02/27/14

the depressed person’s guide to Seattle AWP 2014.

Interspersed among the misanthropy are a few genuine tips but it takes a special person  to tell one from the other. Are you a special person? I love you.

1. The Space Needle

There’s no point in riding the elevator up to the top of the space needle, what are you, a child? Firstly it costs like 30 dollars. To go up an elevator in a building. Have you never seen a skyline? It’s gray and terrible and seagulls circle below for scraps. Think if things were different. In the next life, you could be the scraps. Also parking is shitty there and all over the city and it’s two busses from the convention center, why do anything ever.

But seriously, if you insist on a goddamn view I hear the Columbia City Tower at 701 5th Ave #4000, Seattle, WA 98104 is taller and cheaper.

2. Street Persons

A guide to the variety of street persons you will meet include, but are not limited to:

  • The working hobos sell “Real Change” newspapers for 2 dollars. It’s a legit newspaper that you’re never going to read, but don’t be a prick, buy at least one Real Change. Use the Real Change to line the walls of your self created prison of despair or to wrap up fish at Pike’s Place Market or some quaint shit like that, I don’t care.
  • The environmentalists with clipboards are very upsetting. They’re the most annoying people in the world and they know it. Do you think your tax deductible donation is going to save the polar bears or your immortal soul? Look out the window for hope and you’ll find none. It’s no wonder we’ve been driven to this state. The sickly sadness inside of all of us is more easily explained by every wilted revelation.
  • There’s a guy on the street wearing an adorable plush purple dinosaur hat who every day holds up a sign saying “I Need a Fat Bitch.” I pride myself on understanding people but I can’t unwrap this guy’s motivation. No one gives him any money. He’s the least charismatic street person I’ve ever met, and I’ve met men with no jaws. What does he need the fat bitch for? His dogged commitment to the cause at once perplexes and devastates me.
  • Me and my dogs. I’ll be hitting the streets on Thursday and Friday during the day, tweet me @mollyl !

3. The Seattle Seahawks

Think of the gall of these people. Not only do we break records in making loud noises, we’ve declared ourselves the 12th member of the team. I think half the people in this coffee shop are expecting to receive their SuperBowl ring in the mail. Any day now. Guess what, Seattle. If you don’t know how to play football you’re not on the fucking team. Nobody looks good in a football jersey and there’s no God.

4. The Seattle Freeze

People here are so stuck up and unfriendly they had to come up with a name for it. I like it. I’m glad.

5. Land and Water Duck Tour

This looks like a lot of fun. It costs about 40 bucks to take a tour of the city in a white car that is also a boat. I’ve never seen where the boat goes into the water. That would be fun to know. How many people drown in the Puget Sound every year and what can we do to increase those numbers? Sometimes when I’m walking the dogs, the boat cars drive by and I really want to wave at them, but then I’m afraid somehow the wave will reveal how black my heart is. Win a date with me on the Land and Water Duck Tour! The entry fee is the cost of my ticket and everyone who enters wins.

6. Weed

How else do you plan to quiet the nagging voice inside? I encourage you to do drugs. YOU’RE ON VACATION. Here’s a few different ways to buy weed in Seattle. 1. Walk to Westlake Center. From the Convention center just take Pike Street down to 4th. Ask the first person you see who looks like a drug dealer. They are one. Have a 10 dollar bill handy. 2. If you want better quality, do a craigslist search for “Cannabis” and you will find friendly drug curriers who deliver. I’m not fucking kidding. It really is that easy. Generally the many bicycle cops won’t give you trouble smoking in public when you look the way you do, but don’t be a privileged white person about it; use a little discretion.

7. Starbucks

HI WELCOME TO STARBUCKS WHAT CAN I GET STARTED FOR YOU. I don’t know what they’re like where you live, but every Starbucks employee in this city is the last cylon.

8. The bus

All the busses that run through the stop just outside the convention center will get you to Capitol Hill, where I live in squalor in a tiny studio apartment. My refrigerator is in my living room which is also my bedroom. After reading that sentence I encourage you to look at your own life and all the choices you’ve made that have led you to this pitiful moment. In Capitol Hill you will find that hot gay men are the new hot girl. These hot gay men pride themselves on sneering at my outfit and providing terrible customer service. Welcome to my neighborhood! I am invisible here and so are you.

The 49 and 43 go to the U District. If you need to go North to Ballard, Fremont, Northgate, etc. there’s a bus depot a block over. Use the One Bus Away app to find the bus times. It costs 2.25 or 2.50 depending on the day. Bus drivers are the kindest people in the city, unless you’re unlucky and draw a moody one.

9. Our many, many neighborhoods

The people who live here always talk about how each neighborhood has its own unique culture and flavor but all I see are murky tones of pain, pain, pain.

10. Ludi’s Restaurant

My gift to you. The best place for shitty, greasy food to match your shitty, greasy disposition can be found at 2nd and Pike. Also they sell crack and black tar heroin just outside the doors, but be careful. You buy crack one time and you’re on their mailing list forever; it’s a total pyramid scheme. Do you want to eat someplace nice? Go fuck yourself, you don’t need me. Use Yelp, you yuppy fuck.

Sorry to end on such a sour note. It’s not you, it’s me. I love you!

 

02/11/14

The only ‘top 10 films of 2013′ list ever written.

10. Room 237

This is a good movie to fall asleep to if you want your dreams invaded by raving lunatics who’ve gotten their brains on esoteric bordering on conspiracy film theory. The Shining is my all time favorite horror film, and this documentary featuring multiple bizarre and supernatural interpretations from real live humans is scarier than the original. I liked this netflix documentary more than Gravity, that’s what kind of an asshole I am. 

What?

What?

9. This is the End 

At one point, a man’s head comes off his body and the camera switches to the severed head’s point of view as the boys in the film who are playing themselves kick the head around on the floor. And then they go to Heaven and everybody sings “Backstreet’s back!” which is a pretty good song but not great. This film’s major influences likely include but are not limited to: Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey, The Seventh Seal, The Craft, George Washington and the TV series Quantum Leap.

I want to fuck all these guys.

I want to fuck all these guys.

8. Upstream Color 

This movie makes no sense. It acts foreign but it was made by the guy who made Primer, a film I plan on getting around to watching sometime soon. People are very affectionate with pigs in this film and thats a thing I like to see. Every night we as humans are afraid of worms crawling in our ears that make us do terrible things, and yet nobody talks about it. This is an important film visually as well as socially and politically, as it raises awareness about worms crawling into our skull and taking over our minds. Now streaming on netflix; somebody pay me for these hyperlinks.

upstream-color-2-580

my vision board.

7. Before Midnight 

I don’t like it when Jesse and Celine fight. If you can’t be happy in Europe with your beautiful children and novelist husband than there is no such thing as happy. Any future joy ahead of us will come in a series of fleeting moments, like the way it is now, like we’ve always suspected, and I still cannot believe that bitch said she didn’t love him anymore.

Life sucks.

Life is awful!

6. Blue Jasmine

Here’s some things about this movie nobody ever talks about. 1. Alec Baldwin’s character struck me as nice and easy to get along with. He really is in love with the French au pair and probably believes it’s okay to steal money from people because life is a game and having a lot of money is how you know you’ve played the game well. What does this say about you? Are you nice? 2. All the scenes taking place in the dentist office are poorly written and unfunny. 3. What happens to Jasmine at the end? I think prescription drugs turns into heroin and she’s dead in six months but look at me with my head in the clouds.

Her clothes cost more than my face.

If you have a problem with me putting a Woody Allen film on this list I’d be more than happy to not talk about it!

5. Dallas Buyer’s Club

People become unraveled by death and I don’t like to see that happen. It reminds me that I’ll die someday, and if it’s not something unexpected like an anvil from the sky or a sudden elevator shaft, then I might have an inkling it’s coming for me. I might get very anxious and start juicing vegetables for some reason other than trying to make my skin glow so my ex boyfriend will like me, and I don’t like thinking about that feeling. This movie would have been a lot more earth shattering if it had come out in 2002 or something. I remember in 1999 when I was a junior in high school a woman came to our school and gave a lecture on HIV. Afterward I went up to her and shook her hand and asked her if I could get AIDS from my tongue piercing. I knew that was a stupid question but really I just wanted to touch someone who had AIDS. I had this thought that it might be my only chance, and so far (as far as I know) I was right. Is that fucked up? I don’t know.

Jared Leto's steller performance = proof that acting must not be that hard.

Jared Leto’s stellar performance = proof that acting must not be that hard.

4. 12 Years a Slave 

Forget about the social and historical relevance or whatever. Now that it’s been a few months since I’ve seen it, I think about the way the cotton looked against the sky, the weird soundtrack and that fucking snow globe hurling through the air at the pretty slave’s head, holy fuck slavery was awful. Also, did you see the fun movie game I made up for Unstuck magazine, GOD or NO GOD?

cheer up everyone.

Just nine more years buddy.

3. The Wolf of Wall Street

This movie’s only controversial if you believe the film glorifies and celebrates the lead characters, which it doesn’t, so calm the fuck down. It’s not 12 Years A Slave for chrissake, it’s not going to beat you over the head with its thesis. Look at the face of the woman who’s having her hair cut off at that Charles Foster Kane like party. That’s where you’ll find the morality. Contrast Wolf with something like the Goodfellas rip-off Blow from 2002. Now, that’s a movie that celebrates a guy who profited off of millions of people’s drug addictions and misery and never ever once felt bad about it, and never once did the movie invite us to feel bad about it either. The fact that people have misunderstood Wolf isn’t the movies fault. Who didn’t know before today that people aren’t smart? Leonardo DiCaprio is a crush gone rogue, I want to lick him.

I didn't realize men could be so into their wives but look at this.

I didn’t realize men could be so into their wives but look at this.

2. Her

I knew I was dating my computer before I saw Her, but now I really know. I’m in a relationship with all 786 of my twitter followers, so long as we’re including parody accounts, literary journals and local chiropractors, which we are. I feel as though movies are unpacking the truth of existence at a quicker pace than the average man on the street, which could lead to breakdowns later but there’s no point in dreading a future we can’t know about, is there? Did you know that no one ever really loved anyone else? That we’re nothing but slaves to our piddly sensations and even these are fleeting and without a master? I don’t act like I know it, but I know it. Parades are in order for this, the best mainstream film of the year, with its pink sadness and creepy wisdom on the nature of relationships and what they do to us.

her-film-02

In the future writers live in nice apartments.

1. The Act of Killing

I can’t pretend I didn’t see this documentary just because my brain doesn’t know what to do with Indonesian women dancing outside the gaping mouth of a wooden, house-sized bass. Werner Herzog said that after watching 8 minutes of Josh Oppenheimer’s footage, he knew he’d seen something extraordinary, and he and Errol Morris signed on as executive producers, a fancy term for $ $ $ and getting shit done. The film stars men who are making their own movie about their personal role in killing more than a million communists 40 years earlier under a tyrannical government regime. They’re proud and gleeful about what they’ve done and it makes you think, “Wait, I thought I knew what it meant to be a human, this is confusing.” In vipassana meditation, you sit still for days at a time waiting around for unpleasant sensations to come bubbling up to the surface. They’re called sankaras, and it’s weird! That time you lied to your friend in high school and didn’t feel bad about it shows up 15 years later in the shape of a scratch on your nose.  Think of the sankaras coursing through your veins after killing thousands of people with blunt tools and wire. In The Act of Killing I liked when the kids wouldn’t stop crying after they said ‘cut’ and the way the lead character couldn’t stop dry heaving when the cameras followed him back to the death pit. I mean, not “like.” You know what I mean.

hilarious

Hilarious! Wait no, a different feeling.

Honorable mentions: Gravity, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Frances Ha, August: Osage County, Out of the Furnace 

Special Jury Prize for a movie that technically came out in 2012 but otherwise probably would have been 4 or 5 on my list: The Place Beyond the Pines 

Terrible films that I moderately enjoyed anyway: The Counselor, After Earth, Elysium 

Top 5 worst films of 2013 I happened to see: Movie 43, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, The Secret Life of Walter MittyKerouacThe Company You Keep   

Don’t think I didn’t see these films, I just didn’t like them: Inside Llewyn Davis, Nebraska, Blue is the Warmest Color 

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF MY LIST? 

12/30/13

date night: permanently cancelled.

That blood you’re looking at is my ex boyfriend’s blood. I didn’t want to break up. I wanted us to get married and have babies. The grief is terrible. I feel like I’ll never get over it, but I’m sure that’s wrong. He says things to me like, “You’re a beautiful person who will positively impact the world,” and “Get out! [of my apartment.]” He thinks that I’m too negative and I make myself miserable, but. I mean. Look how painful life is. I know not seems, madam, nay, it is!

This grief has followed me around for weeks now. There’s nothing to do really but wait it out. I tried going on a couple of dates, but the men don’t move me, and the idea of sex with some non mathematician makes my stomach turn. I went out with one guy who immediately said to me, “You seem awkward and uncomfortable.” I was actually totally relaxed, fuck that guy. He asked me how attracted to him I was on a scale of 1 to 10, and I said “6.” He screamed back, “6!” and I changed it to 5. He pounded his fists on the bar and yelled louder, “5?!” I fucking hate extroverts. And anyway, I explained to him that if 1 is “you are a dirty shoe” and 10 is “you’re jennifer lawrence covered in glitter,” then 5 is pretty good. But he didn’t listen.

These men, what were they raised in a barn? I’ll go on a date with a man and he won’t ask me a question the entire time. They just fan out their peacock feathers as if I give a fuck, it’s maddening. And all the while, they’re on a date with Molly Fucking Laich. They all act like they’re smarter than me, because why, they’re a man and I’m a woman? I’m beginning to see just how pervasive and under the surface misogyny really is. The only thing worse than a misogynistic man is an overly feminist one, but that’s a topic for another time.

Another guy spit in my drink once. I think he thought he was Charles Bukowski and that he was the only one on the date who knew anything about writing or the human condition. I told him I had an MFA and he informed me I was a privileged asshole. I actually worked really hard as an undergrad and won a full fellowship, but that’s fine, sometimes its easier to just not correct people. He spit in my drink and then looked at me like, “Eh? What did you think of that? Here’s what I think of women.” Honestly, I’m grateful that happened because it’s such a fun thing to tell people. Everyone is horrified, and they all say, “I hope you didn’t go home with him afterward.” I have two different versions of the ending of this date story and you don’t get to hear either.

The next morning I ran into mormon missionaries on the street. They sang a hymn to me and prayed that I would find a good apartment. I did, but of course it’s impossible to say whether or not the prayer had anything to do with it. I looked on craiglist; it didn’t fall from the sky. But yes, I am aware the lord works in mysterious ways and those mysterious ways might certainly include craigslist.

The last date didn’t have a prayer, poor thing. I haven’t shaved my legs in three months and I wore a sports bra under my extra large guns n roses t-shirt, what does that tell you. He was good looking and normal, but a little bigger so I think he showed up to the date feeling bad about himself. Man, I feel sorry for anyone on a date who gives a shit about the outcome, what a miserable position to be in. This guy didn’t ask me a lot of questions either, but I think it was more out of social clumsiness than anything. He’s the designer of a super nerdy, cult video game. He’s got his own wikipedia page and everything; it’s genuinely impressive. I talked to him about video games for most of the date, which in retrospect was pretty unfair. Afterward he texted that okcupid had picked the perfect girl for him. It’s not even close to true. I was only talking about video games with him to get him to like me. It’s just a parlor trick I learned hanging out with gamers for most of my 20s. I know all the words and it drives the men wild. But there’s no way I’m going to keep that up for the next 30 years, please.

These men don’t know my last name and none of you better tell them. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. Daniel never read my blog once because he was a shitty boyfriend. I told him that my online persona is different from me in real life, which isn’t actually true, I just wanted to trick him so he’d love me. Here’s a glimpse of his aesthetic preferences as contrasted with mine: He likes to post pictures of geometric shapes on facebook, hashtag godseye. He thinks The Number 23 is a really good movie. I know, right? I would pay 1 million dollars to make him love me again. I’d sell my hair and get a second job. It’s like In High Fidelity when John Cusack screams up to Catherine Zeta-Jones’ window: “You fucking bitch, let’s work it out!” Daniel doesn’t like Peter Gabriel. If I were going to stand outside of his apartment holding up a boombox it would have to be some ambient techno track.

Fuck. Fuck fuck. My fucking life. Fuck. I probably shouldn’t post this, but if you’re reading it, I did.

With a sinking heart I have to admit that I’m not ready for a relationship. There’s something about me + another person that starts to eat away at my core until there’s nothing left but a fat person who doesn’t write stories anymore. I get lazy and unambitious. I’ll do anything for them. I like them best when they don’t like me. Tale as old as time. It’s a truly depressing illness with no cure, this aching for another. The only solution I can think of is exercise and green smoothies. Eye of the fucking tiger; I’ll get on that real soon here.

I was going to apologize for all the dreary, personal posts of late, but then I remembered, fuck you, this is my website. You read this far of your own accord and I’m really grateful! But I have lots of ideas for the future with more universal appeal. You will like them and then you will like me and this will make me feel better for a second until I remember some new bad thing, rinse, repeat.

12/12/13

a day in the life part million.

Before we begin: Does the new theme decoration make you nauseous? Perhaps I’ll have changed it before you read this, but right now know that the background is bright red slabs of meat with a real life bloody bathroom scene as the header photo. I can explain: I don’t have photoshop installed to tone down the reds. If anybody wants to help me design something prettier, by all means, come at me.

Never mind this crippling fear of the blank page followed by an avalanche of projections into a bleak and unrealized future. I went to bed with this “never mind” in mind and tried to wake up in the morning still thinking it, but the mind wanders. I had three dogs to walk today. I said to myself, unconvincingly, “I choose to be a dog walker!” This is one of the new head tricks I’ve learned, in a nutshell: Act like your life isn’t horrible.

There’s a coffee shop about a block from my new studio in capitol hill. I don’t like it because the drip doesn’t taste good and you can’t get anything bigger than 12 oz (classic joke: The food is terrible, and such small portions!) but it’s on the way to the bus and I’m trying to be a good sport.

Inside the soundtrack featured christmas music sung by harmonizing black voices, and I was listening to the music while staring at the girl’s hair in front of me. She had hair that looks like she tousled it in the morning on purpose, like if you snapped a picture of Kate Moss when she first stepped out of bed and she still looked good.

The girl with the hair said, “Is this Beyonce?” and the man behind the counter with the skinny tshirt, beard and glasses confirmed, “It’s Destiny’s Child.”

It was just as I suspected, and in my sudden commitment to be vulnerable and genuine with the people around me, I said to everyone, “I was really enjoying the music, and it caused me to confront my true self and my previous beliefs about the entire holiday season and the meaning of Christmas.” I pointed to my heart while saying this.

The man behind the counter corrected me: “It’s pretty horrible.”

The other guy handed me my shitty 12 ounces of coffee and said, “Yeah, it’s bad.”

Let me just reaffirm once more that the music was gorgeous, I mean empirically, you’d have to be some kind of monster. I thought, “Am I on candid camera?”

Out loud I said, “Then why are you playing it?” but no one heard me.

The girl with the tousled hair agreed with the coffee workers that the soulful, joyous rendition of “here come the bells” was terrible. “I like the RUN DMC Christmas album,” she said, and followed that with, “Are you playing this on vinyl?”

It didn’t seem like she was kidding, but how can that be? They said: “No, compact disc,” and the three of them talked about vinyl right up to the moment I walked out the door.

That’s actually what unfolded during my first attempt at openness with people in my neighborhood. I’m like a raccoon who climbs out of his hole at the first thaw with a longing for spring only to immediately get hit by a truck.

On the way to the bus downtown I thought to myself, “I need to start saving my money so I can go on vacations, have experiences and meet new people.” Shortly after on the sidewalk I ran into a panhandler for probably the third or fourth time, but she tends to only remember me if I’ve got a dog in tow. She’s a tiny, pretty thing, and she’s always nice and I always give her money. She said she needed four more dollars to get a subway sandwich, and I handed her five dollars out of my empty dreams fund.

She said thank you and told me I was tall. Being told I’m tall usually feels like a pin in my belly but I’m starting to recognize that people think they’re giving me something nice when they say this. They think they’re complimenting me, so with this new information I have to sort of pull out the pin and clean off the blood.

The odds suggest the girl is a drug addict, which is fine. I am happy to give her five dollars for whatever is going to make her feel good. What I find is that I’m craving to know her better. What kind of drugs? How did she get into them? Will she ever change or will she die on the streets? I know that she’s special. I’d like to follow her back to wherever she goes at night and crawl into the sleeping bag next to her, but I hold back! This is why I’ll never be a crack addict; I’m too shy.

You’re reading the words of a girl who’s interested in change and right action. I joined a cult recently. I hope it helps. It’s not my first choice for a cult because I think it’s a little corporate-y, and they’re super aggressive about trying to turn me into a little soldier who recruits other members, but overall I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor, at the moment. Think of the kind of compassionate capitalists with glazed over eyes you see in the crowd of a Ted Talks video, these dolts who have just discovered for the first time the value of mindfulness, and that’s the kind of peeps my new cult is largely made up of. I think I’ve got something to learn from these people. If you think I’m selling out, well. The girl from two weeks ago who didn’t join this cult hasn’t finished a story in over a year and a half, so what the heck. Let’s see if this helps.

I’m single again. Lost another one to God, what else is new. Going to Detroit this weekend. I tried to go to the post office but the line was too long and I couldn’t understand how to buy stamps out of the self service machine. That’s a true story. If you’re still waiting on a free letter, what can I say? LoL. Keep waiting. 

11/19/13

interview with famed author j. robert lennon about his book Happyland.

In 2003, my friend John wrote a book about a maniacal doll tycoon named Happy. It was a good book, but some people got mad about it, and the book stayed unpublished until now. You can read a description of Happyland here on good reads. (Be my friend if you want, I just joined!) I emailed John some questions and he answered them.

1. In the novel, Happy Masters visits a tiny fictional town in New York. She decides to build a kind of living dollhouse/tourist attraction out of the place, thus effecting the lives of many of the shop owners who live there. I liked especially Dave the on-the-wagon bartender and Janet the lesbian college student in love with Happy. It’s quite a thing to encapsulate a whole town in a book. I wondered if it took courage, if it was ever too hard and you wanted to give up. Is it an especially long book? I wasn’t sure because I read it on kindle. (Most cursory of research after the fact reveals the book to be approx. 325 pages.) The scope reminds me of Preston Falls by Richard Russo and maybe some other books as well. What were you reading and thinking of at the time you were writing this epic saga and just who do you think you are in general.

I’m your worst nightmare, missy, that’s who I am. Seriously though—I think this is a little longer than the novels I’ve been writing lately, but I must say that it was incredibly fun to write. I’d set out to intentionally create a set of extreme personalities and stage a bunch of over-the-top drama for them to suffer through. I think the problem with trying to evoke an entire town in a novel is to make it seem populated by more than the people and things that are the focus of the story—to give the place an overall personality above and beyond your immediate literary concerns, and without cluttering the whole thing up. The first draft was extremely different—it had an art professor, and The Oldest Man In The State Of New York, and a ghost, and a little crowd of precocious children, and no real narrative drive. I’d just been amusing myself, really, in the hope that a novel would emerge. It didn’t, not right away. For the next draft, I basically kept the first 20 pages and started over, and the result is more or less what was published.

2. More about the characters. Did you have some kind of model in mind when figuring out the combination of personalities? For example, it seems to me that Kevin is a classic “chaotic neutral” if you’re into Dungeons and Dragons. I think I read you say somewhere that the ineffectual apple orchard keeper/mayor is akin to Colin Powell.

The characters aren’t strictly allegorical, though I did think of Happy as an expression of Karl Rove’s politics, and yeah, Archie as Colin Powell, the man doomed to commit sin after sin of omission. Mostly, though, the characters grew out of the other characters. What kind of person would Happy really hate? An old-school feminist like the librarian. What kind of man could Happy humiliate? A sexually insecure bundle of nerves like the college president. Who would worship and desire Happy? Someone shy and malleable, like Janet. Once I had the major players I could invent secondary characters designed to vex, tempt, or otherwise ruffle them. And yes, I am into Dungeons and Dragons.

 

3. I don’t want to give too much away, but do you think any of these characters found redemption? Is Happy Masters a better person by the end or has she just learned how to be more cunning?

I wasn’t really aiming for redemption—I think everyone stays more or less who they were at the beginning of the book. Except for Janet, I guess—Janet is the character who finds herself, or invents herself, or at least appears to have done so in the coda. I didn’t have any real goals for this novel other than to wind up these people and watch them bumble around. It was a challenge to tease a plot out of it all!

Time out for a personal anecdote about me as it relates to the American Girls dolls:

When I was a kid my grandmother gifted me the Molly book series, for obvious reasons. Like me, Molly was in the third grade, but in 1942 with a father away at war. She had stringy blonde hair in braids and glasses, and worst of all, a neurosis to match my own and I didn’t like that. I didn’t know I was cheated out of a doll until a girl in our class brought in her Samantha doll for show and tell. She asked the class to note how much her and Samantha looked alike and it’s true, they were both very pretty. For three years I needed glasses and pretended I didn’t because I didn’t want to be a nerd like Molly.

nerd.

nerd.

great beauty.

great beauty.

4. Which character do you feel most closely aligned with? Whose story do you think this is? Which of these characters are you most romantically interested in if you liked girls? If you liked guys?

That’s a thoroughly bizarre question, the sexy part anyway. I’m most aligned with Happy, of course—I’m the guy pulling the strings! She’s playing the role of a villain, of course, but I find her pretty sympathetic, ultimately. She is just completely impatient with anyone or anything getting in the way of what she wants, and this is an impulse I am always tamping down in my own personality. I mean, there’s a Happy in me always fighting for dominance. She usually loses, but she’s in there. As for romance…is it narcissistic to love one’s own characters? I guess it is. That said, Happy and Janet could be said to represent extremes of the two types of women I’ve tended to date—brash, socially confident self-actualizers and demure aesthetes with hidden strengths. I married a Janet, ultimately, but count a few Happys among my best friends.

Interviewers note: Kevin and Dave are the sexiest men characters in this book because they work with their hands and/or own a bar. 

5. Did you feel hopeless and upset when you couldn’t get your book published back when you first wrote it, or did you have a system in place for dealing with crippling rejection and disappointment? When do we let go and put our precious in a drawer?

I’ve got some novels in drawers, for sure, but they aren’t very precious. This was different—a book everyone agreed was worth publishing, but couldn’t be published because of obscure and unreasonable fears. I was enraged at the time, of course—I ground my teeth at night and cursed the day various people were born. But the experience has taught me to detach myself from others’ regard and accept rejection and disappointment as the norm. Every writer has to eventually, even, I’d imagine, the wildly successful ones.

6. Have you ever tried to write a screenplay? Should I?

The screenwriter Michael Caleo and I have written a TV pilot and we’re gonna try to get a series made. Fingers crossed!

7. What question do you wish people would ask you about the book and what’s your answer to this question?

Q: Are you going to do ensemble social comedy again? A: Yes!

8. Seen any good movies this year? Books?

I haven’t been to many movies, oddly. Breaking Bad was the best piece of filmed entertainment I saw this year—I think Walt and Jesse are extraordinary characters, legendary ones, even. The writing on that show was amazing. And maybe I’m just thinking visually this year, but lots of my favorite books were comics—Anders Nilsen’s BIG QUESTIONS and Adam Hines’s DUNCAN THE WONDER DOG are standouts. I also loved a couple of new poetry collections by my friends Ed Skoog (ROUGH DAY) and Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers (CHORD BOX). 

9. I need you to speak to me now like a sage and an elder. I want to start a book and finish it in a relatively quick amount a time. I’m a full time dog walker, but the grind isn’t so bad. I have a fair amount of free time. What’s a reasonable goal for getting a first draft done? Is that an insane way to look at it? I feel that I need a plan and a goal.

No system is insane, however artificial it may seen. Whatever gets the shit done. Before I taught full time, I could finish a first draft of a novel in nine months—these days it’s more like a year and a half. I tend to do a lot of work in revisions, especially now that I’m older; I’m more willing to ignore what I thought I was trying to write and accept what I discover during the process of failing to write it. When I’m doing a first draft, I try to work on it every day and crank out four or five pages in three or four hours. I just want a pile of pages I can give to people so that they can tell me what’s wrong with them. As for your plan—yes. Set goals. Meet them. Don’t worry if it’s not awesome. It can’t be awesome, it’s a first draft.

 

 

 

10/8/13

oh, shadow!

My body’s been going through some exciting changes. All the walking has made my legs taut and sturdy like trees. At night I go to the gym and hit a bag. I can do one male pushup with confidence, but walking dogs makes me hungry so I still weigh a lot. I look at my body and think, where is all this weight distributed? My tan is fading. Further, I’ve been going to the same gym for three months and I haven’t made a single friend. I don’t think anybody paid my gym fees, so for the last several weeks I’ve just been slinking by the front desk. From this I can conclude that everyone agrees I’m supposed to be there but would rather not talk to me, which is a good position to be in when you haven’t paid your gym fees.

This morning at 7:30 I took Beatrice the bulldog for a walk in the alley behind her dad’s house where we came across a golden, jewel-encrusted turtle sitting on a wet chair. It looked like a trick, it was so perfect. At first I was afraid to touch the turtle because it seemed alive, and then I thought if I picked it up a loud alarm would go off. I decided to leave the turtle for the time being, and if it was there when I came back at 11, I’d take the turtle home and put it under the covers at my new boyfriend’s house so he’d know what I’m like and maybe feel the same way about it as I do. Basically it’s a test that none of us know we’re taking. At this point I’ve put the turtle in my car and the rest of the story hasn’t happened yet.

A few entities have approached me in the last year asking if they can put up advertising on mollylaich.com, mostly for “learn how to write” products since that’s what most of you are into apparently. If there were serious money involved I’d do it—don’t get me wrong—but it’s not serious; it’s like 100 bucks a year if we’re lucky. I was going to say that I’m not going to do it for the principle or whatever but now I’m wondering if it isn’t just laziness. I think it’s funny how the moment you manage to create something remotely interesting, a thing that people want to put their eyes on willingly, somebody else wants to come along and squeeze the blood out of it. It’s like an insect bite. The bug wants to eat you: Be flattered, but strike her dead.

The reality of my situation is creeping up on me, that I only have 729 twitter followers and I might not have the work ethic to make any sort of profound impact on the literary world. I’m coming to terms with my ordinariness, basically. But even as I type it I don’t believe me. I just keep living my life as though it’s about to start to matter as soon as we clear this next big hill. It’s just a series of hills, you guys! It’s like in Homeward Bound when they make it over the first mountain only to see a million more in the distance, and Sassy the cat says, “Oh, Shadow!”

Plus I’m in love with a nice man. How gay is that.

Free letters is still a thing, send me your address! I just sent out a bunch of them. I tried to give everyone a dollar, but toward the end of the pile I ran out of cash, and it’s like, why am I paying you? I don’t have enough turtles to put in everyone’s bed, probably.

10/3/13

open interviews.

In honor of my new, slightly used macbook air and the Hunter’s Moon (October), I asked people to ask me questions. Here they are.

@5redpandas wants to know:

1. What makes you angry?

Foie gras. When I think of this and other rich people, animal torture delicacies, I see red. My blood boils.

2. Name three artists/writers you’d like to be compared to.

When it comes to art, lifestyle and temperament, I relate with Charlie Kaufman, Joy Williams and Charles Bukowski. You don’t really want people coming up to you and saying you remind them of Bukowski, though. He had a bad temper and a hideous face.

Certain shit has come up in my life, depending on the decade: Clarissa Explains it All. Blossom. Angela from My So Called Life. Peppermint Patty.

3) What’s overrated (could be a book, movie, and or idea)? WHY?

Breaking Bad. Drive. Blade Runner. I dunno, these are all things a lot of people like that just look like bad art to me. Psychologically inconsistent or all style or boring or dumb. Breaking Bad is pretty good I just feel left out because I don’t care. I wish everybody was riveted by Who the Bleep Did I Marry? Or Werner Herzog films or some of the shit that I like for once.
4. What’s underrated? Why?
Reincarnation, the enneagram, tarot, meditation, the moon, Gurdjieff’s Fourth Way school and other weird mystic philosophies I wish I could talk about with more people.
5. What was you at your personal best?
Once at a coffee house in Missoula, Montana, somebody had my feature story spread out on the table and was reading it. I watched them for like a solid 1o minutes. Another time I stared at somebody while they read my movie review in a bar, waiting for them to laugh. (They didn’t.) I don’t know if it will ever get any better than that. If I could watch people read my blog posts every week I don’t think I’d need food or water.
6) At your worst?
Pierce Middle School, the cafeteria, 1994.
B. Michael Payne @bmichael wants to know:
1. Time travel 5,000 years (either direction) or gain $5,000,000 and why?
I feel like you’re asking me if I’d rather have my life be a paradise or die a lonely, painful death in a terrible, inhospitable place. I’d take the money, obviously.
If I had to choose a direction I guess I’d go forward, but I’d be terrified. Terrified! 5,000 years is a long time. It’s probably not like Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure.
2. So how are dogs these days?
They are all over the map. They experience a happiness and excitement that is unparalleled, followed by an all consuming terror and anxiety, with murky, mysterious mind states in between. I feel like my job is to wrangle up their chaotic minds. It’s a somber and important responsibility. I try to take it easy with them. I’m like a cool aunt.
3. If every single internet writer struggles with the lack of so called monoculture and the universalizableness of their opinions (is this thing really popular enough to write an essay about? those nyt articles on hipsters are insufferable) then why do we still value discourse generated by observations on tribal food practices or little slices of Bavarian social life?

I truly have no idea what you’re talking about, and I’m glad for it.

4. What’s your chosen last meal?

I’d get Massaman with tofu, hot from Thailand Express near my mom’s house in Waterford. And I’d be like, “This is my last meal, let’s put a little effort into it.” And I’d say, “Put it on a real plate. I’ll be dead soon.” I should do that every time anyway.
Josh Fomon from facebook wonders:
What has been your favorite piece of writing that you have published thus far and why? Also related, could you expound about publishing in general? Would love to hear your perspective on it.

I prefer the longer stories to the shorter ones. I like The Sting and Trevor and the Gun because I think they’re fun and easy to read. I want my writing to be as easy as watching television, but profound or whatever. I’m really proud of all the features I wrote for the indy but it’s also incredibly painful since everybody hated them and I made a lot of embarrassing self declarations that turned out not to be true in the long run, so that’s a mixed bag.

I think my movie reviews are mostly all excellent. I think I really know what I’m talking about and that I deserve to be one of the top people in the world who explains why a movie is or isn’t good.

Stillwater is a good story. Make Do is okay. I haven’t written my best story yet, I’m certain.

I don’t have much to say about publishing. I helped edit a journal for awhile but it was hard and I quit. I could say that I’m against self publishing, but I’ve been self publishing a blog since I was 16, so that would be a lie. Right now I’m more concerned about creating work in the first place, so talking about publishing is a case of putting the cart before the horse.

BTW, I have a 5,000 word story called Sledgehammer I’d really like to see published someday. If anybody knows a good place for me to send that shit, help. Sledgehammer wants to be free!

H.L Nelson from Facebook asks:

Did you find anything cool out about Aimee Bender when you interviewed her? That maybe wasn’t in the interview? Was she as nice and shit as she seems? I found her pleasant when I briefly emailed her about the anthology.

What you see in this interview is basically the totality of our interaction. The director’s cut includes things like me emailing and asking when and how she’d like to talk and her prompt, courteous response. She was cool, you know? She acted like a normal person. She did tell me she didn’t have a gmail account or know what gmail was, and I think I gently suggested that she should get with the times and get one before some crazed fan snatches aimeebender at gmail up, but I might not have said that. I might have just thought it.

Not to sound like a fucking elitest name dropper or anything, but I’ve managed to meet a lot of writers of varying prestige and success levels, and I don’t really get star struck. I mean, nobody besides other writers gives a shit about a writer. I thought it was cute the way she reacted to my question about her literary celebrity. Not the answer itself—the answer was honest and down to earth— just that she thought it was weird that I asked. But it was at the forefront of my mind. She was unequivocally the biggest name in the anthology. Basically she said it’s all relative and I agree.

And now here I am being interviewed! But I asked you all to send me questions as a favor, so it doesn’t feel good.

@allthejenns from twitter wants to know:
1. There’s a lot of talk of blood and homelessness on your twitter feed, are you okay?
I’m okay, you’re okay. About the blood, I can explain: The TV got punched, it broke open the man’s hand. The man took a long nap and then we took him to the emergency room where a handsome Asian doctor pulled tiny pieces of glass out. It’s a terrible wound that’s taking a long time to heal. Why the man punched the TV defies logic or explanation, but it’s fine. He said he’s sorry. He bought another one.
blood
Walking dogs in the downtown area, you run into a lot of hobos. Animals, nutbars and old people: I am drawn to them like a moth. It’s best to give your dollars freely in order to make friends, in my experience. You get lonely all day at work with no one to talk to.
Side topic, I hate when people can’t tell I’m working. I just look like a rich asshole with no job/cares walking two german shepherds at 11 in the morning. It takes two conversational strokes to get to the heart of the matter. Strangers at crosswalks say, that’s a cute dog, and then they ask a question about the dog, and by then it’s time to disclose the reality of the relationship. I say, “The dog’s not mine, I’m a dog walker.” A lot of people tell me I have a cool job, which I could just accept, but instead I internalize it as condescending, and then I feel bad about myself and my station in life.
It’s good to have hobo friends is what I’m saying. How the fuck they going to make you feel bad? They have totally failed at life. They’re hobos!
2. what is your favorite thing about dogs?
There’s been a misunderstanding. I don’t like dogs.
08/22/13

nothing to see here.

The dogs are like little touched children. They are low to the ground children who are covered in fur and can’t talk. When people aren’t around, the dogs are dormant and listless. They curl up on the floor and wait until I come up the walkway, a hero! No human is ever so happy to see me. Herman, the little bulldog terrier runs around in circles and picks up his toy and shows it to me. He’s like, “I just wanted you to see this toy!” Which makes sense at the time but now I don’t get it. The white and brown hound have huge grins and people are all the time saying to me, “Why those dogs so happy?”  Nobody knows why smelling a lot of different things outside makes a dog happy. What’s in the scent? All I know is, the dogs like the walk so much, and I gave it to them. I hardly see the point of writing anymore.

But seriously, my laptop died. Then went the plants, my pride, the pride of lions, the grass under their feet, the osprey, spots on the sun cracking and fading away like flashbulbs, a native language every 9 seconds or something, all of it died, died, died.

Also what is the point of this website again? It’s embarrassing. I’m so embarrassed.

Got a new boyfriend. He’s a mathematician who listens and hopefully doesn’t know how to use the internet.

I’m so happy. There’s a library around the block from my house. Their computers move as slow as a turtle and use internet explorer. It’s like my hell and I don’t even care.

Going to Montana later on today for the weekend to float in the river and try to not hate myself. Same thing I do every day but on a river this weekend.

I am long overdue on my letters. I love you. We love each other. Maybe you’ll get a postcard.

 

07/25/13

my boyfriend’s back (and you’re gonna be in trouble).

Too much time has past since my last confession. All the quality people have died or moved on. So much has happened, where to begin:

1. Becoming a full time dog walker/pet sitter is one of the best things that’s ever happened to me. It’s as easy as you imagine and weirdly lucrative so long as you work all day every day and sleep in a stranger’s bed with a pug under each arm every other night of your life. My enthusiasm is tempered only because dog walking is a well known loser job, as evidenced by this recent onion video, “Friends Don’t Understand How Man Not Depressed.”  Three guesses for what this sad, pathetic man does for a living. I’ll give you a hint: He’s not a doctor. If you saw the way the dogs look up at me from the leash with total devotion, you’d understand.

2. An attractive, newlywed couple moved into the upstairs of the house I’ve been living in and are converting the space into their own personal love nest. They dismantled the pool table and threw away the television. Day by day, the ugly tile is covered up with pretty hardwood laminate. Imagine a Charlie Kaufman film. Every morning I wake up thinking, “Oh God, my life.” But I move into my new place in Greenwood this weekend and I have big plans to throw away everything that isn’t an elephant. Speaking of which.

3. In a surprise twist, Jesse moved to Seattle a couple of weeks ago with my first and last name tattooed over his heart. He rolled up with everything he owns in the $300 Subaru, and now he’s making $500 a day roofing, like a game show screaming, “All this could be yours!” But money’s only fun when it’s buying you freedom, right? He moved in with his second choice, a young, rich, beautiful girl in Kirkland. She has no idea what she’s up against. He hates me, he wants to marry me, I’m a whore, I’m beautiful, I don’t know, it changes on a dime. Jesse Casado is Daniel Plainview from There Will Be Blood. He is Brandon McCarthy from Welcome to the Dollhouse. He’s Mark Wahlberg from Fear. He’s the guy who killed McGinnis in Jesus’ Son. He is Raging Bull.

“Will you believe me when I tell you that there was kindness in his heart? His left hand didn’t know what his right hand was doing. It’s just that certain important connections had been burned through. If I opened up your head, and ran a hot soldering iron around in your brain, I might turn you into someone like that.”

The last time I saw Jesse he’d started drinking at 5:30 in the morning. He bought me breakfast at Denny’s and I sat across from him on a bed of eggshells thinking, forgive me, please. I’m sorry I hurt you. Forgive me. Love me like you used to. Let me love you. Just be my friend. Guess what’s never going to happen? On the way home I puked up the Denny’s in a plastic bag, and it’s like, what the fuck is the point of this? What am I doing? I quit.

4. The worst of it is that I haven’t been writing, but I’ve been off the Jesse for a few days now and I think I’m coming out of the fog. I’ve got my sense of smell back! I can feel myself having ideas again. I want to write essays on dogs and how to be nice. I want to write you free letters and a novel and a million short stories and more film articles. Now it’s just a question of where to start.

Where do I start?

06/17/13

let’s talk about all the movies I saw by myself this month.

Feeling the suffocating weight of the human condition and my life choices, but what else is new. Writing is a shitty vocation on any day but it’s been particularly difficult for me lately for some reason. Sometimes you go to paint and the colors are wet mud, that’s all, it happens. Like breathing, writing for me has been labored and difficult.

I’ve got this new life plan. My mother taught me from a very early age that people who are happy and love themselves are assholes. I think she was thinking of my father but I analogized the lesson to include everyone, chiefly myself. So my new thing is to from now on go incredibly, uncomfortably easy on myself. You remember the four agreements, right? 4. Always do your best. Maybe on Tuesday my very best means eating an entire frozen pizza and going to bed at 7:30, I don’t know, I’m not a psychic.

Holy fuck, I’m so lonely, I go to the movies every weekend by myself, sometimes twice a weekend, that’s how lonely. I go to movies whether the paper assigned me to see the film or not. If writing is a knife in the heart than cinema is the balm. You just watch it with your eyes, get on the internet afterward and bitch about what you saw. You don’t have to create anything or guess what the characters look like.

For example, I saw After Earth in theaters on purpose. The scholarship has been done, it’s hardly relevant anymore, but seriously, what were they thinking. Gifting your kid a 130 million dollar movie to star in is not inspiring, Will Smith. We do not relate, this isn’t a father/son story the American people are interested in getting behind. Will and Jaden are speaking in accents because it’s 1,000 years in the future and language changes but this is a dumb future detail to guess at and also distracting. It was stupid when they did it in Cloud Atlas too, we don’t need to have them talk funny to know it’s the future. The plot says everything on earth has evolved to kill humans since they absconded long ago. That’s Lemarkian bullshit—evolution doesn’t work that way. Why is M. Night Shyamalan obsessed with plants killing us. The plants aren’t going to kill us, bro.

The CGI is bad, the story is boring and Jaden has no charisma. The lesson of the film is that you should never be afraid of anything. Not being afraid of a monster who wants to kill you is known as “ghosting.” To ghost is to truly not give a fuck but I think Will Smith takes it too far. What I hated most is the moment when Will Smith puts a necklace on his wife in this single, sweeping gesture that only works in movies. Cal does the same thing when he puts the Heart of the Ocean on Rose in Titanic, I fucking hate that. Necklace clasps are a bitch and we all know it, why can’t we just be real with each other.

we are royalty, Rose.

we are royalty, Rose.

Star Trek: Darkness Falls, The Iceman, Now You See Me and Before Midnight (coming this thursday) I wrote reviews for in the Indy.

What else.

My roommates and I snuck into an advanced free screening of This is the End last week, and maybe this is all the liquor and candy we smuggled in with us talking, but it might be the greatest and funniest film of all time. This is Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s directorial debut and I think they learned a lot about how to make a comedy look pretty from David Gordon Green (the indy genius who directed All the Real Girls and Pineapple Express, holla). My love for this film is just more evidence to a growing internet rumor that I’m actually a 14 year old boy.

Not in theaters (and not streaming on Netflix so you’re so fucked), I watched a movie called Killer Joe (2011) starring Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch and some other people. Hirsch’s mother is awful and has an insurance policy, so he and his Dad hire Killer Joe to, you know. The best part is how nobody lingers too much on the morality of the situation; a good dark comedy is hard to find. I love films about poor, violent and otherwise not very bright people. I want to write a short story collection in which every story is as fucked up and entertaining as this movie was.

what could go wrong.

what could go wrong.

Since Killer Joe was so thrilling, I can’t write and my life is as empty as a shell, I went and saw Mud, again starring McConaughey. The movie has a 99% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, which sounds good, but what it really means is that the film is unobjectionable so perhaps a little soft. It’s about 13 year old boys in Arkansas, which I find really relatable. It’s a Cormac McCarthy style morality tale about how women hurt men, tempered with the optimism and guarded violence that comes with a PG-13 film. Seriously, I wish I’d never known the rating, it was a real spoiler to know that nothing truly terrible would happen.

Last night I tried to watch The Descent (2005) but it was too scary. I can’t watch scary films alone, and unless you’re a dog don’t even bother inviting yourself over. Right now I’m doing a me time thing.

me. alone in my room. calmly reading.

me. alone in my room. calmly reading.