Personal Histories
5

Diary of a Young American Girl in Los Angeles

"Lolita is a burlesque of the confessional mode, the literary diary." —Alfred Appel Jr., in his introduction to The Annotated Lolita

"Baby put on heart-shaped sunglasses ‘cause we’re gonna take a ride." —Lana Del Rey

I moved to Los Angeles at the end of last summer to sell my soul to the internet. When my job opportunity in new-media listicle construction fell through, I searched for sublets on Craigslist to borrow time. My first roommate was offering a room in an Echo Park bungalow-cum-rapper crash pad. He was an indie hip-hop producer who is, in his own way, pretty famous; I’d wake up to find [...]

2

The Cathedral Ruins

A cathedral is a good place to remember. I visited European cathedrals when I was too young to care about them. There was Chartres: buttresses and spires, relics lined up in rows in glass cases, a crypt that’s not filled with dead people, but is another church in the church. One of the tour guides told me that the cathedral’s nave was constructed on an angle so that medieval pilgrims’ muck could be washed right out the door; they would just toss buckets of water in there. She also said that people still walk out to the cathedral from Paris and that it takes three days. You leave the city [...]

4

A Night Walking with Dinosaurs

Earlier this month, the Barclays Center was filled with children and animatronic dinosaurs. Both of them made a lot of noise. "Walking With Dinosaurs" was an approximately two-hour long show, hosted by a man with an Australian accent in a leather duster who claimed to be a paleontologist. His name was Huxley, and he invited us to join him on a journey through time, "to see how far dusting off a few old bones can take us."

There were no bones, but the kids in the audience didn’t care. "That dinosaur is pretty big," observed the young man next to me. "Are they gonna fight?" he asked his [...]

21

28 Years with Weird Al

My Bubby and Zaydee came to visit from Florida and I couldn’t wait to share my all-time favorite musician with them: Weird Al. I sang every single song from his first two albums. I showed them the video for “Eat It,” which we had taped off of MTV. “Why do his eyes turn yellow at the end of the video?” I asked, having never seen the Michael Jackson video for “Beat It.” They were slightly confused. “Because sometimes people eat bad food and then their livers don’t work and so their eyes turn yellow,” Bubby said. “Don’t you love it?” I asked. I decided she must because she understood things [...]

4

The Book I Didn't Write

I didn’t write the book because the thought of it made me feel vaguely ill at all times. Even when I wasn’t thinking about it directly I was thinking about it. None of the thoughts were good.

I didn’t write the book because it was a book about betrayal that could only be facilitated by my betrayal of other people, many of whom had already been betrayed. This wouldn’t have been a clever metatextual commentary on the nature of betrayal; it would have just been really quite mean of me, and sad.

I didn’t write the book because I thought that in the end it would not [...]