Tag Archives: Chloe Caldwell

The Red Zone: A Love Story

Illustration by Kjell Reigstad (robodread/Getty)

Chloe Caldwell | Longreads | December 2017 | 26 minutes (6,433 words)

The first outburst was about my landlady; the outbursts are always about a woman. My landlady had sent me a text message with a couple of aggressive exclamation points and capitalizations referring to a misunderstanding over a National Grid bill, and I ended up enraged and screaming for roughly forty-five minutes. My partner was at the ocean on Fire Island, completely blissed out. He’d been swimming and laughing in the waves of the ocean, he later told me. Then I called. Our conversation:

“I just want you to agree with me that she’s a bitch,” I said.

“I am agreeing with you,” he replied.

“No, you’re appeasing me.”

This went on and escalated for fifteen minutes until:

Jesus Christ, Chloe, what does your heart need?”

“I need you to agree with me.”

“I am agreeing with you. “

“No you aren’t, not wholeheartedly.”

It didn’t stop there. After we got off the phone I had to bring it back up over text, and I had to bring it up the day after that, too. I brought it up again and again, until I got my period, and began bleeding, and that’s when I could see the humor.

Read more…

On Female Friendship and the Sisters We Choose for Ourselves

(Photo courtesy of the U.S. National Archives)

Chloe Caldwell | I’ll Tell You In PersonCoffee House Press | October 2016 | 19 minutes (4,768 words)

“Do you get in bed and cuddle with Chloe in the mornings?” It was an early evening in spring, and Bobbi and I were in the kitchen, standing across from each other at the counter. We’d just finished eating pizza and salad with ranch on the back porch. Bobbi’s mom, Cheryl, was on speakerphone, calling from her hotel to check in on us.

“She doesn’t!” I said, making eye contact with Bobbi, who looked at me skeptically in a way only an eight-year-old can.

“Yeah but that’s ’cause . . . well, do you sleep naked?” Bobbi asked, lowering her deafening voice for once like she was asking me in total confidence.

I burst out laughing.

“No!” I said.

I’ve had countless sleepovers with Bobbi in the past three years, and I never don’t pretend she’s my little sister, even though, at twenty-eight, I’m too old to be her sister. I feel too young and immature to be her mother. At twenty-eight, I’m more like an aunt or a cousin. I could easily be engaged or pregnant or have children of my own. But that is not my life. Instead, I babysit, still waiting for my real life to begin. In limbo. A friend sent me a birthday card that read, Happy Saturn Return, good luck with that, seriously.

“You could be in India having sex next year,” Cheryl told me once when I was down on myself about being such a loose end in the domestic department.

“Whereas I probably won’t!” she said.

When Cheryl called that night, Bobbi and I had been in the middle of an improvised séance, though I was unsure what dead person we were trying to contact. We held hands around an orange candle and chanted gibberish. It reminded me of the opening scene in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood.

In a mock new-age voice, Bobbi said, “o.k. now breeeeeeeaaathe in the baaaaaad energyyyyyy.”

“No way! Not doing that,” I said.

“Yeah but then you breathe it out.”

“Yeah but why do I have to breathe it in at all?”

“Just trust me and do it.”

“K.”

“Now look up at the sky and repeat after me: Iloveyoumommy-Iloveyoumommy.”

“IloveyoumommyIloveyoumommy.”

The phone rang. We screamed.  Read more…

A Chloe Caldwell Reading List

Photo courtesy of Erika Kleinman

On Tuesday, author Chloe Caldwell announced her second collection of essays, I’ll Tell You in Person: Essays on Intimacy & Identity, is forthcoming from indie publishers Emily Books/Coffee House Press in 2016. Caldwell is one of those writers who, once you encounter her work, inspires you to read everything she’s written, akin to Leslie Jamison or Cheryl Strayed (who happens to be her friend and mentor). My best friend introduced me to Chloe’s first collection of essays, Legs Get Led Astray, and it’s a book I carry with me when I’m in need of comfort. Caldwell’s second book, a novella called Women, garnered critical acclaim (and an Instagram shoutout from Lena Dunham). She’ll show you her demons if you’ll show her yours–her style is deeply personal, almost confessional, but Chloe never seems to write from a place of exhibitionism. She’s simply honest, and in an age of Internet posturing, that feels important. Chloe writes about people who are important to her. She’s important to me, so I thought I’d share some of the things she’s taught me.

#1. Find a community of people who a) are great friends, and b) help you hone your craft: “Who Am I? Two Writers Talk About Life and Nonfiction.”

Chloe took to her personal blog and published four installments of a conversation between her and her good friend, the writer Frances Badalamenti. Rather than an interview, I thought the informal nature of this conversation would be a good introduction to her style. Read more…