Leaving aside everything to do with the specifics of Kim Kardashian, The Kardashians, the game, etc, there’s a thing that woman was doing that I have seen happen over and over again and I’ve never known quite what to call it. It’s when there’s a received idea about someone or something, usually a woman or a woman-specific cultural phenomenon, and that received idea is so pervasive and somehow so convincing that most people adopt it as their own opinion without ever stopping to examine either the idea or the person or phenomenon for themselves. In this case the received idea is something along the lines of “The success of Kim and the Kardashians is representative of something very bad and I am against it.”
Conveniently, holding this kind of opinion doesn’t conflict with being interested in the woman/phenomenon in question and in consuming media related to her, or even created by her. (“Ugh, it was so horrible. I watched every episode/read the whole thing in a day.”)
Whenever a lot of people think a woman is disgusting or shameful and for some reason feel incentivized to espouse that opinion loudly, something interesting is going on. What I realized in the elevator is that I’m on the side of every girl who people jump to conclusions about. I always want to know more about what’s going on with that girl, because the elevator people are boring and wrong. And really, they are missing out on a lot of fun stuff.
The other day, I was sitting at a table in a place of business and I had a notebook open in front of me. In the notebook, I was making a list of Men I Don’t Hate. It’s actually a pretty long list; that was the point in my making it. Sometimes you just have to remind yourself. Anyway, as I was sitting there, a man I don’t know walked into the room and began talking to me. This is a practice I have always done my best to discourage, but he seemed nice enough and he was blocking the door so I did not employ my usual response to Men I Don’t Know Talking to Me, which is to run away.
The man asked what I did for a living. I told the man I was a writer. The man asked what I wrote. I told the man my YA novel was getting published in the United States in January, and that I had recently finished the sequel. The man told me his friend writes books for kids and publishes them himself. “Have you ever looked into that?” the man asked me. I told him I had not, but that I knew of people who had had great success in that arena. “He says it’s hard,” the man told me, “to get people to actually read it.” I commiserated. “He says the only way to have success writing is to write for a big website,” the man added. I felt like this was not accurate but just sort of nodded, because, like, I don’t know your friend’s life. It was only with the man’s next sentences—“You should probably look into that. You should find a website you want to write for and see if you can write for them”—that I began to understand that he was trying to give me advice in how to succeed in a field I had already established I am doing reasonably well in, despite the fact that this man’s only connection to the world of writing and publishing was his friend, whom he had already established to be doing not-so-well.
He really thought he was just being nice, though, and I think at heart he probably is, so I tried to be nice, too. In a light, friendly, we’re-just-two-buds-with-equally-valuable-insight-into-the-world-of-books sort of tone, I explained that I am really lucky in that my books are being published by a company with a marketing team who would help me to get them read. Not that writing for a website wouldn’t help, too! I didn’t say, “I am in a better position than your friend and already more successful than him by many standards,” but I cheerfully implied it. That’s when the man started to explain that kids don’t read books anymore. Only iPads. “It’s too bad,” the man said, shaking his head, “but that’s how it is.” I kind of started to explain that, from what I’ve seen, kids are actually reading a lot of books—including the ones I’ve written!—but the man had started a diatribe about iPads and attention span and other stuff, and I didn’t want to interrupt.
This is going to seem like a joke, but it’s true: as the man was talking, another man walked into the room. He poured himself a drink and then looked at me, looked down at the notebook in front of me, and said, “Is that your diary?!” in the snidest tone imaginable. He started snickering, took a couple steps to the door, turned around and looked at me, snickering, waiting for me to start snickering too? I don’t know. I was giving him the same look you would give a puddle of vomit on the street you almost accidentally stepped in. The two men started chatting together, then, and I took the opportunity to run from the room, vowing never to return to it.
A day or two ago, I was walking to a coffee shop, planning out a scene in the book I’m writing now, and apropos of nothing, I remembered something a professor in college once told me. He said: “Katie, don’t become one of those angry women writers.” He gave me a lot of good advice, too, but as far as that one went, MISSION UNACCOMPLISHED.
MISSION UNACCOMPLISHED. <3
"I’ve never had clouds in my coffee because I don’t drink coffee. I prefer thai iced tea—the way the black tea turns light orange in color when mixed with that sweetened condensed milk makes me feel like that ever-beating balled-up fist of an organ in my chest is a playground in the wintertime, and my best friend’s unborn children are swinging across red monkey bars…"
Photo: Mike Monaghan
She croons with her soprano timbre “I didn’t know, it would come to this, but that’s what happens when you’re on your own. And you’re alright, letting nice things go-oh-oh.”
A voice behind her interrupts, “Lizzy, no one is going to buy that crap. Look at the Kill Kill sales. One hundred and seventy two people bought the EP. You can’t release a record like this.”
Lizzy replies with a throaty mumble, “Just listen to a little more. It’s fresh. I just wrote it last night, let me sing the rest of the lyrics.”
The producer sighs and she returns to her guitar, gently plucking the five chords she learned at Fordham.