Sunday, July 30, 2006

No one asked for my opinion, but that's why I have my own blog

After we saw The Village two summers ago, Joe suggested that a new word should come into use in the English lexicon, which was "Shyamalaned," (past tense of Shyamalan) meaning to have been taken advantage of, and made a fool. As in, "Hey man, you just got totally Shyamalaned. That sucks."

After I saw Signs I kind of felt like I'd been raped and had hot beer poured in my face, then really liked The Village, up until its crushingly disappointing and stupid twist ending. I just got back from seeing Lady in the Water with my mom, and by the time the eagle flies in at the end, I wanted nothing more than for it to pick up Shyamalan himself (in perhaps the most unabashed egotistical self-casting since Woody Allen actually somehow managed to convince people that a 17-year-old Mariel Hemingway would even give him the time of day, much less be sexually attracted to him, in Manhattan; gross) and tear him limb from limb while we all got to sit and cheer him on.

What a fucking phony and cry-baby. Get over yourself, Mr. Shyamalan, and stop worrying so much about critics picking on you and try to make a decent movie, you fucking schlub. I know you have talent, and you have boatloads of creativity, so I don't understand why you feel the need to subject all the rest of us to your little hissy-fit with a 100 million dollar budget, or however much you wasted on this pile of fucking garbage you call a movie.

You spend so much time building up this elaborate plot about narfs, and scrunts, and grass monsters, and people finding their true callings in life, but ultimately, your movie is flat, your metaphors completely meaningless, and you have nothing to say about anything. So forgive me if I fly into a fucking livid rage for feeling so emotionally manipulated when Paul Giamatti starts crying about his dead family, and it's revealed that.... Oh hell, who cares. What does any of it this convoluted, arrogant, overblown crap mean??? Nothing, ultimately, I'm afraid. You can speak of wars and strife, and sadness and carnage, and represent the world's innocence in a naked Hollywood starlet all you want, but I'm not buying your gibberish Mr. Night. Not for a minute.

You seem to think that you were put on this Earth to change things, to illuminate humanity's ability to see the good in all that exists, but you offer nothing. The only reason Lady in the Water is so confusing and drawn-out, and dumb, and just plain boring, I feel, is to try to take away from the fact that it's meaningless and you want everybody to think you're some deep, profound philsopher. Well, call me when anything you say makes any kind of sense or has any reason whatsoever. In the meantime, please stop wasting my time and maybe tune down the self-importance a notch or two. Maybe, eventually, someone besides me will get sick of being Shyamalaned.

Photo Booth Fun with the Fam

We actually took about 800 pictures. We had a lot of fun. I've also got a bunch of digital pictures from my dad from the trip, but they're all gigantic and as far as I can tell, my computer has no image-editing software. So, if I can ever figure out how to size them down, maybe I'll post them.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

On the DL

Guess who made the Dean's List at St. Edwards this past semester? I'll give you a hint: Me!!!

On the subject of fear

I had a dream last night where I was standing on the beach, completely alone, probably around dusk, and I was holding a baby. I had it pulled close to my chest, and all I could feel was this completely overwhelming, consuming love for this child that I was holding, but I didn't seem to have any kind of intellectual attachment to it. I have no idea whose it was, and even in the dream, I don't think it was mine, but I wanted more than anything to just stand and hold this baby.

I was completely clothed, but the waves were lapping at my legs and I started getting really nervous, as I knew the high tide was coming in. I just stood there, for what seemed like hours, staring at the horizon as the water got deeper and deeper and deeper, but I didn't move. I wasn't stuck in the sand, I don't think; I just didn't have the desire to move. I was scared for the baby, and didn't want it to drown, but moving away from the water seemed like too much effort, even to save the baby, so I just continued to stand there as the water rose. I woke up before either of us drowned, and when I did wake up, I wasn't scared, but instead had this very strange sensation of resignation. Like, "Wow, it's too bad I didn't make any effort to move to keep the baby, and me, from drowning, but that's the way things are."

I don't think it takes a genius to figure out what any of this means.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Land of White Sand

Tomorrow I board a plane for 5 days in Destin, Florida with the fam. I'm very excited. I can't wait to play with my nephew in the ocean. According to my brother, Cade (the nephew) is very insistent upon someone being buried in the sand. My brother has no idea where Cade even got this notion, but he must have seen it somewhere.

God, I'm becoming one of those people I hate. Anyway, it'll be fun. See ya'll bitches later.

Ex-boyfriends in Heaven

A poem by Gwen Hart, sent to me by Stacy. I love it.

Ex-boyfriends in Heaven

Ex-boyfriends never go to hell,
no matter how many times
you suggest it. No, they ascend straight
to heaven, where they speak French,
wear matching socks, and always,
always arrive on time, with a full
tank of gas and a bottle of wine.
They never curse your cat
or your mother, never call you up
drunk doing Arnold Schwarzenegger
impressions, never say Hey Rita
if your name is Tammy,
never say Hey Tammy
if your name is Joan.
They're better trained than dogs
and they smell better, too, better
than Twinkies or camellias, better
than anything on earth. Once
in a while, they take a holiday,
drive their Porsches down
through the clouds
in one long line and ring
the doorbell in your dreams,
offering tender apologies, tender
chicken cutlets, tender love.
But before you take one sack
of groceries, before your lips
graze a clean-shaven jaw,
before you let one polished
Oxford loafer through your door,
remember that as soon as they cross
the threshold, the truth will slip
in behind them: ex-boyfriends only
exist this way in heaven, or
whatever you want to call it,
their new lives without you.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Ain't no angel gonna greet me

The director of Doug's House, the AIDS hospice where I've been working, just called to tell me that the patient I've been caring for the last couple of weeks passed away this morning. I'll call him B. He was 35, and even up to the end, retained a sense of humor about it all, teasing the nurses and while watching the Dukes of Hazzard on television, talked about how stupid it was.

The director expressed her gratitude toward me, told me that B. liked me, and that I had a gentle spirit with him. Maybe they say that to all the volunteers.

B. was sort of a tough cookie. He's been on the brink of death for at least 3 weeks now, and should, theoretically, have been in a comatose state. But the way it was explained to me was that he had so much anxiety coursing through him, that it was literally keeping his body going. While I was taking care of him, he would want to watch television, but would start to doze off, and decide he wanted to lay on the couch. So I'd go through the motions of getting him out of his wheelchair, lift him onto the couch and help him get comfortable. Then about 5 minutes later he would decide he wanted to go to his bedroom and lie down in his bed. So I'd help him up, get him into the wheelchair, wheel him into his bedroom, get him back out of the wheelchair, and comfortable on his bed. At about which time he'd decide he needed to use the bathroom. So I'd help him to the bathroom, then back to his bedroom, back onto the bed, for about 10 minutes of sleep. When he would then wake up, and want to go back to the living room, and the whole cycle would start all over again. And I'm not exaggerating.

Being in that environment on a fairly regular basis certainly puts things in your own life in perspective. Which is one reason I selfishly chose to do this. I want to do good things for mankind, and I do genuinely care about these people, but it's also a good way to keep your own pain and suffering in check. Most of these people (aside from dying in a long, drawn-out and excrutiating manner that not only steals your physical faculties but your mental ones as well) have lost everything. Not a single one of the people I've taken care of there (all 3 of which are now dead) had more than maybe 2 visitors, tops, that ever came to see them. And it was never parents or friends or long-term lovers. It was a sister, a cousin, maybe one child out of the 3 that still spoke to them. And tellingly, the visitors are always females, never men. The last day that I sat with B., he was waiting all afternoon for some cousin to show up, and when I left at 5, she still hadn't arrived, even after calling for directions almost 3 hours prior to that. Maybe she came that night, I don't know.

I don't know if it's just the facing down of death that scares people away, or if it's AIDS in particular that people are afraid of. Like, by being in the same room, or touching someone that has it, they're going to catch it. Maybe they're just afraid of catching death in general. Maybe they can't stand to see the people they love wasting away to nothing before they do. Maybe in their eyes, the person is already dead. It makes me really fucking angry to even be writing this. In the specter of death you realize how fucking cowardly and selfish most people are. Which I guess is ultimately why we all die alone. Like the Death Cab song says, "Love is watching someone die/ who's gonna watch you die?" It's true. It's painful on both a personal and spiritual level. It's hard for me to watch these people suffer and die, and I really feel it, and I don't even know them, not really. I didn't know them before, as functional, independent people who had jobs and friends, and lovers and apartments and pets, and interests and who told jokes and went to parties and traveled and everything else that people do.

I had a shift with B. scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. I knew that since I'm leaving town on Friday it was probably going to be the last time I saw him. He'd grown on me already and I was looking forward to seeing him one last time. He was incredibly sweet.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Self-portraits are my new favorite pasttime

Now I know why people who have money, but don't really have to do any actual work, go insane.

States I've visited

I'm kind of a weird sucker for this stuff. Plus I love maps.

create your own visited states map! (and maybe give me a job....)

Friday, July 14, 2006

Photo Booth

My new computer takes pictures!!!

About 20 minutes ago

The gays are taking over Arkansas!!

After last month's landmark decision in Arkansas to overturn their ban on gays and lesbians adopting foster children (of course, the fact that it's landmark is depressing), now comes another article from the NYT about non-typical gay vacation destinations that highlights Eureka Springs.

The gist of the article is that not everyone has to go to places like Fire Island, Provincetown and Key West, and that they're somewhat out of reach to a lot of people, both geographically and economically. So obviously, particularly in the Midwest, those resourceful gays are creating new havens in less obvious places. The part about Eureka Springs:

Another, more nascent magnet for gay Midwesterners can be found in the Ozarks region of Arkansas, in Eureka Springs. “We have three Pride weekends a year, and those attract crowds,” said Tracey Saunders, 38, owner of the Veranda Inn, one of a handful of gay-owned accommodations in Eureka. Though the region is known for religious piety, the town is a pocket of diversity and acceptance.

Growing up in Northwest Arkansas, you can't avoid knowing that Eureka Springs is somewhat of a liberal haven in a very conservative state (too bad it's so tiny), but most people think it's just full of weirdos, like hippies and witches (of the Wiccan variety). But now that I'm older, I can much more appreciate what Eureka Springs brings to the state, and the small bit of charm, variety and liberalism it offers.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

You came in with the breeze

It's a sad story, really, of wasted opportunity and squandered chances. Which, I guess, are one and the same. According to some philosophers, maybe I let the moment slip by because it's not really what I want, even though I think it is. But it's not; I'm not ready, not in a real way, to let anybody back in. It's too scary, it's too intimidating, and no, I'm just not ready. It makes me sad, but I guess it's some sort of solace for me to know myself enough to know that I let that very cute boy slip through my fingers on purpose.

I was having drinks with I'm No Phenomenon last night at the San Jose when he walked in with three women. Clearly not with any of them, and multiple times he craned his neck, quite unnaturally, to look at me, sitting almost behind him. Phenomenon backed me up on this; I was not imagining it. We made eye contact three times; I smiled at him once and he got nervous. Phenomenon tried to convince me to just give him my number already; he was clearly begging for it.

I wrote it on our receipt with trembling fingers and we started to leave, but as we passed by his table I paused then exited stage left, quickly. Once outside, Phenomenon started scolding me, trying to convince me he would be impressed, I looked good, I had nothing to be afraid of. She said, "Go back in through the bar; that way it just looks like you went to the bathroom."


I can do this.

What is there to be so afraid of...?

I start to enter back through the bar, when suddenly, there are he and his friends, coming my way, opening the opposite door from the outside bar. We look at each other, I freeze, then suddenly turn and bolt back out the way I came in.

Very graceful.

And not at all obvious.

Jesus Christ.

Phenomenon can't help but laugh as they walk by us, and I try to act natural as he looks at me again as he leaves, me having just made a total ass of myself.

I'm 29-years-old.

Why am I acting like a 16-year-old girl? And being so obvious about it?

She hugs me goodbye as the boy walks out onto the street - of course going the same direction I'm going. So despite his seeing Phenomenon leaving me in the bar, yelling "Call me!" behind her as she goes, I stand and wait, so as to not have to walk directly behind them all the way up to Guero's where I'm parked.

On the way to my car, he turns and looks behind him not once, but twice, at me, about 20 feet behind, trying to play it cool.

But so not cool.

So I'm telling myself I did it all on purpose. Who needs it.

I hate sharing my bed. You know, I like to sprawl all the way across it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Time is crying out tonight for me to leave this town

Unfortunately, my going to Mexico did little to satiate my yearning for adventure and something different; it only piqued it. I'm happy to be back in some ways, but in other ways I feel even more stunted than before. I know a lot of it just has to do with the fact that I currently have waaaaay too much free time on my hands right now, and I feel very aimless. I'm already looking forward to school starting again, because I really enjoy it, and at least when I'm in school I feel like I'm doing something productive and really working towards something real. Interestingly enough, though, and this is something I was working on with my therapist when I quit going to him, is why I feel like I need that outside something to make me feel valuable, and why I can't find the wherewithall or motivation within myself. I'm certainly not immune, however, to our culture's fast-food ideals, and I'm already anxious to be done with school and to be moving on to something else; like grad school, which, in my mind right now, is really what I'm working towards, and really looking forward to. (And I already have my Top 3 grad schools picked out, even though it's going to be at least another 2 years, probably, before I get there.) Patience is a virtue I desperately need to acquire and embrace and to understand. Good things come to those who wait, they say, and I guess I feel like I've wasted so much time in my life, even though that "wasted time" got me to where I need to be, and many great things came out of it (like my wonderful friends, and some fantastic memories and good times). So I know it wasn't truly wasted, but I still can't help feeling that everyone else is light years ahead of me in the Life department. But ultimately, I know I'm doing what I need to be doing, and it's all going to work out in the end, and for me to have the things that I want to have, I'm going to have keep working very hard, not just on my exterior life, but on my inner life as well. Sometimes, though, it just seems like such a daunting challenge that I'm not up to, and every ounce of my being is fighting against it and wants to remain stunted, and where I am, and just keep waiting for someone to come along and rescue me and magically solve all of my problems for me. I wish someone had told me when I was young that growing up was going to be this difficult and had better prepared me for it. But there again, I'm wanting someone else to be the Magic Man.

So, on that note, I mistakenly thought the other day that season 3 of Nip/Tuck had already been released on DVD, and I got very excited to rent them all and sit and watch the whole season in a few days, but it doesn't actually come out until August 29th, which is one day after I start school. Which sucks. I really wanted that to be my summer TV project.

Season 4 starts on TV the week after that, and I wanted to have season 3 done, so I could actually watch season 4 as it happened, but I guess it's not meant to be. But it's just as well, because I'm really bad about keeping up with TV shows as they're unfolding, and besides, watching them on DVD means there are no stinky commercials.

Nip/Tuck fits into my current Miami obsession, however, which is another reason I was excited to watch season 3. I've always gone through phases in my life of being obsessed with certain American cities for whatever reason, usually because of literature, and right now it happens to be Miami. In junior and high school, it was New York, just because it's New York, and when you're growing up in a tiny town in Arkansas, and all you do is dream about getting out and escaping and having this completely glamorous, exciting life, New York just seems like the obvious choice when you don't know any better.

Then in college I started devouring Bret Easton Ellis novels, and became totally obsessed with Los Angeles, and this lasted for years. (Although his favorite novel of mine, The Rules of Attraction, actually takes place in New England, and not Los Angeles; go figure.) I'm still totally fascinated by that city, and its cultural and ecological implications. I used to really crave the fast pace, and "glamour," and the sort of inherent danger that underlies everything about that city. It all just seemed so sinister and cloaked in conspiracies and intrigue. That sounds incredibly boring and silly to me now, but at one time, I loved the drama of it. The real drama.

Anyway, then I eventually moved on to Pittsburgh, for which I have Michael Chabon to blame. So I went there, did that, and I'm over it. Now it's Miami. Part of it is because I've been reading a Joan Didion book called Miami, a collection of essays mostly about the Cuban life and politics there, and how Miami is pretty much the only truly Latin American city in the United States. The Cuban population and the Anglo population seem to live there in an understood non-acknowledgement and prejudice, even though they both influence each other's lives completely (and at least at the time of the book, the mid-80's, the Cuban population there was almost 60%!). It seems like a really interesting place, and if you want intrigue, drama and danger, there you go. In the 80's, the crime and drugs were so rampant that security (like personal body guards, private alarm systems, and weapons themselves) became pretty much the number one economy, and it was about as close to a police state as any American city probably ever has been or will be again. I don't think it's so bad anymore, and I don't think the politics are what they were anymore, either, but I'm not really sure.

Whenever I decide to take another vacation by myself (which I'm really itching to do again), I think Miami is where I will head. Maybe I should have been an anthropologist. Cities fascinate me. Their histories, their politics, the way cities all develop a unique personality, generally stemming from how they began, or their geographic properties (which are often one and the same), how they grow and mutate and create reputations for themselves. And until I can actually get back down to Mexico, or South America, which I'm also already dying to do, maybe Miami will suffice. Which also means, of course, that I'm dying to see the new Michael Mann Miami Vice movie. I hope he captures Miami the way I feel he captured Los Angeles in Collateral. That's the main thing I loved about that movie, was the city's presence. Directors who can absolutely bring you into a city and portray the city as a real character and make you feel like that movie couldn't possibly happen anywhere but where it did, I think are true artists and I really respect and admire that.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Little Earthquakes

Every now and then I'll be reading a book or a story, and I'll come across a quote that literally makes me stop what I'm doing to look up and just ponder what it is I've just read, that hits me with such a fierce and knowing wisdom, that seems both so simple and also like such a complex truth that I'm a little dumbfounded for a moment. It's moments like these that really make me cherish literature and realize that sometimes it's not always the big picture, but the small details that really make up life.

Below are two such quotes that I've read recently that I want to share:

If I had been twenty years older, perhaps, I could have explained that nothing is quite as bad as that, that at the end of what is called "the sexual life" the only love which has lasted is the love that has accepted everything, every disappointment, every failure and every betrayal, which has accepted even the sad fact that in the end there is no desire so deep as the simple desire for companionship.

-Graham Greene

I hold his hands. We're here, right here, as the future closes up around us. Something will happen next. Something always does. We live with unspeakable losses, and most of us carry on. We find new lovers, change jobs, move to another state. We continue to know animal pleasures; we eat and have sex, buy new clothes. Hardly anyone is destroyed, I mean truly annihilated, by loss. We're designed for endurance.
-Michael Cunningham

Sunday, July 02, 2006

I'm back

With mixed feelings. I'm happy to be home (and thrilled that it's been raining all day!), but I already miss Mexico. I can't wait to go back.

Kurt and Meredith picked me up from the bus stop at 7 this morning, and we had breakfast, then I came back to my new home, which I've been setting up all day. I took about a 5-hour nap this afternoon, but I'm thinking of going back to bed soon. I only slept about 2 hours on the bus, and the whole previous week, I'd been sleeping badly, so I guess I've got a lot of catching up to do. My bed felt so wonderful during my nap today. I love it.