to be included in the picture. Often one hears or reads accounts in which people will say, Well, he may have treated his children, wives, friends terribly, but look at the novels, the poems, the paintings. I think it’s a terrible equation. Obviously one can’t choose to be, as it were, a good parent or a good artist, but if the art legitimates cruelty, I think the art is not worth having. People should be doing everything they can to be as kind as possible and to enjoy each other’s company. Any art, any anything, that helps us do that is worth having. But if it doesn’t, it isn’t.” 

Image credit: Mark Rothko, Four Darks in Red, 1958.