What is the point of a very long walk? It doesn’t generally count as exercise, or maybe it could but that’s usually not what it’s really about. A long meandering walk is almost the opposite of the way most of us work out—those carefully timed-out accumulations of moves meant to be as efficient as possible. Walking isn’t efficient. It’s slow, and unflashy, and either stolidly utilitarian or annoyingly whimsical. (A walk has also become, in pandemic-times, all there is to do — both great and not-great for Long Walks’ PR.) What, actually, is the point?
We hear it incessantly: We’re living in unprecedented times. Something we hear just as often but talk about a lot less is this: We’re all under constant pressure to use this unprecedented time. Everyone, it seems, has been taking up hobbies, baking banana bread, nurturing houseplants and sourdough starters, developing and fine-tuning complex skin care routines. Time is a gift, and who are we to waste it?
By all accounts, this past year should’ve been a boom time for creatives. While we were once expected to pick out outfits and commute and dine in restaurants and attend friends’ gigs and…
I’ve had a lot of lives as a writer. I started out as a poet. At 26, I was in grad school for fiction. By 29, I freelanced personal essays and worked as an editor at an alt-weekly, writing art criticism. At 31, I wrote my first book, a memoir. By 33, I was writing widely on gender and culture. At 34, I wrote my second book, a reported memoir. By 37, I’d tried my hand at my first episode of television. And now, at 40, I’m working on my first feature film script.
Some people might accuse me of…
SETTING: A dark, bare stage. Beaten wood floors, well-trod. Two chairs are set out at oblique angles to one another.
YOUR CHARACTER: Can we talk?
YOU: Sure. What’s up?
YOUR CHARACTER: I feel like we’re growing apart. Like we don’t know each other anymore.
YOU: Oh. (scratches chin) Okay.
YOUR CHARACTER: Don’t get defensive.
YOU: No, I’m not —
YOUR CHARACTER: Don’t make excuses either.
YOU: I —
YOUR CHARACTER: Just hear me out.
YOU: Okay, okay! You got it. What’s this about? What can I do?
YOUR CHARACTER: Thank you. This means a lot to me. Because this is…
Here’s the thing about the afterlife. It’s a lot like life, only a little worse. There exists no heaven or hell, no cashmere clouds and raging infernos — it’s a place like any other place except the pizza is never any good.
There’s no cable or Wi-Fi or the Trader Joe’s cheese enchiladas I like so much. On the jukebox, there’s one song I want to listen to, but everyone keeps playing Carole fucking King. …
My earliest childhood memory was stressful.
I was about five years old, and it started with me waking up from an afternoon nap.
Since I was a child with many needs, the first thing I did was ask for my mom.
The way my father tells the story, I am four years old, and we are on our way to the beach, my arm in a cast. I had broken it falling off a swing set.
My parents have talked up the trip all week, and I am dying from excitement. We ride forever until my father stops the old Buick. He wants to show my mother a ritzy golf course where he played once. He parks beside a pond, pointing to it out the window. Then we’re off. As we drive away, I start to cry.
When he tells this…
We sat in a circle at the 92nd Street Y, recounting the traumas that had silenced us.
“My music teacher told me to move my lips but not make a sound,” the first woman said. The rest of us nodded in recognition. Half of the fourteen members of that class — optimistically called “Everybody Can Sing” — had been shamed at karaoke night. (I refused to ever, ever go out with my graduate students after our weekly creative writing workshops.) …
My friend Lisa and I have a very specific, limited relationship: We make mix CDs (and more recently, playlists) of soundtrack music for each other. Yet it’s also oddly intimate: a shared love of music bares something in you — especially love of an uncool, schmaltzy genre like movie scores. I just finished a new mix for her, of ’80s film music — my own idiosyncratic ’80s cinema, as defined by the arty independent movies I saw at Shriver Hall on weekends in college: films like Blue Velvet, Repo Man, Brazil. Listening to this music has made me a little…