I’m ready to start writing again, but where to start…
How about here: Last night I saw Dark Passage at the Noir City Film Festival at the Castro Theatre. The theater is always beautiful and the film was delightful. Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, mystery, murder and the streets of S.F. a la 1947. I’m certain that everyone else who has declared their love for San Francisco also finds it enchanting to see the city on the big screen. All those white buildings, impossibly steep hills and sweeping shots of the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s like hearing a song written just for you.
On the way to the movie, we were caught in traffic amid a downpour. We parked sideways-style on a steep hill, and I nearly slid all the way down when my worn boots hit the wet sidewalk. Pile of leaves clumped at the crosswalks; trash was littered and ground into the pavement. We were drenched by the time we made it to the theater. I had begun to regret coming out on a Friday night in the rain. I couldn’t help thinking how easy it would be to go to a movie in the rain in a different place, where there are parking lots and less people everywhere.
Then the organist started to play. I could see the pipes sparkling through the massive grates on either side of the stage as the keys woke them, one bold sound after another. By the time the projector rattled to a start and the lights dimmed, I had already fallen back under the city’s spell.
A place that you love is a lot like a person you love. For every moment that you feel absolutely crazed, there’s another time when you know — absolutely, unequivocally know — you’ll never leave. Not yet.
You know how when someone tells a really boring story, and about 30 seconds in, you’re simultaneously thinking about what you’re going to eat next and how you can make an escape? Only you totally don’t. Instead, you nod along since you don’t want to be the rude son-of-a-B that you are inside. Am I right?
Well, I live in perpetual fear of invoking the afore-mentioned reaction in others. When I see it — distracted glances around the room, soulless eyes, ill-timed “uh huhs” — I immediately kill my story. “Once upon a time — oh yup, there’s a yawn, okay. The end.”
I’ve become more and more aware of this phenomenon. Not because my own anecdotes are getting more boring (certainly not!), but because now that I’m looking out for it I realize just how often I listen to other people’s crap stories. Noteworthy observations:
- The older a person is, the more likely they’ll bore (It’s ageist, but true). Typically it’s because it’s the same story being retold for the umpteenth time.
- The more I like you, the less likely you are to lose my interest, even if in relative terms whatever you’re saying is actually really boring.
- If you’re just talking to toot your own horn, I won’t care. End of story.
- If what you’re saying involves a. pain b. humiliation c. a tragedy, it’s far more likely to intrigue than something happy. Suffering is just more interesting.
- But if you start complaining about stuff that’s totally not whine-worthy, eyes will glazeth over.
- Okay, fine, the happy stuff can be good, but please see point 3.
- Finally: Everything is more interesting with alcohol.
What bores the crap out of you?
I don’t if you’ve heard, but blogs are supposed to do one thing really well. ie. talk about how rockin’ awesome and exhausting it is to be a mom (in case you didn’t know!) or feature photos of drool-worthy food that you’ll probably never cook or keep readers abreast of all the latest and greatest in fashion, politics, Charlie Sheen’s mad ramblings, fill-in-the-blank.
I’ve never been good at defining my blogging interests like that, and it’s made me feel sort of bad about myself.
But then I was like, screw this. Why do I care if my blog fits into a mold? Who the hell made the rules and why am I following them? I mean I’m lucky if my own mom even reads the darn thing. Why can’t I just do what I want to do? (Watch 40 second video below for apt visual representation.)
So that’s what I’m doing. Kick me off the plane if you must, but I’m not letting go of my bag.
Consider yourself warned.
Right now, I should be writing the proposal for what could be my last-ever academic paper. And yet. I suppose I’ve been hoping that a topic idea would come to me, but alas, I’ve now managed to leave things undone until the bitter end without so much as a drop of inspiration. Art mimics life, no?
When you do nothing, just waiting for that nameless thing to happen to you, well, nothing happens. At least not to me. Here’s what I know: It’s all too easy to float along. It’s all too easy to be swallowed by the minutiae of each day. It’s all too easy to forget what your point is. It’s all too easy to be mean, uninformed, selfish, hate-filled.
Yesterday my mom said, “A good life is not necessarily an easy one.” So what’s my point? It’s time to a. start taking risks and b. stop worrying so much about what other people think. I hope I don’t offend you.
What’s your point?
photo via The Infamous Gdub
Only two and a half years ago, I was at a job that I hated. Every morning was like waking up to the worst day of my life. I was queasy all the time; it was strange not to go a day without crying. It was like a bad Lifetime movie, only it didn’t end after two hours. It just kept going.
But somehow, in the midst of all that, I was able to apply to grad school and start a blog (not this one). I wrote all the time — I wrote my blog at work (heh), and I scribbled in a notebook the rest of the time. And when a genuine writing job came along, I applied and got it.
I wish this is where the story ended. I wish that I could say, “See! See what happens when you follow your dreams and take a leap of faith!”
Unfortunately, life, which we know is no Lifetime movie, had other plans for me. Fine.
Here’s what I’m pissed about: I’ve lost my ability to write with abandon. I’ve lost my passion for blogging. I’ve lost my knack.
What I haven’t lost is the desire to write.
I think of it as — excuse the dramatic metaphor, but I’m in a mood — having a phantom limb. Even though the genuine article is gone, I can still remember what it feels like. In fact, the memory is so clear, sometimes I still try to use it, only to realize, for the 100th time, that it’s gone.
I’m tired of waiting for it to grow back. It’s time to learn how to stand on one leg.
It’s Thursday night, and I’m drinking an absolutely not-classy large pour of wine with a plump golden retriever at my feet gnawing on a bone while watching the The Babysitters’ Club. In other words, I’m housesitting (dogsitting) and therefore I have access to channels like Encore WAM, which apparently plays the 80s and 90s flicks that no one ever thinks about anymore (Mannequin is on next).
The funny thing about watching these movies (the ones that shaped my childhood and adolescence, which is no exaggeration) is that I always expect them to disappoint me, and instead I end up loving them all over again.
The other day I told Mike that I wished I was the age I am now back in the 80’s. And while it’s easy to say I’m doing what every generation does — glamorizing the “good ‘ol days” — I think it’s that I’m starting to realize just how much more suited I am for life 20 years ago than life today.
This is the era of extroverts, ‘winners’, and being as similar to everyone else as possible. Cool is cool. Back in my day (joking, but really), uncool was cool. It was the age of the underdog. Think: Clarissa Explains it All, Goonies, My Girl, Karate Kid, The Sandlot, My So-Called Life, Sixteen Candles, Flight of the Navigator. I could go on. Watch these again – they’re even better than you remember them. The weird kids were cool, and they were nice, too. Nice! Remember when nice was cool?!? And in the end, they always banded together to fight some greater evil (grown ups!), instead of, you know, each other. And if you’re friends with anyone on Facebook under the age of 20, then you know Mean Girls isn’t just a movie (and ‘slut’ is a compliment).
And don’t even get me started on technology. I’ll take Tron, the original, over texting any day.
Coinciding rather aptly with the release of Tim Burton’s version, I just read Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for school. The book is even more insane than Disney’s animated movie — the version that I grew up on — but awe-inspriring imagery aside, I found myself increasingly annoyed with Alice. I’m sure it has much to do with my adult perspective — though I don’t remember thinking Alice was all that great when I as a child either, not in the way I related to Ariel of The Little Mermaid who actually had to make hard decisions* — but in reading, Alice struck me as pretty dim. Of course, Alice is a child, and she’s supposed to be naive and trusting and accepting and confused all at once, which is why I am so concerned that so many women seem to worship her.
Alice is a child; if she weren’t a child, she’d be an idiot. So why oh why are grown women so enchanted by her? The desire for fantasy, to be able to traipse, or at least dream so, through a wonderland where cats smile wildly and decks of card play croquet with flamingo mallets, I get. It’s the obsession with being the naive, whimsical, girl-woman, I can’t grasp. And I’m sick of it. I am tired of grown women being showcased and marketing themselves as lithe fairies with nothing to impart on the world but a sense of wonder and sweet giggles.
Take Garden State. In college this was one of my favorites — I actually own the DVD — but Natalie Portman’s character is just ridiculous. She’s just so darn interesting and crazy, but in a totally innocent way. Her flaws are so sickeningly sweet, she might as well be perfect. Except, you know, she’s not (if you count an unhealthy obsession with hamsters), which somehow makes her even more endearing. She never gets angry or irrational; she only gets sad and thoughtful. She collects tears in Dixie cups and perpetually lies, but for some reason, that’s cute, too. She’s just so damn adorable.
There is no grown woman that I know like this. Thank god.
Real women are complex. They live in the real world, which like Alice’s wonderland is filled with inexplicable characters and moments, yet unlike wonderland, the strangeness of real-life requires rational thought and a range of emotional responses, some of which are pretty ugly. There are very few actual princesses. For the rest of us, it’s our imperfections that make us extraordinary, so can we stop pretending that they don’t exist now?
Even Alice (whom Carroll based on the daughter of a neighbor with the same name) grew into an adult woman with adult problems.*At six years old I cried my way through the end of that particular Disney movie because I was so disappointed that Ariel chose the Prince over her dad and her sea friends. Later, when I read the Hans Christian Andersen version, I felt secretly satisfied that she turned into sea foam.