09/27/12

On Not Writing

Writers will say, “There’s no such thing as writer’s block,” or “I don’t believe in writer’s block.” Okay. Well. What’s it called when every time I write a sentence it’s the worst sentence I’ve ever written, and this happens so consistently that soon I become afraid of the page itself, until the doubt gives way to fear and anxiety as I watch the month of September slip pitifully through my fingers with nothing to show for it? But what can be done? Another day, another dollar. Just go grimly on.

I thought getting out of my house on Phillips Street would help, so I took a greyhound to Seattle to write and hang out with my friend Laura’s dog. I did one out of two of those things. The greyhound driver out of Montana went ahead and told us all sorts of facts about the 1913 fire that apparently ravaged St. Regis and the surrounding wilderness. Her facts were morbid and came in unpredictable spurts. Just when I thought I could relax, she’d get on the horn and say, “Just past that tree line you’ll find a cave that collapsed in the 1913 fire, killing 13 men and all six of their horses.” People on the bus were really into her and who could blame them. The driver on the way home was boring. He didn’t have any wildfire facts. All he did was remind us after every single stop that there was no smoking on the bus. Dude, does anyone in the year 2012 think that it’s okay to smoke anywhere at any time? What a dumb, boring bus driver.

Here are some things that I’ve been doing instead of writing:

  • Craigslist is the new Submittable; all told I’d say I spend around 2-4 hours a day perusing it. I look in the jobs section and weep. I look for open apartments, sublets and roomshares (as if lightning is going to strike twice and I’ll find a roommate with an even BIGGER picture of his face hanging from the wall). Mostly, I look in the pet section where I mourn all the lost dogs and dream of buying all the puppies. Somebody advertised that they found a 3-legged dog near Russell Street. I wrote them to explain that no, it was not my dog, but if they didn’t find its owner than surely I am destined to step in, because I have reoccurring dreams of owning a 3-legged dog. They did not reply. It makes me mad to think about it. I should have found that dog. I never find any dogs.
  • My roommate Jesse and I continue to play house, but is it really a game? I do the dishes and think, “Ha ha, pretending to be in a domestic partnership, doing the dishes.” I think if I get married and have children it will be the same in my head. “Ha ha, brushing my daughter’s hair. Ha ha, second mortgage.” Back when I delivered pizzas I used to pretend that I was a serf in feudal times, working for pennies. I asked my coworkers if they ever did anything similar, and they were like, “What? No.”
  • Jesse asked me to marry him on facebook chat while I was in Seattle, making him the second man in 2012 to propose to me on the Internet. This is what happens when you get older. You can’t just casually date anymore. Everything is a fucking catastrophe. Men are all, “You’re going to rip my fucking heart out of my chest!” It’s grave. To his marriage proposal I said, “Probably,” and that made him mad, so I said, “Sure.” Then we walked around a table holding hands backwards  and now we’re “married.” My roommate is like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman in that he doesn’t like to kiss on the mouth.
  • We are so poor. Every day I ride my bike across town to my post office box. I put my key in the lock and pray, and every day, there’s no check waiting for me and I ride home defeated. It’s always a dreary bike ride for some reason; I have terrible thoughts.
  • The smoke that lingers in the hills of Missoula is disconcerting, definitely, and sure, it hurts to breathe, but the truth is that I like it. It seems like nothing affects me anymore. I used to cry when the music swelled in movies and now I feel nothing. For awhile there, the busses were free, but I had to pay this morning, which. What the fuck. Riding the bus should be free. Everything in the world should be free.
  • And to think, just a couple of weeks ago I quit smoking. Here’s the classic joke: “Looks like I picked the wrong week to stop smoking!” That’s not funny at all.
  • Reading books, watching films, listening to music. Just trying to get through this thing. Trying to remember how to write again. Trying not to panic. The world is a just and orderly place, right? And to die is different from what anyone supposed? And luckier?
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.

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.

05/8/12

things that are dangerous. things that are great.

Downtown in Missoula, Montana yesterday, a real live Native American approached me on the sidewalk. Picture the red, ruddy face, as you would expect, then add a shitload of scratches, bruises and gashes held together with medical tape. He asked what kind of money I could spare. My god, are you kidding? The spending kind.

“Got in a car wreck yesterday,” he said. “This keeps happening to me. My daughter is always asking how I get myself all banged up all the time.” He said it jovially, like, “Oh, I’m such a klutz!” The world can be such a horror show, you know? So many unsafe edges and surfaces to smash your face against if you’re not careful. Even if you are careful.

If you went back to my blog entries from fall of 2009, you’d find my first impressions of Missoula: There’s no sales tax, the ducks and crows, for lack of hands hold feathers, a river runs through it, and so on. The place looks and feels made up. All of that is still true, so there’s no point in repeating it.

Here are some before, during and after photos of the elephant in Utero my brother put on me in boston.

Here’s another example of a thing that is dangerous. I asked the heavens/facebook for a bike to use for the summer. Somebody I never met but who knows me through my newspaper writing went ahead and loaned me his bike. He had a broken leg from falling off of said bike but the helmet saved his head and it’s fine. I’ll be fine. He made me promise I’d wear his haunted helmet, and I agreed, warily, warily, warily, warily, and no need to finish the thought.

Your apartment is great, I said. The song you’ve been working on in your diminished condition is great. Your many guitars and broken leg is great.

The hills are great. The pink clouds creeping over the hills are great. Except for the low hanging chandelier directly under the couch I’m currently surfing that I will never remember not to hit my head on again and again, I can’t think of anything that isn’t great.

05/3/12

travelogue: star date infinity.

I left Michigan on Tuesday morning. There’s the blunt edge of how much my mother will miss me to deal with, but so it goes. Birds fly away. Leaving the cats tears me up even more, because they don’t understand. You can’t send a cat a text message that explains why you’re leaving them.

The thing about me lately is, to be perfectly frank, I can’t stop thinking about faith and God and love all the time. I want to practice what I’ve learned like a teen might dutifully play the clarinet for an hour a day, but it’s not that simple; you can’t hold faith and love and God in your hands.

Imagine someone with the gall to rape in broad daylight wearing rainboots. This is the alley they would choose.

There was a man getting off the plane in Chicago from my connection to Boston. He was alone, quiet and unequivocally different. He had the proud suit, hat and beard. I couldn’t tell if he was Hasidic or Mennonite or what, but anyway, you know the type. When he got off the plane, he crouched down in the causeway to stuff a worn bible in his carry-on. I wanted him to know that I love God as much does. I wanted to talk to him about it, say something like, “Isn’t it cool how God is the same no matter what weird beard he’s wearing?” Anyway, there are men like that all over the city. They’re always alone and it seems to me a little sad and bewildered by what’s happening in the world around them. I could be totally wrong about that.

"Nobody ever mentions the second world, but it exists, like plate tectonics exist. It's called Detroit." That's the line that got the people most riled up from the poem I read at Cantab Lounge's open mic night . (That's not me in the picture, of course.)

It continues to be hilarious how terrible I am at the basic goings ons of city life. I never put the metro card through the machine in the right direction, for example. Two separate New Yorkers who are old and special friends made a point of mentioning to me how slow I walk. In Michigan, where I came from, there’s not much more than parked cars to walk to. In Montana, where I’m going, there’s the scenery to gawk at. I’ll get a steady pace worked out. Don’t nobody worry about me.

Real Pigeons of New York

Today is tattoo day! Tomorrow, the mountains. We’ll be in touch.