Monday, June 30, 2008

look ma, i wrote a fairy tale

we may learn from life a little
how to look men in the eye
how to make a great martini
how to tell the perfect lie

back in olden days, in the old country, when i a wee thing was being dragged around outdoor markets by my grandmother - perhaps i should have taken a moment to talk to the gypsy women.
of course, i wasn't actually allowed to. gypsies, as per common knowledge, would take your money and put a hex on you. make you grow up ugly. especially if you looked them in the eye.

but maybe i should have anyway. spited all superstition and just walked up to one while my granny was haggling with the tomato vendor. i should have given her some spare change and let her hold my hand and talk to me in her odd tongue, a mix of slavic and romani, as she told my fortune. perhaps, even at seven, i could have made out the meaning of what she was saying. perhaps the story would have gone something like this:

" you will not always be this shy. you will not always be scared of people. you will lose all that you now think defines you, and travel to a cold land where people drink unboiled milk without fear of disease. your skin will go pale like the midnight sun in this land, and you will try to forget your roots and change your name. you will grow up without a god, surrounded by much love but little guidance, and you will run wild when the opportunity presents itself, and you will never look back.

" as a young woman, you will travel once more to a faraway land - a strange place where even elegant folk wear sneakers, and look to tv instead of books to provide meaningful commentary on their lives. you will hate it there, for a while. but then you'll meet people who turn your life around. you will want nothing more than to be on stage. you will invest all of you into this place, eventually, and with this will come many sacrifices: you won't see your family for years. you will not be able to be near your mother when she gets sick. you will not attend your parents' graduations, nor they yours. and you will wonder, forever, if you've made the right decisions. if your passion was worth it.

" you will fall in love with the wrong people, at the wrong times, and you'll act foolishly. you will break and think you're beyond repair, but this will never be true. you will know and understand both the pain and the value of leaving things behind, and this will be your triumph in life and also perhaps your tragedy. "

...i wish i knew how her story would go on from here. or do i? i certainly wouldn't have wanted to hear all the things she's said up to this point, back then. or i wouldn't have believed them. not a one of them. same difference.

can knowledge of future events help shape them? change them? does fate exist? and other such cliched questions. at best, we can perhaps manage an educated guess as to the short-term course of our lives, although looking at my past - it's one big mishmash of unpredictability. i wonder, i wonder, i wonder. i'm having a 'what if' kind of day. the good kind, not the bad kind... but still.

well, no matter what. i mean, no matter what. i'm still trapped in the fluid, yet finite confines of the now, and there is no gypsy lady to tell stories of my future, whether or not i actually want to hear them. thank fuck. isn't the excuse for doing things that seem ridiculous in hindsight always that they made perfect sense at the time??

though I've gained a little insight
lost my heart and sold my soul
i am still a rank beginner
when it comes to self control

(poetry excerpts from fran landesman, of course.)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

dear diary,

when i grow up and get a real job and make lots of money,
these are some things i'm going to do:

- buy a digital camera and take lots of silly pictures of myself and my friends. (seriously... if i wait much longer to do this, i'll grow out of it, or it just won't be cute anymore.)

- go out for dinner somewhere fancy and order anything that looks good on the menu, without so much as looking at the prices.

- spontaneously hop on a plane to toronto, just to spend a day walking around kensington market and smoking on patios.

- drink like a fish. live like a rock star.

- get a new fucking bottle of shampoo. who knows, i may even splurge and get conditioner while i'm at it.

maybe beggars can't be choosers, but i simply refuse to forsake my expensive taste in hair products. they'll have to wait for starvation to get me before they pry that bottle of redken out of my cold, dead hands.

i'm some sad excuse for a bohemian.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

something very strange

is going on around here. maybe it's the heat.

1. i spent the greater part of my night looking up russian, bulgarian and norwegian poetry online. there is distrubingly little out there, or else i'm just inept with a search engine - i could barely find any of my favorites, which were the whole reason for this undertaking. however;

2. i read pretty much everything that i did find, along with the (mostly horrible) english translations available. this means i quite literally read hundreds of poems in three or four different languages over the last few hours. attention span deficit certainly doesn't live here... i don't know if i should be impressed or scared.

3. but wait, it gets worse.
there is one particular poem that not a single individual in norway, no matter how little s/he cares for literature, has managed to avoid exposure to in the public education system. it's got the sort of reputation that makes teenagers groan just to hear the title, of course. even the kind of teenagers that actually read. even the kind that actually read shakespeare.
now, i have not remotely brushed with this tidbit of national lore since i graduated high school. nor did i really have a reason to seek it out tonight. but:

4. i found it and i read it, all forty-odd stanzas in the original edit. it was awfully melodramatic and sentimental; i mean, it's never really been my style of writing or anything. and around the part where he confronts the english lord and his family, i realized i was crying; not just tearing up, either, full-on waterworks and sobbing and what the hell is that all about?!?

4.1. i didn't think i liked the poem that much - if at all.
4.2. i don't remember the last time a movie, a story or even a real life event made me bawl quite like that.

bullshit. bullshit!! nostalgia? homesickness? WHAT? have i completely lost my mind??

well, not that this helps make sense of what i'm talking about, but i did manage to dig up an english translation of the poem, if you're so inclined:
terje viken by henrik ibsen
(the very bottom one)

do not expect anything typically ibsen-esque - it was an "early effort" and is largely unrecognized as part of his ingenious output by everyone except norwegians. the translation, though, is actually surprisingly adequate if a little loose in content.

it's gotta be the heat, or the lack of a job. my sensibilities are clearly coming undone... what's next? am i unwittingly about to join the ranks of the secret converts? will i wear hemp belts and listen to weepy girly music? no, seriously i'm a little freaked right now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

we walked around the commons

for a bit after brunch, acting stupid. funny how some people automatically play to a particular aspect of your personality. it's great when you just want to feel like you're ten and have never had a worry in the world.

a puggle puppy came running toward us, and we both instantly dropped to our knees and rolled around on the grass making silly sounds. her name was paprika. the couple who owned her gave us dog treats and she went wild with love.

five minutes later, we were bored with the puppy and started walking down to gottingen to grab a beverage. josh had found an elongated object that looked like it was once the handle of a mop or broom, and was now lugging it around and using to point at things meaningfully.

"YOU. are a bearded iris."
"who did you just call a bearded iris??"
"...the bearded iris we just passed?"
"oh, thank god. i thought you were talking to that woman up ahead."

later, on the backpackers patio. marinating in the sun, wishing i hadn't worn jeans on this hotter than hell afternoon.

"i've been thinking of getting a tattoo. i don't know if it would suit me, though."
"bullshit. anyone can pull off the right tattoo."
"ok, how about this: anne of green gables carrying a platter of puffs."
"you would never get laid again."
"what if i tattoo it on my ass?"
"then people will just assume you're a child molester."

when i was making my way home up north street, the world looked colorized and airbrushed and i was, quite unselfconsciously, humming a tune from west side story.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

it's not so weird, i guess,

that i've always had this strange sense of displacement. it's probably weirder that i usually get over it. ever since i was little, no environment has felt like home, not entirely.

sure, i would eventually become attached to individuals or communities - given enough time - but never to the degree of belonging anywhere, in the way most people use the word 'belong'. probably that's not what it looks like on the outside. trial and error teaches a number of useful life skills, and i'm pretty adept at giving the impression that i fit into my surroundings quite comfortably.

it's not untrue, exactly. i'm comfortable most of the time. most of the time... i'm comfortably disconnected.

maybe this is a long-term side effect of thrusting an already socially alienated pre-teen into extremely unfamiliar new reality. adapting to foreignness became both second nature and practically impossible - almost like my system overloaded and then crashed, leaving me with the conviction that true integration is unachievable, so i better develop some serious chamelion skills.

i remember how i did it, too. i started making a movie in my head where i was the main character. i would play with camera angles and lighting, edits and various movie magics, until each moment of my life was a perfectly captured scene and everything i said was a perfectly delivered line. movie characters, you see - my young self brilliantly reasoned - are never not at home in the movie. no matter how awkward or vulnerable or destitute at times, they're an integral part of everything that goes on around them. i could do this; i could be this.

it seemed to work wonders, for a few years.

in high school i taught myself - with a fair amount of practice - to tilt my chin at a slightly more obtuse angle when walking, forcing my posture to change dramatically. this made me feel like i appeared more confident, which in turn made me feel more confident. ah, how close pretending things can bring you to the real deal! of course, with this slight physical shift came a general impression that i was arrogant and very likely bitchy. people were so convinced of this, i probably ended up arrogant and bitchy.

other things, too. like language. articulation is power, i discovered, and threw myself into what i can only describe as linguistic acrobatics in my attempts to master this amazing tool of control. no heightened turn of phrase nor lowbrow tidbit of slang was to remain unexplored, because language was a social costume for every occasion and no way was i going to show up underdressed.

well, i met all my goals. i note this with a combination of pride and sadness: i've conditioned myself so well, it's hard to be brutally honest with myself about how i feel in any given situation. when things are tough or strange or awkward for me, i feign okay-ness all too easily.

lately it's hard not to think about it. i'm getting cosmically tested, aren't i? it's just been one blow after another, these past few months. and i've been okay, and i am okay, and i may not belong anywhere but maybe people like me aren't ever meant to.
it doesn't have to be a bad thing, i don't think. just gotta learn how to think about it right. nothing is home, and i can never go home again.

fine. there is worse out there.

i remember things about you

that you've forgotten all about, years ago.

i'm like an old blackboard that needs to be replaced. the words are long gone but the ghostsly chalk imprints linger.

the school doesn't have a budget for this kind of damage.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

'what not to wear' for the newly unemployed

"yeah, i suppose black jeans are okay if you dress them up with a conservative shirt and heels. take off the leather cuff, though. and the necklace."
"really?! i can't wear this necklace? but it's so small and inoffensive."
"tuck it into your shirt, then. you don't want to look rock'n'roll. you want streamlined and professional."

i grumble, but i do as she says. sigh. i don't even want another dining job.

"can i wear my jean jacket? or does that have too much personality for the prospective employer, too."

she ponders a moment.

"no, you can wear it. it looks clean and preppy, with the rest of your outfit... you look like a gap ad."
eyeroll. "it's a sad state of affairs when the gap ad image is what's considered the epitome of hireable."
"look, you need a job, right??"

my roommate can be a hardass, but she's right, of course. i put on my jean jacket and study the results in our full-length mirror. "i suppose i should probably remove the north end, i love you button from the breast pocket."
"yes. you really should."
i do it, with what i hope is an endearing pout. i feel like a store mannequin.

candice laughs, in her carefree look-at-me-i-have-a-job-and-can-wear-what-i-feel-like ruffled skirt.
"relax. you can go back to squatting abandoned houses, after you do your interview."

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

"down here, we all float"

i look at my last post and i'm like, eye-ruh-neeee.

maybe i'm a low-level psychic or something. things have happened this way before - little echoes of the future, causing a stir in my mind that i can't understand or place. it's confusing, but also comforting somehow. almost like i already dealt with the fallout of this, before "this" became a fact.

stephen called to see how i was doing, for the fourth time. this was directly after i had summoned the courage to face my account balances. it had been a very grave and gruelling fifteen minutes.
"i don't have any money. none at all. i have negative-money. i don't own a cent."
"it's a good thing you have a me, then."
"i suppose i'm not going to die, am i."
"nope. you're not going to die."

then he said he was taking me out for dinner and i said, maybe i should lose my job more often. then i laughed the laugh of the temporarily insane.

well, hopefully the temporarily insane.

i'm alone in the middle of a winter landscape which suddenly turns out to be a gigantic sno-globe. i only know it's not real because someone on the outside is shaking it. i'm weightless and tiny and bouncing off the glass, and the world is a flurry of plastic snow.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

but sometimes, like say

right now, i just want a real life. a real job, with real people. who read real books. this false glamour of living in a world entirely made up of concepts and ideas gets so old.

i look at my hands, they've aged; they're these strange foreign objects now. my fingers scream of years spent in the service industry. not that there's anything wrong with that. my hands are so unpretentious, they've never even heard of nail polish or any of that cuticle cream jazz. i don't mind that. who gives a shit about cuticle cream??

i don't mind my hands, but i'd like to get to know them again. there has to be a new chapter around the corner somewhere, there has to... these days, my mind is always either on hold or in overdrive, and it can't be healthy and it doesn't feel good. it hurts, actually. all the time.

how did this take me so long to realize? i think some part of me honestly believed that i was living the dream. or a dream, anyway. well, i don't want it anymore. i want things to start being real.

i want that so bad it makes me cry.

i always look for the

sour notes first.

when reading a script, or when reading a person.

read once for content, and then once for texture. you'll find them in the texture read. sometimes they're less obvious, but they're always the most interesting. a situation in musical terms: perfect rendition of a 'moonlight sonata' where a finger suddenly brushes a wrong key, creating a dissonance that reverberates through the whole piece. a half-second delay, perhaps, which breaks the mathematical pattern of a composition.

the most beautiful thing about symmetry is the deviation from it.

have you ever had one of these moments; walking away from a conversation and realizing that one particular sentence is stuck in your head like a skipping record? it undulates in your mind and the more you try to milk it for hidden meaning, the more it refuses to yield? anyway, neither here nor there.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

water to wine

and wine to vinegar
and vinegar to lye
and lye to honey
and honey to grapes
and grapes to wine
and wine to water
and water to salt
and salt to blood
and blood to power
and power to disaster
and disaster to bliss
and bliss to... to... i don't know what

but it never stops, goddamn it, there's never a moment's peace
i'm so tired
i just want to put my head down and close my eyes
and never need punctuation again to explain how i fucking feel

(use your words use your words your WORDS)

Monday, June 9, 2008

absolutely glorious


i am sitting at javablend on north street, and i just witnessed a very old lady walk by with a t-shirt that professed

i gave up DRINKING and SMOKING and SEX
and it was the worst 15 minutes of my life

oh, summertime.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

haven't been feeling like

writing anything lately.

mostly it's a time thing. i feel guilty spending it here when there's so little to go around.

but almost as importantly, i don't like the stuff that leaks out my fingertips when they get near the keyboard. nothing new is forming in my head, no stories, not even the tiniest anecdote. all the words that want out are visceral and introspective and of no use to anyone. your blog is all smoke and mirrors these days, anne said in a recent e-mail, and yes! yes it is! and i hate smoke and mirrors. well... in excess, anyway.

and with that, i welcome you to: yet another smoke and mirrors post.

i've always had trouble asking for things.
anything. stuff i fully deserve, especially. it's a strange, misconceived issue of pride. the more i deserve something - a raise, a break, help, a kind word - the more obstinately i refuse to ask for it; the more i feel that i shouldn't have to.

i guess it's really a fear of rejection. the more i feel i've earned something, the harder the fall if i don't get the payoff... so much easier to just sit around, stupidly full of pride, and wait for the reward to come to me - and if it doesn't, so much easier to walk away. a little angry, perhaps, but nothing compared to the ego bruise of having asked and having been turned down.

that's so dumb. i don't think i've ever fully realized how fucking dumb that is.

sigh. i suppose it is a silly time to learn to swim when you start to drown.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

this living, this living, this living / was never a project of mine


Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.

~ Dorothy Parker