10/15/14

a day in the life of depression.

You feel like a fat piece of shit I guess. When it’s really bad for me it makes my limbs feel heavy and it hurts to move. Dog walking is a good job for the sullen. The dogs are nice to me; I let them drag me down the sidewalk.

Drugs and alcohol help so long as you have no interest in getting down to the root of the problem. The drugs bide the time between how you feel now and how you hope to feel in the future. If you can stand it, though, it’s better to feel the feelings and grieve. Otherwise you just grieve the same things over and over, stuff them down again and nothing ever changes.

Feeling blue all the time is a moral failing, I think, because it takes so much energy to be kind when you feel like human garbage. And always, always, you’ve got to try your hardest to be kind. For example, one bad thing about walking dogs is that animals bring out the best in others. Strangers smile at me and want to talk. It takes everything I have to smile back, and look, I was saving that smile for myself. That was mine and you took it and now I feel deflated and resentful. A person all out of fucks to give is dangerous. They snap. So that’s what I mean when I say that figuring out how to be happy is a moral imperative and to not try is derelict. Think of your parents, what they wanted you to be, and now look at how you’re acting.

Some days it really seems like the dogs can tell and they care. They look at me with concern without asking what’s wrong. Depressed people always answer this question roughly the same. Something like, “Oh, nothing in particular,” or “It’s everything and nothing,” but I’ve actually never found that to be true. You say there’s nothing specifically wrong because to go on about what’s really bothering you is impolite and embarrassing. But I can tell you exactly what’s wrong: I want to be a teacher and instead I’m a dog walker. I should be writing more. I’m broke. I miss my old friends. I’m trapped in a body I hate. I’m in love with the guy I’m dating, and to quote Jerry Maguire: “He sure does like me a lot.” That’s what’s wrong. Make even half of those things right and I won’t be depressed. That’s just a fact, like melting ice burgs are facts. On the days you’re depressed those problems are circled red and underlined and that’s the only difference.

Who ever said life was supposed to feel good anyway? Ask the Buddha, she’ll tell you that life is made out of suffering. You can’t concentrate on the book you’re reading so you think you have ADD? All God ever promised anyone is one good skull; the brain inside doesn’t come wound up right. Brains are born wild and usually they die that way.

I don’t take anti-depressants, do you? I’m not judging, exactly. Some people really need them. But most people I know on meds are self-medicators to begin with. They take their Effexor and pile the booze and drugs and shitty food on top of that. A pill is a short cut and there are no short cuts. The very best thing to do is eat real food, exercise, meditate and get enough sleep. It’s hard to find the will to do that, I know. I don’t mean to lecture, all I’m saying is try. You gotta try that good stuff first. I’m talking to both of us right now. All of us. You know what the fuck I mean.

Anyway. I’m fine. See, I wrote something today. I’m feeling better already.

In other news: It took over a year but I think I’m all caught up on my outstanding free letters. I’ve got my typewriter plugged into the wall and my lips are feeling real loose. Send me your address, let me sink your battleship.

05/20/14

oops, I did it again.

First I had to kill all the ants. And I love ants. In my youth I read E.O. Wilson’s big book called The Social Insects, and I remember in horror someone told me that the collective intelligence of a thriving ant colony equals one human brain.

There were tiny ants all over the floor of the maritime engineer’s bedroom and I had to go in there with the shop vac and suck them all up. It’s wartime, I reasoned. The Engineer got this house in foreclosure and paid for it with his own money; the ants are trespassers. Of course I know the ants are really innocent, and let that be a lesson. Everybody’s innocent of everything all the time, but guilty too so what does it matter when we’re sent to our makers. I want you to know I killed those ants with a lot of reverence. There weren’t as many as I expected. I doubt they had the collective intelligence of a dog or a toddler. So it’s only like I killed a dog or a toddler, or else they’re alive and circling around in the dark, dusty shop vac right now, each of them programmed to rally and rebuild. It sounds futile, and it is. Now look at you, going back to school to be a doctor. What if all this time you were trying to be a doctor in a shop vac but didn’t know it? Think about that!

I went to a job interview at a private tutoring company in Bellevue, Washington. They gave me the job on the spot, and like Morrissey it was all “Heaven knows I’m miserable now.” I dreaded it all weekend, then Monday came and to my horror nothing had happened to prevent me from going to the first day. As I pulled out of the driveway I had the very crystalized thought, “I’m going to miss an exit or something, be late for my first day, conclude I can’t be late for my first day and then come home.”

That’s exactly what happened. Why do I even bother with the song and dance of getting in the car and driving? I think I was sincerely trying to make myself do it. Before turning around, I felt the fear of a new job buzzing in various pockets of my body, like a murky sickness. Every fiber said “Danger, run away, don’t go to the job.” Now, is that my intuition talking, or is it the psychotic coward who dwells in all of us and hates change? Yeah, I don’t want to help rich kids do even better on standardized tests designed by the winners to keep the winners winning, but then again, I am aware that people need jobs. I’m not out of money yet, but I will be. Don’t think I don’t know that behind every jerk-off young person who refuses to work for the man, there’s an old, tired parent who knows what the world really requires of us sending that jerk-off kid money for rent and food. I get that my decisions don’t just impact me, okay? I understand that I will have to find a different job.

But first I’m going back to Onalaska, Washington to serve on a 10-day meditation course starting tomorrow. This will be the fourth time I’ve done a course, but those other three times I was just there for meditating and this time I’m going to be on the staff helping the other meditators. I think the difference is like instead of 12 hours of meditating a day I’ll only manage 4 or 5. Serving a course means you level up in the Buddhist community, like I’m about to unlock special shit and exclusive content.

Last time I did a sitting, I felt bored and restless because my mind was filled with attachments and fantasy. I had this thought like I wasn’t doing it right, that everybody else knew how to do it and there was something fundamentally wrong with me. On day eight I had a sobbing fit in the teacher’s conference room that had everybody worried I was going to commit suicide. I think I was on some sort of polite Buddhist suicide watch. Last time, I didn’t figure out until it was too late the true secret of “equanimity.” You’ve got to not mind what happens, no matter what. I mean, you can’t make yourself not mind, but you at least have to know that that’s the goal. I was all “I can’t keep my mind on the breath and that’s the whole goal, I have failed.” But that’s wrong. You’ve got to get in there and not mind the wandering mind.

Always I go to these things with some boy waiting for me on the other side, or the dream of some boy, or the idea that it’s going to do this or that, and this time I feel like I’m doing it for no reason and I’ve got no goals or expectations. Really I don’t even know why I’m doing it, other than that my brain probably would rather go to jail for 10 days straight than work at a private tutoring center. Whatever my brain wants to do, my body’s like, okay, meat and bones, let’s keep this bitch happy.

It’s hard to explain. I might seem like a crazy person lately, but emotionally, I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced such an uninterrupted calm. I want to keep it going.

See you in 10 days, my loves!

03/25/13

work and money and deer and money.

Let’s say you find yourself at the foot of a mountain in rural Washington, looking for clarity, peace of mind and maybe a little free rehab. Then they say, “There’s no God, go sit on the floor for 10 days straight.” Lights out at 9 pm with no dinner and no talking.

Of course I’m talking about the meditation retreat I returned from a couple of weeks ago. It was great and impossible to talk about. The key to happiness is nothing and the middle path is further away than it sounds.

Since I’ve been back I’ve been busy making money. Money’s my new thing, I’m super into it. I have more money than I’ll ever need. Money money. Give me money. Let’s all find our old copy of Martin Amis’s novel Money and finish it, that’s how much money.

This week I worked in a warehouse cataloging boxes for shipping. They sell novelty items, like magnets and salt shakers. Gi Joe and Barbie packed in the same shipping box, imagine the scandal. You can get any configuration of Flinstones salt shaker you want. You can get a Betty and Fred salt shaker set, and I didn’t even think those two hung out. You can order daschund bobbleheads with or without sweaters. In the warehouse are two little real life Pomeranians who are unequivocally my friends. They belong to the boss, who is kind, but tired. I like the job a lot. Everybody stands around and pretends like capitalism isn’t stupid. But it’s temporary. By the time you read this, it will be over, and I’ll be back to the hustle.

Remember the dreaded ex? Jesse was no picnic, but let’s not dwell. He was good at all the most boring parts of life, and he wasn’t afraid of anything. Before I met Jesse, I was always the bad roommate. I never did the dishes, or if I did, they were all wrong. Jesse used to talk loudly at me about leaving food in the drain, and I felt overwhelmed and misunderstood. I’d tell him, “Most of the time I don’t leave food in the drain. Why are you so mad?” and he’d say, “What are you, a fucking child? It’s not hard, bro. You should be able to clean the food out of the drain 100% of the time.”

He got through, and from then on I did the dishes perfectly. One day Jesse said to me, “You’re going to be so strong after having been with me. Just watch. You’ll leave here and get a nice, patient and understanding boyfriend.” And I knew it was true, and that’s what happened.

This new one is good and peculiar. He loves hip-hop and Buddhism. I probably won’t mention him too much in the future; he doesn’t really want to be a character on my blog, which is weird and reasonable. I wish I had thought of that years ago, but it’s too late for me.

There were a lot of deer living in the field at the meditation retreat. There were a few teenagers and their mothers, and they were very tame. It was evident the deer held a special place in everyone’s heart, but too long away and my mind retreated to dark corners. I became obsessed with the idea of: “What if I took out a handgun and shot all the deer?” It could totally be done. For one, they don’t inspect your suitcase; I could have brought a bomb for all they knew. You don’t have to show any form of ID. I could have just shot the deer, got in my car and drove off.

Fucking calm down. Relax. I don’t own a gun and I would never shoot a deer. I just thought it would be hilarious and weird if I shot all the deer. That’s all I’m saying.

I bought this pack of greeting cards at Value Village with animals on them. Maybe you don’t know this, but I’ve been a blogger for forever. 10 years ago, when I was around 20 and precocious as all fuck, I had a blog at anticon.com/molly. I asked everybody for their address so I could send them postcards, and it went great. Just great. I sent a kid a postcard, and then my brother saw that kid at a hip hop show a few weeks later, and the kid told my brother how much he loved getting that postcard from me, what a fucking ray of light and sunshine that postcard was. And then a couple of months later I read on a message board how that kid took too many pills one night and died.

That almost certainly won’t happen to you! I seriously don’t care who you are at all. Anyone who read all the way to the bottom of this page is a friend of mine. Maybe I know you in real life, maybe I don’t. Maybe we’ve never talked before. Leave me your name and your mailing address in the comments field, and I’ll send you a postcard. You trust me, right? I love you. And I didn’t shoot those deer.

*Update: People seem to think that if they put their address in this box, it will show up publicly as a comment. That’s not the case. It goes safe and sound to my email alone. Courage, man. The hurt cannot be much!

 

02/27/13

onalaska, washington.

First of all, I want to assure you all (Dad) that I’m doing really well. It’s important to remember that mollylaich.com is kind of a horror story on purpose. The new testament sucks because good news is boring. Here’s an example of what I think is a bad story: “Molly made vegan pancakes and they were delicious and the dog ate all of them.” Here’s that story a little better: “Molly made vegan pancakes and they were really bad. She has no pets.” Actually never mind, the first story is better. Forget this.

The point is, I’m fine. Seattle winter is temperate as fuck, and I’m into the drizzle since I’m so goth. My roommates are awesome. I got a really cool rubber shark at the thrift store the other day. It’s not even that everything is going to be okay. Things are totally okay right now.

Still, there is this curse that needs lifting, and the only way I know of to lift a curse is with sober repentance. Starting this evening I’m going on a 10-day vipassana meditation retreat in Onalaska. I said I was going this summer and then I went to Texas instead, but this time I mean it. I’ve been twice before, in 2010 and 2008. People become very grave when I talk to them about it. The simple act of sitting on a mat in a room doesn’t seem like it should be a dreadful thing, but we all feel dread about it anyway. It’s more than just being bored, right?

I feel exhilarated. It’s good to do insane things now and again. I hate having to talk to people sometimes; I’m psyched I don’t have to talk to anybody for 10 days. It will be nice to be fed. Remember what Whitman said about death? He said that to die is different than what anyone supposed, and luckier. I’m not afraid; do not be afraid for me.

It’s inconvenient, for certain. I was in the middle of things. Had some collaborative art projects going. Had to delay the start time of a job. I’ll miss all your tweets about what I’m missing at AWP in Boston. You know. things. Important things. I wish I could hire someone to check the seattle craigslist dog section for me every day. Wish I could find someone to print out copies of my resume and then throw them in the garbage over and over. Wish I had a maid who could not write for me. You get the idea.

My story Nobody Tell Sandy She’s Dead is live today at Snake Oil Cure. The title is also the message.

Thanks for reading my blog. I know this is a one way conversation most of the time, but I feel like we’re friends, and I love you. Talk to you when I get back.

 

 

08/23/12

Missoula is for lovers.

LAST NIGHT

I met David Gates for dinner at the Depot around 6:30. I heard he was back in town and I wanted to talk to him about literature and maybe ask him what I should do with my life. David wrote two books in the 90s called Jernigan and Preston Falls. These books are so good they make my heart ache to think of them. He’s probably my favorite living author, so it’s pretty lucky for me that he teaches in Montana and we’re friends.

I asked him how his summer was, and he said it was terrible because his girlfriend broke up with him and he didn’t write anything. I told him to shut up and write a new novel. He said, “What the fuck for?” or its equivalent. “It’s hilarious how unambitious you are,” I said, and he said that it was worse than that even, that he wished people would just forget he ever wrote anything. He talked about never wanting to finish another story because one more story would make enough for a collection and it would be terrible to publish another short story collection. If I’m making him sound grumpy, know that he said all of this with a great deal of charm.

I told him how everybody in town keeps telling me to shut up and write a memoir. Even people who hate everything I write and wish I would die tell me to shut up and write more embarrassing non fiction. But I have this unfinished novel, also, so I just wanted to ask David Gates if he thought I should abandon the novel for a collection of personal essays or what.

He said there was no point in writing either things, but he implied that a novel is more salient in the long term, and who cares about people like David Sedaris or Sarah Vowell? “My god, the last thing we need are more personalities!” But really, the last thing we need is more of anything so this point doesn’t mean much.

He concluded by saying that I should just write both. Why wouldn’t I just write both? He said, “Why are you asking me when you’re just going to do whatever you’re going to do anyway?” No bullshit, this guy.

We talked about all kinds of other stuff, like how good The Godfather is and how Toni Morrison is very sexy and flirty in real life. My ex boyfriend Cody was in David’s non fiction class the fall after we broke up, so we talked about him for a second. I said that Cody was a super talented filmmaker but I had to break up with him anyway, and when we broke up he said “never talk to me again” and it’s been over a year since I saw him. And David said, “Of course you broke up with him. He’s not hot and you’re shallow.” What a card, that David.

I let David buy me dinner because he’s got way more money than I do. I suppose that makes me a really shitty person. Somebody should take me out back behind a building and beat the shit out of me with hammers for doing this awful thing.

After dinner I went to karaoke with people who I know and love as well as some incoming MFA students. I’m a fourth year MFAer at this point, which is to say I fucking graduated and what am I still doing at these kind of gatherings, but whatever. I sang “Rehab” by Amy Winehouse, then “Dancing in the Dark” by Springsteen and finally “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder.

I was going to sing “Welcome to the Jungle” but a nice girl named Rachel wanted to sing it and I let her because I’m such a kind person.

I was surprised to see my friend John who I used to be in love with was at the Golden Rose next store, because he’s been in North Dakota for weeks making tons of money on an oil rig. He’s still handsome, which is annoying. We hugged twice and made plans for coffee. I’m not in love with him anymore but if he asked me to marry him tomorrow I’d probably say yes.

I talked to the bouncer about my writing and we smoked cigarettes. I forget his name, but both times he said, “thanks for the conversation” which is a nice and weird thing to say, I think.

My other friend John asked me if I felt okay about a fake problem and I said I did. I said, “Don’t worry about me,” and he said, “Why would I not worry about you?” I said that I didn’t want the summer to end because I love my friends and I’ll miss them when they’re busy with school and I don’t want anything to change.

My friend Kurt told me again how much he liked it when I said “No yolo!” on Facebook, and I agreed it was a great thing to say, because I emphatically do NOT believe you only live once. I told my friend Kurt who is having some relationship problems that he’s handsome and smart and funny and women will be lining up to date him soon. I hope that wasn’t weird. We also talked about rap music but that wasn’t as fun for me because I had no idea what I was talking about.

Jeff the karaoke DJ tackled me toward the end of the night, in a fun friend way. I rode my bike to my new place on the west side. I had been sleeping in a tent out back, but I’ve decided to become an inside dog and move in for good. I don’t have a bed yet so I slept in a sleeping bag on the floor and it was just fine.

TODAY

I woke up with the sun and read some stuff on the internet. It looked cold at 9 in the morning so I put on fleece sweatpants and elected to take the bus into town instead of my bicycle. There’s a bus stop right in front of my new house, it’s really convenient. Waiting for the bus, I saw Jeff the karaoke DJ and his beautiful one-eyed dog across the street. It was neat because I didn’t know he lived there. He gave me a ride into town. I mean, why the heck not.

Jeff dropped me off at the corner of Higgins and 3rd. I started to walk down the street, but then in the distance I saw my ex boyfriend Cody, the one who said my love was like a loaded gun. I got scared when I saw him and ducked around the corner like a moron. I quickly realized that was a moronic thing to do and tried to recover. I came back around the corner and approached him as normally as possible. I said hello and he took out his headphones, begrudgingly. He looked pretty good. I said, “I hid around the corner when I first saw you, that was stupid.” He didn’t say anything. I said, “I didn’t know if you were still in Missoula,” and he said, “I still have two more years of school, why wouldn’t I be?” I haven’t seen or talked to Cody in over a year, but I still know him, and I know that he was seething with rage and I certainly ruined his day. I said, “Okay, I’ll let you go,” and he said, “See you later.”

I headed further down Higgins to the Hob Nob and my friends Greg and Kirsi were outside eating breakfast. “I just saw Cody,” I told them. They told me they watched the entire thing unfold, including the part about me getting scared and ducking around the corner. “If I saw you do that, then Cody definitely saw you,” Kirsi said. You can’t do anything in Missoula without 5 of your friends seeing you. It’s great. My friend Brian walked out of the Hob Nob while I was talking to Greg and Kirsi and I said hello to him.

The line was too long at Hob Nob so I walked down the street to Bernice’s, where I sat outside with a coffee and a not ripe banana. I tried to read a book but an old man reading the paper started talking to me about the weather and wolves in Wisconsin, how they’re getting along really well with the elk. Then Jeff came by with his one eyed dog and we talked about people in the neighborhood we both knew.

I walked down the street to Shakespeare and Co. to see my friend Garth who owns the store. My friend Erika who is also the arts editor at the Indy was there shopping and we all talked about something for a minute. Erika asked me if I would write the movie review this week and that made me happy because I love writing movie reviews. I made plans with Garth to have lunch next Wednesday and then I left.

I decided to head back downtown and see about finding something to eat besides the not ripe banana. There was an osprey flying circles over the river and I stopped to watch him. The osprey landed on a pole, and then both me and the osprey watched a crow circle around for awhile. I wanted to know what the osprey was thinking, and it drove me mad, to stare at an animal knowing that I can never ever know what they think about.

To be a bird for a day. I’d give anything.

It wasn’t even noon yet and I’d already been in so many awesome adventures and seen so many cool people. I thought it would make a great blog post. I thought about how much I like my life in a very real and uncomplicated way, and the idea felt fragile in my hands, like something too good to be true. I walked to the christian coffee shop to write this blog post, and here we are.

06/8/12

dreams, fruit, texas and so on.

I woke up feeling pretty terrible. I sleep in a shack with the door wide open so the cat can come in and out. The sun shone down on me like a baby in a goddamn manger. The shack isn’t the terrible part. I’m not unhappy about waking up in a shack.

Of late I have this insatiable hunger. Last night I dreamed about a big buffet with so much fruit provided by a christian conference in a large hotel. The big thing at the christian conference was that they were moving into phase two; they wanted to tell all the christians that it was time to start practicing all religions and loving everyone. Most of the people were cranky because they wanted it to be the normal kind of christian conference, which made me counter cranky. My brother was there, lecturing me about my life choices. As usual, he had the wrong idea about everything.

You should have seen all the fruit, though. It was a frustrating dream because I wanted the fruit so badly and they kept telling me it wasn’t quite time yet. It was never time for the fruit yet!

So I woke up and felt terrible. There was a half eaten bag of salt and vinegar potato chips sitting next to me and I ate them before getting out of bed, thinking, “This is terrible. What a terrible start to this terrible day.”

Here’s the thing, though. Here’s the weirdest thing about it: It’s a dumb, gray day outside and I feel not just hopeless and ugly, but also like a bad writer and person. I’m depressed, for sure. Nobody is saying that I’m not depressed. But it feels sort of cozy and delicious, too. I feel wrapped up in a big ugly sweater, waiting patiently for summer.

I ran into my friends Holly and John the day after they got back from Mexico. How was your vacation, I asked. It was great, they said. But we’re happy to be back, too, they said. That’s good. You shouldn’t be sad about returning to your life after you’ve gone on vacation.

If you’ve been tracking my summer vacation (Mom) let me tell you about some changes. In my last post I said that I would be meditating right now. That turned out to be a lie. I decided not to go meditate, and I’ll be spending most of that time in Austin instead. I’ll be in Texas from June 11-June 20. If you live there and want to hang out, send me a message. I’d love to meet you, maybe. I’m flying into Portland on June 20 and I’ll be there for not too long at all. So if you live in Portland and want to hang out with me, it’s possible but not as likely. I’m on tour, let’s say. Let’s call it a tour in which I have nothing to promote and I have to pay for everything myself.

My house sitting gig for July and August fell through. Whatever. It’s fine. I could write a book on the delicate nature of procuring a house sitting gig. It’s a disproportional favor, is the problem with it. In exchange for doing something very easy: hanging out with a dog, watering plants, etc. you get an entire house. And so the homeowners feel free to treat you like a criminal and an insect. (Not always. Oh god. I don’t mean everyone. Some of you are really cool about it.) So anyway. I lost the house sitting gig, so my future in July and August is a little more uncertain than it once was, but really, it’s fine. God will provide or whatever.

Some days just get away from you. You start thinking about pigs in gestation crates and you can’t stop. You want a dog. You start to think nothing in your life will be good ever again until you can have your own dog. And by “you” I mean me. And by “dog” I mean that all my needs are met and life is perfect exactly the way it is.

05/29/12

an open letter to visitors of this website.

Technically, I’m homeless. When kids downtown with clipboards ask me to sign their petition, I don’t have an address to write down, so it is: I am without a home. I’m not trying to shy away from the label. It’s a romantic idea, but I don’t know. I have an iPhone. My mom’s not rich, but she could put money in my account if I asked her to. It’s more that I have chosen not to get an apartment this summer because I don’t want to work in order to pay rent.

I just took a bath, for example. How homeless can I really be. This week I’m watching Holly’s cat, Gypsy. Over the weekend I watched Keema’s cat and two dogs. Keema’s house has a flatscreen tv and cup holders that sit on the arms of the couch. It’s like they thought of everything. The cupholders made me feel bad about myself. Also, I burned the bottom of their Tfal pan. Housesitting is harder than you might think.

It hasn’t always been so luxurious though, sincerely. I spent a few days on the lam. The street people of Missoula tend to be the same shade of brown, top to bottom, and I think for a moment I took on this aesthetic. I joined a yoga studio in order to use their shower. Some days, when I don’t feel like doing yoga, I don’t shower. You would think that would be good motivation to move, but meh. Not always.

I lived at a punk rock collective for a week or so, in something like a utility closet. It sounds bad, but the mattress was weirdly comfortable. I promised the nice people who live there that I wouldn’t write about it (yes, it’s just like fight club, the first and second rule). I think they meant not to write about it in the newspaper, but just in case. Let’s just say that I fell in love with the puppy of the house and leave it at that. It was terrible to leave him.

Been spending a lot of time with animals, let me tell ya. Boy oh boy, aren’t animals a trip. I love to watch them up close. Domestic animals, I mean. They must find our human dominated world so bizarre and confusing. Why are we like this? Their humans leave them, and I’m just some asshole standing in their kitchen. With their eyes, they say to me, “We don’t like that you are not Keema. We hate change but there’s nothing we can do about it.”

It’s fascinating to watch animals exercise what little agency they have. “Fuck you, Molly. I’m not eating today. How about that?” How about it. What do I care? No. I care a lot. It gets to me. I’m sure Gypsy will end his hunger strike really soon. Fuck. Holly specifically asked me not to write bad things about her cat on my blog. What’s with everybody telling me not to write things? Guys. I’m not famous. You’re probably not even reading this. Anyway, Gypsy is a beautiful cat and it’s actually pretty metal that he’s refusing food out of undying devotion for his master.

After Holly’s, I have a few more days of homeless. I have a plan. Do you want to hear my plan? First, I make my way to Portland, Oregon sometime between June 3-5. Would anyone like to drive me to Portland? Greyhound might. From there, I need another ride to Onalaska, Washington to do a 10 day meditation retreat. This will be my third time. I blogged about it a couple of summers ago. It’s a creative solution to my homeless problem and also a way to experience the true nature of reality or whatever. Would anyone like to go with me? You can still sign up. It’s not too late. This is a serious offer.

From Portland I’m going to Austin for a couple of days to see about a man. You heard me. That’s where the men are at. In texas. After that, you know. More dogs in Montana. This is getting boring.

Let me just wrap this up by telling you a little something about magic. Everything in my life up to this point I created with my mind. I previsioned it, and now here I am, living in the painting that I drew with my mind’s eye. Everything is going to plan, and I’m pleased. I created it with my head, and then with my hands, feet and mouth. There’s nothing magic about magic.

Love,
Molly

P.S. One thing about not having a car and being homeless is that you require a lot of help and favors from your friends. If you let me sleep on your couch or drove me somewhere, thanks a lot. I really appreciated that. I hope someday that I can do something for you! Friendship.

03/5/12

things fall apart.

The writers conference I went to in chicago last week started off on a high note, and then everything began to unravel. Here’s a list/summary of what I learned at AWP.

  1. I went to the conference for two reasons: To read my stories into a microphone and to meet my twitter friends. All told, I hugged around 15 new people, which is beautiful, which is the point of life, which is meaningful and true. More than anything, I discovered that really, I already knew them. I am a very affectionate person and it meant a lot to me to express my inappropriate love for Internet strangers in the physical. To love and be loved, this is the point of life. Duh. Everybody knows that, even if they don’t know that.
  2. As for the readings, one was pretty good and one was sweet but terrible, which averages out to okay. They were just fine.
  3. It’s fun to go to panels and muse on the writing process and everything, but ultimately, for myself, School is Out. At one of the panels I went to, somebody in the audience asked a question about “theme.” What are your themes? How do you stay true to and interweave themes into your novel? I have a masters degree in writing and I don’t know what a theme is. It’s an issue of too much craft and not enough soul.
  4. Sometimes I heard myself trying to casually interject my piddly credentials into conversation (I was published here, I got this fellowship, I know this person, puke) out of a made up need in myself to make it clear that hey, I have a right to be here. Whatever, I’m an asshole just like everybody else, but what I hope to learn from that is, in the future, don’t fucking do that.
  5. I spent the whole last day of the conference walking around on the brink of tears and not knowing why. Emotional exhaustion, probably. You don’t believe in magic, blah blah blah, but whatever; physics agrees with me that thoughts are things and we’re all one. By the end of that debacle, we were swimming in each other’s feelings, which, in a sea of writers, are complicated and many.
  6. Ambition is the worst, and from now on, I’ve decided to abstain. I’ll keep writing fiction and trying to get published, but I’m over worrying about what caliber of journal I can get it into, whether or not I can get paid, who will read it and whether or not I can make some kind of lasting impact on the literary canon before I die. None of that really matters, right?
  7. I always say that a writer is a person who hates writing, which is cute and sometimes it feels true, but it’s not true. I love this shit. I love it so much. I would die without it. When I’m able to express a hard to reach idea through words, and people take it in, and I feel like I’m understood? That’s all that matters. None of the other shit matters. And finally, obviously:
  8. Write from your fucking heart.

Friday night I went out with an old friend from grad school, a writer I met from twitter and a couple of his friends. I’ve been sober for almost 6 months now, maybe you heard, I don’t know. It’s tiresome to always talk about not drinking, but whatever. (To quote Margaret Cho: “If Richard Pryor had a period, he would talk about it.”) What is drinking but a contract of cowardice amongst friends?We’re afraid to get close so we agree to go on a voyage together. Not drinking is like treading water alongside the boat. Or maybe I’m in the boat and everyone else is in the water. Metaphors have their limits, let’s move on.

Over the weekend I thought a lot about how it would have been if I were drinking. I feel like I might have gotten lost or hurt. I feel like it would have been unsafe, and it’s hard to imagine that I used to hurl myself into danger so often.

I worry that people who drink are afraid of me. I’m afraid I’ll never be able to get close to anyone ever again.

Around 2 am, I got on the train and went back to the couch I was surfing in Wicker Park, and the party continued on without me in a hotel room with party drugs and Romanians. What would it have been like if my old self had attended? Here’s what I think: I would have felt closer to them at night, and then farther away in the morning.

Since then, nothing has gone right. I figured I’d mosey on out of the city on Saturday afternoon, but I was too chill about making train reservations and I missed the $35 train out of Chicago at noon, leaving only the 6 PM train for $93. I felt that dumb, heavy regret of knowing I’d lost a lost of money and it was my own fault. It will take me two hours of watching a dreary holocaust film and another hour or two of writing up the review to recoup not even half the difference.

Money is depressing. Wasting it is depressing. Whenever this happens I have a trick where I project myself a month or so into the future, when it doesn’t matter anymore, and it works, sort of. But I always know it’s a trick.

The train broke down somewhere outside of Kalamazoo. The conductor came on to say, “Well, the computer is on the fritz. We’re going to try to shut it down and reboot.” Apple+Q the train computer. That didn’t work. He came back on and said, “Well shoot. You know, this doesn’t happen very often.” They got the rear engine working and we travelled backwards to a rondevu point.

Here’s the best joke I could think of for the occasion, maybe I texted it to you or you read about it on twitter: “How long was it before they all started eating each other in that Mark Twain story?”

Another train came along and we swapped engines? I don’t know, it all seemed insane. The whole thing took about three hours. I spent the time feeling lonely and thinking about friendship. The signal on my phone was bad and for a few minutes, I started to consider that it might be the start of a national or global apocalypse, and I wished I had a man around who was good at building things with his hands, or even just a friend to make jokes with. It was a tragedy of boredom and inconvenience. It’s not like we were on a boat or an airplane. There was basically no chance we would die, which to me, almost made it worse.

A couple hours later in Detroit, the train hit an abandoned car on the tracks. The conductor came on the horn and gave an impromptu speech filled with pathos and insecurity. “You’re probably wondering why we’ve stopped,” he began. I wasn’t, actually. We didn’t feel any impact. He assured us that no one was hurt, and he told us to stay calm and try to be patient. It was the “please stay calm,” part that was really unnerving. We waited another two hours on the tracks for the railroad police to come. All told I spent 12 hours on the Amtrak, but what is time?

Like I said at the beginning of this very long blog post: everything is unraveling and falling apart around me. My sleeping schedule is a little messed up. Sunday night I spent a few hours preparing my class lesson for Monday morning. I went to bed at 3 am, but I forgot to set my alarm. I was having this long, ornate dream where I took acid and engaged in all kinds of debaucherous lesbian sex. I do this all the time in my dreams. I drink or take drugs and I fuck women. What does it mean, Freud?

My Monday afternoon class starts at 1. I woke up at 2:13 PM, and that wave of disbelief followed by overwhelming despair and regret washed over me. I had spent the last 11 hours partying and fucking women in my sleep, which made it doubly wrong.

My students communicated with me through email that they left their papers on the desk, so I had to drive the 40 minutes to campus to retrieve them. My 95 Saturn won’t stop gobbling up oil. The oil isn’t leaking, it’s just burning away. Where does burnt oil go? It has gotten to the point where I have to fill it up around every 30 miles. The 95 Saturn is my ticket out of Purgatory, Michigan, and I find the troubled engine troubling.

I bought three quarts of oil at the gas station, and the attendant said to me, “Have a day.” That about sums it up.

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.

04/15/11

April 15th.

Dear Diary,

Haven’t written you in weeks. Can’t sleep. Afraid of the sun.

Sure I’m probably busy with the end of the semester and editing my thesis and teaching my class, but not really. I’m afraid to write because the stakes are high and I’m paralyzed. Graduating from college blows. I hated it when I was an undergrad and I hate it as an MFA candidate. I’m going to miss my friends and I don’t know how I’ll make a living or where I’ll live. These are both problems and opportunities. I try to be brave; I think it’s a pivotal but overlooked virtue, and it’s not that I fear change. Often its exhilarating, but things can get worse and remember advice like, “don’t rock the boat” and “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it?” In Montana, boat rocks you!

Not to mention the writing. I want it to be good, but the truth is that takes work; it means rewriting pages that I’ve fallen in love with again and again, and spending a lot of time with the material, and have you met my latest characters? They are not fun to be around. Sometimes I’ll look at what I’ve written and all the things that I’ve put us through (the character and me) and I’m creeped out by the person who wrote this shit, and I can’t believe I’ve made this terrible life choice of being a writer, and then I remember that it’s not a choice, and it never was, and it’s back to the grindstone.

I cross a footbridge over the river on my morning commute to campus. It’s not uncommon to see a person stop walking, drop their bags and stare out over the railing. In the winter the river looks different every time. You might see big chunks of ice floating and the next day they’re gone. The water gets deep in the spring. Even deep water is interesting to look at. Or there’s the sky, or the mountains. Pretty with or without snow, and no one is embarrassed about marveling at beauty, and no one passing them wonders what they’re looking at or why.

April 15th feels important, eh? Deadlines for everything. Dead ends. Embrace. It will all be over soon.