Tuesday, August 30, 2011

I get email

I was first drawn to your Forbes blog because I had been laid off and, well, misery loves company.

But your Atlantic blog on PTSD takes that to a whole new level. I note that one of the comments says it is the 'most well-written' etc and I agree.

So why not just post a comment and be done with it? Even with the anonymity barrier of the internet I cannot go there.

I went to Tulane so Katrina was a special focus: few people now remember that it was the counterpunch of Katrina that caused the trouble--Vermont is the NOLA of Irene.

But that is not why I am writing.

What you said about your experience regarding Katrina made me confront something I have been struggling with for now very nearly ten years exactly.

When the sky in NYC turns crisper and bluer as fall approaches all I can think of is 9/11 and how it was that I was at a funeral in [redacted] NJ that morning rather than walking in between the twin towers to my office at [redacted]

And it was not just that day. For months afterward the air I breathed to and from work was rancid and acrid. I tried describing it to a friend who happens to be a Vietnam Vet and he held up his hand and just said 'stop'--I know that smell. You are smelling bodies. Bodies slowly burning. And as the ferry painfully slowly took me to and from [redacted] and [redacted] I was an unwilling tourist of tombstones of twisted steel. No one talks about that.

OK. So I have taken a bit off my chest. And I feel a bit better now.




Monday, August 29, 2011

My hurricane story

I wrote about my Hurricane Katrina experience for TheAtlantic.com. 
I took the boxes and my papers from the mostly undisturbed kitchen. From the rest of the house, I picked and chose from the things that didn't appear to have mold or asbestos on them. The following day, I drove out of the city. There was a boat in the middle of the street. The houses gaped, slack-jawed and empty-faced. I drove across the eastbound span of the Twin Span Bridge over Lake Pontchartrain, and parts of the westbound span of the bridge were simply gone. I drove an hour through a destroyed forest, and when I looked up in the sky, I tried to imagine a thing so big that it could destroy so much. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

I get email

Hi Susannah,

I read today's post and thought to email you again. Your description of unemployment is dead on, and for me, the experience just ended yesterday with me getting lucky and somehow landing the job of my dreams. There was no logic to it - a blind resume drop on monster.com led to an interview where I was completely at ease. I'm excited for the future but don't have any advice My story has no great arc, but it manages to have a happy ending. Unemployment wasn't much fun at all, and I'm grateful to have a wife who supported me through the low points of the past several months.

Thanks for writing your blog - throughout the process it's been a reminder that I'm not alone in my boredom and frustration.

Best wishes for the weekend, and thanks again.


Thursday, August 25, 2011


I'm revising my novel online. 
"I don’t want to put your head in the toilet," he says quietly. The stripper’s face falls. "But if that’s where your head belongs, that’s where it's going to go. How often do they clean the toilets here? Regularly? I don’t think so."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


I wrote a post on my Forbes blog about visiting the Marilyn Monroe statue.
On the Saturday I saw the statue, spectators swarmed around her ankles. Earlier, it had been raining, but now the sky was mostly blue. At Lake Michigan, the annual Chicago Air & Water Show was underway. Downtown, the screams of fighter jets whizzing by overhead reverberated between the skyscrapers surrounding Marilyn, her head tilted back, her eyes closed, her mouth smiling.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jesus Saves

Jesus Saves, Chicago, Illinois

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I send email

To Whom It May Concern:

No, you can't republish my work on your site for free.

Are you fucking high?



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What is susannahbreslining?

" ... being publicly critical when criticism is due, and not using a nicey-nicey voice on the internet all the time because you want everyone to like you. that is susannahbreslining." -- Xeni Jardin

Monday, August 15, 2011

Portrait of the Musician as a Young Unemployed Man

I met a young man who is looking for a job. Go to my Forbes blog to read about him and listen to him sing me a song. His name is Alex. 
For his generation, the outlook is bleak. Why go into debt to get a degree that can no longer guarantee you a job? Economically, they are our lost generation, and they have no idea what to do about it.

Friday, August 12, 2011


These days, I'm blogging the revision process of my novel. It's been extremely helpful as a technique. One problem I have faced in completing this project is feeling overwhelmed. As I have said previously, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and I am a sprinter, not a marathoner. 

Being able to, bit by bit, post the revisions "as they happen," means that a) I feel a sense of completion of a piece, b) I get to pair it with an image or video, which is fun, and c) I don't think about it after that. 

So, this is something I recommend. 


Wednesday, August 10, 2011


Alan Blinder, 21, wrote a guest post for my Forbes blog. It's about a tornado. Read: "What a Tornado Taught Me That College Didn't." 
Soon, the pressure changed, and my ears popped. Outside, the wind howled, the water rushed and the thunder rumbled through the menacing sky. Inside the stairwell, the muffled sounds combined to create something like the noise waiting passengers hear when a plane pulls up to the gate. And then it was over.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I get email

On your next birthday, Susannah, give yourself a gift. A very important and valuable gift: Permission (and a personal commitment) never to feel guilty again. Ever. Your life will impove overnight by large magnitudes.


PS: In the coming weeks, I will be sending you another e-mail message on another topic upon which you have written extensively.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Crown in Rain, Chicago, Illinois

Friday, August 5, 2011

I get email

Hi Susannah.
Maybe 15 years ago I remember seeing a piece of yours on [redacted]. The only thing I really remember about it was that you were standing in a pool making out with a much shorter girl, and that you had to crouch way down to get to her height level . That clip may have only been :05 or :10 long but its remained stuck in my mind ever since as something highly erotic. It finally occurred to me to see if I could find that episode on DVD or online but I couldn't. I'm wondering first of all if you have any recollection at all of what I'm talking about, and second of all, if you would have any idea if or where that episode might be available?


[Redacted] *

*It bears mentioning this never happened. The email happened, but this scene never took place. I was on the show, but I never made out with a girl, let alone a much shorter girl, let alone "crouch way down to get to her height level." This is an interesting example of how the mind believes what the mind wants to believe.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


Good to Be, Chicago, Illinois

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Follow me

Are you following along as I revise my novel online? 
He pops the front door lock and steps into the foyer. Other than the low hum of a refrigerator, the house is silent. In the living room, he stops at the fireplace and taps the brass gyroscope on the mantle, sending the wheels whirling. He goes to the sliding glass doors along the back wall of the house and stares at the infinity pool spilling into the canyon, twinkling in the sunlight.