Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Ways to Procrastinate in the Morning

After making your To Do list for the day and checking boring, university and work-related emails, you need more tea. Tea to Write By. Go into the kitchen. Pick up fabric tape measure on the way to play with your cat.

Spend five minutes playing with the cat by dragging the tape measure on the floor while he stalks and pounces. This is creative play. This is acceptable. Cat loses interest before you do, however, and soon you’re just a person dragging a tape measure around her house all alone; you realize you are 1. not sleeping in 2. nor reading anything inspiring 3. nor writing, but rather entertaining, not your cat any longer, but yourself with a fabric tape measure at 9:00 a.m. on a Tuesday.

Heed the call of the boiling water. As you stand there, putting teabag, then hot water to mug, tape measure strung around your neck, you realize anew that you are alone in the house. Recall all those episodes of Six Feet Under, which would begin in just this sort of way, all disquietingly-innocent-enough: A humdrum person doing her quotidian activities, only to land herself in some freak accident: getting choked on a fabric tape-measure, for example.

Get back to your desk. Look up “quotidian” to see if it has quite the ring of the mundane that you intend.

Tell yourself you’re not going to check your frivolous, personal email. Check your email.
But your connection’s too slow. Hit Stop. This is a sign. You should be writing.

Look at the cat as he creeps through the room, around the rug that’s too new to yet be trusted. What were his New Year’s resolutions? When you went back to the UU church for the first time in nine months or so the other day, the minister was talking about Tomorrow’s-Gonna-Come-No-Matter-What; How-will-you-arrive-there? And you were enjoying it, the metaphor about being out to sea in your little Schooner (the Schooner of Life), no land in sight, but that land, ho, ho, it would come, yes indeedy. Then on the drive home, the metaphor started to annoy you. Or the fact of it. Because, like many UU sermons you’ve attended, this sermon was: Pick a metaphor and find different ways to riff on it for twenty minutes.

Not to say it wasn’t useful. And the meditation was nice. And the moments of silence and the singing. (Except when they tried to go all gospel for one number. There is nothing worse in this world than a roomful of white liberal people trying to sing gospel music. It makes the heart fold in on itself.)
The people are always nice there, though they’re all your parents’ age; oh god when will you meet someone your age in this town not somehow connected to your freaking MFA program?? Or just some new, real friend, would be nice. But oh well.

So worn is this thought, it’s your autopilot, it’s your I Like Chocolate statement of fact for these three years; sometimes the shoulder-shrug comes first, it’s so emptied of meaning. Like shampoo when you say it twenty times: shampoo, shampoo, shampooshampooshampooshampooshampooshampooshampooshampoo shampoo shampoo shampooshampooshampooshampooshampooshampooshampooshampoo.

Shampoo, Henshaw. Okay, I’m gonna get to work for real.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Constant, Schmonstant.
For a Physics final back in high school, we had the option of writing a paper or putting together some sort of group "artistic option" illustrating 12 physics principles. Thus: the filming of the VHS classic, "Physics Project of Doom," in which two friends and I featured relevant snippets from Casablanca, Barbie surfing in the bathtub to the music of The Breeders and of course, 12 illustrations of basic physics principles, all completely riddled with flaws and incorrect calculations.

I think our poor, beleaguered teacher—a really, really young guy whom we caught one Saturday that year working a second job as a salesclerk at Sears—gave us a B. That B was a gift: our movie was lovingly crafted juvenile shlock, but it was crap in terms of an illustration of what we were actually supposed to have learned that year.

The latest on Found Magazine's beautiful website is in the same spirit, I think. Anonymous elephant illustrator, I salute you.

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Monday, December 24, 2007

The Fact Men post their very funny Year in Review.
(Coincidentally, Wikipedia lists no such entry as "Very Little Known Facts".)


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Loving Miranda July (even) More
Write a press release about an ordinary event! Take a flash photo under your bed! Draw Raymond Carver's Cathedral!
This is the best idea I've seen in a long time. If you've got any lazy days coming up this winter break--and even if you don't but just want to feel all warm and squishy inside for some slightly inexplicable reason having something to do with the allaying of the fear that all this goofy internet technology is alienating us from one another--I encourage you to check this project out.


Monday, December 10, 2007

The office is cold in the morning. This morning, the cat who is usually the coldest in temperament insists on my lap. Heat, soft weight, there. Feels like a gift and a threat, all at once. Also, I find this beautiful thing by artist David Silverstein at the website of the wonderful literary journal, Pank.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Dance of Destiny, the Loafing of Laze.
There’s a reading tonight on campus, but I’m feeling extremely hermitlike in here, inside what my roommate calls “Your Cave.” She always comes home, all the house lights turned off: the kitchen, the hallway, my bedroom, back, back, back until, there’s my office, all warm and dim and cozy. I specifically don’t want to interact with a bevy of people or sit up straight in a chilly auditorium wearing real clothes tonight. I just want to curl up inside by the blazing radiator in an afghan on the amazing antique rocker I found a few weeks ago. Chamomile tea, even, and nobody in sight for miles. Just this book. Hell, if I were outside on a park bench with this book and a handy streetlight, I'd take it.

So, I’m here.
Carmelita and I had this really yummy brand of frozen pizza for dinner, which is worlds better than the delivery alternative. I’ve never seen this, but Carmelita says that whenever we order from Papa John’s, we get the creepiest delivery boy ever. Last time he came, he warned Carmelita to be careful of jumping over the giant corners in our house, his stare hard and evil and empty.
“And he drove up, his car blaring with that song! That 'Whoa-whoa-whoaaaa' dance song?”

Logically, I thought: I have no earthly idea what you’re talking about, Carmelita. But then I heard myself singing back to her, “Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more…” We both laughed over the fact that we keep that song stored away inside ourselves without even knowing it. She says this: Something about that song, coupled with that delivery boy, equals creepy.
What is love?

I always just sort of linked that song in my mind with Rick Astley, who, a number of years earlier, sang that “Never Gonna Give You Up, Never Gonna Let You Down” dance song, which is basically, like, the same song. It also being true that Rick Astley and the “What is Love?” man possess basically the same voice. And what if they are blood kin, we wondered? What if all dance singer men are chosen from one family of men, like boy sopranos of English days of yore? Chosen for how their grumbly-weird voices sound, projected over a very specific beat.

Ecce Romani
I need to go running. No; better than that. I need to do community service; need to take a year of my life and devote it to relief in Somalia. I’m saying this not because I had pizza for supper tonight, five pounds of hors d'oeuvres at a party last night and haven’t gone running in a week. This isn’t about being skinny or fit; it’s about real virtue, or total lack thereof. It’s because of the other thing I ate last night, which a friend brought to said-party: a gourmet dark chocolate bar with bacon in it.
He told me about it and I said, “No. Gross. Gah.” But then I went and tried it and yes: It is the best, most evil thing I have ever put in my mouth. The incomprehensible, looming, loamy sweetness of the darkest chocolate and then, the crunchy, salty Perfect Foodness of bacon, all there in one really, really decadent bite. I would have felt less wrong, less tainted with Romulus Augustus-styled hedonism, had he fed me some damn foie gras on a Chicken McNugget. Just hand me a toga and a feather. Surely, we are the Romans.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Read it.

The Used World, by Haven Kimmel. The Used World, by Haven Kimmel. The Used World, by Haven Kimmel.

Goodness gracious, sakes alive.