Saturday, August 30, 2008

-J-J- is Existing in Linear Time.

It seems a little perverse to write about Facebook on a blog, sort of nudging the snake even further around to make a meal of his tail.

I am addicted to Facebook. There I said it. I check it all the time, tooling around, updating portions that only express the most intriguing aspects of myself.

It really isn't ostensibly different from MySpace. The interface is cleaner and there are fewer ads to contend with. There is less of a possibility that some troll will peruse your profile, befriend you and hose your inbox with hanky panky emails about his or her webcam site.

The thing I believe is the real difference between the two, is the Status Update.

MySpace has a status update, but it seems less of an imperative. When you log on to Facebook the first thing you see is the looming question, "What are you doing right now?"

Jeez. What AM I doing right now? How in the world do I answer such a question? about this: -j-j- is watching TV. (Click)

With that, the whole of the Facebook universe can see what you're doing right now. Another click, and the list of status updates appears, revealing what everyone else is doing, too.

Suddenly, watching TV seems inadequate when compared to "Dan is All out of Love and So lost Without You." or "Betsy is BMX-ing. ROCK!" or the zen, if somewhat oblique "Gary is."

Oh, dear...Now I need to come up with something that is alluring but not trying too a hard, casually witty, perhaps with some political awareness, and maybe with an allusion to my own personal hopes for connection...but not too much! You must be careful not to give the milk away for free.

Reading through the Facebook status updates is like being in room with hundreds of blindfolded people, all of them announcing personal information at the same decibel. If you really pay attention you can find threads, see relationships emerge and disintegrate. Hopeful pleas. Excited yearnings. Mundane bullshit. Trivial aggravation. Forlorn entreaties. Some are crystal clear. Some require a decoder ring.

Or maybe I just think too much about this shit.

(Sigh) -j-j- is still watching TV. (Click)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Rap is Dead

Well, maybe not dead. It just got into a car accident and is living off a feeder tube, while friends and family search it's vacant eyes for signs of consciousness.

Perhaps it will revive itself, grow a new brain and awaken from its coma. Rap has died many deaths since the Sugarhill Gang, from "The Superbowl Shuffle" to the buffoonery of Vanilla Ice. Why not expect that it will rise like a Phoenix again?

I don't pretend to be a Rap connoisseur, nor do I have much more than a passing knowledge of its history. Like anything else, there are some songs I like, some I don't. But I am not blind to Rap as a cultural force.

Remember when Rap was just a fad? You, know, something for the kids like jelly shoes or Zima? I think that's what white culture prayed for - and always has when something new and extraordinary breaks from African American Culture. The same thing happened with Rock and Roll. "Oh, please, baby Jesus, deliver us into your gingerbread heaven from the scourge of beat driven sex music!"

But then, something more powerful than sex, more powerful than Baby Jesus dawned on the horizon. Money. As soon as the dollar reared it's head, it seemed like a new world. "You know what guys? I think we can SELL STUFF with this shit."

And lucky us. For in the wake of commerce we were subjected to some of the most astonishing advertising embarrassments ever. Here is but one:


"We like this rap,
It really rocks,
But we'd rather jump
in the barbecue sauce,
'cause we're chick-en-en-en!"

I am aware that not every poem or rap has to conform to all the rules of style and meter but ROCKS AND SAUCE DOESN'T RHYME. YOU HAVE A TEAM OF PAID PROFESSIONALS WORKING ON THIS AND YOU CAN'T EVEN MAKE IT RHYME?!?!?!?

This commercial is the equivalent of the newly single next door neighbor coming over unannounced to make balloon animals for your son's 15th birthday. It's awkward and desperate, you wish it would end, but you kind of HAVE TO WATCH.

I will not go into my revulsion at the use of anthropomorphic food. That deserves a frothing post unto itself.

It is tough to say that this ad is even an insult to Rap, because it so far and away beyond what could even be considered hip-hop, its ridiculous. Like many firsts, though, it might be bumbling and self-conscious, but in the end, its blood paves the way for more insidious things to come.

Rap didn't go away. And neither did the advertising industry's attempts use it for the big sell. There are hundreds of commercials that blast rap as it's underscore to express how powerful the the SUV is, or how sexy that Beer is, or how indomitable this NFL team is. Raps have been written with more savvy to sell food, clothes and toys.

And now the recouperation of Rap as a challenge to the staus quo is complete:

Oh. My. God.

What better way to show the world that Rap has no power than to put two Douchbags in car at a Taco Bell drive thru, have them beat box about the glories of the value menu and then reiterate their Douchbaggery as they have a hissy tiff over DOUCHBAG 1 HAVING TO SPOT DOUCHEBAG 2 $0.89 FOR A BURRITO.

In my limited experience, Rap is about rising above, sex, money, machismo, social injustice, sticking it to the man, cop killing, wife strangling, swearing, exultation, degradation, mo' money and mo' problems, how it's hard out here for a pimp, authenticity and empowerment. It is a polarizing and pretty amazing art form.

And I can safely say, that this commercial is NOT about any of that. It takes it back, turns it on it's ear.

Machismo? Nope.
Authenticity? Authentically reductionist and "ironic", maybe.

Sex? Seriously, man. These guys are virgins.

Notice, there are no women in the car.

And there never will be.

Lastly, I want to make mention of the weird splicing in of the food in this ad. Like a subliminal insertion of porn, we are subjected to a slimy expulsion of Orange over a bed of Alpo. And it happens so fast it's like "Wha?"...all I know is that I am sad and queasy and a little violated.

Rap is dead. Long Live Rap.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Random Thoughts

1. Yesterday, I watched my nephew J. playing with a stuffed Tigger doll.

We sat on the couch, with Tigger between us. He grabbed the orange and black doll, whispered to it in his broken baby English and then gave it an adoring hug, squeezing it so tight and smiling.

He then hurled the Tigger onto the floor with a thud.

We both stared down at the castoff toy.

"Oh. Mo." J. garbled.

He slid off the couch and toddled to Tigger, picking him up by the tail. Hugging it again, pressing the doll's hind legs to his face, he said "I Sorfy...I Sorfy."

J. climbed back up onto the couch, Tigger in hand. We sat for a second and once again, Tigger was hurled onto the floor.

This cycle of love, scorn, separation, atonement, and redemption continued for another five minutes until J. discovered that slapping a puddle of spilled juice made a great sound.

I hate kids.

2. Tuesday is the worst day of the work week.

Monday is the day everyone gets a pass because of whatever alcoholic dmage may have been done and the collective understanding that no one wants to be back from the weekend.

Wednesday is the "Hump Day". We're all in it together so let's just get through this day it's smooth sailing from here on out.

Thursday is the unofficial start to the weekend. There's a sense of hope for the Saturday and Sunday to come: time away, time to imagine a life where I can pursue what my innermost self desires or -barring that- drink myslef into oblivion with people I barely know but hope to sleep with.


Tuesday is a day with no excuses. No fun lables. No chats about what you'll be doing this weekend. Just the stark reality of the week ahead and no alibi for your listless job performance.

3. When faced with a sea change - like the sort I've been experiencing this week - I have discovered that there is never a time of rest or completion. I can never sit back and think: well, this is it. This is how I'm going to feel.

It just doesn't happen. Every second is a new adventure in "How shitty will I feel now? How excited? How angry? How abandoned? How supported? How relieved? How sad? How hopeful?"

And the moment I think the waters have calmed, another wave breaks and I'm right where I thought I wouldn't be again. A stranger to myself...and, in many ways, to those around me.

I know it will pass. A tempest can't last forever. It's just hard to see beyond those white capped waves on the black ocean.

4. I am enormously grateful to those who have offered their support. It is humbling to be surounded by such thoughtful people. Thank you for even the smallest reaching out. You have no idea the comfort it brings.

5. Sometimes I play a game on the bus: If the other passengers and I were trapped on a deserted island, with whom would I most likely pro-create? Sometimes, the pickin's are slim.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

I smell funny things, sometimes

As those Axe commercials* laughingly mention (passing off some five-finger discount wisdom as their own), smell is very much attached to memory.

In college, my acting teacher told us the story of why he couldn't have the scent of cloves anywhere near him. Apparently, when he was in the 6th grade or so, he was running home, pursued by the school bully. Just as he crossed into the grass of his yard, he turned, and the bully gave him a swift kick to the groin. At that moment, the smell of cloves wafted from the his mother's baking through an open window, altering his ability to enjoy mulled cider or, for that matter, any harvest season cooking, forever.

His balls seize up with a phantom nut-jab from the distant past.

I have a similar visceral reaction to most smells (obviously, not in the nuts, but you get the gist). Walking down the street, after hitting a cloud of misty exhaust from an apartment building's laundry room, I am bathed in an overwhelming sense of comfort. The smell of laundry detergent and fabric softener, heated and vaporized, takes me back to my mother's house, as she is folding shirts and corduroys, watching the Love Boat (Followed immediately by Fantasy Island) on a Friday night. At the age of seven, everything was right with the world when Captain Merrill Stubing was on the tube and Bounce dryer sheets were strewn on the floor.

Of course, not every smell carries the tranquil nostalgia of a specific time and place. Many (and I would hazard, most) call up an awkward and ambiguous emotion, particularly if the the feeling is of unknown origin. Why on Earth does the smell of a Waldenbooks force me into an undefined sense of longing? Is there some dark reason I can't handle the smell of Tussy deodorant?

Below is a list of smells and the crazy things they call up for me. In some instances, I know exactly where they came others I have not a clue.

Stinks and Thinks:

Cherry Chapstick = Second grade Wintertime (Similarly, the taste of Luden's Cherry Cough drops, which amounted to little more than candy, brings up something around the same period...only more tubercular.)
Wet Wood = Giddy Anticiaption caused by The Pirates of the Carribean ride at Disney world
Garage = Sleepover
Oriental Flavor Ramen Noodles = The Neverending Story Movie
Aquanet = Stage jitters
Spaghetti-O's = Nausea (Of the most explosive sort)
Drakkar Noir = Desolation and aggravation
Elmer's White Glue = expectation of the unknown
Carpet Glue = September
Finesse Shampoo = Inner conflict
The smell of new plastic tubes = An Asthma Attack
Burning paper = Christmas
Old Cigarettes = social hesitance

I may add more as they arrive unexpectedly up my nose.

On a final note, my friend Jan is a make up artist and works at Sax in LA. I was visiting and trying to entertain myself with the different tubs of lip gloss and eye shadow, when I came across a bar of soap called "Beach". I brought it to my nose and suddenly I was eight years old, staying at our beach house in Wrightsville, walking with my sister, covered in sand and suntan lotion towards the pier to buy ice cream. I shoved that bar up my nose and completely freaked out, snorting at it again and again, trying to reawaken that swell of memory.

I think all Jan's co-workers were a little geaked out by my complete lack of composure. But wouldn't you be jumping up and down if you were flooded with a complete and full body reminiscence of something so awesome as buying ice cream on the beach?

Jan understood. She bought me the bar of soap as a going away present.

*I will probably be doing an Axe rant at some point...although bitching about Axe commercials is like shooting hamsters in a barrel.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Every song is a dick

Music is a major component of the work I do. It is rare to see me on the street or riding the bus without my iPod on.

(God knows the hearing damage I've sustained after nearly 20 years of listening to headphones. For my 13th birthday, I put in a feverish request to my parents for a set of AM/FM radio head phones. I was nearly sick with the anticipation of receiving them and when the day finally arrived and the item was presented - a futuristic silvery grey electronic rectangle accompanied by the ear speakers, padded in attractive orange foam - I wasted not a second in shutting myself my room. I slipped the headphones over my ears and availed myself of the three radio stations we were able to pick up on the mountain.

It is nearly impossible in this day and age of "On Demand Everything" to appreciate the quivering suspense of listening to the radio in the hopes that "West End Girls" would play, or whatever the favorite but rare song was at the time. Hours, and I'm not exaggerating here, upon hours were spent wading through "That's What Friends are For" and "Conga" in the hopes that the one cool local DJ would rock out "Sledgehammer".)

I am at turns a total snob and absolute philistine when it comes to music. Friends who have had the dubious opportunity to listen to my music selection would readily back this up.

One the "hip" end I have: Throw me the Statue, Spoon, The Magnetic Fields, Billy Bragg

On the "music appreciation" end I have: The Beatles, Queen, John Coltraine, Beethoven, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald.

And finally, on the "What the-?!" end I have: 1 Mandy Moore song, That "I Kissed a Girl" Song, Some Christina and Britney, Falco, and a few show tune selections.

This list is only meant to highlight the somewhat arbitrary music choices on my in no way expresses the depth and breadth of my guilty pleasures. At this juncture, I'm not prepared to bare my neck so completely to the cyber wolves.

I have an affinity for pretty much all music, whatever the cultural, musical, or artistic signifigance...for better or worse. When music is playing I try to find the story of it - who would listen to Salt-n-Peppa, America, or Timbaland? What is their day like? When do they listen to this or that? Why?

It's how I begin to write and compile ideas.

Lately, though, every song is a dick.

We all know it. If ever there is a time in our lives when something goes awry - a relationship fails, a loved one passes away - every song, regardless of how great it is, or how jaw-droppingly awful, somehow our emotion drenched brains attach an aching poignancy to EVERY WARBLING NOTE OR FOOL LYRIC.

I am shocked and dismayed at the songs that reduce me to tears on a constant basis. And sometimes they don't have anything to do AT ALL with the situation.

Here are a few...don't ask me where I heard them, I don't know. I can assure you that it was quite by accident, wherever it was. None of these songs are on my iPod. I swear to God.

Seriously? Josh Groban makes me want to barf. Even his cameo on "I'm Fucking Ben Affleck" couldn't wash away his singular musk that attracts 45-year-old midewestern mothers of two into his fan base.

But I heard this in Walgreens and got misty in the hair care aisle.

As Robert Downey, Jr. says in Tropic Thunder: "Just because it's a theme song don't mean it's not true."

(Sheepish sigh.) I suppose so.

And, at last, here's this one. If you want to revoke my friendship with you...I understand.

Oh....God. me out onto the open highway, and let me off by the side of the road and just drive away...don't look back. Just don't look back.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

To the Sir or Madam Who May or May Not be Reading My Blog

I've attempted several posts meant to catalog my thoughts about the universe, people, voyeurism, mass transit, so on and so forth, but have failed to complete anything. Like sitting in a theater behind someone who has giant hair or a tall hat (And really, when was the last time THAT happened...sitting behind a man in a tall silk top hat?) I can't see the screen in front of me. I must either move my position or ask the patron ahead if they would remove the hat (if it's hair, though, that's another matter all together. Its not as if I can ask them to kindly remove their hair, can I? At any rate...enough of this foolishness).

So, the hat in front of me, is the fact that my today my husband and I decided to separate towards the end of getting a divorce. There. I said it.

The email I sent around earlier today was this:

Hello everyone,

Some of you have already received phone calls or have spoken to D. or myself in person. We would certainly have preferred to speak to everyone face to face, but with all of our busy schedules, that would be impossible.

After much painful discussion, D. and I have made the difficult decision to separate and divorce. This may come as a tremendous shock. Neither D. nor I have been very public about our private lives.

We are very saddened by this. It would almost be easier if we hated each other...but we don't. In fact, we love each other very much which is why we are doing this now. We want to try to preserve our friendship in some way if we can.

This will be a tough time. Many of you work with us and there is bound to be a level of discomfort no matter how we try to prevent it. We will certainly do what we can to keep the discomfort to a minimum. Some of that may include spewing gallows we both have discovered, that seems ease the tension, if only a bit.

Many of you are bound to have questions. You are welcome to ask them. I can only speak for myself when I say I may or may not answer them. But you certainly won't be chastised for asking.

Thank you for your friendship and presence in our lives.

That is the hat that I am staring at instead of the movie...which is probably a really good one with big explosions and scene chewing and a special effects budget that rivals the GNP of Belgium.

I can't see much of it right now...because of the hat. In the coming days/weeks/months, I know that I will muster up the courage to tap the guy on the shoulder and ask him to remove it (and ask him what on Earth he's doing wearing a top hat in August, or, for that matter, at all.).

And by then, perhaps I will have lost my taste for metaphors that refer to stuff that doesn't even happen guys wearing top hats to movie theaters.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Berserker Rage


(labored sigh)

It makes me tired. I think it makes pretty much everyone tired. Hostile, even.

It makes me hostile. When I see a commercial that hits me in just the right sweet spot of my smoldering fury, it's like trying suppress a cannonball once the fuse is lit.

For instance, there is a television ad running for pressed chicken circles. These lumpy prefab poultry zeroes are (were?) available for purchase at White Castle. The ad features a couple, a somewhat schlubby guy and his sort-of-hot wife, enjoying these chicken circles in their living room. The doorbell rings. Tension as the couple looks at one another...who will answer the door? Which one of them will sacrifice one single instant away from these succulent brown chicken circles? WHO WILL IT BE? Why, the sort-of-hot wife, of course!

Before she exits to the door, she turns and wags her sort-of-hot finger in his face, warning him not to steal any of her CC's. He nods and she leaves.

Now...NATURALLY, as he stews in his puddle of humanity, the buttery/peppery/bready/meatish aroma of the CC's snaps his resolve like a toothpick and he is completely unable to heed her warning. He, shifty grin and all, reaches for the chicken circles. Ack! They are too far away! Does he get up, sneak over to the chicken circles and snatch one for himself? Bah! Too easy and would probably waste too many calories. So what does our man do? He extends the antenna from the cordless landline (huh?) phone and hooks a few of the chicken circles, pulling them over to himself and cramming them into his maw.

(Sweating, swallowing urge to totally freak out)

This commercial is categorized in my mind as "The Douchebag Husband" Scenario...and it sends me into a complete tailspin. I mean, honestly, is this guy TOO LAZY TO EVEN GET UP TO STEAL A COUPLE OF CRAPPY CHICKEN RINGS FROM HIS WIFE THAT HE MUST ENGINEER SOME RUDIMENTARY TOOL IN ORDER TO STUFF MORE FOOD INTO HIS FEEDER HOLE???


But's just one commercial, right?

No. It's not. This is a scenario that plays out all the time in advertising: The moron husband (or boyfriend) goes to great legnths to preserve his pre-teen notions of marriage and his long suffering hottish wife (or girlfriend).

Part of the reason I have such a hair-trigger beef with advertising is because I hate the world they are trying to sell me. And it's not just because of the women, although that is part of it. I can't stand the idea of a world where the only thing men have to aspire to is sitting in a lazy boy, ordering pizza with buddies, drinkin' a bud light, and watching the game and barely cracking an awareness of the world around him. That kind of blissfully ignorant life would make me want to eat a gun barrel with chicken circles on the end of it.

I know. They are advertisements, after all, not meant to be taken too seriously. I will admit that there are many advertisements that are funny and fresh, and even a little informative about the product they are hocking.

But these images are pervasive. How many times a day do you see the douchebag scenario played out on TV? And how long before that shit seeps into your life and turns you into a douchebag?

Perhaps I will make it a weekly thing...starting now:

I want to make something perfectly clear. What people do in the privacy of their own homes is entirely up to them. I am in favor of people having fun, frisky consentual sex. I must say, though, that based on the back and forth movements here, this is the most vanilla orgy ever. Ain't nobody gettin' off.

And I won't deny the playful nature of this ad....but...

This commercial falls loosely into the category of "A beer is better than a woman". However, in this case, the woman doesn't even rate. She's just a place to put the awesome beer.

Remember girls, before you get too uppity, you are merely a collection of three dick sockets and a cup holder.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Today's Thoughts

Right now, I am at the beach.

It has been years since I've seen the ocean. About ten years ago, my sister and her friends rented a house and invited me to come along. Even though I had come into my own with an independent sense of who I was, the thrill was big. All my life I looked up to these people, they were smart, funny, ironic. When I had the opportunity to hang out with them in middle school, that was the time I would listen to them riffing off of one another. I learned how to advance my own sense of humor through them. It wasn't enough make a fart sound for a cheap must be farting out "The Wasteland".

That was the best vacation I could recollect up until that time. No one was expected to do anything, or wear shoes. It was leisurely in a way that I had never understood leisure before. When you are young, so much free time is devoted to social engagements (and the inevitable social anxiety), that there is no attention paid to the simple pleasures of sitting and watching the ocean edge in and out, telling stories with friends.

Many have said it far better than I will, but, in essence, it's good for the soul.

I don't suppose one can look out to the sea and not have some thoughts rolling back and forth. It's funny, the things that attach themselves to driftwood and rise to the surface.

I have a couple fairly benign ones:

1. I'm not one to think that we should go back to the 80's. That decade has had it's time as well as it's nostalgic comeback, and now we should let the poor girl rest in peace. I will say, though, that I don't think that any decade has suffered quite the brutal backlash that the 80's has. One sure way to get anyone to disavow pretty much anything is to associate it with a piece of 80's kitsch - Desperately Seeking Susan, Spandau Ballet.

I can't say I blame them. The 80's were the last bastion of runaway enthusiasm and over the top emotion. Culturally, I equate our embarrassment with the feeling a group of 13 year old girls has the day after a big slumber party: everyone is so tired, sort of nauseated, and feels as though they shared too much with the other girls during the late night confessionals that are bound to happen as everyone is swept up in the tide of gut churning excitement. Someone will cry. Someone will feel above it all. But in the end, those secrets were real.

It is only natural that we, as a culture, would have some misgivings over such an exuberant use of neon.

2. When I am listening to music, I am always doing a big dance number in my mind.

3. Ironing out the human personality. I am always at odds with myself over the human idea of happiness. What does that mean? Does it mean a world free from confrontation, elysian peace as we rock ourselves to the grave in an easychair?

Frankly, that idea bores the shit out of me. Nor does it exist, but so often it seems like that's the goal. That all the conflict surrounding us, the inner and outer turmoil we face is just an obstacle on the way to the ultimate goal of peace.

I don't pooh-pooh that goal. It's noble, I think, to wish for inner and outer peace. But what about the "right now", when peace seems so far out on the choppy sea.

People will do a lot of things to avoid conflict, to dodge the idea of change and potentially move into an area of discomfort. Advertising (and I'm sure I'll go off on it soon enough) sells us the idea of a perfect life in which we are free from the judgments and motivations of others and we can bike with our two perfectly behaved children, and drive, and swing, and eat mounds of onion rings, and call with unlimited minutes, all in a consequence free environment.

But what fun is that? Stories that are thrilling to me tell the tale of conflict, consequence and resolution. They certanly don't tell me the stories of some dude getting up one day, turning on the TV and ordering a P'zone.

Is it just in our nature to war with ourselves over whether or not we want comfort or conflict? Are we that polarized (bi-polar...heh, heh.)? There is a happy medium. Most people don't dwell in this state of paralyzed inner strife. But I wish I knew better how to navigate that area between the two, without being haunted by the ideals sold to me by the pharmaseutical companies.

4. When you are on the bus or EL or whatever, imagine that everyone on it is smiling a huge grin at you. That's pretty good for a laugh.

5. A peach, when just ripe enough, is the most perfect fruit on this Earth.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

An Old Scene

Months ago, I wrote a short scene for a writing group that I am a part of. I was going through some of my old stuff, saw this and realized I really like it. Here it is.

I'll probably have some new stuff (just random thoughts really) later today.

BILL, a man
KATE, a woman

(The living room/dining area of a darkened, mid-range apartment. There is a table and chairs, an easy chair, and a couch. Various items and brick-a-brac fill out the room. The dining room table is stacked with newspapers and mail, suggesting that it hasn’t been eaten around in quite some time. There is doorway and partial hall that implies the rest of the apartment and the bedroom. There are two windows up stage, out of which lights are visible, but they are fuzzy and obscured, hinting at fog outside.

There is nothing to indicate that this apartment is any more or less special than any other with the exception of three or four closet doors placed around the room.

BILL sits in the dark on the easy chair, wearing a robe. He is still.

Outside the front door there is rustling and bumping. The sound of a key clumsily placed into a lock is heard, success, and the turning of a doorknob.

The front door opens and momentarily swathes the room in a triangle of light, revealing BILL’s face sitting in the chair. He watches the figure enter the room, but he does not budge. The figure, KATE, enters the room and closes the door behind her.

KATE begins to shuffle across the room in the dark. She is visibly drunk, but does not acknowledge this at any time. Her hand is balled into a fist as if she is clutching something. After a little bumbling around:)


(KATE stops. A beat. She continues shuffling across the room.)


KATE (Making a long whispering sound)
Oooooooh noooooooo.

What are you doing?

(KATE stops and stands swaying slightly.)

I’m going to the bathroom.

No…No, you’re not. You’re going to sit here and tell me what you’re doing. That’s what you’re doing.

Oh. No.


I don’t…I don’t-

Where have you been, Kate?

Went out and then I was doing something….something.

(BILL makes an exasperated sound and stands.)

Fine. We’ll go to bed. We can talk about it in the morning.

I’m staying here.

No, no you need to come to bed. Now.

I want to stay here. I don’t know about- I don’t know about going into the bed. I want to…yeah….I want to stay here.

You need to lie down. Come to bed.

KATE (Suddenly emphatic)

What do you mean “No”?


Now listen-


Come to bed.


Come to goddamn bed.


(A beat. BILL looks at KATE)

What do you have in your hand?


Show me.

I don’t have any-

I’m not going to argue about this Kate, open your-

I don’t have anything…It’s none of your beeswax what I have, so why don’t you leave me-

What. Is in. Your hand.

(A beat. KATE slowly lifts her hand and opens it. On her palm is a stone. The stone glows blue, enough to reveal KATE’s face. She stares down at it and smiles, warmed by it.)

A rock?

(The light from the stone disappears. KATE closes her hand.)

Give it to me.


I said give it to me.


Just give it here.

Why do you have to have it?


It’s mine…why do you have to take it from me? It’s not hurting you any.

Kate, for chrissake-

NO. This is mine and there’s no reason- you can’t give me any good reason why you should take it from me.

I don’t need a reason… you’re drunk.

What…I AM NOT.

Oh come on, Kate, just give me the goddamn rock, already.

It is mine and you can’t have it! I’m not going to give you this- this is mine and it’s not hurting you any that I have it. What’s it to you? You can have any rock you want in the whole world and why can’t I just have mine? Why’s it bothering you?

(A beat. BILL turns away from her and heads for the bedroom.)

Okay Kate. Okay. You can have your goddamn rock. I, for one, am going to bed. You can come, or not. At this point I could not give any less of a shit if I tried.

(He walks to the bedroom. From off stage a light is turned on, illuminating KATE’s face. There are sounds from off - preparations for bed. After a moment, the light is turned off.

KATE stands for a second. She looks down at her hand and then to one of the closet doors down stage of her. She shuffles towards it, perhaps bumping in to something every so often.

At the closet door she again looks down at her hand and opens it. The blue glow from the stone shines on her face and she smiles down at it. KATE looks at the closet door and opens it.

In the closet, in fact packed to the absolute limit, are hundreds of rocks. They look as if there are about to explode out of the closet. KATE holds for a second and then gingerly places her rock in a higher area of the closet. The blue stone glows brightly as KATE stands looking at it. After a moment, the vast number of stones begins to shake and rattle. Suddenly, the rocks come crashing out of the closet, falling on top of KATE, covering her entirely. When all the rocks have poured out of the closet, there is a long silence.)


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Go back to the beginning

Pretty much since I could pick up a crayola and scrawl words on paper, I've been writing.

As a child I played by myself lot. My sister is five years older than I, and while she did her time on a regular basis - a nine year old cobbling together some sense out of the gobbledygook my four year old brain cranked out - I often found myself alone, wandering around the woods, making up stories.

These weren't stories about fairies or unicorns and for some reason a I felt a low grade anxiety that my topics of choice were less than magical. The themes ran in the arena of "Personal Doom Scenarios": run away orphans, crippling diseases, the Holocaust. At one point I recall playing the matriarch of a tribe of pandas on the edge of extinction.

(When you look at it like that, it's easy to see why the neighborhood children steered clear after a while.)

When I was in the fourth grade, with a better grasp of language, I discovered writing short stories. The focus centered around me and my best friend Ryan's detective club. We didn't actually have a detective club in real life, only in the stories. I would churn out plots reminiscent of Scooby Doo or the Bloodhound gang, and - in a late Cold War twist - would have us bound for Antarctica in the hands of some nefarious Ruskies.

Everything I thought about my coming life had to do with writing. Every essay or short story I turned in got raves from teachers or friends. The path seemed clear.

But somewhere along the line, I stopped.

This standstill did not occur overnight necessarily, nor was there a direct coincidence with my turning to theatre as a creative outlet. I think I lost faith in my writing, totally repulsed by everything I put to paper. I came to the conclusion that I was unable to just "talk plain", as Flannery O'Connor says, I believed my words flowery and I was embarrassed by what I put down. That self editing became my undoing.

Something I have come to understand about myself is my vicious need to be perfect right out of the gate. It's as if every word, sentence or paragraph must be birthed fully formed like Athena from Zeus' forehead.

I almost never rewrite...many of the plays I write are first drafts with a few tweaks here or there. And it's not because I think it's perfect. It's because I will see the imperfections and destroy what I've done.

As you might well imagine, that sort of thinking is rubbish and I feel as though I have lost something because of it.

Hence, this blog.

In recent weeks, I have recalled how important writing is to me, how therapeutic, how fun and freeing. Technically, I have never really stopped. I am still telling myself stories in my head, forming sentences and phrases I like, composing narratives. Even writing emails is a form of expression I am most comfortable in.

It has been a long time since I have written on a consistent basis so I am a little rusty. A lot of the mechanics of grammar or syntax have been long lost. (Not that I was a slave to those things anyway...but they do help when making oneself clear.) But I think I know now that writing is something I need and I want to improve at it.

This blog will be an outlet for that writing. A place for essays, thoughts, stories, daily journals, whatever. I need to write every day (right now, I am away, so I may or may not make it through this week...but I thought I'd give it a shot anyway) and so I will. I am determined to put stuff up on a regular basis, whether or not I think it's any good. At a certain point you just have to put yourself out there and all else be damned, you know?

Maybe I should get cracking on that Tribe of Diseased Orphan Pandas that Survived the Holocaust story.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Poetry is for suckers

...a position on which I will certainly back pedal later....

Change is hard.

That's one of those things that people say at the beginnings of self help books in order to prepare the reader for the fact that they might actually have to do some work. Like an insurance policy so they don't ask for their money back when, upon completing said book the readers aren't magically transformed into a beautiful butterfly.

I'm still in my chrysalis, scraping my way out.

Birth is painful.

For years I feel I have been laboring under some false idea of myself. In recent weeks, that idea has proven flimsy under scrutiny and, in the end, unsatisfying.

The catch here is seeing that a change needs to be made and then making it. It is one thing to recognise that I need not be so taken in by another's thoughts, moods, matter how lovely they may sound. And quite a-sticky-wet-nother to do something about it.

A foal gets dropped out of its mother...bang! and then comes the falling down and getting up and falling down again. It's wet and effing cold and there is no real control.

Poetry is not necessarily just for suckers. But suckers who are slimy and falling down and getting back up again, should quit listening to some well meant knee jerk cooing (or even forceful, hard jawed rhetoric about pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps) from the sidelines.

Just concentrate on balance. One step. One step. Fall down. Get up. One step. One step. Fall down.

Hopefully I can take my own advice, as slimey and suckery as it may be.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Welp. Here I am.

I now have a blog.

I have a blog that's mine and not a part of some writing circle, or group of friends trying to keep in touch.

For weeks I have wrestled over whether or not to pitch my little tent in the teaming KOA of the blogosphere.

Now, for reasons that I will no doubt outline in the coming posts, I have made the leap.

This kind of scares the bejesus out of me.

Must be a good thing.
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