Mom: Blowing people in the soup kitchen?
Mom: That's a little harsh, even for shutitdown.
shutitdown: taking one for the anecdote
For example, my friend the other Lina was great blog material for a while. It was great having a foil--a blond, Swedish version of myself. But after I hired male strippers for Lina's college graduation party, she finally (was) revolted. She accused me of deliberately posting unattractive pictures of her, for one. And perhaps more shockingly, she suggested that one of the main reasons I had hired strippers for her party was for blog material. This stung, partially because it was probably true. But the valuable lesson I learned from this incident is that it's better not to tell your friends that you have a blog so you can post as many unflattering pictures of them as you want and tell all the weird stories about their fucked up sexual experiences and they will never get mad at you.
My mother has also gotten irritated with me because of my blog. She doesn't like how I portray her as a caricature of herself. I tried pointing out that I don't like how she behaves like a caricature of herself, but to no avail. She decided that she didn't like it when I posted little vignettes about her shrieking "big black cock" without mentioning once how she cooked for the local soup kitchen. Or if I do write about how she works for the local soup kitchen, but imply that she blows everyone that comes in, that bothers her too. There's no winning with some people.
One of my friends who has one of those really personal type blogs, like, she talks about her feelings and every time she is within spitting distance of a penis, told me that she feels really weird reading my blog because it's so personal. I don't get this. I think it's really hard to read my blog because it's so fucking boring--I never post about anything really interesting and personal because I'm too scared about the fallout. I don't want my dad to think I'm a slut and I don't want my mom to bitch at me about calling her a slut, so there's not a lot left to say, is there?
I can't write about any of my friends that know about my blog, which eliminates most of them. And I've gotten so paranoid that I don't write about the ones that don't know about it, because I'm certain they will find out and whine. And I can't write about my job, because I work at a company with a "blogging policy." And I don't like writing about how badly my dating life is going, because my ex-boyfriend that's stalking me (still) reads it and I don't want him to think that our relationship failure was like, my fault or something. And I don't write about my past, because I'm scared that it will come back to haunt me. And I don't want to write about how precisely I'm completely wasting my life, except in the vaguest terms, because it makes me feel like a complete asshole. Mainly because I'm entering middle age and living my life like a 19-year-old with a trust fund. I'm basically a fat, aged version of an American Apparel ad campaign and I have no idea how it happened.
I've been writing about music all over the place lately and am in the process of writing a bunch of articles right now, including one about the Egyptian Lover. I'm really excited about this one because he's so fat and amazing. Writing articles is a lot easier than editing my novel, which is basically just like flossing. I'm sure in the long run it's worthwhile but it just seems really tedious and bloody whenever I try it. I really hate editing which is why I like blogging. This is basically because I'm a lazy, slovenly person at heart. I'd signed up to take a food journalism class because my other big hobby lately, other than music writing, has been gaining weight. Over the last two days I've made bahn mi every two hours or so because I got an entire loaf of bread and didn't want it to go stale. Sigh.
All I want to do with my life is travel around Asia and get fatter and fatter. But what am I supposed to do when the money runs out? Haven't figured that one out, so am staying put for the summer, I guess. I guess I can handle one summer here if I at least get to go to Malaysia and eat a boatload of laksa at some point in the middle.
In other news, I moved out of my last flat. So I am on my fourth flat in six months. This time, I'm living with my favorite person. Me. I will never live with another human being as long as I live. Granted, moving in with a failed child star and a failed model was destined to, well, fail, but it was seriously demoralizing. I guess I'll have to give a whole post over to the two of them, but I'm still too exhausted by the ordeal. At least I'm alone again.
...read the rest at Italo Hammers: 10 Bad-Boy Gems of Italian Disco on Splice Today.
Lina, do you ever read a piece of writing and feel that your soul has become just a little bit emptier? It's exactly that feeling that makes your writing so unique.
For this, she is the shutitdown commenter of note. Thanks, Brandy, you always brighten up my day.
When faced with two unpleasant things--say, going to the gym or writing--it seems likely that I will choose the path of laziest resistance. I'm going to end up fatter and and flabbier, but I might just write something other then self-indulgent blog posts. Like self-indulgent novels or self-indulgent articles or self-indulgent resignation letters.
For those of you faithful shutitdown readers (are there any of you left??), it's a re-write of a blog post from years ago. I knew I'd be able to mine this material someday. Read it here.
A lot of people I know that didn't go to college like to point out incorrect uses of "literally" and "ironic." They like to say that Alanis Morrisette's song wasn't actually about irony. Rain on your wedding day, they say, is just bad luck. This did not occur to these people on their own, most of them heard it on talk radio during morning show drive time. Morning show hosts are exactly the sort of people that love to talk about this sort of thing. I like belittling morning show hosts because they are more successful than me. I like writing things on my blog about how dumb other people are because it makes me feel smart. Literally.
Right now, I'm working on my teen novel and decided that I couldn't really get in the mood unless I listened to all of the dumb albums I was listening to when I was 17, so I spent the better part of the last hour looking for my ex-boyfriend's record "Hell Bent for Rehab" and Let Them Eat Jellybeans, an album that would be described as seminal by some, and semenal by others. Other things I've decided I need to listen to before I can even begin considering writing another word: Pixies - Doolittle, Surfer Rosa and Bossanova, Fang - Landshark and Where the Wild Things Are, Skinny Puppy - Rabies, Bad Religion - Suffer, Jane's Addiction, GG Allin - Hated, TSOL - Code Blue, and sad to say it, Rancid - Let's Go. What am I forgetting, guys?
The writing class is a bizarre place. The writing class goads people into writing if only by giving them material in the form of absolutely ridiculous classmates. Thus far, I've held myself back from blogging about these things, because I'm always too much of a pansy to write about current events in my life for fear of discovery. I have a paranoid suspicion that everyone I know secretly reads my blog, despite 99% of the humans I interact with having no idea that it even exists. This is much like the problem I developed around the age of thirteen, when I was convinced that this boy that I had a crush on could see me all of the time, no matter where I was or what I was doing. This served to make bathtime especially uncomfortable, but got me to stop picking my nose.
In college, one of my classmates in a writing class was so unbelievably uncomfortable-making that words defied me at the time to describe her here. The class was young adult novel writing, and we were all writing very thinly-veiled books about ourselves. Hers, however, was painful in its obviousness, as it was about a girl of mixed race with a learning disorder, same as the author, as she had been proud to explain to the class on her first day. She was one of those people who you could just tell would spend way too much time in the gym locker room naked. Like, fixing her makeup and hair before she had gotten dressed and not bothering to cover herself with a towel because we're all women here, right? But at the same, you could just tell that she was secretly hoping someone would say something to her so that she could be indignant about how badly she was being treated. Her writing was sort of like that too.
The quality of the prose I'm willing to write off to the learning disability, but the content was sort of jaw-dropping in its narcissism. The main character was a younger version of my classmate in all aspects, except better looking. "Ayana was not fat, nor was she thin. She was just right." Ayana's creator, however, was sort of a fatty, but you could tell it was the sort of thing that she fixedly would refuse to admit because she was "just right." This is, let me emphasize, completely different than the I've-got-a-few-extra-pounds-but-go-fuck-yourself attitude that I myself sometimes adopt and which I believe is completely acceptable. This sort of personality type relies on stating the world is one way, a way that they are really good looking and never at fault, when the rest of us can so clearly see that the world is not that way. Then they sit around and wait for one of us to finally say something, to finally get to the point where we just cannot go on listening to how the earth or flat or how the sky is red and to point out how the world really is, so that they can use it as more proof of how horrible people treat them.
The character in her tales, Ayana, suffered persecution at the hands of her un-understanding classmates, a martyr for mixed race children with learning disabilities everywhere. And that's why I really shouldn't be blogging about was absolute drivel this girl was forcing me to read, because it's sort of horrible to be abusing this poor, self-satisfied girl who probably has been given a lot of grief in her life for being different and so obviously proud of that fact. Were her character fat, I think, I could have forgiven a lot more.
My current class has one of the same type in it. He's writing a book about his struggle with bipolar disorder, which if I'm being honest, is exactly the sort of book I like to read. Of course he's managed to take all of the fun out of it, and made what should be an interesting and terrifying life story completely uninteresting. He's a huge, angry looking man, who cutely refers to himself, and all sufferers of the disorder, as "polar bears." Last week he came into class and, having decided that writing a novel was too hard--keep in mind that this is a class entitled "Finishing Your Novel"--that he would write an instructional manual instead, based on a pamphlet that he had picked up at a doctor's office that he kindly provided us with. As the only person in the class capable of either giving or receiving constructive criticism, I questioned the purpose of re-writing a pamphlet but including no new content. The information is already out there, I said, everyone already knows how to find it. What they don't know is your story, and that's probably more interesting for everyone to read. The polar bear nearly blew a gasket and, shaking the binder he had so neatly organized and numbered over the past few weeks, shrieked like a petulant child "But I've worked so hard on this!"
A week later, he came back with a personal essay that he was going to include in his polar bear manual. The personal essay was interesting, in the way that people writing about how shitty their lives are is always interesting, at least, that's what I bank on here, but the overall tone was so irritating that for once, I was actually forced into silence. The point of his essay was that he was a victim of this disorder, and that most everything he did and does should be excused for it. This is exactly the sort of thing that were he writing "fiction" like the rest of us, one of us would finally raise our hands and say "Is it intentional that your character is coming off as a selfish, self-absorbed fucktard? Because, like, if that's intentional, you've done a really great job."
However irritating I find this guy and his subsequent angry comments on my work--he clearly has not forgiven me yet--I can't help but hear that high-pitched screech "But I've worked so hard on this!" as I'm absorbed in my work. I've finished the first draft of my novel and am now in the tedious process of re-writing it, trying to force it into some semblance of order and narrative. There are things in it that I know don't work, but I'd rather try and find a way to write around them rather than just scrap them completely. My re-write has become about just adding more and more, and taking nothing away. I can't cut that paragraph or scene, I've worked too hard on it, my inner polar bear rages. So now I'm trying to learn to let go, both in my book and my life.
"Tonight Lina and I were talking about the old, old days when girls weren't taught to read, and she said, 'I'd die if I couldn't read! Reading's the best thing there is! If there weren't any books in the world I'd write a thousand pages!'"
--Garrison Keillor in a review of 'Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy' by Eric G Wilson .
This got a chuckle out of me--just substitute the word blog for book and we've got a winner. If I updated more often would you visit more?
Things I would like to do:
--Write one more mediocre YA novel and then write a memoir combining all of the best bits of Girl Interrupted, Wasted, Prozac Nation, The Basketball Diaries and Sellevision. Luckily, I have most disorders and ailments on lockdown and a career in advertising. If only I came across a vicious dog, I could work in a little Autobiography of a Face as well
--Somehow make a career out of writing pseudo-legal documents, and/or wiki entries (see Dustin Diamond)
--Do yoga and not be embarrassed about it
--Write a book like David Sedaris where I wrote a dozen witty anecdotes that gently poke fun at myself, and makes my family look foolish
--Go somewhere, South America or Southeast Asia and loaf. Like Larry Darrell
--Write a sex and dating column for someone. Anyone
--Get a dachshund named Weenie
--Have a mock court or debate team with my friends where we argue important points about issues such as the economies of facial stubble and ringpiece transplant surgery
--Learn how to digital DJ. Take the nu-disco movement by storm
--Be a better person
From the American gal's fear of foreskin to the Swedish superiority complex and the Englishman's love affair with alcoholism, Lina explains why she's left every accented man in her past, leaving us to wonder why she's seeking even more of them. Did she actually gain anything from the relationships? We don't know, as she comes across as having a heavy case of Battered Woman Syndrome that leads her through one bad relationship to another. That's not the type of writing with an ultimate positive or enlightening message I like to see in my reading material.
I heard some of these McSweeny's boys give a little talk a few months ago. I meant to write about it then, but I was too annoyed. It involved some sort of slide show or video, but was primarily a public navel-gazing session. Seriously, whimsy sucks. I don't want to hear a little story about chasing Yetis, or things you can do with the horns of a unicorn, or droll little anecdotes about the craft of writing, and the ways that one can possibly butcher all of the above.
It was like a prep school circle jerk, masturbatory frippery. A group of young men so convinced of their own intellectual superiority that they committed the worst sin imaginable--they weren't funny. Not even a little. And why are they all boys? Aren't there trust fund possessing girls out there who were made fun of in high school, that want to make snide quips that no one will understand? Honestly, I hate writers. I really do.
My essay, 'Raising the Flags of Europe' is in this month's Playgirl magazine.
Go check it out and see how I've turned myself from a girl with a website into a girl with a website and an article in Playgirl.
My grandmother would be so proud.
So far, my poor, innocent 21-year-old cousin has been the only person I know willing to risk the shame of buying a copy. For this, I commend her.
Remember people, you are just buying it for the articles.
I found some posts that I had forgotten about, but that still amuse me to no end.
Additionally, I've realized that in spite of all of my self-hatred and cable TV, I'm becoming a better writer. At least, better than I was four years ago. Maybe those 9 years of college did make a difference, after all.
In the news lately, there have been a number of articles about young writers who have duped the public in some way. JT Leroy is one, James Frey is another. The literary fraud angle is interesting, certainly. Are memoirs held to the same standard as news? Is one allowed to play with the truth when writing about herself? Am I committing a crime when I paraphrase my mother? (If so, cuff me because boy, am I guilty!)
Intriguing questions, especially for a blogger such as myself.
In light of these articles, I've been spending more time thinking about young authors as well. Yesterday, my friend Pam and I were talking about the Debbie Gibson song "Foolish Beat." She wrote, produced and sang it at the age of 15, and it was a #1 hit. Pam remembers listening to the song when she was 8 and thinking she was already a failure because Debbie Gibson had started her songwriting career at the age of 5. I can relate, because every time I see a book by someone who is 22, I die a little bit.
And although I know that if I had to pick a career to survive off of, I'd still have a better chance with stripping than with writing, I take solace in the fact that I'm getting (slightly) better. Maybe by the time I'm 70 my blog will be really good.
Of course I've already told my friends about the highlights of the piece. One of them, specifically, caught my friend Iris' eye. "You said he had a small penis?" she gasped, referring to an ex-boyfriend of mine. I could hear the wheels turning, oiled by large quantities of gin.
Then, today, I see this. The Large and Small of It, a short piece by Iris. It's moments like these that make me feel reassured in the fact that there are kindred souls in the world.
I had to get my hands on a copy of this magazine, though, before I could respond to the email. I wanted to make sure that my story queries about subjects ranging from armpit sex to anal bleaching were both tasteful and appropriate. So, as my father and I got into our new Chevy Malibu (a rental) and he innocently asked if I needed anything for the two-and-a-half hour drive to the Jersey shore, I quickly blurted out, "A copy of Playgirl."
This led to us stopping at nearly every rest stop on the turnpike, searching for this particular compendium of tributes to the phallus. "Excuse me," I would say brightly, as my father lurked in the doorways, consumed with shame, "Do you carry Playgirl?"
After the first few episodes of this, my father decided that he would rather wait in the car. The last time, I skulked back to the car muttering, "By the way they reacted you would have thought I had asked to fuck their children," and it was then that we decided that perhaps there were no Playgirls to be had that night. Apparently, New Jersians didn't hold the male figure in very high regard.
Today though, my mother gamely suggested that we try the XXX store out on Route 9, that she had been eyeing for a while. My father declined to join us, so together, my mother and I set off in search for the one magazine that published tasteful pictures of rock-hard erections.
We approached the cement bunker that housed the XXX shop, and with a snicker, walked in. I spent the first few minutes inside not searching for magazines, but rather, trying to get my mother to touch the lifelike "Spanky Butt" that came with its own paddle. "Touch it," I cried, camera ready to capture the moment.
"Oh I couldn't," she said demurely, "I'm not wearing makeup today." Her concern was clearly not in touching the Spanky Butt, but in how it would look when it inevitably appeared on this very site.
Before long, my fun was ruined by the clerk, who gruffly told me that no pictures were allowed. The clerk had blond hair, with straight bangs across the forehead. The clerk had clearly been born male, and was now in the midst of some sort of womanly transformation process. However, this was easily the laziest transsexual I had ever encountered. Most drag queens put bio-women to shame with their elaborate preening, sequins and makeup. This clerk though, seemed loath to do much beyond the dutch boy haircut, and a quick, uneven shave. He wore a baggy t-shirt that hid what could have been either small, saggy breasts or the lumpy memories of pectoral muscles. The denim cutoffs were short, so short that this clearly wasn't a man just having a bad hair day. I quickly asked about the Playgirl and the clerk shook his head.
"Only Playboy," he said. We scuttled out, and sat in the car, mouths open, looking at one another.
"It was like Pat," my mother said, a modicum of wonder creeping into her voice, as she referenced that ambiguous SNL creature. We finally ended up at a newsstand, somewhere in New Jersey that had a large amount of hardcore pornography. Because my mother appeared to be enjoying leafing through it so much, I forced her to ask the clerk. She put down her copy of "Huge Butts" and approached the counter. Finally, it seemed, I would have my very own copy of Playgirl.
When we got it home, my grandmother looked at us disapprovingly. She picked up the magazine and said, "Well let's see what all the fuss is about." She began leafing through it, and gasping, she held up a picture of a reclining man with a large erection. "Look at this," she cried, horrified.
I did, and innocently asked, "Oh, haven't you seen one of those before?" I had a pretty good idea of the answer, based on the existence of her four tiresome children. She glared at me, and continued to gape, before finally retiring to the couch, Playgirl in hand.
"Rousseau in the course of his Confessions narrates incidents that profoundly shocked the sensibility of mankind. By describing them so frankly he falsified his values and so gave them in his book a greater importance than they had in his life. They were events among a multitude of others, virtuous or at least neutral, that he omitted because they were too ordinary to seem worth recording. There is a sort of man who pays no attention to his good actions, but is tormented by his bad ones.This is the type that most often writes about himself. He leaves out his redeeming qualities, and so appears only weak, unprincipled, and vicious."
--W. Somerset Maugham
My mother has a certain whine that one expects only to hear out of the mouth of a teenage girl--the sort of girl that would end all conversations with the word 'whatever.' She uses this whine only rarely, but when she does, it is usually accompanied by a slight shake of her clenched fist or a stamp of her dainty hoof. "Lina," she cries, regretting whatever it was that she just said, "Don't put that on your web page."
"Oh Mother," I sigh, "I'm a journalist. I'm obligated to tell the truth," I say, sniggering behind my hand.
"But," she squeals, "you only post when I say something offensive. You don't mention all of the nice things that I do."
My thoughts are that since I mention that she's my mother, the clear implication is that she gave birth to me, which was a pretty nice thing to do. This, despite the fact that she continues to complain about the birthing process twenty-six years after it culminated in my glorious entrance into this universe.
And perhaps she's right. It is possible that I don't repeat every single thing my mother says to me because frankly, most of her popular topics don't appear to be as interesting to the general public as when she talks about anal sex.
It hasn't occurred to her that the easiest way to get me to stop posting every time she says pudendum is for her to stop saying pudendum--at least in the presence of her daughter. This however, is a pleasure that she cannot forsake. She appears to receive no greater joy than to say naughty things in front of an ever younger audience.
Just a few weeks ago, she was holding Holly and Rene's baby. He was only weeks old, and she was cooing softly to him while Holly and I talked about the issues of the day. "Just like the BBC!" I exclaimed.
Holly innocently asked,"What does BBC stand for anyway?"
"Big black cock!" my mother crowed, overjoyed. She cuddled the baby closer, satisfied with both her nurturing and acronym-deducing abilities.
She's not the only one that has had her values falisified on shutitdown, though.
"Your page isn't real," my ex-boyfriend used to claim spitefully, "That's not what you are really like."
I tried to explain that the main difference was that on my webpage I was clothed, whereas in real life I was occasionally disrobed, and therefore he should count himself lucky. He didn't see it that way however. He was enraged by my apparent glibness about the problems that he felt were serious, the jokes about gangbangs (which he also thought were serious). He didn't like the fact that I didn't mention my relationship with him until our break up.
I thought perhaps, in the face of these complaints, that he would prefer that I write about him, so finally one day, a year into our relationship, I offered to include him here. "I want to read the posts first, and I don't want you to mention what country I am from. And don't imply that I'm a homo." These were just a few of the rules that he initally set down, and in the face of this, I decided that he wasn't very good material anymore, and never wrote about him.
As a side note, it was me repeatedly using the term "big black cock" in his native tongue that led to one of our most embarrassing (and public) fights. Fran can verify both the embarrassment and the publicness. Like mother, like daughter, I suppose.
Apparently this fellow didn't want to get painted by my writer's brush, one which reduced him to a caricature with little more than a limp wrist and a questionable nationality. And although my mother complains, I know that she enjoys the fact that she's a popular, cartoonish character. It's hard to be honest on a web page, and it's even harder to be interesting. It's too easy to fall into the trap of detailing one's food consumption and cd-buying habits. Luckily, my family keeps me in enough material to avoid writing about anything (or anyone) too mundane. Even more fortuitously, most of them are weak, unprincipled, and vicious, so I'm not often forced to exaggerate.
And perhaps he's right. Due to the fact that I signed about 38 non-disclosure agreements, I've chosen to not write about my work life. And since I'm wagering no one wants to hear about how he looks just like Christopher Robin, I'm left with a serious dearth of potential topics.
And really, what it comes down to, is that I hate writing. I once confessed this to my mother (a writer), and she said, "Oh honey, all real writers hate it." After reading a number of biographies and interviews, it turns out that in this case, like so many others, she was lying. Most writers don't appear to hate writing. Many of them seem to enjoy it. They make special rooms dedicated to doing it much like S&M aficionados, and they they spend time each day doing it and reveling in it. Whereas I sit around watching Friends, and dreading the time that I force myself to sit in front of the keyboard, pecking away about things that no one cares about, namely myself.
And I haven't quite figured out why I do it. I decided recently that I would actually submit something I wrote to someone that determines the worth of such things, i.e. an editor. I decided that it was high time I was rejected creatively as well as sexually. What would be only be better than this, was if I could meet an editor who could reject me sexually and creatively at the same time.
"I'm sorry, but your breasts sag and your work is crap," he might growl while ignoring me in favor of a vodka tonic. This fantasy of mine, which grows much more intense over time, is similar to one once expressed by my pal Iris.
"My ideal man would copyedit my love notes and send them back to me," she sighed wistfully once, over dinner. Just thinking about her round cursive hand, nearly eclipsed by his marks correcting her grammatical and semantic errors makes her shudder with delight.
Perhaps overhearing this conversation, my latest fling replied to a pages-long essay I sent him by saying merely, "It's an infidel, not a infidel, Lina." I've since suggested that although this form of foreplay may suffice with Iris, it's not the quickest route into my pants. I guess I should be grateful though, for any minor insult thrown my way which I can use as "material" on my website or in my latest craigslist post about how mean boys are.