On Saturday, March 8th, I’m doing my final reading for Goodbye To All That. Honored to read alongside Rebecca Wolff of Fence Books, novelist Elisa Albert, and more. It will also be a tribute night for Maggie Estep.
On Saturday morning in Hudson, we buried Maggie between two trees at the cemetery she liked walking her dog in. Sondra Loring, owner of Sadhana yoga studio said some words. It was snowing. We put rose petals on her casket. Afterwards, we went to Club Helsinki for the memorial.
Then I had to get out of Hudson, so Matt, Cynthia, and I drove into New York City.
On Monday night I read at The Strand Bookstore for The Goodbye To All That anthology. I was honored to read with Dani Shapio and Emily Gould. Instead of reading my own essay, Sari Botton (editor of GTAT) had me read Maggie’s essay: Think Of This As Window.
Novelist and poet Maggie Estep died unexpectedly early Tuesday morning. I had just been getting close to Maggie, and it’s safe to say I loved her. We were immediate and fast friends. We met through both yoga and writing here in Hudson, New York. (Read the NYT obituary here)
We had a reading together last Friday at Oblong Bookstore in Rhinebeck, NY, and I didn’t want to go because my acne looked bad. Here is an example of Maggie’s beautiful and Buddhist-like, dead pan funny, soul:
Maggie wasn’t old or fat or stupid. She was stick thin and smart and just 50 years old. But that’s why she was so great–she’d happily throw herself under the bus to make someone else feel better. She picked me up and we drove to the bookstore where Dana Kinstler took this photograph of us.
We had a FANTASTIC time at the reading. Laughed our heads off. Made the audience laugh. Drank coffee. Ate chocolate kisses. We were both in black jeans and black boots. In the car when I said, “What the eff” and at another point, “Biatch” Maggie said, “You know you can say ‘fuck’ and ‘bitch’ in my car.” We talked a mile a minute. About pornography, eating disorders, the various relationships in her life and mine, and how we were going to put new books out at the same time and go on book tour together. We were going to get an apartment together and it would be the Seinfeld of 2014. I still have 2 Dominoe sugar packets in my coat pocket from when she asked me to bring her a “fuck ton” of sugar when I went into the gas station for our coffees.
The next morning, 6 days ago, I went to her Saturday morning class at Sadhana Yoga Studio. “Long time no see,” I said when I walked in. I think I asked her if she’d gotten sleep. During class I was in Warrior 2, and she came up to me, took my hand, adjusted my pose. “Fix me,” I said. We looked into each others eyes and smiled. Later that day she texted me:
Maggie: “Am I stupid yoga jerk?”
Me: “No. What do you mean?”
Maggie: “When I teach yoga, do you think ‘what a moron’”?
Me: “No. You make people laugh, keep it real, and you’re challenging.”
Maggie: “God I love you.”
Me: “I love you too!”
On Monday afternoon I was considering going to her yoga class (when I didn’t go, I could be sure to get verbal abuse: Get your ass to class, tramp!) and my phone rang with her calling. I answered, and it was Maggie’s partner, telling me she’d just had a heart attack.
I have many more things I’d like to say but I’m going to end here for now because it hurts. And there are dozens of lovely tributes to her on the internet you can find that articulate her beauty and strength and all around amazing-ness. Here is my favorite song that played on Maggie’s yoga mix each week. If I can live my life half as full of love and light as Maggie did, I will be glad.
The impermanence of life is a scary thing. Tell your friends you love them.
It’s freaking cold out. Maybe it will be warmer in February!?? I’ll be reading on February 7th at Oblong Books in Rhinebeck with Maggie Estep, Sari Botton, and Dana Kinstler for the book Goodbye To All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving NYC.
On Feb 18th—20th I am teaching a Creative Writing Intensive for teens at The Hudson Opera House. It’s FREE so please spread the word if you know any teenagers in upstate New York.
Feb 22nd is my FINAL reading for the Goodbye To All That at the Hudson Opera House. With Rebecca Wolff and Sari Botton.
Oh—I got my copy of True Tales of Lust and Love!
That’s all for now. Hope you’re warm, where ever you are.
The first time I went to France I was sixteen. I stayed with a family in Toulouse. I was to shadow Agnes, a girl my age. Agnes and I became close. One night we went to a party with a group of her highschool friends and we all danced like no one was watching. The big song at the time (in France? Not sure if I’d heard it before I embarked on this adventure) was The Ketchup Song by Las Ketchup. There was a special dance to go along to the song. I’ve been to a healthy amount of parties since I was sixteen, but I think that party in a basement somewhere in France was the best one. Agnes’s parents picked us up, as we’d been drinking.
Anyhoo–the scene I found most moving in BLUE is the dance party at Adele’s surprise birthday. Adele’s girlfriend isn’t even in it. Adele dances with her friends in her backyard in France while the sun sets. She looks happiest here than any other part of the movie. When you see this, it’s like you know she’s going to be okay. Like my friend Erika said, it’s the only part of the movie where she seems free. The girl loves to dance. Also, they used a song I loooove: “I Follow Rivers” by Lykke Li. I’ve been listening to this song for years. It’s one of my faves. My dream job is to pick songs from emotional indie movies.
Got some cool stuff lined up this winter. Oh and look at the new sidebar to the right. It now includes the anthologies I’m in.
Monday, January 20th: True Tales of Lust and Love book release party at Book Court in Brooklyn. Reading and signing with Anna David, Iris Smyles, Sacha Z. Schoblic, and moi. Also on deck is a panel and Q & A with the audience.
February 17th-19th: CREATIVE WRITING FOR TEENS at The Hudson Opera House. (More information TBA)
My essay “Getting Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable” is up on Thought Catalog. You may have read it in LGLA already. It’s also in the anthology GIRLS? which you can buy for $4.99. Fun anecdote: This essay was originally accepted by The New York Times for their “Townies” column and at the last minute they decided “Never mind.” I was devastated but got over it in like five minutes. Below is the photo to go along with the apartment I wrote about in the essay. This photo was taken 2 weeks ago and the essay was written in 2008. Almost 6 years later, my apartment remains condemned. Photo by Sean H Doyle.
Culture Map in Austin, Texas just posted their Holiday Gift Guide and suggest Legs Get Led Astray.
“For the classic Austin lit-nerd/writer:
Indie-lit darling Chloe Caldwell’s collection of personal essays pull you into her world of being a 20-something writer trying to get it together while bouncing around Austin-like scenes in Brooklyn and Portland, painting equally compelling and honest portraits of her time spent babysitting and partying with Strand booksellers. Her writing is honest, often hilarious, and hits anyone who’s young, artistic — and wondering what the hell they’re doing with their life — hard in the face.”
(I don’t actually bounce around Portland or Austin in LGLA. But, I’ll take it. )
If you’d like personalized copy of LGLA for a gift, or for yourself, paypal me ten dollars at email@example.com. I’ll sign it pretty for you and enclose a bonus essay!
Also on the list is the Write Like A Motherfucker mug of The Rumpus/Cheryl Strayed. I already have my Write Like A Motherfucker mug. If you don’t have one of these mugs, you might wanna question how serious a writer you are.
This is my desk below. Look at that old school cell phone far left!
Dazed Digital put LGLA on their list of 1ST BOOKS THAT DON’T SUCK, which I found touching. Alissa Nutting, Blake Butler, and Kate Zambreno are also on the list.
We got a foot of snow here in Hudson, N.Y. I’t's pretty magical looking.
Had a great time last week in NYC. Especially at Mellow Pages Library. Feel sad it wasn’t there when I lived in Bushwick, but feeling happy it’s there now. We had a small, impromptu, group reading, and it was awesome. I read a new essay “Women I Have Loved.” It’s unpublished.
Oh–and I spent a lil time with The Rumpus people: Stephen Elliott and Isaac Fitzgerald. I know Isaac isn’t the managing editor anymore, but in my mind he is. He was the first person to accept my essays, like this one. Also, he recently got “attacked” in the NYT, so we had a good laugh over that. I love that they both live in Brooklyn now.
I’m reading at Book Court on January 20th for the anthology True Tales of Lust and Love. Join me on that dark cold night! Pre-order the anthology here.
There’s still room in my online Personal Essay Class, which begins January 23rd. Put it on your xmas list, or buy it for someone else! The class is going to be amazing, if I do say so myself.
Hope you’re having a magical winter so far.
Really excited to have my essay quoted in this New York Times article, The Long Goodbye, published yesterday by Alex Smith.
“In my early twenties, I felt that my life could be one big experiment, and in my mid-twenties I am coming to terms with the fact that no, my life is actually my life,” wrote Chloe Caldwell in her anthology entry, “Leaving My Groovy Lifestyle.”
In putting it so, Ms. Caldwell echoed Ms. Didion’s description of how she rationalized the move that she and her husband made to Los Angeles (they returned to New York in the 1980s): “I talk about how difficult it would be for us to ‘afford’ to live in New York right now, about how much ‘space’ we need. All I mean is that I was very young in New York, and that at some point the golden rhythm was broken, and I am not that young anymore.”
Remember: Join us at Housing Works Bookstore on December 2nd for a reading from the Goodbye To All That anthology. Readers include Mike Albo, Emily Gould, Alexander Chee, Elissa Bassist, Anna Holmes, Choire Sicha, Jon-Jon Goulian, Michelle Dean, Isaac Fitzgerald, and myself.