how i spent my summer


i got this how i spent my summer idea from EE. ever since i read it i’ve had one clanking around in my brain.

i spent my summer enjoying myself in spite of myself. i spent my summer eating chicken apple sausage with greens, chicken apple sausage with eggs, standing at my kitchen counter in my bra and underwear eating peaches off a cutting board with a fork, eating blueberries by the handful and honey by the spoonful, drinking some shit called warrior greens, taking baths and showers at night, reading in the bath, walking the train tracks, walking up and down the hill from the Amtrak and back home again. riding the train and writing blog posts to kill the time, writing emails. splitting thin crusted pizzas with people.  i spent the summer stepping on tiny shards of glass through July and aUGUST after accidentally smashing a framed print drunk one night, not texting people i shouldn’t, not hitting any deer, drinking Vino Verde, sleeping at from 1030p.m. to 7a.m., using half & half heavy handedly, eating whatever i wanted and liking how my body looked despite this, seeing movies alone at theaters i’d never been to in NYC: Bow Tie and Loewes at 66th Street, reading through people’s traumas, reading through more people’s traumas, reading through more people’s traumas. watching 30 minutes of Sex & The City to let my mind rest from all the trauma. reading chelsea martin’s essay collection to help me with my own, reading meghan daum and joann beard and jonathan ames to help me with my own, listening to terry gross, listening to marc maron. always having gladiolus or sunflowers in my kitchen. searching for the ultimate comfortable bra. sitting next to various business men on the amtrak, eating m&m’s and drinking seltzer on my way home on the amtrak, peeing more than i’d like to on the amtrak, listening to music on the amtrak, forgetting my headphones and being pissed on the amtrak, drinking iced coffee, missing maggie estep, listening to the construction workers outside my apartment, cleaning my room, wearing dresses every day, buying more and more dresses, sharing a last glass of wine with my mom after we both have one, sitting at various bars around town with my mom, lackadaisically walking around hudson with my mom, going to breakfast and dinner with my mom, going to my mom’s house and stealing food from her fridge and lettuce from her garden, passing a gray bob dylan t-shirt back and forth with my mom, going wine tasting in the middle of the day with my mom, seeing sheryl crow live with my mom, going on hikes, swimming, hiking at bash bish falls, trying to be excited about my essay collection, trying not to be embarrassed about my essay collection, trying and failing to make my essay collection good, knowing how lucky I am to sold an essay collection, working on my Spotify playlist, meeting people for drinks and coffee and lunch who i met on Twitter, getting into raging arguments with my high school girl friends, going to therapy, not going to yoga enough, swishing coconut oil around in my mouth, eating nicoise salads that make me feel like 100 bucks, getting tan, getting haircuts, people-watching at Fabienne’s in Williamsburg, drinking cafe au laits at Fabienne’s in Williamsburg, buying many pairs of underwear, talking on the phone over coffee in the morning to my  girl friends, sleeping in Crown Heights, in Bed Stuy, at the St. Marks Hotel, printing, printing, printing shit at Staples, sitting on my porch, using three different colors of Le Pens (red, blue, lavender) making friends with my students, watching every interview of amy schumer and tig notaro that exists, seeing Trainwreck and AMY and that Beach Boys movie and Mistress America, watching the Nirvana doc, the Nina Simone doc, Welcome To Me, Diary of a Teenaged Girl, slowly making my shoe collection classier, rearranging the furniture in my living room, eating lavender ice cream cones with my dad, going to west side story with my dad, watering my plants, trying on clothes, writing a bunch on my website to avoid writing other things, listening to old cat power…….

why live in NYC when you can live here????

why live in NYC when you can live here????

swimming in spencertown

swimming in spencertown

brunch w my mama

at brunch w my mama

reading student stuff

reading student stuff

gifts from my editors

gifts from my editors

said sausage

said sausage

reading and seltzer in the b

reading and seltzer in the bath

The Strand 09′


I found this video on my old computer and it made me laugh. It’s from 2009 at The Strand. My friend Skye and I were hyper as shit. I was visiting from Seattle where I was living, so was happy to be in NYC. This was our friend Trevor Harran. I like how he says, “I know all the same deals that you guys know.”

the dog ate my book


This past June I visited my friend  Erika Kleinman in Austin, Texas. I was terrified of her dog named Penny. Erika said my face was a mixture of fear and disgust whenever Penny was in the room.

Yesterday, Penny did this to my book. Erika sent me this picture. So the feeling is mutual, I guess. I

Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 9.02.54 AM

The 2nd printing of WOMEN is almost finished. It includes an introduction from Elizabeth Ellen. Here’s a taste. You can buy the first printing before it’s gone through Powell’s or Amazon. Or you can buy one through me! I have about four copies. Paypal me ( $14 if you’d like a special signed copy and I’ll mail it this Monday.

Screen Shot 2015-08-29 at 9.10.25 AM

Have a great weekend!




I am really depleted. All of my jobs have piled on top of me at once. So unless you’re in my classes right now, treat me as though I don’t exist (unless you want to buy me a meal. Shout out to Andrew Bomback and Milcah Orbacedo).

Screen Shot 2015-08-28 at 9.52.51 AM

I might exist again in a week or two. I hope. I have to work on my own book to make sure it doesn’t suck when it publishes in a year. That would be embarrassing.

(As this diary in the NY Mag says, I’ve turned into the woman who only talks about how much work she has. Whatever. I don’t care. Can I pull the, if-I-were-a-man-would-it–matter card?)


Really into these little films on BROADLY. They’re 20 minutes and educational and fun. I really enjoyed the one called The Last Lesbian Bars and the interview with the author of King Kong Theory. 

Also David Foster Wallace on NPR from 1997.

Ok bye.

jamaica nostalgia


Miss my friends a little. this photo was taken in Jamaica in October 2013. i was working on my book WOMEN which was called ROLLERCOASTER and only 5 pages and I wasn’t planning on making it a book. We stood in the bluest water I’ve ever been in and talked about heartbreak and obsession. i didn’t know then if ROLLERCOASTER would be anything. I was living in Portland. When i flew back there from Jamaica, I knew I was done with it. I needed to move back to New York.

Chelsea, me, EE

Chelsea, me, EE

I’m reading in NYC with Chelsea and Elizabeth, Tao Lin, Uzodinma Okehi, and Mira Gonzalez on Tuesday, October 20th at KGB bar. Never read there before. Can’t wait.

Screen Shot 2015-08-27 at 12.17.36 PM

Tig & Me


dang, i <3 when my book is compared to tig notaro’s life.

especially because tig once sent me a personalized birthday card. (K fine it was my friend Logan)

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 8.39.54 AM

From AutoStraddle:  Dating Women: The Most Enticing Romantic Possibility Life Ever Threw Her Way:

Chloe Caldwell’s 2014 novella Women, a beautiful story about the narrator’s first same-sex love affair, manages to address frankly how different it is to be with a woman without making sexual orientation itself the subject or the obstacle of her story. Early in the book, when she’s found herself drawn to this woman, Finn, but hasn’t yet given it a name, Caldwell writes, “I knew I found Finn’s aesthetic attractive, but I hadn’t yet explored feelings of being attracted to her, in part because I hadn’t yet explored my ability to fall for a woman. I figured if I was going to be with a woman, I would have been with one by now. I would know if I was bisexual or gay. Being a writer, I assumed I was at least mildly self-aware.” And then, of course, she falls, quickly and desperately, in love with a woman she cannot have because this woman is already in a relationship with somebody else. It’s unhealthy and destructive. But she falls, and falls, and falls, and this new categorization of affair is approached not with hand-wringing, but with nervous, tentative, flushed excitement and curiosity.

A similarly enchanting narrative begins mid-way in the new Netflix documentary Tig, when out lesbian comedian Tig Notaro becomes fast friends with Stephanie Allyne, a straight actress she worked with on the film In A World. Although Allyne and Notaro are clearly falling for each other — texting nonstop, becoming inexorably obsessed with each other’s every word and move, involving each other in their work whenever possible — Allyne resists to categorize it as “falling in love” because, of course, she’s straight! “I don’t know how to go forward in my life without this person,” Allyne recalls feeling after her and Tig had decided to take a break from their friendship because Tig’s feelings for Allyne were too strong. “I knew if I don’t say ‘yes’ to this in my life then I am not following my feelings and my heart.” I won’t spoil the film for you, but you’re probably already aware that the two are presently engaged to be married, so there’s that.

Ye olde fictional narratives never turned out quite as well as these present-day true stories do. Jessica Stein tried really hard to love her girlfriend as much as her girlfriend loved her, but ultimately she was just too straight to make it work. Samantha Jones quickly grew tired of her relationship with Maria in Sex and the City, and exited with several digs at lesbian relationships in general. InSix Feet Under, Claire’s brief experimentation with bohemian lesbian artist Edie was similarly short-lived, as Edie reminds Claire that “the world’s not your own private fucking chemistry set.”

Screen Shot 2015-08-26 at 8.41.54 AM

This is my favorite TIG ever. On Being Present.

if i told you, i’d have to kill you


Publisher’s Weekly gave me some nice airplay in this article about WHAT ELSE: memoir writing. Thanks Ryan Joe!!

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 6.09.01 AM

I’m up at six a.m. on a Sunday for absolutely no good reason.

7 women came to my apartment yesterday at ten a.m. and left back for NYC at nine p.m. for a nonfiction workshop. It was so fun!!! But I can’t tell you what went down. It’s top secret.

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 6.07.36 AM

Then we walked to dinner. And asked some dude to take this photo.

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 6.04.28 AM

My class polish & publish your personal essays starts THIS Thursday, so sign up soon!

And if you want to take my memoir classes in NYC, sign up here.


Building Something Out of Nothing


I’m posting on my website frequently and I think it’s because I’m off Twitter. Trading addictions for addictions. Also that ‘picking my brain’ post really emboldened me to voice myself more here.

I’m currently working with two teenagers on their college essays. Gotham offers a 5-hour college essay package. The first two hours of the package entail a ‘brainstorming’ session. I meet with the girls (separately) in a windowed room in Manhattan, books shelved around us, ambulances constantly ringing, air-conditioning blaring. We drink iced coffees. The girls are both Syrian-Jews and grew up in their tight-knit Syrian community together. They are best friends. One likes to write and one doesn’t. They are both sweet as hell.

What’s been so endearing about meeting with them, is that they are starting from scratch. I don’t ever start from scratch anymore. I don’t know if I have since Highschool. I still feel seventeen in some ways, and sitting across from these sinewy girls reminds me I am not. Since high school, I have not had to write an essay because I was told to. It’s always been for fun or desire or money.

Similarly, my students are not at a loss for what to write about. They have a surplus. Life happens. Your twenties happen. We have stories. Pain. Confusion. Observations. But these girls are seventeen. They say their moms made them work with me because otherwise they’d never write their essays. One girl offers me a sip of her green juice. We discover she wants to be a nutritionist.

It’s really refreshing to sit across from people that have to write an essay but don’t identify as “writers”.

“I feel like I’m selling myself,” one of the girls said to me this morning.

“You are!” I told her. Get used to it, I think in my head. “You want NYU to want you!”

“I feel like I’m bragging about myself.”

“You are!”

Neither of the girls knew what they wanted to write about. Neither knew when the essay was due. Neither knows what they want to major in. Neither has given thought to what their plan B schools are in they get into NYU.

We start from absolutely nothing. We talk. I play therapist and ask them questions and take notes while they talk. My notes look insane. But they work for me/us.

“What’s the worst thing that’s ever happened to you?” I ask them.

They can’t think of anything. Nothing bad has happened to them, they say.

“What would you do if you had a weekend alone with your best friend?”

“Nothing? Shop? Eat?”

I get it. When I was a teen, I wanted to do less than that. I wanted to smoke pot, leave my town, go to parties. I didn’t want to go to college. These girls are lightyears ahead of me.

“What about when you took that trip to Italy? Did you ever get lost? Have any problems?”

“We just used our phones,” she tells me. “GPS.”

Me at 17. My mom HATED all these flipping the finger photos.

Me at 17 in the high school cafeteria.

My friend Hannah and I at 16.

My friend Hannah and I at 16. My mom HATED all these flipping the finger photos.

Me at 29 at Gotham today.

Me at 29 at Gotham today.

So anyway, I take these psycho notes and by the end of the first hour we come up with an idea. Then I take her computer and I outline it for her. This is where you say your curious nature is what makes you want to be a psychologist. And stuff like that. I create something from nothing and ask her if it feels authentic or like a white lie. She says authentic. We talk about what a phenomenon the college essay is, how silly. How silly it is to know what you want to do at 17. We say the college essay should be banned within the next 5 years.

Then I pee and get water and leave her to it and by the end she’s made something out of nothing. She’s written an essay about her life. I read it out loud back to her. She says she’s excited and likes it.

Screen Shot 2015-08-19 at 11.42.58 PM

My photo is shitty because I’m on the train and  it’s moving. My notes cover her favorite Woody Allen movie (Annie Hall and Midnight and Paris), her favorite books (The Martian. The Great Gatsby, Outliers), what her parents do (real estate and professional running), the time she slammed her finger in a door as a baby leaving it deformed, the time she lost her mom in the supermarket, the time she was approached by a crazy person on a Sunday afternoon in Notting Hill, etc, etc, etc.

Makes me wonder what my therapist’s notes say about me.

My college essay was about music therapy. Or visiting France. I think. I don’t remember. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I was damn good at churning out essays, at bullshitting words, at finding meaning on the page.

I really hope both girls get into NYU. I don’t know why they wouldn’t.

more NYC memoir


I’m teaching Memoir 1 in NYC this fall at Gotham Writer’s Workshop. This time I’m teaching two 10-week classesYou get your pick. That’s right, I’m a memoir ninja running back and forth from 8th Ave and Broadway. The classes run on Tuesdays from October 6th through December 8th.

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 9.47.45 PM

Screen Shot 2015-08-18 at 9.58.17 PM

I love how my ‘boss’ at Gotham, Kelly Caldwell, always uses the accent over my é.

Some info about class is below. View the syllabus here.

This course gives you a firm grounding in the basics of memoir craft and gets you writing a short memoir (or two) or a book. Course components:

  • Lectures
  • Readings
  • Writing exercises
  • Workshopping of student projects (each student presenting work two times)

Memoir Writing I is for beginners or anyone who wants to brush up on the fundamentals.

Let me know if you have any qs.



Installment #9: Chloe & Fran on relationships


Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 12.11.20 PM

Frances Badalamenti:  A theme that is often on repeat in our texts and talks and I feel, something that surrounds our friendship in many ways, is our individual relationship status.  I have been married for over a decade.  I have only had sex with that one person for the past fifteen years.  Before that dude, I was married to another dude and by the time that I was your age, I was already married and divorced.  You are a single lady.  When we first started hanging out, you seemed to be heading into recovery from a few not-so-healthy relationships.  We would sit at my kitchen table in the epicenter of my pretty fucking normal American life (husband, kid, houses, loot in the checking account) and we would be across from one another drinking tea and it was obvious that there was this major difference between the two of us that was beyond age or sexual orientation or fiscal disparities.  

I had a person and you did not have a person.  You were the lone wolf and I was part of a pack.  And the funny thing is — I envied you and I still do to a certain extent.  I would love nothing more than to be a lone wolf again for a brief period of time, but I think that I would want to have the knowledge that I now hold from being in a long-term relationship.  I think I envy your relationship status because of what I now know about being with the same damn person and sucking the same damn dick for so many years.     

Do you feel that you have envied that part of me, the part that has the same person in the same bed every night?  Or, is that something that you wouldn’t want for yourself at this point in your life?

CC: I’ve never told you this straight-up, but your house is pretty much my happy place. I explore this a little in an essay in my new collection, about how I’m often in situations and homes of friends married with children. You, Cheryl, Elisa Albert, Erika Kleinman. I like peering into that lifestyle and observing it.

But yes, I envy you having a husband and a kid because you have a rad husband and funny as hell kid. And I hope I have a version of that some day, but to be honest, I’m growing less interested in it, and it’s not like, a goal for me.

Early on in our friendship, your husband and kid went to the coast and you stayed in Portland. I came over for lunch, and you had already gone to yoga and were gonna go to Thai food and a movie later. You were applying to residencies and working on your book. You said something like, “I wish they were gone a week, I could get so much DONE!” And I totally got it. And I think not having a person does allow me to get a shit-tone ‘done’ in my creative life.

I also don’t have qualms about doing anything by myself–we’re the same that way. I think the lamest thing ever is when people say they wouldn’t go to a bar/movie/hike by themselves. Really? Then why do you even live? I love having meals alone, it makes me feel alive, especially in places like NYC. My friend the other day said she’s been wanting to get Pho, but would never do it alone because it’s pathetic. I ate Pho alone like once a week when I lived in Portland. Who gives a shit?

FB:  You said to me recently that you are un-dateable.  I remember first hearing that term in Frances Ha and totally fucking connecting to it because I can definitely recall a time when I was completely un-dateable.  It was a period in my life that I was way too hungry for a relationship and completely starved of sex and so I would be super intense with my needs and I would turn dudes off straightaway.  I remember once calling a dude’s answering machine like a hundred times in a row until he actually picked up the phone.  I would wait by the phone for hours to see if some dude might call.  It was complete desperation, it’s no wonder I married so quickly the first guy who came along and actually wanted to be with me.  It was sick in the head.  Awful.  My point is, that was my version of un-dateable, but I don’t think this is the case for you.

Why do you feel that you might be un-dateable?  

At this point in my life, especially within the past year, I’ve become really ‘career’ focused. I have no degree or skills really aside from nannying. Of course I could work retail or waitress or work at my dad’s store forever. But none of those are appealing to me, so I have thrown myself into this hustle of, as you said on the phone yesterday, “a working writer.”

Many people I’ve met I can tell ‘think’ they want to date a writer but they don’t think about it realistically, for example, I need a lot of space, and get anxious if I’m not getting work done. I think people want to date and waste time together, and that’s not where I’m at in my life. In that sense, I think I can be a little undate-able, because people don’t want to date someone whose work comes before everything else. It can be threatening, I think. That said, if I fell in love with someone, I would make the time.

Also, I’m a little high maintenance and need a lot of attention. I’ve been really immature in the past in my relationships, but I’ve grown a lot since then. Oh, and lastly, I write such personal nonfiction and many people I’ve dated don’t know how to broach that. It freaks them out. 

FB:  I am suddenly reminded of The Unbearable Lightness of Being, ironically my favorite book during the un-dateable phase of my life.  I am thinking about the character of Tomas and his need to be un-attached yet he had this strong desire for intimacy with women.  If I were magically awarded with a reprieve from the long-term, I would totally want to be a Tomas.  I would choose to be detached yet getting tons of good sex and great long talks in-between crisp white sheets.  But I think that is because I have already experienced and reaped the rewards of a long-term relationship.  I have no plans to give it up, I am fully committed to this person, but I cannot help but dream about the idea of being fully autonomous and confident and independent but also getting plenty of amazing human contact.  It would be a hybrid form of where both you and I are at in our lives.

If you could get whatever you want right now, in terms of an intimate relationship, what would you go for?  

I am definitely like Tomas in that regard, and you’re a nut for thinking of him for this, ha!

I would love to date someone who was passionate about what they do in the arts and needed alone time to do it. I’m not into ‘working’ around other people. My friend Milcah, who you know, texted me the other day and asked if I make ‘work dates’ with other people and sit at coffee shops with a friend (or in a living room) and both work silently on their computers. That sounds like my worst nightmare, I told her. I really need to be physically alone while I work.

I went to Elisa Albert’s apartment for dinner this past Sunday. Both she and her husband have separate large offices with windows. That’s what I would need. Or I would need to have a different schedule than my partner–like the way your husband goes to his office 9 to 5 so you have the day to write.

I envy my mom’s marriage, which I call The Weekend Marriage. Her husband livs two hours away, so they spend every Friday night through Monday morning together, and then go on epic vacations together. This would work for me. It works for my mom, too.

So yeah, I’d need someone who respects my space and boundaries. I need a lot of space! I need downtime. I guess at heart I am an introvert because I get drained around people.  

Oh, and he/she would be a millionaire. Har, har.

At Heart coffee in Portland this past January, you asked me, would you rather get a 20k book deal or meet your soulmate on your flight home? And I said, “The money. Nah, I guess the person.” And you said, “I know, right?”

FB:  Just to add in my five cents, I totally feel that you are dateable.  But I also know that you have to be ready to take on another person’s shit and that’s the part of a committed relationship that I feel is the hardest part and is the part that sometimes, some days, I want to just give it all up and be a Tomas.  You basically end up with this person’s dirty laundry in your face, both literally and figuratively and do me a huge fucking favor, please promise to relish in this quiet introspective time that you have right now, because I have a feeling that it will not be forever.    

CC: Oh thanks. Will you date me? Hahahaha. We are long distance friends/dating. We have a good rapport. It’s never overwhelming or underwhelming. It’s so funny how sometimes when it’s 9am here and 6am there, we manically text for the start of the day until you have to “open the kitchen” for your husband and kid. It makes me LOL. No but seriously, thanks, it means a lot.
Oh I do. Don’t you think? I love doing whatever the F I want. I love having no one ask me where I am. What I did. Why I bought this or that. It works for me right now. It’s not to say I don’t get lonely and crave intimacy and touch. My friend Logan and I talked about this recently—we were at dinner. Her friend Megan was saying everything in her life was going well, except she didn’t have a partner. She said she thrived in partnerships. That’s not me. I thrive when I’m single. I’m hoping someone fits into my puzzle some day, but I haven’t met them yet.