I walked home last night through the East Village with one of my writing classmates.
“You look tired,” she said.
“Oh, do I?” I said, and I tried to excuse it due to work. And I also tried to excuse it due to not eating well (on account of the root canal, you know?). And I tried to excuse it and excuse it until there wasn’t anything left to say other than, “Oh.”
And I have been tired lately. It’s been a tiring few months. I would say that I have been losing steam, which is a funny little saying that we still have going on in our lexicon. This concept that we’re all filled up with water that we expel as steam, like an old-timey machine, and if we don’t do it that there’s something wrong. I mean, this saying does not apply to my life. I never use an iron. I don’t even own one. And I definitely don’t go on steam-powered trains, since this is 2010. I mean, let’s get real. And yet I still say, “I’m running out of steam.” We still call films movies, but we stopped calling them talkies. It’s funny what stays and what goes.
So we walked through the city. We walked down Second Avenue and made a left onto 6th St. We ran into all these big white trucks which the experienced know are parts of movie sets. We walked towards through the hall of these large, oddly placed pieces of machinery and down, because we were trying to get home, and then we saw everybody standing around and looking at these two restaurants. They are Indian restaurants and they are covered from floor to ceiling with colorful twinkle lights and swathed in a rainbow of cellphone and they have men that stand outside telling you to come inside. “Come inside, check it out, have a looksee,” they say and try to shove fliers into your hand. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think they were one restaurants but they are actually two separate entities, mirroring the other’s business model. Yesterday night they were flooded with light and people were staring at them, like they were Important all of a sudden. Like they were suddenly interesting. Like they were full of meaning.
We stood in the crowd looking at these storefronts and tried to see what they were filming, what had precipitated the long line of white trucks. And then I saw the tall, thin man with the silver hair, his cheeks a bit sunken in a remnant of handsomeness. He looked like he was important. He looked like he could commanded a room, or an avenue.
“Is that…” I squinted. I racked my brain. “Ted Danson?”
“Oh, they must be filming that show. Jonathan Ames. Bored to Death.”
A thousand doors ago when I was a lonely kid in a big house with four garages and it was summer as long as I could remember, I lay on the lawn at night, clover wrinkling over me, the wise stars bedding over me, my mother’s window a funnel of yellow heat running out, my father’s window, half shut, an eye where sleepers pass, and the boards of the house were smooth and white as wax and probably a million leaves sailed on their strange stalks as the crickets ticked together and I, in my brand new body, which was not a woman’s yet, told the stars my questions and thought God could really see the heat and the painted light, elbows, knees, dreams, goodnight.
“OK! Cut to the gates of heaven. Cut back to me. Cut to a winged monkey playing a saxophone. Cut back to me. Cut to a miniature pony break-dancing. Cut back to me. Cut to Ryan Gosling. CUT BACK TO ME!”—
life serial's take on the magical properties of FrütStix has given my life new meaning.
“Well, chums, here I am again with my bagful of dirt about your disorderly classmates, after spending a helluva weekend in N’Yawk trying to view the Columbia game from behind two bumbershoots and a glazed cornea. And speaking of news, howzabout tossing a few chirce nuggets my way?”—
Strunk & White do not want you to affect a breezy manner in your writing.
I think I need to read The Elements of Style again.
Rilo Kiley was introduced to me by this guy I dated in the fall of 2004. He made a mix CD of their best work for me on our second date. It came with a jewel case and cover art (that he designed!) and everything. The problem with this situation was that I wasn’t really all that into him so the CD didn’t really get listened to until months after we stopped seeing each other. After I broke the news to him that I didn’t think we were going to work out, he defriended me. On Friendster. ON FRIENDSTER. Do you know when you know you’re old? When you have an old Friendster profile and you actually had a Friendster break-up. That was the first time anything of that kind had happened to me. But now, now I think that defriending someone on your social network for a period of time is the most healing thing a person can do to get over someone. At the time I called him childish and silly, but he was probably on the forefront of something. So, I’d like to formally apologize, Guy Who Introduced Me to Rilo Kiley. You were right about a lot of things.
Last night my little brother called me. I am not really much of a phone person so whenever my phone actually rings, I kind of sit back in shock for a few minutes before I answer. (“What is this device I use to text and email and play solitaire doing? There is so much noise and buzzing and ringing! What is going on?!”) And if you’re calling from a number I don’t recognize? Fuhgeddaboutit. You’re more likely to see Betty White in a bikini riding a John Ritter-masted centaur on the New York subway than me pick up that call. Not going to happen.
SO ANYWAY. My brother called me last night. I actually picked it up this time, and I am glad I did. He was upset. About LIFE. You see, he’s graduating from college in a couple months and it’s pretty much the worst thing that has ever happened to him. “I feel as if life has been getting better and better up until this point—elementary school to middle school to high school to college—and I can’t see how life would possibly get any better after I graduate.” I tried to abate his fears as best I could. Work is not the worst thing in the world. People give you money to do stuff and this can get stressful, but for the most part, it’s fine. You are in charge of your own life, which is exciting! And you really get to see who you are as a person, which is kinda cool! It’s not that bad, I promise. I promise. I promise. And I do promise! I know people say that college encompasses the best years of your (or anybody’s, I guess) life, but this couldn’t be further from the truth for me. Yes, college was nice because I got to sleep in and I always arranged my schedule to include 3-day weekends. But other than that, I’ve enjoyed the working world more. Yes, there’s less time off, but there’s overall more freedom. He asked me if I was depressed before my graduation and I told him no. Then I remembered one instance, then I remembered another, and then all of a sudden I was pulling that thread until I unraveled the whole sweater. (Holla, Weezer reference!) And then all of that latent anxiety and worrying and pulling my hair out just hit me. Contrary to the bastion of calm you see today, five years ago I was FREAAAAAAAAAKING OUTTTTTTTTT constantly over the transition from Michelle, Student to Michelle, Working Woman. I thought I would never get past it and I wondered where on earth I would be in five years time. (Answer: New York City, fancy that!) I don’t know how to make my brother realize that everything will be okay. But I know it will be okay.
This morning I booked my planet ticket to California so I can see him graduate. I am excited—for him, and for his future. I know it’s going to be amazing.
“Cooper’s art has some defects. In one place in ‘Deerslayer,’ and in the restricted space of two-thirds of a page, Cooper has scored 114 offences against literary art out of a possible 115. It breaks the record.”—
James Fenimore Cooper, according to Mark Twain (1895)
I am in favor of raising the dead and/or cloning if it involves Mark Twain being alive again solely for the purposes of having mint juleps and talking shit about The Last of the Mohicans. (link)
This morning I woke up in a panic that I had somehow given myself a haircut like Kate Gosselin. I mean, obviously not the haircut she has now, but the old one. You know, the one where she had the spikes in the back and the sheet of gelled-stiff hair in the front, otherwise known as a reverse mullet. Oh god, I thought this morning, my eyes opening wide with urgency, as if on springs. I’ve ruined EVERYTHING. It’s difficult to get adjusted to a new hairstyle. Especially such a new, drastic hairstyle. I am overall pretty happy with it but then I do have the occasional panic, like, I HAVE MADE MYSELF IRREVERSIBLY UNATTRACTIVE FOR ALL TO SEE. Except, apparently not. The feedback has been good. So there’s that. Thanks for quieting my anxious little head of hair, guys.
“I don’t know why people are so keen to put the details of their private life in public; they forget that invisibility is a superpower.”—Banksy, in this interview conducted by David Fear/Time Out New York.
This made me pause and think. I was discussing superpowers with someone the other day, whether I would rather fly or be invisible. When it comes to superpowers, I always tend to err on the side of caution. For example, if you are invisible, it’s a lot easier to be killed— by cars or large crowds or trucks or trains or… anything, really. Invisibility is, to me, reckless. To be invisible is almost to be sinister—stealing money, listening in on conversations, and, of course, giving wedgies. (Lots and lots…and LOTS of wedgies.) But, still. Flying is fairly innocuous. Weightlessness. Light as a feather. Ability to transcend the day-to-day life. To float above. Invisibility means that you skirt around the edges of society without truly immersing yourself. So perhaps they are really the same, aren’t they? Both allow you to be removed from people. But invisibility does allow more absolute freedom—the ability to do anything without judgment. After all, actions are sovereign and blameless until you attach a face to them. So, hm. I may reconsider. Then again, only flying allows one to perform somersaults mid-air, which is really the most important thing, isn’t it?
American Idol - I was out of the country for awhile so I missed two seasons. Then I come back and it feels like I’ve stepped into a Ray Bradbury/Sound of Thunder alternate universe. Who killed the butterfly? Why is Ellen Degeneres on the show? I don’t get it. Who is this Kara chick? What happened to Paula? It’s very much like I went from one world into another similar-but-not-quite-the-same world. This confusion is turning me around so much that I don’t even know who I want to win. Clearly Crystal is the best but can her hippie granola-ness go mainstream? I am not sure. I am sad there will never be another Kelly Clarkson. Because, yo dawg! There will just be another one. Never ever. Not going to happen. Maybe that’s okay. On a related note, I’m sad that I kind of hate Carrie Underwood now. She’s become Too Much. But then, did I mention I rooted for Taylor Hicks during his season? So what I’m trying to say is that nobody should ever listen to me. Big Mike is really big. Tim Urban could smile at me forever and I wouldn’t mind, but I would appreciate it if he just didn’t talk or sing, if that’s okay. I would like to be friends with Siobhan but I don’t know for sure if she can sing that well, but I do know that she is an expert, amazing, wonderful screamer. Casey would be hot if he would just cut that ridiculous hair. Lee has a huge head. Why hasn’t anybody mentioned that? (As far as I know, I mean!) His head is so big. It’s so big I expect him to just topple over. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t move around the stage that much. He would just topple over if he moved the wrong way. I don’t care about the rest. They could leave and I wouldn’t mind. Does this mean I would like to see Tim Urban outlast them? I suppose it does. I just mute it when he’s on anyway. I don’t care if his hair is stupid.
America’s Next Top Model - How does Tyra do it? How does she make every season of this stupid show riveting? But, let’s be honest—what is better than seeing pretty-but-not-gorgeous models acting crazy? Anslee is full of stank face and mommy issues. Alasia is ridiculous, dramatic and overrated. Brenda is on the WAHHHHBULANCE and not getting off any time soon. Raina is wolf girl and totally hot and Jessica is so full of sparkly exuberant joy, she makes me smile whenever she’s on screen. I think she could be the first model mama to take this thing. I adore her. Oh, let’s talk about Andre Leon Talley! Can we? He makes up words like DRECKITUDE and overuses GAUCHE as an adjective. Is this what it’s like to meet your idols? I mean, I am not that into fashion so I know very little about him, but if you were into fashion and you met him, would you go, “What the hell?” Like if I met Margaret Atwood and all of a sudden she started gushing about Edward Cullen, I would go, “Say, whaaaa?” I wonder if that’s what it’s like for people who love Vogue to watch him on this show.
Millionaire Matchmaker - I am new to this show. My roommate loves it. She says she is a kindred spirit with Patty. What I really take away from this is that people who make their money via real estate are really annoying and full of themselves. I am sorry if you made your money in real estate, but it’s true. You think you’re hot shit but you’re just cold diarrhea! Yeah, I went there. Whatever. This show reminds me of everything I hated about LA and it makes me glad that I don’t live there anymore. Give me the Williamsburg hipsters over the Santa Monica douchebags, thanks. But I guess they’re fun to watch on TV from a removed distance.
The Amazing Race - This is another one I took a long break from, but dude! It really gets addicting if you start from the beginning. I forgot about that. I am staunchly on Team Cowboy. Jet and Cord are too adorable for words. I want to put them in my pocket. Or I want to have them as my ring-tone. “Oh my gravy!” my phone would buzz every time I got a text message. I am always an advocate of any time food references can be dropped into every day conversation. Plus the cowboys made the best comeback ever last week. How can you not love them? All the other teams are annoying. Also, all the other teams do not wear cowboy hats at all times. For these reasons and so many more, I want them to win.
Yesterday I went to dinner as a goodbye to my boss who is leaving and then I went to my weekly writing workshop where people took a look at the story I had written and said that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. I mean, they didn’t say that in so many words, but they did say, “You are awesome at dialogue!” That right there proves that I am awesome at dialogue. That right there is something people would actually say. Right? My writing teacher went so far as to tell me that my dialogue actually sounds like what people would actually say and that I write down things in a way that he’s never seen written before, so he compared me to some authors that I will not put here because that would make me look like an asshole who thinks that she’s on the level with really, really accomplished and amazing writers, but it did make me blush pretty hard. A couple of months ago I showed my last story to a friend and she said, “You should write screenplays,” which is also code, I think, for, “You are not very good at writing that other stuff that surrounds dialogue,” but that’s okay. I am trying to get better. That’s kind of like people telling me that I am photogenic. “You are so photogenic!” That is another way to say, “In person, not so impressive.” I guess I should smile more in real life. But, hey.