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Brittany hates doing homework

Britney Spears confirms she’s writing a memoir, talks Justin Timberlake, plus more news

Britney Spears has finally broken her silence on reports she’s writing a memoir. On Instagram on Monday, April 4, the singer, 40, opened up about her writing process so far, telling fans: “Well, I’m writing a book at the moment and as it’s actually healing and therapeutic… it’s also hard bringing up past events in my life… I’ve never been able to express openly. I can only imagine that I do sound childish but I was extremely young with those events took place … and addressing it now … I’m sure it seems irrelevant to most and I’m completely aware of that . ” The long post also mentioned Brit’s ex, Justin Timberlake, praising him briefly for the public apology he wrote to her and Janet Jackson after watching the recent “Framing Britney Spears” documentary about her conservatorship battle and public image. “My mom and sister also did the ‘intellectual approach’ in indulgence by writing their own books as I couldn’t even get a cup of coffee or drive my car or really anything,” she continued. Britney’s sister, Jamie Lynne Spears, released a memoir called “Things I Should Have Said” in January in which she made claims about her relationship with Britney that the singer has strongly denied. According to a previous Page Six report, Brit’s book deal was inked with Simon & Schuster for an estimated $15 million. After spotting the book update on the ‘Gram, Britney’s fiance, Sam Asghari vowed to buy “the first copy.”

Willow Smith tweets about ‘reactions’ and life’s challenges amid dad’s Oscars drama

Is this Willow Smith’s response to her dad’s now-infamous Oscars slap? One day after Will Smith resigned from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, calling his behavior at the 2022 Academy Awards “shocking, painful, and inexcusable,” Willow, 21, shared a pair of cryptic tweets. “The meaning of life is found in challenge,” the singer and “Red Table Talk” co-host wrote in one. “Life is a series of reactions,” she added in a second post. Commenters largely seemed to think the “reaction” Willow was referencing was her father’s decision to slap Chris Rock over a joke he made about Will’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith’s hair onstage during the 2022 Oscars, and the “challenge” had to do with the ongoing fallout Will’s now facing. According to The Hollywood Reporter, at least two major projects on Will’s roster, “Bad Boys 4” and “Fast and Loose,” have stalled because of the slap. “I have directly responded to the Academy’s disciplinary hearing notice, and I will fully accept any and all consequences for my conduct,” the actor said in a statement last week. “My actions at the 94th Academy Awards presentation were shocking, painful, and inexcusable. The list of those I have hurt is long and includes Chris, his family, many of my dear friends and loved ones, all those in attendance, and global audiences at home. I betrayed the trust of the Academy.” Will added, “Change takes time and I am committed to doing the work to ensure that I never again allow violence to overtake reason.” Per THR, the Academy accepted the “King Richard” star’s resignation but still plans to explore disciplinary action against him for violating the organization’s conduct standards.

Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson’s romance is reportedly getting more serious despite Kanye West drama

Kim Kardashian recently made another trip to Pete Davidson’s hometown borough of Staten Island, New York, where she met the “Saturday Night Live” star’s grandparents, TMZ reported on Monday, April 4. According to sources close to Pete, Kim joined him for a visit to the grandparents’ home after Pete wrapped up a movie shoot nearby. An insider tells Entertainment Tonight, meanwhile, that the SKIMS founder, 40, and 28-year-old comic’s romance has gotten much more “serious” in spite of the drama Kim’s ex, Kanye West, has stirred up by attacking Pete in his music and making (what Kim has said are false) claims about her parenting on social media. ET’s source also addressed the texts Pete reportedly sent to Kanye asking him to stop harassing the two. “He is over the negativity that Kanye brought to him and Kim and her family … He is hopeful that all this will dissipate in the future,” the insider says. It sounds like Kim is hoping for a similar outcome. “She just wants everyone to move on, be happy and to co-parent in a healthy way,” says the source. Kim, who was declared legally single last month after filing for divorce from Kanye in February 2021, shares four children with the rapper.

Kanye West pulls out of Coachella: Report

In the wake of a widely shared petition to have Kanye West removed from the 2022 Coachella lineup, a source has confirmed to Variety that the rapper is, indeed, off the festival bill. Kanye was slated to headline in the last slot of the final night of the event, which kicks off April 15. Reps for Kanye have yet to weigh in on the reason for the change, but Variety’s insider says Ye “had not rehearsed or prepared” for the show. Prior to news of the cancelation, music fans on Change.org launched a petition demanding he be nixed from the upcoming music celebration because of his recent antagonistic behavior towards his ex, Kim Kardashian, and her boyfriend, Pete Davidson. The rapper was also barred from performing at the Grammy Awards over the weekend because of his “concerning online behavior,” according to previous reports. He reportedly bailed on plans to headline the 2020 Coachella festival, as well. TMZ was first to report the news.

Pink slams ‘irrelevant’ Rolling Stone for selling out

Rolling Stone magazine’s Rob Sheffield shared his top 25 “greatest Grammy performances of all time” over the weekend and it apparently triggered something in Pink. As music fans argued on social media about who should and who should not have made the list, Pink wrote a long and scathing reply to the magazine’s Instagram post promoting the piece in which she called Rolling Stone “irrelevant,” and accused the publication of having orchestrated “the biggest sellout” of all time. “Bahahahaha you guys have been irrelevant since 1990,” Pink began. “This is the magazine that used to feature people like John Lennon and Muddy Waters. Hunter S Thompson wrote political pieces- they put Tina Turner on their cover. Then they sold out and all credibility went to s*** when ‘style over substance’ and ‘revenue over authenticity’ went into play,” the singer continued. “That’s when Snooki became acceptable coverage. Give me a f****** break. Do your homework. You don’t have to like me or my music or anything about me- and believe me I could give a s*** but this is the biggest sellout in f****** history when it comes to a publication we all once trusted,” she said. Pink, who has performed at the Grammys multiple times but did not make Rolling Stone’s “top 25″ list, concluded: “F*** rolling stone. And I’ve felt that way for decades as so many of my favorite artists and my peers have. This isn’t just about their horrendous opinion of ‘rating Grammy performances’. It’s decades of wasting Trees and people’s time.” The singer had plenty of support from fans, who chimed in with critical comments in which they dissed the list as “lame,” “horrible” and worse. After initially publishing the piece before the 2022 Grammy Awards, the magazine updated their picks, adding Billie Eilish and Finneas’ “Happier Than Ever” performance on Sunday, April 3, to the No. 15 slot and BTS’ “Butter” to No. 11. The top five included Stevie Wonder’s “You Haven’t Done Nothing” from 1975 (5); Taylor Swift’s 2021 rendition of “Cardigan / August/ Willow” (4); Beyonce’s “Love Drought / Sandcastles” performance from 2017 (3) and Prince and the Revolution’s “Baby I’m a Star” (2). Kendrick Lamar’s 2016 performance of “The Blacker the Berry / Alright” got the top spot.

Grammy winner Jon Batiste secretly wed longtime partner in February

Jon Batiste took home five major awards at the 2022 Grammys, including Album of the Year. But the 35-year-old “Late Night” bandleader has another reason to smile. On the April 3 edition of “CBS Sunday Morning,” Jon’s longtime partner, author Suleika Jaouad, revealed the two secretly tied the knot back in February. “We got married the day before I was admitted to the hospital to undergo my bone marrow transplant,” said Suleika, who wrote about her cancer battle in “Between Two Kingdoms,” according to People. “We have known that we wanted to get married, I think, from the first week that we started dating. That’s when Jon first brought up the topic of marriage to me. So, we’ve had eight years — this is not, you know, a hasty decision!” she quipped. Suleika, 33, went on to recount how Jon proposed, including the fact that he was sure to tell her his interest in getting hitched “had nothing to do” with her second leukemia diagnosis. “It’s taken me a year to design your ring,” he said of the timing according to Suleika. “‘But what I do want you to know is that this diagnosis doesn’t change anything. It just makes it all the clearer to me that I want to commit to this and for us to be together,'” she shared. “But once we realized we had this tiny window before the bone marrow transplant, we decided to go for it.” Despite the circumstances, the “tiny” wedding was “perfect,” she added, revealing they “used bread ties” for their rings. “And I’ll tell you, we walked into that bone marrow transplant unit on cloud nine. We were so happy, so brimming with love and positivity from this beautiful evening that we’d had. And I really believe that that carried us through,” she said. Asked about the “duality” of positive and negative forces happening in his life right now, Jon said in the Grammys press room: “It puts it in perspective. Life has ups and downs. And sometimes the ups and downs occur at the same time. And when you have that happening, it really lets you know by shaking your consciousness and saying, ‘Be present. Be here.’ So what’s going on back home and what’s happening today are both in their proper place for me.”

Cardi B deactivates her Twitter and Instagram on Grammy night

Cardi B deactivated her Twitter and Instagram accounts on Sunday, April 3, after slamming fans who criticized her for skipping the 2022 Grammy Awards that evening. The rapper explained why she was leaving Twitter shortly before her page went dark, according to Complex. “I’m deleting my twitter but On God I hate this f***** dumb*** fan base,” she wrote. “You got the slow dumb*****dragging my kids all cause y’all though I was going to the Grammys and I didn’t the f*** ?” After demanding to know when she “hinted” she’d attend the ceremony, which was held in Las Vegas this year, she called the whole situation “stupid.” “I can’t I needs to protect myself,” Cardi wrote. On Instagram Live, she told followers she was in New York City for the weekend, indulging in some “girl-day” activities. The two kids she shares with her husband, Offset, appeared to be there with her as well. What seemed to bug Cardi the most was the fact that her fans had started attacking her and, in a few cases, her children. “And I’m chilling and everything and then I’m going through my Twitter, and I see people in my Twitter—my fans, my own f****** fans … Practically saying that I’m lazy, and that I was giving hints that I was going to the Grammys,” she snapped. Cardi went on to point out that although she was nominated (“Up” got a nod for Best Rap Performance), she didn’t win and she doesn’t have new music to promote. Cardi’s Twitter exit is hardly out of left field, though. Speaking to Mariah Carey for Interview magazine last February, she said of the platform: “I try to stay off it most of the time, because sometimes it’s such a bad vibe.”

Alec Baldwin’s wife Hilaria asks him to ‘dial down the negative noise’ on his birthday

On Alec Baldwin’s 64th birthday on Sunday, April 3, his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, urged her husband to “dial down the negative noise” and “live life to its fullest,” in the wake of the “Rust” set shooting that killed cinematographer Halyna Hutchins last year. Sharing a long message on Instagram with a photo of the couple, Hilaria addressed Alec directly, telling him that she’d repeat the life they’ve shared “a million times,” including, “the joyful moments, the scary moments, the passion, the sadness, the amazing people, the frustration, the confusion, the adventure, the laughter…the being a wife and a mother.” The photo she posted showed Alec standing behind Hilaria with his arms around her as they faced a crowd of reporters and paparazzi. “I was so nervous with all those cameras. But it was safe and stable, as I leaned back, in your arms. That’s where our power together has always been..and may we always come back to this,” she wrote. “On your birthday, may I remind you, as your best friend, to live life,” she continued. “Those who truly know you, who know your heart, your courage, your fears, your weaknesses, your strengths and your joys…we want you to live and enjoy each moment. Dial down the negative noise. It is a distraction from what life is about.” Hilaria then praised her husband for having “lived amazing moments” and “given to so many,” before acknowledging that he’s also “suffered incredible pain that has left such a visible mark of trauma.” She added: “We are here to help you heal and get back to YOU, as we all love you, Alec…me, your children, your family, your friends…and so many people who are reading this now. We want you to celebrate life and live it to its fullest. You deserve this and so much more. We love you and happy birthday.” Alec, who’s expecting his seventh child with Hilaria, is currently facing a wrongful death suit for his role in the fatal “Rust” set shooting.

Brittany hates doing homework

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Brittany Ackerman’s debut novel The Brittanys is an immersive experience into the life of a fourteen year-old high school freshman girl in 2004.

Sarah Gerard wrote of the book:

“I’ve never read any book that captures so perfectly all the sweet and bitter and mess and tenderness and hard lessons in being fourteen. Nor the highly specific, totally unfakeable feeling of the year 2004. Brittany Ackerman must have kept the most detailed diary. Her voice in The Brittanys, naive yet seeing all, looking both forward and backward, always figuring and looking for wisdom. I found every page of this book to be the perfect mix of entertaining, satisfying, questioning, and moving. It glows with Ackerman’s love for her characters. I could have stayed inside it forever.”

In her words, here is Brittany Ackerman’s Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel The Brittanys:

In my debut novel, The Brittanys, I write about a year in the life of a fourteen-year-old girl attending a private prep school during the early aughts. Think flat irons and Brazilian jeans; think cringey rom-coms and the beginning days of cell phones with cameras. The novel is set in my hometown of Boca Raton, Florida and follows a group of friends as they attend sleepovers, dates and parties, all while growing up too fast. Boys come and go, but the friendships formed and broken, shattered and then bonded back together again, will always be cherished.

The novel is an abstract representation of my own struggles during teenhood and how I learned to internalize my day-to-day nervousness, which can be seen (and felt) in the voice and tone of the narration. The book showcases raw anxiety and aims to open up a dialogue about teenage worry and dread that many young people face today—and the book was written about a time with no social media, so we all know that the worry and dread has only gotten worse.

I’m a huge fan of writing with the aid of music, and I create playlists on Spotify for every project I’m working on. Below are a few songs from my current playlist that capture the brooding, daydreamy mood of my debut novel. I’m thrilled to take a trip down memory lane and the early 2000s with some songs that truly helped me build the world of The Brittanys—and hopefully can help readers immerse themselves back into every uncomfortable moment of being a teenager.

1) “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs

I’m in love with a boy a grade ahead of me—I’m a sophomore and he’s a junior. I can drive with a parent in the car and he can drive alone, unsupervised and without a curfew. We meet in the halls during elective period at the end of the day, me slipping out of 3-D art to use the bathroom and him sneaking out of his mandatory study hall in the library. He’s a troublemaker, a bad boy. He is pale with dark hair that he dyes an even darker black. He wears safety pins through his ears and tells me I’m the prettiest girl he’s ever seen. He pins me up against the lockers but doesn’t kiss me. He wants me to come over to his house, his parents are always gone, and his brother, who happens to be in my grade, plays on the football team and travels often. I tell my mom I’m going for a practice drive around the neighborhood. I take the car to his house and he shows me his weed, his money, his vinyl collection, and then we kiss in his bed. He tries to slip his hand in my tight jeans but I tell him I need to go. He gives me a CD before I leave, one he made especially for me. It has “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs as the first track. I can’t figure out what the lyrics are supposed to mean, but the rhythm feels like what it feels like to love this boy, speeding up and up and up, fast. When I find out at school that he has a girlfriend, a girl in his grade with cherry red hair and a nose ring, I beg my mom to pick me up early. When she does, she switches places with me so I can drive us home. “You need the practice,” she says, and she’s right.

2) “Only Time” by Enya

My best friend plays Enya when we wake up in the morning. She thinks it helps her wake up gracefully, full of grace, like how a good Christian girl is supposed to wake up. But it’s not a religious album, and I’m not Christian. And when “Only Time” comes on, it feels like the rest of our lives are so far away. It doesn’t relax me at all, but invigorates, or maybe ignites, this feeling of wanting to move forward. We spend our days outside doing handstands against her house, swimming in her pool, eating the food her parents cook. We try to bake cookies, the pre-sliced kind that you pop out of the can, and we forget about them while we play Donkey Kong upstairs on N64, her playing, me watching. The cookies burn and we smell them burning and cover them with icing and eat them anyway. We have rituals before bed that include a series of words and phrases we must say to each other in order to go to sleep. “Good night,” she says and I say back “Night good.” Our friendship traverses many bedrooms and houses over the years; her mansion in Boca Raton, her temporary townhouse in Coconut Creek, her family’s house they built from scratch on an inlet in Fort Lauderdale. And my family moves too, from Boca to Delray, but we still visit and we still do our rituals and it still feels like time is moving forward, faster than we can keep up with.

3) “…Baby One More Time” by Britney Spears

Fourth grade. New to Florida. New to the private school where I’ll spend the next decade of my life. I’m invited to a birthday party with the cool girls in class. I’m not sure what miracle took place to score my invite, but here I am in my favorite outfit: a black and white tank top with the word “SPICE” encased in a plastic heart on my chest and the word “GIRLS” spelled out on the pocket hem of my denim shorts. The outfit fits me like a dream and when I show up to the backyard party, I am glowing. The birthday girl, Maddy, shares a set of ear buds with her best friend, Natalie, and they bop their heads and sing along to Britney Spears’s words: hit me baby, one more time. They swing their arms and do the little dance that teenage Britney Spears does in the music video. When I mouth along Maddy motions me over to sing with them. I’m overcome by something, some mystical force of girlhood, and I begin to dance, pretending there is a microphone in my hand. I sway and shimmy my way over to the pool steps and eventually descend into the water, dramatically, unaware that I’m not wearing a bathing suit, that I’m in my favorite outfit, which is now all wet. But Maddy and Natalie are dazed too and they wander into the pool in their clothes. Soon, Maddy’s mom is screaming at her, a brand new dress! But we don’t hear anything except our voices, singing loud to our new idol, Britney.

4) “I Want It That Way” by Backstreet Boys

My first summer in Florida, I attend a day camp at Pine Crest in Fort Lauderdale. My mom drops me off every morning for assembly, which is basically an auditorium full of kids, sleepy and annoyed, forced to come here because they won’t go to sleep away camp. One morning, as I sit in the bleachers with my group, the Lunar Ladies—a name that I actually came up with when the counselors asked for suggestions on space-themed cabin names—I realize how far away I am from all the other girls in my “cabin.” I don’t particularly like any of them, especially not Emily who I had a play date with once where she served me blueberry Pop-Tarts, untoasted, on a Styrofoam plate and made me sick. I feel homesick even though I’ll be home later this afternoon when the camp day ends. Thankfully it’s a Friday, but I’ll be back here Monday and the weekend always seems to fly by. The camp director comes onto the stage as usual and takes the speakerphone. He says he has a special surprise and the lights dim. The Backstreet Boy’s newest song, “I Want It That Way” begins to play. Everyone gets up and starts to sing along and dance. I haven’t heard the song yet and feel even more out of place, but then there’s a shift, everyone in the darkened room moving in such a way. There’s a feeling of togetherness. There’s joy, and it’s contagious. My cabin mates all lock arms, including me, including dumb Emily and her stupid face, and even the counselors join into the chain link of girls. I catch on after the second chorus and belt out ain’t nothing but a heartache, ain’t nothing but a mistake…I never want to hear you say I want it that way! The song burns through the room, the fire of being alive right here, right now.

5) “Barbie Girl” by Aqua

Another birthday party, but I’m only eight, and there’s no hint yet of my family leaving New York anytime soon. A school friend’s birthday, some boy, Daniel or Derek or Dustin, at Jimmy’s Magic Parlor where the magician performs the same shtick every time but no one seems to care. I hate this place because at the end of the party when it’s time to sing “Happy Birthday,” they bring out this huge amazing delicious-looking cake and have the kid blow out a billion candles, but we never eat that cake. It’s just a stage cake, and then a parent brings out the smaller, shittier cake and it’s hard to enjoy it after seeing such a glorious piece of dessert beforehand. I’m always nervous I’ll get picked to go on stage as a volunteer and I’ll have to pretend I care about whatever is happening. Luckily, that never occurs. But at this particular party, the magician tells us kids that we are getting a little old for magic, and we are, yeah, but he also tells us that magic isn’t really real. The magic he does on stage is all tricks, slight of hand, and he even shows us the inner workings of a trick he does with coins. Some kids start to cry and heave and get upset and some parents that are waiting upstairs come down and grab their kids and leave. Eventually, I go upstairs to the lobby to wait for my mom to pick me up and “Barbie Girl” by Aqua is playing on the speakers. It seems cruel, such a fun song to play while everyone cries and screams, but I’m not so upset about what Jimmy said. I see that moment as a freeze frame in time in a series of moments that would make up my life. I know I’m getting too old for magic, for Barbie, for all the things of childhood and being a kid, but the song still plays, I still keep dolls in my closet, and I still imagine that someday some version of Ken will drive me away in a nice car, away from it all, away from all this.

6) “The World at Large” by Modest Mouse

Hurricane Katrina. Our power is out for a whole week. I listen to a mix tape on my CD player, battery operated, when I take my bike out. The first song is “The World at Large” by Modest Mouse. I like the way the song opens, and I match my pedaling to the beat. Right left, right left, right left. I ride around my neighborhood, a giant circle about three miles around, and I can do it two or three times before I get tired. I survey the debris of palm fronds and trash, I see Florida Power & Light attempting to fix damaged power lines, I pretend I’m in a movie of my own life where I’m off on an adventure. But instead I end up back at home and mom tries to get her cell phone to work to order a pizza. I start showering in my brother’s bathroom for some reason. He’s away at college and I miss him, and something comforts me about using his bathroom: the baby blue bathmat, the window that gets so much light. I use his toothbrush and don’t tell anyone. I run it under cold water and brush my teeth without any toothpaste. It still tastes minty and a bit like cigarette smoke. I wear an old flannel of his and let my hair air-dry. The world feels small and big all at once, and I haven’t yet figured out that that’s the whole point, that to be alive is a contradiction.

7) “Sink, Florida, Sink” by Against Me!

An ode to all my enemies from high school, to anyone I assumed hated me or that I disliked and made into an arch nemesis in my mind. Either way, this song, “Sink, Florida, Sink” by Against Me! reminds me of how I left, how I got out of Florida alive. An ode to the boy who spit in my face and said I looked like a frog; an ode to the girl who told me I had sideburns; an ode to my English teacher who said I should try harder to look better; an ode to all the hallways and stairwells and statues and palm trees and the big fat lake in the middle of campus; an ode to everything from which I’ve created a mold and poured into it the fiction of my experiences. An ode to hating high school and hating your hometown and hating the way it seemed so easy for other kids to enjoy themselves while you had to worry and suffer and didn’t know yet the world outside of such things. An ode to making art out of fear, out of chaos, out of your own disastrous youth that might seem pretty from the outside but inside it was madness. An ode to how I dyed my hair in the sink, how I pierced my own cartilage, how I was still afraid to break the “honor code,” and how I always did my homework on time even though at night I cried on the bathroom floor. An ode to sinking, to leaving, to writing your way through it, to writing, to writing, to writing, to writing.

8) “Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer

Before my first kiss, before my first anything, I dance to “Kiss Me” in my room and dream of such experiences. Wishing it could have happened with Shane in the Bahamas, the boy I met on the waterslide, or with my best guy friend, named after our state fish, who doesn’t know I’m in love with him, or maybe a stranger I’ll meet at the movie theater if I get dressed up enough, do my hair just right, my makeup perfect. I dream of what lips on lips will feel like. I wonder if I should write my name in cursive with my tongue like Teen Vogue says, or if I should let the boy lead, simply open my mouth be available, ready. Later, when my first kiss happens at Amy Price’s birthday party, when we play truth or dare and I’m dared to kiss Amy’s older cousin, whose name I can’t remember, I’m not nervous. A calm washes over me and I inch towards the teenage boy on the other side of the trampoline and both of us are on our hands and knees and his lips feel nice like gummy candies and there’s a sweet moment of suction at the end like licking whipped cream off your finger and the rest of the night there is magic, the kind of magic that you can’t see but you can feel, and I’ll never forget the feeling of woven canvas beneath my fingertips or the gentle bounce of the makeshift floor on which we shared that kiss.

9) “Graduation (Friends Forever)” by Vitamin C

Fifth grade graduation party at Jesse Klein’s house. Everyone who’s anyone is here. But no one is anyone when you’re twelve. I wear a thong I stole from Wet Seal, a black pleather thong with a pink Playboy bunny on the front. I pull the strings above the waist of my jeans and onto my hips when we enter the house. My best friend does the same but her thong is baby blue with a little sun on its front. We spend the night chasing our respective love interests: me chasing Jesse and her chasing Kevin. We straddle their laps and playfully arm wrestle until Jesse’s mom comes outside and tells us its time for fireworks. We lie on the deck and look at the sky, dark and meaningless above us, until the fireworks explode and our eyes fill with shapes and colors—pure magic. “Graduation (Friends Forever)” by Vitamin C comes on and we all start crying and hugging each other, afraid that the night will end, afraid of high school, even though most of us will return in the fall. Only a few will switch schools, move counties, go somewhere different and new. But we cry anyway, even though we don’t really know what we’re crying about. We cry in shudders, in rolling throes, and we try to comfort each other. We sing and so we talked all night about the rest of our lives, where we’re gonna be when we turn twenty-five… and it’s just a number to us, a faraway number that doesn’t mean anything, but we make promises that we’ll stay friends forever, that we won’t let age change us. But it does, and we forget the urgency we vowed with. I remember that even our boys cried that night. Everyone had felt the promise of forever and cried to try and make it stay.

10) “Suburban War” by Arcade Fire

I drive to the mall that is less than a mile away. It seems at times like it was put there to comfort me, its proximity, its perpetual availability to waste an afternoon inside. I like going to the mall because it allows me to be around other people, and I assume for some reason that most of the people there are not writers, or aren’t currently working desperately on manuscripts or publications, and that comforts me greatly. People are buying hot pretzels and are waiting in line to enter the Disney store for some event and are awkwardly swinging their hands to and fro underneath the bathroom dryers. I make my way to the outdoor section of the mall where families dine at the Cheesecake Factory or where jobless youths come to peruse Urban Outfitters and the inclination comes to me to go purchase a coffee. I make my way over to The Coffee Bean where I wait in line and check my email. There could very well be other emails in my inbox, but all I am able to focus on is the one from my literary agent informing me that Penguin Random House is interested in my book. He includes a forwarded email from the prospective publisher where she states that the book reminds her of a song, “Suburban War” by Arcade Fire. I know the song well, and I’m so glad it’s the mood that she has gathered from reading my novel. There is no contract yet, no details of the book that will take shape over the next two years, but there is an electricity and a joy that spreads throughout my body. There is hope, there is a hint of possibility at the life I’ve always wanted. There is, above all, this connection.

Brittany Ackerman’s debut essay collection, The Perpetual Motion Machine, was the winner of Red Hen Press’s Nonfiction Award. She has a creative writing MFA from Florida Atlantic University, and has attended the Writing by Writers Methow Valley Workshop and the Mont Blanc Workshop in Chamonix, France, as well as a residency at the Wellstone Center in the Redwoods. The Brittanys is her first novel.