Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Floundering, not Foundering

Over the past week, I learned some lessons. Here they are. I've included an in brief summation of each preceding paragraph for those readers on the go.

Lesson #1:

I'm taking an online course in copy editing and as a result, instead of seeing more and more mistakes in every day writing, I'm hearing more and more mistakes in every day speech. Our collective grammar usage is atrocious. I'm okay with it, really. For me, spoken language is something that can and usually does evolve. I think written language, because it lasts longer (even digitally) should be more carefully constructed. I don't really have a logical reason for why I differentiate between the two other than to say it is an entirely personal preference, especially now that I'm even more aware of it. That is not to say any blog posting of mine will improve in quality. I only have a very limited natural talent and frankly, I am so fucking busy every day of my life that sometimes I want to update this blog thusly: #&%^&^@#$%(*)@! Overall, I'm enjoying the course and I finally know the difference between the word floundering and foundering. This is 15 years after I first heard the word founder in context of a ship in the blockbuster retardation explosion Titanic.

In brief: I am the kind of person who is good at copy editing when I feel like it but is not a qualified member of the Grammar Police, nor do I want to be.

Lesson #2:

Even though I work all the time and use what precious little free time I have in the best ways I know how (playing with cats) I've been able to catch up on Game of Thrones, the second season all in one go. The show is intriguing and wonderfully acted and I thoroughly enjoy every episode, albeit not as fanatically as I do, say, Mad Men. Still, after this most recent experience, I can't deny that stories and images in the show leave indelible marks on my subconscious. To wit: I dreamed last night that I was on trial for the murder of a peasant. In my dream, the world I lived in was akin to Winterfell. The dream began "mid-story" and I realized I was the accomplice in the violent strangulation. My dream self had the memory of witnessing my friend/accomplice's beheading via a knight's sword. I was allowed to go free for one night but knew that my "trial" was going to be the following day and had been reassured by my "lady in waiting" that the three old men who were the jury had already decided on finding me guilty and sentencing me to death. In my dream, instead of escaping like a scrappy heroine, I walked around my room (which for some reason was my actual room in the apartment I live in now) wringing my hands and trying to envision what it would be like at the moment of death. My dream self envisioned it to be a series of flashes in my mind that looked very similar to Jackson Pollock paintings.

 It was probably the most disturbing and intense dream I've had since that one time I passed out drunk and dreamed of a rainbow colored emu trotting down a dirt road in Kentucky. (The emu was in Kentucky, not me. I was in NYC. Just thought I should clarify that.)

In brief: Take a break from Game of Thrones. Sub lesson: Be grateful to your younger self that you never dropped acid or took shrooms, no matter how many times it was offered to you.

Lesson #3:

I keep running into the same person in town that for the last six months or so I have not been able to exorcise from my thoughts. Likely one is the direct result of the other and if I were the sort to believe in coincidence and fate and all that gobbledygook I'd be reading into these random collisions and assigning higher meaning to them. In fairness to me, there is a connection there that is not, for once, wholly of my own invention. Part of me wants to do exactly what I feel, consequences be damned. Then, when my phone remains silent, I remember that ascribing some higher purpose or fate to the sheer logic of probability is a mistake, and a painful illusion to disavow oneself of repeatedly. Also, people are almost never what they seem.

In brief: Just 'cause you feel it, doesn't mean it's there.

Lesson #4:

This year on Father's Day, my family elected to have dinner at a local chain restaurant. I have generally prided myself on being flexible with plans and being the type of person who is "good" with anything and the opposite of a picky eater. That is still true with one exception: chain restaurants. I have yet to, in my adult life, have a good and satisfying meal at a chain restaurant. And I don't mean a chain with one or two locations (big ups to The Curry Club), but the national chain restaurants that sprout up all over the face of suburbia (and yes, even Paris and Manhattan) like an aggressive acne. I did not enjoy the meal, even a little bit. I just wanted some damn fish with some vegetables and what I got was a glorified frozen dinner. Even my cocktail was sub par and the two mussels I had were bland and salty at the same time. How is that even possible? I was apparently in the minority however since everyone else seemed to really enjoy the food. It was a familiar feeling. I often wish I could just close the curtains in my brain and not overthink things like, oh say, chain restaurant food. Please don't mistake me, I loved eating with my family and celebrating the menschen in my life. But the food literally left a bad taste in my mouth that lingers. I'm such a whiner.

In brief: I love my family and I hate lazy food.

Lesson #5

Before coming to dinner, my parents and grandparents went to visit my aunt, who is known as Mima. Mima is in her 90s and according to my mother is "not doing well". She has been in declining health for a few years now and we have heard this status before, most recently this past spring. However, the quiet way in which my mother described how bloated Mima had gotten and her disinterest in eating or sleeping brought me to the realization that she may actually not be doing well. Mima is that family member that many of us have: she's always existed. It is inconceivable that she won't someday, likely soon. And at dinner, after my mom said it, that fact just lingered in the air above us. How bizarre to remember now that we just carried on ordering and eating and chatting about work and vacations. I even had audacity to be dissatisfied with the food. You hear about a beloved family member "not doing well" and, if he or she is past a certain age, you shake your head and you feel sorry but you carry on saying "She lived a long and fruitful life." And because that happens to be true in Mima's case, the sadness I feel right now in the remembering of that dinner table scene is not for her, but for all of us she will leave behind. We have no idea how many times we'll have to repeat the rote phrases and consolations and carry on and on and on until we don't. But that's just what we do and there's nothing for it.

In brief:  This space for rent.

If you have learned any lessons this week, well I'd sure like to know about them so please, share!

Sunday, June 10, 2012


Across the street from my apartment complex is a condo development where two very good friends of mine live. I noticed last week that there is now a huge iron fence that connects two of the buildings where, for the two years I have lived here, there was none. This fence also blocks a direct path from the street to the inside of the complex. When I asked my friends about it, they said that the fence was essentially a prop. People had been cutting through the streets of the complex, trampling grass and leaving garbage on their way from one side of the street to the other; the fence was put in place to deter this behavior but in actuality, you just have find the latch on the gate and open it. There is no code or keypad or key necessary. My apartment complex has the same thing in place but we do have a keypad code to get in. However, when I first went to look at an apartment there, the landlord gave me the code. I wasn't signing a lease yet, I hadn't even seen him in person yet but he gifted me with the four digits necessary to enter the complex. In the time I have lived there I must have given the code to everyone who ever visited me or picked me up. I have given that code to food delivery men, furniture delivery guys, those not for profit organizations that pick up donations. So, essentially, the code is the equivalent of a scarecrow: it looks imposing and is meant to deter one thing from coming in but is really just full of old straw and pretty useless in terms of security. Yet I feel so utterly safe in my apartment complex. It is a little stupid, really. These repellents we set up in order to completely fabricate the notion of being safe are interesting because we create them and we know what we are doing when we create them and still we buy into them. So much of our lives is mired in pretensions of our own design.

Lately I've been thinking about how I do this in almost every aspect of my life. I build these blockades out of excuses and the infinite reasons I can invent as to why I can't do something and it makes it easier for me to not even try. I'm afraid of all those nasty crows, just lying in wait to pick apart everything I wanted to see grow. But my scarecrows are proving to be ineffectual. Or maybe they are too effectual since they are working on me, too. Mostly, I don't go anywhere near my own life, preferring to just hang out by the side. I'm jealous of people who take risks. I need to leave things up to the elements sometimes. I suppose it is just a matter of deciding to do exactly that. How hard can that be? I may be too old for baby steps so why not just jump head first? Also, why do I always picture that anti-drug commercial from the 80s that features a girl jumping from a diving board into what is soon revealed to be an empty swimming pool?

I always thought she looked like Andy McDowell.

At the moment I'm looking out the window of a sleepy main street that just about 12 hours ago was spilling over with nightlife. I'm not as hungover as I probably should be. I got a little rejected last night but I'm kind of enjoying this mini-feeling. It means I did something I normally would not have. I like that. What can I say? The sun is shining, my head feels clearer than it has in a long time and the barista just offered me a free sample of some Guatemalan coffee they just French pressed. Life carries on and on.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Stabby and Jagged and Killing Time

I can almost invariably tell when it is going to be one of those days. It is easy, since if, at 2:30 on any given morning, I find myself wide awake and am neither drunk nor preoccupied with getting to know someone biblically, the next day will be one of those days. This probably has been, but never felt truer than today.

I'm not going into it, but I feel stabby. A combination of no sleep and really general malaise has clouded what should have been an ordinary Monday. Or wait, that is an ordinary Monday. I keep waiting for those weekdays that I used to have before my life unspooled into the present heap of tangles and knots of things I am obligated to do vs. things that keep me from doing things of real value or worth. In a brief conversation I had yesterday a friend was talking about the art projects he's working on and how everything else at the moment was just filler. It resonated because the last time I can remember my weekdays being of any substance at all was college. That was a long time ago. And since my memory is 80% an utter fabrication, it probably wasn't even then. My visions of everything was so much better before are my psyche's version of a common cold: easily caught, virtually untreatable and always, always annoying.

Lately I've been having discussions with people and I often wonder whether or not I am making any sense. And then the possibility occurs to me that I haven't ever made any sense and that the people I end up talking to know this and are just humoring me.

So instead of talking to people at all and because today is one of those days, I feel like a more productive use of my time would be lounging in front of my fake fireplace and reading Baudelaire. It has been years but I seem to recall he was always looking to extract beauty from ugliness. And he awesomely called it spleen. If I started a band tomorrow, I'd consider calling it Spleen. And just because my thoughts just went full circle, I can now confirm that college was INDEED the last time I spent my weekdays being productive because that is when I first read and understood Baudelaire. I used to read, write about and discuss poetry ALL DAY LONG. And when I wasn't doing that, I was learning music theory and music history. Good Lord when will time travel be possible?

I had a good/strange weekend which I may share the finer details of at some point this week. I've got Book Expo tomorrow and an infinite number of seconds to while away staring at computer screens. What are you doing this week?

I think I'm just going to end this entry partly because I'm once again getting that weird airy feeling that I'm not making any sense but mostly because the abhorrent ergonomics of this library reference desk is making my left arm all tingly and the rest of my muscles feel something that could only accurately be described as "jagged."