Girl News

Girls and Fucking Up

By Kate Carraway

It’s important to have a sense of your whole self (“whole self” is something I picked up when I started taking people who do yoga seriously about a year ago) when considering failure, to know that failure and fucking up are just the other side of every Sunny Delight of life. We learned that in Star Wars already.

I recommend singing the “at you BAYYYYYbee” part of Girl Nation’s current national anthem if you get bummed out a little bit while we’re doing this.

BREAKFAST

I don’t know about you, but eating a handful of candy for breakfast over and over again and expecting different feelings/results is the definition of something I will probably continue to do. Private to all those girls and gays who histrionically email me that “I think that I could really benefit from you being my mentor” (actual quote; also, a complete and mathematical justification for why people younger than me are worse than me, in that I knew why not to write that email when I was still in days-of-the-week undapants): instead, email me something about how you’d benefit from following me around with a fresh-lemon ice water and good sashimi and enforcing some kind of sleep schedule and also emailing my friends back, really nice emails, not just random splooges devoid of meaning and sentiment; if you did that I’d just hand over my keys and spend every Saturday line-editing your blog, OK?

TAXONOMY

I don’t know if I am or what kind I am, if I’m even a fuck-up at all. Can I be? Is there a continuum? I have never run out of gas or lost my wallet and I over-tip, and for every night I ever spent shivering on the floor of a warehouse I spent another in a curl on a couch watching my mom knit, which is also probably how I got to be a grownie without differentiating from my parents. I would say I’m a successful adult with a gnarly crying habit. Yeah?

THE FEMALE FUCK-UP

The arena of failure is gender neutral—girls do not “rule” and boys do not “suck” and how about we start shaking hands with everyone all the time, like in church or at Brownies, acknowledging that the human experience is one of crucial, defining failures that only incidentally align with gendered expectations—but the pop-culture fuck-up scene is totally male-dominated. Girls are to yearn, to lament, to keen, to want; in songs and movies and everything except TV (TV rules! TV TV TV!), female archetypes that are failures are girls who have had failure done to them, agency-less. This is a bigger, badder thing, about what a woman can be and can’t be (dudes can be everything, mostly, without social consequence), and how the worst thing to be is the kind of fuck-up who exists outside of a nurturing, care-taking, sweetie-pie-mommy-dollface schema; a woman being an active failure just because she sucks or is lazy or stupid or irresponsible or arrogant or has been felled by circumstance doesn’t play the same.

In real life (because fuck movies and also fuck an enormous, enormously boring system that fucks us, boringly), failure and fucking up is supposed to be sexily construed, like, girls who are super-good at everything have to self-deprecate themselves into little crumbly potholes; girls who are not super-good at much at all, or just currently drunk, should be a babe while they fall on the sidewalk or else they’re an embarrassing mess. Live fast, die young, stay pretty, etc. The narratives around this are hysterically Disney-pre-determined, too: Bad girls reforming and going good (because of a boy!) or good girls going bad (because of a boy!) pretend to be interesting girl-stories but are just controlled rebelliousness. The fact that greatness and weakness of course exist in the same girl-person is just missing. And, yes, it is obviously dumb and limiting that a loud, pukey dude will still be considered charismatic and fun while his girl-proxy better have a good band (and even then…) but I’ve definitely had some Camille Paglia-cum-pearl-clutching-sorority house mother shit to say about girls who party too visibly hard. S’gross for everybody, and maybe also has something to do with how much less worldly achievement is expected from girls, so there will be commensurately fewer avenues for fucking-up, for expressions of rebellion and transgression and difference. Actually, forget it; I’m right, but the truth of it is at once exhaustingly urgent and boring.

Anyway, that preamble was intended to lead to here, where my friend Paul is reading A Visit From the Goon Squad right now after I suggested it three times (this is just like when I tell guys who only read Charles “THIS IS SO BORING, JUST SO BORING, SO SO SO BORING, DID YOUR DAD WATCH SPORTS OR SOMETHING?” Bukowski to grow up and try Alice Walker or Harold Brodkey and they eventually do and their penis grows four inches; like, thank me later) and emailed me about how excited he was to “read about female losers for once.” Uuuunngh that book is so good. Uh uh uh uh. Until the end. But, yeah, Goon Squad and Young Adult did a lot recently for high-low representations of really physically attractive female life losers.

LIFE LOSERS

This is a thing that my friends say about guys who are failures but think they are cool. Has a lot to do with employment and maybe also denim choices. My friend Matt does an impression of a guy we know who made fucking up his raison d’etre; he goes “I lost your bed.” HA!

SCHOOL

Haven’t decided yet if failing at school matters or not. My working thesis is that failing/fucking off/dropping out is probably a just-fine thing to do if you are legitimately invested in and trying hard at something else. I guess? 

DON’T TALK TO ME

Probably because we are all pretty insecure and selfish, and as pathetic about being those things as a lil’ caterpillar with a cold, there’s a common tendency to read other people’s smaller, daily failures as somehow different than our own. This seems to mean that when confronted with someone else’s moments of dumbtardation we (the royal we, the majestic plural!) act like it’s all-new, like, “What’s THIS jabroni up to?” or throw judgey shade at our friends, just because somebody said or did something stupid. What you really should be doing is going “FACE!” and silly-walking away, or getting all up close and yelling the best “Don’t Talk To Me” lyrics at them (which are “Cha cha cha cha cha cha cha chatter chatter chatter!” “Yak yak yak yak yak yak yak yak yak yak yak yak!”) but then hugging them close. It’s important to practice EXTREME REALNESS with your friends but also to love them the most. Extreme Realness is also why not addressing your own failure and fuck-ups is about the corniest way to be. Hey, remember “Way to be!” Ha.

“RUINING”

Since I am presently homeless after a long vacay, and hanging out with my parents while I choose between near-identical apartment options, all of which I hate (when it comes down to it, I don’t want to live anywhere), my fun-life exists in discrete pockets and always on Friday or Saturday nights, which is when my friends with jobs who live in my hometown are at their beautiful houses which they renovated and bedazzled to their own specifications. THEY HAVE DOGS!? Anyway, I went to a party last week and was so excited to not be talking about John Kenneth Galbraith or what tea is the best tea for like three hours that I sat way up straight in my lawn chair, and drank my little grapefruit Perrier (The Official Drink of Girl News) and ate my little slice of that Momofuku crack pie (definitely The Official Pie of Girl News) and talked about this S&M thing called “ruined orgasm,” which is when a dude’s jizz, and jizz-moment, is stopped—trapped!—on it’s way out by someone plugging the hole. Mean! I don’t care about any sex act that takes a lot of like planning and thinking, like, you may as well do those scrunchie blow-jobs, but I liked that it’s just called “ruined” orgasm, the practitioner a “ruiner,” the theme “ruining.” Purposeful failure in contexts that were previously about quality and objective success (ruined orgasm : sex :: punk : the music industry, once), done just for fun, totally makes up for commercials.

Girls

The show is predicated on the idea that Hannah Horvath is a fuck-up and finding her way by being a fuck-up. OMG did you see last week? The fight she had with Marnie on Sunday was perfect because she was inside her own wrongness, she was a hymn of wrongness, and it was (even before the season finale! Yes guy!) both the zenith and nadir of the hard-loser ethos being sold as twentysomething normalcy, which it is. 

ADDICTION

Actual addiction is outside of our scope—I won’t bow to the pressure of the internet to diminish a vicious disease into a one-inch cube that fits neatly in my internet blog post, you know? But mini-addictions like Twitter and Sephora and grapefruit Perrier (The Official Drink of Girl News) become allowable, winky outlets/stand-ins for an expanding universe of things to do that would feel good but be technical girl-failures (imagine saying what you mean, ever? Can you imagine it?).

RECKONING

You can’t fuck-up and fuck-up and fuck-up and fuck-up eternally; at some point, there will be a reckoning. (I just had/am having mine; it’s been almost a year; it’s better, now, but I look forward to finally crawling away from the collective wreckage of a decade of my own fuck-ups and celebrating, in a while, by jumping off a sailboat in Italy into azure water and exhaling at the surface. I’ve planned it: Italy, sailboat, azure water.)

RIHANNA

Related: Rihanna might be my iTunes’ favorite singer of songs but it’s not like she doesn’t fuck-up. Essuse moi, have you heard “Do Ya Thing”? Of course you haven’t, it’s all clicka-clicka-clicka to “We Found Love.” Clicka clicka clicka! Look, I just did it. Now I am listening and looking at a chipmunk outside the window; he likes it.

PS, Girl News girls don’t need no “YOLO.” “#inahopelessplace” is much more for those of us who read L’Étranger, thaaaaaaanks.

IT’S EASY

All I really need to avoid my own repeated, smaller failures is probably a watch, and a sensible haircut, and a little TV-dinner-table for my laptop, and peace, and to not have been the very-youngest to the point where my life is a long highway of trying to make other people feel good, entertained, cared for instead of just asking for the unending attention that I actually need. AAAAAH THAT FEELS GOOD TO SAY, LIKE WHEN YOU SUCK A MINI-EGG UNTIL IT’S ALMOST SOFT AND THEN BITE DOWN LIKE A SAVAGE.

IT’S FUN

The best argument for failure being something that is omnipresent, not your fault, and to be acknowledged in the style of Extreme Realness is all of your tattoos, your dead-leaf hairstyle, and the insane bullshit you’re going to name your kids. (I’m from Canada but won’t die without a son named Texas.)

WUTHERING HEIGHTS

The best kind of failure is, of course, productive, discursive but going somewhere, and usually around romance. Every love story is mostly about failure, first; Susan Sontag calls being in love “a pathological variant of loving” and wrote, aphoristically of course, “A disease of love, a fever (therefore exalting)” in one of the collections of her journals. (Miss you, SS.) Failure as decadence, as an anticipated and wanted element of a cool, fun experience—love, sex, work, pals, doing anything—is a Sunny Delight in itself.

Previously - Girls and Boredom

@KateCarraway

 

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