Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Two cherries and a lemon

The storm called Sandy came and went with loud, damaging winds wreaking havoc everywhere it touched including about two blocks from where I live. I feel like I've once again dodged the natural bullet of a hurricane, having just missed so many growing up in Louisiana. My life, it seems, is rife with situations just like this: I am aware that catastrophe looms but it misses me by a hair. Over and over I pull the lever and end up with three cherries (or maybe like two cherries and a lemon). I suppose this is why I believe that everything always works out: it always does. Won't stop me from worrying however. Worry 'til I die. The weather over the past two days however has been so beautiful, another strange fact of hurricanes and other destructive forces: the world could be falling apart but here comes the sun.

On Sunday night, before the storm hit, I went to the supermarket for some last minute items, which coincidentally consisted of my usual random four or five items (in case you were wondering: pasta sauce, paper towels, kaiser rolls, cinnamon graham crackers). When considering the words I wanted to use in describing the pervading attitude of my fellow Long Islanders, I'm leaning towards: panicked, anxiety ridden, and craving only refrigerated food. Cart after cart passed by filled to overflowing with PERISHABLE AND/OR FROZEN foods. I guess most people just don't understand anything. Even basic things like food spoilage. I overheard a mother and teen aged daughter arguing about what to buy and the teenager told her mother that frozen ice pops would not keep and her mother's response was "they are on sale." I sincerely hope they were some of the lucky ones that never lost power.

I've been off from work for the past three days. Thank fuck I have my power back as it had gone off for about 12 hours, most of that time I was asleep. While I'm relieved I didn't have to brave the downed branches and live wire ridden streets in order to get to work, a huge part of me dreaded being left alone with my own thoughts, without anything to distract me from slowly turning over them, like a pig on a spit. My thoughts will one day slowly roast me until I am a wrinkled, crispy, eyeless version of myself. I actually didn't realize I felt that way until just now. Probably even better that the world has been made with plenty of distraction. However, it also explains why I can never finish anything I start to write. I need to work on that.

Anyway, as of today, two days post storm, I am still not required at work (one of my jobs still has no power) and I still have a lack of will to finish anything. I've come to the coffee shop in the hopes of ridding myself of my home's distractions (cuddling kitties, a stack of DVDs that demand my attention, the best mattress ever (tm), a closet that is badly in need of organization) only to find that the place is packed. Likely most of these coffee patrons are electrically powerless refugees. Or perhaps they are also yearning to escape the silent cacophony of their own thoughts. Either way, they are a pretty good looking bunch. One of the guys here resembles someone you might imagine is a stock broker in the 80s would look like, on the weekends. You know, good looking in that cold, calculating way but wearing jeans. In addition to that, I never quite notice just how dirty my laptop is until I take it out of my house and sit in the glare of natural light, where my screen reveals the myriad thumb and fingerprints and tiny bits of cat hair embedded in the keyboard. I would be embarrassed if I had within me the will to do anything about it. However, the fact that it happens every single time I come here, I've lost desire to take care of it. Maybe when the damn thing breaks down and I get a raised eyebrow from some computer geek will I admit how much of damn dirty failure I am at keeping things clean. But I'll wait until then.

Ok, I'm going to attempt to finish something today. Anything. If i succeed, I will tell you. If not, I'll still probably tell you but I'll be drunk so ignore all the other stuff I'll say.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Squirreling to China

I just witnessed a squirrel digging its furious way into a makeshift trench in front of my parents' house. For a second I thought it was having a seizure or at the very least busting out some smooth dance moves but upon closer inspection it was just sort of burrowing into the front lawn. Eventually, if left alone for long enough I'm pretty sure it may have ended up in China. Or Ronkonkoma. Deducing that no one in my parents town house complex would appreciate a burrowing squirrel effing up the landscape, I shooed him away. In reality, I thought about just standing there and watching him for awhile. It would have been calming and hilarious and absurd all at once.

While I'm a flexible believer that the universe tend towards utterly random indifference, I am sometimes prone to looking for or at least recognizing signs, anything that lends an air of order to the chaos. This is probably my brain's way of reassuring me that even though the universe is random, sometimes happy accidents occur and sometimes those accidents have harmonious effects. Or maybe it is just human nature to want things to make sense or have meaning. I do it almost constantly, to the point where I have to question what I actually do believe about the universe pretty regularly.

To wit: I am having a lot of difficulty finishing Chabon's Telegraph Avenue. I've been reading it for about month and try as I might, even after 250 or so pages, I just feel disconnected from it and everyone in it. But it is so well written that there exists this sense just underneath that disconnect of "I should be feeling something." It is weird but I did feel that same way when I read another Chabon's books The Yiddish Policeman's Union. It is frustrating to keep expecting to feel connection to a book and to put effort in the waiting for it and then to come up empty handed. I expressed that frustration to my friend Catherine who has since read and finished the book and she advised me to not bother finishing it. There is too much else to read to spend time on something that isn't holding your attention. She is right, of course and I had all but resolved to return the book to the library today and forget about it until I inevitably came across it again at some point in the future, during which time I'd likely sigh and regret giving up. However, and here is where the randomness and completely explainable coincidence happens, I needed something to read during my lunch hour today and happened to grab an old copy of the New York Times magazine that my friend Lauren left at my house a few weeks ago. The theme of the issue was "Inspiration" and had all these creative people talking about what inspires them and how they arrived at ideas that later became songs or novels or films. It really is a fascinating issue. One of the contributors was, you guessed it, Michael Chabon. He was talking about his inspiration for Telegraph Avenue. Essentially his story of inspiration is intriguing and heartfelt and I was hooked more into the article than the actual book. But then he said this:

I found myself obliged, and eager, to recreate through fiction, through storytelling and prose, the lost utopia that never quite happened, that I never quite knew, that I have never since forgotten and that I have been losing, and longing for, all my life. 

And I was effectively drawn right back in. It feels meta but I am looking for in reading his novel what he is looking for in writing it. Why can't I find it?! Also, why can't I just be a normal person and abandon books that don't interest me? I am that damn squirrel, rooting around for some unknown treasure.

If you'll excuse me for moment, I'm just going to walk around for a bit, looking for completely random and meaningless things to assign meaning to. If you need any help with this in your life, just do what I do, make shit up.

ETA: I gave up on the book. I just read 15 more pages and I was distracted the entire way through. Some other time, Mr. Chabon. It's not you, it's me. Ish.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Loving, Reading, Watching, Thinking about, Listening to, Anticipating

I've been neglecting the blog. It's true. But you know how it is. One day you are blogging everyday, despite the dearth of anything of real value or contribution to record and the next day you are half remembering that you should be doing something productive, mid way through your cup of coffee while you drive along an empty road to work and an enormous deer runs out in front of your car in a graceful trot to cross the street and then you slam on your brakes as your life flashes before your eyes in a not so graceful trot and you come to the realization that you will have left nothing behind but a bunch of whiny, paltry observations about your tiny corner of the universe and that's when you remember that you should update your blog, if only to write something. You know how that is right?

Anyway, currently I'm

...loving: apples. I have eaten more apples in the last three weeks than I have ever eaten, ever. I don't know how explain this sudden, pomaceous abundance to my diet except to say that it is apple season here in NY and they are everywhere I look. At one point I had three bags in my fridge, one of red, one of golden and one of green. They were all small bags but shit, who the hell needs to eat that many apples?? Do I now get a free pass from visiting the doctor the rest of my life? How about a lifetime teacher's pet award? What other cultural phenomenon is associated with apples? Oh right, it may or may not be my fault that women are in pain when they give birth.

...reading: Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue and I'm about 100 pages in. I admit this was slow going at first but that has pretty much been true for all of the books by Chabon that I have read, probably about 3. However, one of those became one of my all time favorite books (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay) and so I'm always apt to give his books a chance. I'm rarely disappointed and I can already see this story coming together. I was looking forward to reading this since it is one of SO MANY books to be published this year that made my "most anticipated" list. Seriously, nearly every one of my favorite living authors has come out with a book this year, affording me not only the joy of not waiting anymore but also the opportunity to meet and listen to these authors give talks. The last one was John Irving at ALA this year. It will be hard to top this year in terms of sheer awesomeness being given to the world in the form of literature. I'm so dramatic.

...watching: as recommended to me by a friend, the films of Iranian director Bahman Ghobadi, the bulk of which are incredibly sad and beautiful. The best one I've seen so far is No One Knows About Persian Cats  which has both a fascinating setting and a pretty unbelievable back story. I'd recommend it to everyone. The other films of his that I've watched were equally important and beautiful but the kind of importance and beauty that tends to leave one....I don't want to say suicidally depressed but they leave you suicidally depressed.
In addition to that, I'm also watching Gossip Girl on Netflix because sometimes it is okay to indulge in guilty pleasures as a chaser to doing more important things, like updating blogs. And OMFG Serena is sooo stupid you guys!

...thinking about: a cute guy with a beard. Also, the to do list I crafted on my iPhone at about 5am this morning and how I have done three items so far and it isn't even lunchtime.

...listening to: Henry Purcell's Three Parts on a Ground because that particular piece makes me want to lie lazily on a chaise lounge in a powdered wig, drinking rose and drawing fake birthmarks on my face while simultaneously plotting clandestine affairs using the labyrinth in the west part of the palace grounds as a meeting point.

...anticipating: spending some time with the new baby over at Marianne's house. New babies are pretty much the only reason we still exist. See what I did there? Also, I'm anticipating an updated glog from Marianne about her progress in the Ralph's challenge since Ralph's shutters its doors in about three or four weeks. Last I heard she was on "M" but don't quote me on that.

...making me happy: The knowledge that the deer that prompted this entry is somewhere right now, munching on twigs and enjoying his life. I like to imagine that every time someone reads this sentence he pauses, looks up knowingly, and carries on chewing.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

This Is How You Prioritize

I'm coming to terms with the impossibility of concentrating while I'm at home. I'm lucky enough to have a few days off this week and I had some time I set aside specifically for writing and other creatively productive activities, only to finally come to realize that I cannot concentrate in the comfort of my apartment. I simply cannot. There is way too much distraction and I often wonder how people who do manage to arrange their lives so that they work at home get anything done. I mean the internet is one whole animal on its own. As I type this right now, I'm struggling against my overpowering urge to check my facebook/twitter/email. It is more than just a little bit ridiculous. There is nothing that I would learn by going there now that I can't learn later. I want to stop making such meaninglessness important. Priorities.

Priorities are a theme as of late. And I suspect this is for several reasons, not the least of which is reading Junot Diaz's latest book This is How You Lose Her and discovering, for probably the fifteenth time that small pang of jealousy that resides in a far corner of my brain and awakens at only very specific moments. I very rarely get jealous of anyone. When it happens, it is always a surprise and it is almost infallibly of a stranger and more often than not, of a writer and of their talent. Haha, I suppose my jealousy is reserved for very specific things. And reading a book as good as pretty much anything Diaz writes will always be a trigger. I am in love with his style, with his stories, with his characters, with his talent. It makes me want to be around him in order to be available, should it ever be possible to absorb even 1/100th of the talent it takes to be a writer like that. That he is close to my age, that he comes from Latin America and understands and articulates so well the marooning, adrift feeling of being a stranger in a strange land...all these things amplify the things I want to do. Apparently he speaks directly to many other people too as he just became a MacArthur fellow. Anyway, I don't need to be all that. I just need to write. Reading his books remind me of that priority.

Now if only I could actually prioritize instead of always thinking about doing it in the abstract. Why is everything so much easier in the abstract?