Girls and Staying In
Here is what awaits you out in the world: the stands-too-close monsters behind you in line who cough into your hair and talk with that accent that sedative-overusers have. Other people’s projects of art and commerce, which can be a drag when you realize you’ve oriented your go-out life to other people’s efforts to be cool, rich, relevant. Near-daily disappointments by existing and potential friends and lovers (did you know that “lover” as a thing to say is happening? Let’s try it!). Small, watery drinks and some asshole’s version of an appealing crab-plus-avocado-plus-prickly-greens thing to eat for dinner. Plus weather, parking, spending money, constant and pulsing possibilities of embarrassing yourself. Look, this isn’t grand scheme important stuff, just a few convenient Friday night excuses.
Here is what awaits you at your house: soft jammies, music you like, everything you already paid for, a hermetically-sealed experience of self-hood and pleaz and being disgusting in whatever unrestrained way you want.
There is a light-filled, healthy region in-between social atrophy and the New York Dolls, and it is staying home sometimes. Let’s say, like those hair colorists who charge “$175-500” (??? just fucking tell me how much it costs), one to three times a week.
Please do this on a Saturday night. You know why, yes?
One of the feminist academic Tumblr girls I follow is, I think, going through a bad breakup, because all of her posts are about radical vulnerability. Which is really about a put-upon woman’s relationship to the putting-upon world around her, but which I in my endless narcissism apply to how I like to stay home and lay on the floor and think about myself when everyone else is at a bar or making out or whatever. To me, “radical vulnerability” is the position of re-upping your own engagement, and re-allowing things, most especially your gnarliest emotions and dramatic failure and other people, to affect you. Which, after the extended/defensive/abrasive cuntathon of my 20s, really is a process. Do you like how I write in an annoying way when I get to talking about this stuff? Comma comma comma comma. Maybe all those words are part of the protective armor that radical vulnerability seeks to disavow. OOPS!
Related: Pretty sure my overall project as a writer/human/girl is to convince other people that caring what other people think of you, especially of your social choices, is an infection. Staying in is not only radically vulnerable (or, should be: if you’re not sweating staying in to watch TV then you are definitely staying in to watch TV too much, and also, are your friends boring? Consider this) but also socially threatening. There will, inevitably, be conflicts with your friends about your intentions, because they’ll read your at-home-ness as rejection and try and make you feel bad about it. But, whatever. “To be unoffendable is, like, an incredible position of power,” is something that Simon Doonan, who is the rare mainstream fashion person who isn’t a brittle shell of human value, said in an interview with Rich Juzwiak for The Daily. I’m leaving in the verbatim “like” on purpose. Also: “I was gay when it was illegal to be gay. I got my green card when they didn’t give green cards to gay people… Now is a good time to say fuck it, I don’t care what the people think.” Always, Simon Doonan.
Related II: Staying in offers a contrast. When you might otherwise be outside getting away from yourself, you’re inside experiencing the fluids around your eyeballs (are eyeballs meat?) gently lapping like the Atlantic at nighttime. What, you don’t want to experience everything available to you, even when that experience is sitting in an unused corner of your kitchen to see how it looks from there? What’s the matter with you?
Related III: Pretending I’m A Normal is actually my favorite pastime, if a pastime is something that you are anxious to do often and for fun, and something you can almost see, as though it’s on a phantom train track running right alongside your real life. You should have heard me on the phone when my doctor called during a recent four-girl Diet Coke party and I hopped up so fast and talked so much like a Barbie that my skirt turned inside out.
The most important thing to remember when you stay in instead of going out to have fun is your attitude. Think about your night as though it’s a Narnia-type mystery-adventure that you’re participating in, because passivity is never really on, even when you are home alone dripping melted ice cream in patterns on the counter. What I mean to say is, don’t watch internet TV in bed until you have created an adequate bed-fort/nest, because otherwise you’ll end up with your face supported by your hands and that will hurt your bones. This is how I know I’m doing something wrong, is when my face-bones hurt.
Cook some stuff and do some beauty things like nails or face masks or get drunk or stoned or read or watch movies. Or don’t. I don’t care at all. None of that is the point.
Something I’m never going to understand AND DON’T WANT TO UNDERSTAND is people who can’t be alone. Makes a case for birth order as the most determining quality of life, more than class and more than where you grew up, right? Those of us who spent many hours by ourselves as kids will just not get this thing of, like, “Come over, I’m lonely.” Staying in is about being by yourself, obviously. A reprieve from your boyfriend/girlfriend/friends/fam is and should be considered a tremendous luxury for you and them. If you have a cat that you talk to you’re not even alone, anyway.
Is cleaning radically vulnerable? I don’t know, but cleaning the shit out of the bathroom for an hour is definitely the most satisfied I’m going to be all week, owing to the contained space and new-world products. Try that Pink Grapefruit business that Method makes, you’ll be skittering around in your socks wondering what else needs a good scrub.
As per our consideration of staying in as a private adventure and not a compromise or giving up, you’ll want to be careful about the ways in which you jerk off. Lesbian Bed Death applies to your relationship to yourself, you know! Staying in on a weekend night is prime time for exploratory masturbation with brand-new varieties of porn. If you can, get a little high, put on Warpaint or something, and trance yourself into liking new and different sex stuff than you did the day before. This is its own kind of success, and, yes, radically vulnerable.
Tom Wolfe’s tenets of New Journalism includes “status life,” which is “the entire pattern of behavior and possessions through which people express their position in the world, or what they think it is, or what they hope it to be,” which I can think/say/write verbatim after teaching an infinity number of Creative Journalism classes (the only other thing I can do that for is one Philip Larkin poem and the word “antidisestablishmentarianism,” which every annoying piece-of-turd kid is going to have down). If you are like me and are over-attuned to the meaning of things, then you’ll be relieved to know that staying in is totally exempt from status life and its cultural superstructure, which is “status culture.” This is because everyone’s primo stay-at-home clothes have nothing to do with their other stuff and all its signs and symbols. My favorite jammies are a pair of waffle long-underwear I got at a discount store called Giant Tiger that only exists in the worst Canadian towns and cities, and a top that my brother used to ski in. See? It’s like in high school when clothes were essentially communal and I want to cry just thinking about how much I want that back, and not just when I am shuffling between bed and the bathtub.
Don’t say you’re “hermitting” or “being a hermit.” Are you trying to never get laid?
Cable television is a disease. I have it now, and that means I also have the TV listings in my bookmarks and that’s a problem. TV is for the one-hour toast-inhaling impasse you have in-between working and going out, or hangovers/the flu. That’s IT! TV is so good now but it’s never stopped being the fucking worst.
Nesting is a supremely minivan-ish term for setting up your house before your baby comes, but in fact it’s a nice way to think about making your apartment a comfy-cozy You-village, even if your apartment is a sad, lonesome place. All you need is one little area dedicated to the nest. Blankets and pillows are crucial but also maybe some candles and fairy lights, and maybe some lovely picture books, and how about just take that old t-shirt and slip it over your pillow, and maybe a bowl of mini-marshmallows would be a fun thing?
Previously - Girls and the Future
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