Category Archives: Dreams

Hi, how are you?

Are the news channels now talking about something other than the hurricane? If you experienced the hurricane, I hope you’re doing well. If you’re dealing with other issues in life, I also hope you’re doing well. If you’re dealing with issues and dealing with the hurricane, yes. Basically I hope everyone is doing well.

I have six minutes of battery left on the laptop. I got out of bed to write an e-mail to someone I think I did wrong. I don’t like feeling that I did wrong to anyone.

Anyway, with the remaining power, I thought I’d share a video from my new TV series. It’s not really a TV series. It’s only a TV series in my mind.

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Life, jobs, money, people: I’m so angry!

A lot of things are making me angry lately.  I don’t mind that.  They say anger can be a really great emotion: you’re angry, you figure why, and you do something about it.

But it’s that last step that I’m having trouble with.  I know the things that are making me angry, and I know why, but I can’t figure out how to effectively channel that into action.  Instead, I’m just left with the anger and the added frustration of feeling like I can’t do anything about it all.

I woke up just now at 4 p.m.  Not from a nap, but from a full’s night’s sleep.  That’s because my job sent me an e-mail giving me three days’ notice that they’d need me to temporarily work the overnight shift.  The full 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift.

That’s bullshit and I’m angry about it.  But really it’s just another thing in a looooong list of things they’ve done that’s made me realize: They don’t care about me at all.  They smile and say all these vague managerial things: “I’ll bring this up with corporate,” “Protocol,” “Blah blah blah.”

I’ve become terrified of certain managers.  They’re so entrenched in that corporate lingo, and customer service lingo, that I really think they’ve forgotten how to be a decent human being.  How to be a human being at all, really.

I didn’t mean to mention all that…but that is the main thing I’m angry about.  When you’re that angry about your job situation, one thing you can do to channel that anger is look for another job.  Which I’ve done a little bit.  But the one interview I’ve gone on so far?  Made me super angry!

The interview was days ago now.  And I’d been feeling strange about it for days, but I hadn’t been able to sort out all of the reasons why.  When I woke up just now, though, something occurred to me.

My interviewer, at one point, asked me something along the lines of, “So, would you be able to handle it when people are rude to you or disrespectful?  Because you just seem like a very sweet person.”

I wasn’t sure exactly how to answer that question at the time.  I wanted to say, “Well, yeah, I’m a sweet person.  But what does that have to do with being able to handle things?”

And I think that’s just it.  It makes me angry that she implied that a sweet disposition is an indicator of a weak person.  It’s not.  I am a sweet person, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not a strong person, too.

I think what’s really making me angry lately, when it gets down to the core, is realizing how much power and control a job, a boss, a work schedule can have over a person.  My life has been turned upside down because of the job I have right now.  I am a sweet person.  But walking out of work (at 7:30 a.m. because the person relieving me showed up a half hour late even though he lives two blocks away), I said to myself, out loud, “This job is making me an angry person.  It’s making me negative and jaded and it’s making me lose hope in humanity and my life.”

I know!  It’s dramatic.  But it’s absolutely how I feel.  I don’t want to lose my idealism and optimism.  I’m a romantic and a dreamer and I firmly believe that you should do what you’re passionate about in life–because that’s when you’ll be at your best.  I’ve been trying so hard to follow what I’m passionate about in life, but sometimes it’s not that easy.  Sometimes finding direction and knowing what the right steps are to take is the most difficult thing.  The signs just don’t come.

So you take a job you’re not excited about because you have to pay the bills, you have to feed yourself.

Anyway, I am angry.  But as of right now I’m still hopeful.  Even though I don’t have a clue what should be done.

Life and the Academy this year

I really love awards shows. In the past few weeks I’ve watched the Golden Globes, the SAGs, part of the Independent Spirit Awards, and last night the Oscars.

Last year I posted part of an acceptance speech that inspired me.  This year I  recorded the broadcast, but I couldn’t bring myself to fast forward through any of the speeches because I kept thinking of last year and how if I had fast forwarded through the Best Original Score category, I would have missed something pretty great. 

Pretty great this year was when David Seidler won for Best Original Screenplay for The King’s Speech.  He’s an older gentleman and when he got to the stage he had to ask Josh Brolin where the microphone was.  And one of the first things he said was, “My father always said to me I would be a late bloomer.  I believe I am the oldest person to win this particular award.  I hope that record is broken quickly and often.”

He went on to mention his own struggle with a stammer.  I think I loved his speech even more than Tom Hooper’s when he thanked his mom for making The King’s Speech happen.

After I finished watching I thought for a moment about why I love awards shows so much.  I find myself smiling through most of the 3+ hours.  If you haven’t placed monetary bets on the winners, most people agree that these shows of excess and ego are boring.  So why do they leave me feeling so…good?  I mean, I even love the In Memorium segment–honoring deceased people I usually have never heard of.

If I’m really honest with myself, the reason I love these Hollywood awards shows is because I think I’ll be there one day.  I don’t particularly have a plan on how that will happen.  And I won’t be bitter or resentful if it doesn’t happen.  I don’t want to live a life of excess or ego or celebrity, but I do want to live a creative life and a passionate life.  So, you know.  Why not.

“What I am is a writer…” (taking comfort in the insight of others)

George Orwell means a lot to me.  I don’t know more than the basics about him, and I haven’t read all that much of his work.  But I credit him, in part, with helping me realize I am a writer. 

Writing for me isn’t everything, but it’s extremely high on the list of the things that define me.  The things that make me feel like a worthwhile person.  The things that I think about and mean to do each day.

I suspected I was a writer for a long time, but it wasn’t until I was a senior in high school that it felt like a confirmed fact.  That was the year my English teacher assigned Orwell’s 1984.  Even though I was an avid reader, I often didn’t finish the books teachers assigned (A Tale of Two Cities).  I was a big fan of the mystery novels I regularly took out of the library at the time, especially Mary Higgins Clark.  Fast-paced intrigue and sex and crime.  I think I might have actually read too much as a teenager.  Often I stayed holed up in my bedroom instead of making efforts to lead a fulfilling social life.  I guess I’m not much different today…

Anyway, I did read all of 1984.  And at the end of the semester, my teacher gave our class options for the final project.  We could either write a regular essay about some of the themes in the book, or, we could opt to do a creative project.  It was 2004 at the time, so the creative project would be a twenty-years later epilogue to 1984.  Which is kind of brilliant and makes me think my teacher actually enjoyed being one.

I was one of the only ones who chose to write the epilogue, I think.  But my excitement toward the assignment made up for the rest of the lack of enthusiasm. I got really into it.  It was the first time I’d ever sat down and composed a legitimate short story.  The assignment required only 8 pages, font size 12, double spaced.  In the end, I wrote 20.  There was intrigue and sex and crime.  I read it over and over again I loved it so much.  And I titled it: “2004: The Love Child.” (Because Julia has a baby. And Winston is the baby daddy. Sex! Crime! Intrigue!)

I don’t think I still have a copy of that piece.  It probably disappeared along with an old hard drive.  But I remember the feeling it gave me.  If I had to pick one word to describe that feeling, it’d be empowered. 

I’m reminded of all this because I recently took a copy of George Orwell’s Why I Write out of the library.  Held in the hand it feels like a chapbook, which I guess is what it is.  A chapbook of essays.  I haven’t gotten very far.  I’m on page 9 out of the 120.  But Orwell writes something in these early pages that struck me.  He writes about the “four great motives for writing.”  Reading it felt like getting a long awaited diagnosis from a doctor and finally, finally knowing what’s wrong.  Only in this case, just what is.

I don’t know if I’m allowed to reprint this much of the text, but I’m going to do it anyway in light of how much I love it and want to share it.  He writes:

They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living.  They are:

  1. Sheer egoism.  Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get your own back on grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc. etc.  It is humbug to pretend that this is not a motive, and a strong one.  Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen – in short, with the whole top crust of humanity.  The great mass of human beings are not acutely selfish.  After the age of about thirty they abandon individual ambition – in many cases, indeed, they abandon the sense of being individuals at all – and live chiefly for others, or are simply smothered under drudgery.  But there is also the minority of gifted, wilful people who are determined to live their own lives to the end, and writers belong in this class.  Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money.
  2. Aesthetic enthusiasm.  Perception of beauty in the external world, or, on the other hand, in words and their right arrangement.  Pleasure in the impact of one sound on another, in the firmness of good prose or the rhythm of a good story.  Desire to share an experience which one feels is valuable and not to be missed.  The aesthetic motive is very feeble in a lot of writers, but even a pamphleteer or a writer of textbooks will have pet words and phrases which appeal to him for non-utilitarian reasons; or he may feel strongly about typography, width of margins, etc.  Above the level of a railway guide, no book is quite free from aesthetic considerations.
  3. Historical impulse.  Desire to see things as they are, to find out true facts and store them up for the use of posterity.
  4. Political purpose – using the word ‘political’ in the widest possible sense.  Desire to push the world in a certain direction, to alter other people’s idea of the kind of society that they should strive after.  Once again, no book is genuinely free from political bias.  The opinion that art should have nothing to do with politics is itself a political attitude.

It’s like the Myers-Briggs personality test for writers. At this point, I think I’m mainly motivated by aesthetic enthusiasm, secondarily by ego, a pinch of politics, and history lastly. I’m curious what other identified writers feel about this. If they think there’s truth to it and what motives they identify with.

I know this post is already long, but writing this reminded me of something else I recently read. It made me feel better about the periods in my life when I haven’t been productive or creative. It made me feel glad that there are people out there who understand the solitude and introspection and idleness that often accompany the days of a writer.

It comes from Emily Fox Gordon’s new book of personal essays, Book of Days:

What I am is a writer, and during the twenty years when I was producing nothing, covering my existential nudity with an inadequate garment composed of patches of housewife/graduate student/mother, I was serving the writer’s apprenticeship, letting the world trickle through me to leave behind sedimented layers of impression.  All through my protracted apprenticeship I felt anomalous and apologetic, subject to fits of self-loathing and panicky self-consciousness, inclined to take refuge in the comfort of grandiose fantasies.

I confess, sometimes imagining that I’ll truly live the life of a writer (my version of it) feels itself like a grandiose fantasy. But it is comforting. And it’s one I badly want to be my reality.

What’s next?

Sometimes I feel like I pick up the perfect book at the exact time I need to be reading it in my life.  Several years ago I took the Pulitzer Prize winning Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt out of the library.  I remember it being an enthralling read.  But I couldn’t get through it because it just left me so unbearably sad.  Passages left me bawling.

When I returned it to the library they said I’d damaged it and they wouldn’t take it back.  I’d have to keep it and pay them $30.  I was broke at the time, and as much as I love the library, I cursed it the whole drive to the bank to withdraw money.  And then I returned to the library with the $30 and I’d been crying so my face was all red and my eyes were puffy and I really thought that the book had been damaged when I took it out, but I’d borrowed it for so long that I couldn’t remember (and I might’ve been locked out of my house in the rain one day and the pages of the book might’ve gotten damp).  So I handed the librarian the money and she looked at me full of concern, and she was like, “What’s the matter?!”  And that made me more upset.

I know.  It’s a sad story.  But Angela’s Ashes is way more sad.

Anyway!  Right now I’m reading Continue reading

Happy ‘4th of July’, indeed!

There’s a tab at the top of my browser that’s a shortcut for adding a new post on this here blog, and I’m happy to announce that this very post is the inaugural post for which I’ve used that shortcut.  Here’s to many more clicks on the shortcut and in turn many more posts.

In the past year or so I’ve realized my intense love for all things “road”.  I love road movies.  Road books.  Songs about the road.  There was a “This American Life” episode that reaired a few weeks ago, #102–entitled “Roadtrip!”  Ira Glass says at the beginning, after listing a slew of road movies and other road-related pieces of culture, “It is hard for an American to just hit the road without some expectations.”  I’ve experienced this.  I was even asked at one point in the trip, “What?  Did you think it would be like a movie?”  Still, I retain idyllic ideas about the road.  It calls to me.  It inspires me.  It even softens me toward cars–because that’s how I picture myself traveling on the road.  In a car.  Even better, though, are road-related things that involve the most inspiring, the most exciting and perfect form of transportation I can think of–the RV. 

The closest I’ve ever come to experiencing an RV was a rundown camper that was attached to the back of my grandfather’s truck when I was a child.  I heard stories about my parents taking it camping when my oldest brother was a newborn.  By the time I was born, though, everyone had stopped using the old camper.  The family had graduated to something much less exciting and mobile–a tent.  In our town there was a RV dealership that intrigued me and mocked me each time we passed it in the minivan to and from a trip to the grocery store or dance class or most frequently, the dump.  I remember the feeling of complete awe when I realized what those two letters stood for–Recreational Vehicle.  Wow.  A vehicle whose sole purpose is recreation.  On camping trips I’d stare longingly at the RVs.  I’d watch them pull up to the station where they unloaded their sewage.  Even that seemed romantic. 

My favorite part about stranger’s RVs, though, was when they had maps decorating the side.  These maps were the coolest idea in the history of everything because the owners of the RV could attach little magnets in the shape of US states to mark where they’d traveled.  Specifically, where they’d traveled in their RV.  It was like the maps inside of tourist destinations that visitors put colorful thumbtacks in to signify wherever they came from.  Oh, the status of being the visitor to put a thumbtack on some far-off locale–Nepal, Portugal, Madagascar.  What are Nepalese/Portuguese/Madagascarean tourists doing at this ice cream stand on Route 28 in Hyannis, Massachusetts?   

I digress.  Point is, I badly want to travel around in a “dusty old RV.”  I want to “ride shotgun from town to town.”  I want a man as my RV companion who hasn’t shaved in days and is starting to smell.  But it won’t matter because we’ve still got half a tank of gas, a bag of chips in between our seats, and we’re singing along with the radio and “staking a claim on the world we found.”  Basically I want something exactly like this Shooter Jennings song, aptly entitled “4th of July”–

Joe Cocker, I love you.