There is a kind of individualism so stark that it seems to dovetail with an existentialist creed: Manhattan is right at that crossroads. You are pure potential in Manhattan, limitless, you are making yourself every day. When I am in England each summer, it’s the opposite: all I see are the limits of my life. The brain that puts a hairbrush in the fridge, the leg that radiates pain from the hip to the toe, the lovely children who eat all my time, the books unread and unwritten.
And casting a shadow over it all is what Philip Larkin called “extinction’s alp,” no longer a stable peak in a distance, finally becoming rising ground. In England even at the actual beach I cannot find my beach. I look out at the freezing 40-degree water, at the families squeezed into ill-fitting wetsuits, huddled behind windbreakers, approaching a day at the beach with the kind of stoicism once conjured for things like the Battle of Britain, and all I can think is what funny, limited creatures we are, subject to every wind and wave, building castles in the sand that will only be knocked down by the generation coming up beneath us.
When I land at JFK, everything changes. For the first few days it is a shock: I have to get used to old New York ladies beside themselves with fury that I have stopped their smooth elevator journey and got in with some children. I have to remember not to pause while walking in the street—or during any fluid-moving city interaction—unless I want to utterly exasperate the person behind me. Each man and woman in this town is in pursuit of his or her beach and God help you if you get in their way. I suppose it should follow that I am happier in pragmatic England than idealist Manhattan, but I can’t honestly say that this is so. You don’t come to live here unless the delusion of a reality shaped around your own desires isn’t a strong aspect of your personality. “A reality shaped around your own desires”—there is something sociopathic in that ambition.
"Hate is a strong word," they say.
And they don’t want us to have access to strong words. They want us to use weak words. They want us to say “I’m not comfortable with this”. Then they say “It’s important that you expand your comfort zone”.
There are days when I can hardly make it out of bed. I find it an effort to speak. I feel I am without worth, that nothing I can do is of any value, least of all to myself.
I would much rather be the ‘obnoxious feminist girl’ than be complicit in my own dehumanization.
Only the French would have such a way to describe beauty. A wonderful slang expression, it literally means “pretty and ugly” but describes the type of feminine beauty that is human, and not manufactured by plastic surgeons. It’s a kind of fascinating quirkiness implying charisma, a face you want to keep looking at, even if you can’t decide whether it is beautiful or not. (via lostwithmargaret