Culture

Lighting Themselves on Fire for Our Enjoyment (New York Times magazine piece on Cat Marnell): In the following months, I thought a lot of things about her. I thought she was a gifted memoirist and a self-mythologizing poser. I thought she was an addict in love with her own damage and a deeply troubled soul. But mostly what I thought after clicking the link in that e-mail was: Damn, her Whitney Houston piece was better than mine.

Every Woman Should Travel Alone (Salon): “Ma’am, you can’t sleep here,” said the park ranger. I tumbled out of the car, barefoot, and how strange I must have looked to him: the ball peen hammer swinging from one hand, the teddy bear from the other. As my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I could see his face, a mixture of amusement and disbelief. What the hell are you doing here?

The Smart Blonde Manifesto (D Magazine): I watched from the sidelines as the drill team and the cheer squad flaunted their leggy genetic gifts in spandex unitards. Oooh, how I hated them. Oooh, how I wanted to be them. But I was all Irish frizz and troublesome curves, hearty peasant stock trying to pass among the landed gentry.

REO Speedwagon Will Save Us (Salon): I loaded up my iPhone with a collection of ’80s songs so embarrassing they will get you banned from Pitchfork. Lionel Richie, Air Supply, Kenny Loggins. Cringe-inducingly awesome ballads of faith, hope, love and air guitar blasting from my crummy Best Buy speakers. It is therapy. It is meditation. It is something mysterious and powerful I cannot name. All I can tell you for sure is that the worst song ever written is saving my freaking life right now.

Here Is Everything I Learned in New York (The Morning News): “This is such a cold town,” I said to my mother, in between blowing my nose. But it took me a while to learn their reaction wasn’t a sign of disrespect or indifference, not the way I took it anyway. New Yorkers are unshockable, it’s true, but they also know that no one gets private space, and the best they can do is to leave you alone and at least pretend you have privacy, even if the crowded sidewalk affords you none.