01/28/12

a routine take on a classic theme.

For a second there I thought the well had dried and I wasn’t a writer anymore. I acquired some new interests around the new year, things like vegetables, water picking (look it up) and skin regimes that include but are not limited to slathering food all over my face. It’s a good life here with my mother in Michigan while I teach community college and save up money for something cooler in spring. (As long as good no longer has any real meaning, it is a good life.)

This lady named Kelly Howell who makes subliminal audio programming that puts me into a trance-like state before bed every night told me that any discomfort I was feeling in the month of January was likely the result of increased solar flare activity. The solar flares are expanding our consciousness, heating up our bodies and causing unspecified irritability and discomfort.

I got a cold the other day, which infuriated me because I thought people who stopped eating dairy products as of December 26 of 2011 would never get colds. The cold sucked all the moisture out of my face under the nose and the top lip and it makes me look and feel like a grown-up who loves Kool-aid.

Next, A small bird came in the night and scratched my right eyeball. It swelled and it hurt. The bird would have scratched my left eyeball too, but then my mother’s cats ripped the bird apart and all three took equal parts in the eating.

That’s probably not even how it happened.

Worst of all, I’m this 29-year-old woman who doesn’t have any wisdom teeth. I don’t think. I might have one on the top right row. How do you know if you have them? I’m obsessed with whether or not I have them. The point is, some prehistoric, sharp pointy bone is poking through on the bottom right side of my gums and it hurts. This seems to happen every few months and then every time it turns out I was mistaken. It’s sort of like when I was nearly 15 years old and waiting around to get my first period under some mistaken delusion that it was going to be awesome. Do I think I’m going to know more when the tooth finally breaks through? What’s the point of even talking about it.

So yeah. Solar flares.

About the writing: Meh. There are millions of projects I can and should be working on about now. There’s the novel I started at MacDowell. It’s like a dead body I walled up in the basement, but I have all these feigned regrets, all “Oh, why did I kill that man in the heat of passion!” Then he starts tapping on the brick, whimpering, “I’m not dead,” and my friends on facebook and twitter are all, “We want to meet your dead friend,” and I know that I should feel bad that I don’t want to save him, but I don’t know. I don’t want to save him.

I got some movie review writing gigs and a third feature for the Indy in the works. Got a couple of stories that need nothing more than a quick spit shine and day after day I can’t be bothered. I’m a writer with more work than ambition to face it. Basically, I’m the biggest asshole ever.

Solar flares?

No, but seriously. Get it together, Molly.

01/15/12

look, I read something.

Lots rolling around in the old noggin but what else is new. A friend of mine who I’ve never met from the Internet sent me three books in the mail. I have a few creepers about, but in this case there’s no agenda; dude was just being nice. What a blast to get a secret special package in the mail. They weren’t even used books! I saw the receipt.

Quick digression: The relationships I make with people on the Internet are the realest. Shut the fuck up about technology isolating us and making us all terrible and it being so unfortunate. I love these people and they love me. Without the internet, living in Waterford, Michigan right now with my mother would be unbearable, instead of just temporarily unpleasant.

One of the books he sent me was a short story collection by Robert Boswell called The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards. Boswell came to my school in Montana during my first year for a guest workshop. I didn’t know who he was but I thought he gave us pretty good advice about writing. He explained to us why Chekhov’s “Lady with a Dog” is so good and why John Cheever rules, which I already knew but it’s always fun to take a moment to be like, “Hey, remember how much Cheever rules?” So much.

After the workshop we took him to one of our bars, The Union. The waitress has feathered blonde hair. All told it’s a pretty shitty bar; back then they didn’t even have a credit card machine. But they have this game called “Cornhole” where you lob beanbags across the room into a platform with a hole in it which I like because I’m pretty good at it for a girl.

This was back when I drank but I must not have drank too much that night for some reason, because I ended up driving a few of my friends home, plus a drunk Robert Boswell back to his hotel. One thing led to another and somebody in the car brought up salsa. Boswell was adamant that Montanans couldn’t possibly know anything about good salsa. None of us were from Montana but it was a point well taken nonetheless. For authentic and true salsa we would have to visit him in Santa Fe. “Come visit me in Santa Fe,” Robert Boswell told us, “And I will feed you authentic salsa.” It was one of those promises where even in the moment you know you’re never going to fucking visit Robert Boswell in Santa Fe to eat salsa, but still, I knew we were making a nice memory.

So far I’ve read the first story in the book. It’s called “No River Wide,” and it’s 38 pages long. I didn’t like it at first because the prose is sort of dense and the beginning is confusing. For example, I don’t know why the fuck it’s called “No River Wide.” (The allusion is in there somewhere I’m sure, but I missed it.) It sets up a complicated time structure from the start: we are two years in the past, the present and then some weird mix of the two at the end. Needless to say the story grew on me or why else would I be talking about it. It turned out to be the kind of novel-sized work Alice Munro used to write before she just started throwing whatever bullshit she wanted to in a blender.

Digression: I don’t know why I’m shitting on Alice Munro. (That’s not true. I do.) I’m sick of her publishing stories in the New Yorker that seem good but aren’t. She used to be a writer with a secret, but now she’s just using the same formula to give us the same secret, which would be fine except these long, fake secrets are taking up too much space. I’m the jealous type. Let’s move on.

Boswell’s story is highly literary. It’s the kind of story you can’t get for free in the online indie journals we often read and write for. What am I saying? this is a friendly reminder, I guess. Don’t forget about old white men who write books. They’re filled with painstaking craft and hard to get at emotional truths! If you used to love Alice Munro but have since turned on her, you’ll love Robert Boswell! /Reading rainbow.

One last thing. I wrote a blog post last week about blah blah blah because it was a topic that caused me concern. But for some reason it bugged me and I didn’t advertise the update on facebook, where most of my traffic comes from. I thought I didn’t like it because there are a couple of bad sentences I’m too lazy to pinpoint and fix, but really I don’t like it because it’s stupid and I’m full of shit and I should stop apologizing all the time. It’s boring. You don’t care. I needed to write it for me, but not for you. I would delete the post but then you wouldn’t know what I was talking about now.

My good Internet friend who I’ve never met named Aaron left me a comment to this effect and I was starting to get it. Then this real life friend of mine got drunk on my couch and told me I was beautiful. He kept repeating himself because he was drunk and stuck in a loop. I never once believed him and it never  got old.

Reading and writing in 2012, yo. Onward and Upward.

 

01/11/12

my enemies are the russian.

It has occurred to me—more than once, even—that writing about myself so candidly all over the internet and beyond might be a really fucking bad idea. Just so you don’t think it hasn’t occurred to me: the thought occurs. My second major feature came out at the Missoula Independent last week. It’s about magic, you can read it here. And then there was the one before that. I wanted to take a second to really dwell on the issue and explain why I keep putting it all out there, despite the large stones it sometimes lodges in my chest.

The things that we super enjoy about art and literature oftentimes have to do with seedy underbellies. Remember when American Beauty came out in 1999, and it was all, “Oh my god, we can’t believe that seemingly perfect suburban families might have skeletons in their closets!” Well, I can’t believe you can’t believe it. The stuff I write about doesn’t seem particularly shocking or weird to me, because I thought it was obvious we were all messes.

Take the whole struggling with drug and alcohol addiction thing, for example. The truth is, I’m not sorry that I did a lot of drugs and drank a lot growing up as a teen and beyond. I mean, I’m sorry for some of the consequences, but I don’t think it was inherently bad or wicked or something that I should go out of my way to hide. And likewise, I’m not sorry that I decided marijuana wasn’t meant to be my friend for life and that it’s not some snake oil panacea, after all. I think that all humans struggle and suffer and I’m not embarrassed to talk about my own struggles and suffering. I am, however, a little embarrassed that I’m not embarrassed.

My next point is best demonstrated by a moment from My So Called Life, when Angela says:

“What I like, dread, is when people who know you in completely different ways end up in the same area. And you have to develop this, like, combination you on the spot.”

That might be one of the defining quotes of my life. I really took it to heart, and the lesson I got from it is that you shouldn’t have to come up with a combination you. So much suffering comes from trying to manage all of our different personas, and at the end of the day, it just strikes me as kind of futile and pointless. We’ve all taken in good art, so we know that people are messes. Do you think that you are somehow pulling it off and making everyone else believe that you’re the exception? I don’t know. I might be too far in the other direction. I’m still working it all out.

People talk about a lack of privacy in the new facebook/twitter/whatever society like it’s a bad thing. I’m pretty into it. I don’t think people should ever feel like they have to censor who they are to anyone at any time. If you’re doing your best to be kind and true, and you’re living your life on purpose, then what is there to be ashamed of? That’s my position.

More important than any of that shit, though, is the fact that when I write about myself, people seem to respond. Over-using the first person isn’t inherently interesting. I suspect that sometimes I can be too self-centered and boring. But overall, I feel like I’m touching on something. If I didn’t feel that way, or if people didn’t continually tell me to keep doing it, I swear I would shut the fuck up.

I’m currently a teacher at a community college. Any curious student could find this blog or any of my highly personal essays whenever they wanted. How do I feel about that? Meh. I don’t feel great about it! Do I feel like it might undermine my authority? A little. But at the end of the day, it’s like this: 1. Most students are not that curious. 2. The ones that are curious tend to have open minds and won’t hold this shit against me. 3. At the end of the day, oh fucking well. I’m not getting paid nearly enough to compromise my art or my integrity. If you’re a student and you’re reading this, just do me a solid and don’t mention it to me.

Anyway. Sorry this post isn’t that funny. This is just something that’s been churning around in my head for awhile. I’ve been going through a lot of changes. Right now my life is in a hellish dormant period of saving up money, training for a big fight, living at my mother’s house in waterford, michigan, and so on.

Shut up and watch the fitness montage from Rocky IV. I’m Rocky, and my enemies are the Russian.

01/4/12

let’s not make a big deal about the new year, 2012 edition.

Here’s some lists for 2012!

Social lessons I learned in 2011:

1. You know, I don’t think men like it when you are very blunt and autistic about sexual things. Like, say you’re hanging out and it seems as though things are moving towards pants coming off… I used to think they would find it very refreshing if you made an abrupt announcement like, “It’s about time for the pants to come off,” but now I think maybe they don’t like that! I think it has something to do with romance or something.

2. Regarding the art of small talk: Now, I find that people are very boring and are always saying boring things to me, and yet, when I try to reciprocate with more boring, the other person looks bored! I will start talking about how I saw a series of books from my childhood at a Salvation Army. I will tell them how it reminded me of being young and that I considered buying some of the books, but the plot thickens when the books turn out to be pretty expensive, like two dollars a book or something, at the Salvation Army! And the person’s eyes glaze over and they start interrupting you or talking to someone else in the area. The lesson is that even though other people are boring all the time, you still have to not be boring. It doesn’t seem fair but we learned a long time ago that life wasn’t fair, right?

3. People don’t like self deprecating humor as much as I thought they did. It makes them uncomfortable. Jokes should be situational, or maybe based on manipulating language or exposing basic truths in new and pleasant ways. Turns out nobody wants to hear how fat I think I am.

4. This list is silly. I learned a lot of other more important things but I don’t want to talk about it anymore.

Books I read at the MacDowell Colony from Nov-Dec of 2011:

1. Smashing Laptops, by Josh Wagner
2. Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen
3. Blueprints of the Afterlife, by Ryan Boudinot
4. Preston Falls, by David Gates
5. The Heart Beneath the Heart, (long essay) by Rick Bass
6. Ray, by Barry Hannah
7. The Devil All the Time, by Donald Ray Pollock

Books I started but didn’t finish:

8. In Persuasion Nation, by George Saunders
9. Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
10. Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace
11. The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolano

Movies I saw in theaters in 2011, listed here without comment or Ceremony:

Midnight in Paris, Moneyball, Another Earth, Take Shelter, What’s Your Number?, Conan the Barbarian, The Muppet Movie, Cave of Forgotten Dreams, 50/50

There might be more, but that’s all I can remember.

My top 3 Favorite Blog Posts from 2011, written for me, about me, and chosen by me.

1. Whatever, about depression and the animal kingdom.

2. Sorry For Being Weird, a post about being sorry for being weird. (Honorable mention, its followup: Sorry for Being Sorry about Being Weird.)

3. how I spent my writer’s vacation, authored drunk alone in a cabin in the woods.

2012, yo. Let’s do something cooler!

Happy Time Music Playlist for 2012, affectionately titled: Bring Me a Higher Love. These songs are handpicked to bring me a higher love in both romantic and divine realms of existence.

1. “Higher Love” by Steve Winwood

2. “Something” by the Beatles

3. “You Are the Sunshine of my life” by Stevie Wonder

Talking Book is a concept album that begins with idealized love, goes on a detour into the black man’s experience, dabbles in the loss of idealized love and heartbreak and then finally ends on a note of “try, try again.”

4. “It’s Boring/You Can Live Anywhere you Want” by YACHT

5. “Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina and the Waves

Fry always sings this in the shower. It’s adorable every time.

6. “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison

7. “Roll Away Your Stone” by Mumford & Sons

Sigh No More is a concept album about rejecting romantic love for something more heavenly and divine, and that’s why it’s my favorite album of the last decade. In case you were wondering what I thought about it.

8. “Foxglove” by Murder By Death

9. “Everything’s Alright” by Jesus Christ Superstar

10. “Wildflowers” by Tom Petty

11. “Once In A Lifetime” by Talking Heads

12. “This is the Day” by The The

13. “The Greatest” by Cat Power

This song is probably about suicide or something, knowing Ms. Marshall. I haven’t bothered to listen closely to the lyrics. Let’s just say it’s about me being the greatest.

14. “I’m the Man Who Loves You” by Wilco

15. “Happy Man” by Sparklehorse

Yeah, I know he fucking killed himself. Whatever.

16. “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher” Jackie Wilson