Monday, December 25, 2017

Holiday Anxiety

I’m at my parent’s house and I am still having bouts with my insomnia so instead of tossing and turning quietly in the night I will write this thing. It’s Christmas, obviously, and that means family time, traditions, and all the rest that comes with it.

I’ll be frank. I hate the holidays. They make me feel anxious and sort of pinned in. They feel like an obligation that feels selfish to be annoyed at because you know you have to do it and if you chin-up and smile through it, it will make it better for all involved including yourself.

This got me to thinking about why that is, why I dislike the holiday season, and why so many other people feel the same way.

Perhaps it’s because it is a type of reminder. All this tradition is packed into them, all those memories and each year we try to re-simulate them. But it’s hard to do that isn’t it? Especially since things change, maybe some changes are bigger then others; deaths, births, things like that, but generally the changes are slighter. The dynamics, distances, and the very act of knowing someone shifts through time even when these events stay still.

As one gets older and experience more independent lives, there is a mote around yourself and those that you are supposed to be, or once were, closest to. There may always be a type of closeness, a bond of having shared so much time with another during such formative years but distance/change is keen, sharp and hard to ignore.

Even with this distance there is an agreement made between everyone. There is a script, a performance of being/acting to make that distance feel less sharp around the edges. That is why tradition is so vital to surviving the holidays. If things have a setting, props and vague ritual, it is easier to cope and to understand what is supposed to happen, how, when and by whom.

Maybe it’s the performativity of the holidays that has me in such an agitated state. Of course, that’s par for the course for everyday living but it is heightened during this time and there are so many expectations at stake.

Maybe that’s the key word to all of this. Expectation. Expectation is a real ball and chain sometimes. It quashes any chance for imagination and sincerity. The formalizing of behavior can be quite entrancing though, and I see how its use can be purposeful and propellant in a holiday setting but still, when it becomes so heavily enforced, there isn’t that much honesty and or fun.

Expectation is not only from external sources but internal as well. The holidays is a great way to measure time and to register what you and your near and dears have accomplished or not in the past year. Having the bone chilling realization that you have not progressed and are exposing that to those who have invested so much into your potential can feel like self inflicted crucifixion. Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but back to the point, expectation–it’s the fuel in in which holidays run–and there’s really no way to escape its grip during this time.

Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. The holidays aren’t really all that bad, it actually is not bad at all, but I wanted to untangle, at least for myself, why this time of year, bring certain feelings to the surface. And I’m certain others feel this way too; I mean it is ‘the holidays’ after all, a well trodden setting of ill content.  

Is there a way to ‘fix’ or change any of this festive anxiety? Not really. We all know that it really isn’t that big a deal, to be asked to grin and bare it for a day or so to make those that love you happy. But yeah, it’s still there, that dread of having to get through it.

In the face of not having a clue how to remedy it and not having the guts or the will to fly away and ride it out anonymously on a beach or in the woods alone, I guess the only thing to do is embrace it, relax and not make it into a big deal. That’s hard for someone like me but yeah, to really get over it, one has to have some grace and willingly go along for the ride. Who knows, maybe doing this will make it easier for everyone else; maybe it will make their participation feel less jagged at the edges as well.

I’m lucky, I know it, and while I wax and wane about this most trivial of things, I know there are those that have nowhere to go for the holidays and perhaps no one they have to see. For those who may be in that situation, I could jest  and say I envy you, but that’s cruel and false. Regardless where you are in the complexities of relationships with family, what the holidays are good at doing is bringing people together, even if it feels hard, and there is a type of truce and truth to ignoring or acknowledging differences but also a type of love that is real, even if it feels imperfect at times.

Whether you are with family or friends, I hope you get through the holidays and if not, don’t fret, you’re not alone.  

Monday, December 18, 2017

Quick Movie and TV Reviews

Sometimes you are so social that you need some downtime and stare into a screen and let the waves of media and culture wash over you. I, like many people, achieve this mental off-switch bliss by watching movies and TV. Sometimes I binge it. Sometimes I’m with another person, but it’s mostly a solitary affair. Below are some things I’ve watch recently and quick blurbs. There may be SPOILERS, so ya, deal with that however you want.

It’s almost 2018 ya’ll. Let’s hang in there until then.

Thor Ragnarok

People kept saying this was a good movie so I went to see it despite me being not into the Marvel franchise stuff and all those people were wrong. It’s way too fourth-wall-meta. From start to finish it has this knowing, self-referential de-troping/re-troping of the comic book ‘movies’ and it’s just too much. It’s a tired slapstick mixed with eye roll irony that is so self aware of its cleverness it just trundles along. Also, WHY?! Focus on all these subplots/characters when you have amazing Cait Blanchet and that whole storyline which is so rich with content and possibility? I get it, you want to squeeze in as many periphery characters and jump off characters as possible but it’s just dull and spaztistc. It’s one of those films where you laugh but just to get yourself throughout not because it is actually witty or funny.

24 Frames Abbas Kiarostami

Someone film-arty sent me a link to this film by Kiarostami, which imagines still frames of art four minutes before or after a frame. I was excited at first because the first frame is the Pieter Brugel’s painting with the hunters and dogs in the woods (Hunters in the Woods, 1565). Crows begin to move and caw. Snow falls and wisps of smoke animate the sky. That was really fun to see but then most the other frames were just blah. Mostly generic West Elm like photographs. Lots of animals, bare trees and even more crows. It felt flat and too easy. There was a sense of trying to convey a mood or even an inkling of a story, but it was all so uninteresting. Maybe it would be cool as a background to a swank party but ya, to watch it through was more than tedious, it felt visually wasteful.

Masterchef Professionals UK – Season 10

I love British cooking shows and Masterchef Professionals is one of my favorites because it is a competition amongst professional chefs so you can dork out on high-level chefy techniques and food creations. It’s very formulaic, there are a ton of episodes, all an hour long, and I like that simplicity. US food shows are garbage. All the weird editing, lighting, staging and dramatization. No, thank you. Give me duck three ways anytime and some crazy French classic and I’m happy. It’s annoying everyone is white and male but hey, reflections can be shitty but they are based on the truth of how things are.

Stranger Things – Season 2

Binge watched this other night while I was contemplating my life choices and it was enjoyable. I didn’t like it as much as the first season but ya, it’s a chill series. The child actors were cute but lost a little bit of their charm. Some of the story lines felt compressed and shoved in – Why she went to Chicago to find her ‘sister’ / Who cares about the new kids from CA – I’m not sure but ya, Upside Down world, Winona being frantic and fab, Millie Bobbie Brown being the next Chanel campaign model, all that is just easy and non-offensive to consume.

Little Women

I don’t know what possessed me to watch this movie, maybe it’s my Winona forever crush, but wow, that was a weird choice. Well, maybe not, I like sappy period stuff and it’s sort of a Chritmassy movie so maybe I was getting all nostalgic for this book I read when I was in middle school. Essentially it’s about this family/sisters and they love each other soooo much and Jo (Winona) is the writer, non-conformist one, and blah blah wadda wadda, love and friendship and death and trying to be an empowered woman and all that jazz. Like all period movies they (women) only can be free via money aka a husband or a dead aunt. So it all ends well, Beth (Claire Danes) dies but children are born and time moves on. I should have just watched another redux of Sense and Sensibility for this type of movie fix.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Reading Group

I have a freaking rash (again) and I my will to live is zero so I will share with you a list of essays and books that a reading group (that will hopefully begin/continue in the New Year) has compiled.

We all want to read more so here’s a start. Sorry, will post actual thoughts soon.


"the outside can't go outside" by Merlin Carpenter

Living Currency By Pierre Klossowski

Minima Moralia: Notes on Gerhard Richter's Red, and The Singer of 1965 by Jaleh Monsoor

Sontag, "The Aesthetics of Silence"

Bernice Johnson Reagon - Coalition Politics

Alexandre Kojeve, Introduction on the Reading of Hegel

J.G. Ballard, The Overloaded Man

Maurizio Lazzarato, Immaterial Labor


Marshall Plan Modernism: Italian Postwar Abstraction and the Beginnings of Autonomia by Jaleh Mansoor

Lee Lozano Dropout piece by Sarah Lehrer Graiwer

The Power by Naomi Alderman

Clarice Lispector

The Art of Cruelty by Maggie Nelson

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson

We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Hito Steyerl, Duty Free Art

Edward Glissant, The Poetics of Relation

Donna Haraway, Staying with the Trouble

Franz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth

Edward Said, Orientalism

McEvilley, Art and Otherness

Trungpa, True Perception: Dharma Art

The Absence of Work (Broodthaers' biography by Rachel Haidu)

The Medium is the Massage, Marshall McLuhan

On Longing, Susan Stewart

In Praise of Copying, Marcus Boon

My Friend Dahmer, John "Derf" Backderf

Feelings Are Facts, Yvonne Rainer

David S. Roh - Techno-orientalism: Imagining Asia in Speculative Fiction

Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing - The Mushroom at the End of the World

Hao Jingfang - Invisible Planets and Folding Beijing

Rey Chow - Entanglements, or Transmedial Thinking about Capture

Alice Walker, In Search of our Mothers Gardens

Paul B Preciado, Testo Junkie

Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace

Sadie Plant, Zeros + Ones

The Structure of Detachment: The Aesthetic Vision of Kuki Shuzo, ed Hiroyshi Nara

Quartet, Jean Rhys

Rey Chow - Primitive Passions but not Entanglements

Edward Glissant

Kill all Normies – Angela Nagel

Sloterdijk’s Spheres III: Foams

Flat Earth: The History of an Infamous Idea by Christine Garwood (2008)

Jodorowski’s The Way of the Tarot

Monday, December 4, 2017

Mexico City Recap

It’s that time of day when I look at the clock and remember I have to blog and I’m like way busy, it being my first day back after my short vacation so yeah, going to just bang the keys a bit here (like usual).

Anyways. As you might know, I was in Mexico City aka DF for about a week and last week’s post was me just whining a bit about stuff so this time around I’ll be positive about my short jaunt. Trying to do this post in under a half hour so yeah, it’s not going to be pretty…


I probably ate like 20-30 tacos while I was there. They are all really amazing. There is no taco in DF that I don’t like. There are stands on sidewalks/streets, wherever and they are usually 20 pesos (like a dollar) and they are yum yummy. Tacos might be the perfect food. The tortilla is it’s plate; it has no wheat, and is pure taste bud and fuel sensation. And the toppings! For free! And I always over do it but the classic is just with meat of choice, some lime, chopped onions and cilantro. A woman named Maria made the best tacos. She sets up her stand outside Bosforo, a mexcal bar in Centro, and for 20 pesos you can get her incredible Oaxaca cheese filled banana pepper with chorizo or beefsteak. She is there from 10pm-5am. She is a taco angel.


The recent earthquake probably had a lot to do with it but DF was like a permanent construction zone. It was a bit much, all the jack hammers until 2-3am but yeah, it’s got to be done. It’s kind of funny walking around and having to be extra diligent so you don’t literally fall into a very deep hole that is only covered with a little piece of wood. Everyone seemed chill about it though. If it were like that in NYC people would be loosing their minds. Seems nice to be relaxed about even stressful things.


Cold so you need a jacket at night but hot so you strip off your layers during the day. The weather in DF is nice because it gives you a burst of cold and heat all in 24 hours. It’s sort of a nice way to pace your day out. Like you adapt you activities and clothing to suit the mood and temperature. I guess LA weather is sort of like that but the sun in DF is warmer than in LA. LA light is so harsh, I just can’t deal.

Making Out

I think I have mentioned this before but wow, people love PDA in Mexico. One night I walked passed this park and there was a young couple literally on top of each other just quietly, passionately making out. About an hour later I walked past the same park and they were still at it. I hate PDA but ya, it’s cute sometimes I guess.

Make Do

There is this wonderful knack and grace that people in Mexico have with just making do with whatever is on hand. Like, if a string it too short, just tie on a shoelace. If a ladder is not tall enough, stack some bricks under it. If you don’t have curtains, make a newspaper collage. It’s aesthetically alive and wonderfully MacGyver.

Sexy Young Things

I went to this dance club and although there wasn’t many people there the ones that were, were so freaking cute. Some were super young, like possibly even high school age… but they all had on amazing outfits; tutus, bra tops with open biker jackets, boys with hair to their waists and glitter chokers. They were just divine and fabulous and they were doing it all for themselves and each other. It was just gorgeous and adorable.


It is so cheap for everything in DF. Well, if you go to Condessa and Roma areas it can get like NYC prices, but in general, it is really cheap for everything. Three course meals are around 70 pesos ($5). Subway is 5 pesos (like idk, a few cents?) and a crazy night out with hours of mescal, micheladas and 3 Ubers later might cost you a whopping $40. There is a wonderful freedom in being able to spend without guilt or next day remorse. Yes, I know that is a privileged tourist position but hey, giving to the DF economy as much is I can is something I will always be first in line for.


I mentioned this in my post from last week but wow, time is really different there. Yes, I was on sorta vacay mode while there but seriously, Mexico operates by its own clock. When you have plans at 7 that usually means midnight. When you text someone, them not responding for like 3 hours is totally normal. For a time spaz like me it was a bit bracing to be forced into patience but eventually I did and returning to NYC I feel maybe not chiller but more understanding of time.