09/11/12

oh, I don’t know.

There’s this boss moment in The Lion King that I can never shut up about when Mufasa appears as a ghost in the clouds, looks down at Simba and says, “Simba. You are more than what you have become.”

I looked up the Hamlet equivalent, and he’s not nearly as inspirational. The Ghost just tells Hamlet to “Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.” In the Disney version, Scar never bangs Mufasa’s wife, and when Simba goes back to reclaim his kingdom, he intends for a peaceful overthrowing of the fraudulent monarchy. It’s only by accident and circumstance that he ends up throwing Scar into a pit of flames.

Life’s not really like that, kids! In the real world (i.e. Shakespeare) you obsess over what’s real and what’s imagined. You have no idea what this life is for. It’s just given to you out of nowhere, and now what are you supposed to do with it? Even if you wanted to be fair and just, how do you know what that looks like? Who can you trust to show you? How do you know what the right thing is? Once you think you have it, will you have the guts to act?

The point is that Hamlet’s a good play and I wish I were writing more.

Here’s some more shit about the house I share with Jesse:
As soon as you walk in the living room, there’s a gigantic canvas painting of Jesse’s face on the wall painted by his ex girlfriend. The place is sparsely furnished and sometimes cold. I told him our house reminded me of Xanadu. He hasn’t seen Citizen Kane but when I laid it out for him he seemed pretty receptive to the idea. Jesse says that people always think that their lives are going to work out, that one day they’ll have everything they want and when that day arrives, things will be better. But Jesse knows that it’s not really like that. Here is no different than anywhere else and it will never get better, so accept your marriage, accept your shitty job and try to find some happiness in it. I said I agreed more with the first part than the second, but I’m still working out the details.

There are fires in the bitterroot and the smoke seems to be getting to people. Some nights the moon is pink, which is beautiful but not at all normal and I wonder if she’s enraged or happy or what. The smoke doesn’t bother me but my friends seem pretty upset and I think it’s as good a time as any to get the fuck out of Montana.

On that note, I’m catching a greyhound to Seattle for five days to watch my friend Laura’s dog. Don’t worry, I’ll live-tweet everything.

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.

07/9/12

My Top 42 Favorite Woody Allen Films

Here’s every Woody Allen feature film (not including some shorts, made for tv stuff, things he wrote but didn’t direct, etc.) ranked in the order I most like them. At some point in a young girl’s life, you simply say to yourself, “God damnit, I’m going to watch every Woody Allen film ever made.” And then you do. Here’s the result of my pointless scholarship.
  1. Husbands and Wives
  2. Crimes and Misdemeanors
  3. Hannah and Her Sisters
  4. Annie Hall
  5. Deconstructing Harry
  6. Everyone Says I Love You
  7. Manhattan
  8. Vicky Cristina Barcelona
  9. Bullets Over Broadway
  10. Midnight in Paris
  11. Anything Else
  12. Match Point
  13. Mighty Aphrodite
  14. Radio Days
  15. Whatever Works
  16. Stardust Memories
  17. The Purple Rose of Cairo
  18. Alice
  19. You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger
  20. Celebrity
  21. Take The Money and Run
  22. Small Time Crooks
  23. Broadway Danny Rose
  24. Sweet and Lowdown
  25. Another Woman
  26. Sleeper
  27. Bananas
  28. Manhattan Murder Mystery
  29. A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy
  30. Don’t Drink the Water
  31. Melinda and Melinda
  32. Shadows and Fog
  33. Cassandra’s dream
  34. Curse of the Jade Scorpion
  35. Zelig
  36. Scoop
  37. To Rome with Love
  38. Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex…
  39. Love and Death
  40. Interiors
  41. What’s Up, Tiger Lily?
  42. Hollywood Ending

Why is Husbands and Wives my favorite Woody Allen film? It’s probably not. Crimes and Misdemeanors is the better movie. Watching Martin Landeau go back in time and listen to his Jewish family debate moral relativism at the dinner table = the best shit I’ve ever seen. I just think Husband and Wives deserves to be remembered. It’s smart about men and women to an unsettling degree. My favorite line, regarding Mia Farrow’s character: “She always gets what she wants.” Girrrl. You know you know women like that.

Deconstructing Harry is a hot mess of weirdness. It’s filled with the fuck word. Billy Crystal plays the devil. What I like about it is that Woody Allen’s character plays a writer, and you get to watch his short stories come to life. Robin Williams plays a guy who is “out of focus.” Such heart! Such whimsy!

Everyone Says I Love You is a fucking musical!

Anything Else is weirdly high on my list. I don’t know why.

Hollywood Ending might not actually be literally the worst Woody Allen film, but I sure do fucking hate it! I’m a better actress than Tiffany Theissen, and I have no acting skills.

So there you have it! What do you think.

07/3/12

getting the ball rolling on subtle cult initiation proceedings.

It’s a full moon tonight. My concerns about the moon are pretty real. There’s that thing Gurdjieff said about earth and earthlings being a slave to the moon, and then there’s the fact that every year the moon moves 3 cm away from earth, and without the moon holding our orbit in delicate balance, we’re doomed to spin off madly into space. Which I guess would be fine.

The moon is thirsty for more blood, can’t you feel it? Here’s the call I put out on facebook: I'm organizing a blood drive for tomorrow night's full moon. At midnight, we meet in a field. We put our blood in a bucket and hurl the bucket at the sky.

Feel free to not take any of that seriously. Go ahead and feel free, if it makes you feel better.

Today I went to see a man on the north side about a siberian husky with a wounded leg. To get there you have to ride your bike down a steep concrete slope that takes you through an echoey, underground tunnel. If you’re really lucky, a train will pass overhead. The dog owner and I talked about how busy we both were, which was sort of a joke, at least on my end it feels like a joke. Feeling the need to read and write all the time and actually being busy seem to me to be two different things, but I don’t know; maybe I’m selling myself short. I told him about crows, and he told me a story about his roommate involving crows and an air rifle. I’m saying the world is magic and we’re all connected.

Being too poor for a lot of food and riding my bike all the time is a recipe for a sexy body. Every day that I step on the rusted out, busted up scale at the anarchist collective, I’ve lost another two pounds. If I keep going at that rate, by the end of the summer I will still exist.  You can’t win!

30 years old. Living at an anarchist collective. Alone, alone, alone.

The guy who loaned me his bike at the beginning of the summer is expected to make a full recovery from the broken legs he suffered on the bike he loaned me. Remember in Misery when Paul Sheldon’s legs were just about healed up, until Annie Wilkes performed the ol’ hobbling trick and busted his ankles up anew, thus ensuring that they continued on in their dysfunctional relationship of demented nurse/writer held captive?

Ha ha. Just kidding, dude. I’ll give you your bike back.

In the book, she doesn’t break his ankles with a sledgehammer. She straight up cuts off one of his feet. In the book he has phantom limb pain which I think is a metaphor for missing his freedom and also a very real representation of the pain and horror of having your foot cut off. Why didn’t they do it that way in the movie, I wonder? An issue with special effects? Too graphic for 1990? I don’t think the film suffers from the change.

03/20/12

shit I can’t get over right now, part 1.

1. Paul the Octopus picked all the winners in the 2010 World Cup!

Of the final games, Paul the octopus picked 8 of 8 winners correctly. I had to look up how to do probabilities to figure out how likely that would be by random chance. .5 is the probability that the team he guesses is correct, right? he has a 50% chance of guessing right for every matchup. So .5 to the power of 8, and, ta da! Paul the Octopus has a .3% chance. Is that enough to make you believe in magic? I’ve made the leap from a lot less!

Germans are weird.

More incredible than that is how Paul’s soccer loving handlers came to this discovery in the first place. How many Octopi did they consult before they found Paul? Do you know that an octopus is as smart as a dog? They are clever, affectionate weirdos. Paul’s dead, incidentally. He had a good run.

This reminds me of a similar phenomenon I can’t get over right now: Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon really does sync up with the Wizard of Oz. I have actually done this back in high school, more than once. (On weed.) You start the album on the MGM lion’s third roar. “Great gig in the sky” plays during the tornado, it’s like they’re fucking dancing. The soundtrack goes “Cha-ching!” during “Money” at the precise moment the film switches from black and white to color.

Again, with both of these instances, it’s not just the phenomenon, but the sheer improbability that the phenomenon was ever discovered.

2. Separate Drinking Fountains? Are you fucking kidding me?

That’s so racist! I know that we’ve already done the scholarship on the history of institutionalized racism in America, but HOLY FUCK. The 1950s weren’t that long ago, you guys. It wasn’t some crazy time before we knew about germs or Jesus or electricity. How did a plumber install the pipes without stopping and saying, “What the fuck am I doing? Oh my god. This makes no sense! We’re all God’s children!” I can’t get over separate drinking fountains right now.

Look at this asshole.

These are stills from the film Mississippi Burning.

3. Oh my God, how is Michaelangelo’s statue of David so good?

Look at what a good job Michael did carving this marble into a statue! It looks so much like a human. Look how much his abs are just like a very fit man’s abs. People were probably very fit back then, and especially a mythical man. Look how vulnerable the genitals. You have to imagine that he has black hair, isn’t that weird? The statue was made in 1504! That’s only 12 years after they didn’t even know America existed. Think about how old it is and how lucky that it didn’t get broken. I read on the wikipedia that in 1991, a deranged man went at the statue with a hammer and broke off a couple of its toes. Why would he do that? Further, why don’t deranged men run at beautiful things with weapons more often?

Stay tuned for more shit I can’t get over in the next couple of days. Unless I get over it by the time I post again.

02/27/12

even more on writing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about writing and how it’s done and where ideas come from. Stephen King, in his book On Writing (which we all agree is a national treasure) says that writers don’t know where they get their ideas and that it’s all very mysterious and we can’t possibly explain how it’s done and everything. Who knows where thoughts come from? They just appear! That’s true, I guess, but I think I can be a little more specific. This would be way more interesting if I were famous or widely read. It would be very, “Where does Molly Laich get her ideas?” It still is that, I guess. You know what I mean.

Here. I’ve broken it up into the various categories of writing that I do.

Fiction

Most of my stories start with a single idea or image. I fall in love with one idea and I want it to be in a story, but there’s no plot or anything to go with it and that makes me depressed. So for a few weeks, I walk around feeling sad that my idea has no home. Then I think, “well, you might as well just write down the idea.” It can be something very kinesthetic and mood based, like standing on a hot street corner in Phoenix staring at a billboard. Or it can be a little more fleshed out, like “What if my friends got drunk and drowned a dog.”

I’ll start with an example from a story I wrote when I was around 18, called “There’s Been a Bear.” I just had this idea that there had been a bear, so I wrote down that sentence. Then I built a little story around it about a kid who wakes up and finds that her family has been replaced by grizzlies that read newspapers and wear eyeglasses and stuff, and voila. The characters are born out of the situation. I remember Kevin Canty telling us in workshop that in a short story, the character’s personality is defined by what they do, so I think it works out to do it in this order.

One thing that gets me into trouble with short stories is that I often use people that I know as real life templates for the characters. I imagine what they look like, and then I put them in the scene, so it becomes this thing of, “for this scene, Dustin will be pretending like this thing has happened to him.” I’ve been irresponsible in the past using my friends in stories. People are all “Hey, I’m not gay!” and I’m all, “No no, you’re playing a gay in the story,” and then they get upset and try to kill me. (That only happened one time, and it turned out fine. He didn’t know that I had moved.) I’m getting better at at least changing their goddamn names, though. Geez.

Sometimes I’ll use real life events as a springboard for the plot, but it inevitably works out that the details get rearranged and monkeyed around so much that it scarcely resembles the original event and the “fiction” is preserved.

As for writing a novel, I don’t know. I still don’t get that. So far I guess what I do is that I go to a colony in the woods for two months, I write 30,000 words in various MS Word documents, and then I put those in a drawer and feel bad about them.

Non Fiction

By this I mean creative non fiction personal essays or features, a la the kind of stuff I’ve been writing for the Missoula Independent for the last year. The weird thing about these is that the process is completely different from fiction. Working on these stories runs me through the emotional ringer in a fresh, new way. For “Forgetting Mary Jane,” (a story I wrote about using marijuana) I would say I’d been working on that piece in my head for around 10 years. I got the idea that it might make a compelling non fiction essay about a year before I ever pitched it at the paper, and then from there, it became a collaborative work with Robert, editor at the Indy.

The collaboration aspect is mysterious and interesting. I think I’m very lucky to have fallen into working with an editor who turned out to be such a good fit. He’s very swift and exacting. He reads my bad sentences out loud to me in a way that is so gut wrenchingly painful that it makes me never want to write a bad sentence again just to avoid it. But more than that, he gives advice on where to direct the rewrites in ways that I never could have done on my own. It’s weird to work with someone else on writing. That’s all I can say about that. Workshop is like that a little bit, but in the end, you take the advice or leave it, and you do it in isolation in the privacy of your own home. I have had some good experiences with edits for published fiction as well, on a smaller scale.

When I write non fiction, I tend to vastly overwrite, meaning that I’ll write 10,000 words for a 3,000 word essay. This is something that doesn’t happen in fiction. I tend to have a lot more self doubt and anxiety about the final product, and with good fucking reason, because thousands and thousands more people read it than any piddly little fiction piece that ends up in a journal. Puking into a bucket the night before one of my stories comes out in the paper is not an uncommon occurrence.

Then I wrote “Abacradabra” about using magic and addiction recovery. From start to finish, the gestation period in my head for that one was around four months, although the magic aspects were still years in the making. The constant with these non fiction pieces is that I’m thinking about them ALL THE TIME. They ferment in my head like a fine wine. I’m writing the sentences in the car, in the shower, in bed, etc. Around a month of this before I ever start actually writing anything down.

Right now I’m working on a story so earth shattering and mind blowing I can’t even talk about it. I can’t even begin to mention it or say anything about it for fear of making all of your hair fall out with the sheer electricity of the subject matter.

Film / book / music criticism

I consume the media and then I think about how I want to talk about it from the time the media is consumed until the deadline, which tends to be a pretty short turn around. During the film screening, I think about jokes I might tell about the brilliant or terrible shit I’m seeing. When I’m reading books, I underline stuff that’s either really good or bad and then I write about that. This is boring. You get the idea. It’s a matter of taste. I believe I have great taste, but doesn’t everybody?

Blog Posts

Blog posts are Facebook status updates and tweets with a prohibitively long word count.

So there you have it! I would be really interested to know what you guys think and how my experiences relate to yours. I wonder if we are similar or if it’s different for everyone.

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

11/13/11

the woods, week 2.

Not to alarm everyone, but my little stone house is haunted. There are big brown spiders. I’ve seen two so far, or it might be the same one. The first time I picked him up in a towel and shook him outside. Then I watched him immediately scurry into a crevice near the doorstop, so he might have just come back in. Better it’s the same spider, right? I’m not afraid of spiders. I don’t want them crawling all over me but my fear is proportional to the harm they can do, which as I understand it is not very much. Even if the big brown spider is one of the poisonous kind, he would have to bite me like twenty times before I died, wouldn’t he?

Something lives inside the chimney, I can tell you that much. The thing inside the chimney has sharp claws and an itch that she waits to scratch until just before I’ve begun to fall asleep. She is irregular. More terrifying than the scratches is the silence between, when I’m waiting for it.

A gurgling ghost in the toilet, but what else is new. He’s either gasping for air, or like a fish, the water is his air.

Mostly they live inside my head. Too many horror films. I turn around and my brain thinks there will be a person standing there. Coming or going from the bathroom, what if there’s a person standing there. When I turn around, what if someone snuck right up behind me. What if, what if, and no need to finish the thought.

Look, I get over it. I’m not huddled in the corner of my studio with all the lights on terrified until morning. I will let my feet dangle over the side of the bed, no problem. I imagine how horrible it would be if a scaly hand reached out and grabbed my ankles and I brazenly do it anyway. That’s what being a grownup is.

There’s this thing about me and my past that pretty much nobody knows about. It was so significant at the time, more than a year of this, but I was around 8 years old? Over 20 years ago, who cares about a terrible year that happened when you were 8. It sounds dumb but I’m just going to tell you anyway.

My mom went away for the weekend and I had this babysitter. She did my mom’s nails. We watched the movie Pet Sematary about a million times that weekend. I’ve seen it again recently – it’s kind of a good movie, actually. It’s brilliantly campy and absurd. That weekend, I watched it over and over and over again. I was terrified of the sister with the weird disease and the little boy and the idea that animals and people would come back to life to kill me and my entire family but I couldn’t stop watching it.

After that weekend, some thing happened inside my brain and I was just completely fucked.

First of all, my bedroom was not a bedroom. It was my mother’s closet made into a tiny room that held my bed and my stuff. My mom’s clothes lined the far wall. I used to share a room with my sister but they put me in the closet because I was too messy. My sister tried putting a strip of duct tape across the floor but I guess I was sort of a brat about it and threw my stuff over to her side anyway. So, until I was almost 16 my bedroom was my mother’s walk-in closet.

After that weekend I was terrified of everything and I couldn’t sleep alone at night. My mother would read me books and then when she got up to leave I would cry and scream and claw at her until she agreed to come back. I made her stay with me, but even then I was still scared, and it took me forever to fall asleep. Oftentimes when she got up to go back to bed it would wake me up, and I would whimper at her to come back.

A year of this. My mom tried really hard to be patient with me but it completely exhausted her. You could see it all over her face. An 8 year old could see it. Once she sat out in the car all night because she was afraid she might lose her mind and murder me. My brother and sister were fed up. They’d say, “Molly, can’t you understand you’re driving our mother fucking crazy?” and I knew I was but this thing inside of me was bigger than my desire to be considerate. I thought there were people hiding behind my mother’s clothes. When I shut my eyes, I thought the second I opened them there’d be a wrinkly-faced woman peering down at me. There were monsters under the bed and undead animals slithering around above the ceiling tiles.

It just went on and on and on like this. It was embarrassing. I was too old to be behaving this way. Once I flipped out at a slumber party and the parents called my mother to come pick me up, angrily. Mom took me to a kid shrink. Some other stuff happened. I don’t know. Eventually I was able to pass a single night alone in the closet with all the lights on. I remember just staring around the room with the covers up to my chin, fighting to keep my eyes open until I fell asleep or went blind or something.

Everyone thought I’d gotten better, and I had, but only just enough that I was able to keep it to myself. I slept with the covers over my head right up until one of my siblings left and I finally moved into a big kid room.

Years later my mom told me she thought something else must have happened that weekend, that the nail technician babysitter had done something funny to me, but I don’t think so. I’ve always been “dark.” I just had this wild imagination without an off switch. I think I was mad about being put in the closet, but I’m not the type of person that expresses anger properly. My first reaction to being slighted is that it must be my fault. I am only vaguely considering the idea that ghosts and demons are real and have a way of coming out whenever we’re alone together.

I do go on! I hope that wasn’t terribly boring for you to read. It was surprisingly painful to write.

About the writing and whatnot: I started my novel over today. The first couple of weeks are designed for making mistakes, I figure.

You know, I check my stats for this site from time to time, and I discover that people out there are reading. Often I can guess where you’ve come from and why, but it’s weird when you’re from some state I’ve never been to and I see that you’ve clicked on a lot of links and stayed for an hour. I just hope I’m not letting you down. A blog devoted to talking about pretty much nothing but me and my feelings… I feel like I’m getting away with murder here.

 

06/5/11

literary adventures, part 1.

  • My sister is four years older. She read every night under the covers and I thought that seemed like a brainy thing to do. I inherited all the books. I always liked books and I was always messy. It started with a strip of duct tape across the pink carpet but I couldn’t contain my mess and I must have thought it was hilarious to throw clothes over, but anyway, they put me in a walk-in closet where my bedroom stayed for the next several years and I’m sure that led to a lot of reading.
  • My sister taught me how. At first I just memorized the book, but after awhile they saw through that parlor trick and kept changing up the material. I don’t know when this was. The normal age people read.
  • In elementary school every year we got to write stories in bound books made of cardboard and wallpaper, and I thought authoring a good book made you powerful. Where did I come up with that idea? He-Man and Shera get their power by Greyskull. Gem had a magic guitar or something. Some questions just remain unanswered.
  • In fourth grade we had a substitute. He read us “The Tell-Tale heart” and I was like, whaaaaaaaaat? I wanted to pull the halloween decorations down from the attic in spring and drape spiderwebs all over the furniture.
  • Two years later on the first day of sixth grade at the big new middle school where my life was about to turn into a daily horror show but I didn’t know that yet, our first hour teacher tried to lighten the mood by offering a prize to whoever could tell him the author of “The Pit and the Pendulum,” and I screamed Edgar Allan Poe because I didn’t yet know it wasn’t cool to read and know things. Mr. Roth gave me a dollar out of his own wallet, and I thought, middle school is weird.
  • In seventh grade we read a Jack London story, one of the dog point of view ones. Something devastating happened to the dog, and the dog fully realized how hard his life was going to be thereafter, and then came the single sentence, He sat down. My teacher said, “look at that. Notice how simple it is and how much meaning it conveys.” I thought it was so profound. I looked around the room to see if anybody else was having a moment but they all looked cruel or bored or frightened, like always. Fuck all of them. I knew what I’d learned, and my mind was blown and I’ve never ever forgotten it.
  • “High school’s better than junior high. They’ll call you names, but not as much to your face” – Welcome to the Dollhouse.
  • This is getting too long. I’ll add more later.

Of course it’s never how you remember it. Back in fourth grade the substitute was just a grown up, an anonymous old person. In memories after that I matured and decided he was 25 and sexy. I’ll never know, and I can never go back and say, “hey, edgy substitute. you changed me.”

I found the Jack London quote, and again it’s not quite the way I remember. I think it was, “He sat down, and the men laughed at him,” and it’s from The Call of the Wild.

I think I remember at one point magic was real, and tiny leprechauns lived in the grass and used mushrooms for umbrellas, but again I may be mistaken.

05/24/11

oh no and other poems.

The most thrilling thing about Herzog’s Encounters at the End of the World is watching all the people in the movie who are living on purpose. You don’t find yourself one day at 55 years old taking milk samples from sea lions in the South Pole unless that’s really what you want to do with your life. You’re not like, man, I could go for being an accountant in Houston about now. These crazy winter people are hippies without the sandals. Go stream the movie on Netflix if you don’t know what I’m talking about, because it’s really neat.

I get jealous of scientists, like any self-respecting artist should. I like the idea of goal setting. Actually it’s not any different from writing. Step 1: work really hard in school and be trusted to continue your research in Antarctica with the help of a grant given out by the money people. Step 1: work really hard at your writing and find someone who likes it enough to turn it into a book.

My new job is cool but I don’t really want to talk about it specifically. I just started working, lickity split, haven’t had time to miss the academic life. I work in a building that looks like a log cabin. I’m in the basement with a bunch of other writers and editors, which is mostly the same thing but sort of like are you an Elvis or a Beatles person.

The last office I worked at back in Michigan was terrible. I mean, truly awful. Two things come to mind when I think about that place: Thoreau: “The mass of men live lives of quiet desperation,” and the great existential film Joe Versus the Volcano. I wrote product copy for sports equipment. I had to go to meetings where they asked me if I had any innovative ideas on how to help the jackass who owned the company make more money. Why would I care? Why would anybody ever expect me to care, and how was everyone around me able to generate so much enthusiasm? They were like bullshit windmills.

If I had a point I lost it. Oh well. Sometimes these things just float away…