Monthly Archives: March 2009

Grin and bear it?

I’ve been flying through Eric G. Wilson’s Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy. It’s funny how sometimes books come along at the moment you most need them and will most appreciate them.   Though really any book probably would have done–the lowness of my attention span is kind of terrifying me lately.  With all the staring at television, computer, and cell phone screens of late–I’m still detoxing.  Picking up something over 100 pages with the intent to finish it has become almost daunting.  And that’s disgusting.

 But there are reasons why this book in particular is blowing my mind.  The things Wilson writes are this beautiful combination of intellectual and spiritual–two things I’ve been trying to figure out how to bring together in my life lately. Wilson writes, “Our world is quickly becoming nothing but a glazed sphere, uniform as glass.”  And specifically on modern road trips and wrinkle-free faces:

There is nothing to break the monotony along the way but bland green exit signs pointing to the obvious eateries–McDonald’s or Subway or Taco Bell–or the expected convenience marts–Shell or Exxon or Amoco.  You pull off to grab a bite or fill your tank.  You realize that this exit is exactly like every other exit around the country.  Everything is the same–safe, clean, predictable.  This is smooth travel, flat as a stainless steel iron.

The same is true of faces these days; they’re as unblemished as flat plastic.  You probably increasingly long for those world-worn gazes, crisscrossed with strain.  You realize the beauty of those countenances that have pressed against the oncoming years, that have suffered honestly the abrasions and contusions of life…

But what do we say about those ubiquitous guises of our contemporary scene, those appearances Botoxed to the max?  You catch these smooth and expressionless faces when you walk down a city street.  You can find no trace of existence in these frozen masks…  You don’t want to stare too long at these overly finished exteriors; you might be blinded by the glare.  Or worse, you might actually see this person for what he is–a husk, nothing but an unfilled form.  Then you fear the worst.  Our world is teeming with these phantom creatures, these zombielike beings.

I’m not even sure why I decided to pick up this book–I’m very pro-happiness.  But the happiness Wilson’s against is, as the passages above imply, shallow happiness.  The happiness that does not allow for brooding in the dark.  The happiness that tells you to run to the self-help section at the first sign of sorrow. 

When you deny sorrow, though, you deny the possibility of profound revelations, inspired creativity, and yeah…happiness.

*Dejected Sigh*

Just got back from the library.  Nearly took out this book:

But I thought better of it. You know those AXE body spray commercials in which women flock to men who spritz themselves with that god awful stuff? Well, that’s how I am with cats. Not in a sexual way. Just in that frenzied, I need to touch you or I will die way. In line at the drug store last week, the cashier was showing the customer ahead of me photos of her cat on her cell phone, and I practically tackled the magazine and candy rack trying to get a peek.   I didn’t destroy any merchandise, but I did screech, “I WANT TO SEE!”

It’s not normal.  So, I took these books out, instead:

Well see if I actually devote time to its pages.

We'll see if I actually devote time to its pages.

And then, one with a matching cover that I think will be oddly inspiring despite the subject matter:

Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy

Against Happiness: In Praise of Melancholy

Speaking of melancholy…a collection agency called about an outstanding dental bill before I could finish writing this post.  This clip instantly came to mind as I reminisced about how awful that damn dentist was:

Sex, Love, and Oatmeal

This one time, I worked at a law firm. All I did was photocopy and file Elvis Presley music copyright documents. For hours. It’s pretty mind-numbing. And then all of a sudden you see Johnny Cash’s signature and you’re like, “That’s cool.” And then you go back to fixing the paper jam.

I was listening to Etta James’ “I Just Wanna Make Love to You” on YouTube when I found this awkward Elvis fan video:

My favorite part is at 1:25 when there are TWO replays of him catching a pair of panties. We humans are a horny bunch.

Speaking of horny bunches, I was catching up with a friend online who I met years ago in a college dorm room. I don’t really know why we talk to each other, except that a few drinks in I told him that I read his blog. And we’ve just talked ever since. See? Keep a blog, make friends.

We were talking about sex, love, and happiness, and how sometimes, or often, those three things go hand in hand…or, you know….other things in other things. I have absolutely nothing profound, funny, or interesting to say about love, but my friend did:

Somewhere deep down in my dark twisted soul, I’m a romantic. Underneath all the science, atheist books, and gigabytes of porn, I can appreciate love for what it is.

I really like it. I could be wrong, but I feel like those are two sentences that most people could change a few of the adjectives and nouns to make it sum up their general feeling, too. For insance, Elvis Presley’s might read something like:

Somewhere deep down in my pelvic thrust of a soul, I’m a romantic. Underneath that weird lip thing I do, the rhinestone-laden leather jumpsuits I wear, and the terribly depressing way I will die on my bathroom floor, I can appreciate love for what it is.

And now, for no reason in particular, I will speculate on how the man on the boxes of Quaker Oatmeal would adapt those two sentences. Wikipedia says, “It is popularly believed that the man on the box is Province of Pennsylvania founder, namesake and Quaker William Penn. The company states that ‘The Quaker man is not an actual person,’ but is instead a generic representation of a ‘man dressed in Quaker garb.'” Mysterious. I’m not sure I buy it.

Somewhere deep down in my pedophiliac leer, I’m a romantic. Underneath the illegal paraphernalia I store within my billows of white locks and underneath my traditional black cap, I can appreciate love for what it is.

He creeps me out.

Happy Spring

Warning: Nostalgia ahead.

Suddenly things are happening.  It’s as though I’ve been chanting a transformation mantra for hours each day.  Only I haven’t because the transformation mantra was given to me by members of a cult.  So, it must just be the vernal equinox.

The daffodils and the crocuses are almost in bloom!  The days are longer.  (I get outside before dark without even meaning to.)  Bruce Jenner is making it onto the golf course multiple times a week and his hair is starting to bleach in the sun.  Isn’t life beautiful?

Speaking of beautiful, I’ve been thinking about video games a lot lately.  I don’t play them.  I’m pretty terrible at them…except for Wii Tennis and American Idol.  But when I was younger, I would watch my brothers play for hours.  And then, when they left to build skateboard ramps out of plywood or give their lunch money to the local drug cartel, I would try my hand.  Below is level one of a game that I don’t think I ever enjoyed playing, but played regardless.  I was usually killed off by one of the elderly women with grocery bags:

The مهبل and other topics (but not Cher’s مهبل)

I promise not to devote this post to the word vagina, but I do feel like I need to pay regular homage to the word and the genitalia since it now refers so many people to my blog…my blog that I neglect terribly.  So, I don’t know.  Maybe I’ll try to seamlessly allude to the vagina in some way in every post from now on.  Or maybe not.  Anyway, in case you were wondering how to write it in Persian, here it is: مهبل. 

On to less important things!  Back in January I explored my questionable habit of talking about my mom and the people/places/things she likes with too much frequency.  Then yesterday I realized that I’ve been neglecting to tap into the flip side: things she doesn’t like! 

It came up while on the phone with her the other day.  I mentioned that I had watched Moonstruck for the second time in three months the night before, and how much I’d enjoyed the experience.  And that’s when she declared, “I don’t like Cher.” It wasn’t said offhandedly either. It was said in a tone that implied some sort of deep disgust and disapproval with the woman. I’ll have to investigate.

Myself, I’m kind of indifferent about Cher.  I remember it was awkward when she guest starred on “Will & Grace.”  And I remember being exposed to all sorts of biographical information on her when Sonny Bono died.  How she used to have terrible stage fright.  How the light rock favorites radio stations love to play her songs (especially “The Shoop Shoop Song”).  How she has long hair.  Stuff like that.

Anyway, Nicholas Cage’s performance in the clip below blows my mind.  I want to memorize the lines, dress up in an apron, chop off part of my hand, and recreate his performance because it looks like he’s having that much fun.  His character is just insane (I especially like the “HUH? SWEETIE?” part).  God, it’s sexy. And, it’s a little tragic. Nowadays Nicholas Cage is all whored out in those Disney action-adventure movies meant to rape families of a hard-earned 50 bucks. Also, I worry about his gaunt face and rapidly thinning hair. I know there’s that whole aging process thing, but what happened to this dude:

Hmm. I didn’t know Cher was so feisty! An illuminating conversation with Sonny, Cher, and Dave:

The recreational activities of female genitalia.

Oh. My. God. Something beautiful has happened. In the past few days, HUNDREDS more people than usual have viewed my blog.  And it’s all thanks to a little search term called…vagina.

Plain ol’ “vagina” is bringing in the most people, but runners up include “big vagina,” “dirty vagina,” “vagina is purple,” “piece of vagina” (ah!), “light up vagina” (OOH!), and “how to make a finger vagina.” That last one sounds like it came from a terribly confused soul who inquired about a noun when a verb was intended.

In case you only recall there ever being talk of Barbara Walters lap dances or Tom Brokaw sex dreams on this blog, click here to see a giant bicycle vagina. That also sounds like it was meant to be a verb (giant vagina bicycling), but it really is a noun. It’s a giant bicycle vagina. And it’s amazing.

Well.  I got completely distracted by vaginas in this post.  Here are some less interesting things I may have done had vaginas not stolen the show:

  • Complained tirelessly about banks and their exorbitant overdraft charges.
  • Cooked you a steak like Cher in Moonstruck.  (You’d have eaten it rare while wearing a wooden hand.)
  • Wished you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
  • Referred you to this Craiglist ad.
  • Compared Kim Jong-Il to a summer’s day. 
  • Presented a hypothetical question asking: “If you were a predator, would you be less likely to pursue as prey someone who walked down the sidewalk wielding a fork?”
  • Reminisced about the Halloween I dressed up as a fork.
  • Mentioned the fork that is literally in my road, in the tar of my road.
  • Displayed an obvious affection for bullet points.
  • Retracted Kim Jong-Il comparison.

Women in their midforties do it, and so can you!

Do you ever get so excited/moved/transformed by something you’re reading that you exclaim “Oh my God!” and have to stop to reflect?  Usually it happens when I’m on the subway.  I look up, full of awe, and make eye contact with whoever is there.  And I get really disappointed that people have no idea what I read to make me so excited.  I find myself looking at people and yearning for them to understand, or to be confused enough to ask me what happened.  People tend to be too engrossed with their iPod playlist or the Sports section, though.

Tonight the moment came after I read a passage in the book I just started, Your Sixth Sense: Activating Your Psychic Potential.  It’s by this woman Belleruth Naparstek who’s a psychotherapist.  She talks about how intuition and psychic “pops” have helped her be a more effective therapist.  She says that everyone has psychic potential, it’s just that it’s an undervalued ability in our culture and given a bad rep by 900 numbers and that coin-operated thing Tom Hanks uses in Big

Belleruth thinks that some people are “more wired than others.”  She interviewed 40 intuitives/psychics for the book.  I haven’t gotten to that part, yet, but she writes, “If I had to create a composite profile from my sample, I would find a woman in her midforties with an advanced degree in one of the mental health professions who would say she was born with her psychic ability and could likely point to a parent or grandparent who displayed a lot of it, too.”

That part didn’t excite me, it was the part that came right after.  Mostly because a lot of it sounded eerily familiar, and because some parts were just ridiculous:

Other typical features would be a tendency toward bilateral dominace (some degree of two-handedness or two-sidedness as opposed to leading strictly with the right or left side); a stronger-than-average likelihood of being an only child; the presence of some talent and experience in the arts, often in more than one modality (music, dance, art, theater, poetry, design, and so on); a tendency to be either a little dyslexic or else an exceptional student and sometimes both (with a greater-than-usual chance of having a photographic memory, too); lots of experience as a meditator; a powerful need to spend time alone and time in nature on a regular basis; a higher-than-average likelihood of finding broken watches, light bulbs, and small appliances in her proximity, at least at certain periods in her life; a tendency to experience phases of temporary endocrine system dysfunction, popping up and then subsiding, especially an over- or underfunctioning thyroid gland or set of adrenals; the tendency to be a night owl and sleep very little, with frequent interruptions in sleep; and a greater-than-average chance of having reported sighting a UFO or even encountering an extraterrestrial.

Yeah, these things can be attributed to lots of people, but it’s still exciting.  I’m ambidextrous, I’ve got the arts things, I have dyslexic moments, I stay up all night, I’m an annoyingly light sleeper, and I choose/like to spend the majority of my time alone.  I don’t recall ever seeing a UFO or encountering an extraterrestrial, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened or won’t happen.  I don’t know about the small appliance thing, but my coffee maker did break a couple months ago and I’ve been known to blow a fuse or two.  What else…  Oh!  You probably can’t call it “lots of experience” with meditating, but I did go to that cult’s meditation workshop.  And my endocrine system didn’t really kick in until, like, two years ago.

Anyway.  That’s all.  But since I’m sort of on the topic…I wish Patricia Arquette didn’t whine so much as Allison DuBois on NBC’s “Medium.”  I’ve only seen it twice, but she’s CONSTANTLY moaning to her husband.  It’s nice they have that whole support system going.  It just that…she could be such a strong female character and instead she looks and sounds like she’s always on the verge of bursting into tears.  Woman up, ya know?

Crises (and the Ongoing Saga of My Mom and Tommy Lee Jones)

It’s daunting to come home from work around 4am and have an urgent email waiting for you, especially one from a friend who is still trying to master the English language and is asking you to answer a question that might appear on their midterm in the morning:

How did we get into the financial crisis that the world is currently facing?

“This is hard.  I’m going to watch TV, instead.”  That’s what I wanted to say, but instead I produced a few sentences that could be mistaken for some semblance of an answer.  (The word “semblance” reminds me of Harry Connick, Jr. because he said it in an interview once and I was like, “Gosh, he has a nice voice AND a nice vocabulary.”)

Turned out the professor didn’t even ask about the financial crisis on the midterm, so all is well in the world (except for the financial crisis).

Speaking of crises, I’m in the midst of my own personal one.  Aren’t we all, always?  So last night I did what I usually do when I can’t deal with the seemingly important, unresolvable things in my life–I called my mom.  Only she was watching a Tommy Lee Jones movie, so she had to call me back.  (Which will be my excuse next time I want to avoid a conversation.)

When she called back I was on the street.  I had walked down to the coffee place I normally go to, but it was closed.  The only other coffee place is several blocks in the other, more trendy direction of my neighborhood.  Naturally it’s a Starbucks.  And naturally the semi-trendy people have made it their meeting place.  Not one, single time have I been able to find a free table or oversized chair in that location.  Not one.  What I do find are people who look like they’ve been camped out there since the Taft administration.  Only young and fresh-faced as though they just came from yoga.

So anyway.  Coffee at 11pm didn’t pan out.  I continued walking and whining to my mom.  And after an avenue of that, I came face to face with a bit of perspective– a car crash.

It wasn’t a big one.  Just a squealing-tires-fender-bender deal, but still.  You see that, not 10 feet from where you’re standing doing your whoa-is-me routine and suddenly you realize you’re sort of a whiny little bitch.  It’s like that moment in this week’s “The City” when Jay and Whitney are (spoiler alert) breaking up and he says, “I just feel like you have to be a little bit stronger.” 

Beautiful people who wear expensive clothes and can afford to feed themselves regularly are lame, especially when they’re on MTV reality shows, but just for the record…Whitney is a strong, savvy woman and Jay just ain’t ready for all that jelly.

Liev’s name is an anagram for “Live” and William Shakespeare’s, as Wikipedia informs, is one for “I am a weakish speller”

I don’t think life is as bleak as this, my favorite quote from a Shakespeare play, presents it to be, but it still resonates with me in a profound way:

To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

It’s annoying, but, when I think of Shakespeare I think of Shakespeare in the Park and then I think of a story a professor told about seeing Liev Schreiber appear in Macbeth.  Liev Schreiber shouldn’t be one of the first people who comes to mind when I think of Shakespeare.  I have personal experiences with the guy (Shakespeare, not Schreiber).  Why don’t any of those come to mind?  Why, instead, do I think of an event I’ve never attended and a performance I never saw?  I can’t even remember the professor it was who mentioned having seen it.

Anyway.  Shakespeare’s on my mind because my high school drama teacher passed away yesterday.  He directed me in a few things, including Midsummer Night’s Dream.  I played Snout/Wall.  Not exactly the lead role, but it was fun because I got to play both a man and an inanimate object.  This was my big moment in the play:

In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
And such a wall, as I would have you think,
That had in it a crannied hole or chink,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisby,
Did whisper often very secretly.
This loam, this rough-cast and this stone doth show
That I am that same wall; the truth is so:
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.

It’s funny because those lines make perfect sense to me now, after taking lots of Shakespeare in college, but I can remember having NO idea what I was talking about back then.  And our director knew we were terrible thespians, but he never let on. 

He was such a gift.  I never understood why someone with so much talent was spending his time teaching at our school, but I was grateful.  High school was a pretty awkward/shy time for me, so I never said much to him (or anyone else), but he taught me a lot.  He was unbelievably passionate, patient, supportive and enthusiastic–always. 

My senior year he cast me as Twimble in the spring production of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.  This was kind of a huge deal.  Twimble’s this quirky character who has worked in the company’s mail room for 25 years.  It’s a male part (again), but that time I played the character as a woman.  And it was a big deal because the part included my own song and all these slapstick-y moments.  It was the first time I was going to really perform in my high school.  All the other performances I was proud of had occurred away from my high school peers–in various community theatre productions.  It ended up being a really liberating experience–to stand in front of people I’d never said two words to and have the chance to sing and dance and make them laugh.  I’ll always be thankful that our director gave the painfully shy, quiet girl a chance on his stage.  Always.

Don’t You Hate It When That Happens?

Something traumatic happened to me over the weekend.  Well, a few things: I watched one of the many shows about the logging industry currently on television; I flirted with an Irishman many years my senior; and I nearly joined a cult.

I know, I know.  That’s what I said!  I can’t believe Davey McGloughlin almost died from a diabetes-induced coma while operating the skidder in the back woods AND lost his house to a fire all in the same week.  That Discovery channel puts out good shit.

This is from an entirely different logging show, which illustrates the point--you see one show about logs youve seen em all.

This is not from the Discovery channel's logging show, but it does illustrate the point--you see one show about logs you've seen 'em all.

On to the cult.  It all started a couple weeks ago when I saw a poster on the sidewalk promoting a free meditation workshop. It ended up being this two day event. The first day was six hours. The second day was four. And, silly, gullible me, I would have continued on to the advanced meditation meetings had a Google search not introduced me to the controversy surrounding the group and their late guru. And it’s not small controversy like…hiring only people who neglected to do their taxes, or accidentally flashing your vagina in public. It’s controversy like…claiming to be celibate and speak directly with God one minute and turning around and forcing female followers to fuck you the next. And it’s like…harassing Carlos Santana when he abandons you. And…pretending to be able to lift 7,000 pounds.

Oh well. Guess enlightenment will have to wait. I’m just thankful that I didn’t end up being that girl. You know, the type of girl who legally changes her name, starts dressing in white garbs, and loses every shred of her awesome personality after gradually being brainwashed.