Monday, February 28, 2011

An honest woman in the land of sin

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I'm a terrible daughter. I must be, but I know my mother forgives me for it, which makes it okay, and worse. My one New Year's resolution this year was to call her every Sunday, and for the fist few Sundays I did, and every time I did you'd think I'd published a new essay in the New Yorker or something, I was so proud. She liked it, too, even though we soon ran out of things to talk about towards the end of January.

So I went to Italy for my birthday around that time, and since I didn't want to pay for a long distance call, skipped the Sunday I was there, and a few more Sundays, five in fact, until she finally called me today on the last day of February to tell me it was her fiancee's birthday. He told me he didn't want a gift she said, so I'm taking him to Red Lobster and I said I'M PAYING tonight, and he said fine.

I told her she should get him a shirt. She said I buy him shirts when it's not his birthday. Fine, I said, do whatever you want, you know that man and I don't, but when most people say they don't want anything for their birthday they're usually lying. We all know this.

This is when my mother apologized for sending me nothing but a text message for my birthday, saying I hate it when people give me things I don't need and I didn't want to do that to you. I thought: a card would've been nice, but said Italy was enough, that I had a good trip and lots of good food.

Then I asked about the details of the marriage plans, if there were any, when, how, soon, later. We're doing it on Easter she said, because it represents rebirth! Where I said, in a church? Las Vegas, she said, we're going to go for a week, we'll take a bus tour when we're there, go to all the casinos, but I won't take too much money to gamble with, maybe a couple hundred.

Vegas on Easter I said, isn't that a bit of a paradox? It's the land of sin! Rebirth she said, you know like eggs hatching, and our anniversary won't be hard to remember. I suggested my mother skip the bus tour since there was nothing much to see but a bunch of light bulbs affixed to buildings. But the bus tour we took in Los Angeles was nice, she said.

Vegas is a little different, mom. I would know, I got married in an Elvis chapel there a few months ago after you recommended it would be more romantic than going to the Beverly Hills court house. And wasn't it nice she said. I guess so, I said. And my anniversary's Friday the 13th, so that's not hard to remember either. Don't worry, said my mother, in Korea Friday the 13th doesn't exist, it's just another day. I'll keep that in mind I said. And congratulations.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

the screaming child who molests my life is a cyst

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I'm home alone and the child next door is screaming at the top of his lungs again to be let out of a room. He yells phrases like: LET MEEE OUUUUT, I WANNA TAAALK TO YOOU, I'M SOOORRY, LET ME OUT in between screaming bloody murder. Screaming his guts into the air, through the walls which surround him, outside, through a wall in the kitchen, into the room where I sit and type this.

I've decided this happens at least once a day, around 4pm, and around 4pm when this happens I find it very hard to concentrate on anything, but what the child is screaming about. In the beginning I was alarmed for the health of the child, though now I've begun to sympathize with the parents, who lock the delinquent child in a room as some kind of punishment, or time-out imposed for a junior lunatic fringe.

It is obvious the child is not beaten for his bad behavior or for screaming through the walls, he is only placed into temporary isolation until he either settles down or is released for screaming and potentially upsetting the neighbors enough to calls the authorities. Is there a law saying you can't lock a child in his or her room for small periods of time? I know there are laws for noise violation and domestic disturbances and physical abuse and neglect and such, but I don't see how the authorities could help in this case.

I fantasized today about going next door, knocking on the door, entering the home, asking if I could see the child and as they opened the door to let me, I would enter his room, see that he'd shredded, broken everything in sight, he would see me and try to run past to find something to destroy in the living room, to pull plugs, knock over photo frames, throw his dinner plates around demanding ice cream for every meal, but I would catch him by the arm, put him over my knee and demonstrate real discipline.

I would say: Look, I am trying to concentrate next door, and if you do not stop screaming and start listening to your parents, I am going to call the FBI and they will take you to China and make you work in a factory and you will never have dessert again and your mommy and daddy will make new babies to replace you who not scream and misbehave and they will be very happy that you are not in their lives anymore. Is this what you want?

I fantasized about this instead of doing what I wanted to be doing today because I was distracted. If anything has ever been distracting like ticking through a wall, drips in drains, crickets in the floor, even a neurotic thought loop revolving around the way someone said yes, no or maybe, there is nothing worse than a child screaming at the top of his lungs through the walls of your house, unless he is punching you in the face over and over again for no reason but to be a pain in the ass.
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Sunday, February 13, 2011

Jules and Jim--a review

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I have mixed feelings about Jules and Jim. On one hand it's stylistically profound, of another world, a mile marker in the great journey of filmmaking content and technique; on the other hand it's about an insane muse that makes every man who comes into her life fall madly in love with her, including two best friends who revolve their entire lives around her capricious cries, calls and random disappearances to sleep with other men. 

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I can't quite put my finger on what irks me overall about this film, whether it's of knowing actual women like that in real life who gave harm to my friends, not being enchanted by Jeanne Moreau, the weakness of both men, perhaps all of it. Perhaps the film makes me recognize and hate a selfish part of myself that I've left behind...that's another story.

I imagine if this film were made today, Kate Hudson, or someone equally attractive, would play the role, while two helpless shmucks whined around her slapstick suicide attempts, eating sandwiches together, while on the side--eating whatever shit she doled out, depending on her boredom.

Gwyneth Paltrow's Margot in the Royal Tenenbaums got it right at least with her cold sincerity and regal demeanor, but she was a misunderstood genius, not a cataclysmic mess for the sake of being cataclysmic.
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Female characters feasting on the souls of pathetic men is not compelling, unless the genre is horror, thriller or comedy, none of which was Jules and Jim--a "quirky, romantic, cerebral" drama? Undoubtedly cerebral, yes, but romantic, I couldn't say, unless romance is declared synonymous with terminal illness. But ask most poets; they'll say yes to that one in a snap.

But many people love this film, especially because of the director and the directing, because it's French and quirky in that dark, French manner of dysfunction being real and hilarious and charming women who are crazy drive men mad with desire versus boring beautiful women with every their predictable mannerism just sitting there with nothing to say--yes, yes, yes, I see the attraction and the fodder for conversation this film would bring, the debates of what is what defines art and New Wave greatness.


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Jules and Jim is a walloping time capsule of style preserving culture, attitudes, an homage to joie de vivre and the struggles in love which make even the strongest of humans vulnerable in its pursuit. Hence, its  infamy, and its ever growing list of admirers placing it on the pedestal of greatness. 

I myself wouldn't watch it again unless I got in a time machine, went 12 years back into my reckless, carefree lifestyle and turned it on to watch after downing half a bottle of wine with a malleable male admirer, or two. Ah, but then it would all make sense.
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Thursday, February 10, 2011

dream about a bear claw

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I had a dream that I was going to be a recurring character on a reality show featuring bookish babes mixed with famous rap stars doing Fear Factor stunts like bungee jumping into vats of jello.

I must've been hungry when I had this dream because at some point I invoked a bear claw bigger than my head and was eating it in a coffee shop somewhere close to the house where they had cameras following us around 24/7.

I also met others who were being cast as roommates for the cramped rooms we were supposed to share and create drama in, so the producers brought in an ex of someone I was seeing, just to supposedly sabotage the popularity I received from becoming a star from the first season on to the season we were about to tape which was the fourth where I was set to sky dive naked after a dare.

When I met the ex, I was standing on a porch, looked down and there she was all of three feet tall. The thoughts in my head were, she's an actual "doll" and omigod how is she not considered a midget?

Then another ex of mine, and not the one who I'd known she dated, came outside and said hello to the short woman. It was obvious that they'd dated before too by the way she cruelly bossed him around from the start and he did everything she told him to.

I was confused. How did this three foot tall, doll of a person pull so much of my ass? I thought about the correlation of little girl fetishes, and me, and felt morbidly confused.

Then she crawled up and into a chair on the porch and asked me to sit on the steps and talk to her for a few minutes about our roles on the show. As we sat eye-to-eye, she didn't look short anymore; she had a pretty face and her demeanor was that of a queen.

That's when I knew season four of the show was going to probably be my last. Then the rappers invited her to ice cream, and I was alone.
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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

literature's androgynous name game, sci-fi & media


I feel like such an idiot. Ever since I was tagged in a post asking me to name fifteen of my favorite authors, and felt like shit because they were all virtually white and male, I've been trying to get more lady writers in my head for the new year.

I've been going to the library and checking out stacks of books penned by women: Grace Paley, Ann Beattie, even to go so far as including: A Short History of Women by Kate Walbert, which I have to admit I'm a little bit intimidated by. So then why am I an idiot? I checked out the Loved One by Evelin Waugh--is why, thinking he was a woman.
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I'm so embarrassed for myself I don't even know what to do now. This is worse than the time I flabbergastedly found out Harper Lee was a woman, and felt shame for my shock.

I tried reading the book anyway; I thought: it's short, why not? Waugh's a prolific writer; he penned Brideshead Revisited, Love Among the Ruins. Sadly, after the first few pages I had to put it down.
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Not only am I avoiding white, male writing, but I'm also avoiding thoroughly unmodern, or inapplicable writing to boot. Talks about knitted bow-ties and quick-change artists of vaudeville, in that sense don't do anything for me. If I was a burlesque dancer into antiques who felt as though she was born forty years too late...maybe.
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But I'm not. I'm more of a sci-fi chick who feels like the world around me is more dated-looking than it should be. I was one of those kids in the eighties, who thought for sure by the 2010's we'd be driving floating cars in silver rompers.

Now, at this rate, it looks like that'll never happen; our cars still resemble rubber and aluminum artifacts from forever ago, while people roll around moaning at any changes they have to make to accommodate progress, comfortable to see things as their parents saw them, spoonfed and anesthetized by the pulp trash we call news media.
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Tangents aside, I should walk to the library and get a new stack of books while the sun is out and the air is warm. It's early February in Los Angeles, and I'm not taking for granted the fact that it's 60 degrees and sunny when the rest of the country is worried about snow.
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