What you want is, like, fun and newness and gorgeous chaos and clothes and long, thin, girl-faced boys and promises that your life is going to work itself out (ha, ha), and maybe also the new iPhone 5, like what could it beeeeee!? And will the battery last longer? And will it get more intuitive about contacts, and more efficient with taps and strokes? Eeeeee!!
What you need is going to be something quite different.
A BEST FRIEND
It probably won’t last forever—everyone I’ve ever been friend-married to I’ve friend-divorced—but at any given moment you need to have a go-to, a best, an “other.” This isn’t true in a squees-and-giggles sense of girl-harmony or whatever, it’s true in a psychological and practical sense of everything being too totally impossible on its own and needing someone’s face in your head when something terrible is happening.
Every time I hear some girl being like “Call me back; this is expensive” or “I can’t talk right now, I’m roaming” I get really upset and my foot kicks out like when you’re half-asleep and dreaming. The wireless plan you choose and pay for should fit your lifestyle; your lifestyle shouldn’t fit your wireless plan. Call your provider and tell them you want a deep, deep discount on their unlimited package because you know they’re corrupt and you’re ready to bounce for the fly-by-night “Jazzy Phonez” operation, or whatever it’s called in your town, and oh yeah also you have a telecommunications blog. They’ll give it to you. This is true, but this is also a parable about other things, do you understand me?
Could we please roll back on the obsessy, Liberace-style excess (once I stayed in a chalet on the same street in Big Bear as Liberace’s cabin, and HIS CHIMNEY IS SHAPED LIKE A COCK, FOR REAL), and untended desire and greed of grown-up rich people, most of whom work in fashion? It used to be that, like, legit movie stars went out of their way to titter about express-ordered endangered bone chalices from a village in Ethiopia that were studded with Cambodian rubies in Paris; now it’s everybody. If you know any actual adults, Rachel Zoe or Daphne Guinness (who I dig, for sure, but did you see the New Yorker profile on her? JAHMAZING!) or anyone on The Selby seems faintly ridiculous, with their fucking multitude of stuff and their backstories of influence. (“Oh, this is a booook from when I was a chiiiild and the color of this tree inspired me to wear these Balenciagas today.”) Even Perry Farrell just hangs out with his wife and kids now. Oh, right: what I mean to say is the evocative romance of art and of items and of wanting and shopping, of building a fleeting piece of identity around those things, is for girls.
SOME NICE, SOFT THING
Just one great, cozy-coz blanket on your bed or something. You need some nice, soft, cozy, warm, clean, new thing to touch and feel. This is getting into the advanced levels of Girl News but textures and positive synesthesia has as much to do with being happy as, like, your job or whatever.
Sometimes I wrap my face in my hair just to feel how soft it is (that’s probably gross, though).
Boring/true: if you don’t have a family doctor for regular check-ups, you need one. Nine times out of ten, based on an informal poll of myself, the first visit to a new doctor will begin with an introductory sob, and then ten minutes of apologies. But seriously, it’s important.
Once, when I thought I was dying, this (brand-new and unfortunately Barbie-esque) doctor asked me if I was stressed about anything. Watching her watch me, all horrified-frozen-doctor-smile, actually made me laugh and stop.
A MOM OR A DAD
If you’re super-super-super lucky, you get two, and maybe also a nice family that you count on and trust. That’s the holy grail of life, right there, not Gossip Girl hair. Otherwise, you’re lucky if you have one really good one, and considering the ubiquity of Bad Dads and emotionally incontinent moms, even that seems kind of tricky. I mean, nobody’s parents owe them anything after the age of 18 (which is how my friend Caroline growed me up in two seconds when I was crying at work about a fight with my dad), but having one, just one, good and reliable parent is probably still a “need,” anyway.
It won’t screw you up so much if you’re prepared. Figure out when you’re going to be hurricaned by feelings and blood and set up a little station with M&Ms and a hot-water bottle and the Evil Deads and those cozy blankets we talked about before. You know how sometimes a hangover is kind of nice? It can be like that. “Nobody talk to meeeee!” is my favorite.
TO COOL THE FUCK OUT ABOUT OTHER GIRLS
A thing I wrote for VICE about why girls hate each other (they do!) has turned into the thing I get the second-most emails about (the first-most was a story about how everyone in the 20s hates themselves. Hole-in-one, right?). Half of them are like “Yeah, right? Girls are whores.” NO, FUCK! Fuck you guys.
Also, I got a job offer this week from a not-really-but-definitely porno publication that was like—wait, I’ll copy-paste it for you—“Maybe I'll send you some photos and have you write snarky things about the girls in them,” for what would be cross-country-plane-ticket money. As if! As if.
You need to cool out about other girls. There will always be someone hotter and less hot and smarter and less smart and cooler and less cool and more or less of whatever gauge you’re using on a particular day. It doesn’t matter. Stop it. Talking about how it exists is good, I think, but that doesn’t mean it’s like just fine to be a dick about it and forgive yourself immediately because it’s what we “do.”
I see this thing a lot that I think of as a “cuntbrag,” also known as the “I’m not like other girls,” which is where you position yourself as better than them based on some perceived female fault of theirs—dramatic, stupid, a whore—while you’re trying to impress a guy, or maybe another girl. I do this sometimes, without knowing. It’s pretty bad news.
DOWNLOADS OF “METROPOLITAN,” “BARCELONA,” AND “LAST DAYS OF DISCO”
Just, do it.
Mine, when I’m alone in the winter, is milk punch (milk/bourbon/sugar/spice). When I’m out, it’s vodka soda with lemon, because that’s basically the same as going to a spin class. When I’m on vacation it’s champagne, in a mimosa, then a French 75, then just straight into my mouth from the bottle all “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH.” I think what I like best about champagne is the perfect, dense weight of the bottle in your hand. Looks good, non?
Mine are “Please Mr. Postman,” “Bottled Violence,” and, more recently, “Nasty” by Nas. (Nasty Nas!) This is what you play when you’re walking somewhere you don’t want to go, which for me is basically everywhere.
Like, a body you really use beyond dressing it up and having sex. Because of titty-shapes and socialization, it can be (fuck, is) trickier for girls to want to skateboard and surf and hop a fence. Fine. But, you need to do these things, like being barefoot for whole days, and eating strangeness in strange places, and dancing weird and sitting on the terrifying grassy median on the highway and eating a snack, because your body is the pot of gold in the arms race with the patriarchy (WOW!) and not being poisoned by socialized, culturized ideas of what to do with it is important. Even if you didn’t grow up with lady-tyranny and don’t know what I’m talking about (I could make my mom cry with elbows on the table, or knee-high boots), just, think about how you use your body and how a guy uses his body. Maybe just put on a thin white t-shirt and jeans and walk down the street eating a burger and you’ll be like “Oh!”
Have some money, because not having money is putting yourself in a position where you’re not in charge of yourself and your movements and your choices. In some banality-of-evil ways, it’s kind of the only real power you can have.
This is remedial stuff, but you definitely need, NEED, to read every individual panel of Love and Rockets (oh Maggie! oh Hopey!), and also Phoebe Gloeckner’s The Diary of a Teenage Girl (quasi-incest!) just to, like, pass the exams on the girl-canon. (You already know about Ghost World and Scott Pilgrim and so on.) I’m sure there is cool manga and superhero stuff for girls but the drawing style makes my eyes bleed.
A SELF-DIRECTED IDENTITY
So, the best compliment I ever got was from my friend who told our other friend that “Kate lives in all worlds.” I think she said that because I went to punk shows and was veeeeeeery serious about my various Chanel cosmetics. I took it to mean, and really thought, for years and years, that my collision of influences and background and interests created a kind of tyrannical high-low, a two-part identity that was fun, and weird, but had to be adhered to at all times in this strict “Kathryn” vs. “Kate” binary. (My parents call me Kathryn.) It’s a fallacy, though, to assume that wild divergences in a person don’t just make up one singular thing that is scary and confident and nice and awful and funny and dumb and everything all at once. So, you don’t “need” this insofar that you already have it; you need to know that living in all worlds, whatever the worlds, is totally aces.
A FEMINIST BOYFRIEND
I’ve run the stats on this one (I just saw Moneyball; really into stats), and done the tests, and there’s just no way around it. It doesn’t matter if your dude knows the word, or says it, or calls himself one; it does matter that he thinks a girl is equal to a boy, which, sneak-attack, is entirely and only what feminism is. Fuck whoever you want; love someone who actually likes you.
Previously - Girls and Girl Stuff
Follow Kate on Twitter @KateCarraway