03/15/11

literally, 500+ words on what I had for dinner.

Denny's lets you substitute withered green beans for french fries. and such small portions!

Firstly, I went to the gym, and let me tell you, it was way hard and boring. You were always in my thoughts. I couldn’t wait to get off the elliptical and write a blog post about how long and boring it was. The mind is always running; it wants to be somewhere else, and that is very unzen. I should have been thinking: woosh woosh woosh woosh, the sun is warm, the grass is green, let go, let god, let go, let god, be here now, be here now, always here somehow… but instead I thought of jokes to tell you, and it’s ironic or something because I can’t remember any of them now. Not a single one. I remember the thoughts but they are without punch line. Predictable observations about how all the people at the university gym are young, thin, and annoying. Fear of seeing one of my beautiful, thin students. The fear realized. Something about my terrible gym outfit and how I am always the fattest, worst dressed person at the gym, and the thing is, I’m not even that fat. My gym clothes really are that awful, though. How can a person ever justify buying cute gym clothes? Isn’t the whole point that you want to shrink out of them, pronto? A lot of those cunts seem like they’re already at their goal weight. Montana kind of sucks. In Michigan, I am quite thin.

Let me say something quickly about writing, since this blog is primarily supposed to be about writing: I am not interested in writing. I am interested in fitness and wolverines and that’s IT.

Speaking of not writing: you’ll never guess where I’m writing this. You give up. Denny’s. It’s called a chain restaurant, ever heard of it? Some people find eating dinner alone in public humiliating, but the way I see it, anybody who’s lame enough to go to Denny’s is a person whose opinion of me I care not about. (See the classic onion article: I’ll try anything with a detached air of superiority.)

Website, I don’t know what it is lately, but I feel giddy about our relationship. I feel like we’re falling in love all over again. I want to tell you everything about me. Website, did you know that on the subject of ordering food at restaurants, I am remarkably high maintenance? In my defense, I’m a vegetarian, and menus get everything wrong. A menu is a jumping off point to start negotiations. Tonight I ordered the mushroom and swiss burger, but with the veggie patty, and not with the regular bun, but rye bread, and the waitress was all, “did you know we have a wheat bun?” and I’ll admit she tripped me up but ultimately I said, “I don’t care that you have a wheat bun” (more or less) and mother fucking green beans instead of French fries! I know! I was excited too! That wasn’t even my idea. It says right on the menu that you can do that. I said to the waitress, “Is it true a person can substitute green beans for French fries?” It’s true, she said. What a world. She wasn’t as excited about it as me, but I don’t hold it against her.

Okay. This is getting a little retarded. After today I’m going on a diet from talking about my diet. I’m serious. Next time I’ll talk about something else.

P.S. It’s been 20 minutes and I’m still hungry. That means I’m doing very well, right?

 

08/4/10

Buddhism Bootcamp, wrap up.

On the one hand, ten days of Vipassana meditation is a lot like jail* except there are more rules and your imprisonment is voluntary. On the other hand, what an illuminating, invaluable experience! Consulting the list I made on my last post, I would say that all 5 of the first objectives were achieved.

1. The Saturn handled like a champ. I even managed to pick up a hitchhiker on the way home, and my little sedan handled the sheer weight of all of our heartbreaking life stories with aplomb. More on the hitchhiker later.
2. I shut up and sat still. I remembered how, and this is not nothing, because forgetting happens. You might think the effect is mystical, but it’s not. If anything, it is more ordinary, and the ordinariness makes it special.
3. I was alone. I missed my friends and family and life and books and pen and paper and computer, but how wonderful, to realize how much you love exactly what you already have. Pardon the sentimentality, but so true.
4. A better person? I hope so. It’s not that I learned anything new so much as the things I knew intellectually somehow in doing nothing came to the surface experientially. I learned that I’m far too easy on myself in some areas and far too hard on myself in others, and as alcoholics are so fond of saying, I think I gained some wisdom in recognizing the difference.
5. Discipline? I hope so, and I hope it lasts.

So 5 for 5 on that shit, and other gains as well that I don’t even feel like going into! So then the second list I made were all these things I wanted to manifest, and this list I’m pretty sure was met with exactly opposite results.

1. A shiny new bike
What did I think? Did I think there’d be a brand new Shwinn with a big red bow on it waiting for me in the living room? Things generally don’t materialize out of thin air. Remember when science didn’t exist, and if suddenly there was a book lying on the table the people concluded that the table gave birth to the book? Well, we don’t live in that time anymore, and the driveway didn’t give birth to a bicycle in my absence.
2. A couch to replace our shitty futon
Not only no new couch, but in fact, I came home to discover we’d been evicted. We didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just that we live in our landlords house and our landlord has suddenly decided to move. Impermanence! The good news is I don’t have to move a new couch.
3. Chastity & Continence
The truth is that I had a sort of micro romance with the hitchhiker. In my defense, he was 22, free spirited, and here is the clincher, covered in red freckles. I am not sorry.
4. Make me neater
It’s hard to say.
5. The greatest writer that ever lived?
Again, it’s hard to say, but I did have waiting for me in the mail a rejection letter from “The Michigan Quarterly Review” that probably should have left me feeling despondent but instead made me positively giddy and grateful to be alive. I felt like a real writer. You know, the struggling kind. A handwritten little blurb at the bottom used words like “witty” and “imaginative approach.” (Barf.)

So this Saturday I leave for New York, then a brief stint in Provincetown, MA, and then a week in Detroit. Adventure! Friends: I hope to talk to you from there.

*and yeah, I’ve been to jail, long story**
**it’s actually not that long of a story: booze + drugs + a perceived lowly socioeconomic status due to lack of showering = brief incarceration. I digress and that’s how come the asterisks.

07/20/10

10 Days of Sober Repentance, Music, etc.

2. Religious Observances

On Wednesday I leave for 10 days of Vipassana Meditation outside of the already very rural Onalaska, Washington. You can read about the place I’m going and what the program is like via their informative and stimulating website. In brief: 12+ hours of daily meditation, no talking, no Interneting, no writing, no reading, no drinking, no smoking, no lying, no cheating, no acoustic guitar, no meat, and no dinner. They feed you delicious vegetarian meals and give you a mat. Also, it’s free. Why would I do this? If you don’t understand it I can’t explain it.

I’ve done it once before a couple of years ago in Brighton, Michigan. It was difficult but not impossible, and I was revived an empress. On the one hand, in grand Buddhist tradition I am interested in detaching from the results. On the other hand, my hopes include, but are not limited to:

1. Safe travel to the center and back. (What’s 10 hours on the road in a rickety 95 Saturn to an artist?)
2. I want to remember what it’s like to sit still and shut up for a second. Many, many seconds.
3. How to be alone.
4. Perhaps this sounds trite, but I want to come back a better person. Look, I know I’m not a monster now, but we could all be better, couldn’t we? Do I have to be so sarcastic and acerbic all the time? Do I have to hold on to petty resentments and act like a child when I don’t get everything I want? Just saying, I can do better. You deserve love, world, and I am here to love you.
5. A little fucking discipline, if you please.

This next list is a little absurd. Why not mix in a little new age mysticism with my old school meditation practice, before it’s too late. Set it and forget it like a rotisserie chicken, here’s some shit I’d like to manifest while I’m gone. Just leave it on my doorstep for when I return.

1. A new bike. Something slick and street compatible that makes me look cool.
2. A couch for our new apartment. And while you’re at it, make that weird broken futon disappear.
3. Chastity and continence. Sort of. (Inspired by @St Augustine)
4. Lord, God, Krishna, could you make me neater? Make me care about the dishes and laundry, because God, you neglected to give me this gene and I’m starting to catch on to how alienating filth can be.
5. Is it too much to ask to be the greatest writer that ever lived? Could you give me the words to say all the brilliant shit I’m thinking? I mean, I don’t want to get into a fiddle contest or anything over it, but we could all use a little more grace in storytelling, and by us I mean me.

Again, I mean all of this in a totally free from desire kind of way. Let me give something back.

3a. Music

These are some songs I’ve been particularly enjoying this summer. I spend a lot of time on an Internet music site called blip.fm where I play music and hang out with my other djs, or “friends,” although let me assure you, I love them like real people. Which they are. You know, sort of. So here’s a list, and if you want, you can follow this list to my playlist where I have helpfully placed these songs for your enjoyment. (Again, sort of. The task proved long and boring so they’re not really in order but most of the songs are there probably. Create a dj name and blip yourself, it’s fun! I’m not crazy!)

  • Lou Reed – This Magic Moment
  • Dépêche Mode – Clean
  • Otis Redding – Try a Little Tenderness
  • Yeasayer – Ambling Alp
  • Kenny Rogers – Just Dropped In
  • Mumford & Sons – White Blank Page
  • The Kinks – There’s a New World Just Opening for Me
  • Dolly Parton – Jolene
  • The Strokes – Heart in Cage
  • Lil’ Wayne – A Milli
  • Warren Zevon – Back in the High Life Again
  • George Harrison – I got My Mind Set on You
  • Florence & The Machine – Addicted to Love
  • The Black Keys – Next Girl
  • Townes Van Zandt – Lungs
  • Michael Franti & Spearhead – Say Hey (I Love You)
  • Sam Cooke – A Change is Gonna Come
  • Murder by Death – Until Morale Improves, The Beatings will Continue
  • John Lee Hooker – I Need Some Money
  • Gene Pitney – Town without Pity
  • Delta Spirit – People C’mon
  • The Mars Volta – Miranda, This Ghost Just Isn’t Holy Anymore
  • I love you all. Who knows what kind of weird mystic will be running this place when next we meet.

    07/15/10

    How I’ve Spent My Summer Vacation, Part I

    Don’t trust a Molly. They always break their promises. The summer is half over. I can feel it slipping through my fingers like sand. Think of everything I didn’t do. Actually don’t.

    The other problem is that I kind of really don’t know what this blog is for. I used to have blogs in the past, back when the Internet was in its infancy, and back then it was just some sort of weird teenage to post teenage performance art. Molly expresses an emotion! Veiled shout outs to boys I liked. Complaining about writing. (Perhaps things haven’t really changed…) I just pontificated wildly with white letters on a black background. I wrote all the HTML by hand, and getting 100 hits in a day was a really big deal. It meant something then. Now I get like 60 hits a day doing absolutely nothing. 60 people accidentally waste seconds of their life visiting my website, and what have I to offer them? This is the last time I start my blog post with a lengthy apology about not posting, I swear. Let’s accentuate the positive. Here are some things I did in fact do.

    How I’ve spent My Summer Vacation:

    1. Work

    “We had money. We were grimy and tired. Usually we felt frightened, because there was something wrong with us, and we didn’t know what it was; but today we had the feeling of men who had worked.”
    -Denis Johnson, Jesus Son

    Suddenly all of us were confronted with the fact that the school year was over and the University wasn’t going to send us checks anymore. However meager the TA salary may be, it is in fact money, and everybody loves money. (That’s why it’s called money, Ho!) As someone who pretty much had all of her hopes and dreams fulfilled when I moved to Montana, I have become accustomed to manifesting pleasant futures. When thinking about a job, I knew what I didn’t want. I wanted to do something with integrity. I didn’t want to aid in making people sick or fat or sad. I didn’t want to abet people wasting money on a service they didn’t need and I didn’t believe in. I didn’t want to do anything that occupied a fair chunk of my mind. I didn’t want to sit at a desk, input data, write things that weren’t my own writing, read things that weren’t what I wanted to read, or teach already privileged children how to pass a standardized test I didn’t believe in. The options were narrowing.

    Then one day, while doing the dishes, God (yeah, God talks to me. I know you’re jealous, suck it) said to me, “Molly, why not start an organic cleaning business.” So, I, you know, did.

    Firstly, it’s phenomenally easy to start an organic cleaning business. Step 1: buy some cleaning supplies and make products to use via recipes found on the Internet. Step 2: advertise on Craigslist. Those are the two steps. Now, if you know me in real life, it might startle you to learn that I would clean someone’s house on purpose. I am, perhaps, one of the messiest girls alive. (I am recalling an argument I had with an ex boyfriend once: “What the fuck is the problem? I like eggs. I like coffee. Why can I not use the egged fork to mix my coffee?”) So some, and not all but some of my friends and family had all sorts of unsolicited opinions on the matter. My sister, via facebook:

    “you + a cleaning job?? um… so that would kinda be like how hairdressers always have the worst hair.. alas, I’m guessing all the jobs descripted as ‘personal tornado’ have already been filled.”

    Firstly, it’s always a unique pleasure to have your friends and family so candidly express doubt in your abilities to succeed. Secondly, you were wrong. I am doing it. I have clients. I took up dog walking/sitting as well. It is exactly as God decreed it. Also me. I wrote this on my old blog about a year or so ago:

    I’d like to be a custodian this summer. It’s the most peaceful job I’ve ever had. Cleaning toilets, one after another, a long porcelain line like so many beaded pearls = the epitome of zen.

    It’s true. Cleaning houses is a little different but the principle is the same. It’s better because it feels more direct, close, personal. These people trust you to come into their home and manhandle their stuff, and you trust them to pay you, and everyone is richer for the experience. I think it’s great for character building. Humility. Humbleness. There is no room for ego when you’re scrubbing floors on your hands and knees like Cinderella. Humans want to be rewarded for their work, to receive some sort of accolade or recognition. This is all going to sound crazy but bear with me. You might scrub a spot on the floor for minutes, (think of all the elbow grease!) and no one will ever know you did it, and you just have to suck that up and move on. Good work has to be the reward in itself. I’m serious.

    Next, cleaning for others is an exercise in patience. I have to manually remind myself not to cut corners. Do everything every time, one foot in front of the other. It’s not about cleaning but polishing. The smell. My homemade products smell good and my hands are like velvet. Do with this information what you will.

    Finally, hello! Buddhism! Sand painting! Nothing ever stays clean. Do it again and again and never get to the finish line.

    To think, there are other items on this list! I went way long with number one, so I will try to come back in a couple of days to continue. Then again, don’t trust a Molly. I don’t trust me.

    11/28/09

    I am not a serious man.

    Seeing a movie by oneself is always, for me, magical. I regard it as a religious observance, and I guess doubly so when the movie is so religiously themed, as was The Coen Brother’s latest film, A Serious Man.

    The Book of Job is my favorite book in the bible, and possibly my favorite piece of literature in general. The film is said to be a loose adaptation. I think so. Inexplicable things happen, characters have weird motives and there are unexplained plot lines. The Jewish God and his actions can’t be explained, not by Rabbi’s, not by weird Yiddish folklore, tornados, or anything else thrown at us. The movie never mentions Job. Not once. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Coen brothers try to claim in interviews they’ve never read it.

    I want to believe in God. Save a brief period in high school when Atheism was bad ass, I always have. But God seems so paternalistic, so made up, simple, imaginary and illusive that believing in him seems to me as arbitrary as believing in … I don’t know, something similarly unprovable. People in other universes. Pragmatically though, a world governed by some other agent, where unrelated events have meaning and hint at deep truths about the course that your life should take, or that you have your own personal destiny, this seems to me better than the world as a cold, dead place. And I know it’s asking a lot, and I’m not trying to be the female version of Job here, but does she/he have to be so mysterious? Couldn’t we catch a glimpse? Wouldn’t it make the game more fun?

    I practice buddhism, poorly. I once meditated for ten days, and in buddhist meditation, the idea is to think of nothing, or the breathe, which is like nothing, but secretly I wanted to think of God. I wanted him/her to give me a brand new insight, something I didn’t already know or hadn’t already felt intuitively before, and it didn’t happen. If when I sat down to meditate, I was actually trying to think of “God” instead of nothing, would it be any less frustrating? I wondered if the things I was supposed to realize during those ten days never came to me because I already know them, and always have. It’s a little egotistical, maybe, but the thought persists.

    So I saw the movie by myself, and it was sort of wicked, because I have friends that will want to see it, and I know that later they’ll all go without me, and I’ll be sad and they’ll be sad, but I needed to be by myself. The indie theater in my neighborhood is right after a bridge that goes over a river. I rode my bike there and back and I was all by myself, and on the way home I thought of these words, and now I’m typing them out, and thanks to the Coen brothers, I’m a secret Jew. The end.