Claire Lobenfeld is a music and culture critic in New York.
6:44 AM, couch
Your couch is a terrible place to wake up. I planted myself here last night during a very difficult conversation with my ex W. and never left. We do a radio show together on Fridays and our current relationship is pretty fantastic, but next week it’ll be a year that we’ve been broken up. Sometimes you just gotta purge, even if it makes scrambled eggs of your heart. This morning, I feel more at peace with it than ever before. I’m not unsettled. I don’t want to listen to Big Sean’s “I Don’t Fuck With You” a million times. It’s the quiet, aware kind of peace when you know you’ve gotten past something that once seemed impossible. The hurt is really far away.
I put on whatever episode of Friends is up next on Netflix. It’s the one where Monica buys her wedding dress. They go to a place called Kleinman’s, which is a riff on famed New York dress shop Kleinfeld. You know, the place on Say Yes to the Dress. It’s also where my mom bought hers. I scroll through my Instagram to find a #tbt of my parents on their wedding day. My mom looks so beautiful and she and my pop look so happy. It makes me feel really nice.
I chug a bunch of water and slip back into sleep.
Wake up after having a dream about hanging out with D’Angelo and Patrick Ewing in a swimming pool. Yeah, I don’t know, either.
Nose around my phone and start reading an article from the Wall Street Journal that my dad sent me about MoMA’s response to the criticism of the Björk exhibition. (I liked it, but I took it in as a music critic and a patient person.) It reminds me, though, that I have to see Lost River this weekend, probably today. It’s Ryan Gosling’s directorial debut and it is supposed to be awful. I’m not looking forward to it.
Breakfast is coffee and chocolate-covered pretzels because my period super sucks this month. I play the Major Lazer-Ariana Grande song from the last Hunger Games soundtrack and the Chris Brown-Trey Songz collab based on R. Kelly song titles. I am no longer mad at myself for liking it because, despite all its problematic trappings, it appeals to a lot of my sensibilities. It’s a The-Dream song without the daring melodic shifts and has some screwed bridge that I love. I’ve been listening to the Ari track, called “All My Love,” obsessively since Maud and I saw her a month ago. A week into binge-listening, I realized it is basically “Lollipop” by Aqua given a subtle-moombahton treatment, the only real evidence of the original exists when Grande sings, “Up on the mountain top” at the end of the hook. Sometimes I try to mix the two tracks on a DJ app on my phone when I’m bored but I haven’t quite nailed it yet.
The chocolate-covered pretzels are cheapies I grabbed from the bodega on my way home last night. They are called “choczels” and are made by a brand called, I shit you not, Toad-ally Snax. There’s no way they are actually made with any real chocolate. I feel gross.
My skincare routine for the past month and half has been vaguely psychotic and is 7+ steps. I dapped myself for sticking to it last night after crying for two hours and not sleeping with crusty mascara trails streamed down my stupid face. I put on a blueberry sheet mask for 20 minutes. It makes me look like a cross between Christiane from Les yeux sans visage and a child who made her own very shitty luchadore mask.
Ernest texts me about Baby Timberbiel and I tell him that somewhere 22-year-old me is crying. “That’s real,” he says.
Julianne and I text about ~the latest~. She is the best at using real life examples to center any situation and I’m going to cry every time I see her in the next six weeks before I move to Chicago.
I try to sort out how to actually make today work. Text Maud to see if she’s going to Videology tonight, which I want to do even though it is probably impossible because I’m also seeing The Soft Moon. I want to support Eric, who is running the event at Videology, but I am more excited that my friend Carl and his wife Paula, who I still haven’t met, will be there at the show. Carl and I bonded when we both worked at different sites for the same media company. We drove from L.A. to Palm Springs together for to cover Coachella two years ago, pretty much to the day. Our soundtrack was my Best of 2012 playlist that we, somehow, had almost identical opinions on. On our ride, I talked to him about my budding relationship with W. and how smitten I was. He told me he wasn’t that interested in dating, but he had met someone the weekend before that seemed cool. Six months later, they got engaged.
I get up the courage to listen to myself on this Pretty Little Liars podcast I was on a couple of days ago. Every time I paused speaking during recording, I felt nervous about how stupid I was probably going to sound just saying nothing. And then I paused longer. I pray for editing.
Before I can even load the thing on my slow ass computer, I read an email from Meredith. She is married to Nate, my college boyfriend who I am still very close with, and they have a super awesome, hilarious and whip smart toddler named Sisi. I spent a really nice week with them at their home in Oakland last month and Meredith and I have been emailing a lot since. She watches Pretty Little Liars when she runs on the treadmill and she’s emailing because she listened to the podcast. She has really nice things to say about it, so I feel better. Her continued presence since my trip has been crucial—an extra, peripheral support system for our respective writing projects. I’m really glad she and Nate found each other.
I remember I haven’t watched the season premiere of Louie and now my day is completely wrecked. 5 PM screening of Lost River, it is. I have never avoided Ryan Gosling so much in my entire life.
From Meredith, in response to “ew ‘make love’”: “One only makes love to a ghost, Claire. It has to be emotional.” Keeping up with your correspondence is really important.
Ciara, my cat, has been avoiding me all day so far, but has finally emerged from under my bed. She is usually super rambunctious and affectionate. Earlier this year, she had an aloof stretch and it turned out it was because she had a cyst in her belly. Fortunately, it was benign, but I was a wreck about it for awhile. I get nervous whenever she hides and I am particularly sensitive these days. About a week and a half ago, my grandfather got bold and decided to do clean his gutters… by going on the roof. And he fell off. He broke his pelvis and, with his dementia, is not doing so well. When he was in the hospital, he was confused about why he was there, most of the time convinced he was there to do a plumbing job. This comforted me in a really, well, uncomfortable way: At least he still remembers he once was a plumber. My mom updates us regularly but, now that he’s in a rehab facility, she is not doing so hot, emotionally.
I put on Billy Bragg and start to make moves to actually see this movie. “Levi Stubbs’ Tears” is one of the most perfect songs ever made and if I listen to it once, I play it at least three more times.
“Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong / Are here to make right everything’s that’s wrong / Holland and Holland and Lamont Dozier, too / Are here to make it all okay with you.”
That bridge always kicks me in the gut, which is probably why I have to spin it back a couple times.
Right now, I hate every article of clothing I own that isn’t a basketball jersey, so I just aim for comfort—black leggings, chambray button-up—because I know I’m going to hate this movie. My outfit must be primed for major seat-slinkage.
I decide to just let my Spotify starred playlist do its thing: Jay Z’s “Coming of Age,” which makes me want to badger Justin about our own podcast as I rap along to every word of Memphis Bleek’s verse. I decide to leave him alone. Then Majical Cloudz’s “Childhood’s End” (oof) and some Timberlake (full circle) play.
I change the button-up to a huge black turtleneck sweater and, subsequently, ruin the greatest ponytail I’ve ever had. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The only thing I have to take notes in is a Hey Girl diary my sister gave me as a joke gift for Christmas. Beautiful.
4:22PM, Tony’s Pizza on Graham Avenue
As soon as I place my pizza order, my sister texts me. I need to shovel the slice and head into Manhattan for the movie, but I don’t want this conversation with her to be cut short. We chat about feelings bullshit and I decide I’ll catch yet another later screening so I can talk to her more.
I take the long way home because it’s better for puppy-watching. Someone is walking a shiba inu down Orient Avenue, so it’s totally worth it.
Margot: I truly believe that when it’s right when you’re there, then it’s right.
Me: Yeah, true. But you know I love rules.
Margot: Yeah, but
Me: I KNOWWWWWWWWW
Ernest tells me I take on other people’s burdens when I don’t need to. I get super existential with him adulthood while My Life Directed By Nicolas Winding Refn, a documentary made by Refn’s wife Liv Corfixen about the making of Only God Forgives, plays in the background. I only look up when they’re speaking in Danish or Gosling (research!) is on the screen.
I make more coffee.
Me: I dunnooooooooo [how the future works]
Ernest: You don’t have toooooooo
Gosling’s Only God Forgives body is more of a coveted item for me from a fitness perspective than a sex perspective and I wonder when I stopped having celebrity fantasies. I start researching gyms in Chicago—ones with lap pools and inexpensive trainers. I settle on renting Lost River on iTunes.
Today’s update about my grandfather is positive. Mom says he’s less anxious about going home and “had no problem going to the common area and sitting in with the ‘old’ people when [she and my grandmother] left” for the day. I want to try and go up to Rochester next week to be with them. I’m tough when it comes to this kind of stuff, but I’m not totally sure if I can handle seeing him in a wheelchair.
Finished Lost River and frantically text Brandon because I need him to watch it as soon as fucking possible. I totally enjoyed it and, even if Brandon hates it, he is pretty much the only person I want to talk to about it. I feel full of ammunition for my piece, the kind of feeling that comes when you just know that you are the person who can nail the assignment, when it’s yours to write.
10:03 PM, Oasis
I kinda remember paying $3.50 for a falafel here in high school, when the Bedford L area was barren and not full of Murray Hill-abandoning frat-adjacent investment bros drunk everywhere. Still, I don’t think I’ve paid more than four bucks here in over a decade and, for that, I am grateful. I always get a seltzer because, aside from being my primary beverage, it was part of Parker Posey’s falafel cart order in Party Girl. I don’t know any other way.
10:37 PM, Music Hall of Williamsburg
I meet Carl and Paula in the basement ba. She is awesome. We talk about records Carl and I have reviewed recently before trying to stake out a spot to watch the show. Carl asks, “What if no song on the Kanye album is better than ‘I Don’t Fuck With You’?” I don’t know if dots connect this way all the time or if I am just noticing because I’m cataloguing the day.
We move on to talking about Kanye’s relationship with Kim. Carl is a Kanye stan and has come around to Kim, but Paula isn’t buying it. I tell them I my feelings about the Kardashians waffle often. My sister and I got really into Keeping Up when she still lived in New York because they are very into being sisters and so are we. I respect that Kim built an empire off of a shitty betrayal, but Kris Jenner kinda gives me hives. Before it gets too deep, the lights go out.
The strobe light situation during The Soft Moon’s set is so serious.
There is a super thrashy dude a few people in front of me who is feeling it so hard. Some of the people in between us are mocking him, but he’s probably having more fun than anyone else in the whole place. Respect.
The encore ends with Dee Dee Penny from Dum Dum Girls, Crocodiles’ Brandon Welchez and Michael Stasiak of EZTV coming out to do trash can percussion and it is fucking awesome.
12:28 AM, Crif Dog
The three of us go for post-show snacks, but I just have a Dr. Pepper. I never drink soda. I will fill myself full of garbage, even if my nutritionist friend Carolyn is my weird health Jiminy Cricket, constantly whisper in my ear all the time, but soda always feels transgressive. Let’s be real, tho: Dr. Pepper is amazing.
12:51 AM, N. 10th Street
I text with Ernest and Julianne, respectively, while I’m walking home. She is at a party where people are being dicks; he asks me if I can dance. I tell him, “Depends” mostly because I spent a lot of the show thinking about how no one there needed their movement to be coordinated.
1:42 AM, home
Ernest: You’re gonna be a very inadvertent Chicagoan and it’s gonna be funny.
3:11 AM, bed
Finally settle in after watching the last couple of episodes of Silicon Valley season one. My cat nuzzles in on my stomach, a little bit more excited to be around me. I go to sleep with my makeup still on.