“Girls are trained to say, ‘I wrote this, but it’s probably really stupid.’ Well, no, you wouldn’t write a novel if you thought it was really stupid. Men are much more comfortable going, ‘I wrote this book because I have a unique perspective that the world needs to hear.’ Girls are taught from the age of seven that if you get a compliment, you don’t go, ‘Thank you’, you go, ‘No, you’re insane.’”—
I cringe every time I hear a girl or woman retreat into the dungeon of self-effacement when someone compliments them on their work! Own what you make! Be proud! Be loud! Take credit for your awesomeness!
I grew up proud of my writing, probably because I had a mom who always told me what I wrote was the shit. The proudest mom, always and forever.
So I always say thank you, and I never question a compliment about my work. I do, however, question compliments about my outfits sometimes, mostly because I know whatever I’m wearing was probably on the floor of my closet twenty minutes before.
Oh I’m not gonna lie, it was a cold and rainy Mardi Gras. I started seeing “#rainygras” and “#hypothermiagras” on Instagram around noon and it was funny, but also no joke. I texted with one friend who had already thrown in the towel, another friend who hadn’t left her house yet, and another friend who was dancing on a boat in a parade because that girl can handle anything.
We stood for a while amongst revelers in the Marigny. I drank a shot of King Cake-flavored vodka. I ran into the piano player dressed in hospital scrubs. I heard a man in drag say, “The only three things I care about today are drinking, fornicating, and smoking weed.” I saw many people in brightly colored costumes holding umbrellas, but also I saw topless women, their torsos covered with strategically placed sequins, because they just didn’t give a fuck and were going for it.
After about two hours in the ceaseless rain and the 35 degree weather, I brought everyone to a party, a beautiful, heated house, where there was fresh-baked bread and gumbo and we stayed there for a while, warming our bones, admiring all the costumes, loving everyone we met. I read a few palms, and I believe I am getting better at it. I think I have a new hobby. Then it was back outside. On Frenchman Street I had a little Mardi Gras meltdown. I couldn’t just stand around in the rain any longer.
We walked to another house, this one in the heart of the French Quarter, where a kind man fed us bread and cheese and Italian sesame cookies and we admired his gorgeous home, the decades of art and books and life, his attention to detail, his gaze, and his tiny, damp, green courtyard. There was a cat named Oliver. I sank into the couch. We all agreed that we had just one stop left in us.
I left the group to meet up with Anderson at Erin Rose, a bar just off Bourbon Street, a classic French Quarter joint. There I had a bit of whiskey and I talked to the owner of the bar for a while about dogs, and he told me a story about what happened when he took his bulldog to the ocean in California for the first time. Which was this: The dog heard the first crack of the crashing wave and he began to run, and this bulldog ran delightedly for two miles, his owner chasing him the whole way, yelling for someone to stop him, until finally a child was able to grab him. And I kept replaying this image in my mind of a bulldog running on a beach in the sunshine, and it pleased me so tremendously that I knew it was time to go home, because it was going to be all downhill from there.
Stayed in (mostly) last night so I could get up early and work on the book before I go to yoga and then a bunch of parades today. Most of what I am thinking about this morning while I’m editing, what I’m infusing it with I guess you could say, is the idea that I write because I want to see things exist. They aren’t already there, and they should be — at least for my own benefit or enjoyment.
Once I ran into my friend Andrew on the subway platform in my neighborhood. He was wearing headphones, and we waved hello. I’ve loved Andrew’s music for twenty years, so of course I asked what he was listening to, and he said his own songs. He told me that he wrote music so he would have something to listen to. I don’t think that means he hates other music. (He is a pretty loving guy.) It’s just that he knows what he loves best.
There are plenty of things for me to read out there but it’s true, the work I like to spend the most time with is my own. I’ll read this book, these sentences, consider these characters, a hundred times before I’m done. I’ll fall in and out of love with them during that time, but hopefully I’ll land on love in the end.