Interview: Author and historian Joan Cashin


In my recent re-reading of “Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic,” I was struck by the description of the first time morphine needed to be mass produced—and fast—in the United States. Answer: “The U.S. Civil War prompted the planting of opium poppies in Virginia, Georgia, and South Carolina for the first time and bequeathed the country thousands of morphine-addicted soldiers.”

It’s just one example of how the environment and landscape of the United States was forced to change during the Civil War.

For a million other fascinating examples, look no further than historian Joan E. Cashin’s new book from Cambridge University Press, “War Stuff: The Struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War.”

Joan E. Cashin, author of the new book “War Stuff: The Struggle for Human and Environmental Resources in the American Civil War” from Cambridge University Press

Was the physical world during the Civil War a parallel to what was happening to the soldiers and civilians embroiled in it?

“That is a good analogy,” Cashin says. “The armies—both armies, Confederate and Union—exploited the physical world to the full just as they exploited the civilian population.”

The book explores these exploitations, recounting how and why they happened, who suffered because of them, and how they changed the course of the war.

I love reading books like this—historical documentations that tell story after story of real lived experience. It’s packed with anecdotes that could consume a creative writing class for a whole semester. All my fiction-writer friends out there, books like this are also great for research.

“Some civilians began to crack under the compounding pressures of war, engaging in increasingly reckless behavior. In May 1864, a tall, well-dressed clergyman walked right through the Battle of Yellow Tavern, calling out in a booming voice, ‘Where’s my boy. I want to see my boy.’ The man strode across an active battlefield while troops shouted at him to leave before he disappeared, uninjured, into the woods. … Other civilians were overcome by trauma, undone. A white girl stood at her front door watching the buildings burn on her family’s property. She began yanking the hair from her head, repeating the curses she heard from passing troops, and shouting with maniacal laughter.”

Chapter six, “The Uncanny”

Cashin’s most recent entry into the huge Civil War canon is an intriguing one. Expertly researched and woven together by her energetic voice, Cashin gives the devastating subject matter a balanced place to call home. And homes, as you’ll read, are a big part of the environmental Civil War story.

Below, read more about Cashin’s experience writing the book, what’s been inspiring her lately, and who she’d invite to a dinner party. Hint: her guest list’s conversations would be fodder enough for her next Civil War book.


What is war “stuff”? 

The stuff that armies needed to wage war, that is, the material resources, such as food, timber, and housing, as well as the human resources, such as the skill and knowledge of the civilian population. Throughout the history of warfare, armies have often turned to civilians for what they need to wage war.   

Why is it important to examine how the Civil War impacted the environment (and how the environment impacted the Civil War)? 

I think it reminds us of how horrible war can be. Wars that last any duration of time always inflict damage on the environment. 

It was very interesting to read about houses being destroyed and civilians trying to stop the destruction of homes or buildings—and how some soldiers were deeply conflicted about this tactic. It made me consider how different the experience of “home” and “making a home” was circa the 1860s versus today. You commune differently with a place you’ve built with your own two hands. What was the most interesting thing you learned, discovered, or meditated on while working on this book?

I agree completely that most people had a deep sense of connection with their homes, even more so if they had helped build those homes. That is quite different from the world we live in today. I was surprised by many of the things I came across during research for this book, but the section on housing and what happened to the private home was one of the most shocking. 


Yes, it’s fascinating to read stories of how people survived, including the mental warfare that had to be waged in order to maintain resources. I’m thinking particularly of Cornelia Parsons’ submissiveness and smile (!) that shamed soldiers into leaving her home. Were there any firsthand accounts from the book that especially stuck with you?

Yes, many of them stuck with me. Cornelia Parsons certainly did, along with most of the hostages who were taken by the two armies. I believe that “The Uncanny” section of Chapter Six is memorable. 

When do you write?

My best writing time is the afternoon, so I try to teach in the morning. I try to do some writing every day, six days a week, even if it is only 10 minutes on a very busy day. 

What is the best thing about being a historian?

The research, the writing, and the teaching—in short, just about everything!

What has been inspiring you or interesting you lately?

Judith Giesberg’s edition of a diary by Emilie Davis, a black woman who lived in wartime Philadelphia, which came out in 2014, was inspiring to me. I am also looking forward to reading “The Civil War: An Environmental History” by Tim Silver and Judkin Browning, which is coming out with UNC-Chapel Hill. 

What are you working on now?

I am working on a book on material culture and an article on animal studies, both for the war era.

If you could invite three people, living or dead, to a dinner party, who would they be and why?

Great question. I would invite three people from the war era: Angelina Grimke Weld, Frederick Douglass, and Abraham Lincoln. I have some questions for all of them.

On writing: How to survive the Taste Gap

A goodie from the one and only Ira Glass.

Just. Keep. Working.

Even when your output sucks. Because it’s going to suck. For a long time.

I love this video by artist David Shiyang Liu.

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish somebody had told this to me: all of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there’s, like, this gap. For the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great. It’s trying to be good. It has ambition to be good. But it’s not that good. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. Your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you. You know what I mean? A lot of people never get past that phase. A lot of people, at that point, they quit. The thing I just would like to say to you with all my heart is that most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste and they could tell what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. It didn’t have the special thing that we want it to have. And, the thing I’ll say to you, is everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it right now, if you’re just getting out of that phase, you gotta know that’s totally normal and the most important possible thing you could do is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story. Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you’re actually going to catch up and close that gap, and the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions. It takes a while. It’s gonna take you a while. It’s normal to take a while. You just have to fight your way through that.

OK?”

Ira Glass

Featured: Creativity + The Unruffled Podcast



2018 has been my favorite one yet! And one of its biggest moments was my gallery exhibition in September.

I finally started making the embroideries for “Gone, Country” (after, like, a year of talking about it as if I had already started…ha!…) the same month I quit drinking in 2016. I didn’t/ couldn’t allow myself to realize it at the time, but that embroidery work became a physical representation of what I was trying to make happen in my life.

It required humility and fearlessness to just make something, the same way it required humility and fearlessness to make such a huge change. I punched designs into paper one needle-hole at a time, the same way I didn’t drink one day at a time. I made those small incremental holes in the darkness of an image, the same way I slowly began bringing light to parts of myself I had long been avoiding.

Taking time to make an embroidery gave me something to do with my hands while I simultaneously took on the terrifying business of learning to talk to myself in a new way; it took the pressure off. It also proved to myself that I wasn’t just someone who talked about her dreams. I had the courage to try. And, in the meantime, I made some cool shit.

Creativity was means/space/outlet for healing. I recently spoke about this process to the awesome women of The Unruffled Podcast. It’s such an honor to be included in their interviews, and I am thankful for their efforts to create a community for women to talk about these experiences of making art while making a more compassionate way of life. (If you’re interested in creativity and overcoming the nonsense we put in between ourselves and our greatest potential, I highly recommend adding Unruffled Podcast to your pod roll!)

Here’s my episode! I love that it’s the last one for the year. I hope to embrace 2019. To keep getting better, braver, kinder, stiller.

Sending you all so much love into the new year. Thank you for being part of my story. I hope you have THE FUCKING GREATEST 2019 EVERRRR!

P.S. / FYI: I am co-launching Zero Proof Book Club in February with my good friend Shelley Mann. We read and discuss books about sobriety, self-growth, or surviving—and then thriving—in spaces that profit when we numb ourselves, from ourselves. You can go LIKE the page now and stay tuned for more in the future. xoxo

Ready for you, bb. #2019

Three things I’m loving this month


@historycoolkids on Instagram

The @historycoolkids Instagram account is my new favorite thing. It’s full of rare photographs of famous people when they were young (like Sylvia Plath above).

“6-year-old Michelle Obama”

Usually accompanied by some breathtaking quote.

“Charles Bukowski // I don’t think it hurts, sometimes, to remember where you came from…They call it ‘9 to 5.’ It’s never 9 to 5… And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does. As a young man I could not believe that people could give their lives over to those conditions. As an old man, I still can’t believe it. What do they do it for? … An automobile on monthly payments? Or children? Children who are just going to do the same things that they did? … Now in industry, there are vast layoffs…They are laid off by the hundreds of thousands and their faces are stunned: ‘I put in 35 years…It ain’t right…I don’t know what to do…’ They never pay the slaves enough so they can get free, just enough so they can stay alive and come back to work. I could see all this…I figured the park bench was just as good…Why not get there first before they put me there? Why wait? I just wrote in disgust against it all, it was a relief to get the shit out of my system. And now that I’m here, a so-called professional writer, after giving the first 50 years away…the luck I finally had in getting out of those places, no matter how long it took, has given me a kind of joy… I now write from an old mind and an old body, long beyond the time when most men would ever think of continuing such a thing, but since I started so late I owe it to myself to continue, and when the words begin to falter and I must be helped up stairways and I can no longer tell a bluebird from a paperclip, I still feel that something in me is going to remember…how I’ve come through the murder and the mess and the moil, to at least a generous way to die. To not to have entirely wasted one’s life seems to be a worthy accomplishment, if only for myself.”

And photos of stories from not that long ago but nearly lost in time.

“A knocker-upper was someone whose sole purpose was to wake people up during a time when alarm clocks were expensive and not very reliable. In this photo, Mary Smith earned six pence a week using a pea shooter to shoot dried peas at the windows of sleeping workers in East London, 1930s. She would not leave a window until she was sure that the workers had woken up.”

And they’ll just casually drop stories into your Insta feed that will make your heart stop a beat—sending it remembering, mourning, raging.

“Black children look at a white-only playground from behind the fence, 1956 📸: Gordon Parks”
“George Gillette, Chairman of the Tribal Council of the Three Affiliated tribes, weeps as he witnesses the forced sale of 155,000 acres of land for the Garrison Dam and Reservoir, dislocating 900 Native American families, 1940.”

Then something that reminds you why we haven’t given up on each other…

“Freddie Oversteegen was a Dutch teenager when she joined the Council of Resistance to sabotage Nazi military presence in the Netherlands. She and her sister would use dynamite to destroy bridges and railroad tracks and smuggle Jewish kids out of the country. They would also shoot at Nazis while riding their bicycles and even lure then into the woods by seducing them, and then kill them when their guards were down. Freddie Oversteegen died on September 5, 2018, one day before her 93rd birthday.”

Convinced? Follow @historycoolkids on Insta here.


UFC champion Amanda Nunes

Speaking of fighters… check out Amanda Nunes. Nicknamed The Lioness, Nunes is a mixed martial artist best known for retiring Ronda Rousey in under a minute. However, girlfriend just CRUSHED Cyborg, a reigning UFC badass that competitors (understandably) seemed afraid to fight. But not Nunes. She walked into the cage on Saturday without a hint of fear in her eyes. In fact, she looked happy to be there. She knew she was going to win!

And she did. Again, in less than a minute. She’s now the first female fighter in the sport (and third fighter, regardless of gender) to simultaneously hold two titles (bantamweight and featherweight champ). Moreover, she’s an underestimated underdog who continues to prove everyone wrong. How can you not love that?


“Big Mouth” on Netflix

Starring the hilarious voice talents of Nick Kroll (co-creator), Fred Armisen, and the incomparable Jenny Slate, “Big Mouth” quickly and unapologetically slid in to my list of favorite TV shows I watched in 2018 (though it premiered on Netflix last year, and the second season was released this October).

The series follows a group of seventh graders who are starting to navigate puberty—all with the “help” of their “hormone monsters,” horny, one-track-minded little creatures that the kids are finding they just can’t shake.

The brilliance of “Big Mouth” is how it creates characters that represent emotional experiences we all share—and THEN, nails the landing. For example, Shame Wizard.

This show juggles humor and empathy to create totally endearing storylines, memorable characters, and zingy one-liners I’ll annoyingly repeat to my husband for at least three more months.

“LUCKY MALALA!”

On writing: Make it physical

If you’re getting bogged down but you’re not sure why, former Wall Street Journal editor Shani Raja suggests physically changing the copy.

Then when I look at it, I feel like I’m looking at a new document. Suddenly I’m able to get a perspective on it I didn’t have, and I read through and I can feel some of the problems. … Make a physical change that gives you a fresh view of what’s happening.

Shani Raja for Udemy

Such as:

  • Making a printout for a full-page view/ read
  • Changing the font, typeface, or size and reading it again
  • Reading it out loud

Roundup: Blue Christmas feels

Today (Saturday, Dec. 15) at 8 p.m., come see me on the holiday-themed lineup of Fallen Angel storytellers at DMen Tap (2849 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago)!

I’m excited to be included on this awesome showcase. I’ll be performing a story about my leading role in the third grade school Christmas play. AKA my glory days… that ended in bittersweet disaster.

In honor of tonight’s show, here are three of my favorite well-told sad holiday stories. Because let’s be honest, this time of year can be kind of a bummer sometimes, and witnessing other people’s grief can often help you feel not so alone in yours, you know what I mean?

Bill Burr and the time his dad got him a doll for Christmas


This is the story that made me fall in love with Bill Burr (though his brutal bit about lady brunchers and craft fair shopping certainly helped). It reveals the hurt kid inside the seething comedian, and I love that Bill, someone who brilliantly wields comedy as a defense, let us see and experience that with him. It was filmed at the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in February 2003.

Bonus: In the veterans parade episode of the new “F is For Family” season, Frank (the dad) yells at Bill (the boy) that if he doesn’t shut up, he’s getting a doll for Christmas. So, thanks for that little Easter egg too, Bill.

Judy Garland’s version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

Fun fact: The secret ingredient to good eggnog is salt from your tears! Judy’s voice on this is sure to melt them out.

Jo Ann Beard’s essay “Waiting” from “The Boys of My Youth”

I love this book so much, and I think you/everyone should read all of it. But her essay titled “Waiting” is particularly heart-warming/heart-wrenching right now. It’s about her mother passing away from cancer around Christmastime. Here’s an excerpt, seen from her mom’s hospital bed as carolers circle round to sing (Linda is Jo Ann’s sister):


“Linda hesitates and then opens the door, gestures for them to step in. We move to the head of the bed and stand like cops with our arms folded, trying to smile. They finish one song and all look expectantly at the lady with the vibrato. She says, Three, and they begin to sing ‘White Christmas.’ This is our mother’s favorite, she used to put Bing Crosby on the turntable when we all sat down for Christmas Eve dinner. It was part of the feast, like the white candles, the clean linen tablecloth, the gleaming china. As she passed the first bowl and our father stood to carve they would sing it together, one at each end of the table, softly serenading their children. Our father, in fact, had a wonderful strong baritone just like someone in the crowd of carolers. Suddenly regret is swelling in the room like the voices of the choir. As she lies in the bed, she weeps, for Bing, for the melting, shimmering candles, the filigree on the holiday tablecloth. She is an unwilling astronaut, bumping against the thick glass of the ship, her line tangling lazily in zero gravity, face mask fogged with fear. My sister reaches across, over the bed, and we both embrace the mother, holding her on earth, pulling her onto the ship, breathing our oxygen into her line. Ten hours later she is dead.”

Jo Ann Beard, excerpt from her essay “waiting” in “The Boys of my youth”

To do: Write in CAA’s Drawing Room & visit AIC’s Thorne Rooms

A friend was picking my brain this summer for places that I go to write. Now that I’m living that good good #giglife, I can pretty much work from anywhere, so she assumed I had a hundred and one places squirreled away in my work-from-all-over office catalog.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have many exciting spots to offer up. In fact, she ended up giving me the secret gem, dream writing location: The Drawing Room at the Chicago Athletic Association Hotel.

Rumor had it, she said, that this space was open to the public, and it was beautiful, and you could just go sit in there and read and write! And no one asked any questions about your right to be in the club! Or your preference of golf swing! Or if your Izod shirt was in the wash! Sorry, my club stereotypes are very late-’90s.

Nevertheless, there it sat gathering dust on my radar all fall. Like treasure I knew the route to but didn’t feel worthy enough to hunt down. I was intimidated by the bougey rep of an “athletic club” and “chic hotel” and, just, you know, the whole notion that this was a private place for fancy folks, with a shrimp cocktail concierge and warm towelette dispenser on each elevator.

Per usual, I was wrong. And I took the stairs, so I don’t know about the elevator.

My friend was right: This second floor space inside the CAA is open to the public, and reading and writing in it kinda feels like reading and writing inside a castle!

There are dark, intricately carved wooden beams, ornate leather chairs, a crackling fireplace, and snow globe-style views of Michigan Ave and Millennium Park. There’s no shrimp cocktail concierge, but there was a very friendly waiter who brought me water and coffee and snacks whenever I need it. I mean, you do have to pay for that stuff, but it’s basically a BYOB(ook) library with food and drink service.

While you’re down in that neck-warmer of the woods, be sure to stop across the street to see the Art Institute of Chicago’s Thorne Miniature Rooms.  

These are 68 itty-bitty rooms built on a scale of one inch to one foot, and they’re decorated to look like European and American interiors from the late 13th century all the way to the 1930s. AND, right now some are decorated for the holidays. Eeeeeee!

I recently went to look at the Thorne Rooms on my lunch break (giggity #giglife… I was posted up in the Starbucks across the street). While there, I broke a record for “Longest Time Spent Squeal-Clapping and Saying Oh This Is Just Delightful Over and Over Again.” 

Yes, Virginia, that is a Christmas marzipan hedgehog the size of a thimble.

Art you should know: Tomie dePaola’s new book ‘Quiet’

Every year, around this time, more than two decades ago, the first-graders of St. Mary’s Elementary School would gather into the first floor lobby of their brick school building, which was dwarfed, like a first-grader to a sixth-grader, by the soaring, heaven-scraping church in front, and sit their bony little bottoms on carpet worn down from more than four decades of Mary Janes, saddle shoes, Reeboks, and now Nikes.

They were, around this time, used to gathering in such a way, as there was an Advent something or another happening in these makeshift assemblies once a week every December, when the whole school of bony little bottoms would swim out from their individual classrooms and sit together on that same worn carpet and sing and read and light a candle in anticipation of Santa Jesus coming to town. Purple. Purple. Pink. Purple.

But this first-grader thing was just for the first-graders, which seemed very special. Both classes would sit down to listen to Mrs. Sinnot tell a story, whether she was your first-grade teacher or not, which also seemed very special; any shift in the natural school day order created a little baby-sized buzz of excitement.

Now, this Mrs. Sinnot (pronounced sin-ut, but it’s, indeed, very ironic to think of a Catholic school teacher named SIN-NOT… maybe I’m remembering the spelling incorrectly or maybe this is just another little universe miracle we can all thank baby Santa-Jesus for later), this Mrs. Sinnot was just wonderful, as so many first-grade teachers are. Her salt and pepper hair was cropped to the exact dimensions popular with fairies around that time, and she was about the size of the half-pint chocolate milk cartons I’d cup like gold coins in my palm each day in the cafeteria lunch line.

We were gathered here, like the first-graders before us and the first-graders yet to come, to listen to Mrs. Sinnot read aloud her favorite book: “Strega Nona” by Tomie dePaola.

Published in 1975, “Strega Nona” is about an old woman in Southern Italy who is a witch doctor (!) (which is rad but, mind you, she’s never called as much in this Catholic school setting) and she travels the countryside helping cure villagers’ maladies, like warts, because this is a kid’s book and the bubonic plague is some heavy shit.

She also makes pasta. A lot, lot, lot of pasta. Because… her pot is magic! And this magic pot can make as much pasta as Strega Nona ever wants, as long as she blows three kisses <kiss, kiss, kiss> into the pot after singing her magic, pasta-producing spell. (Today this spell is called Grubhub.)

All is well in Strega Nona’s softly lit world, where the colors are creamy and the edges are not sharp, until one day, a man named Big Anthony, her helper, overhears her spell but doesn’t see her do the three-kiss closer <kiss, kiss, kiss>. So, with good intentions but not enough information, Big Anthony makes a magic pot of pasta… but doesn’t know how to turn it off. So pasta grows and goes and grows and goes until it threatens to drown out the whole village in its doughy doom!

When Strega Nona returns, feet sore from a hard day traipsing the hills to bring kindness and, I presume, lavender oils to the warty townspeople, she stops the spell and makes Big Anthony clean up the mess by handing him a fork. Mangia!

… I love this Strega Nona story so much, especially because it’s tied to such a happy memory—someone lovely reading aloud, in a mysteriously exciting school-day kind of way. But even so, I completely forgot about Strega Nona and her magic and that there was ever a time when I was innocent enough to delight in nothing but the imagining of pasta taking over a whole town.

Then I saw a random headline somewhere about Tomie dePaola’s new book “Quiet,” and it wasn’t his name that alit me from within, but that unmistakable illustrative style. I saw the gentle outline of his characters, the thoughtful pastel colors from his worlds, and like the snap-pop of a lighter, my mind shot out “STREGA NONA” from the murky depths, and off I went chasing the clickbait. Finding meaningful stuff in such as way is modern day magic, yes?

“Quiet,” like Strega Nona, is also magical, with illustrations like a hug, but the magic is found in something we all have. No secret recipe here. No fated headline coming your way. Instead, the magic can be found in quiet. In stillness. In the <kiss, kiss, kiss> of shhhhh-ing that can stop, not pasta, but a brain from overflowing. 

“Your mind is so busy. You have to train it to quiet down.”

Tomie depaola

Read the book here or the Kirkus review here. Related: This  wonderful meditation on stillness, gifted to me recently from a new friend.

Slow down.

Listen.

Enjoy.

Mangia.

Kiss, kiss, kiss.

Twelve things I’m loving this month

“Bloodless” by Andrew Bird

His new album’s title song is about our bloodless, cold, uncivil culture war. Here’s something we can all agree on, though: That piano part is mmmmm.

Existential Comics dot com

Also: “No, Stalin was not good you guys.”

Particularly the Simone de Beauvior editions.

Tessa Thompson

I’ve been so into actress Tessa Thompson this year! And apparently I’m not the only one: The Cut just featured her in an article titled “Tessa Thompson Knows People Can’t Stop Thinking About Her.” It’s something about the way she talks, right? She’s trance-like and so very deep. And her style. I loved her in “Sorry to Bother You” and she uniquely delivers such a great depiction of a Millennial creative-careerist-mom-wife as Bianca in the “Creed” movies. I can’t wait to see her in her own starring role, though, not just in a role that’s there mostly to just be a girlfriend or wife.

Three podcast reccos

  1. Books of Your Life, hosted by Goodreads co-founder Elizabeth Khuri. She talks to famous people about the books that have deeply influenced their lives.
  2. Art for Your Ear, hosted by Jealous Curator founder Danielle Krysa. She talks to contemporary artists about their practice, inspirations, and more. Try this episode with Los Angeles-based painter Seonna Hong (that’s her work below).
  3. Unruffled Podcast hosted by Sondra Primeaux and Tammi Salas explores the connection between creativity and recovery through interviews with creators of all stripes. It’s so inspiring. I like that the guests offer their own favorite recovery/creativity tools.

Painting by Seonna Hung

Screen Prism’s “Mad Men” videos

Ahhhh! I LOVE this YouTube channel that features video analysis of film and TV shows and characters. Get ready to binge. They’re like taking a film history, movie 101, and screenplay writing class for free. Of course, the super smart “Mad Men” character examinations are my favorite, but poke around, watch, and have your own movie-like ah-ha moments. (Oh also! Film fans should follow the One Perfect Shot Twitter account. It posts perfectly DOP-ed movie shots. The freeze framing lets you meditate on why a scene is so visually powerful.)

Kopari Coconut Melt

I got this stuff as a free sample from Sephora and I’m so grateful. It’s saving my hands and face this winter, which always sucks the life out of my skin. It’s basically coconut oil cream that melts into your skin once you apply it. Guess I’ll be buying a giant tub of it once this tiny sample is gone.

The “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” soundtrack

In this new movie, Melissa McCarthy is brutally good as author Lee Israel, who is infamous for the forgery she committed of letters by legendary writers (and for her alcoholism, which they depict in the movie with such accuracy and objectivity… the scene where we find out how disgusting her apartment is reminded me of Augusten Burroughs’ apartment reveal in “Dry”; he only shows the reader how disgusting his apartment is once he gets home from rehab).

Gray, cold, and funny, the movie also has a soundtrack that’s lethargic and serene… like a rain cloud you’ve gotten used to and rather enjoy constantly hanging over your head. It’s got so many wonderfuls on it: the Pixies, Peggy Lee, Dinah Washington, Chet Baker, Justin Vivian Bond, and this gorgeous Jeri Southern song that I had never heard before I watched the movie, but that I now want playing whenever I need a rainy day reprieve.

xoxo this album cover and its title… “Coffee, Cigarettes, & Memories.”

This quote from an InStyle interview with civil rights attorney Gloria Allred

“I don’t think fear is useful. I think fear is a weapon that has been used to deny women their rights.”

Read the full interview.

This passage from “The Woman Upstairs” by Claire Messud

“It was supposed to say ‘Great Artist’ on my tombstone, but if I died right now it would say ‘such a good teacher/daughter/friends instead; and what I really want to shout, and want in big letters on that grave, too, is FUCK YOU ALL. Don’t all women feel the same? The only difference is how much we know we feel it, how in touch we are with our fury. We’re all furies, except the ones who are too damned foolish.”

Get the book.

This month’s bro-tivational video!

“Self discipline is the definition of self love.”

See also: “You cannot win the war against the world, if you cannot win the war against your own mind.”

Gone, Country: So that was awesome

We uninstalled Gone, Country a few weekends ago, and I want to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my blueberry heart to everyone who came out to shows, performed at shows (you all were incredible!), bought an embroidery, bought a book, and/or simply said a kind word or thoughtful insight about the work/concept in all its parts.

I can’t believe I did this, and I am pinching myself a little still… I couldn’t have survived it in one piece without all the encouragement, so thank you. Especially to Justin, and the Slate Arts Gallery team. Can’t wait to do another one following, like, a six-month nap…

I hope you think of me whenever you see gaudy lawn flamingos doin’ it for themselves. Just trashy pink collar girls trying to stand strong in a white collar world. We gonna make it, Pip.