“One of the main differences between him as a teenager and me as a teenager is this: My parents were old and worn out from five previous children, and Ben’s parents (my wife and I at least) are still relatively young—and we’re cool. Is that weird to say? I mean, I’ve seen a lot of parents in my day, and I think my wife and I are a pretty sweet deal as far as parents are concerned.”
The Empty-Nest Yard Sale by Kevin Sampsell
“It’s astounding how insulted people feel if you don’t smile back at them while you make their drink. The comfort of silence to an embittered barista is supremely discomfiting to most everyone else. The unsmiling silence of a female barista is the most discomfiting of all. What did I do wrong, you can see them thinking. Why is she not being gentle? Why is she not being whimsical?
— From “Service with a Smile,” by the Rumblr’s own Lucy Schiller

The Rumblr’s in-house astrologer, Madame Clairevoyant, presents her latest dispatch from the stars:

AriesThis week is about looking ahead of you and looking behind you, about locating yourself in this big wild expanse of time. This week is about seeing the forces that made you, that made your parents, that made the soil and the sky and the oceans. Think of all the ways you can live in this world, think of all the worlds you could live in. Think of the ghosts that speak to you every day, think of the ghost that you’ll be someday. Read books about history, read books about the future, read poems from a thousand years ago.

TaurusThis week, restlessness and quiet sneaking feelings of discontent are going to lead you to places far away, wide open, scary and wonderful, places you’ve only imagined, places you’ve seen in dreams. Try to ride out the things that make you nervous, the things that make you doubt. Try to see how far the take you, try to see what strange new landscapes they can show you. Bring your friends with you to these weird new worlds, if you can. Read Renata Adler.

GeminiThis week is going to be best and most bright if you work to listen to other people, listen to their stories, listen to the things they can only tell you with their hands, their bodies, their silence. Listen to the sounds your house makes at noon, at midnight, at three in the morning. Listen to the wind, to the thunder, to the sirens down the street, to all of the small things the world can tell you. It’s a good week to find yourself in the sounds that surround you g. It’s a good week to read Chris Abani.

CancerThis week, the boundaries and edges and limitations of the world are going to feel stark, real. They’re going to scare you a little bit. It will help, it will feel easier, to work on surviving, to work on going through the motions (if you have to), to work on finding joy in the small spaces: driving home on the quiet highway late at night, or sitting on the porch with your friends after dinner, or waking up to smell the fresh early morning. Read Tatyana Tolstaya and think about magic.

LeoThis week will ask you to be in motion, will ask you step up, will ask you to do things that are difficult, that seem impossible. You’ll go places this week that are strange, that remind you of dark forests or tightropes or thunderstorms. It’s not going to be a soft week and it’s not going to be a simple week but all the energy you put into the world right now is going to grow large, going to shift, going to solidify, going to bring you unexpected good things. Read Imogen Binnie.

VirgoThis week is going to show you new ways to move. It’s going to show you how worlds shift. This week, if you look, the air will be clear enough that you can see things as they really are, as they could be. It’s a really good week to go to the movies, to sit in the dark, to watch stories. It’s a really good week to ride the bus and look at houses and watch neighborhoods move past the window. It’s a good week to wake up early and make yourself coffee and watch the sky brighten all around you.

LibraThis week is going to feel fresh, it’s going to feel new, it’s going to feel intensely bright and green, like the color of rainy spring days, like the color of young plants. It’s a good week for you to treat your friendships with a lot of careful tenderness, the old ones, the new ones, the strange ones. It’s a good week to treat your own fragile self like a fresh new thing that needs sun and rain and food, that needs to be talked to. Listen to songs about beaches.

ScorpioThis week’s going to be a little bit slow—not in a way that will frustrate you, but in a sweet way, a way that’s thoughtful and languid—the kind of slowness where things can grow. It’s a good week to read long books and to watch quiet movies where nothing happens. It’s a good week to write letters to your friends who live far away or to one who lives down the street, a good week to put the things inside of you that need time, that need care, that can’t be said out loud, on paper, to make them real.

SagittariusYou might feel a little bit lost, this week, or feel a little weird, or start to find your own the way you move and what you want fuzzy and hard to understand. This feeling can be a kind of panic, as cold and slow as ice, and it’s okay. When this happens, it will be good to turn to the things that have kept you safe before. It’s a good week to read your old favorite books on the bus, to eat the the foods you used to eat every day, to dream the dreams of your childhood, over and over and over again.

CapricornThis week you might find yourself feeling a little distant, maybe in a way that’s a little unpleasant, maybe in a way that makes you feel free and peaceful. Either way, when you start to feel far away from the things that make up your life, work to notice the things you do feel close to: your thoughts or your loneliness or your books or your cat or the person who sells you coffee in the morning. Remember the things that still hold you, the things that bind you to this earth, the things that will not let you drift away. Read bell hooks.

AquariusThis week is a good week to let your emotions go quiet, to let your feelings rest. It’s a good week to live for the things that are close to you, the people you love and the people you see on the street, the earth under your feet and the sky above your city. Remember the things that are large and remember the things that are far away, but this is a good week to focus what you can see, on what you can touch, when you walk out the door in the morning.

PiscesThis week is for trusting your own knowledge and your own desires and your own self above anything anyone else can tell you. Not that you should be weird about it, not that your friends or your mom aren’t a little right, too—just that this week, it’s okay and good for you to hold your own knowledge of your life closer than anything else, to trust it, to carry it in your pocket, to hold it under your pillow when you sleep. Remind yourself who you are, remind yourself of the ways that you can move through your world. Listen to Nina Simone.

Today’s image was made specially for Madame Clairevoyant by Jen May.

“Outside it’s unseasonably warm. Cracked paving stones rock under my weight like seesaws. The off-license is having a sale on Foster’s. I pass the chip shop again, wishing I could eat a chicken pie or piece of haddock. I pass the South Ealing Tube station. Pass the brownstone where I’m renting a room that belonged to an American girl who didn’t make it home for Christmas because her jet exploded above Lockerbie. Further down, a bank of windows thick with posters is sprayed with graffitti announcing, “Coming Soon: The Proverbial It.””
— From Amy Souza, our Sunday Rumpus Fiction: “My Friend, The Painter Joan Miró.” Real, real good.


The Last Book I Loved: House of Leaves

The Last Book I Loved is an ongoing series with The Rumpus to highlight emerging Tumblr writers (and the books they love). Want to have your essay considered? Submit it here.

I grew up on ”Give Yourself Goosebumps” (the “Choose Your Own Adventure”–style spinoff of “Goosebumps”) in primary school. Though it wasn’t very often that I had money to buy a book, I still amassed a considerable stack of them (until some calamity exposed them water damage). I would read them over and over in the dark by flashlight, finishing one path toward fright only to start back at the beginning until I had explored every available option. Those books are the first step to what Espen J. Aarseth calls “ergodic literature.” I hadn’t noticed until I discovered House of Leaves how much I loved reading stories where, as Aarseth says, “nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text.” Even more, I want to write those kinds of stories—stories where you can’t simply turn pages and slide your eyes across the black line of text, but where the act of reading is just as dynamic as the act of processing what you’ve read.

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Our latest pick for the Rumpus / Tumblr “Last Book I Loved” project. Only two more left!

The Rumblr’s in-house astrologer, Madame Clairevoyant, presents her latest dispatch from the stars:

Aries: Unexpectedly, this week will be full of reminders of things from the past, things you used to love and things that never caused you anything but misery. It’ll be a strange kind of nostalgia that haunts you, a little warm, a little bright, a little bitter, where even the unhappiest memories are going to glow and the best times will torture you with their sweetness. Go for a walk, think about where you came from. Go to the movies alone and sit in the dark, quiet and free. Go home, do your laundry, sleep on clean sheets, and dream about ghosts.

Taurus: This is a good week for doing whatever you want to do, a good week for not listening to the cruel parts of yourself and the cruel people in your life. This is a good week for trusting the small and quiet bits of your soul that live in your eyes, in your muscles, in your clothes. It’s a good week for moving, a good week for applying to new jobs or quitting old one, a good week for listening to fast songs, a good week for standing tall and getting a little loud.

Gemini: This week you might have to fight against being scared of your own voice, scared of the shape of the space you occupy in this world, scared of the lines and patterns that you leave behind in your wake. It’s not the worst thing to let these feelings make themselves known to you, but don’t let this fear spread, don’t let it take over your body. Read poems by Bernadette Meyer. Look at bright, weird, wild art until it almost hurts. Pretend you’re not even scared of anything.

Cancer: It’ll be so easy, this week, for your thoughts to get tangled around each other, easy to feel like the inside of your head is a cluttered waste, easy to feel stuck, to feel like there’s no space to live. It’ll help to live inside every single moment, to be focused on the way your body works. Pay attention to the way your feet fall on the sidewalk. Pay attention to how your hands move when you’re turning the key in your door, when you’re typing out emails, when chopping garlic. Pay attention to the colors in your dreams. 

Leo: This week might fill you with so much jealousy, when you start noticing the trees or the bookstores in cities other than your own, when you notice the trees on the other side of town, when you notice the astonishing art that your friends are making. This week, you’re going to want every single thing, every feeling, every kind of life, every kind of happiness. These are the desires that can consume you; they’re the desires that can hollow you out. Hold on to the little happinesses that are yours. Call your mom, take a bath, eat a donut.  

Virgo: This week might feel a little slow, a little wobbly, a little wavy, a little strange. Time might feel like it’s passing more slowly than usual, like it’s a little dried out, a little tired. Nothing’s going to go bad, nothing’s going to be wrong, this week, it’s just a time for waiting for the last frost of the season, for conditions to be right, for buds to show up on the tree outside your window. Draw weird pictures of your house, your hands, your face. Listen to Nina Simone until you almost pass out. 

Libra: This week will feel like an open field, like a rooftop, like a blue flame, like a clear night. The world will speak to you in beautiful ways, this week. Now is a good time for dealing with the things that have been bothering you because the world’s going to give you signs, it’s going to give you answers. This week you’ll hear Beyoncé songs thudding out of car stereos and tiny children telling each other secrets on the bus. You’ll be able to do anything.

Scorpio: Even more this usual, this week’s going to be about friendship, about warm feelings, about the sweet and complicated rituals you have with the people you love. Be very good to your friends this week. Tell them how you need them to be good to you and they’ll do it, because that’s what this week is about. Spend your time on the phone, spend your time running errands for each other, spend your time gossiping over beer, giggling over dumplings, driving each other home late at night, and sitting in silence watching the road and the dark sky. 

Sagittarius: This is the sort of week where you’ll feel like you’re on a tightrope, like you’re on a balance beam, like you’re a spinning top and you can’t stop or you’ll topple over. This is going to be a week for trying to find balance, even when the whole world is asymmetrical, even when the floors in your house are crooked. Try not to worry about balance, just focus on waking up on time, on eating fruit, on taking care of the young people in your life, on watering the tiny green plants on your windowsill. 

Capricorn: When things bother you this week, when things go wrong, you might feel like the whole world is burning up, like your body and your life are disintegrating, like everything’s falling apart. It’s going to drive you crazy, the little things that don’t go right this week, but try to ride out your frustration—watch it until it starts to move. The anger you’ll feel this week is the kind of force that can make the whole world open up. It can show you colors you’ve never seen before. It can show you how to fly. 

Aquarius: This is going to be a week where you’ll want to take all the problems of the whole world onto your shoulders, into your skull, inside your body. You can do this if you want—you’re strong enough—but try walking away a couple times this week, try taking care of your sweet stressed out self. Take a jog, take a bath, let some of this worry seep out your pores. Listen to X-ray Spex alone in your room and listen to X-ray Spex out at party. Get tough and weird and wild. 

Pisces: This week is a good week to watch the different colors of the sky, to see the way clouds pull apart and stick together, to notice what time the sun rises and sets. It’s a good week to step back and let the rhythms of your brain follow the rhythms of the light, to notice the ways you feel alive in the morning, the ways you feel alive in the evening, the way the sky outside your window goes pink and orange and blue and dark as you make dinner. Think about Kate Bush. Think about Yoko Ono. Think about the stars.

Today’s image was made specially for Madame Clairevoyant by Jen May.

By now she’s climbing. And singing—or maybe, more accurately, scatting, since she doesn’t actually know any words yet besides Dada, Ha-Mmm, and something that sounds suspiciously like ‘dork,’ which she only busts out when she’s staring at me and pointing. (How could she know?) What she doesn’t do is crawl. At least, not forward. Mysteriously, she can—when flat on her back, and possessed of the urge—do a kind of dry-land backstroke, kicking her little sausage-rockets and launching herself in the opposite direction of where she actually wants to go. It shows on her face—the alternate consternation at going the wrong the way, and the sheer delight of going anywhere.

OG DAD #18: When Good Babies Go Bad by Jerry Stahl

The Rumblr’s in-house astrologer, Madame Clairevoyant, presents her latest dispatch from the stars:

AriesThis week it will be important to do new things, important to feel small, important to scare yourself, a little, by remembering how little you actually know about the world, by remembering how many things there are underground, in the woods, in the house across the street. Think of how many of these things you won’t ever see, won’t ever know you’re missing. Go on a trip, go to the other side of town, go to the opposite face of the world. Read the local pages of the newspaper. Read about the bottom of the ocean. 

TaurusThis week you may worry about the future, but try not to: this is a time for beautiful details. This week choose your words and your clothes with care; this week listen to every quiet change in the sky. This is a time to hold onto each tiny victories and tiny misstep. Keep all these things in a diary, keep them in your desk drawer, keep them in a box in the basement that you can pull out to look at, years from now, when you want to remember the things that made you. 

GeminiThis week you’re going to see signs of spring, even if it’s only a few buds on a single tree, even if it’s only a few extra minutes of sunlight, even if it’s only that you’re a little less sad than you were a week ago. This reemergence of springtime, these extra minutes of sun, are going to illuminate changes and growth that have been happening all winter long but that you haven’t been able to see. This week, if you look, you’re going to start noticing small and wonderful ways you’ve gotten older. This is a really wonderful thing. 

CancerThis week the air around you is going to get hazy and blue and bright and you’ll feel so restless, so dreamy, so absorbed by the strange rolling landscapes inside your head. It’s a good week for making things, a good week for ideas, a good week for rearranging your furniture and painting your walls, though it might drive everyone around you crazy. Remind them that you love them; remind them that you’re okay. Listen to their stories and ask them about their days. Spend your time inside your head but don’t get lost in there. 

LeoTake a lot of walks this week—let your feet wander, allow your mind to roam. This is a good week for doing the kind of thinking that can only happen in a certain small and strange part of your brain, the kind of thinking that needs you to be in motion, the kind of thinking that only works after you’ve walked two miles without talking to anyone, when you’re very tired, when you’re most fully yourself. Listen to rambling sounds, listen to the airplanes over your head, listen to thunder, listen to rain. Read cookbooks. Write letters. 

VirgoThis week is a time for you to spend so much time with other people: it’s a week for talking and listening and storytelling and gossiping. This week will get lonely inside your head, if you let it. Sometimes that’s a good thing, but this week it’ll be much better to pay attention to other people than to yourself. Go to school, go grocery shopping, go out with your friends after work. Call your parents. Call your oldest friend and tell each other secrets until you both fall asleep. 

LibraThis week is a good week for being little quiet, a little bit contained. Try not to worry that you’re lazy, that you should be doing more. This is a good week for sitting outside, for looking out your window, for paying attention to the different kinds of light around you and the different ways that people walk and the different ways your world makes you feel. It’s a good week for slowing down and letting the world move around you, a good week for giving your brain some space to breathe. Read poems about loneliness; read poems about love. 

ScorpioThis is going to be a good news week for you, a week of strange surprises, a week of finding unexpected treasures and thrills. Work on being generous, work on sharing the good things all around you this week, work on listening to your friends’ stories and laughing at their jokes—even if you’re distracted by this aura of good fortune. Be generous with your thoughts and generous with your love and it’ll make your house warm, it will make your eyes bright, it will make you feel happy and strange. Go to the museum. Go to the used bookstore. 

SagittariusThis will be the kind of week where you’ll want to shrug off everything that’s been annoying you, slough off your old skin. It’ll be kind of week where you can’t stop looking at the apartments you could live in if you lived in Maine or New Orleans or Omaha or Paris. Get a haircut, find a new pair of shoes, go away for a day or two. None of these things can shift your life the way you want, but it’ll help for a little bit. Sometimes it helps to change the colors in your room. Sometimes it helps to listen to Nikki Minaj. 

CapricornThis week’s going to feel a little tangled, a little wild, a little green; this week you’re going to feel your snarly roots speaking to you in ways you don’t fully understand. This week is about remembering where you come from—sometimes in ways that are lovely and warm, sometimes in ways that are scary and bleak. Both are important, both are going to follow you until you look them in the eye, until you invite them in for dinner. This is a good week to prune your plants, a good week to start some seeds on your windowsill, a week for feeling very tender. 

AquariusYou might catch yourself feeling a little childish this week, a little mopey. You might catch yourself feeling like your emotions are the most important things in the world, and of course they are, and of course they aren’t. You might catch yourself feeling, this week, like all you want is to be taken care of, like all you want is for every love to be true and strong and easy, like you never ever want to grow up. Indulge this sentiment as far as you need to make it through the week, but not any farther than that. Take a long bath. Listen to Taylor Swift. 

PiscesThis week you might feel torn, you might feel conflicted, you might feel caught up in the middle of things you don’t understand, caught between happiness and love, caught between loneliness and desire, caught between the trees and the sky. This is a good week to work on balance. It is also a good week to work on tipping the scales inside yourself one way, then the other, then the other. If that gets to mean too much, it’s also a good week to practice ignoring all this tugging and pulling inside your heart, a good week to focus on work, focus on kindness.

Saturday Rumpus Essay: Yodels by Chloe Caldwell


"Do you remember Yodels? Growing up, they were the most salacious treat we were allowed in my house. I remember the junk food drawer—it was the bottom drawer, to the left of the fridge. I’d open it with my toes by grasping around the white knob and pulling to check what was in there.  It’s gone now, it’s the container drawer now. Here was the problem—my mom let us have one Yodel. But Yodels came packaged in two. Like, in my brown paper bag school lunch, I’d pull out my sandwich, my apple, and my one Yodel, that my mother had taken out of the package and put in a little baggie of its own. My brother had the other one. Oh, how this made me want to eat two of them. When I was twelve, my mom, my brother and I stayed in a house on Cape Cod with my mom’s friend and her daughters. We had Yodels in the house. The Yodels taunted and tempted me and when I was alone in the house briefly, I pounded four of the packages as quickly as I could. This turned into a mystery. “Who ate all of the Yodels?” my mother kept demanding. I never told. Eating them was a way to do something that I knew I wasn’t supposed to do. It was a secret I could have to myself and it was a way I could have more than everyone else. More than was acceptable."

Chloe Caldwell writes on yodel binges over at The Rumpus.


The Last Book I Loved: The History of the Peloponnesian War

The Last Book I Loved is an ongoing series with The Rumpus to highlight emerging Tumblr writers (and the books they love). Want to have your essay considered? Submit it here.

This is not an easy book to love. As an object, it is one of those books all of an age: squat, with yellowing, pulpy pages, the kind whose corners you can’t turn down because the paper creases so hard it that it might as well be perforated. Dog-ear it in the opposite direction and the corner comes off entirely. The print is small and dense; and it is a 2,400 year old account of a war that gets no press. It’s not sexy like the Fall of Troy, not Homerically epic. The gods don’t factor in. The content is almost as hard to love as the way I remember myself when the book first came to me.

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Look at those abs. Click through to read Holly Wendt's ode to Thucydides, who she reveals has equal measures of sass and self-confidence.