Video of the Day


Alex Carnevale

Features Editor
Mia Nguyen

Reviews Editor
Ethan Peterson

This Recording

is dedicated to the enjoyment of audio and visual stimuli. Please visit our archives where we have uncovered the true importance of nearly everything. Should you want to reach us, e-mail alex dot carnevale at gmail dot com, but don't tell the spam robots. Consider contacting us if you wish to use This Recording in your classroom or club setting. We have given several talks at local Rotarys that we feel went really well.

Pretty used to being with Gwyneth

Regrets that her mother did not smoke

Frank in all directions

Jean Cocteau and Jean Marais

Simply cannot go back to them

Roll your eyes at Samuel Beckett

John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion

Metaphors with eyes

Life of Mary MacLane

Circle what it is you want

Not really talking about women, just Diane

Felicity's disguise

Live and Active Affiliates
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In Which Crack Crack Pow Pow Trees Fall Everywhere

Notes from the Bayou City

by Yvonne Georgina Puig

The Panera Bread here in Houston, at Memorial City Mall, where I sit writing, is filled with people thumbing through newspapers and working on laptops. It's an odd place to find oneself in the wake of a natural disaster. Contrived to encourage work and conversation, but somehow ill-quipped.

Employees are scurrying, customers are ducking behind corporate club chairs to locate power outlets, there's a line snaking around the counter. In a small way, it's exciting.

Ten days after Hurricane Ike, most people around here don't have internet, and only a few have power. The result is something you don't see very often in this part of Houston: people outside of the house, talking or reading over coffee. The chit-chat is invariably Ike-related. Are you okay? Did your house make it? Did you lose any trees? Everyone has a story.

Mrs. McKissick

In the next day or two however, as cable returns and fewer lack in lights and the (literal) mountains of tree limbs and debris are trucked away, the community atmosphere will have faded. Houstonians will return to business as usual-almost. Ike, like its big sisters Carla and Alicia, is just one of those storms that, to quote the neighbors, "folks'll keep talkin' about."

Gene Parrish, electrician, teacher, veteran

"When Carla hit I was in Hong Kong, in the navy. But I think this storm here is the worst we've ever had. It's nasty. I've been taking them quick, cold baths for a week. Once you turn blue you don't care anymore. It don't take but two minutes to take a cold shower. You just spring in and spring out. Spring in and spring out."

Mrs. McKissick, retired schoolteacher. A tree crashed through the roof over Mrs. McKissick's sitting room.

"I've got two Mexicans coming from Bruce's place and they tell me they'll fix it in a week and do a first-rate job. I hope I don't have a rat in my house. If I do I'm moving out. That storm ruined my carpet. I'm getting a new carpet, the same but it'll be one shade darker."

Mrs. McKissick's poodle, Katie

Anthony "Cleve" Calagna, Village Fire Chief, proud Democrat

"We got a call that night on Timberwild, all huge houses. There's a house end of that street that's 26,000 square feet. We pull up, I keep hearin' crack, crack, pow, pow, trees falling everywhere. Someone had been hit by a tree.

A girl comes out and we find the house is full of bubbas in there. What the shit are a bunch of bubbas doing on Timberwild? The girl's boss said she could go over there if she needed to evacuate and she brought all her kinfolk. These guys smoking Pall-Malls and wearing stars and bars. They were drinking beer outside and got hit by a tree."

Michael Puig, sailor, my dad

"If I hadn't moved my boat I'd be squat right now. The next dock flipped over like a switchblade and would have cut my boat in half.  It was raining dogs and Polecats. If you weren't on a floating dock, you were screwed."

Yvonne Puig is the contributing editor to This Recording. Her tumblr is here.

"Divine" - Sébastien Tellier (mp3)


Danish’s first post ever. I’ll have to rerun this one with DVD commentary at some point.

Molly shined on like a crazy diamond.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

portrait of the author


In Which We Give You A Punk Rock Purity Ring

True Love Waits

by Molly Lambert

True Love Waits (TLW) is an international Christian group that promotes sexual abstinence outside of marriage for teenagers and college students. TLW was created in April, 1993, and is sponsored by LifeWay Christian Resources. It is based on Christian views of human sexuality that require one to be faithful to one's husband or wife, even before marriage.

In addition, they promote sexual purity, which encompasses not only abstaining from intercourse before marriage, but also abstaining from sexual thoughts, sexual touching, pornography, and actions that are known to lead to sexual arousal.

Except, When It Does...

Purity balls can vary in many particulars, but fathers who attend typically pledge before God to protect their young daughters' purity in mind, body and soul. Daughters are expected to remain virgins, abstaining from pre-marital sexual intercourse. Fathers must sign the "Covenant of Purity and Protection," witnessed by their daughters, and openly commit to the pledge.

Miss Manners's opinion is that "polite society does not recognize such a thing as a chastity ring. It is so polite that it presumes that a lady is chaste unless publicly proven otherwise."

The grossest one by far, "an unblossomed rose"

This one represents Jesus cockblocking you

comment from a Jonas Brothers youtube:

"I am so happy that guys are haveing purity ring, I have one and a am a girl and it is hard not to have sex and to have my frinds look at me and think that I am crazy, but I know that God have a man for me and I need to save myself for him. and God will bless you and help you day to day with that if you let him.

I think that is a betwen you and God if you want to go that way, but I have saved myself and still am. i hope and pray that they will stay strong it there wate. God Bless everyone..."

Kevin, Joe, and Nick Jonas—the teen-pop trio who stand, at this very moment, on the brink of hugeness—wear the metal bands on their fingers to symbolize, as Joe puts it, ‘promises to ourselves and to God that we’ll stay pure till marriage.’

Joe is 18. His ring is silver and adorned with a cross. ‘It actually ripped apart a little bit, just on the bottom, here, but I didn’t want to get a new one, because this one means so much to me,’ he says.

Nick, who is 15, says, ‘I got mine made at Disney World. It’s pretty awesome.’ Kevin, at 20, is the oldest of the three, and while a punk-rock purity ring from Tiffany might represent the ultimate oxymoron, that’s exactly what he’s going for.

His silver vow of abstinence is covered with studs. ‘It’s pretty rock and roll,’ Kevin says. ‘It’s getting banged up a little bit because of the guitar.’”

Kevin Jonas revealed, “We see ourselves as a poprock group.” The 20-year-old member of the group revealed, “We don’t do dance routines. We try to rock out. People classify us as a boy band because they see the reaction of the girls when we play live. But, hey, that can’t be a bad thing. On stage, we’re all having a blast.”

He continued, “When we started making records, we looked to groups such as 'NSnyc and the Backstreet Boys for inspiration. But we have far more in common with the Bee Gees. I love their harmonies and the way they reinvented themselves. We met Barry Gibb and he has become a friend of the family. He told us to take things slowly and enjoy ourselves.”

A good Bee Gees song about purity rings:


He added, “We want to be an energetic band and have fun playing loud guitars, but you don’t have to be an angry teenager to do that. We play the music we love and write the songs we want to write. There would be no point in us trying to be something that we’re not.’

In steering well clear of the temptations that traditionally derail so many young bands, the Jonas Brothers also believe in rock ‘n’ roll without the sex and drugs.”

The Jonas Brothers, who are not known for their wild parties or any post-gig visits to dubious nightclubs, also wear purity rings. The rings signify their desire to stay celibate until they get married. However, Kevin Jonas insisted, “The rings are a constant reminder to live a life with values. For me, it’s a personal thing.

I’m not going to comment on the way other people live their lives. That’s up to them. ‘Chastity is an interesting term. Wearing these rings is a private decision that we made. It’s a constant reminder. You put a string around your finger to remember to wash your car or take your dog for a walk.”

Molly Lambert is managing editor of This Recording

"For Every Field There's a Mole" - Bonnie Prince Billy (mp3)

"Easy Does It" - Bonnie Prince Billy (mp3)

"So Everyone" - Bonnie Prince Billy (mp3)


Britney Spears At The VMAs

I'm Miss World, Somebody Kill Me

Mommy Wants Her Happy Sticks

This Recording Is Like A Virgin,
Touched For The Very First Time


In Which Our Midwestern Correspondent Attends the Nebraska State Fair

State Fair

by Elisabeth Reinkordt

The end of the summer in Nebraska, as in much of the Midwest, is marked by the annual State Fair.  The fair spans a week with two long weekends, and on Labor Day, the fun is over, the cows go home. The Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, though, coincides with the home game opener of Nebraska Football; thus, another season begins.

The Nebraska State Fair began in 1868, one year after statehood, making this the state's 139th fair.  This year marks the 109th Nebraska State Fair at the state's fairgrounds in Lincoln, and the second-to-last to be held at that location.  In response to lagging attendance, the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature decided in its past session to move the Fair to Grand Island, 100 miles to the west of Lincoln.

This is farther from the population centers, marginally closer to much of the agricultural population, and conveniently clears the way for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to develop a so-called Technology and Innovation Park on 251 acres of superbly located real estate.

My parents took our family to the fair just about every year, and usually we'd go on Labor Day, when the gate admission was lower in order to eek out a few extra dollars before the fair shut down. By this time, most of the animals were loaded up into their trailers and headed home to the far corners of the state, exhibits were being torn down, and not much but the Midway remained in the way of active entertainment.

Even though this might not seem to leave much excitement for a child who suffered from motion sickness, I still loved the mixture of bright-colored signs, the stench of livestock, the absurdity of the food, and the aimless crowds.  There was a distinct sense that you could get yourself terribly, terribly lost from your parents.

Entries at the State Fair get selected from the best at county fairs all over the state, with categories in 4-H and Open Class. At the age of eight, I joined a 4-H club, and began preparing projects for the Lancaster County Fair. The first year was pretty miserable, as my neighborhood club, the Hearts & Rainbows, was mostly concerned with making appliquéd sweatshirts with puffy paint, putting Contac paper on big barrels, and hot gluing miscellaneous pastel things to one another.

I started with sewing, however, and entered my first fair with a two-piece tunic-and-capris ensemble. 4-H'ers who sewed were encouraged to model their creations as well, and thus began my days on the runway.  The second year of 4-H, my best friend Alison and I became part of a newly formed club, the Leapin' Leprechauns.

This club was co-ed, and we did everything from model rocketry to CPR to cooking to table setting contests.

My brother, ever the cat-lover, took our family cat Mikesch to the 4-H cat show, where he won the ribbon for "Best Personality" after the cat freaked out at the judge.  My sewing progressed, and eventually I made and modeled my 9th grade promotion dress, a three-piece tailored suit, and finally my senior prom dress.

I also took photography every year, and took several prints to the State Fair. The year our club did Bird Watching as a club project, most of our bird houses went to state, due mostly to the fact that not many other clubs were interested in that project.

For rural clubs, livestock competitions are everything.  Bucket calves - those weaned early and bottle-fed to encourage tameness and easy handling - are meticulously groomed, sheep carefully shorn, pigs washed squeaky clean.

The exhibitors, dressed in starched white shirts and black pants, then bring their prized animals into the arena to be judged against others of the same class.  Judges look carefully over each curve of the pedigree, demand lots of maneuvering of the animals, and, after several stages of ranking, give their justification for ribbon placement. With our wild, grass-fed black Angus, I would never have stood a chance in the ring.

I made two trips to the State Fair this year. Monday night, Boyz II Men were the main act at the Open Air Auditorium.  This, naturally, required attendance.  While sitting down to a fair dinner of Husker Indian Tacos, I saw my parents' neighbor, a rancher who drives tractor-pulled trams around the fairgrounds at fair time.

He noted that, while the Fair had been pretty dead all day, it was clearly packed now.  In a nod to demographics, it was also a far less white crowd than usual - a very different set than shows up for the country music that dominates the rest of the entertainment schedule.

The Boyz did not disappoint, throwing red roses into the crowd during "I'll Make Love To You" and shedding the sport coats they'd sweat through for an encore.  In a nice bit of scheduling, local up-and-comers Triggertown - a band featuring washtub bass, dobro, guitar, banjo, and fiddle - played murder ballads and union songs to close out the night.

Saturday, I braved the football crowd, getting in that last piece of summer, and, admittedly, getting nostalgic about the Fair's leaving for Grand Island.  Not quite as nostalgic as Garrison Keillor's live broadcast from the Minnesota State Fair, but that's his job.

Elisabeth Reinkordt is the senior contributor to This Recording. She is a writer and filmmaker living in Nebraska. Her website is No Coast Films.


"The Dakota" - City-State (mp3)

"Out of Control (State of Emotion)" - Kenna (mp3)

"Forever" - Stars (mp3)

"Going, Going, Gone (live)" - Stars (mp3)

"Sad Robot" - Stars (mp3)

"The Prize" - Guster (mp3)

"Come On Eileen" - Guster (mp3)

"I Saved a Junky Once" - Final Fantasy (mp3)


What light on yonder window breaks.

You change in real life while staying the same on the interwebs.

A film that more than disappointed us, it insulted us.


In Which I Could Tell You But Then You'd Be Dead

The Secret History

ed. by Molly Lambert

According to Trevor Paglen, it is not illegal to photograph the U.S.A.'s many secret government bases, provided one does not directly enter a restricted area to do so.

Tonopah, in Southern Nevada, is a vast area containing multiple test sites and secret military bases, including the famed Area 51.

Tonopah encompasses 3.1 million acres and 12,000 square miles of airspace - an area roughly the size of Switzerland.

A montage of available USGS satellite photography showing southern Nevada. Black Areas do not appear on the site.

Budget documents tell little. This year, for instance, the Pentagon says Program Element 0603891c is receiving $196 million but will disclose nothing about what the project does. Private analysts say it apparently aims at developing space weapons.

Trevor Paglen's Black Ops book offers clues into the nature of the secret programs, and a glimpse of zealous male bonding among the presumed elite of the military-industrial complex. Patches can feel like fraternity pranks gone ballistic.

A spokesman for the Pentagon, Cmdr. Bob Mehal, said it would be imprudent to comment on “which patches do or do not represent classified units.” In an e-mail message, Commander Mehal added, “It would be supposition to suggest ‘anyone’ is uncomfortable with this book.”

Each year, the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a private group in Washington, publishes an update on the Pentagon’s classified budget. It says the money began to soar after the two events of George W. Bush’s coming into office and terrorists’ 9/11 attacks.

What sparked his interest, Mr. Paglen recalled, were Vice President Dick Cheney’s remarks as the Pentagon and World Trade Center smoldered. On Meet the Press, he said the nation would engage its “dark side” to find the attackers and justice. “We’ve got to spend time in the shadows,” Mr. Cheney said. “It’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.”

In an interview, Mr. Paglen said that remark revived memories of his childhood when his military family traveled the globe to bases often involved in secret missions. “I’d go out drinking with Special Forces guys,” he recalled. “I was 15, and they were 20, and they could never say where they where coming from or what they were doing. You were just around the stuff.”

Intrigued by Mr. Cheney’s remarks as well as his own recollections, Mr. Paglen set off to map the secret world and document its expansion. He traveled widely across the Southwest, where the military keeps many secret bases. His labors, he said, resulted in his Ph.D. thesis as well as a book, Blank Spots on a Map, that Dutton plans to publish next year.

The research also led to another book, Torture Taxi, that Melville House published in 2006. It described how spies kidnapped and detained suspected terrorists around the globe.

Black World, a 2006 display of his photographs at Bellwether, a gallery in Chelsea, showed “anonymous-looking buildings in parched landscapes shot through a shimmering heat haze,” Holland Cotter wrote in The New York Times, adding that the images “seem to emit a buzz of mystery as they turn military surveillance inside out: here the surveillant is surveilled.”

In this research, Mr. Paglen became fascinated by the patches and started collecting them and displaying them at talks and shows. He said a breakthrough occurred around 2004, when he visited Peter Merlin, an “aerospace archaeologist” who works in the Mojave Desert not far from a sprawling military base. Mr. Merlin argued that the lightning bolts, stars and other symbols could be substantive clues about unit numbers and operating locations, as well as the purpose of hidden programs.

“These symbols,” Mr. Paglen wrote, “were a language. If you could begin to learn its grammar, you could get a glimpse into the secret world itself.” His book explores this idea and seeks to decode the symbols. Many patches show the Greek letter sigma, which Mr. Paglen identifies as a technical term for how well an object reflects radar waves, a crucial parameter in developing stealthy jets.

A patch from a Groom Lake unit shows the letter sigma with the “buster” slash running through it, as in the movie “Ghost Busters.” “Huge Deposit — No Return” reads its caption. Huge Deposit, Mr. Paglen writes, “indicates the bomb load deposited by the bomber on its target, while ‘No Return’ refers to the absence of a radar return, meaning the aircraft was undetectable to radar.”

In an interview, Mr. Paglen said his favorite patch was the dragon holding the Earth in its claws, its wings made of American flags and its mouth wide open, baring its fangs. He said it came from the National Reconnaissance Office, which oversees developing spy satellites. “There’s something both belligerent and weirdly self-critical about it,” he remarked. “It’s representing the U.S. as a dragon with the whole world in its clutches.”

The field is expanding. Dwayne A. Day and Roger Guillemette, military historians, wrote an article published this year in The Space Review on patches from secret space programs. “It’s neat stuff,” Dr. Day said in an interview. “They’re not really giving away secrets. But the patches do go farther than the organizations want to go officially.”

Mr. Paglen plans to keep mining the patches and the field of clandestine military activity. “It’s kind of remarkable,” he said. “This stuff is a huge industry, I mean a huge industry. And it’s remarkable that you can develop these projects on an industrial scale, and we don’t know what they are. It’s an astounding feat of social engineering.”

Paglen showed us pages from the Department of Defense Budget Fiscal Year 2008. The document is publicly available but presents some puzzling numbers. For example, a whopping $ 12.3 million is allocated to toilets which, the document states, must provide soldiers with equipment 2 enhance their efficiency and efficacy."

Paglen displayed more images from a documents of classified strategic RDT&E programs. Some projects with mysterious names such as "Pilot Fish", "Retract Juniper," "Chalk Coral", receive huge budgets but, unlike the toilets do not present any justification. Sometimes the sum allocated to a project does not appear at all, leaving blank spots in the budget. The National Security Agency has mostly blanks in its budget.

This Black World gained more importance in the '80s. The Black Budget became then a big part of the defense budget with President Reagan, a man fascinated by secret weapons. The next issue he tackled was "How do we study something that doesn't exist? Something that must stay hidden?" Paglen turned to geography to make emerge a negative image of these black spots on maps.

That's where he compares his work to the one of an astronomer because he deals with dark matters, with phenomena which are detectable only through the influence they exercise on the visible world. He uses similar instruments as astronomers' to create his Limit Telephotography series.

So what happens with these "Selected Sites Associated with Classified Military Activity"? Money doesn't disappear like that. Paglen calls them the "Black Dollars." A number of places where these figures congeal are located in the South West of the country, more precisely in the desert. That area has a long history of being an unexplored region. In World War II, these places became useful to hide secret bases where airplanes were tested and eventually stage the Manhattan Project.

Limit-telephotography resembles astrophotography, a technique that astronomers use to photograph objects that might be trillions of miles from Earth. Many of the military bases and installations hidden deep in deserts and buffered by dozens of miles of restricted land are so remote that a civilian might be able to see them with an unaided eye.

In order to visually document these places, Paglen uses high powered telescopes whose focal lengths range between 1300mm and 7000mm. At this level of magnification, hidden aspects of the landscape become apparent. Because of the distance and the heat coming off the desert, these images have peculiar aesthetical qualities that sometimes evoke impressionist paintings rather than photography.

CIA sets up civilian front companies to hide these "black" operations, making it look like a normal business. But even front companies must produce flight logs, registration papers, and other legal documents. And most of them publicly available. That's the kind of data you check to know if a plane will land on time for example.

Now how do you find front companies? Documents such as the Civil Aircraft Landing Permits lists the planes which are allowed to land on military landfills. These are companies you have never heard of. You can get a list of the planes these airlines own and from there track information about where they land and from where they fly.

Bases like the ones at Tonopah are located in remote areas and surrounded by hundreds of miles of restricted empty land, making these facilities literally invisible without the aid of a telescope. To photograph these areas, Paglen uses technologies borrowed from astrophotography.

He notes that these areas are so well buffered that it is actually easier to photograph the planet Jupiter because there are only about six miles of breathable atmosphere between someone standing on Earth and the outer planets, whereas dozens of miles of restricted area may separate Paglen from his subject matter.

Even with the assistance of the latest telescopic technology, photographing remote targets such as these presents a unique set of challenges. Paglen is limited in terms of composition, because usually there are only a few vantage points from which he can observe a site.

By Paglen's estimates, the United States is currently spending more money on classified programs than ever before. To demonstrate the extent of these programs, Paglen created the "Code Names" installation, a list of code names for classified military programs whose names have been declassified or have otherwise entered the public domain.

Paglen constantly updates the list, adding new names as they become available and removing those of programs believed to have been ended. Though the list includes more than 2,000 entries, it represents only a small portion of active secret programs because the code names of the vast majority of them remain classified.

Terminal Air, a visualization system that Trevor Paglen developed together with the Institute for Applied Autonomy tracks the CIA aircrafts. You can register and get an email message when a CIA plane is coming to your city.

These companies leave other traces. They must have addresses. One of them led Paglen to a law office which is weird for an aviation company. No one would answer his questions. Then there are signatures at the bottom of documents belonging to the companies. He deciphered the names and found individuals which, unlike the rest of us, leave no electronic trace: they have no credit history, no driver's license.

They all have a single address which is a PO Box in Virginia. Paglen went there and discovered that the P.O. Box was used by hundreds and hundreds of names. It's a long collection of ghosts, of fictional characters. Which makes sense as these people are in the business of making other people disappear.

signature of a non-existing airline company member

These people involved in secret activities have colleagues which are the only persons with whom they are allowed to talk about their jobs. They organize reunions and form bonds. They also give awards to each other but they can't exactly say what this award is for. So someone would get an award for his or her "significant contribution in a remote location."

Since the mid 1990s, the CIA has spearheaded a covert program to kidnap suspected terrorists from all over the world. These people are then brought to a network of secret CIA-operated prisons, called “black sites,” where they are routinely tortured.

The CIA calls this the “extraordinary rendition” program. The locations of these black sites, known by code-names such as “Salt Pit” and “Bright Light,” are some of the CIA’s deepest secrets.

People taken to these secret prisons are effectively “disappeared”: there are no public records of their captivity, their identities are kept secret, and they are prohibited from communicating with the outside world.

Far from targeting the “worst of the worst,” the system sweeps up low-level detainees and even involves the detention of the wives and children of the “disappeared,” in violation of their human rights. The United States illegally used “proxy detention” to empty its secret sites. Among CIA operatives, they are called “ghost detainees.” They usually don't come back.

Molly Lambert is the managing editor of This Recording.

"Rocket Ship" - Daniel Johnston (mp3)

"God" - Daniel Johnston (mp3)

"The List of Dorms" - Pavement (mp3)


We Met The Real Life Iron Man

Celebrity Couples Confused and Amazed Us

Indiana Jones Got Rowdy In A Malt Shoppe


In Which Tess Longs For A Home of Her Very Own

Catch up with the first part of Tess' house-hunting series here.

House Hunting

Part Two: Living Alone

by Tess Lynch

little house

The other night the old owner of our condo stopped by unexpectedly. I felt a little embarrassed, since we hadn't cleaned and were lazily eating Trader Joe's mini quiches without napkins on the living room floor - well, really embarrassed, because we were also watching Intervention and I was sitting amongst like ten different empty glasses, and had In n' Out on my shirt - but seeing her was really nice. She complimented our cats, said she hoped we'd enjoyed our place, and was just as pleasant as when I remember buying this place from her.

zulu home!

Two of our neighbors escorted her over to our door, and told us they'd be sorry we were leaving, that we were "sweet kids." It was so nice, it made me sad to leave our bright green walls and really awesome bathtub behind.

I remember leaving my first apartment in Providence, where I was so excited to be living alone and had an ancient claw-foot tub, and then there was the second place, in Wayland Square, where I used to be able to walk to the grocery store even in blizzards, and where I spent all of one summer once just because I had spent my TGI Friday's tips on a wall-unit air conditioner, and could eat Brigham's ice cream (truly the worst casualty, for nostalgia's sake, of the recession) in bed to stay cool.

I've been trying to save myself from being too bittersweet and like someone's old Irish grandpa who hums "Oh, Danny Boy" all day, I've been concentrating on the following:

Image from Domino Mag: Small Spaces

There's something incredibly divisive about the idea of living alone. Recently, a friend of mine made the brave decision to leave Los Angeles in the near future - where we'd gone to high school together, where her family lives, and where she currently lives with her sister in a really, really damn cute apartment (atrium!) - for Chicago, and was thinking of living alone. She was kind of excited, and I got excited for her; living alone for four and a half years was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Rosy Little Things: The Little House

I wouldn't trade my current cohabitation for anything, but living alone does have its downsides.

For instance, having to invite people over any time you want to hang out seems weirdly formal and as though you need to ply your guests with some kind of food, drink, or exciting recreational drugs.

You really can't have more than one pet, because the amount of time you would need to put into taking care of them, were it just you and the animals, would make you resent them.

And, of course, the "cooking for one" triple-bummer of

  1. having to both cook and clean up afterwards,

  2. unavoidably making way too much food, eating it all, and not wanting the leftovers but feeling horribly guilty about throwing them away anyway, and

  3. refusing to use silverware because no one is watching and there's really no reason not to just use your hands to "pick" at a chicken, but then having this weird out-of-body vision of yourself as a person who is kind of disgusting.

Not that that's really disgusting. It's just walking the line between informal and disgusting. That's all.

Solitude: you are a delight

But back to the good stuff. Living alone - like learning to drive, taking tequila shots, appreciating the importance of tipping waiters well, and balancing your checkbook - is a rite of passage the value of which cannot be overstated.

When I first decided to give it a whirl, I was a freshman in college and at the end of my rope trying to get a "psycho single" because, even after changing roommates (thank you Molly Lambert!), I found I couldn't sleep without a Sominex and a really stiff mixture of $11 vodka and Crystal Light. I started working at Ben and Jerry's to get a place off-campus (reality check: $7.50/hour won't pay your rent), worried for a couple of months about my decision to move a mile away from everybody murdering my social life, and bought a futon at the Salvation Army.

I won't lie: it was very strange. There was no one around, and since we were only a few months into school, I didn't know enough people intimately enough to invite them over all the time. This actually ended up being great, because it taught me how to make friends even though there weren't people constantly offering up their hanging-outage.

It's kind of empowering: you have no plans unless you get your ass of your futon, clean the bits of chicken off your shirt, and make plans. Otherwise, you're just hanging out with yourself.

Which brings me to the other great thing about living alone: learning how awesome it is to hang out with you, because you are your own best (sometimes only) friend. And I dig not being able to do that, because my quality of life has drastically improved since I have lived with Peter, but that's also because I love him.

Even though I love my friends, I wouldn't want to live with them, because it's too easy, and I'd worry that when I moved out, I'd never want to see them again. Or the other way around. But maybe I'd worry less about that because since I've lived alone before, I know how totally rad I am to hang out with. I am the only person I survived living with for more than 10 seconds. That must mean I'm mad chill.

Anyway, thinking you're mad chill is something that has no price. And nothing teaches you that like flyin' solo. So, if anybody out there is thinking about it, I'm telling you that you should sacrifice the bedroom door and find yourself a great shoebox and make it your own.

Tess Lynch is the contributing editor to This Recording. She lives in Los Angeles. Her highly influential and important blog is here. Her tumblr is here.

portrait of the author looking pouty


"Playground Love" (vocals by Gordon Tracks) – Air (mp3)

"Clouds Up" – Air (mp3)

"Bathroom Girl" – Air (mp3)

"The Word 'Hurricane'" – Air (mp3)

"Highschool Lover" (theme from The Virgin Suicides) – Air (mp3)

"Ghost Song" – Air (mp3)

"Empty House" – Air (mp3)


Cheney got wicked mad.

Dan Murray and Hotel Chevalier.

A win is a win.