It’s hard to make the leap from jealousy/envy to understanding. I like the dismissive approach, but learning from others’ successes is the adult way to be.
I knew if I waited long enough someone would write about my favorite, hidden Financial District (you thought I was going to type FiDi?) vegan restaurant. I pitched an article on it to two different publications well over a year ago and never got a response from either (one, I sort of understood because it turned out that section was axed that month; the other was to an editor who I had just spoken to in person, had worked with in the past and wasn’t sure where I stood with them—got my answer).
But what stymied me more than being ignored was how to approach the subject without being oh, here’s this interesting place and what you can find and eat there. It needed to be personal and transcendent; food is hardly the point. I never could get it together because I’m literal, over-explain and have never been able to coax realizations and surprising conclusions, all hallmarks of a good essay. I’m incapable of writing essays, which I only realized in the past few years. I can only pound out personal diary-ish missives or service journalism (speaking of, here’s a preview of Asian-Latino, Chinto, that just went live. I tried sneaking in the term half-breed because that’s how I get my kicks, but it got changed to hybrid). That’s one problem with getting older; I don’t get any smarter, just more aware of my short-comings.
This week I finally was faced with an article on this restaurant, and in a local, highbrow periodical that I would never have approached—and rarely read—in the first place. It was written by an Ivy League author, naturally, not more than a couple years out of storied institution (in some heavy-handed allegory, their surname happens to a synonym for youthful). A few hours ago I skimmed the online table of contents of a quirky, also highbrow literary magazine that I’ve never read a copy of in my life. The only thing that made me click was a piece on a mall store in Manhattan. Oh, same author.
Who is this person? How are they so objective and self-assured? I can see they are conventionally attractive and are certainly aware of this fact. You know they are not paying their own Manhattan rent and going to an office every day.
But I will read and scrutinize and learn, not shun. To that end, I also just put a hold on Sloane Crosley’s latest collection of essays. There are only 60 people ahead of me in the Brooklyn Public Library system.