Category Archives: Uncategorized

Installment #8: Loot Conversation


Chloe & Frances Badalamenti discuss $ issues. Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 9.34.41 PM CC:   Did anyone ever teach you how to budget money? My friend goes to finance classes with her husband.

FB:  Nobody taught me shit.  My mother was awful with money, like the kind of person that has the whole paycheck spent before it even reaches the cashier at the bank.  She grew up in a single mother household in the Bronx and I think she reverted back there after she left my father.  My dad always made a good wage in the graphic arts and as a jazz musician on the side, but he was the opposite of my mother, spending money was hard for him, so he only spent on way bare necessities.  These were people who were raised in the depression, so their relationship with money was fucked up and dysfunctional.  Long story short, I had to figure it out on my own, when I was finally out on my own.  I made tons of mistakes in those days, like not even having ten bucks to go out for a beer with friends and so I came to the realization that I hated being broke.  It reminded me too much of my crappy-ass Jersey childhood.  I got jobs that make me a lot of money so I didn’t have to feel awful all of the time and then I married two guys who made decent loot.  I have to say, those were not good ways to form a healthy relationship with money, because I couldn’t stand those well-paid jobs and I have been through one failed marriage. A friend of mine is one of those financial advisor slash therapist types.  She tried to work with me on my money shit and to learn how to properly budget, but I was resistant in the end.  I told her that I didn’t like the computer program that she wanted me to use to track spending.  What a dick.  If I went to a finance class with my husband we would probably end up just making fun of the people in the class or mock the teacher.  The subtle art of resistance.

CC:  A few months ago I told you that I had $75 in my checking and no new $ that would be coming in. The next day you told me you’d been thinking about it and that $75 wasn’t SO bad, and you told me about times you overdrafted. I don’t think I’ve overdrafted since my NYC days.

FB:  When you said you had $75 in your account, I was reminded of the time that I didn’t even have enough to pull twenty bucks out of an ATM in the city.  I had a super stressful job in advertising and I worked at a music venue on the weekends, but I was still always broke around payday.  I don’t know what my fucking problem was – I guess that I hadn’t figured it out yet and was working out shit from my mother.  So for me back then, $75 would have been a lot of money.  It would at least have been enough to get a couple of bags of groceries, a PATH card to get to work and a pack of smokes.  But I did have that constant stream of paychecks every two weeks and you don’t have that.  Your shit is way more stressful I am sure.

CC: Yeah sometimes I have no work and then I have a lot of work at once. It’s not the best way to live, but also I am making more now that I do live off my writing/teaching/catering/retailing.  I email places like Salon every day like, hello? Still waiting on my $150! You know how they say that however you pay your rent is who you are? Or maybe it’s you are what pays your rent? Well my rent comes from all over. For example, I took this photo the other day, because it was 3 checks I was going to pay my $600 rent with. One from catering, one from a workshop I did with teens at the library, and one for the workshop I am hosting at my apartment in a few weeks. I am never not trying to collect one of my checks since they come from all over. Right now I am waiting on my book advance check. There is always something, and like the work itself, all the checks often come at once, and like my mom worries, “Then you think you’re rich.”

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On Marc Maron’s WTF podcast, Louis CK talks about how he was once locked out of his apartment so he checked into The Ritz in NYC on his credit card. Another time Marc Maron had to rent out a video for Louis cause he (Louis) didn’t have a credit card. That was me in Portland. No credit OR debit cards. I cashed my checks at the grocery store and kept my cash in my underwear drawer. What was your worst point financially?

FB:  I love when Louie talks about how fucked he was with money. It’s really refreshing and validating in so many ways.  It’s like that must have been his rock bottom.  Maybe your rock bottom was when you were here in Portland not even coming close to making ends meet.  It’s like you have to go to that place to know that you never want to be there ever again.  It becomes the motivation.  Maybe that’s part of why Louie is so successful, he drove himself out of poverty. I had many worst points financially, but the one memory that comes into my head was when I was still in college and living in this garden apartment in Bloomfield, New Jersey.  My former roommate had been killed in an awful car accident and I was traumatized because we were not on speaking terms when she died, so I decided that I needed to live alone for a while.  I think the rent was $400 a month plus utilities which doesn’t sound like a lot, but besides a hectic school schedule, I worked stupid ass waitressing shifts at Chili’s and who the fuck knows how much loot I walked with back then.  Some days, you made decent money but then there were days that you didn’t make jack shit.  So the awful memory is my brother coming over with a turkey sandwich from the deli and some cash to pay bills, so my phone and electric didn’t get turned off.  He later told me that I wolfed down that turkey sandwich like I hadn’t eaten in days.  I think I was actually starving, like I literally hadn’t eaten in days.  I wanted so bad to be able to take care of myself by that point, but I simply couldn’t. What do you think your worst point was financially?  Was it when you had to cash checks at the grocery store?  Do you think that was your bottom?

CC:  I have had so many bottoms. I’m sure I still have more to come. You know that co-op by your house? Sometimes I’d go there, having no money, and take a string cheese off the shelf, and slowly walk around the store eating it, hoping I wouldn’t be caught. Portland was bad. I had to charge coffees and bagels on my mom’s credit card she let me use for $20 groceries each month, at World Cup in Powell’s. Then send her shameful emails about it. During my Portland life, my friend invited me to go to Chicago with her if she bought the flight. I went, and had like no other money. This came up, because you know we were going to lunch and stuff. I had to SHAMEfully ask her to lend me some money. Luckily, she is cool about $, and has a bunch, and she discreetly handed me like $100. Back in NYC, my friend and I sometimes had to steal twenties out of the petty cash drawer at the jewelry shop we worked in, and replace it when we got paid. My friend thinks my bottom was eating condensed cooking soup for dinner. She came home and saw me doing that. I think I wrote about it in LGLA. After living and babysitting my cousins in Seattle for a year, my cousin Bella who was eight at the time, gave me a drawing she did of us in various situations. One of them was us in a shop she loved called GIFTED. She drew a photo of me with a thought bubble saying, I told you, I don’t have any money. One day you said to me, “I am so sorry you are struggling” and it was really nice. I could take it in. I didn’t feel pitied or condescended or anything, I just felt like…you were/are truly sorry I struggle from being so broke. It’s terrible. “It makes me tired just thinking about it,” Jonathan Ames wrote in one of his essays, of his struggling days. That said, you still tell me it’s okay to splurge sometimes. Like now we both have (along with having the same deodorant) the same orgasmic smelling Cedar Rose parfum. I spent some extra paypal $ on it. Also when we were at the park in San Fran, I said to you, “I’ll have more money in my forties, right?” And you said, “Yes. Thirties.” How do you know when to splurge and when to save? 

FB:  I can totally relate when you say that you are having a hard time around money, because I have been there firsthand.  I know it fucking sucks to struggle and I also know that you will not struggle forever, but I never want to say that because that’s not being in the moment and it’s not really empathetic.  I feel that when people say things like, This too shall pass, I want to clock them in the jaw because it hasn’t fucking passed yet.  You are living in it and wallowing in it and it is really hard to be having a hard time and sometimes just being validated for that takes some of the sting out. Plus, I know how hard you work and I want you to make good money. The urge to splurge comes in waves for me.  It’s hard right now because I am not generating an income and even though I work my ass off taking care of household shit and the kid and trying to make a go of writing, sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve to throw down for a stupidly expensive smoothie or a killer pair of Swedish clogs.  This all goes back to my faulty neurological wiring that I have been trying to get repaired for many years. What generally happens is that I crave something nice, like that beautiful amazing fragrance (Olo Cedar Rose parfume) – I see it at a store and I don’t buy it on the spot.  I obsess and I torture myself with the idea of it for a few days, let’s say, and then I eventually go there in a fugue state to buy it.  When I walk out with the bag, I feel this combination of being high and sad and also feeling guilty but also elated.  So I sit in the car or don’t get on the bike until I sit with those feelings for a while, until they soften and pass on.  This is, I truly believe, how you repair the broken shit in your life.  You sit in it. In other words, it’s a lifelong process and a continual one.  I will say that I don’t spend a lot of money on things (mostly food and travel) and I definitely don’t buy a lot of shit, but when I do buy shit, I try my very best to be intentional and to buy good quality beautiful things that will make me happy in the end and not make me feel like an awful consumer freak.  Let me say, this all comes with being privileged.  I was not always this privileged so it can still be really triggering, like I am still a broke ass Chili’s waitress with only a couple of bucks sticking out of my apron ‘til the next slow shift. I’m so glad you dropped in on that fragrance.  There are times that I am like, Chloe would love this!  Like the time we walked into the No.6 store and you walked out with a pair of $300 clog boot. Hahahahaha, I wonder what’s next! If you had an extra grand sitting in your account right now, rent paid up for the next six months, plenty of stash for bills and stuff, what would you do with the money?

CC: I’d buy a few items of clothing. Then I’d get a flight either to Mexico where my friend Diana is renting a house for six weeks on a lake and invited me. Or I’d book a flight to Paris for my thirtieth birthday. Haha, doing these convos is annoying me because I want to talk in person, maybe we can continue this $$$ convo when I’m in Portland and record it? What did you spend money on so far today? Or yesterday?

FB:  Yesterday I didn’t spend a dime because I was at the beach most of the day and we didn’t stop in town or anything.  Today my husband, kid and I were still out at the coast and the kid was being ornery because he burned himself with a fucking glue gun.  He had collected all these bird bones and crab claws from the beach and brought them back to the house and glued them into something of a monster with the feral neighbor kid.  Anyhow, he got burned and was upset and so I said, Let’s go to town and get a steamer and a cinnamon bun!  I knew that we needed to flip the script.  So the three of us went into Manzanita and I dropped $11.50 plus buck tip at a bakery there (one vanilla steamer, two house coffees, one apricot bar, unfortunately they were out of cinnamon buns).  And I just now spent $4.50 plus buck tip on a Mate Latte (it was an extra fifty cents for coconut milk) at Tea Bar near my house in Portland.  This time, it was me who needed to flip the script.  When we get back from a weekend at the coast, I generally need a short reprieve from the two people who I live with and so I end up spending stupid money on a hot bev to make myself feel better.  I’m like a cranky baby who needs a warm bottle. When you come to Portland next month, we can film a conversation about money.

some books i read recently ish


some books i read and rec:

MOODY BITCHES by Julie Holland

MOODY BITCHES by Julie Holland (reading in Spencertown where I grew up)


SOMETHING WRONG WITH HER by Cris Mazza (On my futon)


I’M VERY INTO YOU (In Spencertown again)

NEVADA by Imogen Binnie

NEVADA by Imogen Binnie (Corner of my kitchen)



Lena Finkle's Magic Barrel

Lena Finkle’s Magic Barrel (My bed)


THE MOTION (Back at kitchen table)


I’M SPECIAL (In Williamsburg eating lunch w my friend at some shitty spot)


OK I HAVEN’T FINISHED THIS ONE (At Martha’s Vineyard writing residency)

HAHA, Gotcha

HAHA, Gotcha (My friend’s friend did this)

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THE FOLDED CLOCK (At The Spotty Dog bookstore)


OK I DIDN’T GET THROUGH ‘FLOW’ (My living room)


STAG’S LEAP (On an airplane)


THE CORRESPONDENCE ARTIST (My living room in winter)


INTIMACY (In my kitchen)


GOOD GIRL (My bed)


BLACK OUT (At a restaurant in Austin, TX)



no turning back now. and believe you me, publishing essay collections are not for the faint of heart. my book of essays will be released in November 2016. i will be thirty years old by then. when my 1st collection of essays came out on my 26th birthday, i got my 1st review in the portland mercury, in which the reviewer wanted to throw my book against the wall. but hey fuck Starbucks! i stand by that.

Chloe Caldwell’s debut is full of stories of being young and confused; young and fucked up; young and regretful. At this collection’s worst, Caldwell’s fascination with the ups and downs of her own life feels cramped and self-aggrandizing, and it’s easy to be irked by a tone that veers into too cool for school. In an otherwise solid essay about finding herself homeless in Brooklyn, Caldwell writes, “I uncharacteristically went to a Starbucks down the street.” Caldwell is trying to tell us she is the kind of person who doesn’t go to Starbucks; what she is actually telling us is that she is the kind of person who thinks of herself as someone who doesn’t go to Starbucks. My copy of the book almost hit the wall right there.

i am so lucky to have emily gould and ruth curry as my editors, i can tell they are going to kick my ass. i am so happy to be a Coffee House writer/author!!! Chris Fischbach rules.

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off to my NYC memoir class and to say goodbye to one of my best friends who is leaving NYC, boo freaking hoo.

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2 Creative Nonfiction Upcoming Workshops


I have 2 CNF classes coming up, please join me! This one is in person. There’ll be wine and Hors d’oeuvres, super fancy.

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And this 4 week class is online:

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Here’s a list of essays my students churned out and published after taking Polish and Publish with me:

“Swinging Upside Down” by Elle Nash on Human Parts/Medium

“Fat Guy” by Ray Shea on HOBART

“Making It Big” by Asha Dore on Burrow Press Review

It Happened To Me: My Ex Is An Alcoholic and And it Took Me 11 Years To Figure That Out by Allison McCarthy on xoJANE

“That Was 22″ by Janet Frishberg on The Manifestation 

“Drifting Beyond The Pale” by Angela Patel on The Nervous Breakdown

“Where I Write #26″ by Asha Dore on The Rumpus

And that’s only some of them off the top of my head.

I just finished reading MOODY BITCHES by Julie Holland. I highly highly rec it! Sorry for a boring post pushing my classes but if I don’t do it, who will? Gotta pay my electric bill somehow.



Installment #7: The Art VS. The Artist


Installment 7: Chloe & Fran discuss The Art versus The Artist, plus pubes!

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Frances Badalamenti: This past weekend, I was in the company of someone whose art I admire a shit-ton.  Like I am a huge fucking fan of this person’s work.  He also happens to be pretty damn famous right now.  The whole experience was quite jarring and for the past two days, I have been having a hard time parsing out what I actually feel about this person as a live human and how those thoughts have affected my feelings about the work that he generates.

The thing is, his craft is so painfully comingled with his personal life, which makes it all so fucking confusing.

You and I have talked a lot about this issue at length, mostly how it relates back to creative nonfiction as a genre.  As CNF writers, we tend to comingle the shit out of pretty much everything we do.

We have talked about Lena Dunham and Cheryl Strayed and Lidia Yuknavich and Jonathan Ames and how they differ from say Joan Didion or Maggie Nelson or Sarah Manguso and Heidi Julavits.  Some writers are fully present on the page, in the sense that you actually believe that you get to know them.  But do you really, really get to know them?  It’s so easy to believe that you do and what I am coming to terms with is the fact that even though it’s crazy hard, the only real way to admire someone’s work is to mentally separate the art from the artist, even in our tiny little world of creative nonfiction.

It seems as if something you’ve struggled with in your writing life is how people try to befriend you based on your work.  You can be very present on the page and this is your superpower, but I think it has also caused you a lot of existential struggle.  In the past, there have been instances where you have let people into your personal life who have wanted to be close to you based on your writing.  This has backfired.

What can you say about this?   As the result, do you feel the need to be more guarded now and less hyper-personal in your work?

Chloe Caldwell: Actually, yes. I feel a lot more blocked and paranoid about my new essay collection than I did with LGLA and that breaks my heart a little bit. I didn’t ever think of people reading LGLA because I did not have an audience. That’s why that book is the glorious mess that it is.

I’ve attracted a lot of people with my writing, that is totally true. The complicated thing is, some of these people have turned in to my best friends. I met you through writing. I met Cheryl and Lidia through my writing and Elizabeth and Chelsea and Karina.

And yeah–Julavits, Manguso, Maggie, they all have a guarded voice about them, whereas I do not. People don’t finish Sarah Manguso books and explain, “I have to be friends with her!” like they do with Cheryl and Lena. 

I think more positive things have come from my writing than negative, especially now that I’m learning how to field the complications.

For better or for worse, you’re right, that is my superpower. The questions you’re asking makes my head spin because I’m in the thick of it every day. Sometimes readers don’t know if they like my book or ME. I truly think if my first book had been a collection of fiction, short stories, or a novel, my experience would have been profoundly different.

I liked what Maggie Nelson said when I interviewed her. She said, “I don’t worry about people thinking they know me because they don’t. I don’t mean that to sound flip, they just literally don’t.”

It’s true. When I sit down and write my books I am crafting nonfiction. I am method acting. Sure, my voice comes through. Sure, these are real things that happened to me. But I am not the books. Sometimes when I flip through LGLA and WOMEN, I am so impressed or confused by them—I wrote those? I think to myself. Or, “I wrote that? I didn’t even know I thought that!”

It is a separation of myself rather than an extension I would say. That’s why I’m able to do it.

But it’s hard work for me to separate who is writing to me because they are a fan and who wants to be a friend and who wants to grab some of my soul or whatever. There are a lot of soul suckers out there. I do a lot of work with it in therapy. I don’t want to say that much more here because I’m writing about this in my new book.

People feel strongly about actors and comedians because they SEE them/WATCH them all the time, but people feel strongly about writers because they’ve connected with them on a cereal level.

FB: I am willing to say that this person that I met is a podcaster.  When I went to listen to his newest post yesterday, it didn’t have the same magical effect on me as it would have had a week ago.  Something is tainted, distilled, watered down.  I witnessed this person jump outside of the art, like a character jumping off the page or a still life melon bouncing off of the canvas and smashing to bits on the floor.  There was just so much that I wanted to say to him and because I didn’t get the chance, I think I feel slighted and horrified.  It was like seeing a grade school teacher buying tampons or finding a pube on your therapist’s toilet bowl…..

Last winter, you got very close to spending an intimate weekend with someone whose art you admire greatly, not unlike I way I feel about the person who I met recently.  There was a point that I was even about to share that experience with you.  We were such hungry ghosts, dying for the opportunity to witness this super-human in live flesh, anxious to be sprinkled with some magic famous fairy dust.

To be honest, I am relieved that it never came to fruition.  Do you still wish that weekend happened or are you also relieved?  If it did happen, what do you wish we all did together?

CC: Was it Brad Listi? Lol, JK, I know who it was.

Haha, a pube on a therapist’s bowl. Right, I had plans to have a sleepover with someone who had been one of my art-driving forces for many years. I don’t know! I was totally relieved when she canceled. The whole thing was really fucked up. The fact that it was so stressful for me was a bad sign–like I wasn’t ready. The fact that you were going to fly across the country to support me with this says a lot. We were both flipping out. You got it on a level a lot of my friends didn’t. They didn’t see why I was freaking. Kinda like when we talked on the phone the other day we learned that we both choke up during big fame moments: Like when an artist we love wins a golden globe or a comedian we love walks live on stage.

I have lots of issues about money so that was my main thing about hanging out with this person. It was a huge mental hurdle for me and I couldn’t quite get over it. At the time I had nothing, not a hundred dollars, nothing, so while this caused me a great amount of burden, it caused her nothing. Also didn’t I do to her what people do to me? I wanted to hang out with her because of what she makes. Since she makes stuff i relate to SO DEEPLY, I imagined we would be the best of friends. This Is not necessarily the case.

Like, here’s one of my reviews on Goodreads:

I wish I could shelve this book as “friend-lit” because Chloe Caldwell, I would like us to be friends, or we could be acquaintances via email, knowing we have like-hearted souls in the cities we live in. You wouldn’t have to hide the 7-11 pizzas in your purse from me, and I would totally join you for Wendy’s 99-cent chicken nuggets and fries, though I prefer McDonald’s.

So what I used to do, was befriend everyone who read my book. I did this with LGLA because my readership was so small. It was fun for me. An easy way to meet people who already liked me so I didn’t have to charm them or have small talk with them since they’d read so much about my life. 

I went to coffee with these people always treated me as “special”. It was totally unhealthy! I did this in Portland, never in New York. I just watched the Kurt Cobain doc and he says something like, “I fluctuate back and forth between wanting to take advantage of my position and quitting. In my own way, I did sort of take advantage of my position, if that makes sense.

Cheryl says the main thing people say to her is, “We are exactly the same person but you don’t know it yet.” Creepy!

But you know, I think it just comes with the territory and when you have that superpower you have to use it but be aware of the consequences.

I’m sorry that happened to you with the podcaster. Isn’t there a quote like “Don’t meet your heroes” or something?

In Brooklyn the other night, a couple of my girlfriends who read these installments were like, “I want to meet Fran.” A few weeks ago Karina said, “Read your convo with Fran. Gotta be friends with her!” So, if you leave a pube on the toilet, they might be disappointed by you, hahahahahah.

FB: I wouldn’t ever leave a pube on the toilet because my shit is shaved raw.  JK, I am Italian and pretty much made of a big pile of pubes, plus like a pube, I am pretty much what you would expect – coarse and dark and short and at certain times, in your face.

Thanks for reading! <3

P.S. Read Fran’s new pieces here and get the audio edition of Chloe’s WOMEN on Audible!

Letters From People Who Hate Me


The title of this post is the title of a book by Steve Almond — a collection of letters from people who hate him, and his responses. I heard Steve read from the book in Bug Sur last summer. Not to sound like an ass, but I have  an entire folder filled with emails I’ve received about my writing and books—letters from people who like me.

On Saturday night, I worked catering a wedding in upstate New York. It was really fun. When we finished, we ate ate BBQ chicken and cod and salad and wedding cake. Then I drove home, feet aching, where I had a glass of Vino Verde, listened to music, and got into bed. I was scrolling the computer, and saw my website had a comment under ABOUT ME section.

I will post half of here, but save the opening–where she calls me ‘self-absorbed’ and ‘pathetic‘ and asks me, “Do you really want people to think you’re THAT stupid?“—to myself.


Listen—I can kill with words, as my therapist puts it. And my first thought, was that I was going to tear this person down. I know how. I can be volatile. I Googled the person’s email address to find the comment-er is a woman named Maia. I almost emailed her a passionate rebuttal—instead, I re-read this a bunch of times, and went to sleep. The next day I posted it to Twitter and the thread that followed cracked me up:

Chloe: Received some hate mail yesterday in which my writing is compared to Justin Bieber. This person is v upset with me. (Inserts above photo)

Cal Morgan: Where did this kind of energy go, in the world, before the Internet? Did people really get this angry over writing?

Chloe: yeah–if they read a book they didn’t like did they send snarky condescending cruel notes to the authors???

Cal Morgan: Maybe they all just turned on some black metal or went to a White Citizens Council meeting or something

Aaron Burch: can we use this as blurb on back of WOMEN reprint?

Chloe: We have to. She is so PAINED.

Aaron Burch: She should probably get that checked out.

Ashley Ford: What the hell is this?

Chloe: Someone left it on my site last night. I was stunned at it’s cruelty. Do you ever receive stuff like this?

Ashley Ford: I do and have, but it’s also rare and ALWAYS startling in its cruelty. I’m sorry that happened to you. You don’t deserve it.

Cal Morgan: Wait–this came from a woman?

Aaron Burch: That was my Q too, actually. I thought that much vitriol online generally only came from dudes.

Chloe: Yes. Maia.

Cal Morgan: Fascinating.

Chloe: girl on girl meanness is still alive regardless of how much feminism and is posed on Twitter

Cal Morgan: All meanness matters.

Aaron Burch: people love to throw out Bieber and the Kardashians to let you know they really mean it.

Rachel Syme: Never stop publishing Chloe, fill the internet with your name

Lauren Marie Fleming: I’ll start your Belieber fan club equivalent. Caldwellians? Chloebers? I’ll work on it.

Rachael Armstrong: “PAINED” — haha.

Shanna Mahin: my friend sends a form letter to hate mailers that reads “I’m so busy I can’t respond to every letter personally but I appreciate your kind words and please know I’m hard at work creating more material for you right this minute”

Erika Kleinman: the internet hates shameless women.

Milcah Orbacedo: haha “everybody hatin’/we just call ’em fans though” looks like you got yourself a raging fan

Eirik Gumeny: I once had a guy threaten to shove sandpaper up my ass.

Amanda McNeil: I am pained, PAINED to learn someone sent you this. What kind of douche canoe does this?

Amanda McNeil: this person just seems fueled by stupid. I hope this idiot isn’t taking up space in your mind& I’m sorry this happened to u

Danielle Lanzet: dude, THIS woman is a looney.

Claire Lyman: Ugh. People are the worst sometimes

Samuel Sargent: Did you ask how many of the places you’ve been published have rejected their work?

Katherine Angel: I had a few emails along these lines (though they didn’t mention Justin Bieber). They’re genuinely puzzling.

Emily Perper: LOLOLOL this person is an idiot thru and thru. Meanwhile, I’m going to sign up for your Personal Essay class.

Shannon McLeod: Stupid people hate good things.

Elana Belle Carroll: this is amazing! i can’t believe someone took the time to do something so mean and stupid.

Andrea Taylor: What a cunty thing to write – there’s no basis except for opinion or malice.

Caleb Curtiss: She mad?

Aaron: She’s not mad. She’s PAINED.

Benjamin Woodard: PAINED!

Chloe: she should go read Knausguaard and Nabokov instead of Salon I guess

Aaron: but Knausguaard and Nabokov don’t read their website comments :/


Anyway. This is how much of a F*** I gave about Maia. I left my computer and went into water and sunlight. I think it’s funny how many writers say they don’t read their reviews or comments because even if the review is 99% positive, they latch on to the 1% that was negative. Silly. I take the positive. Trust me, my self-esteem is low enough, but not on this end. I’ve gotten dozens of kind letters from readers—why would I give Maia the power to take those away from me? If I were getting dozens of letters like Maia’s above, then sure, I’d feel horrible. But this is one person’s opinion and she’s entitled to it. It’s fine with me, interesting even. (Why read my essay if hated it? Why take the time to look me up and leave a public comment? Why not leave the comment on the essay on Salon? Why not email me since my email address readily available?  etc.) Why would I care about a random person’s opinion? That is what’s interesting to me when people get upset about comments on their pieces. It’s not people you admire who are leaving these malicious comments.

Also — money is being handed off to me? How wonderful. Where is this money?

There’s so much more I could say. But I digress.

Since Maia never wants to see my name on the internet again, I feel okay posting this, because she won’t want to torture herself by looking at my website again, I’m sure of it.

Installment 6: Chloe & Fran on Self Care 101



CC:  Okay. I’m writing these on a Wednesday night while drinking this sleep tincture my friend Steph makes. It gives me nutty dreams. Tinctures are a total funny self-care thing and you can get addicted to them as much as anything else right? People spend so much money on that crap–do you think tinctures actually work? Do you take any at the moment? In the past?


FB:  I don’t take any now but I remember getting this calming herbal tincture a while back called Kalmerite.  It was super sweet and tasty and was a hippie version of liquid morphine.  The shit totally worked.  I took it back when Remy was still a tiny dude and woke me up like every few hours during the night.  My nerves were fucking shot and I could never fall back asleep, so I would take a dropper hit of the Kalmerite and would pass the fuck out cold ten minutes later.  When I told the naturopath doc that I used it all up, she was like, Whoa, that was fast!  I never asked for it again, I felt like too much of a tincture junky.  I was tincture shamed.

I don’t know if you can get physically addicted to them per se; I bet you just get a sweet little high from it and maybe slightly begin depending on it.

I def believe that the stuff works if it is made well and with good ingredients, with intention.  Like baking bread or distilling vodka.  I have been hearing about a lot of people putting pot tincture in their beers.  That would send me over the goddam edge.

CC:  A few weeks ago we were texting and the term “self-care” came up and you said, “I’m great at that shit” and I replied, “I know it’s annoying.” The first time I heard the term “self-care” was in Portland. I was fascinated. Little did I know, I grew up around my mom doing lots of self-care, we just didn’t talk about it the way people did in Portland. I love the term because it’s so ephemeral and vague and varies from person to person. Once I started taking better care of myself I got really into it–I couldn’t believe there were things I could do to ground and treat myself well. For some people, this is challenging. It’s still a battle for me and something I think about every single day. How did you get so good at self-care? When I met you, you helped me with that stuff around the edges—we’d go eat healthy food (what was that healthy bowl called at Pearl yoga?) And when I babysat you once paid me cash and also a gift certificate to that sauna place, Loyly. Did your family teach you this stuff or did you teach yourself? I learn a lot of life hacks from you. 


FB:  The healthy bowl that you are talking about is The Mighty Bowl at Prasad; it’s a sliding scale offering of $2 – $7 and I think you would give $5.  I recently went there with a broke single mom friend and I was all stoked to tell her about the deal of the century bowl and then she hardly ate any of it.  Some people don’t get the bowl concept.  I forget how much she gave.

When I was in grad school studying to be a therapist (aka shrink camp), the concept of self-care was drilled into our heads.  The theory is that if you don’t take exceptionally good care of yourself while practicing, that you will burn the fuck out super quick.  So I think that even though I am not currently practicing as a shrink, that I have continued with the rigid self-care program, not unlike people who have a lot of money one day and then go broke but still continue a lifestyle as if they are still flush with cash.

You know, I also think that I can easily lean on self-care a little too hard, filling voids from other aspects of my life.  I go to yoga at least three times per week, I get acupuncture twice monthly, massage usually at least once in a month, psychotherapy twice a month and now I have a fucking pelvic floor physical therapist!  I get vag massages!!!!  Seriously?  Has it truly come to this?

Point is, I think we can even fall off balance with things that are seemingly “healthy”.  Think about people who do way too much yoga and look like overly sinewy freaks.  Or that friend who eats no white foods.  There is an actual clinical term for being too healthy and it’s called orthorexia and I’ve known people who suffer from that and I steer clear.  Those people make me nervous in the same way that severe alcoholics make me nervous.

I am definitely aware of the fact that I can get hypervigilant about many things, including self-care and so I do my best to keep the shit in check.  Plus I am way too much of an epicure to be fully clean about eating and drinking and experiencing life so sometimes I rock out on steak frites and a nice glass of red or I park my ass on a blanket in the sun with a café au lait and a book. If those things are not self-care, then I don’t know what is.

Like with your mom, I do think I may have learned a lot of this from observing my father. He is first generation Italian-American.  He taught me the value of eating really clean whole foods, mostly vegetables, a little meat, peasant food and how you need to move and stretch your body every day to feel sound in your mind.

What happened when you went for a sauna at Loyly?  You didn’t stay that long if I recall.

CC: Dude I sat naked in the sauna with 3 chicks RIGHT next to me since it’s so small in there and they wouldn’t stop whispering it drove me NUTS! I think you told me I should tattle on them. It made me have a bad experience.

Often we coincidentally attend therapy the same day and time EST and PST. You go to therapy for two hours. I wish I did. I was 26 when I started therapy. How old were you and what motivated you to go? How many therapists have you had throughout the years?  


FB:  We are totally on the same therapy sched, it cracks me up!  It’s like we are in AA or something.  I am now wondering if I should only be friends with people who are in therapy.

I was tossed into therapy as a fucked up teenager and have been in and out for most of my adult life.  It is a recovery process, not unlike drunks and junkies.  The other day, I told my good friend who is a shrink that I am a factory refurb.  I’ve been spending a majority of the past two decades putting myself back together with the aid of various shrinks.  I think I have had about five therapists in total, but honestly – the one I am working with now is the only good one of the bunch.  She knows her shit and she kicks my ass, like a trainer at the gym who makes your legs hurt for days.  The other ones only skirted my issues.

But she yelled at me the other day and I’ve been upset.  She told me to, Please stop talking for one second!  I think I need to tell her that she was a mean mommy to me and that it made me sad.  But I probably won’t say anything.  Classic abuse cycle.

Do you like your therapist?  What would you do if she yelled at you to shut up?

CC: I totally love her. She’s super feminist and opinionated. If she yelled at me I would freak the fuck out. Sometimes I worry I bore her, and I love when we crack up at stuff hahahahah. My mom read this essay once about this guy who was always trying to get his therapist to laugh, I’ll have to ask her what it was. 


Installment #5 Chloe & Fran Pull a Geographic



Chloe in TX

Chloe in TX


Fran in Mexico

Fran in Mexico


It seems like we are oftentimes on a similar schedule with one another.  When you are kinda manic, I am kinda manic — both writing a lot, getting excited about certain podcasts, books, movies, shows.  And then there are times that we both write to each other saying how depressed and uninspired we are, bitching endlessly about shitty weather and overly chatty yoga teachers.

A long time ago, I told you that I thought that we were karmic sisters.  Some people call each other “chosen family”.  The latter sounds dumb to me, as if they are in a cult together or a shitty cover band.

Nonetheless, I do feel that we are connected by a strong karmic bond.  A writerly friend just wrote to me saying that you and I write similarly and she felt that is why we get along so well.  That got me to thinking a bit and I started wondering what is similar about our writing styles.  I feel that it comes down to the fact that we are both right there on the page.  You might talk about orgasms and I might talk about wanting to smash my husband’s skull to pieces — both things that some people might not be willing to write about.  We’ve talked a lot about vulnerability and disclosure and shame.


Chosen family is so sleazy, but karmic sisters works. We support each other in an entirely healthy way. It’s almost like it’s re-doing a lot of my toxic and/or codependent female friendships. You’re like a family member to me at this point, it’s weird. I looked up karmic sisters when you told me that, and it mentioned there’s certain people in your life that you often have the same things going on at the same time with and more but i’m too caffeinated to explain.


When I listened to Marc Maron and Louis on WTF Pod yesterday he says he gets choked up when he talks about their friendship. Its kinda like when I sent you that essay I wrote, Sisterless, and i mention the karmic sister thing, you said it choked you up. I was surprisedactually I dont know if either of us have cried in front of each other, kind of hard to believe, no?

I know how so far in these installments, weve compared ourselves to Marc Maron, Louis CK, Jerry Stahl, and Jack Kerouac. Who do we think we are?


Why the fuck do you think we might have such a fierce desire to be so honest in our work?


I think we both get bored with non honesty. It’s uninteresting, predictable, and it doesn’t make you close to people and I think we both crave intimacy.  


Back to usually being on a similar schedule, right now we are both out of town.  You are in Austin visiting with a friend and you did a reading the other night. I am down in Mexico with my husband chilling and working on some writing.  When I go away, as long as I am in an inspiring place, my mind often expands and I begin to think bigger picture about my work.  Something about getting away from the usual routine, the same old fucking furniture to stare at all the time, the same coffee shops, things like this.  I’m curious to know where your head is at right now, being away in a super rad city like Austin.  I have been getting a sense that you have been coming down from a long couple of months of stress and unknowns around your work, maybe not feeling super spacious or inspired, but I could be wrong.  Plus, summer can really be a strange time to write, it’s so intense and distracting.

It’s now safe to say that you have a book coming out next year.  That’s gotta be a relief for you in a lot of ways.  The shit is finally sorted.

That being said, where are you at with your writing and your head right now?


Yes, I have come down, and it feels amazing. I feel so restored right now. I just read somewhere, someone wrote, You know that peaceful feeling that comes after a hard time,and I was like OMG YES. I was at the Ft. Lauderdale airport when someone I’ve never met tweeted and emailed me the announcement in Publisher’s Marketplace so it’s a weird memory. I was so relieved.

At this exact moment i’m on a plane from Austin to Baltimore and I’m drinking club soda and eating honey roasted peanuts. But I feel better then I’ve felt on months. I’m excited and relieved to have months to work on my collection and get it to a point i’m comfortable with and proud of. It was awesome to wake up in Austin everyday and not immediately walk to my desk and open my computer. I didn’t look at my computer much all week.

Summer is my least favorite season to write, definitely. Im a winter writer. However, sometimes you have to suck it up and do it anyway. Luckily Im a seven to two or eight to three writer and after that I try to get my ass outside. But, I do have fantasies of checking into a hotel to write. If I ever did that, I would tell the people at the desk not to give me the wifi password.

Okay now its a week later and Im back from Austin. Im in my apartment drinking coffee and listening to Elliott Smith. I still feel restored. I feel really happy that Im not flying anywhere this summer. I did a lot of travel this past year. Cali twice, the mid-west, Portland, Austin, Marthas Vineyard. Im excited to root down and work on my essays and do my teaching gigs in NYC. Get grounded. Yesterday I rearranged and re-organized my apartment.


If I were in Austin right now, I’d be heading up to hill country for a tube down the river in a pair of old sneakers and cutoff shorts and a bikini top.

Have you ever been to Mexico?

When you asked me this I WAS wearing cut-offs and a bikini top. Austin was rad. I accidentally ate this salty chili powdered watermelon (actually I spit it out), a few migas breakfast tacos, coffee at Jos, did a reading, saw a reading, bought Frye boots, swam. Most importantly I got spend time with my friend Erika and meet her husband and 2 daughters.

I only went to Mexico once by way of San Diego. I think we went to Mexico for like, a day. My brother got food or sun poisoning. I was eight.

I think we should go together to Mexico in 2016. Mexico or Paris. What do you think???

You called me yesterday morning and told me a funny story. Do you want to talk about how you lost then found $800 in Mexico or no?


We should for sure go somewhere together and colab on the project that we’ve been talking about pretty much since the day we met and bonded over our mutual love for the movie Frances Ha.  I figured this dialogue would help us work out some material that could eventually morph into a bigger project, maybe a book, a screenplay, who the fuck knows, we’ll know when it is ready to rear it’s head I suppose.  But tucking away somewhere other than our usual digs would be a perfect way to get the shit out of our asses.  Either that, or we’ll just sit around for days making fun of yoga teachers.

Wherever we go, we need a pool and breakfast included, I am obsessed with breakfast offerings at hotels.  If there is not good coffee or breakfast, I get very anxious about life.

Dude, I just got back from Mexico the other day and had an epic trip with my husband.  The kid stayed at home with his grandma.  The day before I flew back to Portland, I was thinking that this trip was all-time and how I needed it to melt away all the darkness out of my bones.  I mean, I could feel the magic sun working it’s way into my bone marrow.  So I’m packing and shit to go home, the husband is out surfing and I go into my passport to pull out eight hundo in cash to pay the hotel bill cash to avoid taxes.  The shit wasn’t there.  I immediately knew someone stole.  It was awful and sad and I didn’t know what the fuck I was gonna do.  I mean, what a dumb fucking gringa bitch I was, so senseless and dumb.  I talk to the manager, I talk to the owner (he looked exactly like George Michael), we brokered a deal that I wouldn’t say shit online if he let me walk.  I felt like a character out of Goodfella’s.  I felt dirty.  But I knew that loot was tucked away in the passport because I am super OCD and never misplace shit.  Next morning, I am unpacking and what do I find?  Yup, the grip of hundies were in my wallet.  In my motherfucking wallet!!!!  My stomach dropped and for the first thirty seconds I thought about pocketing that loot, not for the loot itself, but to avoid the shame that was about to wash all over me for telling those people that someone stole.

That morning I had asked the universe to show me a sign.  I never did that before and have no idea why I did it. Nonetheless, I did the right thing and emailed the owner of the hotel right away and sorted out an immediate wire transfer.

Show me a sign.  And this is what I got.

#tbt 199 N 6th Street


I keep forgetting, but I want to do this throwback Thursday thing on my website where I post a photo and my correlating essays. So here is a photo of my friend Noelle and I when we lived in Williamsburg in 2006/2007 before we moved to Greenpoint. I think I’m collaging and she’s writing songs.  I LOVED this apartment, and mention it in ‘That Was Called Love” and “Last City I Loved.” We had a friend named Vance that we called LSD for short (?) and that’s why it’s graffiti-ed on our cabinet. On the left hanging up is the gold “jam-box” we bought at Urban Outfitters.

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jumpstart yr creativity w intimacy & candor


Teaching my ass off this summer. Online I’m teaching my cult hit (JK) Polish & Publish Your Personal Essay, and in NYC I’m teaching Memoir 1. But I’m also really excited about this one-day-workshop in NYC: Expose Yourself: Jumpstart Your Creativity with Intimacy and Candor. Details below. Applications accepted here.  The class is through the wonderful Electric Literature and Catapult. They’re serving cocktails after our long day of work.

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Just finished Sarah Hepola’s memoir BLACK OUT, as well as Ryan O’Connell’s essay collection I’M SPECIAL and Other Lives We Tell Ourselves.

My cousin sent me a rando Barnes & Noble card w $33 on it, so I bought the anthology Money Changes Everything, edited by Jenny Offill & Elissa Schappell & I Was Told There Would Be Cake by Sloane Crosley because I love devouring essay collections as I write my own.

What are you reading/watching/listening to???