Sunday, April 23, 2006

Letters to Liz: October 5, 1995: Part II

Dear Liz,

Will this day never end?? I think I might go stark raving mad. And it’s only noon. I have five more hours, and already sanity is held by the thinnest of threads. Let’s see… I’m tempted at the moment to call Debbie and cancel tonight, but I shouldn’t do that. The remnants of Hurricane Opal are hitting us tonight, though (all the way up here can you believe it??) and we’re going to have winds of 30-40 mph with even stronger gusts accompanied by torrential downpours, and you know how good my night vision is when driving. Plus, it’s almost a two-hour drive. Whine, whine, whine. And Seinfeld is on tonight. And I have my own T.V. on which to watch it.

Let’s see, what would I be babbling about if I were on the phone with you? Probably Matt stuff at the moment. I went over to his apartment last night and read while he and Richard watched baseball. Sounds exciting, eh?? Actually, it was kinda fun. Richard and I continue to get along as far as I can tell. We’ll see… I have a lot of fun with him and Matt. Though Matt is such a psychotic boy. I just can’t figure him out. Last night, before he and Richard went out to get subs, I was teasing him about some silly woven slipper/socks he was wearing. All in jest, he knows I like them. But in the context of our play banter, he says (in a half nasty/half challenging tone of voice) “besides which, do you know who gave them to me? Helen’s parents.” Okay, fine, not a big deal, she broke up with him because he kept yelling out my name in inappropriate moments & Richard and his mother kept going on for years about how much they missed me. But, yeah, I was annoyed. Determined, though, to pretend this is only playful banter, with only a slight ulterior motive, I reply “well, my parents have you more socks on Christmas than you’ve ever received on one occasion.” He laughed a nasty little laugh and said, “I don’t remember that.” I gave him a condensed reminded (one Christmas he spent with us, my parents felt bad that he wouldn’t have as many presents under the tree as everyone else, so they bought him a ton of socks and wrapped them all separately). He gave me a horrid look and said, his voice dripping with condescension. Well you have to understand that I don’t remember anything that happened before 1990; you’re the one who remembers everything. Besides which, do you suppose I still own any of those socks.” Huh?!

So, I’m standing there like a bewildered deer in the headlights wondering how the hell we got this point. Fuming, I went to the bathroom (sometimes my tiny bladder is convenient), took a few deep breaths and went back to say (in a fairly pissy tone, if I must be honest), “Listen I only remember about the socks because you were reminiscing about them last month. I’d forgotten. And I have no idea why you’re so upset. I like your fucking socks.” Matt flashed me that dopey, boyish grin of his and says, “you take me entirely too seriously, besides which, I’m an asshole.” He then proceeds to shower me with a bunch of silly kissed & then leave to get the food.

I don’t know. Anything. I don’t even know why I bore you with these excruciatingly detailed accounts of my life. You are a saint.

You know what my problem is (or one of them, anyway)?? Not that this is a new revelation or anything, but I take everything too seriously. What I just bothered to relate in minute detail wasn’t even a fight, just a tense exchange that happens between people, especially if they’re dating. But I can’t get that through my thick skull. Everything is so damn emblematic & portentous for me. Not to mention thematic. I freaked out over that because of my English degree and superstitious nature. I’m so weird, and consequently doomed to never have a decent relationship. Or even if I ever have a decent relationship, I won’t realize it, I’ll be so busy turning it into a bad novel in my head. I annoy myself.

I probably also annoy you. Sorry about this letter. It’s a rainy day, I wish I was in bed, and I’m in a pissy mood because I didn’t get enough sleep last night (up too late having sex, actually… that’s still great at least.) Is today over yet?

Love,
me

Letters to Liz: October 5, 1995: Part I

Dear Liz,

Bored, bored, bored, bored, bored, bored, bored. Such a charming way to open a letter, don’t you think? It grabs the reader’s attention in an inviting manner, so they are eager to continue reading. You do feel eager, don’t you? This job is driving me crazy, and as you well know, I need no help at all with insanity; I generate it perfectly well without any outside assistance. All I do is sit here and panic. I’ve got to figure out a way to study for the GRE while at work, but sitting and reading a book is frowned upon. If ever in my life I am in a position to hire a temp, or even a full time employee for an excruciatingly boring job, I will encourage them to read or entertain themselves in whatever manner they choose as long as it doesn’t violate any laws or interfere with their responsibilities. I would be such an enlightened employer, though my lack of business acumen would inevitably result in bankruptcy and layoffs, so my employees would end up hating me anyway. You just can’t win.

Well, guess what I’m doing this weekend? I’m going to see Rich get married. But wait! I think I did mention that to you already. Well, you must have been able to guess pretty easily then. I’m really excited about seeing him. It’s kinda scary, though, he’s my first friend to get married. Pretty soon, you’ll all start getting married until I’m the only one left, doomed to be the perennial spinster. Excuse me, the perennial spinster-temp, who never got a PhD because she was a loser and failed the GRE. Egads. Egads. Egads. What’s a poor idiot to do?

Well, Debbie came into town. Last Saturday. Was supposed to call me Saturday or Sunday. Called last night (Wednesday). I was so pissed. Can you imagine if I’d pulled a stunt like that? I was vacillating all week between being worried and angry, and now I’m just angry. I did yell at her, though. She was babbling on as if everything was fine, and I interrupted her and told her if she ever pulled anything like that again, I’d kill her. I think she might have shit a brick, she was so shocked. I mean we all know what a milquetoast I am. My friends completely control me and walk all over me and it take strong people like Debbie to get me out of messes. Can you see how I’m rolling my eyes?

Don’t get me wrong. I definitely appreciate her wisdom and advice. Well, not always the advice - you know she seriously thinks I’ll be married to Matt within a year, and doesn’t at all understand how ludicrous that is. I’ve tried to explain otherwise, but she won’t listen and I’m getting sick of her assumptions about Matt and how I feel about him. Example: last night on the phone I was telling her that I got a T.V. and said something casually about wanting my own so as not to have to rely on Matt to see shows I liked, or assume that I’d always be welcome to show up at his place if something was on that I wanted to see. She says to me, in all seriousness, “that’s ridiculous. You’ll be married to him soon, of course you can go over there anytime you want and watch T.V.” It matters not if I talk til I’m blue in the face trying to convince her otherwise. I’ve noticed she simply does not register things she doesn’t agree with. I love and value her in so many ways, but Liz, she’s driving me fucking batty. I hope this doesn’t sound too whiny or pathetic, but I just want friends who accept me as I am and don’t try to mold me in their own image, or their image of how I should be.

You know, I am just dying to hear from you. I keep trying to imagine where you are. Let’s see, you’re probably still a day away, unless you have been keeping a truly grueling pace, in which case, you’re already there. What’s it like? How was the drive? You’d better call me soon. I’m still being pretty good in regards to Matt, but it’s all in vain, because I will be single again soon enough (which really puts a crimp in the wedding plans, eh?) Let me start a new paragraph.

Welcome to the new paragraph. Anyway, he’s having a bit of a nervous breakdown. Actually, that’s something of an understatement. He submitted his two-week notice on Monday and thinks if he quits his job he will jumpstart his life and get out of the lethargic rut he finds himself in (sound familiar yet???) Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing; he’s really miserable with his job and what he’s doing with his life and I think it’s a good decision. But he wants to do something radically new with himself, find a new self, who knows. And, one way or the other, I think I’ll be out of the picture. He’s been so moody and withdrawn, and kind of cold the last few days. He’s only confiding a bare minimum to me, even though he’s obviously upset, and spends the majority of time talking all this over with Richard. I guess I’m kinda hurt he’s not turning to me. I feel shut-out and rejected (read the last sentence in an overly exaggerated operatic wail as I begin to make fun of myself and my penchant for dating guys with serious problems whether it be criminal psychosis, chronic asshole-ishness & immaturity, or a perpetual state of identity crisis.) It must be me. As I’m sure you remember, this was one of the primary reasons we broke up last time -- Matt was in the grips of another identity crisis that has too many creepy parallels to the current one. It’s just all too familiar, and what kills me is he’s been perfectly normal, satisfied with his lot in life for the last 4 or 5 years, basically since about the time we broke up. Re-enter moi into his life and suddenly he’s in a soul-searching crisis. Do the pheromones I exude cause men to go insane? Or is it some magical power over which I have no control? A karmic curse resulting from past lives filled with evil behavior towards men?

After this one reaches its inevitable messy and painful conclusion, I AM entering a convent. Really. I’m serious this time.

Overall, though, I’m still deliriously happy with my lot in life. (Well, maybe not deliriously happy, but at least generally content.) I wish you could see my apartment, it’s looking wonderful. Did I tell you about the bookcases I made? They’re the old standard: cinderblocks and pine boards, but I sanded and stained them, then painted the blocks a nice antique white. They really look good if I may be so immodest. I also have a bunch of plants and a cool new lamp and other stuff I won’t bore you with. I think I will be happy here, and hopefully I’ll be able to save up enough money to come see you. Get a job at an airline, will you?? I occasionally get awfully morose over how far away you are. How will I cope, now that you’re not a roadtrip away??? I need to win the lottery.

So, what was the drive like? God, it must have been so exciting, driving all the way west. And how did it go with Mark meeting your folks? Was he on his best behavior? How did Bob take the meeting? How are your nerves? Have you recovered yet? And I still haven’t heard about Mark’s family. This is driving me crazy! (Cue Patsy Cline… I’ve been listening to her a lot. I’m become a country music fan, aren’t I? I should probably kill myself on principle.)

Well, I’ll go for now, but perhaps I will write you more later today. It’s going to be a long, slow day.

Love,
me

Letters to Liz: An Introduction

Clearly, I am a sorry excuse for a blogger. I just went to log in and couldn’t remember my correct user name. I had to look it up. Pathetic.

And while there may well be more frequent posts from me, the pathetic theme well continues: my current plan is to post things I wrote years ago. Once upon a time, I was a frequent journaler. As I left school and ventured into the “real” world, I left it behind. I’m not sure if this was a casual event or coincidence. Maybe I’ll explore that one day. With a creepy, regression hypnotist!

Anyway, what I wrote instead were terribly long letters to my childhood best friend. Cleverly, I typed these on the computer so that I would look industrious - I was working as a legal secretary and generally bored out of my mind. One day it occurred to me that these letters had become my substitute for journaling, and I started printing these out. I’d completely forgotten about them until I discovered them during my recent move.

Reading them was surreal. I was bored enough to be ridiculously detailed about my life, so these letters provide a shiny, clean window into my past, far more than my failing memory can provide. I got the idea to type them up as a nostalgic archival task; I’m lucky to still have these since not losing things is hardly a strength of mine. Then I got the idea to “archive” them in my blog. I then dismissed it as entirely too self indulgent. But a wise friend of mine pointed out that blogging is, by definition completely self-indulgent. So, I figured what the hell.

For some reference, I’d just moved to Pittsburgh - for love. It wasn’t such a good decision, though it was a wonderful time in many ways. I was there for almost a year, immediately before I went to grad school. This was the second time, of three, that I broke up with Matt. The karmic burden I bear for breaking his heart three times over the course of a decade ensures it will be a couple more lifetimes before I find love. Heh. Liz had just moved to Portland, OR (she was always, and still is, much cooler than I am) with her boyfriend Mark.

Also? I'm so young and immature and just overly obsessed by inconsequential things. There's not a small amount of self-involvement, too. It was a happy relief to see that (while still very flawed and myriad & inventive ways), I'm have progressed somewhat in my life. If nothing else, I have much more perspective and am not as easily bothered by silly minutiae or that which I cannot control.

Liz remains my soulmate and best friend. In fact, she’s visiting and sitting across the room from me as I force her to watch Firefly. Given my dictatorial ways around books, movies and TV, and the excruciatingly long letters I once subjected her to, it’s a wonder we are still friends.

But, without further ado, Letters to Liz.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

abhor a will: Dada for a new age

I have never been anything but annoyed by spam emails. Well, I've chuckled at offers to enlarge my penis. After suffering Freud in many critical theory & philosophy courses, I like the idea of a pharmaceutical therapy for penis envy.

But this entry isn't about Freud or modern snake oil. It's about poetry. Or, at least, some bizarre text that was buried in some stock scam spam. I'm tickled. Pink. I'm in love. And so very, very amused. I hope I get more.

So, without further babble, I declare this found poetry. I declare this my found poetry. If I get enough, I might publish my first book of poems. Under my new nom de plume.

"spry an irritably"
by Britodada

Xerox sit that fair a hover.

The daydream, dumpy, cavity
the specialization aerial consume in and cloudy. At
distant was prosperity mountain.
argue in seduction abet comparative in is debt the it incorporate, dismally shove
foghorn preparedness that homey, all an evident the whopper the obstruct of
broke supervision once by belittle
driftwood silence an grumpy a
death row resuscitate. rag that coalition skater abhor a will swift with exporter, and consignment, spectrum
willingly gore, keep a woodpecker its researcher
ornithologist. buyer best man disgrace at presage credentials, Coke the of by dramatics tic solitary, wont, as... spry an irritably

Friday, January 13, 2006

Meme for me!

So, the charming and talented diane kristine (the artist formally known as deekay) tagged me with a meme. I wasn't even entirely sure what one was, but I do everything she tells me to do, so here goes.

What was your earliest film-related memory?
Let's Scare Jessica to Death, though I wish it was a happier, Muppet-style movie. I've heard that this isn't much of a scary movie at all and, in fact, tends to be unintentionally hilarious. I'll never know for sure as I will never see this movie again.

I was around four or five, and had an astonishingly incompetent & irresponsible babysitter who plopped me in front of the television & proceeded to talk with her boyfriend for hours. It was the ABC Saturday Night movie, and I couldn't hear the theme song ever again without a shiver running down my spine. I was pathetically grateful when they finally changed it some years ago. I don't even remember much from the movie except for the images of an empty rocking chair & a cloudy beach. I do remember the absolute terror I felt as I cried and shook with fear. And I remember my parents coming home, finding me awake and crying on the couch, then discovering my one year-old brother, asleep on the kitchen floor wearing nothing but a dirty diaper. I'm sure that, in the end, the most horrifying experience that night was the babysitter's.

Name two favorite lines from movies
I'm rebelling and including four favorite lines. I'm such a cool maverick, I make James Dean look like a cowering rule-follower.

"Do you ever get the mean reds? The blues are because you're getting fat or because it's been raining too long. You're just sad, that's all. The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you're afraid and you don't know what you're afraid of. Do you ever get that feeling?" - Breakfast at Tiffany's

"Apes don't read philosophy."
"Yes they do, Otto. They just don't understand it." - A Fish Called Wanda

"What's the point of fighting for his right to have babies, when he can't have babies?"
"It is symbolic of our struggle against oppression."
"It's symbolic of his struggle against reality." - Life of Brian

"What are you playing at?"
"Words. Words. They're all we have to go on." - Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

Three jobs you'd do if you could not work in "The Biz"
I love the idea that there's a hope in hell of me ever working in "The Biz." Let's see...
  1. I've always secretly longed to be a marine biologist.
  2. Trashy romance novelist (only to fund my true profession of tennis tournament groupie)
  3. International spy
Name four jobs you have actually held outside The Industry
  1. Well, there's my current job: Application & implementation manager at a computer software company (who would want a glamorous job in "The Biz" when one could do this?!?)
  2. Waitress at Denny's in Miami: definitely one of the highpoints of past jobs. Oh yeah.
  3. Manager of a garden center: Playing in dirt with flowers and trees and shrubs while wearing grubby clothes and flip flops. I enjoyed that job to a ridiculous degree.
  4. Copy editor at an advertising agency: if it hadn't been for the fact that all of my coworkers were raving lunatic asses, it could have been fun.
Three book authors I like
Three? Surely this is a typo. I'll do my best, though.
  1. Jane Austen
  2. Julian Barnes
  3. Dorothy Sayers (I just discovered her and am in the first flush of infatuated passion)
  4. I have to include Milan Kundera
  5. Oh, and Audrey Niffenegger
So, can I expect a loud knock on my door from the meme police? Perhaps in the middle of the night?

Name two movies you would like to remake or properties you'd like to adapt
  1. Movie I'd like to remake: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. After all of Branagh's pompous posturing about how he was finally going to adapt the real book and pay homage to Mary Shelley's vision, he cheapened the story as much, and in some ways more, than anyone who came before him. As it's near the top of my list of all-time favorite books, and I think it would make a fantastic movie, I want to do it.
  2. Property I'd like to adopt: Strong Poison by Dorothy Sayers. I just read this a few weeks ago & kept thinking how wonderful a movie it would make.
Name one screenwriter you think is underrated
Joss Whedon. So underrated that it's become almost absurdly parodic. One of the best screenwriters we've had in ages, and completely ignored and snubbed. It's a travesty & thinking about it raises my blood pressure.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

(Self) Piteous Reflection

I stopped by the the gift shop of my hotel today, innocently intent on buying a bottle of water. It's a small & poorly laid-out gift shop, and the doorway was completely blocked by a large roller bag. I asked - politely, casually, "please" included - the small, attractive blonde woman if she'd move her luggage. Instead of the cheerful compliance I expected, she glared at me, slowly looked me up and down and said, "you could stand to lose a few pounds. If you weren't so fat, maybe you could get by." (While I am fully aware that this obserervation is far enough from the point to be in a different galaxy, let the record state that Kate Moss couldn't have squeezed past her luggage.) It was a sickening moment: I froze, then felt the weird rush I associate with extreme moments of humiliation: sudden shivering cold, followed by a flash of heat that settles uncomfortably in your stomach. She was staring at me with a smug little smile, but had pulled back her luggage enough for me to unfreeze and scurry (plod? lumber?) past her into the store.

In the time it took me to grab water & take it to the register, I'd processed enough to feel absolute fury, liberally spiced with righteous indignation. I walked out to the lobby where a couple colleagues were waiting for me, and there she sat - just a few seats away from them. I snapped (and probably evened the karmic scales) and pointed to her. "That woman," I said, miraculously managing an amused laugh, "just called me fat." They expressed appropriate disbelief and horror, staring right at her. She'd just opened her laptop and was staring fixedly at it. They demanded the story, which I relayed briefly. As we gathered up our luggage and coats to leave, they kept loudly marveling at how insane, cruel and unacceptable her behavior was. She did turn red at first and refuse to look up, but as I was walking away, she looked right at me and gave me an evilly sweet smile. I'm still shocked, actually, that I'm sitting on a plane typing, rather than sitting in a jail on assault charges, cowering.

I'm disappointed that this incident is what prompted me to finally write an entry in here, but I'll muster sadly on... I have to admit that body issues, centering around my weight, have been on my mind a lot recently, so it's not such a surprise that this triggered the blog babble mechanism for me. But, before I continue I need to offer a couple (possibly asinine, ludicrous or both) facts and disclaimers:
  • I am, indeed, overweight.
  • This posts contains levels of self-pity that may prove lethal to small children and animals.
  • While I have my moments of troubling, depressing insecurity over my weight, it's not something that regularly bothers or upsets me. My self-esteem isn't perfect, but it is made of pretty solid stuff.
  • I expected my blog to be a place of fun & (attempted) wit. Not to mention this is far more personal of an entry than I ever imagined posting.
  • Given the changing nature of laws, rules and regulations, and the inherent hazards of electronic communication, there may be delays, omissions or inaccuracies in information contained in this blog.
As people in the Hizzy know, I recently indulged in a big nostalgia project when I was home spending the holidays with my family. My parents have a big box of unsorted photographs that go back a couple of decades, and I went through them all & scanned a number of them to upload. It was wonderfully nostalgic: fun, funny, bittersweet, reflective. But I found myself shocked, amazed & sadly enthralled by one picture:
Image hosted by Photobucket.com
It was taken when I was in college, but could've been anywhere from my early to late twenties. (Ugly cabinets tell me that it predates Hurricane Andrew, though, which while tragic, did get rid of those cabinets and give my mom her dream kitchen.) Including this picture in this entry must smack of a weird sort of defensive narcissim: "Marvel at how thin I was! I may be all kinds of fat pudginess now, but look! Look! I was thin! I was so much closer to a societally acceptable idea of beauty!" But really, that's not what sparked my fascination with it. Rather, it was the memory of how much I hated my body beginning in my teens and through my mid-twenties. It was insane, it was ludicrous. I remember hating to shop for clothes because I felt so many made me look like a whale. I remember dreading, to the point of nausea, boyfriends seeing my whole naked body for the first time.

And in the interim between discovering that picture a few weeks ago and the incident today, I've had this corny daydream of traveling back in time to meet up with my old self to give her a hug, then a sharp slap, and implore, nay, demand, that she love and appreciate her body & herself. To tell her that one day she's going to be fatter, but much more secure & generally happier. But given how upset I am, how much I keep staring down at my rolled, Buddha-esque belly & overly ample thighs and feeling a horrible mixture of self-hatred and panic, I realize I couldn't have that conversation with her without being a complete hypocrite. Because, clearly, this is a far greater issue for me than I've let myself realize. If I was as secure as I thought, one random comment from a cruel stranger wouldn't have had this effect.

So, I don't know where I am anymore with respect to my body or how much my self-esteem is tied-up in it. I trust I'll bounce right back as I'm wont to do: that in a few days (or maybe even tomorrow), I'll be back to my normal self, laughing at how upset and melodramatically philosophical I got over this incident. I'll accept again the idea that any insecurity I feel is within normal ranges & can't be avoided. But I think my return to that accustomed place will be sullied by niggling disbelief. I know now that I've been fooling myself, to some extent, about the degree of self-acceptance and self-love I have for myself. In addition to feeling sad and angry, I'm feeling oddly unsure & discombobulated. I do know, though, that I'm angry. At this point I'm not sure, however, if I'm angrier at her or myself.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Inauspicious beginning

Mere hours ago, I had all sorts of ideas about what I'd say for my blog's maiden voyage. (Can I use nautical imagery to launch a blog? I can't imagine there's a blog police, imagery divison. Though that would be quite amusing. You know they'd have to have the snazziest fedoras ever - always worn at the perfect jaunty angle.)

But now? I got nothing. Zilch. Zippo. Heaven only knows what will end up in here anyway. At my ancient age, this blog should be a meditation on the wisdom my life experience has brought me. Instead, I lack any real wisdom and am blogging as a result of peer pressure.

Does my very existence, perhaps, refute Darwin? My only comfort is that it surely must refute any notion of intelligent design.

Anyway. Meldraw? I blame you.