Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The kind of hopes that get pinned on a lottery.

There's no hope for me. By that I mean that hope doesn't grow on trees and it isn't given away - you need to make it yourself, out of raw materials. It's the same as that airplane flying overhead. Sure it's sautered metal now, polyester seat cushions and flight attendant uniforms, but it wasn't always that way. Without elbow grease and dinosaur bones it would fall right out of the sky. Those aren't wings flying that thing, they're "wings." If you don't have the wisdom to know the difference I can refer you to a meeting.

So it's not that there's no hope for me. I'm just having a hard time mustering the energy to make hope - to fashion it out of all the good things allegedly waiting in my future.

This is the stuff blogs are made of.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How I Spent My Summer Vacation, Part I

The truth is I haven't been writing The Great American Novel in our absence from each other. Oh sure, I've had ideas. Lots and lots of ideas. Some potential topics for future blog posts, obviously all unrealized, include, but are not limited to:

1. Why The Biggest Loser is the most honest/emotionally manipulative show on television.
2. Why The Duel II: Real World/Road Rules Challenge is the best sporting event to watch on television.
3. The Wire is the best fucking television show ever made, and here is why.
4. If Barack Obama had, instead of murdering that fly, cradled it in his hands like a butterfly and sagely carried it to a window to set it out into the world unharmed, our hippy heads would explode, and this is why.
5. I am apparently inconsiderate to the humans around me, but feel great emotional anguish whilst pulling weeds. Why?

I'm living back at home for the next month and a half before I go away to grad school and my mother has a big screen tv and a garden. That's why. No need for further explanation.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sunday, March 22, 2009

There Will be Time , there will be time.

I'm coming a little unglued. I feel the world changing underfoot as fast as I can take a step. Americans are sort of cute when they're scared, don't you think?

Things have been tough lately for dreamers. They say dreaming is dead, no one does it anymore. It's not dead it's just that it's been forgotten, removed from our language. Nobody teaches it so nobody knows it exists. The dreamer is banished to obscurity. Well, I'm trying to change all that, and I hope you are too. By dreaming, every day. Dreaming with our hands and dreaming with our minds. Our planet is facing the greatest problems it's ever faced, ever. So whatever you do, don't be bored. This is absolutely the most exciting time we could have possibly hoped to be alive. And things are just starting.
-Waking Life (2001)

Of course I'm grateful to have a job. Everybody needs money. That's why they call it money. As far as jobs go, it could be a lot worse. The two kids I share an office with are some of the nicest people I could have hoped for. They are my ying and yang. The company is laid back and relaxed. Yeah they make fun of my raw food and call me rabbit, but they also circle around the head of lettuce curiously, like children pulled into it's power even if they don't know why yet. So it's not unbearable.

The only unbearable thing is that nothing is unbearable.

It's just unfortunate. I don't want to spend 30 hours a week helping somebody else make money selling sports equipment, and every morning when I have to get out of bed and go to work I want to run screaming through the streets, pull my hair out and chew on shards of broken glass.

I employ all sorts of tricks. On some days I pretend like I'm a slave to a cybernetic multi conglomerate corporation, that I'm strapped down to the seat and there's a tube in my brain that harvests information directly into the computer's mainframe. It forces me to sit at the keyboard all day and spew bullshit copy out of my fingers about how much better the consumer's life would be if they only had this Four Square Oh Brother! Purple Rain Parka. As you can imagine, the game is terribly unfun and I grow weary.

I found this thing called LibriVox with amateur recordings of literature in the public domain, and I thought, Aha! This is the key. I figured out that if I listened to two hours of Ulysses every day, I could finish the book in about a month and a half. I warmed up with some poetry, and dear God, don't listen to Prufrock when all you want is to escape your unfortunate circumstance. "Do I dare disturb the universe?" YES oh God yes, get me out of this place, and then you go groping blindly in the dark for a 10 story window to crash out of, to hit the pavement running with smoke billowing out behind you due to such breakneck speeds - except your office has no windows. No, I don't dare disturb the universe. I sell kayaks.

It's just that I'm so close. I can taste it. I have a real job in the fall, something I really want to do. I have a story being published next month. I need new, loftier ambitions.

I'd like to be a custodian this summer. It's the most peaceful job I've ever had. Cleaning toilets, one after another, a long porcelain line like so many beaded pearls = the epitome of zen. I'd like to teach little kids how to read outside on picnic tables. I could farm. I miss overalls. Yes. I'd like to be a farmer.

It sounds like bullshit, doesn't it? I might as well say I want to be a catcher in the rye.

Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be.
J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Raw Vegan Cheesecake and HOLY SHIT GRAD SCHOOL

I've been up to all sorts of crazy stuff. It's bananas. I've gone down a strange rabbit hole of food/nutrition/hippie doomsday prophecies, which has led me to the conclusion that I should only eat raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. For the sake of my health, and writing, and an "art project" I'm working on, I resigned myself to a raw vegan diet for two weeks. It started on Monday, March 2nd, so today will be 6 days of nothing but raw food. What do I miss most? Booze and coffee. (2nd place: eggs and toast.) Anyway, I'll tell you all about it later.

I applied to 7 mfa programs for the fall of 2009: In order, from West to East: Oregon State University, University of Oregon, Mills College in Oakland California, University of Arizona, University of Montana, University of Florida, and The New School in New York City. So far I've heard from two schools.

Oregon State University sent me a rejection letter cold and dead as a cursed monkey's paw. Luckily the day before I got a call from a nice lady informing me I got into the University of Montana's MFA program. They offered me a teaching Assistantship. They're going to pay my tuition and give me a stipend. They want me to teach freshman composition and write adorable little stories in the mountains.

OH MY GOD THIS IS SO UNEXPECTED. I'd like to thank the academy, of course. My white Christian God... my agent.
In all seriousness, this is a big deal for me. I've always been very careful in crafting my dreams and aspirations for myself. When I was 20 or so, fat and dreadlocked in a cloud of despair and ganja smoke, looking for a way out of my dreary Waterford existence, all I wanted was to go to school in Detroit and hang out in dirty urban neighborhoods in my very own apartment. Poof, it was so. After that, I just wanted to go to graduate school in a little hippy town and teach. I know a lot of graduate students. They're some of the most beleaguered, resentful people in the world a lot of the time, and no offense to some of you reading, but you are. All you do is complain about teaching dumb kids and not making enough money. Well anyway, I can't wait to join you.

I need some new goals. Listing every new-to-me-film I've watched in 2009 has been a resounding success. I'm 2 films away from seeing every Woody Allen picture known to man. Throwing the spinny ball in bowling still kind of alludes me, but bowling is kind of gay when you think about it. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

If this blog has taught you anything, it should be that the key to goal setting is low expectations.

P.S. Mae, I'll write a book in two years for my final project. Until then, I'll just think really hard about it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

I'm almost done talking about the Oscars...

I've finally seen all 5 of the best picture nominees, and I have to say, it's bullshit. The top 5 best films of the year that I've seen so far were actually:

1. Synechdoche, New York
2. The Dark Knight
3. The Wrestler
4. Rachel Getting Married
5. Revolutionary Road

Nevertheless. This is my opinion of the 5 films that were nominated. I should probably warn you that I give away the entire premise of The Reader. The rest are safe to read whether you've seen the films or not.

1. The Reader

I suspect I should take up my grievances with the novel rather than the film, because it's the story itself that sucks. There are really three separate themes running through the piece, and they are:
a.) What is the nature of an individual's responsibility for crimes committed during the holocaust?
b.) The Kate Winslet character loves literature, but never learned to read. She is put in a position whereby she can save herself from life imprisonment by exposing her illiteracy on trial. She's so humiliated by her illiteracy that she prefers instead to suck it up and go to jail. What's up with that?
c.) Is it okay for an older woman to sleep with a high school aged kid? I've been told the creepiness factor of this was more played up in the book than the movie, but it really didn't seem like a big deal to me in the film. Then again, I'm not the target market for this kind of moral outrage.
I guess my problem is this. Point A, B, and C have nothing to do with each other, but they dance around one another as though they do, like some grand point is being made, but it just seemed like a lot of smoke and mirrors. More fundamentally, I just find it really implausible that a woman who's so wonderfully entranced by the world of literature wouldn't at some point suck it up and learn how to read. (Before the whole life imprisonment thing, that is.) Call me crazy.

2. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

Look, I know I can't shut up about how much I hated this movie, but let me explain further. The real fundamental problem with the film is that a man aging backwards is not a particularly fascinating or interesting thing. The story plays with this idea that Benjamin is doomed to a life of loneliness because everyone will grow up and die around him, but like, big fucking deal. People grow up and die around me too. It's true that for the first and last 15 or so years of his life things are a little weird for him, but for the middle 50 years of life, things move along swimmingly. So he can't really raise a child or have a conventional marriage. Neither can Harvey Milk, but at least Harvey has a good personality. It would actually be pretty sweet to get old age out of the way and then grow younger. The point is, the whole idea is a manufactured sentiment. The film is really beautiful, and they spent millions of dollars on beautiful actors and crazy sets and special effects, but for what? They could have produced ten great scripts for the money wasted on this piece of shit film, and I get very emotional about these sorts of things, thank you very much.
P.S. I'm very happy to see I'm not the only one who saw the ridiculous parallels between Button and Forrest Gump, and I'm sincerely hoping the point has been illuminated enough to spoil any shot it once had at winning Oscars.

3. Slumdog Millionaire

This movie is pretty good and it will win, but I'm just not all that psyched about it. It was entertaining, but I'm too cynical for romances involving 18 year olds. The million dollars is going to tear them apart and they're totally going to break up.

4. Milk

This movie broke my heart in twang. I don't know if my hippy sentiments have been made clear, cuz sometimes I make fun of the gays and stuff, but it's all in good fun. They mean everything to me and their struggle for basic freedoms fucking sucks and Harvey Milk's story was incredibly (dare I use such a cliche) inspiring. My only real problem with it is that my head and heart are really hard on biopics. I think it's difficult to do them without following a predictable formula and having them sag in the second act, but nevertheless. The performances are great, it has a wonderful script, Gus Van Sant is cool, can't ask for anything more. It's a close second to...

5. Frost/Nixon

I was shocked, shocked to discover that I found this to be the best film of the 5 nominees. I avoided seeing it. I didn't think I would like it - don't ask me why. Ron Howard kind of hurt my feelings when he charmed me with A Beautiful Mind, because then I read the book it was based on and realized the movie is a long, glorified lie. Ron Howard and I have been fighting ever since, but I totally digress.
Frost/Nixon is completely compelling. The script is great, the format is wonderful, I loved the cinematography, the acting was superb, and on and on. It's not in my top 5 just because it didn't give me quite the visceral reaction I require, but that's not really it's fault. It had the exactly correct scale for the historical event it depicted, which is really only marginally historical. Side note: Kevin Bacon plays Nixon's assistant or something, and he is fantastic. Kevin Bacon is more than the subject of a fun parlor game I'm completely awesome at. He's never given a bad performance and I think he's wonderful. Just throwing that out there. Dude doesn't get enough love. Sam Rockwell is boss too.

I would talk more about the Oscars but there's a contest involved and I can't give away my tricks of the trade until afterward. Also no one cares.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

403 Words From LA Cafe in Waterford

I came to this restaurant to eat soup and write, but so far the best laid plans of mice and men have gone tumbling away and won't come back again. I know that's not really how the rest of the poem goes, but I can't look it up because I'm using this "write or die" application that's going to fucking electrocute me or something if I don't write 400 words in the next 20 minutes.

I didn't come here to write a goddamn blog entry. I came here to work on an assignment for a class I'm "taking" but not really enrolled in. (If ever "taking" were the appropriate verb for the situation it would be now.) I can't concentrate because there's not one, but two first dates happening within mere feet, collective inches of me, and that shit is fucking distracting. The table across from me is a traditional twenty something pairing. The girl keeps making vague complaints about something in a voice as soft as cotton. The bald headed man (stylishly shaved by choice I think) makes loud, helpful suggestions as to how she might rectify her many woes.

"Maybe your mother is just under a lot of pressure right now. Perhaps you just need to be a good listener."
"Gee, it's weird that you should gain weight now when you never have before. You're not eating more, are you? Oh, you are? Huh."
"Have you ever tried yoga?"

This guy obviously hasn't read Men are from Mars, Women are from a Planet of Whiney Crybabies Who Don't want real Solutions to their Problems so much as Someone to Bitch at Who won't Offer any Constructive Suggestions. (Not the real title of the book, nor is it my opinion of women but rather the books authors. A book that I have read, for some reason.)

The other date isn't going well. The problem is this isn't actually a date at all, but only one of them knows that.

I'm going to have to leave it at that, because both dates have politely broken up and the moment isn't really pertinent anymore, now is it? I should really just wrap this up and get back to work. When I complete this sentence, I'l be at 403 words.