Friday, March 29, 2002
GUY MEETS GIRL, GUY CREEPS GIRL OUT, BIG-TIME
Subject: A memory that never ends
In the movie CITIZEN KANE, there is a scene where Kane’s personal manager, Bernstein tells a reporter that when he was a young man he caught a glimpse of a beautiful girl, just for a moment, and not a month goes by where he hasn’t thought of her all those years later.
In CITY SLICKERS, Jack Palance’s character tells Billy Crystal about a time long ago when he saw a young woman but never spoke to her, and still remembers the moment to this day.
In EYES WIDE SHUT, Nicole Kidman’s character tells her husband that she saw a Navy officer in his dress uniform and she would have given up her marriage, her children, everything to be with him at that moment, but never spoke to him, and still remembers it vividly.
Well, I had a similar moment last Saturday.
I was driving through downtown Seattle in the Belltown area. This is the home of the 1,200 dollar dinner restaurants. We were stopped at a red light and I looked into a upscale nightspot and I saw...her.
She was a seating hostess standing by the reception area. She was tall, thin and magnificent. Her hair was as dark as night, her skin was like fine alabaster, flawless. She wore a long black dress with a red rose pattern...I stared transfixed, unable to look away, she motioned to a couple sitting by the door, she turned to show them to their table and when she turned, her hair swirled in a heartbreakingly beautiful motion, it shimmered with reflected illumination from the restaurant’s light fixtures. The traffic light turned green and we drove off. We went by again an hour later, but I didn’t see her. I never will again.
I’ve played various fantasy games in my mind since then. What if I had gone in and said hello, would it have made any difference? Would she have been creeped out and told me to leave...could some sort of miracle have occurred, and we’d be together now? I’ll never know.
I had a near-death experience when I was a small child, so I know there is more to existence then this small blue rock circling the sun. The first time I saw the afterlife I just felt warm and safe, surrounded by a color that was God’s inspiration to create blue. The next time I visit that eternal and endless place, she will be there to meet me, and I’ll tell her what I couldn’t in life...that she is so beautiful that it hurts me to even think of her.
Sometimes I wish I wasn’t such a romantic.
Loveless in Lakewood
Dear Loveless in Lakewood,
Sometimes I wish you weren't such a pudwacker.
It hurts you to even think of her? Are you sure that's not heartburn?
And do you really think it's necessary to visit that eternal and endless place, or do you think you could maybe go back to the restaurant where she works and see which nights she's on the schedule?
There's romantic and then there's masochistic. Are you so caught up in the romance of longing that you can't retrace your steps or do a little research or dial a phone, or is it somehow too unappealing to actually take a little initiative and steer your own fate? You're reminding me of that fucking movie Serendipity, where apparently guy meets girl and then girl says, "If this was meant to be, we'll meet again. Goodbye!" If someone said that to me, I'd say, "If this was meant to be, you'd fucking write down your name, number, address, email, and social security if necessary so we can be certain to hang out again in the near future."
What is so romantic about chance? Why can't careful, meticulous planning be romantic? Why is a total void of practicality or logic viewed as sexy? Go back to the stupid restaurant and sniff around, weirdo. Do you want to float around in a haze or do you want to maybe get laid occasionally?
Personally, I'll take the good sex over the misty watercolored memories any day of the week. Why spend the rest of your life daydreaming about filet mignon, when you can eat the beef stew that's right in front of you, even if it was slapped onto your plate without fanfare?
Please see the last chapter of Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose for more on this subject. I could never recommend such a boring book so heartily if it didn't end in such an absolute crescendo of brilliant thoughts and images.
Ah well. Back to my mundane day-to-day...
Marching to the beat of a different hohumdrummer,
THE FECUNDITY OF PUNDITRY
Yours and a couple other journals, which I regularly read, are devoid of any political, cultural, social, or scientific thought.
I was reading White Noise, surprised at how the first half of the book eerily and accurately described how a family, otherwise intelligent and articulate, didn't or couldn't talk about what matters: what was happening around them.
When a toxic chemical cloud, about half way through the novel, slowly drifts toward their house, the family forces its attention on an early dinner, ignoring the shouting sirens and screams from bullhorns to go to the nearest shelter.
The journals I read are somewhat similar, including yours. Riots in India, a war in the Occupied Territories and the cornered white collared trash in the Enron scandal, none of it can pierce through daily habits and problems.
I'm missing something. How can you not write about the news? Aren't you outraged? Don't you want to try and make sense of it? When do you talk about it?
Lastly, at a dinner party recently, an Italian woman (from Italy, not Flatbush or Queens) complained that the American newspapers are chronically focused on the minutiae of Americans. About a minute later, she expressed shock to hear the India is predominately Hindu and that communist China is atheist. I didn't ask her if she had a journal.
A Loyal Reader
If you truly believe that this blog is devoid of any political, cultural, social or scientific thought, then the more interesting question is: why do you read it?
You assert that what matters is what's happening around us. Do you have any arguments to support that what's happening around us is more important than what's happening inside me? Can you prove that I'm not the reason we're all here?
To me, an early dinner sounds like a perfectly reasonable reaction to certain death.
I don't wonder how I can avoid writing about the news, I wonder how others seem not to avoid it, even when so many do it so well already. This is the attitude of someone who doesn't have much of an aptitude for something, like people I know who can't imagine writing a novel because there are already so many great novels out there.
What could I possibly add to the cacophony of voices unpacking current events in the world? Am I so well educated in political theory or world history, or do I have some special, original angle on these issues? I do not. Why should I try to give the world something that I don't have to offer?
Having said that, why do you assume that I'm not trying to make sense of things not outlined on my blog? Do you really think I don't read the paper and feel sick just like everyone else, just because I don't write about it? Do you want to hear what I had for breakfast, and the evolution of my thoughts regarding hair styling products? What a writer leaves out is far more important than what he or she leaves in.
My offerings here are in line with what I perceive to be my talents. Every person has to walk a line between taking an active role in changing the world, and accepting the world enough to change oneself. People who demand to know whether others are truly concerned or not often have a problem with their own level of concern.
Don't you want to try and make sense of yourself? When do you talk about it? Do I care?
Self-centeredness and wonder and cynicism and confused digressions are fun for me. Is piety fun for you? It is? Then embrace it, because maybe it's an important part of what you have to offer the world. I enjoyed reading and responding to your letter, if that's any indication.
Far less humble than thou,
Thursday, March 28, 2002
A BEAUTIFUL BIND
I'm a writer with a problem. It has nothing to do with the act of writing itself, which I love - late nights, bad coffee, sore hands, more coffee, typos, crapped out printers, just a little more coffee, condescending writer's groups, rejection letters, gibbering on the street to passerby's because you've had too much coffee, and having friends tell you "This story reminds me a lot of blahblahblah, by blah Blah" thus in one sentence shattering your fragile illusion that you may have, in your writing, discovered something new and original.
I love all that.
However, there's one phrase that always chokes me up. Invariably, when I'm on the brink of putting to paper one of my genius ideas, or am giving a manuscript out to a friend, or potential agent, I'm asked this dread question.
"What's it about?"
It sends chills down my spine just writing it. What's it about? Where do I start? Do they want the plot, the style, the feeling of the piece? Shouldn't the words alone be enough of an answer to that question? I don't mean to sound ungrateful, or arrogant, but I freeze up whenever I'm asked this.
And, out comes the stuttering response. "Well, um, it's about these guys, and um, they have this, um, roommate, and he's gay but they're straight, and um - hilarity ensues!"
Am I the only one with this problem? I'm not an unsociable person, or an "I'm too deep for you" misunderstood genius, I just can't make my work sound as good as I know it is.
Help me Rabbit-Wan, you're my only hope.
Then Some Stuff Happens
If one more of you motherfuckers writes "Help me, Rabbit, you're my only hope" I'm going to vomit my breakfast of alfalfa pellets all over my new suede boots. Yes, rabbits wear boots.
miller's son: Rabbits don't wear boots!
rabbit: This rabbit will, and you're gonna get 'em for me, so my feet won't hurt!
miller's son: I am?
rabbit: You am! AND you're gonna get me a bag to take along, so we can win FAME and FORTUNE!
Now, if someone can pinpoint ~that~ reference (not in the general way, but in a very specific, "I remember the next line..." or "I had that one, too.." kinda way), they get their name and message on this here blog, with its burgeoning, high-profile readership, and its incredibly desirable demographic of pedophilic Prada-clad Lexus purchasers.
Dude, is Prada, like, totally over? I'm so ten years ago, fashion-wise. I know this because when I walk down the street here in NC, people don't giggle and avert their eyes, or point and jeer. You blend in here, you lame.
But at least there aren't motherfuckers here with (I hope you're sitting down) plastic slipcovers on their Gucci luggage. That's right. Just yesterday I spotted a woman at LAX with a Gucci bag, one of those square rolling ones, and it had a plastic slipcover over it. The slipcover was NOT attractive either, mind you. It had ugly white seams and a big gold lock on it. Ooo, that smarts!
I think I use the word "motherfuckers" a lot more when I'm in Durham.
But back to our program. The caller wants to know what to say when somebunny asks him what his stupid writing is about. As if I have some pat answer at the ready whenever some nimnook pesters me along the same lines. I mean, dude, I was employed full-time by a website called "Suck" for five years, and now I have a website called "tinylittlepenis.com." Give me an easy answer for that - especially now that I'm on the radio programs that all my mom's aging hippie friends listen to (it's great, they leave incredulous messages on her machine, which she promptly plays into my machine - no feedback is more gratifying than that of a raspy-voiced Mommy-friend, so immensely lovable in her deeply uncool enthusiasm).
What do I tell them, to explain why I even registered tinylittlepenis.com? Sometimes I say something like, "It's sort of cynical and dirty - you wouldn't like it." just to keep them from checking it out. But the thing is, these women spent their 20s reading Rubyfruit Jungle and Updike and The Hite Report, while their Rabbit Angstrom-y husbands were out fucking somebunny else. They're far more cynical and dirtier than any of us. Just because they have windchimes with rough-hewn pewter geese that chime when they collide and Smith and Hawken boot scrapers that look like squatting porcupines...
Some Possible Ways to Answer the Question 'What's It About?'
1. "It's not porn."
2. "My fundamental aim is to deconstruct popular notions of 'being', thereby irreversibly severing the fragile boundary between the conception of identity and the reality of the ego - not the concept of ego, but the real ego, that which is 'of the world' and navigates its environs with its own singular, self-perpetuating instinct for survival."
3."Guy meets girl. Guy falls for girl. Girl thinks guy is creepy, likes other guy. Creepy does heartfelt shit, trips over self endearingly. Girl starts to like creepy, but is engaged to be wed to suave, man-handling type with shiny car. Creepy is discouraged, but won't give up. Creepy tries too hard, makes huge mess, alienates girl, but suave man-handler turns out to literally prefer handling men, so girl forgives creepy, kisses him ever so lightly, then dashes off to get Brazilian wax before someone cues pumping bass and Kenny-G sax."
4."Oh, all kinds of stuff."*
5. "It's sort of Six Feet Under meets Office Space meets Sex & The City meets Seinfeld meets Annie Hall."**
6. "It's about my mommy, who I fucking hate."^
7. "Mostly I explore the unending human struggle to free one's innermost emotions from the confines of social and cultural expectations through self-discovery and awareness of the emotional injuries of the past, but without continuing to project the damage of that past onto the current players in one's present life, and without constantly cataloging and outlining that damage to each key player, as it tends to bore the living shit out of them."
8. "I'm not sure yet. I'm only on page 3."
9. "Love and life and sex and death."
10. "Toasty toe cheese sangwiches."^^
*This is the answer my exboyfriend Jake gives when people ask him about his next movie.
** I'll purchase advance tickets for that one.
^ I love my mommy, for the record.
^^ This only works if you say "sangwiches." I mean it, pussy. Don't say "sandwiches" if you want them to really buy this concept, you'll be shooting yourself in the foot. OK, don't trust me. Go ahead. Do what you like. Don't mind me. I've only been in this business my whole life, but hey, fuck me, you're young, you're a fucking genius, don't fucking listen to me, I'm just a shriveled up old has-been. Damn you raggedy ass little whippersnappers!
By the way, if someone can shatter your fragile illusion that you may have, in your writing, discovered something new and original, you're in deep trouble. All good writers seek not to discover something new and original, but seek to revisit old themes in interesting ways that, while not actually new and original, are mildly thought-provoking or at least vaguely entertaining. So jump off the low board already. It's the only dance there is.
This would make a great Fleetwood Mac song: "Did he make you cry, make you break down, shatter your illusions of new and original writing? Is it over now, do you know how, to pick up your manuscript and go home?"
Ooo, pale shadow of a rabbit!
Lay me down in the tall grass and let me do my stuff,
Monday, March 25, 2002
Okay, so my day was filled with squirrels. Not angry ones, but chirpy, cheerful collegiate campus squirrels. Just like the birds, they're happy it's the month of March and they don't have to go scrounging through the icebox before getting down to last year's leftovers. Plus I was reading the blog of an old friend who had come out trans to his parents, and was upset that the acceptance thing was taking so long. Added to that, it was *that* time of the month and I had just scarfed down a pint of B&J's before settling myself down for a long pre-spring snooze at 4pm.
And of what should I dream? Why, the rabbit blog of course. Seems it had been around a lot longer than I thought -- since the demise of Suck, in fact. In further fact, it was right on top of the ashes of the old Suck site and had all sorts of features, like links to the bios of characters I'd never even heard of. The one that finally woke me up was positioned below a close-up of the old Angry Little Squirrel's eye, and went something like this:
"Is that the smell of burning rawhide? Must be Joël Leather Havrilesky, the Flaming Gay Little Squirrel, and big brother to the angry LS of Filler fame..."
I don't remember the rest, but it was impressively coherent for the dream bio of a cartoon rodent that never existed. Oh, and all the characters on the list ended their names in Havrilesky, btw. Kind of like the way some families do with their Buffy-Cat Jones or Twinkle Terrier Wiggins. Well, I just thought you ought to know this before I go back to sleep and forget everything.
You're right that anti-psychotic drugs are highly overrated. I encourage you to keep up your current course of self-medicating with creative varieties of designer ice cream paired with recreational napping.
Some dreams are weird. Your dreams clearly spring from the mind of a mentally unstable genius. I applaud you, and I envy you deeply.
Not to be nitpicky, but I believe Joel's correct middle name is "Pleather." Please make a note of it.
THE OUTSIDE SCOOP
I guess I’ll make this a semi-Oscar related post.
First of all...what the hell was Gwyneth Paltrow wearing? It looked like she dyed something she found in Lee Harvey Oswald’s T-shirt drawer...ICK! By the way, I didn’t know Whoopi Goldberg, Denzel Washington Halle Berry and Sidney Poitier were African-American, I’m glad Whoopi cleared that up...again and again and again....
Seriously, I'm glad Halle won, I've always liked her, and I'm glad she's finally happy.
Anyway. I live in near Seattle and I went by the Cinerama Theater last night...there is a crowd of nerds camped outside waiting to be the first in line to see the new STAR WARS movie...they’ve been there for months. We went by when they had just started camping out. The first few nights they were sitting on lawn chairs wrapped in blankets. Now they have a tent with propane heat, color TV and bathroom facilities. I feel like buying all the tickets on Fandango just so they’ll be locked out on opening day.
I’ve seen them film a few movies out here in the Seattle/Tacoma area. There is a movie coming out next month with Angelina Jolie called LIFE OR SOMETHING LIKE IT. I saw them film a scene outside a nightclub here in town. They cued the monorail to go by at least three times to get the shot right.
I also saw them film part of THREE FUGITIVES with Nick Nolte and Martin Short. The scene was set at the Canadian border...it was actually filmed near Alder Lake by Mt. Rainier, in the middle of Washington State. I was working at Paradise Inn at the National Park. They had extras dressed like State Patrol guys directing traffic. I think you can see my car in a background shot for 1/10 of a second.
I was at a place a few years ago when they were filming I LOVE YOU TO DEATH with Tracy Ullman and Kevin Kline. Keanu Reeves and John Hurt were in that, too, weren’t they? I didn’t see any of the cast though, just a lot of lights and trailers.
They also filmed ROSE RED by Stephen King out here at Thornewood Castle. This is such a dichotomy...the place is absolutely gorgeous, but one block away is Tillicum, one of the most crime-ridden slums in town. It’s right outside a main gate of a huge military post. Tillicum is awful, it’s like Mordor without the magic. It’s been featured on COPS a few times...swell.
Anyway, when they filed the movie with Angelina Jolie, I didn’t recognize her, she had blonde hair...she looked like a girl at the mall jewelry store that I’m too scared to talk to. Even though I didn’t know she was a star, somehow it came through. I guess celebrities really do have some sort of psychic charisma. Although I was up close with one celebrity where it didn’t come though.
I was at the Experience Music Project here in Seattle...It’s a Frank Gehry disaster. Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart were there practicing for a mini-concert. I was standing by the elevator when they came through...Ann exited the elevator first, she looks a lot different in person...sort of like a 250 pound Janis Joplin with coal-black hair. Nancy Wilson was next and a fan yelled out "NANCY! HI!" And she walked right on over. I was only about five feet away. Now this lady has been on a concert stage in front of thousands...sold a ton of records, made music videos, and plays guitar like a god...but for some reason I didn’t pick up the CELEBRITY VIBE. Imagine, she probably sat around the dining room table with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz with her husband, Cameron Crowe discussing VANILLA SKY, but right there, she just looked...human. ( I just realized...VANILLA SKY had two Cruises, well at least one Cruise and one Cruz, and two Camerons...huh).
I was kayaking on Lake Union one time and I dumped the kayak very close to the spot where they filmed a scene from SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE. That’s the day I was bitten on the ass by a Canadian goose.
Ok...I’ve bored you enough with periphery of fame stories. You live on the LA area, so you probably drive past a hundred movie spots every day. You drive the very streets where Ponch and John rode their motorcycles in CHiP’s.
OK, just one more! I took some pictures where they filmed the exterior shots for TWIN PEAKS. The Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie was the stand in for the big hotel and the Mar-T Café was where Agent Cooper had his damn fine pie and coffee. I took a bunch of shots with my camera.
God I’m a geek...maybe I should quit my job and move into the STAR WARS tent at the Cinerama.
Anyway, it’s late and I have to get ready for the week. By the way, I’m finally going back to college next week. WOO HOO...the crowd yawns.
Loveless in Lakewood
You know, sometimes I wonder what this whole blog thing is all about. What's the point? Why bother?
But then I get a letter like yours, and suddenly I remember that I drive on the very streets where Ponch and John rode their motorcycles.
Thanks for reminding me of all I have to be thankful for.
Friday, March 22, 2002
Why are we told that life can't get better and better? Culturally and economically, we're dependent on novelty, and rewarding those who know better is like telling people that toilet paper can also be used as napkins and Kleenex and handi-wipes and cotton balls and astringent pads, or that shopping for Christmas after New Year's is way better because everything is half-priced. Practicality and feeling your way into a newer, more relaxed life is deeply uncool.
My friend Andrea knows a Tibetan guy who came to America and saved everything he touched. He made beautiful, elaborate collages, meticulously assembled from magazines he found in recycling bins. I walk out the door and spend $25 on a candle because it smells like clover, but I don't stop and smell the clover. I am a consuming whore, is what I'm really trying to say.
When we're young, we can't accept the idea that we might be happier when we're older. "But we'll be OLD!" we say, wrinkling our noses at the thought of baggy flesh and varicose veins. "We'll be tedious blowhards, disruptively jolly yet detached, repeating the same tired truisms until we get gas and crawl off to bed without a cigarette or a second drink!" We picture ourselves unfulfilled and stressed out, tossing back glasses of orange-flavored Metamucil, pale and lumpy in our misshapen terrycloth robes, yawning and stretching unattractively before we crawl into our firm beds with our flatulent, joyless spouses and read some tiresome, mediocre novel that was assigned by our book group, which is populated largely by self-involved, post-menopausal women with rickrack and felt sewn to their sweatshirts.
What we don't know is that we'll still stay up late sometimes, recklessly overusing adjectives, and we'll like it.
"We'll be old and boring and ugly and Duke might not win the title that year!" we say, all of us, since we're all rabid Duke fans and we know, down deep inside, that Duke would win each and every year if the Lord were a kind and loving Lord and not a wrathful tyrant. But if Duke always won, we'd be in paradise, and paradise is life without pain and death, and life without pain and death isn't life at all. What we don't know when we're young is that someday we'll be old and strange and happy enough in our oldness and strangeness that existentialism and basketball will seem like brilliant bed partners, as will cynicism and hope, vulnerability and invincibility, satisfaction and longing, all without the pangs of self-consciousness that clouded our previous attempts at living in the here and now.
We cling to the idea of a curve: She's coming into her own. He's hitting his peak. These are the best days of our lives. Those were the best days of our lives. Like a rock, I was strong as I could be. 30 years, where did they go? Memories light the corners of my mind.
When I turned 18, I was driving in the car with my boyfriend Kevin, and I said, "I'm really old now. I mean, I'm almost not even a teenager anymore." This depressed me. Kevin tried to cheer me up by turning on the radio. What was playing?
"Sexy and 17! My little rock 'n' roll queen!"
I feel a lot younger than that now.
FAKE PLASTIC CHEESE
I wrote a piece about the Oscars for Salon. So let's all toast to envy, cheese doodles, unsightly body hair, awkwardness, and undyed roots! The religion of imperfection is my new thing. So sue me, sue me, shoot bullets through me, I loooove you!
Here's to chronic halitosis, and dirty clothes on the floor, and moldy leftovers, and irreparable nerve damage, and doors that stick, and bleary eyes, and bed bugs that bite!
Here's to largess, impolitesse, lack of finesse, and a tendency to digress, regress, confess, and bless instead of repress! Here's to your best guess! Here's to getting more from less! Here's to a beautiful mess!
Thursday, March 21, 2002
Here's my problem. I wanted to fire off an email like the following:
"Please excuse my ignorance, Rabbit, but I don't listen to NPR very often. Is Terry Gross the old-man sounding man who always introduces you? Everytime he finishes a sentence, I think he's going to say 'I'm made of cheese,' or perhaps 'I don't like the look of those teenagers.'"
But, you see, my question is *answerable*, so I felt compelled to check the NPR site and find out for myself. And it turns out Terry Gross looks and sounds more like the Caltech Earthquake Lady than Grandpa Simpson.
Why is this a problem, you ask? Oh, you don't?
1. It reduces my dependence on you and your site-- this is more a problem for you, since dependence = more hits.
2. It seems like, well, it might be more fun to be smarmy, than to be informed. Sometimes. Not when it matters, of course.
Well, anyway, I'll continue to listen to your NPR pieces, though I can't say I'll be listening to NPR in general any time in the foreseeable future. Hmm, mixed senses in that sentence. Visualize my self listening to...? Predictable future?
Everyone on NPR sounds like they're reading aloud, even when the material must be live. Reading aloud, slowly. What's more bothersome is that everyone uses these weird intonations that seemed scientifically designed to put me to sleep. Who talks that way in real life?
I always choose smarmy over informed. This is why I'm a "commentator" and not a "journalist." I'm concerned not with the "facts" or even the "human story", but with "my own personal reaction to what little facts I've gleaned from overheard conversations in line at the 7-11."
Reading words takes too much time. I need that time to write words. If I spent all my time harvesting factoids, I wouldn't have nearly enough time to spew misinformed, self-centered drivel here, on my pointless, unpaid website.
As for your question "Who talks that way in real life?": I suspect that "Disappointed" guy who wrote to me a few days ago does, for one. Also, sometimes if you take a writing class, people read their stuff outloud in that sort of overly smooth, self-conscious voice. Also, there's a tender but firm therapy voice that touchy Liberal parents use with their children ("Do you think it's a good idea to stick those berries in Taylor's ear, and if so, why?") that rings false in the same simmering, self-restrained way.
But these actual factual tidbits, gathered from real-life experience, are starting to bore me now, so I think I'll go glance at the photo on the front page of the paper, and then sink into my usual mire of idle introspection and meandering self-concern.
Made of cheese,
Wednesday, March 20, 2002
ONLY THE LONELY CAN PLAY
I’m the weepy guy who wrote the letter last week.
Thanks for the terrific response! The last time I wrote to a Blog, I tried to be witty, fun and sarcastic...2 pages of great stuff and all I got back was "Huh, well, thanks for writing."
Grumble grumble grumble.
Anyway, I’m feeling a lot better tonight. I guess I was just depressed about a lot of stuff that’s been happening to me lately. I won’t go into it here, I fired off a big enough misery mortar last time.
I thought I’d tell you a rabbit story.
To the east of Seattle is a town called Bellevue. There is a local company here called Microsoft, maybe you’ve heard of it. They sell video games or something.
Anyway, this area is insane with money. Have you ever heard the song WELCOME TO THE BOOM TOWN by David and David? Go on Kazaa or Morpheus and download it and take a listen, it’s pure 80's overwrought stuff. Bellevue is that boomtown. I remember looking for a job around here when that song was first released, it really gave me the creeps. Microsoft has cobbled up large chunks of real estate around here. (HUGE TRACTS OF LAND!) Other companies have joined in and developed the place to death. There was a small undeveloped area across the freeway from M$ that was shrinking every week. This area had something of interest. Thousands of rabbits!
For years over achieving guilty parents had been buying Easter bunnies for their spoiled little yuppie larvae and then dumping them in this field when the lil’ bastards grew tired of them. It was probably like a mob hit. A mini-van pulls up in the middle of the night, a door opens and the bunny is kicked out into the stygian nocturne. Eventually the bunnies that survived the assault from foxes and opossums linked up with other castaway rabbits and did the old "bunny hop" and soon there were baby bunnies...and more baby bunnies...and MORE baby bunnies.
The first time we found this enchanted place we were returning from M$. A friend of mine had taken his stuffed LINUX penguin, Tux, and snapped a picture of him sitting on the Microsoft sign in front of Dr. Evil’s headquarters. On the way back we took a wrong turn and saw a couple of rabbits sitting by the side of the road. Cute. Then we saw more and more...soon were up to our asses in rabbits. Every square foot was covered by them. We started to get a little spooked. We wondered if some genetic experiment had escaped from Spacelabs Medical. But we soon saw people walking around happily feeding the rabbits. So we drove to the store and bought some produce and went back.
These rabbits were not the timid, shy little creatures that we’re all used to...these were fat, aggressive little monsters. One hopped on over and gave me the skunk eye. Here’s the transcript of the conversation that took place between the rabbit and me.
BUNNY: Well, what ya got?
ME: I have some nice carrots for you!
BUNNY: Carrots, wow...that’s original. Did you think of that yourself?
ME: Don’t you like carrots?
BUNNY: Yeah, yeah, just toss them down here.
ME: If you don’t want them, I’ll just take them to a homeless shelter or something.
BUNNY: Hey! Don’t yank my chain, buddy! I hopped over ten feet to get here! This isn’t some kind of fucking game!
ME: Jeez, sorry! I just thought you’d appreciate getting some free food, that’s all.
BUNNY: You want appreciation? Next time bring me a Belgian endive, or some arugula, not this peasant crap!
ME: You little ingrate! I oughta feed you to a homba!
BUNNY: Ooh! You read WATERSHIP DOWN! I’m impressed! Hey guys, we have a real renaissance man here.
There was a rustling in the bushes and a second rabbit came into view. He was wearing sunglasses and a little leather coat. I knew what he was immediately...a Terminator Bunny!
TERMINATOR BUNNY: Iz dere a problem here?
BUNNY: Yeah, this tough guy said he wants to feed me to a homba!
TERMINATOR BUNNY: Did he bring any food?
BUNNY: Just some carrots.
TERMINATOR BUNNY: Carrots? I’ll be back!
The Terminator Bunny went back into the bushes. I heard a roaring sound and he came out riding a small motorcycle. The Terminator Bunny had a shotgun in one paw and a bandolier of shotgun shells across his chest. He pointed the shotgun at me and fired. I felt a searing pain in my side as I was hit by the hot lead. The Terminator Bunny reloaded and I ran back to my car. Imagine my horror as I saw my car completely stripped. A gang of greasy haired rabbits stood around the car glaring at me menacingly. They proceeded to flip open tiny little switchblades and started walking in my direction. I heard the Terminator Bunny fire again, I leapt to one side and rolled, he missed and reloaded. I ran as fast as I could. I had a desperate plan. I ducked down a trail and tried to lose him in the bunny China Town. No luck, he was still hot on my heels. I saw the Microsoft headquarters building off to my right. I ran straight for it. The Terminator Bunny fired again and I felt it hit my left thigh, I couldn’t take much more of this.
I saw a sign by a door at Microsoft, and my heart leapt with joy. I was at the Evil Minion training facility! Several of Bill Gates’ henchmen were outside having a smoke break. I ran past them and entered the building. Ignoring the racks of common weapons, I finally found what I was looking for. The Flamethrower XP!
The Terminator Bunny had entered the building behind me, I heard the motorcycles little tires squealing on the floor. I knew this was my only chance. I flipped on the power button and the XP began to boot up. Twenty minutes later it was ready to go. I jumped out from behind a stack of old MAGIC, THE GATHERING cards and let the Terminator Bunny have it.
A column of fire sprayed out from the XP. The Terminator Bunny was totally engulfed. He kept staggering towards me as the fire consumed him. He finally fell into a smoldering heap. I turned off the XP. I took a tentative step forward. Just then the heap moved and the Terminator Bunny stood up, all his hair and fur had been burned away, only his shiny vanadium exoskeleton was left. It stood and started coming towards me, it’s red eyes burning with hate and anger...I knew that it would never stop until I was dead, I couldn’t reason with it, it didn’t feel pity, just an endless resolve to complete it’s mission.
Oh wait, that’s not what happened...I’m confusing it with the time I was attacked by Canadian Geese.
Anyway, the rabbit story is true, up until the part where they started talking. The Humane Society rounded up all the rabbits and eventually found homes for them. So I guess the story had a happy ending.
Thanks for responding to my Lonely Hearts letter. I really appreciate it.
PS: My screen name refers to Watership Downs word for a paralyzing fear, that’s usually how I feel around crowds of people, but that’s a topic for a later day.
Dear Less Lonely,
OK, so drugs are definitely one way to go. I mean, sure, what I said about honesty and opening up and being a part of the world still stands, but your current course of amphetamine consumption should work for a while, at least until you become impotent and get arrested for attempting to stuff a 40-ouncer of Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull and a lemon Hostess Fruit Pie into your pants at the corner 7-11.
Thanks for letting me know that the story turns fictional when the rabbits start speaking. This wouldn't be a natural clue for me, since I'm a rabbit and I speak all the time, as long as there's a small stipend involved. Why, I was just giving a little talk for the Rotary Club the other day, addressing Common Perceptions of Rabbits Among The Cultural Elite (Because Who Cares What The Little Man Thinks). I don't think they really gave a fuck about my discussion of the dichotomizing "Us and Them" mentality of Watership Down, but the chocolate bundt cake was damn fine.
That part in the TV version of Watership Down, the nightmare where the developers come in to build condos, and all those rabbits get buried in their holes? That kept me awake for weeks. I'm still processing that in therapy. It was worse than "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" - which for some reason my father thought was appropriate for a 7 year-old. He had already taught me to box my older brother by then, so I guess he thought I was tough enough to handle it. Or he didn't care and just really wanted to see a movie that would scare the living shit out of all of us. Sniff.
Anyway. Paralyzing fear around crowds of people? I'll have to hunt down the appropriate Personality Disorder to stigmatize you with. In the meantime, keep up the good work. Self-medicating is always a good call for isolated people with wildly active imaginations and a scintillating blend of mental health issues.
I should know. I am a medical doctor.
Monday, March 18, 2002
IT'S AN OPEN SMILE ON A FRIENDY SHORE!
Nothing of any real interest here, except to tell you how damned remarkable your most recent response was to that lonely person. I suspect that everyone that reads this blog, or is a fan of yours, has felt exactly that same way at some point, probably more than once. (Actually, if I were to be really honest, I'd have to admit that probably damn near everyone in the world has felt like that at one point, but that would screw up the whole me/them dichotomy I've got going on, so screw it).
Anyway, your response was remarkable, and right on target, and, coming from someone who has created a public persona of being moody and complicated and difficult, far more powerful than it would have been from a Stuart Smalley clone. Not to belabor the point, but I was struck by it, and wanted to say so.
Thanks for the nice note, I really appreciate it. I'm surprised at how many people wrote to me about that letter. Thankfully, there are others who write to tell me that they loathe my voice and that they liked my early stuff way better, or I might get a big head and decide that sincere advice-giving is my one true calling.
But I might do that anyway. I just need more slightly lonely, slightly sad, slightly confused people to write to me, so that I can bring out the big guns more often. I love it when I feel that some experience in my admittedly limited past might help someone else.
Speaking of limited pasts, thanks to all those who wrote to tell me that 10p = 10 pence. Yes, I am sadly out of touch and unworldly. I guess I'm saving world travel for later, so that it'll taste as good as Halloween chocolate does in early December.
Anyway, I know that an overly earnest tone can sometimes disappoint the truly caustic out there, but I would rather inspire the slightly caustic who are, underneath their impatient shells, inspired by small glimpses of unabashed honesty and hope. But then, I spent a great deal of my teenage years writing bad poetry, so I'm probably not unsentimental enough to be objective.
Too sentimental to be objective. I think that's one of my favorite qualities in a person, actually. Sure, it leads to seriously bad pop songs and lengthy biopics on Cher (which are immensely fun to watch, of course). To cultural critics, sentimentality is grubby and low brow, the "Like A Rock" school of thought. But I like sentimentality and cheesiness and nostalgia, and the only reason most of us feel weird about liking it is because '70s TV gave emotional openness such a bad name. In fact, I'm convinced that The Love Boat pretty much ruined sex for our generation. OK, maybe it's not completely ruined, but wouldn't "making love" be such a sweet little notion, had it not ushered forth from the mouths of every sleazy Hollywood Squares-level has-been on the planet? I hear "making love", I think bad hotel room, champagne on ice, and Zsa-Zsa Gabor telling someone she doesn't love him to cover up the fact that she's dying of a deadly disease and she doesn't want him to suffer through the agony of seeing her die (she was diagnosed by "Doc" earlier, and apparently doesn't need a second opinion on the matter, she only needs a few dry martinis on the Lido Deck). I mean, they took these drastically over-the-top romantic scenarios, and they cast them with B-movie actors. Is that fair? We want our B-movie actors in tights, teaching us to firm up our abs, not whispering, "Why don't you slip into something a little more comfortable?" and thereby making sex seem about as appealing and as natural as a Banana Moon Pie out of a vending machine.
Mmm. Banana Moon Pie.
There's that nostalgia again. In the immortal words of a wise woman named Missy: "Nostalgia is the best. It's the reason I make memories in the first place!"
I Heart Vikki Stubing,
IT'S MORE FUN TO COMPUTE
For the first, and I can assure you the last time, I logged onto NPR's website and listened to the roboticized Real Player voice of the Heather Havrilesky. The experience, mutatis mutandis, was not unlike listening to William Shatner impersonating a fourth-grader presenting a book report. The topic, "California ate my brain", seemed designed to play to the shallowest prejudices of suburban soccer moms, philosophy graduate students, and the other unemployables of NPR's demographic. Where was the incisive sarcasm, corrosive irony, and jet-black humor I had expected? Where was the audial equivalent of Polly Esther's pie charts, the rants of the angry little squirrel, the Hack's meta-commentary, or gratuitous crack jokes?
Then it dawned on me - NPR commentator Heather Havrilesky is no more real than Polly Esther or the Rabbit. No doubt she's actually a clever voice synthesizer-artificial intelligence program, masterminded by the same brain trust behind Polly and the Rabbit. The Rabbit has mentioned, after all, that it owns a G4, which presumably came preloaded with Apple's creepy MacInTalk. Polly used to dream up robotic virtual professionals, so why not a virtual commentator? Perhaps there will soon be a branding campaign for NPR's Heather Havrilesky, e.g. "NPR's Heather Havrilesky couldn't agree more with Terry Gross's criticisms of rock star Gene Simmons's studded leather cod piece", "NPR's Heather Havrilesky has joined with Nina Totenberg's e-mail petition campaign to prevent Congress from cutting public radio from the budget", or "NPR's Heather Havrilesky reminds you that All Things Considered is radiated out from earth only through your generous contributions and the occasional corporate blutgeld".
Back in the days of Suck, I imagined a Flash cartoon of the web site in which Polly Esther's voice would be a combination of Hildy Johnson and Betty Rubble to match Polly's wisecracking broad with Terry Colon's Hannah-Barbarian caricatures. Such dreams now lie among the ashes with Suck.com. I revisit the Fillers of years past only in the fading hope of recapturing the prematurely burned-out cynicism about the web, but I'm checking up on Rabbit's blog to see if it will eventually mutate into the on-line Miss Lonelyhearts the medium so richly deserves.
P.S. Instead of bitching about your unemployability or wishing for a million bucks, why not muster a little enterprise and sell limited-run Terry Colon t-shirts, self-published Filler collections, or tinylittlepenis.com e-mail addresses? With adjustments made for population growth, Barnum's dictum of a sucker being born every minute now translates into a custom growth rate of one per eleven seconds.
I feel truly terrible about the fact that you don't like my voice, and were sad to find my NPR piece wasn't brimming with ranting and gratuitous crack jokes. I will try harder to make sure that everything I write henceforth is exactly like the first thing I ever wrote, conceived at age 25: a cartoon about bong-smoking squirrels.
I hate that you've lost faith in me. Therefore, I promise you, from now on, I will not write new things, think new thoughts, grow, change, or even move an inch. I will sit right here and do bong hits and fester in my own alienation and bitterness.
Meanwhile, have you considered writing for All Things Considered? Your email stylings suggest that you would be immensely well-suited for the job. Phrases like these would roll beautifully off the NPR commentator's tongue:
"Such dreams now lie among the ashes..."
"Then it dawned on me..."
"With adjustments made for population growth, Barnum's dictum of a sucker being born every minute..."
"Perhaps there will soon be a branding campaign..."
"I revisit the Fillers of years past only in the fading hope of recapturing..."
When I read your words, I can almost hear Terry Gross's mellifluous voice. And you know, the more I read your email, the more clearly I can see you. I bet you're 6'5" with broad shoulders and a devil-may-care way about you, but sensitive and intelligent and kind, with a voice exactly like Terry Gross's.
You ~are~ tall and pretty and you ~do~ sound just like Terry Gross, don't you?
Oh Jesus! Get away from me! You make me wanna puke!
Thursday, March 14, 2002
YOU MIGHT ALREADY BE A WINNER
I can’t think of a goddamn thing to say. I wanted to write something hilarious and brighten your day...but I’m not feeling funny tonight...I’m feeling blue.
I always wanted to meet a highly intelligent and funny woman...my partner...my equal...my love.
I dreamt that someday we’d find each other and write books and screenplays. We’d win Oscars and make millions. We’d be a force to be reckoned with. We would be a universe of two. The rest of the world would end right outside our door. We’d live together until we were over a hundred years old, and then die within days of each other.
Never gonna happen.
The heart is a lonely hunter...and it gets lonelier at three in the morning.
I’m living in an exact opposite schedule to the rest of the world. I start work at nine at night and sleep during the day. I’ve been kept apart from everyone else for the last twelve years. I can’t break out.
I’ll never find her. My perfect one, my soul mate. Maybe she’s married now. Maybe she died as a child. Maybe she’s staring out the window wondering where I am and what I’m doing now. Perhaps she is ten thousand miles away. Maybe she’s only one mile away. Maybe I’ve just missed seeing her by mere seconds every day.
I look across the water and see a pin-point small speck of a yard light on the other shore. I imagine that’s she’s there. She’s looking across the water and see’s the light that I’m under and can feel me calling to her.
I still have hope, the same size hope that I have of winning the lottery.
Loneliness is worse then cancer, at least cancer kills you quickly.
I don’t know why I’m writing this to you...I don’t even know if you’re female or not, straight or gay.
Maybe you’re not even human, perhaps you’re some kind of HAL 9000 computer churning out blogs. Some kind of experiment in some geek’s basement.
Anyway, I’ve taken enough of your time. Maybe I’ll write again when I’m feeling funnier.
Bye...whoever you are.
I used to be a lot like you, longing for magic from behind the walls of my crappy apartment. Even if I was interacting with people a lot, I didn't really tell them what was going on with me. I cultivated a separate, private world that relied on mystical concepts of some One True Love out there who would love me completely, and, once he came along, I wouldn't need anything else. I'd have all the love, understanding, and adoration I deserved, not to mention the cold white wine, the sunshine streaming across clean wood floors, the delectable assortment of h'ors d'oeuvres, and the photogenic children, following me around the house like ducklings, soft and quiet and scentless.
Eventually, I started to go outside more, even though there were smudges on my glasses and I had outdated shoes and I didn't like that many people that much. I tried to tell more of my friends the truth more of the time, even though I suspected that they'd use it against me eventually. Soon, I even tried to call my more trusted friends when I felt like shit, instead of retreating into a state of longing for some imaginary world. Then, I spent two years in a challenging relationship, but I didn't drop everything else in my life. When we broke up 3 months ago, I had a lot of friends to call, and a lot of friends who knew me well enough to hear the truth about how I felt without my freaking them or myself out. When I was younger, I would've freaked them out, because my friends then were more used to happy jokey girl and they'd flinch when they'd see little miss angry coming at them. Also, now I'm less angry, because I trust my friends more, because they actually know me, because I try hard to tell them the truth.
What I'm saying is, I stopped hiding myself from people, and started living in the world more. I stopped saying no to everything, or saying yes and then just going through the motions. I started saying yes and then I wouldn't slip into being little miss funny or miss charming or miss harsh, I would just show up, and listen, and if I was in a bad mood, I'd say, "I'm in a shitty mood", and if I felt like acting like a goofy weirdo, I would. Freedom, damn it! How the fuck would my soulmate recognize me if I weren't free? Well, yeah, sure, some white go-go boots might help...
So look at me: I'm unemployed, broke, and I just broke up with someone I once thought I'd marry. I should be depressed and sniffly, but instead, I feel better than I ever have before. Because I took on a policy of saying yes to every invitation, even when I wasn't crazy about that friend or didn't really like to go see that kind of music or didn't really want to go to a party. I didn't want to start doing stupid yoga, but someone asked me to go to a yoga class with her. Now I do it all the time. I go to blogger parties, I go on hikes with friends of friends, I drive all over town to do new things, but I also keep writing and working out and doing the things I need to do for myself. When I was younger, I thought people who lived this way were repugnant dorks. I hated "active" people who mountain biked and raved about their fucking shallow bullshit pursuits. I hated people who were honest and open without being self-conscious about it, fucking hippie loser fuckers. I thought my One True Love was probably someone who hated all that shit as much as I did.
Actually, maybe he is, and I'm alienating him right now.
But stop and take a look at yourself: If you saw your soulmate on the street, she wouldn't recognize you, because you're hiding, and you're closed off, and she would only recognize you as someone who's in the world and happy and sharing yourself with other people.
So you take baby steps and start saying yes again, to plans that sound boring and shitty. You try to wipe your prejudices against the simplicity or the boringness of the people around you out of your mind, recognizing them as the manifestations of your frustration with yourself. Just say: I will go on a walk. I will sit in a cafe and drink coffee. I will call the people I know and honestly say: I'd like to hang out, even though I will want to cancel when that day comes around, even though I'll have nothing to say. I will take a class: writing, dancing, something that's unlikely for me and totally dorky and totally bizarre, that will scare me and make me feel embarrassed and stupid.
I loathed advice like this when I was where you are, and I'm not trying to imply that you're utterly depressed. But I see your magic mentality about your life. You said it yourself: You want to win the lottery. You want Ed McMahon to knock on your door.
But look what you say right after that: Never gonna happen. You want magic, but then you clearly state that you don't believe in magic. And the truth is, I don't believe in ~that~ kind of magic, the kind that falls into your lap when everything else you're doing is passive and turned inward and closed off.
But then, you wrote a letter, right? One that's apt to embarrass you, now that you're in a different mood. But you did something, didn't you?
Now do something else: Walk out the door - not to look for Ed McMahon, but to look for a penny on the sidewalk. If you keep doing this, sooner than you could possibly imagine, you're gonna be one rich motherfucker.
Trust me. If you're brave enough to write an honest letter to a total stranger, you're brave enough to do anything. So stop hiding your light under a basket.
Wednesday, March 13, 2002
BRING ON THE DANCING HORSES
In the U.K. at the moment, there's a poster campaign running at the moment for some charity dealing with Premature Births. The strapline says "Your 50p will keep a premature baby alive for 1.8 seconds." Every time I see it, I think "Man, that's really shitty value for money." This causes me to reflect on my callousness, especially as, by comparison, the homeless guy usually sitting underneath one of these posters can be kept alive for a whole day for 50p, or maybe a pound, and I don't give him anything either. In fact, for the £1000 an hour it costs just to keep one premature little poppet alive and (feebly) kicking, you could house and feed every single homeless person in London, with cash left over for a job lot of cooking sherry for the evening. Probably.
I don't really know where this is going, save that I have real trouble billing more than £35 an hour. But I do know that Tomahawk cruise missiles cost about a million dollars each, which is the exact cost of keeping a premature baby alive for a month. McLaren F1 LeMans Supercars also cost about the same. They can't automatically navigate themselves to caves where fundamentalist super-baddies are hanging out and blow them up, but they do have really expensive leather trim and much better paint jobs. They're much better for attracting impressionable young ladies, too. Mind you, a friend of mine has had similar success simply by reading a book about lions with big glossy photos on the Underground, and I think I'd probably prefer a woman who liked lions more than cars.
I wish I had a million dollars. That would be sweet.
Lions Over Cars
I wish I had a million dollars, too. I feel that with a million dollars, I would have the time to whip myself into Updike-ian writerly glory. I feel that with a million dollars, I could write for at least the next ten years, and I'd slowly see my pretty good but sometimes mediocre work transform itself into fine prose. I'm not talking about writing the best damn blog in the universe, either (although that might be one side effect). I'm talking about books about people who like cars more than lions, and lions more than cars. Fiction. Novels. Great big books.
Why novels, you ask? Because fiction frees you up to be more honest than you could ever be in nonfiction. For example, I would never admit to thinking that 50 pounds for 1.8 seconds of a baby's life is a bad deal. You did so anonymously. But a character in a book can think such a thing, and then go kick little doggies with his hobnail boots. There's an angry dog-kicker inside the best of us, waiting not to kick a real dog, but just to at least admit the worst about him/herself.
I'm thinking lately that true courage lies in the ability to admit the worst about yourself, while simultaneously owning up to the best. A lot of very good writers could be great if they were more comfortable with their qualities and their faults, because it would enable them to present a perspective larger than that of the central character. If the novel's perspective is only as wide as the character's, to me it indicates that the author isn't honest about his or her complexities, and therefore can't love any character enough to bring him or her to life in our minds. Fictional characters shouldn't be experienced as they might if we met them on the street. They should come to feel like alternative selves for us to try on, replete with sensations and questionable urges that we recognize as questionable, yet still indulge and accept as if they're our own. The limited author won't let us inside the head of his characters, because he won't let himself inside his own head. Mona Simpson is an example of a very skilled writer, intensely good at her craft, who suffers from this affliction. Sandra Tsing Loh is a an example of a more casual, less literary writer whose honesty about herself makes her stories enjoyable to read.
And this is what I love about John Updike. He embraces his characters' weaknesses, and loves them for them, but all the while the perspective of the novel is far more expansive than the perspective of the flawed characters. Wallace Stegner also stands out for his compassion for human limitations. The last chapter of "Angle of Repose" is one of the most beautiful tributes to the divine grace of the flawed, compromised nature of human lives I've ever read.
Which isn't saying much, since I hardly ever read.
But I do like lions better than cars. Unless I'm driving to the beach on a beautiful day, in which case I'd just as soon run over a lion.
Anyway, if you get a million dollars, could you send me a few?
It's my bloggy and I'll express my overwhelming wonder if I want to,
I'm sick and tired of you freakin' bloggers thinking you're the first ones to discover California and LA! Caught your NPR bit, and you know what, who cares?! Newsflash, everybody here is from somewhere else, that's the way it is! We want your cutting insight, not your overwhelming wonder at the personal changes going on in your life. What a revelation, they've got nice weather and good food out here. Like sushi, like burritos? Big deal, so does everyone else in California. Like the weather? Hmm, you, me and every other immigrant, tourist, and native in the goddamn state!
Overcompensating with my hotmail address,
p.s. I discovered Blogger before Ken Layne did.
No, no, no. You've got it all wrong. It's all for ME.
The weather, the burritos, the grassy lawns? God put these things on the earth not for all his people, his children, his little lambs, but for Me. For the Rabbit. Me.
Sushi? Mine, all mine.
For me. Mine. Me.
Hope that clarifies things a little for you.
p.s. I'm filled with overwhelming wonder at the fact that you discovered Blogger before Ken Layne did.
Tuesday, March 12, 2002
Here it is. 6 am. The pre-dawn hour, and I'm procrastinating. This should be a magical time for me, a glowing, golden hour. A time to reap, a time to cast away stones, a time to sip reheated coffee. A time like no other, a time I would usually spend reading some exciting mail from the readers of the humble rabbit blog.
So where is my goddamn exciting reader mail?
Are you pissed off at me or something? So why didn't you say anything, you passive-aggressive bastards? No, you just keep showing up at the party without a bottle of whine.
Come on. Give me your tired cliches, your poor excuses for living, your huddled masses of metaphors, yearning to breathe free. The wretched refuse of your filthy...
Man, that prose is pretty harsh, isn't it? "Send me your disgusting, stinky wenches, your bent-over, withered old piss boys, your downtrodden, louse-eaten prostitutes. Show me your human detritus, and I'll show you a nation of self-serving, grabby whores, rising to glory from the creepy, flea-infested heap of humanity you see here, clutching their earthly belongings to their bosoms and changing their last name from Gabrilesko to Havrilesky because clearly Havrilesky is way more American..."
Onward: Send the pointless trivia, the recklessly personal anecdotes, the misshapen midnight thoughts, the sexual - actually, skip the sexual stuff. Unless it's from some frothy but forlorn cheerleader fresh from Fuck Camp.
Ah, Fuck Camp. Those were the days, huh? Far better than that Catholic camp my parents sent me to, where every morning at 6 am they played a scratchy recording of "Ave Maria" over the loudspeakers, and you either had to go to mass, or you had to jump into an icy cold pool. I mean, please. Swim lessons at 6 am? Not to state the obvious, but there's a strong undercurrent of masochism in almost everything the Catholics do.
Which made Catholic camp such a nice primer for Fuck Camp. Oh, to be back at Fuck Camp again, scuttling off to Cunnilingual Studies with my little friends! We were always late to S&M Hour (on purpose?), and those lanyards from Catholic camp sure came in handy at the camp-wide Bondage Bonanza!
Good times. But maybe I'm just viewing it all through the rose-colored glasses of the aged, withering old has-been. I'm sure Fuck Camp wasn't all that.
So. Time to give up the good mail already.
1. Fuck Camp Wasn't All That: Agree or Disagree?
2. Why Ari Fleischer Makes My Nuts Wither Up And Retreat Into My Body
3. How to Recognize Women ("Friends") You Can't Trust Around Your Boyfriend - You Know. That Kind of Woman, The One Who's Always Bringing Up Her Tits in Casual Conversation
4. How to Recognize Those Friends of Your Girlfriend Who Might Just Sleep With You (Hint: They Bring Up Their Tits in Casual Conversation A Lot)
5. Men Like The Chase: Why, and For How Long?
6. Is The Rabbit Blog Getting Dirtier, Or Is It Just My Pervy Imagination?
The first 10 people to send me truly worthy anecdotes or pointless discussions will get a personal response from me, the rabbit, because I care, and because I'm looking for good ways to procrastinate without having to clean something or do my taxes.
OK, then. Time to rise and shine, my little monkeys.
Monday, March 11, 2002
Listening to your latest on All Things Considered, while driving to the coast with my fiancé, it occurred to me that you are actually more Southern than your previous journalistic guises suggested. This amused Herself greatly, given that she's from south Georgia, and has enough trouble dealing with her being 'foreign' in Connecticut, let alone California. (She misses Chick-fil-A, poor thing.) Anyway. Gin is universal, yes?
God, I miss Chick-Fil-A. I eat about 12 of them every time I go home. I have to have at least one every three days. Luckily I also work in the yard, or I would be as big as a house. OK, that's a lie. I have a really good metabolism, perhaps because my neuroticism burns calories at an alarming rate.
I love the cole slaw there, too. To think! Cole slaw! At a fast food restaurant! It sounds awful to those who don't know.
I'm not incredibly southern, though, simply because my parents were from Johnstown, PA and Chicago, IL, respectively, and were alienated misfits to boot, god bless them. What would I do without my alienated misfit background? Why, I'd probably be a publicist or a dental hygienist with a husband, a dog, and a healthy lawn.
Damn those misfits! I want my goddamn grassy lawn already!
Unfit to be missed,
LIVING REFLECTION OF A DREAM
Feisty Rabbit --
Curse you, and your recent appearances on NPR. Just the other morning, before I had quite stopped sleeping, I dimly realized that a youthful sounding woman was talking about being a writer. Something about tangerine skies. This must be Rabbit, I said to myself, waking myself up in the process. But no, it turned out to be someone else. The tangerine skies should have been a tip-off, I suppose, but, in my defense, I wasn't awake yet. Please bear in mind that I need my beauty sleep.
I know how you feel. I wake up thinking all kinds of crazy things, like if I add and subtract certain numbers I'll figure out the meaning of life. In my waking hours, I wouldn't recognize the meaning of life if it walked up and bit me on the ass. Besides, why would anyone want to know the meaning of life? That would ruin everything.
I've been thinking lately that neuroticism is highly overrated. Sure, in the past, I've held neuroticism close to my breast like Mary does her little lamb. And yet, lately I find that my mind's compulsion to know the answer, to understand the underlying meaning, to figure out the why and how behind every word, is merely the result of synapses that misfire habitually yet without purpose.
Just because you want to know something doesn't mean that 1. you should know it or 2. you would be happier if you knew it. Similarly, just because you feel the need to explain yourself or to be understood doesn't mean that 1. you should explain yourself or 2. you should expect to be understood. What does it mean to be understood, and why do we care whether we're understood or not? It seems like there are those people who naturally understand what you're about, and there are those who don't. Why bother explaining things to those who don't? What the fuck is the point, when those who do understand you do so effortlessly? In fact, when someone merely gives off an air of understanding what you're about, suddenly all the need to talk flies straight out the window.
Now, granted, we all appreciate talk. I like talk more than anyone, particularly if I'm the one talking. However, sometimes I find that I talk out of some compulsion, some misguided notion, or some need to prove myself to someone else. Why should I want someone to completely and fully understand me, as long as I have the capacity to understand and appreciate myself? All I need from other humans is patience (with my occasional tedious rambling) and acceptance (of my flaws). Also, sex and chili cheese fries.
Which rhymes with tangerine skies.
And that brings us back to doh!
Sunday, March 10, 2002
STUPID AND STUPIDER
I have a very cool exboyfriend. He sometimes makes me mad, as exboyfriends are want to do, but he's pretty fun to hang out with nonetheless. Last Saturday we went to a party together, and he kept hugging me and kissing me on the cheek, until finally I said, "How is either one of us gonna get laid when you keep acting like we're still together?" So he said maybe we could make Tshirts or something to remind people that we've broken up. And I said, "Yeah, they could say: 'I'm NOT with Stupid.'"
My exboyfriend then burst into tears and threw himself face-first on the nearest bed, but I think that deep down inside, he thought it was a pretty funny joke.
OF MAIDS AND MEN
Maybe you can clear something up for me.
I've been listening to "Harvest" a lot lately. I picked up it the bargain bin. Anyway, what does Mr. Young mean when he says every "Man Needs A Maid" - I noticed you mentioned it your column recently so I thought you might have a read on this matter. The second verse is pretty explicit: "clean my house, make my meals and go away" a big orchestral chorus and then nothing. Is he being ironic? I agree that having a maid is great. One comes once a month to my apartment (and I thinking of playing it when she arrives if I can find a Latino remix), but this doesn't seem like something one would brag about in a song - even I used to be embarrassed by the bourgeois nature of having "help." As my grandmother used to say "who's your girl?"
At least Young didn't go with the original version of the lyrics. Back in '68 I was smoking hash with Crosby, Stills and Nash when Young burst in the room and insisted on playing us this new tune he just wrote.
"Neil, baby," I said, "Not now. Stills here was just burping the national anthem, and he was almost to the 'land of the free' part..."
But it was like old Neil couldn't hear me. He sat down and played his tune, "A Man Needs A Whore," right then and there. I believe the line in question was something like, "suck my dick, make me spaghetti, and get the fuck out." Or maybe it was "choke on my cock, cook up some stir-fry, and get out of my face." I can't remember.
Naturally, we loved it. In fact, I think we ordered in some whores just to celebrate.
Eventually the record company made Neil tone down his song, but we never forgot that night. Crosby was the only one who had a bad time - something about some comment one of the gals made about his bare ass closely resembling a jellyfish. Which just goes to show, you don't have to be embarrassed for the help, because they're embarrassed for you already.
As my grandmother used to say "who's your little bitch?"
Thursday, March 07, 2002
I'M ON A ROAD SHAPED LIKE A FIGURE 8
While I was at home over Christmas, driving around with my sister and her fiance, I picked up one of my favorite names in a long time. Jeff, my sister's fiance, was driving. Jeff is a good driver, which is convenient since I dislike being in the car with bad drivers, and this human being is about to join my family (dubious achievement, to be sure). He's also extremely nice and cool, but those things are secondary. My sister Laura is a doctor who does high-pressure cancer surgeries all day long, as I may have mentioned, also very nice and cool, but these things are harder to discern since we spent years speaking to each other only through our bad-tempered Dorothy and Brenda Breyer dolls, who for some reason had aristocratic British accents.
So we're driving in the car - Laura's in the back seat - and I notice this little white stuffed bear, extremely cute, that's sitting in between the seats, on the emergency break. It is very small and has a very big smile, but simple. It's a little droopy, though, in a pathetic way, which pulls at the heartstrings.
I put the bear on the dashboard, facing the road with its back to us, and Jeff says, "Oh my god, we're so self-centered! We always make it face us!" He's weird. So I say, "What's his name?" sort of knowing that he has one, because they're pretty cute like that. And Jeff goes, "Hey Laura, what did we name this guy again?" and Laura calls from the back seat, "Friendy."
Friendy? At first I think that's the fucking stupidest name I've ever heard. But in about three seconds, it starts to grow on me. Friendy.
Lately, Friendy has started to take on the mythic status of "El Guapo" or "Mr. Flinchy" or "piss boy" in my life. Unfortunately, I rarely have the time to explain these terms to anyone, and thus can't use them in as many conversations as I would like.
But right now, I'm procrastinating, which means I have all the time in the world.
Friendy: A friend, but a little cuter than a friend. A friend you want to hug a lot of the time. Friendy has a good attitude and an open mind, but not in an annoying or forced way. You're in tune with what's fallible about Friendy. And yet, that's his charm. Friendy is slightly squished, yet cheerful. Friendy likes riding in the car. Friendy finds your bad moods amusing, almost, but in a supportive way. Friendy is always ready to get up and make some popcorn, if necessary. Friendy is soft, not unlike that Snuggles bear, but less like a throw rug and without the awful, grating, high-pitched voice. Friendy is neutral on many subjects, but can be induced to talk at great length if you're patient enough. Friendy is excited for whatever is just around the next curve, but is also happy to lounge about without needing to take in the view.
Everybody has a little Friendy in them, it just really depends on how repressed they are, how they're living, and who they're hanging out with. (Friendy is not unlike Big Gay Al in this way.) I've realized lately that there are some people who bring out the Friendy in me, and others with whom I can lean more towards Grabby or Grumpy or Growly. If I'm fully allowed to be my clutchy, scattered, neurotic self without judgment, I tend not to be clutchy or scattered or neurotic, but instead I'm slightly squishy and shapeless but happy. On the other hand, the bad head can trump any hand that's dealt.
Bad head, bad head!
Talks so loudly, I see red!
Break the glasses, burn the bed!
Pump the TV full of lead!
Don't go out with bad head on!
Surely Friendy will be gone!
Turn off brains, become all brawn!
Lay down, drunk, on the front lawn!
Bad head, bad head!
Wants to know how much he's read!
Wants his damage, wants his dread!
Scoffs at healthy, fun, well-bred!
Thumbs its nose at sweet, well-fed!
Wants more wanky, weak street cred!
Must get meta - slice, dice, spread!
Wants to bleed, wants to be bled!
Cannot leave a thing unsaid!
Head must lead, cannot be led!
Run away! Flee, yonder lad!
My head will turn your head bad!
Wednesday, March 06, 2002
PERSONALITY DISORDER OF THE WEEK
Avoidant Personality Disorder
A pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by four (or more) of the following:
(1) avoids occupational activities that involve significant interpersonal contact, because of fears of criticism, disapproval, or rejection
(2) is unwilling to get involved with people unless certain of being liked
(3) shows restraint within intimate relationships because of the fear of being shamed or ridiculed
(4) is preoccupied with being criticized or rejected in social situations
(5) is inhibited in new interpersonal situations because of feelings of inadequacy
(6) views self as socially inept, personally unappealing, or inferior to others
(7) is unusually reluctant to take personal risks or to engage in any new activities because they may prove embarrassing
[APA's Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-IV-TR 2000]
This is an excellent personality disorder, common among goths and grocery store stockers alike. I went through an avoidant, hypersensitive stage at the age of 19, at which point I gave up on all my friends, distanced myself from my family, and took to crying for a full half hour every morning while showering. I took a terrible job stocking shelves at the local organic hippie grocery store in Durham as a means of making money while avoiding mankind in all his evil forms.
I worked from 5:30 am until 2 pm, lugging 50 lb. sacks of brown rice and couscous to the bulk bins, restocking Love Burgers and telling the scrappy professor guy where to find the unbleached coffee filters. When my boss, a reasonable-seeming idealist with long, gray, wiry hair, wanted something from me and I was in the storeroom in back, she would chime a theoretical bell - theoretical in that I couldn't hear it.
Afterwards, she would come back and get me, asking, "Didn't you hear the bell?" I would always tell her, "Um... Not really. Maybe I just need to pay more attention." Then she would go to the front of the store to the ring the bell. I would stand, ears straining like a scared cat.
She would come to the back again, asking, "Did you hear it? Did you hear the bell?" I would say, "Kind of. Um. Well, not really, no."
For weeks, it went this way. "Did you hear the bell?" "No, I really didn't." "Did you hear the bell this time?" "You know, I really can't hear that bell. Is there any way to turn it up?" "No! I can't believe you didn't hear it!" "I really didn't. I never hear it, really."
Finally one day my boss was meeting with some food rep type, and I walked through the room. "I was trying to call you," she said. "Didn't you hear the bell?" "No." I replied. "I didn't hear the bell. I never hear the bell. I don't think I've heard the bell once." She flashed me a look of intense disappointment.
Little did I know how well this experience would prepare me for The Doomed Long Term Relationship.
Inevitably, your insignificant other is waiting for you to become someone or something you'll never be, that you simply can't be, ever.
At first, they're gentle about it. "Honey, do you hear that?"
"Uh. What?" you ask, playfully twirling the little hairs on the back of their neck.
"That sound!" they coo. You choose to believe they're just being coy. It's sort of cute, actually, referring to a sound when there's none there.
But a few months later, they bring up the sound again over breakfast. "The bell. You know the bell." This time they don't even bother to ask if you hear it. They've already chosen to assume that you have. You're getting laid with clock-like precision; you're not about to challenge this basic assumption.
Eventually, though, they get a little bit more aggressive about the bell. "Can you not hear that bell? I can't believe you can't hear it!"
"I can't hear the goddamn bell!" you wail, tearing at your hair.
"Why the fuck not?!!" they ask, shaking their fists. And then one of you breaks down and cries, and you both sleep badly, and then wake up and eat pancakes and talk about how everything will be different from now on, starting today.
The problem is, the other person thinks that you've just agreed to develop the auditory sensitivity necessary to hear the bell, or at least that you recognize that there's something essentially wrong with you, that not hearing the bell is unacceptable, and that it's fundamentally your fault that you can't hear it. The other person thinks that from now on, things will be different because you will remind him or her repeatedly how deeply flawed you are, and how you're so thankful that he/she accepts you given your fundamental unsoundness as a human being. You are forever indebted to this generous, caring soul, who will forgive you, day in and day out, for not hearing the bell - provided you grovel and apologize enough.
From now on, whenever someone's mad at me for being who I am, I'm just going to say, "Look. I can't hear the bell. What do you want me to do?"
Hopefully they'll reply, "Grovel, of course."
And I will, because they have nice eyes, and because I no longer have Avoidant Personality Disorder.
Tuesday, March 05, 2002
5:55 pm should be the air time for LA, where it's 3:44 pm and approximately 70 degrees and sunny.
Man, the weather here sucks, doesn't it? I fucking hate the weather here.
This is why we get all soft and become Buddhists.
This just in! My piece on All Things Considered comes right after a piece on marijuana! Weed! Mary Jane!
Oh, great and powerful life-giving lord, I'm finally where I was meant to be! On national public radio, as a feeble tie-in to a story on pot!
I just found out that I'm gonna be on All Things Considered today at the end of the program. In LA on KCRW, ATC is on from 4-6:30 pm today. This means my piece should air at either 5:50 or 6:20 pm, but I'm not always accurate with these things. Probably 5:50 pm on the East Coast, but again, I'm not sure. If anyone hears it there, look at the clock and let me know when it runs.
You can also listen to it right here if you have RealPlayer.
Sunday, March 03, 2002
NINA TAKES A G4
I ask you, in this modern age, who needs a lover when Who has a computer? I come home from a hard night on the job, er, town, and what do I turn to? My doggie? My large, impressive house with its intimidating stained-glass 30-ft. ceilinged entrance? With its double oak doors, and gargoyles a' glarin'? Where do I seek solace, in my buxom young wife, in my fine Arab Charger? Do I run to the arms of my beamish boy? Do I rest my weary head on the mantle of my mahogany-adorned fireplace, like Sweetums? Do I cook up some stir fry and light a J? Do I put on some Dr. Dre and gyrate silently, in quiet celebration?
I apologize for writing "light a J." Those filthy deadheads with their soiled Guatemalan blankies! They took everything I had, and left me a shell of a man, er, woman, er, womyn.
Last night I was talking to a woman... Well, it was a rooftop party lit by tiki torches, sadly, and it appeared momentarily that her hair might catch on fire, thanks to a nearby torch. I warned her that her hair might soon be in flames, and she turned and said, "I think that's my destiny, actually." Filthy Jane's Addiction fans!
I proceeded to have a fun, digressive, quantum-leap-of-faith conversation with her, until she pulled me aside and said, "Look, I don't mean to offend you, but I'M NOT GAY. I'm living with someone, a guy. And it's VERY serious."
All of my predatory fantasies of being the roving lesbian, on the prowl for hot bush, came true in one moment!
"So you two are...serious?" I replied. "You mean with the monogrammed towels and the granny underwear drying openly on the wooden rack in the utility room, and the years spent deconstructing the classic text, 'The Genealogy Of What You Just Said Kinda Made Me Mad And It Wasn't Just A Projection From My Past This Time So Don't Fucking Say It Was'?"
Actually, what I really said was, "Um. OK. You're not gay. Uh... Hey! Neither am I! See, like I was saying, we have so much in common. We're both straight, number one. Number two, we both like Jane's Addiction..."
And she said, "No, no, you don't have to lie, it's totally cool. I mean, I LIKE gay people, many of my friends are gay!"
I then pulled out the "Honorary Friend of Gays, Almost Gay, Definitely At Least Bi If I've Been Drinking, About A 7 On The Gay Scale" Award and I pinned it to her heaving bosom. Her bosom was heaving, I suppose, because she was very much wishing she were gay at that moment. I certainly was.
As her malfunctioning Straight Girl Gaydar whirred deceptively, she continued: "No, no, it's totally cool. You can be gay!"
And so, now I know: I CAN be gay!
I feel so free. My hair is so much softer and shinier. My metabolism has, like, totally increased. I only need four hours of sleep per week. A whole new universe has opened up to me: steel-toed boots, overweight cats named "kd", knowledge of local saunas... And that's not to mention the poontang. Oh, the poontang. It's like a Swiss Mocha Mint commercial:
"Remember Paris? That cafe? The poontang?"
And it just goes to show. Think of how confused and dizzy I'd feel if I couldn't process my emotions safely here, in front of three to six hundred of my closest friends!
You know that song by Neil Young, "A Man Needs A Maid"? Well, what a man really needs is a computer. Preferably Titanium, with DSL on the Airport, necessary cards already installed and running smoothly. I guess a man could use a maid if that maid knew how to install Airport Cards without causing system errors.
Is that how you say it? System errors? I can't think of the right way to say...
Who are you, anyway? Oh, a friend of a friend of a friend of Sheila's who used to read Suck before it got all bitter and lame and those guys totally sold out and stuff? Well, like I always say, "Any friend of a friend of a friend of Sheila's who used to read Suck before it got all bitter and lame and those guys totally sold out and stuff is a friend of mine!"
A Friend of A Friend Of A Sailor (And Therefore Quite Gay),
(not really gay)
(at least an 8 on the scale, anyway)
(well, not really, but I do do yoga. sometimes)
(it's been weeks, actually)
(oh really? and do you like marketing, or do you have some creative hobby that's really your passion?)
(you don't say!)
(what time is it?)
(do you have another smoke? oh, is that your last one?)
(no really, I couldn't)
(well, if you insist)
(menthols, huh? I hate menthols)
(just kidding, ha ha)
(give me that)
(well aren'tcha gonna light it for me?)
(oh. that didn't work. try again)
(it's ok, this wind is outrageous)
(no, i'm sure it's never happened before, i believe you)
(it's not you, really. i just need some time alone, you know, to breathe, to sort things out, to fuck slutty sluts)
(weather's been crazy lately, huh?)