Nov 30, 2009

Modern voters

I thought this video of interviews with a bunch of Palin supporters was pretty interesting. Maybe a little unfair? Certainly, I think it probably reflects more of an American problem than a Palin-supporter problem. (For some uninformed Obama supporters go here.)

On the downside, reading the comments for both of those videos is infuriating and depressing. On the upside, they make me want to ensure that I am always able to clearly and correctly enunciate my own political views. It feels a little like discovering we're all subject to a nationwide pop quiz, and that anyone with a camera could spring it on you at any time. But this is good! The whole purpose of pop quizzes is to make you study.

On a completely unrelated note, I thought last week's Modern Love was pretty great.

(Links color-coded for ease of understanding—if you can't tell, Modern Love's is pink.)

Nov 29, 2009

Thanksgiving weekend, Georgia, 2009

A lot of family time was had.
And a lot of football was watched. By the last game I was really into it. I rooted for the University of Georgia, just like I was told to, and they won.
We also visited the cemetery of one of the oldest churches in Georgia, which somehow manages to remain serene even though it is surrounded by an endless amount of suburban sprawl.
Incidentally, here is Matt's great-grandfather's cow pasture.

Nov 28, 2009

Down in the Dirty

Everything is different down here in the South. Even the handicapped parking spot signs.

Nov 27, 2009

Would you be an outlaw for my love

A few years ago I had a boyfriend who managed to singlehandedly shape my current musical tastes. He was a musician, and he knew more about music than I thought was possible to know about anything. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't listen to Big Star, or Roxy Music, or Tom Waits, or T. Rex, or 50 Cent, or the Talking Heads, or Bruce Springsteen. I definitely wouldn't have gone to see Bobby Bland and I never would have watched The Last Waltz, and certainly not with such rapt attention. I always listened so much better when we were together. It was weird, the way that worked, as though his attention had some sort of transferable power.

As you might expect, he made a really good romantic mix tape. I think it's fair to say that the first mix tape he gave me, which I listened to incessantly for a whole summer, played a pivotal role in our getting together. And when we broke up this was actually one of the things I thought about—the prospect of a future without new mix tapes from him.

Eventually, after the misery of the breakup was over, we became friends again and these days he is an important person in my life. One time Matt and I even hung out with him and his then girlfriend, back when he was living in Memphis and we happened to be driving through, which all felt very adult.

In any case, I found his treatise on the death of romantic mix tapes really enjoyable. But it also made me sort of sad. Mostly for all his future girlfriends, and all the romantic mix tapes they'll be missing out on. It seems such a waste of a great talent. Hopefully they'll drive a crappy old cars like mine, though, which still has a tape deck. It doesn't always work so well these days, but I still listen to his tapes.

Nov 26, 2009


I like Thanksgiving. I like eating loads of good food at a big table with lots of people, and I like the specifics of the meal too, particularly my mom's stuffing, which I'll be missing this year. Also, I like that it's a whole holiday devoted to gratefulness, because being grateful really does make everything better. But this year, for some reason, there's been this little echo of something else. Maybe because lately I've been so aware of America as such an affluent place, a place so incredibly rich and well run that we all seem to develop this ridiculous expectation that things should always be this way, and that in fact whenever things aren't this way something must be wrong. And yes, I know lots of things here are in fact very badly run, and it is terrible that in such a rich country there are still so many millions of poor people, and yes, we are actually sort of broke. But still, compare America to a lot of other places and it starts to seem like we are one huge anomaly just waiting to burst.

In this context, Thanksgiving feels a little bit weird. All these people piling all these tables with all this food. It starts to feel like instead of being about gratitude it has become about convincing ourselves that we have so much that we could never really go without again. When of course this isn't true at all.

Books I already should have read

I have finally finished reading The Heart is a Lonely Hunter. It took me forever and I owe the library $3. Now I've moved on to The Good Earth, which I should find less engrossing, but don't. In part, I am engrossed simply by the fact of my engrossment, and keep reading in order to figure out what it is about this meandering story of Chinese peasants that keeps me so fascinated.

Nov 25, 2009

Thanksgiving Eve

Matt and I are down in Georgia for the holiday and tonight we're staying at his dad's neighbors' house, which is currently empty.

There is a Glenn Beck book on the coffee table, a bible by the front door, a cat, a framed thank you letter from Bush Sr. regarding campaign donations, an assortment of collectible coins and $2 bills hanging on our bedroom wall, a chiming clock, and a thermostat. Each of these things is equally unfamiliar to me.

Bridge to nowhere

Nov 24, 2009

Breakin the law

Useless talents

I had a great deal of aptitude for the skills below, and in my earlier years I also spent a good amount of time perfecting them. But in the current iteration of my life they are all completely useless.

Listed in the order in which they appeared:

1. Climbing trees
2. Friendship bracelet making
3. Shoplifting
4. Dancing to jungle/trance
5. Making tri-colored espresso drinks with Italian syrups


In the bathroom of the bar tonight was a sign that said this: "It is better to have loved and lost than to be stuck with someone totally crazy."

Nov 23, 2009

Hooray for the Red Team

Last night I joined the Red Team. This involved donning a skin tight (red) men's wrestling suit at a bake sale/tag sale at a friend's house. Then I made scary faces into a camera, draped in Christmas lights, biting down on a knife. The resulting picture is now supposedly going to show up on the Internet somewhere, although I'm not sure whether or not my name will be attached. This way I can be compared to someone on the Blue Team, who dress up in a blue wrestling suit, obviously, and people can decided which one of us would win in a fight. Actually I wasn't totally clear on the last part. But the point is I never do things like this! And it always feels good to push your boundaries. I was very proud of myself.

P.S. I found the Red Suit website! Check here.

New Moon meditation

So last Friday I went to see New Moon, along with many many teenage girls and Matt. His take on the movie, by the way, is that it is a sort of meditation on the frat boys versus indie rockers dynamics of high school. Meditation used a bit lightly in that context, of course. My take on the movie is up at This Recording, and you can find it here. I'm not sure I've had as much fun writing anything since my friend Nancy and I used to send each other ridiculous packages in high school.

Nov 22, 2009

Alternative realities

I was giving Mirabelle a walk around the neighborhood. It was late at night, and I hadn't bothered to put her on a leash. Usually she's pretty good about staying with me. This time, though, she apparently found something delicious in the middle of the street.

When I heard the car coming and turned, I saw her, framed by headlights that were coming straight at her. "Mirabelle!" I yelled, but she totally ignored me. So then I screamed her name, really screamed it—my throat was hoarse afterward. Mirabelle still paid absolutely no attention to me, but the car slowed down and eventually stopped. Finally, Mirabelle trotted over and the car drove off.

As I put on her leash and walked her home, it was as if my life had peeled into two different realities. In one, I was struggling to carry Mirabelle back to my car, with no idea where on earth the closest 24-hour vet was, not able to think clearly enough to figure it out, either. In the other, the neighborhood was very quiet and Mirabelle was walking beside me, oblivious, as we went home to go to bed.

Oh, college

On Friday we went to see Men at Hampshire, who were pretty amazing. (It's JD from Le Tigre plus two guitarists, one of whom Matt is friends with, which is how we ended up hanging out on a college campus on a Friday night).

Here are some things I remember about the show, other than the show itself, I mean, which really was awesome. The girl dancing wildly with ironic (I think) bangs and a half pony tail that would have made Kelly Bundy proud, all while blowing huge pink bubblegum bubbles. The young queen (princess?) yelling "Out of my way, bitches" while storming by barefoot, carrying his two broken shoes. The girl with the Afrohawk humping the girl wearing just underwear and stockings on her legs, lying on the floor right in front of the stage. I don't remember college being exactly like this, although I do remember those naked parties (don't ask), a lot of ironic trucker hats, and the frightened stripper at the secret society party. Points to Hampshire where all this is concerned, I think.

Nov 21, 2009

Magic carpet

By the way, if I gave anyone the impression that I don't covet anything but humongous sea-going objects (see below), rest assured this is not true. I also covet this rug.

(From Gracious Vigilantes, a collaboration between Gerald Decock and Sam Bassett.)

My grandmother's pantyhose

After helping to clean out my grandmother's house last winter, among the many things I brought home were a number of her stockings. It seemed like a good idea at the time. All my tights seem to sprout runs the moment I put them on and here was an entire drawer full of run-less tights. I left behind the sheer ones, and brought along the rest.

What I didn't realize is that all her stockings are control top, and had been quite stretched out—she was a slightly larger lady than I am. Which means they sort of start to fall down now whenever I wear them. But I wear them anyway! Because, due to one of those odd balancing equations of life, her stockings, of course, as opposed to every other pair I own, never seem to acquire runs.

All of which is to say that basically I've been walking around wearing my grandmother's droopy control top pantyhose and this just really isn't hot. Clearly, things needs to change, asap.

Nov 20, 2009

PEMDAS mothafucka

I watched Interview with a Vampire last night, in preparation for New Moon, and after a variety of very complicated calculations, I have come up with the following equation:

Interview with a Vampire - (interesting social commentary about American in the 1800s + a heavy dose of homoeroticism + awareness of the complexity of human relationships + actual images of blood sucking) + [(teenage pheromones x sparkly dust)/(teenage melodrama x love triangle)] + (sexy werewolves + Mormonism + just some basic strange) x (a man desiring a woman in the way many many human beings really want to be desired) = New Moon

And if you're having trouble with that, I'm sure you at least remember PEMDAS, the acronym for the order of operations. Right? (I've been doing some SAT tutoring.)

My clumsy dog

Today, for the second time, Mirabelle ran head first into a tree while chasing a squirrel. That's weird, right?

Nov 19, 2009

Paging Glenn Beck

Fantasy: That Jesus, Muhammad, Moses, the Founding Fathers and various other great leaders from the past would make an appearance in the present, line up everyone who claims to speak in their name, and then separate the wheat from the chaff once and for all. Thereafter, upon threat of smoting, the ones who are really just spreading ridiculous, erroneous and often hateful ideas would not be allowed within 50 feet of a video camera, recording studio, Internet-enabled computer, or microphone, ever, ever again.

Conspicuous consumption

I don't usually have very expensive taste, which normally I regard as a great blessing. I couldn't afford a $500 purse anyway, so I'm grateful that I don't yearn for one. I guess there was that pair of shoes I really wanted last summer that would have cost about a month's rent, but once I accepted I really wasn't going to find a cheaper pair on ebay, I quickly and fairly painlessly relegated them to the place I also put attractive celebrities - people who are nice to look at but have absolutely nothing to do with my real life. Besides, even if I could have afforded them, I probably wouldn't have bought them anyway, since my personality tends towards miserliness.

Which was why I was surprised to find myself wanting this ridiculous yacht. My mom gave me a subscription to French Vogue last Christmas, which I try to read to keep up my French, even though I mostly only look at the pictures—so many bare breasts in that magazine, by the way. Anyway, I was just minding my own business paging through the November issue when I suddenly saw a picture of this yacht, in a section titled "Envies" or maybe it's "Desires" (my French really is getting rusty). It was right beneath some caviar that goes for about 36,000 Euros per kilo, or about $27,000 per pound, or $1,700 an ounce.

The Infinitas (the yacht) will set you back between $130 and $150 million dollars, but for a moment there I think it is safe to say I was actually coveting it. I really wanted it. I wanted to jump into the little hot tub on top and then walk downstairs over that smooth soft wood and curve myself into the little curved spot at the back. I have never even wanted to ride on a yacht before. I don't even have good associations with yachts. The whole thing was very strange. But this one just looks so sleek and rounded and sort of like maybe it could dive underwater for a little bit, too, if you felt like it.

But whatever. The moment passed pretty quickly. Now it looks sort of cheesy to me, sort of dated, totally 2009. I think sailboats are going to be the thing for 2010. Super fancy sailboats. Like this one, the Maltese Falcon, which is apparently the most expensive sailboat in the world:

If you find yourself in times of trouble, this video will comfort you

Nov 18, 2009

Northampton character #476

He is short and fairly compact, and he seems to have something to do with the rambling antique store around the corner, which is just across from the Sikh-owned liquor store. He always wears black motorcycle boots and black jeans that seem sort of crusted onto his legs. Sometimes he wears a leather vest. He has dark, long straight hair and a Medieval sort of face. And I'm sorry if you don't have particular associations with Medieval sorts of faces, but that's the best way I can think to describe it. His walk is slightly bowlegged.

The lady who works in the antique store, who is most definitely a Northampton character herself, owns two dogs, one of which is small and white and one of which is black and huge. The small one generally sports bright red toenail polish and a pearl necklace, and seems to have a somewhat unpleasant personality. The huge one, who truly is as big as a small horse, sports gnarly wiry hair and seems to be more gentle beast than monster. Sometimes I see this man walking the huge dog around town. We call him (the man) the Dragon Slayer.

Nov 17, 2009

Northampton character #206

As far as I can tell all his jobs are alcohol related. I used to see him working at the Sikh-owned liquor store around the corner, and now I see him working at one of the local dive bars. He is tall and very skinny, with long, curly brown hair, and whenever I see him walking somewhere, he is leaning forward in this very specific way, almost diagonal to the ground, and mostly alone. My friend who grew up here tells me that back when she was in high school, over ten years ago, he was already hanging around town, and that he looked exactly the same.

He frequently wears a leather jacket and he always wears tight, very skinny jeans. He has a sort of punk rock vibe to him. But his most defining characteristic by far is the excess of bandanas always attached to his person. Generally, there are at least three—one around his ankle, one around his neck, and another around his wrist. Sometimes there are many more. We call him Danny Bandana.

Northampton character #802

There's this lady that always walks around Northampton with these little books in a basket, asking everyone if they want to buy a poem. You can't live here for long without coming across her, and once you do she quickly comes to seem a bit like a broken record. I think it's the way she says the whole thing, in a sort of drone, and never looks at you while she's saying it, either. "Wanna buy a poem? Wanna buy a poem?" She doesn't even really wait for an answer.

But one day this guy I used to work with was walking past her, a guy who many of the women in the office found very attractive, and she made an exception. "Wanna have sex?" she asked.

Nov 16, 2009

Birthday weekend

A zydeco concert was attended, soup was eaten, a copious amount of alcohol was consumed, friends were hosted and introduced, music was danced to, movies were watched, dogs were played with, cakes (2!) were eaten, air mattresses (3!) were used and dishes were broken. Our Mr. T party hats were even worn, and we've been wondering what to do with those for a long time. I was very very happy about it all. At one point I was feeling so good I actually had the gall to say this out loud, although I did immediately wonder if that gave me a hex.

It made me wish I could turn 30 next year, all over again, and a few of the older people at the party mentioned that, in fact, many people do.

Self-esteem boost

There's this blog by this French illustrator named Garance Dore that I look at sometimes, and the other day she mentioned this theory she has about people who tend not to like photos of themselves. Which is that they think they are much more attractive than they actually are. I wondered about this, particularly because I can remember many moments when I haven't liked a picture of myself, and I wondered if I this meant I needed to adjust my sense of my own attractiveness accordingly.

But to Ms. Dore's theory I now offer up this absolutely terrible photo of my dog Mirabelle. Personally, I'm going to take this as definitive proof that sometimes a picture just turns out bad, and in fact bears no reflection on how you look in real life.


From Michiko Kakutani's review of Sarah Palin's new book "Going Rogue" in the New York Times:

Mr. McCain’s astonishing decision to pick someone with so little experience . . . underscores just how alarmingly expertise is discounted — or equated with elitism — in our increasingly democratized era.

There is nothing wrong with ordinariness. Most of us are ordinary. In fact, it does qualify you for some things. For example:

Being the prototype for a character on a sitcom
Being described in an essay about your particular niche of American culture

What it does not qualify you for:

Being president.

Unfortunately, Kakutani also mentions that much of the book seems to be positioning Palin for a run in 2012. As in, well, just see below.

Nov 15, 2009

Armageddon porn

There is something slightly perverse about watching the entire world get destroyed and enjoying it so much, both ironically and completely sincerely, that you find yourself pumping your hand in the air and cheering actual cheers in the movie theater. I wondered if the pleasure I took in watching, say, Los Angeles crumble into the Pacific and Yosemite become a ginormous caldera, had something to do with simply needing an outlet for the fatalistic mentality I take on whenever I read anything about the state of our planet, and that I carry around with me these days like a low grade fever. But while the movie 2012 is, obviously, completely ridiculous (John Cusack's character driving through an entire crumbling building? And the ten scenes in which a plane is taking off as the runway crumbles beneath it?) it was also exactly everything I hoped it would be. As far as terrible movies go, I highly recommend it.

Nov 14, 2009

Chalk it up to a lack of Enya

There were a few times in high school when things got pretty deep with my Ouija board. A friend and I would light candles, put on some Enya, and sit there with our fingers just lightly touching that little pie slice of a thing (planchette is the official name) for however long it took to start moving. Once it did, it seemed to have a lot to say. I was going to marry some guy I had a crush on and have 15 babies, or something like that, and yes, there were definitely spirits living in my parents' house.

One time things took a bad turn, though. While my friend was in the bathroom I asked it a few questions on my own, which you're really not supposed to do, and then when she came back it told us to kill some perfectly nice boy in my math class. The mood got dark and sinister after that. I became convinced we really were channeling an evil spirit, and that probably it was going to try to sneak into my body while I was sleeping and inhabit it, like what happened to that little girl in the Exorcist. That was it for me and my Ouija board. The next day I packed it up and stuck it in the garage, where it sat until about a year ago, when my mom, in a spate of cleaning, sent the Ouija board to the Goodwill.

More recently, I was at a party where a Ouija board happened to be laid out on a table, and I tried to play it for a little bit with Kevin. We couldn't seem to conjure up the necessarily somber and suggestible mood, though, and the planchette didn't move at all. Actually that's not entirely true. There was a brief moment when the board started freestyling, but I didn't find this entirely believable—its rhyming style was suspiciously similar to Kevin's.

Nov 13, 2009

Pivotal moments

1. The first time a person you did illegal things with in high school becomes a cop. This happened in my life a few years ago.

2. The first time an ex-boyfriend gets engaged. It has to have been an actual boyfriend too, someone whose family you met, for example, and not someone you just made out with once or twice. This happened in my life recently.

Nov 12, 2009

Other things that routinely make me cry

Most any example of someone holding on to their humanity in inhuman circumstances. Books about what happened to the Native Americans after the Europeans arrived. And those videos where 50 people answer the same question. I should mention that crying easily runs in my family. If you think I'm bad you should have known my grandmother.

Fifty People, One Question: Brooklyn from Fifty People, One Question on Vimeo.

The angry manifestation

Check out this note that my friend Nancy posted on her blog. Someone left it at her father's head shop back in the '60s. It's enough to put anyone off their idealization of that era. It's also amazing. I mean, IS it possible to create an electric Tibet? And CAN anyone really believe that an electricity company sends out good vibrations?

Nov 11, 2009

Veteran's Day

When I was a little kid, at some point I got the impression that every American had to serve in the military once they reached a certain age. I remember lying in bed that night, very worried. I knew that I was not cut out for combat. When it rained I spent recess plucking worms off the cement and sticking them back in the grass so other kids wouldn't smash them. Finally my mom explained that American military service was not mandatory (this was the mid 1980s). I was hugely relieved.

These days, I have a dependably predictable response to pretty much anything relating to the military—I start crying. Parades, movies, articles, that picture of that little girl holding on to her dad's hand before getting deployed, it all makes me cry. Sometimes those military ads on TV even make me cry, at the gym, while running on the treadmill, which gets awkward.

It's more an excess of feeling than anything else but beyond that it's sort of hard to place. I've had a few friends who've been in the military, but not many. It's something about sacrifice, I guess, and the inevitability of pain, and experiences human beings shouldn't have but do have. I dunno. Sometimes I'm told I have too high a regard for people. That I think we're all better than we are. And I understand that war can be a very damaging and unjust force (although I think it is sometimes a necessary one) and that it ruins innocent lives. Maybe I'm just being overly sentimental. Whatever it is, I have an old-fashioned kind of respect for military service. And on that note, happy Veteran's Day.

The leaves are mostly gone now

Which just leaves this to look forward to:

Nov 10, 2009

Home sweet home

The luxurious lives of children

There are many experiences I had often as a child that today feel like luxuries. Take, for example:

Baths (we only have a shower).
Riding in the back seat during long rides.
Having someone else pay for dinner.

Obviously they don't make that much of a difference, though. As a teenager I still experienced these things at least somewhat regularly, but I don't think there's any offer in the world that could tempt me to return to my life at 16.

Cruelty to trees

Nov 9, 2009

The end of the line

I ran, shoes untied, to the gate. It was ten minutes to takeoff. "What's your last name?" the Delta employee shouted when he saw me coming. I ran faster.

"Langmuir," I shouted.

"Where's your companion?" he asked.

"He's coming," I yelled.

Right as I arrived at the gate the man stepped out onto the breezeway and when he returned a moment later he shrugged his shoulders. "Sorry," he said, not sounding sorry at all. I was still trying to catch my breath. He actually looked sort of pleased with himself. "Looks like you're too late. We just closed the door."

At first I accepted this. Anyone who has grown up in such a perennially late family as my own has learned about the terrible finality of closed airplane doors. But then I started thinking—isn't that the whole point with doors, that once they're closed you can open them back up again?

The red-eye

I woke up to an elderly woman lying in the aisle of plane, right next to me. Her husband stood above her, peering down, his hands resting against the seats on both sides of the aisle. He had a doughy face and bright eyes, and he wore a blue University of Michigan baseball cap. We were headed to Detroit.

One of the flight attendants yelled out to ask if there was a doctor on board and a paramedic came forward. He knelt by the woman and gave her oxygen, took her blood pressure and asked her name. It was Dotty, she said. The paramedic kept calling her sweetheart, and I couldn't tell if this was sweet or strange.

The woman was 89 and the prospect of death—of her dying, right there—gave everything an immediate sharpness and urgency. Rerouting the plane to Minneapolis was discussed. Meanwhile, flight attendants hustled back and forth and various people huddled around the woman, looking down at her.

I have seen this before, the way human beings rally together to try to keep another person alive. It always leaves a strong impression, how a group of strangers can all immediately agree that keeping another stranger living on this earth has suddenly become the most important thing in the world. That we do this says something good and significant about human beings, I think. At the same time, it always leaves me feeling a bit perplexed. Life is so often brutal and painful and sad, and the way we grasp to it is sometimes hard for me to understand. Besides, for whatever reason, I think of death as being more like a door opening to something else than like an ending.

The plane wasn't diverted, though, and by the time we arrived in Detroit at 5 in the morning the woman seemed to be feeling better. It turned out the problem probably came down to the swig of prescription cough syrup she'd taken when she got on the plane. "She took a big sip," her husband told the paramedic.

He replied that this really isn't how you're supposed to do it. "Just measure out one teaspoon," the paramedic said, "next time."

Nov 7, 2009

Making time fly while flying

1. Trade off giving each other a hard time.
2. Let this devolve into bickering. Treat it as a lengthy, ever evolving, extremely fun game.
3. Discuss nearby people/surroundings/circumstances conspiratorially.
4. Pass notes about the man in front of you who yelled at the nice stewardess about wanting two cokes instead of one ("I have been on this plane for TWO hours, so you are going to give me TWO cokes"). Don't risk talking out loud about it, even though you don't think he can hear you, because he has a bit of the Unabomber about him.
5. Read.
6. Sleep.
7. Share a box of Travel Delights ($5 on Delta).
8. Watch as San Francisco gradually come into focus beneath you.

The fallopian tube of a layover

Is this paradise? No, it's Detroit.

Nov 6, 2009

Music's effects on my mood

Halfway through my run I stopped to stretch under a big tree. I was listening to my ipod on shuffle and after a few minutes I heard the opening chords of that Yo La Tengo song "Our Way to Fall" ("We're on our way, we're on our way to fall in love. . ."). I stopped stretching and lay back on the leaves. I looked up at the tree's mostly bare branches and thought uncharacteristically peaceful thoughts about the world and my place in it.

Next up was Jay-Z's song "99 Problems" ("If you're having girl problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but a bitch ain't one. . ."). I briefly wondered how Beyonce felt about that. Then I stopped stretching and started running again.

Nov 5, 2009


We had talked about the expedition for weeks. Months even. We knew that if we biked down the path long enough we would eventually reach some vineyards that would let us sample wine. But we never bothered to figure out various details, like how far away the vineyards actually were.

Finally, one Saturday we drove out of town to the start of the path. We biked for many miles and then we rested, and then we biked for many, many more miles. We drank all the whiskey. We were beginning to be hungry. It was starting to get dark. So we stopped at a bar we could see from the bike path.

We ordered burgers, I think, and ate them on picnic tables outside. It began to dawn on us that biking back could be problematic, since the path went through the woods and would be very dark.

Meanwhile a large motorcycle crew had stopped at the bar. After they heard about our dilemma one of the bikers offered to ride one of us back to our car. But he had clearly had a lot to drink and besides, I didn't really like that he could only take one of us. Even though this wasn't some weird move on his part—his motorcycle obviously only had room for one extra rider. Maybe I'm a little biased against that kind of motorcycle rider, though. He made me think of the Hell's Angels and the book about them by Hunter S. Thompson, which totally freaked me out (the book, I mean). So instead we called our friend to come pick us up.

All around the bar, by the way, dangling from the ceiling in glass cases, were groups of taxidermied squirrels engaged in various activities. Here, for example, is the squirrel country band:
Except that it was upside down, so it looked more like this:
St. Louis and its outskirts never ceased to surprise me. I miss that a lot, particularly now that I live in a place that almost never surprises me at all.

Nov 4, 2009

Your email is not quite right for my current needs

Dear Editors of the Virginia Quarterly Review,

Thank you for your email letting me know that my piece, "What Was Left After the Flood," is not quite right for your current needs. I completely understand that the number of submissions you receive makes it impossible to respond more personally. What you obviously don't realize, however, is that you sent me this email on my birthday.

In light of this, I imagine you will now want to reconsider my submission as a birthday present and, in fact, will probably accept it out of contrition. Some people would consider this charity and turn it down. I am not one of these people!

In other words, thank you for finally accepting my piece which has been rejected by so many other publications. I greatly look forward to seeing it in print.

Best regards,

Molly Langmuir

Dirty thirty

I found these candles in the back of a stuffed drawer at my grandmother's house last spring, when we were cleaning it out. It is quite possible they are older than I am.

November 4, 2008

We voted before work. After work we got margaritas and Mexican food and came home to eat surprise birthday cake. Then we went over to a friend's house to watch the returns. When Obama won I cried. I had never cared so much about an election before.

The next day everyone said how it must have been the best birthday ever. It was a great birthday. But even though I knew it was childish, I still found myself resenting, just a little bit, that it had been so overshadowed.

Nov 3, 2009

As I see it

Pros of turning 30:
—I've heard things improve a great deal in your thirties.
—Being in the early part of an age group as opposed to the late part must count for something.
—General self-acceptance and maturity (I'm told).

—Feeling like I should really have things more figured out by 30.
—Feeling like I really should have a job if I'm 30.
—General elderliness.

—I'll never be precociously successful.
—I'll never be a young mother.
—When I read an article that mentions someone as being 30- to 34-years-old, I can no longer think of them as older than me. I now must accept them as my peer.

A summary of my early twenties

20 - Lived with boyfriend and five friends in trashy house at college. Had numerous arguments about food-sharing/chore wheel. Painted the living room a horrible color. Lime-green? Maybe mauve. Broke up with boyfriend but still lived with him. Became lifelong friends with the only other girl in the house. Developed huge crush on musician who had a huge crush on someone else. Took soul-killing poetry class.

21 - Lived with two friends in basement of humongous trashy house. Took a semester off and went to the Arctic. Came back and noticed a freshman who always wore jeans with a jean jacket. My friends and I nicknamed him "Jeans."

22 - Finished college. Started dating Jeans.

23 - Moved to Brooklyn and lived in a bedroom with no windows. Had sinking feeling that I would never figure out what to do with my life. One night a psychic cab driver told Craigslist roommate her whole life story, front to back. Explained he was an angel. Wished I would get picked up by a psychic cab driver. Interned at numerous magazines. Drove across the country.

24 - Worked at the cheesiest magazine in the world. Allowed "hypnotist" to try to "hypnotize me" in the boss's office. It didn't work. Got well-paying but very stressful waitressing job. Broke up with Jeans and briefly dated secret ex-alcoholic instead. Terrible idea. Started dating Matt.

That about covers it. Tomorrow I begin my early thirties.

Nov 2, 2009


A few weeks ago I went down to New York for a job interview. I was really nervous. I dressed up. I brought three copies of my resume. I paid $20 to park in a lot.

While I waited, I noticed the office was oppressively silent, and even though it wasn't a newsroom it was close enough to one that this already struck me as a not-so-good omen. But only once the interview began did things really start to go downhill.

The woman interviewing me asked a few questions and then asked if I had any questions for her.

"What kind of qualities are you looking for in a candidate?" I asked. If you're thinking this is a lame question, I think it probably was. However, I did find her response helpful.

"Well," she said. "They need to be very organized." Which was fine. I'm pretty organized. "They also need to be the kind of person who gets sick to their stomach when they see a grammatical error."

And that was when I knew, this job and I, we weren't really going to work out.

That must be the problem

Scene: Monday morning, in bed. Matt and Molly are just waking up. Mirabelle has been awake for hours. For the last five minutes she has been licking Molly incessantly.

Mirabelle: Lick, lick, lick, lick.
Me: God, she's treating me like I'm a salt lick.
Matt: Maybe you're really dirty.

For the record, I think this was probably why my last roommate's Saint Bernard liked to lick my comforter so much. I have always had a pretty high tolerance for dirt. As a 9-year-old I once went a month without showering. A whole month! I have improved a little bit since then, though.

Nov 1, 2009


1. I bought a package of almond Snickers.
2. Matt bought pumpkins.
3. Kevin bought beer.
4. We cooked dinner and gave candy to children dressed as:
a. A turtle
b. A black cat
c. A red devil
We also offered candy to adult chaperones dressed as:
a. A "Beatles fan," who was dressed entirely normally, as far as
I could tell.
b. Elvis, "if he'd had an afro."
c. A "lady of ill repute."
By the way, why is that adult costumes always require so much explanation?
5. The "unusually aged" trick-or-treater stopped by (this is what Kevin called her). She was middle-aged, and wearing a puffy paint t-shirt over her head. We gave her candy too.
6. I was informed by Matt and Kevin that almond Snickers are a really bad Halloween candy and that the reason more kids didn't come by was probably because the first ones spread the word to the others.
6. Matt and I carved pumpkins. Kevin tried to, but his pumpkin was slightly rock-like so instead he went outside to see if he could demolish it by smashing it in the street. This scared the neighbors.
7. We ate some of the leftover almond Snickers. I said I thought they were pretty good. I was told I wouldn't have thought so if I was a kid.
8. We put this hat on Mirabelle:
9. We went out, dressed like this:
10. We told people we were a trio called "Dynamic Denim." Everyone seemed to take this in stride.

Rabbit rabbit rabbit

This is what my grandfather said first thing on holidays, birthdays, and the first of every month. I was never exactly sure why until just now, when the Internet explained to me that it's supposed to bring good luck. Apparently some people also use the variation "bunny bunny hop hop," which just seems all wrong.

The Internet also explained that it is probably derived from the idea that rabbits are all around lucky animals, and then the Internet went off on a little tangent and mentioned that at times people have also carried around rabbits' feet for good luck. This is not why I used to collect the brightly colored rabbit's foot keychains, though. I just liked how soft they were. And for the record I was young enough to not exactly understand that they must have once been attached to a real animal. Either way, the beliefs surrounding rabbits' feet were obviously extremely unlucky for the rabbits themselves.