Sunday, December 26, 2010

And for you, my sweetest lover, to you I will say-- merry christmas, i love you.

I am in Texas. I am back with my family, which is always a comforting yet strange thing. Strange, probably for two reasons: it is so temporary, I am not used to it. I am not used to being someone's kid, I usually feel very on my own (and occasionally resentful of that, though there's really no one that I resent). And yes, so temporary that it hardly seems useful to invest myself in anything. The days leading up to my departure were stressful and occasionally very emotional, but explaining that or anything really significant to anyone around here doesn't seem like a good idea. I revert to kid mode, being a bit impatient with conversation, not wanting to go to church (well, more like not wanting to get up at all), getting annoyed with my father's OCD about my (autistic) sister's habits. I don't want to get annoyed, but I just do. Still. It's nice having real food every day as opposed to snacks or canned soup or In&Out, which is basically what I've been eating for the past six months. It's nice having nowhere in particular to be. And presents. Presents are good, too.

A few days before I left for here I entertained for the first time-- threw a lovely fancy-dress cocktail party at my empty house. It filled in rather nicely, and I think everyone (all 37ish of them) had a great time, however I was sick and working throughout the day so by the time the party happened I was a mess and did not look at all as I had thought. Which is a bummer-- if you can't look fabulous at your own 1960's theme-party then when the hell can you? It was also illuminated to me what leeches people can be. However, most guests were very kind. Unfortunately, no one bothered to clean up a blasted thing, including the people who stayed the night (5 unmade beds, even!?), which left me holding the bag. Tiresome. There were also a few breakdowns which occurred after most of the guests had gone-- sadly, I suppose these are the only memories that witnesses retain from events like that. Although I had splendid fun, I don't think I see many more parties in my future. I don't have the stamina.

Anyway, after I spent all blasted night cleaning up I hopped on a plane here. I have not stopped eating since. Christmas itself was low-key and cozy, after we went to Christmas Eve service at our old church (which has become a scary megachurch in the past few years) we engaged in my most favorite part of all Christmases: watching It's A Wonderful Life. I will smack anyone who insists that film is cheesy-- it almost seems ahead of it's time in it's presentation of life as it is: very hard. Very disapointing. Full of flawed characters, but still-- and even because of that-- it's so wonderful. We all have our personal definitions of success, and we can become so crestfallen when we don't make it, but so often we must pull back and observe what really matters, the true definition of success-- love. Love that has been earned through pursuing good things in life, by aiding others, by being a geuinely good person. George Bailey is one of if not THE most perfect film character because he manages to be SO GOOD, the ultimate protagonist who gets life thrown at him, but still so human. George is flawed and resentful and self-loathing occasionally, but that makes him even more of a good man because he does what's right even when he hates to. The scene when he returns to his house, downcast, rips on his family and tears apart his pictures and paper bridges, all the things symbolizing his dreams going to shit, is such a moving scene and makes me cry to no end. All the better then for him to come back with joy, finally seeing in himself and his life what everyone else can see. We all count for something, even when we think we're garbage. That's such an amazing thing to show.

Anyway, Christmas morning saw my parents coming into my room and jumping on my bed until I got up (revenge, I see how this works), lucky charms (yes, a weird tradition of ours...), and presents. We don't make Dory open presents anymore, we just leave things out for her to find if she wants to (she hates opening things, she has tarnished many a holiday with her fits over just that). After we all devoured our goodies, we strolled over to the neighbors, a big homeschool family, to eat food. After all that, my oldest and dearest friend and her mother came over, and Emily and I ran around outside in the fields, laughing and climbing on things and discussing life, the universe, and haystacks. Today we saw extended family (and all of the new babies... so many babies... I would be lying if I didn't admit that this makes me feel slightly pressured to marry the next man that crosses my path, here's hoping he's Jon Hamm).

It's strange being here. Strange. My parents look so old. My second father is still in the hospital in Dallas. My sister does not change. I almost can't relax, even though I've been looking forward to being here for months. I'm too antsy, there's too much that must happen in life. Strange, this adulthood thing. I'm never as mature about it as I wish I was. Oh well. War is over.

Monday, December 20, 2010

in regards to that meeting: it was totally nothing. my boss likes to phrase things dramatically and i haven't learned how to read her. apparently there was no major problem at all...

in regards to the season: hello, i love you.

in regards to myself in general: why do i dislike you so much? i am so quick to drive myself mad. right now i'm sitting in this empty house just feeling dreadful. what a cycle it is-- feeling bad, then realizing there's not a valid reason to feel so, but the bad persists anyway, made worse by the feeling that you shouldn't feel bad.

i would so take medication if there were actually a pill that made one like oneself. really, reality creates far too much time to be spent with me. in the end, i guess i usually knew i would never commit suicide, but of all the suicidal motivations i certainly understand the desire to simply escape one's own mind. there's just too much of me in there. it's exhausting.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Today was supposed to be a super nice day of wrapping presents and watching christmas movies, but of course one of the people I work for, while giving me my check, informs me that I'm apparently doing alot of things wrong on the retail end of work, and we're going to have an official "meeting" tomorrow. I'm sure the meeting is about more than that, but of course this news has made me very anxious and kind of depressed. I thought I was doing fine. How badly does it suck to suck at something as stupid as retail? Especially retail that you're not even getting paid very much to do?

Now my day is ruined. All I can think of now is that. Wallow. Self-pity. Fail. I hate everything. I don't wanna go to work ever again. Gah.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

a good man is hard to find.

It's my birthday tonight! Today, the start of today. Happy birthday to me.

This evening I went back to LMU to attend the annual christmas LMU choir concert. My friend Aly is in the choir, and I always meant to go while I was at school, but the concert was always in the midst of finals and I never felt like it. Anyway, it was lovely. They sang in the chapel on campus. I have long loved this chapel, despite the fact that I am not Catholic and much of the decor is meaningful to others but manages to escape me. Anyway, it's a beautiful, cozy place, and it was glorious to hear the choir sing in it. They sang a good number of classic Christmas "Catholic" arrangements and some traditional ones I hadn't ever heard, like an African-American spiritual that made me cry, and a song based upon music from Empire of the Sun. Then of course there ws O Tannenbaum and all that good stuff. At one point they did a medley of carols, having the audience, us, sing the choruses with the choir harmonizing. That was terrificially spirited and beautiful, and throughout the whole thing my emotions were all over the place. Then again, that's my emotions on a usual basis.

I was very affected this evening by the traditional pieces. Partially because of what they made me feel about God, but also partially because of the tradition of the songs themselves, the idea that people have been rejoicing in this holiday spirit for so long. It's amazing to me that a collection of people that can sing and arrange beautifully and collaborate can be found in the world, let alone a single school like LMU, and the concept that this tradition has been carried through so many years in so many countries, this amazing celebration of beauty, I just couldn't stand it. I have an intolerable love for existence and history, the concept of the dead and the ancient things having as much value as those living and young (if not more, obviously). At times I become so aware of it that the only thing I can feel is pain and smallness, the overwhelming sense that it's all just too much. Similiar, though totally different, from what the weird kid says in American Beauty about the damn paper bag, about there being so much beauty in the world he feels as though his heart might explode. That's not why I feel that way, but that's HOW I feel.

Also, being in the Chapel and being able to sing along with such nice little carols made me consider their words, which are so glorious. The one that really got me was Come, All Ye Faithful, a song that we of course know most of the words to but which I know I haven't thought about since I was 4. The picture it paints is too good, and the plea "O come let us adore Him" weighs on me. The longing for Christ, or for fulfillment, has become glossed over for me in that song most Christmases, but tonight as the choir sang, the purity of it just struck me hard.

Anyway. Point was, my appreciation for the meaning as well as the tradition of these songs was driving me crazy, as well as my own thoughts about my birthday and what it means to get older. Like most people who freak out about everything, my birthday is usually troublesome for me and my existential ways. So throughout the concert I was a little ball of emotion, tearing up then furrowing brow in uffish thought, then tearing up again. By the time the concert was over, I felt lighter.

On the way back home, on the exact moment that I turned 23 in California time, I was driving the coast, listening to the Beatles and letting the cold air blow through my car. It felt good. I'm okay with my birthday this year-- I'm not where I want to be, however, I'm doing all right for myself. I'm not sad. Right now, anyway.

And so now I do my laundry, watch a bit of Rebecca before bed, and sleep. Tomorrow is the rest of my birthday, and I think I shall buy myself something nice.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Monday, December 6, 2010

Today I slept through my alarm clock and missed work at the school. ARGH, I hate myself for doing that. Of course, it is very flexible work, however I was sick a few weeks ago and soon school will be on a long break. I dearly need the money, though apparently this morning I needed sleep more.

I did make $50 today anyway, an essay of mine about The Godfather was sold. That was nice, anyway.

So, the other night I watched Eat Pray Love. I was mostly annoyed by the experience for a number of reasons, the main one being that it seemed to depend on the mannerisms of Julia Roberts-- all of which we know very well. The laugh, the flirty smile, the second-guessing hand-to-chin thing, the exasperated but charmed look, the way her face seems to avalanche when she cries. Ok, all that sounds mean. I like Julia Roberts, even love her sometimes, but this movie was too sewn up with the plot to make us all fall in love with her. Anyway, it was tiresome. Also, self-discovery stories are always tough, but I found the character very self-involved, and generally speaking I didn't like her, not to mention I was terribly, desperately jealous of her ability to just drop everything and fly away for a year and do magical things with no repercussions (and then write a best seller about it). She's an author that has plenty of money and freelances, thus she can do what she wants. Yet we're expected to connect with her self-centered approach to everything. Ugh. Annoyance. Not that I don't connect with attempts at balance and self-discovery (that's pretty much all this blog seems to be about), but a movie built around this woman seems indulgent. The places she visits and the meditations she does become like trendy accessories, Eastern religion becomes disposable. Meh.

All that said, watching it inspired me to think seriously about three things:

1) travel
2) elephants
3) a method of adding meaning to something that feels tedious or empty.

We will go backwards: At one point in the film Julia's making her way through this Guru's spiritual instructions, the long method of reaching the height of centeredness and meditation (I think, I don't know, it was late). Julia's findin' it real boring and can't get through it until one of her friends suggests that she dedicate it to something or someone she loves. Do it for someone else, with them in mind, and it's much easier. Doing it because you feel you should, or even doing it for YOU doesn't work nearly as well. It's not as profound. I feel like I've heard that concept before, but it was very striking to me. Dedication, especially spiritually. I will have to think on it.

Elephants: Julia is given this statue of an elephant. It may have been a specific religious symbol, that part was vague, but someone says to her that it stands for "The remover of obstacles." What! My brain! How fabulously simple. Elephant= remover of obstacles, what a wonderful symbol, something nice to think of and keep around. No wonder I've been into elephants lately-- if you are an elephant, you can do anything.

Travel: So I've been here for two seasons now, post-grad, and I'm pretty bored and boring. I really need to go somewhere, and reading/watching things like this stupid movie just frustrates me nonstop. I still plan on going abroad for grad studies, but otherwise... sigh. Work, write, sleep, repeat. I need a little more to get by.

When my friend Kate and I go to San Francisco we stop off in Salinas. Or we have the two times that we've made the journey, hopefully it will become a full tradition. Anyway, one of my favorite things in the world and especially in Salinas are Greyhound Stations. I love public transport-- can be gross, yes, but it's so glorious and romantic. Trains, metrorails, buses, subways. Buses. I think it's a writer thing, writers love crowded places full of people and conversations and ideas, they love to observe and pretend to be a part of things (because really, writers are never really a part of anything, only in their writing do we partake, i think). Also, one of my favorite songs has always been America by Simon and Garfunkel, in which these characters see America in all of its beauty and sadness through the windows of a Greyhound.

Anyway, so while we were in Salinas I demanded Kate take a picture of the station, it looked like it had been in lonely existence since the 50's. She ended up using it as an art project and sent it to me recently. It's so charming to look at. So nice... suddenly, before I knew it, I was looking at bus prices. I now have a plan.

I shall work tirelessly. TIRELESSLY. I shall get a third job. I shall keep writing essays for money. I shall continue to write other things and send out stories for publication. I shall save. On whatever weekends I can, I will cruise into LA to see all of the sights there that I have missed, because there are so many museums and cemeteries and shows that I have managed to miss. I will go to the Salton Sea and Redwood Forest. In the spring, I will go to Oregon for the Shakespeare Festival and Seattle to visit my old room-mate and browse around. Once that's done, I will buy a series of bus passes for fall of 2011. I will travel at a nice lazy pace across the US, stopping where ever I want, and settle in New York for a few weeks. I will stay at hostels. I will come back, also on a bus. It will be beautiful.

I am still considering a European trip in the summer, but I suppose that realistically that should wait until I am ready for grad school.

We can't all be Julia Roberts. But we can be elephants.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

what is it about this time of year?

I don't know what it is about this time of year, and I know it's true that people are born and people pass away all day every day. But there is something about the holidays... people die. My grandparents all died around Christmastime. It gives you such a sickly feeling.

My best friend's father was just in a terrible motorcycle accident. He suffered severe head trauma and broken/cracked ribs. Now he's in the hospital, and there are apparently these huge blood clots in the speech center of his brain, making it so that he can speak all right but he cannot process anything that's being said to him. Thus it's come down to this: to wait and see if the clots will shrink with treatment, or to operate and remove the clots. If they are removed, he will remain as is: confused, befuddled, basically senile, with that part of his brain missing. If they are allowed to stay there during treatment, they may grow instead of shrink, and he will die.

I know what his wife is thinking. There are worse things than death. That's true for all of us, but especially for this man. He's always been one of the smartest, most talkative men I've ever known, knowing a little bit about everything from guns to motorcycles to Machiavelli. He's gotten to be a bit of a codger lately, but over the past four or five years he's been pursuing education again, dreaming of achieving a doctorate and teaching. His conversation has become even heavier, discussing philosophy and literary analysis over all meals and get-togethers. Not being able to understand the world he lives in, and all that he's learned really would be like a fate worse than death to him.

It's weird to have this strong feeling come back, this feeling of really wanting everything to just BE ALL RIGHT no matter what that might take. More than anything I just want him to recover from these clots, and to be fine by Christmas, and for my friend to be fine and for her mom to be fine and for us all to have a happy Christmas in Texas together like we did last year. I have such a strong desire to simply WILL things into being that I'm exhausted and frustrated by the pure powerlessness of myself. I have no capabilities. Except to pray. But that feels so small.

More than that, this guy was like my second father and he was always very proud of me. I used to call him Uncle Ammo in his gun-toting days and now I've taken to calling him Uncle Acky. He was the one who told me that there was nothing more worthwhile than education, and if debt was inevitable in the face of quality education, then that was all right. When I got a card from him (and his wife) celebrating my graduation, it was one of the few cards without any money inside, but it was one of my favorite cards of all because I knew how sincerely he meant his congratulations. We used to gang up on Emily and tease her incessantly, back then my wit was quicker than now and Emily would always get faux-pissed and throw hissy fits while Uncle A and I laughed hysterically. He taught me how to shoot a gun, and told me about Christopher Marlowe, and that Shakespeare was never meant to be read, only heard. One time at the dinner table he told me that he thought I had the wit of John Lennon, one of the best compliments in the world. He has a gruff voice, but, inexplicably, he talks baby-talk to the family cat and lets her sit in a box on the kitchen counter while he eats.

Everything really needs to be OK, even if it isn't. I won't know what to say to someone who's father has died. I simply won't know what to say.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Movies That Actually Look Good

So around this time of year I'm usually going bonkers because there would be about 5000 amazing looking movies coming out. The holiday crowd-pleasers plus the real meaty Oscar-bait. No such luck this year, lucky for my wallet I suppose, bad for movies. This year saw a pretty pithy array of mediocre movies-- not a host of dreadful ones, but not alot of greats (from what I've seen and also read/gathered). All that there really was were alot of promising kid movies (Toy Story 3, Despicable Me, this month's Tangled), INCEPTION, crushing everything over the summer, and The Social Network, making all of the film reviewers seizure (rightfully so, I still think the movie's pretty damn brilliant). Personally, I also really like the smaller dramas Ghost Writer and Greenberg, but I am in the minority. The Town was pretty good, though I thought Affleck's first movie, Gone Baby Gone, was more emotionally connective. Anyway, all of those movies were far between and to me only The Social Network was completely satisfying (Inception, though totally amazing, fails to meet even the tip of its potential, sorry). So. It's December, and what have we? So far as I can tell, only the following hold much promise:

Black Swan

The end of that trailer gives me the creeps.

True Grit

Definitely the film I've been looking forward to the most. Freaking Coens. I should have known it'd be you, making the Western awesome again. I should have known!

How Do You Know?

This could be really good and satisfyingly As Good As It Gets-ish, or really lame, half-baked, meandery ending ala Spanglish. I don't like the clip of Reese Witherspoon talking about how she doesn't know if she has what it takes, trying to look like she's just a girl hanging out in her oversized sweater (looking perfectly stylized casual), and the SIGNIFICANT LOOKS are overused, but still, it seems really timely and relatable and solid. Or it could be. Anyway, I really like seeing Owen Wilson in a role of substance again. He hasn't done one since he tried to kill himself.

The King's Speech

A little predictably concieved, but nevertheless totally appealing. Looks like compelling stuff, and I love Bonham-Carter and Geoffrey Rush. And Colin Firth can be very good. When filmmakers take the grand scale of history and put it in terms of the individual, even if that individual is royalty, it becomes 10X more compelling.

Somewhere

Sofia Coppola is one of my favorite people. This looks beautiful-- nothing terribly new and different, but another nice, soft cloud of introspection with lots of silent character development (I'm not mocking-- she is actually a genius at developing characters with no dialogue at all). Somehow I feel she's not been at her best lately, but even if this sucks I know I'll enjoy looking at it. Her films give me such a meloncholy feeling.

And then... the maybe?'s

The Fighter

I think Mark Wahlberg in leading roles generally blows, but I'm really intrigued by Christian Bale doing what he does best here. Looks like he may be acting again (not that physical transformation implies that, but it looks like an interesting role for him, finally, after all this Batman Terminator business and sucking hard in Public Enemies). Anyway, I hope the concentration is primarily on the brother/brother relationship. I'm 50/50 on this one. Also, the part where Mark says "not you, not you, and not you!" cracks me up. What? No!

Tron

Mmmeh. It looks cool, but it could get old very fast. I do remember liking the old one, though, and I think it's awesome that technology now allows the Tron-cars to look fantastic (whereas in the old one... sad. so, so sad)

Company Men

I really want this to be good, and not a wad of propaganda to cheer up unemployed, underpaid America. The end of this does look dangerously cheesy, but there's a nice warmth and realism to it that I like. Also, I like Tommy Lee Jones. Also, I really like Kevin Costner in these kinds of roles. Also, the part where his wife says "you have ME" does make me almost tear up. Anyway, I'm not sure about it, but I did just read a glowing review of it from EW, so maybe it's not too schmaltzy. Time shall tell.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

i wish i had a river i could skate away on.

Monday, November 29, 2010

and on the nature of daylight

I can't figure out if people actually think I'm a smart person, or if they see that I think I think I'm a smart person, or at least wish I were a smart person, and therefore they play along.

I just spent the last few minutes reading a collection dubbed "the 100 Best Last Lines from Books." I finally stopped, all I could do was shake my head. I can't stop marveling. I think it's true that the older I get the more I appreciate, however, I appreciate with too much fullness. I am almost overwhelmed by my appreciation, like a little kid who's just seen Superman for real. Sometimes it's hard for me to discuss things that I love, even, because even if I understand them well (which is only part of the time) I just can't break them down into little words, even though in many cases what I love so much is usually a series of little words. But no! I am too busy marveling!! Too busy trying to decide what great novel to read next (ALL OF THEM!) to actually begin reading a single one. Too busy thinking about what makes something beautiful that I am not trying to make anything. Still. I think my favorite last lines have to be from The Sun Also Rises, The Great Gatsby, 1984, I Capture the Castle, Tale of Two Cities (which I do not even like), and most definitely Catcher in the Rye:

"Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."

Thanksgiving was last week. I can't ever remember having a really great Thanksgiving. None of my family's meals seem to have been memorable at all, I certainly can't think of any offhand. The food was always good, the Friends episodes were always good. One year I made cranberry sauce from scratch at my mother's insistence. It turned out all right. I think one year we went to the grandparents on my mother's side. I seem to remember having the traditional feast in their old, slanted, super-70's dining room with chairs that rolled.

My mother's parents were interesting people, particularly my grandfather. He had been very ill since before I was alive, so I didn't know him very well, and he was the first of my grandparents to die, so I didn't get much of a chance. But I always liked to think that he would have liked me. Grandma always favored the oldest girls in the family, and I was the runt for awhile aside from the one sacred BOY cousin of the family. After grandpa died she turned into a pretty angry woman for a few years which also happened to be my most awkward years, and she was mean to me alot of the time. Not so much in the two years before she died, but I was detached from her by then. And of course I had no connection to my father's parents. Or much of any other family in general. Thus I think I began to think of Grandpa as the one who would have loved me. Also, he was cool, he was in the air force-- the flying tigers!-- and he went to Casablanca once for some reason or other. Recently I was in conversation with my mom and I said that the drink I almost always get is a whiskey sour. She laughed and said that's what grandpa always got (if he didn't get just whiskey, haha). That made me happier than it should have. I know-- I'm doing what people do. Making a myth out of someone and forming them into who I wish they were. But of course, one never knows. I certainly don't.

Thanksgiving was spent mostly at my friend's house, talking, drinking tea, reading, and watching my friend and her sisters make use (one might even say abuse) their Ihome. There's a certain warmth in the kitchen there, and its mostly caused by all of the girls packing in, working on foodie projects or cleaning up, punctuated by dance sessions, much to the amusement and sometimes chagrin of their parents, whom they merely dance circles around (literally) until they soften by rolling their eyes. I have to say, though, that the best part of the whole day was when a Frank Sinatra song came on and the girls started to foxtrot about. Their mother looked up from the massive amounts of mashed potatoes she was making and started to bob her head, and soon she was dancing cheek to cheek with her daughter. They danced all the way through the song. That was nice, almost surreal, like something that doesn't actually happen in real life.

After all that we packed in the car to go to Malibu, where the virtual family reunion occurs, and alas we did not eat until 10. Maureen and I and her cousin sat at a series of assembled TV tray tables (..70s-looking), which added an extra element of the absurd. The turkey was all right, but the rest of the food was achingly good, damn the mashed potatoes, damn all of the mashed potatoes. The conversation was the usual-- I see this extended family about once a year and I never remember anything about anyone (and vice versa) so other than reaquaintance there's not much to talk about. Not for lack of trying. One year a communist was there and led a gigantic discussion/argument about freewill vs. predestination, but he's gone back to Europe now.

The best gift my mother may have ever given me, aside from birth, is my heating pad. In a heaterless back room that used to be a garage, in very cold temperatures, I would like tah freeze, but not so, says the heating pad. My feet are happy and thus I am warm.

I have found three new names that I like: Anderson, Jude, and Kendall. I like names that might've been last names for some reason. I had a thought yesterday that I just really needed to marry someone with the last name of Anderson because I like it so much, and then I thought, ha. What about a first name? Anderson Barnett.

I am currently listening to Sufjan Stevens' "That Was The Worst Christmas Ever." Towards the end his refrain is "silent night, nothing feels right..."

I finished East of Eden the day before Thanksgiving, and five bottles of wine on the day after. I enjoyed both, but I suppose East of Eden wins. I thought it was interesting that I should be so drawn to read that story at the moment because its overarching theme is freewill. Discouraging, how limited human beings can be, but encouraging to know that we can do all things. As they say in the book, Timshel, the Hebrew word that God used to tell Cain that he "could" or "may" find salvation if he went the right way, if he tried. God says Cain may attain what he needs. God does not say he will. It's not a promise to look out for Cain, it's God's reminder that He's around but ultimately Cain makes his own choices. He killed Abel. Tough cookies, Cain.

That's something I think of and worry about. It's glorious, and much the foundation of my faith to know that we have free will. However, it is another sublime thought, once that becomes overwhelming as I marvel at it like the last words of a Salinger or Steinbeck book. On the days when I feel like I just can't, I simply can't even think of trying to be good in ANY WAY, I wonder if that's a true estimate or if I simply don't want to at that moment. Because surely if I wanted to be good I'd work at it. No. We have to work at it even when we don't want goodness, we have to work at it all of the time for goodness to exist at all.

I'm tired. I look forward to sleep.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

writer mchottie.


I'm one of those people who's not really into Tina Fey-- I didn't like her on SNL (until she came back with the Palin thing, that was great), and her writing sometimes comes off a bit bitchy when it's trying to be sharp. There's a host of witty, young female writers who look up to her as a total hero, but I've never been quite there. However, I am starting to like her more and more, and I certainly admire her career. SNL, Mean Girls, many successful seasons of 30 Rock, a Steve Carell movie, and somehow she's filled the niche for the Smart Hottie (she is totally gorgeous). That's a pretty impressive line-up when you think about it.

Anyway, when I saw this picture I cracked up. It's rare, kind of annoying, but also kind of cool that a (female) writer is this hip celebrity. Doesn't happen often. Woody Allen, Matt & Ben (who don't friggin write at all anymore), Owen Wilson (dittoooooo, why OWEN WHY?), Nia Vardolos (ditto... perhaps Nia only had the one great film in her), Diablo Cody at first... of course, she's a writer SLASH comedienne, but at least the WRITER label has always been prominent, something I feel like she sees to personally.

Yeah... I finally like you, Tina Fey. I'm sure you're relieved to hear it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

"I believe there are monsters born in the world to human parents."
-Steinbeck

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Productivity thy name is me.

As it turns out, yesterday was a largely productive day and I did indeed get into the writing "groove."

As I'm tackling the THIRD draft (guh) of my thesis script (my Western Masterpiece... at least that's what it's supposed to be) I've been noticing more things about the writing process, and I've been slipping into it more and more naturally. Now when I read older things I've written, not only can I tell what's wrong, I can usually pinpoint how to fix it. Now, as I comb through this script, I'm changing around everything, particularly the characters. As it turns out I'm far too instinctive in my writing, far too much for my own good. I suppose once I figured out I could write well I didn't reckon I needed to think too deeply about how to write anymore-- and I don't mean structure, because that's something I've built my knowledge of. It's something else that I'm just tapping into, something between structure and content-- some sort of logic. I write atmosphere very well, and second to atmosphere is my dialogue. It's usually very natural and conversational, so much so that I let it write itself and it generally sounds good-- but therein lies the problem. With my dialogue and character development I've gone almost totally on instinct-- "well, I feel like he would say THIS"-- rather than observing it logically. And that's fine, for the first few drafts. It makes the dialogue believable, but ultimately the characters, whom I think through very thoroughly, don't develop fully because I've limited them by going by what I feel in the moment that I'm writing their actions and speech. I am NOT going by the logical flow of development that I intended in the first place. I write character biographies and discuss my characters-- with myself-- but their development is not always at the front of my mind, and that tends to come out when I converse about them with other people.

IE one of my major rewrites this time around is the way in which my main character, Jerome, a murderer masquerading as a civil servant, motivated by the concept that there is reward and even reverence for doing what you feel. My intention as I was writing him was sociopathic rehabilitation (and thus, more simply, redemption), however I was so at ease with writing his dialogue that I did not apply my intention to every aspect of his character. Or if I did, I certainly didn't show it, and that's the whole point of a script. You're not telling the reader/audience what the situation is, you're SHOWING them, by jingo. In my first two drafts Jerome is intriguing but far too vague and occasionally nonsensical because his dialogue reads like a typical cowboy from a Clint Eastwood movie. When I wrote said dialogue I just assumed that an audience would pick up on the fact that Jerome is supposed to be sociopathic and is just mimicking social norms depending on who he happened to be speaking to, however after really reading the script one discovers... that is absolutely not the case at all. He kills little kids and also happens to spend most of his time engaging in humorous repartee like Curly from Oklahoma or something stupid like that. Makes no sense, and it doesn't take a genius to realize that that is not going to work. So now I attack him with a much stronger and clearer vision.

One can't simply expect an audience to "know what i mean." Unfortunately. 'Cause then I'd really be considered brilliant. Ah well.

Also, may I just say I've finally thrown myself into East of Eden and it's remarkable. The only Steinbeck I've read up to this point were Grapes of Wrath (which I, unlike the rest of America, do not really like. His writing style is fabulous but eh, something about that story. I like the movie a bit better because their truck piled with stuff reminds me of my family's move from the south to California. anyway..) and Of Mice and Men, which is absolutely wonderful but ever so sad and short. EoE is not short, though I can't count the times I've paused in my reading of it to remark to myself how heartbreaking it is. I don't know how he does it! Damn writers! Damn amazing writers, I hate and love you.

Monday, November 15, 2010

We'll Make Time

So, for the past few months I've been slightly in love with a married guy.

Thought I might as well say it.

Of course, that's an exaggeration. What's more true is that I've been working at this school for awhile now and there's been this very attractive teacher who has gone out of his way to be nice to me, and who for several weeks was NOT wearing a wedding ring (apparently the kids noticed this too... he says it was getting resized). Not that I was planning on "going after" him anyway, however it was a nice type of guy to think of. Buuuut now there's a smarting of embarrassment that I think we both sense. After that little revelation we mostly avoid each other.

I don't feel any less gross.

Anyway.

I'm at a Coffee Bean right now, trying to force myself to write, but I can't get into the mindset. I know I'll get there, but all I want to do is daydream. I am far more of a dreamer than a do-er, absolutely hands-down all the time. I really want to finish my thesis Western screenplay once and for all, but I can't make myself get into serial killer in the West mode. Dang. It.

I haven't been on my usual diet of Dark Stuff lately. Ever since Freaks & Geeks I've been either rewatching my favorite happy 90's movies or trying to find all things Apatow-esque- IE slightly silly humor with lots of character development. Apparently Apatow is pretty much the king of that. I've been re-watching most of his films, too, and also anything with Steve Carell in it. I don't think I've ever had stronger cravings for happy, funny movies. Strange for me. Or maybe there's just been an absence of really interesting character-driven drama lately. Ah well, that will change soon, what with Oscar season and (HELLOOOOOO WESTERNNNNN) True Grit coming up. AHH Coen Brothers you ruin my life and rock it at the same time!

I finally found out my fate this Christmas is to be a happy one: I am going to Tejas for Christmas! Happy news since not two weeks ago my mother and I agreed that there was no way that was going to work out. I was way more bummed out about it than I expected to be, so now I am doubly pleased to know that I'll be around my old stomping grounds soon. Of course, there's nothing I ever miss about the place, and I'm glad it will only be for about a week, but I love my parents and there's still something magic about driving around in cars with my old best friend who I used to ride around with in the back of her mom's car. Not to mention her almost-fiance will of course be joining us. Anyway, I've already got batty about Christmas presents and bought about a billion. I can't help it. I get idiotically carried away by the idea of giving people stuff they will like, and the hunt. Ooh the hunt is worth it.

It's going to be a good Christmas.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Tonight (and lately) I've been singing my favorite parts from David Bowie's weird song "Time," all of the words of which I have no idea, and the beginning bugs me so much, but I love the lines

"I had so many dreams/I had so many breakthroughs" and "But all I had to give was the guilt for dreaming."

I was saddened to look up the lyrics just now and discover that my most favorite part, which I sing obsessively is actually "we should be on by now."

All this time I've been thinking it was "We should be home by now," repeated over and over, which to me has always seemed like such a great, sad, wonderful thing to say in the way that David Bowie does.

Oh well. I suppose I'll go on singing it that way.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

and i've never gotten used to it, i've just learned to turn it off..

It's time for a little Bob Dylan in my life.

Lord knows.
How hot is Bob here, by the way? Nice mug, man.

Anyway. Around this time last year I think I was going to that Bob concert, actually, which was around the time that my suitemate and I were becoming friends. I remember that because I hadn't really told anyone that I was going to the concert or that I was going by myself because no one would have wanted to go nor would they care, but as I was on my way out my suitemate asked where I was going. When I told her I was going to LA alone to see Dylan, she told me that I shouldn't have decided to go alone, and that I should text her when I got there so she'd know I was fine and "not raped" (thus began a gross, ongoing raped-by-dylan joke which she continues to find hilarious). I remember thinking that was nice. Towards the end of November, she was the one who ended up in the hospital. When she left in the ambulance, I found that my car was dead as a doornail and proceeded to run up and down the parking lot aisles, frantically clicking her malfunctioning car key remote until her car was revealed to be at the furthest end of the lot. When I got there I sat next to her, read Russell Brand's observations outloud, mused about death, and waited for the prissy capote-esque nurse or the blood guy who called himself "the vampire" (and yet totally didn't get my Twilight jokes...) to come back. I remember standing in the hall where one could go to fetch water or talk to the person at the desk and wondering if all medical personell were so unhappy, and observing that the doorways to all of the individual rooms were low, square, and all painted slightly different pastel colors. They looked like little frames around the sad picture of whatever was inside, and from the perspective of the desk you could peek into most of them at the same time, like a dollhouse.

I remember thinking that was very Wes Anderson.

I just recently discovered the "stats" thing on blogspot, which tells me how many people i get looking at this here blog--- which is waaay more than i thought--- and what brings them here and what posts are and have been popular. The popular posts, as now can be noted on the right, are peculiar to me. I get some of them that have key words and pictures (the fashion one is only popular because people love mad men clothes), but others I don't understand. My one-line declaration of my awkward life? My discussion of what Beatles music means to me? Odd. Other popular posts according to stats include some that go on and on about my depression-mode. That kind of concerns me and makes me wonder, is that because someone is researching? Identifying? Or... mocking?

The internet is a tricky thing. Anyway, I won't discuss the stats or look at them much anymore, that's kind of like breaking the fourth wall. Still, nice to know someone somewhere is reading along, no matter how tedious or strange. Hi guys :) You know you can say hi from time to time.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Index-To-Be of Katrina's Oft-used Phrases

"Ill-advised."-- My favorite thing to say to people for the duration of my time at LMU, usually in response to someone's story of disgust with someone else. IE "...Can you BELIEVE they did that to me!?" Me: "Mmhmm, ill-advised."
Also, can be interchanged with "Bad call," the common response to a disaster or... just a bad call.

"I scaaared meself."-- Something I picked up as a kid after listening to a Red Skelton Christmas Show in which Red Skelton plays a little boy who waits for Santa to come down the chimney in order to jump him and take all of the presents for himself. As he explains his plan to sneak up on Santa he gets so worked up that he collapses in fright, and when asked what the problem is, he responds "I scaaaared meeeseeellllf!"

"I haaaaate SUNSHINE." My usual response/description of myself when in an aggravated and/or curmudegeonly state. A reference to the witch character in The Sword and the Stone, a film I'm not even particularly fond of.

"Has he dead, Holmes?" My response to myself when I completely massacre whatever it is I'm trying to express. Usually uttered in desperation, this phrase was born while in conversation with my friend about the Sherlock Holmes film.

"Lalalala..." My random insertion into most descriptive action, kind of like saying "etc etc" or "and so on" or "yadda yadda." IE "So I was walking to work and lalala... and then a cat jumped out!" It's my way of filling in a sentence that I deem too boring to actually complete. I was called on this weird habit by new arrivals at LMU, I had no idea that I did that previously.

More to be added as they occur to me.

I'm on the 10-year plan.

In other news, I've pretty much become totally convinced that an important soon-to-be step will be obtaining my masters in film studies, in order to teach. I have a feeling that studying film in that capacity will be tiresome, much like literary analysis (which I enjoy, however I find it to be about 50% bullshit, and though it can produce some very interesting insight it seems as though much of it is crafted not from the text but from thin air), however being able to teach it seems like something that would be very rewarding, and a nice way to supplement and interact with my chosen career. Also, about 75% of my verbal output involves film theory, history, and trivia so I may as well. Interesting, I was always very much opposed to being a teacher. Almost all of the women in my family were teachers at some point or another, and I was always very adamant that all that was simply not for me-- I don't think I ever thought that "teaching" was something outside of educating grade schoolers on the basics. Shortly before my graduation this year I received an email from a former film studies teacher (that I had taken from three or four times), congradulating me and complimenting me on my work in her class and encouraging me to perhaps follow up on some of the work I had started in her classes. This woman had taught on genre, The Western, Noir, Women in Film and Irish Film studies, and it hit me that THAT sort of teaching would not only come very naturally to me, that I would love doing it. To be able to teach college-level kids about something that fascinating (which they also must be at least marginally interested in if they're taking that sort of class) would be such fun. Yes. So that's the sort-of plan. Perhaps one more year of floundering around/making money before then, but I would say that seems the soundest approach.

I went back to LMU this week (before I was struck down by a powerful cold/flu?) and spoke with my old, favorite screenwriting teacher for about an hour. Very nice. In conversation, she mentioned that one of her former students had expressed to her discouragement that it seems to take so long to get anything accomplished in Hollywood, screenwriting-wise. Strange. I realized I am very accepting of that. It would be amazing if I were to suddenly attract agent attention and became some amazing wunderkind story, however I have never had any expectations (see: delusions) about that. In this fantastic documentary about screenwriting, a working screenwriter says that basically it takes 10 years to crack the code (IE to work with any notoriety or regularity). The strange thing is, as easily discouraged as I can be by other things in life, that statement/fact does not scare me, nor do I see it as something that will keep me from trying. I hope that somewhere along the way, say, within the next five years, I might encounter some kind of career boost, just to keep me going, but I do not expect to be the exception. I intend to write no matter what, anyway, and although I hope that at least one of my stories makes it to the big screen before I DIE, I'm not terribly concerned about making it happen ASAP. It doesn't mean I lack ambition, because I intend to work very hard, but it does mean that it's one aspect of life that I see with some clarity and reason. It's more about the writing, the drafts, the perfection, the statement than it is the immediate translation and transition.

Which is good, isn't it?

come on and just a minute more, before you open up your eyes?


So I've been having alot of dreams lately, I suppose mostly because I've been sleeping often and lightly-- I'm sick this week, which translates to "mostly sleep even when you start feeling a little bit better." I don't really know what to do with myself... it's my old problem. I think about medication alot these days, and what people would think if they knew how little I do and how little I feel capable of doing on a regular basis. It's been good to be able to "shrink" myself, as can be read in so many blogposts here, especially recently, but very little seems to change, even when I promise myself it will. I'm not good with the day-to-day thing, I guess I should find some way to trick myself. Sigh. Monotony. Such monotony and such fear of the day-to-day that the ultimate lameness-- I'd rather be dreaming than doing anything else-- has become my reality. I even try to force myself to sleep when I feel like I can't do anything. This is a deep issue. I really need to deal with this garbage.

Oh, but I was talking about dreams. I had a really nice one recently, that reminded me a bit of the weird Zach Braff dream I had years ago (a strange one about domestic bliss, I was his girlfriend/wife and we lived in this all-white apartment and read books and I told him lovingly how much he reminded me of Ray Romano.... but it was an incredibly happy dream, and I loved Zach. Not sure why it had to be Zach and not someone much more attractive, but ah well). This one that I had last week was a long dream, kind of in the vein of my usual lengthy, whacked-out ones, and was probably just a series of uncomfortable things. All I really remember, though, was by the end of the dream I was feeling as I have been lately- crappy, unattractive, very unhappy to be out in public when I'd rather just make a tunnel and call it home. I went into this little, crowded restaurant that was all made up in holiday colors and I was so bummed to know I'd have to wait a long time, feeling very conspicuous and judged by the world in general. To make things worse, there was this person-- not sure who, probably just a symbol of all of the people I can't stand at the moment-- also waiting for a table who happened to know me vaguely, and whose intention was clearly to make me feel as uncomfortable as possible. So I just stood there, feeling utterly crappy and miserable, until I noticed, over the sea of people, in the corner in the worst seat in the whole place (next to the kitchen doors) was this guy in a sweater waving to me and I was suddenly ridiculously happy. I instantly knew I was in some kind of relationship with this guy (I feel like we were married but maybe not), and the relief I felt upon seeing him was pratically un-parelled (dream-wise). Also, he was Steve Carell. Well, not Steve Carell, but one of those things where I felt like he was played by Steve Carell. Or something like that (also, we're talking Dan In Real Life Steve, not Office Steve, though he's precious any way you slice it). Anyway, I waded over to where he was and he hopped up to give me the warmest, all-encompassing hug and suddenly everything was completely fine. We started talking about something fairly mundane, like what to get my mom for mother's day, and I woke up. Which was sad. I was really bummed to have that dream end.

Freaking Steve Carell.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

there's not a word yet for old friends who've just met...

I think Paul Williams was one of the best songwriters ever. Just because he wrote said songs for puppets to sing doesn't make the words and music any less beautiful.

It kinda makes them more beautiful.

One of my favorite lines in the whole world is "there's not a word yet for old friends who've just met."

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"I ain't never really had much fun. I particularly dislike preordained happy occasions. I don't mind Christmas so much, because everyone's involved, as long as they're Christians or lazy atheists, or Muslim but into tinsel. But I've never had a good New Year's Eve, and I don't like birthdays, or any other time when you're meant to be happy. I'm against the prescription of, say, 'Ooh, it's Christmas o'clock. Smile everyone!' For me happiness occurs arbitrarily: a moment of eye contact on a bus, where all at once you fall in love; or a frozen second in a park where it's enough that there are trees in the world."
-Russell Brand
I woke up this morning with 80's hair. It's pretty fabulous, and makes up for the fact that I feel fat and tired (see: long face, droopy lids). All this afternoon I've been writing and musing about film, some of which can be noticed over at Cinephile, and I still have more rolling around in my head. I have too much to say and too much to work out. I love film so. I simply daydream about being able to be a part of it. It's frustrating to wake up to the fact that I am still on the outside.

There is a frickin woman sharing my tiny table here at Coffee Bean. No one has ever had the nerve to do that before-- big tables, yes, or those ones at Barnes and Noble when there's only 2 outlets in the whole place. But no. This woman wanted to sit in the comfy chair across from me. I get it. But I wish she'd take her comfy chair and sit elsewhere. I'm not feeling Christian today for some reason.

My mom after sampling my music taste: "I like Regina Spektor and Sufjan Stevens. I REALLY like Sufjan Stevens, but he is WEIRD."
nah, mom. everyone's wearin' the wings/boyscout uniform thing these days.

Two magazine rejections for Grey Fox today. I have to admit, I don't really understand why. I might be delusional but I think it's a really great story.

The school that I work at is doing Red Ribbon Week, and on Monday they had "the launch" which consisted of all the kids going outside with red balloons and letting them all go at once, resulting in a flurry of beautiful, shiny balloons flooding the sky. Of course, I couldn't help but think it must be bad for the environment somehow, but it was still a very cool statement and it looked magical.
I told my mom about that, too, and she sighed. "I hate that red ribbon stuff." Me: "Really? Why?" Her: "I just do." Me: "Yeah, maybe the kids don't totally get it, but I think it's nice to raise awareness. They all make drug-free pledges." Her: "Yeah... I hate that. Nice in theory, but would you have done that at that age?" Me: "I don't know." Her: "It's like those purity pledges." Me: "Oh, I hate that. So lame." Her: "Yeah. Exactly."

Hahaha.

I finished writing my first mini-episode of a highschool story (my F&G attempt), about a homeschool taking dual credit at the local community college (familiar? why no) and gradually breaking away from her homeschool friends for her new community people. I call it Dual Credit. It's not great yet but perhaps it shall be.

It's what can only be called a Blustery Day. I feel like Piglet from Winnie The Pooh when I drive in my tiny, very lightweight car, as though we could fly away.
I've got to remember to wear scarves on days like today.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

we ain't gotta trade our shoes, and you ain't gotta walk no thousand miles.

"But it's time to exercise these demons. These motherfuckers are doing jumping jacks now!"

I can't help it. I love Eminem.


Aside from being highly self-referential like every other rapper (see: occasionally lame), his style is so impressive to me.

I think this video is also very clever, referencing his own recovery (I don't know much about his real life, but I think the point is he recently went clean), and starting with the ledge only to reveal that it's not about the ledge, it's about breaking out of captivity and flying. For a rap video, that's pretty cool.

Monday, October 25, 2010

but i'm not there, i'm gone.

I think I miss learning. During my lulls at my school job when Lee doesn't need my help, I doodle or write notes to myself on scraps of paper, and today I started working on... an essay. Obviously not a school-level essay but still. I starting writing about why the Alice in Wonderland books are still so popular/a phenomenon, and why I like them, and before I knew it I was breaking to write an outline. I take this as a good sign, that my brain refuses to turn to mush, but still. A bit odd.

I haven't been reading very much lately. I really haven't been doing much of anything aside from work. Sleeping is my main favorite activity, despite the fact that the world is now a little brighter because I have a job. It's cyclical, I keep telling myself. Anyhoo. My point is, I want to read more. I just haven't been in the zone lately. If I can just finish all of the books I've started by Christmas break (hahaha...... NOT IN SCHOOL ANYMORE THERE IS NO CHRISTMAS BREAK), I'll probably feel better. And smarter. So that means reading East of Eden, Running with Scissors, Laughter in the Dark (which I am just a SMIDGE away from finishing but cannot find at the library), American Psycho, Rebecca, Turn of the Screw, Persuasion, and the re-reading of Slaughter-House Five and 1984 (which I am also just a SMIDGE away from ending, dammit). I don't know if this pile is a testament to my ADD or my heaping ambition with no drive to follow up, but I'm going to try not to think too hard on that.

Although... while driving the other day a song from the Scarlett Pimpernel Musical (yeah, they have that) came on shuffle, and I thought, dang. Although this music is really terrible I really loved that book. And I kinda want to read it again. NO, I have to tell myself. NO.

Some friends of mine are going to try tackling Ulysses in January and suggested I join them, which I am also eager to do. I read a chapter of it in my Irish Gothic class, and bizarre as it was I knew I had to read the thing. I bought it at some point in the summer but it's been staring at me from its shelf ever since. Damn huge Irish book. And NOW that I've decided to stick to what I've started before beginning anew, NOTHING is more tempting than this big fat book which I've been told I shouldn't even try to read because I could never understand it without English-Professor guidance. Well. That is a challenge! A CHALLENGE I SAY!!! I WANT TO READ THIS DAMN BOOK.

Clearly, I have commitment issues.

for halloween, i want to be

Saturday, October 23, 2010

one by one by one by one.

Wow, lamest day of doing nothing. I spent literally the whole day picking up random things in my room, watching snippets of whatever was on TV, and sleeping. I actually pulled off some lucid dreams, though, so I guess that was the most exciting part.

I've been a bit discouraged lately because it seems as though I'm not making enough money to get back on track. Also, I am loathe to admit this, but I feel very lonely right now. I guess I always do, and I make it hard on myself when it comes to improving that part of my life. Still, for some reason or other it's become fairly unbearable this week. Whether or not I let myself acknowledge the emptiness, I can always tell when things are particularly bad because I start talking to myself alot, and I go into obsessive mode. My obsessive mode-- clinically obsessive, by the way, which has led me and one of my one-time therapists to wonder if I'm more bipolar than anything else, but I digress-- is outrageous and relentless, kind of like eating a meal that's too big for you. You ever get the idea that you have to finish the whole damn thing? That's what it's like. I'll start in on something that's charmed me or made me curious, and before I know it I have to read/know/understand/have all there is to it, even when I'm bored of it or would prefer to be doing something else. I'm guessing it's something akin to crazy old ladies with their pets, just anything to fill the stupid emotional void that we all have when we have unresolved issues or feel invalidated/unaffirmed.

Anyway. I'm constantly shrinking myself, trying to find new levels of honesty, and alot of this comes through prayer and writing. The good thing is, I think I've figured out what may be my "main" problem. I don't believe that people can work out all of their issues on their own, but I think I'm a particularly relentlessly thoughtful (see: obsessive) person, and that some breakthroughs are possible between me and me. Not that I'll know what to do with them when I crack the code, but cracking the code is at least a starting place.

So yes, the thing I've been thinking about has been occuring to me in parts, starting sometime last year when I realized I've been feeling so long a special kind of separation from people, and that I expected it to go away in my college years, but it only (kind of) got worse. It's not social ineptitude, because I can be very socially capable when I chose to be (not often, I like being by myself, but I can fake it), and generally (and I hope I'm not bragging here) to know me is usually to like me. I'm a very self-deprecating person and that makes people feel comfortable, and I'm intelligent and informed and nonjudgemental enough for most people to enjoy my conversation. So it's not that. It's a sense of bitterness and sadness that I have, sort of. A frustration at the lack of security I ultimately feel and this peculiar thing that I feel is blocking me from living happily.

I think the problems is that I feel like I've been "blocked" for so long that all I can do is think of that rather than move forward and get over that block, but the block itself is all of this disappointment that's just grown into a monster. It started with rejection or something like that, and it's just become this huge thing, and I keep hoping that some event is going to destroy it but it doesn't happen (and he stays, but he leaves the next day, as paul mccartney would say). And it makes me angry. And what is it, really? Strangely (or not), the films In America and Ghost World have helped me zero in on it, and Freaks and Geeks has also contributed to my grasp.

Please-- if you're the type to roll your eyes at this self-exploration please don't read anymore, because it is sort of cliche but that doesn't make it any less true to me, and writing about it (I hope) will ultimately help me.

The thing is, I think, is that... ugh, I hate saying this, but I think it's that my childhood was cut really short. That's hard enough for some kids, but it was extremely difficult for me because of my family dynamics and my own nature, which has always been a bit on the obsessive/over-thoughtful/eccentric side. I was exposed to my parents struggling to make things work/keep us alive when I was pretty young, and that was accompanied by moving a good deal, being exposed to alot of death, depression and mental illness in my family around the time my grandfather died, and then all of the medical problems of my sister and the affect that had on my parents. My dad closes off while still being present in body while my mother is frankly an immature person who saw in me more of a friend than a daughter. While my dad might have been affirming enough for some kids, I was always very wise and sensitive to behavior, and I could always see that my dad complimented without really seeing and gave gifts without realizing what was worth giving (which is strange because my father is sweet and could never be called a cold person, he just... doesn't get with the program). So on the one hand I felt invalidated by my dad and depended on by my mother, and gradually my childhood vanished in smoke. I put it aside consciously, even, accepting my place in my friends' life as a maternal figure.

Because of who I was, I always felt like a pretty rejected girl. And THERE's where you have it-- the sad, completely lame truth is that behind most anti-normal people are people that have tried to fit in and have been rejected. As a homeschooler, you're basically rejected by the world in the first place. Or at least it used to be that way. And then, as I got older, I was further rejected by the homeschool community because I was "bad." Yes. Rejected by the rejects.

Anyway, all this to say: ever since I was eight, I think I've been waiting to finally have that life that I feel like I was supposed to have had. I was supposed to have FUN when I was a kid, and I didn't. I was supposed to be HAPPY when I was a teenager, and I wasn't. It's an unfortunate clash of expectation on my part (and optimism, always disappointment) and rejection by whoever mattered to me at the time. I was supposed to be young and fantastic after we had moved back to Ventura and finally made friends, and that's why it broke my heart so thoroughly when that didn't happen. And then came LMU, which was supposed to be amazing, but I was still so stuck in this mourning phase that I missed out.

It's probably time to accept that I can't be young. I don't know how to be. I've become very cynical because my hopes are always so high (against my better judgment) that I always feel so terribly sad when I feel things don't work out. And that's not from event to event-- it's now morphed into what is my ongoing depression. I think that's the source. I'm too discouraged about what I feel are lost years that I feel generally hopeless about the new ones, and I can no longer summon the energy for new possibilities.

Damn, but I am a headcase. I suppose what I have to do now is just plod, try my best to take things one day at a time rather than scrutinize the big picture.

but that's so exhausting. i'd rather be dreaming than living.

Ode by Arthur O'Shaghnessy

We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamer of dreams,

Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties,
We build up the world's great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire's glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song's measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o'erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world's worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

A breath of our inspiration,
Is the life of each generation.
A wondrous thing of our dreaming,
Unearthly, impossible seeming-
The soldier, the king, and the peasant
Are working together in one,
Till our dream shall become their present,
And their work in the world be done.

They had no vision amazing
Of the goodly house they are raising.
They had no divine foreshowing
Of the land to which they are going:
But on one man's soul it hath broke,
A light that doth not depart
And his look, or a word he hath spoken,
Wrought flame in another man's heart.

And therefore today is thrilling,
With a past day's late fulfilling.
And the multitudes are enlisted
In the faith that their fathers resisted,
And, scorning the dream of tomorrow,
Are bringing to pass, as they may,
In the world, for it's joy or it's sorrow,
The dream that was scorned yesterday.

But we, with our dreaming and singing,
Ceaseless and sorrowless we!
The glory about us clinging
Of the glorious futures we see,
Our souls with high music ringing;
O men! It must ever be
That we dwell, in our dreaming and singing,
A little apart from ye.

For we are afar with the dawning
And the suns that are not yet high,
And out of the infinite morning
Intrepid you hear us cry-

How, spite of your human scorning,
Once more God's future draws nigh,
And already goes forth the warning
That ye of the past must die.

Great hail! we cry to the corners
From the dazzling unknown shore;
Bring us hither your sun and your summers,
And renew our world as of yore;
You shall teach us your song's new numbers,
And things that we dreamt not before;
Yea, in spite of a dreamer who slumbers,
And a singer who sings no more.

I love this poem more and more as time goes by.

Friday, October 22, 2010

and i'll be on the sidelines with my hands tied.

I don't know when Christian companies are going to realize that their movies suck. Separating themselves from Hollywood might be a nice idea, but, um, that's where the movies are made, guys. That's where the talent is. If you're trying to get a message out, the best way is the way that any other filmmaker tries to send a message, through a well-constructed film. I don't know why Christian filmmakers can't wrap their mind around that, or why they completely lack subtlety, why every Christian film I've glimpsed beats you over the head with the "moral" rather than letting the themes speak for themselves. Of course, much poorly conceived literature and film does this, but Christian filmmakers are the worst. They tell you 50000 times what their movie is about, literally, committing the ultimate film-sin. Also, Christian movies aren't cool. Nobody is going to watch them, except for Christians. Lame Christians.

They chose to make these movies for two reasons: conversion tools and moral alternatives to mainstream films. As for the latter, this is the problem with all things mainstream Christian. By offering what they think of as a healthy "counter" they continue to perpetuate this WEIRD counter-culture that attempts to dress up and commercialize Christianity-- selling it, basically, by wrapping it up in a bow that's supposed to inform us that it's just as cool as that other mainstream thing, only Christian. This is achieved on some level, and only subtracts from the overall quality of "art" in the mainstream. If you counter Transformers with Transfigurations or something, in the end, it's just more clutter. I feel the same way about most praise music. It's only a little bit lamer than the mainstream because it's trying so hard to be like the mainstream. Why dress it up? Why market Christianity? We're not meant to market faith, for God's sake! (....haha) Also, so far as the former, using such things as a conversion tool..... if that works, I guess that's cool, and I believe God can use anything, but still. Movies like Fireproof or Left Behind are pretty shallow introductions to a very expansive, powerful concept.

From my perspective, if you want to say something about Christ, morality, or redemption, you must explore those themes through powerful and proper storytelling, just like the best of Hollywood. If that means going indie, then go indie, like so many other storytellers. Mel Gibson, crazy man that he is and it's not like I approve of his life choices etc, did it, and did a fantastic job. He made a movie on his own about Christ, literally, with fine production value and explored the pain of Christ's final hours as a human man, making more of a point about the suffering of man (and Christ's subjecting himself to that, much like Last Temptation of Christ which everyone hates on but which I like quite a bit). Of course, I agree that his choice of subject isn't subtle, but you have to admit that it's no TV-Jesus movie. Otherwise, there are so many solid films with beautiful, uplifting themes that I think reach people in much more powerful ways than those obvious movies ever could. The redemption in Magnolia and Crash and The Royal Tenenbaums, the search for something higher in Blade Runner (and pretty much any sci-fi film)? The spirituality in Signs, The Sixth Sense, The Exorcist? The sanctity of life, explored with logic and without condemnation in Juno (written by an ex-stripper, btw), Knocked Up, and Waitress? The identification of evil in countless (good) films (like No Country for Old Men, which is NOT fatalistic, btw)? The exploration of relationships (what is real? also, a strong relationship between man and wife is meant to mirror God's relationship to the church)? Even films that Christians brand as encouraging the homosexual lifestyle, like Brokeback & A Single Man I think should be viewed to help us view oneanother as real people with real pain. The fact is, unless a certain person is primed to run to Christ, it's not going to happen because they saw a Christian movie, but if we prompt someone to think about morality, mortality, redemption, and most of all, hope, I think that opens the viewer's mind to important questions.

On a side note, I would definitely enjoy the promotion of a healthier, less scary and stereotypical Christian in non-Christian film. In Hollywood film, apparently everyone is agnostic or a scary born-again. I get that "Christians" have persecuted people, but ah, they're persecuted too. I suppose that's one nice thing about television, in shows like House MD etc-- we can discover the religious leanings of characters without them having to verbalize such things the moment we meet them, giving room for more fully rounded character development.

But that's just me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"Screenwriters are ego-maniacs with low self-esteem."

Good lord, I am a freaking genius. Someone really needs to notice that one of these days.

I have so much potential.

I just wish it would materialize in the most material way.

"oh, is your grandpa super cool?"

My new and complete obsession is the short-lived TV show by the now can-do-no-wrong writer/producer/director Judd Apatow. Despite finding his movies hit and miss (Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin, Sarah Marshall I like. Superbad I do not) and admittedly vulgar (but usually in a funny way), I have to admit the guy is kind of a genius. He must have grown up a geek, so far as I can tell, because his work (the best of it, anyway) usually has a warm-heartedness to it, a piece that reflects the pleasant side of young and stupid kids. Anyway. I'm kind of fond of him. Freaks and Geeks is his masterpiece, and it's a absolute crying shame that it lasted for only a single season while overdramatic or lazy shows like Dawson's Creek and One Tree Hill and all that other teen crap flourished on the WB & UPN and now the CW. Blows my little mind.

This show has so much subtlety, and takes the approach of Mad Men-- a slow burn, a long set-up. It gives us time to get to know the kids. And their families. And their school administrators, even. It's funny and plays off stereotypes, sure, but it examines those stereotypes and the typical story of girl-comes-of-age-and-encounters-what-might-be-bad-influences. It's also set in 1980 which lends it that Wonder Years sort of feel, eliminating the obnoxiousness and technology of modern settings and focusing on the value of the classic stories and dilemmas that don't age.

The show focuses on Lindsey, who has semi-recently been witness to her grandmother's death. I think she's a junior in HS. She's a supersmart student and has always belonged to that type of group, but upon starting her new year she falls into the burn-out group, the "freaks" as she searches for something new. The other part of the show is about her younger brother, part of the "geeks," in his own social universe, trying to figure things out and be cool. Without being overdramatic in the slightest, the show addresses Lindsey's situation in her new group-- what might appear to be the usual story of girl-goes-kinda-bad becomes much more complex when you're a part of that story. Is it really that Lindsey's going bad? The freaks are likable. Their effect on her is both good and bad, actually. She also pauses to mourn the loss of her previous social clique, as well as admits that her new friends do not challenge her. She has a relationship with one of them, Nick, but it's not satisfying because he's too clingy and smokes too much pot. I loved their relationship, because it's clear that Lindsay cares about him, but it's not as though she's in love with him, and their evolution is so believable. None of the episodes are wrapped up tidily, and much of the time the characters are disgruntled (and yet not annoying!). Anyway. I think I'm going to write about it some more in detail on the other blog, but I felt like mentioning it because it's been very inspiring. The creators and writers really stepped out of the box for F&G, and it's a very natural, wonderful story. I'm a bit inspired by it at the moment, and want to drop everything I'm doing in order to write something truthfully teenagery. Oh well. I suppose I'll leave that to Apatow.

Also, freakin' Jason Segel was so freakin' cute back then. Argh, so precious.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

let's shrug off minor incidents, make us both feel proud.

This week, Californians have been in a state of bewilderment. The skies have taken to bizarre, unprecedented behavior, and the state citizens just don't know what to make of it all. In Ventura county... it has been raining. Okay, more than rain. There has been LIGHTNING.

I have to admit that I've been away from stormy weather for so many years that I've forgotten what it feels like to be in such a thing. Rain in Socal is usually light and sporadic, so when it comes in great loads it's discombobulating. I like it a great deal in Ventura, I hated it in LA because that town is NOT built for rain. The irrigation is horrible, LMU always turns into a swamp at the first sign of drizzle (that's how I lost my shoes and nearly got fined returning a soaking wet camera case. that was also the day I had to sit through my film class, in the coldest room on campus, with my clothes soaked through. it was an amusing day, actually, but just a bit frustrating). Anyway, when it really rains in Ventura it's delicious, though always unexpected, and one can see the annoyed effect it has on the people. They're so confused. THEN, yesterday, came a burst of lightning and thunder that shook my house to it's core. Windows rattling and all that. I sat there, thinking there was something I was probably supposed to do, when I heard Melinda, my landlady, in the other room telling one of her pupils (she tutors at the house sometimes) that he should unplug his computer when it thunders. Hahaha. It reminded me of my father's psychotic, frantic unplugging of everything in Texas at the slightest sound of rain. Begrudgingly, I unplugged my laptop, though that turned out to be the last of the lightning for the day.

TODAY however has been interesting-- I worked all day to the tune of vague water pitter-patter (in my back room at my DESK, heck yes), then traversed over here to Coffee Bean. This particular building is somewhat circular, with large windows all the way around. About the time I got here, a lightning storm-- a bona-fide one-- began outside, much to the appreciation of everyone in here. We had pretty much the ideal view of most of the sky, the scattered bolts were all within our line of sight. And there were so many. And it got darker and darker and more and more crackles struck and echoed. The foundations shook, and I have to confess, I actually did feel a little unsettled. I'm too Californian now. Anyway, this went on for about 15 minutes, with the lightning getting closer and closer and louder and louder until BOOM. All of the power in Coffee Bean went out. That's never happened before! To me! In a public place! Well, other than at VC that ONE time, but even then it was ONE lightning strike and dead power for 20 seconds. It took them about 10 minutes here to get the power back. While they were messing with that, what began to fall from the sky? HAIL, children! Real-life tiny hail! I haven't seen hail in... forever. And then it poured rain, glorious rain. By now everyone in here was paying rapt attention to nature's ways, abandoning our useless computers and decaf lattes and gazing at the conflict in the sky. The place was almost completely dark, the usually overpowering lame coffee house music was absent, and the chattery buzz of the coffee bar was gone. Just the sound of water pounding on the roof mixed with the "oohs" and "aahs" of we the spectators. It was a moment of communal awe.

Then, of course, the power returned. The music blared on. Everyone bent back over their projects. If this had been some kind of meeting we would have already forgotten one another's names. I kind of feel like a member of the Breakfast Club come that Monday.

Nature: 1. People: 1 1/2.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oscar Levant.

For some reason, today I am the highest form of curmudgeon.

I hate men today. For both personal and objective reasons. And women. I hate what women do to themselves.

Also, I hate children. While occasionally amusing, today all I can think when I hear them speak is that they're just miniatures trying so hard to sound like grown-ups. I hate that people are imitative and that children don't know anything except what they're fed by their parents and imitate from their peers (who are only demonstrating their attempts to sound like THEIR parents), resulting in a bunch of fractured, half-baked, and embarrassed little people, the smaller and less educated version of the adults in their lives.

I don't feel like being in the world today. I don't feel like participating.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Today, after I get home from both of my jobs (double-up day) I'm going to tidy up my room, make myself some coffee, clean up my record player and listen to All Things Must Pass on vinyl. I can't think of a better way to spend a Friday night.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

in defense of television

It's time to take a moral stand; I'm not going to watch Glee anymore. During the show's first season I never had time to try it, and once it became a huge hit my disinterest in it grew to a bit of disdain. It seemed loud and annoying, like That 70's Show. Over this summer I was finally so bored that I decided to give it a go and watched the entire season. It started off strong with a semi plot that propelled it forward a bit, similar to cheesy movies like Sister Act 2, all about the competition and will they win and all that. The characters were weak, but it was OK. But then the show began to drag, there were so many things wrong with it, and the flaws became incredibly apparent as the "plots" dragged out. It's an immensely self-satisfied show, and there's very little that's actually satisfying about it. I do like some of the musical performances still, but the writing and character development is some of the worst I've ever noticed. There's this odd addiction I have to it, though. It's become a show I hate (especially this season) but I can't seem to help tuning it at some point or other to see what's going on. I'm always disappointed. Huge waste of time, I don't want to watch it anymore.

BUT. One element I have to admit that I adore is the not even fully developed relationship of the "antagonist" Sue, someone who appears to hate everyone including God, and her older sister. Her older sister is downs (retarded) and living in a home, and Sue goes to see her there. Even the short scenes between the two of them are incredibly emotional to me as of late, and I think about them often. I'm glad that they made that a part of the show, even though I do see that as a part of their half-baked plan to make their collection of characters as diverse and unique as possible. It also made me realize how touchy that subject has become for me, it seems these days that any time my sister comes to mind I want to cry. When I think about what's to come or all of the things that have already happened with her and that aspect of my life, I want to cry. It's strange that one can so rarely comprehend all of the ways that their life can be impacted by a person or incident. When people die we see as far back as we can into our lives with that person, and we are sad because they will not be in our future as they were before, but we can't know what else their absence is going to mean. The same idea applies to people moving, traveling, or anything significant at all, which is just the point-- we can never know the significance of any one thing. We are too human for that, we have no gauge. Though I guess we get better at it.


Sue's anti-religion speech + the most recent scene to make me burst into some pretty serious tears . Still not even quite sure why.


if i have to go

Few celebrities make me as happy as the merest hint of Tom Waits does.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Oh Sir Frankie Crisp, you know what I mean.

I'm starting to realize more and more how difficult it is to be a good person. When you're young, things are of course simple because children think simply, right and wrong is a good deal easier to gauge, and usually when it comes to very serious things a child wouldn't even dream of doing something really truly bad (there are cases, of course, like those two British boys who killed that toddler-- don't look it up, it'll only depress and frighten you-- but I speak generally). Plus, in my case I think I was just a *good* kid. Overly cautious sometimes, even. Good-hearted and mature. Now I have more choices, more opportunities to fail at being good and kind and generous, outwardly and inwardly. I realize often that I choose to dwell on bad or negative things these days, or I just assume that I'm generally good because I think that I can tell the difference. I suppose it's apathy? There's a better word for it, and I use it all of the time, but I can't think of it right now. Anyway, I think my point is that it takes much more effort to be a real person than I used to think. It takes an effort to take care of oneself and to go further in life than just your front door. It takes effort to be kind, not just to people you care about but to people you don't understand. Giving people what they need from you (really need, not want) is a difficult thing. I've always liked to think that I'm a giving person, with my time and energy and money (when I have it) and love, but maybe I'm not so much.

Maybe I just need to keep up with the constant CHANGE, and never assume that I'm done growing up, that things are settled. Things are never settled. You have to keep rolling. I have to keep rolling, and finding new ways to be kind and loving while maintaining what I already have. I have to resist laziness in every form-- not easy for a depressed personality, as I've discovered over the past four years, because laziness can be the result of emotional exhaustion and stagnation, however I really must try all the harder. In the words of George Harrison, let it roll.

I'm in Coffee Bean right now, after a very productive day, and I'm trying to commit to writing but all I seem to FEEL like writing is this. Bah. Must get organized.