Friday, January 31, 2003
Finally, I'm a panelist! How my soul has cried out, these long years, just to be a panelist! My dream, to sit on a panel! Just to sit with a microphone in my face, to sit there, thinking, but not speaking! Hopefully the microphone will be one of those short ones that sits on tables, and there'll be a long table in front of us, sort of like the ones they use in congressional hearings. And I'll need a pitcher of ice water.
"What, what's this?" you ask. "What panel? You? How?" It's a panel on blogs and blogging, of course. It's called Live From The Blogosphere! How am I qualified to talk about blogs? Well, that's a good question. I'm not qualified at all, as a matter of fact. That's what's going to make it all so incredibly fun and exciting! Will she open her mouth at all? Come and see for yourself, cats and dogs!
Apparently we'll be discussing "the birth of blogging, the emergent tension between blogs and traditional journalism, innovations in blogging such as video-blogging, audio-blogging, and mobile-blogging, the shifting roles of race and gender in the Blogosphere, the state of the blog economy, and the way blogs may be reshaping contemporary media."
I'd better grow a functioning brain before February 15th.
I'm also going to be on another blogging panel at AFI a week later. Hopefully no one from that group will be at the first thing, or else they may scratch me from the program.
In other good news, I just recorded a few more commentaries for All Things Considered. I may post the transcripts here, at least to one of them, because I like it, and because I think I retain all rights, which is very respectable and kind of them, but wouldn't you expect as much from the good people at National Public Radio?
I was just checking out your interview that was posted on Salon about Carina Chocano's Serial Monogamy book. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. As a guy, I'm wondering whether you have any similar insights about women. You know, she's broken men down into The Urban Naturalist, The Aspiring Genius, etc. I'm sure women break down into their own categories, which are different than those of men.
For instance, 'The Giver'. She's extremely concerned about everyone in the world. Her family has the highest priority. Her professional choice (counselor, therapist, teacher) reflects her unwavering commitment to others. But she can't get her own shit together, and she knows it. This pains her, so she goes to her own therapist, drags her boyfriend to couples counseling, and tries to tie the loose threads of her life into some sort of causal story, from which she can explain the past and predict the future. In daily conversation with the boyfriend, she seems to make sense of what she wants, says things are 'becoming clearer', but she's in a house of mirrors.
Is this a category, or is this one fucked up chick that I've spent a lot time with, until I could take it no longer?
Dear A Guy,
The Giver is a pain in the ass, isn't she? But then, what else is she giving, besides two cent advice? If the answer is really good blow jobs, on a regular basis, then maybe that house of mirrors is actually a Fun House.
My commitment to others wavers, so I can't really relate to The Giver, but I like her. I went out with a therapist once, though. It wasn't very, um, how shall I say it? It wasn't very... uh... fun.
Anyway, I do indeed have my own long list of categories for men and women, thanks for asking. I've been collecting them since '97. The first Men and Women to Avoid was OK, but I like the second one a little better. I skipped 1999 because I was going through a tough break-up, and couldn't face the prospect of actually hanging out with more men who I should've been avoiding. The third Men to Avoid and Women to Avoid were pretty good. And, the introductory piece about the misery of relationships was pretty good. Boy, I was a joyless fuck back then, wasn't I?
But I think the last Men to Avoid and Women to Avoid issues, in 2001, were probably the best.
But maybe I'm just really attached to forward progress.
PRAISE THE CATASTROPHE
Weakness has always been one of my greatest strengths. Strength is sometimes my greatest weakness. If you don't know what that means, you're not the person I should be talking to. I should talk to someone who understands weakness, and embraces it. Weakness is a beautiful thing. Without it, there is no strength, no forward motion, no change, just the illusion of progress.
But no one has time for weakness. "Push on!" they say, like you're about to fall asleep in the snow.
Imagine that. Imagine going through your whole life believing that if you stop for a minute, just to rest, just to look things over and reflect, you'll die.
Our world wants progress. It wants the positive twist at the end. It wants you to look on the bright side. "We're individuals! We're all different!" they say, meaning don't lean on me, keep forging ahead. Weakness is antithetical to a free market. "You take those differences, those things that make you an individual, you market them, you transform them into a palatable product, and you win!" they tell you, over and over, urging you to claim your place above the rabble.
But how can your product resemble you, if you're not always palatable? There's room in the world of art and literature, we're told, for unpalatable emotions - subtle or even strange aftertastes of confusion and weakness, a world away from the empty satisfaction of easy, one-note sensations, fast food art, the salt of enforced cheer, the sugar of "it's all good."
But in Los Angeles, the sun is always shining, and you don't have a right to rainy days. What are you doing in there? Come out into the sunshine!
At least someone's asking, right? At least the sun is shining. Why can't you snap out of it, appreciate the things that we say to appreciate, and stop scaring us with this mopey bullshit?
But I'm not scared. How scared are they? I look on the bright side most of the time. Why do they fear looking on the dark side, even for a second? Why is it move forward, or die, unless suicide is lurking as a constant threat, underneath the noise? Why is it be someone or be no one, unless a no one is lurking behind the manic rush to be someone, or to look like you're someone?
I'm not even talking about Hollywood types. Every city has its own little psychological culture. Of course, it's only one small part of your thinking when you live there - just a whiff of this, a glimpse of that. But for the vulnerable ones, the shaky ones, it sinks in, like anything toxic naturally invades a porous substance. The poison of perpetual forward motion.
I'm not scared. I've never been suicidal. There is no great danger in letting down my guard, in taking a break. Today, I don't want progress.
It doesn't matter what anyone else wants. This is the only way to live. Refuse to play someone else's part. Refuse to recite someone else's lines. Lose the script. Break the scene differently. Laugh at the audience.
Call me selfish, this is how I locate my generosity.
Call me pathetic, this is how I find my strength.
Don't tell me I'm losing it, don't talk to me about what YOU think is acceptable. How far have you come, with your acceptable choices? What happiness have you achieved through acceptability, through not stepping outside the lines of what's done, through mind over matter and manipulation and scheming and acting like you're already on top? How well are you doing, really, without all your stuff, without all your forward motion, without all your distractions and your chemical band-aids?
My greatest strength is weakness. I should stop turning my back on my greatest strength.
I am so fucking fucked financially. I try to sally forth, buying massive packages of toilet paper at Target and eating beans, but some days it just sucks.
Editor's note 1/31/03: I'm not that fucked, just fucked for the next month or so. I can always stop freelancing and get a lame job like everybody else in the world. A few people have sent me money, which is obviously greatly appreciated and excellent, but please don't send me money unless you see it as a subscription fee or a gift, and especially don't send money if you have a lame job that you hate and that doesn't pay all that well. I have no more right to avoid a lame job than you do. We all have to find a way to do what makes us happy. This post was just the result of a shitty day. Very few publications pay well these days, and even fewer pay in a reasonable amount of time (say, a month), and it fucks with the rabbit accounts payable department, particularly after the holidays. Just trying to express myself as usual and go with the flow, here. You know. It's a blog. Your visits here are greatly appreciated, your reading helps my writing, this is a lot of fun, I love you, etc. etc.
Wednesday, January 29, 2003
THE HARE ON THE BACK OF YOUR NECK
Your Inner Rabbit is crying out for something. Can you hear it? Will you listen? It wants you to listen to Chopin. It wants more coffee. It wants you to go to Kmart, to the Martha Stewart section of the paint section, and it wants you to choose a color to paint your dining room, and it also sort of wants you to pick out another shade for the living room, even though you're really not sure what color would be best. It doesn't care about your security deposit. Your Inner Rabbit wants you to make a big roast beef sandwich for lunch, even though you should probably cook that salmon. It wants to buy the New York Times, even though you could easily read it all online. Your Inner Rabbit wants you to sit in the sunshine for a minute or two today. Your Inner Rabbit might also like to order in Thai tonight.
Your Inner Rabbit is mad at you for thinking about that house down the street that you almost bought in 1997, back when you had the money, and the salary, to do it. You loved that house, and it was cheap back then. Now it's worth twice as much. But at the time, it seemed expensive. You weren't sure you were going to stay in LA. Your Inner Rabbit wants you to stop thinking about that house, just because your friend told you that she saw your old real estate agent, and the subject of that house came up, and the real estate agent said, "Jesus, I still can't believe she didn't buy that house."
Your Inner Rabbit has a big problem with regrets. And you did, too, up until a few years ago, when you started to notice that it does matter what decisions you make, and some decisions can safely be pronounced mistakes in retrospect.
inner rabbit: Maybe you have a big problem with the idea that you could ever make a major mistake.
rabbit: Yeah, probably. So what?
inner rabbit: Mistakes are an important part of life. If you're always avoiding mistakes, you can't really breathe. It's no way to live.
rabbit: I guess I believe that I can think my way through anything, and come to The Right Choice.
inner rabbit: Yeah. But there is no Right Choice. There are just a bunch of choices.
rabbit: Lately I don't trust my ability to make good choices.
inner rabbit: But you don't make good choices because you don't trust in yourself to make good choices. If you make choices without clinging to one particular outcome, you may wander into territory that's happier and more fulfilling for you.
rabbit: Wow, this is starting to sound familiar. Should I write the bestselling hit "Conversations With Inner Rabbit"?
inner rabbit: I can't tell you what to do. I've got enough on my plate as it is. I can only give you the vaguest notion of what I want, and I'll only give it to you when you're not twisting your thoughts into little knots in that bad head of yours. You've got to open up a little, if you want to do great things. An In 'n' Out Burger wouldn't hurt either. Have you considered maybe driving to In 'n' Out Burger today? It's really not that far.
rabbit: Yeah, but the fries'll be cold by the time I get home.
inner rabbit: So eat it there.
rabbit: Hmm. That's not really my thing.
inner rabbit: Whenever you stumble on something you haven't done or don't really want to do for no good reason, that's a good enough reason to do it. You can't shy away from new experiences. It keeps your thoughts corralled, so that they're running over the same worn paths day in and day out.
rabbit: We're talking about sitting in a plastic booth, here. We're not talking about enlightenment.
inner rabbit: Enlightenment is available in the most mundane acts.
rabbit: OK. Look, I like you, Inner Rabbit, but aren't we both being a little self-indulgent?
inner rabbit: Right, because it's got to be wrong to contemplate how you live your life, because it's far more "honorable" to sit at a desk for 8 hours straight and plow forward, day after day, on projects that mean nothing to you. It's indulgent to strive to have an intimate relationship with your work, with yourself, or with the means of production, if you want to bring political theory into the discussion, which I'm sure you don't.
rabbit: I should've known you were a Marxist.
inner rabbit: Your little labels don't amuse me. You Hitlerist.
rabbit: Did he have to say "Hitlerism" because no one would know that he was talking about something very very bad otherwise? Does he talk to us like we're morons because he thinks we're morons, or because he's a moron and he can't grasp how much more intelligent than him most people are?
inner rabbit: I really want you to clean this one window by your desk right now. It looks really dirty and it's been bugging me since the day you moved in.
rabbit: OK, but then I have to get back to work.
inner rabbit: I'm hungry. Is it lunchtime yet?
rabbit: Maybe I've opened up a little too much.
inner rabbit: Have you thought about dyeing your hair purple? I think it would look really good. Maybe you should do it right now.
NUKE-U-LAR, NUKE-U-LAR, NUKE-U-LAR!
Oh Bushy Bush. You little Bushmeister. Nuke-u-lar, Bush? Do we need any more proof that you're surrounded by yes men? I mean, how is it possible that not one of them has the rocks to pull you aside and say, "Um, boss, just so you know, the word is 'Nuclear'."
"Don't be confused by the rocks that I got,
I'm just I'm just Cheney from the block!"
A very intelligent person wrote that speech, I will say that - although, I was a little confused by the transition between partial birth abortions and human cloning. I guess the idea was to sort of mingle the two under the heading "Fucked Up Stuff That Offends God." I was also surprised by the emphasis on AIDS in Africa, but less confused when the focus was on prevention rather than treating the Go-Home-And-Die cases. Still, he was talking about a lot of money.
The funniest part by far was the bit about healthy forests. See, they're a lot healthier when you trim them constantly. They grow faster that way! He should definitely use that bit in his routine when goes to Aspen.
I hope the teleprompters work as well up there as they did on Capital Hill. "Stand and clap!" "Clap aggressively!" "Light applause." "Approving Nods."
I think a laugh track would have enhanced my viewing experience significantly.
Monday, January 27, 2003
Feeling extremely squishy squashy today, which should make for some good jumbled posts, but not right now. Right now I have to eat pancakes with my friend Carina. For strength, and for courage: Pancakes! For sustenance, when times are hard: Pancakes! Pancakes with chocolate chips and little marshmallows in them. Obscene pancakes! Decadent, disturbing pancakes: They make the world go 'round.
Friday, January 24, 2003
ONE SQUISH TWO SQUISH
Having read your recent post describing how you like to try something new gave me an idea. How about soliciting random suggestions for things to write about from your readers? It could certainly steer you into some uncharted territory and might be amusing for at least a few posts.
Some suggested topics to start with:
- Summer squash
- Rime ice
- Chrysler "K" cars
Take your pick: prose, poetry, disconnected, random jabbering; whatever form seems appropriate to you for a given subject.
I like your suggestion a lot. In fact, I'm going to go so far as to assert that I can most definitely write something worthwhile on 1 out of 4 random subjects.
So, let's see: I don't know what rime ice is, so that one's out. Chrysler "K" cars barely register, but I do have a word or two to offer on the subject of the PT Cruiser. I don't like the motherfucking PT Cruiser. I don't like it one bit. I do understand its appeal, to some extent, and I would never condemn someone else for digging it, unless I were forced to live with or sleep with that person on a regular basis, and therefore, were exposed to their enthusiasm for such a cute little faux-antique car day in and day out.
You know how, when you're involved with someone:, you sort of have to take on their passions? Or, you do if you have serious boundary issues, like I do. Sometimes it's fun - it breaks you out of your boring patterns, forces you out of your dreary little hobbit hole, etc. You might find yourself watching the longest tennis match in Grand Slam history, for example, or eating Frito Pie and liking it. But when it comes to darling little fake oldster cars that you have to be over 40 to love with reckless abandon, well, this is where weird unfair resentment starts to build. When you pull up next to someone with a PT Cruiser, and your boyfriend, who's a lot older than you, yells over to the driver, "How do you like your car?" and the Boomer who's driving the other car says, "She runs great, I love her!"? Well, let's just say your generational bitchiness and snobbery kicks in right about then. Sometimes it's hard not to be a snob. I dress like utter shit, my furniture is hopelessly lame, but goddamn it, I do have to draw the line somewhere.
Anyway, I have no doubt that those over 40 don't give a fuck what I think of their taste, and I would feel incredibly sorry for them if they did. I certainly don't plan on giving a shit about what my kids think about my shoes or my dorky music when I'm middle-aged. But that doesn't change the fact that I'm under 40 and there are some things I don't like simply because they're the creation of someone who's older than me.
Onward to summer squash:
Hello, squash friend, squat and yellow,
Come sit next to me, you fine fellow!
Yellow polka-dot bikini.
So much better than zucchini!
Love my squash beyond all reason
(Wish I were named for a season.)
Dressed in garlic, doused in wine.
Tonight is your night to shine!
Dancing sweetly with my tongs.
Crap! I cooked you way too long!
Squat squash, you were in your prime,
But overcooked, you turned to slime.
Hate to be so wishy-washy,
But no one eats a squishy squashy.
So goodbye, squash friend, see you later,
Find sweet sleep in Insinkerator!
OK then. I'm sure I could drum something up about coal, but that poem wore me out.
Thursday, January 23, 2003
I WOULD PREFER NOT TO
I don' know... first Emily Dickinson then John Paul (the king of Nausea) Sartre? Is your friend's published book (or your unpublished one) starting to turn the evilly cynical laugh-it-off hare into a brooding intellectual? I think you need more coffee, donuts and/or bong hits and tequila or something... put down the Roget's and the doorstop books and get outside, next you'll be penning your version of The Bell Jar! Sylvia Plath already did this act, try a funnier one please!
Mark the Shark
It should calm your nerves to hear that I'm currently working on something with all the self-seriousness of a long, happy ride on a Sit 'N' Spin.
But let's review the definition of a blog, shall we? A blog is an unpaid bit of writing, posted on the web god knows why, updated frequently or left to mold publicly. Occasionally I lose my interest in answering advice letters, and I lose my interest in rambling in a self-involved manner or steering myself onto amusing terrain. So what do I do? I try something new. By trying out new things here, I keep myself from sounding exactly like every other boring writer in the universe. Trying new things keeps my writing - both my paid, published work and the crap here - more interesting and strange. If I only wrote what I knew for a fact I could write well, because I'd written something like it before, my writing would get more and more narrow and soon, even if I weren't repeating the same old ideas and jokes over and over again, it would still sound like it.
The blog allows me to shuffle and reshuffle my creative deck. Whatever the fuck that means.
Besides, who says a little vaguely serious writing equals suicidal ideation?
I prefer paranoid ideation, for the record.
Still open to interpretation,
Tuesday, January 21, 2003
"Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth." - Jean Paul Sartre, Being and Nothingness, 1943
This morning you greeted the day with a glare and a growl, but you still hoped it would take you one small step closer to the brighter world in your head, imagined shiny vision you hold so dear. Why would the day want to help? Why would it do anything for you, with the way you treat it, with the harsh tones you use? You don't care for it at all - you show your spite at every turn: angry at the white blanket sky, angry at the sound of a bus rumbling by outside, angry at the soap scum in the shower, angry at the exhaust and the billboards and the trash dancing in the median.
And even if you could get to that imaginary universe you carry with you, the one that's clean and shiny and quiet, where you have nicer stuff, more sunshine, bigger trees, a better view, more time to read books, would you feel the sun on your skin? Or would you be spraying the lawn with insecticide and talking to your mother-in-law about broken printers and plantar warts and ADHD? Would you welcome the day in, let it be what it wants to be, instead of reigning it in like an unruly child? The light is soft and hazy or muted or dirty. The air is harsh or cold or invigorating. The houseplants are longing to be outside, or they're waiting patiently for that precious hour of sunlight, or they're humming to themselves contentedly. That throbbing in your legs is a reminder that you're alive, or it's an indication that you should've stretched longer, or it's the steady, inevitable creep of varicose veins. You choose.
Unwrap your belongings and leave them here. Unclench your fist and let your jaw go slack. Put down your favorite stories, the ones that keep you up at night. Leave yourself open to interpretation by strangers.
Monday, January 20, 2003
LORD OF THE FLIES
My two cents on Jamaicas of Remembrance: I'd say that the J of R business means that certain memories are far-off, exotic, heady, and alluring islands (warmly appealing on a cold January day) that reel her toward them and that also send her drunkenly reeling. But I think, too, that a trip to Jamaica in the 19th century was a fairly long and dangerous journey - one that potentially could wreck you. And seeing as these Jamaicas of Remembrance are the wine that the fly-cork releases, we also recognize the memories as addictive - a dangerous paradise from which one might never return, if you stay too long or visit too often.
Like the blog. Liked the Portuguese-and-back letter to Mr. Tough recently, too, and since I am beginning to suspect my live-in boyfriend of also being among wives and making tick/tock at the opposite beat, I wonder if you have any tips for how to know when to start the car, and how to survive the drive.
Before it went to Portugal and back - a trip that's heady and alluring but that could potentially wreck you - my response to Mr. Tough was actually a digression. I have this alarm clock that ticks very loudly. My exboyfriend also had an alarm clock that ticked loudly, only his ticked on the off-beat, so the result was a stereo tick TOCK tick TOCK all night long. A good metaphor for the relationship, in which our similarities and our differences clashed, and kept us both up at night. In unrelated news, he was between wives - married before me, now married again for the second time.
So, how do you know when to start the car? Hmm. My solution in the relationship I mentioned was to get in the car and mime starting it, just to see what my boyfriend's reaction would be. An ill-advised charade, indeed, since his most common reaction was to wave enthusiastically, wishing me a safe trip and cheerfully promising to forward my mail.
Another solution might be to discuss it with him. What kind of a vision of the future does he have, and/or what kind of a timeline is he working with? Recognizing that most men would rather tweeze their own pubic hairs than have such a discussion, you're going to have to stay calm and not get discouraged after the first few "do we have to talk about this now"s. If, with some coaxing, he can discuss timelines at all (which often include the words "get engaged", "get married", and "have kids"), then that's a pretty good sign, although he still might just have good intentions that he'll never see through. If he says things like "I'm not sure if I believe in marriage" or "something is missing from our relationship and I might need a few years to isolate exactly what it is, during which I hope to find someone a lot better than you," then, you might consider packing the car tonight. True, some men really don't believe in marriage, but if they do believe in you and want to be with you over the long haul, they generally mention that in the conversation, lest you become confused and wander off.
If you definitely want to spend your life with him but you have no idea what he's thinking, you also might consider how it looks objectively. If you imagine that your friends think you're kidding yourself, that he's stringing you along, that he's never actually going to marry you, then chances are, that's what's happening. Sick and wrong, but true. Think of all the relationships you were in, way back when, when your girlfriends knew better than you what the problem was, but didn't tell you until you broke up with the clod.
Just remember, marriage is overrated. Serial monogamy, now that's where it's at. If you doubt that, just read my friend Carina's book on the subject, "Do You Love Me or Am I Just Paranoid? The Serial Monogamist's Guide to Love." It's hilarious. In fact, I'm gonna add an Amazon link to it right now. Scroll down to the right and click on the pink book to purchase it instantly, supporting the rabbit's author friends and winning the rabbit a commission in the process. Once you read the book, though, you'll want to buy a few more for your friends. It's fucking funny. Trust me, I don't think anything is funny. This is a funny book.
Feeling relatively bookless and unfunny,
Friday, January 17, 2003
WANDERING WORDS OF THE WEEK
Step One Open Bartlett's, Roget's, and Webster's to random pages, and write down what you see.
A Drunkard cannot meet a Cork
Without a Revery -
And so encountering a Fly
This January Day
Jamaicas of Remembrance stir
That send me reeling in.
- Emily Dickinson, No. 1628, 1884
impossible: intolerable, ungovernable, absurd, egregious, hopeless, improper, incongruous, ludicrous, objectionable, offensive, outrageous, preposterous, unacceptable, unanswerable, undesirable, unreasonable, unsuitable
modest: adj. keeping due measure, 1. having or showing a moderate opinion of one's own value, abilities, achievements, etc.; not vain or boastful; unassuming, 2. not forward; shy or reserved 3. behaving, dressing, speaking, etc. in a way that is considered proper or decorous; decent 4. moderate or reasonable; not extreme
Step Two Open Bartlett's again for another quote, just for kicks.
In the parched path
I have seen the good lizard
(one drop of crocodile)
- Federico Garcia Lorca, The Old Lizard 1921
Step Three Look up words with roughly the opposite meanings of the first two words.
possible: likely, attainable, accessible, achievable, adventitious, advisable, available, breeze, can do, cinch, conceivable, credible, dependent, desirable, doable, dormant, duck soup, easy as pie, expedient, feasible, fortuitous, hopeful, hypothetical, imaginable, indeterminate, latent, no sweat, obtainable, piece of cake, potential, practicable, probable, promising, pushover, realizable, setup, simple as ABC, snap, thinkable, uncertain, viable, welcome, within reach, workable
immodest: adj. excessive, not moderate 1. not decorous, indecent 2. not shy or humble; bold; forward
immoderate: dizzying, egregious, enormous, exaggerated, exorbitant, extravagant, inordinate, intemperate, overindulgent, profligate, steep, too much, too-too, towering, unbalanced, unbridled, uncalled for, unconscionable, uncontrolled, undue, unjustified, unmeasurable, unreasonable, unrestrained, unwarranted, wanton
Step Four Marvel at the weird synergy of it all. Vow to use the word "wanton" more often.
Step Five Write something about your wordly wanderings, like Narcissus returning to Goldmund, waxing poetic on the lands he's seen, the babes he's romanced, inadvertently making Goldmund feel like a chump for waddling around in scratchy clothes, eating stale bread, and staring at the garden wall.
WAXING ON WORDLY WANDERINGS
First of all, I thought it was nice that "January" was in the first quote. What the hell does she mean about Jamaicas of Remembrance, though? Anyone? Anyone? Someone new this time...
Secondly, how is it possible to have a reaction to a list of words? Still, when the word "improper" comes up as a synonym for "impossible", I start to feel defensive. Then, "objectionable"? "Offensive"? "Unacceptable"? I can almost hear the bitchy, prudish tones of some easily provoked school teacher's voice, and it makes me want to break out a fresh can of whoop ass. I think my stock of whoop ass is frighteningly low, though, unfortunately.
I'm on board with modest for a while - moderate opinion of one's own value? I guess it works for some people. Then, behaving in a way that's considered proper or decorous? Not only does this pick up where "impossible" left us, but I'm starting to dislike the idea of modesty intensely. Reasonable. Not extreme. See also: Plays nice. Flys under the radar. Does what's expected of it. Aims to please. Bores living daylights out of us.
Then I wonder if my reaction to modesty is shallow rebellion, or even inspired by some whack consumer version of authority defied, like those commercials where the girl who can't color within the lines grows up to drive a Dodge Truck or some such shit.
On, to possible. I like possible, when it's attainable, achievable, advisable, but then we move into "credible, dependable" and "dormant, duck soup, easy as pie" and then "pushover". I like the dusty cuteness of "duck soup", but possible suddenly seems undesirable, dreary. Walking a straight line, staying the course, doing what's expected. Zzzz. This time it doesn't feel shallow, though. I mean, easy is credible? Dormant pushover is dependable? Bleh.
By this point, I'm 100% in support of immodest. Excessive! Bold! Not decorous, never! Never decorous! Now I have to look up immoderate in Roget's (since immodest isn't there). Dizzying! Here's egregious again! Extravagant! Steep! Too much!
And then I think about the times in my life when people described something I said or did as "too much." Too much, as if there's some particular amount that's just right. Just right for who? Goldilocks? I heard "too much" all the time - I went too far, I said too much, I exaggerated, I contradicted myself, I spewed reckless theories, cited examples, changed my mind. I made a fucked up joke, or wrote a 2-page email to a friend, or said something absurd. And maybe sometimes I was out of step with what was normal or acceptable, and maybe the problem wasn't the "too much" part, maybe it was my tone, or the fact that I went on for too long without listening, or that I seemed to have underlying issues that I quite clearly refused to address.
But then, there were also times when the common definition of "just right" was the most important factor to recognize. For certain former groups of friends, self-revelation was almost always inappropriate. "Too much" was the response to any attempt to discuss issues that were abstract or personal or at all heated or significant emotionally. Landing on any note but an upbeat, "I know what I'm doing and where I'm going" high C was "too much."
I get angry when I think about those days, feeling locked inside the stigma of Too Much. I think eventually I offered up less and less, played along more, put myself on the line less, thought twice before writing the long email, kept things light, kept to myself, expressed positive, uncomplicated regard for others, pulled the curtain closed tightly. But if you abandon your Too Much over and over, eventually you're just another Goldilocks in a land of Goldilockses (Tricksy Hobbitses!). And who gives a fuck about Goldilocks, really? Don't we really want the motherfuckers to eat her?
So, in closing, let's all drink a toast to...
s t e e p
Wednesday, January 15, 2003
SOMEBODY YINCH ME!
I never tire of re-reading "How the Yinch Stole Christmas", and I still sniffle every time I get to:
The Yinch, he was babbling - let's not act above it
for any thing's glad to find some thing who'll love it!
Thanks for writing a Dr. Seuss story for (alienated, over-educated) adults.
Thanks for reminding me of that Yinch thing. I'd forgotten all about it. I love writing rhyming stuff, I need to do it more often. Plus, Terry's Yinch illustrations are so funny.
Wednesday, a good day to toot your own horn!
YOU GOT A FAST CAR
Why I'm for traditional marriages.
Call me old fashion, call me weird, and make fun of me behind my back I don't care. It is you that hasn't thought about our current divorce rate in our society. It is you that try to unlock closed doors.
Scoff at my idea, but tell me why do you stress over watching the clock tick towards loneliness?
I listen to the sirens tell me how all the good ones have been taken. I listen to Mr. Gadget Man as he runs the comb through his locks' telling me of his victories. It seems to this humble observer that paradise is lost.
Women wake up after sleeping to late just to clear away the bad dreams of the night and realize they are bitter, disappoint, and lament about life being unfair. Mr. Tough laughs at them all, because perfection didn't stay in her bed.
What is your reality? Is it to be loved, have a family, a life? Maybe it is something other then reality - only if we could talk to the Lady in the speeding car and ask her was it all worth it?
My view is that the fastest rabbit in the warren may be the most admired, but sometimes the slowest rabbit that the buck catches is the happiest of them all.
We all love you princess, we all want to watch you and be in your company, it hurts us to think about the questions that all your friends ask you when you meet at the party. It saddens us that you are adrift feeling lost watching your clock tick.
Dear Mr. Tough,
Did you use a translation program to generate that letter?
In that spirit, I should translate the rest of my response into Portuguese and back. Here we go:
If I will remove fun definitively would make this here, in front of everyone, not back his/her behind. I not know I told any thing on making ticktock, but now that you told this, my clock he/she makes ticktock really loudly. Did he/she really upset me when I lived with my exboyfriend, because he had a clock that he/she made ticktock loudly in the opposite beat, it seemed like this "tick, "TICK of tick of TICK that makes ticktock twice a second, grande to sleep. However I moved, and he got married almost immediately after that. The second matrimony of him. When I met him, he was among wives. Of any way. On the one what we speaking begin? Closed doors? That was really play on words. Divorce has to see with this, to be honest. But better lucky than Mr. Tough finds that woman especial.
Quick like a bunny,
Tuesday, January 14, 2003
WHEN ONE DOOR CLOSES, ANOTHER ONE OPENS. BUT WHO CARES ABOUT THE OPEN ONE, REALLY?
Today my DSL connection is acting up. It's not behaving reliably. I can't get my email, I can't get most websites, the ones I can get come in with broken gifs.
This leaves me feeling anxious, like I'm missing something online. Somewhere there's something I'm missing. News of something. The latest take on something or other. But when my connection is functioning perfectly, do I care? No. I talk on the phone instead, getting the latest's update on X's date or Y's attempt to quit smoking despite debilitating fits of anxiety. I pace or do my laundry or flip through catalogues filled with merchandise I can't afford and wasn't interested in buying when I could (of course, now that I can't afford the shit, I covet it. Pathetic.).
But now that my connection is screwy, am I pacing or doing my laundry or flipping through catalogues? No. I'm sitting here, trying to get online every few seconds.
Naturally, this is a metaphor for my larger attitude and approach to the world. There can be a million doors before me, all of them wide open and welcoming. But I'll still walk over to the one door that's shut, and knock on it. No one answers. So I try the knob. It's locked. So then I start rattling the door, hoping to jolt it open. No good. So then I throw my body weight against the door, like they do on bad cop shows. But still, no dice. So then I ram my head into the door repeatedly, figuring my head is the hardest part of my body, and I keep ramming until I'm dizzy and can't see or think straight. Then I sit down on the floor next to the door, weeping softly and feeling sorry for myself. Why can't this stupid door open? It's no fair!
Then a friend walks up. "Why don't you just go in one of these other doors?" I look up at her, and say, "If you like those other doors so much, why don't YOU go in one of them?" She says, "Because I want to know what's behind that closed door, too, but I can't figure it out until you get out of the way." So I move. Then she rams her foot into the door, and keeps doing it until she yelps in pain. Then she sits down next to me, crying and feeling sorry for herself.
So we sit there together and talk about how no fair the world is. That's why we're friends and that's what friends are for, after all! Years ago, we selected each other, out of crowds of potential friends, for our common ability to bash our heads against the wall (or our feet against the door), piss into the wind, beat a dead horse, etc.
Instead of wandering into some of the open doors, we sit and tell each other stories about what's happening behind the closed door.
"Behind that door," she says. "There are tall men with cold drinks in their hands. They have summer homes on the shore. They drive luxury cars with leather seats and navigational systems..."
"I hate navigational systems," I say. "I hate the kinds of men who get those in their cars. Gadget heads. Men who would rather look at a digital display than look out the window. Men who blast the air-conditioning all the time. Men who care about what brand of shoes they wear, who refer to attractive, stylish shoes they spot in store windows and on other people's feet as "tasty". "Those shoes are tasty!" they inform strangers as they're walking by, much to your chagrin. Men who turn on the seat-warmers in their cars just to impress you, then ask you every few minutes if you can feel it. 'Can you feel that?' they ask. 'Getting any warmer?' they ask, until you start to smell burning flesh and realize that your ass is on fire."
"No navigational systems then! Forget I mentioned it. See, this is just your little sour grapes routine, so that you have an excuse for not wanting what's behind the door."
"Navigational systems are not my sour grapes!"
"Yes they are, and if they weren't, it would be, 'I hate tall men. Early bloomers. They're overly confident. They were bullies in junior high school, because they matured faster than everyone else. They beat up the little guys, the ones who didn't even have pubes yet...'"
"That's true about early bloomers, have I mentioned that theory to you before?"
"I like that theory. And anyway if a sour grapes routine is my personal El Guapo, then yours is regret. 'There are tall, rich men behind that door, and I can't get to them because I went out with that worthless little moron ten years ago, I moved to Chicago for him, why the fuck did I do that? I could still be living in New York, I would probably be working for a big publisher by now!'"
"You always say that, but it's not true! I don't regret things that much! And besides, I would probably still be in New York if I didn't follow the moron, so why shouldn't I say it if it's true?"
"Because it's a waste of mental energy!"
"Hello, waste of mental energy? Sour grapes is a worse waste of mental energy than regret is."
"No it's not."
"Yes it is."
"No it's not."
"Yes it is."
"I'm not talking to you anymore."
"I'm not talking to you anymore."
"Stop imitating me."
"Stop imitating me."
Both start pounding on closed door again. Fade to black.
Thursday, January 09, 2003
FAAAAILING, TAKES ME AWAY!
So what you failed, no one gives a damn, cause we all love a winner and you are a winner.
Get your head screwed on right and start writing.
Dear Mr. Tough,
Failed? Me? Ha!
That poem is about this couple I used to know. The woman worked for a big shot in TV who was an old friend of hers, and the couple ended up pinning all their hopes on developing a pilot for the big shot. Eventually the big shot fired the woman, the couple declared bankruptcy, and their marriage fell apart. The big shot is still a big shot, but apparently doesn't hang out with anyone who isn't willing to stand in a semi-circle talking about how great he is.
I don't blame him for that, of course.
Greater than great,
Wednesday, January 08, 2003
THE GHOSTS OF FOREST LAWN
Blathering needlessly, gathering moss
You wonder I wonder we wonder, because
Because because because because because
Because of the wonderful things he does
Pandering listlessly, flaunting your flaws
You slouch and turn sallow, I'm sullen and sauced
We were on our way once, but now we're quite lost
Because of the wonderful things he does
He swaggers convincingly, all styled and gelled
He dates Playboy bunnies, and lunches with swells,
Remarkably narrow, shined to a high gloss
Proclaiming the wonderful things he does
We bought a ticket, we scrimped and we saved
He took our ticket and threw it away
He says it's his God-given right, because
Because of the wonderful things he does
You look on the bright side, and say it's all fine
while gathering sour grapes for your wine
Giddy with failure, we swig and we sing,
Songs about somedays and wonderful things
Monday, January 06, 2003
YEAR OF THE RAM
2003 is the year of the ram, see also: sheep. Emphasis this year is on following the herd, sleeping. Proving that I'm at least a year ahead of my time, I think I got at least 8 hours of sleep almost every night last year. Just to buck the trend, or maybe to butt the trend, I think I'll get less sleep this year. I hear that people who get less sleep make more money, and get important work done in the wee hours when the rest of us are dreaming about sampling a wide selection of delicious deserts with a talking monkey.
Yes, I took a long vacation, mostly because plane tickets were cheaper that way. I've had a great time, but now I'm ready to get off my ass and focus on work again. Focusing should be a little less challenging, now that I've been reunited with coffee. I held out for about three weeks, and then life got very flat and pointless, and I forgot why I quit in the first place. I couldn't really think of one good reason to continue abstaining, especially without coffee to help my brain function.
Benefits of Quitting Coffee
Vague feeling of being "healthier"
No daily afternoon downward spiral into pit of despair, head filling with questions like "What have you accomplished today?" and "What have you accomplished this year?" and "What are you doing with your life?" and "What are you going to eat for lunch?"
Appearance of proactive stance in battling tendency to be a "moody bitch"
Cons of Quitting Coffee
Total inability to write anything of consequence, but who really cares what a mediocre drivel a sad, small mind like yours might churn out anyway?
Total inability to write anything funny, and there's nothing funny about it
Pit of despair stretches to encompass entire day
Death of ambition, vision, enthusiasm, energy, generosity
No good reason to get out of bed, leave house, answer phone, etc.
When I told my exboyfriend Jake that I was quitting coffee, he was furious at me. He was more outraged than he would've been if I'd said I was cheating on my taxes, or that I ran over a few dozen schoolchildren on the way home from the In 'n' Out Burger. I was patient, though (OK, maybe quitting coffee made me a little more patient - but that's not surprising, since I barely had a pulse). I explained about the pit of despair, in the afternoon. He said, "That just means you need more coffee!"
I didn't believe him. I stuck to my guns. But after three weeks, I hadn't written much, hadn't felt like writing, and really didn't feel like doing much of anything. I was calmer, sure, and more relaxed, but all I wanted to do was nap. I was sluggish, boring, and lazy.
The best was that day in Barnes and Noble when, wandering aimlessly in my usual coffee-free stupor, I came across a book (randomly, I swear) called "The Benefits of Coffee", a whole book on how life is better in every way when you drink a lot of coffee. As I flipped through chapters with titles like "Ambition", "Happiness", "Energy", I had distant memories of experiencing such things, many many moons ago.
Whatever, this recovery talk is so boring, isn't it? I mean, work the steps at your own pace and shut the hell up about it, that's what I say.
You got any smokes, man?