Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Send it to the cellar to mop

It wasn't perfect but I did get a lot of posting done this month. And while I realize that May is not yet over, I know that for the next two days I will be at Book Expo and assorted other events which will necessitate me treating this blog (and the cleaning of my apartment) like an undisciplined step child or a part time employee. That is to say, I have to send it to the cellar to mop. What? Isn't that what all stepchildren and part time employees do? Fear not, I have many, many things in the works. If you ever find yourself wondering what I'm doing at any given time, just close your eyes and remember this:

In keeping with a tradition I began in January of this year, here's a list of the films I watched, tempered with the knowledge that Mad Men began quite recently and I have watched each episode of that twice.

Man on Wire (2008)
The Details (2012)
Marwencol (2010)
Emma (BBC Miniseries) (2009)
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004)
Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry (2011)
Tarnation (2003)
Hyde Park on Hudson (2012)
The Great Gatsby (2013)
Sense and Sensibility (BBC miniseries) (2008)
Miss Austen Regrets (2008)
The Breakfast Club (1984)
The Angel's Share (2013)
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986)
Cheerful Weather for the Wedding (2012)
Bridget Jones Diary (2001)
From Up On Poppy Hill (2012)

I can see now that this month was a bit lacking in the movie department. I can chalk that up to nicer weather and the fact that in the coming months I am going to be very busy doing a lot of different things and film watching will have to fall by the wayside and that began this month. However, I am both astonished and happy to say that as of today I've watched a total of 115 movies so far this year. I'm sure I'll squeeze in some more this coming month but it won't be as many. I need to write more. And then there is the Game of Thrones series I need to finish reading. I briefly toyed with the idea of starting a separate blog wherein I would just review films and books but then I realized, I am neither a film critic nor a book critic and likely most of my reviews would read something along the lines of what my long Google film doc DOES actually read. For example: next to my "notes" for "Marwencol", a striking documentary about a man who recovers from being beaten within an inch of life by creating an entire city out of dolls and miniature houses and sets that take place during WWII in his backyard, I wrote "Truth is stranger than fiction." That is some hard hitting criticism there, let me tell you.

I suppose May was full of plans, some kept, some not. So far it has been my leanest month, money wise. I wish could account for all the places where my money went. I know that a large portion of it went to replace my car's windshield. I know I spent about $14 on one movie and that I had at least three vodkas last Sunday. I got some great guidance and advice about my career from an old friend. I spent more time with my grandfather this month than I have since he moved back up here, probably since that one day in 1976 when he had to fly from Louisiana to New York in a plane with me and my ear infection. (I suspect this traumatized him since he never fails to mention how I would not shut up until he fashioned a hammock between his seat and the seat in front of his.)

This month presented itself in one long, run on sentence with lots of adjectives like funny, familiar, cluttered, wet, enlightened and sore. As of today, that sentence is punctuated with really tiny house bugs that, in the end, I've decided are carpet beetles that have taken residence in a corner of my kitchen. Actually considering how many I've seen, it was more like an ellipsis.

I should go take care of that....

Friday, May 24, 2013

Some cake. And a crisis.

It took almost two years but apparently my blog has been viewed over 10,000 times. Wowza. I realize that is small potahtoes in terms of blogs and the internet and all the hip kids out there getting that many hits in a few hours with their rock and roll and their hula hoops but I care not a whit. Also, I wonder what percentage of those views was actually me, trying to figure out the layout of the blog. Whatever! 10k! Shall we have a drink to celebrate? Too early? How about some cake?

That time I was served cake in a darkened room by myself.
It amazes me that anyone at all reads this blog since I mostly feel silly when I'm writing it. But I'm grateful to whomever reads it and for those of you reading it right now, hello, I love you won't you tell me your name?

It has been raining pretty steadily for the last week with no real signs of letting up for the "long weekend". I put long weekend in quotes because I actually have to work on Saturday. BIG FUCKING SURPRISE, I know. I was downright shocked when I had to "choose" a holiday weekend at my part time job. They are usually SO FAIR about things like that. Ahem.

Speaking of jobs and fairness and assorted other grown up adult things that blow huge chunks, I have expressed to my loved ones that I might be in the throes of a mid life crisis. I'm 36 so I don't know if i qualify for "mid-life" since my plan is to croak at 98, making my mid life approximately 13 years hence, but what do you call that thing where you wake up one morning and realize that you are deeply unhappy with most of your life's choices so far and you want to change careers and houses and undo all of your past romantic relationships and redo your past completely so that at that very moment you were instead waking up an entirely different person, in a different world, with lots of money and time to stay in bed for just one more hour? Is that what men in the 80s felt when they banged their secretaries and bought convertibles and pierced one ear and left their children and grew ponytails? Because that has been the face of mid life crises for me since I was about 12. And it wasn't until (alarmingly) recently that I even realized that women had them too. When I was 25 I thought I experienced a quarter life crisis but I'm not sure that was it and not actually the fact that I drank way too much, way too often. Also, the world had just pretty much blown up and everything seemed to be falling apart so that could've played a part as well. This feels different. Maybe in an old lady kind of way. I don't know. And that is probably what is killing me the most. I DO NOT KNOW.

I have a strong urge to go on and on about this and that's how I know I should stop. I should go sit in a darkened room and eat some cake until this passes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Peggy Sue Got Married: A Post Adolesence Film Review

Yes, THAT one. Peggy Sue Got Married, the 1986 film starring Kathleen Turner and Nicholas Cage, played a very pivotal role in my childhood. It belongs to that canon of HBO repeats that subbed as a babysitter for my sister and I during our 80s childhood in suburban Louisiana. For the curious, other titles in that category include, but are not limited to: Quarterback Princess, Weird Science, Weekend at Bernies, Arthur, Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask, Heathers, Dirty know, all movies that are highly inappropriate for children but readily available through Home Box Office several times a day for several consecutive days? Those.

However, Peggy Sue Got Married ended up being a veritable cave for the mining of jokes that never die between my sister and I. For giggles, I recently rented a copy of the DVD just to experience this film as an adult which, if you haven't done this in awhile with a movie you used to love you should definitely consider. Below are some random impressions/questions I have about the film that have arisen from this re-viewing as an old ass woman. I realize the term post adolescence refers to a specific time in one's life, however it does literally apply here since I am way, way post adolescence.

For those who have not seen this here's a brief synopsis I stole from wikipedia:

Peggy Sue Got Married is a 1986 American comedy-drama film directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Kathleen Turner as a woman on the verge of a divorce, who finds herself transported back to the days of her senior year in high school. The film was written by husband and wife team Jerry Leichtling and Arlene Sarner.

First, this movie was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. This is not something I even knew until just this very second when I was researching it and I would never in a zillion years would have guessed that he was the one who directed it. To be fair, I am not that intimately familiar with Coppola's films aside from the Godfather films and The Outsiders. Though now it totally makes sense that Sofia Coppola has a small but memorable role in this as Peggy Sue's little sister. It is a bit crazy to me that the little girl who is mooning over Fabian in the film is the same woman who went on to direct Lost in Translation. In fact, this might be a good time to point out that there are SO MANY familiar faces in this film that were pretty much unknown at the time: Helen Hunt, Jim Carrey, Joan Allen, etc. Seeing this film now, after these actors in particular have become so famous and so associated in my mind with other projects added a bizarrely kitschy aspect to the movie, probably one that wasn't there before.

Anyway, one of the first things I notice immediately is the silver foil looking dress that Peggy Sue wears to her high school reunion. I say silver foil only because it is constructed from silver foil:

I remember when I was a 10 year old watching this thinking that it was the most beautiful dress ever and that I wanted one just like it for when I eventually went to prom. Ok, a) I did not go to prom, thank the lord and b) it is one of the most hideous dresses I have ever seen. The reunion is presented as her 25th. Why on earth would a 43 year old woman still have this dress, much less wear it to her reunion? We are clearly meant to like/sympathize with Peggy Sue but watching this as an adult makes me think Peggy Sue is loopy and weird. In fact, she annoyed me the entire movie when, again as a 10 year old, I admired and sympathized with her.

Anyway, at her reunion, she meets up with her old high school friends, two of whom are still a happily married couple. Half of this couple is Joan Allen and she looks and dresses like she is 80 years old. In fact, in the picture above, you can see her behind and to the left of Peggy Sue. I know it was the 80s but even 43 year old women in the 80s didn't dress like grandmas, no matter how long they had been married for and as an adult, I found that a bit silly. Her other two friends (one of whom is Jim Carrey), previously a couple in high school but for reasons unexplained broke up before they reached adulthood quickly reconnect at the reunion. These two clearly belonged together. We know this because about 10 minutes into the reunion, they are seen in a bathroom snorting cocaine. I cannot reach that far back into my memory to understand how my 10 year old brain processed what was happening in that scene apart from wondering why they needed to use a credit card for the white powder.

The reunion is a bittersweet even for our heroine because, as is established in the opening scene, she is going through a painful divorce from her husband of 25 years, played by Nicholas Cage. Again, it makes a bit of sense that he's in this, considering his relation to Coppola because watching this as an adult, I don't understand why he was cast in this. He spends the majority of the film doing what I can only assume was his best Casey Kasem impersonation. However, at the same time, I am thrilled that he is in this movie for the simple reason that my sister and I have been trading his lines, in his inflection, for the better part of 27 years. Sometimes we'll be hanging out and one of us will spontaneously go "you mean my whaaang?" and then erupt into laughter. Some of that might be residual "we weren't supposed to watch that as young kids b/c of the inappropriate sexual humor" giggling but I love it nonetheless. He also sings Doo Wop in this movie which I often get a kick out of. So yes, anyway, Nicholas Cage shows up to the reunion, to the chagrin of Peggy Sue and her Reynolds Wrap dress. Oh and also, her daughter is with her. Why? I have no idea.

In need of a date to the reunion, she brings her daughter. I told you she was weird.

So a bunch of old people stuff happens, including the "smart guy" of the class approaching Peggy Sue. He's another of her classmates that is only in his 40s, if we are doing the chronology correctly but looks like he's 70. I can only think that in the 80s, people just looked older. I mean as a kid I watched the Golden Girls, thinking they were soooo old. Meanwhile, they were in their 60s. Yeah, ok. My mom is 60. This is what she looks like:

I digress.

So she gets reelected prom queen (again, this doesn't, nor should it happen at high school reunions because grow the fuck up already, you are 43) and for some reason she faints. It isn't made clear why she faints. Nor is it made clear why fainting has transported her back in time 25 years to when she was a senior in high school. 10 year old me: that's so cool and believable. (Side note: the dress she wears is the same, only now instead of foil, it is grey.) In fact the entire film seems to be full of people dressed in pastel yellow and grey. There is a veneer of pastel over the entire film. I'm going to have to again chalk this up to it being the 80s. 10 year old me: that's so cool and believable.

This film was also apparently the precursor to that quintessential 90s phenomenon of casting much older actors to play teenagers. In this case, all the same actors from the reunion are meant to be 18 year olds. So the ones that easily passed for 60 and 70 year olds are meant to be high schoolers. Sure.

So Peggy is understandably weirded out and the audience is taken on a whirlwind tour of a small town where the cars, clothes, hairstyles, music, attitudes and scream 1960. 10 year old me: I wish I had lived in the 60s. How could I have known then the world that Mad Men would show me? How? Hold me.

So yeah anyway, there are a lot of jokes that heavily appeal to baby boomers, the obvious target audience of this film (something about red dye #5 and the Edsel). Peggy gets to see her parents who we presume are dead in the present time because you know, 40 year olds are so fucking old that all of their parents have been dead for a century already! Peggy seems to accept her circumstance pretty quickly and we are left not really understanding if she has actually time traveled or if she is dreaming.

Along the way she sees her now ex husband for what he was back then: a dreamer who wanted to make a serious career out of singing Doo Wop. Her friends all seem to be airheads. She runs into the resident beatnik who I shall have to take a break here to discuss. Michael Fitzsimmons, resident beatnik.

Even at 10 years old, I knew he was my kind of guy. The first time we see him, he's arguing the prominence of Hemingway as a "classic" author, preferring the "fire" of Jack Kerouac. He says the following:

 A writer's life is his work. Jack Kerouac doesn't have to kill a bull to have something to write about. I mean, man, he's out there burning, feeling, grooving on life.

 This character is why I first heard the name Jack Kerouac or found out what a beatnik was. He's wearing a black turtleneck amidst the pastel crowd. I remember thinking: and you are? I have this film and this character to thank for the following line, another one my sister and I have bandied about from time to time:

"I'm going to check out of this bourgeois motel, push myself from the dinner table and say, "No more Jell-o for me, mom!" 

Naturally Peggy sleeps with him; I mean, she's 43 and this was the only remotely interesting guy in her high school. I would have, too. This character is also the one that introduced me to Yeats. He quotes Yeats in order to seduce Peggy.

How many loved your moments of glad grace,

And loved your beauty with love false or true,

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,

And loved the sorrows of your changing face; 

The context he says it in was cheesy but again, 10 year old me: what was THAT?? So hell yeah,
Michael Fitzsimmons.

 If anyone is still reading this far, I shall reward you by ending it. So Peggy goes through "emotions" and decides to leave Nicholas Cage with surprising ease, considering her two children wouldn't have been born if she didn't stay. She visits her grandparents and her grandfather takes her to a Freemasons meeting where they are for some reason, according to 10 year old me, going to sacrifice her to their god. But suddenly lightning strikes and she wakes up in a hospital bed in the 80s and a whole bunch of things seem to indicate that she did in, in fact, time travel even though she was asleep at the hospital (?) Also, she and her husband are going to try to work things out, even though she really did want to erase their history when she had the opportunity. If she actually did have the opportunity and it wasn't all just a dream. Yeah, not really clear about that. 10 year old me: that's so cool and believable.

Anyway, the moral of this film, my rewatching it and any and all residual takeaways is this: you can't change the past (no matter how much better it would have been to bang the beatnik), 10 year olds should not watch films that have drug use and sexual innuendo, no matter how pretty the pastels are and I secretly love the crap out of Peggy Sue Got Married.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Internet and its sneaky website imps

It appears that I have fallen prey to some sneaky website imp who led me, on a work computer no less(!), to a pornographic site (not that there's anything wrong with that). I just had to write an email to my bosses, explaining that I am not actually a pervert. This isn't the first time it has happened to me but it IS the first time it has happened to me on a work computer and I'm a bit mortified. Remember the early aughts when people actually did used to look at porn all day in their offices? Remember, like 3 years ago, when they used to be able to do it at the library? The internet is a digital wolf pack hidden under the puffy, fluffy wool of sheepish domain names. I feel vulnerable. Hold me.

This issue gives me pause lately because I am showing my 84 year old grandfather how to use the internet. We have weekly lessons during my lunch hours and I'm not sure if you have ever had the nightmare pleasure of explaining the internet to someone as green as a freshly mowed lawn, then you know that when you think about it in the abstract, it seems like a simple thing: explain the internet. However, when you sit down to do it, it is incredibly difficult. Like, long periods of confounded silence level difficult. Nothing about using a computer or the internet makes logical sense and nothing about it is intuitive, unless you are a quick study and/or you were born digital. Do they still even use that phrase? Any and all public librarians who work with adults will understand the problems associated with this. You cannot just say "double click here" without a barrage of questions. Why do I double click here but single click there? There is NO REASON. And that is just for the basic functions. At what point do I tell my grandpappy that it is possible to innocently web search and STILL end up being slapped in the face by naked ladies. We still have not mastered how to make the @ symbol appear!

Though I have had to show various library patrons how to use a computer or navigate particular websites, it has always been for scattered, short periods of time. There are, after all, limits to what someone can be shown at a reference desk (don't tell my bosses I said that). And so I never really thought too much about it before spending so much one on one time with a complete novice but in actuality, learning how to use a computer sort of encourages a person to be submissive. The computer freezes, you have to shut it down and restart. Why? Just do it. That's the answer for almost every basic computer function. (Obviously, I'm talking about in terms of the layperson. I'm sure IT professionals and computer engineers understand the ins and outs.)

But in general, the easiest way to explain to someone that their lives will be better served by a computer is to simply say "I don't know why, just do it." I don't know if this fact is indicative of the inevitable sentience of computers (and the subsequent downfall of humanity) or if it is just what we all must do in order to cope with our increasing dependence on computers for nearly all aspects of daily living (many young people can no longer read the face of a watch in order to tell time, think about THAT).

A lot of the time my grandfather forgets what I tell him anyway and we have to go through it all again. I suspect most of the confusion lies with two things: 1) my abysmal Spanish and 2) my inability to explain reasons why. If anyone has any tips on how I should broach that, I'd be happy to hear them. Otherwise, SUBMIT TO YOUR OVERLORD THE COMPYOOTOR is the old standby.

Friday, May 17, 2013


I am not entirely certain what I did to the right half of my body. I know only that it hurts like a, how do you say, MOFO. I had grand designs of attending my weekly Friday night yoga class however considering I can barely move without a huge ache going up and down from head I don't think I'll be making that. Instead I have decided to do this:

Please ignore the clutter and the gin and tonic to the right. I am only drinking it because it loosens up the right half of my body. That's also the reason I'm eating cheese.

Today I had lunch with this man, aka my grandfather:

That is what he generally looks like as he is trying to decipher what I'm trying to say in my ABYSMAL Spanish. I curse every day that I was not forced to speak Spanish as a child. It would save the present day me from sounding like someone special and not in a good way.

Anyway, I don't really have a whole hell of a lot to say here. I want to do some other writing and also, I already have a buzz going, making my future as a writer all but assured.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Finish your website

Here's a blog post that serves two purposes.

Purpose one: To gush over the talents of my sister who used to photograph things all the time: people, places, things that caught her eye on the way to work. Anything was up for photographs. In fact, last year she started a tumblr wherein she posted one picture for everyday. Here is one of my favorites:

 I don't know where this is from or how she came across it but it is beautiful in its deformity. It could be from decades ago or yesterday. It could be real or imagined. It makes me want to write a poem. So many of her photos are like this.

Like this:

Or this:

Or this:

Purpose two: To publicly shame my sister for starting (and being relatively consistent with updating) a year long project to post photographs everyday and for STOPPING ON NOVEMBER 12. Like, really? You are going to do allll of that work and not finish a scant six weeks of work? I have harassed her about finishing this weekly, if not daily but to no avail. Mayhaps this public shaming will light a fire under her ass? I don't know. She did give me permission to do so I have chosen yet another day of blog every day May to do it.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Proust Questionnaire

Today was going to be a photo tour of my apartment but I simply did not have the wherewithall (read: could not find my digital camera cord to upload the photos) in order to do this. Instead, I find myself without a thought in my  head to blog about and some empty space to fill. So I took the Proust Questionnaire as presented in every issue of Vanity Fair.

The Proust Questionnaire

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness?
        A day off from work with no obligations and no plans to make or keep.

2. What is your greatest fear?
        Being forgotten. And slugs.

3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
        My complete inability to go with the flow without first kicking and screaming.

4. What is the trait you most deplore in others?
        Willful ignorance.

5. Which living person do you most admire?
        There is not just one person. I most admire the selfless individuals who sacrifice their livelihood for the
        greater good.

6. What is your greatest extravagance?
        Probably the sheer amount of money I spend on entertainment. I could likely have secured a down
        payment for a house by now.

7. What is your current state of mind?
        A bit frantic but in a repetitive, organized way. Think hamster in a wheel.

8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

9. On what occasion do you lie?
        When it will literally have no real consequences for anyone.

10. What do you most dislike about your appearance?
          I ain't a beauty but hey, I'm alright. And that's alright with me.

11. Which living person do you most despise?
          I can't think of anyone in particular.
12. What is the quality you most like in a man?
         A sense of humor and attention to detail

13. What is the quality you most like in a woman?
          A sense of humor and attention to detail.

14. Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
          "Wait, what?"

15. What or who is the greatest love of your life?

16. When and where were you happiest?
          The years I turned 5 and 30, respectively were pretty great.

17. Which talent would you most like to have?
          I would love to be able to play the banjo.

18. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
          I would be a lot less shy. I have missed out on a lot of opportunities due to nothing but shyness.

19. What do you consider your greatest achievement?
          Is it wrong to say that I always feel my greatest achievements are yet to come?

20. If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be?
         A beloved, spoiled, well cared for house cat.

21. Where would you most like to live?
          In a big city, surrounded by friends and family.

22. What is your most treasured possession?
          Can my pets qualify as possession? I adore my cats.

23. What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
          Being broke and forgotten.

24. What is your favorite occupation?
          Reading, writing and film watching.

25. What is your most marked characteristic?
         Unrelenting pessimism for myself; unbridled optimism for everyone else

26. What do you most value in your friends?
         Loyalty and honesty, especially when it hurts.

27. Who are your favorite writers?
          F. Scott Fitzgerald, Junot Diaz, Tim O'Brien, Sherman Alexie, Frank O'Hara, John Irving, Thomas 
          Hardy, Anne Sexton, Shakespeare

28. Who is your hero of fiction?
           Nick Carraway and Elinor Dashwood

29. Which historical figure do you most identify with?
           Jane Austen, that cranky old spinster.
30. Who are your heroes in real life?
          My mother, my siblings, my grandparents

31. What are your favorite names?
          Gabriel, Paul, Oona, Zelda, Zinnia

32. What is it that you most dislike?
          Slugs. And mayonnaise.

33. What is your greatest regret?
          That time I didn't speak up. Also, that time I did speak up.

34. How would you like to die?
         Quickly, after having said something witty.

35. What is your motto?
          Hope for the best, expect the worst.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ten Years Ago Today

Here is one from the archives.

May 14, 2003

a heart that's filled up like a landfill

Mood:   lazy

i've entered that all too familiar stage where i become melodramatic. you know that stage. the one where your heart is just one big open wound?
this is a quality i happen to find abhorrent in others and even more so in myself, most likely because i tend to be melodramatic all the time in matters of the heart.
in any case, i don't intend to document the melodrama in any public sorta internet kinda way. i record my entrance into this phase only as a means of explanation and reminder to myself. melodrama tends to brim and trickle into other little corners.

in other news, the coolest librarian ever wants to check my references. this is a VERY good sign in favor of me getting the job. one of the best things about it happens to be that i've grown used to my brand of poverty, so there will be no major adjustments. as long as i'm able to pay rent and feed myself, i'll be fine. oh and then the drinking,etc.

it became official today. i have lost 20 pounds exactly. i'm celebrating by eating. one of my only allies in this battle has been SUBWAY sandwiches. feuders has opted out of the chain as a whole but i shall champion it 'till the day i die. subway 4-eva.

I read things from so long ago...not that ten years is really, REALLY that long ago and I often cannot believe that I was ever that person. I wrote the above when I was 26. Jesus. I keep grasping for a memory of this time in my life that would cause me to feel melodramatic and then I remember, I am still always melodramatic in my head. And I still shy away of appearing so in in any public sort of way. I just wish I could remember this particular melodrama.

Regarding the "coolest librarian ever"...I have absolutely no idea who this was and I suspect it was for a job that I didn't end up getting. I was on the verge of finishing my Masters degree so I know I was shopping around for a job and I recall having many, many, many interviews back then (unlike now when I cannot even PAY someone to interview me) but clearly this person couldn't have been that cool since I don't recall who it is. I still make room in my budget for "drinking, etc." as some things will never change.

I remember dieting like a crazy person during this time and despite the fact that I fancy that, when it comes to weight loss, I am the female Luther Vandross with all the accompanying ups and downs of body weight, it was around this time that I got to my absolute skinniest adult weight. And the part about Subway is true. I was eating it all the time, multiple times a day sometimes. I was a graduate student and I think I just substituted pizza and burgers for Subway. I needed to save my money for the aforementioned drinking, etc. Also, I am reminded that this was a time before I even understood how good actual, real food could be so I was satisfied with Subway most of the time. There was a hilarious guy that worked at the one near my apartment in Astoria that fumbled through incredibly awkward pick up lines on every single woman that walked in the restaurant. Over that year I saw him strike out with the old, the young, the brown, the white, the tall, the name it. One of his attempts towards my sister has become a 10 year long joke that we will repeat back and forth to each other sporadically. So at least that came out of it.

Also, the "feuders" that is mentioned is the online name of a friend I met through my previous online journal who I knew for awhile and hung out with a few times in real life. At some point he never called me back and I have no clue what happened to him. There are quite a few people from that period in my life for which this is the exact same story line. Happily there are also quite a few people I met during that era who I still keep in touch with and that fact always amazes me.

Looking back a decade makes me feel like boats against the current level nostalgia. In this case, my nostalgia is fuzzy but damn, I was really 26, once. That's bizarre.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Keep on rolling under the stars

 Despite my surrendering the last two days to actually living my life, I can't help but feel guilty for not blogging and I feel compelled to apologize (to myself) for missing it. But in my ongoing quest to become an adult (I'll get there any day now), I'm training myself to both apologize and to accept apologies. So, onward...

 “There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.”
Jack Kerouac, On the Road: The Original Scroll

I've been thinking quite a bit about travel lately since I will be doing some this summer for work and am going away in mid September for a long vacation and I enjoy planning the travel almost as much as I love arriving at my destination and then back home again when it's time. 

And it just so happened that I also just read this wonderful article in the New York Times Style Magazine written by a travel writer on the benefits of traveling alone. I have never really traveled to far away places alone, though I'm not opposed to it, seeing as I do quite a bit of things alone when I am in my familiar surroundings. But this author made the case for me in a big way. In fact he writes about travel in general in such a beautiful and relatable way. Here are some things that truly resonated with me:

"Show me the world, says the group traveler. And show me two weeks when I don't have to think. Fair enough. But not for me: I want to think new things on holiday and the best way to do that is to go it alone, allowing yourself a space--a beautiful space, with any luck--that is circumscribed neither by your need to perform nor your need to blame."

"I wasn't on these travels for visions or transformation, but simply to feel the force of the world, for a day, for a night, as it operates outside the chatter of commerce or media or mass psychology. I love these things, but not on holiday, when one might hope for a place where you can resist the temptation to be drowned out. "
Although I did not travel alone to Paris alone, the best parts of that trip were the parts where I could wander and think and process everything I was experiencing and seeing. Thankfully I had wonderful traveling companions who also cherished this and they just happened to be people I love dearly. However, I definitely see how this could be amplified if I was going solo. I completely see the appeal. The last time I traveled alone was when I was sent to a conference in Denver. When I did the sightseeing outside of my work duties, I felt precisely what he describes: the force of the world presented itself to me clearly because I was without distraction. My brain, usually on observation overdrive in its natural state, goes into hyper-drive when left to my own devices. I love the idea of letting it wander freely through someplace completely new.

He also says this (which I think applies to all kinds of travel, not just solo):

The wanderlust of the solo traveler doesn't kill homesickness, it partners it, making the vacation all the better for involving one's profound wish to go home to normal life a little changed.

I haven't really been able to ever put into so eloquent words why I love to travel and this is so concise and lovely that I wanted to share it and encourage you to read the article in its entirety.

And as I sit at the tail end of my workaday work day, my mind is overwhelmed in the knowledge that there is nowhere to go but everywhere.

Friday, May 10, 2013

I blog this from a sanitarium

Leonardo DiCaprio? Baz Luhrman? Prada? This latest version of the Great Gatsby seemed to have me in mind. Judging from the amount of people also at an 11am screening on what is technically still a weekday, a lot of other people thought so too.

The reviews have been mixed, leaning toward the negative. This is something I expected just because. You can always tell that when a classic work of literature or even just a novel that is beloved is made into a film or, perhaps more dangerous, a mini series, there will be issues. But I tried very hard to not read the details of any reviews and the result was that I only briefly heard about the screenplay taking one very large liberty with the story but I did not know what that was until I saw it. If you have no desire to know what it is before you see it or if you just don't want to read anything about the film until you see it then stop here. Otherwise, feel free to keep reading or go make a sandwich or take a walk or some crap.

I should impart my love for Leonardo DiCaprio and pretty much everything he has done and yes, including (and starting with) Growing Pains. Everything about the way he plays a character and even his public persona made me completely understand why he was picked to play Gatsby. There is a little bit of a cool detachment to his persona many times and an intimidation he projects that seemed perfect to portray a character of such an elusive and dubious history, someone who hides his true identity for a large part of the story. DiCaprio just projects an aura that makes me think "what is he really thinking?" Now that I've seen the movie, I have to say he was the highlight. After seeing him most recently in Django Unchained, I honestly think he's one of the better actors of my generation. And though most hoity toity film critics might disagree with me (I'll torture myself later with reading bona fide reviews), this solidified my opinion. Not to mention that he is intensely physically pleasurable to look at; he seems to have been born to wear the clothes of the 1920s. He was, for lack of a more direct or better way to phrase it, a great Gatsby.

I've read the novel many, many, many times. I have never really been able to shake Gatsby or his character or his motivations or pretty much everything about him since I first read about him. I suppose that's why I like Nick Carraway so much; we have at least that in admiration for and haunting by Gatsby. However, I always thought of the character as this elusive, almost mythical creature, one that even the people who knew him in the book never really knew or fully understood. The way DiCaprio has played him in this version I really felt he brought a vulnerability closer to the surface than the book really communicates. I may have even shed a tear or two for him. I mean, it is clear that Daisy is his Kryponite, so to speak, but she's utterly unrelatable and a bit of ghost so I never really felt the complete connection she inspires in Gatsby other than wanting what you can never have, but it really did come alive the way he played it. Fitzgerald is a bit sparse in his descriptions when it comes to, well, love. I really enjoyed what this version did for the character.

Speaking of unrelatable, cold, marble Daisy, I really don't like saying this because I hate it when I can't separate the actor from the character. However, despite the fact that I admire Carey Mulligan as an actress and have really enjoyed her talents in other films, I think she was wrong for this part. Daisy as I've come to know her is wispy and willowy and untouchable. Mulligan seemed way to grounded for this and I kept getting distracted by her and I haven't really been able to put my finger on why. She is very beautiful but her beauty is a very different kind to how I've always imagined Daisy. Maybe it is that she's too substantial? I know that sounds silly but I just got the feeling that Daisy as she was interpreted here was flesh and blood and I always pictured Daisy as a floating sort of wisp of a goddess that no one could ever truly possess. I mean, Gatsby makes her the object of his obsession and watching this, I just got caught up thinking I'd like to go out for a beer with Carey Mulligan. That could just be me. I did fall totally in love with her costumes. Each dress, each head piece, her makeup, her shoes, everything about her was perfection. In fact now that I think of it, her elegant clothes and the way she lounged around in them like they were everyday housecoats were probably the only things that fit in with my preconceived idea of Daisy. Not helping matters was the lack of chemistry I perceived between she and Gatsby. I suppose that goes along with the impossibility of their fate but I don't really know if that was intentional.

It also occurred to me that the actress who played Jordan Baker might have made a better Daisy and vice versa. I have no idea who that actress is or if I've ever seen her in anything before but she is very notable and my eyes were drawn to her in all the scenes she was in and she had a coldness about her that would have been more believable as Daisy.

Nick Carraway. Oy vey. Ok, so I realize the major hurdle in turning Gatsby into a film has to do with the first person narrative and that was mostly why previous versions were not that great. Apparently, voice overs have become frowned upon as too cheesy or too heavy handed or whatever the hell. And the solution the screenwriters have come up with here, the aforementioned "large liberty", is to have the story be told in Nick Carraway's voice, as in the novel, only this Nick is in a psychiatrist's office in a sanitarium. It is even suggested that this stay in the sanitarium is the result of the events involving Gatsby et al. Look, I give points for originality. I really do. And Tobey Maguire did a fine job (as he has done in the past with Peter Parker and his turn as Homer in the Cider House Rules...hmmm one trick pony?) as a wide eyed, innocent observer of the events that unfold around him. In fact, he was a better Carraway than Sam Waterston and he sure is cherubic. But every time the film took a "break" and showed scenes in which Nick is writing (at his doctor's insistence) in the sanitarium, it took me completely out of the story. I just kept getting frustrated at this new, clunky intrusion. I suppose that is how the majority of people feel about voice overs but honestly, I would have preferred that. Also, it isn't as though this change removes the pedantic nature of a voice over. It just explains it away. I suppose it gives a little more depth to Carraway, making him vulnerable to depression and a novelist in one go but still...I kinda like Nick as he is in the book. I know, I know. Shutupayo face about the book already.

Isla Fisher as Myrtle was, well cartoonish. The actress is gorgeous. Myrtle never struck me as gorgeous but rather trashy in that sort of way that men like Tom like. I suppose her very put on accent tried to do that but again, I was too distracted to believe it. I did really love the set design of her apartment, as well as that entire scene and the actor who plays her murderous husband was very good. The actor who played Meyer Wolfsheim was appropriately sociopathic and Tom Buchanan was appropriately boorish.

The costumes were impeccable, the set design was impeccable the color and tone of the film is gorgeous and glamorous and actually worth seeing in 3D. In fact this is the first time I didn't get sick watching a 3D film. I decided to watch it that way, knowing Baz Luhrman would make spectacular set designs and color some of the main focus. The standouts were of course Gatsby's mansion, the "ashen wasteland" of Dr. TJ Eckleberg's domain and of course, Daisy's green light. I'd recommend seeing this on a big screen, like a proper action movie.

So I guess I didn't hate it but I also didn't love it. I did love DiCaprio as Gatsby. The book is now and apparently always will be, better. If by some odd set of circumstances you have not read it yet, just what have you been doing in life? I keed. No but really, read it.

Did you see it? Did you like it/hate it? Discuss with me!

Side note: There were a few previews that were notable: the new Star Trek movie looks, and I don't use this word lightly: dope.
Also, there is an animated film coming out that I did not catch the name of because I was massively disgusted by the preview. I literally ripped the 3D glasses off my face because two of the main characters in this film are fucking slugs. SLUGS. What kind of a god would allow someone to create not one TALKING slug but TWO??? For the love of all that is holy. Why?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Edit the Sad Parts

Facebook is a magical place that allows you to boil down your entire life into only the good and happy things. If you choose to. There will always be trolls and morons wherever you look but for the most part, people share their lives in a very calculated way. I was recently scrounging around on the site for people I used to know, you know the kind of people that passed through your life once a long, long time ago that you never really think about except during occasional spontaneous bursts and you vaguely sort of go "oh yeah..."  Probably about 90% of them are actually on Facebook, by the way. The rest, well who knows whatever became of them? I'll bet Google does.

Anyway, because my brain is hyper-actively all over Facebook during my workday (which is always, at all times, forever and ever until I turn 98 and croak), I think maybe my brain has been reformatted to assume that what I see is what is reality. Because I'm not of this born digital generation, I can only assume that over the course of what, 15 years or so, my brain has learned to, along with most people who are actively on social networking sites, edit the sad parts. Or rather, everyone has already edited those out of their own lives to show the social networking universe how happy they are and what a good time life is giving them.

And when for whatever random reason that realization comes to me intermittently  interrupting my tacit compliance with the lives people are choosing to show, I feel very cold and strange and not really at peace with what I spend most of my time doing. I'd like to see the director's cut, raw and unedited. Sometimes. It is very easy to simply assume that everyone you think you know is inevitably hiding something and once social networking becomes your main form of keeping in touch and being acquainted with someone, that there are huge, secret aspects of their lives that they are all stuffing underneath their beds or tossing out the back windows of their idyllic houses. That they fought every day on their beach vacations or that they too feel as alienated as you do when you scroll pictures of people you recognize but don't know. Is this a cynical notion? I don't even know anymore.But I think it'd be great (or just better) if I could be a "what I see is what I get" kind of person. It would be comfortable.

Yet,  I very often feel that it is impossible to truly know someone, especially now, in these times we live in. Though when I think about it, I'm sure there were ways of hiding things back before all this technology. That I can't remember minuscule  mundane details about life before it is frightening. How did people hide their true selves without a digital screen or the comfort of editorial approval on every and all photograph?

I don't know what the point of that notion is except to say that it would be nice to not feel that, ever again, but I'd settle for feeling it less often.

And now, just for kicks, here's a video of the song "Edit the Sad Parts" by Modest Mouse:

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Summer planning

Warm summer sun,
Shine kindly here,
Warm southern wind,
Blow softly here.
Green sod above,
Lie light, lie light.
Good night, dear heart,
Good night, good night.

Warm Summer Sun by Mark Twain

I have had my mind on summer for the last two weeks. Up until very recently, I looked with dread on summer. That was mostly because I was raised in Louisiana, where summertime is a sweaty soup. But now I see summer for what it is, an all too brief passing through a kind of paradise. Unless you live in NYC. Or anywhere in the southern half of the United States, that is.

Some summer goals:

Shakespeare in the Park (Virtual ticketing has made this a possibility, even though it isn't really a possibility. But, you know, maybe.)
Broadway play (Why are my first two things live theater related?)
Picnic in some park, likely Hecksher State or some nearby no name park that I've never been to.
Have at least one mint julep (being stretched out on a chaise lounge in a flouncy white dress may or may not be involved)
Increase my time at both the pool and the beach
Visit the beach and swim somewhere near Barcelona
Visit the Montauk lighthouse and cut open my shoes on the jagged rocks since I do that every time I go there
Eat exactly one hot dog
Visit the space needle while avoiding Starbucks in Seattle when I go to a conference later this year

I'm certain I'll add to this list eventually. I enjoy planning for the summer months especially on intensely grim afternoons like this.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Some flash fiction

Here's a flash fiction story I wrote for a contest a few months ago. Or maybe it was a month ago. I can't remember. I didn't win. The prompt was: Write a story, no more than 600 words, in the form of voicemail message. I like it but only because it makes me laugh. And if you can't make yourself laugh, then you are probably really boring to talk to and you should work on that.

Tiny Rebellions

Hey, Jack! Just calling to check in. I know you have probably been super busy this week, but I wanted to call and let you know again how much fun I had with you the other night. Oh and also,  I was just in that consignment shop we passed by and I was killing time, sifting through their stuff and I found Frank O’Hara at the bottom of this endless bin of random crap all the way at the back of the store! I mean really, what are the chances? It seems like fate to find him there when we were JUST talking about him. I have to say that this particular Frank has seen better days.  He’s earmarked all over, his binding is broken, he smells a bit old and forgotten. I skimmed the table of contents to find that one I told you about last week, the one I said reminded me of you. Remember? “My eyes are vague blue like the sky..” Well it was not only in there but that page was earmarked!I wish I could know who had him before. They were probably from last century, but we still searched for the same things. Anyway, I'm home tonight and enjoying a glass of white wine on a Tuesday and it feels, I don’t know, rebellious. In a tiny way, maybe but still... You know it’s kind of silly but I sort of feel the same way when I park outside the lines in an empty parking lot or when I hit the snooze button in the morning. I remember you saying how much you liked rebellious girls with tattoos so maybe it’s actually destiny that we met, ha ha! I mean I don’t have any tattoos yet but someday. You with your vague blue eyes and me with my tiny rebellions. What a couple! I mean, not a couple couple just, you know what I mean, right? Anyway, I’m starting to ramble which is something I do when I’m nervous. You probably noticed that the other night, right? I have to admit I was a little nervous.You know, even though I haven’t heard from you in a few days, I still feel this really strong connection to you. Maybe it was that gorgeous vintage watch you kept looking at or that skinny tie you kept fiddling with but I just keep remembering how talking to you made me feel nostalgic for a place I’ve never been to before, if that makes any sense. Longing for something that never happened to me, some unreachable memory that eludes me but comforts me at the same time. Or something. So I keep describing you to my friends as “vintage.” Anyway, I’d love to give you the Frank O’Hara, especially since I remember you saying you don’t really “get” poetry. Maybe when we meet up again? So call me back whenever you can! Ok, bye. Oh, um, this is Jess, by the way.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Lot of Sorrow

Yesterday I traveled to Long Island City to meet up with Lauren and go to MOMA PS 1 for the sole purpose of hearing The National play one song ("Sorrow") over and over again as part of an art installation by artist Ragnar Kjartansson called A Lot of Sorrow. According to the program description, the purpose of this installation:

For the original work Kjartansson sought out US rock band, The National, to perform their song, Sorrow, repeatedly in a six-hour live loop. By stretching a single pop song into a day-long tour de force the artist continues his explorations into the potential of repetitive performance to produce sculptural presence within sound.

I predicted we would make it to listening four times, at which point we'd get tired of the song and make our way to someplace nearby to eat and to day drink a bit. We did all of the above and had a really great time.

When I first read about this show last week, I shared it on my Facebook wall and, true to her form, Lauren said "I'm getting tickets." So often in my life I need someone to DO as opposed to TALK ABOUT and Lauren is often that person. When we arrived, the band had already started to play and, as with most things in NYC, we had to wait in line. This was no hardship since the day was spring perfection and you could hear the music from the sidewalk. As we stood in line it dawned on me that should one ever (for whatever bizarre reason) seek out a place with as little diversity as possible, one could simply attend anything having to do with indie rock. This isn't something I'm surprised at or bothered by, just an observation. I was there to spend time with my friend and some time with the National so this is just a classic digression. And by "classic digression" I really mean, ridiculous tangent. Moving on.

Upon entering the museum, there was a white dome tent set up in a courtyard between two sides of the museum building, which was a public school it its former life. We had to stand in a 2nd line to use the bathroom and then in a third line to enter the dome. I am still going to count all the times we heard the song while waiting in that line, despite the fact that we chatted to pass the time. (I'd put the final tally at around 14 times, since I'm including even background times.)

A strange thing happened in line when someone, at some point decided to move forward in a curvy snake formation and every single person in line followed suit. There were no barriers or ropes positioned that way but people just started to move that way anyway. We joked about how that would be a good psychological experiment for some white coated graduate students somewhere.

The strangeness continued when we finally got inside the white tent. The band was on a stage lit with an eerie white light and smoke which made them appear suspended in a kind of spatial limbo, floating through this fog of nowhere to nowhere, in sharp contrast to the bright sun we had just left. The band members were dressed in dark suits, funereal figures standing about, playing instruments. They were red faced, sweating and they looked tired already, just about one hour into a six hour set. It must have felt so bizarre to them, to be playing in front of an unmoving, mostly silent audience. At that point they had to have been playing by rote, going through the motions. It was, after all, the exact same song.

Floating to nowhere.
I noticed the trombone player last which seemed a little bit of an anomaly since I couldn't remember a trombone on the recorded version. It turns out, it was an unbelievably beautiful addition to the song. 

Standing there, I felt so odd. Like a voyeur, spying on these group of men, pouring their hearts out over and over again and just kind of part of this cold audience just observing and photographing.It seemed to me like they were almost trapped inside this dark nowhere trying to communicate something profound and meaningful through the song to a dark, cold room while people would come, gawk and go. It was a completely appropriate song for this living sculpture. There was also a touch of the absurd. Six hours of the same song? Also from the show's website:

the idea behind A Lot of Sorrow is devoid of irony, yet full of humor and emotion. It is another quest to find the comic in the tragic and vice versa.

I would have to say that this was definitely successful. The performance was all of those things. I admit to skepticism at first but I was moved and taken with this and I am very glad to have gone. In addition it reminded me of much I adore the National and I am going to try to get tickets to their upcoming concert in Brooklyn.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Going mobile

This is the first post I'm writing via the iPhone app. I have generally avoided using it due to how completely unnatural the keyboard feels in typing anything longer than "Lolz" or "omfg" which are things I rarely admit to ever write  but I currently find myself on a train which is truly excellent for wandering thoughts. And really this blog is nothing if not for my wandering, rambling thoughts.

I know it has been said often that death is the great equalizer but I truly think a convincing case can be made for Long Island Railroad. Each time I am on a train I find a little microcosm of the world at large and if I'm going to judge the zeitgeist by this current train car, the world is full of drunk, miserable, stinky people. In a strong argument in favor of that last point, I just had to transfer trains en masse with some weekend tourists and someone farted in the center of the crowd, setting off a ripple effect of disgusted groans. See? Black, white, male, female, rich,poor....we all succumbed together. The great equalizer.

THEN, some small child started singing in an extraordinarily nasally voice the refrain to that old church ditty "Hosana in the Highest." Growing up going to mass every week, my favorite part was always the singing. I even enjoyed how most people couldn't carry a tune but tried out loud anyway. It seemed like everyone was on equal footing there too. For all its faults, going to mass gave me a sense of community and togetherness. I felt that again this afternoon when I realized that everyone around me in that train car equally wanted to strangle that child by her fifth repetition of the song.

That is all.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Here are two questions, one of which I woke up to*, for literally no other reason that I need to blog today. Provided you have a free day during which to contemplate them, please feel free to do so, however, I expressly forbid you to Google any of the answers. It is one of the great exercises for your brain, no matter how out of fashion it has become: thinking. 

Would a lion eat a house cat? In other words, if a lion was in a room with a zebra and a house cat, are both animals doomed? Would it be considered cannibalism if they did?

Did Jane Austen ever marry? Did she ever want to get married? Is it wrong to feel a twang of cynicism when reading her stories? I don't know if it was because of the actors that have played her in films but Emma Woodhouse has always seemed distasteful to me. A bitch...if you will.

Other than that, during last night's yoga class, my yoga teacher played a most excellent playlist and towards the end this song came on and it reminded me of how much I love it and have been listening to it all afternoon. Here is an especially beautiful live version of it and I hope you enjoy it as well.

*It was the cat one.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Friday's Five Utterly Random Things

Friday Five

1) I stopped at the supermarket on my way into work today to buy my usual utter randomness (if you must know I needed to buy a bag of the cheapest coffee I could find for an office party, two oranges, a box of brownies and, for good measure and as a testament to the power of an end cap display, a box of Little Debbie Zebra Cakes on sale...these are all for an office "breakfast"). Actually now that I look back on the list, it isn't quite as random as I thought since it was all food items. The woman in front of me was buying pudding mix, cat litter and shampoo so she wins the morning. The brand name of the brownies I bought was  "Jimmy's" and as the cashier rung me up she said "I got these for my husband because his name is Jimmy." I know she was just trying to make conversation but I hadn't had any coffee yet and I literally did not know how to respond to that. So I just let out a croak that was supposed to be a laugh but it sounded too awkward to be construed as a laugh so in embarrassment I just said "Wow, that's so interesting." When that is your response to something as banal as what she said, you automatically sound insincere. So she stopped talking to me and started jabbing at the keys on the register. I have to assume she thought I was a bitch. I kinda am. I guess the point of number one is that I should stop going to the supermarket early in the morning.

2) I have decided to train my hair to not need shampoo so much anymore. This really only involves not washing your hair more than once a week in order to "train" your hair follicles to be self sufficient and not rely on products so much. The process is "painful" in that while your hair is unwashed, you run the risk of looking like a dirty, dirty homeless person or a greased up rat. I'm somewhere in the middle of the two. The good thing about it all is that as my hair gets greasier and greasier, it holds its position more. Who knew that washing your hair everyday was bad for it? Who was the genius who told us otherwise? Why do we always do everything so ass backwards in this world?

3) I saw something on television the other day about 3-D printers. Apparently it is possible to print out human tissue through a process called bioprinting. Just let that marinate in your brain for a moment. We have the technology and capability to print out human tissue. The printer will layer living cells into a mold and apparently the cells will bond and begin to grow when left in an incubator. They have printed out ears and blood vessels. They can use this tissue to test out new drugs for effects and side effects. They have tried printed out ear implants in animals apparently and are awaiting results in order to begin human trials. People are always bitching about not having flying cars, as we were promised in the Jetsons. I think scientists are well within their rights to say something along the lines of "Oh, geez. We're so sorry we haven't been able to invent flying cars yet because we were too busy FIGURING OUT HOW TO PRINT HUMAN TISSUE."

4) I recently fell victim to the old trap "Judging a book by its cover." Whilst scrolling through the facebook page of one of my favorite local restaurants, I saw a photo of a band that is scheduled to play there in August. I quite literally thought "I really like the lead singer's haircut. I wonder what they sound like." Aribtrary and ridiculous? Yes. A happy accident? Definitely.

5) I made a brilliant decision today. I decided to eat bagels and bread for sustenance in the morning and afternoon just in time for trying on bathing suits. Go me!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Minor acts of forgetfulness

In recent years it has become apparent that Alzheimer's Disease runs in my family, most recently and prominently it has appeared in my maternal grandmother. This particular disease, like all degenerative diseases is a cruelty visited upon over five million people in this country alone and it was always one of those diseases I heard about in the abstract. The kind of disease that hovers around everyone you know but in a "Oh that's terrible, tsk tsk" sort of way instead of a "I see this person everyday and I see how they are disappearing everyday" sort of way. Well, I don't live in the abstract about it anymore.

Among other things, knowing this fact, living so close to it now, has made me paranoid. I keep reading all these things about ways to prevent getting it: mental exercises to do, foods to eat or avoid, statistics. Apparently it calms me to pretend I'm doing something when in actuality, all I'm doing is reading and eating right, which, considering I do this anyway, I am doing nothing.

And despite the fact that my entire life I have forgotten certain things, I'm lately seeing in everything a sign that I'm likely to inherit the disease or something like it. For example, I have never once been able to drive to the local multiplex from my house without getting lost. Wait, maybe once I did it but I'm reasonably certain that was a fluke. And everytime I'm leaving the mall, I have to think for a solid five minutes about the way to get home. I wish I was exaggerating. But sometimes there are places that simply do not stick in my brain. I've been to Albany a bunch of times and have yet to drive there without the journey being intricately mapped out ahead of time.

I routinely forget where I put my keys. This happens minutes after I put them down. I have lost roughly 200 pairs of earrings out of sheer forgetfulness. On the flip side of that, I will also routinely find a pair of earrings or a necklace that I "lost" three years ago in a pocket or an unused purse. One time one of my earrings was somehow stuck to my cat's back while she was sleeping. Lord knows how it got there.
Each morning it is a crap shoot when it comes to whether or not I'll remember to bring my coffee mug with me or my prepared lunch.

These are minor acts of forgetfulness...I remember birthdays, I remember meetings, things I need from the drugstore or supermarket. I have a long term memory that rivals an elephant. I often remember things about people I knew years and years ago but haven't seen in subsequent years and years. My private jokes never die because I can't forget them. And when I have a memory like that, I'm often comforted that if my memory is good now, I'll be ok, I'll be immune to degeneration. And then I read an article that early signs of Alzheimer's include short term memory loss. Most patients start by forgetting recent memories or tasks that need to get done and then I'm thrown into my ridiculously self absorbed paranoia yet again.

And then I spend an afternoon with my grandmother. She'll recognize me as someone she knows or knew at one time. She hugs me and smiles at me every time we make eye contact. We chat about the weather. I tell her she looks good. She asks me where I live, where I'm going. Yesterday I walked up to her, sitting on the couch and she was crying. She told me she missed her mother. In the next breath she told me I looked nice and that my dress was well made. (She was a seamstress for years and years.) I sat with her and she fell into silence, staring out the window. I wondered what shape her thoughts take now. Is it all just a rush of confusing images and memories? Does her memory stop after a certain point? When she has those moments of clarity does she think about how to stay there? Is it like someone in a movie who is holding on to a ledge about to drop? Is she sad when she remembers anything at all? My grandfather put music on. He has a playlist on his iPod of Spanish music from the 1930s, the stuff he has told me many times that they used to love when they were first married. And my grandmother started to sing along. She remembered every word. She remembered the melody and was smiling as she sung along. I sat there and listened to her and was grateful that at least she had that. At least she could remember the melodies she loved. It might not be terrible to sit in a room with your favorite songs, singing along.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

April Went, She Did

Happy May Day and all that crap.

I begin my attempt today to entertain myself through this blog for 31 consecutive days. In the past when I have attempted this, it was all to the end of getting a rhythm going, a schedule for writing. I work so many hours during the week that it is never a priority for me to write when in all actuality, I should spend most of my time doing it. So I'm going to attempt this yet again. I succeeded once and failed miserably once.

As with most beginnings in my life, I am going to charge forward by grasping what's past with white knuckles. In that spirit, here's a list of things I did last month. Firstly, the films I watched in April:

Red Headed Woman (1932)
Waterloo Bridge (1931)
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
Violeta Went to Heaven (2011)
Hipsters (2011)
Butter (2012)
Baby Face (1933)
Pretty in Pink (1986)
Swimming to Cambodia (1987)
Chicken with Plums (2012)
Five Broken Cameras (2012)
Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex But Were Afraid to Ask (1972)
Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)
Trashed (2012)
Company (2011)
Django Unchained (2012)
This is 40 (2012)
Natural Selection (2012)
Stardust Memories (1980)
His Girl Friday (1940)
Seven Psychopaths (2012)

Discerning readers might note that since January (also, since I've been keeping track of which films I watch via a google doc) I have watched 98 films. I tried to shove in two more to even out the number but I'll get there. I don't have a specific goal in mind but I already feel like I have learned so much from watching the films I've watched. For example, I find myself able to tell when a film tries too hard to be something it thinks it wants to be (Violeta Went to Heaven) or when a film is strangely stylized to within an inch of its life yet still manages to come off completely sincere (Hipsters). I'm starting to appreciate that it is entirely possible to be more captivated by an hour and change long monologue by a brilliant writer and speaker (Swimming to Cambodia) than it is to actually care about three hours' worth of magical creatures walking alongside mountains (The Hobbit...why is that shit 3 hours long??) In addition, it is actually possible for Judd Apatow to completely miss the mark (This Is 40) which was odd to realize since I generally really like most things he does. Oh well, as I've said a million times before, I'm not a film critic but I think if you watch enough films you start to formulate strong wheat from chaff separators. For whatever it's worth, the best one out of this particular list, for me, was Five Broken Cameras.

April wasn't terribly exciting for me. A cursory thumbing through my trusty Moleskine (big ups to my brother who works there) tells me that I did an assload of yoga this month. I also got day drunk on wine and champagne at Nancy and Jon's house which was so much fun that I keep angling to do it again.

I went out on a date which, if I"m going by my date's inaction following the (non)date, wasn't actually a date but rather a thing that has no name. I need to invent a name for events like this. Confusameets?

I had to buy a new windshield for my car and that happened to be on the same day the city of Boston shut down for a dramatic manhunt so I did spend quite a bit of time in front of the television.

Is this what it has already come to on the FIRST day of blog every day May? Me telling you I watched television? Lord help me. Lord help us all.

And that's about it. Oh wait, here's a song about April, just because: