Friday, October 30, 2009

"It's Unlikely the World Will Ever Again Come Across Musicianship Like Sophie B. Hawkins's"

When you guys were young whippersnappers, did you ever find yourself at the Walden Books poring over the latest issues of Creem, Q, or Rolling Stone? I know I did. And while this experience hardly substituted for the more authentic virtues real relationships with other people might have fostered, it still introduced me to a writing genre that sadly seems to have gone the way of The Lemonheads, and for which I still feel just a twinge of nostalgia: Drop Cap Journalism.

In Drop Cap Journalism (DCJ), it's a rule that every article has to immediately drop the reader into the action with the great alternative pop stars of the 90's via the effective method of the decorative drop cap. And almost every article seemed to start the same stupid way.

Michael Stipe simply will not eat off a small spoon.


It should come as no surprise that Liz Phair wants to begin our interview with a discussion of blowjobs.

DCJ articles almost always featured evocative (kind of) and artsy (sort of) photography, sometimes with said decorative drop cap superimposed over it. If you got really lucky, the article would have the drop cap, the artsy photo and a lot of hyperbole about someone who at the time seemed timeless, and yet.

On this rainy night on the road in Ottawa, the world literally stops for Adrian Belew. (photo caption: "Belew boards Ottawa bus.")

And yet! And don't even get me started on Sassy. Don't even get me started.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Possibly the Nerdiest Thing About Me

I never learned the "30 days has September..." mnemonic as a kid. In my high school German class, we were taught it freshman year as something cool we could rattle off and feel like we spoke German. Thus, the only way I can remember if a month has 30 or 31 days (like say, when it's two in the morning and I'm mapping out my homework to-do list for the week), is to say it in German to myself. Like Dwight Schrute. I will now do it for you, and please German grammaticians (and I know there's a lot of you), don't judge the spelling.

Dreissig tage hat September, April, Juni und November. Alle die noch ubrig blieben haben ein un dreissig ausser Februar.

I probably have to do this, on average, like three or four times a month.Pretty useful! Not nearly as useful as knowing Spanish, for instance, but what can you do?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Enumerated Reasons The Relationship Was a Bad Idea: A Reflection in Passive Voice

1. Books were purchased and followed that advocated food combining.
2. Answering machine messages inadvertantly disclosed too much while showers were taken.
3.Vanilla air fresheners were placed in every room.
4.The sentence was uttered, "She was the only one who understood my cats."
5.Drugs were bought while people waited unwittingly in the car.
6.The word 'fag' was used in common parlance.
7.Cure albums were heard playing at full volume from your condo after it was disclosed that things were moving too fast.
8.Front doors were answered drunkenly on a weeknight.
9.The unwillingness to eat vegetables was bragged about.
10."Mistakes were made."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Writin' Junk

Just wanted to share this excerpt I read in Slate today about the organizational habits of some famous people. Below is Curtis Sittenfeld's answer regarding how he gets things done. It's nice to know published authors suffer the same shortcomings as me. And I feel bad about her dog, too:

"Curtis Sittenfeld, author

Three things:

1) If I'm writing, my trick—which isn't that tricky—is to close all windows and files except for the document I'm working on and not to check e-mail (I truly don't understand how anyone who has e-mail that pops up automatically ever accomplishes anything) or to answer the phone. And I don't have a smartphone, which eliminates that temptation. If in the course of writing I need to look up information online, I've found that it's best to just put a place-holder in the document and find the information later—once I'm on the Internet, all roads ultimately lead to celebrity gossip. Right now, I'm not sure if it's more embarrassing that I'm conversant with Avril Lavigne's divorce or the disappearance of Jessica Simpson's Maltipoo.

2) If I'm trying to get something done that's not writing-related, my similarly untricky trick is to turn off my computer. I've found that when I step away from it but leave it on, I can't shake the nagging feeling that I should be responding to e-mails, even though when I'm actually sitting in front of the computer, I have no problem doing things other than responding to e-mails (see above re: Jessica Simpson's dog).

3) Politely saying no can free up astonishing amounts of time. I'm still trying to learn how."

She Thinks I'm Real

Just wanted to relate a quick story. I'm reading a book right now about the nature of acceptance, particularly as it relates to our everyday thoughts and actions.In particular, the book talks a lot about the impact of seeing ourselves as lesser than or negating our presence in the world. The author tells a story about a little girl going out to eat at a restaurant with her parents. She tells the waitress exactly what she wants (a cheeseburger), to which her dad replies that she will not be having that and proceeds to order something different for her. The waitress at first seems to consent, writing down what the dad orders, before turning to the girl and asking what she wants on her cheeseburger. As the waitress walks away, the little girl triumphantly says, "She thinks I'm real!"

I love that story. I don't know about you, but I can definitely relate to the sensation of feeling unreal in so many situations. Sometimes it takes the input of others to understand our own authenticity. Isn't it really exciting in those rare instances where you can feel that connection between yourself and another person? When, for lack of a better phrase, they think you're real? I get chills just thinking about it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What I Did Last Week, pt. 1

Blog Post, via my notebook 4 days ago:

I'm writing this on a flight to Salt Lake City. I left Seattle a week ago and now I'm coming back. When I left, I wasn't sure if I was going to end up going to my dad's funeral. I also wasn't sure of the weather in Ohio in October. I packed a light, black sweater just in case.

Here are some things they don't tell about going to see your dad in the hospital:

-The ICU is really nice.There's free coffee from an instant machine. You can choose regular, decaff, espresso or hot chocolate. More than anything, you just appreciate the presence of this machine. It seems a very thoughtful gesture.

- The people who've been waiting on loved ones in the ICU know the score.In your head, you call them The Professionals. The first Professional you meet is a calm and pleasant 11 year old girl who quietly and cheerfully occupies herself all day long in the adjacent waiting room. Why isn't she in school? It must be a pretty bad situation that she's here all day, out of school long? But her behavior never betrays concern. She is a Professional. The first time she helps you is when you're just trying to get through the damn door into the ICU from the waiting room."Just push it," she says. You try again and fail. "No, don't turn the handle. You just push it, " she says helpfully. Somehow this simple act has you confounded. You have not flown across country for this; you have not come here to be outsmarted by a door. "I'll help you!," she says in a way that somehow doesn't make you feel entirely functionally retarded. With the measured patience and professional smile of a stewardess, she puts down her copy of Breaking Dawn and with one efficient heave of her pre-pubescent hip accomplished what you cannot. "There ya go!," says the tiny boatman as she helps you wade into to the beeping, pinging, metallic Styx of the ICU.

-You may develop a crush on your dad's doctor.He is only about five years older than you and not your type at all. Not in the real world, at least. In this weird, adult alternate reality, there is something comely about his Dockers and stories of playing football at Ohio State. There are two main reasons you like him. One is that he will not laugh at your father's jokes, which secretly pleases you a great deal. You are tired of these jokes and hearing them retold for each new day's RN or Respiratory Tech, whose names become an endless blur erased and rewritten each shift change on the white board.* You wish instead of telling jokes, your dad would say "I'm scared." That would certainly cut to the chase.

-But the other reason you have a crush on him is the fact that he oozes competence. In this surreal cluster fuck of a situation, competence is rare. All day long at your job you have to be competent. You have to be competent when you are filling out your mom's Medicaid paperwork or when you are talking to the hospital's discharge counselor who met your dad last week when they had to bring your mom here. What a colossal fucking mess. You want someone else to be competent for awhile and to make decisions and to be authoritative. You want the doctor to notice you and appreciate you. This situation may be fucked up, but you are not a fuck up you would like him to please note. To wit, you do not ask stupid questions. You maintain eye contact when he says things that are difficult for daughters to hear. You let your mind wander and imagine maybe your competence is a siren song to him; so much easier to deal with than the other family who have been crying over the tiny form in the bed in the room next door for three days.He is discussing your dad's new "manual soft" diet plan to prevent choking. You imagine your even gaze tells him everything he needs to know. He catches your eye. He is tired of acting competent all the time, too. There is a weird, primal part of you that wants to cope with all this death and near-death by doing it with this doctor. But it's not even about him. You just desire an infusion of competence.

*Also written on a corner of the white board and never erased during your time there is a tiny cross with three simulated beams of light drawn from it at 45 degree angles. You wonder why it's never erased. You start to harbor fears it is Secret Code for the RN's and that the numbers of Jesus rays emanating from it somehow denote the difficulty level of the patient. If five Jesus rays represented the most intense patients (assessed using a numerical system not unlike the Thai restaurant 5 star spiciness system), you feel like three Jesus rays seems just about right for your dad, who is never rude but certainly far from easy to work with.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I've come back from a week or more of complete neglect of this blog to find I now have seven followers! How did this happen? Surely not through effort of my own, I can tell you that much!Thanks new readers!

I am currently in Ohio Being An Adult. Turns out Being An Adult is an unending psychic nightmare, though I am currently living out the nightmare I've been dreading for the past seven years. It feels cathartic to finally begin to work through it. I think everybody here is going to be fine. I think I am going to be fine.

Thank you friend-readers for being my friends. Your support means a lot to me! I will post more next week once I am home and caught up on things.

I have eaten so many delicious carryout items and drunk so much wine and taken so many walks.Books were finished, rooms were swept, lists were made and meticulously checked off. Fears were allayed.I'll be back soon.